GTALUG September 8, 2020 Meeting Notes

1 GTALUG Q&A Suggested topics for September

1.1 AGM Preparations

Hear ye! Hear ye! This is a Call for Candidates for the GTALUG Board.

October 13th is GTALUG’s Annual General Meeting, our tiny piece of “political pageantry.”

There are two seats opening, for 2 year terms (2020-2022).

Please consider running for the board, and keep in mind the following.

There are two formal qualifications that candidates need to satisfy:

  • Must be a GTALUG member in good standing
  • Must not have any undischarged bankruptcy

It is also important to be able to be available most months for Board/Operations meetings where we plan GTALUG meetings and activities. These meetings normally take place on the Monday evening following the regular Tuesday meeting. These days, this takes place on-line, using Jitsi.

This is not an extraordinarily huge burden, but it does mean that there are 48 meetings (counting both “second Tuesday” and “the following Monday”) where we hope to see you, and we hope to see you most of the time.

Board members are involved in and support the following activities.

  • Finding speakers for our monthly presentations
  • Operating our internet infrastructure (website and mailing lists)
  • Organizing and running our annual Linux in the Park picnic (in less pandemic-stricken times)
  • Our involvement as a member organization of ICANN

If you are interested, we’d appreciate it very much if you can submit your intention to run to the email address: board at

The incumbents whose previous terms are expiring are:

  • Chris Browne
  • Alex Volkov

Potential Candidates are welcome to announce their intention all the way up to the day of the AGM itself.

1.2 GTALUG Membership In These COVID-19 Times

In most years, membership has been handled via comparatively informal in-person processes, and those that wish to support GTALUG via membership would (broadly) follow the following steps:

  • Grab a membership form (that Chris passed out)
  • Try to pass Chris a $20 bill, whereupon Chris would say “give it to me along with the filled-in form”
  • Fill in the form, and hand it to Chris along with payment
  • Chris returns a few minutes later with a membership card

As GTALUG is meeting virtually, these days, this process cannot occur as described.

For those wishing to support GTALUG via membership, two routes are suggested:

The Cheque is In The Mail
Send a payment via Canada Post.
Interac eTransfer
Send funds from your bank to ours

To ensure that membership has been addressed for voting at the 2020 AGM on October 13th, it is imperative to handle this earlier than that, as mail can take several days for delivery. Alas, either way, this imposes more bureaucracy and some more cost than we have been accustomed to.

Payment via check using Canada Post

In this case, please send a cheque, made out to “GTALUG”, in the amount of $20, along with the identification information indicated below, and please send to the following address:

GTALUG 914-10 Carabob Court Toronto, ON M1T 3N5

Interac eTransfer
In this case, three pieces of information are critical, and must be shared both with your bank as well as with GTALUG.
The recipient email address is
Security Question
The content of this is not too important; “Random Value” or “Sooper Sekrut Data” are fine values.
Security Answer
It is suggested that a random value be used. For instance, 215db45eb7f54e1e5907de3b50ac50ee is a value I got from passing 1K of data from /dev/random through md5sum, and that is a decent mechanism to get a relatively unguessable password. (Of course, since many people have seen that specific value, 215db45eb7f54e1e5907de3b50ac50ee, it would not be a good choice.) This security answer also needs to be emailed to the address in order for us to receive the payment.
Common information
Whichever of the above mechanisms is used for payment, please email the following membership information to Note that by longstanding policy, we do not pass your information on to outside organizations.
Your preferred name
Your preferred email address (if using Interac eTransfer, it’s best to use the same address, so we know which email address to associate each security answer with)
If you are comfortable providing such
Security Answer
If eTransfer is used, we need the Security Answer in order to actually receive funds

1.2.1 Generating a random value, the Linux way

Here is a script that repeatedly takes 1K of random data from /dev/random, and turns it into an md5 checksum to ensure that the value is human readable and not too long.

for i in 1 2 3 4 5; do dd if=/dev/random bs=1k count=2 status=none | md5sum; done
215db45eb7f54e1e5907de3b50ac50ee  -
4f8f0e3a2944c857ebc3a7a776659134  -
1a52010a29ef3b2446d532ba389f65cb  -
84e6b072e2661fc88b3a7b1ed1ce5873  -
ef3f10a8b634760691e2ae53a0952707  -

1.3 Debconf 2020 was last week

  • anyone make it to parts of that?
  • DebConf 2020 Talks
  • 1.4 Mozilla let some people go 🙁

  • anyone know the impact?
  • appeared to include the folk that had been redoing the browser in Rust (Servo)
  • risk of there being less diversity in the web browser marketplace
  • 1.5 Sharpening your tools: Editors

    Vim – Sharpening the Axe

    This talk/presentation speaks about how it is important to update your editor configuration on an ongoing basis, due to several things:

    • Make the editor serve you better by supporting your individual needs
    • Learn more features, over time, which feeds into the above…
    • Editor functionality is enhanced over time, and making use of those enhancements requires new configuration
    • What tools do you NEED to sharpen?
    • What new tools do you need to create from scratch?

    1.6 Upcoming Conferences

    VimConf 2020
    Apparently was to be held in Japan, but cancelled, for the obvious reasons
    EmacsConf 2020
    Being held November 28/29, on-line
    • Call for Proposals is active now, until September 30

    1.7 Everything rewritten in Rust

    Shell Commands Redone in Rust

    like cat
    like ls
    like find
    like ps
    like sed
    like du
    custom shell prompt
    like grep
    calculates statistics about a directory full of code
    benchmarking wrapper
    like top
    like tldr, displaying simplified man pages
    displays network utilization
    generates a regex that matches test cases
    like dmesg
    autojumper, to replace cd
    a shell with pipeline editing ala awk/SQL

    1.8 SSH Honeypot Credentials Analysis

    Lessons Learned from SSH Credential Honeypots

    1.8.1 Interesting passwords

    a lake in Siberia
    Spanish for test
    a Mandarin profanity written in Pinyin
    Mandarin for “no password”
    Mandarin for “I love you”
    The name for an optical illusion also known as the “devil’s tuning fork” (A prank from Mad Magazine!) Edit: multiple redditors pointed out this is the beginning of the top row of the keyboard from right to left.

    1.9 Just pretty weird…

    Remember Mach? And VMS?
    I’ll bet you don’t remember that someone implemented a VMS multiserver atop Mach…
    (no term)
    BLISS from CMU…
    (no term)
    Microsoft starting to play games with GitHub

    1.10 Modern Linux desktop layers and performance

    • X11 or Wayland
    • DE; Gnome/KDE/XFCE
    • GTK / QT
    • Firefox / Chrome CODECs, DRM
    • can Gnome applications run under XFCE (with what limitations)
    • why is XFCE faster than GNOME / KDE (compositors using 3d operations?)
    • what CODECS should one install? Are they authorized?
    • how is it that Widevine can work on Linux?
    • interesting ArchLinux notes on Firefox

    2 Calls for proposals for LibrePlanet

    3 CAD software

    • Are there any good open-source tools to edit STEP files(CAD)?
    • FreeCAD? Rather complex…
    • GCAD-3D

    3.1 Anything interesting ongoing with RISC-V

    • Hugh had a recent conference
    • RISC-V is a design for an instruction set that is free to use
    • Many implementations ongoing, many “very free”
    • Aspires to a similar place in the “design space” as ARM, which has
      • Some cheap, nonsophisticated designs
      • Or expensive, sophisticated designs
      • Apple’s newest SOC is their own implementation of ARM instruction set
    • RISC-V has a “gold rush” of organizations rushing to stake out claims
      • Open source implementations of RISC-V are often toys, or academic projects
      • Some companies designing performant RISC-V chips
      • Western Digital is now deploying RISC-V chips embedded in their disk drives
      • Some of the implementations are basically like a 32 bit Arduino implementation
      • Lots of “sort of open source” implementations
      • Might be popular with Huawei because they can’t get at next versions of ARM due to US bans
      • RIOS (RISC International Open Source) moved out of the US to Switzerland to avoid US law
        • Collaboration between Shenzen university and Berkeley
        • initial plans involve a RPi-like design that is to be open source, provided by AliBaba
        • Some parts open source (CPU) others possibly not as much (USB)
        • Needed to add some custom instructions to accelerate their work load
        • Interesting to get something including MMU, perhaps even GPU