September: Inkscape text and homelabs


7pm, Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Topic 1/2: Text in Inkscape

Speaker: John Flower

Learn about how Inkscape can make words look cool. John will demonstrate features such as how to put text on curves, add outlines to make words pop, or adjust opacity so they don’t.

Topic 2/2: How to: HOMELAB—The basics

Speaker: Nick Skarrot

This year we’ve seen many examples of computer users building a “Homelab” environment to either make their lives easier in the computer world or to upskill. But do you really need old enterprise gear that gobbles enough power to make the lights dim when you turn them on? The answer may surprise you as Nick outlays how you too can get into homelabbing simply and easily without feeding your entire wallet to the local energy concern.

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August: GIMP and media *arrs


7pm, Wednesday, 9 August 2023

Topic 1/2: GIMP: Green Is My Pepper

Speaker: Tom Ryder

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is 25 years old this year, and still actively developed. For a long time, it had the unenviable job of being the GNU/Linux desktop’s only answer to the Adobe Creative Suite, and it didn’t benefit from the comparison on its own. Nowadays, however, it has a much better-defined place in raster image manipulation and composition, complementing other free image software like Darktable (photography), Krita (drawing), Inkscape (vectors), Blender (3-D modelling), and ImageMagick (batch/scripting).

Tom is not a graphic designer, but still finds he wants to edit and compose raster images a lot, even for something as simple as making memes or desktop backgrounds. He’ll show you a few of his favorite tips and tricks with GIMP, with the aim of surprising you at least a little. He’ll also show you where the configuration options are to fix the user interface, in order to make it less confusing.

Topic 2/2: The Wizard of Arrs

Speaker: Chris Winkworth

Chris will give a walk-through of all the “Arrs”, which are a set of media collection management and retrieval tools: Lidarr, Radarr, Readarr, and Sonarr. We’ll look at what they are used for in your home lab, including a look at Homepage for how you can see all your self-hosted projects in one simple place.

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July: Jellyfin and Infiniband


7pm, Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Topic 1/2: Jellyfin

Speaker: Nick Skarott

Jellyfin is the truly open‐source fork of the Emby project—an alternative to the Plex media server. Nick will go over the advantages and disadvantages of using Jellyfin over a “freemium” product like Plex or Emby.

Topic 2/2: Home Infiniband

Speaker: Stephen Worthington

If you want faster network connections, Infiniband is much faster than 10 Gbit/s Ethernet, and may also be cheaper. Come to this PLUG meeting and let me tell you about my experiences with installing and using 40 Gbit/s Infiniband at home.

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June: Blender boardgame boxes and PCem


7pm, Wednesday, 14 June 2023

Topic 1/2: Boardgame Boxes in Blender

Speaker: John Flower

Wingspan meeples modelled in Blender

John has been exploring ways to organise boardgame tokens. Many boardgames supply them in plastic bags that are fiddly. Or worse, shrinkwrapped cards that are then left loose to scatter in a big box after unwrapping. A good organiser can reduce the time to set up a dramatically. He will demonstrate his trials using Blender, Inkscape, and FontForge on Linux to create designs for laser cutting, engraving, CNC routering, and printing to develop solutions.

Wingspan meeples in routered holders

Topic 2/2: PCem

Speaker: Nick Skarott

Over the last few years, Nick has presented many tools used in emulating various game console and personal computer plaftorms in the name of historical preservation. PCem is an open source emulation tool attempting to accurately emulate platforms AND peripheral hardware, supporting not just CPU platforms but also Graphics and sound cards in an attempt to enjoy not just DOS era games but Windows 9x era games without having to stress over old hardware that’s starting to flake out.

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May: IPv6, SnapRAID, and mergerfs


7pm, Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Topic 1/2: IPv6: Kicking and Screaming

Speaker: Tom Ryder

You do have to use IPv6; you do have to learn it; you do have to deal with it. You cannot escape. IPv4 is exhausted, and Carrier-grade NAT is a fever dream from which you must awake. So: how would you like to do this? The hard way, or the even‐harder way?

Tom will give a state‐of‐the‐onion on IPv6, and explore how it improves on legacy IPv4, and some of the challenges and problems that have made adoption so slow and so difficult, with particular attention paid to the GNU/Linux networking stack. Please do not shoot your humble messenger.

Topic 2/2: SnapRAID and mergerfs

Speaker: Chris Winkworth

Chris Winkworth is a force of home‐networking nature that cannot be stopped. His ever‐expanding home server setup has storage needs beyond the ken of most mortals, and this month he will explain to us two new feathers in his cap: SnapRAID, a backup program for disk arrays, and mergerfs, a union filesystem to simplify storage and management of files over many devices.

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April: Desktop apps and LastPass post-mortem


7pm, Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Topic 1/2: Writing a Linux desktop app with a client library

Speaker: Scott Davies

Are you sick of editing text files manually and doing the same thing over and over in bash? I’ll use some simple scripts and a widget toolkit to show why GUI apps should not be forgotten. Simple Linux desktop apps are easy, they can save you time and they’re more friendly to others than the command line. And you don’t have to set up a web server, manually change user, or copy and paste anything every time before you can get things done. I might event drag in a example of using it with redis for storage, too.

Topic 2/2: LastPass post-mortem

Speaker: Nick Skarott

The 2022 LastPass hack exposed a huge amount of private user information, including stored password databases, and in doing so exposed some glaring security and process failures on LastPass’ part. Nick will explain what happened, and why.

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March: Howdy and Mosh


7pm, Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Topic 1/2: Facial recognition for GNU/Linux with Howdy

Speaker: Richard O’Donoghue

One of the login methods provided by Microsoft Windows’ software Hello is facial recognition: logging in to your computer by having your face recognised by camera. Richard O’Donoghue will show how this same functionality can be arranged on GNU/Linux, using Howdy. He writes:

If you’re lazy like me and used to using Windows Hello face recognition and would like similar functionality under linux, this project hits the nail on the head.

Topic 2/2: Roaming SSH with local echo using Mosh

Speaker: Tom Ryder

Mosh: the mobile shell is a terminal application that allows an SSH-style remote terminal while supporting roaming between connections without losing state, and showing instant feedback from pressing keys on high-latency connections: a kind of intelligent local echo. Tom will demonstrate how this works, and why he found it so useful while working on his servers from the other side of the planet.

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November: FFmpeg for Owncast, and Recalbox


7pm, Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Topic 1/2: FFmpeg for Owncast

Speaker: Tom Ryder

FFmpeg is a library that can do far, far too much with video and audio of all sorts—a kind of multimedia Swiss Army knife. Tom will demonstrate a narrow set of some of its more useful functions in the service of running an Owncast video streaming instance, an alternative to proprietary platforms. This will include video filtering, resizing, conversion, and “hard” subbing.

Topic 2/2: Recalbox

Speaker: Nick Skarott

Recalbox is described by its makers as “the ultimate retro-gaming console that lets you replay all the games from the consoles and computers of your childhood.” Compatible with Raspberry Pi’s, old and new x86 (both 32 and 64bit) PCs and also the ODroid single board computers. Replacing RetroPie as the retro gaming project of Nick’s choice, he explains what makes it better over RetroPie including Recalbox’s included free content, simple board overclocking for the Raspberry Pi, and more advanced Raspberry Pi drivers.

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October: Speeduino and LVM


7pm, Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Topic 1/2: Speeduino: Open source / Open Hardware Engine Management

Speaker: Richard O’Donoghue

Speeduino is an open source and open hardware Arduino-based system for managing engines. Richard will talk about some basics of engine management, the software, and what the hardware can do.

Topic 2/2: LVM (Logical Volume Management)

Speaker: Tom Ryder

Managing partitions on disks is a pain, especially on hardware disks. Logical Volume Management (LVM) for Linux-based systems provides a means to perform volume management much more dynamically and flexibly, including creating snapshots and drive redundancy, without needing to reboot. Tom will give a demonstration of the basics of using LVM, including using it at install time as part of an encrypted setup for Debian GNU/Linux and other distributions.

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September: Self-hosting, self-casting


7pm, Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Topic 1/2: Self-hosting continued

Speaker: Chris Winkworth

Chris will return with some more details about his home media network setup that he last spoke about in July, since there were so many questions from the audience last time and people doubtless want to know more about his astonishing setup.

Topic 2/2: 10 Years of OBS & VDO.Ninja

Speaker: Nick Skarott

OBS or Open Broadcast Software has become a linchpin piece of kit for many video livestreamers around the globe. It has powered everything from basic talking head livestreams to full on productions with switching and live graphics and has produced many other key tools to produce graphic overlays and even inject others desktops into livestreams. Nick will go over what’s new since PLUG was first introduced to OBS, and give real world examples on how he has used OBS and a new free tool, VDO.Ninja, to produce commercial-grade live streams.

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