Search Results: "Norbert Preining"

22 March 2022

Norbert Preining: Packages for Debian: KDE/Plasma, RSSguard, et al

As mentioned in this post, most of my activity around Debian has come to a complete halt (Send your thanks to!). Since I still have a few computers running Debian, I keep maintaining a few things which I heavily rely on, in particular KDE/Plasma and RSSguard. For KDE/Plasma, there are the well known OBS repos I maintain, please read the blog posts tagged KDE. For RSSguard, I just uploaded a package for the recently released RSSguard 4.2.0 to a new OBS project debian-various. To activate this repository, first of all, you need to add my OBS key say in /usr/local/share/keyrings/obs-npreining.asc and add a file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/obs-npreining-various.list, containing the following line, replacing the DISTRIBUTION part with one of Debian_11 (for Bullseye), Debian_Testing, or Debian_Unstable:
deb [signed-by=/usr/local/share/keyrings/obs-npreining.asc] ./
With that in place you will get a fresh and new rssguard. I will add more packages over time, typical candidates are rspamd and all the other none-KDE/Plasma packages I maintained. Enjoy.

15 February 2022

Norbert Preining: NVEnc for Arch Linux

I have been using NVEnc a NVIDIA hardware based encoder for quite some time now. Mostly because I was pointed to it by FastFlix, one of the best video en/recoding frontend programs out there. Having switched to Arch Linux lately, I realized there is no package of it perfect time to start contributing and preparing an AUR package for it. Since it is my first package I made for Arch, it took me a bit of reading through the excellent wiki of Arch, and comparing a few other PKGBUILD files. After a few trials (and several errors) finally the package seems ready to me: nvenc @ AUR. More expert Arch packagers, please leave comments or contact me with suggestions for improvements, all of that is more than welcome! That said, now back to some video encoding (just got all the James Bond on BluRay ;-). Enjoy

9 February 2022

Norbert Preining: KDE/Plasma 5.24 for Debian

Yesterday, KDE released version 5.24 of the Plasma desktop with the usual long list of updates and improvements. This release will be considered a LTS release. And Plasma 5.24 is now available for all Debian releases. (And don t forget KDE Gears/Apps 21.12!) As usual, I am providing packages via my OBS builds. If you have used my packages till now, then you only need to change the plasma5XX line to read plasma524. To give full details, I repeat (and update) instructions for all here: First of all, you need to add my OBS key say in /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/obs-npreining.asc and add a file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/obs-npreining-kde.list, containing the following lines, replacing the DISTRIBUTION part with one of Debian_11 (for Bullseye), Debian_Testing, or Debian_Unstable:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
The sharp eye might have detected also the apps2112 line, yes the KDE Gear suite of packages has been updated to 21.12 some time ago and is also available in my OBS builds (and in Debian/experimental). Just one warning, but I guess most people using these repos already know it: Since I am not using Debian (lovely politics!) for my main machine anymore (only for my laptop for now), I haven t tested these packages as solidly as the one up to now. Still, I got already one positive installation feedback. Enjoy the new Plasma!

2 February 2022

Norbert Preining: Mechanical keyboards: Pulsar PCMK

Mechanical keyboards the big fat rabbit hole you can disappear I started using mechanical keyboards about a year ago, with a Drevo Blademaster Pro (review coming up), but recently got a Pulsar PCML TKL keyboard in a build-it-yourself order.
The Drevo Blademaster Pro I am using is great, but doesn t allow changing switches at all. So I was contemplating getting a mechanical keyboard that allows for arbitrary switches. My biggest problem here is that I am used to the Japanese JIS layout which gives you a lot more keys which come in extremely handy in Emacs or when typing various languages. Fortunately, APlusX a Korean company manufactures a lot of gear under the Pulsar name, and supports also JIS layout. In addition, they have a great web site to customize your keyboard (layout, color, switch, keycaps) and send you a build-yourself kit for a very reasonable prize at least in Japan. So I got my first keyboard to put together myself . how was I nervous getting all the stuff out! Despite being a DIY keyboard, it is very easy (and they offer also pre-assembly options, too!). You don t need to solder the PCB or similar, the steps are more or less: (i) put in the switches, and (ii) add the key caps. I started with the first, putting the switches (I went with Kailh Box Brown tactile ones) into the PCB board
Well, that was easy at least I thought until I started testing the keys and realized that about 20 of them didn t work!! Pulling out the switches again I saw that I twisted a pin on each of them. One by one I straightened the pins and reinserted them very carefully. Lesson learned! At the end all the switches were on the board and reacted to key presses. Next step was adding the key caps. Again, those are not really special key caps, but simply style and sufficient for me. Of course I messed up 0 and O (which have different heights) and at first were confused about different arrow options etc, but since plugging in and pulling out key caps is very easy, at the end all the caps were in place.
With the final keyboard assembled (see top photo), I connected it to my Linux system and started typing around. And first of all, the typing experience was nice. The Kailh Box Brown switches have a bit stronger actuation point then the switches I have in the Blademaster Pro (which are Cherry MX Brown ones), but above all the sound is a bit deeper and thumbier , which really gives a nice feeling. The keyboard also allows changing the RGB lightening via the keyboard (color, pattern, speed, brightness etc). There is a configuration software for macros etc, unfortunately it only works on Windows (and I couldn t get it to work with Wine, either), a sour point One more negative point is that the LED backlight doesn t have a timeout, that is, it stays on all the time. The Drevo I have turns off after a configured number of seconds, and turns completely black something I really like and miss on the Pulsar. Another difference to the Blademaster is connectivity: While the Blademaster offers cable, bluetooth, and wireless (with dongle), the Pulsar only offers cable (USB-C). Not a real deal-breaker for me, since I use it at my desktop and really don t need wireless/bluetooth capabilities, but still. I have been using the Pulsar now for a few days without even touching the Drevo (besides comparing typing sounds and actuation points), and really like the Pulsar. I think it is hard to get a fully configurable and changeable mechanical keyboard for a similar prize. There is one last thing that I really really miss an ergonomic mechanical keyboard. Of course there are some, like the ErgoDox EZ or the Kinesis Advantage 2, but they don t offer JIS layout (and are very expensive). Then there is the Truly Ergonomic CLEAVE keyboard, which is really great, but quite expensive. I guess I have to dive down the rabbit hole even more and make my own PCB and ergonomic keyboard!

14 January 2022

Norbert Preining: Future of my packages in Debian

After having been (again) demoted (timed perfectly to my round birthday!) based on flimsy arguments, I have been forced to rethink the level of contribution I want to do for Debian. Considering in particular that I have switched my main desktop to dual-boot into Arch Linux (all on the same btrfs fs with subvolumes, great!) and have run Arch now for several days exclusively, I think it is time to review the packages I am somehow responsible for (full list of packages). After about 20 years in Debian, time to send off quite some stuff that has accumulated over time. KDE/Plasma, frameworks, Gears, and related packages All these packages are group maintained, so there is not much to worry about. Furthermore, a few new faces have joined the team and are actively working on the packages, although mostly on Qt6. I guess that with me not taking action, frameworks, gears, and plasma will fall back over time (frameworks: Debian 5.88 versus current 5.90, gears: Debian 21.08 versus current 21.12, plasma uptodate at the moment). With respect to my packages on OBS, they will probably also go stale over time. Using Arch nowadays I lack the development tools necessary to build Debian packages, and above all, the motivation. I am sorry for all those who have learned to rely on my OBS packages over the last years, bringing modern and uptodate KDE/Plasma to Debian/stable, please direct your complaints at the responsible entities in Debian. Cinnamon As I have written already here, I have reduced my involvement quite a lot, and nowadays Fabio and Joshua are doing the work. But both are not even DM (AFAIR) and I am the only one doing uploads (I got DM upload permissions for it). But I am not sure how long I will continue doing this. This also means that in the near future, Cinnamon will also go stale. TeX related packages Hilmar has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so I don t see any source of concern here. New packages will need to find a new uploader, though. With myself also being part of upstream, I can surely help out in the future with difficult problems. Calibre and related packages Yokota-san (another DM I have sponsored) has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so also here there is not much of concern. Onedrive This is already badly outdated, and I recommend using the OBS builds which are current and provide binaries for Ubuntu and Debian for various versions. ROCm Here fortunately a new generation of developers has taken over maintenance and everything is going smoothly, much better than I could have done, yeah to that! Qalculate related packages These are group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repos for quite some time. I fear that the packages will go stale rather soon. isync/mbsync I have recently salvaged this package, and use it daily, but I guess it needs to be orphaned sooner or later. CafeOBJ While I am also part of upstream here, I guess it will be orphaned. Julia Julia is group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repo for quite some time, and we are already far behind the normal releases (and julia got removed from testing). While go stale/orphaned. I recommend installing upstream binaries. python-mechanize Another package that is group maintained in the Python team, but with only me as uploader I guess it will go stale and effectively be orphaned soon. xxhash Has already by orphaned. qpdfview No upstream development, so not much to do, but will be orphaned, too.

21 October 2021

Norbert Preining: KDE/Plasma 5.23 25th Anniversary Edition for Debian

In the last week, KDE released version 5.23 25th Anniversary Edition of the Plasma desktop with the usual long list of updates and improvements. This release celebrates 25 years of KDE, and Plasma 5.23.0 was released right on the day 25 years ago Matthias Ettrich sent an email to the de.comp.os.linux.misc newsgroup explaining a project he was working on. And Plasma 5.23 (with the bug fix 5.23.1) is now available for all Debian releases. (And don t forget KDE Gears/Apps 21.08!) As usual, I am providing packages via my OBS builds. If you have used my packages till now, then you only need to change the plasma522 line to read plasma523. To give full details, I repeat (and update) instructions for all here: First of all, you need to add my OBS key say in /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/obs-npreining.asc and add a file /etc/apt/sources.lists.d/obs-npreining-kde.list, containing the following lines, replacing the DISTRIBUTION part with one of Debian_11 (for Bullseye), Debian_Testing, or Debian_Unstable:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
The sharp eye might have detected also the apps2108 line, yes the KDE Gear suite of packages hgas been updated to 21.08 some time ago and is also available in my OBS builds (and in Debian/experimental). Uploads to Debian Plasma 5.23.0 has been uploaded to Debian, and is currently in transition to testing. Due to incorrect/insufficient Break/Depends, currently Debian/testing with the official packages for Plasma are broken. And as it looks this situation will continue for considerable time, considering that kwin is blocked by mesa, which in turn is blocked by llvm-toolchain-12, which has quite some RC bugs preventing it from transitioning. What a bad coincidence. KDE Gears 21.08 are all in Debian Unstable and Testing, so the repositories here are mostly for users of Debian Bullseye (stable). Krita beta Krita has released the second beta of Krita 5.0, and this is available from the krita-beta repository, but only for amd64 architectures. Just add
deb ./
Enjoy the new Plasma!

10 October 2021

Norbert Preining: TeX Live contrib archive available via CTAN mirrors

The TeX Live contrib repository has been for many years now a valuable source of packages that cannot enter proper TeX Live due to license restrictions etc. I took over maintenance of it in 2017 from Taco, and since then the repository has been available via my server. Since a few weeks, tlcontrib is now available via the CTAN mirror network, the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network. Thanks to the team of CTAN who offered to mirror the tlcontrib, users can get much faster (and reliable) access via the mirror, by adding tlcontrib as additional repository source for tlmgr, either permanently via:
tlmgr repository add tlcontrib
or via a one-shot
tlmgr --repository install PACKAGE
The list of packages can be seen here, and includes besides others: (and much more!). You can install all packages from the repository by installing the new collection-contrib. Thanks to the whole CTAN team, and please switch your repositories to the CTAN mirror to get load of my server, thanks a lot! Enjoy.

22 September 2021

Norbert Preining: TeX Live 2021 for Debian

The release of TeX Live 2021 is already half a year away, but due to the delay of waiting for Debian/Bullseye release, we haven t updated TeX Live in Debian for quite some time. But the waiting is over, today I uploaded the first packages of TeX Live 2021 to unstable. All the changes listed in the upstream release blog apply also to the Debian packages. I expect a few hiccups, but it is good to see it out of the door finally. Enjoy.

21 September 2021

Norbert Preining: Plasma 5.23 Anniversary Edition Beta for Debian available for testing

Last week has seen the release of the first beta of Plasma 5.23 Anniversary Edition. Work behind the scenes to get this release as soon as possible into Debian has progressed well. Starting with today, we provide binaries of Plasma 5.23 for Debian stable (bullseye), testing, and unstable, in each case for three architectures: amd64, i386, and aarch64. To test the current beta, please add
deb ./
to your apt sources (replacing DISTRIBUTION with one of Debian_11 (for Bullseye), Debian_Testing, or Debian_Unstable). For further details see this blog. Warning This is a beta release, and let me recall the warning from the upstream release announcement:
DISCLAIMER: This is beta software and is released for testing purposes. You are advised to NOT use Plasma 25th Anniversary Edition Beta in a production environment or as your daily desktop. If you do install Plasma 25th Anniversary Edition Beta, you must be prepared to encounter (and report to the creators) bugs that may interfere with your day-to-day use of your computer.
Enjoy, and please report bugs!

2 September 2021

Norbert Preining: Reducing (sparsifying) qcow2 image of Windows10

Since joining Fujitsu I am permanently running a VM (kvm/qemu) with Windows 10 (unfortunately necessary). While the usaged disk space is about 50G, the actual qcow2 file had grown to over 180G, not good. Searching the web the very promising virt-sparsify is mentioned again and again, and the man page gives hope, but as it turns out it is broken and calls qemu-img with incorrect/not-working arguments (see this bug). Another problem seems to be that by default the discard mode seems not to be set to unmap. So here are the stages how I reduced the size of the qcow2 image back down to around 60G.
  1. Turn off the VM
  2. Make sure you are using VirtIO for the disk, select Discard mode: unmap
  3. Boot into Windows, and from an elevated prompt run: Optimize-Volume -DriveLetter C -ReTrim -Verbose
  4. Shut down the VM
  5. Run a dummy conversion which sparsifies the image: qemu-img convert -O qcow2 orig.qcow2 sparse.qcow2
  6. Rename/Backup the images and boot back into Windows.
That helped in my case, without any consequences (till now) for the Windows installation.

24 August 2021

Norbert Preining: OBS builds of KDE/Plasma for Debian/Bullseye Testing Unstable

With the release of Debian/Bullseye last week, we can now support the stable Debian release (Bullseye) as well as Testing and Unstable releases with our build of KDE/Plasma (frameworks, plasma, gears, related programs) on the OBS builds. We used this switch to also consistently support three architectures: amd64, i386, and aarch64. To give full details, I repeat (and update) instructions for all here: First of all, you need to add my OBS key say in /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/obs-npreining.asc and add a file /etc/apt/sources.lists.d/obs-npreining-kde.list, containing the following lines, replacing the DISTRIBUTION part with one of Debian_11 (for Bullseye), Debian_Testing, or Debian_Unstable:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
Notes Bullseye and pinning These packages are shipped with Distribution: unstable and thus might have a too low pin to be upgraded to automatically. One can fix that by manually selecting the packages, or adjusting the pin priority. One example is given in the comment section below, copied here:
Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 950
in /etc/apt/preferences Older sets Note that older sets (plasma521, apps2012 and apps2008) don t support all the different variants and will disappear soon.) Enjoy.

20 August 2021

Norbert Preining: Krita 5.0-beta for Debian

I have been using the GIMP since about 20 years or so, but recently started to also work with Krita since I found it quite nice to work with (besides the text module, which is a pain). As there came out the first beta of Krita 5, I decided to throw it into my KDE/Plasma OBS builds to try it out. To get it working, add my OBS key say in /usr/local/share/keyrings/obs-npreining.asc and add a file /etc/apt/sources.lists.d/obs-npreining-krita-beta.list, containing the following line:
deb [signed-by=/usr/local/share/keyrings/obs-npreining.asc] ./
Warning: Krita will also warn you, but files saved with version 5 might not be openable with version 4 of Krita, so be sure to have a backup of your files in case you need to go back to Krita 4. Enjoy.

18 August 2021

Norbert Preining: Debian KDE/Plasma Status 2021-08-18

Bullseye has been released, and we are in the post-release rush with lots of changes going on. On the KDE/Plasma side we are trying to move all our accumulated changes to unstable. On the OSC side, frameworks 5.85 and KDE Gears 21.08.0 have been released. Debian Bullseye As mentioned previously, the now released Debian/Bullseye contains KDE Frameworks 5.78, including several backports of fixes from 5.79 to get smooth operation. Plasma 5.20.5, again with several cherry picks for bugs will be in Bullseye, too. The KDE/Apps are mostly at 20.12 level, and the KDE PIM group packages (akonadi, kmail, etc) are at 20.08. Debian unstable (and in time also testing) Frameworks 5.83 and Plasma 5.21.5 have been uploaded to unstable. This is a temporary measure until several necessary packages have cleared the NEW queue. After that we will upload frameworks 5.85 and Plasma 5.22.N. KDE Gears is still at 20.08, but we have 21.04 in experimental, and I am currently preparing to upload 21.08.0, should be done soon. OBS packages The OBS packages as usual follow the latest release, and currently ship KDE Frameworks 5.85, KDE Gears 21.08.0, and Plasma 5.22.4. The package sources are as usual (note the different path for the Plasma packages and the apps packages, containing the release version!), for Debian/unstable:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
and the same with Testing instead of Unstable for Debian/testing. OBS for bullseye For now, use the Testing packages with the addition dependencies:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
Sooner or later OBS will offer Debian Bullseye as proper target, and then I will prepare releases for it and write another blog post. Closing Expect continued breakage of the next weeks until the upload storm subsides a bit.

12 June 2021

Norbert Preining: Future of Cinnamon in Debian

OK, this is not an easy post. I have been maintaining Cinnamon in Debian for quite some time, since around the times version 4 came out. The soon (hahaha) to be released Bullseye will carry the last release of the 4-track, but version 5 is already waiting, After Bullseye, the future of Cinnamon in Debian currently looks bleak. Since my switch to KDE/Plasma, I haven t used Cinnamon in months. Only occasionally I tested new releases, but never gave them a real-world test. Having left Gnome3 for it s complete lack of usability for pro-users, I escaped to Cinnamon and found a good home there for quite some time using modern technology but keeping user interface changes conservative. For long time I haven t even contemplated using KDE, having been burned during the bad days of KDE3/4 when bloat-as-bloat-can-be was the best description. What revelation it was that KDE/Plasma was more lightweight, faster, responsive, integrated, customizable, all in all simple great. Since my switch to KDE/Plasma I think not for a second I have missed anything from the Gnome3 or Cinnamon world. And that means, I will most probably NOT packaging Cinnamon 5, nor do any real packaging work of Cinnamon for Debian in the future. Of course, I will try to keep maintenance of the current set of packages for Bullseye, but for the next release, I think it is time that someone new steps in. Cinnamon packaging taught me a lot on how to deal with multiple related packages, which is of great use in the KDE packaging world. If someone steps forward, I will surely be around for support and help, but as long as nobody takes the banner, it will mean the end of Cinnamon in Debian. Please contact me if you are interested!

8 June 2021

Norbert Preining: KDE/Plasma 5.22 for Debian

Today, KDE released version 5.22 of the Plasma desktop with the usual long list of updates and improvements. And packages for Debian are ready for consumption! Ah and yes, KDE Gear 21.04 is also ready! As usual, I am providing packages via my OBS builds. If you have used my packages till now, then you only need to change the plasma521 line to read plasma522. Just for your convenience, if you want the full set of stuff, here are the apt-source entries:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
and for testing the same with Debian_unstable replaced with Debian_Testing. As usual, don t forget that you need to import my OBS gpg key to make these repos work! The sharp eye might have detected also the apps2104 line, yes the newly renamed KDE Gear suite of packages is also available in my OBS builds (and in Debian/experimental). Uploads to Debian Currently, the frameworks and most of the KDE Gear (Apps) 21.04 are in Debian/experimental. I will upload Plasma 5.22 to experimental as soon as NEW processing of two packages is finished (which might take another few months). After the release of bullseye, all the current versions will be uploaded to unstable as usual. Enjoy the new Plasma!

9 May 2021

Norbert Preining: bash: passing around arguments with quotes

Update: I just learned on IRC that checking with shellcheck would have told me everything, including the usage of arrays, and the linked page even mentions ffmpeg how stupid to reinvent the wheel again and again Thanks to pabs for telling me! It has hit me several times, and searching the internet gives lots of suggestions: How to pass and argument containing quotes to another program from a bash program. My case was a script that automatized video processing using ffmpeg, and I needed to call ffmpeg with arguments like
ffmpeg ... --filter_complex "some arg with spaces" ...
My first (failed) shot at doing this in the shell script was:
filterarg='--filter_complex "some arg with spaces"'
ffmpeg $someargs $filterarg ...
which, as most bash gurus will know, will fail. Solutions are using eval that are complicated. Recently I realized a much simpler method using bash arrays: Assume the program show_arguments just prints the arguments passed in, maybe something like (again in bash):
for i in "$@" ; do
  echo "=== $i"
The program under consideration would be in the broken version:
# Variant 1 - NOT WORKING
myargs='-filter_complex "arg with space"'
show_arguments $myargs
This would give
=== -filter_complex
=== "arg
=== with
=== space"
which is not what we want. The solution is to stuff the arguments into an array, and expand that as arguments.
# Variant 2 - WORKING
declare -a myargs
myargs=(-filter_complex "arg with space")
show_arguments "$ myargs[@] "
which, correctly, would give
=== -filter_complex
=== arg with space
Now I only need to remember that trick for the next time it bites me!

29 April 2021

Norbert Preining: In memoriam of Areeb Jamal

We lost one of our friends and core developers of the FOSSASIA community. An extremely sad day.
We miss you.

7 April 2021

Norbert Preining: Debian KDE/Plasma and Digikam Status 2021-04-07

Two months have passed since the last status update, but not much has changed since Debian is more or less frozen for the release of Bullseye, and only critical bugfixes are allowed. As reported before Debian/bullseye will have Plasma 5.20.5, Frameworks 5.78, Apps 20.12. Debian/experimental already carries Plasma 5.21.4 and Frameworks 5.80, and that is also the level at the OSC builds. Debian Bullseye We are in hard freeze now, and only targeted fixes are allowed, but Bullseye is carrying a good mixture consisting of the KDE Frameworks 5.78, including several backports of fixes from 5.79 to get smooth operation. Plasma 5.20.5, again with several cherry picks for bugs will be in Bullseye, too. The KDE/Apps are mostly at 20.12 level, and the KDE PIM group packages (akonadi, kmail, etc) are at 20.08. Debian experimental Frameworks 5.80 (and soon 5.81) and Plasma 5.21.4 are in Debian/experimental. OBS packages (short reminder: you need to import my OBS gpg key to make these repos work!) The OBS packages as usual follow the latest release, and currently ship KDE Frameworks 5.80, KDE Apps 20.12.3, and Plasma 5.21.4. The package sources are as usual (note the different path for the Plasma packages and the App packages, containing the release version!), for Debian/unstable:
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
deb ./
and the same with Testing instead of Unstable for Debian/testing. Digikam Digikam has seen a new release 7.2.0, and packages are available in my OBS archives:
deb ./
and again, same with Testing instead of Unstable for Debian/testing.

28 March 2021

Norbert Preining: RMS, Debian, and the world

Too much has been written, a war of support letters is going on, Debian is heading head first like Lemmings into the same war. And then, there is this by the first female President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Civil Rights Activist Nadine Strossen s Response To #CancelStallman:
I find it so odd that the strong zeal for revenge and punishment if someone says anything that is perceived to be sexist or racist or discriminatory comes from liberals and progressives. There are so many violations [in cases like Stallman s] of such fundamental principles to which progressives and liberals cling in general as to what is justice, what is fairness, what is due process.
One is proportionality: that the punishment should be proportional to the offense. Another one is restorative justice: that rather than retribution and punishment, we should seek to have the person constructively come to understand, repent, and make amends for an infraction. Liberals generally believe society to be too punitive, too harsh, not forgiving enough. They are certainly against the death penalty and other harsh punishments even for the most violent, the mass murderers. Progressives are right now advocating for the release of criminals, even murderers. To then have exactly the opposite attitude towards something that certainly is not committing physical violence against somebody, I don t understand the double standard!
Another cardinal principle is we shouldn t have any guilt by association. [To hold culpable] these board members who were affiliated with him and ostensibly didn t do enough to punish him for things that he said which by the way were completely separate from the Free Software Foundation is multiplying the problems of unwarranted punishment. It extends the punishment where the argument for responsibility and culpability becomes thinner and thinner to the vanishing point. That is also going to have an enormous adverse impact on the freedom of association, which is an important right protected in the U.S. by the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court has upheld freedom of association in cases involving organizations that were at the time highly controversial. It started with NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, but we have a case that s going to the Supreme Court right now regarding Black Lives Matter. The Supreme Court says even if one member of the group does commit a crime in both of those cases physical violence and assault that is not a justification for punishing other members of the group unless they specifically intended to participate in the particular punishable conduct.
Now, let s assume for the sake of argument, Stallman had an attitude that was objectively described as discriminatory on the basis on race and gender (and by the way I have seen nothing to indicate that), that he s an unrepentant misogynist, who really believes women are inferior. We are not going to correct those ideas, to enlighten him towards rejecting them and deciding to treat women as equals through a punitive approach! The only approach that could possibly work is an educational one! Engaging in speech, dialogue, discussion and leading him to re-examine his own ideas.
Even if I strongly disagree with a position or an idea, an expression of an idea, advocacy of an idea, and even if the vast majority of the public disagrees with the idea and finds it offensive, that is not a justification for suppressing the idea. And it s not a justification for taking away the equal rights of the person who espouses that idea including the right to continue holding a tenured position or other prominent position for which that person is qualified.
But a number of the ideas for which Richard Stallman has been attacked and punished are ideas that I as a feminist advocate of human rights find completely correct and positive from the perspective of women s equality and dignity! So for example, when he talks about the misuse and over use and flawed use of the term sexual assault, I completely agree with that critique! People are indiscriminantly using that term or synonyms to describe everything from the most appaulling violent abuse of helpless vulnerable victims (such as a rape of a minor) to any conduct or expression in the realm of gender or sexuality that they find unpleasant or disagreeable.
So we see the term sexual assault and sexual harrassment used for example, when a guy asks a woman out on a date and she doesn t find that an appealing invitation. Maybe he used poor judgement in asking her out, maybe he didn t, but in any case that is NOT sexual assault or harassment. To call it that is to really demean the huge horror and violence and predation that does exist when you are talking about violent sexual assault. People use the term sexual assault/ sexual harassment to refer to any comment about gender or sexuality issues that they disagree with or a joke that might not be in the best taste, again is that to be commended? No! But to condemn it and equate it with a violent sexual assault again is really denying and demeaning the actual suffering that people who are victims of sexual assault endure. It trivializes the serious infractions that are committed by people like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. So that is one point that he made that I think is very important that I strongly agree with.
Secondly and relatedly, [Richard Stallman] never said that he endorse child pornography, which by definition the United States Supreme Court has defined it multiple times is the sexual exploitation of an actual minor. Coerced, forced, sexual activity by that minor, with that minor that happens to be filmed or photographed. That is the definition of child pornography. He never defends that! What the point he makes, a very important one, which the U.S. Supreme Court has also made, is mainly that we overuse and distort the term child pornography to refer to any depiction of any minor in any context that is even vaguely sexual.
So some people have not only denounced as child pornography but prosecuted and jailed loving devoted parents who committed the crime of taking a nude or semi-nude picture of their own child in a bathtub or their own child in a bathing suit. Again it is the hysteria that has totally refused to draw an absolutely critical distinction between actual violence and abuse, which is criminal and should be criminal, to any potentially sexual depiction of a minor. And I say potentially because I think if you look at a picture a parent has taken of a child in a bathtub and you see that as sexual, then I d say there s something in your perspective that might be questioned or challenged! But don t foist that upon the parent who is lovingly documenting their beloved child s life and activities without seeing anything sexual in that image.
This is a decision that involves line drawing. We tend to have this hysteria where once we hear terms like pedophilia of course you are going to condemn anything that could possibly have that label. Of course you would. But societies around the world throughout history various cultures and various religions and moral positions have disagreed about at what age do you respect the autonomy and individuality and freedom of choice of a young person around sexuality. And the U.S. Supreme Court held that in a case involving minors right to choose to have an abortion.
By the way, [contraception and abortion] is a realm of sexuality where liberals and progressives and feminists have been saying, Yes! If you re old enough to have sex. You should have the right to contraception and access to it. You should have the right to have an abortion. You shouldn t have to consult with your parents and have their permission or a judge s permission because you re sufficiently mature. And the Supreme Court sided in accord of that position. The U.S. Supreme Court said constitutional rights do not magically mature and spring into being only when someone happens to attain the state defined age of majority.
In other words the constitution doesn t prevent anyone from exercising rights, including Rights and sexual freedoms, freedom of choice and autonomy at a certain age! And so you can t have it both ways. You can t say well we re strongly in favor of minors having the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, to have an abortion what is in some people s minds murder but we re not going to trust them to decide to have sex with somewhat older than they are.
And I say somewhat older than they are because that s something where the law has also been subject to change. On all issues of when you obtain the age of majority, states differ on that widely and they choose different ages for different activities. When you re old enough to drive, to have sex with someone around your age, to have sex with someone much older than you. There is no magic objective answer to these questions. I think people need to take seriously the importance of sexual freedom and autonomy and that certainly includes women, feminists. They have to take seriously the question of respecting a young person s autonomy in that area.
There have been famous cases of 18 year olds who have gone to prison because they had consensual sex with their girlfriends who were a couple of years younger. A lot of people would not consider that pedophilia and yet under some strict laws and some absolute definitions it is. Romeo and Juliet laws make an exception to pedophilia laws when there is only a relatively small age difference. But what is relatively small? So to me, especially when he says he is re-examining his position, Stallman is just thinking through the very serious debate of how to be protective and respectful of young people. He is not being disrespectful, much less wishing harm upon young people, which seems to be what his detractors think he s doing.
Unfortunately, I don t think the Anti-Harassment Team of Debian and others of the usual group of warriors will ever read less understand what is written there. So sad.

26 February 2021

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Wayland KDE X11

KDE Impressions These days, I often hear a lot about Wayland. And how much of effort is being put into it; not just by the Embedded world but also the usual Desktop systems, namely KDE and GNOME. In recent past, I switched back to KDE and have been (very) happy about the switch. Even though the KDE 4 (and initial KDE 5) debacle had burnt many, coming back to a usable KDE desktop is always a delight. It makes me feel home with the elegance, while at the same time the flexibility, it provides. It feels so nice to draft this blog article from Kwrite + VI Input Mode Thanks to the great work of the Debian KDE Team, but Norbert Preining in particular, who has helped bring very up-to-date KDE packages into Debian. Right now, I m on a Plamsa 5.21.1 desktop, which is recent by all standards.

Wayland Almost all the places in the Linux world these days are busy with integrating Wayland as the primary display service. Not sure what the current status on the GNOME side is but I definitely keep trying KDE + Wayland with every release. I keep trying with every release because it still is not prime for daily use. And it makes me get back to X11, no matter how dated some may call. Fact is, X11 still shines to me as an end-user. Glitches with Wayland still are (Based on this week s test on Plasma 5.21.1):
  • Horrible performance compared to X11
  • Very crashy, especially when hotplugging secondary display. Plasma would just crash. X11 is very resilient to such things, part of the reason I can think is the age of the codebase.
  • Many many applications still need to be fixed for Wayland. Or Wayland needs to accomodate them in some way. XWayland does not really feel like the answer.
And while KDE keeps insisting users to switch to Wayland, as that s where all the new enhancements and fixes are put in, someone like me still needs to stick to X11 for the time being. So to get my shiny new LG 27" 4K Monitor (3840x2160 60.00*+) to work without too much glitch, I had to live with an alias:
$ alias   grep xrandr
alias rrs_xrandr_lg='xrandr --output DP-1 --mode 3840x2160 --scale .75x.75'

Plasma 5.21 On the brighter side, the Plasma 5.21.1 release brings some nice enhancements in other areas.
  • I m now able to make use of tighter integration with systemd/cgroups, with better organization and management of processes overall.
  • The new Plasma theme, Breeze Twilight, is a good blend of Light + Dark.
I also appreciate the work put in by Michail Vourlakos. The KDE project is lucky to have a developer/designer like him. His vision and work into the KDE desktop is well beyond a writing by me.
$ usystemctl status plasma-plasmashell.service 
  plasma-plasmashell.service - KDE Plasma Workspace
     Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/user/plasma-plasmashell.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Fri 2021-02-26 18:34:23 IST; 13s ago
   Main PID: 501806 (plasmashell)
      Tasks: 21 (limit: 18821)
     Memory: 759.8M
        CPU: 13.706s
     CGroup: /user.slice/user-1000.slice/user@1000.service/session.slice/plasma-plasmashell.service
              501806 /usr/bin/plasmashell --no-respawn
Feb 26 18:35:00 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:21 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:49 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:57 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons

OBS - Open Build Service I should also thank the OpenSUSE folks for the OBS work. It has enabled the close equivalent (or better, in my experience) of PPAs for Debian. And that is what has enabled developers like Norbert to easily and quickly be able to deliver the entire KDE suite.

OBS - Some detail Christian asked for some more details on the OBS side of things, of my view. I m updating this article with it because the comment system may not always be reliable and I hate losing content. Having been using OBS myself, and also others in the Debian community who are making use of it, I surely think we as project should consider making use of OBS. Given that OBS is Free Software, it is a perfect fit for Debian. Gitlab is another example of what we ve made available in Debian. OBS is divided into multiple parts
  • OBS Server
  • OBS DoD service
  • OBS Publisher
  • OBS Workers
  • OBS Warden
  • OBS Rep Server
For every Debian release I care about, I add an OBS project per release. So I have OBS projects for: Sid, Bullseye, Buster, Jessie. Now, say you have a package, foo . You prep your package and enable all the releases that you want to build the package for. So the same package gets built, in separate clean environments, for every release I mentioned as an example above. You don t have to manually trigger the build for every release/every architcture. You should add the release (as projects) in OBS, set their supported architectures, and then add those enabled release projets as bits to your package. Every build involves:
  • Creating a new chroot for each build
  • Building the package
Builds can be scattered across multiple hosts, known as workers in OBS terminology. Your workers are independent machine entities, supporting different architectures. The machines can be Bare-Metal ones, VMs, even containers. So this allows for very nice scale-in and scale-out. There may be auto-scaling too but that is something worth investigating. Think of things like cross architecture builds. Let s assume the cloud vendors decide to donate resources to the Debian project. We could enable OBS worker instances on the respective clouds (different architectures) and plug them into the master OBS instance that Debian hosts. Fully distributed. Similarly, big hardware vendors willing to donate compute resources could house them in their premises and Debian could just easily establish a connection to them. All of this just a TCP connection away. So when I look at the features of OBS, from the point of view of Debian, I like it more. Extensibility won t be an issue. Supporting a new Debian release would just be a matter of bootstrapping the Debian release as a project in OBS, and then all done. The single effort of setting of the target release project is a one time job, and then all can leverage it. The PPA was a long craved feature missing in Debian, in my opinion. OBS allows to not just fulfil that gap but also extend it in a very easy way. Andrew Lee had put in a nice video presentation about the same @ Debconf 20