NEWS

Read hard, get it all caught up :-D

Things are (actually) going on around the community (surprise!), you may find latest news and happenings in and around the community, and of course, latest information for you to better enjoy AOSC OS.

Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program. – Linus Torvalds

ALL NEWS

  • October Wave is Here!NOVEMBER 3, 2017

    We are happy to announce that our October Wave of updates is now ready for AMD64 users of AOSC OS! We are late for this wave due to the quantity of updates, which are applied to over 500 packages provided for AOSC OS - that is ~20% of all packages available.

    Anyways, let’s kick this announcement off with a new wallpaper made available to all AOSC OS users, as part of the default collection of wallpapers.

    core5-blender

    This wallpaper is made by Tianhao Chai - our resident Wine, NVIDIA, Linux Kernel package maintainer, and Blender enthusiast. This wallpaper is rendered with no other software than Blender, took almost two days to render on his own desktop computer (LOL). Blender project file for this wallpaper is available here, if you would like to make any changes/improvements to this wallpaper, or simply to warm up your room in the coming winter!


    Now, to some of the major updates made available in this wave of updates…

    GNOME 3.26

    Released earlier in September, is now packaged and tested for users of AOSC OS.

    GNOME 3.26 contains a large amount of changes made to further polish user experience. For example, the newly designed GNOME Control Center provides a pane-based layout which eases navigation, as opposed to the old icon-and-page-based design.

    HiDPI support also sees great improvement, the feature to set DPI scaling on a “fraction scale”, instead of jumping from 1x to 2x, etc. This should offer better flexibility for 2K/3K/4K/… owners.

    gnome-3.26

    KDE/Plasma Updates

    With the last months spent on “special” operations like ACID, our KDE/Plasma desktop stack was left outdated, with the October wave of updates, users of KDE/Plasma Desktop could enjoy the newest and (hopefully) greatest on offer by the KDE Community…

    • Qt 5.9.2, with a great number of bug fixes and performance optimisations.
    • KDE Frameworks 5.39.0 providing fixes and expanded functionality.
    • Plasma 5.11.2, providing a more polished desktop layout, a new System Settings application with improved layout and appearance, and better integration with the Kirigami adaptive UI framework.
    • KDE Applications 17.08.2, with latest fixes and security enhancements to the KDE application collection.

    Security Updates

    This section is dedicated to show our gratitude to Zero King, our new friend and collegue in the AOSC OS development effort. With great knowledge and diligent focus on security updates and announcements, Zero King reported security issues and offered update/patching advices to our ABBS Tree and Core Tree on a near-daily basis.

    Since his involvement with AOSC OS development, over 100 security advisories was announced in our security mailing list - virtually matching the total amount of advisories announced in 2016! If you haven’t subscribed to that mailling list yet, please do so here to keep yourselves informed with latest security updates made available to AOSC OS, and other security-related suggestions to better protect your privacy and data safety.


    Promises, Oh Promises…

    However, some updates are delayed due to the lack of time with our developers who work on a volunteer basis, making time out of their own busy lives and academic/work occupations…

    • Deepin Desktop Environment, which was scheduled for this wave of updates, will be delayed to the next.
    • Tarballs, also scheduled for an October refresh, will be delayed to early-to-mid November.

    MIPS Under Review

    Due to the lack of man power and device resources, in combination with the problematic implementation of MIPS ISA found in Loongson/Godson processors - our main maintainer of MIPS 32/64-bit ports, Junde Yhi finds it increasingly difficult to maintain these ports, letting alone keeping up with the large amount of updates.

    Therefore, he has proposed to reboot the MIPS 64-bit port with better adaptation to Loongson/Godson platforms - which realistically, are the only personally purchasable devices by our community members and developers. In addition, the MIPS-II port, targetting legacy MIPS 32-bit devices like the YeeLoong 8089D, is also under consideration to be dropped.

    For more details on the ongoing discussion, please refer to here.


    Problems sir?

    • Report any issue to our Issues page.

    Or alternatively…

    • Find us on the #aosc IRC channel, Telegram group information will be provided if requested on IRC.
    • Send us an e-mail at discussions@lists.aosc.io.

    More Details?

    • Full changelog of this Wave of updates is available here.
  • Kudos to KoDDoS!OCTOBER 24, 2017

    We would like to dedicate this news post to our new mirror sponsor KoDDoS - a hosting service with a strong focus on anti-DDoS and other cyber attacks. With the new mirror, we have got another mirror in Netherland, serving regions of Europe and the Americas.

    Again, our sincere gratitude to KoDDoS for generously providing a mirror for our repository and downloads!

  • Mailing Lists Temporarily Blocks QQ.com PostsOCTOBER 5, 2017

    Due to recent flooding of messages from various @qq.com (bots?) to our “discussions” list, we have currently taken emergency - and temporary - measure against all posts from @qq.com e-mail addresses.

    If you own such e-mail account and wish to post on our mailing lists, we do apologise for your inconvenience. Please, for now, switch to another e-mail account - or create one elsewhere - for posting on our lists.

    We will keep you updated if we are ready with a more scientific and appropriate solution.

  • August-September Unified Wave and Core 5!OCTOBER 1, 2017

    core5-banner

    We are happy to report that the August-September Wave of updates are now made available for AMD64 users of AOSC OS - along with AOSC OS Core 5 component updates, eMMC is here!


    First of all, let’s take a glance at the August-September Wave.

    Give AOSC OS a Scouring in ACID!

    The majority of our work in these two months has been focused upon fixing broken packages (build-time) by ACID, an idea brought up by Lion Yang to spawn “clean”, BuildKit containers and perform a coverage testing with our ABBS tree - putting Ciel to use.

    As a result, hundreds of packages - old and new - were marked as broken. ~99% of them has been fixed now. Apart from the effects of fixing these tatty packages (that they should work better than before with less bugs), is the inspiration for us to further enhance the quality assurance modules and error handling of Autobuild3 - our automatic packaging toolkit.

    Delayed Updates for Ports

    As noted from Mingcong Bai’s last update, we have failed to sync up package updates for our non-AMD64 AOSC OS ports: PowerPC 32/64-bit Big Endian, ARMv7, AArch64, and MIPS 32/64-bit. However…

    • Core 5 is now available in their testing repositories (except MIPS 32/64-bit)
    • All bugfix updates are made available (thus no security concerns as of yet).

    We will continue to work on catching up with these ports.


    eMMC…

    Now, onto the exciting stuff, Core 5 “eMMC” is now made available to AOSC OS users as…

    • Stable updates for AMD64.
    • “Testing” updates for other ports, excluding MIPS 32/64-bit ports.

    What’s Up?

    As how major (+1.0) Core updates go for AOSC OS, Core 5 includes more extensive updates over the Core 4 series - of course, from the GNU C Library at the bottom, to your GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) - are all updated to the newest versions.

    Though no new architectural port is brought to the table for this year, we have worked on improving, and fixing up system application and development experiences.

    For example, our compiler/linker hardening spec files were included within Autobuild3 - while some packages, like Python and Qt, records build-time compiler/linker flags, which references to the spec file included within Autobuild3’s installation directory - making developments using tools provided by these packages practically impossible without installing Autobuild3, which is absurd. In Core 5, we have moved these files to the gcc package, working around this potential issue.

    AArch64 should also be able to run applications more reliably with latest fixes in GCC and Binutils - a lot of applications that used to exit with a Segmentation Fault should work properly now. Though by our observation this should be a gradual process.

    Overlays

    As one of the major changes to be brought by Core 5, we are introducing the Overlays system to AMD64 users in the coming month or two.

    The Overlays system provides binary packages optimised for newer processors - and in AMD64’s case, processors with AVX2 instruction set support - to squeeze out extra performance potentially obtainable by enabling new instructional optimisation flags. For example, instruction-aware packages like GNU C Library, FFmpeg, Mesa, etc. should see observable performance gain than packages built with our standard compilation configurations - for example, all AMD64 packages are built with instruction set support up to SSE3.

    Changes were required for Autobuild3 and apt-gen-list to make it work smoothly for our developers and users, respectively. Autobuild3 now includes “sub-architectural” support, for example, setting $ARCH to amd64/haswell+ will enable configurations to build packages for the Haswell+ (AVX2) Overlay, while generating packages for the amd64 architecture in general.

    Then, the new implementation of apt-gen-list detects processor capability when generating APT repository configurations so that, say, users with their computer running Intel’s 5th generation Core processors, when running apt-gen-list -e "40-source", should result in an APT configuration using the source repository with the haswell+ Overlay repository automatically enabled - so that they could take advantage of their processors newer instruction sets, thus higher application performance.


    October and Beyond

    October will be a good time to make up package updates left behind in the past two months due to our focus on ACID. Major desktop updates like GNOME 3.26, KDE Applications 16.08 will roll out by the end of October - along with many more applications and component updates to improve your experience with AOSC OS. What’s more…

    • A new desktop environment, the Deepin Desktop Environment, with assistant from our friends Zamir Sun and Felix Yan, will be made available as an additional choice to your desktop experience.
    • Tarballs and ARM device images will be updated as well, and this time, using Ciel as a helper for building fully automated and reproducible system releases.
    • Ciel will continue to scour for rusts and cruds in AOSC OS, and this time on a higher performance server kindly provided by Staph Zhang - this will become a regular, monthly procedure to ensure AOSC OS package quality and user experience.

    Problems sir?

    • Report any issue to our Issues page.

    Or alternatively…

    • Find us on the #aosc IRC channel, Telegram group information will be provided if requested on IRC.
    • Send us an e-mail at discussions@lists.aosc.io.

    More Details?

    • Full changelog of this Wave of updates is available here.
    • Full changelog of AOSC OS Core 5 is available here.
  • Goings On: A Quick Mid-September UpdateSEPTEMBER 24, 2017

    On a personal note, I do apologise for the lack of update for the past month - as my friend Junde Yhi and I went on a 2-week trip to parts of Russia - and now it’s the beginning of the school season so time management was a great struggle.

    Anyways, lets go on with the update. I’m happy to report that Core 5.0 is now in the final testing phase (Release Candidate 4), and should hit the stable repository by the end of the month - yes, with the Joint-August-and-September Wave of updates (and for the same reason mentioned above, we were unable to release the August wave, need more packagers!).

    We have now finished preparing a semi-final set (well, final if we didn’t find anything stupid) of Core 5 wallpapers with a completely new style, here’s a small banner to be used in the Core 5 announcement to give you some ideas…


    core5-banner


    If you want, the full set is already available at the aosc-os-artworks repository, and will be made available to users of the Testing repositories in ~6 hours.

    Apart from the wallpaper change, we have made quite some changes to the Core, including…

    • Package/component updates (of course).
    • Bug fixes.
    • Package removal from Core.

    But I’m not going to share them all just yet, as in the Release Candidate phase, things can still change… a little bit. We will post another update on the actual date-of-release.


    Another thing worth looking forward to in September or October is the inclusion of the first wave of “Overlay” packages for AMD64 (x86_64). We are currently making some final touches to the Autobuild3 build toolkit and apt-gen-list - which when done, Overlay repositories should be enabled based on your processor’s capabilities.

    More on that later (it’s still crazy busy here so I do apologise for repeated delays).


    As for non-AMD64 (ARMv7, AArch64, PowerPC 32-bit, PowerPC 64-bit, MIPS 32-bit, MIPS 64-bit) ports of AOSC OS, we are currently working to synchronise all updates with the ABBS Tree - we can’t guarantee a date of completion just yet, but here are the two things we are sure about…

    • We will proritise the synchronisations of Core, and bugfix updates (and that includes all security fixes).
    • Any future Core and bugfix updates will be synchronised immediately, while “normal updates” from the staging branch will settle in the forseable future.

    New AOSC OS tarballs and images will roll out in October (probably by the end of the month) with the Core 5 updates - but again, for non-AMD64 ports, this will not necessarily include all the feature updates from the main tree - we do apologise for that.


    — Mingcong Bai

  • Repository Server is Up and StableAUGUST 22, 2017

    Just a quick update that we have confirmed that our repository server is now up and running, all regular services have returned to stable status.

    Again, we apologise for any inconvenience experienced.

  • Update on Repository DowntimeAUGUST 19, 2017

    At this point (well beyond 12 hours), we are sorry to announce we are yet to be able to have our repository server up for service. Our host over at Taiwan is still having issue from within OSSPlanet’s datacenter…

    Here are two updates we received from our partner Matthew Lien…


    At 5:23 UTC, August 19th.

    All public networks working now.
    
    Two PSU[s] on SAN (Storage Area Network) Switch failed at once.
    The chance is lower than winning the lottery, but it really happened.
    
    Trying to fix it.
    

    At 14:53 UTC, August 19th.

    Our DC staffs are trying to recover VM [Virtual Machine] infra.
    Sorry for the unexpected inconvenience...
    

    Therefore, please keep watching out for updates in the coming day. We do as well apologise for any inconvenience with this unfortunate repository downtime.

  • Expected Repository Downtime in ~12 HoursAUGUST 18, 2017

    Due to damaged high voltage power lines and equipment at our host for community repository, we are expecting an one-day downtime for this server.

    At the meantime, we would recommend that you:

    • Choose another repository mirror with apt-gen-list.
    • Prevent installing packages or updating your AOSC OS, as mirrors may be incompletely synchronised (if they were forced to terminate mid-way when the servers go out).

    We apologise for any inconvenience.

    Here below is a copy of the original announcement from our server host OSSPlanet:

    MAINTENANCE DOWNTIME:  2017/8/19 9am-4pm CST (1am-8am UTC)
    In short: Tomorrow.
    
    We are going to have a maintenance downtime for damaged High Voltage 
    power lines and equipment (ATS) to prevent further unexpected issues
    in case of power outage.
    Please shutdown your VMs before 7am CST (8/18 23:00 UTC) to prevent any 
    data lose.
    
    We're sorry for the inconveniences.
    If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.
    
  • Coming Up in August...AUGUST 2, 2017

    With a somewhat successful completion of the monthly update cycle in the July Wave, we have just finished discussion on goals/objectives in the August Wave of updates. The focus or the theme, if you like, of this month will be refinement and clean up.

    First of all, a majority of work to be done this week will be dictacted by ACID - a CI-like mechanism which builds every single packages on offer in the ABBS Tree. Packages to be fixed are mounting up to couple hundreds at present, and that will be what we are doing this month - fix them while the number climbs even higher. In addition to that, new commits introduced to our Autobuild3 toolkit - if you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s our only official packaging tool for AOSC OS - increased the level of strictness while running build scripts, loads of old scripts should end up failing. It’s better to rebuild these old and low-quality packages preemptively than ending up as bugs discovered by users, and this is exactly why we are doing this in August.

    While handling this potentially significant task load, in August…

    • All pakreqs, optreqs, and updreqs will be handled, those delayed to September and further should be explained in August Wave’s changelog.
    • All open issues on Github, except those marked with longterm label, should be re-investigated and (if time allows) fixed, or else closed (if justified).
    • Core 5 should be planned according to AOSCC announcement and discussions, and prepared for a mid-September release.
    • Experiment on packaging with the Ciel.

    How about package updates then? Those not specifically requested by community members will be handled according to time allowance in August - while of course, those requested will be dealt with with priority. As always, security and urgent bugfixes will be provided at instance of availability as usual, no worries there.

    Hopefully, in September we developers and users will be working with a cleaner copy of AOSC OS.


    — Mingcong Bai

  • July Wave is Here!AUGUST 1, 2017

    Today marks the conclusion to our first AOSC OS monthly update cycle - yes, we are a day late, however, this was largely due to some difficulties trying to get Mozilla software (Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.) working on ARMv7 (armel) and AArch64 (arm64) - not much success this month despite a five-day effort, however, we’ve heard good news about version 55 of Mozilla software. Anyways, here’s a re-cap.


    tegra

    This NVIDIA Jetson TX1 development kit has handled most of the packaging work, computing resources on non-PC platform is still quite scarce in AOSC.


    Usability Up!

    With a longer period for packaging and testing, we are more confident about our updates. Another thing which time could “buy” is better attention to usability of packages - and that would include higher availability of packages for a particular port, higher reliability, and more importantly, better coverage with usability investigation for existing packages.

    The first part could be seen with updates made to our two ARM ports, which includes for the first time, a full KDE/Plasma suite. Though we are still having a blocker which prevented Plasma from running on ARMv7 devices, and a minor issue which will crash KInfoCenter when checking PCI information on a device (which is, well, most ARM devices) which does not have such bus on board. We will be looking into pushing a quick patch revision for ARMv7 later this week for the former issue, while the latter will have to wait for upstream’s response (it is quite dangerous for a software upstream to disregard their own portable software running on non-x86 platforms, eh?). Apart from that, we are looking at a ~+300 package delta for this port, and more will come later as we get around to it.


    krita-orange-pi Krita running on an AArch64-capable board, Orange Pi PRIME - AOSC OS image is available in the download page.


    For usability investigation then, we would have to talk about two sets development utilities, the Ciel (Lion Yang asked me to leave “the” in so…) and ACID (just a random name). The Ciel is a (development) environment deployment and manipulation kit which manages one or more systemd-nspawn containers running on a hierarchical OverlayFS architecture, which allows for quick rollback of development/packaging environment(s) - soon to be a requirement for AOSC OS packaging, starting as an experiment in August.

    Working upon the Ciel will be ACID, which is a simple script running on our servers to thoroughly build all packages in our ABBS tree, acting somewhat like a CI (considering the amount of packages - 4000+ of them - to be built continuously over the course of a month) to discover any packaging error - missing dependencies, misspelled words, incorrect scripting, and more. This system will surely improve the general packaging quality for AOSC OS, benefiting developers and users alike.


    acid-netdata

    Lion Yang’s laptop looking at a netdata page of our buildbot (compiling host).


    Interactivity Up!

    With the introduction of monthly cycles, we have now introduced two new types of community requests available to community members: updreq (Update Request) and optreq (Optimisation Request). The former is quite easy to understand, a package is too old, then request it.

    The latter though could be more variable in its content, for example, Profile Guided Optimisation is available for a package, say git, then a community member could open a optreq specifying building the git package with PGO enabled (which involves changes to the build script, or configurations). For another example, which will be a future feature to be introduced to AOSC OS, the Overlay system - in this case, a community member may request that the package Python to be built with AVX2 support flags enabled, further enhancing its performance on newer processors, to be found in its avx2 overlay.

    While updreq could be a quick and simple request, optimisation could quite easily be more difficult to open, and for our developers to investigate request and decide on if such request is actually beneficial - and to be fair, this could require more technical awareness on the part of our community members, one may quite simply think that “GNOME is too damn slow on my computer” is a valid request for us to invest into, but let’s just say up front, “tell it to the upstream, we did not write the program, can’t really help here, sorry”.

    MIPS and PowerPC?

    We’ve mentioned that PowerPC (32/64-bit big endian) ports will be halted until September due to lack of device availability for building and testing.

    Similarly, but with time, our MIPS maintainer Junde Yhi decided that it will be quite difficult for our MIPS ports to catch up with the cycles until some major architecture-specific issues (compilers, and more) could be properly resolved. He’s also estimating a September return to the cycled updates. Meanwhile, catching up will be his task.

    AOSA?

    You might have noticed a lack of AOSA news posts on this page in August, we are currently working on a new community website which contains AOSC OS related Errata and Knowledge Base articles. Future AOSA will be posted there with a set format and more technical details (vulnerability descriptions, and PoCs if available).

    We will keep you updated on this issue.

    Enjoy!

    My apologies for rambling on and on about July - there are actually quite a bit happening in our July development cycle, the changelog is over 700 lines long, it’s quite hard to generalise them all - will keep practicing, I promise (LOL). But do expect the same amount of work done to AOSC OS - as our part of our continuous development effort to improve and optimise AOSC OS as your daily productivity platform.

    Anyways, please enjoy this month’s update. For more information on what’s changed in this month’s wave of updates, please take a read at our complete changelog.

    Problems sir?

    • Report any issue to our Issues page.

    Or alternatively…

    • Find us on the #aosc IRC channel, Telegram group information will be provided if requested on IRC.
    • Send us an e-mail at discussions@lists.aosc.io.

    August

    Information on August wave of updates will be announced tomorrow, or the day after - we are currently in the process of determining what’s to be done this month. Stay tuned.


    — Mingcong Bai (with kind regards)