13 November, 2012

On Open Innovation and Open Governance


As I wrote in my blog yesterday, on Thursday the 15th I'll be leading a discussion session about open governance in the Open Innovation track at the 'Summit of new thinking' in Berlin.

Edit: The video of my talk is up...

#SON12: Jos Poortvliet - Open Governance done right: creating rules without ruling from newthinking on Vimeo.

Open Innovation

I'm actually looking forward to that: the 'open innovation' thing was what once got me professionally interested in Free Software communities (while studying Organizational Psychology) and I still consider it an exciting topic. I did my thesis on open innovation but 10 years ago there was barely any research done in the area of open source governance and when I asked questions to my professors, blank stares where the result. These days, things are different (see for example this interview): the Academic world has seen what open source organizational methods can do and there is quite a bit to read about it.

Open Governance

The idea behind Open Innovation is to involve the entire organization with innovation and improving things. Both big and small - we're not just talking about creating 'The Next Big Thing' but also improving current products, structures, processes and more. Think about it as bottom-up innovation.

That only works if you have the right governance: the right structure and rules. Innovation is the first thing you stifle if you make mistakes in how you set up an organization. And you can't just create a 'department of innovation', stuff a bunch of folks in a room and tell them to innovate. It just doesn't work that way. Innovation comes from interaction: people talking to people. Sales together with Engineering, that kind of stuff. Creating an organization which is conductive to innovation is not easy.

Open Source communities of course excel at this: their organically grown structures and informal rules let people 'do what they want' and freedom is the foundation of innovative cultures. But these ways of working have their limitations - you can't be informal forever, not if you grow big. At some point, some guidance has to be there to prevent things from clogging up the wheels of innovation. Things like personal conflicts, fights about creative directions, strategic disagreements. And this is, again, where governance comes in. My session is sub-titled "creating rules without ruling", as in my opinion, it is more about writing down existing but implicit rules than creating new ones.

Qt Open Governance

Interesting in this regard is the Open Governance the Qt project is working on: building such structures 'from scratch' is not easy. You have to find out where you agree, yes, but while writing things down, implicit things become explicit and that goes for (potential) conflicts then too. But being able to do this in a fresh community, before ideas get entrenched! Having a chance to set direction in a 'soft' way. Terribly exciting!

Meet me, talk to me!

If you want to share thoughts with me on this topic, meet me at QtDevDays or at the Summit of New Thinking - or other events in the future (how about FOSDEM?).

In a while, Crocodile!

A few video's has been created for the conference. Esp the first one is funny ;-)

Check 'em out:
What is Open Innovation? (Chinese Whispers Game)
Open Innovation Track Day 1
Open Innovation Track Day 2
Rule No.1 for innovation: Have fun!

12 November, 2012

Pre and post conference blues...

Heya all,

Since the Akademy conference in Estonia beginning of August I've been rather quiet as I have been struggling with health issues. After loosing some blood and undergoing a few *scopy's the people with stethoscopes don't seem too worried so neither am I but it has been unpleasant at times. Not too many tests left - an MRI and another 'scopy' in December, I hope they can give me a diagnosis by then.

It has been frustrating to have had to cancel trips to the openSUSE Summit, COSCUP, Brazil and more. And at the openSUSE Conference (my first trip in 3 months) I had to skip the evening fun - instead opting for quiet food-in-the-hotel and early bed. Believe me: not nice.

new team: 'the openSUSE team'

Luckily, I'm getting back on my feet and at a recent visit to Nürnberg I even went out a night with my new team mates. Yup, a new team - if you're following the openSUSE mailing lists, you probably have heard that already. In my two years of 'community manager' of openSUSE, I've worked with people around the company and community - but I was not really part of a formal team. Independence is nice but it also can make you take on a few things too many - I know I did. So, when it was decided to try and re-arrange things with regards to the openSUSE Boosters team, I decided it was a good idea to join the team and help it find directions. Together we can do more, and all that.

It means the scope of the former boosters team (now just 'openSUSE team') has widened: I will of course continue to care about the things I used to care about. Things like the atmosphere in the community, governance, strategy - and of course marketing, the ambassador program and presenting a friendly face to the wider Free Software world. But I'll be doing that together with the rest of the team now, not alone!

Things are quite different now, so let's see how it'll go.

Conference last month

So, the openSUSE conference was my first event since a while. It was quite awesome, with a lot of faces I hadn't seen in a while and a lot of excitement. We organized a bunch of interviews with people, which will be released over the coming months. On the openSUSE days, a few important things were discussed, results of which have been posted to mailing lists. I'm working on a summary of that but it'll take a bit longer. One thing I already managed to change: Richard gave some feedback on the 'we believe' poster and we decided it needed a fourth item. Which I added, see the image on the right.

You can get the source for the poster in our github repo.

Conferences coming

There'll be more events, of course. On short notice, I'll be at the QtDevDays in Berlin - it's practically next door and a great way to meet people. I've heard we can expect 500+ people there from all over the (huge) Qt ecosystem. It'll be interesting to talk to people outside of the usual Linux crowd: Qt has managed to grow well beyond the Linux Desktop into an industry standard for a wide variety of use cases.

Open Innovation and Open Governance

On Thursday the 15th I'll be leading a discussion session about open governance in the Open Innovation track at the 'Summit of new thinking', also in Berlin.

I'll write a tad more about that in a blog tomorrow.

For now, I have a conference to dress up for, so see you later, alligator ;-)

11 October, 2012

Video interviews with some very interesting folk


In the last week I've been doing some video interviews with a bunch of interesting people who will speak at the upcoming LinuxDays/oSC/Gentoo/SUSE conf in Prague. Except for Agustin they all speak at the special 'Future Media' track which I proposed after having visited Re:Publica in Berlin. At Republica I saw a challenge for Free Software: connect better to people outside of our 'usual' crowd. This track was initially more ambitious but due to my recent health issues it hasn't turned out all that I wanted - still, it features a number of really interesting speakers and subjects.

In the following video's you can hear these speakers explain what they will talk about. Note that there are a few more speakers, most notably Shane Coughlan who will talk about open source flying Drones to help people in disaster area's and Ramon Roca who build up a 'free and open' broadband network in Spain!!!

Bas van Abel: If you can't open it, you don't own it!

Bas van Abel told me to start demanding open products. I found this interview really, REALLY interesting. I knew Open Source and Software Freedom have spawned movements well outside of the realm of software (Creative Commons anyone?) but this idea of decentralized production, getting closer to the products we use daily - really cool.

Bas explains fablabs and his vision in the interview below. Click here for blip.

Armijn Hemel

Many of you probably know 'Linux Defender' Armijn "I've been suing big companies since 2005" Hemel. He's been active at GPL-violations.org (hence the lawsuits) and is now official "European coordinator of the Linux Defenders" at OIN. I published this I believe last week already, watch it:

Click here for a blip.tv link.

Agustin Benito

Agustin Benito, our keynote speaker, who will talk about the importance of Small and Medium businesses for Linux World Dominance. See here for Agustin on youtube or click here for a link to blip.tv

Thijs de Vries: Gamification and Engaging Design

Thijs de Vries' presents session on Gamification, using concepts from gaming in software design.

Thijs de Vries' talk on Gamification provides inspiration for software developers who want to explore design concepts and create a richer user experience. Discover how software developers are using ideas from the world of gaming to create more intuitive user inferfaces, engaging websites and fun. As Free Software developer, getting your users engaged in your application is a good thing - the more people care, the more likely they are to be willing to contribute.

Watch Thijs de Vries below or click here for blip.tv if you prefer that.

Why Groupware matters

Georg Greve's 'What you don't understand will still control you' takes a look at the importance of Free Software. This interview was also enlightening despite me having known Georg quite well since a few years. His explicit goal after leaving the FSFE he founded was to 'solve' the problem of moving businesses to Free Software. According to him, the 'office challenge' consists of three pillars: the browser; the office suite; and groupware. While the browser and the office suite are well taken care off, free software groupware solutions are still very limited. And that blocks the other pillars. If you get a free office license with your groupware solution, why use LibreOffice? And if the collaboration tools integrated with our office and groupware require you to use a Microsoft browser, why also install Firefox?

The current Groupware solutions have issues, be it technical, governance-wise or in terms of licensing. Kolab seemed the best solution, but it needed commercial backing for stuff like enterprise level support, marketing and assisting in deployments. So he started KolabSys! It's a tad longer, this interview, and the video quality might not be perfect, but just listen. Georg really has something to say!

Click here for blip.


There's a more extensive article at news.opensuse.org with a quick Q&A with Ramon Roca (thanks zoumpis!) about the Broadband he set up and later this week (that'll be weekend, I think) we'll publish a Q&A with Shane about his flying drones!

And even more!

Of course these are just a few speakers from one track, there's really a lot of interesting stuff at the conference in Prague and it starts next week Saturday! So, go, book, register (really, don't forget to register: your stomach will thank you for the food and beer!) and come join us.

As usual, this isn't a only-openSUSE-thing, we've got people from Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo (heck, we co-locate with Gentoo) and many other distro's there. It is Linux for Everyone and it's shaping up to be a great event! We have well over 500 registrations already and I'm betting lots of folks haven't registered yet.

As the interviews show, we have an incredible schedule lined up with speakers about a wide variety of topics, both going in-depth into core Linux technologies as well as folks talking about the why and how of Software (and hardware!) Freedom.

And of course, entrance is free. What else?

The conference will start at October 20 and end on the 23th. Be there!

28 September, 2012

Help the openSUSE Conference Team

At the LinuxDays* conference in Prague we have a 'special' track about the effects of modern Media on our life - think about the risks of not owning your data in the cloud (and what is done against that by awesome people building Free networks and open cloud software), the benefits open source can bring (using open source technology and methods for disaster relief), and more.

I specifically wanted this track because I believe it is important to think about why we do what we do and to introduce people to the 'spirit' behind Free Software.

We've got a handful of really interesting speakers lined up there and we should promote that. The topic is important and of course it'd be good if more people showed up!

A good way of promoting this is by giving people a taste of what will be discussed through doing a few interviews with these speakers. You can find the list of speakers on this page and I have contact details of all of them. As questions, the following would most likely get (and keep) them talking:
  • Tell us about yourself
  • What will you talk about
  • How did you get involved with that and why do you care about it so much, why does it matter?
  • What do you have to say to the (potential) visitors of the conference, what would you say is your message?

It would of course be even more awesome if we could interview some of these folks on video, say via a Skype or Google Hangout session...

Anyway, I need someone to help me with this. It is easy: all you have to do is mail these folks (I'll give you their addresses), ask them if they ware OK doing an interview, if OK either do the skype/google hangout session (maybe together with me?) or mail the questions, collect the answers, maybe do a bit of back-and-forth if things are unclear, and put it all in 1 or a few articles with me.

Upside: you not only get to help a big Linux event in Prague and do a bit of writing with someone who has some experience, but you also get to chat with these very interesting folks!

Who wants to help? Mail me... jos at the opensuse servers ;-)

* and openSUSE Conference and GENTOO miniconf and SUSE Labs conf... If you have a 4-in-one conference, no common name (but a common slogan: Bootstrapping Awesome), how do you call it? Hard, hard... Poor me... need to think about that next time we co-locate :D

25 September, 2012

Help out KDE marketing!

Hi Folks!

The KDE marketeers are gearing up for a new challenge: engage the wider Qt developer community about KDE.

"Now why would they care about KDE?" You might be asking yourself...

Well, our biggest asset is KDELibs! Lots of interesting classes up to full frameworks like Phonon and such ready for the taking and using. Much of these will become far easier to use when we transform KDELibs into Frameworks 5. More rapid application development and less maintenance work are the result.

The question we marketing people have is:
what classes and components in KDELibs/Frameworks 5 do you think are most interesting for external Qt developers and why?
Out of your answers we hope to create a presentation with an overview of the most useful parts of Frameworks 5 for Qt developers. This presentation can be given at events like the Qt Developers Day. and should get people excited about what's coming from the KDE side to Qt.

You can add suggestions and if possible please (links to) explanations, tutorials/documentation and why's in the comments below or on mail to myself or kde promo.

Thanks in advance!

24 September, 2012

Linux and the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3C

So I bought a new laptop, a Samsung series 9: the 13" NP900X3C (review on the Verge). Quite a nice piece of hardware. It is thin, light and has very decent battery life. For all Linux users who decided to buy this really nice piece of hardware or are still deciding, you can find below tips and tricks on getting the most out of it.

Update 22 March 2014: I've finally gotten around to update this post, after finally fixing the last major annoyance after a hint by +Rui Seabra. With the tip below you can get this laptop to reliably recognize the power plug and the screen being closed. Yay!

Also, there is a new generation out (Ativ 9) which honestly does not impress me. It is heavier, has a insanely high resolution screen so its battery life is barely improved and the CPU is slightly slower though the GPU is more powerful. The touch screen makes it thicker. If Samsung would put a Intel Haswell in the NP900X3C chassis combined with 8 or 16GB of ram, they would have improved their top model. Now - it has its plusses and minusses. Too bad.

Last update, Dec 2014: X3C still humming fine here with latest Linux (openSUSE 13.2, KDE's Plasma 5.x). If you're in the market for this or a similar laptop, the X3C can now be had for as little as USD 800 if you look around a bit. And there is a worthy successor: the NP900X3G. This laptop is nearly the same, but features the newer Intel Haswell CPU bringing longer battery life, 8GB ram, 256GB SSD, Core i7 4500U and full-HD screen. Otherwise, same weight (1.13kg), great aluminum body and so on. Not cheap, as usual with the series 9 - USD 1450 is the cheapest I've found it for, but the X3C has shown to be worth every dime and I think this'll be worth it, too. Too bad Samsung is pulling out of this market as they've been the only one producing laptops at or above the quality levels of Apple's (Macbook Air) devices.

The Specs of the NP900x3c

You don't exactly select this laptop on performance for the money. But just looking at specifications leads to buying ugly, fragile, heavy pieces of plastic with 20 minutes battery life. This laptop is the opposite.
  • Intel Core i5-3317U CPU 1.7 ghz (turbo to 2.4), 3MB cache and 17watt TDP
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000, 3W stereo speakers and 1.3MP webcam
  • 13.3" 1600x900 PLS super bright (400nits) screen
  • 4GB of ram (soldered on board) and replacable 128 GB Sandisk SSD
  • WLAN (Inel 6235, 2x2 a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. Lan with included dongle
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC cart reader, 1x USB 2 and 1x USB 3 (powered when off)
  • VGA and microHDMI (both need separately sold dongle)
  • 80 keys backlit keyboard and all-button multi-touch touchpad
  • 44 WH battery (rated for 9 hours but count on max 7)
  • Made of aluminum. Weight 2.55 lb or 1.16 KG.

About how it looks and feels: it is as nice as they say in every review. The design makes it (imho) the best looking ultrabook on the market and it feels super solid. The matte screen is the best I've ever seen (awesome looking angles & brightness) and it's perfectly silent due to the overkill of 2 fans (that are off most of the time anyway, surprisingly, even under load).


To save you some research, here a comparison to two laptops with similar specs:
  • Compared to the ASUS Zenbook Prime it feels more solid (I've touched both) and has less Q&A issues (according to online complainers). It also has a ~14% lower weight and better touchpad but slightly worse keyboard according to reviews. The keyboard of the S9 is fine for me - shallow but I have no issues with it. The touchpad is indeed excellent, noticeably better under Linux than under Windows however. Battery life is claimed to be better on the Samsung, too. You do of course pay about 300 bucks more for about the same specs as the Prime...
  • Compared to the Sony Vaio Z - I haven't touched that one but it's certainly less solid (it is made of "carbon fiber"--I've had a "carbon fiber" Vaio Z before and I'd just call it plastic) and has less battery life. Then again, the Z is what you want if you want no compromise in performance vs portability - as in, a Quad core cpu in a Ultrabook chassis. The Samsung has way less crunch power. Also, you can get the Vaio with 8 and possibly even 16GB of ram. So go Vaio if you don't move that often and are OK with a slightly more flimsy device and higher price and/or need the processing power.

The Linux support of the S9 is OK - not perfect, but OK. (Update March 2014: actually, near flawless, but not yet out-of-the-box in most Linux distributions) Getting the most out of it - see below! By the way, I strongly suggest to update the Bios to the latest version first before installing Linux.

Power usage

Let's start with power. As you probably bought this laptop for its portability (I know I did), let me give some info on battery life.

What to expect

I haven't done a full run-down test or anything and I usually use the battery life extender (max 80% charge power) but at the time of writing (sept 2012) the best you can get out of this laptop is about 6 hours of typing work with wifi/BT off, low screen brightness and battery life extender off. And that is provided you enabled silent performance mode, run laptop_mode and have enabled the power saving tips from the powertop tool (install it!!!). At that point, powertop reports 8-10 watt power usage. I have seen it go down as far as 6 but haven't figured out how to keep it there. As the laptop is supposed to do 7 hours under windows (and considering the 6 watt I've seen), there is surely room for improvement and I expect newer Linux versions/distributions to do better.

EDIT: after updating to kernel 3.6-RC6 (from here) I discovered power usage is down significantly. Varying between 6.2 and 7.2 watt, this might bring an additional hour of battery life to this laptop under Linux.

On more modest settings, you'll get more like 4 to max 5 hours - that's with wifi on, screen on a reasonable brightness and battery life extender on (so battery life -20%).

EDIT2: in 2014, you can really expect 5-6 hours, up to 7 if you're not taxing it much.

How to get longer battery life

As I said: install powertop. It can even tell you what's drawing how much energy (although this seems not too reliable). Powertop can enable a bunch of power saving options which must be configurable somewhere else too but I haven't figured that out for each. Start it, go to the right-most page and use the 'enter' key to enable them. They seem to stick mostly across reboots but not all of them do so use it whenever you need the battery life. Make sure especially to enable powersaving on the USB channels, one has the webcam which alone can draw 2-3 watts according to powertop.

Second, use the 'silent' performance_level. Set it by echo-ing 'silent' to '/sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level'. See more below. In my experience, the laptop is plenty responsive with the CPU speed capped at 800 mhz - as long as you do nothing too fancy.

Third - as you probably won't use it (much), disable the LAN port. Also uses quite some power according to powertop (although I doubt it's accuracy in this, it won't hurt). You can do this in the Bios of the system.

Fourth, enable power saving for the video card by going to Boot Loader in YaST, edit the boot loader options and add this after"Optional Command Line Kernel Parameter" (or editing grub(2) by hand if you're on a less easy distro):
    i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 i915.i915_enable_fbc=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1
See phoronix for more info on these. I took out acpi_backlight=vendor as it consistently doesn't work for me.

While you're editing boot parameters, you might want to enable zswap (compressed swap). On a 4GB ram laptop, this is, well, helpful. Add zswap.enabled=1 if you want it. Note that it only works from Linux 3.11 onwards and probably only well from kernel 3.13 up.

Linux support: what works

So what works and doesn't? In short, putting in an USB stick and booting from it, then installing openSUSE - works like a charm. You might have difficulty having it boot from a stick - look in the BIOS. Disable "Fast BIOS Mode" under the "Advanced" tab and it should work. Re-enable it later for faster booting! Now, on to the specifics.


Works perfect, better under Linux than under Windows. See under 'tips' for some config ideas.


to ram: no problems. Very occasionally it hangs the mouse - use Fn-F5 twice to disable and re-enable the touchpad and you should be good. If it still doesn't work, I have had to disable Fast Booting in the BIOS to get it back. After that turning it on again was no problem. Tja, computers.
to disk: works but kernel mentions it's "Dazed and confused, but trying to continue". Apparently "NMI received for unknown reason 2c on CPU 0" and the kernel wonders if "you have a strange power saving mode enabled?". Suspend to disk is pointless anyway as this thing almost boots faster than it resumes from suspend to disk (with a bit of optimization using systemd-analyze, openSUSE goes in 8 sec from grub to desktop, a bit more work and you'll get to ~5sec and I think even less is doable if you really work at it).

wifi, bluetooth

Both work great, no problems. The Fn key to disable wifi doesn't work out of the box.

screen, sound, multimedia buttons

Volume and screen brightness buttons work fine, touchpad disable button works. Keyboard brightness buttons don't work, neither does the wlan button (light in button does turn on/off depending on state of wlan, however). See below on fixing that.

Webcam, microphone, sound

All worked flawless for me. Skype and Google Hangouts work without issues.

HDMI, VGA, Network

All flawless. I'd recommend to disable the network port to save power, however...

'special' stuff you have to configure

The laptop has a few interesting extra features. I'll go over them and how to use them.

Fn keys

Go to this Red Hat bugzilla page to get a number of changes to udev which will allow your function keys to work. Probably not gonna be a problem with any modern Linux distribution 2-3 months from now (sept 2012). A reboot is the best way to get things working after the changes.

EDIT 14 Oct 2012: note that on openSUSE and possibly other distributions you can find the udev rules in /lib/udev/keymaps instead of /usr/lib/udev/keymaps. Also, note that updates can overwrite your changes in the two control files and you might have to re-apply them every now and then.

EDIT 22 March 2014: note that on modern distro's this has moved to /usr/lib/udev/hwdb.d/60-keyboard.hwdb and requires a different fix. My distro (openSUSE 13.1) does not yet have the latest version of that file. You can get the latest here, just overwrite the file. Then execute as root: udevadm hwdb --update. Now reboot and the keys should work properly. By the end of the year I think this will be in most Linux distro's

Below I have a number of tips with scripts and such to get the keys to work. You'll need some scripts and set some permissions and then bind actions to the keys. In a Plasma Desktop, KHotkeys can take care of that for you. To make it easy I created a khotkeys file here which you can just import. Do this by:
      start systemsettings
      go to 'Shortcuts and gestures'
      click 'edit' and choose 'import' ('edit' is found in the middle bottom of the 'custom shortcuts')
      Pick the file you can download above.
      Modify the paths in the shortcuts, they're set on my home directory!

keyboard backlight

enable zswap (comapressed swap)
Check if the keys work out of the box. They might depending on the release of your distribution. If not, follow these tips.

The keyboard backlight can be adjusted by echo'ing a number between 0 (off) and 8 (max) to a special file like this (all on one line):
    echo 8 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness
You need to be root to do that or use sudo. To ensure you can do this as normal user, add the following to /etc/rc.d/boot.local (on openSUSE) or another place that gets executed at boot on your distro:
    # make it possible to change brightness chmod 0664 /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness chgrp users /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness
(note that my blog might put things on a new line which shouldn't be. The chmod 0664 /sysblabla is one line, so is chgrp!)

Of course, you now want to assign the brightnes keys (Fn F9 and Fn F10) to these actions. The easiest way is to go to the KDE systemsettings and open 'Shortcuts and Gestures'. Then follow these steps (or import the khotkeys file I created instead):
      Create a new global shortcut (on the bottom: edit > new > global shortcut > command/URL) and call it 'backlight off'
      As trigger, assign the Fn-F9 key
      As Action, add this (all on one line):
        echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness; kdialog --title 'keyboard backlight' --passivepopup 'off' 1
create a second global shortcut, call it backlight on, and give it this Action:
    echo 8 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness; kdialog --title 'keyboard backlight' --passivepopup 'on' 1
    The keys should now work.

performance mode

The S9 has a nice feature in the 'performance mode' which does work under Linux but has to be triggered specially. I made a script you can bind to the ventilator key to make it work just like under windows.
There are two performance modes on the S9: 'silent' and 'normal'. Silent forces the CPU to 800 mhz max, keeping the fans always off and power usage down to about 8-9 watt), normal is - well, normal... I've seen the CPU go up to 2.4 ghz in 'normal' mode. For my use (text writing, browsing, email, occasional video or music), silent is perfect and I like the fact the laptop stays cold and quiet so I have that almost always on.

triggering it
You can change the performance mode by echo'ing 'normal' or 'silent' to /sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level. If you want to be able to do that as user, add the following to /etc/rc.d/boot.local to set the permissions open for the group 'users':
    # make it possible to change performance level chmod 0664 /sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level chgrp users /sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level echo silent > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level # set silent (800 mhz) performance as default

If you want the fan (Fn F11) button to take care of it for you, download the file here and follow the instructions in it.

Rf Kill

You can trigger turning off wifi and BT with files also in /sys/devices/platform/samsung under rfkill. The names of the files do change sometimes. Also for this I made a script, which you'll have to allow to be run at root. All instructions are in the file. Get it here.

Battery life extender

The laptop has a function called 'battery life extender'. It's a limit the bios puts on the battery on how full it can charge: no more than 80% if the battery life extender is on. This will increase the life expectancy of the battery significantly. You can enable and disable it in the bios but also from Linux and Windows. I have turned it on and rarely change it.

I didn't bother writing a script for this as I don't change this often: you can enable and disable the battery life extender by echoing either 1 (on) or 0 (off) to battery_live_extender in the already-familiar /sys/devices/platform/samsung folder. A quick command line to remember (you have to be root to do this):

    "echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/battery_live_extender" to turn it on and "echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/battery_live_extender" to turn it off

I use it when I expect to need my battery life to be maximal, like on intercontinental flights or when traveling to a conference. At home I almost never use the extra ~hour of battery life this gives.

Linux support: what doesn't work

The things which don't work ATM are:
  • recognizing if the system is on battery power or not. this is messy ATM. Usually, after a suspend cycle, it correctly shows the status. I'm guessing a kernel newer than the 3.5 I run now will solve this at some point, or maybe a new udev. It is annoying because it prevents laptop mode (battery saving mode) from automatically kicking in. In my use case it's not a big deal as it's usually charging in the house and when I take it somewhere it sleeps while traveling... Here is the bug on the kernel bugzilla
  • recognizing if the laptop lid is closed. Same story there - I guess a newer kernel version will solve it. For now, the system won't go to sleep or anything if you close the lid - you have to assign a key for sleep. I assigned the power key to sleep by going modifying the button events handling in System Settings -> Power Management. Not a BIG deal, I actually often close the lid while thinking (Yes, I do it, though infrequently) to save power...

And there now is a fix! I was made aware of it by +Rui Seabra, points for him. I am fairly certain the fix will make it into a kernel soon and to your distributions later, but for now you can put in a little work by hand and have it work too. Follow these steps:
  • Get this c file and compile it into a binary. Instructions are in the file, but to help you: gcc -o samsung_fix_ec_events samsung_fix_ec_events.c will do the trick. Yes, you need gcc. zypper in gcc will work on openSUSE. Thanks to Juan Manuel Cabo for creating this!
  • Now copy the resulting binary to /usr/local/bin/samsung_fix_ec_events
  • Download this file and copy it into /home/jospoortvliet/Dropbox/Public and make it executable: chmod +x /home/jospoortvliet/Dropbox/Public/samsung_fix_ec_events
Now, whenever you suspend or come back from suspend, the samsung_fix_ec_events file gets executed, cleaning up the bits that were blocking ACPI.

Tips to get the most out of the S9

A few minor tips to make things nicer on this laptop...


The laptop has a bunch of partitions and I could give all kind of tips about which to keep and all that - but I just cleaned everything up and installed Linux only so I have nothing to say.

Fast booting

If you'd like to make the laptop boot faster, install systemd-analyze, a tool which can show you what services delayed the bootup procedure most. It works best with the 'plot' function which generates a SVG of the bootup process:
    systemd-analyze plot > test.svg
Then view test.svg with a browser or so and see what seems to be blocking progress and try to fix it. In the pic in my blog (from my desktop, btw) it seems it takes a long time to go on line and the system waits with executing the login until it has connected. See this and this for some on how to do this.


Go through the options in Synaptiks or whatever your distro or desktop ships as touchpad tool - a must. First of all, make sure it switches off the touchpad on keyboard activity (I've set it to 0.75 seconds which works without annoying me but I think that this setting is VERY personal) and you should enable the horizontal and vertical scrolling with two fingers under Touchpad Configuration. I have also enabled "continue edge scrolling automatically", which feels very natural if you're trying to scroll quickly.

Under tapping, as Plasma Workspaces are single-click everywhere (by default...) I've enabled "make single taps faster and double taps slower". And I use one finger for left mouse, two for right and three for middle-click (can't live without middle-click-paste in Linux). But you can also use the corners. I don't like the automated dragging - sometimes I DO a double-tab to e.g. maximize a window and it often starts dragging. The dragging with this touchpad works very well, almost perfect: just click (until you get a audible and sensory CLICK) on the bottom-left of the touchpad, then move with your other finger. Works quite OK although it sometimes gets annoying when you drag and have to lift your finger to keep going - sometimes things snap back.

Filesystems and such on a SSD

There are lots of SSD tips and tricks on the net. Most of these are not needed these days as the Linux schedulers are just fine with SSD's and other settings are done with laptop-mode-tools or are standard in openSUSE 12.2. But for the curious: I use btrfs and I have the following options after "default," in my fstab "noatime,compress=lzo,ssd,discard".

Also, I would put /tmp on a tmpfs. Probably not needed on a 2014 distribution but not (yet) standard in older distro's. Do this by modifying /etc/fstab and adding the following line:
    tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0

That's it

If you've got a NP900X[Something], have fun with it and let me know if this was useful!

20 September, 2012

Presenting openSUSE 12.2?

Note: I've updated the links below as we did a restructuring of our github repository. In case any of the links below don't work at some point in the future: the root of the repository is here, from there you can navigate to the slides. Currently they are under Marketing Materials > openSUSE introduction slides.

If you're going to promote openSUSE somewhere - know that we've got your back. There is an openSUSE 12.2 slide template courtesy of Richard on our github repo, click here for download.

Also, I've created a introduction to the new stuff in openSUSE 12.2 and updated our other standard slide decks about OBS, openQA, Studio and more. Find them on this page.

There's also separate openSUSE 12.2 artwork for presentations available in svg and other easy-to-work-with formats.

Remember, we believe in Doing, Sharing and Merging (see the image on the side, more posters on this page, also almost all in SVG). So if you have any improvements for the slides, translated versions or any other cool artwork or translations, mail me or create a merge request on github!

Have a lot of fun and let us know if you use the slides,


05 September, 2012

It's green and ready for you...


The greenest Linux distro has just released a new version. And a great one it is - solid (though not outdated) and well thought out.

The delay has given us an extra round of 2 months of bugfixing, making openSUSE 12.2 a very stable and dependable workhorse. Moreover, the availability of the tens of thousands of additional packages for openSUSE give developers and home users access to more up-to-date software, development libraries and more than any other distro has (200K is the # to beat).

Check out what's available on software.opensuse.org (courtesy of the openSUSE instance of the Open Build Service).

Get it

You can get openSUSE as usual on software.opensuse.org and upgrading your running system is easy. If you use our rolling release Tumbleweed you don't have to do anything!

KDE and openSUSE

I wrote an Sneak Peek of KDE software on openSUSE yesterday and Will wrote a GNOME one.
I also made a quick video:

Know that openSUSE ships with KDE SC 4.8.4 (update has 4.8.5), not 4.9 as we froze before that came out. The new release is available on OBS already and we'll probably do a re-spin of 12.2 soon.

Delay - and what we do to fix it

This release had to be delayed because of the growth of the openSUSE community and our failure to adopt and change our processes to deal with that. We didn't (and don't) want to introduce the formal bureaucracy & hierarchy most the large distro's have so we're currently looking how to handle things via OBS and in general in our tools.

Talk about the Future of Free Software

If you care about Linux and the future of one of the most important distro's and want to help in setting those future directions, you should join us at one of our two major events this year:
  • Starting only 16 days from now, The openSUSE Summit in Orlando, Florida, following the SUSE Con event. There will be many exciting workshops and talks on cloud computing, handling servers, an LPIC exam and much more.
  • And next month it's already time for the openSUSE Conference in Prague, where we are joined by the local LinuxDays as well as Gentoo and SUSE Labs and have a special feature track with talks by very interesting speakers including:
    • Thijs de Vries from Creative Seeds on Persuasive design & gamification
    • Shane Coughlan from Open Relief on using FOSS and open hardware for disaster relief (includes small guided aircrafts, really!)
    • Ramon Roca from the guifi project about the social implications of owning your network (Build Your Own Internet!)
    • Bas van Abel from Waag Society's Open Design lab on how you don't own something if you can't open it.
    And that's just a part of one day of one track, see a draft schedule here. There's only room for about 1200 people so register in time ;-)

CU there, hugs and have lots of fun!

31 August, 2012

Creative all the way?

You gotta give it to Theo - he manages to get the weirdest things together...

I mean, really, check this one:

Like or no like, you have to admire the creativity. He 'just asks for help', or so he claims... Yeah, right. But really. It's one of the things I like about FOSS - brings creative things out in people. Ok, some of them are silly (a cow, really?) but it's part of the fun!

09 August, 2012

Dolphin immediately useful

Like many, I read this already famous blog post about the stripped-down Nautilus with growing surprise. I won't go into what I think it's wrong with it as others have said enough already. I'd like to focus on the positive: the very first point made.

Immediately useful

Mccan describes how Nautilus should be immediately useful upon starting. This is accomplished by showing recent files instead of the home folder of the user. A very neath idea, actually - I always have all my files sorted on date (newest on top) and most of the time that means I just have to click on the top-left of the file view in a folder to get what I want. But I first have to go to the right folder... So I'd say - awesome idea.

I also realized this is extremely easy to have in dolphin due to the Nepomuk 'timeline' KIOslave. This shows you a calendar of your active files per date. The screen shot below shows this - yes, I use the split function to show both the files and the dates, I hope it is not confusing ;-)

And of course, the timeline has a vitual 'today' folder which basically shows you all files you touched today. Drag the folder to the side bar, call it 'recent', give it a proper icon and it's just like the new Nautilus:

With KDE's technology being as it is, it will also show in file open dialogs (even in Firefox, as openSUSE has KDE integration by default):

(unfortunately it can't actually open the files as the Firefox KDE integration only works with real, local files and these are 'virtual')

Of course, what you really want is that this is the default - the home folder that Dolphin opens when you start it. Unfortunately, here you'll bump in a limitation (or bug?) in Dolphin: it won't allow you to set this location from the GUI:

But challenges only exist to be overcome. Just edit
and navigate to the [General] section to edit the HomeUrl into: HomeUrl=timeline:/today.

Hit save and be happy. Ensure you don't have Dolphin running while you do this as it will overwrite the changes upon exit!

You'll now have your recent files always visible when you start Dolphin:


And may I hereby propose to make this the default in Dolphin? I know, it depends on Nepomuk running, but we're going there anyway... I expect that the 5.0 release of Plasma Workspace has a Nepomuk up to this task, if the current one doesn't do it yet - for me, Nepomuk as part of KDE's 4.8 platform is good enough already and I know many bug fixes have been going in since this release. And of course we can always check if Nepomuk is available and if not, fall back on the 'old' home folder.

Scrap that proposal, the Dolphin developers are (of course) much smarter than I'll ever be. As you can see in the Plasma Workspace 4.9 announcement, Dolphin already has a feature similar (but better) than this:

I strongly suggest to support KDE developers as they are clearly VERY smart people ;-)

07 August, 2012

Questions about laptop hardware on Linux

Dear Intarwebs,

I have a new laptop (Samsung NP900X3C) and am setting it up with Linux. Most things work fine, some don't out of the box but I managed to fix them. Some baffle me to no end...

chmod 777 doesn't seem to work on rfkill

You can set the things like brightness by echoing numbers to /sys/devices/platform/samsung/leds/samsung::kbd_backlight/brightness. To make this possible without root rights, I added "chmod 777 /sys/devices/platform/samsung/performance_level" to /etc/rc.d/boot.local to allow users to set this. Simply works.

But not everything is as fluffy bunny as it should be.
  • First, I know 'chmod 777' is a tad rude. What should be safer?
  • Second, when I do the very same thing (chmod 777) to /sys/devices/platform/samsung/rfkill/rfkill0/state (or /soft), I still get
      echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/samsung/rfkill/rfkill0/state
      bash: echo: write error: Operation not permitted
    as user (but it works as root). Why? Now I am forced to use kdesudo in my script...

can't asign keys

I am unable to use the Fn F9 and Fn F10 keys to adjust brightness. These keys have no keycodes asigned to them but a simple 'setkeycodes e016 237' etc in boot.local takes care of that. Now, xev should be able to see these keys and I should be able to use them, right? Nope... The kernel has stopped telling me the keys have no keycodes but they still don't show up :(

Even weirder, the Fn F12 key (wlan) doesn't even show a kernel message that it has no keycode but doesn't show up in xev either.

However, while mucking around with these keys, occasionally the terminal (or any other app) gets suddenly filled with a stream of characters (often @ or ±) and the mouse sometimes stops working and I have to (re)start synaptiks to get things working.

U no Power?

The kernel doesn't notice if the laptop is on power or not, nor does it give off any indications if the laptop lid is closed. The relevant acpi files in /proc (/proc/acpi/ac_adapter/ADP1/state and /proc/acpi/button/lid/LID0) don't change anymore after booting. It's a bit of a pain, does anyone know where these are set and if there's any way I can fix it (and where to send that fix)?

Segfaults in synaptiks

Last but not least, while I'm at it - anyone know if synaptiks is supposed to segfault after resuming from suspend-to-ram?!? The app is awesome and I wouldn't be able to use a laptop with a touchpad without it. The segfaulting is a tad annoying, though.

All this on openSUSE 12.2 RC 2, btw. That runs Linux Kernel 3.4.6. Once I've set everything up and fixed these issues I'll make a post with tips, tricks and some scripts to get the most out of this laptop ;-)

02 August, 2012

Berlin KDE Release Party

Heya all,

As you might have read on Lydia's blog, the Berliner KDE release party will happen at our place again. Address is on the Party Page. We'll have Pizza and you have to bring your own drinks (there's a 24H store downstairs so you can simply get a beer or coke there).

We'll start around 18:00 (order pizza between 18:30 and 19:00) and hang out until about 22:00 or so. I'm still not feeling well enough for a party until deep in the night, but there's plenty of place around where you can go afterwards if you want ;-)

Bringing laptops is allowed but far from mandatory. We'll be sure to have a device or two with the latest & greatest from KDE, of course (and I hopefully will get to show off my new laptop).

Oh, and there will be cake. Lots of it...

01 July, 2012

Keynote about Open Science

At Akademy, about an hour ago, the keynote by Will Schroeder from Kittware was finished. It was a very nice talk - and I've collected some notes, see below!

What is this thing called science?

After introducing Kitware and what they do ('all things scientific computing related'), Will starts to talk about science: where does it come from?

You might remember this Descartes dude. He questioned everything - and that is where it started. Nullius in Verba, "take nobody's word for it", that was the thought behind this movement.

And realize that this did not go down easily! People where locked up for this, faced jail time for their convictions. They were the hackers of their time, trying new things, finding new ways. And sharing knowledge.

Because that is what science was (and should be) all about. The way it worked was as follows:
A scientist wrote a paper, a letter. This would go to the Royal Society or another 'science institution'. There the experiments were replicated and verified. Once verified, the letter, paper or book was replicated and distributed through society.

Things changed since then

But commerce took over and now, the process goes from scientist to commercial publisher where volunteers do peer review and then the article gets published in a journal.

This looks like the same process, but it is not. First of all - in reality, replication of experiments does not happen. There is a number of reasons for that, some practical (huge computational requirements, growth time of tissue samples) but often it is also lacking data, details on how the experiment works or closed, unavailable software or procedures.

The thirst for {fame\power|control|money} has tainted science: we've lost the search for truth. It is "publish or persih", career pressure is huge and scientists are afraid to share knowledge because it might loose them a paper or even patents and licensing income.

Meanwhile, according to a case study, licensing revenue on patents is about 2 billion, but if you substract the costs the university breaks even. And the push for patents is corrupting and damaging science and creates resistance to collaboration.

The results

And it shows: Nature published a study showing that more than 90% of papers in science journals describing 'landmark' breakthroughs in preclinical cancer research are NOT reproducible and are thus just plain wrong.

Will gives a computational science/medical imaging example. It is quite complicated - but boils down to the fact that we can't reproduce the result because we lack knowledge of how it was obtained.

So there is a huge pressure on scientists to do bad science and nobody checks up on the results. Meanwhile, journals take easily 2 years and hundreds of euro's to publish their articles and you also have to pay thousands to read the results - which were peer reviewed by volunteers!

Our data is unavailable or put in proprietary formats, publishers control the flow of information and closed and proprietary software is used to do analysis and controls how scientists work.

What we need

What we need is open science: open access to knowledge, open access to data and open access to source.

It is a real tragedy that we have to put the word 'open' in front of science!

But we have to. Science, part of this three hundred years old tradition of hacking and sharing knowledge, has been corrupted and locked up.

The good news is that things are changing. Universities realize that the status quo does not benefit society and change their policies. Harvard now asks professors to publish in open access journals and the UK is going to only fund research which ends up in the open.

Of course, we already knew that: both society and business show a clear trend. Open is better and will take over closed!

note that these are personal notes and not reviewed: no guarantees about the correctness!

30 June, 2012

keynote by Agustin Benito Bethencourt at Akademy

Agustin wanted to talk about success. Times are a tad uncertain now - in the economy, in software and in the KDE ecosystem. It's good to be aware of how well we've been doing over the last 15 years and how well we are positioned for the next decades!

Success story 1

Active patience

We now have an open development process around Qt. Once upon a time, nobody believed that to be even remotely possible - it was not even free software. But we knew how the Qt people wanted the things we wanted and we had the patience to wait and quietly keep pushing. And now - the unexpected happened. This will have a pervasive effect on our infrastructure. We (and others!) can now more easily take Qt in other directions, do new things!

The lesson is, in the words of a Chinese proverb: Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Success story 2


KDE is first class in getting new, young people involved and educating them. Our contributors are from a variety of cultures, students or established developers - we all work and learn together. And being involved in KDE you learn a lot. Once you start working in companies you will notice how much you've learned in KDE. And that should make you confident that those who will take over in the future, also part of this community, will be ready for it.

Success story 3


As a 'loose' bunch of volunteers, we're doing incredible work. Most companies in 'our business' do a far worse job at developing products with often far more resources.

Success story 4


We're becoming better and better at becoming business incubators. More and more entrepreneurs step up in KDE and start new, cool, innovative businesses. We're proud to be part of a community where innovations can go somewhere!

Success story 5


We're capable of developing and executing on a vision. Take KDE 4! We've embarked on that vision seven (!!) years ago and today - while it is not perfect yet - we've gotten very close. Most of the plans we decided on are implemented and have come into reality. All that without investments of millions and millions by large companies. We did the impossible!

There are people out there who have their own ideas and projects and who want to be part of KDE, develop under our umbrella, our vision and who join us. This tells us we're on a path to a bright future: we're not just open to people, but there are projects outside who recognize our clear vision and the fact that we deliver.

Success story 6

Experience Innovating
People see how hard it is to stay in the tech business for a long time. You see that with many companies. Yet, we're 15 years old, yet we are still doing new, innovative things. What we do is completely different from what we did, but we still do it with the same spirit and energy than when we started. And Agustin is confident that in 10 years we'll still be approaching entirely new challenges with that same energy!

KDE's future depends basically on US.

These 6 examples (and we haven't even talked about design, the project and code, design or many other things) tell you something about KDE: we have a bright future!

We've gotten to a point in which most limitations we're facing come from inside, things we need to and can change. Not from outside but under our control! There is little out there that can stop us from being successful for another 15 years!

(Agustin holding a Plasma Active tablet) Innovation does happen right here!

Akademy talk about release management

Just watched a talk by Kolabsys dude Jeroen "I have an opinion" van Meeuwen on release management

Jeroen van Meeuwen had some harsh criticism on the way KDE handles Q&A with Bugzilla. He has taken on bugzilla maintainership after someone told him there was no 'single throat to choke', and started to investigate the current state and how it is used by KDE. He presents his findings and suggestions on improvements.

There's no defined process - and that shows. Bugs linger around forever. There are bugs from 2002 which have not been asigned to anyone or confirmed in any way. Worse, the 'final' state we use in KDE, 'resolved', is not, and should not be, the final state of a bug! After fixing a bug, there is testing, confirming and releasing still to do before the bug should be allowed to fall off our radar.

Due to Bugzilla not working as it should, we work with other tools to keep a list of what to do. Reviewboard is an example and many developers have their own list. All that while Bugzilla is more than capable of doing this!

Jeroen talked about how we, as a community, should try to adapt a new process with bugzilla. For that, our setup needs some improvements and he's offering to work on those.

Specifics include having proper types, a 'CLOSED' state and cleaning up products. An example of the latter is that there are two products for 'KMail': 'kmail' and 'kmail2'. Both are open for bug submissions - and there are lots of bugs coming in for the 'old' kmail, adding to the almost 3000 open bugs. However, the developers don't work on kmail anymore: they have all moved to kmail2. How to solve this? Resolve the current unresolved tickets and tell users to move to kmail2. Then close kmail and then move kmail2 to kmail.

Jeroen explained how we can use tools like jared and jenkins to automatically run tests, check if things compile for a certain branch and things like that. How we need to differentiate between Q&A, Triaging, Development and release engineering.

Jeroen proposes to go through the following steps:
  • do a bugzilla cleanup
      have to contact project developers and ask them what they do with the tickets, then adopt the tickets and setup to that reality.
  • formulate and propose standardized use of tickets parameters
      help explain how you can use bugzilla as a todo queue
  • align documented process and establish responsibilities
  • align use of versions/milestones with source code management
  • mass-updating tickets through sysadmin requests
  • offer one throat to choke

Jeroen realizes he's new to KDE and that he's not the only one who (thinks he) is an expert. Also, KDE works on consensus - so it'll take effort and discussions to get a new way of working in.

There'll be a BOF about QA and triaging on Monday so if you're interested, look at the BoF schedule.

A big take-away from me is that this should actually make development easier, more focussed and more fun - it's not about creating a lot of process to bother developers.

22 June, 2012

Festa Junina before the BetaPizzaParty?

Lennart "I'm Awesome" Poettering just told us there's Festa Junina going on in Berlin tomorrow. I plan to go there and be back around 5-ish (when the BetaPizzaThing at my place starts).

So if you live in Berlin you're at Ostkreuz around 14:00 and at my place at 17:00 - that's 2 stops with the S-Bahn, to Storkower Strasse, then a short walk to the Eldenaerstrasse: left out the station (seen from the direction you just came, the side of Kaufland); walk to Sconto and go past it, cross then follow the road with a turn to the right. At the next lights you see my walk-in fridge (night shop) and above that I live, nr 28. Hit the bell and I'll let you in (if you know the secret password of course).

Come and have fun ;-)

20 June, 2012

Future of openSUSE - Update on the Discussion

Beta 2 is out and meanwhile, the discussion on the future of openSUSE development continues. I've attempted to summarize the current status, both to help my own overview of the discussion and to try and help clarify it for others. It has become quite a mail-client-challenging monster thread and Robert S has already asked people to open separate threads for the specifics we're discussing...


A first point of consensus was that there should be more emphasis on Tumbleweed. Greg brought up a few pain points he would need to see fixed and asked for help in general. Some conclusions and plans:

  • change processes to lower amount of rebuilding of packages in OBS (Greg, Coolo, OBS team)
  • add hardware for faster building (OBS team)
  • optimize OBS for faster building with things like better/smarter/faster bootstrapping (pre-setup VM's with GCC ?), new filesystem, smarter dependency checking and possibly integrate the rebuild_logic="coolo" thing in OBS itself (OBS team)
  • Greg needs to tell us what else we can do to help him make Tumbleweed better

Release Cycle

Consensus seems to be that a longer release cycle is a good idea but nothing concrete has been proposed. Coolo will probably simply make a 12.3 proposal for say November 2013. Some numbers where brought up that show that we can indeed use a longer stabilization period for our releases. 'Release when ready' is also still on the table.

If a longer release cycle is introduced, Tumbleweed becomes more important, but so do the other OBS projects. Users will depend on OBS far more to get new packages. What effect this has and how to tackle that has not been discussed yet. On a personal note, I think the new software.opensuse.org will need some improvements in case we go this route. It would have to put more emphasize on the devel projects as 'official' sources of software. Right now, there are roadblocks put in place for users who want 'stuff from OBS' and it's made clear that things from there are untested and possibly unstable.

Changing the Development Process

Consensus seems to be that the current setup with devel projects feeding into Factory and having groups of maintainers (the aggregate of the individual package maintainers) doesn't work that great. In short, we need to stabilize Factory further. Things that might change:
  • Build Failures could create BNC Entries... assigned to the bug owner of the package. (OBS team?)
  • Be stricter about maintainership - have 2-3 maintainers who really are responsible. There is some unclarity between the roles of bugowner and maintainer. OBS currently adds the role of maintainer to everyone in a project, which is deemed a bit overzealous - a package can that way end up with 20 maintainers but only 1-2 of these might dare to touch it. Not clear where to go with this yet.
  • Do more checks on packages like rebuilding dependencies to see if they fail. Heavily depends on available build capacity (currently very limited). While it requires more work to get something in Factory, as Karl Eichwalder said: "your fun must not prevent the others from having fun."
  • process of getting packages in factory might need changes. For less core packages, we could possibly skip devel projects, provided there is review done on the packages. We might also expand devel projects for the remaining packages to do more testing.
  • staging projects

      we could either have one or multiple staging projects.
    • With one, all eyes would be on the same, but it would have the same breakage issues as Factory. Advantage is that we can have an automatic revert policy where packages can't get in Factory until all breakage in Staging is fixed. It would require OBS to automatically detect build errors due to changes in a given package. We're unsure if that is possible.
    • Another way would be to try and get Staging stable, once everything is green - move to Factory. Get new packages, stabilize again, move to factory. Etcetera. Having multiple staging's in parallel might help to lower the 'latency' of getting packages in Factory but it would cost build resources.
    • This discussion is also still ongoing.

It was brought up that it'd be possible to create a 'core' of base openSUSE packages (roughly up to X.org) which would be 'atomically updated' for the rest of the packages on top, decreasing breakage and allowing easier testing. This could even be part of a release scheme with a 'core openSUSE' and peripheral packages in Tumbleweed and OBS. It would require some work on the software.openSUSE.org search UI and software management in general, however.

Social issues and responsibilities

Several people brought up the social side of things. As Coolo already mentioned in his initial email, we'd need more people fixing problems 'all over'. These will need mentoring - something openSUSE currently doesn't do in a structured manner, except in the context of Google Summer of Code.

Aside from mentoring, there should be more clarity about responsibilities. If a new version of a library breaks things, who should fix this? The person who maintains the library or the applications which are broken by it? These questions are unanswered as well and possibly a one-size-fits-all answer doesn't exist.

Last but not least, development is helped by a positive, constructive atmosphere on the list. The openSUSE Board has been spending some efforts in improving the situation on our lists and with some success. But more would be needed and how to do this is still unclear.


It is most certainly not clear where exactly we will end up. Of course, we're only 6 days since the announcement by Coolo that he thinks things have to change. Much of the discussions does point to interesting solutions, but we have to come to definite conclusions before anything can be done. And then, we need people to commit to executing some of the changes!

The openSUSE Conference (Prague, October)will be a good place where we can finalize these conclusions and start implementing things. If you're in the Americas, the openSUSE Summit in Orlando in September might be more convenient for you... In both cases, if you have an interest in the future of openSUSE you should make sure to be there!

Party and Beta

For those organizing something for the openSUSE 12.2 Beta Pizza testing, there is a nice poster you can use! Made by Jürgen Weigert with some help from fellow Geeko's in the NUE office, the source is in Github and you can use it for your own Pizza and Beta event! click here to go to our artwork github repo.

On a related note, the top-ten contributors to openSUSE 12.2 since Beta 1 are:
  • Dirk Mueller
  • Stephan Kulow
  • Marguerite Su
  • Marcus Schäfer
  • Takashi Iwai
  • Ciaran Farrell
  • Stefan Dirsch
  • Dominique Leuenberger
  • Todd rme
  • Graham Anderson

Great work all ;-)

18 June, 2012

This weekend: pizza and beta at my place!

Hi all!

In the spirit of a delayed release and extremely interesting discussions on where openSUSE is going, I'm organizing a BetaPizzaParty at our place in Berlin. It'll be all about eating pizza while testing openSUSE 12.2 Beta 2 and gossiping about what openSUSE is up to lately.

If you want to be there, just say so in the comments ;-)

We'll order pizza (or might make some of our own, I haven't decided yet). And I have some Old Toad left, if you're interested - or we can get some more beer in my walk-in fridge downstairs.

If you don't live close enough by Berlin but want a BetaPizzaParty, see if there is one close to you or organize your own.

And remember - even if you haven't completely understood yet that openSUSE is the coolest Linux distro, you're welcome to join in the celebration, pizza-eating and drinking.

Looking forward to some fun, cu there!

Edit: oh, on a related note, in my enthusiasm I forgot to mention place and date. So let me fix that:
  • where: Eldenaerstr 28A, Friedrichshain
  • When: Saturday, from 17:00 until we're wasted and pass out.

Edit 2: those at QtContributorSummit are more than welcome to come by earlier on Saturday - check out the place, give us a hug, see popcorn, all that ;-)

edit 3: see here: there's a party BEFORE the party at OstKreuz!

12 June, 2012


COSCUP is Taiwan's biggest FOSS tech event, full of exciting technology and great people. As you might know, this year COSCUP will feature a special track dedicated to KDE and openSUSE!

Call for Papers closing!

The call for papers for this Feature track at COSCUP will close in just a few days - June 15 to be exact. So you have to hurry up sending in your proposal - there's a huge audience waiting for your input!

We're still very much looking for subjects including localization and local FOSS community work, packaging and distribution technology, desktop technologies and development, cross-project collaboration and cloud computing tech.

Note that despite the long tradition of close collaboration between KDE and openSUSE, both communities welcome talks not directly related to either of those. KDE on other Linux distributions or non-KDE desktop technologies on openSUSE are very much encouraged to send in proposals too!

Again, the call for papers ends on June 15. Please email a proposal of about 200 words, accompanied by a ~50 word biography, in either English or Chinese, to the Program Committee before that date.

Program Committee

The Program Committee for the KDE/openSUSE track at COSCUP consists of the following people:
  • Franklin Weng (KDE)
  • Aaron J. Seigo (KDE)
  • Sakana (openSUSE)
  • Al Cho (openSUSE)
  • Bryen Yunashko (openSUSE)
  • Greg Kroah-Hartman (the Linux Foundation)

Improved Support for Events

The openSUSE community introduced the Travel Support Program to support travelers to represent openSUSE at conferences and events. A few days ago the team announced a minor change in policy: besides travel costs, the team will also help with costs related to booths, entry tickets and marketing materials.

Entry tickets and booths

While most Free Software events have Free entry - either for everyone or at least for those staffing a booth or giving a talk, this is not always true. Also, some events charge even volunteer organizations for a booth. While we're not too fond of that, reality is one of those things you have to live with and thus this decision - we pay, but up to a reasonable limit.

Marketing materials

Another thing is marketing materials. While we ship tens of thousands of DVD's, flyers, posters and other things around the world each year, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. Sending 100 DVD's with some posters and flyers (worth about 10 bucks) to some countries can easily cost many times the value of what we send. Sometimes, customs give us an extremely hard time and try to charge for the 'value of the software'. In short - we need to be able to produce things locally. And now we can!

The openSUSE ambassadors can pick materials from our well stocked github repo or, of course, modify something there or even create their own.

Now go and spread the word!

Find a little more info in the announcement by the Travel Support Team and of course on the wiki page!

Yup, the travel support program is currently just sponsored by SUSE - we haven't figured out (still, I know) how to take donations from others - yet. But if you want to help out financially, talk to me or the travel support team, I'm sure we can work something out!

17 May, 2012


re:publica #rp12

About two weeks ago I went to Re:Publica, a hipster event (can I say that?) in Berlin. It was an interesting event - related to the stuff I usually visit, yet different. I'll go over the differences, then present what I see as the challenge for Free Software events: get those creative, digital and always-online people closer to us!


The main audience of the event could probably be best described as people interested in the 'digital lifestyle'. People who use smartphones, are always on-line. They find their places-to-go on foursquare, talk to their friends on facebook, share their opinions on twitter, Whatsapp with their love - but they don't hang out on IRC or visit forums very often and they probably have a Macbook Air and a high-end android phone. Yes, not that different from us.


The event featured talks on things like the web, new cloud services like on-line music and creativity like music and video tools, open video etcetera. But that was only about 10-20%. Another 20-30% was about the future - social media, social innovation and more. To my surprise, the remaining 50% of the talks was about Freedom - and I use the capital for a reason. The Occupy movement, Digital Restrictions Management, Net Neutrality, Open Data, Digital influence on revolutions, eco-journalism, (internet) governance. Very close to what we, the Free Software community, hold dear (and find interesting!) Yes, not so different from us.

re:publica #rp12

Marketing and artwork

You can imagine - an event organized by hipsters creative people looks good. It does! Team t-shirts were sponsored by spreadshirt and had the title 'actionist'. There was a big wall with the program, using pictures of the speakers, QR codes and more weird stuff. A twitter stream on a screen is old, people. Here, if you tweet a hash-tag you get your face as part of a logo shape or you get a gift if you check in with foursquare. That's more like it. Oh, and they had a 'carry your own chair' program - not unlike we did at the last openSUSE conference at the end of each day, except that it was 'cool', not 'please help us out with moving chairs'!

There were other things, too. Interesting or just plain weird stickers - with just a QR code or a shortened link, or only a slogan. There was stuff like a live steaming camera so you could interact with people on-line (easy to do: a laptop with a webcam connected to a google hangout?!?) and plenty of other good ideas. Surely different from what we usually do!

Challenge for us?

I lately have been feeling that Free Software is loosing the battle for the hearts. Privacy and security are not important, internet is just a tool. We've been trying to educate people about Freedom but they don't care.

I was wrong. Collaboration and Freedom DO matter and people know it. We just don't reach the most of those who care about these things. This is where our challenge lies!

After talking with others and thinking about this, I conclude that there are two things we have to do better:
    Positivism. We have a tendency to 'lecture' about the dangers of DRM, closed standards, government control and other things. Wake up! Look around you! Online Collaboration has given us Wikipedia. Online Communication has supported revolutions in the Middle East. Social Media gave us the Occupy Movement. And everyone's using Android phones. Yes, there are challenges, but let's celebrate our successes too! Relevance. We often are perfectionists. Build alternatives instead of interfacing with what's out there. But most people don't care that much for a slightly more secure system if it makes getting the latest stuff harder. People don't care about a perfectly free Cloud solution if it's more difficult or doesn't work with what they have. We must realize that a Can do attitude gets us far further than a Can't do way of thinking. And we have to make sure that what people care about is what we care about. Talking to others, sharing data, working with what's out there and checking if what we do has real-world value!

re:publica #rp12


At least at the conference's I'm involved in I'll be trying to broaden the audience a bit and attract people outside of our usual circle. By changes to the program (workshops on Krita, Gimp, Blender, Kdenlive and Inkscape? ownCloud? web stuff? Talks about Wikimedia, the EFF, net neutrality, copyright?) and by advertising/spreading the word in less usual places (maybe an Apple fan magazine or a design paper). Let's see if we can get more people to see what we do, get involved, care!

Awesome images by Renehamburg on flickr