Podcast Season 5 Episode 10


Title: PRISM schism

In this episode: It looks like Rockwell was right - somebody was watching him (and us). There's a great new Raspberry Pi installer called NOOBS and the President of the US promises action against patent trolls. Ubuntu's 'bug one' has been fixed and the EFF objects to DRM in HTML 5. As ever, hear our discoveries and your opinions in this epic length podcast.

Alert! Buy Linux Format on Google Play.

What's in the show:

  • News:
      Allegations suggest the NSA is capturing the spectra (metadata) of our online footprint through its PRISM surveillance program. Raspberry Pi's operating system is now a lot easier to install, thanks to NOOBS. Arch users have a experienced a few problems with a recent update (but then all updates to Arch are recent). The President of the United States has promised action on patent trolls. Has Ubuntu's 'bug one' been fixed? Mark Shuttleworth thinks it has. And the EFF formally objects to DRM in HTML 5.
  • Discovery of the week:
    • Ben:
      • One of Firefox's great features is its ability to pin tabs.
    • Efrain:
      • On certain ATI/AMD hardware, you need to add an option to the Grub bootloader to get audio out of the HDMI port.
    • Andrew:
      • Playing in the snow can cause sunburn.
      • The office of LiMux is in the same building as the Goethe-Institut in Munich.
      • YaST on the command-line is better than the GUI version.
    • Graham:
      • PulseAudio causes excessive CPU use in SDLMAME.
      • An easy to remember (recursive) search and replace for the command line is:
        perl -pi -e 's/oldstring/newstring/g' *
    • count_jocular: (from our IRC channel #linuxformat on freenode.net)
      • tig is an incredible command-line frontend to Git (and it really is!).
  • Speak Your Brains:
    • Many thanks to Corbin and Brian for sending in their brains. Email graham.morrison@futurenet.com with your own suggestions/questions.
  • Challenge Us:
    • Hear from the further adventures of Chris Thornett.
  • Open Ballot: Big Brother or Benevolent Dictator?

  • Outro music: Martin Oakson - Summer Soon (Original Mix). CC BY 3.0

Join the conversation in our IRC channel: #linuxformat on freenode.net. Or you could try our Facebook page.

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Presenters: Ben Everard, Andrew Gregory, Efrain Hernandez-Mendoza, Graham Morrison and Chris Thornett.

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Your comments

Arch move from /bin /sbin /usr/sbin to /usr/bin

I don't get how you had a problem with this update to Arch.

Did you check the news on the Arch homepage before you did the update? It is the standard and recommended thing to do before you run any update with Arch.

If you followed the 2 simple commands shown in the news item, you would have known exactly what packages will give you a problem, been able to fix them, and then upgrade without a hitch!

If you just did a pacman -Syu without reading the news first, and then just tried to reboot after getting pacman errors, well then you simply should not be using Arch.

You all carried on in the podcast saying "why doesn't the package manager do it for me? Ubuntu does it for me.."

NEWSFLASH, Arch is NOT Ubuntu. THe whole philosophy behind the distros is different. READ what Arch is all about, then you will understand why the package manager DOES NOT DO IT FOR YOU.

Arch is about doing it yourself, and being in total control of your system.

Ubuntu is about "the masses consuming media" and not thinking about anything else except their next tweet or facebook status telling the world they are on the crapper.

If you don't understand the philosophy behind a distro, please don't comment on it or bag it or worse, compare it to Ubuntu.

End Rant.

PS: Here's a challenge for you all, I would like to see (not just for a week or 2, but maybe for a month or 2) ALL of you use a distro other than Ubuntu or any of it's spins, including derivatives (Mint).

Let's see how you get on with that. See the world without the Ubuntu coolaide glasses on. You might get some perspective on the real Linux world then.



Manjaro did it all for me. Does that make you angry?


If Manjaro floats your boat, all well and good for you.

It's not for me, and I don't consider it Arch. It is Arch based, but it is not Arch.

What made me angry is the comparison to Ubuntu, and from listening to the podcast, they obviously just tried to update Arch without checking the news first, and ended up borking the system.

All well and good if you just want to update without having to read anything, then Ubuntu is for you and Arch is not, but don't critisize Arch for not being the same as Ubuntu.

Anyway, when was the last time you saw a new version of Ubuntu come out and everyone was able to do a dist-upgrade without the system being screwed? I am quite certain it is still common practice in the Ubuntu community to advise a re-install over a dist-upgrade.



Wow, that was quite a rant. It was my Arch installation that broke, and yes, I didn’t check the home page before updating the packages. But I don’t think relying on users to check an external website before performing a routine upgrade is great design, let alone allowing a command to execute when the data/conditions are available to warn a user of what might happen. But really, I don’t blame Arch. It’s been my main distro for over two years and its pros still outweigh the cons, at least for me. But because I use it for my work machine, where I need to get work done, I’m not always on-top of what’s happening and what may be Arch best-practice. If that makes Arch unsuitable for people like myself, fair enough. But the implicit elitism in what you’re saying is much more damaging for Arch, I feel, and ultimately Free Software and open source in general.

@Padfoot @Graham

I'm new to Arch, but not to Linux. Having done the distro rounds over the last 6 years I'm now very happy to have found Arch.

It's a fantastic distro.

@Padfoot I think despite your rant you do have a valid point. The news section on the Arch Linux page contains clear instructions on how to deal with this update. Further to this the Arch Wiki page for pacman does advise that you should not executing a pacman -Syu without being aware that it could cause problems, updater beware.

But @graham I agree with you too. Well partly. I think you should have checked the Arch site first. Especially since it's a work machine. None the less I don't think we should be implying that Arch is the distro of the Elite; that regular users need not apply.

My feeling is there is a happy medium between the two, I certainly don't consider myself one of the Linux Elite, nor am I a newbie. But I've been able to embrace Arch, respect it and evangelise it, but ...

... and here is the big but, it’s not Ubuntu. That's good though right? Diversity is what Linux is all about.

So please don't punish Arch for being different to Ubuntu. Just check the news before doing a pacman -Syu.

Great podcast guys and fantastic magazine. Keep up the awesome work!


Hmm, what happened there?

Well, I did post a reply to Graham including pointing to the Arch wiki where it shows what I was trying to get across in my original post.

Seems that post has now disappeared.

Oh well,

Cest La Vie.


I adore Arch and run it on several machines, just not on my main desktop because...

While everything you say about Arch is true (and I don't think Graham's unaware of any of it), sometimes I just *can't be arsed* to check the site and just do an -Syu and hope for the best. And usually it turns out ok, which reinforces this behaviour.

Which, I appreciate, demonstrates why I'm not quite suited to Arch, and is why I only use it on machines I update infrequently.

I do feel that Arch (and its community) is sometimes a bit too hostile. A little bit too unforgiving towards people who've not done their homework, taking the 'rtfm' mentality a tad too far. There's also a slight fetishisation of difficult-to-use in instances where ease-of-use would not compromise the KISS philosophy at all.

The distro itself is indeed amazing and I wouldn't want it to change. But I'm glad Manjaro is around to put *just enough* usability polish on it such that I can enjoy Arch's simplicity without being asked to jump through hoops. The benefit of the GPL in action, innit.

I'm extremely thankful that Arch exists as I love and use it and also without it there'd be Manjaro. But if I could send a message to the Arch community it'd be: Good manners cost nowt.


NSA director is at press conference "Good morning. We have a new PR executive who'll be happy to answer all your question about PRISM and spying claims. Feel free to ask him anything, and he'll answer truthfully and to the best of his abilities.

The PR man stands up and takes the podium. He leans forward and taps the mic to check it's working. The journalists take a deep breath as he begins to make his opening statement...

"Hodor! Hodor, hodor hodor. Hodor!"

Speak brains - selling linux

By selling, I mean selling the idea of using Linux. I have been using Ubuntu since 2008 and not looked back. I got my girlfriend to use Linux by buying her a laptop with Ubuntu preinstalled, although she now uses Linux Minut. We never have viruses, spyware or crapware anymore since giving up Windows. But her mother continues with a Windows PC which has become unusable due to a massive load of viruses and crapware she has somehow accumulated.
So, what we need is a guide to how to really convince a Windows user to switch to Linux, not just the no-viruses selling point, but a checklist of what to say and do to get them switched over. I do not think her Windows PC will last much longer and so far she has resisted wanting anything other than Windows.

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