The Ram – 12th May

Date: Thursday 12th May 8:00 PM

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 Ram
19 Castle Gate, Newark
NG24 1AZ

Newark LUG meeting location

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.

New Year Knackered

A relatively quiet meet to start the year but with a new visitor from Lincoln LUG, Miles. 🙂

Topics discussed:

  • My current Raspberry Pi project – a small ‘game’ using a Character LCD
  • My recent purchase of an SSD and experience of setting up new install
  • Wayland in general
  • Rockbox installation on a Sansa Fuse experience and overall impression of Rockbox – in short, “Brilliant!”
  • The next projects in line for the Pi and Character LCD
  • Graphics cards and the companies that make them

and other general new year chatter,

An old friend swings by…

A nice surprise to start the evening – Chris, our previous LUG master swung by for a visit! Great to see you! 🙂

Lots of tech items discussed:

  • The Nintendo 3DS and brokenness of games
  • Nintendo across mobile gaming in a more general sense – not just DS.
  • Certificate failures in the recent news: Apple (cert expiry), Lenovo and Dell (root CA issues).
  • The Pebble Round – thoughts on wearables in general. The consensus being that mostly, we’re happy to have free wrists.
  • The chromebit – chromecast like device got smarter but doesn’t give a better impression
  • ArsTechnica’s analysis of graphics performance on SteamOS and their SteamBoxes. The obvious conclusion from the crowd being, “duh! It’s not like optimised drivers have been written for an OS that only just got released.”
  • FirefoxOS has some of its experience come to Android for testing.
  • What kernel is your phone running? “mostly 3.1!” Shouldn’t we be using something more mainline to mitigate security issues…?
  • The iPad Pro and initial thoughts on it. “Half baked, ‘pro’ device.”
  • Jolla is dead or dying! Currently their going in for debt restructuring having lost their CEO recently. A shame that another mostly FLOSS based mobile OS is on the verge of oblivion due to a lack of actually opening it to the community amongst other issues such as a lack of promotion.
  • XeonPhi co-pro – good for heavy computation.
  • Wayland and feature upheaval.

Chilled :)

A pleasant relaxed meet with plenty of geek discussion,
Amongst other items:

  • Phil’s ‘year of proprietary’ software continues with discussion of working with MacOS X.
  • Methods of connecting an SSH session when the laptop or desktop isn’t available – seemingly CoonectBot is the mobile software of choice
  • The release of the Priv from Blackberry – leading onto mobile keyboard discussion.
  • Mention of the impending release of the Fairphone 2 – the first ‘modular phone’ to be brought to market.
  • The Fairphone 2 may also get an option of running alternative OS software – currently on the list: UbuntuMobile, FirefoxOS, Jolla aswell as the current Android build.
  • Mention of running my ownCloud server and the pains of self-signing leads to discussion of becoming a CA in my right via STARTTLS.
  • Community Pubs: How do they work?
  • Putting WebRoot in a normal users access – good or bad practice…?

A Crowd

After a later-than-usual start there were lots of items discussed:

  • Owncloud setup experience – lots of learning
  • WINE Support for those ‘killer apps’
  • Icons (particularly in toolbars) – what they look like and meaning conveyed
  • PowerOverEthernet
  • The Horrors of the server back rooms and backups (with particular mention of a ‘fluffy’ UPS
  • Possibilty of a ‘LUGtop’
  • The Jukebox that Tom made
  • Steam on Linux
  • Opening discussion of non-denominational-gift-giving-time-of-year-that-is-currently-cold meeting arrangements
  • MacOS X – development and kernel layout

Having had a bit of a break from these unread scribblings I shall perhaps go back and fill in the blanks for other meets.