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Mon, 20 Dec 2010

5 Reasons why Debian Unstable is Not for End-Users

Debian unstable is not conceived as a product for end-users, and for very good reasons. There seems to be some misunderstanding and people trying to push end-users to use unstable. This blog post tries to address the claims raised and put them into proper light.

1. It contains mainly stable versions of the software

The critical part here is the term mainly. Yes, developers are advised to only upload packages to unstable that they deem to be suitable for the next stable release. This is no hard requirement though and no one actually playing a gate-keeper enforcing this recommendation. Also, there is a fine amount of packages that follow either VCS snapshots or development branches, and only time can tell how stable those releases actually are. That's actually why there is a delay of several days before a package can transition over to testing.

2. It doesn't break badly every other day

That's right—but if you look at it, it also means that it does break badly eventually. And if you don't know how to move on from there, including knowing the location of maintainer scripts and how to edit them in those cases, or even resort to a rescue system, you are in troubles.

3. It's the basis of other distributions

That's right in itself too, but it doesn't address the fact that those other distributions do put a lot of effort into quality assurance to work around the most nasty and annoying bugs that do affect unstable every other day.

4. It's not inherently less secure than Stable or Testing

It's not inherently more secure than stable or testing either. And this is also ignoring the fact that some security bugs don't even get into stable or testing, they only affect unstable and have to get addressed just there.

5. I use it on my main computer

This is the reason that you should ignore as most. People using unstable are often enough deeply involved into Debian maintenance, know how to write maintainer scripts, know where they are located in case of troubles, know how to use a rescue system in case of bootloader or kernel troubles. Just think about whether you would consider yourself to be at the same knowledge level than the person who wrote the blog article you read that used this as a convincing argument.

Conclusion: Stories always have several truths attached to them. If you feel adventurous, like to understand what's going on and have a tendency for digging into things that go wrong, you most probably are using unstable already anyway and are reporting bugs that you find along your way. If you on the other hand rather just want to use your computer and don't want to work around (smaller) bugs every other day, you rather should stick with the release that is actually provided as purpose to suit the needs of end-users: stable.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 19

Thu, 09 Dec 2010

The Chemical Brothers

It's been over a month already since I last suggested a band, this is overdue. Today because of a discussion this band came back into my mind and I want to share it with you: The Chemical Brothers. So without too much further talking here are the songs:

  • Galvanize: This song got me into love with the band, and it still is a great motivation push.
  • Hey Boy Hey Girl: An older song of theirs which might also be well known.
  • The Test: It's not just a nice song but also a terrificly great video!


/music | permanent link | Comments: 1

Mon, 08 Nov 2010


On 24th of October we've been to the concert of Unheilig. It was actually very touching, even though the sound quality of the venue was disappointing. Here are the common three songs that I usually share about bands that I like to introduce you to:

  • Mein Stern: Even though it's not my star in those pictures, the song still gives me goose bumps.
  • Geboren um zu Leben: He wrote this great song for his best friend that isn't anymore.
  • An deiner Seite: Another truly great of their songs. Let it touch your soul.

I am aware that these songs are all pretty emotional and rather quiet. Unheilig has also a much harder side to them. It's just that my current mood is pretty emotional, that's also the reason for this selection.

/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Wed, 27 Oct 2010

Report from openSUSE Conference

Like you most likely know, I've been at the openSUSE Conference last week. I've been representing Debian through a talk about Debian - The Project and its Resources, covering services and resources that are usable and useful for other distributions too. The invitation to submit talks were sent to various projects and distributions because of the set topic on Collaboration across Borders for the conference. My impression was that very few distributions have followed the invitation, I am only aware of some Fedora people that have attended. Vincent Untz from GNOME gave a combined keynote with Cornelius Schumacher from KDE.

The abstract of my talk and the slides are available from the conference website. The talk was well received and interested people also asked about some of the services like how our buildd network works, or whether the screenshots service has support for localized images too, or if it would be expandable for more general usage of non-Debian based distributions.

One topic raised was with respect to the whohas tool: A mapping layer/tool/database for package names. We divert from upstream naming schemes for consistency reasons, like with our library, Perl and Python naming schemes. Other distributions have similar approaches but a different naming scheme. To make inter-distribution tools really useful it would require to have some layer that is able to map the package name from one distribution to another one. One idea for it that was thrown in was to use upstream homepage, but not all packages do have proper homepages, some only live in some git repository, others would either like to link to sourceforge's project page instead of the project's homepage, and other tricky issues. Something unique is clearly called for here and needed to get stored in the package's metadata.

Apart from my talk and the occasional mentioning of openSUSE is on my desktop, but I run Debian on my server I noticed that the beverage of openSUSE is their own beer. Taste is a tough topic, personally I rather prefer our Debian wine. And I missed the chance to seduce them into playing Mao, I forgot to bring playing cards along. I hope to get a second chance at anoter event.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 3

Sun, 17 Oct 2010

Debian at openSUSE conference

Within the next few days there will be the openSUSE conference held in Nuremberg/Germany. The topic of the conference was set to Collaboration Across Borders and along that theme they invited other distributions to submit talks. Given my involvement with the Derivatives Frontdesk zack asked me whether I'd like to submit a talk proposal. I usually have a hard time to refuse such questions this will actually happen.

My talk will be in the Distributions Track on Thursday afternoon, the topic is Debian—The Project and its Resources. The resources that I will cover are those that can be very useful to other distributions too, and last Thursday I tested the talk at our local Debienna Meeting, gathered further ideas and feedback to cover in the talk. Thanks to you, guys!

Unfortunately contrary to what we are used to in Debian (extraordinary thanks to the Video Team!!!) there will be no streaming or recording of the talks from what I was told, so you have either to hurry to be there, or be satisfied with the slides I'll put up after the talk. It's the best I can offer.

See you around!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 5

Fri, 15 Oct 2010

Open Source Projectmanagement

I wrote the following as a foreword for the great German book Open Source Projektmanagement that Michael Prokop wrote. Unfortunately the foreword didn't manage it in time into the book because of various circumstances. As I'm not a person to throw away already written material, here is it for your reading pleasure. Maybe it makes you consider obtaining a copy of the German language book for yourself!

The Whole is more than the Sum of the Parts

When I first met Mika at a Linux conference some years ago I quickly noticed that he had potential. The way he asked questions and tackled issues did impress me. We did meet again at various events, joined forces in various projects and knew that the result would be good.

Back in the year 2004 the only real live CD was Knoppix. It always was too sluggish for me because I never really liked KDE and also OpenOffice.org was too bloated for me. I was working since a year at an Internet provider, felt comfortable in the shell and was missing the tools on Knoppix which I used daily.

Often enough the frustration with the status quo starts the best projects. And so I had the idea spinning around to start a sysadmin live CD. There was just one problem here: Exactly at the same time Mika had already started such a project. And I knew one thing: it would had been a lost race to compete with him in creating the better live CD. So I joined his team and helped with the best of my knowledge. The name choice alone showed that he was the right person for the job: Grml—an expression of the frustration that even he felt which spoke directly to the heart of so many.

But it wasn't just the chosen name that showed that Mika was the right person for the job of the project leader. It's always the sum of the parts, no matter how minor they might look. He quickly managed a first release and in light of that also created an event which was fitting for the release of the first version: the OS04—an Open Source event which managed to get Jon Maddog Hall as keynote speaker.

Mika managed through his welcoming way to lure more people into helping out. The team grew over the years, further regular releases increased the fan base, not only through the creative release names—which are surely one of the parts that helped create the success. He always was open to suggestions for new tools that helped to extend the project.

The lived openness did lead among other things to the case that other live CDs started to use the grml build system. JUXlala 2.0 (the system for preschool kids) is just one example.

Why do I write primarily about Grml, one could get subliminal advertising probably cheaper? I do it because Grml is an extremely good example of the experience revealed in this book. And even though every project is different, it is still exactly the sum of the parts that leads to the success of a project. And exactly these parts are covered in this book—and can be considered for the project at hand and get implemented accordingly.

Good luck—whether in large or small.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 12 Oct 2010

sudo and timeouts

People start to wonder why the timeouts for the passwords in sudo seem to be so short recently in squeeze. The reason is a change in the defaults that causes it. The following option changed its default:

If set, users must authenticate on a per-tty basis. Normally, sudo uses a directory in the ticket dir with the same name as the user running it. With this flag enabled, sudo will use a file named for the tty the user is logged in on in that directory. This flag is on by default.

To change it back you can add this line into your sudoers file:

Defaults !tty_tickets

Please be aware that the change in default is done because of security considerations. You might not always have all the ttys you are logged in directly visible and others might be able to access them (like, sudo on a remote SSH session). Use with caution, you though might consider disabling it on local systems with no remote users.

Hope that helps! Actually this blog post was triggered by a question on ask.debian.net, a new service in the Debian eco system.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 1

Tue, 05 Oct 2010

New Backports Suite created

The Backports Team is pleased to announce the availability of a new suite on backports: lenny-backports-sloppy. Please read carefully before considering using or uploading to it what this entails.

The Background

You might want to ask: What's that? Let me explain it. During the etch release discussions popped up on the backports list with two clashing groups:

  • One that expected to always be able to upgrade from sarge + sarge-backports to etch without backports,
  • others that wanted new versions of packages flowing in even after the release and were happy to upgrade from sarge + sarge-backports to etch + etch-backports.

The standing at that time was to accept packages that were in testing after the release, which wasn't etch anymore but lenny.

The same discussion started again before the lenny release, and given that we are facing the upcoming squeeze release we started internally to discuss how to noise down these long and tedious discussions, because both groups of people had valid opinions that shouldn't get ignored. So this is where the idea for lenny-backports-sloppy comes from.

The Change

lenny-backports-sloppy will please the group that is happy to upgrade from lenny + lenny-backports to squeeze + squeeze-backports. lenny-backports is meant only for packages from squeeze, even after the release. Technically that means it will get locked down for uploads after the release of squeeze and require manual approval (for e.g. point release update versions, or security updates that happen during the squeeze release cycle), while lenny-backports-sloppy will accept packages from wheezy. Uploading to lenny-backports will have to get approved by the Debian Backports Team after the squeeze release, just like uploads to lenny are currently approved by the Release Team.

While lenny-backports-sloppy is created already and working we ask you to not upload packages there without prior discussion with the Backports Team. This is meant to ensure that the Uploader is aware about the expectations that come along with that: The package should have a good chance to get included in the next Debian release aka wheezy, and that the Uploader is willing to look after the package in the upcoming squeeze-backports suite after the release of squeeze to ensure upgradability.

In case of questions, feel free to ask either directly on the debian-backports@lists.debian.org mailinglist, or contact team@backports.debian.org privately.

We are also pleased to announce that the first upload to lenny-backports-sloppy already happened. From now on you will be able to install Postgresql 9.0 (which is not targeted at squeeze) from lenny-backports-sloppy.

How to use

If you want to use lenny-backports-sloppy you will have to add both lenny-backports and lenny-backports-sloppy to your sources.list. Backports from lenny-backports-sloppy may depend on packages in lenny-backports.

  deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports lenny-backports   main
  deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports lenny-backports-sloppy main
About Backports

You are running Debian stable, because you prefer the stable Debian tree. It runs great, there is just one problem: the software is a little bit outdated compared to other distributions. That is where backports come in.

Backports are recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates), so they will run without new libraries (wherever it is possible) on a stable Debian distribution. It is recommended to pick out single backports which fit your needs, and not to use all available backports.

Thanks for reading this far, and enjoy!
Rhonda in the name of the Backports Team

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 1

Tue, 28 Sep 2010

That's What Friends Are For

If I'll make it through this week it's because of these special people in my life. They help me through thick and thin, they believe in me, they are there for me. There is one universal term for them, friends. The term in its real meaning, in its original meaning, not in the perverted sense that sites like Facebook want to make you believe that it's alright to apply to random bystanders. You won't go as far for those as you'd go for your true friends, so don't let them steal away the meaning of the word from you.

As music is one of the most driving force for me and this song makes me wanna cry, this is what I want to send out to my friends who are able to motivate me to keep me going: That's What Friends Are For. And as this song is so special I won't drown it in two more like I usual do, this blog entry goes to my personal section anyway. There is though a second video of a live version of it that in my opinion adds quite something to it, it contains a short interview with Dionne Warwick at the end.


/personal | permanent link | Comments: 2

Thu, 23 Sep 2010


I guess it's time again to push for another band. This time I present you Garbage. I love them, but one has to be careful in what mood one is when listening to them; it's possible that they move you in a direction you don't feel comfortable with at that time.

  • Bleed Like Me: If you listen closely to the lyrics of the second verse you might get an idea why had to love that song.
  • The World Is Not Enough: One might argue that a band has made it when they do a James Bond title song. This is it.
  • Only Happy When It Rains: Probably the best known song from Garbage. Damn fine, great tune and groove for the message it contains.


/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Fri, 10 Sep 2010

Lenny: 900 RC bugs

It is a while since we managed to get below the 1000 stable RC mark. Last weekend we managed the next mark, that is we are below 900 now! Obviously my effort during the RCBC did take us a fair step in that direction, but I don't want to take full credit for it.

The last bit that got us below the 900 happened through an event of last weekend: The current point release of lenny. Be aware that the BTS doesn't know about proposed-updates, so bugs closed through uploads to there only are seen when they hit the main pool—which is the reason for point releases. It were something around 25 RC bugs that were closed by that. I haven't checked who exactly is to thank here, but looking at the non-DSA packages one finds some perl packages and at least two font packages. Thanks to the corresponding teams for their help!

I plan to continue these efforts, so if you think it's a good idea you might want to flattr it. I think this quote sums up the motivation behind this pretty well:

<jwilk> Yay, only 900 bugs to fix and we can release lenny! Oh wait...

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 2

Tue, 07 Sep 2010


I started to give flattr a try, too. It is a social micropayment site and the similarity of its name to the verb flatter is on intention. It is meant to say thanks in small amounts month by month to "things" you like. One such thing I created is my blog—you can find the link to it below every entry. To be able to flattr someone one needs to create an account on the site and put money into their account. After that it's possible to follow the flattr button links. If you are reading my blog on my site and have JavaScript enabled you just have to click the flattr part of the image (not the number) to do so. If you are reading it through my feed or with JavaScript disabled you will have to click a second time on the flattr site to make the flattring happen.

Another thing I've created is Debian BTS: cleaning up. I use this link in my mails to the Debian BTS for my stable RC cleanup efforts, or general proper closing of bugs that aren't getting archived. Through the help of UDD I've created me helpful overview pages of bugs that need attention for this.

The third thing I've created is Package Maintenance. If you are a fan of one of the packages I maintain and want to thank me for taking proper care of it, feel free to also click this one. Please be aware that this shouldn't be seen as an Upstream appreciation—if one of the projects I package for Debian uses flattr themself then you should definitely (also) consider flattring them for their own.

About Upstream projects that use flattr: One of the packages I invest quite a lot of effort into started using flattr: wesnoth. They have put the flattr button on their entry page at wesnoth.org, here is the direct link to their first and general thing: The Battle for Wesnoth.

Please be reminded that the things you did flattr in a previous month can again be flattred the next month. This is especially true for general purpose things like what I am using currently. Others might create things for every single blog entry, or very specific tasks, to allow people to flattr them more often in a month and get a bigger share of the cake. So keep in mind which things are general ones and consider returning to them.


/debian | permanent link | Comments: 1

Fri, 20 Aug 2010

Screenshots on packages.debian.org

People often want to know what an application looks like before they install it. This is one of the reason why Christoph Haas started with the screenshots.debian.net service. People can upload screenshots for their favorite applications for others to take a look at.

Finally, as convenience feature, they are now added on packages.debian.org. When you click on the screenshot of a package you can see the list of all of the available ones.

In the case when no screenshot is available yet the page will show a placeholder image which gives you a convenience link to the screenshots page of the package where you can submit one for the benefit of all. Please make sure that you are following the guidelines for submissions, otherwise your upload might get rejected.

On a not totally unrelated topic, the packages.ubuntu.com site finally will also show you packages in maverick. It doesn't show screenshots yet—if you think adding support for screenshots in there would be a good thing too, please let me know!


/debian | permanent link | Comments: 5

Wed, 18 Aug 2010


A while ago I was with my SO at a concert of a band I might cover at a later point. This time I want to cover the support act of that concert: Jerboa. It was a bit weird to see a single person on stage turning some knobs, but he quickly caught both our attention and heart. And he was a charm to talk with afterwards when we bought his CD. He's definitely worth your attention, and if you are able to see him live take the chance for it.

  • Number 1: The obvious number 1 song in the list. Perfect groovy song, great video too.
  • Running North (remix): Also interesting output of his creativity.
  • Just Another Number: It starts off pretty smooth but then really kicks in. Hard to not headnick along to the song, it is far away from being Just Another Number.

Actually I would have loved to include What if in the songs but unfortunately that one wasn't available so I had to look for a replacement for it.


/music | permanent link | Comments: 2

Mon, 16 Aug 2010

Happy 17th Birthday, Debian!

Happy 17th Birthday, Debian! You kept me busy for the last 10 years and I am really looking forward to what the next 10 years might bring for our relationship.

Thanks also to all the people who also are able to keep calm and to the point when discussions turn to get heated. You are the ones who make work on Debian enjoyable.

Also a lot of thanks to all the people that understand the power of positive encouragement like what is currently flowing in through the thank.debian.net website.

Likewise much thanks to the ever growing number of distributions that are based on Debian, because doing that is a very special kind of appreciation of our work.

Thank you all!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Thu, 12 Aug 2010

Why new Design isn't deployed yet

This blog post is actually a response to a talk that was given at the debconf last week. It was marga's talk about Making Debian Rule, again. Now that the beta versions of the talks are available for download I'm able to proper quote what I want to respond to: Is there a reason why we haven't yet updated the website?, perhaps someone can answer.

I feel the need to respond to this as I am the main person driving that effort. Unfortunately the question was asked in a talk with no-one involved in that work around instead of addressing those people directly, and the question wasn't brought to my attention before the talk so that I could have provided an answer to offer in the presentation already. Also, as disclaimer, this is my personal story for it and doesn't need to get shared by the other people involved. I hope it can be seen as an answer anyway.

As a little of background, Kalle's proposal went a long path before even I found out about it. I was simply in awe in several ways about it because it wasn't just a great mockup of the page (which it actually is, IMHO) but was accompanied by thoughts about not only the main site but also about several sub sites. Also, it was accompanied by patches, so it was seemingly ready to get deployed right ahead.

I started working on it, got accused of being discouraging while doing that, got told that it would require a proper vote for a decision and can't happen just as, but those are just the Debian way of communication. I nevertheless did set up several test sites for some over the time to play with it. Some did work out better (like the git one, though this one came last and Kalle improved the CSS over time a fair bit), some weren't ready yet (like wiki, missing e.g. the coloring for the version diff, or the packages one where the separation between the different sections isn't that visible yet). Time passed, other things demanded their attention too.

Like the thing where our system administrators did send me a request along about a new www-master server that needs to get set up from scratch. Given that the documentation about the required packages for the website was lacking a fair bit (to say the least) it did require a lot of attention, especially when doing things from scratch the wish to document the dependencies properly is just natural. There are still some issues with that as can e.g. be seen on this page in the empty table at the bottom. The same issue also appears on my testsite for the new design.

The last part though is currently the biggest blocking issue for both efforts. There is no way to move forward with either without having that addressed. Simon Paillard did a great job on helping the move along so far, keeping the thread about the server move requirements that I started on the debian-www mailinglist updated with information about what's still pending. Unfortunately Kalle, Simon and me are also facing some private time constraints (amongst other duties that require attention) which weren't helping to move forward at a bigger pace. Unfortunately not very many people actually has shown interest in helping out neither, after all it's easier to go and ask questions about why it's not done yet to the completely wrong audience.

My plan is to switch many sites at the same time instead of one after the other simply for the effect but also for less distraction for our users, including less people repeatedly pestering about when this or that site gets done, too. At least we need a final discussion on what should go into the header links and what should be at the bottom before a switch can be made anyway. And for some there is still the opinion that such a switch is nothing that we are rightfully allowed to decide without a vote, so that's also part of the reason to not just deploy it.

I hope this answers the question to some extend—and like said, if only I would had been addressed about this before the talk was given an answer to it would had been ready for presentation right ahead instead of having a pretty terse statement getting relayed through IRC (thanks, Yoe!) because I was fortunate enough to be around and watching the talk at that time. Feel free to discuss it further or offer your help on debian-www, especially if you are familiar with working on CSS files.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 3

Mon, 09 Aug 2010

On BTS usage

You might remember that I started to work on closing RC bugs for stable. This effort hasn't died off so I joined the RC Bug Squashing Contest that was going on during the Debian conference (which I was unable to attend). The rules did permit it, even though I was aware that it can't (and shouldn't) be compared to the unstable/testing squashers and thus it was split of into its own Special category.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion on how our BTS works, especially with respect to version tracking. I was even accused of falsely claiming bug closing because the bug has been closed by someone else already. This wasn't the case, otherwise the bugs would had been archived a long time ago already[1]—given that I had expected that person to know how bug archival works and also given the sheer amount of bugs that I simply had closed for stable, I guess it is needed to shine a light upon why some bugs won't get archived as expected.

If you followed my IRC talk on BTS usage last month you might already have an idea of what's going on. There might be several different reasons why bugs aren't marked for archival yet. I'll try to explain them as I understand it (given that I neither have taken a look at the debbugs code nor am involved with its development) through my working on bugs over the last 10 years.

  • Usually bugs are marked for archival when they are not affecting testing or unstable. That means, for a bug filed against a version that is only in unstable and closed in unstable, an immediate archival process is started (actually, it's not that immediate: It requires the package to be in sync on all architectures it's available for, too); otherwise the fix has to enter testing before bugs are considered for archival.
  • Sometimes the bug is still considered affecting unstable though, even when the fixing package version already moved over to testing. This is the case when the hurd-i386 package is outdated in unstable and can be checked in the unstable overview of the package on packages.debian.org at the end of the page, it will have red entries next to the green ones (you can ignore red entries for debports architectures, though!). You have to file an arch specific removal request for those bugs to get them archived.
  • For packages in experimental it's quite the similar situation, because that packages from experimental don't transition anywhere, so those will stay unarchived for the time being if they also affect unstable.
  • So what can be the reason when the fix is already available in testing and unstable but the bug still doesn't get archived? Those cases mean that the bug is considered as affecting stable and has to get addressed there, too. Bugs that are considered for that are of a release-critical severity, bugs with lower severity aren't considered for stable because they are unlikely to get fixed in stable and thus get archived. So what can we do about them?
    • Do they actually really affect stable? Working on those is what I did over the last months. There are often enough bugs filed for library transition issues, FTBFS for toolchain changes, or other things that aren't applicable for stable. Those are easy to close in stable:
      • If the version information got lost (through reassigning or similar), the only thing needed is to re-add the found versions, given that it is a higher one than the one in stable.
      • If the version information is proper (because it had still the same version in unstable at the time of the reporting) tagging them with + squeeze sid will tell the BTS to consider them only for those releases, so not thinking it affects lenny, too.
    • Some do affect stable but still aren't severe enough to warrant an update in stable (like for documentation corrections in debian/copyright or similar). If you found one of those please talk to the release-team about getting them tagged lenny-ignore, don't do that yourself because that tag is meant to be set by the release-team themself only!
    • If they actually affect stable (like security issues that though are considered to be too minor by the security team to warrant a DSA, or other severe usability issues), please try to backport the relevant fix, propose a diff to the release-team on their mailinglist and have it uploaded to lenny-proposed-updates to be fixed in the next point release.

I hope this will get others also interested to fix stuff for stable. Actually when I see something that potential falls into the last group I ping the maintainers of those packages to let them know about having them fixed. Some of you might already have received such a ping and I am thankful for those that received them well and actually already fixed some of those, too. Thanks for making stable a better place!

Coming back to the RCBC, it was an interesting small competition (if only in my brain) between myself and the testing/unstable RC squashers going on. It would had been nice to get at least as many bugs in stable addressed as in testing/unstable because the amount is still a lot higher, but I can still be happy about the things done. And it is good to know that not everything seems to think that it's wasted effort to work on getting the RC count lower for stable, too (like I also was told about my effort). So thanks from that point of view!

[1] There are currently 2688 bugs still unarchived that were closed last year already! This UDD query helps you:
select count(*) from bugs where status = 'done' and last_modified <= '2009-12-31';

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Wed, 04 Aug 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Debian always was known for its communication "style". There were even shirts sold in memory of Espy Klecker with a quote he is known for: Morons. I'm surrounded by morons. Yes, I bought me one of those shirts too in the early days. And there were the talks that promoted Debian as a place to have Good flamewar training. And people considered that to be the fun part.

After some years it got tiring. It got stressful. It got annoying. Bad feelings popped up, stirred you into the next flamewar, and it went down the gutter from there. It was almost becoming impossible to not be the target of a flamewar when one was doing more than just basic maintenance. Snide and extreme terse responses became the standard.

In the end people are starting to give up and leave. The Ugly thing about this is that human resources are crucial. They aren't endless and can't be replaced as easily as broken hardware, especially when capable people or when people leave who invested an enormous amount of their spare time and effort. And given that a fair amount of people do put their heart into Debian, it feels like a small suicide to them and the public thinking about leaving is meant as a call for help which wasn't and isn't given.

The solution to this death swirl? I'm not sure. When one looks over the edge of the plate and ignores for a moment all the bad feelings they one might have built up against Ubuntu because of their success and possibility to find new contributors on a regular basis one is able to find a much friendlier and productive environment there. This might be attributed to the Code of Conduct about which I wrote about last year already and which is an extremely well intended and useful document (the point I raised in there is already solved for a while, so I became a MOTU). And even if it might be hard to follow it at times, Mark Shuttleworth reminds and encourages its contributors to stick to these principles even in tough times.

The result? When following the planets, one finds on Planet Ubuntu a very good rate of blog posts on things that had been done, compared to the good rate of blog posts of rants on Planet Debian. And even though people regularly complain about the communication style within Debian, the answers of this year's DPL candidates to the question about a code of conduct for Debian were rather rather disappointing. So it is just well too understandable that people go the path that hurts themself, take a cut and leave the project behind in its mess.

For myself? I'm not too far from that point on a regular basis, and I can understand those who did the final step only too well. Regular abuse, especially when doing stuff that others neglect on a regular basis but needs to be done anyway, being belittled on that grounds and not being taken serious and getting disrespectful responses isn't improving the situation. It happens to way too many people, and the only thing that still keeps me on tracks is that I do not want to give in yet, that I don't think that it would improve Debian to leave the grounds to various destructive people.

On the other hand, there is only so much abuse one can take...
ObTitle: Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 8

Mon, 26 Jul 2010

Art of Noise

Alright, get ready for the next round of music links. This time I stumbled upon an old (and still) favorite band of mine while looking for references to Max Headroom: Art of Noise. You most probably have heard the one or the other song from them, they are featured pretty often. Here they are:

  • Moments In Love: Well known song, I suspect.
  • Peter Gunn: Also very well known and used often. You have to wait a bit for the music to hook in, there is an intro in the video.
  • Paranoimia: Third great song you might have heard somewhere already. Absolutely lovely song indeed.

It's really sad to see such great bands to pass away. But it's still the perfect music to have running in the background when hacking along. Highly motivating, great to hum along. Oh, and you might ask, where is the connection to Max Headroom. Here it is, in a special version of Paranoimia featuring Max Headroom!


/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 19 Jul 2010

BTS Talk on 22nd, 18:00 UTC

I got convinced to hold an IRC talk on usage of the Debian BTS in #ubuntu-classroom and thought it might be interested to other children distributions of Debian, too—also for regular Debian users. So feel invited to attend it.

It will be held in #ubuntu-classroom on irc.freenode.net on Thursday, 22nd of July, at 18:00 UTC. For those who have never attended such a session yet, you might want/need to also join #ubuntu-classroom-chat too and raise questions in there, the main channel will be set to moderated.

I will try to cover basic usage like querying the web interface, reporting new bugs and also more deeper handling of bugs, including version tracking issues, and will try to address raised questions as good as possible.

Hope the session will be helpful to some and be able to address some questions like why some bugs aren't getting archived even though they are closed for ages. :) IRC logs will be available for the convenience of those who can't make it.

So long!

/ubuntu | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 12 Jul 2010

On Becoming a MOTU

Working on and for Debian for the whole millennium already it would had been hard to not notice Ubuntu through the times. Given that fixing bugs in the package is in the interest of all involved parties I started to get curious for the packages I maintain in Debian what users of Ubuntu might have filed against them. Given that a fair amount of those actually do also apply to Debian I started to fix them too.

Though, some bug status isn't able to use as an outsider, and given my approach to perfection not wanting to have packages in a bad shape in a release I started to dig a bit further into the procedures and applied to be accepted as a Ubuntu Developer, more specifically as a MOTU, which gives me the possibility to directly ask for syncrequest instead of having to go through a sponsor, or set wontfix status for bugreports in my packages that simply doesn't make sense to get implemented.

Last week I got accepted into that state and I'd like to thank for all the nice and encouraging feedback along the path (including some "What? I thought you were MOTU since ages already??" responses). Let's see how much I really need it, my approach is rather to reduce Ubuntu diffs instead of having to work on them. I though understand that at times close to the releases there can be a need for them, as can be seen in that the package I have to put most effort into (wesnoth-1.8) has a Ubuntu diff in the last lucid release. And because Ubuntu already is in DebianImportFreeze I did a syncrequest for gitolite.

Thanks for accepting me so quickly and rather bureaucratic! And no, Laney, I won't give the talk tomorrow because of this just on my own. ;)

/ubuntu | permanent link | Comments: 0

Wed, 07 Jul 2010

Grossstadtgefluester, 2010

This Monday I was again at concert of Grossstadtgeflüster, and it was again one of the best concerts I've visited. Their new album again has again great songs on it like the former two, and their live performance is truly worth it. Besides they are charming like hell offstage, too. Jen, Raphi and Chriz, I simply love you!

It's hard to choose which songs to put here because there are way too many great ones, so feel free to dig around yourself if you like them:

  • Weil das morgen noch so ist: Their current single, great video, giving a good impression of their style and the fun they have doing this.
  • Lebenslauf: Great song from their former album.
  • Fehler: So much truth in the lyrics, so much touching the heart.


/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 22 Jun 2010

Smashing Pumpkins

"Today is the greatest day I've ever known,"—this is the line that is spinning around today in my head because of many little things that happened. And it's this time of the month anyway for putting up another band feature into this little blog of mine. So here they are, one of the great bands of the nineties, and like many of them, back after a break again: The Smashing Pumpkins, and these are their featured songs:

  • Today: The song with the initial mentioned catchphrase. Unfortunately not the official video because in those versions the music is strangely broken. If you want to match it yourself, you can still watch it here: Today (true video, broken music)
  • Disarm: From the same great album, and one of their songs that gives me goosebumps.
  • Bullet With Butterfly Wings: Another of their great songs and videos for which they are known.

Hope you enjoy this small distraction once a month. I hope I can keep up with it, it's not a question of material, there are too many great bands out there that I'd like to share with others. :)

/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Fri, 18 Jun 2010

New Face, Part 3: gitweb

We ain't dead. A long time has passed since I last wrote on this topic, and much happened—unfortunately (for this effort) in other areas.

This doesn't mean that this effort is being abandoned. So here is the next big step: A gitweb theme using Kalle's proposal. I enabled it on my own gitweb installation so that people can see it live and test it. Feel free to clone it from there, too.


/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Wed, 09 Jun 2010

Battle for Wesnoth 1.8

Some people still ask me from time to time when I'll upload Battle for Wesnoth 1.8. My usual answer is that it's there already since before the official announce went out in the wesnoth-1.8 package.

The longer answer which also answers Why the name change? goes like this: People asked for a way to be able to install different branches side-by-side so that they can keep the old stable branch around for finishing started campaigns there while still being able to play with their friends multiplayer games using the new stable branch. Also people using the development version wanted to not having to get rid of the stable version just to use the development branch.

So there it is! Enjoy! There though is still something missing though, and that's why the question where the 1.8 version of Wesnoth is still pops up: There is no transitional/meta package yet. This requires a bit more work including adding alternative handling (so one can still run wesnoth and not have to use the versioned wesnoth-1.8 binary name) and for that some dpkg-divert magic about the historical unversioned wesnoth packages.

Given that my release is requesting quite some support overhead I can't tell yet when these things will be done, but a similarly related support contract will run out by the end of the month so potential I'll be able to find some time next month to finish this for good. If you want to have it done earlier or feel like helping out, feel free to send in patches after talking with me about the fineprints and potential approaches. Thanks in advance!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Fri, 21 May 2010

Ich + Ich

My SO did had an extremely good idea for my birthday this year: We went to a concert of Ich + Ich. We both were a bit sceptical beforehand—but actually we were both in agreement about that it was one of the finest concerts we have been to. I want thus to share some of the great songs of the band with you:

  • Universum (Universe): I am thinking of my son when listening to this sweet song.
  • Stark (Strong): Not only the title but the lyrics.
  • Dienen (Serve): Probably the best known of their songs.


/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 29 Mar 2010

We Have Released

On 20th of March, at five to midnight, we have released out most straining and time consuming project ever. Its codename is Simon André and we are pleased that it was (more or less) a smooth release process with just a minor delay of three days—but the best don't release on time but when it is ready.

Because everyone loves screenshots, and a few might be viewed on our dedicated Screenshot Page, for completeness this announce contains one:

Simon André

After one week into the release we have to say the feedback and the interest so far is pretty good, the maintenance is requesting its toll, but nothing really unexpected happened so far. We look into a bright future!

Thank you for your attention, enjoy the nice spring weather!

/personal | permanent link | Comments: 0

Thu, 25 Mar 2010

dpkg source format 3.0

Ben Hutchings writes:

You are missing the point - debian/source/format allows you to make it explicit that the source format is 1.0, if you want to stick with that.

You are missing the point - the planned switch of the default format isn't considered a good approach by quite some people. If something new gets introduced, switching to it should be done in wake manner. Other tools do that too, so why can't a central package as dpkg use that approach? I especially want to mention that a point release update for stable was required to get it working in stable like it should.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Wed, 24 Mar 2010

rxvt-unicode Matcher Patch for Bug Numbers

A while ago Ganneff wondered weather it would be possible to make the matcher extension of rxvt-unicode also pick up something like #12345 and turn it into a link into the BTS.

It isn't—or rather, it wasn't. The idea got stuck in my head and invested some time to make it happen. Here is the quick'n'dirty diff to make it happen:

--- /usr/lib/urxvt/perl/matcher.distrib	2009-11-30 06:44:07.000000000 +0100
+++ /usr/lib/urxvt/perl/matcher.rhonda	2010-03-24 23:57:01.000000000 +0100
@@ -3,13 +3,14 @@
 # Author: Tim Pope <rxvt-unicodeNOSPAM@tpope.info>
 my $url =
-   qr{
+   qr{(?:
          \([a-zA-Z0-9\-\@;\/?:&=%\$_.+!*\x27,~#]*\)| # Allow a pair of matched parentheses
          [a-zA-Z0-9\-\@;\/?:&=%\$_+*~]  # exclude some trailing characters (heuristic)
+      )|\#[0-9]{4,}
 sub on_user_command {
@@ -145,6 +146,7 @@
          my @begin = @-;
          my @end = @+;
          if (!defined($col) || ($-[0] <= $col && $+[0] >= $col)) {
+            $match =~ s/^#/http:\/\/bugs.debian.org\//;
             if ($launcher !~ /\$/) {
                return ($launcher,$match);
             } else {

The diff is intentionally small so it is clear what is happening here. And it should give ideas for other extensions that one would like to make. I don't consider it though flexible enough to submit it upstream. Enjoy anyway!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 15 Mar 2010

stable RC Bug Squashing, Part 2

A while ago I blogged about squashing release-critical bugs in stable. Yesterday we have reached a big milestone on that area: The amount of release-critical bugs in stable dropped below 1000 (blue graph). This might sound like it's still pretty high but given that we were well over 1600 RC bugs in stable a while ago I consider this quite a success.

This is though no time for rest. There is still way too many RC bugs in stable, there are definitely still a lot of bugs that just aren't affecting stable and thus can be marked as such meaning no upload needs to get done for them. I'm taking a close look at those with higher numbers and most of those seem to be validly affecting stable too so they might require a bit more work than just tagging them.

Thanks to all people who helped on that area, I can just remember a few names and don't want to make anyone else also working on stable to feel singled out, though I want to thank Lucas for tagging his FTBFS rounds with squeeze sid right from the start because the packages obviously have built before due to his regular rebuilds. Thanks to all, but like said, not the time to rest. The green squeeze graph is still around 250 bugs away from us!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 22 Feb 2010

t-prot testing

The t-prot package might need your help: There is a discussion going on with the upstream developer how to proceed with respect to a hopefully helpful change in its behavior. There are several options how to address this, one of them would involve using the Getopt::Long module instead of Getopt::Mixed. Given that the benchmarks of upstream rather speak for sticking with Getopt::Mixed we would like to ask you for help:

Please test this version of t-prot (for your safety: detached gpg signature for the version) and compare it to the packaged version 2.15 that I just upload into unstable (it is installable without anything else also into (old)stable or testing). Your feedback on this is truly appreciated, please send it until the start of next week (Monday evening/Tuesday morning) to "t-prot (AT) tolot.escape.de".

Much thanks in advance!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 12 Jan 2010

Your Expectations

<comment />

Your Expectations
I won't fulfil them for you
they are only yours

Feeling been let down
it is understandable
but it's also wrong

There are more than me
who can do the piece of work
why just bug me then?

Effect is stop work
so that others won't expect
your problem is solved

German Version

If you are looking for some packages to take care of within Debian, take a look at this list and feel free to contact me if you are interested.

/haiku | permanent link | Comments: 0

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