Search Results: "Mike Gabriel"

6 July 2015

Mike Gabriel: My FLOSS activities in June 2015

June 2015 has been mainly dedicated to these five fields of endeavour: Received Sponsorship Last month's contributions of mine (8h) to the Debian LTS project had been contracted by Freexian [1] again. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on the team. Thanks to all the people and companies sponsoring the Debian LTS Team's work. Also a big thanks to people from Hetzner GmbH for sponsoring my stay at X2Go: The Gathering 2015 @ Linuxhotel (in Essen, Germany). MATE 1.10 entering Debian experimental Together with Martin Wimpress from Ubuntu MATE and other people in the Debian MATE Packaging Team I managed to upload a great portion of the MATE 1.10 packages to Debian experimental. Please note that this is still work in progress. Not all MATE 1.10 packages have been uploaded yet and several packages from the MATE 1.10 series in Debian have grave bugs still (mostly packaging and installation issues). The plan is to make the complete MATE 1.10 stack available in Debian experimental by the end of July and also get all the open kinks fixed by then. Development nx-libs 3.6.x In June 2015, I have looked at various aspects of nx-libs development: read more

5 June 2015

Mike Gabriel: My FLOSS activities in May 2015

May 2015 has been mainly dedicated to these three fields of endeavour: Received Sponsorship I am happy to report that I received a personal sponsoring over 3.000,- EUR from a sponsor not to be named in May 2015. The sponsoring has been dedicated to supporting my work on The Arctica Project. Last month's contributions of mine (8h) to the Debian LTS project had been contracted by Freexian [1] again. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on the team. Thanks to all the people and companies sponsoring the Debian LTS Team's work. Development and License of nx-libs 3.6.x What has been achieved in May 2015 concerning the nx-libs development? read more

29 May 2015

Mike Gabriel: DXPC retroactively re-licensed as BSD-2-clause, nx-libs(-lite) now really DFSG-compliant

We recently had an intensive phase while reconsidering the DFSG-compliancy of the nx-libs(-lite) code base. TL;DR; In May 2015, all versions of DXPC released before version 3.8.1 (sometime in 2002) have retroactively been re-licensed by all previous maintainers of DXPC as BSD-2-clause. This blog arcticle is a modified version of the nxcomp/README.on-retroactive-DXPC-license file [1] and gives an overview of the discussion thread that lead to the retroactive re-licensing of DXPC. For the full discussion, see doc/DXPC_re-licensed::debbug_784565.mbox [2] in the nx-libs source project or #784565 on the Debian bug tracker [3]. [1] https://github.com/ArcticaProject/nx-libs/blob/3.6.x/nxcomp/README.on-re...
[2] https://github.com/ArcticaProject/nx-libs/blob/3.6.x/doc/DXPC_re-license...
[3] https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=784565 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ STEP 1 In May 2015, a serious license issue around the nxcomp code shipped in this source project was raised and solved on the Debian bug tracker (thanks to Francesco Poli and many others): http://bugs.debian.org/784565
From: "Francesco Poli \(wintermute\)" 
To: Debian Bug Tracking System 
Date: Wed, 06 May 2015 19:35:32 +0200
I noticed that the debian/copyright states:
[...]
  Parts of this software are derived from DXPC project. These copyright
  notices apply to original DXPC code:
 
read more

18 May 2015

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, April 2015

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS. Individual reports In April, 81.75 work hours have been dispatched among 5 paid contributors (20.75 hours where unused hours of Ben and Holger that were re-dispatched to other contributors). Their reports are available: Evolution of the situation May has seen a small increase in terms of sponsored hours (66.25 hours per month) and June is going to do even better with at least a new gold sponsor. We will have no problems sustaining the increased workload it implies since three Debian developers joined the team of contributors paid by Freexian (Antoine Beaupr , Santiago Ruano Rinc n, Scott Kitterman). The Jessie release probably shed some light on the Debian LTS project since we announced that Jessie will benefit from 5 years of support. Let s hope that the trend will continue in the following months and that we reach our first milestone of funding the equivalent of a half-time position. In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation is a bit contrasted: the dla-needed.txt file lists 28 packages awaiting an update (12 less than last month), the list of open vulnerabilities in Squeeze shows about 60 affected packages in total (4 more than last month). The extra hours helped to make a good stride in the packages awaiting an update but there are many new vulnerabilities waiting to be triaged. Thanks to our sponsors The new sponsors of the month are in bold.

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Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, April 2015

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS. Individual reports In April, 81.75 work hours have been dispatched among 5 paid contributors (20.75 hours where unused hours of Ben and Holger that were re-dispatched to other contributors). Their reports are available: Evolution of the situation May has seen a small increase in terms of sponsored hours (66.25 hours per month) and June is going to do even better with at least a new gold sponsor. We will have no problems sustaining the increased workload it implies since three Debian developers joined the team of contributors paid by Freexian (Antoine Beaupr , Santiago Ruano Rinc n, Scott Kitterman). The Jessie release probably shed some light on the Debian LTS project since we announced that Jessie will benefit from 5 years of support. Let s hope that the trend will continue in the following months and that we reach our first milestone of funding the equivalent of a half-time position. In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation is a bit contrasted: the dla-needed.txt file lists 28 packages awaiting an update (12 less than last month), the list of open vulnerabilities in Squeeze shows about 60 affected packages in total (4 more than last month). The extra hours helped to make a good stride in the packages awaiting an update but there are many new vulnerabilities waiting to be triaged. Thanks to our sponsors The new sponsors of the month are in bold.

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4 May 2015

Mike Gabriel: Rebasing NXv3 against latest X.Org -- already ~2,700,000 lines of code removed

We have set sails for a great endeavour. We are cleaning up the nx-X11 / nxagent code tree [1] and rebase it against latest / recent X.Org. Until now, we have been able to drop ~2,700,000 lines of code [2] from the source tree that originally got released by NoMachine. The plan is... For more details, see the Readme.md[3] file on our Github project. What we have achieved so far... read more

Mike Gabriel: My FLOSS activities in April 2015

April 2015 has been my first month on the Debian LTS team (as a paid contractor working underneath the Freexian [1] umbrella). Working in the team of paid Debian LTS developers requires to write a monthly summary about sponsored work on Debian LTS. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on his company's team and providing the framework for providing paid work on Debian LTS. I will use this requirement for a monthly report as a starting point for documenting my FLOSS activities on a monthly basis via my blog (not only for Debian LTS, but also for other projects). Work on Debian LTS For the Debian LTS team I have been doing 8h of contracted work in April 2015 (and at the beginning of May 2015). The work focused on: Several more hours have been spent by myself (and also Raphael) for getting me started in the team. Thanks for your patience. Work on Debian jessie The Debian MATE Packaging team was able to provide several fixes last-minute before the Debian jessie release (mate-control-center[5], caja-extensions[6], mate-desktop [7]). Thanks to the release team for processing the last-minute unblock requests so smoothly. read more

24 April 2015

Mike Gabriel: Arctica Project - New Remote (Desktop) Computing Project

This is to announce a new upcoming FLOSS project addressing the remote (desktop) computing realm in the GNU/Linux (and possibly other *nices) server world. The new project's name will be The Arctica Project [1, 2]. In the Arctica Project, 5-6 developers from all over the world have come together to revisit the field of remote (desktop) computing and write a remote computing framework from scratch. At the moment, there are not many solutions around that (a) are 100% Free Software, (b) work acceptable for most users and (c) also address large scale deployments and enterprise grade customers. To be honest, IMHO there is actually no such solution at all. The Arctica Project attempts at changing this sustainably; and we are starting with it NOW. If anyone reads this and gets curious, please join us on IRC and get in touch! If you feel like a potential contributor, we happily invite you to become one. We are open to your input. Please share it. (Thanks!) light+love,
Mike [1] https://github.com/ArcticaProject
[2] IRC channel #arctica on Freenode

14 April 2015

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, March 2015

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS. Individual reports In February, 61 work hours have been equally split among 4 paid contributors. Their reports are available: The remaining hours of Ben and Holger have been redispatched to other contributors for April (during which Mike Gabriel joins the set of paid contributors). BTW, if you want to join the team of paid contributors, read this and apply! Evolution of the situation April has seen no change in terms of sponsored hours but we have two new sponsors in the pipe and May should hopefully have a few more sponsored hours. For the need of a LTS presentation I gave during the Mini-DebConf Lyon I prepared a small graph showing the evolution of the hours sponsored through Freexian:
freexian-hours The growth is rather slow and it will take years to reach our goal of funding the equivalent a full time position (176 hours per month). Even the intermediary goal of funding the equivalent of a half-time position (88h/month) is more than 6 months away given the current growth rate. But the perspective of Wheezy-LTS should help us to convince more organizations and hopefully we will reach that goal sooner. If you want to sponsor the project, check out this page. In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation looks similar to last month: the dla-needed.txt file lists 40 packages awaiting an update (exactly like last month), the list of open vulnerabilities in Squeeze shows about 56 affected packages in total (2 less than last month). Thanks to our sponsors The new sponsors of the month are in bold (none this month).

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10 January 2015

Mike Gabriel: Shifting my Focus in X2Go

Dear X2Go Community, dear friends, as many of you may know, I have been contributing a considerable amount
of time to upstream-maintaining X2Go over the past 4 years. I provided
new X2Go components (Python X2Go, PyHoca X2Go Client, a publicly
available X2Go Session Broker, X2Go MATE Bindings, etc.) and focused on
making X2Go a wide-spread community project. For the last 2-3 years I
have been in the role of the X2Go project coordinator and various other
roles. With the beginning of 2015, I will pass on several of those roles to
other people in the project, see the below list for already assigned and
unassigned roles: The reasons for tremendously reducing my workload on X2Go are these: In several internal exchanges we (Heinz, Stefan, Mihai, Mike#2, read more

11 December 2014

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s fourth report about Debian Long Term Support

Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS. Individual reports In November 42.5 work hours have been equally split among 3 paid contributors. Their reports are available: New paid contributors Last month we mentioned the possibility to recruit more paid contributors to better share the work load and this has already happened: Ben Hutchings and Mike Gabriel join the list of paid contributors. Ben, as a kernel maintainer, will obviously take care of releasing Linux security updates. We are glad to have him on board because backporting kernel fixes really need some skills that nobody else had within the team of paid contributors. Evolution of the situation Compared to last month, the number of paid work hours has almost not increased (we are at 45.7 hours per month) but we are in the process of adding a few more sponsors: Roche Diagnostics International AG, Misal-System, Bitfolk LTD. And we are still in contact with a couple of other companies which have announced their willingness to contribute but which are waiting the new fiscal year. But even with those new sponsors, we still have some way to go to reach our minimal goal of funding the equivalent of a half-time position. So consider asking your company representative to join this project! In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation looks better than last month: the dla-needed.txt file lists 27 packages awaiting an update (6 less than last month), the list of open vulnerabilities in Squeeze shows about 58 affected packages in total. Like last month, we re a bit behind in terms of CVE triaging and there are still many packages using SSLv3 where we have no clear plan (in response to the POODLE issues). The good side is that even though the kernel update spent a large chunk of time to Holger and Rapha l, we still managed to further reduce the backlog of security issues. Thanks to our sponsors

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29 October 2014

Mike Gabriel: Join us at "X2Go: The Gathering 2014"

TL;DR; Those of you who are not able to join "X2Go: The Gathering 2014"... Join us on IRC (#x2go on Freenode) over the coming weekend. We will provide information, URLs to our TinyPads, etc. there. Spontaneous visitors are welcome during the working sessions (please let us know if you plan to come around), but we don't have spare beds anymore for accomodation. (We are still trying hard to set up some sort of video coverage--may it be life streaming or recorded sessions, this is still open, people who can offer help, see below). Our event "X2Go: The Gathering 2014" is approaching quickly. We will meet with a group of 13-15 people (number of people is still slightly fluctuating) at Linux Hotel, Essen. Thanks to the generous offerings of the Linux Hotel [1] to FLOSS community projects, costs of food and accommodation could be kept really low and affordable to many people. We are very happy that people from outside Germany are coming to that meeting (Michael DePaulo from the U.S., Kjetil Fleten (http://fleten.net) from Denmark / Norway). And we are also proud that Martin Wimpress (Mr. Ubuntu MATE Remix) will join our gathering. In advance, I want to send a big THANK YOU to all people who will sponsor our weekend, either by sending gift items, covering travel expenses or providing help and knowledge to make this event a success for the X2Go project and its community around. read more

9 July 2014

Mike Gabriel: Cooperation between X2Go and TheQVD

I recently got in contact with Nicolas Arenas Alonso and Nito Martinez from the Quindel group (located in Spain) [1]. Those guys bring forth a software product called TheQVD (The Quality Virtual Desktop) [2]. The project does similar things that X2Go does. In fact, they use NX 3.5 from NoMachine internally like we do in X2Go. Already a year ago, I noticed their activity on TheQVD and thought.. "Ahaaa!?!". Now, a couple of weeks back we received a patch for libxcomp3 that fixes an FTBFS (fails to build from source) for nx-libs-lite against Android [3]. read more

23 May 2014

Mike Gabriel: X2Go on FLOSS Weekly

On May 21st 2014, the two Mikes (Gabriel DePaulo) from the X2Go core developer team were interviewed about X2Go by the famous Randal L. Schwartz (merlyn) and equally famous Randi Harper (freebsdgirl) on the FLOSS Weekly Netcast [1]. If you're having trouble watching the embedded video on that page, try one of the below alternatives: HD Video [2]
SD Video, large [3]
SD Video, small [4]
Audio only [5] light+love,
Mike [1] http://twit.tv/floss295 read more

4 September 2013

Mike Gabriel: Python X2Go now has support for passphrase-protected SSH keys

Yesterday, I (with my X2Go upstream hat on) have added a new (long waited for) feature to PyHoca-GUI / Python X2Go. So far, in PyHoca-GUI (python-x2go) it was only possible to use passphrase-protected / encrypted SSH keys via an ssh-agent process that unlocks those keys when being added to the agent's keyring previous to logging into an X2Go Server. Unlocking those keys natively in PyHoca-GUI was not possible so far.
-> Now it is!!! This feature will be available with PyHoca-GUI 0.4.0.9 / Python X2Go 0.4.0.9 (and PyHoca-CLI 0.4.0.3). read more

27 April 2013

Mike Gabriel: Unity Greeter with X2Go Remote Login Support

For the Danish company Fleten.net [1] (with my X2Go [2] developer hat on) I have recently developed X2Go integration into the Unity Greeter [3] theme of LightDM [4] in Ubuntu. Fleten.net--as a Canonical Partner--is providing FOSS based IT-services to schools and municipalities in Denmark and Norway, based on Ubuntu and X2Go. read more

14 November 2012

Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian Edu interview: Angela Fu

Here is another interview with one of the people in the Debian Edu and Skolelinux community. I am running short on people willing to be interviewed, so if you know about someone I should interview, Please send me an email. After asking for many months, I finally managed to lure another one of the people behind the German "IT-Zukunft Schule" project out from maternity leave to conduct an interview. Give a warm welcome to Angela Fu . :) Who are you, and how do you spend your days? I am a 39-year-old woman living in the very north of Germany near Denmark. I live in a patchwork family with "my man" Mike Gabriel, my two daughters, Mikes daughter and Mikes and my rather newborn son. At the moment - because of our little baby - I am spending most of the day by being a caring and organising mom for all the kids. Besides that I am really involved into and occupied with several inner growth processes: New born souls always bring the whole familiar system into movement and that needs time and focus ;-). We are also in the middle of buying a house and moving to it. In 2013 I will work again in my job in a German foundation for nature conservation. I am doing public relation work there. Besides that - and that is the connection to Skolelinux / Debian Edu - I am working in our own school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" in North Germany. I am responsible for the quality assurance, the customer relationship management and the communication processes in the project. Since 2001 I constantly have been training myself in communication and leadership. Besides that I am a forester, a landscaping gardener and a yoga teacher. How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project? I fell in love with Mike ;-). Very soon after getting to know him I was completely enrolled into Free Software. At this time Mike did IT-services for one newly founded school in Kiel. Other schools in Kiel needed concepts for their IT environment. Often when Mike came home from working at the newly founded school I found myself listening to his complaints about several points where the communication with the schools head or the teachers did not work. So we were clear that he would not work for one more school if we did not set up a structure for communication between him, the schools head, the teachers, the students and the parents. Together with our friend and hardware supplier Andreas Buchholz we started to get an overview of free software solutions suitable for schools. One day before Christmas 2010 Mike and I had a date with Kurt Gramlich in G tersloh. As Kurt and I are really interested in building networks of people and in being in communication we dived into Skolelinux and brought it to the first grammar schools in Northern Germany. For information about our school project you can read the interview with Mike Gabriel. What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu? First I have to say: I cannot answer this question technically. My answer comes rather from a social point of view. The biggest advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu I see is the large and strong international community of Debian Developers in the background which is very alive and connected over mailinglists, blogs and meetings. My constant feeling for the Debian Community is: If something does not work they will somehow fix it. All is well ;-). This is of course a user experience. What I also get as a big advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu is that everybody who uses it and works with it can also contribute to it - that includes students, teachers, parents... What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu? I will answer this question relating to the internal structure of Skolelinux / Debian Edu. What I see as a major disadvantage is that there is a gap between the group of developers for Debian Edu and the people who make the marketing, that means the people that bring Skolelinux to the schools. There is a lack of communication between these two groups and I think that does not really work for Skolelinux / Debian Edu. Further I appreciate that Skolelinux / Debian Edu is known as a do-ocracy. Nevertheless I keep asking myself if at some points a democracy or some kind of hierarchical project structure would be good and helpful. I am also missing some kind of contact between the Skolelinux / Debian Edu communities in Europe or on an international level. I think it would be good if there was more sharing between the different countries using Skolelinux / Debian Edu. Which free software do you use daily? On my laptop I am still using an Ubuntu 10.04 with a Gnome Desktop on. As applications I use Openoffice.org, Gedit, Firefox, Pidgin, LaTeX and GnuCash. For mails I am using Horde. And I am really fond of my N900 running with Maemo. Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software? I am really convinced that in our school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" we have developed (and keep developing) a great way to get schools to use Free Software. We have written a detailed concept for that so I cannot explain the whole thing here. But in a nutshell the strategy has three crucial pillars:

2 June 2012

Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian Edu interview: Mike Gabriel

Back in 2010, Mike Gabriel showed up on the Debian Edu and Skolelinux mailing list. He quickly proved to be a valuable developer, and thanks to his tireless effort we now have Kerberos integrated into the Debian Edu Squeeze version. Who are you, and how do you spend your days? My name is Mike Gabriel, I am 38 years old and live near Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. I live together with a wonderful partner (Angela Fu ) and two own children and two bonus children (contributed by Angela). During the day I am part-time employed as a system administrator and part-time working as an IT consultant. The consultancy work touches free software topics wherever and whenever possible. During the nights I am a free software developer. In the gaps I also train in becoming an osteopath. Starting in 2010 we (Andreas Buchholz, Angela Fu , Mike Gabriel) have set up a free software project in the area of Kiel that aims at introducing free software into schools. The project's name is "IT-Zukunft Schule" (IT future for schools). The project links IT skills with communication skills. How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux/Debian Edu project? While preparing our own customised Linux distribution for "IT-Zukunft Schule" we were repeatedly asked if we really wanted to reinvent the wheel. What schools really need is already available, people said. From this impulse we started evaluating other Linux distributions that target being used for school networks. At the end we short-listed two approaches and compared them: a commercial Linux distribution developed by a company in Bremen, Germany, and Skolelinux / Debian Edu. Between 12/2010 and 03/2011 we went to several events and met people being responsible for marketing and development of either of the distributions. Skolelinux / Debian Edu was by far much more convincing compared to the other product that got short-listed beforehand--across the full spectrum. What was most attractive for me personally: the perspective of collaboration within the developmental branch of the Debian Edu project itself. In parallel with this, we talked to many local and not-so-local people. People teaching at schools, headmasters, politicians, data protection experts, other IT professionals. We came to two conclusions: First, a technical conclusion: What schools need is available in bits and pieces here and there, and none of the solutions really fit by 100%. Any school we have seen has a very individual IT setup whereas most of each school's requirements could mapped by a standard IT solution. The requirement to this IT solution is flexibility and customisability, so that individual adaptations here and there are possible. In terms of re-distributing and rolling out such a standardised IT system for schools (a system that is still to some degree customisable) there is still a lot of work to do here locally. Debian Edu / Skolelinux has been our choice as the starting point. Second, a holistic conclusion: What schools need does not exist at all (or we missed it so far). There are several technical solutions for handling IT at schools that tend to make a good impression. What has been missing completely here in Germany, though, is the enrolment of people into using IT and teaching with IT. "IT-Zukunft Schule" tries to provide an approach for this. Only some schools have some sort of a media concept which explains, defines and gives guidance on how to use IT in class. Most schools in Northern Germany do not have an IT service provider, the school's IT equipment is managed by one or (if the school is lucky) two (admin) teachers, most of the workload these admin teachers get done in there spare time. We were surprised that only a very few admin teachers were networked with colleagues from other schools. Basically, every school here around has its individual approach of providing IT equipment to teachers and students and the exchange of ideas has been quasi non-existent until 2010/2011. Quite some (non-admin) teachers try to avoid using IT technology in class as a learning medium completely. Several reasons for this avoidance do exist. We discovered that no-one has ever taken a closer look at this social part of IT management in schools, so far. On our quest journey for a technical IT solution for schools, we discussed this issue with several teachers, headmasters, politicians, other IT professionals and they all confirmed: a holistic approach of considering IT management at schools, an approach that includes the people in place, will be new and probably a gain for all. What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu? There is a list of advantages: international context, openness to any kind of contributions, do-ocracy policy, the closeness to Debian, the different installation scenarios possible (from stand-alone workstation to complex multi-server sites), the transparency within project communication, honest communication within the group of developers, etc. What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux/Debian Edu? Every coin has two sides: Technically: BTS issue #311188, tricky upgradability of a Debian Edu main server, network client installations on top of a plain vanilla Debian installation should become possible sometime in the near future, one could think about splitting the very complex package debian-edu-config into several portions (to make it easier for new developers to contribute). Another issue I see is that we (as Debian Edu developers) should find out more about the network of people who do the marketing for Debian Edu / Skolelinux. There is a very active group in Germany promoting Skolelinux on the bigger Linux Days within Germany. Are there other groups like that in other countries? How can we bring these marketing people together (marketing group A with group B and all of them with the group of Debian Edu developers)? During the last meeting of the German Skolelinux group, I got the impression of people there being rather disconnected from the development department of Debian Edu / Skolelinux. Which free software do you use daily? For my daily business, I do not use commercial software at all. For normal stuff I use Iceweasel/Firefox, Libreoffice.org. For serious text writing I prefer LaTeX. I use gimp, inkscape, scribus for more artistic tasks. I run virtual machines in KVM and Virtualbox. I am one of the upstream developers of X2Go. In 2010 I started the development of a Python based X2Go Client, called PyHoca-GUI. PyHoca-GUI has brought forth a Python X2Go Client API that currently is being integrated in Ubuntu's software center. For communications I have my own Kolab server running using Horde as web-based groupware client. For IRC I love to use irssi, for Jabber I have several clients that I use, mostly pidgin, though. I am also the Debian maintainer of Coccinella, a Jabber-based interactive whiteboard. My favourite terminal emulator is KDE's Yakuake. Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Enrol people, enrol people, enrol people.

1 June 2012

Raphaël Hertzog: My Debian Activities in May 2012

This is my monthly summary of my Debian related activities. If you re among the people who made a donation to support my work (338.26 , thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it s just an interesting status update on my various projects. Dpkg Like last month, I did almost nothing concerning dpkg. This will probably change in June now that the book is out The only thing worth noting is that I have helped Carey Underwood who was trying to diagnose why btrfs was performing so badly when unpacking Debian packages (compared to ext4). Apparently this already resulted in some btrfs improvements. But not as much as what could be hoped. The sync_file_range() calls that dpkg are doing only force the writeback of the underlying data and not of the meta-data. So the numerous fsync() that follow still create many journal transactions that would be better handled as one big transaction. As a proof of this, replacing the fsync() with a sync() brings the performance on par with ext4. (Beware this is my own recollection of the discussion, while it should be close to the truth, it s probably not 100% accurate when speaking of the brtfs behaviour) Packaging I uploaded new versions of smarty-gettext and smarty-validate because they were uninstallable after the removal of smarty. The whole history of smarty in Debian/Ubuntu has been a big FAIL since the start. Once upon a time, there was a smarty package and some plugins. Everything was great except that the files were installed in a way that differs from the upstream recommendations. So Ubuntu changed the path in their version of the package and did not check whether it broke anything else (and it did break all the plugins). Despite the brokenness of the plugins, this divergence survived for years. So several packages that were using Smarty were modified to use dpkg-vendor to use the correct path depending on whether it was built on Debian or Ubuntu. In 2010, Smarty 3.0 has been released and instead of upgrading the smarty package to this version, one of the smarty co-maintainers introduced a smarty3 package that used yet another path (despite the fact that smarty 3 had a mode to be compatible with smarty 2).
At some point, I informed him that he had to handle the migration of users of smarty to smarty3 he acknowledged and then lost interest in smarty ( I m no longer using it ) and did nothing. After some more bitrot, smarty has been forcefully orphaned in August 2011 by a member of the security team. And in March this year, it has been removed from unstable despite the fact that it still had reverse dependencies (usually removals only happen when they impact no other packages, I don t know why this wasn t the case here). At least the brokenness attracted some attention to the situation and Mike Gabriel contacted me about it. I offered him to take over the various packages since they all needed a real maintainer and he accepted. I sponsored his uploads of all smarty related packages (bringing in the latest upstream versions at the same time). In the end, the situation is looking better now, except that there s no migration path from users who rely on smarty in Squeeze. They will discover that they need smarty3 in Wheezy and that the various paths have to be adjusted. It s probably acceptable since the new upstream versions are no longer backwards compatible with smarty 2 The Debian Administrator s Handbook At the start of the month, I was busy preparing the release of the book. I introduced the publican-debian package to unstable, it s a Publican brand (aka a set of CSS and XSL stylesheets to tailor the output of Publican) using the Debian colors and using the Debian logo. This brand is used by the book. I also created the debian-handbook package and setup the public Git repository on alioth.debian.org. I was ready or so I thought. A few hours after the announce, the website became unusable because the numerous visitors were exhausting the maximum number of client connections. And I could not increase the limit due to Apache s memory usage (with PHP and WordPress). We quickly off-loaded most of the static files traffic to another machine and we setup bittorrent. The problem was solved for the short term. Thousands of persons downloaded the ebook and to this date, 135 copies of the paperback have been sold. Then I took a one-week vacation. Even though I had no Internet at the place I was, I wandered in the street to find a Freewifi wifi network (customers of the Free ISP can use those freely) to stay on top of incoming email. We quickly received some bug reports and I dealt with the easy ones (typos and the like) on the fly. When I came back at home, I manually placed 54 lulu orders for the people who opted for the paperback as reward during the fundraising campaign. A bit tedious but it had to be done (if only Lulu supported a way to batch many orders at once ). I also wanted a long term solution to avoid the use of an external host to serve static files (should a new traffic spike arrive ). So I installed nginx as a front-end. It serves static files directly, as well as WordPress pages which have been cached by wp-super-cache. Apache is still here listening on a local port and responding to the remaining queries forwarded by nginx. Once I ll migrate to wheezy, I might completely ditch apache in favor of php5-fpm to handle the PHP pages. Last but not least, I wanted to bootstrap the various translations that people offered to contribute. I wrote some documentation for interested translators and blogged about it. It s shaping up nicely check it out if you re interested to help! Thanks See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

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