IgnorantGuru's Blog

Linux software, news, and tips

SpaceFM 1.0.0 Released

SpaceFM 1.0.0 has been released. Please see the SpaceFM News page for changes in this version.

 

Did you know that SpaceFM is a systemd-free file manager which also supports eudev as a replacement for udev? When used with udevil or another mount solution, SpaceFM can be used completely without systemd, consolekit, policykit, dbus, udisks, gvfs and fuse (although it can coexist with and use any of these).

 

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Software | 12 Comments

SpaceFM 1.0 Alpha-Testing Has Begun

Please see the details here. Please help test this version so the release will be more stable.

March 8, 2015 Posted by | Software | Leave a comment

SpaceFM and udevil Resume Slow Development

SpaceFM and udevil have entered a slow development phase, and you can read the details there.

Currently, the next branch has been updated with some minor fixes and requested features (including BwackNinja’s maintenance fork). Testing of this branch is appreciated, as that helps the releases to be more reliable. Nothing is ever deliberately included in the next branch which is highly unstable (all commits are tested before they reach this branch), so it’s almost always as stable as using the release version, and you can help report minor bugs.

Translators please note that SpaceFM’s translation server is available again on Transifex. Because the old server was originally setup by someone else (I was merely a maintainer, not the owner), it was removed when I went on hiatus. Thus you will need to join the translation team again to receive announcements. (udevil’s server was not affected.) The server currently contains the translation which were pushed to the next branch on April 28, 2014. If you changed translations after that date, they will not appear on the server, but if you have the po file you can upload it again. (Users may want to email their translator to let them know all this – see Help|About in SpaceFM.)

If you’ve never translated, note that Transifex makes it very easy. See instructions for translators.

SpaceFM 0.9.5 is currently being worked on, so if you know of any fairly urgent or critical issues, now is a good time to report them. (You can report any issues, but they may not be addressed in this release.) Same for udevil.

Thanks for your patience and participation.

March 2, 2015 Posted by | Software | 2 Comments

Updated Info On SpaceFM

Greetings! Just thought I’d check in from my extended hiatus and offer a few info items on SpaceFM.

My development work on SpaceFM and my other projects is still currently suspended, so no change there, but mostly they are still running as they were. I’ve been working elsewhere and have only been a user on Linux lately. I can’t tell you much about my plans, except that I am that much more determined to not ever run a system that includes systemd, especially seeing the direction it’s going (IP forwarding, etc), growing way beyond a safe and stable init system. Clearly many people aren’t happy with it, but they never were, and I doubt major distros are going to listen to their users. So I’ve been giving things some time to bubble, seeing what falls out of this mess as options.

When I have some free time, I may try gentoo without systemd, or I may try one of the BSDs. Let me know below if you’ve found a promising road away from systemd. My only real hesitation is my Brother MFC-4720 printer, which is a good printer but always hell to install, and I never could get it working on gentoo or BSD last I tried. But I’m told desperate times call for desperate measures. Once I find my next OS direction, then I will decide what if anything I want to do in the area of software dev. For now I’m just using SpaceFM on a retro Debian system, nice and quiet while all hell is breaking loose in Linux, but I think my days of using Debian are soon done.

A few notes on SpaceFM…

My thanks to previous SpaceFM contributor BwackNinja, who has been maintaining a maintenance fork of SpaceFM with a few bugfixes, plus he has added the ability to have transparent desktop backgrounds. Nice work there, so if you want to use that feature, you can grab the source, and if you have an urgent issue with SpaceFM, you might want to politely bring it to his attention. You are also still welcome to post issues to the main SpaceFM issue tracker, so others can review them, offer possible fixes, and I may eventually see them.

If you encountered an error in the console saying Attempt to unlock mutex that was not locked some months ago when starting SpaceFM, or were unable to start it, this was caused by an update in glib 2.41 which broke many GTK apps, especially when used with GTK 2.24.24. This problem was corrected upstream in the release of GTK 2.24.25, but still may affect some older versions of GTK2, as well as GTK3. BwackNinja’s fork includes a fix for this, and you can read more details here. Thanks to everyone who helped troubleshoot that in my absence!

Also, those using the IgnorantGuru PPA should have noticed a key expired error on my key. Rather than replace the key at this time, I have simply removed the expiration date from my public key (0x01937621), so it’s no longer expired, and have re-uploaded it to keyservers. You can get and add the updated key with these commands, and the PPA should work again:

gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 0x01937621
# If you receive an error, try again later.

# Then, add the keys to apt-key:
bash -c 'gpg --export -a 01937621 | apt-key add -'

Alternatively, you can use the keyserver at keyserver.ubuntu.com, and it should migrate to others in time.

I haven’t been keeping up with Linux or SpaceFM discussions much, so if there’s something you want me to know (keeping in mind that I’m not currently working on these projects), some thoughts or resources you’d like to share with other SpaceFM users (the homepage directs them here and many users are subscribed), etc., now is your chance to leave your comments, links, etc. I’ll leave this thread open for comments for a few weeks. Also feel free to give any thoughts on anti-systemd migration – I’d like to know what people are using. Thanks and best wishes!

February 17, 2015 Posted by | Software | 29 Comments

IgnorantGuru’s Hiatus

I will be beginning a hiatus from my public projects shortly, which means those projects will be suspended indefinitely, including development on SpaceFM and udevil, updates to this blog, and other little works. Suspended means all motion will stop, but most sites I maintain should remain accessible and unchanged. The duration of this hiatus is undefined. This may morph into a retirement, or I may restart some of it eventually in OpenBSD or another platform, or I may simply return and resume work on some or all of the projects.

If you are using SpaceFM or udevil, etc. and want to continue using them, I suggest doing so. Some distros may drop them automatically once they are ‘unmaintained’, but there’s nothing to stop you from using them indefinitely, and these are well-debugged at this point. Eventually some breakage may occur (eg GTK3), but there are probably enough people using SpaceFM now that someone can offer a patch if needed. It’s very easy to make and share a fork on github. I will also be using them myself, so if something major breaks I may come out of hibernation (like an angry bear woken early from slumber!) with an update.

With regard to Linux, I plan on falling behind the systemd wave in Debian, avoiding it. I may eventually move toward Gentoo, or over to one of the BSDs as well. But in avoidance of systemd, I won’t be keeping up with the latest edge of Linux for awhile, which makes for a poor developer’s environment. You’re welcome to join me, in which case SpaceFM and udevil should keep working as they are, even without current maintenance. To give you an idea, in the past six months I’ve needed to fix only a handful of bugs, none of them critical. So this isn’t abandoning ship, it’s more like setting sail for real.

I have weighed this decision carefully, because I know a lot of people really like SpaceFM, and I like to give projects decent support, even if free. I tried to put it on a back burner, but the project has too much energy and mass now for that, and I feel like I’m leaving people in limbo. So I decided to be realistic based on the last few months, and simply put these projects into suspension. I do sometimes continue such things, as I did last year after being on hiatus for several months. So overall, I again suggest that if SpaceFM works well for you, there’s nothing to stop you from continuing to use it indefinitely, supporting it indirectly, or forking it for any purpose.

This blog is now closed to comments in order to eliminate spam being added. If you would like to be informed of any temporary or permanent returns from my hiatus, you can subscribe for email updates. My other sites will shortly show ‘suspended’ notices just to let people know the status of projects. Yet I’ll do my best to merely freeze everything and keep it available. I may leave the issue trackers open, so any bugs can be tracked, yet note that only I have write access to the Github repositories I own, as well as this blog. The wikis should remain available for additions.

Thanks for all the support and interest, and good luck navigating.

Also see February 17, 2015 Update above for the latest info.

April 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off

Trying Out Bitcoin

Today I decided to give Bitcoin a try – thought I would share some initial thoughts from a newbie perspective. Many of my readers are probably ahead of me on this so can skip reading, but note that you can now donate me some Bitcoins to play with… please. :)

I’ve read some of the papers on Bitcoin but haven’t actually tried it til now. I’m not a wealthy person by any means so I don’t play with money much except for essentials, but I figured it was time I tried it. I’m glad I did – it’s interesting to see how it’s handled and some of the services springing up around it.

If you’ve never tried it, I strongly recommend freeing up a little cash and giving it a try. If nothing else, it’s cool to learn about, and it’s cool to handle a crypto-currency first-hand, a currency that isn’t centrally controlled. You really do ‘own’ it. You can be like me and not take it too seriously. Would I invest huge amounts in it even if I had it? Probably not. While the concepts are sound, it’s still experimental in the real world, and the central banking thugs will probably find ways to attack it, from theft to attempts at regulation. But I think it’s great to get to know it in a hands-on way.

The recent MtGox theft seems to have frightened some people, but I say “duh!” To me the whole point of a crypto-currency is distribution. Hold it in your own hands (PC). If you keep your coins in someone else’s possession, essentially a bank, you’d better hope they have good vaults and aren’t thieves, and to me that defeats the purpose. From what little I know of it, MtGox was a good lesson on how not to use crypto-currency. And I think that Bitcoin survived that heist says a lot. It was basically a bank robbery – shows it has real value. :)

So I discovered a few services. Coinbase is sort of like Paypal for US customers, you can buy Bitcoins by transferring US dollars from a bank account, and can receive Bitcoins from a Donate button like the one I now have here on the blog, and can then convert them back to dollars in your bank account. No fees involved, and some of the people from Paypal seem to be involved. Reviews are mostly positive. (There is a lot of FUD on Bitcoin in general, so read deeply – TPTB don’t want you using something they can’t control.)

To me though, it’s less interesting to see everything in terms of exchange rates, and just work with Bitcoins themselves as a means of exchange. I just need to get some to try it out a bit, so currency conversion is a starting point. I think the whole racket of trying to make money by selling high and buying low is useless, as it is in general. Try providing real services instead of just milking the system. Yet given the number of people trying to play it like a scam, Bitcoin has held up well. Regardless of exchange rates, 1 BTC == 1 BTC, and that should remain true for quite some time. I think it’s cool to own a few.

I’m also trying out the Electrum python-based client for Linux, right in Debian’s repos. Looks pretty well designed, and people seem pretty well-informed in the community. But I don’t have any BTC yet so it’s kind of boring. MultiBit is popular too, but Java is a turn-off for me. The advantage to using your own client is that it’s like holding cash in your wallet – you’re not going through a bank or central service. It’s as secure as your computer in general, which is good enough for something at least. No currency is guaranteed – it’s only money, people. Use it to exchange some stuff, but don’t obsess over it in any form. Keep it real.

There’s also blockchain.info, where you can keep a wallet online and make transactions for free, encrypted with a password that allegedly they can’t access. But the whole javascript interface doesn’t scream security to me. I think your own client is better, and that it’s better for the currency itself to keep it all non-centralized/distributed. That’s the real power and stability of crypto-currency – give up the centralized dependency habits. But blockchain.info is worth looking over and maybe trying too – they do make an effort to make it non-centralized, and it’s free.

There are other digital currencies, but from what I understand not many are like Bitcoin – they are centrally controlled and can be printed at will, etc. Bitcoin is based on some sound mathematics. Even if it doesn’t survive, I think it’s worth being part of, at least in a small way, even as a global experiment that may evolve into its successor. It has an exciting feel to it and people seem to be enjoying learning about its ups and downs.

For those who don’t know, much human suffering has been created by centralized banking – the banksters who rob and control whole nations. I think the concepts of crypto-currency deserve participation for what they can become. Actually quite a few online stores and brick-and-mortar stores are accepting Bitcoin now. The merchant services are becoming streamlined. I think the services are worth exploring and using in limited ways, but learning how to use a client like Electrum and maintaining your own wallet directly is worth learning too – it’s easy.

So I hope you give Bitcoin a try with me for the experience itself, and don’t believe all the FUD – the Bitcoin FAQ is a good read. It’s actually a pretty cool thing. No, it won’t make you rich, and yes, it’s somewhat unstable in terms of exchange rates. But it is what it is, and it seems to have a solid start. I’ll let you know how I’m doing with it, and feel free to share your experiences.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Tips | 9 Comments

Julian Assange: Debian Is Owned By The NSA

In his Q&A to his keynote address at the World Hosting Days Global 2014 conference in April, the world’s largest hosting and cloud event, Julian Assange discussed encryption technology in the context of hosting systems. He discussed the cypherpunk credo of how encryption can level the playing field between powerful governments and people, and about 20 minutes into his address, he discussed how UNIX-like systems like Debian (which he mentioned by name) are engineered by nation-states with backdoors which are easily introduced as ‘bugs’, and how the Linux system depends on thousands of packages and libraries that may be compromised.

I recommend watching his 36 minute Q&A in its entirety, keeping in mind my recent warnings about how GNU/Linux is almost entirely engineered by the government/military-affiliated Red Hat corporation.

The Voice of Russia website has an article on Assange’s address with a few quotes:

“To a degree this is a matter of national sovereignty. The news is all flush with talk about how Russia has annexed the Crimea, but the reality is, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, principally the United States, have annexed the whole world as a result of annexing the computer systems and communications technology that is used to run the modern world,” stated Julian Assange in his keynote address…

Don’t just read the short article, listen to the address yourself, because Assange goes into many areas, and the work being done in these fields.

Assange mentions how Debian famously botched the SSH random number generator for years (which was clearly sabotaged). Speaking of botched security affecting Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, SuSE, *BSD, and more, the nightmarish OpenSSL recently botched SSL again (very serious – updated comments on how a defense contractor in Finland outed the NSA here?) It’s very hard to believe this wasn’t deliberate, as botching the memory space of private keys is about as completely incompetent as you can get, as this area is ultra-critical to the whole system. As a result, many private keys, including of providers, were potentially compromised, and much private info of service users. Be sure to update your systems as this bug is now public knowledge. (For more on how OpenSSL is a nightmare, and why this bug is one among many that will never be found, listen to FreeBSD developer Poul-Heening Kamp’s excellent talk at the FOSDEM BSD conference.)

From the start, my revelations on this blog about Red Hat’s deep control of Linux, along with their large corporate/government connections, hasn’t been just about spying, but about losing the distributed engineering quality of Linux, with Red Hat centralizing control. Yet as an ex-cypherpunk and crypto software developer, as soon as I started using Linux years ago, I noted that all the major distributions used watered-down encryption (to use stronger encryption in many areas, such as AES-loop, you needed to compile your own kernel and go to great lengths to manually bypass barriers they put in place to the use of genuinely strong encryption). This told me then that those who controlled distributions were deeply in the pockets of intelligence networks. So it comes as no surprise to me that they jumped on board systemd when told to, despite the mock choice publicized to users – there was never any option.

A computer, and especially hosting services (which often run Linux), are powerful communication and broadcasting systems into today’s world. If you control and have unfettered access to such systems, you basically control the world. As Assange notes in the talk, encryption is only as strong as its endpoints. eg if you’re running a very secure protocol on a system with a compromised OS, you’re owned.

As Assange observed:

“The sharing of information, the communication of free peoples, across history and across geography, is something that creates, maintains, and disciplines laws [governments].”

UPDATE: Wikileaks is officially denying that Julian Assange literally said “Debian Is Owned By The NSA”. For people who are choking on the mere summary title of this article, please see definition of Owned/Pwn (and get some hip!)

Related:

April 8, 2014 Posted by | News | 132 Comments

Treker And Linux Advocate Wil Wheaton Starring In New SyFy Series

To lighten the mood a bit here, a little news from Linux Hollywood…

While some may only remember the name Wil Wheaton as the teenage Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he went on to become one of the first and biggest celebrity bloggers (with a hand-coded website running on Linux), and is touted as a champion of geek affairs. He’s a big advocate of Linux, open source and anti-DRM. Is he a SpaceFM user? :) Not sure – try it out Wil – but I’ve talked with him a few times on his blog and he’s a great guy, and super-talented. Just a few weeks ago he posted his geeky thoughts on his latest Ubuntu install, and he’s even an Xfce user.

He writes yesterday on his blog that he will be starring in a new innovative series on the SyFy (formerly Sci-Fi) network: The Wil Wheaton Project, airing May 27th. His account there of what he went through to make the show happen was interesting, and it sounds like quite a creative show. Maybe he’ll even feature some Linux stuff there? Who can say, but nice to see a talented Linux geek making it big. Check it out.

Also see: Hollywood Reporter Article

April 3, 2014 Posted by | News | Comments Off

Ts’o and Linus And The Impotent Rage Against systemd

Bringing some links buried in comments below to the top, I think these critiques of systemd’s integration and maintenance deserve some review.

First, kernel developer Theodore Ts’o, the developer of e2fsprogs and current maintainer of ext4, shares his reservations about systemd’s engineering, and the trouble he has had understanding and using it.

…a lot of the fear and uncertainty over systemd may not be so much about systemd, but the fear and loathing over radical changes that have been coming down the pike over the past few years, many of which have been not well documented, and worse, had some truly catastrophic design flaws that were extremely hard to fix.

He goes on to describe how he previously had to neuter policykit’s security (rendering his system very vulnerable) just to get his system working, and how he has found systemd “very difficult sometimes to figure out”. Should we be concerned that a kernel developer, obviously a very qualified computer user (an MIT graduate in his 40s), has trouble understanding and using policykit and systemd to configure his own system? Where does that leave the average Linux user in handling these atrociously complex and built-to-be-broken technologies?

His discussion is not a tirade against systemd, but he too warns of the complexity of the system and its XML (even javascript-based?) configuration files, and also of the very poor track record developers like Red Hat’s Lennart Poettering have:

…Kay Sievers and Lennart Poettering often have the same response style to criticisms as the GNOME developers [read other Red Hat developers] — go away, you’re clueless, we know better than you, and besides, we have commit privs and you don’t, so go away.

Predictably, fanboys rush to systemd’s defense in the comments, telling us how wonderfully documented and supported it is, what a quiet, fascist paradise the systemd mailing list is, and how responsive the developers are to every bug, request and patch submission.

Yet just two days ago, we see Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux and maintainer of the Linux kernel), launching into a tirade against – yes, you guessed it – systemd developers because of their atrocious response to a bug in systemd that is crashing the kernel and preventing it from being debugged. Linus is so upset with systemd developer Kay Sievers (gee, where I have heard that name before – oh, that’s right, he’s the moron who refused to fix udev problems) that Linus is threatening to refuse any further contributions from this Red Hat developer, not just because of this bug, but because of a pattern of this behavior – a problem for Kay because Red Hat is also foaming at the mouth to have their kernel-based, no doubt bug- and security-flaw-ridden D-Bus implementation included in our kernels. Other developers were so peeved that they suggested simply triggering a kernel panic and halting the system when systemd is so much as detected in use.

So much for systemd developers’ responsiveness, and its great engineering, witless fanboys. (Are we really sure many of these fanboys aren’t part of an Infiltrate, Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy program?)

While Ts’o’s discussion of systemd wanted to make me wretch for its usual polite, politically-correct crap, he did at least bring up some core problems in that typically watered-down way that mainstream developers express their opinions so as not to offend any fascists in their midst. Yet even Linus’s tirade, and the lengthy user discussion which followed it, completely miss what’s really happening to Linux. It seems these developers and users can’t rise up enough to get a 3D view – all they can do is focus on minute issues in isolation and fail to put the pieces together in any coherent way. Are they just afraid or feeling awkward to discuss it, or are they like other kernel developers I’ve heard from who are completely clueless about what Red Hat developers represent?

I’ll put it together for you once again. For those who missed it in my other articles, Red Hat is a billion-dollar corporation with deep ties to the US military (their largest customer), and thus inevitably the NSA (a military security organization), etc. Adding to the conflict of interest, they have as direct corporate partners Google, Apple, and other too-large-to-imagine corporations with their hands in slime. Red Hat developers dictatorially control the core engineering of Linux, including components such as udev, udisks, xorg, dbus, systemd, etc., used by every major Linux distribution, as well as other common desktop components such as GNOME and GTK. (As Ts’o put it, “we have commit privs and you don’t”.) These are simple facts, though curiously never discussed. In many developers’ views, these Red Hat developers have consistently introduced closed, overly complex, security-breaking technologies to Linux for years, and have a long and tired history of sabotaging kernel development, creating unending bugs and problems for kernel developers, which they often categorically refuse to address. Linus knows them well – or does he?

Yet the myth continues that Linux is somehow not surreptitiously developed as a product of the military-industrial complex, and that its core engineering is based on open and free contributions. Discussions like these ones above revolve around whatever the bugs of the day are, and completely fail to assess what appears to be deliberate and systemic damage done to the Linux ecosystem, primarily through Red Hat developers.

Wake up, morons – and that includes you Linus (who likes to call out morons as such himself). Start telling it like it is, and start addressing the real systemic problems in Linux’s engineering – namely that brown shirts like Kay Sievers and Lennart Poettering are just front men for a much uglier reality. Otherwise you’re just trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom – your actions are useless and doomed to fail. Getting angry won’t help – start getting smart, and start developing a genuinely free and open operating system, taking you-know-who out of the loop. If you can’t or won’t do that, then you may as well just surrender Linux to them entirely, which is pretty much the case already.

Related:

April 3, 2014 Posted by | News | 31 Comments

SpaceFM 0.9.4 Released

SpaceFM 0.9.4 has been released. Please check out SpaceFM News for a few announcements and the changes to this version.

March 30, 2014 Posted by | Software | Comments Off

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