Review: Back from CLT 2017

It’s almost a week since the Chemnitzer Linux days: time for a brief review (link in German):

To make a long story short: This meeting was a big success.

Alfred and I arrived on Friday evening and went to check out the location. The slogan “Barrieren einreißen” (engl: “tear down barriers”) couldn’t have been chosen better. To get there by the shortest route you had to tear down many barriers, since it seems that Chemnitz is a single big construction site. So it took us a while to find the best alternative route. 

When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the organisation team and had our first discussion, about the relation between the number of free projects and the number of companies, and the danger of sponsoring of this kind of event by big companies. On the other hand the free projects benefit from the lower costs, the preparation of the booth (incl free printing of a poster) and two days of free catering.

sdr

On Saturday morning, after Jürgen and Frank‘s arrival to complete our booth attendance, we were a little bit afraid that our booth wouldn’t get enough attention, because it was located in a corner. It turned out to be not the case: we were getting in contact with a lot of different people and there was enough time for various discussions about our project. Also our presentation of the upcoming Mageia 6 raised a lot of interest. We had a lot of giveaways, too, like pens, stickers, cups, t-shirts and USB sticks (which we exchanged for a small donation) and also the swiss cookies attracted visitors and booth attendants the same way. Because there were 4 of us, there was also some time for visiting talks and getting in contact with other projects around us.

On Saturday evening there was (as every year) the big dinner for staff and booth attendants with plenty of food and drink. And even there we had some very interesting and informative discussions with people from other projects or associations (a special regards to Christoph from LUG Frankfurt (Link in German), if he’s reading this). 

It felt like the Sunday was not as busy (many of the visitors already visited the booth on Saturday), but anyway the booth of Mageia still attracted many other visitors. There were some who complimented Mageia as the only distribution to get their WIFI to work or others who are using this distribution and the ancestors since Mandrake times. However there are still some people around who had never heard about Mageia, even though it has already existed for around 7 years and released 5 great versions. So this should lead us to increase our marketing as we did with this presence at the CLT.

Finally we want to  say a big “Thank you” to the organisation team of CLT 2017 for giving us the opportunity to present Mageia there. In exchange for the printing of a second poster we donated 20€ to the penguins of the animal park in Limbach-Oberfrohna, who are adopted by the CLT (link in German / Video in German).

We are looking forward to presenting at CLT 2018 as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Weekly roundup – 2017, week 11

It has been another busy week with lots of changes, upgrades, tests and news.

Cauldron

All of the Mageia-developed tools have been updated to include the latest translations, as well as updates to the DrakX installer that will hopefully fix some of the remaining bugs, more on that later. libinput was updated to 1.7 RC2, so if there are any regressions with input devices following this, please submit bugs to the bugzilla, so that we can help upstream fix them in time for Mageia 6. The kernel was updated to 4.9.15 final yesterday, with the required rebuilds following, so that update should be available soon, if not already. KDE applications 16.12.3 and MATE 1.18 also landed. The FFmpeg update and required rebuilds were finalised, so hopefully, all the issues have been straightened out there, v4l-utils 1.12.3 also landed. Builds for an update VLC 3.0-git snapshot are also ongoing. There were also updates to Calibre 2.81 and LibreOffice 5.3.1.rc2. As this was written, there was extensive activity on the build system, so plenty of updates should be coming.

Sta2 testing feedback roundup:

While the majority of the feedback has been positive, to the extent that we are moving forwards towards a release candidate build, there are still ongoing issues with NVIDIA proprietary drivers, specifically the 340 driver for slightly older cards. Testing for fixes is ongoing, a new round of internal ISOs was generated to test this and to check the status on installer bugs, such as some buttons appearing off screen at the partitioning stage in some languages. The next round of ISO testing will be in preparation for the RC release.

Mageia 5

Kernel updates to 4.4.54 are in testing, so expect these soon once the updates have been validated.

Security updates to MariaDB, Pidgin, libquicktime and others are currently going through validation, as well as a few others that will be available soon.

Community

Maintainer groups for the main programming languages are in the process of being setup, to nominally share the work load of the huge perl or python stacks on groups of packagers. Similar groups for other large stacks or components proved successful for the kernel, the Mageia tools and some desktop environments so this will allow for similar work sharing on the language stacks.

Successful event at the Chemnitz Linux Day, Mageia had a booth there showing our system with contributors on hand to answer questions, full write up coming soon, but in the meantime, some pictures are up on the German Forum.

Posted in community, Mageia, Weekly roundup | 9 Comments

ALCASAR, an open source Network Access Controller based on Mageia

ALCASAR is a free Internet Access Controller for private or public consultation networks. It authenticates and protects users’ access regardless their connection type, or equipment (PC, smartphone, game console, TV sets, etc.).”

I met the ALCASAR guys in 2012, during a French event and I discovered they were using Mageia in a professional project. Then the time ran quickly and finally here we are. Richard Rey agreed to answer our questions about ALCASAR and Mageia.

– Can you introduce yourself? What is your technical background and why did you start contributing to ALCASAR project?

RR: Richard REY (AKA: Rexy). I am the Deputy Director of the computer security research laboratory (C + V) ° at ESIEA, a “school of digital technology engineers”. This school, which is an non-profit association (following to the French “law 1901”), is certified CTI (Commission of the Titles of Engineers). It is located on three campuses (Paris, Ivry and Laval).

I left the French army four years ago after a 27-year career in the fields of digital telecommunications, electronic warfare and computer fighting.

The genesis of the ALCASAR project: While I was an RSSI in a major Command, I was confronted with the installation of a technical tool on a large number of geographical sites. It had to meet the requirements of the Act for the Confidence in the Digital Economy (LCEN). This law requires that all connections made by Internet users must be logged for one year. The objective on my side was clear: protect the responsible of Internet networks (those who pay the subscription) from judicial inquiries related to the indelicacy of some connected users (incitement to racial hatred, procuring, child pornography, Scams, extortion, apology for terrorism, etc.).

After several unsuccessful searches (incomplete products, too complex or “out of budget”), I decided to create a team and we designed ALCASAR (Free Application for Secure Access Control and Authenticated to the Network).

– Can you describe the ALCASAR project, its community and its features?

RR: From the beginning of the project, we have enforced quite strong technical and ethical constraints: all the traces of connection of all the protocols must be stored for one year (LCEN). They must be available only to the competent authorities (CNIL). Any digital trace must integrate the notion of volume, duration and must make it possible to find a “human” user (a human is not an IP address …).

The heart of the project was developed around four main building blocks: the Radius freeradius server, the NAC (Network Access Controller) coova-chilli, the RDBMS mariadb and the firewall netfilter.

After adding apache and PHP to propose a user-friendly Web administration interface, the project got known outside the military sphere.

New features were requested (domain name and URL filtering, “blacklist” and “whitelist” filtering, protocol filtering, user / user-specific filtering, blacklist/whitelist import and customization, connection time management, SMS identification, MAC address authentication, internationalization of interfaces, etc.).

Faithful to our military roots, the community is organized in a very pyramidal way. Only three or four contributors can interact directly with our SVN. The others propose their contributions to those four “privileged” users. About twenty people of all nationalities are currently registered on the project (a dozen are active).

– On your home page, it says that Mageia is part of your software ecosystem. Why this choice?

RR: At the beginning of the project, I used the Mandrake Linux distribution. That was all that I was looking for both on professional and personal sides. I especially appreciated the rigorous security updates (no nasty surprises) and the “Made In France” side. We remained loyal and naturally evolved ALCASAR on Mandriva Linux and then on Mageia. The next version 3.1 of ALCASAR will be installed on Mageia 5.1. We will naturally continue this cycle with Mageia 6.

– Do you have an idea of today’s ALCASAR users?

RR: In terms of volume: no. In terms of use, we know that French and foreign ministries are using it. Some companies have deployed it and have sometimes included it in their security policy. We also know that ESN install and administer it on behalf of their clients. We have a lot of returns from hoteliers, providers, associates, camp managers, holiday clubs …

– What are the relationships between ALCASAR and Mageia? Do you contribute to Mageia? How can Mageia help you?

RR: ALCASAR only runs on Mageia and there is no question for now to change that. This allows us to devote ourselves to the evolutions of functionality rather than waste our time adapting it for other distributions.

We contribute quite little (too little to my liking) to Mageia. We report the bugs that have an impact on the twenty software packages that we do include in ALCASAR. We package some software that we are, in my opinion, the only ones to use (HAVP, Netflow core probe, coova-chilli).

Posted in Collaboration, community, Mageia, users | 9 Comments

Weekly roundup – 2017, week 10

Cauldron

This week saw a huge milestone for Mageia 6: the release of our second stabilisation snapshot, “sta2“. It is the product of 8 months of work since the previous milestone, sta1, and the quality has improved a lot! The majority of the feedback on the release has been excellent, which is always great to hear. We are now getting much nearer to the final release of Mageia 6.

Shortly after sta2 was released, we pushed the new FFmpeg 3.2.4 upgrade to Cauldron. Our previous branch was 2.8, which was slowly getting a bit old and might have been difficult to maintain during the whole lifetime of Mageia 6. Since FFmpeg 3.0+ brought various API changes, we had to spend some time fixing the “reverse dependencies” (i.e. the packages that depend on a given library) of ffmpeg – this work is now mostly finished, in big part thanks to patches taken either from upstream projects or from other distros.

Another upcoming update for Cauldron is for the complete KDE stack: KDE Frameworks 5.32, Plasma 5.8.6 (already in core/release) and KDE Applications 16.12.3 (currently in core/updates_testing and will soon be moved to core/release).

Other big updates that landed in Cauldron: Mesa 17.0.1, VirtualBox 5.1.16 and the preparatory work for Firefox 52.0 ESR!

Some work has also been started to review the list of packages installed by default for each DE via the meta-task package, which had not been done for a long time. Some old, obsolete packages will no longer be installed out of the box, which should also help make the ISOs slightly smaller.

To give a general impression of what’s boiling in the Cauldron every week: since our last roundup on March 3, more than 500 packages were submitted and built on our buildsystem! This was a particularly busy week though with the KDE and FFmpeg updates. If you’re curious, you can always check the activity of the last two days on pkgsubmit.

Mageia 5

This has been a quiet week for Mageia 5 as no updates were pushed (yet). Many were tested though and you should soon get security updates for Flash 24.0.0.221 and VirtualBox 5.1.12, as well as potrace, flac, wavpack and libquicktime, to name a few. As always, if you are curious about the way we test updates and would like to lend a hand, do not hesitate to get in touch with the QA team.

Community

Team elections are also still ongoing, with the various teams at different stages, so if you are part of the many teams we have, look out for the votes or calls for candidates, if they haven’t come already. Once we have completed all of them there will be a blog post about the new Council, with luck, this will also come on a non sta2 time scale 🙂

We will also have a stand at the Chemnitz Linux Days 2017 which starts tomorrow – read more about it here. If you’re in the area it’s a great opportunity to meet some contributors and talk Mageia, Linux and all things Open Source.

Posted in community, Mageia, packager, QA, Weekly roundup | 10 Comments

The next step towards Mageia 6 is here, announcing sta2

Everyone at Mageia is delighted to announce the release of our latest development milestone, our second stabilisation snapshot (sta2). We are now one step closer to the release of Mageia 6!

8 months of bug fixing and polishing

Knowing that our previous snapshot, sta1, was released in July 2016, this new development release was long overdue. We talked at length about the reasons for this delay in a previous blog post. In a few words, it can be summarized as a succession of delays due to key contributors unavailability, infrastructure issues, upstream Plasma bugs that needed some time to mature, critical partitioning bugs in the installer that kept us hard at work for months – and overall our usual quality expectations and our wish to release a stable and well-tuned product, when it’s ready.

But finally, here it is! We are elated with how sta2 turned out and expect it to go smoothly towards the release candidate and the final version in the coming weeks.

Xfce live ISO images

The big news for this release is that we are offering ISOs providing a live environment with Xfce as a replacement for our 32-bit GNOME and Plasma live ISOs. Thereforewe now provide four live ISO images: Plasma 64-bit, GNOME 64-bit, Xfce 32-bit and 64-bit.

We feel that the current lineup of ISOs covers everything that the previous one did, but also provides a lightweight alternative for older and less powerful systems, or for those that prefer a slimmer desktop environment. With the new lineup, you can see that we still have great coverage for 32/64 bit systems, and the classical or net install will allow you to install the desktop of your choice, on the architecture of your choice, with your choice of installed packages.

Package versions

Now, for the bits that you are really after! Mageia 6 sta2 ships with the following: 

  • Linux Kernel 4.9.13 (current LTS)
  • X.Org 1.19.1
  • Plasma 5.8.5 (current LTS)
  • Gnome 3.22.3
  • MATE 1.16
  • Cinnamon 3.2.4
  • Xfce 4.12.1
  • LibreOffice 5.3.1.1
  • Firefox 45 ESR
  • Thunderbird 45 ESR
  • Chromium 56

There has been a lot of work to get Plasma integrated and working as it should. The delay has allowed for far newer versions of both Plasma 5 and KDE Applications, which greatly improved their quality.

Other major parts of the distribution have also been updated. You can see the full package list for the ISOs here. The release notes are available here, as well as the errata.

If you would like to test the new development release, you can find the ISOs here. Please bear in mind that this is a prerelease candidate, so it is not ready for production use. If you find any bugs, please report them on our Bugzilla so that they can be fixed for the final release.

If there is anything you want to discuss about the release, Mageia has appropriate mailing lists, and the full index can be seen here.

What’s up next?

The sta2 release is a point-in-time snapshot of Cauldron (in this case, dated Feb 28th). It means that work has continued on Cauldron in the meantime, and there are already great changes that you will get as updates on the installed system, among which:

  • Fixed systray applets under Plasma for mgaapplet (package update tool) and net_applet (network management tool)
  • Mesa 17.0.1 (This release ships with 13.0, which was the previous branch)
  • PulseAudio 10, and soon FFmpeg 3.2
  • Improvements and fixes to IceWM and PostgreSQL packaging

As always, if you would like to contribute to the betterment of Mageia, be it with packaging, development, QA, ISO testing, or any of the other things we do, the contribution page is a good place to start.

Posted in Mageia, QA, release | 19 Comments