Planet Linux Australia

Syndicate content
Planet Linux Australia -
Updated: 49 min 58 sec ago

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 157: Pottering around the house and more time in the pool

Sun, 2014-07-06 14:25

I managed to sleep all night last night! I felt so much better today as a result.

It was a beautiful day today, with unseasonably low temperature and humidity.

The girls played around in the back yard for a bit in the morning once everyone got up and got going for the day, and after lunch we were going to go to a local neighbourhood park, but only got as far as the pool instead.

All of this time in the pool is certainly doing wonders for Zoe's confidence in deep water. She did lots of deep diving and swimming today.

I realised how much I'm enjoying the limited downtime of this holiday. Just the break from having to cook is massive. Skipping out on cooking but still having heaps of quality time with Zoe has been fantastic. I'm also really loving the leafy green neighbourhood.

I took the Peikerts out for dinner tonight to say thanks for having us. We had a nice dinner at a local bar. After we got home and all the kids were bathed, Zoe wanted to watch Clara practice the piano, which devolved into an impromptu piano lesson for Zoe, so I didn't end up getting her to bed until quite late. Hopefully we can all sleep in a bit tomorrow morning.

Michael Davies: LCA2015 CFP Closing Real Soon Now

Sun, 2014-07-06 12:54
It's July, which means the LCA2015 CFP is open... but not for much longer.

I've been reading through what's been submitted so far, and it looks like will again have an excellent program.  But, as Co-Chair of the Papers Committee, I want the program to be even better! :-)

So if you're working on a open-source or open-hardware project, and you're doing cool stuff, why not come to Auckland in January and speak at one of the best community-driven open-source conferences in the world?  We've got some great information on how to get your proposal accepted (also in video) to help you put your proposal together.

But to be a speaker at LCA2015 you need to make a proposal to speak to the CFP (which closes next Friday on July 13).  So hurry up, and submit your proposal today!

David Rowe: Democratising HF Radio Part 1

Sun, 2014-07-06 09:29

I recently submitted a Shuttleworth Fellowship grant application. I had planned to use the funding to employ people and accelerate the roll out of the project described below. I just heard that my application was unsuccessful (they wanted something more experimental). Never mind, the ideas lives on!

I’m exploring some novel ideas for messaging over 100 km ranges in unconnected parts of the developing world. Radios are migrating from hardware to software, making the remaining hardware component very simple. Software can be free, so radio communication can be built at very low cost, and possibly by local people in the developing world. Even from e-waste.

I have a theory that this can address the huge problem of “distribution”. I’ve been involved in a few projects where well meaning geeks have tried to help people using technology. However we get wound up in our own technology. If you have a hammer, every problem is a nail. I think we have the technology – it’s physically getting it into peoples hands at the right cost and in a way that they can control and maintain it that is the problem. I also hit this problem in my small business career – it’s called “distribution”, it was really tough in that field as well.

Here is the video part of a Shuttleworth Fellowship grant application:

And here are the slides.

I’ll be moving this project forward in 2015. The world needs to get connected.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 156: Independence Day

Sun, 2014-07-06 03:25

Zoe woke up at briefly at about 1:30am wanting her blankets pulled up. I managed to get back to sleep after that, but woke up at 4:30am for the day. A slight improvement.

I'd wanted to time our visit so that we could be here for the 4th of July. We pottered around at home in the morning and then walked down the street to the neighbourhood pool for a 4th of July ice cream social. It was a bit more than ice cream though, we had sandwiches as well.

After some time in the pool, we had a nap so we'd last until after the fireworks, and after an early dinner, headed into downtown Decatur in preparation for the fireworks.

The girls had a great time playing in a local park for a while, and then we parked over in a multi-story parking garage downtown, and got into position on the roof to watch the fireworks.

We joined a friend of Chris' (also named Chris) and his two daughters, while we waited for it to get dark. Chris, Chris and I played Carcassonne on Chris' phone (it looks like a cool game, I'll have to try and get better at it) while the girls played cards and generally fooled around.

The fireworks started a bit after 9pm. There's one thing about America, it knows how to put on a good fireworks show, and this was just Decatur. Zoe was very impressed. So I'm glad I got to show her a 4th of July fireworks show.

We got home by about 10:30pm, and crashed.

Peter Miller: Phasmatodea: Ripe Cages

Sat, 2014-07-05 02:25
I reared phasmids for 14 years. Along the way I noticed a few things that came along.  My first phasmids were, adult females of Extatosoma tiaratum tiaratum and Eurycnema goliath; well doesn’t everyone? This was 1997. I kept a journal and notes, and I was able to pull some populations studies from the data.  I just […]

Brad Hards: OpenChange at Exchange RPC Plugfest (24-27 Jan 2011)

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

Late last month, I was fortunate to be invited to Microsoft for the Exchange RPC Plugfest as part of the OpenChange team.

I decided to arrive into Redmond a few days early to get over the worst of the jetlag, and to spend some pre-plugfest hacking time with Julien Kerihuel and Jelmer Vernooij. That produced some excellent planning work, and a bit of new code. I also caught up with Tom Devey (a Microsoft consultant, who is basically the customer representative for Exchange RPC protocols) and enjoyed a nice wood-fired pizza lunch, and some night skiing at Stevens Pass. My skiing was never really good, and lack of practice and some pretty unusual conditions didn't help. It was still a lot of fun though.

The Exchange RPC plugfest kicked off on Monday (24 January 2011), with breakfast and getting oriented in the lab environment. The labs we used were in the "Platform Adoption Center" (Building 20 on the Microsoft campus at Redmond), which is a nice facility for this kind of thing. Monday afternoon had presentations from Simon Xiao and Xianming Xu, who were part of the team from Microsoft (well, a contract / outsource organisation paid by Microsoft) on the test suite we'd be using to test OpenChange with for the rest of the week. In this context, the testing is aimed at protocol specification compliance. Microsoft has similar tests for some of the windows protocols, but the suite we used was specific to the Exchange RPC ("MAPI") wire-protocol.

Over the course of the week, the test suites showed us quite a number of issues (from minor non-compliances through to crashing the server, and occasionally causing problems with the test suite). We fixed some of it during the plugfest, and we also did some refactoring of the backend store that will allow us to address other issues and build a more stable and reliable server.

We typically ran tests from 0830 through to about 1900 (sometimes a bit earlier / later) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Microsoft had also arranged Exchange developers (Darrell Brunsch, Joe Warren and Juan Pablo Muraira) to give presentations, which helped enormously with understanding the protocol. Although it took time away from the testing, it was still well worth while to both attend the talks and to discuss things before and after the talks.

There we also "shared" talks with the Active Directory plugfest that was going on at the same time, and presentations by Nick Meier (one of only a few Linux guys inside Microsoft) and Paul Long (on Netmon) amongst other talks helped a lot. Seeing the inside of the "Enterprise Engineering Center" was also illuminating - thanks to Darryl Welch for organising the tour and the EEC team for hosting us.

It was a real shame to miss LCA 2011 (since I'd already committed to the Plugfest when the LCA dates changed), but given what we learned about the OpenChange server, then I'd make the same decision again.

Thanks everyone who attended and contributed, but particularly to Virginia Bing and Tom Devey for all the organisational work and putting on the event.

Brad Hards: dealing with Microsoft Exchange, when you really want to use SMTP

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

I've been doing some work on OpenChange, including parsing RFC2822 format messages into Exchange RPC properties. One of the test tools I have can parse up some kinds of RFC2822 / MIME messages (plain text, HTML, some mime/alternative and text/calendar) and upload the results to a Microsoft Exchange server as a particular user.

With a little bit of unix-style tool combination, you can plug this into something like Postfix. So if you're in a situation where you want to integrate a tool that wants to send mail via SMTP, but your network is pretty much "Exchange." (and you can't send SMTP directly), then this might be useful.

When using Postfix, you'd add a transport entry, either a wildcard:

* oc:localhost

or a restricted list if you like.

Enable the transport mapping in

transport_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/transport

Then add an entry to to match the required transport:

oc unix - n n - 1 pipe flags= user=bradh argv=/path/to/

where the script receives the mail, and invokes the oxcmail_test application:

#!/bin/sh SCRIPT_TMP_DIR=/var/spool/myscript OC_SEND="/home/bradh/openchange/branches/oxcmail/liboxcmail/test/oxcmail_test --dump-data -d9 --database=/home/bradh/.openchange/profiles.ldb" # you could also choose to remove $SCRIPT_TMP_DIR/oc_send.$$.log if you don't need the records trap "rm -f $SCRIPT_TMP_DIR/$$.msg" 0 1 2 3 15 cat > $SCRIPT_TMP_DIR/$$.msg $OC_SEND $SCRIPT_TMP_DIR/$$.msg > $SCRIPT_TMP_DIR/oc_send.$$.log exit $?

I would caution that the code is pretty experimental - its still in a branch for a reason! However I would appreciate some external testers if you're feeling particularly brave, and have the right kind of environment for testing this. You can pick up the code from svn ( and build it using the instructions on the OpenChange wiki. In addition, note that you can't usually set the From address, so you'll probably be restricted to sending from one pre-configured user (or perhaps a small set of users)

If you have any questions, try to catch me on IRC (#openchange on freenode), leave blog comments or use the devel mailing list.

Future plans involve a sendmail-like application for those applications that want to sendmail instead of SMTP. Hopefully that will allow me to send from KMail without needing to go via the SMTP path.

Brad Hards: Openchange goes to Redmond, and a shout out to Inverse / SoGo

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

Julien and I met up in Redmond last week, just before the Exchange Open Specifications event at Microsoft. It was a productive time, where we did some serious planning and a little coding, and learned quite a lot more about the protocols from some of the main developers of Exchange and Outlook. Thanks to Microsoft for hosting it.

I also wanted to highlight some impressive work from the people at Inverse (in particular, Wolfgang Sourdeau) in building a backend for the SoGo groupware suite that uses OpenChange to provide native Outlook connectivity (using Exchange RPC) to the SoGo server. There is a screencast video that shows access to the SoGo server via Outlook and Firefox (web UI). The video goes by quite quickly, but you can see new folder creation, messages moved between folders and creation of a new contact.

There is still a way to go, but this is a very promising start. It also gives us confidence in the OpenChange server architecture, and shows where we need to focus our attention.

Brad Hards: OpenChange team meeting

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

The OpenChange team had a short online (IRC) meeting on Friday. The meeting record is at

We're considering holding an "open session" meeting (again on IRC), possibly in a couple of weeks. If you'd be interested in attending, please leave a comment on the best days and times (relative to UTC) so we can accommodate as many people as possible.

Brad Hards: Trying OpenChange server, easy way

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

OpenChange is an important project, but it does require quite a lot of work to get it all to build. We're working on the process, but in the mean time, we've (ok, Julien Kerihuel with nothing from me except encouragement) has built a Virtual Box image that provides OpenChange all built, configured, set up and ready to try.

See for the download (ftp or rsync) location and setup procedures.

Have fun, and let us know how it goes!

Brad Hards: Recent happenings in OpenChange

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

I haven't been doing a lot of KDE stuff recently (happy user, although I'd be happier if I could find some extra time for development...). Instead, I've been doing some "real" work, and also going some OpenChange work. [For those that tuned in late, OpenChange is an implementation of the Exchange RPC protocols on both the client (i.e. "Outlook") and server (i.e. "Microsoft Exchange") sides of the network protocol]

Some recent changes:

- we've arranged some new infrastructure servers, with the help of the Free Software Conservancy and FSF France (especially thanks to Loic Dachary for his work on this)

- we've migrated from Trac to Redmine, which is working out pretty well so far

- got the buildbot back up (on for those who'd like to check it out)

- significant progress on the server side (including getting outlook to show a message), although there is still a lot to do here

- better handling of some data types (especially unicode strings)

- a lot of little code cleanups

Thanks to the Novell (Evolution) team for their work in identifying issues and suggesting fixes, and to the Microsoft Open Specification team for following up on our obscure questions.

Future (near-term) plans mainly focus on server-side functionality, and fixing up some of the current bugs that are biting client users.

Brad Hards: Interoperability with Microsoft File Formats.

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

I recently realised that much of the code I find interesting is about interoperability. That is, I'm interested in making sure we can get at data in a range of formats. Work on libtiff, poppler, okular generators and openchange are all examples of that. I also like Qt as a very nice cross-platform API. The convergence of those interests is having Qt-style libraries and tools that can get access to data, especially data in widely used proprietary formats (e.g. those produced by Microsoft products).

I've set up a gitorious repository ( for some of that stuff.

At the moment, it mainly has a Compound File Binary Format (aka "OLE") parser, written from the MS-CFB specification.

I plan to add an EMF ("Enhanced Metafile") format parser / renderer (already written and currently used in KOffice) at some point too - just need to find some more time.

There are a lot more things that could go in there (e.g. converting the various things in MS-DTYP into Qt equivalents), but I've only implemented those things I actually need.

Contributions are welcome - I'm pretty flexible on format. If you have some suggestions, please add them to the project wiki on gitorious.

Brad Hards: Microsoft releases PST specification document

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

Looks like Microsoft has released the PST format specification.

I don't normally like to link to MSDN, but I'll do it this once:

As usual with these documents, I recommend reading the PDF version rather than the HTML. Also, Firefox seems to handle MSDN a bit better than my (KDE 4.3.5) Konqueror.

If you were a mad-keen PIM hacker, and looking for a GSoC project, might be worth a look.

[Thanks to Tom Devey for the heads-up on this]

Brad Hards: OpenChange BoF - LCA 2010

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

I'm not at Camp KDE, but instead at LCA 2010 (in Wellington, NZ).

Andrew Tridgell, Andrew Bartlett, Jelmer Vernooij and I will be running "birds of a feather" (BoF) sessions during the last part of the conference (Friday 22 January 2010 starting at 1430 in the "Civic 3" room, which is over in the Town Hall building).

The first part of the BoF session will focus on Samba 4 and its ability to replace (or work with) Active Directory. I've been working on an installer GUI for Samba4 and OpenChange, and if you are a sysadmin who might be interested in installing this stuff yourself, then you can influence the design of the tool.

There will also be some demos.

If nothing else, you'll get to see Tridge hack, which is always fun.

So come along (remember 1430 to 1630 on Friday), hang out, observe, contribute and enjoy!

Brad Hards: Goodbye Okular

Fri, 2014-07-04 16:26
KDE Project:

The Okular team has never been all that big. Recently we lost Pino as the maintainer. His reasons are his reasons, but I can't say I blame him. I can personally no longer tolerate the level of abuse that we're seeing on bug reports. The latest example is Wishlist item 157284

I'm unsubscribed from the okular-devel mailing list. I'm not going to be in #okular. I'll still look at XPS bugs if I notice them.

It is difficult to leave. I really do care about Okular - I gave quite a lot of my time to improve it. It is a really nice application. However every time I looked at some bug comment insisting on a change (in something like the GUI that is subjective in the absence of actual usability study), I get disheartened. Even when I'm supposed to be working on something else, it gets to me. I've got better things to work on, where I'm not seeing that level of criticism of volunteer efforts.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in Okular, especially Albert and Pino for their maintainership, Piotr for the initial work, and Tobias for some inspirational work on the generator side.

Best wishes to Okular and its happy users.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 155: Jet lagged, some shopping and more swimming

Fri, 2014-07-04 12:25

The jet lag is totally kicking my butt at the moment. I woke up at about 1:30am and stayed awake, no matter what I tried. Zoe woke up briefly not long after me, but went back to sleep in my bed and slept until nearly 8:30am when I woke her up. She's making this whole thing look easy.

So after a few coffees to kick start myself, we went out to do a spot of shopping. Turns out I forgot to pack my swim gear and shaving cream, so we went to Target to get that, and also my favourite breakfast cereal.

After that, I went to the T-Mobile store to sort out a pre-paid SIM for my phone. It's good to have a number and some mobile data now.

We had lunch at Chick-fil-A and the kids all had a bit of a play in the play area.

I crashed out for nap again after we got home. I'm slightly concerned I might be getting a sinus infection, but it's hard to tell if it's just the massive sleep deficit I'm running.

After everyone resurfaced from their various naps, (Zoe just had some quiet time playing on her tablet), we went to the pool again for a swim. Zoe got her confidence up and was swimming back to the side from where she dived in off the diving board, without requiring the use of a float.

The girls had a great hair washing line happening at bath time, which made that nice and easy.

I'm really hoping I can sleep better tonight.