Second impressions of Guix 1.4

While my first impression of Guix 1.4rc2 on NV41PZ was only days ago, the final Guix 1.4 release has happened. I thought I should give it a second try, although being at my summer house with no wired ethernet I realized this may be overly optimistic. However I am happy to say that a guided graphical installation on my new laptop went smooth without any problem. Practicing OS installations has a tendency to make problems disappear.

My WiFi issues last time was probably due to a user interface mistake on my part: you have to press a button to search for wireless networks before seeing them. I’m not sure why I missed this the first time, but maybe the reason was that I didn’t really expect WiFi to work on this laptop with one Intel-based WiFi card without firmware and a USB-based WiFi dongle. I haven’t went back to the rc2 image, but I strongly believe it wasn’t a problem with that image but my user mistake. Perhaps some more visual clues could be given that Guix found a usable WiFi interface, as this isn’t completely obvious now.

My main pet problem with the installation is the language menu. It contains a bazillion languages, and I want to find Swedish in it. However the list is half-sorted so it looks like it is alphabetized but paging through the list I didn’t find ‘svenska’, but did notice that the sorting restarts after a while. Eventually I find my language of chose, but a better search interface would be better. Typing ‘s’ to find it jumps around in the list. This may be a user interface misunderstanding on my part: I may be missing whatever great logic I’m sure there is to find my language in that menu.

I did a simple installation, enabling GNOME, Cups and OpenSSH. Given the experience with sharing /home with my Trisquel installation last time, I chose to not mount it this time, fixing this later on if I want to share files between OSes. Watching the installation proceed with downloading packages over this slow WiFi was meditative, and I couldn’t help but wonder what logic there was to the many steps where it says it is going to download X MB of software, downloads a set of packages, and then starts another iteration saying it is going to download Y MB and then downloads another set of packages. Maybe there is a package dependency tree being worked out while I watch.

After logging into GNOME I had to provide the WiFi password another time, it seems it wasn’t saved during installation, or I was too impatient to wait for WiFi to come up automatically. Using the GNOME WiFi selection menu worked fine. The webcam issue is still present, the image is distorted and it doesn’t happen in Trisquel. Other than that, everythings appear to work, but it has to be put through more testing.

Upgrading Guix after installation is still suffering from the same issue I noticed with the rc2 images, this time I managed to save the error message in case someone wants to provide an official fix or workaround. The initial guix pull command also takes forever, even on this speedy laptop, but after the initial run it is faster. Here are the error messages (pardon the Swedish):

jas@kaka ~$ sudo -i
root@kaka ~# guix pull
root@kaka ~# guix system reconfigure /etc/config.scm 
guix system: fel: aborting reconfiguration because commit 8e2f32cee982d42a79e53fc1e9aa7b8ff0514714 of channel 'guix' is not a descendant of 989a3916dc8967bcb7275f10452f89bc6c3389cc
tips: Use `--allow-downgrades' to force this downgrade.

root@kaka ~# 

I’ll avoid using –allow-downgrades this time to see if there is a better solution available.

Update: Problem resolved: my muscle memory typed sudo -i before writing the commands above. If I stick to the suggestedguix pull‘ (as user) followed by ‘sudo guix system reconfigure /etc/config.scm‘ everything works. I’ll leave this in case someone else runs into this problem.

I’m using the Evolution mail/calendar/contacts application, and it was not installed via GNOME so I had to manually install it using ‘guix package -i evolution‘. Following the guided setup worked remarkable well (it auto-detects all my email settings after giving it my email address), although at the end I get a surprising error message:

Puzzling error message from Evolution

If I didn’t know a bit about how Evolution works internally, I would have been stuck here – the solution is to install the evolution data server package. This should probably be a dependency from the main package? Fix it by ‘guix package -i evolution-data-server‘. It works directly, no need to even restart Evolution or go through the configuration dialog again. After this, I’m happily using email against my Dovecot server and contacts/calendars against my Nextcloud server via GNOME’s builtin Nextcloud connector which was straight-forward to setup.

Trisquel 11 on NV41PZ: First impressions

My NovaCustom NV41PZ laptop arrived a couple of days ago, and today I had some time to install it. You may want to read about my purchasing decision process first. I expected a rough ride to get it to work, given the number of people claiming that modern laptops can’t run fully free operating systems. I first tried the Trisquel 10 live DVD and it booted fine including network, but the mouse trackpad did not work. Before investigating it, I noticed a forum thread about Trisquel 11 beta3 images, and being based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and has Linux-libre 5.15 it seemed better to start with more modern software. After installing through the live DVD successfully, I realized I didn’t like MATE but wanted to keep using GNOME. I reverted back to installing a minimal environment through the netinst image, and manually installed GNOME (apt-get install gnome) since I prefer that over MATE, together with a bunch of other packages. I’ve been running it for a couple of hours now, and here is a brief summary of the hardware components that works.

CPUAlder Lake Intel i7-1260P
Memory2x32GB Kingston DDR4 SODIMM 3200MHz
StorageSamsung 980 Pro 2TB NVME
BIOSDasharo Coreboot
GraphicsIntel Xe
Screen (internal)14″ 1920×1080
Screen (HDMI)Dell 27″ 2560×1440 and Ben-Q PD3220U 3840×1260 works fine
Screen (USB-C)Via Wavlink USB-C/HDMI port extender: Dell 27″ 2560×1440 and Ben-Q PD3220U 3840×1260
WebcamBuiltin 1MP Camera
MicrophoneIntel Alder Lake
KeyboardISO layout, all function keys working
MouseTrackpad, tap clicking and gestures
Ethernet RJ45Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 with r8169 driver
Memory cardO2 Micro comes up as /dev/mmcblk0
Docking stationWavlink 4xUSB, 2xHDMI, DP, RJ45, …
ConnectivityUSB-A, USB-C
AudioIntel Alder Lake
Hardware components and status

So what’s not working? Unfortunately, NovaCustom does not offer any WiFi or Bluetooth module that is compatible with Trisquel, so the AX211 (1675x) Wifi/Bluetooth card in it is just dead weight. I imagine it would be possible to get the card to work if non-free firmware is loaded. I don’t need Bluetooth right now, and use the Technoetic N-150 USB WiFi dongle when I’m not connected to wired network.

Compared against my X201, the following factors have improved.

  • Faster – CPU benchmark suggests it is 8 times faster than my old i7-620M. While it feels snappier it is not a huge difference. While NVMe should improve SSD performance, benchmark wise the NVMe 980Pro only seems around 2-3 faster than the SATA-based 860 Evo. Going from 6GB to 64GB is 10 times more memory, which is useful for disk caching.
  • BIOS is free software.
  • EC firmware is free.
  • Operating system follows the FSDG.

I’m still unhappy about the following properties with both the NV41PZ and the X201.

  • CPU microcode is not available under free license.
  • Intel Mangement Engine is still present in the CPU.
  • No builtin WiFi/Bluetooth that works with free software.
  • Some other secondary processors (e.g., disk or screen) may be running non-free software but at least none requires non-free firmware.

Hopefully my next laptop will have improved on this further. I hope to be able to resolve the WiFi part by replacing the WiFi module, there appears to be options available but I have not tested them on this laptop yet. Does anyone know of a combined WiFi and Bluetooth M.2 module that would work on Trisquel?

While I haven’t put the laptop to heavy testing yet, everything that I would expect a laptop to be able to do seems to work fine. Including writing this blog post!

On language bindings & Relaunching Guile-GnuTLS

The Guile bindings for GnuTLS has been part of GnuTLS since spring 2007 when Ludovic Court├Ęs contributed it after some initial discussion. I have been looking into getting back to do GnuTLS coding, and during a recent GnuTLS meeting one topic was Guile bindings. It seemed like a fairly self-contained project to pick up on. It is interesting to re-read the old thread when this work was included: some of the concerns brought up there now have track record to be evaluated on. My opinion that the cost of introducing a new project per language binding today is smaller than the cost of maintaining language bindings as part of the core project. I believe the cost/benefit ratio has changed during the past 15 years: introducing a new project used to come with a significant cost but this is no longer the case, as tooling and processes for packaging have improved. I have had similar experience with Java, C# and Emacs Lisp bindings for GNU Libidn as well, where maintaining them centralized slow down the pace of updates. Andreas Metzler pointed to a similar conclusion reached by Russ Allbery.

There are many ways to separate a project into two projects; just copying the files into a new git repository would have been the simplest and was my original plan. However Ludo’ mentioned git-filter-branch in an email, and the idea of keeping all git history for some of the relevant files seemed worth pursuing to me. I quickly found git-filter-repo which appears to be the recommend approach, and experimenting with it I found a way to filter out the GnuTLS repo into a small git repository that Guile-GnuTLS could be based on. The commands I used were the following, if you want to reproduce things.

$ git clone guile-gnutls
$ cd guile-gnutls/
$ git checkout f5dcbdb46df52458e3756193c2a23bf558a3ecfd
$ git-filter-repo --path guile/ --path m4/guile.m4 --path doc/gnutls-guile.texi --path doc/extract-guile-c-doc.scm --path doc/cha-copying.texi --path doc/fdl-1.3.texi

I debated with myself back and forth whether to include some files that would be named the same in the new repository but would share little to no similar lines, for example, not to mention README and NEWS. Initially I thought it would be nice to preserve the history for all lines that went into the new project, but this is a subjective judgement call. What brought me over to a more minimal approach was that the contributor history and attribution would be quite strange for the new repository: Should Guile-GnuTLS attribute the work of the thousands of commits to which had nothing to do with Guile? Should the people who wrote that be mentioned as contributor of Guile-GnuTLS? I think not.

The next step was to get a reasonable GitLab CI/CD pipeline up, to make sure the project builds on some free GNU/Linux distributions like Trisquel and PureOS as well as the usual non-free distributions like Debian and Fedora to have coverage of dpkg and rpm based distributions. I included builds on Alpine and ArchLinux as well, because they tend to trigger other portability issues. I wish there were GNU Guix docker images available for easy testing on that platform as well. The GitLab CI/CD rules for a project like this are fairly simple.

To get things out of the door, I tagged the result as v3.7.9 and published a GitLab release page for Guile-GnuTLS that includes OpenPGP-signed source tarballs manually uploaded built on my laptop. The URLs for these tarballs are not very pleasant to work with, and discovering new releases automatically appears unreliable, but I don’t know of a better approach.

To finish this project, I have proposed a GnuTLS merge request to remove all Guile-related parts from the GnuTLS core.

Doing some GnuTLS-related work again felt nice, it was quite some time ago so thank you for giving me this opportunity. Thoughts or comments? Happy hacking!

Offline Ed25519 OpenPGP key with subkeys on FST-01G running Gnuk

Below I describe how to generate an OpenPGP key and import its subkeys to a FST-01G device running Gnuk. See my earlier post on planning for my new OpenPGP key and the post on preparing the FST-01G to run Gnuk. For comparison with a RSA/YubiKey based approach, you can read about my setup from 2014.

Most of the steps below are covered by the Gnuk manual. The primary complication for me is the use of a offline machine and storing GnuPG directory stored on a USB memory device.

Offline machine

I use a laptop that is not connected to the Internet and boot it from a read-only USB memory stick. Finding a live CD that contains the necessary tools for using GnuPG with smartcards (gpg-agent, scdaemon, pcscd) is significantly harder than it should be. Using a rarely audited image begs the question of whether you can trust it. A patched kernel/gpg to generate poor randomness would be an easy and hard to notice hack. I’m using the PGP/PKI Clean Room Live CD. Recommendations on more widely used and audited alternatives would be appreciated. Select “Advanced Options” and “Run Shell” to escape the menus. Insert a new USB memory device, and prepare it as follows:

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo wipefs -a /dev/sdX
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo fdisk /dev/sdX
# create a primary partition of Linux type
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX1
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo mount /dev/sdX1 /mnt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo mkdir /mnt/gnupghome
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo chown pgp.pgp /mnt/gnupghome
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo chmod go-rwx /mnt/gnupghome

GnuPG configuration

Set your GnuPG home directory to point to the gnupghome directory on the USB memory device. You will need to do this in every terminal windows you open that you want to use GnuPG in.

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ export GNUPGHOME=/mnt/gnupghome

At this point, you should be able to run gpg --card-status and get output from the smartcard.

Create master key

Create a master key and make a backup copy of the GnuPG home directory with it, together with an export ASCII version.

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg --quick-gen-key "Simon Josefsson <>" ed25519 sign 216d
gpg: keybox '/mnt/gnupghome/pubring.kbx' created
gpg: /mnt/gnupghome/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key D73CF638C53C06BE marked as ultimately trusted
gpg: directory '/mnt/gnupghome/openpgp-revocs.d' created
gpg: revocation certificate stored as '/mnt/gnupghome/openpgp-revocs.d/B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE.rev'
pub   ed25519 2019-03-20 [SC] [expires: 2019-10-22]
uid                      Simon Josefsson <>

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export-secret-keys B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/masterkey.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo cp -a $GNUPGHOME $GNUPGHOME-backup-masterkey

Create subkeys

Create subkeys and make a backup of them too, as follows.

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg --quick-add-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE cv25519 encr 216d
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg --quick-add-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE ed25519 auth 216d
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg --quick-add-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE ed25519 sign 216d
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export-secret-keys B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/mastersubkeys.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export-secret-subkeys B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/subkeys.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ sudo cp -a $GNUPGHOME $GNUPGHOME-backup-mastersubkeys

Move keys to card

Prepare the card by setting Admin PIN, PIN, your full name, sex, login account, and key URL as you prefer, following the Gnuk manual on card personalization.

Move the subkeys from your GnuPG keyring to the FST01G using the keytocard command.

Take a final backup — because moving the subkeys to the card modifes the local GnuPG keyring — and create a ASCII armored version of the public key, to be transferred to your daily machine.

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg --list-secret-keys
sec   ed25519 2019-03-20 [SC] [expires: 2019-10-22]
uid           [ultimate] Simon Josefsson <>
ssb>  cv25519 2019-03-20 [E] [expires: 2019-10-22]
ssb>  ed25519 2019-03-20 [A] [expires: 2019-10-22]
ssb>  ed25519 2019-03-20 [S] [expires: 2019-10-22]

pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export-secret-keys B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/masterstubs.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export-secret-subkeys B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/subkeysstubs.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ gpg -a --export B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE > $GNUPGHOME/publickey.txt
pgp@pgplive:/home/pgp$ cp -a $GNUPGHOME $GNUPGHOME-backup-masterstubs

Transfer to daily machine

Copy publickey.txt to your day-to-day laptop and import it and create stubs using --card-status.

jas@latte:~$ gpg --import < publickey.txt 
gpg: key D73CF638C53C06BE: public key "Simon Josefsson <>" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1
jas@latte:~$ gpg --card-status

Reader ...........: Free Software Initiative of Japan Gnuk (FSIJ-1.2.14-67252015) 00 00
Application ID ...: D276000124010200FFFE672520150000
Version ..........: 2.0
Manufacturer .....: unmanaged S/N range
Serial number ....: 67252015
Name of cardholder: Simon Josefsson
Language prefs ...: sv
Sex ..............: male
URL of public key :
Login data .......: jas
Signature PIN ....: not forced
Key attributes ...: ed25519 cv25519 ed25519
Max. PIN lengths .: 127 127 127
PIN retry counter : 3 3 3
Signature counter : 0
Signature key ....: A3CC 9C87 0B9D 310A BAD4  CF2F 5172 2B08 FE47 45A2
      created ....: 2019-03-20 23:40:49
Encryption key....: A9EC 8F4D 7F1E 50ED 3DEF  49A9 0292 3D7E E76E BD60
      created ....: 2019-03-20 23:40:26
Authentication key: CA7E 3716 4342 DF31 33DF  3497 8026 0EE8 A9B9 2B2B
      created ....: 2019-03-20 23:40:37
General key info..: sub  ed25519/51722B08FE4745A2 2019-03-20 Simon Josefsson <>
sec   ed25519/D73CF638C53C06BE  created: 2019-03-20  expires: 2019-10-22
ssb>  cv25519/02923D7EE76EBD60  created: 2019-03-20  expires: 2019-10-22
                                card-no: FFFE 67252015
ssb>  ed25519/80260EE8A9B92B2B  created: 2019-03-20  expires: 2019-10-22
                                card-no: FFFE 67252015
ssb>  ed25519/51722B08FE4745A2  created: 2019-03-20  expires: 2019-10-22
                                card-no: FFFE 67252015

Before the key can be used after the import, you must update the trust database for the secret key.

Now you should have a offline master key with subkey stubs. Note in the output below that the master key is not available (sec#) and the subkeys are stubs for smartcard keys (ssb>).

jas@latte:~$ gpg --list-secret-keys
sec#  ed25519 2019-03-20 [SC] [expires: 2019-10-22]
uid           [ultimate] Simon Josefsson <>
ssb>  cv25519 2019-03-20 [E] [expires: 2019-10-22]
ssb>  ed25519 2019-03-20 [A] [expires: 2019-10-22]
ssb>  ed25519 2019-03-20 [S] [expires: 2019-10-22]


If your environment variables are setup correctly, SSH should find the authentication key automatically.

jas@latte:~$ ssh-add -L
ssh-ed25519 AAAAC3NzaC1lZDI1NTE5AAAAILzCFcHHrKzVSPDDarZPYqn89H5TPaxwcORgRg+4DagE cardno:FFFE67252015

GnuPG and SSH are now ready to be used with the new key. Thanks for reading!

OpenPGP 2019 Key Transition Statement

I have created a new OpenPGP key and will be transitioning away from my old key. If you have signed my old key, I would appreciate signatures on my new key as well. I have created a transition statement that can be downloaded from

Below is the signed statement.

Hash: SHA512

OpenPGP Key Transition Statement for Simon Josefsson <>

I have created a new OpenPGP key and will be transitioning away from
my old key.  The old key has not been compromised and will continue to
be valid for some time, but I prefer all future correspondence to be
encrypted to the new key, and will be making signatures with the new
key going forward.

I would like this new key to be re-integrated into the web of trust.
This message is signed by both keys to certify the transition.  My new
and old keys are signed by each other.  If you have signed my old key,
I would appreciate signatures on my new key as well, provided that
your signing policy permits that without re-authenticating me.

The old key, which I am transitioning away from, is:

pub   rsa3744 2014-06-22 [SC]
      9AA9 BDB1 1BB1 B99A 2128  5A33 0664 A769 5426 5E8C

The new key, to which I am transitioning, is:

pub   ed25519 2019-03-20 [SC]
      B1D2 BD13 75BE CB78 4CF4  F8C4 D73C F638 C53C 06BE

The key may be downloaded from:

To fetch the full new key from a public key server using GnuPG, run:

  gpg --keyserver \
      --recv-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE

If you already know my old key, you can now verify that the new key is
signed by the old one:

  gpg --check-sigs B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE

If you are satisfied that you've got the right key, and the User IDs
match what you expect, I would appreciate it if you would sign my key:

  gpg --sign-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE

You can upload your signatures to a public keyserver directly:

  gpg --keyserver \
      --send-key B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE

Or email (possibly encrypted) the output from:

  gpg --armor --export B1D2BD1375BECB784CF4F8C4D73CF638C53C06BE

If you'd like any further verification or have any questions about the
transition please contact me directly.

To verify the integrity of this statement:

  wget -q -O- | gpg --verify