Wednesday, November 4, 2015

UOS Overflow Session: FInd-a-Task

The Ubuntu Online Summit has added an overflow session on Find-a-Task, the Ubuntu community's volunteer job board. The job board tries to link volunteers with a wide range of jobs that need to be done.

  • Does it work?
  • Have you tried it?
  • Do you know anyone who has joined a team after using it?
  • Is your team listed on it?
  • How can it be improved?
  • Is it the best gateway for undecided new volunteers?

Join us tomorrow, 05 Nov at 1800 UTC to discuss the future of Find-a-Task, and the best ways to recruit new Ubuntu Members.

Watch Live at
Or join us on freenode IRC:  #ubuntu-uos-overflow

See you there!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Is your team ready for UOS?

The Ubuntu Online Summit (UOS), 03-05 November 2015, is only a few days away.

Is your team ready to welcome, train, and integrate new volunteers inspired by UOS?

Has your team updated it's Find-a-Task roles for volunteers? It's easy to add or change your team's listings.

Find-a-Task is the Ubuntu community's job board for volunteers. Introduced in January 2015, Find-a-Task shows fellow volunteers the variety of tasks and roles available.

It's for everyone, new and old

UOS is one of the events that energizes the Ubuntu community. It is a great time for volunteers to change tracks, to try something new.

Your Find-a-Task roles should reflect that. Don't limit yourself to new enthusiasts. Your roles should welcome experienced members, too!

Improving Find-a-Task

Please share your suggestions to improve Find-a-Task during any of the UOS Community Roundtable sessions.
See you there!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Point New Participants to Find-a-Task!

Find-a-Task is the Ubuntu community's job board for volunteers.

Introduced in January 2015, Find-a-Task shows fellow volunteers the variety of tasks and roles available.

Are you using Find-a-Task?

Volunteers can browse the many ways to contribute to Ubuntu, and choose their favorite. No hassle, no pressure, no sign-up, no commitment.

New enthusiasts don't know about Find-a-Task. (How could they?)
It only works if *you* encourage new volunteers to try it.

It's for new participants

Take a quick look, and see the variety of volunteer roles available. We have listings for many different skills and interests, including plenty of non-technical tasks.

It's also for longtime participants

Life moves on. Jobs and family and hobbies change.

Losing interest in your current role, or have less time for it? Renew the magic - use Find-a-Task to try something new and different!

Real friends don't let their mates burn out or drop off.  When you see a friend start to teeter or flame out, guide them to Find-a-Task and help them recover with a different role.

Adding Listings and Improving Find-a-Task

It's easy to add or change your team's listing.

Please share your suggestions to improve Find-a-Task on the ubuntu-community-team mailing list.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CAC on Firefox using Ubuntu 15.04

After a couple years away form CAC on Linux, it's time to revisit how to install a DOD CAC reader for Firefox under Ubuntu 15.10.

Very good instructions are on the Ubuntu Help pages. This guide clarifies a few vague elements, and reorganizes the information to help you troubleshoot.

There are five simple steps:
  • Get an appropriate card reader
  • Install the card reader software (pcsd)
  • Test the card, reader, and software
  • Install cackey
  • Install the DOD certs and point Firefox to the card reader

The Firefox extension requires cackey, cackey requires pcsd, pcsd requires hardware to detect. We will follow best practice for Debian/Ubuntu and install the dependences first, in the right order.

Get A Card Reader

There's nothing to add here. The Ubuntu Help page says it all.

Install Card Reader Software

sudo apt-get install pcscd pcsc-tools

The key software you need is the pcsc daemon, and it's libpcsclite1 dependency. pcsc-tools is handy for testing the connection in the next step.

Test the card reader and software

Insert your CAC card and run:


As shown in the Ubuntu Help page, pcscd will clearly show you if your card reader and card are detected.

Install cackey

The cackey library provides access to the cryptographic and certificate functions of the CAC card.

1) You need to know if your Ubuntu system is a 32-bit or 64-bit install. Don't trust a sticker of what you remember - checking takes but a moment:

uname -i

If the result is 'i386' or similar, you are running a 32-bit system. Look for a download labeled 'i386'.
If the result is 'x86_64' or similar, you are running a 64-bit system. Look for a download labeled 'amd64'

2) There are two places to download the latest cackey package from: (CAC required) (non-CAC)

3) Download the latest cackey .deb package. Be sure to choose between 32/64 bit properly - the wrong package will happily install...but won't work.

4) Bug workaround for 64-bit only: Cackey tries to install to the /usr/lib64 directory, which probably doesn't exist on your system. Simply create it. This bug does not affect 32-bit users, who can safely ignore this entire paragraph.

5) Finally, install the downloaded cackey deb using the 'dpkg --install' command.

1) I'm running a 64-bit system.
3) I downloaded cackey_0.7.5-1_amd64.deb to my Downloads directory.
Then I installed the deb using:

sudo mkdir /usr/lib64        ## Step 4 - 64-bit bug workaround
sudo dpkg --install ~/Downloads/cackey_0.7.5-1_amd64.deb    ## Step 5

Install DOD Certificates and Point Firefox to the Card Reader

Happily, has a Firefox add-on that does all this for you!

1) Simply download the latest 'dod_configuration-X.X.X.xpi' file from (non-CAC).

2) Quit Firefox

3) Double-click on the dod_configuration-X.X.X.xpi file you downloaded (it might be in your Downloads directory). Firefox will restart, and offer to install the add-on. Go ahead and install it.


Try your favorite CAC website (like AKO or OWA) and see if the site works, and if the site communicates properly with your card.

Be sure your USB card reader is snugly inserted, of course.

Start (or restart) Firefox after your CAC reader and card are inserted and recognized by the system. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The best DebConf 15 videos

I simply cannot take time off work to attend DebConf, so each year I watch the videos instead. It took almost a month, thanks to the back-to-school rush at work, but I finally got through the sessions I wanted to see.

Here are my highlights from DebConf 15:

Cool Stuff

Creating A More Inviting Environment For Newcomers New Experiences From MoM SoB Teammetrics - A detailed discussion of how a mature team with tapering contributions re-energized itself with new enthusiasts. How they were recruited, mentored, trained, and finally assigned key roles in the team. Lots of discussion of mentoring strategies and the costs of mentoring (less time for the work) from the developer/maintainer perspective. Lots of good ideas for any mature team, and thoroughly applicable to Ubuntu teams too.

Linux in the City of Munich AKA LiMux - There has been a lot of FUD written about one of the largest public conversions to an open-source platform, and it was great to see an actual insider talking about the project. Worth a watch.

Lightning Talks 2 - The first Lightning Talk was a proposal to add a new service to Debian. The service tests all uploaded packages for many known faults (using valgrind, infer, etc.), and automatically files bug reports on the faults. This should provide a large number of real bite-sized bugs for drive-by patches, and corresponding hefty improvement in code quality. Most cool.

Under the hood

Your Systemd Tool Box - Dissecting And Debugging Boot And Services - This is a great walk-through of the new (to me) tools. Had a terminal window open alongside to try each of the tools. Saved the video for a refresh, it's a lot to digest in one sitting.

Systemd How We Survived Jessie And How We Will Break Stretch - Fantastic discussion of coming systemd features: Persistent interface names, networkd, kdbus, and more. Also great discussion of how to get involved around the edges.

Dpkg The Interface - A presentation by the current maintainer, explaining how he keeps dpkg stable and the future roadmap. Since Snappy uses dpkg (but not apt), that roadmap is important! I have used dpkg for a decade, but never thought about all the bits of it I never see....

Keeping Free Software Free

Debians Central Role In The Future Of Software Freedom - A presentation by the President of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), explaining the problems they see, their strategies to attack those problems, and how they try to effectively challenge GPL violations. A bit of Canonical-bashing in this one at a couple points (some deserved, some not).

At 23:30, it introduces the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, where Debian contributors can opt to revocably assign their copyright to SFC, and can also permit the SFC to enforce those copyrights. This is one strategy SFC is pursuing to fight both CLAs and license violations.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You should be using Find-a-Task

Find-a-Task is the Ubuntu community's job board for volunteers.

Introduced in January 2015, Find-a-Task shows fellow volunteers the variety of tasks and roles available.

The goal of Find-a-Task is for a volunteer, after exploring the Ubuntu Project, to land on a team or project's wiki page. They are interested, ready to join, and ready to start learning the skills and tools. 

However, it only works if *you* use it, too.

Try it.

Take a quick look, and see the variety of volunteer roles available. We have listings for many different skills and interests, including many non-technical tasks.

Is your team listed?

Hey teams, are you using Find-a-Task to recruit volunteers?
  • Are your team roles listed?
  • Are they accurate?
  • Is your landing page welcoming and useful to a new volunteer?

When it's time to update your postings on the job board, simply jump into Freenode IRC: #ubuntu-community-team.

Gurus: Are your pointing Padwans toward it?

Find-a-Task is a great place to send new enthusiasts. No signup, no login, no questions. It's a great way to survey the roles available in the big, wide, Ubuntuverse, and get new enthusiasts involved in a team.

It's also handy for experienced enthusiasts looking for a new challenge, of course.
  • If you're active in the various forums, refer new enthusiasts to Find-a-Task.
  • Add it to your signature.
  • If you know a Find-a-Task success story, please share.

Improving Find-a-Task

Ideas to increase usage of Find-a-Task are welcome.
Ideas on how to improve the tool itself are also welcome.
Please share your suggestions to improve Find-a-Task on the ubuntu-community-team mailing list.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Is your team using Find-a-Task?

Find-a-Task is the Ubuntu community's job board for volunteers.


Is your team listed?

It's the place for volunteers to find new, interesting, fulfilling ways to contribute to Ubuntu.
It's the place for them to discover your team or project.

Get listed today!

We have made it super easy to get your team onto Find-a-Task: No login, no editing. Just jump into #ubuntu-community-team with a volunteer role in mind:

  • Category: Programming
  • Role: QML De-frobber
  • Very short description: Get rid of QML Frob with the Ubuntu Frobbing Team
  • Landing page:

That's can list technical roles, too.

Nah, I don't want volunteers

If the old way is working for you, and your team has lots of spare capacity, then more power to you! Please share your secret sauce.

But if you could use a few more hands to grab a work item or two, a Find-a-Task listing is fast and simple.

You really should, you know.