Screen locking in Xubuntu 14.04

Improving screenlocking (or: sessionlocking) has been on our agenda for a few cycles now. We’ve used the old and proven XScreensaver for a few releases, but people have always complained about its antiquated looks (which are also not customizable). Switching to gnome-screensaver wasn’t an option because of the additional package dependencies. Furthermore, after gnome-screensaver 3.6, locking became more tightly integrated into Gnome-Shell, which is why Ubuntu/Unity kept version 3.6 and has maintained it for a few releases now.

Starting with 14.04, Ubuntu/Unity have switched to a new solution for locking, and so have we.

The solution Xubuntu uses in 14.04 is called light-locker. The light-locker project is a fork of gnome-screensaver 3.6, but cut down to a bare minimum (so no gnome-dependencies), using LightDM’s greeter as the lock (and unlock) screen.

How does the screenlocking work?

There aren’t too many changes for users. The light-locker process operates in the background and people can still lock their session in the ways they used to (e.g. through Whiskermenu’s lock launcher or through a keyboard shortcut invoking “xflock4″).

Settings are configurable via a settings dialog developed for Xubuntu 14.04, called Light Locker Settings. The tool can be found in the the Settings Manager. It allows you to configure whether your session should be locked automatically after a timeout and the screen-blank and off times. The dialog is still, for the moment, basic, but it should allow you enough control. Refinements are planned for future cycles/releases.

One thing that changes for users is the fact that locking with LightDM means that a new virtual terminal is opened. In a default single-user session, the user’s X session rests at VT7 (reachable with the keyboard-shortcut Ctrl+Alt+F7). When you lock your session, LightDM sends a lock signal, light-locker locks the session on VT7 and you get forwarded to VT8, where you’re presented with the login greeter, which serves as the unlock dialog.

The aforementioned change introduces one inconvenience you might (or might not) notice: when light-locker switches the VT, there is some screenflickering and it could take a second or two on older machines.

What happened to my music playback?

As your seat becomes inactive, your audio stream is stopped/paused until you log into your session again. This is one of the known issues of light-locker or locking with LightDM in general.

Currently, when locking, it is assumed you are either:

  1. in a public space of sorts (the desktop at home hardly needs locking) and have walked away from the machine
  2. using a system with more than one user

Stopping/pausing playback in both of these scenarios make sense.

However, this might be an annoying change for users used to having their music playback continue even when their session locks. If you don’t like this behavior, there are basically two solutions:

  1. Set light-locker to lock the session “When the screensaver is deactivated”
  2. Switch back to using xscreensaver
  3. Add your user to the “audio” group on your computer and  music playback will continue also with light-locker

The first option is a good workaround, because it means that your audio-playback will continue when the screen has been blanked. However, when you wake up your computer, e.g. by touching the mouse, it will pause the music until you log into your session again.
The third solution is mentioned last, because it isn’t advised to add your user to the “audio” group (read The Audio Group wiki page for a comprehensive explanation). However, as long as you’re on a single-user system, this might still be an option for you.

Can I have a screensaver other than the blank screen with light-locker?

In a word – no.

If you need a screensaver for whatever reason, perhaps using a TV for a monitor and don’t want a blank screen, then you will need to remove light-locker and install some alternative, like xscreensaver.

Conclusion

From Xubuntu 14.04 on, we can finally provide a visually consistent way of logging in to and locking your session with light-locker. As mentioned above, there is a conceptual change in how we look at locking in Xubuntu (which to some might seem like a small regression), however, there are still good alternatives for those who don’t agree with our vision.

Known Issues

Currently, you might run into this known issue (that we discovered only when the release was already imminent), which we’re already working on fixing:

  1. Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339) – see the release notes for details and workarounds

Also, upgraders from previous Xubuntu versions might run into trouble because XScreensaver and light-locker are both installed. Just get rid of one of the two to resolve that.

Xubuntu 14.04 QA Recap

Now that Trusty is out the door, we thought that the time was right to bring you a recap of what you’ve managed to do for Xubuntu during the last cycle and what we’ve been up to behind the curtain. Those of you who frequent the #xubuntu-devel channel are likely aware of how much the work people testing do is appreciated. The remainder of you perhaps don’t, or just assume so.

So without further dithering I’ll get right on with it.

Package Testing

Following on from the huge effort made during the Saucy cycle to create new testcases, we were able to use this work during the whole of this LTS cycle. For the first time Xubuntu were able to use specific tests for the applications and packages as well as images. There are in excess of 200 reports recorded in the package tracker for this last cycle. It does make life a lot easier to know we have this availability, the reported bugs make it onto a blueprint from where we can monitor progress during the cycle. Whether we use the same entire set of tests for the next cycle is not set yet, possibly we’ll work differently in non-LTS cycles.

For the various sections we have on our tracker

  • Xfce Applications (8 tests) – 58 reports
  • Xfce Core (9 tests) – 53 reports
  • Xfce Settings Manager (13 tests) – 59 reports
  • Xubuntu Applications (6 tests) – 23 reports
  • Xubuntu Networking (4 tests) – 10 reports
  • Trusty Additional (6 tests) – 29 reports

Something to take away from all this reporting – you’ve found and reported 50 bugs during the cycle, that is more than for Ubuntu Desktop, Kylin Desktop, Lubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Gnome and Common Desktop combined, that is great work.

Thanks should go to those of you involved in the original effort to write them and to those who have taken the time to report at the tracker and fed back the bugs you found.

Image Testing

Daily and Milestone Testing

Nothing new going on in this area during the Trusty cycle. We tend to get more testing done in a short time during milestones, over the whole cycle we’ve had almost 800 reported tests for daily image testing.

That number can be broken down to

Daily testing

  • 64-bit 293
  • 32-bit 316

Milestone testing

  • 64-bit 73
  • 32-bit 86

Upgrade Testing

This was always going to be important this cycle. Not only is there an upgrade path from 13.10 to 14.04 for us to test, but as this cycle ends with the release of the new LTS, we’ve had 12.04 to 14.04 to contend with in addition.

Increasing the importance of this upgrade path has been the new landing applications for the 14.04 release, GTK3 indicators, the change to light-locker from xscreensaver, and the visual changes – loss of the bottom panel being the most obvious.

12.04 to 14.04 upgrade

  • Beta 1 and previous- 9 tests
  • Beta 2 None
  • post Beta 2 – 17 tests

13.10 to 14.04

  • Beta 1 and previous – 4 tests
  • Beta 2 None
  • post-Beta 2 – 20 tests

As can be seen the numbers weren’t so good here.

Launchpad groups

xubuntu-testers

This cycle we actually made use of this user group during testing calls. I suspect that came as a surprise to those in that group but not subscribed to the -devel mailing list, get used to it though – it won’t be changing. For those of you who get the same mail twice, I apologise – a bit.

It could be that it made a difference – but there’s no way of actually telling if it did or not. What can be said is that this cycle we’ve seen new people appearing on the two trackers we use. This is obviously good, but the 2 trackers we use have in the region of 30 names on them, which the whole team would love to see increase. When you know that there are at least ~143,000 installed xubuntu-default-settings out there, around 40 reporting testers isn’t a great deal.

Specific thanks go to these users who actually did the reporting for us: akxwi-dave, bb70, bryanquigley, cc-inc, decockbernard, dkessel, dp-w, elfy, eric-koegel, gayle-adamyan, gridcube, hallo32, hugoangelo, irihapeti, j-bardales, jhe, jibel, jjfrv8, knome, lderan, lyz, migouste, noskcaj, paulocesarsc, paulw2u, pianoforte, samuelgabbay1, schproodle, scottbomb, sergio-br2, skellat, slickymaster, smiddy84, texadactyl, toz, truckinpapa, unit193, voxtred, wkrekik, zakzor

It really does make a difference to us to see the users, reports and associated bugs.

xubuntu-qa

This new group was created with the intention that a route into the xubuntu-team now existed for this important part of the development cycle. Previously there was no obvious route into xubuntu-team for those working predominately in testing and QA. If you are interested in being part of the QA team – then we’ll be wanting to see you in the IRC channel and on the mailing list.

Blogging on Xubuntu

This cycle, in addition to the normal release notes at milestone time, we have been using the website to talk about aspects of the QA cycle.

This will continue into the next cycle – at which point we’ll take a breath and think again. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas of articles that we could look to write, then please contact a member of the QA Launchpad team.

Social Media

The Xubuntu website team have been ensuring that any calls from QA for milestone testing have been mentioned on at least one or more of Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

During the next cycle we’ll look towards including the regular calls for Package testing on our Social Media outlets.

New landings

Testing for the new landing applications was never going to be an easy task – and it wasn’t. Time was everyone’s enemy here – time to do the work, then time to get testing done in a suitable manner for all concerned, the people dealing with the docs had to get the new docs ready as well. But, we did it – in time, and robust enough that we were happy to release with them.

Looking forward to the next cycle

So, shortly we’ll start again with the next cycle, we hope that not only will those of you who’ve walked the Trusty road with us carry on doing so, but that we get more people join us as we march towards October 2014.

We are still working towards automated testing for some of our applications, this is being effectively dealt with by just a couple of people in the team, so if you are proficient with Python and are looking for something to do, or just want to help Xubuntu, come and talk to us about that.

If you have any constructive thoughts or ideas on how we can improve the testing we do for Xubuntu, please feel free to mail us on the xubuntu-devel mailing list or pop into the IRC channel and talk to us.

Xubuntu 14.04 released!

Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.04. Xubuntu 14.04 is an LTS (Long-Term Support) release and will be supported for 3 years.

The final release images are available as Torrents and direct downloads at http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/14.04/release/

As the main server will be very busy in the first days after the release, we recommend using the Torrents wherever possible.

For support with the release, navigate to Help & Support for a complete list of methods to get help.

Highlights, changes and known issues

The highlights of this release include:

  • Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
  • The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
  • Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
  • MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte
  • A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
  • GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
  • Updated artwork, including various enhancements to themes as well as a new default wallpaper

Some of the known issues include:

  • Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339), see the release notes for details and workarounds
  • Window manager shortcut keys don’t work after reboot (1292290)
  • Sorting by date or name not working correctly in Ristretto (1270894)
  • Due to the switch from xscreensaver to light-locker, some users might have issues with timing of locking; removing xscreensaver from the system should fix these problems
  • IBus does not support certain keyboard layouts (1284635). Only affects upgrades with certain keyboard layouts. See release notes for a workaround.

To see the complete list of new features, improvements and known and fixed bugs, read the release notes.

Other efforts and thanks

As always, contributors to Xubuntu have worked on various projects not directly visible in the release. While any of these would be worth mentioning, the following are a few we felt may be of interest to the community:

  • QA efforts, including ISO and package testing as well as bug reporting and triaging
  • Marketing projects, including work on a flyer to promote Xubuntu for people still running Windows XP
  • Website updates, including a theme refresh

While many of the improvements in Xubuntu since the last LTS are, indeed, not directly visible. Some of the major improvements have been in design and theming, and as such we hope that you don’t see them – good design should be invisible.

Thanks to everybody contributing to Xubuntu! As always, new contributors are always welcome to join us. There are various different tasks to do, from testing daily ISOs and new package versions to writing and translating documentation to fixing bugs. To learn more about contributing, read the Get Involved section on the Xubuntu website.

Xubuntu 14.04 Final Beta

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.04 Beta 2. This is the last beta towards the final LTS release.

If this is the first time you’ve looked at a Beta this cycle then much has changed. Please see the notes from Beta 1 for more details on those.

The Beta 2 release is available for download by torrents and direct downloads from
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/trusty/beta-2/

Release notes can be found here.

Thanks to the 11 who tested the images and reported results for us

  • lyz
  • paulw2u
  • knome
  • elfy
  • texadactyl
  • scottbomb
  • irihapeti
  • slickymaster
  • toz
  • wkrekik
  • jibel

Known issues

Some of the known issues include:

  • Thunar doesn’t automatically mount removable devices and media (1210898)
  • Network shares aren’t shown on the desktop (1284914)
  • Wallpaper selection dialogue empty (1271713)
  • Wallpaper once installed is XFCE (1297170 )
  • Installed keyboard layout changes after boot (1284635 , 1231520 )

Thanks to everybody contributing to Xubuntu! As always, new contributors are always welcome to join us. There are various different tasks to do, from testing daily ISOs and new package versions to writing and translating documentation to fixing bugs. To learn more about contributing, read the Get Involved section on the Xubuntu website.

Xubuntu 14.04 Beta 1

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.04 Beta 1. This is the first beta towards the final LTS release, and with it we have landed a lot of new features and improvements we’ve been preparing since the last LTS release two years ago.

The beta 1 release is available for download by torrents and direct downloads from
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/trusty/beta-1/

Highlights and known issues

The highlights of this release include:

  • Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
  • The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
  • Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
  • MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replacing Alacarte
  • A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
  • GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
  • Updated artwork, including numerous enhancements to themes

Some of the known issues include:

  • xfdesktop crashes after logging in to the desktop (1282509)
  • Thunar doesn’t automatically mount removable devices and media (1210898)
  • Network shares aren’t shown on the desktop (1284914)
  • Wallpaper selection dialogue empty (1271713)

To see the complete list of new features, improvements, changes and bugs, read the release notes.

The first beta release also marks the end of the period to land new features in the form of Ubuntu Feature Freeze. This means any new updates to packages should be bug fixes only which the Xubuntu team is committed to fix as many of the bugs as possible before the final release.

Other efforts & thanks

As always, contributors to Xubuntu have worked on various projects not directly visible in the release. While any of these would be worth mentioning, the following are a few we felt may be of interest to the community:

  • QA efforts, including ISO and package testing as well as bug reporting and triaging
  • Marketing projects, including work on a flyer to promote Xubuntu for people still running Windows XP
  • Website updates, including a theme refresh

While many of the improvements in Xubuntu since the last LTS are, indeed, not directly visible. Some of the major improvements have been in design and theming, and as such we hope that you don’t see them – good design should be invisible.

Thanks to everybody contributing to Xubuntu! As always, new contributors are always welcome to join us. There are various different tasks to do, from testing daily ISOs and new package versions to writing and translating documentation to fixing bugs. To learn more about contributing, read the Get Involved section on the Xubuntu website.