Search Results: "Fabio Tranchitella"

22 September 2009

Fabio Tranchitella: Distro Summit 2010: Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for the Distro Summit 2010 is still open!

Distro Summit 2010 is a one-day technical conference with a strong focus on collaboration between Free Software distributions hosted at the 2010.

We are looking for proposals from any Free Software distribution, from the typical full distributions (both linux and non-linux) to the niche market derivatives.

In spite of the strong focus on collaboration between Free Software distributions, topics may include packaging, maintenance, relationship with upstream developers, release management and QA.

To submit a proposal, or get more information, please write to

11 May 2009

Fabio Tranchitella: Are you looking for a job?

I tried hard, but it seems impossible to find Python programmers for our start-up. I know, living in Pecs (Hungary) limits the choices, but I also tried in Budapest and I was unable to find anybody with a good knowledge of Python and Zope. For this reason, we finally decided with my business partner to experiment with telecommuting.

We are looking for talented Python programmers to join our team, based in Pecs and Budapest (Hungary) with a satellite office in Turin (Italy). You will be able to work from home, planning your time based on your schedule and goals. You will work on the development of a free (as in speech) CRM and marketing platform built on the Zope Toolkit (aka Zope 3).

About you:



If you are interested, drop me a line at

28 January 2009

Obey Arthur Liu: Debian Summer of Code 08 : Where are they now (part 2/3)

Here s for the second installment of my review of this past year s Summer of Code at Debian. See the previous part here: Debian Summer of Code 08 : Where are they now (part 1/3). I apologize for being so late at getting this second part out but I have been very busy. Still, I ll get the last part out before FOSDEM. Those of you who ever had to write a Java compiler (ok, Java subset, but the OOP part was here ) in brainfucking Ada will understand what I went through working on two of my most loathed languages. Debian NAS, improve support of Debian on NAS devices Presentation There is a large range of inexpensive Network storage devices available on the market. For some of them, such as Linksys NSLU-2 and Thecus N2100, we have added support, but there is many many more devices we could support. For this summer we look forward at supporting multiple Marvell Orion based devices (as outlined in Martin Michlmayr s talk Running Debian on Inexpensive Network Storage Devices), such as Revogear Kuro Box Pro, Buffalo Linkstation, QNAP TS-109+, If you don t have old computers lying around to turn into NAS servers, you need to sleep at night without the soothing sound of computer fans or if you actually pay your own electricity bill, you might want to have a look at standalone NAS devices. They re cheap and can be made vastly more capable by slapping a Debian on it. If you ever heard of DD-WRT, you know the spirit. The project was mentored by Riku Voipio, with help from Martin Michlmayr. The project proposal (sorry, Google cache) was introduced by Martin, who did a presentation about it the previous year at FOSDEM. Student Per Andersson was a 24 year old student working towards a MSc in computer science at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. He had been looking for ways to join Debian but with school still being priority one, he didn t find time to dive in. Result This project was successful. The Kurobox Pro is now supported and several useful tools were packaged to make life easier with these NAS devices. Martin Michlmayer is still working on Debian NAS related stuff. Per was happy to be invited to the Emdebian work session in Extremadura and has been active within debian, maintaining the packages he created during the Summer of Code. Cran2deb, generate Debian packages from R packages Presentation GNU R has become the preeminent platform for computing with data . The CRAN archives contain over 1300 source packages of very high-quality, and BioConductor has again almost as many focuses on bioinformatics. We want more of these in Debian, and going beyond the 50+ packages we currently have suggests more scripting and automation. R is a pretty big among statisticians and all of them they wasted no time writing their own package to work on particular research subject. It s a lot like Perl with CPAN or LaTeX with CTAN. It s always a pain to discovery that a particular R package is not wihtin Debian and having to resort to unmanaged installation of said packages. The project was mentored by Dirk Eddelbuetel. The project proposal (which is nowhere to be found but seemed to be good) was introduced by Dirk, along with another proposal he did for R. Student Charles Blundell is a research student at.. hum.. didn t do my homework about that. Anyway, you can find him around R related projects. Result This project was successful. Cran2deb is happilly turning more than 1400 of the ~1500 CRAN R packages, all with correct dependencies. The work has since been moved to R-Forge. It s working, we re almost there. We just need it to be polished and we ll get a whole bunch of new packages into Debian. Charles pinged me about the status of Cran2Deb after the previous post. He admits that he hasn t done much about cran2deb recently because of his new position as a research student but hopes to commit again to it soon. I do encourage him to get these R packages into Debian. I had to manually install some packages myself when I had to use R for school because they weren t into Debian and it s not pretty. Mergemaster, interactively merge changes in configuration files Presentation FreeBSD has a shellscript called mergemaster which is used to interactively merge changes in configuration files, based on 3-way diffs. Debian s approach to configuration file differences is much more primitive: either keep the original file, or blow it away (including all local changes) and use the Debian-provided file. It would be nice to get a system such as mergemaster into Debian. Important is to remember that Debian contains two often-used configuration file management systems: ucf, and conffiles; porting mergemaster in such a way that it will be used in both cases would be great. The handling of configuration files during upgrades has always been a little.. brutal, with the user being asked at gunpoint to make a good decision, lest the upgrade won t continue or configuration files get borked (ever tried automerging nagios configuration files?). Having a less stressful upgrade experience is a good thing since the point of Debian is to make package management a stressless thing. The project was mentored by, hum, Manoj Srivastava. I have no idea who came up at first with the proposal. UPDATE: Wouter Verhelst mailed to say that he made the original proposal. Student Max Wiehle was a physics student at the University of Heidelberg. He did a Summer of Code stint ( copy..) as a student for Beagle Project in 2006 which, I suppose, was successful. He s been active in the past with Gnome and desktop related projects. Result This project was somewhat successful. He posted an update one month into the program with repositories with code to test. Last commit to the mergecf branch of project was September 19th but it was never merged in. According to Steve McIntyre, it s dead, Jim. I couldn t find any further public involvement of Max within Debian. PAS NSS Debian Installer, improve support of PAM and NSS at install-time Presentation It would be very important for the Debian allowing the user to configure additional PAM and NSS modules (eg. LDAP, NIS) during the installation process inside the Debian Installer. To do this, we have to provide tools and helpers to modify /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/pam.d/common-*, as well as changing the maintainer scripts for the packages libpam-* and libnss-* to apply the required changes at install time using debconf and these helpers. To be honest, I will probably never use this. I don t do that many coordinated installs in the same place to warrant doing funny authentication with PAM and NSS, and if I did, I would probably use a more elaborate tool to personalize the install, like FAI. On the other hand, I can see the appeal of being done with authentication mechanisms before the first boot. The project was mentored by Fabio Tranchitella. The proposal came from the student. Student Juan Luis Belmonte was a computer science student. He worked in a couple of companies in the area of Sarragossa. He is now founding debug_mode=ON. Result This was quite a disappointement after seemingly good work. Although Juan was satisfied with the project, the PAM package maintainer (Steve Vorlon Langasek) was not. He was never asked about this project (but didn t intervene timely either when the accepted projects were announced though). In his words, it was the wrong solution to the problem . You can find his lenghty rationale on the wontfix bug report that resulted from the project. It really was a problem of communication with the Debian developpers since Juan could certainly have done the right work if pointed to it. Juan didn t ask thoroughly for existing work and Steve didn t publicize his (enough). That s all for now. The information is quite fragmented I admit. Most of it was pulled from Google, mailing lists, commit logs, blogs, whatever. If some projects are lacking in information here, it s because I couldn t find it readily (which is an issue in itself!). In my next post, I ll try to give a student point of view of the Summer of Code in general, and more specifically, at Debian. It will be post 2.5/3 since it s getting a little longer than I planned. Release early, release often, as the say.
If you re a student or a mentor mentioned above, feel free to fill any of the blanks in my report. It s much appreciated. You re not a student or mentor mentioned above and have an opinion on how to improve the next Debian Summer of Code ? Feel free to comment.

20 January 2009

Steve Kemp: I saw green fields and flowers. I could smell the grass.

Fabio Tranchitella recently posted about his new filesystem which really reminded me of an outstanding problem I have. I do some email filtering, and that is setup in a nice distributed fashion. I have a web/db machine, and then I have a number of MX machines which process incoming mail rejecting spam and queuing good mail for delivery. I try not to talk about it very often, because that just smells of marketting. More users would be good, but I find explicit promotion & advertising distasteful. (It helps to genuinly consider users as users, and not customers even though money changes hands.) Anyway I handle mail for just over 150 domains (some domains will receive 40,000 emails a day others will receive 10 emails a week) and each of these domains has different settings, such as "is virus scanning enabled?" and "which are the valid localparts at this domain?", then there are whitelists, blacklists, all that good stuff. The user is encouraged to fiddle with their settings via the web/db/master machine - but ultimately any settings actually applied and used upon the MX boxes. This was initially achieved by having MySQL database slaves, but eventually I settled upon a simpler and more robust scheme: Using the filesystem. (Many reasons why, but perhaps the simplest justification is that this way things continue to work even if the master machine goes offline, or there are network routing issues. Each MX machine is essentially standalone and doesn't need to be always talking to the master host. This is good.) On the master each domain has settings beneath /srv. Changes are applied to the files there, and to make the settings live on the slave MX boxes I can merely rsync the contents over. Here is an anonymized example of a settings hierarchy.. So a user makes a change on the web machine. That updates /srv on the master machine immediately - and then every fifteen minutes, or so, the settigngs are pushed accross to the MX boxes where the incoming mail is actually processed. Now ideally I want the updates to be applied immediately. That means I should look at using sshfs or similar. But also as a matter of policy I want to keep things reliable. If the main box dies I don't want the machines to suddenly cease working. So that rules out remotely mounting via sshfs, nfs or similar. Thus far I've not really looked at the possabilities, but I'm leaning towards having each MX machine look for settings in two places: That way I can rsync to /backup on a fixed schedule, but expect that in everyday operation I'll get current/live settings from /srv via NFS, sshfs, or something similar. My job for the weekend is to look around and see what filesystems are available and look at testing them. Obmovie:Alive

19 January 2009

Fabio Tranchitella: Distributed application-level filesystem for web applications

While developing web applications using Zope3, my Python web framework of choice, I always have the same issue: where should I store the UGC data? I usually used an NFS filesystem, using a Zope utility to manage the storage and retrieval of the files.

The most obvious disadvantage of this technique is that the NFS server is a single point of failure: if it disappears, there is no way to access the files from the application servers.

Another problem with this implementation is that all the UGC data files have to be served by the application servers, using resources which could be used to serve more clients instead of transmitting a static file over the network.

MogileFS is an application-level distributed filesystem which solves these problems, ensuring data integrity and redundancy, written by Danga. The only problem is that it is written in Perl, it works only with MySQL and requires WebDAV servers for the storage.

To solve my problem, I decided to borrow some of the ideas behind MogileFS and to develop my own distributed application-level filesystem. KoboldFS is written in Python, uses a PostgreSQL database to store the filesystem status and it is released under the GPL license.

I deployed it a few days ago on one of our production clusters, and it reduced the load of the application servers allowing us to serve the UGC files directly from nginx. You can find the source code along with a rough description here.

31 December 2008

Fabio Tranchitella: year.stop(); year = Year(2009); year.start();

A few hours and this year will be over. Instead of making a summary of 2008, I feel the need to list a few of my goals for 2009:

This list is not exhaustive, but writing down these items helps me. After a so-so 2008, I'm looking forward for a new exciting year: I feel very motivated and I'm sure that 2009 will be positive and rich of satisfactions.

Happy New Year to everybody, may the Force be with you.

18 August 2008

Fabio Tranchitella: Looking for a laptop with a looong battery life

I'm looking for a new laptop to substitute my (very old) Acer Travelmate. I have a powerful desktop system in the office, so I'd use the laptop only when travelling. In fact, in the last months I started travelling a lot, going to Budapest visiting our customers at least once a week (6 hours of train back and forth) as well as spending at least one week in Italy every month (12 hours of train-airplane-train from Pecs, Hungary to Torino, Italy).

For these reasons, I'm more interested in portability than computing power. The crucial point is the battery life: I'd love to have a laptop which I could use for 12 hours without a recharge while travelling across Europe, but I know that this is a dream.

Well, maybe it is not a dream anymore: according to the Dell website their new Latitude E6400 can achieve 19 hours (yes, 19 hours) of battery life with two 9-cells batteries (standard and additional). Of course I know that if they write 19 hours, they really mean 12 hours of real usage or so, but it is still amazing. I asked for a price quotation, and it seems that it is not that expensive (about 1.500 euro with a good configuration), making it an ideal candidate.

So, dear Lazyweb, do you have any experience with the Latitude E6400, especially with Debian? Do you have any suggestion for a laptop with a very (very) long battery life?

26 July 2008

Philipp Kern: Stable Point Release: Etch 4.0r4 (aka etchnhalf)

Another point release for Etch has been done; now it's the time for the CD team to roll out new images after the next mirror pulse. The official announcements (prepared by Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, thanks!) will follow shortly afterwards. FTP master of the day was Joerg Jaspert, who did his first point release since Woody, as he told us on IRC. We appreciate your work and you spending your time that shortly before going to Argentina. This point release includes the etchnhalf update introducing a new kernel image (based on 2.6.24) and some driver updates. Additionally the infamous openssl hole will be fixed for good, even for new installs. Again I want to present you a list of people who contributed to this release. It cannot be complete as I got the information out of the Changed-by fields of the uploads. From the Release Team we had dann frazier (who drove the important kernel part of etchnhalf), Luk Claes, Neil McGovern, Andreas Barth, Martin Zobel-Helas and me working on it. ;-)

22 July 2008

Jaldhar Vyas: And I'll, Um, Check For Blaculas...Nope No Blaculas

Although it still nominally has my name on it, the Debian dovecot package has for a long time been looked after by Fabio Tranchitella. Recently, Joel Johnson has joined the team and he has prepared a package for version 1.1.1 which was uploaded to experimental a couple of days ago. Upstream thinks 1.1.1 will probably not be stable enough for Lenny but a backport will be provided (perhaps even by me!) Testing/Unstable will stick with the 1.0 series until after the release.

2 June 2008

Fabio Tranchitella: Am I doing it wrong?

When I moved in Hungary in 2006, I started a direct marketing company. In fact, it is the local local branch of an Italian marketing company where I worked since 2003. The company is growing very slowly: we faced a lot of issues with the local market (I'll probably talk about this topic in another post) and only in the last months things started going on the right path.

I still remember the old days when I spent the whole working day alone, in the office, struggling to find the good motivation to work on something which almost everybody around me considered a failure even before starting. I always considered my company as a family, where trust and respect are the glue for the team members. I remember the old times when Aron, my first employee and now business partner, started learning the internals of the direct marketing: he trusted me, sharing with me the duties of starting up the company.  Looking back I feel proud of what we did and more conscious about what we can do in the future.

Growing also means enlarging the team. To say the truth, I didn't expect to have so many problems looking for new people to add to our team: I interviewed a lot of people for our "python programmer" position, spending a lot of time and energy. I know that living in Hungary also means dealing with a local, small, atypical environment, but we offer the possibility to learn and develop IT and non-IT skills in a young, international environment.

We finally found an interesting guy, with PHP experiences but willing to learn Python. He told us that he could leave his job by the 16th of June, and he could work with us part-time till that date. Everything worked fine for three weeks then, suddenly, he disappeared. For one week, his mobile phone rang, but nobody picked up the line. No answer to e-mails, IRC, MSN or any other communication channel. I was worried, I hoped he was fine somewhere. This morning he called Aron telling him that he was sick, he had an issue with his eye. He visited a lot of doctors. He was busy. So busy that he couldn't call us to tell us so. For one week. After he started working with us four weeks ago. What is more annoying is that he didn't appear worried about his position, about our project, about our company. If I'd have quit from my job, I'd be very very worried about my new employer who is looking for me for one whole week without being able to reach me.

We are a growing company based on a small team, without a strict organigram and a horizontal structure. I trust my workmates, I trust them so much to put in their hands my investments, my reputation, my customers. The best team members knows that errors in this phase (eg. lost customers) can influence the company future and their job position

In this case, I gave out trust, but I didn't get back respect. I'm starting to think that being friendly and building a collaborative environment, a horizontal structure is not helping but damaging the company. Maybe if I'd be a boss with strong authority, then people wouldn't behave in this way.

And yes, of course, the problem with the eye was just an excuse.

Juan Luis Belmonte: My project, my mentor & me

The program has officially started on May 26th, i was reading some documentation before starting i would like to start before, but i was working in a company. My project will be for Debian and is called PamNssInstaller. Oh yeah great but.. What is it;
Well lets talk about files involved in this mess :)
nsswitch.conf This file is in charge of how and where to look for the needed information, is divided in two columns, first “what information are we looking for” passwd, hosts, shadow, bootparams, ethers… And the second colums says how and where to look. lets see an example of this file.
passwd: compat
group: compat
shadow: compat hosts: files dns # fhere looks first in /etc/hosts, and if not found lookup DNS
networks: nis [NOTFOUND=return] files # if somethin doesn’t goes ok with nis look in files
This way we can see how to set up some kind of chains of looking up the required information.(man nsswitch.conf for more information) pam.d/common-* Files
In pam.d directory we find some files, in a clean base installed system there are 4 conffiles common-passwd, common-auth, common-account and common-session. After installing other things such gdm, samba, sudo, they create their own config files to set up their applications, but we will work on common-* that its aim is global and required for the system and its functionalities. In these files the information is about, how to interact with the different auth modules, and in which order or situations. See an example of a common-account file
account [success=1 default=ignore]
account required
account required
This is just an example of wht the README.debian of libpam-ldap say that you have to set up in your account file. The aim of the post is not to explain all about pam system. For further information you can look at pam documentation. Due to the policy, these conffiles cannot be modified directly by the packages or their installation. The way to do this is to implement some tools which are capable to do it, and use them by maintainer scripts. So that is the goal of the project, implement that tools, suit them into the source deb packages pack them in libnss and libpam, and work on the package system to do it properly. In this way there are things to specify but the is the main Idea. The common-account example i’ve shown is what libpam tell you to do by hand. In a future when our job is finished, the maintainer script will ask if the user wants to activate, and if it yes, the tools of update-pam will be used to do it. And when a libnss installed the update-nsswitch will be used. Well this was a little explanation of what is what i have to do. At the google summer of code, all applicants as me, have a mentor acting as a tutor on the project, who tells you what to do and what not. It also a partner of you to work with, and is the link between you and the organization, in my case is Debian. My mentor is Fabio Tranchitella also known as kobold. Is Italian and is one of the debian developer who is participating and sponsoring a quite big amount of packages (Overview), and also involved at the zope project. I think his skills are great and i can learn a lot in this project mentored by him. Let me say thanks to him for mentoring me.

6 May 2008

Fabio Tranchitella: PyCon2, Firenze (Italy)

I'll take part to PyCon2, the second italian Python Conference which will be held in Firenze (Florence) from the 9th to the 11th of May. I'll also give a talk about one of our last projects built on Zope 3 and all the issues we faced with while deploying and scaling it.

I've never been in Florence before, so I decided to bring my family with me to spend a few days before the conference visiting the city.

I'm looking forward to taking part to PyCon2 and meeting in person a lot of people I only know from the web, although I'll probably follow just a few talks and spend the rest of my time with my wife and the babies enjoying the city.

2 May 2008

Fabio Tranchitella: Time to start a blog

I started reading planet debian a few years ago when it became obvious for me that it was an important communication channel for the Debian community, but never managed to start my own blog. I think it is time to do it. After reading Ganneff's experiences with Movable Type, I finally installed it on my webserver.

Now, let's see how often I'll update it.

29 November 2007

Ondřej Čertík: Debian meeting in Merida, Spain

Right now, some Debian Developers (and also not yet Developers, like me:), are on
the work sessions in Extremadura, I am on the QA and release teams meeting.

We started in the morning with presentations (see also the schedule). Any comments and suggestions welcomed, please add comments below the post.

Lucas Nussbaum presenting:

Most of us:

And in details, names from left to right. Cyril Brulebois, Gon ri Le Bouder:

Luk Claes, Marc 'HE' Brockschmidt, J rg Jaspert, Lars Wirzenius:

Fabio Tranchitella, Bernd Zeimetz, Mario Iseli, Luk Claes:

Filippo Giunchedi, Stefano Zacchiroli, Tzafrir Cohen, Simon Richter, Faidon Liambotis:

And again, so that Faidon is visible:

24 May 2006

Baruch Even: Debian in Google Summer of Code 2006

Congratulations to all whose projects were accepted, Debian received 60 eligible proposals, many of those were great projects which we would have loved to accept but we only had 10 slots that are paid for by Google so the competition was tough. The accepted projects are: All the accepted projects received email to them and their mentor, if you are a student whose project wasn't accepted, we'd still be happy if you will do the project even without the funding, if you need a helping hand or a mentor we will surely be happy to help you out, contact me at The plan is that students who have a blog or setup one for the Summer of Code will be added to Planet Debian so everyone can follow their progress on their quest to help Debian improve. Cheers and thanks to everyone who helped make this happen!
Baruch Even
Debian SoC coordinator

9 May 2006

Kai Hendry: webpy 0.138

With the help of Seo Sanghyeon, Josselin Mouette, Aaron Swartz and of course Fabio Tranchitella a new webpy release is uploaded to unstable. I just love working with other people to realise something. Especially when everyone is “on the same page”. It’s techy, social and it’s enjoyable. Interesting thing about this release is that the packaging uses python-support so it should work with any python interpreter. So no need for ugly python2.4- type naming. Check it out.

14 March 2006

Kai Hendry: Wordpress 2.0.2

Yes, I’m well aware of the 2.0.2 release of wordpress. Packages are ready and I am waiting on my usual sponsor Fabio Tranchitella to upload them to unstable. I wonder when I’ll get an AM. More than 2 years now in the process.

8 January 2006

Philipp Kern: Plone 2.1

I had my first contact with Plone on Friday and I immediately started to use it, i.e. Plone 2.1, for one of the homepages I administrate. It is the best free CMS I encountered by now. I figured that customisation is very easy, and their acknowledgment of accessibility and clean HTML is pretty nice. Zope is, despite of what I thought from my other contacts with it, quite nice in terms of usability. But I really have to thank Debian’s Zope team and Fabio Tranchitella for their easy-to-use packages. I’m now running Zope 2.8 running on Debian Sarge just fine, with very few efforts of backporting. However, Martin, you need to compare Ruby on Rails rather to Zope CMF than to Plone itself. Rails is only a framework, whereas Plone is a fully featured CMS on top of CMF. As far as I know, such a featureful and free CMS has yet to be built on top of Rails.