Updated 'Must-Have' GNOME extensions list

Back in December 2020 I wrote up my personal Must-Have GNOME extensions. It’s been nearly three years, two job changes, and a few Ubuntu upgrades, so I thought I’d take another look. tl;dr: What changed Out I no longer have these installed. Sound Switcher Indicator This used to crash a lot for me, to the point I’d go and look for it in the panel and it was missing. I figured if I don’t realise it’s gone, I probably don’t need it that much. [Read More]

LXD - Container Manager

Preamble I recently started working for InfluxData as a Developer Advocate on Telegraf, an open source server agent to collect metrics. Telegraf builds from source to ship as a single Go binary. The latest - 1.19.1 was released just yesterday. Part of my job involves helping users by reproducing reported issues, and assisting developers by testing their pull requests. It’s fun stuff, I love it. Telegraf has an extensive set of plugins which supports gathering, aggregating & processing metrics, and sending the results to other systems. [Read More]

My Least Used Favourite App

I have so many applications on my Android Phone, I’ve lost count. Too many chat apps, multiple web browsers, tons of games, and other garbage. However, there’s one app, which is one of my favourites while probably being the least used application. It doesn’t technically benefit me at all, but is useful to others, when I use it. The app in question is “Be My Eyes”. It’s available for Android and iOS, and is very easy to setup. [Read More]


Over the weekend I participated in FOSS Talk Live. Before The Event this would have been an in-person shindig at a pub in London. A bunch of (mostly) UK-based podcasters get together and record live versions of their shows in front of a “studio audience”. It’s mostly an opportunity for a bunch of us middle-aged farts who speak into microphones to get together, have a few beers and chat. Due to The Event, this year it was a virtual affair, done online via YouTube. [Read More]

Disabling snap Autorefresh

Preamble Until recently, I worked for Canonical on the Snap Advocacy Team. Some of the things in this blog post may have changed or been fixed since I left. It’s quite a long post, but I feel it’s neccessary to explain fully the status-quo. This isn’t intended to be a “hit piece” on my previous employer, but merely information sharing for those looking to control their own systems. I’ve previously provided feedback in my previous role as Snap Advocate, to enable them to better control updates. [Read More]

New Pastures

I tweeted back at the start of April that I’m moving on from Canonical/Ubuntu. Well, I left on April 30th, have had two weeks of ‘funemployment’, and today I start my new gig. I’m now Developer Advocate for Telegraf at InfluxData, and I couldn’t be more excited! 🎉 Telegraf is an Open Source “agent for collecting, processing, aggregating, and writing metrics.”. I’ll be working with the Telegraf team and wider community of contributors. [Read More]

Ubuntu 21.04 Testing Week

“Hirsute Hippo” is the project code-name for what will become Ubuntu 21.04 when it releases on April 22nd 2021. On April 1st, the Beta of Ubuntu Hirsute will be released, but we’re no fools! This is a great time to do some testing! So, starting on April 1st, we’re doing another Ubuntu Testing Week. As always, everyone is welcome to test Ubuntu at any point in the year. But during the beta is a good time to focus on testing. [Read More]

GNOME OS 40 without GNOME Boxes

The GNOME team have announced GNOME 40. Along with this there’s a GNOME OS image to play with. You can grab that from here with the release notes. The release announcement firmly (in bold) suggests “Do not use any other version including the distro version. Only GNOME Boxes 3.38.0 from flathub is known to work.”. Personally I’ve never managed to have much success with GNOME Boxes, so I thought I’d test using something I already have installed, QEMU! [Read More]

Actually Upgrading Ubuntu Server

Yesterday I wrote about my attempt to upgrade one of my HP Microservers, running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Well, today I had another go. Here’s what happened. I followed the recommendation from yesterday, to compress the initrd.img using xz compression rather than the previous default gzip. Previously the upgrade failed because it needed 140M disk space in /boot. With the change to the compression scheme, I now have 154M, which should be enough to start the upgrade. [Read More]

Upgrading Ubuntu Server

I have a few old and crusty HP MicroServers in the loft at home. I started out with one when HP did a cashback offer, making them very affordable. Over time I’ve acquired a couple more. One, named colossus is running rsnapshot to provide backups of my other machines. Another, called shirka is a Plex Media Server and the last, robby is a general purpose box running various jobs and reports. [Read More]

Ubuntu Wiki Reboot

It’s time to replace the Ubuntu Wiki. In fact it was probably time to replace it a few years ago, but we are where we are. It should be a reliable and useful resource for the Ubuntu community. It’s failing at that. We have failed here. Aside: There are actually multiple wikis in use in the Ubuntu project. The primary one is wiki.ubuntu.com, which has been in use since forever (in Ubuntu terms). [Read More]

Desktop Webapps

I appreciate many people already know how to do this, but I’m surprised how many don’t, or don’t realise what it does. Forgive me if you know about this feature of Google Chrome. A little while back I managed to win two separate eBay auctions for 16GiB DDR3 SODIMMs to install in my ThinkPad T450. This took it from the previously installed 16GiB to the expansive 32GiB. Then I opened Google Chrome. [Read More]

Learning Dart & Flutter

I’ve said many times, I don’t consider myself a software developer. Much like I don’t consider myself a professional chef. I can write code, just as I can cook. What I make isn’t ground breaking, but it won’t poison anyone either, and I enjoy doing it. Coding for me started on the ZX81 in BASIC then on to the Spectrum and other 8-bit microcomputers. I dabbled with Z80 and 6502 assembly language. [Read More]

Finding Ubuntu Crash Reports

This post is more an aide-mémoire for myself, but may be useful to others. I recently wrote a little story about bugs, the crash reporter and errors website in Ubuntu. Sometimes a user will want to look for their crash reports, and in fact that question came up today on the Ubuntu Discourse. Back when we shipped Unity desktop as the default desktop environment in Ubuntu, there was a simple button to take a user to their previously uploaded crash reports. [Read More]

Updating Snap Bases

This is a bit of a dayjob post, but as I maintain a bunch of snaps in my own time, I figured it’s not out of place here. Typically when I (or indeed any developer) uses snapcraft to build a snap, a snapcraft.yaml drives the process. I’ll integrate some kind of CI or build system, and start publishing to the Snap Store. Usually, once created, the yaml doesn’t need much in the way of changes. [Read More]

Snapcraft Clinic Successes

On Thursday I mentioned we were restarting the Snapcraft Clinic. Basically we stand up a regular video call with engineers from the snap and snapcraft team & us from Snap Advocacy. Developers of applications and publishers of snaps are invited to join to troubleshoot. There was nothing especially secret or private discussed, but as we don’t record or stream the calls, and I don’t have direct permission to mention the applications or people involved, so I’ll keep this a little vague. [Read More]

Snapcraft Clinic

At work we have a forum where developers can discuss packaging Linux applications, specifically as snaps. Sometimes developers just want to pair through a problem to get it either resolved for themselves, or for whatever is blocking to be handed off to the right people. One strategy for supporting developers we found effective was via regular live video conference. So last year we started the Snapcraft Clinic. On a semi-regular basis we dedicate time to join with anyone who has technical issues with snapping, to help them. [Read More]

A Tale of Two Updates

Helping your users stay up to date on their workstation is something I believe OS vendors should endeavour to do, to the best of their ability. Some users aren’t able to find time to install updates, or are irritated by update dialogs. Others are skeptical of their contents, some even block updates completely. No OS vendor wants to be “That Guy” featuring in the news as millions of their customers are found to be vulnerable on their watch. [Read More]

Jamming with Sonobus

Before last week, I’d never heard of SonoBus. While on holiday I’d packaged up Spot - a Gtk Spotify client, which I wrote about recently. The next day I made a snap of SonoBus too! I did this because while there were binary builds for Windows and Mac, there was no binary release for Linux, other than in the Arch User Repository. For those that, like me, didn’t know about SonoBus, it’s an “easy to use application for streaming high-quality, low-latency peer-to-peer audio between devices over the internet or a local network”. [Read More]

Scanning Frustration

“Printers are devices for causing pain and frustration. They also sometimes print stuff out.” - Me, many times over the years. I have an HP LaserJet 100 MFP M175nw networked laser printer / scanner / copier. I’ve had it since 2013 where it’s generally worked okay most of the time. We don’t print a ton of things in this house, but when we do, it’s typically urgently required for work or school. [Read More]