The Flying Circus 28th July

Date: Thursday 21st July 5:18 PM

-=-=-=- Meeting Notes here -=-=-=-


The Flying Circus
53 Castle Gate, Newark
NG24 1BE

Newark LUG meeting location

The Flying Circus – 29th June

A laid back evening of discussion including:

  • The EU Referendum and it’s impact on technology, including general arguments for and against in hindsight.
  • The NIH continues with Snap & Flatpak (aka xdg-app) sandboxing for desktop applications
  • Pros and cons of sandboxed applications
  • GPUs and drivers – The RX 480 featured prominently with news and rumours of excessive power consumption.
  • Sunway Taihu Light – A radical departure in the top500 supercomputers using non-Intel based processors. The design of which is quite interesting see here.
  • ck3ml’s new ‘dead’ Amiga
  • Haiku – lots has changed in this area since I last looked around a year ago – see here
  • Possibility of a ‘Sunday Session’ for the LUG – with a longer runtime and a focus on specific topics…

The Vaults – Double Trouble!

After a somewhat slow start to the evening, Rob appeared with a request to try out two operating systems on his laptop that he had brought with him.

The operating systems turned out to be two variants of Linux Mint!

Rob had spotted that the Linux Mint team are trying out basing their distribution directly upon Debian rather than on top of Ubuntu. They’re currently selling this as a small speed improvement in some tasks but for day-to-day usage I (personally) see little difference.

The second OS was of course Linux Mint 17.3. So, after some questioning I decided upon a ‘doubling up’ of sorts – with a shared ‘/home’ partition as requested.

Making sure to get at least one more pair of eyes to check my configuration before hitting the ‘Install’ button (Steve and Burty seemed happy to check out for me – also recommending doubling up on swap) I gritted my teeth and hit ‘Install’.

Despite doubts across the table, the installer detected the previously installed (the first one – LMDE) operating system and placed it in a handy nested option in GRUB.


During the installation we took a moment to explain a little of the terminal to Rob. Commands covered were top, man, pwd, ps, ls and the concept of permissions in relation to Windows.

This gave us little time to discuss current events but general discussion around the table seemed jolly (half-listening to other conversations of systems and horrors of yore – Microsoft Small Business Server being one of them).

Overall, a fun evening.

The Ram – 12th May

A fun meeting with lots of discussion of Linux news
topics discussed:

  • A solution for the ‘broken’ harddisk from the Flying Circus – turned out ck3ml was right on the money with possibly the hdd-usb adapter being broken.
  • Bob was successfully mailing to the list ‘live’
  • Databases – The merits of Postgres or MySQL or other variants.
  • The ongoing Oracle v. Google farce.
  • ck3ml’s current electronics & software projects, the MPD remote and panic buttons.
  • The EU & the UK’s ongoing discussion of a referendum on leaving…
  • Batteries!
  • Beerfest?
  • Canonical & Ubuntu – Chronic NIH?

The Flying Circus

Do you want to format /dev/sdb? It doesn’t have to be in one piece…

So, with a new venue again, we’ve taken a look at corenominal’s plugins for wordpress.
A new patient appears with a harddrive that refuses to operate correctly due to some ‘permissions’.
Unusually, ck3ml gets to make decisions on making a plan for bringing a disk back to life.

Leaving BurtyB upto the challenge of formatting said disk with parted at the term. Trying out the second disk with the, ‘instant on typewriter’ seemingly non-working disk too.

Finally figuring out that gparted required sudo in order to work correctly, we managed to format one of the disks correctly. However, the other disk although accepting commands not all is well as the disk simply stops responding after a while. Despite completing a SMART short self test successfully during the meet, we shall have to attempt a long/full test at a later date. Very odd for a disk with only a 350 hour-ish runtime.

Discussion of the tablet systems with Linux (apart from Android)- I mention the ‘fedlet’ build of fedora (kind of aimed at ASUS T100 or BayTrail devices…

Discussion of news items in the linux world.

Overall, a fun meeting with or without the snow 🙂

The ‘Instant-On-Electronic-Ultra-Small-Form-Factor-Typewriter’ thingy

So I’ve been working on a laptop for a specific use case in the past couple of weeks. The user would be using the machine at, “Stupid o’clock” of the morning and as such, would have no patience for things not working the way they should. The system would also need to be pleasant to type on as the user is a writer.

  • As ‘Instant-On’ as possible
  • As close to a full-size keyboard as reasonably possible
  • No distractions from software
  • A way to backup work from the day to other places quickly and easily
  • As ‘thin & light’ as possible

As there was no budget given for said machine I ended up using a Toshiba R100. This particular machine has:

  • 1.25 GB of RAM
  • 1 Ghz Intel Centrino Processor
  • A 32GB CF card as HDD
  • WiFi a/b/g
  • 12.1in 1024×768 screen
  • Non-chiclet keyboard
  • Socket for either extended battery or dock

I ended up installing Fedora 23 as this is my current ‘go-to’ distribution. Installation itself was tedious. I had to create a PXE boot server on my home network to trigger a ‘netinst’ alike to install Fedora Server onto the machine and then edit my software choices to end up with Workstation.
Having installed a standard XFCE environment and set up user accounts etc. I decided to work on how to speed the machine up. In it’s current incarnation it took almost 2 minutes to start. I created a basic session with a fullscreen ‘Wordgrinder’ window. Forced by devilspie to un-decorate and maximise. Wordgrinder being a low distraction environment as opposed to using Abiword or LibreOffice and hopefully saving battery power too.
So I:

  • Used lightdm’s autologin to speed up logging into the machine (not recommended for data security but speed is priority).
  • Removed wallpaper to avoid unnecessary reads.
  • Altered fstab to used notime (as opposed to relatime or noatime). To avoid unnecessary writes to the CF card.
  • Built Wordgrinder from source to use as a distraction free writing environment.
  • Installed devilspie to forcibly un-decorate windows and make them maximised.

This brought the system down to just under a minute and 20 seconds.
So I attempted to see just how much faster I could get by removing all unnecessary items for the task at hand.

  • Installed tmux
  • Created tmux.conf and built a recurring layout using .bash_profile to automatically launch Wordgrinder and a prompt (just in case).
  • Added a battery script to tmux.conf just to monitor how much battery was left in the tmux status bar.
  • Turned off Xorg, graphics, networking.
  • Created a autologin item for systemd to raise console as soon as system is ready.

This improved the ‘boot’ time tremendously, which came down to just about 25 seconds. I do think that I could possibly get the system ready faster by going so far as to remove systemd too but the handy ‘telinit 5’ to bring a normal session back if ever required is rather too convenient to miss out on.
It’s about as ‘instant-on’ as needed. I think.

The Vaults

Topics discussed:

  • The nature of programming – interfacing with toolkits and making UIs take a significant chunk of programming. Too much perhaps?
  • The Instant-on portable typewriter! An old Toshiba R100 with a version of Fedora 23 on it.
  • The wonder of usermod breaking the Instant-on portable typewriter.
  • The Atari ST.
  • Getting new content and breaking ice.


So, this months meeting was cut a little short due to rumbly tummies but otherwise was a fun and relaxed one with intermittent attendees siwmper & lc joining us along with new member Christian.

Items discussed:

  • IRC – memories of it from university – intertwined with…
  • Networking – or in the tales of yore – notworking.
  • DEs – specifically KDE3 or Trinity as the forked project is known,

Also given recent requests for our meetup date to change we’ve come to the conclusion that Thursday is better for most in the group and thus we shall meet on a Thursday going forward… Specific dates will be decided in due course.


A rather fun meet all around with lots of topics discussed. People bought Raspberry Pi(e)s of various styles and we got a closer look at the PiZero cluster board from BurtyB.
Though not functional, I bought my own Character LCD equipped Raspberry Pi for a quick demo of my lil’ swimming ‘game.’ I ended up leaving it misconfigured with another project which is non-functional without network access.

Among other topics discussed:
LinuxMint and the pwnage of their servers. Coming to the conclusion that although rattling the confidence of people who trust in the distribution overall it was tiny blip in the field of failures from other platforms. For context I’d suggest reading the articles on various technology news sites which are also causing rather a lot of frothing from the various evangelists for every platform going.

We discussed the viability of open-source drivers and the practicalities of having or using proprietary drivers.
We discussed a quirk of Bash which was apparently debunked on sight (possibly a misconfiguration of bash where the problem occured).

Overall, good fun.