Planet Linux Australia

Syndicate content
Planet Linux Australia -
Updated: 28 min 41 sec ago

Simon Lyall: 2017 Sysadmin Miniconf – Session 1

Mon, 2017-01-16 12:03

The Opposite of the Cloud – Tom Eastman

  • Korinates Data gateway – an appliance onsite at customers
  • Requirements
    • A bootable images ova, AMI/cloud images
    • Needs network access
    • Sounds like an IoT device
  • Opoossite of cloud is letting somebody outsource their stuff onto your infrastructure
  • Tom’s job has been making a nice and tidy appliance
  • What does IoT get wrong
    • Don’t do updates, security patches
    • Don’t treat network as hostile
    • Hard to remotely admin
  • How to make them secure
    • no default or static credentials
    • reduce the attack surface
    • secure all networks comms
    • ensure it fails securely
  • Solution
    • Don’t treat appliances like appliances
    • Treat like tightly orchestrated Linux Servers
  • Stick to conserative archetecture
    • Use standard distribution like Debian
    • You can trust the standard security updates
  • Solution Components
    • aspen: A customized Debian machine image built with Packer
    • pando: orchestration server/C&C network
    • hakea: A Django/Rest microservice API in charge
  • saltstack command and control
    • Normal orchestration stuff
    • Can works as a distributed command execution
    • The minions on each server connect to the central node, means you don’t need to connect into a remote appliance (no incoming connections needed to appliance)
    • OpenVPN as Internet transport
    • Outgoing just port 443 and openvpn protocol. Everything else via OpenVPN
  • What is the Appliance
    • A lightly mangled Debian Jessie VM image
    • Easy to maintain by customer, just reboot, activate or reinstall to fix any problems.
    • Appliance is running a bunch of docker containers
  • Appliance authentication
    • Needs to connect via 443 with activation code to download VPN and Salt short-lived certificates to get started
    • Auth keys only last for 24 hours.
    • If I can’t reach it it kills itself.
  • Hakea: REST control
    • Django REST framework microservices
    • Self documenting using DRF amd CoreAPI Schema
  • DevOps Principals apply beyonf the cloud

Inventory Management with Pallet Jack – Karl-Johan Karlsson

  • Goals
    • Single source of truth
    • Version control
    • Scaleable (to around 1000 machines, 10k objects)
  • Stuff stored as just a file structure
  • Some tools to access
  • Tools to export, eg to kea DHCP config
  • Tools as post-commit hooks for git. Pushes out update via salt etc
  • Various Integrations
    • API
    • Salt

Continuous Dashboard – You DevOps Airbag – Christopher Biggs

  • Dashboard traditionally targeted at OPs
  • Also need to target Devs
    • KPIs and
  • Sales and Support need to know everything to
  • Management want reassurance, Shipping a new feature, you have a hotline to the CEO
  • Customer, do you have something you are ashamed of?
    • Take notice of load spikes
    • Assume customers errors are being acted on, option to notify then when a fix happens
    • What is relivant to support call, most recent outages affecting this customer
    • Remember recent behavour of this customer
  • What kinds of data?
    • Tradditionally: System load indicators, transtion numbers etc
    • Now: Business Goals, unavoidable errors, spikes of errors, location of errors, user experience metrics, health of 3rd party interfaces, App and product reviews
  • What should I put in dashboards
    • Understand the Status-quo
    • Continuously
    • Look at trends over time and releases
    • Think about features holisticly
  • How to get there
    • Like you data as much as your code
    • Experiment with your data
    • tools:,, elastic
  • Insert Dashboards into your dev pipeline
    • Code Review, CI, Unit Test, Confirm that alarms actually work via test errors
    • Automate deployment
  • Tools
    • ELK – off the shelf images, good import/export
    • Node-RED – Flow based data processing, nice visual editor, built in dashboarding
    • Blynk – Nice dashboards in Ios or Android. Interactive dashboard editor. Easy to share
  • Social Media integration
    • Receive from twitter, facebook, apps stores reviews
    • Post to slack and monitoring channels
    • Forward to internal groups

The Sound of Silencing – Julien Goodwin

  • Humans know to ignore “expected” alerts during maintenance
    • Hard to know what is expected vs unexpected
    • Major events can lead to alert overload
  • Level 1 – Turn it all off
    • Can work on small scale
  • Level 2 – Turn off a localtion while working on it.
    • What if something happens while you are doing the work?
    • May work with single-service deployments
  • Level 3 – Turn off the expect alerts
    • Hard to get exactly right
  • Level 4 – Change mngt integration
    • Link the generator up to th change mngt automation system
    • What about changes too small to track?
    • What about changes too big for a simple silence?
  • Level 5 – Inhibiting Alerts
    • Use Service level indigations to avoid alerts on expected failures
    • Fire “goes nowhere” alert
  • Level 6 – Global monitoring and preventing over-siliencing
    • Alert if too many sites down
    • Need to have explicit alerts to spot when somebody silences “*”
  • How to get there from here
    • Incrementally
    • Choose a bad alert and change it to make it better
    • Regularly



Simon Lyall: 2017 – Conference Opening

Mon, 2017-01-16 10:03
  • Wear SunScreen
  • Karen Sandler introduces Outreachy and it is announced as the raffle cause for 2017
  • Overview of people
    • 462 From Aus
    • 43 from NZ
    • 62 From USA
    • Lots of other countries
    • Gender breakdown lots of no answers so a stats a bit rough
  • Talks
    • 421 Proposals
    • 80-ish talks and 6 tutorials
    • Questions
      • Please ask questions during the question time
  • Looking for Volunteers – look at a session and click to signup
  • Keynotes – A quick profile
  • All the rooms are booked till 11pm! for BOF sessions
  • Lightning talks, Coffee, Lunch, dinners




Binh Nguyen: Life in Cuba, More Russian Stuff, and More

Sun, 2017-01-15 23:45
Given the recent passing away of Fidel Castro it should make sense that we'd take a look at life inside (and associated aspects of it) of Cuba: Cuban-Americans pour onto the streets of Little Havana after hearing of Castro’s death https://

BlueHackers: BlueHackers session at 2017

Sun, 2017-01-15 19:55

If you’re fortunate enough to be in Tasmania for 2017 then you will be pleased to hear that we’re holding another BlueHackers BoF (Birds of a Feather) session on Monday evening, straight after the Linux Australia AGM.

The room is yet to be confirmed, but all details will be updated on the conference wiki at the following address:

We hope to see you there!

OpenSTEM: Getting to know Homo erectus

Sat, 2017-01-14 14:05
Homo erectus, Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor, Michigan (photo: Thomas Roche)

Homo erectus was an ancient human ancestor that lived between 2 million and 100,000 to 50,000 years ago. It had a larger body and bigger brain than most earlier human ancestors. Although recent debates revolve around how we classify these fossils, and whether they should be broken down into lots of smaller sub-groups, it is generally agreed that Australopithecines in Africa pre-dated the advent of the Homo lineage. Predecessors to Homo erectus, include Homo habilis (“handy man”), a much smaller specimen.

Compared with modern Homo sapiens, which have only been around for the last 200,000 years, Homo erectus, or “upright man,” was very “successful” in a biological sense and lived on the Earth for 10 – 20 times longer than modern humans have been around.

Fossils of H. erectus show that it was the first human ancestor to live outside of Africa – one of the first fossils found was unearthed in the 19th century in Indonesia – others have been found across Asia, including China, as well as Europe and Africa.

A recent interesting summary of information about Homo erectus can be read at OpenSTEM also has a PDF resource on Homo erectus (part of our Archaeology Textbook for Senior Secondary).

Get Hands-On!

If you’re in the greater Brisbane area and would like to have your students touch, compare and otherwise explore human ancestor skulls – talk to us! OpenSTEM has a growing range of 3D printed fossil skulls and our resident archaeologist Dr Claire is available for workshops at primary and high school level (such as Introduction to Archaeology and Fossils).

Silvia Pfeiffer: Annual Release of External-Videos plugin – we’ve hit v1.0

Sat, 2017-01-14 08:51

This is the annual release of my external-videos wordpress plugin and with the help of  Andrew Nimmolo I’m proud to annouce we’ve reached version 1.0!

So yes, my external-videos wordpress plugin is now roughly 7 years old, who would have thought! During the year, I don’t get the luxury of spending time on maintaining this open source love child of mine, but at Christmas, my bad conscience catches up with me  – every year! I then spend some time going through bug reports, upgrading the plugin to the latest wordpress version, upgrading to the latest video site APIs, testing functionality and of course making a new release.

This year has been quite special. The power of open source has kicked in and a new developer took an interest in external-videos. Andrew Nimmolo submitted patches over all of 2016. He decided to bring the external-videos plugin into the new decade with a huge update to the layout of the settings pages, general improvements, and an all-round update of all the video site APIs which included removing their overly complex SDKs and going straight for the REST APIs.

Therefore, I’m very proud to be able to release version 1.0 today. Thanks, Andrew!

Enjoy – and I look forward to many more contributions – have a Happy 2017!

NOTE: If you’re upgrading from an older version, you might need to remove and re-add your social video sites because the API details have changed a bit. Also, we noticed that there were layout issues on WordPress 4.3.7, so try and make sure your WordPress version is up to date.

Matthew Oliver: Make quasselcore listen on port 443

Tue, 2017-01-10 10:04

I use IRC in my day to day job. I am a professional open source developer, so what else would I use.

For the last few years I have been using quassel, the core component sitting on a cloudserver, which allows me to have clients running on my phone, laptop, desktop… really where ever. However sometimes you find yourself at a place that has a firewall that port filters. If your lucky you might be able to ssh, and thereby get away with using an ssh tunnel. But I found it much easier to just get the quasselcore to listen on port 443 rather then the default 4242.

Changing the port it listens on is easy. If your using debian (or ubuntu) you just need to change/add /etc/default/quasselcore to have:


But that is only half the battle. 443 is a privileged port, so the default user quasselcore doesn’t have the rights to bind to that port. So we have 2 options.

  1. run the daemon as root
  2. Use setcap to allow the daemon to bind to privileged ports.

The first is easy, but a little dirty. Simply change the user in either the default file or update the init script. But option 2 is much cleaner, and actually not that hard.

First you need to make sure you have setcap installed:

sudo apt-get install libcap2-bin

Now we simply need to bless the quasselcore binary with the required capability:

sudo setcap 'cap_net_bind_service=+ep' /usr/bin/quasselcore

Now when you start quasselcore you’ll see it listening on port 443:

sudo netstat -ntlp |grep quassel

Tim Riley: 2016 in review

Mon, 2017-01-09 08:01

I had a good run of year in review posts, but fell off the bandwagon lately. It's time to change that. Before I dive into 2016, here's a recap of the intervening years:

2013: Around the world tickets in hand, Misch and I worked, volunteered, and played Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the USA, Finland, Germany, the UK, Spain, and Italy. An amazing time! Attended my first (and only) WWDC and had a blast. Started working on Decaf Sucks 2.0 (you'll hear more about that much later).

2014: Settling back in Canberra and realising we could live for a long time in our (large by world standards) apartment, we renovated a little: new floors, paint, curtains. Made it feel like a whole new place. Misch and I gave birth to Clover, our best and most satisfying team effort yet.

2015: Took our first with-kid overseas trip, and cruised through to Clover's first birthday and our first parenting anniversary (which we celebrated with a giant bánh mì party). Icelab gathered for FarmLab, and we discussed alternatives-to-Rails for the first time. Our grandmothers both passed away, and we spent time with the extended family. Jojo and I held Rails Camp in Canberra in December, where we got to eat cake for Rails' 10th birthday and watch Star Wars with 70 of our friends. Misch and I got pregnant again but sadly lost the little baby at 7 weeks.

Phew. That was some time. Now onto 2016.

At home with the (expanded!) family

Losing a baby at the end of 2016 was a big thing, but thankfully it came at a time when work and other demands scale back, so Misch and I spent some good quality time together and could regroup.

We got a couple of big things done in the beginning of the year. First up, we bought a car! After two years of mostly car-free life, it was time for another way to get around the place. Our little Škoda Fabia does just that, and is fun to drive.

Next, we renovated our bathroom! Knowing we'll be living here for many years to come, this was a big and worthwhile upgrade to our home amenity. We splashed out and got a Toto washlet, too. I regret nothing.

And in the last big thing for 2016, we became pregnant again and gave birth to baby Iris Persephone in October. This time around, the room at the Birth Centre was brimming with family. We wanted Clover there, so along came Misch's parents too. Clover's excited cry of "Baby!" upon seeing Iris come into the world is something I'll always remember. Iris' arrival brought another 6 weeks of time at home, which I enjoyed even more now that we're a family of four.

Decaf Sucks 2.0

With Misch's encouragement, I returned to my long stalled effort to release our all-new 2.0 version of Decaf Sucks. Turned out it didn't need all that much; with just a couple of weeks of effort, Max and I got everything wrapped up and released it to the world. It was a weight from my shoulders and I'm happy to finally have it out there.


2016 brought a seismic shift in how I write Ruby applications. After some experimentations with rom-rb and Piotr Solnica's rodakase experiment late in 2015, I knew this was my future. So I dove in and contributed as much as I could to the fledgling set of libraries now known as dry-rb. And we got a lot done. We released a whole bunch of gems, made things "official" with the launch of a website and discussion forum, and expanded the core team of developers to 5.

Along with sharing code, I wanted to start sharing some of the thinking behind the dry-rb style of Ruby app development, so I set about blogging, and managed to publish once a week for a good few months. This culminated with an introductory talk I gave at RedDotRubyConf in Singapore. This was my first conference talk and I relished the opportunity to really polish a particular message. Luckily, I was able to build upon this a repeat performance at Rails Camp in Adelaide and at a Ruby community workshop over in Perth. No doubt, you can expect to hear plenty more from me about dry-rb in 2017 :)


Icelab kicked off 2016 by celebrating our 10th birthday! I think we've built a remarkable little company and work-home to many good people, and I think the next 10 years will be even better.

For me, most of 2016 at Icelab was spent getting us settled onto dry-rb and rom-rb as our preferred stack for server-side applications. We shipped our first production app with these all the way back in February, launched our new website as an open source example app in June, and we have several more big sites that'll see the light of day early in 2017. It took a little while to get over the knowledge and productivity hump, but I feel we've hit a good rhythm with the stack now, and given we're the long-term maintainers of most of the things we ship, it'll be something that I expect will pay dividends for many years to come.

Open source was another big theme for the year. Along with our ongoing contributions to dry-rb, we took an "open source first" approach to any other standalone, reusable pieces of code we wrote. This small shift was a big help in making better design choices right from the beginning. You'll be able to see some of this bear fruit when we take our advanced form builder to 1.0 next year. It's already been an incredibly useful tool across our client projects.

I'm also proud that Icelab began contributing to the open source infrastructure that powers Ruby apps everywhere through our contributions to Ruby Together, which we joined in 2016 as Australia's first Emerald member.

And all the rest

And now I'll collect everything else I could think of into a few broadly categorised lists:

Computer life:

  • I've removed Twitter apps from all my platforms. It's helped me focus.
  • Said goodbye to, the little Rails app I've been running to email me my Twitter favourites. Now that IFTTT can do that same thing, I'm happy to have one less running thing I have to worry about.
  • Sometime in June I surpassed 250,000 all time Icelab chat messages.
  • Mulled many times with my co-workers on how we could run a better kind of tech meet-up in Canberra. Maybe this year!

Software development:

  • Continued my love/hate relationship with Docker, but I think now I've managed to find the right place for it in our development life: standardised production environments, and local dev only when we have to run something unusual.
  • After uncountable years, I'm finally looking away from Heroku as our production environment of choice.
  • Shipped a production iOS app built using Turbolinks for iOS, and it turned out rather nicely. I'd be happy to play with it some more.
  • We settled on Attache as a standard handler for all our file uploads. I feel it is a smart architectural choice (and I was happy to meet its affable creator Choon Keat in Singapore!)
  • We started to build Danger into our CI builds. It's already helpful, and I think we're just scratching the surface.
  • time_math2 is a great little Ruby library and a wonderful archetype for how "expressive" Ruby libraries can be made without Rails-style monkey patches.

Physical things:

  • The Mizudashi cold brew coffee pot I picked up to celebrate the launch of Decaf Sucks 2.0 makes amazing coffee and I've been putting it to good use ever since the weather warmed up. I'm aiming for 100% uptime of cold brew all summer long.
  • The Minaal daily shipped from their Kickstarter campaign and it immediately became my every day carry. A great companion to their larger carry-on bag.


  • After trying innumerable things and never settling, I've finally found a home for all my writing (pieces long, short, random or otherwise): it's Ulysses. What a great app.
  • Castro 2 came out with an ingenious new mechanic and I'm very happy to continue using it. It's helped my jump onto a few new podcasts without the worry of managing them.
  • CarPlay is great. I'll readily admit this was a deciding factor in our new car choice and I wasn't disappointed.
  • Paw is now my one-stop shop for all my HTTP requestin’. Super polished.
  • I'm back on good old and happy to ignore all the we'll-host-your-mail-and-your-passwords offerings that continue to swirl around.

Books, film, TV, etc.

  • Ripped through quite a bit of fiction as I waited for Clover to sleep (happily now she does this on her own). Highlights: Seveneves, Proxima & Ultima, The Prefect, Aurora and the Wool trilogy.
  • I look at my Letterboxd profile and once again resolve to watch more cinema. Anyway, 2016's highlights were The Big Short, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Easy A, Arrival, Crazy, Stupid Love and of course Rogue One.
  • Subscribing to Netflix has been great. And fits perfectly well with our no-TV household.


  • Cooked all the Filipino food I could think up. It was great to have this as a motivating theme behind all my cooking.
  • And I tried toast and yoghurt for breakfast for the first time. Guess there's always time for new firsts ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: Annual Penguin Picnic, January 21, 2017

Sun, 2017-01-08 14:04
Start: Jan 21 2017 12:00 End: Jan 21 2017 18:00 Start: Jan 21 2017 12:00 End: Jan 21 2017 18:00 Location: 

Yarra Bank Reserve, Hawthorn.

The Linux Users of Victoria Annual Penguin Picnic will be held on Saturday, January 21, starting at 12 noon at the Yarra Bank Reserve, Hawthorn.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Carlton venue and Infoxchange for the Richmond venue.

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

January 21, 2017 - 12:00

read more

Sam Watkins: Linux, low power / low heat for summer

Sat, 2017-01-07 20:03

Sometimes I play browser games including  This loads the CPU and GPU, and in this summer weather my laptop gets too hot and heats up the room.

I tried using Chrome with the GPU disabled, but the browser games would still cause the GPU to ramp up to full clock rate. I guess the X server was using the GPU.

google-chrome --disable-gpu # does not always prevent GPU clocking up

So here’s what I did:

For the NVIDIA GPU, we can force the lowest power mode by adding the following to the “Device” section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

# Option "RegistryDwords" "PowerMizerEnable=0x0;" Option "RegistryDwords" "PowerMizerEnable=0x1; PerfLevelSrc=0x3333; PowerMizerLevel=0x3; PowerMizerDefault=0x3; PowerMizerDefaultAC=0x3"

Unfortunately the “nvidia-settings” tool does not allow this.  It is necessary to restart the X server in order to change this setting.  Just swap which line is commented out.

Given that we are keeping the GPU cool like this, Chrome works better with the GPU enabled not disabled.

For the CPU, setting “scaling_governor=powersave” does not force the lowest power mode, and the CPU still clocks up and gets hot.  But we can set “scaling_max_freq” to stop Linux from raising the clock speed.  I’m using this shell script “cpu_speed“:

#!/bin/bash cmd=${1-info} cd /sys/devices/system/cpu for cpu in cpu[0-9]*; do ( cd $cpu/cpufreq case "$cmd" in info) echo $cpu `<scaling_cur_freq` `<scaling_min_freq` `<scaling_max_freq` ;; slow) cat cpuinfo_min_freq >scaling_min_freq cat cpuinfo_min_freq >scaling_max_freq ;; fast) cat cpuinfo_min_freq >scaling_min_freq cat cpuinfo_max_freq >scaling_max_freq ;; esac ) done

I can run it with “cpu_speed” to see the current speed, “cpu_speed slow” to fix the clock at the lowest speed, and “cpu_speed fast” to allow the clock to go up to the maximum speed.

This “temperature” script shows the NVIDIA GPUCurrentPerfLevel, GPUCoreTemp, and CPU temperature info:

#!/bin/sh ( set -a : ${DISPLAY:=:0.0} nvidia-settings -q GPUCurrentPerfLevel -q GPUCoreTemp acpi -t ) 2>/dev/null | perl -ne 'print "$1 " if /[:,] (\d+)\./' echo

Finally, I can reduce the screen resolution to decrease the load on the GPU and CPU.  “xrandr” with the NVIDIA driver does not allow me to change the resolution directly, but there is an option to scale the display.  This gives much smoother performance in the browser games, and the lower resolution doesn’t hurt.


xrandr --output DP-2 --scale 0.5x0.5


xrandr --output DP-2 --scale 1x1

Anyway, now I have my laptop set up to run cool by default.  This doesn’t hurt for most things I am doing with it, and I feel it’s less likely to explode and burn down our house.

Lev Lafayette: Installing R with EasyBuild: Which path to insanity?

Sat, 2017-01-07 18:04

There is a wonderful Spanish idiom, "Cada loco con su tema" which is sometimes massacred as the English idiom "To each their own". In Spanish of course it is more accurately transliterated as "Each madman with their topic" which in familiar conversation means the same, has a slightly different and is a more illustrative angle on the subject. With the in mind, which path to insanity does one take with R libraries and EasyBuild? A similar question can also be raised with other languages that have extensions, e.g., Python and Perl.

read more

Ben Martin: Machine Control with MQTT

Sat, 2017-01-07 17:58
MQTT is an open standard for message passing in the IoT. If a device or program knows something interesting it can offer to publish that data through a named message. If things want to react to those messages they can subscribe to them and do interesting things. I took a look into the SmoothieBoard firmware trying to prize an MQTT client into it. Unfortunately I had to back away at that level for now. The main things that I would love to have as messages published by the smoothie itself are the head position, job processing metadata, etc.

So I fell back to polling for that info in a little nodejs server. That server publishes info to MQTT and also subscribes to messages, for example, to "move the spindle to X,Y" or the like. I thought it would be interesting to make a little web interface to all this. Initially I was tempted to throw over websockets myself, but then discovered that you can mqtt right over a ws to mosquitto. So a bootstrap web interface to the CNC was born.

As you can see I opted out of the pronterface style head control. For me, on a touch panel the move X by 1 and move X by 10 are just too close in that layout. So I select the dimension in a tab and then the direction with buttons. Far, far, less chance of an unintended move.

Things get interesting on the files page. Not only are the files listed but I can "head" a file and that becomes a stored message by mosquitto. As the files on the sdcard of the smoothieboard don't change (for me) the head only has to be performed once per file. It's handy because you can see the header comment that the CAM program added to the G-Code so you can work out what you were thinking at the time you made the gcode. Assuming you put the metadata in that is.

I know that GCode has provisions for layout out multiple coordinate spaces for a single job. So you can cut 8 of the same thing at a single time from one block of stock. I've been doing 2-4 up manually. So I added a "Saves" tab to be able to snapshot a location and restore to it again later. This way you can run a job, move home by 80mm in X and run the same job again to cut a second item. I have provision for a bunch of saves, but only 1 is shown in the web page in the below.

This is all backed by MQTT. So I can start jobs and move the spindle from the terminal, a phone, or through the web interface.

Linux Australia News: Linux Australia 2016 AGM Minutes

Sat, 2017-01-07 12:02

Minutes of Linux Australia
Annual General Meeting 2016

Deakin University, Waterfront Campus, Geelong, Victoria
Monday 1st February 2016, Room D2.193 Percy Baxter Theatre

Minutes taken by Ms Sae Ra GERMAINE, Ms Kathy REID.
Collated by Ms Katie McLAUGHLIN

The meeting was opened at 1802 by Mr JOSH HESKETH

Mr HESKETH noted that it was his last AGM as president

MOTION by Mr HESKETH That the minutes of the 2015 AGM are accepted
CARRIED with 1 abstention

Officers Reports

President’s Report (Appendix A)

The President’s report was presented by Mr HESKETH

No comments from members were made on the President’s report
Members thanked the Council members in doing the due diligence
Members thanked the admin team, for auditing

Mr HESKETH noted the following:
Subcommittee Policy
Overseeing the events has been a challenge
The LCA Ghosts allows for the continuation of knowledge
A review of the policy should be undertaken in future years

Advocacy, outreach
LA’s ability to address this relies on member submissions
Submission was made in the previous year of the TPP, software patents and intellectual property.
The Council has an outstanding action item to make contacts to various people that may have some information and legal advice on what we can do.

Membership Platform
state has not changed we have a document that shows what we require
The strategy is to rewrite or look for an alternative solution seeking input from volunteers

the need for a name change. “Linux Australia” is no longer accurate, very little of our work is focussed on Linux itself.

Closing Comments
This is the last term for Mr Josh HESKETH
Mr Josh HESKETH comments that it has been a pleasure and an honour

Questions from the Floor
Mr Craige McWHIRTER comments that GovHack 2016 was not listed as an event

Mr HESKETH replied that there is not a formed subcommittee for GovHack 2016 at this time. They are working on a new policy which will better suit their needs. Council to work through this. Expect it to be a subcommittee.

Mr Peter CHUBB asks what is happening with older subcommittees

Mr HESKETH replies that there are two types of subcommittees: Events Subcommittees and Other Subcommittees. Some subcommittees are such as LUGs and Meetups are formed under the old policy, but newer events are covered under the newer subcommittee policy. Without enthusiastic volunteers, we won't establish a new committee.

MOTION raised by Mr Mike CARDEN to accept President’s report
CARRIED with one abstention

Inflection Point

Ms Kathy REID initiated the conversation of Inflection Point
Refer to

Ms REID strongly urged the 2016 Council to consider the document

Treasurer’s Report

Presented by Mr Tony BREEDS (via teleconference)

Mr BREEDS apologises for the late delivery of the report, and thanked the 2014 Council for leaving the budget in such a good shape; even though there was an income loss due to LCA2014 not performing quite as expected.

Mr BREEDS notes the financial year for the report is from October 1 to September 30
Mr BREEDS reports a high profit of $143,000 over the last financial year.
Mr BREEDS notes that the profit was due to the success of the LCA2015, DrupalSouth and PyConAU conferences, and thanks those event organisers.

Mr BREEDS notes a small loss from the WordCamp Sydney event, due to one of their sponsorships from WordPress. Linux Australia is working closely with the WordPress Foundation.

Mr BREEDS notes that the suggested improvements from the 2014 Council Treasurer Mr Francois MARIER have all been actioned.

Mr BREEDS notes that of the $5,000 set aside for grants, only half of this was used. This is due to the way grants are counted. The grant for Drupal 8, for example, was handed out of profits of conferences, and appear as Sponsorships rather than Grants

Mr BREEDS notes that the insurance costs for the year were over budget, due to the GovHack event.

Mr BREEDS notes a signed 3 year contract for server maintenance

Mr BREEDS notes that the 2016 budget has not been formally moved to Council. Mr BREEDS suggested that LA increase budget for sponsorship to support organisations such as SFC, EFA and Drupal Foundation.

Mr BREEDS thanks all past Treasurers for their hard work and efforts, specifically Mr RUSSELL STUART and Mr PETER LIEVERDINK

Questions from the Floor

Mr HESKETH notes a profit of $22-23K. The way the financial stuff worked and WordPress Foundation. When it was resolved, we needed to cancel the invoice we had for WordPress. We do not use the overall profit as success.

MOTION by Mr STEVEN ELLIS to accept the Treasurer’s Report
CARRIED with 1 abstention

Auditor’s Report (Appendix C)

Presented by Mr HESKETH on behalf of the Auditor

Mr HESKETH reported that a Financial Audit has been conducted. The entire report, and all notes, are available online

Questions from the floor

Mr Julian GOODWIN asks whether the holding of large amounts of cash reserves is appropriate

Mr HESKETH replies with an outline of how LA holds cash equivalents and manages cashflow to optimise revenue.

Ms REID asks if the auditor’s report was qualified or unqualified

Mr HESKETH replies that it was an unqualified report

MOTION by Mr Andrew DONELLAN to receive the Auditor’s Report
CARRIED unanimously

Secretary's Report (Appendix D)

Presented by Ms GERMAINE

Questions from the floor

Ms Lin NAH asked a question between the difference between financial and non financial membership

Ms GERMAINE notes that there is no difference. Ms GERMAINE also notes that donations can be accepted, but not as a financial member. Also noted is that this has been considered in the past but was decided as not something the Council wanted to pursue at the time.

MOTION by Mr Cameron TUDBALL to accept the Secretary’s Report
CARRIED unanimously.


MOTION by Ms REID that the membership approves of the actions of Council
SECONDED by Mr Peter (Surname Missed)
CARRIED with 5 abstentions

MOTION by Ms REID that the Linux Australia community extend their sincere thanks to Mr JOSHUA HESKETH for his exemplary, tireless and sustained efforts as President, Treasurer and Council Member of Linux Australia for the last six years. His affable nature, diplomatic approach, diligence and forethought have served the organisation invaluably.
CARRIED with 1 abstention by Mr HESKETH

MOTION by Ms REID that the Linux Australia community extend their sincere thanks to the Council for 2015: Vice President Mr JOSH STEWART, Secretary Ms GERMAINE, Treasurer Mr BREEDS, Council Members Mr JAMES ISEPPI, Mr McWHIRTER, Mr NEUGEBAUER
CARRIED with 4 abstentions

General Questions from the Floor

Mr ELLIS enquired about the potential for a partnership with the NZOpen Source Society. Trying to get a lot more events in motion, wanting to strengthen partnerships with Linux Australia

MOTION by Ms REID to that the community in general support the closer working together of the NZ Open Source Society and Linux Australia
CARRIED unanimously.

Ms DONNA BENJAMIN highlighted the lack of awareness of the Drupal Community. Ms BENJAMIN notes that she is aware that the Drupal Association wants to own the Drupal Events in Australia

Mr HESKETH replies that council have been working with the Drupal Community over the last few months to strengthen the relationship. Acknowledged some miscommunication has occurred with WordPress Foundation and the way that sponsorship occurs. Need to work closely to reduce administrative overhead, and to align goals and interests. Both organisations want to run good open source events.

Ms BENJAMIN asks if there was an expectation that the profits from WordCamp would be returned to the WordPress Foundation

Mr HESKETH replied that No, and the Council would ensure clarity in the future.

Mr Tim (Surname Missed), Lead of WordPress Brisbane, noted that is was their understanding that the financial issues had been resolved, and the WordPress Foundation is grateful for the services that LA provides, and express their gratitude. WordPress community in Australia is willing to work with the Drupal communities and LA to strengthen all communities.

Election of 2016 Council

Mr STEWART SMITH acting as Returning Officer

Mr SMITH notes that the election is run on software he wrote.

Full results

Election Results:
President: Mr HUGH BLEMINGS.
Vice President: Ms KATHY REID
Treasurer: Mr Tony BREEDS

Of note: the Election Software recorded an identical amount of votes for Mr McWHIRTER and Mr JAMES ISEPPI. Due to the nature of the program, a ‘coin flip’ of unknown randomisation was used to present either candidate on the page, changing when the page is refreshed.

The Tie Break used was a Physical Coin Flip during the AGM. This was won by Mr McWHIRTER

It was Noted that this Council represents the highest number of women to ever serve on a Council, and are in the majority for the Council

Mr SMITH thanked those who voted, the outgoing council, and the incoming council.

Mr HESKETH gave a warm welcome to the incoming council

Questions from the floor for the new council

Mr HESKETH notes that the votes in the 2015 election numbered 70, whereas this election, 2016, numbered 112. This is a significant increase.

Mr TENNESSEE LEEUWENBURG asked a question regarding active discussion, new names, directions and strategies

Mr BLEMINGS replied that this was something we need to engage with the council and the broader community.

Address from the Incoming President

Mr BLEMINGS noted he was grateful to serve the community in his new position.

Mr BLEMINGS thanked Mr SMITH as the returning officer

Mr BLEMINGS noted the issue of addressing the membership database, with tooling being but one of the interesting challenges ahead.

Mr BLEMINGS noted the expectation as the council to rely on the community

Mr BLEMINGS opened the floor to further questions


Ms CHERIE ELLIS noted communications with NZOpen Source will be improved

MR JOSH HESKETH officially closing the meeting at 1916 hours

Appendix A: President’s Report
Executive summary

Linux Australia continues to be the peak body for Open Source communities in Australia with a strong year. 2015 saw seven open source conferences run within Australia and New Zealand by volunteers under the auspices of LA. This sustained strength in local events is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our collective and expanding community.

During the year the organisation had to deal with an unfortunate breach of their servers. Thankfully the damage was limited and no personal data is believed to be compromised[0]. Full details were released to the members as soon as it was practical and the overall handling and disclosure of the incident was widely praised. A second potential leak of information later in the year highlighted the need for more volunteer help and efforts in keeping our systems up to date and our data secure[1].

After the financial loss from the previous year, the organisation has managed to return a healthy profit and strengthen its overall position allowing itself to be self insuring against conference losses. This is thanks to the hard work of all the events and volunteers throughout the year.

While a 2016 budget is still being drafted it is the hope of the outgoing council that some of the extra funds will be put into the grants and sponsorship account allowing the organisation to create stronger roots in allied organisations such as the Software Freedom Conservancy and the Electronics Frontiers Australia.

The organisation is at a bit of a crossroads while it looks towards the future. I believe protecting our values[2] in an online-first world will become increasingly important. Software as a service poses significant challenges to open source, open data and privacy. I hope to spend a bit of time thinking about ways in which we can address some of these challenges both as Linux Australia and as an open community.

Kathy Reid kicked off a great inflection point on Linux Australia’s strategic direction, proposing some challenges, options and solutions[3]. Anthony Towns also weighed in with some very pragmatic thoughts that were well received by the members[4]. These discussions are ongoing and anybody interested in weighing in (or even better, volunteering) is encouraged to do so on the linux-aus[5] mailing list (which also contains the relevant archives).

As many are likely aware, I decided early on in the year that this term would be my last. I have been on the council for 6 years now (and involved with LA for even longer) and I think it's time for some fresh blood, so to speak. I can not give enough thanks to all of the members and fellow councilors for their support and hard work during this time. I look forward to welcoming in the new council and wish them all the best.

Events and Conferences

During 2015 there were 7 conferences/events ran as part of Linux Australia.

DrupalSouth 2015
PyConAU 2015
OSDC 2015
GovHack 2015
JoomlaDay Brisbane 2015
WordCamp Brisbane 2015

The upcoming events currently being organised as part of Linux Australia:
PyCon AU 2016
WordCamp Sunshine Coast 2016
DrupalSouth 2016
DrupalGov 2016

Reports from the various conferences and their activities can be found at or their individual websites.

A timeline of all of Linux Australia’s events can be found here:

Grants and Sponsorships

Linux Australia has long had a grants programme[6] open to its members for helping fund items that are in alignment with our values[2]. This year the Council approved 2 requests from members and sponsored 3 initiatives.

Contributions to the Drupal8 Acceler8 fund to the value of $7,500
Grant Request from Andrew Donnellan to fund Russell Keith-Magee as a presenter at CompCon 2015 to the value of $1,200.
GovHack award “Open source bounty” for $2,000
Grant request from Donna Benjamin to the value of $1,000 to support the release party for Drupal 8.
DrupalCamp Silver Sponsorship to the value of $500


The current non-conference based sub-committees are:

Admin Team
AV Subcommittee
Mirror Team
Web Team
Sydney Linux Users Group
LOGIN (NewcastleLUG)
Media and Communications Subcommittee

Reports from the various sub-committees and their activities can be found at

Subcommittee policy and procedure updates

During 2014 the council spent a considerable amount of time working on a new subcommittee policy to help with oversight and the longevity of Linux Australia’s various events. The policy has proven to be a success and has ensured that our conferences have the appropriate help and responsibility assigned to them.

While the policy has been very effective in the early stages of a new subcommittee (during the formation and early budgeting) adherence to it has tended to dwindle as events get closer to their dates. One challenge is finding effective community members to help sit on the various subcommittees. Another is clearly the larger amount of bureaucracy that the policy adds.

The 2016 council should pay close attention to this to ensure that events do not become complacent. A review of the policy would also be helpful given the extra data after having used it for over a year to make sure the policy is actually practicable and actionable.

Advocacy, outreach and related activities

Through our Twitter account, we highlighted articles of interest to the Australian Linux community and grew our number of followers.

Outreach relies on our members taking doing a lot of the leg work. We would like to encourage those interested to take initiative and reach out to the council for support.

Membership platform

One of our carry-over goals from 2014 we hoped to achieve this year was to update our membership platform (currently memberdb). Unfortunately other priorities and difficulties in infrastructure prevented significant effort being expended on this item.

The current membership platform is frail and in need of updating. We need ways to better manage importing of members from LCA registrations, and better ways of contacting our members who may not be on the mailing lists.

The Council, thanks to the hard work of Kathy Reid, has put together a list of requirements of a membership platform and will be looking for volunteers to help with shifting to a new system.

Additionally the Council has considered ways to keep the membership list relevant with only active participants. This is a continued discussion that is dependent on a new system to improve communication before any action can be taken.


Linux Australia has a lot of challenges ahead of itself for the coming few years.

I would like to see the community thinking about some bigger questions. The organisation has been successful in recent years in running events but less so in lobbying to the government or advocating for policy changes etc.

Linux and open source are generally well received technologies and don’t require advocating for in the same way that they may have been 10-15 years ago. This raises a question of how do we stay relevant as Linux Australia. In fact, it is pretty obvious that we aren’t relevant as "Linux" Australia since we’re much more about being an open source organisation.

A name change for our organisation has been discussed many times before, but I believe it to still be an important discussion. However, extending even further from that are more fundamental questions to the organisation. For example, with open source being so mainstream, what does that mean for us? Or what does the popularity of mobile and web platforms mean for open source? Are there opportunities or a need for advocacy in those areas? How do we extend our ideals to open web, open data, open government, open hardware and open culture? How do we ensure that our values[2] are upheld in our industries?

I would like to encourage and challenge our membership to be discussing these types of issues in a large picture sense and to be giving thought as to how we might be able to address some of them. Clearly these types of questions are very difficult to tackle purely at a Council level - especially when they are concerned with the administration and ongoing running of the organisation - so it is imperative that the community attempts to gain a consolidated voice in these areas.

A lot of these challenges are reflected in the 2013 membership survey[7] where our brand and purpose was often mis-identified by members not understanding what we do. Addressing these systemic questions will help guide the direction of the organisation and also lead towards addressing issues such as our poor communication to membership.

Closing comments

It has been an honour to be trusted by the community to lead this organisation for such a long time. While I haven't achieved as much as I had planned, it has been a privilege to be involved and to do what I could. I hope that I have been able to improve and continue the organisation's success during this time. Thank you all for this opportunity.

While I have left a large number of proposed, and deliberately unanswered, questions in this report, I hope our members are not discouraged. I believe that we’ve had a very successful year and from an everyday running standpoint we continue to be functional and productive.

However I also believe we will find ourselves at a crossroads where, without these questions addressed, over the next year or two we will fail to keep relevant and we risk becoming complacent and existing purely to do no more than running conferences.

Perhaps that isn’t a bad thing, but it really comes down to our community and members. The Council is not here to drive the organisation but to merely enable its members. As such the direction and outcomes of the organisation will be defined by what we can do collectively, and not by what the Council tries to do.

Of course with the emphasis on the members I can not state highly enough just how much work volunteers put into the organisation. I wish I could thank them all, but I don’t think it is possible. Needless to say it is through the continued hard work of these individuals that Linux Australia continues to operate, and as such, I wish to say thank you to everybody who has been involved.

Similarly with myself not being on the 2016 council, that doesn't mean I will be disappearing altogether. I intend to help the new council on these challenges in any way I can. I also want to make sure that I'm available to consult and offer advice where possible should the new council wish to reach out.

Thank you all for a wonderful term. I look forward to watching this organisation continue to grow to its full potential.

Warm Regards,
Joshua Hesketh
- President, Linux Australia
January, 2016


Appendix B: Treasurer’s Report

Appendix C: Secretary’s Report

Appendix D: Auditor’s Report

Appendix E: Record of Attendance

Andrew Donnellan
Andrew McDonnell
Andrew Pollock
Andrew Sands
Andrew Spiers
Andrew Tridgell
Andrew Van Slageren
Angus Cameron
Anthony Towns
Benjamin Ball
Brendan O'dea
Brett James
Brian May
Cameron Tudball
Cherie Ellis
Christopher Neugebauer
Clinton Roy
Craige McWhirter
David Bell
David Tulloh
Dion Hulse
Donna Benjamin
Eloise Macdonald-Meyer
Jack Burton
James Iseppi
James Polley
Jamie Wilkinson
Jared Ring
Jessica Smith
Joel Addison
Joel Shea
John Dalton
John Kristensen
Jonathan Woithe
Jono Bacon
Josh Stewart
Joshua Hesketh
Julian DeMarchi
Julien Goodwin
Kathy Reid
Katie McLaughlin
Leon Wright
Les Kitchen
Lin Nah
Luke Hovington
Michael Cordover
Marco Ostini
Mark Atwood
Mark Ellem
Mark Purcell
Mark Walkom
Matt Cengia
Matthew Franklin
Matthew Oliver
Michael Carden
Michael Ellery
Mike Abrahall
Miles Goodhew
Neill Cox
Paul Del
Paul Fenwick
Paul Foxworthy
Paul Wayper
Peter Chubb
Richard Lemon
Rob Bolin
Russell Coker
Russell Stuart
Ryan Sickle
Ryan Stuart
Sachi King
Stephen Walsh
Steven Ellis
Steven Hanley
Stewart Smith
Tim Ansell
Tim Serong

Glen Turner: Blog moving to Dreamwidth

Fri, 2017-01-06 12:37

Getting less and less happy with LiveJournal as a blogging platform: limited input formats, poor presentation, etc. But running your own blogging platform is a nightmare too, as so many of them are written in PHP.

Although it's not really a solution, this blog is moving to

Gabriel Noronha: Charging point connectors & socket outlets.

Thu, 2017-01-05 22:03

Mainly for my own reference.

The New Zealand Transport Agency explanation of charging sockets and plugs.

This is pretty comprehensive and is easily applicable to Australia we have some more choice of vehicles which are not listed mainly in the hybrids but have more strict rules for imports, so no 2nd hand Japanese LEAFs here.

Their recommendation of type 2 sockets for Public AC charging, and CHADeMO and Type 2 CCS for Public DC charging is also something I agree with.

New Zealand like Australia had started to roll out Type 1 CCS but it looks like they’ll be changing all the stations to Type 2 CCS, to align with the European charging standard. Which makes more technical sense as our power girds are similar voltage and frequency.

Personally I hope Australia move to Type 2 CCS like NZ has, but at the moment all the power is in the vehicle manufacture hands, and they benefit form Type 1 CCS as Australia would become the only country in the world to have cars that are right hand drive and Type 1 CCS. Stopping any sort of importation of 2nd hand electric cars even if the rules are relaxed.

Binh Nguyen: Explaining Prophets 2, What is Liberal Democracy?, and More

Thu, 2017-01-05 09:17
Obvious continuation of last post, - suspect that some scientists may have experienced prophetic visions (including Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Da Vinci, Edison, etc...) but didn't talk about them publicly)? Clear that there is almost a 'code' among prophets and genuinely religious people. They seem to know one

Peter Lieverdink: Southern Exposure

Mon, 2017-01-02 16:03

From time to time you see photos pop up on the internet that show off bits of the northern sky. A good example is a montage of the Moon and Andromeda that show what size Andromeda would be in the sky, if only it were actuallty visible to the naked eye.

Bad Astronomy did a blog post on that one and explained that though the image is fake, the relative sizes are pretty much correct.

However, that's not a lot of use to us poor people in the southern hemisphere that can't even see Andromeda at the best of times. What even are these northerners talking about?

During public viewings at Mount Burnett Observatory, people often want to see a galaxy and ask to see Andromeda. However, we always need to disappoint them, as at our latitude of 37.5 degrees south Andromeda barely rises high enough to clear the trees. And even if it does clear the trees, it's so low in the sky that you're looking at it through light pollution and dusty atmosphere.

So I thought I'd make a montage of the Moon and our visible galaxies (the Magallanic Clouds) to show of their relative sizes. Hopefully that will make people eventually ask to see these, as they are easily bright enough to see from a dark spot with the naked eye when the moon isn't up!

I took the Moon from the original photo by Stephen Rahn and pasted it onto (approximately) the south celestial pole on a long exposure photo I took of the southern sky over the 2016/2017 New Years weekend.

The visible part Large Magellanic Cloud in this photo is about 2.5 degrees on the short axis, so that makes it about 5 times wider than the full moon, which is about half a degree. If anything, I estimated the moon to be a little bit too big in this montage.

There are also fainter parts that I couldn't capture in this photo. On the long axis the full LMC is about 10.5 degrees across - 21 times the width of the Moon!

So, the next time you see the original montage with Andromeda do the rounds and wish you could see a large galaxy, all you need to do is go outside on a dark night and look up!

You can find my original southern sky image on Flickr.

Tags: astronomy

Ben Martin: Keeping an eye on it

Mon, 2017-01-02 09:04
The CNC enclosure now sports a few cameras so I can keep an eye on things from anywhere. The small "endocam" mounting worked out particularly well. The small bracket was created using 2mm alloy, jigsawed, flapped, drilled and mounted fairly quick. These copper coated saddle clamps also add a look good factor to the whole build.

A huge plus side is that I now also have a good base to bolt the mist unit onto. It is tempting to redesign the camera mounting bracket in Fusion and CNC a new one in 6mm alloy but there's no real need for this purpose. Shortest effective path to working solution and all that.