Fedora, GNOME, Linux

Nextcloud & Linux Desktop

I’ve used different services for my personal agenda and I always valued if they could well integrate into my Fedora Workstation. Some did it well, some at least provided a desktop app, some only had a web client. That’s fine for many people, but not for me. Call me old-school, but I still prefer using desktop applications and especially those who look and behave natively.

Last summer, I decided to install Nextcloud on my VPS. Originally I was planning to replace Dropbox with it, but then I found out I could actually use it for many other things, for all my personal agenda. Shortly after that I realized that I’d found what I was always looking for in terms of integration into my desktop. Nextcloud apps use standard protocols and formats and integrate very well with the desktop apps I use.

nextcloud

Nextcloud/ownCloud is supported by GNOME Online Accounts, so I log in to my server and automagically get this:

Files – my Nextcloud appears in Nautilus as a remote disk. I like that it doesn’t work like the official desktop client of Nextcloud or Dropbox and doesn’t sync files to the local drive. If you work with small files and documents remotely, you can hardly notice lags and they don’t consume space on your hard drive. If I want to work with large files (e.g. video) or offline, I just download them.

Documents – documents that are stored on your Nextcloud server appear among documents in GNOME Documents. The app makes an abstraction layer over different file sources and the user can work with documents no matter where they come from. A nice thing, but I’m a bit conservative in this and prefer working with files and Nautilus.

Contacts – the Nextcloud app for contacts uses CardDAV, so after a login in GOA your contact list appears in all applications that are using the evolution-data-server backend. In my case it’s Evolution and GNOME Contacts. Evolution is still my daily driver at work while I use the specialized apps at home.

Calendars – the calendar app for Nextcloud uses CalDAV, so after a login in GOA you get the same automagic like with contacts, your calendars appear in all apps that are using evolution-data-server. Again in my case it’s Evolution and GNOME Calendar.

Tasks – CalDAV is also used for tasks in Nextcloud, so if you enable calendars in GOA, your task lists will also appear in Evolution or GNOME Todo.

snc3admek-z-2017-03-01-22-47-36
GNOME Todo

Notes – the same applies to notes, you will also be able to automagically access them in Evolution or GNOME Bijiben.

News – the only thing I had to set up separately is a news reader. I use FeedReader which (among other services) supports Nextcloud/ownCloud, too. So I could replace Feedly with it and get a native client as a bonus.

snc3admek-z-2017-03-01-22-34-49
FeedReader

What’s really great is that except for the RSS reader everything is set up with one login. I’m done with Feedly, Evernote, Wunderlist and all those services that each require another login and generally have poor desktop integration. Now I can use Nextcloud, have all my data under control and get great and super-easy-to-setup integration into my desktop.

I can imagine even more areas where Nextcloud can improve my desktop experience. For instance, it’d be great if my desktop user settings could be synced via Nextcloud or I could back them up there and then restore them on my new machine. Or it’d be great if the desktop keyring could work with Passman and sync your passwords.

BTW integration into my Android phone is equally important to me and Nextcloud doesn’t fail me there either although setting it up was not as easy as in my Fedora Workstation. I needed to install CalDAV-Sync and CardDAV-Sync apps (DAVdroid which is officially recommended by Nextcloud never worked for me, a while back it didn’t want to sync my contact list at all, now it does, but doesn’t import photos). Then my contacts and calendars were synced to the default apps. For tasks I use OpenTasks. For RSS ownCloud/Nextcloud Reader and for notes MyOwnNotes. To access files Nextcloud provides their own app.

And if I’m not around my PC or phone, I can always access all the services via the web interface which is pretty nice, too. So all in all I’ve been really satisfied with Nextcloud and am really happy how dynamically it’s developing.

Fedora, Uncategorized

Nightly and Wayland Builds of Firefox for Flatpak

When I announced Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak over a month ago, I also promised that we would not stop there and bring more options in the future. Now I can proudly announce that we provide two more variants of Firefox – Firefox Nightly and Firefox Nightly for Wayland.

With Nightly, you can closely follow the development of Firefox. Due to Flatpak you can easily install it and keep getting daily updates via our flatpak repo.

As a bonus, we’re also bringing a Firefox build that runs natively on Wayland. We used to provide a Copr repository, but with Flatpak it’s open to users of other distros, too. When running this version, keep in mind it’s still WIP and very experimental. Firefox seems to run just fine on Wayland at first glance, but there is still some basic functionality missing (copy-paste for example) and it’s not so stable either (it crashed the whole Wayland session for me once). But once it’s done, it will be a big improvement in security for Firefox on Linux because Wayland isolates the application on the display server level. Together with other pieces of Flatpak sandboxing, it will provide a full sandbox for the browser in the future.

When adding more Firefox variants to the repo, we first considered using branches, but you have to switch between them manually to start different variants of Firefox which we didn’t find very user friendly. In the end, we’re using one branch and multiple applications with different names in it. This way, you can install and run multiple variants in parallel.

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You can find the instructions to install Firefox for Flatpak on the repository webpage. We’re also constantly improving how Firefox runs in Flatpak. If you have any Flatpak-specific problems with Firefox, please report it to our bug tracker on Github. If you hit problems that are not Flatpak-specific, please report them directly to Mozilla.

And again kudos to Jan Hořák from our team who made all this happen!

Fedora, GNOME, Uncategorized

Dark Adwaita and HighContrast Themes for Qt

One of our goals for Fedora Workstation is to run Qt applications in GNOME as seamlessly as possible. Their look should be as close to their GTK+ counterparts as possible, you shouldn’t have to set things on two different places just to make the change in both GTK+ and Qt applications.

A while back, we introduced the Adwaita theme for Qt and QGnomePlatform which makes sure all settings get translated from the GTK+ world to the Qt one. The original Adwaita theme was written from scratch. To write a theme for Qt is pretty complex and the look of Adwaita for Qt was close to Adwaita for GTK+, but not close enough. Then Martin Bříza, who is working on this, decided to change the approach and based the new version on the default KDE theme and kept changing it until he got a theme that is very similar to Adwaita for GTK+. And indeed it’s now much closer than the first version.

Martin also worked on the dark variant of Adwaita for Qt, so that if you switch to this variant, Qt apps still don’t look out of place. Or if there is a Qt app that uses a dark theme it can have a look that fits into GNOME.

Martin didn’t stop there. GNOME also offers a high contrast theme for those with visual impairment which prevents them from using standard themes. They’re also not left behind. If you switch to the HighContrast theme in GNOME Qt apps will switch to it, too.

On the video below, you can see a mix of Qt and GTK+ apps and how they change when you switch between different themes:

These changes should land in Fedora 26 Workstation, but you can already try them out. Martin created a Copr repository. Keep in mind it’s work in progress. If you’d like to report bugs or help with tuning the themes, all the code is on Github.

Fedora, Red Hat

DevConf.cz 2017

Another edition of DevConf.cz took place last week. It was already the second edition I didn’t organize. This year, I was involved in the organization even less, just helping with the program and serving as a session chair for one day. So I could enjoy the conference more than ever before.

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DevConf.cz is still growing. This year, we had over 1700 registrations and ~1600 ppl actually showed up. This time, we also know for sure because it was the first edition when we did a registration and check-in. DevConf.cz is growing into a smaller FOSDEM with more focus on open source enterprise technologies and I think it even covers this area better than FOSDEM. The number of talks and workshops was also a bit higher, I think (200-250).

The opening keynote was pretty interesting. Tim Burke, the VP of Red Hat, announced a focus on integration of different Red Hat products and this year he showed it had actual results. People could see a demo of using different Red Hat products from hardware provisioning to deploying an app to OpenShift from JBoss Developer Studio. I hope that we as the desktop team will be able to contribute to this. Fedora Workstation is a great OS for developers and it should be the best OS for developers that want to develop on Red Hat platforms. I’d love us to get to the point where starting to develop with Red Hat technologies is just a matter of a couple of clicks/commands.

Another highlight of the conference was Hans de Goede’s talk “Making Fedora run better on laptops”. Hans announced a new team which is part of the desktop team and which will work on better hardware support in Fedora and RHEL (with the focus on laptops). We will finally have laptop models which will be officially supported!

The desktop track took place on Sunday. I session-chaired it, so I was more or less obliged to watch it all 🙂 Matthias Clasen prepared a very good presentation on Flatpak. His talk and, in fact, the whole track was interrupted when the projector system broke down. Unfortunately it was a failure in one of the main hardware components which couldn’t be fixed immediately. Matthias had to carry on without the projector and I must say that despite all the difficulties he did very well and there was a lot of questions. Meanwhile we managed to get a backup room where we moved the track once Matthias’ talk was over. Unfortunately the room was much smaller and a bit hidden which might have had an impact on attendance. So not so many people had an opportunity to watch another interesting talk – “Fedora Workstation – removing obstacles to success” by Christian Schaller who outlined some of our plans for the official Fedora desktop edition.

The weather during the conference was extraordinarily cold and a new term – devconflu – was invented. But I really enjoyed it, just had to give up FOSDEM for it. I was not up for another DevConf.cz+Red Hat internal meetings+FOSDEM this year.

BTW all the talk recordings are already online. Check out the DevConf.cz Youtube channel.

Fedora, Uncategorized

Digest of Fedora 25 Reviews

Fedora 25 has been out for 2 months and it seems like a very solid release, maybe the best in the history of the distro. And feedback from the press and users has also been very positive. I took the time and put together a digest of the latest reviews:

Phoronix: Fedora 25 Is Quite Possibly My Most Favorite Release Yet

As a long-time Fedora fan and user going back to Fedora Core, Fedora 25 is quite possibly my most favorite Fedora release yet. With the state as of this week, it feels very polished and reliable and haven’t encountered any glaring bugs on any of my test systems. Thanks in large part due to the heavy lifting on ensuring GNOME 3.22 is a super-polished desktop release, Fedora 25 just feels really mature yet modern when using it.

Phoronix: Fedora 25 Turned Out Great, Definitely My Most Favorite Fedora Release

That’s the first time I’ve been so ambitious with a Fedora release, but in testing it over the past few weeks (and months) on a multitude of test systems, the quality has been excellent and by far is most favorite release going back to the Fedora Core days — and there’s Wayland by default too, as just the icing on the cake.

Distrowatch: Fedora 25 Review

Even when dealing with the various Wayland oddities and issues, Fedora 25 is a great distribution. Everything is reasonably polished and the default software provides a functional desktop for those looking for a basic web browsing, e-mail, and word processing environment. The additional packages available can easily turn Fedora into an excellent development workstation customized for a developer’s specific needs. If you are programming in most of the current major programming languages, Fedora provides you the tools to easily do so. Overall, I am very pleased using Fedora 25, but I am even more excited for future releases of Fedora as the various minor Wayland issues get cleaned up.

ZDNet: Fedora 25 Linux arrives with Wayland display support

Today, Fedora is once more the leading edge Linux distribution.

ArsTechnica: Fedora 25: With Wayland, Linux has never been easier (or more handsome)

Fedora 24 was very close to my favorite distro of the year, but with Fedora 25 I think it’s safe to say that the Fedora Project has finally nailed it. I still run a very minimal Arch install (with Openbox) on my main machine, but everywhere else—family and friends who want to upgrade, clients looking for a stable system and so on—I’ve been recommending Fedora 25.

…I have no qualms recommending both Fedora and Wayland. The best Linux distro of 2016 simply arrived at the last moment.

Hectic Geek: Fedora 25 Review: A Stable Release, But Slightly Slow to Boot (on rotational disks)

If you have a rotational disk, then Fedora 25 will be a little slow to boot and there is nothing you or I can do to fix it. But if you have an SSD, then you shall have no issues here. Other than that, I’m quite pleased with this release actually. Sure the responsiveness sucked the first time on, but as mentioned, it can be fixed, permanently. And the stability is also excellent.

Dedoimedo: And the best distro of 2016 is…

The author prefers Fedora 24 to 25, but Fedora is still the distro of the year for him:

Never once had I believed that Fedora would rise so highly, but rise it did. Not only is the 24th release a child of a long succession of slowly, gradually improving editions, it also washed away my hatred for Gnome 3, and I actually started using it, almost daily, with some fairly good results. Fedora 24 was so good that it broke Fedora. The latest release is not quite as good, but it is a perfectly sane compromise if you want to use the hottest loaf of modern technology fresh from the Linux oven.

OCS-Mag: Best GNOME distro of 2016

The same author, and again not surprisingly prefers 24 which is the best GNOME distro in his opinions:

Fedora 24 is a well-rounded and polished operating system, and with the right amount of proverbial pimping, its Gnome desktop offers a stylish yet usable formula to the common user, with looks and functionality balanced to a fair degree. But, let us not forget the extensions that make all this possible. Good performance, good battery life and everyday stuff aplenty should keep you happy and entertained. Among the Gnome bunch, it’s Funky Fedora that offers the best results overall. And thus we crown it the winner of the garden ornament competition of 2016.

The Register: Fedora 25: You’ve got that Wayland feelin’, oh, that Wayland feelin’

Fedora 25 WorkStation is hands down the best desktop Linux distro I tested in 2016. With Wayland, GNOME 3.22 and the excellent DNF package manager, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything missing. The only downside? Fedora lacks an LTS release, but now that updating is less harrowing, that’s less of a concern.

Bit Cannon: Finding an Alternative to Mac OS X

Wesley Moore was looking for an alternative to Mac OS X and his three picks were: Fedora, Arch Linux, and elementaryOS.

Fedora provided an excellent experience. I installed Fedora 25 just after its release. It’s built on the latest tech like Wayland and GNOME 3.22.

The Huffington Post: How To Break Free From Your Computer Operating System — If You Dare

Fedora is a gorgeous operating system, with a sleek and intuitive interface, a clean aesthetic, and it’s wicked fast.

ArsTechnica: Dell’s latest XPS 13 DE still delivers Linux in a svelte package

Not really a review of Fedora, but the author tried to install Fedora 25 on the new XPS13 and this is what he had to say:

As a final note, I did install and test both Fedora 25 and Arch on the new hardware and had no problems in either case. For Fedora, I went with the default GNOME 3.22 desktop, which, frankly, is what I think Dell should ship out of the box. It’s got far better HiDPI support than Ubuntu, and the developer tools available through Fedora are considerably more robust than most of what you’ll find in Ubuntu’s repos.

Looks like we’re on the right track and I’m sure Fedora 26 will be an even better release. We’ve got very interesting things in the works.

Fedora, Linux

Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak

Our team maintains Firefox RPMs for Fedora and RHEL and a lot of people have been asking us to provide Firefox for Flatpak as well. I’m finally happy to announce Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak.

firefox_developer_edition_logo

We started with the Developer Edition because that’s something that is not easily available to Fedora users. Providing the standard Firefox wouldn’t bring a lot of benefit right now because it’s available very quickly after upstream releases via Fedora repositories. In the future, we’d like to add releases of the standard Firefox (nightly, stable, perhaps ESR).

Firefox DE for Flatpak is built on our internal build cluster and hosted on mojefedora.cz (mojefedora == myfedora in Czech) on OpenShift. It’s an unofficial build for testing purposes, not provided by Mozilla. We’d like to work with Mozilla, so that it can eventually be adopted by the Mozilla project and you can get Firefox flatpaks directly from the source.

Right now, Firefox DE is not sandboxed, it has full access to user’s home. In the near future, we’d like to start a devel branch in the flatpak repository where we will ship a sandboxed Firefox and experiment how well Firefox can handle sandboxing and what needs to be done to assure the expected user experience. A web browser is definitely the #1 candidate among desktop applications for sandboxing. If you’re interested in sandboxing Firefox on Linux via Flatpak, contact us (you’ll find Jan’s email on the website with installation instructions).

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Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak running on Fedora

We’ve tested the FDE flatpak on Fedora 25, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Ubuntu 16.10. You need flatpak 0.6.13 or newer for the installation commands to work. The repo should work with older versions as well, but there was a change in command syntax and the commands we use don’t work in older releases than 0.6.13. Fedora 25 has the newest release (0.8.0), openSUSE Tumbleweed has a new enough release (0.6.14), just for Ubuntu you’ll need to install the newest flatpak from a PPA.

 

firefox-flatpak-ubuntu
Firefox Developer Edition for Flatpak running on Ubuntu

GNOME Software in Fedora 25 also supports adding repos via .flatpakrepo files and installing apps via .flatpakref files, but it’s not reliable enough yet, so we only recommend you use the command line instructions. It’s just two commands (you only need the latter one on Fedora 25 with the newest flatpak).

There are also a couple of problems we haven’t quite figured out yet. In openSUSE and Ubuntu, the desktop file database is not refreshed after the installation, so the launcher doesn’t appear right away. You need to log out and log in to refresh it and make the launcher appear. In openSUSE Tumbleweed in KDE Plasma in a VM, I couldn’t start the app getting “no protocol specified, Error: cannot open display: :99.0”. We’re looking for hearing from you how it works on other distributions.

Although the repo is for testing purposes, we’re committed to updating it regularly until we announce otherwise on the website with the installation instructions. So you don’t have to worry that you’ll end up with a scratch build that will never get updated.

At last, I’d like to thank Vadim Rutkovsky who made the initial proof-of-concept Firefox build for Flatpak we built upon, and Jan Hořák who did most of the work on the current build and repo setup.

Fedora, GNOME, LibreOffice, Linux

Installing flatpaks gets easier in Fedora 25

A lot of users complained that installing flatpaks was too difficult. And they were right, just look at the installation instructions on the Flatpak download page at LibreOffice.org. But that was never meant to be the final user experience.

flatpak-logo

Richard Hughes integrated Flatpak support into GNOME Software and the Red Hat desktop apps team worked with him to make sure it works well with apps we’ve already packaged for Flatpak. And this is the result. As you can see installing LibreOffice for Flatpak is now a matter of a couple of clicks with GNOME Software 3.22.2 in Fedora 25:

 

Flatpak allows you to generate a .flatpak bundle which includes the app and all the necessary info for installation of the app and setting up its repo for future updates. You can also create a .flatpakref file which doesn’t contain the app, but all the installation info and the app is downloaded during the installation. This format is also supported by GNOME Software now. LibreOffice offers a .flatpak bundle because it’s more similar to what users are used to from Windows and macOS.

As you can see on the video, installing .flatpak bundles is a matter of downloading the file and opening it directly with GNOME Software or double-clicking it. There is one prerequisite though. You need to have a repo of the runtime the app requires enabled which I had because I had been using the GNOME runtime for other apps already. Installation of runtimes is being streamlined as well. As a runtime provider, you can ship .flatpakrepo file which includes necessary info for setting up the repo and is as easy to install as .flatpak and .flatpakref. For Fedora Workstation we’re currently considering to enable repos of most common runtimes by default, so users would not have to deal with them at all, the required runtimes would get installed automatically with the app.