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This issue we asked our experts: We’re supercharging Ubuntu 16.10 this issue, how do you supercharge your Linux life?

Jonni Bidwell

Bash completion is easy to overlook and hard to live without. A cheap Virtual Private Server (VPS) running Nextcloud is easy to maintain and much cooler than big-name alternatives. And a semi-transparent dropdown terminal will make you the envy of your co-workers.

Nick Peers

I’ve just treated myself to a QNAP TS-251+ network drive, with quad-core Celeron processor and 8GB RAM. Not only has my media server been given a shot in the arm, but it’s capable of running Docker applications and even full-blown Linux VMs. Exploring these features is going to be fun!

Les Pounder

A change of window manager is the ultimate turbo boost for Linux. Swapping out the bloat for something leaner will enable your computer to speed through tasks. I particularly like Openbox as it works well with older machines and can even keep an old Pentium 4 in use and out of the landfill.

Ultimate Ubuntu While us Northern hemisphere types pull out the thermal underwear to endure chillier weather and longer nights, we do get the bonus at this time of the year of a whole new Ubuntu distro release to enjoy. Ubuntu 16.10 has hit the internets and brings with it a host of updates, upgrades and Ubuntus. This issue we’re not going to dwell on the core release – where enhanced support with the Linux kernel 4.8 and the Unity 8 preview are the highlights – instead we’re asking how can you make Ubuntu even better? Install Fedora you cry? Surely not, though Fedora 25 is just around the corner. Our resident experts have given us their tips on how to boost Ubuntu and make it even better. Talking of winter, in some ways this is our Yuletide issue and if you’re wondering what to get yourself as a present this year take a look at the lovely Chromebooks in our Roundup. Chrome OS and Chromebooks were largely derided when they first appeared, but as they’re currently outselling Apple laptops in the US, no one’s laughing anymore; true, they’re not for everyone, but if an affordable, lower-powered laptop fits your bill they’re a very tempting option. With sales increasing 30% year on year, 2016 will have seen another 10 million hitting the market with more growth to come over 2017. If you’re more interested in keeping your old PCs up and running then fear not, Linux is not abandoning you just yet. With plans to move Ubuntu away from 32-bit releases (but thankfully not with 16.10), we take a look at how you can keep the lights on and the drives spinning for your older hardware. With Pi tutorials, coding guides and a mass of reviews it’s another packed, fun issue, enjoy!

Mayank Sharma

It isn’t exactly supercharged but I am proud of the little extra juice I have managed to squeeze out of my laptop’s battery with the TLP power management tool. The default configuration is optimised to prolong battery life, so all you have to do is install it and let it work its magic.

Neil Mohr Editor

Neil Bothwick

I have an impressive cluster of Raspberry Pis [Steady on there—Ed] with extra flashing and strobing LEDs for maximum effect. But the truth is that my keyboard and monitor are actually connected to a watercooled, eight-core system that’s hidden under the desk.

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December 2016 LXF218    3


“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal, as time will show.” – Ada Lovelace

Reviews Google Pixel phone........... 17 Nexus is dead, long live Pixel, ‘cause those tablets have been so good, right? The latest high-end Google phone is here but are you likely to buy it? Let’s find out…

The new Google phone looks beautiful but it’s rather expensive.

Seagate IronWolf 10TB....18

Supercharge Ubuntu 16.10 Boost the latest release of Ubuntu with the ultimate guide to tweaking and upgrading on page 32.

Roundup: Chromebooks 2016 p24

So many bits… the latest helium-filled spinning hard drive lands and it’s a massive 10TB beast that’s surprisingly good value and manages second-gen SSD speeds.

NixOS 16.09........................19 Fancy something different? Shashank Sharma boldly investigates NixOS and is intrigued by its unique approach and esoteric design.

Gnome 3.22........................ 20 A controversial [no it isn’t!—Ed] Linux desktop with a name whose pronunciation has evaded 17 years of debate? Jonni Bidwell makes his gnomic assessment.

Desktops come and gnome, that’s right, we went there!

Opera 40..............................21 Shashank Sharma checks whether the proprietary browser can hold a candle to open source veterans.

Life is Strange................... 22 The smash-hit teen so-the-drama adventure hits Linux like a pair of falling whales, but there’s no bowl of petunias in sight. Shame.

4     LXF218 December 2016

Interview Automatic Driver Assistance will lead us to autonomous driving. Dan Cauchy on Automative Grade Linux p40

On your FREE DVD Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak, Bunsen Labs.

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Raspberry Pi User

In-depth... Linux loves old PCs............... 46

Pi news.................................... 60

With 32-bit distros looking to go the way of the dodo and trustworthy politicians, Neil Bothwick looks at options for owners of older hardware.

The Pi gets integrated into NEC TVs, the Pi gets Fedora and the micro:bit gets a European release.

Ethernet and USB Hub.........61

Keep the lights on in a post 32-bit world.

Les Pounder learns of a community produced board for the Pi Zero, but is it worth the price?

Random Poetry..................... 62 Les Pounder has wandered like a cloud to show how a little Python can be used to generate random poetry, spoken by the computer.

Mopidy audio receiver.......... 64 Nick Peers discovers how to take your   Pi-based music player to the next level with   a direct install of Mopidy.

Coding Academy

Tutorials Terminal basics Android Control...............70

R: Statistical learning........... 84 Mihalis Tsoukalos teaches you more statistical learning methods and techniques to extract information from your mountains of data.

Nick Peers explains how you can control and recover your Android devices from the Linux terminal, handy.

Jquery and AngularJS.......... 88

Encryption VeraCrypt..........................72

Kent Elchuk shows you how to build your single-page application, which has countless advantages over traditional web pages.

Mayank Sharma reveals the secrets of VeraCrypt to help you hide your data from unscrupulous invaders of privacy.

Regulars at a glance News.............................. 6 Subscriptions............30 Overseas subs...........69 Another funnily-named Linux kernel

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Vulkan VR gaming is coming.

Mailserver................... 10


Next month................98. Build the fastest Linux PC for a

Mr. Brown is following a Dirty COW

modest amount of cash, we pack a cheap case full of SSDs and see how

Suggestions for 3D printing, praise

and a creature called a Mirai and

for pirate boxes, going back to Amiga

returns to the shiny new things with a fast we can make it spin!

days and more home server talk.

look at Docker’s self-healing InfraKit.

Les Pounder visits Leigh Hackspace

Alexander Tolstoy hasn’t been hacking the Democrats, he’s too busy


SVG Cleaner, KolorManager,

Fancy some new hardware this

Ungoogled-Chromium, Profile-syncdaemon, Kexi, Vim, Gradio, Feh,  

of these new Chromebooks.

çDave Gnukem, Quetoo.

Get a little protection in your life as Mayank Sharma explains how to enable extra authentication in your Ubuntu install.

Understand the basics of VPN access with the Linux command line.

digging up this little lot: OnlyOffice,

Christmas? Then why not pick up one

Ubuntu 2-Factor authentication.. 76

Secure internet VPN basics........................ 78

User groups................ 15 HotPicks.....................54 and gets to play a laser harp.

VeraCrypt: We’re not a trusting lot.

Networks Wireshark.......................... 80 Our subscription team is waiting for your call.

Dive back into your network packets as we revisit this awesome admin tool.

December 2016 LXF218    5

This ISSUE: Dirty COW

Ubuntu livepatching

VR on Linux

Mad Max on Linux

Security news

Dirty COW exploit targets Linux distros

Bad, bad bovine puts PCs, servers and even smartphones at risk of root access.


bug found in the copy-on-write feature of the Linux kernel (hence the COW in the name) has been exploited, so that it can allow installed applications or malicious code, to access root and hijack the device running Linux. The security lapse allows code to change what should be a read-only root executable stored in memory. This enables potentially malicious code to be committed to storage, essentially allowing programs with standard user privileges to alter root-owned files and executables. Perhaps most worryingly, this vulnerability has been in the Linux kernel since 2007’s 2.6.22 version. According to The Register, the flaw is also present in Android, which dramatically increases the number of potentially vulnerable devices. The flaw hadn’t gone unnoticed all this time. Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, himself admitted (Source: that he had attempted to fix the problem 11 years ago, only for the fix (which Torvalds admits was implemented ‘badly’) to be undone by a later commit. As the kernel changed, the bug became easier to exploit and while a patch for the kernel has been developed, and major distros have provided their own fixes, embedded devices are proving harder to fix. This is mainly due to the sheer breadth of embedded Linux devices from a range of manufacturers who aren’t always as keen to update their software as distros.

6 LXF218 December 2016

Security researcher, David Manochehri told Ars Technica that a proof-of-concept code has shown that Dirty COW can root Android devices: “In theory it should be able to root every device since Android 1.0. Android 1.0 started on kernel 2.6.25, and this exploit has been around since 2.6.22.” (Source: Because of the ease and reliability of the Dirty COW exploit, security experts agree it’s likely that malicious users have come up with code that targets Android devices as well. The Linux kernel patch will hopefully make its way to Android, but unfortunately we may not see those fixes any time soon thanks to the sometime glacial speed of Android updates, which usually have to pass testing by both manufacturers and network carriers. If you’re already thinking of moving from Android to an alternative such as Replicant (http://, CyanogenMod

Of course, the exploit has a fancy name and logo to match. Of course it does.

“Torvalds admitted that he’d attempted to fix the problem 11 years ago.” ( or CopperHead OS (https://, then the Dirty COW debacle may hasten your leap. All these OSes are free and open source variants of Android that can be updated far faster due to no network or manufacturers. At least it looks like there have been no drive-by Dirty COW

attacks on Android devices just yet, as the code can’t break out of the browser sandbox and execute code. But fingers are being pointed at the apparent mishandling of the response to the exploit, while others are attacking vague and evasive commit messages for the kernel updates that patch the problem, terming them “security through obscurity”. This points at the long term argument in the community with some people viewing commit messages by Torvalds and other notable upstream developers as deliberate attempts at obfuscation; a far cry from the full disclosure policy. With many people arguing over how actively exploited the flaw is in the world, and what level of damage Dirty COW can actually wrought, it looks like the arguments raised by the flaw will last well after the vulnerability is a distant memory.

Newsdesk newsdesk Ubuntu news

Canonical adds live patching to kernels No more rebooting… at a price.


anonical has announced its enterprise kernel livepatch service for Ubuntu, which enables the updating of the kernel for various security fixes without having to reboot a machine. This is a particularly useful feature if you have a machine that needs to remain running constantly, while also remaining secure at the kernel level. A message by Dustin Kirkland ( outlines the Canonical Livepatch Service, which provides authenticated, encrypted and signed kernel modules for Ubuntu servers, virtual machine and desktops. To enable the Livepatch Service you need an up-to-date version of 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Next, go to livepatch and retrieve your livepatch token, and install it with: sudo snap install canonicallivepatch and enable it with sudo canonicallivepatch enable and the token you received from the website. One aspect of the livepatch release notes has been causing consternation, however, as it states that “Community users of Ubuntu are welcome to

enable the Canonical Livepatch Service on 3 systems running 64-bit Intel/AMD Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”, while users who want to enable it on more than three systems need to pay at least $12 a month. However, it’s worth pointing out that this is a feature mainly aimed at enterprise users—and it’s a fraction of the cost compared to the prices charged by competitors such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux for live patching.

You can now update Ubuntu kernels without having to reboot your system.

Vr news

VR on Linux

Courtesy of the Vulkan API.


irtual reality appears to currently be the buzzword of the moment, and Linux users will be able to don a pair of goggles and enter the Matrix (at least you didn’t mention The Lawnmower Man—Ed) thanks to Valve’s Steam VR which now supports Linux machines thanks to the Vulkan API. Announced at the SteamDevDays conference, it appears Valve is

You’ll soon be able to enjoy/hate VR on Linux!

now happy enough with Vulkan’s performance to ditch OpenGL. With over 1,000 new Steam users making use of virtual reality every day, and Valve’s close relationship with HTC and its well-regarded HTC Vive VR kit, it’s clear why Valve is so invested in virtual reality. While the HTC Vive was supposed to ship with Linux support, it never did, so to see Valve set up a Virtual Reality demo PC running Linux is very exciting. Even if you think VR will just be another flash in the pan gimmick (hello 3D TVs!), it’s encouraging to see such large companies make the effort to ensure their technologies are compatible with Linux. Though Valve’s support of Linux may sometimes feel like it’s taking a back seat to its other ambitions, the company still appears to be committed to Linux and its own distro, SteamOS, as there was an area at the SteamDevDays event dedicated to showing off the latest SteamOS-toting Steam Machines.

Newsbytes It’s that time of the year again where speculation grows over what alphabetically-themed animal codename the next version of Ubuntu will have. To put your minds at ease, Canonical head honcho Mark Shuttleworth has revealed on his personal blog that Ubuntu 17.04 will be known as Zesty Zapus—named after a jumping mouse from North America. So why that name? Shuttleworth sees Canonical as a tiny, yet plucky, mouse amidst a market of giants, which can easily jump over “the obstacles of life”. With that important consideration out of the way we can look forward to news about what new features 17.04 will bring. If you’re still clinging on to your Yahoo email account, then the latest news might make you consider ditching the creaking email account, as it appears Yahoo built custom software to search its customers incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials—without telling its customers. This appears to be the first case where a company agreed to search incoming messages, rather than ones stored on its servers. It’s not been made clear what the US intelligence department was looking for but, apparently, the decision to comply and ignore its customer’s privacy led to the departure in June 2015 of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos. More big name games are coming to Linux, which makes the case for dumping Windows in favour of Linux even more compelling for gamers. The long awaited Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been released for Linux, though at the time of writing it’s unclear whether this DirectX 12 game will be an OpenGL or Vulkanbased port. Mad Max, a rare example of a game based on a movie actually being good (and which the movie it is based on is a rare example of modern follow up to a classic film series which was actually good as well), has also released on Linux as well, and both games can be bought on Steam.

What’s that? A videogame based on a movie that doesn’t suck? Colour us intrigued…

December 2016 LXF218 7

newsdesk Comment

A special place to be Clyde Seepersad

Why are you in open source? Because of the money? For the prestige? Because there are lot of perks? Most of us in the open source community have slightly different priorities. The fact that open source allows us to work on interesting projects, for instance. Or that we’re dealing with cutting-edge technology. Those, in any case, were the two top answers given by the open source professionals we surveyed for our 2016 Open Source Jobs report. Only a tiny minority (2%) cited money and perks as the best part of their job. Open source is a special place to be. That’s what Jim Zemlin emphasised in his keynote speech at this year’s LinuxCon in Berlin. The Executive Director of the Linux Foundation spoke with great enthusiasm about what has made Linux so successful all these years: collaboration.

Collaboration is our strength

It’s our shared approach – of working together to achieve something that goes beyond what we can do individually – that has driven the open source community from the beginning. “You can better yourself while bettering others at the same time,” is how Jim put it in Berlin. LinuxCon is a great place to experience this spirit once a year, and encounter thousands of developers and enthusiasts coming together to listen to keynotes and seminars, discuss the latest developments and learn from each other. Our Open Source Jobs report indicates that there’s something else that’s widely shared by the community of open source professionals: confidence. Of European respondents, 60% said they believed it would be fairly or very easy to find a new position this year. The demand for open source talent keeps on growing. Optimism is strong. Training opportunities have never been better. And our spirit of collaboration is alive and well. It’s hardly surprising that many of us consider open source not simply a special place to be—but the best. See more findings from the 2016 Open Source Jobs Report at http://go. Clyde Seepersad is the General Manager of Training at The Linux Foundation.

10 LXF218 December 2016

Distro watch

What’s behind the free software sofa?

Bodhi Linux 4.0.0


odhi Linux 4.0.0 has now been released and is based on Ubuntu 16.04, which as you’re probably aware is an LTS release supported up to April 2021. It comes with a custom Moksha desktop environment (based on Enlightenment), which has

recently been updated to 0.2.1. The Linux 4.4 kernel and EFL 1.18.1 are included, and it’s available in both 32-bit and 64-bit. An AppPack version comes with core programs preinstalled, while the Legacy version is designed for older computer. To download head to

Maui Linux 2


new version of Maui Linux has been released, and it is now based on the KDE neon project. The move is so the project developers have more control over when to push updates to users while also giving them the choice between the latest stable version of KDE

Plasma desktop, or a more cutting edge KDE Frameworks 5 version. Calamares is now used as the installer to help make the installation process even easier, especially if you’re installing it in a non-English language. For more details read the release notes at


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3D photo It’s great to see more information on 3D printing and your latest article (Roundup, p24, LXF215) is to your usual high and comprehensive standards, but would it be too much to ask to see images of printed items? It’s the usual story that a picture paints a thousand words and seeing finished items would greatly enhance articles such as these. I Hope you can show some next time. Ian Hartas, via email, Neil says: I’m glad you liked the Roundup, it’s good to know there’s interest out there on the subject! We’re lucky that Ali Jennings has the time to review them for us, as he’s pretty busy, but has used them extensively. It’s a good point about an image of the output, it’s

something that hadn’t occurred to me (or Ali apparently). The way our group test is designed, we only have one topic where we can show an image of all devices, and we chose to put in a shot of the printers rather than anything else. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how visible the differences would be at the size we’re able to print them. We can always ask! Ali says: Thanks you for your email, Ian. Images of the prints would be a good idea and will be something I think we should include in the next Roundup we do. You might be interested to know that I attended the TCT 3D Print show at the NEC recently and was amazed by the sudden increase in printers and technology that was on show. It was also good to catch up with the manufacturers and also many of the 3D print personalities.

Oddly the 3D prints created by a printer are rather important!

In my test I used the model and going around the show it was very apparent that this is the benchmark used for print quality across the industry. An annotated image of the model from each printer would be useful and

definitely be something that I will factor in for the next test. If there’s a printer that you’re interested in then let me know and I’ll see if I still have one of the test prints. Otherwise you can usually get a print sample sent to you directly from the manufacturer or

Letter of the month


Pirate feature

ice to see the article about the PirateBox in the recent LXF [Tutorials, p62, LXF214] as it meant for once I would be ahead of the game. Every month I buy LXF, and every month I look at the projects thinking “That would be cool to do…” and then a mere month later, before I’ve had the chance to carry out the project, you buggers have brought out another issue and so the cycle repeats. Well, I have been using a PirateBox since the RasPi first came out, with one of the original batch no less, to serve up mark schemes and worked solutions, both written and video, to the students in my GCSE and A level maths class on their mobile phones. More recently I have been using the DLNA server and a 16GB flash drive to allow the kids (ours this time) to watch videos in the car on their tablets.

So for once I have managed to achieve something from the magazine—1 out of 214. Not bad eh? Simon Harris, Bicester (Gateway to the North) Neil says: Congratulations on beating us to it and well done for putting the Raspberry Pi to such good use. If any readers have created or implemented any interesting project please let us know, it’s wonderful to hear about how these are being

used in real life. Expect more from the author Nate as he appears to be an unstoppable writing machine!

Any excuse to raise the Jolly Roger.

December 2016 LXF218    11

Mailserver inspired OS for the time, but it was and remains closed source, while as we all know far better options now exist for everyone.

you can purchase one through

Amiga days I have made a couple of discoveries to share with you: Amiga Racer (http://amigatec. com/drupal) runs on Linux and AmigaDOS! This is a greatlooking game and it’s free! You should put it on your cover disc. There’s also AROS for Raspberry Pi from An Amiga-like OS that is free but is binary compatible with Amiga OS 3.x, again, you should put it on your cover disc. Ian Learmonth, via email, Neil says: I loved my Amiga, I kept using it for far too long. While I think it’s lovely for people to reminisce – indeed, I watched a wonderful indie documentary called From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years recently – I think Amiga DOS needs leaving in the past. It was a fabulous Unix-

Super Pi! Recently you covered the Raspberry Pi 3 and its new features compared to the older generations. You mentioned the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and better processor, but the new cardless network and USB mass storage booting capabilities were nowhere to be seen. Now that the features have been officially announced, I think it might be time to revisit it and maybe put together an article looking at the different features and how to use them. While I’m here, I’m also going to mention the fact that Docker 1.12 has been released, and comes with SwarmKit. Considering the fact that although it’s very stable, there is still little documentation

So it might not be that super, but it’s certainly better.

for it and some of our needs clarifying, it would be nice to have an article on that too. Danny Wensley, UK Neil says: As always thanks for your suggestions, for once we seem at least partly on target here. In LXF217 as part of the Super Pi feature we covered off the USB boot process and while we’ll have to revisit it, Jonni took a look at the Docker release for the Pi in LXF212 using Hypriot and Swarm. I’ll have to pop down network booting on the to-do list, perhaps not just for the Pi though.

Perfect install

Agnus, Blitter, Copper—all names an Amiga owner should remember.

I got a big smile when I read the recent letter and answer titled Perfect Install [Mailserver, p13 LXF213]. The proposed arrangement is what I have been using for about the last seven years. During that time I have honed it to be very reliable, quick, and cost effective. This procedure creates a space in the /home directory

12     LXF218 December 2016

where you can put daily work files and things you need to run at top speed. Then the other main directories are on a redundant drive set that give some level of local protection. Your workflow should include some process to occasionally save your work files to the hard drvie set for security and version control. The simplified arrangement I use on all our installs is: backup first and verify you can read it. (everyone does this, right?) Install as much RAM as is practical. Install the SSD as the first SATA drive. Install two HDDs (I use WD Reds). Boot the install medium and partition the SSD with a 4GB swap and then about half (but not more than 50GB) as root and the remainder as /home. Set the two HDDs as RAID, finish the install and reboot into new distro. Download mdadm and set up a RAID 1 on the HDDs. Boot the RAID and do changes to fstab and mdadm.

Linux Format 218 (Sampler)  

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