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Wed, 12 Oct 2011

Global2000 Geburtstagsfest

No, my blog isn't dead, and neither is me. It's just that way too many things happened since this year's debconf that got me a bit off tracks. I managed to do daily business like keeping my packages in shape and the backports queue low, and that was mostly it.

No clue if that will change anytime soon, but I guess I would like to keep you updated with an event where you can meet me next week: There will be the Global 2000 Birthday Party going on in the WUK on Thursday 20th, so if you happen to be in Vienna at that time, drop by and enjoy some great bands.

... which brings me to one of the local bands from Vienna: Heinz aus Wien. They are around for well over 10 years now and are still rocking quite well. Here are some examples of their songs, like always:

Like always, enjoy!

/music | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 20 Jun 2011

Games Team IRC Meeting #4

Another month, another Games Team IRC Meeting happening. This time it was decided to have it again on Sunday, the time was set to 10 am UTC. To find out the time in your localtime, issue date -d '2011-06-26 10:00 UTC' in your shell. The agenda can be seen as always in the wiki.

If the time or agenda doesn't fit your ideas, feel free to join our mailinglist to be informed about the discussion of agenda and time for the next meeting and raise your voice at that time. Please notice that the agenda isn't final yet, you can still drop your ideas for that.

Enjoy, and join if you care about improving games packaging in Debian and influence future development!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 14 Jun 2011

Debian/Ubuntu packages for pgadmin3 1.14.0 Beta 1

Martin Pitt announced packages of PostgreSQL 9.1 Beta 2 in his blog. Following this, I am hereby announcing the availability of pgadmin3 version 1.14.0 Beta 1 which amongst other things has added support for PG 9.1. You can find it in Debian experimental and backports for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, 10.10 and 11.04 in my pgadmin3 backports for stable Ubuntu releases PPA.


/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Thu, 09 Jun 2011

Reinhard Mey

This is a very special person. He is a very well known songwriter, at least in German language countries because he sings in German. He was that special kind of person with his lyrics when I was still a kid, and is still around continuing to write his songs in his very own special way. This person is Reinhard Mey, and if you understand German and have missed him so far, you have missed a lot.

The songs that I present to you are special in the way that they are all contained in the special compilation titled Mein Apfelbäumchen. The dedication he wrote for the album is also very special:

Ich glaube, Kinder zu haben ist das aufregendste Abenteuer, das wir erleben können. Es ist der schwerste Beruf und die größte Herausforderung, die ich mir denken kann, und die glücklichste Erfahrung zugleich. Ich bin dankbar dafür! Dies sind die Lieder, die ich bis heute dafür geschrieben habe. Mein Anteil aus dem Erlös dieser Schallplatte gebe ich der Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder.

Rough translation: I believe that having kids is the most exciting adventure that we can undergo. It is the hardest job and the biggest challenge that I can think of, and at the same time the happiest experience. I'm thankful for it! These are the songs that I wrote up to today for it. My part of the revenues of this record go to Help for children with cancer.

So here are the songs:

  • Mein Apfelbäumchen: The song that gave this compilation its title. Extremely touching, and it manages regularly to wet my eyes... Absolutely lovely.
  • Keine ruhige Minute: This is actually a live version of the song with a longer introduction that is worth listening to on its own.
  • Menschenjunges: A thoughtful song about the thoughts when seeing your kid for the first time.

Enjoy! And if you feel like it, support these kind of special people.

/music | permanent link | Comments: 2

Tue, 07 Jun 2011

pal versus wyrd

Whenever someone asked me about a calendar application, especially for the textmode, I always encouraged them to give pal a try. I always loved the looks of it, the interactive mode is helpful, it has HTML output format to inject the calendar into a webpage, mail output format for a daily reminder cronjob, and other useful features. I even created a file with the Austrian holidays for it which got included in the original project for the benefit of all its users.
If you haven't tried it yet and are looking for a calendar tool with support for very flexible recurring events and categories, this might be a good look.

I am still happy with pal, though someone recently suggested a different tool on IRC, and that was wyrd. From a quick glance it looked promising, so I started to dig into it. My first task was to convert the former mentioned pal file for the Austrian holidays into remind format. remind is the backend for wyrd, and its definition language seems to be extremely powerful. It though took me a while to figure out how to put in Easter date related events into it, the examples weren't really hinting me in the right direction. This is part of what I am using now:
REM [trigger(easterdate(current())-47)] +6 TAG noweight MSG Faschingsdienstag %b

The look and view of wyrd is different to pal in several ways. Where the granularity of pal is a pure day view, wyrd scales in hours (or half, quarter thereof). Also, wyrd offers the possibility to color the days differently by busy level. Of course it's possible to exempt tasks from adding weight to a day. pal on the other hand is able to color events differently by category.

Decide yourself what you actually need, test it, and ... enjoy!

/cli | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 17 May 2011

It's MY Life

Sometimes people will tell you what you should do. Sometimes they will even shout at you for simply asking a question on why they want something done because it isn't clear just from itself. And others likes to jump the boat and join in just for the fun of it...

Gladly, this is MY life, and I choose how much abuse I'm willing to take, especially for a voluntary work that I didn't even enroll for but got put into. Sometimes through my dedication to getting quality into things and seeing that others simply neglect these areas, but they need to get addressed anyway, no matter how little respect is shown for people investing in these boring areas.

The topic of It's MY Life is an old one and thus it is no surprise that a fair amount of songs surrounding it popped up over time. In my previous blog entry I wrote about different interpretations, some responses seem to hint that I wasn't clear enough about that I really meant different interpretations of the same lyrics, not just regular cover versions.

The following set of songs is special in a different sense: It is about the same song title and thus does also cover different bands.

  • Dr. Alban: Let's start with a rather old one.
  • No Doubt: This is the band that Gwen Stefani got known through.
  • Bon Jovi: No matter what you might think about Bon Jovi, they for sure wrote some pretty touching songs.

Like always, enjoy! And think about how you interact with others. I know that I'm sometimes crossing a line myself too, no one is perfect. What though makes the difference is the willingness to learn, and especially: To excuse. But in the end: It's MY life!

/music | permanent link | Comments: 3

Wed, 04 May 2011

Different Interpretations

Mostly everything in life boils down to the same troublesome issue: people are reading different things into what they read, and interpret them regularly in a way it wasn't meant to. It seems that in certain areas a culture of interpreting things in a bad way instead of good or asking how they were actually meant has established the rules of (not) working together but rather against each other and around each other. At times I would like to account it to language barriers, or cultural differences, but it happens with people from all areas so that reasoning would be too easy.

Even artists manage to do that, and in that certain area it creates something extremely creative and thoughtful. This blog entry thus contains three songs—and six videos: Two different interpretations of the same lyrics. Maybe this is able to stir some thinking process whether the interpretation that one found for a given situation might be biased or even just looking from the wrong angle.

  • Imagine (John Lennon vs. A Perfect Circle): It gives me the shivers when thinking about what a different tune and might turn the same lyrics into. The various videos going with this interpretation make me even cry, and since the official video might be blocked in your country I linked one of the private made ones.
  • Mad World (Tears For Fears vs. Gary Jules): You might not have known the original (Tears For Fears is well known for other songs actually) but only the cover, which was in the soundtrack of Donnie Darko.
  • Drive (R.E.M. vs. R.E.M.): You read correctly: a band covering itself is rare but it happens. And yes, when I heard the live version back in the years it was a quite enlightening situation.


One thing I'd like to mention, and that is two cross references to former blog entries. For the first song, James Iha played as guitarist in The Smashing Pumpkins before he joined A Perfect Circle. The second cross reference is with respect to my former blog entry about the Wise Guys: They did also cover Mad World, in the Gary Jules' interpretation but of course in a capella.

/music | permanent link | Comments: 6

Thu, 28 Apr 2011

Worldly Wisdoms

There is a whole business around books with worldly wisdoms. They get bought as gifts for friends to cheer them up, they are meant to help one through hard times. I though see a big issue with them:

  • If you would really need them, you aren't able to adopt them.
  • If you are able to adopt them, you don't need them.

This chicken-egg issue is a real pain here.

/personal | permanent link | Comments: 1

Tue, 26 Apr 2011

Games Team IRC Meeting #2

As Evgeni Golov already blogged, there is going to be the next round of a IRC meeting of the Debian/Ubuntu Games Team on the upcoming Saturday. This time it will be held at April 30th at 12:00 UTC in #debian-games on irc.oftc.net, so if you are interested in bringing the Games Team up to pace again, want to join and wonder how you could help, please attend. The agenda contains a fair amount of leftovers from the first meeting, please see Meeting Page about it.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 18 Apr 2011

Wise Guys

My brother did invite me to the concert of the Wise Guys, a German acapella group. They are one of those special groups who are able to give a cheering live show and have this special cheek-in-tongue humour in a fair amount of their songs. This is the selection that helps me keeping my mood up though, you are invited to dig further.

  • Jetzt ist Sommer: This was the first song I heard from them and got me interested to dig further into this band. And yes, it's true, summer is an inner feeling, not something governed by the outer world.
  • Lass die Sonne scheinen: I have the feeling that this is a sequel to the former song. And it definitely helps too.
  • Am Ende des Tages: No matter how your day went, what matters most are the people you think of at the end of the day.

Hope you are able to appreciate them as much as I am. At least they are able to cheer me up a fair bit.

/music | permanent link | Comments: 2

Wed, 06 Apr 2011

The Canterbury Project

The Background

If you weren't online last Friday you probably have missed the big news announcement on the various community distribution websites. The main pages of them got replaced by a placeholder announcing the birth of The Canterbury Project. People started to wonder whether it is an April fool's prank or for real. This blog post is meant to shine a bit more light on it and address one comment received about it.

If you go to the news item on the Debian site you'll get your answer about that it indeed was an April fool's prank. The idea for doing something in coordination with other distributions came to me when I thought about last year's (or was it already two year's ago?) prank that the various web cartoon sites pulled: they replaced their main page with the page of another cartoonist. My original idea was actually along that lines. So I started to dig up website contacts from different distributions, I was aiming at the big names in the community distribution sector.

Given that my time is pretty limited these days with renovating the house we plan to live in soonish I knew I had to let in others in within Debian. I though didn't want to involve too many people, for several reasons: it should be a surprise to as many as possible, but more importantly, I didn't want to shy away other distributions by an overwhelming Debian involvement. That's also part of the reason why I didn't contact many Debian based distributions.

So first contacts where made, a dedicated IRC channel used for coordination, and people involved joined in. Then the thing happened which the Free Software community is so well known for: additional ideas came in, two people independently addressed me whether it wouldn't be better that instead of a circle replacement of the frontpage, why not display the same page on all of them. And one of them added that a corresponding news item might make sense.

So there we were, having to think about text to put into two things: the news item and the replacement page itself. At this stage Alexander threw in a project name with a background that was adopted. Francesca started with an idea for the news item, I started to put quotes in and asked for ones from the other involved people that fit their distribution well. Klaas came up with a template for the replacement page that we tweaked. Fortunately we ended up being five distributions and the colors of the banner did match the distribution ones rather well (except for one, we had to tweak the color of one banner).

The Credits

We were all set, and actually everything went fine. And it definitely caught the attention. This blog post goes out in thanks to the following people:

  • For Arch Linux: Pierre Schmitz and Dieter Plaetinck—thanks for joining in on such a short notice!
  • For Debian: Alexander Reichle-Schmehl (thanks for the name!), David Prévot, Francesca Ciceri (thanks for gathering contact information!) and Martin Zobel-Helas (thanks for webserver setting tweaks).
  • For Gentoo: Robin H. Johnson—thanks for the best quote for the news item!
  • For Grml: Michael Prokop—thanks for the great live CD and your input!
  • For openSUSE: Thomas Schmidt and Klass Freitag—thanks for the perfect website theme and the best mocked up news item!
  • ... and most of all, to the to be left unnamed person from the distribution that didn't join in in the end: a lot of thanks has to go in that direction because of the invaluable input. The actual idea about the additional news item is to be accounted to that person, and the Canterbury logo was tweaked there too.

I hopefully haven't forgotten anyone. There surely were some more people involved in the other distributions, and I guess the named people weren't aware of all the ones involved inside Debian. Feel free to drop missing names in the comments.

Addressing Feedback

Finally, let me address one concern raised: someone claimed that the real joke with this prank was that we would consider collaboration to be a joke. Actually, the total opposite is the case here. That it was possible to pull it off should be proof enough that Collaboration Across Borders actually is possible. And the background information put into the news section of the replacement site is real. Also, my personal quote in the news item was meant dead honest. I do believe that DEX has a limited point of view and only tackles part of the problem.

Unfortunately, for such efforts to really come to life it takes people with a really long breath and dedication to it. Efforts like the VCS-PKG and the Freedesktop Games effort are more or less stalled. Even though a lot of people do believe in stronger collaboration to be a good thing, the basis is not working out too well. I'm in the fortunate position that for some of the packages I maintain there is exchange between packagers from different distributions to avoid common troubles. If it can't be done in the big it should at least be tried in the small.

I want to specifically highlight again one part of the updates in the replacement page: the CrossDistro track at this year's FOSDEM. This one was more than fruitful, on several levels. From what I've heard a lot of discussion happened besides the talks too, and connections got established. It doesn't sound unlikely like this might be done again next year.

So again, thanks for enjoying this April fool's prank, thanks to everyone who helped to deliver it, and especially a lot of thanks to the people who this might have got thinking of possibilities to improve on the collaboration front!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 8

Wed, 23 Mar 2011

LXC and NAT on notebook

Yesterday I was hinted towards lxc when I wondered what happened to openvz in unstable (which unfortunately isn't documented at all in the kernel changelogs, but that's a different story). So I started off taking a look. From a bit of experimenting around with it I consider it something that I want to play more with, and I want to share the problems I stumbled upon with you so that you don't have to figure them out on your own.

First of all, LXC uses the cgroup kernel facility for resource management. The according file system isn't mounted by default, and LXC doesn't care for where it is mounted, it just needs to be. It seems like /sys/fs/cgroup seems to be the proper place (see 601757), so add the line cgroup /sys/fs/cgroup cgroup defaults 0 0 to your /etc/fstab file and sudo mount cgroup it.

Next, it seems like bridging is the defacto standard for networking with lxc, but given that I want to use it on my notebook while being mobile I can't bind the bridge to any specific interface. To make this happen, one needs the bridge-utils package installed, and secondly, this is the path that I chose. I've added to /etc/network/interfaces this snippet:

auto br0
iface br0 inet static
    bridge_maxwait 0
    bridge_ports dummy0

This will bring up the bridge and act as gateway. For the running system, call sudo ifup br0. To make the host universally being able to work as gateway, of course ip_forward needs to be enabled. For this I added the line net.ipv4.ip_forward=1 to /etc/sysctl.d/local.conf (and for the running system, echo 1 into /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward).

As I am using ferm for configuring the firewall on my notebook I have to add some parts into its configuration. This is the raw part that needs to get added, mix it into your existing configuration:

table filter {
    chain INPUT {
        # allow DNS queries from LXContainers
        proto (udp tcp) dport domain source ACCEPT;

    chain FORWARD {
        # allow LXContainers into the net
        source ACCEPT;

table nat {
    chain POSTROUTING {
        # NAT LXContainers
        source MASQUERADE;

For DNS I installed dnsmasq so that I won't have to touch the /etc/resolv.conf inside the containers whenever I switch networks.

So far for the host part, now to the actual containers. There is the /usr/lib/lxc/templates/lxc-debian helper script which uses debootstrap to create you a lenny chroot—at least in the squeeze package this is hardwired, likewise with using cdn.debian.net. Copy the script and edit it to your likes if you feel like it. From what I understood it expects you to store the containers below /var/lib/lxc, I haven't yet tested for different places. So this was my commandline for that:
sudo /usr/lib/lxc/templates/lxc-debian -p /var/lib/lxc/vm0

A while later you'll end up below that directory with two entries: The config file and the rootfs subdirectory which is actually the bootstrapped distribution part.

Now comes the configuration of the container. Open the config file with your favorite editor and add the following lines to the end:

lxc.utsname = vm0
lxc.network.type = veth
lxc.network.flags = up
lxc.network.link = br0
# lxc.network.name = eth0
lxc.network.hwaddr = 00:FF:80:80:80:80
lxc.network.ipv4 =

The network.name part is commented out, it defaults to that name internally; you though can change it to whatever you prefer. Caution, even though this is the documented approach, it does not work for Debian containers. It will always try to get its IP address through dhcp, lxc.network.ipv4 has no meaning for us. We need to change inside the rootfs the file etc/network/interfaces to read like this instead:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static

I suggest to keep the config and the interfaces file aligned with respect to the ipv4 setting so if this gets fixed upstream you won't stumble into any surprises. Also like mentioned before, we need to change the nameserver entries inside the rootfs file etc/resolv.conf to read nameserver

Now it's time to start it up and log in! sudo lxc-start -n vm0 -d will start the container in the background, and sudo lxc-console -n vm0 will give you the login to the container. The default password for the root user is root, obviously you want to change that before you install any networking services into the container like ssh-server. In case you want to quit from that console notice the message upon starting it, it's bound to <Ctrl+a q>.

One more issue that I had: The default route wasn't set. I had to manually call ip r a default via dev eth0 to be able to use the network inside the container. It seems to be related to that netbase isn't installed by default. If you install it the default route will be set upon starting the container automatically.

This should get you started, there is of course more to explore and experiment with. Actually it is also suggested to create a tarball from your vm0 after you did the basic setup and installed the basic components you want to have around so you won't have to bootstrap over and over again. Do this after you have shut down the container, either through a halt from a container shell or through sudo lxc-stop -n vm0. The tarball can then get extracted to a different directory and just needs minor tweaks in the config and rootfs/etc/network/interfaces file to not create any clash with other containers (lxc.rootfs, lxc.mount.entry, lxc.utsname, lxc.network.hwaddr and ipv4 address).

About limiting the containers, you can do it dynamically through the cgroup file system, and set it permanently through the config file. See man lxc.conf about these settings, amongst others.

Enjoy, use, experiment. With sudo lxc-checkconfig you will see what your kernel actually supports for your LXCs. You will most probably notice the missing for the memory controller, this is tracked in the Debian bug report 534964.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 6

Wed, 16 Mar 2011

Games Team IRC Meeting

As Paul Wise already blogged, there is going to be a IRC meeting of the Debian/Ubuntu Games Team on the upcoming friday night. It will be held at 18th of March at 21:00 UTC in #debian-games on irc.oftc.net, so if you are interested in bringing the Games Team up to pace again, want to join and wonder how you could help, please attend. The agenda isn't final yet, the doodle poll about it is still open, if you want to put your preferences in.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 14 Mar 2011

Squeeze RC bugs, #2

Another week, though this one wasn't as fruitful as the last one. My excuse here is that I was overwhelmed with private stuff like acquiring a house and starting with cleaning it up so it can become a home.

This is the list for my second week of my stable RC bug squashing:

  • 603846: Update LSB header for hal D-Bus activision, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 604299: please use KDE 4 port, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 608017: XLIB package is not available even after installation, only appears in relation with clisp 2.49.

I know three isn't much, and actually it doesn't impact the list of stable RC bugs not much, we are at 172 open RC bugs against squeeze now. I can only attribute it to that new bugs were filed since, because I am aware that I'm not the only one working on this front, I've been contacted by at least two other people in the last week that are investing some time into this, too.

Mostly for self-reference, the highest reported squeeze RC bugs in the list is 618295. This should help me to get a number of newly reported issues (ignoring severity-bump in lower bug numbers).

Read you next week!

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Mon, 07 Mar 2011

Squeeze RC Bugs

Alright, the stress of the release and its aftermath with respect to the New Website is getting lower. We even were explicitly mentioned for that during the introduction to the category Outstanding Contribution to Open Source/Linux/Free Software at this year's Linux New Media Awards.

Given that the Webmaster Team is much more energetic and lively these days I will shift a bit of my efforts to stable RC bug squashing again. I came to the conclusion that working on lenny RC bugs doesn't gain much of appreciation or real turnaround, and given that my time is limited I started to switch over to work on squeeze RC bugs. This is the list of bugs that I squashed last week (actually, marked them as invalid/not affecting squeeze):

  • 549054: Still uses gmime2.2, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 549056: Still uses gmime2.2, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 549057: Still uses gmime2.2, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 549058: Still uses gmime2.2, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 554310: FTBFS with binutils-gold, not relevant for squeeze.
  • 554557 FTBFS: undefined reference to symbol 'gzclose', not failing in squeeze.
  • 596569: Depends on xview, not relevant for squeeze.

I hope to be able to keep up that pace for a few weeks (currently there are 168 RC bugs in squeeze listed), and hopefully being able to motivate others to also support our stable release instead of only working on unstable.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 0

Tue, 15 Feb 2011

Peter Alexander

I guess it won't be very many people reading this blog to know the name, even though he was without any doubt one of the biggest entertainers. Lots of movies, his own TV show, and an enormous amount of albums made him well known far outside the borders of Austria, his home country. Last saturday he died in the age of 84, yesterday was his funeral. This is a special dedication to him. Peter, you will be missed.


/music | permanent link | Comments: 1

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