December: Pizza!

It’s been a great year for PLUG, and you’re invited to celebrate with us, with some pizza and good company!

Weather permitting, we will meet at The Esplanade, at the tables near the paddling pool, on Wednesday December 13th, at 6pm.

The weather did not permit! We will instead meet at Milson Community Centre, our usual venue, on Wednesday December 13th, at 6:30pm—note, too, the change of time!

Please bring $10 in cash to contribute to the pizza. Also bring along anything else you’d like to eat.

Family and curious friends are welcome, as always.

We’ll look forward to seeing you all there!

November: Lightning talks 2023


7pm, Wednesday, 8 November 2023

For the last meeting of the year with technical presentations, we’re trying something a little different: lightning talks, shorter talks of up to 10 minutes each in length, focussing on some detail of a technical topic. We have the following speakers and topics scheduled, probably in this order:

* Nick Skarott: ::dead:beef:cafe: How far will pure IPv6 get you over the Internet?
* Brendon Green: Qubes OS
* Josh Sunnex: Headless Steam in Docker [code, Docker image]
* Stephen Worthington: SATA hotplug problems (low-power-mode)
* William Bell: Infrastructure as code
* Tom Ryder: yt-dlp and gallery-dl [slides (application/pdf, 360 KiB)]
* Giovanni Moretti: Nostr: Truly distributed Notes and Other Stuff via Relays [slides (application/pdf, 753 KiB)]

Please note these may change before the night, in which case we’ll endeavor to update them here. Also, if you’re not on the list and would like to speak about a FOSS-related topic, it’s not too late—please reach out to Tom Ryder at

Let’s see how well this goes—PLUG members are a friendly and engaged audience, and precedent suggests we just enjoy meeting up anyway, even if the organisers or technical presentations have problems coming together. If it works, your humble secretary would like to see it become an annual event.

Note that it’s likely that we’ll meet in December, but we don’t usually book talks for December meetings. Instead, this will be a more social gathering, possibly even outside in nice weather (!). Details will be posted here as usual. Technical talks should resume in February 2024.


Milson Community Centre


$2 gold coin donation

Coffee and biscuits will be provided, but please feel free to bring along your own snacks and drinks.

Agenda (rough)

  • 7:00pm: Welcome (Tom Ryder)
  • 7:10pm: Lightning talks begin
  • 7:50pm: Tea and coffee break
  • 8:10pm: General business (Nick Skarott)
  • 8:20pm: Resume lightning talks
  • 9:00pm: Doors close

October: Homelab CGNAT and udev interface names


7pm, Wednesday, 11 October 2023

Topic 1/2: Homelab 102—Defeating CGNAT

Speaker: Nick Skarott

One of the big barriers to a happy homelab life is IPv4 CGNAT. For some providers, it’s a necessary evil that they have to use to support their customer bases, with no opt-out—but not all hope is lost! In part two of this series, Nick will discuss the options to get around the CGNAT scourge, using options ranging from Cloudflare Tunnel to using an overlay or VPN from a public facing VPS.

Topic 2/2: Renaming Network Interfaces With udev

Speaker: Stephen Worthington

Or: “Can I get my eth0, eth1, … back again?”

Linux now uses “predictable network interface names” (for example, enp4s0), which are hard to type and to remember. And can still sometimes change between boots. A lot of users would prefer to go back to the much more friendly eth0, eth1, … names. So we will be looking at how udev creates names for the network interfaces, and workarounds to get more friendly names back again. This will be specifically about Ubuntu, as other distros have variations in how they handle all of this.

Download slides (application/pdf, 192 KiB)

Continue reading “October: Homelab CGNAT and udev interface names”

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.

Download slides (application/zip, 3.2 MiB)

Topic 2/2: How to: HOMELAB—The basics

Speaker: Nick Skarott

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 358 KiB)

Continue reading “September: Inkscape text and homelabs”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 400 KiB)

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.

Continue reading “August: GIMP and media *arrs”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 216 KiB)

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 396 KiB)

Download images (application/zip, 1.6 MiB)

Continue reading “July: Jellyfin and Infiniband”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 206 KiB)

Continue reading “June: Blender boardgame boxes and PCem”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 378 KiB)

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 529 KiB)

Continue reading “May: IPv6, SnapRAID, and mergerfs”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 304 KiB)

Download source code (application/zip, 12 KiB)

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.

Continue reading “April: Desktop apps and LastPass post-mortem”

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 57 KiB)

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.

Download slides (application/pdf, 428 KiB)

Continue reading “March: Howdy and Mosh”