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

Sat, 2017-01-14 09:51

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 11:04

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 09:01

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 15:04
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

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

Sat, 2017-01-07 21:03

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 19:04

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.

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Ben Martin: Machine Control with MQTT

Sat, 2017-01-07 18:58
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 13:02

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 13:37

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 23:03

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 10:17
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 17:03

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 10:04
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.

Chris Neugebauer: My 2016 Highlights

Sun, 2017-01-01 19:03

2016 was, undeniably, a length of time containing 366 days and a leap second.

For me, there were a bunch of highlights that it would be amiss to let pass without recording on this blog, so here goes:

  • At 2016 in Geelong in February, I announced 2017 in Hobart. Over the last year, the conference team and I ran a wildly successful CFP, found 4 amazing keynotes, and lined up what looks like it should be an excellent conference. The only* thing left to do is actually run the thing.
  • At PyCon in Montréal in 2014, I ran a BoF session for regional PyCon organisers. Two people from the Dominican Republic showed up and asked for our help in starting a PyCon in the Caribbean. In February 2016, I got to go to that conference, and it was incredible!
  • On that note, I got to continue building on a deeply wonderful relationship with the amazing Josh Simmons that we started in 2015. Over the course of 2016, we got to spend time with each other on no fewer than 6 occasions, both in North America, and here in Australia. We met (and got along quite well with) each others’ friends and families. We spent time living together, and have made big steps towards living together permanently this year. Frankly, I could do a whole post on this and I’m not sure why I haven’t.
  • On a slightly related note, I spent 92,000-odd miles in the air this year. Much of that was spent ducking over to the US to spend time with Josh; some of the rest was with Josh, and some of it was alone. I got to see some wonderful places I’ve never seen before, like the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, an actual northern hemisphere winter with snow and everything, and driving up the Californian coast from Los Angeles.
  • … and one night in May, on the Steel Bridge in Portland, Josh and I decided that we should get married.

So those are some of the highlights of my year. It’s been entirely not bad, in the grand scheme of things. Hooray!

Simon Lyall: Passengers vs “50 Girls 50”

Sat, 2016-12-31 21:04

Spoilers: Minor for Passengers, Major for 50 Girls 50.

In late 2016 the movie passengers came out staring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The movie is set aboard a sleeper spaceship and the plot centers around the two leads characters waking up early. I won’t say more about movie but there is summary of the plot in the wikipedia entry for the movie. You can compare it to the comic below to see the similarities and differences.

When I first saw the trailer it reminded me of a Sci-Fi comic I read years ago, others noticed it was similar and gave a name of the comic as “50 Girls 50” by Al Williamson. I couldn’t find a summary of  short story so I thought I’d write it up here.

50 Girls 50 by Al Williamson – Plot summary

The story is a 6 page comic with one off characters. It is set in the distant future aboard a spaceship making humanity’s first journey to a nearby star. Since the trip will take 100 years the the crew/passengers of 50 women and 50 men (hence the title) will be frozen for the whole journey. However the freezing technology used only works on a person once, if you attempt to refreeze somebody they will die.

The plot of the story is partially told though flashbacks but I’ll tell it is chronological order.

The main character is Sid who before the voyage starts is attracted to one of the other passengers Wendy. Wendy notices his attraction and they get together. After a time Wendy has proposition for him. She suggest that Sid sabotage the Deep-freeze (D-F) units so that  he wakes up early. He can then wake her up and they can wake up the others one at a time and “make them our slaves”

Sid however as his own idea. What he wants to do is just have a series of girlfriends. He’ll set his clock for two years out. Then he will wake up Wendy and live with he for a while, when he gets tired of Wendy he will get rid of her and move to the next girl and so on.

Once the voyage starts things go to Sid’s plan. He thaws out 2 years in but instead of waking up Wendy he decided to thaw out Laura first. He then pretends to Laura that they both accidentally thawed out.

“Almost a year” later he gets tired and Laura, shoots he with a “Paralyzer” gun and stuffs he back in a Freeze-chamber to die.

He then prepares to wake Wendy. First he sets the Ships clock to say they will reach the destination in 3 years to give him enough time to get tired of Wendy. Things don’t go according to plan however when Wendy wakes up:

Not really a happy ending for anyone, although it is not like Sid or Wendy really deserved one.



Ben Martin: First alloy on the 3040 cnc (with 2.2kw spindle)

Tue, 2016-12-27 19:56
There are times when words are not needed. When you see a 3040 or 6040 cnc without any enclosure there is a good chance that the machine doesn't see heavy alloy cutting. It only takes a few videos to see how chips are thrown around when a 24krpm bit touches a block of alloy. As a prelude to any alloy being cut I enclosed the 3040 in a "terrarium". This was itself an interesting build and as usual I overdid the design. The top and bottom box frames are made of 5cm square timber with a fairly solid base panel. The back is just light junk with plywood bolted to tabs on each side so I can replace things as I feel. The door opens beyond 90 degrees to get right out of the way and closes to rest on the base 5cm timber at the front of the enclosure.

For anybody reading this I have one word of advice, any gaps in the first 50cm from the machine base will have chips thrown at them. So make sure that the angles the chips might come from near the spindle have been accounted for with your air venting that allows some cooling into the mix. The sides of this case are more than 80cm in height.

The next modification is a mister to help clear local chips and bring some light amount of cutting fluid into the cut zone. The first runs were just using a light spray of CDT over the cut zone before job start.

The very end of one of the first runs is shown in the below video.

The parts being cut are wheel mount crossover plates to allow an outdoor robot to have larger wheels attached. The wheels want M8 bolts, the motor mount is an actobotics pattern, so an M4 hole was a good fit there. Because it's CNC the part itself was cut with many splines to include material where it could do structural good and exclude it otherwise.

I found it useful to cut templates in MDF to test the fit before a final run. This fed into part 3 which includes mounting holes for all 4 bolts of the hub mount. The alloy version 4 also has rounded ends and is shown attached to the wheel. This will let some cheap $10 wheels which are 12 inch across mount to an actobotics based robot.

I'll have video of the "houndbot" in action using these mounts next time.

Simon Lyall: Donations 2016

Tue, 2016-12-27 13:02

Like last year I am doing all my charity donations at once and blogging about it. The theory with doing it all at once is that is it more efficient and less impulsive, while blogging about it might encourage others to do similarly. Note that all amounts are in $US

I found one downside of doing it all at once (especially around midnight) is that my bank suspended my card for suspicious activity. All sorted out with a quick phone call though.

Once more this year I gave the majority of my money to those charities recommended by Givewell. This year instead of spreading my donation evenly among the top charities I followed their recommendations ( See right sidebar on the link above ).

Next were a series of Open Source projects, trying to concentrate on software I use:

And some tech content or advocacy groups

Additionally I gave some money to MSF via a campaign by Zeynep Tufekci highlighting Yemen

Hoping to do the same again next year, feel free to recommend other organizations you think might be a good place for me to donate towards. I’m thinking about


Francois Marier: Using iptables with NetworkManager

Tue, 2016-12-27 09:02

I used to rely on ifupdown to bring up my iptables firewall automatically using a config like this in /etc/network/interfaces:

allow-hotplug eth0 iface eth0 inet dhcp pre-up /sbin/iptables-restore /etc/network/iptables.up.rules pre-up /sbin/ip6tables-restore /etc/network/ip6tables.up.rules allow-hotplug wlan0 iface wlan0 inet dhcp pre-up /sbin/iptables-restore /etc/network/iptables.up.rules pre-up /sbin/ip6tables-restore /etc/network/ip6tables.up.rules

but that doesn't seem to work very well in the brave new NetworkManager world.

What does work reliably is a "pre-up" NetworkManager script, something that gets run before a network interface is brought up. However, despite what the documentation says, a dispatcher script in /etc/NetworkManager/dispatched.d/ won't work on my Debian and Ubuntu machines. Instead, I had to create a new iptables script in /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/pre-up.d/:

#!/bin/sh LOGFILE=/var/log/iptables.log if [ "$1" = lo ]; then echo "$0: ignoring $1 for \`$2'" >> $LOGFILE exit 0 fi case "$2" in pre-up) echo "$0: restoring iptables rules for $1" >> $LOGFILE /sbin/iptables-restore /etc/network/iptables.up.rules >> $LOGFILE 2>&1 /sbin/ip6tables-restore /etc/network/ip6tables.up.rules >> $LOGFILE 2>&1 ;; *) echo "$0: nothing to do with $1 for \`$2'" >> $LOGFILE ;; esac exit 0

and then make that script executable:

chmod a+x /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/pre-up.d/iptables

With this in place, I can put my iptables rules in the usual place (/etc/network/iptables.up.rules and /etc/network/ip6tables.up.rules) and use the handy iptables-apply and ip6tables-apply commands to test any changes to my firewall rules.

Binh Nguyen: Explaining Prophets? Fake News, and More

Mon, 2016-12-26 22:51
As I stated previously there are a lot of explanations for some of what is experienced by prophets, seers, etc... Am going to take the positive position (basically because it's more interesting even if it is unlikely) and assume that prophets and schizophrenics are somehow related (because I've been looking through history and see that hearing of voices and miracles often overlap): http://

Russell Coker: Video Mode and KVM

Sat, 2016-12-24 23:02

I recently changed my KVM servers to use the kernel command-line parameter nomodeset for the virtual machine kernels so that they don’t try to go into graphics mode. I do this because I don’t have X11 or VNC enabled and I want a text console to use with the -curses option of KVM. Without the nomodeset KVM just says that it’s in 1024*768 graphics mode and doesn’t display the text.

Now my KVM server running Debian/Unstable has had it’s virtual machines start going into graphics mode in spite of nomodeset parameter. It seems that an update to QEMU has added a new virtual display driver which recent kernels from Debian/Unstable support with the bochs_drm driver, and that driver apparently doesn’t respect nomodeset.

The solution is to create a file named /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf with the contents “blacklist bochs_drm” and now my virtual machines have a usable plain-text console again! This blacklist method works for all video drivers, you can blacklist similar modules for the other virtual display hardware. But it would be nice if the one kernel option would cover them all.

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