Search Results: "George Danchev"

7 January 2011

Steve McIntyre: Isohybrid CDs being produced

New feature for Debian CDs We've had a wishlist bug (#551951) open against debian-cd for some time, asking for the creation of "isohybrid" CD images for i386 and amd64. These are special in that as well as the normal CD-based ISO9660 filesystem they also contain a valid-looking DOS-style partition table. Thus, if you simply copy one of these images raw to a USB stick a normal PC BIOS will boot the image directly. This would be a neat feature, making it much easier for people to use standard Debian installer images on their USB sticks without having to follow a lot more instructions. Support for this feature was added in syslinux/isolinux quite a while back (thanks to H Peter Anvin and the other syslinux contributors), but this depended on post-processing images with the isohybrid program. Due to the special way that we make our CD and DVD images to produce jigdo images as well, that wouldn't work for us: the jigdo files would no longer match the ISO files. Bugger...! Recently, along came more help in the form of Thomas Schmitt (author of xorriso) and George Danchev, its Debian maintainer. Recent versions of xorriso support creating isohybrid images directly, which is very handy. We've worked together in the last few months on porting my old JTE code (which creates our jigdo images) from cdrkit to xorriso, and after a lot of testing and debugging we now have things working fully. I've added a small amount of code in debian-cd to use the new xorriso features, and for the last couple of weeks all of the i386, amd64 and i386-amd64 multi-arch CDs and DVDs have been built as hybrids. It's been a delight working with Thomas and George - they're enthusiastic, helpful and friendly. Thanks, guys! What does this mean for end users? Instead of having to specially prepare USB sticks for the installer, you can now simply use dd to write the image straight to the raw stick, e.g.:
# dd if=debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso of=/dev/sdX
The USB stick should now boot directly, showing exactly the same bootup screen as if you'd written the image directly to a CD. Yay! I'm expecting to be using this code from now on for new releases, i.e. d-i beta and RC releases and for Squeeze itself when we get there. I'm not planning on backporting this code into the Lenny branch of debian-cd as it's a lot of work and I don't want to destabilise things there. What's next? We need to clear up some of the maintenance around the code as it stands; I'm planning on moving libjte inside my existing jigit package, as that's a sensible place to put it. That will come after the Squeeze release, though. We need to finalise boot support for other architectures in xorriso; I added support for them into mkisofs/genisoimage a long time ago and we've already moved some of that into xorriso. Thomas and George have also been working hard to give me faster/better size estimation code, useful for making debian-cd run faster. Finally: I'd like to add support into xorriso for creating the nasty HFS hybrid images that are needed for booting Macs. The code that does this in cdrkit is probably some of the worst that I've ever worked with, and I'd like to get away from it. If only Apple hadn't stupidly built their proprietary platform around this shit and had used open standards instead. :-( Once we have these bits in xorriso, I'll be able to move production of all of the CDs across from genisoimage to xorriso. Very nearly there for being able to drop the last remnants of Schily-ware from the Debian archive...

8 January 2008

Simon Huggins: Books (part 2)

[ Apologies for Debian planet readers expecting something pithy and Debian related. This isn't. But then pkg-xfce packaging just continues. We get more bugs, we fix some of them (if you have a dual-headed setup and want to help us fix or reproduce more we'd love to hear from you). Corsac became a DD at last and has made me more or less redundant in a good way. I should probably investigate libburnia again and prod George Danchev about #450873 since basically it seems to just need the ubuntu packaging brought across into Debian to replace libburn etc. But anyway, on with the irrelevant stuff... ] Books part 1 was back in April and I've since found myself with some time on my hands before I get a new job so here we go again.
Making Money - Terry Pratchett
This was a Christmas present and I quite enjoyed it and enjoyed the character but didn't really think it lived up to the laugh a minute Pratchett books that I remembered from the good old days.
The Lovely Bones - Alice Seebold
This is quite a weird concept for a book given that it's from the point of view of a dead girl in heaven but it seems to work. It's very well done and I enjoyed it.
Alex Rider series - Anthony Horowitz
I had seen Stormbreaker and wanted to read some more of these as light holiday reading. They work well for that. There's enough plot to keep me interested but not enough to make them at all hard to read. I read a couple of them in French when I was in France (in between traipsing between different bits of Paris since the m tro workers were on strike). I wish they'd been around when I was younger.
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Ooh this is a really, really good book. I loved it except perhaps for the very end but I can forgive it that. The idea is that she's suing her parents for the rights to her own body because she was conceived as a donor for her sister to fight off her sister's leukaemia. It's a very thought provoking read with several interesting characters with their own stories woven together.
The Language Instinct - Steven Pinker
This book is fascinating to me. It takes ideas mainly from linguistics, evolution and psychology and explains a theory that seems to hold together and is well illustrated and explained. The central point is that we all are born with the ability to develop a universal grammar from an early age which can be adapted to any human language and which sticks around in the young child and then disappears. If you have any interest in language at all read this book.
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
I found this a bit hard to get into as essentially it's about the normal lives of a family (albeit quite a special family). It doesn't really grab you. Towards the end though I was interested to find out how it would all unravel and was pleased with it.
The Mephisto Club - Tess Gerritsen
This is a nice, honest thriller that does what you expect. It keeps you flicking the pages wanting to know what happens next.
The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
I quite enjoyed this and did find new arguments against religion but I don't think he's going to convert anyone with this book. Of course I'd recommend anyone read it because it raises lots of interesting points but it's polemic essentially.
The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins
I enjoyed this though it builds on previous work I'd read. I guess if you're just interested in evolution then read this and not the God Delusion.
The Raw Shark Texts - Steven Hall
I was recommended this by a friend. It's very surreal possibly a bit too surreal for me but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K Dick
I hadn't read the book and saw it at a friend's and borrowed it. You probably all know what it's like. I'm glad I read it because of the references to it but it's not my normal reading material.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
I had to read this of course to finish off the series but I thought it was a lot better than some of the others. I think I enjoyed the first, the one with the tri-wizarding championship and this one the most.
Love in Idleness - Charlotte Mendelson
This is well written and you really get into the character that's painted for you. I really liked some of the descriptions of justifying things to yourself and coping with boredom.
Blood, Sweat & Tea - Tom Reynolds
This was an interesting look at the life of a paramedic and if you don't already read Random acts of reality then read the book first and start reading the blog.
Telling Lies - Paul Ekman
This came from my Blink/Tipping Point reading and I found it hard going. It was interesting but quite detailed and not really a book for late night reading. The theories in it are very interesting though and explain why you probably aren't as good at detecting things as you think you might be and how to look for factors that will help you.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks
I read this ages ago and it was fascinating. It's about a number of different cases of problems with the brain. Often physical defects in various areas of the brain that cause odd problems and how it sheds light on how things relate. I really enjoyed it.
As always, do please punt your own recommendations at me.