Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'general'

Colin Watson

October already! As the leaves start to turn red here in the northern hemisphere, here’s a brief summary of what we did in September.


  • BugTask:+addcomment’s title doesn’t duplicate the bug number (#1323808)
  • The duplicates portlet of bug tasks no longer links to invisible private bugs and now uses the correct sprite for each bug (#1443418, #1465880)
  • Show hidden bug comments to their owners (#1391394)


  • Line numbers in merge proposal preview diffs are now unselectable (#1483925)
  • Branch revision listings link more sensibly to merged branches and merge proposals (#711647)
  • Git repositories and refs have more sensible breadcrumb links (#1466271)
  • Source package recipe builds now include the distribution series in their titles (#1491336)
  • Allow archive owners to cancel their recipe builds, and make recipes use the normal cancellation infrastructure (#624630)
  • Make it possible to retry superseded builds, since there are situations where they can become unsuperseded (#444030)
  • The index page for Git refs is more useful
  • Fix crashes on various +activereviews pages when there are no active reviews (#1499744, #1501134)
  • Precache branch permissions in Branch.landing_candidates, fixing API timeouts (#1500576)
  • Add webhook support for Bazaar branches, currently enabled on qastaging though not yet on production


  • Team membership notifications now honour the “Include filtering information in email footers” setting, and have rationale information in the headers and footer (#296889, #508897)
  • There is a new X-Launchpad-Message-For mail header (or Launchpad-Message-For in expanded footers) giving just the name of the person or team directly subscribed to the notification (#1493844)
  • Treat “me” in person-or-team contexts in mail handlers as the current user (#340397)

We now consider the “Gmail filtering improvements” work complete.  Let us know if there are further categories of mail sent by Launchpad that you’re finding difficult to filter using Gmail.


  • Distribution index pages hide links to disabled features (#80315, #257627)
  • Set consistent colour for the “Opinion” bug task status (#648645)
  • Blueprints on milestone pages have icons again and are sortable (#1354387)
  • Old user-to-user email database references no longer prevent changing team privacy (#1498497)

Snap packages

  • Snap packages now have edit, administer, and delete views
  • Branches, Git repositories and refs, people, teams, and products now have snap package listing views
  • Members of ~launchpad-snap-builders can create snap packages in the web UI based on Bazaar or Git branches
  • Snap package owners can request builds in the web UI

Soyuz (package building)

  • Stop showing the confusing .dsc component on source package index pages (#521722)
  • Export archive deletion on the API (#814633)
  • Allow overriding the build version for live filesystem builds (#1496074)
  • Archive owners can change the “build debug symbols” and “publish debug symbols” settings on their own archives, rather than needing to ask an admin
  • The publisher no longer sometimes tries to update Contents files for immutable suites such as the release pocket of stable series, which could cause checksums in Release to get out of sync (#1448270)
  • Publishing PPAs now creates clearsigned InRelease files to improve reliability of updates (#804252); we intend to add this to the primary Ubuntu archive as well once one last piece of mirroring infrastructure is made ready for it
  • Archive owners can enable or disable unrestricted architectures on their own archives, rather than needing to ask an admin; we will unrestrict further architectures once they have adequate virtualised build infrastructure available
  • Enabling a test rebuild archive no longer times out (#1500973)

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Open Source key to innovation at Telstra says Frank Arrigo, API evangelist at Telstra.

Telstra is looking to stay ahead of the curve by encouraging technological innovation through collaboration with startups, machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, and the Internet of Things (IoT) — but said that ensuring its network continues to be the best in Australia is still at the core of its business, and the driving force behind being able to deliver these capabilities.

Speaking at Telstra’s Vantage 2015 conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said that IoT is integral to all businesses now, because by 2020, “everything that can be connected will be connected”.

Cisco, which has a long-standing cloud, communications, and collaboration partnership with Telstra, predicted that there will be 50 billion IoT devices by 2020.

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Last week, Wired published an account describing how two security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, were able to wirelessly hack into a Jeep Cherokee, first taking control of the entertainment system and windshield wipers, and then disabling the accelerator. Andy Greenberg, the Wired writer who was at the wheel as the self-described “digital crash test dummy” explained what happened next:

Immediately my accelerator stopped working. As I frantically pressed the pedal and watched the RPMs climb, the Jeep lost half its speed, then slowed to a crawl. This occurred just as I reached a long overpass, with no shoulder to offer an escape. The experiment had ceased to be fun.

Miller and Valasek also wirelessly disabled the Jeep Cherokee’s brakes, leaving Greenberg “frantically pumping the pedal as the 2-ton SUV slid uncontrollably into a ditch.” In response, on July 24 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a recall impacting about 1.4 million vehicles, stating, somewhat incongruously, that “no defect has been found.”

This is the one of the most dramatic demonstrations to date of the cybersecurity challenges that will accompany the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). And, it offers an opportunity to make some broader observations about the changing landscape of cybersecurity as systems become increasingly connected and decentralized.

Here are five takeaways on the Security of Things (SoT) that designers—as well as companies building products for the cybersecurity market—should keep in mind as they build increasingly complex and connected systems:

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Prakash released for sale a tablet that sounded too good to be true…. a 7″ quad core tablet for a mere $50. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that there were a lot of “fine print” to the deal and I think you need to be aware of them before you buy or before you recommend it to friends and family.

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From Forbes:

Traditionally, chief executive officers have come up through the ranks from the finance, sales or marketing side, so they don’t necessary bring an in-depth understanding of technology deployments. Not that it was necessary — the IT department ran its systems and spit out reports, while everyone else stuck to their specialties.

Now, everybody is getting into the technology act. A new study published by Deloitte finds that business executives — CEOs and CFOs — are getting directly involved in technology decisions. Maybe not studying and selecting application servers or hypervisors, but determining the technology direction that needs to be taken — whether it be moving to cloud, or deploying mobile to get closer to customers.

Close to two-thirds (62 percent) of 500 mid-market executives say their company’s C-suite leaders have “some” level of involvement in the adoption of next generation technologies such as cloud, social, analytics and mobile. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) say C-suite is “actively engaged.” A growing percentage (33 percent, compared with 20 percent in 2014) say their leadership is even “leading the charge.”

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Facebook built the React JavaScript library so its engineering team could build interfaces for iOS, Android, and web with the same code. Now it’s giving that development super power to everyone by open sourcing the final part of the React trilogy, React Native For Android.

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Colin Watson

Here’s a summary of what the Launchpad team got up to in August.


  • Webhook support for Git repositories is almost finished, and only needs a bit more web UI work (#1474071)
  • The summary of merge proposal pages now includes a link to the merged revision, if any (#892259)
  • Viewing individual comments on Git-based merge proposals no longer OOPSes (#1485907)

Mail notifications

Our internal stakeholders in Canonical recently asked us to work on improving the ability to filter Launchpad mail using Gmail.  The core of this was the “Include filtering information in email footers” setting that we added recently, but we knew there was some more to do.  Launchpad’s mail notification code includes some of the oldest and least consistent code in our tree, and so improving this has entailed paying off quite a bit of technical debt along the way.

  • Bug notifications and package upload notifications now honour the “Include filtering information in email footers” setting (#1474071)
  • Bug notifications now log an OOPS rather than crashing if the SMTP server rejects an individual message (#314420, #916939)
  • Recipe build notifications now include an X-Launchpad-Archive header (#776160)
  • Question notification rationales are now more consistent, including team annotations for subscribers (#968578)
  • Package upload notifications now include X-Launchpad-Message-Rationale and X-Launchpad-Notification-Type headers, and have more specific footers (#117155, #127917)

Package build infrastructure

  • Launchpad now supports building source packages that use Debian’s new build profiles syntax, currently only with no profiles activated
  • Launchpad can now build snap packages (#1476405), with some limitations; this is currently only available to a group of alpha testers, so let us know if you’re interested
  • Builders can now access Launchpad’s Git hosting (HTTPS only) in the same way that they can access its Bazaar hosting
  • All amd64/i386 builds now take place in ScalingStack, and the corresponding bare-metal builders have been detached pending decommissioning; some of the newer of those machines will be used to further expand ScalingStack capacity
  • We have a new ScalingStack region including POWER8-based ppc64el builders, which is currently undergoing production testing; this will replace the existing POWER7-based builders in a few weeks, and also provide virtualised build capacity for ppc64el PPAs
  • We’ve fixed a race condition that sometimes caused a user’s first PPA to be published unsigned for a while (#374395)


  • The project release file upload limit is now 1 GiB rather than 200 MiB (#1479441)
  • We spent some more time supporting translations for the overlay PPA used for current Ubuntu phone images, copying a number of existing translations into place from before the point when they were redirected automatically
  • Your user index page now has a “Change password” link (#1471961)
  • Bug attachments are no longer incorrectly hidden when displaying only some bug comments (#1105543)

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Taiwanese firm Foxconn’s decision to invest a whopping USD five billion in India has caused unease in China as it marks the first top international firm opting for India amid a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

“Foxconn chooses India over China for new plant,” read the headline in state-run while carrying the news of the Taiwanese electronic giant signing up to set up a big plant in Maharashtra.

“Foxconn’s latest India investment represents the leading electronic product maker’s intention to profit from the world’s fastest expanding market of smartphones. Foxconn, famous for making parts for Apple, will reportedly produce Xiaomi phones in the new factory, a rumour that Foxconn authorities did not clarify or comment,” it said.

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For a whole lot of people, especially those in developing countries, science – and with it, medicine – isn’t readily available to the majority of citizens. But Manu Prakash wants to change that.
Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, is the proprietor of “frugal science,” a term he coined to explain the movement toward building cheap versions of high tech tools. His endeavor aims to make medical devices both affordable and available to the masses.

The way Prakash sees it, labs don’t need the most expensive equipment out there in order to reach profound breakthroughs. “Today people look at these extraordinary labs and forget that in the 1800s they could still do the exact same science,” he told The New York Times.

So in 2014 he created a paper microscope, aptly named the Foldscope, that costs only 50 cents to produce.

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Are you ready to play everybody’s not-so-favorite guilt game: what was I doing at that age? Ann Makosinski, a high school student from British Columbia, Canada, has created a simple LED torch powered by body heat. So instead of having to recharge it or swap in a fresh pair of AAs every so often, you literally just need to hold it in your hand for it to start glowing.

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General Electric says it knows more about big manufacturing gear and data than any cloud provider ever will. Critics say it can’t keep up with the cloud giants of the world.

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Transportation is one of the world’s largest industries. The five largest automotive companies in the world generate more than 750 billion euro in annual revenue. The names in the industry are global brands – BMW, Ford, Daimler. Yet despite its size and stature, it’s also an industry in the midst of transformation. Today, new transportation vendors like Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, and Grabtaxi are changing our relationship with cars.

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Colin Watson

Here’s a summary of what the Launchpad team got up to in July.


  • We fixed a regression in the wrapping layout of side-by-side diffs on (#1436483)
  • Various code pages now have meta tags to redirect “go get" to the appropriate Bazaar or Git URL, allowing the removal of special-casing from the “go" tool (#1465467)
  • Merge proposal diffs including mention of binary patches no longer crash the new-and-improved code review comment mail logic (#1471426), and we fixed some line-counting bugs in that logic as well (#1472045)
  • Links to the Git code browsing interface now use shorter URL forms

We’ve also made a fair amount of progress on adding support for triggering webhooks from Launchpad (#342729), which will initially be hooked up for pushes to Git repositories.  The basic code model, webservice API, and job retry logic are all in place now, but we need to sort out a few more things including web UI and locking down the proxy configuration before we make it available for general use.  We’ll post a dedicated article about this once the feature becomes available.

Mail notifications

We posted recently about improved filtering options (#1474071).  In the process of doing so, we cleaned up several older problems with the mails we send:

  • Notifications for a bug’s initial message no longer include a References header, which confuses some versions of some mail clients (#320034)
  • Package upload notifications no longer attempt to transliterate non-ASCII characters in package maintainer names into ASCII equivalents; they now use RFC2047 encoding instead (#362957)
  • Notifications about duplicate bugs now include an X-Launchpad-Bug-Duplicate header (#363995)
  • Package build failure notifications now include a “You are receiving this email because …” rationale (#410893)

Package build infrastructure

  • The sbuild upgrade last month introduced some regressions in our handling of package builds that need to wait for dependencies (e.g. #1468755), and it’s taken a few goes to get this right; this is somewhat improved now, and the next builder deployment will fix all the currently-known bugs in this area
  • In the same area, we’ve made some progress on adding minimal support for Debian’s new build profiles syntax, applying fixes to upload processing and dependency-wait analysis, although this should still be considered bleeding-edge and unlikely to work from end to end
  • We’ve been working on adding support for building snap packages (#1476405), but there’s still more to do here; we should be able to make this available to some alpha testers around mid-August


  • We’ve arranged to redirect translations for the overlay PPA used for current Ubuntu phone images to the ubuntu-rtm/15.04 series so that they can be translated effectively (#1463723); we’re still working on copying translations into place from before this fix
  • Projects and project groups no longer have separately-editable “display name” and “title” fields, which were very similar in purpose; they now just have display names (#1853, #4449)
  • Cancelled live file system builds are sorted to the end of the build history, rather than the start (#1424672)

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When a subordinate of President Kalam at DRDO couldn’t take his children to an exhibition due to work pressure, Kalam surprised his subordinate and took the children instead!

During a significant project of the DRDO, the work pressure was high. A scientist approached his boss – Dr. Kalam – and asked to leave early that day considering he had promised his children to take them to an exhibition. Kalam generously granted the permission, and the scientist got back to work. When he did, he lost the track of time and forgot to leave early. He reached home, feeling guilty, and looked for his kids, but could only find his wife. He asked for the kids, and to his surprise she told him: “your manager was here around 5:15 and he took the kids for the exhibition!”

Apparently, Dr. Kalam had been observing the scientist and noticed that he might never realise he had to go home. Feeling for the kids, he decided to take the kids instead. If that’s not sweet, what is?

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India was the sole emerging market bright-spot in IBM’s second-quarter earnings, as the other BRIC countries weighed down the technology giant’s results.

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GOOGLE HAS BECOME the biggest name yet to back the open source cloud system OpenStack. Specifically, Google will help integrate its own open source container management software Kubernetes.

This may seem like in-the-enterprise-weeds news, but it represents another significant step as Google tries to make up ground against Amazon’s wildly popular AWS suite of cloud products.

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Colin Watson

It’s been a while since we posted much regularly on this team blog, not least because for a while Launchpad was running more or less in maintenance mode.  That’s no longer the case and we’re back to the point where we can do feature development work again, as exemplified by our recent addition of Git code hosting support.

Lots of other things have been happening in the Launchpad world lately, though, and the half-way point in the year seems like a good time to start talking about them.  I’m going to try to do this a bit more regularly, aiming for about once a month when we also update our internal stakeholders.  This post covers roughly the last three months.


Of course, you don’t get to release a major new feature and then have everything be perfect.  In fact, we’d released it pretty much as soon as we had a minimum viable product, so we knew there was plenty more to do.

Now that the basics work reasonably well, we’ve been focusing on tying off loose ends, and on getting to the point where Launchpad itself can be self-hosted in Git: this is partly because most of the things we need to do for that are relevant to many other projects considering a migration, partly because that ensures that any problems with it will affect Launchpad developers directly, and partly because this will allow us to trim a very large amount of database cruft associated with the representation of Launchpad’s own branches.

Here’s a brief changelog since our initial public announcement:

  • Leaving the “Target reference path” field empty when proposing a Git-based merge proposal no longer crashes (#1451068)
  • Git-based merge proposals can be deleted
  • Pushing to private repositories no longer hangs (#1451107)
  • The backend now stores reflogs so that we can help users recover from mistakes
  • Pushing a new default repository for a project now sets the repository owner to the project owner rather than to the person performing the push
  • The project +sharing view now handles Git repositories
  • Branches of a project default repository are now shown on the project’s code page, although we expect to be making significant further improvements in this area soon
  • Individual Git commits under “Recent Commits” now link directly to a full view of the corresponding commit
  • Merge proposal listings now cover Git (#1453020)
  • Branches in private repositories now show a privacy banner (#1457553)
  • Repositories can now be deleted (#1456583)
  • Private repositories are now browseable and show a privacy banner in the browsing interface
  • The URLs for Git-based merge proposals have moved to be directly under the source repository rather than under the source branch, so that historical MPs can still be accessed after deleting the branch (#1456589)
  • Launchpad now sends mail for Git-based merge proposals
  • There are various new Git repository listing views, chiefly for projects, packages, and people
  • Repositories now have a complete edit form allowing you to rename them, move them between targets, and set their default branch (“HEAD”) (#1456625)
  • We’ve exported a few more bits and pieces on the webservice API to support Git merge robots
  • We’ve brought various bits of automation for Git-based merge proposals up to par with their Bazaar equivalents: when a Git branch is updated, Launchpad now automatically updates the preview diffs for any MPs where that is the source branch, and detects whether any MPs where that is the target branch can now be marked as Merged
  • The Code settings view for projects now allows you to set the project’s default Git repository and to choose whether the default revision system for the project is Bazaar or Git

We’ve started on support for webhooks, and hope to be able to tell you more about this soon. Git-to-Git repository mirroring and native Git recipes are also frequent requests that we know are important to people, and we hope to get to those soon.

Other code review changes

Many of the changes needed for Git touched on our code review infrastructure, but we’ve been making some other improvements there too.  Launchpad has supported “inline comments” on merge proposals for a year or so now, allowing you to comment on parts of a diff without having to manually quote it; but the feature hadn’t been quite finished and lots of people had nits to pick with it.  We’ve made a couple of improvements here lately:

  • Preview diffs in merge proposals now have keyboard navigation to move between files, diff hunks, and inline comments
  • Links to diffs now include a per-file diffstat under an expander triangle
  • The mails sent when a reviewer adds inline comments now only include relevant parts of the diff context rather than the entire diff, making them much easier to read and making it harder to miss comments (#1334577)

We threw in a couple of bonus features here as well.  You can now see side-by-side diffs for merge proposals as well as unified diffs (#917502): there’s a link at the top of each preview diff allowing you to switch it to side-by-side mode (we may add a user preference for this later).  And resubmitting a merge proposal now automatically preserves the commit message (#676769).

Package build infrastructure

When we first added support for building debug symbol packages (ddebs) in Ubuntu, we handled the build and publication side of things with a temporary hack involving a custom hack to our sbuild fork that stashed the ddebs on the builder for a while, and a job that periodically fetched them to As is the way of temporary hacks, it proceeded to stay that way for eight and a half years. It mostly worked, but was rather fragile, contributed to tying us to an old sbuild, wasn’t very extensible to PPAs, and couldn’t work with virtualised builders where all the builder’s state is reset before every build.

A couple of years ago we put together the Launchpad changes required to store ddebs straightforwardly in Launchpad instead, but weren’t able to deploy this at the time due to needing better librarian infrastructure. We finally got all this cleared out in April and deployed the new ddeb publishing mechanism. The main user-visible effect of this is that isn’t liable to lose packages any more, and ddebs are also available from Launchpad build pages.

Having done this, we were able to upgrade from our 2004-era fork of sbuild to a modern version, which fixed a number of long-standing bugs.

All architectures are now optional for PPAs (#1244868), so, for example, a PPA that only needs to support armhf can save builder cycles by disabling amd64 and i386. At the moment this can only be done by Launchpad administrators, so ask a question on Launchpad if you think this would be worth doing for any of your PPAs.

We rewrote the way that we install build-dependencies for source package recipes. This allows recipes to handle the “:native” qualifier in build-dependencies which is used in some places as part of supporting cross-building.

The next step in this modernisation programme will be to move all builds into ScalingStack and decommission the corresponding bare-metal builders, which we’ll be starting soon and working on an architecture-by-architecture basis as that cloud gains support for them. In the short term, this will give us better build capacity on the migrated architectures; in the longer term, it will let us support PPA builds on more architectures, and erase the cumbersome distinction between “non-virtualised” and “virtualised” builders. More news on this as it happens.


We upgraded to significantly more modern database servers earlier this year, which meant that a lot of hitherto difficult timeout problems suddenly either disappeared or became tractable. There are still some bad queries and a few mysterious problems, but as a general trend our timeout rates are very significantly down from where they were six months ago. We have some more general plans in this area, and will continue to spot-fix bad pages as they show up and as time permits.


We have lots more to do across the whole application, but still have a rather limited number of developers. If any of this kind of thing sounds interesting and you’d like to help, you can!

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Unfortunately, there are plenty of factors impeding this data-rich future. The problems range from the 400-plus competing IoT standards to lack of global Internet connectivity, and more.

Vendors largely control the 400-plus competing standards, but the battle for developer hearts won’t be won by a corporate logo-laden home page. Open source, however, could help, allowing developers to focus on interoperable code, rather than interoperable vendors.


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Todos somos Joac

(Disclaimer: este texto está sobradamente copiado de la declaración de OpenData, porque tenía ganas de escribir algo parecido, y no me salía, y ellos lo expresaron muy bien)

Sobre el allanamiento de domicilio a Joaquín Sorianello ocurrido el viernes a la noche.

A horas de los comicios de primera vuelta para elegir a las autoridades de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, nuestro amigo y colega Joaquín Sorianello denuncia el allanamiento de su domicilio, realizado por la la Policía Metropolitana bajo las órdenes de la jueza Dra. María Luisa Escrich.

El motivo aparente es haber informado sobre una vulnerabilidad grave en los servidores de la empresa Magic Software Argentina (MSA), dueña y operaria del sistema de voto y escrutinio electrónico a ser utilizado en las elecciones porteñas. Esta falla de seguridad permitiría el envío de información apócrifa a los sistemas donde se computa el escrutinio provisorio, vulnerando así la voluntad popular.

Joaquín es un reconocido programador, experto en redes informáticas, muy querido y respetado en distintas comunidades de software libre en las que participa, no sólo por su conocimiento técnico sino también por sus profundos valores y su calidad humana. Su descubrimiento, de una gravedad institucional que no se condice con la pobre difusión pública que tuvo, fue logrado gracias a su loable sentido del deber cívico, y fue informado en primer lugar a la propia MSA para que tome las medidas correctivas. Lejos de obtener premio alguno por colaborar con la transparencia que la ocasión demanda, Joaquín fue víctima de un allanamiento, como si hubiese cometido un acto criminal.

La celeridad y falta de sentido común con la que este allanamiento se realiza resulta al extremo injustificable además, dado que, 6 meses atrás, el Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de la Ciudad, José Osvaldo Casás, presentó su renuncia al cargo a partir de las falencias ya visibles del sistema de votación.

Es por eso que más allá de alguna que otra acción privada que siempre será insuficiente, me solidarizo con la situación de Joaquín y de otros colegas afectados por este bochornoso accionar de la justicia porteña. Consideramos que el espacio para quienes quieren mejorar las instituciones y la transparencia del pilar fundamental de la democracia, como lo es la voluntad del pueblo a través del sufragio, tiene que existir y ser valorado.

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OPEN SOURCE is key for humanity to preserve its history in the digital age, Vatican Library CIO Luciano Ammenti has argued.

“The Vatican Library is a conservation library. We try to preserve our history. We tried to expand the number of reading rooms available for people that want to use our library,” he said.

“But we realised that reading rooms will never be enough. We have 82,000 manuscripts in total, and at any one time only 20 percent of them can be read in the library.

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