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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

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