Evil geniuses and world domination are 2 of our goals... we also like Dr Who

Curses! foiled

no comment

It appears that an experiment to recreate Shakespeare using a million virtual monkeys. is close to completion. The first piece being ‘a lovers complaint’

so, the Titanium Bunkers own scheme to create shakespeare using an infinite number of monkeys is now obsolete. Looks like we will have to find something else to do…

find out about it here

Thanks to Alan Pope…

no comment

Taking inspiration from Alan Pope’s Mumbuntu project, we recently set up a ‘new’ pc for our parent’s next-door neighbours, Mary & Mick.

They used to have a Pentium 3 machine running Windows ME.  As luck would have it, one of Dave’s coworkers was giving away his 7 year old desktop, so we repurposed it for Mary and Mick.

I can’t remember what the processor is in the box, but Mary seems happy with the speed and the system, so thanks to Alan for the inspiration.

Emailing Gordon Sinclair

no comment

I recently spoke to Gordon Sinclair on Hacker Public Radio Episode 811 speaking about his idea for a creative commons tracker site.

Gordon – or @thistleweb, wants to create a moderated tracker.  The CCTracker contains moderated torrent information.  As these torrents are moderated they can be downloaded by users, safe in the knowledge that the content can be downloaded legally, that it truly is the content that it claims to be, and doesn’t contain any torjans or other malicious ‘stuff’

I think this is a great idea – My opinion is that the term of Torrent has been tarred with the brush of illegal downloading, and that CCTracker offers an opportunity to ‘take it back’.

Here’s what I wrote :

Hi Gordon,Hope I’ve got your email right…I really enjoyed your interview with Klaatu – I thought I’d share my thoughts with you about what I think about regarding the importance of content.Firstly can I say that I think your idea to provide certified “Safe” torrents is brilliant. I think that torrents have suffered (as a technology) by the bad press that the illegal use of the technology has generated. I think this is an opportunity to bring it back, and make it a force for good again.I’m an ubuntu user – an I’m writing a series of articles for my blog which discuss an idea that I’m trying to champion, packaging content for inclusion within the distribution. It seems to me that certified torrents (safe torrents) could be a fantastic solution for larger files.

When we download a distro, we get access to the repositories, and we get all kinds of choice. Ubuntu supplies an element of infrastructure surrounding applications in the form of the repositories, but when you want to read a ebook, or listen to some music you’re pretty much out on your own. The (as yet un-named) CCTracker provides a mechanism by which distros can start to offer content along with applications. I think this is an opportunity for distros to start to compete not only in terms of applications, but in terms of content – and when you see how popular tablets are, then supplying content could make one distro to start to look better than another –

Imagine a mythbuntu distro that also has video content – that content could be supplied through software centre (but actually supplied by a CCTracker torrent). As regards to torrent machines hosting canonical torrents, could this be accomplished by using Amazon Computing cloud? Could we use the power of boinc to create a distribute torrent stream?

Thanks –

Mike Hingley.


Here’s what Gordon replied…

Hi Mike,Yeah you got the email right, I should have thought of the show notes for the episode but forgot, so they were hastily drawn up at the last minute, leaving out my email and the tracker info page. Thanks for the feedback.The idea of being able to use the tracker as an efficient backend for content is a step further than I’d thought of but I like it. This is why a community of people is better than one individual. Both cobra2 and myself thought it’d be great to be able to subscribe to a torrent feed for new episodes, instead of a direct download feed. That was as far as we got on that.I like the idea of having an iTunes (for want of a better name) for free & legal content with the tracker as the delivery mechanism, with a few alterations. I want everything originating from this project to be as non-discriminatory as possible, as well as being standards based, with a policy of not reinventing the wheel.

The Ubuntu software centre is pretty decent, but it’s done in a way that’s not exactly easy to port to other distros, specially those not based on Ubuntu or Debian. It’s also a standalone application.

I think a standalone iTunes type of application may be overkill, although I’m open to being convinced. My initial instincts are that it’d be better as APIs allowing existing projects like Miro to add that functionality in. That way people can use the applications they like using, and get that functionality. This also allows devs on projects for Windows and OSX to make the content available to their users.

This is just my initial thoughts on an excellent suggestion. It’s something for later on. The plan is to hold the naming suggestions open for about one month after the HPR interview was released, narrow down and choose names. At that point we move on to getting domain names and setting up the site, including forums. I’d suggest at that point you could join the forums and lay out your suggestions for the others to comment on, build upon and refine.


I want to break down some of Gordon’s points when it comes to content packaging..

  1. Software Centre is not easy to port to other distros.
    Software centre is just a front end to the packaging system provided by the distribution, so if you were running a fedora based distro, then the alternative is package kit – the point is that there isn’t a standard iTunes application for any of the distributions.
  2. Standalone iTunes may be overkill
    I agree – if we’re talking about writing a new iTunes application then this is indeed overkill, plus I think it dilutes the advantage that a iTunes provides
  3. My initial instincts are that it’d be better as APIs
    The packaging systems for the distrubution already have an API – but I think we could write an abstraction layer, allowing Miro or other projects to install content regardless of the packaging back end (APT / RPM)

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the CCTracker project accomplishes.

Packaging Linux Reality

no comment

The Linux Reality podcast produced a little over 100 episodes during it’s 2 year existence.  The podcast featured content covering topics as diverse as servers through to desktops and everything in between.

The episodes exist on Archive.org, but the plan for Whobuntu is to create a package of linux reality content with descriptions covering the content.

Software centre provides a mechanism by which this content can be found.  Therefore if a user were to search in software centre for DNSMasq then they would be able to find the package – but equally importantly they would be able to locate the episode of Linux Reality with a review and discussion of DNS Masq and some of the alternatives.

Using Software centre you would be able to locate the package Gnumeric, but you would also be able to locate the Episode 23 of LR where Chess Giffin talked about Gnumeric.

How to package static content.

To start with the Linux Reality content was downloaded from archive.org.  To make it easy a script was developed which automatically downloaded all the episodes via wget

Get Linux Reality episodes from Archive.org
6.6 KiB

The process to then package a podcast is as follows :

  1. Execute the getlr script to retrieve all episodes of Linux reality.
  2. Create a tarball of all the episodes by executing tar -cvf linuxreality_0.1.tar.gz *.ogg


I then created a tar.gz file containing the episodes. I created a Linux reality folder. Named the same as the tarball I created earlier. From here I ran dh_make and a standard package folder was set up for me. The longest most time consuming job during this process was to index all the episodes. Luckily archive.org had all the original notes which I was able to cut and paste into the control file.

The next question was whether a package is installed for everyone, or just the current user. Daniel Hollenbach confirmed that a package is installed at the system level. This makes supporting a multiuser system more complicated, as Linuxreality would show as installed. The next question was whether new users should have it installed as part of the new user process. My thoughts on that are that we should only be providing what is asked for.If I install linuxreality then I shouldn’t mess with other users music?

To that end I created a postinst script. This executes once the package is installed. The purpose of this script is to create a link between /etc/share/linuxreality and ~/Music/LinuxReality.

Application Icon and screenshots

no comment

When installing an application from software centre, software centre does a fairly good job of presenting a  very professional looking user inteface but for applications stored in a PPA, the interface isn’t quite in the same league as the applications provided by the ubuntu repositories.

So what can we do about it?  How can we make the packages in our PPA look more like the packages in the main repository?

There are 2 parts of the interface which need more investigation if we want our app to look and feel like an Ubuntu application.


The Packaging Icon, and the Package Screenshot.


Package Screenshot

The package screenshot is downloaded by software centre from screenshots.ubuntu.com.  Debian has a similar screnshots server.  Debshots works by allowing users to upload screenshots.  The screenshots are only allowed for packages within the repositories configured within debshots.   Our choices are to either get our PPA added to the list of acceptable PPA’s or we can host our own server.

In order to make this work we’ll need to modify the software centre to make it look at a new server.  To accomplish this I packaged a replacement software centre, which replaces the ubuntu software centre.


Packaging Icon

When software centre loads a package it checks in /usr/share/app-install/icons for an icon – any file matchng the package name.   Typically these icons are added by Ubuntu.  The whobuntu.applicationicons package adds a series of whobuntu icons to the folder, and as it’s a package we can pass updates before we publish any new packages to the PPA.

What does content packaging mean to me?

no comment

When I speak about content packaging to Dave, he gets bored – as far as he is concerned I’m talking about a process.  What he gets more excited about is the idea of producing a library of content.

We feel that this is like the equivalent of moving into a new house – friends and family sometimes throw a house warming party, and give house warming gifts.  Such gifts aren’t meant to furnish the whole house – in a way we get that pot plant in the form of the Ubuntu community content that typically ships on the CD.

Imagine a distribution where the CD, as it installs gives some sample content, but go onto software centre, and more content is available to download and install directly.  For example what if you could download epub books of the complete works of Shakespear ?  or the works of Charles Dickens?


So – what would a road map look like for the content packaging?


Initially I would like to see an Ubuntu Classics library – containing those works, and possibly others – perhaps a reference library.

Captain Freedom – Update

no comment

I believe I have located a work flow that allows us to design elements of a captain Freedom comic strip separately from everything else.

This is what I’ve come up with so far.

  • The characters are designed on Inkscape, with the character split into separate layers
  • The Inkscape files are extracted to XCF files preserving the layers
  • These files can be imported as layers into GIMP for layout

Still need to sort out a mechanism for creating speech bubbles using the gimp – but we’re making progress.

So I would therefore suggest that we need :

  • Title overlay
  • Panel layout
  • Some sample speech bubbles