Linux Weekly Daily Wednesday – Package Wars

Browsing gets decentralized, Xfce 4.14 is almost ready, CoderDojo eats some Pi, and we argue about universal packages, again.

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Colour key – Venn Pedro Mathieu Jordan

Gnome Mail

  • It’s the Gnome Shell equivalent of gmail-notify which has been around since 2009
  • You wouldn’t be needing that if you were using a proper email client, you savages!
  • Or you could use your Gmail account /w Thunderbird because that has, ya know, desktop notification.
  • I have disabled Thunderbird’s desktop notifications, since the MATE dock shows a little indicator icon above the Thunderbird icon telling me how many new emails I have.



  • Josh Triplett, a Debian maintainer, makes a good point. The reason why Debian has reached such a high level of stability is that there is a policy surrounding the whole ecosystem. With Flatpack or Snaps, no one is in charge, there is no QA from any particular entity and as we’ve seen with 3rd party RPM or Deb packages, the quality can vary greatly.
  • The only people I have seen pushing FlatSnapImages are the people working on them.  
  • I’m willing to bet by this time next year we will still be having the same arguments with little to no progress being made.
  • Honestly, this is just going to devolve into the merits of Flatpaks over snaps, over debs, over rpms.
  • I can hear Martin Wimpress shouting at me right now, seeing as he’s currently working on Snapcraft, about how I don’t get snaps at all.
  • So I will say this instead, if the point of “Universal” packages are to dispel the notion of “fragmentation” in Linux packaging, they’re doing a horrible job of it.
  • Instead of Canonical/Ubuntu and Red Hat/Fedora coming together and creating a proper Universal package format, they each went their separate ways and keep doing what they’ve always done.
  • So tell me again how different this discussion around Snaps vs. Flats is any different than debs vs. rpms?


Stretch of the imagination

  • Debian 9 release is planned for June 17th
  • The inclusion of Secure Boot will be postponed to a future update
  • Wonder how long Valve will take to update SteamOS
    • VALVe Time™, that’s how long!




  • Too bad that the founder isn’t named Richard Hendricks because that is the exact same things as in the Silicon Valley show
  • There is a developer preview available and a public release planned in 6 months
  • Right now this is a plugin for existing browsers.
  • Designed to give users a seamless browsing experience by granting access to websites via a single identity login that — unlike profiles created on the traditional internet — they actually own.
  • While I like the idea of decentralized everything I’m also a fan of things that work.
  • In an age where Internet freedom and “Net Neutrality” are always under constant fire, decentralizing everything is not just a good idea in ideological terms but also in a practical sense.
  • The problem with practicality and feasibility of decentralizing “The Internet” is that there’s no way they’re going to get ISPs and domain registrars to fork over everything for it to be blockchained.
  • So the only way to do it is the old fashioned way and basically creating Schröedinger’s “Internet”, which may or may not work.
  • Unless I’m just a big idiot and am completely misunderstanding the point of all this.


Road to 4.14

  • GTK3 all the things!
  • Almost all core components have now a gtk+3 version.
  • Thunar needs some help.
  • If you want to test the current state of Xfce 4.14, you can look at xfce-test, a docker image (check notes).
  • No ETA because Xfce but it’s still a better love story than Enlightenment.
  • By the time they finish the Gtk3 migration, Gtk4 might already be released!


Five ten

  • Adds option to group windows in the task bar
  • Folder view is now the default for the desktop
  • Improved volume control lets you switch audio sources
  • Software center now has Flatpak and Snap support
  • Ah, KDE, when developers play UX designers… they’re not
  • I mean, does anyone think Linux adoption is low because it’s not pretty enough?
    • Actually, a few people seem to.
    • No. Gnome (and its variants) and KDE are by far the prettiest desktops. OSX looks okay-ish and Microsoft has done quite a nice job with Windows 10. Linux desktops are still prettier.
  • As the one stubborn person in this show who keeps trying to use KDE or Plasma or whatever they call it nowadays, the 5.10 update b0rked KWin.
  • It borked it because some of the packages which the new version of KWin needs are not getting updated.
  • They’re not getting updated because they were linked against a specific version of libqt5core5a.
  • Version 5.6.1 to be specific and even though I have version 5.7.1, they still refuse to install.
  • I don’t know whether to blame KDE, Ubuntu or something else, but fact of the matter is, I’ve never had as many issues with version mismatching on Fedora than I do in Ubuntu.
    • Shouldn’t you be using KDE Neon if you want the latest version of Plasma?
    • Of course if you try to install a brand new desktop on Ubuntu you’re going to run into issues.
      • KDE Neon is based on Ubuntu 16.04.
      • Run that by me again.
    • That’s the job of distro maintainers to make sure that these things are neatly integrated and work properly

Slice of Pi

No Pi

  • I think I’ve been saying that since the beginning of the show
  • The Pi is a powerful device, there are more suited alternative if all you want is to control a motor and a bunch of LEDs
  • Don’t be afraid of making your RaspberryPi do a bunch of different things at once
  • You buy a Pi because of the ecosystem.
  • It’s a great device for beginners since they can take the monkey-see monkey-do approach.
  • The Pi is like the Ubuntu of prototype boards.
  • There’s a bunch of people using it, developing for it, and supporting it.
  • So, given the choice between something with as much support as the Pi, for so many different skill levels, or anything else where the only support you get is an obscure sub-forum on a website that’s been barely maintained, and everyone in there speaks with a completely impenetrable lingo, I know what I’d pick.
    • Wait. The Arduino is obscure?


  • Kinds of reminds me of the OLPC initiative


  • 4 steps to a live YOUTUBE stream.
  • This is a lot better than building ffmpeg on a Pi.



  • I wouldn’t say efficiency is the main purpose of Synaptic but it’s great for complex package management. I use it quite rarely but when I do it’s a life saver!
  • I discovered Synaptic around the time Ubuntu 9.04 showed up and never found anything better for my specific taste, as far as Ubuntu goes.
  • In fact, until Yumex became usable, I wished there was something like Synaptic for Fedora and derivatives for a long time.

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