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.

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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.

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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.

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GNOME, LibreOffice, Linux

First Brno Linux Desktop Meetup

The desktop engineering team in the Red Hat office in Brno is quite large, we’ve got over 20 developers working on various desktop projects here, but there is no active community outside Red Hat. We’re also approached by students who are interested and would like to get started, but don’t know where and we’d like to have an event to which we can invite them, talk to them about it more in detail, and help them with things beginners struggle with.

That’s why we’ve decided to start Linux Desktop Meetups. They should take place every first Thursday in a month in Red Hat Lab at the Faculty of Information Technologies of Brno University of Technology.

What will be on the agenda? It will be driven by the participants. We hope to have a couple of short, practical presentations, the rest will be discussions, helping others etc.

If you happen to live in Brno and are interested in the Linux desktop, come and join us at 18:00 on May 5th!

Fedora

3.5 Shows Drawbacks of Rolling Released Kernel

I’m a supporter of rolling release mode for kernel. A new kernel means better hardware support and it has helped me a lot several times. Unfortunately, pushing new kernels into a stable release has its evil side – regressions. I usually have no problems with regressions when a new kernel comes. Unfortunately, the kernel 3.5 has brought a lot of regressions and problems:

  1. After several hours of uptime, I experience artefacts, disappearing items in menus etc. (#848099). In my case, it occurs on two different Intel cards and AFAIK I’m not the only one affected by this regression.
  2. Many users have reported severe problems with ATI cards (#846505). I’ve heard there are quite a lot of regressions in nouveau, too. My friend couldn’t suspend/hibernate his laptop with an nVidia card after upgrading to 3.5.
  3. NFS problem that affects for example oVirt (#845660). oVirt developers even recommend running Fedora with pre-3.5 kernels.

IMHO 3.5 is definitely the worst kernel since Fedora switched to the rolling release mode for kernel. It has fully showed the drawbacks of this model.

BTW all the problems mentioned above are solvable by downgrading to 3.4 (you still can find them in Koji).

How can we make it better? Should we be not so aggressive in pushing new kernels into stable releases, doing more testing? Or should we give users an easy way to stick with an old kernel or downgrade to it? (of course, users have 3 kernels to choose in GRUB, but sooner or later the older version gets removed and if users upgrade or install Fedora after the new kernel is released they don’t have the old kernel at all).

Linux

State of Czech Linux Community

The more I look outside the Czech Republic the more I’m surprised how strong the Linux community in the Czech Republic. We always looked at our neighbour – Germany, where there are huge events such as LinuxTag and a lot of active FLOSS contributors, and felt there is not much going on in the Czech Republic. But that’s logical, Germany has 8 times more citizens. In fact, the Czech Linux community is one of the strongest per capita and there is quite a lot going on here.

There are three big Linux portals that are professional or semi-professional (Root.cz, ABCLinuxu.cz, LinuxEXPRES.cz) and bring articles and news from the world of FOSS every day. There are also FLOSS-oriented websites which are not so big, but still very active (OpenOffice.cz, Linuxsoft.cz, Fedora.cz, SUSEportal.cz, Ubuntu.cz,…). There were also two paper Linux magazines (LinuxEXPRES and Linux+), but they closed up. The market was too small for them and paper magazines don’t have good times generally. There is a digital magazine though – OpenMagazin. We don’t have such big events as in Germany, but there are still quite a few big conferences. LinuxAlt and (Red Hat) Developer Conference are attended by hundreds of people. LinuxExpo, which used to be the biggest event in the country (with 2,000 attendants in the best years), didn’t take place this year, but hopefully will be replaced by another Linux conference in Prague. Local LUGs organize events every month. The strongest one is in Brno, followed by Prague.

A vibrant Linux community was one of the reasons why Red Hat and SUSE chose to start their development offices in the Czech Republic. And those offices keep growing. The Red Hat one has over 400 engineers and the SUSE one about 100.

That’s not bad at all for a country with 10 million citizens. Linux in the Czech Republic also has one of the highest market penetrations in Europe (according to StatCounter). All countries higher in the list have government programs which support Linux and FLOSS. Unfortunately, the Czech government has no such programs. We have no “Munich” or “Gendarmerie Nationale”. Quite the opposite. Government organizations, that adopted Linux, were under big pressure, and many of them eventually gave up. So unlike in other countries with higher Linux adoption, Linux in the Czech Republic is doing well in spite of the government.

Of course, people complain that it used to be better, and there should be more active community members, but there is never enough active members and as I said at the beginning when I looked at possibilities to promote Red Hat and Fedora in other countries in the region, I found out that Linux communities are not so vibrant as in the Czech Republic.  Hopefully, we’ll keep up and especially Fedora community will be more and more active.