Search Results: "Petter Reinholdtsen"

7 August 2017

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities in July 2017

My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donors (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me. Debian LTS This month I was allocated 12 hours but I only managed to work for 7 hours (due to vacation and unanticipated customer work). I gave back the remaining hours to the pool as I didn t want to carry them over for August which will be also short due to vacation (BTW I m not attending Debconf). I spent my 7 hours doing CVE triaging during the week where I was in charge of the LTS frontdesk (I committed 22 updates to the security tracker). I did publish DLA-1010-1 on vorbis-tools but the package update had been prepared by Petter Reinholdtsen. Misc Debian work zim. I published an updated package in experimental (0.67~rc2-2) with the upstream bug fixes on the current release candidate. The final version has been released during my vacation and I will soon upload it to unstable. Debian Handbook. I worked with Petter Reinholdtsen to finalize the paperback version of the Norwegian translation of the Debian Administrator s Handbook (still covering Debian 8 Jessie). It s now available. Bug reports. I filed a few bugs related to my Kali work. #868678: autopkgtest s setup-testbed script is not friendly to derivatives. #868749: aideinit fails with syntax errors when /etc/debian_version contains spaces. debian-installer. I submitted a few d-i patches that I prepared for a customer who had some specific needs (using the hd-media image to boot the installer from an ISO stored in an LVM logical volume). I made changes to debian-installer-utils (#868848), debian-installer (#868852), and iso-scan (#868859, #868900). Thanks See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

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25 July 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Norwegian Bokm l edition of Debian Administrator's Handbook is now available

I finally received a copy of the Norwegian Bokm l edition of "The Debian Administrator's Handbook". This test copy arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I am very happy to hold the result in my hand. We spent around one and a half year translating it. This paperbook edition is available from If you buy it quickly, you save 25% on the list price. The book is also available for download in electronic form as PDF, EPUB and Mobipocket, as can be read online as a web page. This is the second book I publish (the first was the book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig in English, French and Norwegian Bokm l), and I am very excited to finally wrap up this project. I hope "H ndbok for Debian-administratoren" will be well received.

12 June 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Updated sales number for my Free Culture paper editions

It is pleasing to see that the work we put down in publishing new editions of the classic Free Culture book by the founder of the Creative Commons movement, Lawrence Lessig, is still being appreciated. I had a look at the latest sales numbers for the paper edition today. Not too impressive, but happy to see some buyers still exist. All the revenue from the books is sent to the Creative Commons Corporation, and they receive the largest cut if you buy directly from Lulu. Most books are sold via Amazon, with Ingram second and only a small fraction directly from Lulu. The ebook edition is available for free from Github.
Title / languageQuantity
2016 jan-jun2016 jul-dec2017 jan-may
Culture Libre / French 3 6 15
Fri kultur / Norwegian 7 1 0
Free Culture / English 14 27 16
Total 24 34 31
A bit sad to see the low sales number on the Norwegian edition, and a bit surprising the English edition still selling so well. If you would like to translate and publish the book in your native language, I would be happy to help make it happen. Please get in touch.

9 June 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Release 0.1.1 of free software archive system Nikita announced

I am very happy to report that the Nikita Noark 5 core project tagged its second release today. The free software solution is an implementation of the Norwegian archive standard Noark 5 used by government offices in Norway. These were the changes in version 0.1.1 since version 0.1.0 (from If this sound interesting to you, please contact us on IRC (#nikita on or email (nikita-noark mailing list).

7 June 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Idea for storing trusted timestamps in a Noark 5 archive

This is a copy of an email I posted to the nikita-noark mailing list. Please follow up there if you would like to discuss this topic. The background is that we are making a free software archive system based on the Norwegian Noark 5 standard for government archives. I've been wondering a bit lately how trusted timestamps could be stored in Noark 5. Trusted timestamps can be used to verify that some information (document/file/checksum/metadata) have not been changed since a specific time in the past. This is useful to verify the integrity of the documents in the archive. Then it occured to me, perhaps the trusted timestamps could be stored as dokument variants (ie dokumentobjekt referered to from dokumentbeskrivelse) with the filename set to the hash it is stamping? Given a "dokumentbeskrivelse" with an associated "dokumentobjekt", a new dokumentobjekt is associated with "dokumentbeskrivelse" with the same attributes as the stamped dokumentobjekt except these attributes: This assume a service following IETF RFC 3161 is used, which specifiy the given MIME type for replies and the .tsr file ending for the content of such trusted timestamp. As far as I can tell from the Noark 5 specifications, it is OK to have several variants/renderings of a dokument attached to a given dokumentbeskrivelse objekt. It might be stretching it a bit to make some of these variants represent crypto-signatures useful for verifying the document integrity instead of representing the dokument itself. Using the source of the service in formatDetaljer allow several timestamping services to be used. This is useful to spread the risk of key compromise over several organisations. It would only be a problem to trust the timestamps if all of the organisations are compromised. The following oneliner on Linux can be used to generate the tsr file. $input is the path to the file to checksum, and $sha256 is the SHA-256 checksum of the file (ie the ".tsr" value mentioned above).
openssl ts -query -data "$inputfile" -cert -sha256 -no_nonce \
    curl -s -H "Content-Type: application/timestamp-query" \
      --data-binary "@-" > $sha256.tsr
To verify the timestamp, you first need to download the public key of the trusted timestamp service, for example using this command:
wget -O ca-cert.txt \
Note, the public key should be stored alongside the timestamps in the archive to make sure it is also available 100 years from now. It is probably a good idea to standardise how and were to store such public keys, to make it easier to find for those trying to verify documents 100 or 1000 years from now. :) The verification itself is a simple openssl command:
openssl ts -verify -data $inputfile -in $sha256.tsr \
  -CAfile ca-cert.txt -text
Is there any reason this approach would not work? Is it somehow against the Noark 5 specification?

19 March 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Free software archive system Nikita now able to store documents

The Nikita Noark 5 core project is implementing the Norwegian standard for keeping an electronic archive of government documents. The Noark 5 standard document the requirement for data systems used by the archives in the Norwegian government, and the Noark 5 web interface specification document a REST web service for storing, searching and retrieving documents and metadata in such archive. I've been involved in the project since a few weeks before Christmas, when the Norwegian Unix User Group announced it supported the project. I believe this is an important project, and hope it can make it possible for the government archives in the future to use free software to keep the archives we citizens depend on. But as I do not hold such archive myself, personally my first use case is to store and analyse public mail journal metadata published from the government. I find it useful to have a clear use case in mind when developing, to make sure the system scratches one of my itches. If you would like to help make sure there is a free software alternatives for the archives, please join our IRC channel (#nikita on and the project mailing list. When I got involved, the web service could store metadata about documents. But a few weeks ago, a new milestone was reached when it became possible to store full text documents too. Yesterday, I completed an implementation of a command line tool archive-pdf to upload a PDF file to the archive using this API. The tool is very simple at the moment, and find existing fonds, series and files while asking the user to select which one to use if more than one exist. Once a file is identified, the PDF is associated with the file and uploaded, using the title extracted from the PDF itself. The process is fairly similar to visiting the archive, opening a cabinet, locating a file and storing a piece of paper in the archive. Here is a test run directly after populating the database with test data using our API tester:
~/src//noark5-tester$ ./archive-pdf mangelmelding/mangler.pdf
using arkiv: Title of the test fonds created 2017-03-18T23:49:32.103446
using arkivdel: Title of the test series created 2017-03-18T23:49:32.103446
 0 - Title of the test case file created 2017-03-18T23:49:32.103446
 1 - Title of the test file created 2017-03-18T23:49:32.103446
Select which mappe you want (or search term): 0
Uploading mangelmelding/mangler.pdf
  PDF title: Mangler i spesifikasjonsdokumentet for NOARK 5 Tjenestegrensesnitt
  File 2017/1: Title of the test case file created 2017-03-18T23:49:32.103446
You can see here how the fonds (arkiv) and serie (arkivdel) only had one option, while the user need to choose which file (mappe) to use among the two created by the API tester. The archive-pdf tool can be found in the git repository for the API tester. In the project, I have been mostly working on the API tester so far, while getting to know the code base. The API tester currently use the HATEOAS links to traverse the entire exposed service API and verify that the exposed operations and objects match the specification, as well as trying to create objects holding metadata and uploading a simple XML file to store. The tester has proved very useful for finding flaws in our implementation, as well as flaws in the reference site and the specification. The test document I uploaded is a summary of all the specification defects we have collected so far while implementing the web service. There are several unclear and conflicting parts of the specification, and we have started writing down the questions we get from implementing it. We use a format inspired by how The Austin Group collect defect reports for the POSIX standard with their instructions for the MANTIS defect tracker system, in lack of an official way to structure defect reports for Noark 5 (our first submitted defect report was a request for a procedure for submitting defect reports :). The Nikita project is implemented using Java and Spring, and is fairly easy to get up and running using Docker containers for those that want to test the current code base. The API tester is implemented in Python.

9 March 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Detecting NFS hangs on Linux without hanging yourself...

Over the years, administrating thousand of NFS mounting linux computers at the time, I often needed a way to detect if the machine was experiencing NFS hang. If you try to use df or look at a file or directory affected by the hang, the process (and possibly the shell) will hang too. So you want to be able to detect this without risking the detection process getting stuck too. It has not been obvious how to do this. When the hang has lasted a while, it is possible to find messages like these in dmesg:
nfs: server nfsserver not responding, still trying
nfs: server nfsserver OK
It is hard to know if the hang is still going on, and it is hard to be sure looking in dmesg is going to work. If there are lots of other messages in dmesg the lines might have rotated out of site before they are noticed. While reading through the nfs client implementation in linux kernel code, I came across some statistics that seem to give a way to detect it. The om_timeouts sunrpc value in the kernel will increase every time the above log entry is inserted into dmesg. And after digging a bit further, I discovered that this value show up in /proc/self/mountstats on Linux. The mountstats content seem to be shared between files using the same file system context, so it is enough to check one of the mountstats files to get the state of the mount point for the machine. I assume this will not show lazy umounted NFS points, nor NFS mount points in a different process context (ie with a different filesystem view), but that does not worry me. The content for a NFS mount point look similar to this:
device /dev/mapper/Debian-var mounted on /var with fstype ext3
device nfsserver:/mnt/nfsserver/home0 mounted on /mnt/nfsserver/home0 with fstype nfs statvers=1.1
        opts:   rw,vers=3,rsize=65536,wsize=65536,namlen=255,acregmin=3,acregmax=60,acdirmin=30,acdirmax=60,soft,nolock,proto=tcp,timeo=600,retrans=2,sec=sys,mountaddr=,mountvers=3,mountport=4048,mountproto=udp,local_lock=all
        age:    7863311
        caps:   caps=0x3fe7,wtmult=4096,dtsize=8192,bsize=0,namlen=255
        sec:    flavor=1,pseudoflavor=1
        events: 61063112 732346265 1028140 35486205 16220064 8162542 761447191 71714012 37189 3891185 45561809 110486139 4850138 420353 15449177 296502 52736725 13523379 0 52182 9016896 1231 0 0 0 0 0 
        bytes:  166253035039 219519120027 0 0 40783504807 185466229638 11677877 45561809 
        RPC iostats version: 1.0  p/v: 100003/3 (nfs)
        xprt:   tcp 925 1 6810 0 0 111505412 111480497 109 2672418560317 0 248 53869103 22481820
        per-op statistics
                NULL: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
             GETATTR: 61063106 61063108 0 9621383060 6839064400 453650 77291321 78926132
             SETATTR: 463469 463470 0 92005440 66739536 63787 603235 687943
              LOOKUP: 17021657 17021657 0 3354097764 4013442928 57216 35125459 35566511
              ACCESS: 14281703 14290009 5 2318400592 1713803640 1709282 4865144 7130140
            READLINK: 125 125 0 20472 18620 0 1112 1118
                READ: 4214236 4214237 0 715608524 41328653212 89884 22622768 22806693
               WRITE: 8479010 8494376 22 187695798568 1356087148 178264904 51506907 231671771
              CREATE: 171708 171708 0 38084748 46702272 873 1041833 1050398
               MKDIR: 3680 3680 0 773980 993920 26 23990 24245
             SYMLINK: 903 903 0 233428 245488 6 5865 5917
               MKNOD: 80 80 0 20148 21760 0 299 304
              REMOVE: 429921 429921 0 79796004 61908192 3313 2710416 2741636
               RMDIR: 3367 3367 0 645112 484848 22 5782 6002
              RENAME: 466201 466201 0 130026184 121212260 7075 5935207 5961288
                LINK: 289155 289155 0 72775556 67083960 2199 2565060 2585579
             READDIR: 2933237 2933237 0 516506204 13973833412 10385 3190199 3297917
         READDIRPLUS: 1652839 1652839 0 298640972 6895997744 84735 14307895 14448937
              FSSTAT: 6144 6144 0 1010516 1032192 51 9654 10022
              FSINFO: 2 2 0 232 328 0 1 1
            PATHCONF: 1 1 0 116 140 0 0 0
              COMMIT: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
device binfmt_misc mounted on /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc with fstype binfmt_misc
The key number to look at is the third number in the per-op list. It is the number of NFS timeouts experiences per file system operation. Here 22 write timeouts and 5 access timeouts. If these numbers are increasing, I believe the machine is experiencing NFS hang. Unfortunately the timeout value do not start to increase right away. The NFS operations need to time out first, and this can take a while. The exact timeout value depend on the setup. For example the defaults for TCP and UDP mount points are quite different, and the timeout value is affected by the soft, hard, timeo and retrans NFS mount options. The only way I have been able to get working on Debian and RedHat Enterprise Linux for getting the timeout count is to peek in /proc/. But according to Solaris 10 System Administration Guide: Network Services, the 'nfsstat -c' command can be used to get these timeout values. But this do not work on Linux, as far as I can tell. I asked Debian about this, but have not seen any replies yet. Is there a better way to figure out if a Linux NFS client is experiencing NFS hangs? Is there a way to detect which processes are affected? Is there a way to get the NFS mount going quickly once the network problem causing the NFS hang has been cleared? I would very much welcome some clues, as we regularly run into NFS hangs.

8 March 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: How does it feel to be wiretapped, when you should be doing the wiretapping...

So the new president in the United States of America claim to be surprised to discover that he was wiretapped during the election before he was elected president. He even claim this must be illegal. Well, doh, if it is one thing the confirmations from Snowden documented, it is that the entire population in USA is wiretapped, one way or another. Of course the president candidates were wiretapped, alongside the senators, judges and the rest of the people in USA. Next, the Federal Bureau of Investigation ask the Department of Justice to go public rejecting the claims that Donald Trump was wiretapped illegally. I fail to see the relevance, given that I am sure the surveillance industry in USA believe they have all the legal backing they need to conduct mass surveillance on the entire world. There is even the director of the FBI stating that he never saw an order requesting wiretapping of Donald Trump. That is not very surprising, given how the FISA court work, with all its activity being secret. Perhaps he only heard about it? What I find most sad in this story is how Norwegian journalists present it. In a news reports the other day in the radio from the Norwegian National broadcasting Company (NRK), I heard the journalist claim that 'the FBI denies any wiretapping', while the reality is that 'the FBI denies any illegal wiretapping'. There is a fundamental and important difference, and it make me sad that the journalists are unable to grasp it. Update 2017-03-13: Look like The Intercept report that US Senator Rand Paul confirm what I state above.

3 March 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Norwegian Bokm l translation of The Debian Administrator's Handbook complete, proofreading in progress

For almost a year now, we have been working on making a Norwegian Bokm l edition of The Debian Administrator's Handbook. Now, thanks to the tireless effort of Ole-Erik, Ingrid and Andreas, the initial translation is complete, and we are working on the proof reading to ensure consistent language and use of correct computer science terms. The plan is to make the book available on paper, as well as in electronic form. For that to happen, the proof reading must be completed and all the figures need to be translated. If you want to help out, get in touch. A fresh PDF edition in A4 format (the final book will have smaller pages) of the book created every morning is available for proofreading. If you find any errors, please visit Weblate and correct the error. The state of the translation including figures is a useful source for those provide Norwegian bokm l screen shots and figures.

1 March 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Unlimited randomness with the ChaosKey?

A few days ago I ordered a small batch of the ChaosKey, a small USB dongle for generating entropy created by Bdale Garbee and Keith Packard. Yesterday it arrived, and I am very happy to report that it work great! According to its designers, to get it to work out of the box, you need the Linux kernel version 4.1 or later. I tested on a Debian Stretch machine (kernel version 4.9), and there it worked just fine, increasing the available entropy very quickly. I wrote a small test oneliner to test. It first print the current entropy level, drain /dev/random, and then print the entropy level for five seconds. Here is the situation without the ChaosKey inserted:
% cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail; \
  dd bs=1M if=/dev/random of=/dev/null count=1; \
  for n in $(seq 1 5); do \
     cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail; \
     sleep 1; \
0+1 oppf ringer inn
0+1 oppf ringer ut
28 byte kopiert, 0,000264565 s, 106 kB/s
The entropy level increases by 3-4 every second. In such case any application requiring random bits (like a HTTPS enabled web server) will halt and wait for more entrpy. And here is the situation with the ChaosKey inserted:
% cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail; \
  dd bs=1M if=/dev/random of=/dev/null count=1; \
  for n in $(seq 1 5); do \
     cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail; \
     sleep 1; \
0+1 oppf ringer inn
0+1 oppf ringer ut
104 byte kopiert, 0,000487647 s, 213 kB/s
Quite the difference. :) I bought a few more than I need, in case someone want to buy one here in Norway. :) Update: The dongle was presented at Debconf last year. You might find the talk recording illuminating. It explains exactly what the source of randomness is, if you are unable to spot it from the schema drawing available from the ChaosKey web site linked at the start of this blog post.

20 February 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Detect OOXML files with undefined behaviour?

I just noticed the new Norwegian proposal for archiving rules in the goverment list ECMA-376 / ISO/IEC 29500 (aka OOXML) as valid formats to put in long term storage. Luckily such files will only be accepted based on pre-approval from the National Archive. Allowing OOXML files to be used for long term storage might seem like a good idea as long as we forget that there are plenty of ways for a "valid" OOXML document to have content with no defined interpretation in the standard, which lead to a question and an idea. Is there any tool to detect if a OOXML document depend on such undefined behaviour? It would be useful for the National Archive (and anyone else interested in verifying that a document is well defined) to have such tool available when considering to approve the use of OOXML. I'm aware of the officeotron OOXML validator, but do not know how complete it is nor if it will report use of undefined behaviour. Are there other similar tools available? Please send me an email if you know of any such tool.

13 February 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Ruling ignored our objections to the seizure of (#domstolkontroll)

A few days ago, we received the ruling from my day in court. The case in question is a challenge of the seizure of the DNS domain The ruling simply did not mention most of our arguments, and seemed to take everything KOKRIM said at face value, ignoring our demonstration and explanations. But it is hard to tell for sure, as we still have not seen most of the documents in the case and thus were unprepared and unable to contradict several of the claims made in court by the opposition. We are considering an appeal, but it is partly a question of funding, as it is costing us quite a bit to pay for our lawyer. If you want to help, please donate to the NUUG defense fund. The details of the case, as far as we know it, is available in Norwegian from the NUUG blog. This also include the ruling itself.

3 February 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: A day in court challenging seizure of for #domstolkontroll

On Wednesday, I spent the entire day in court in Follo Tingrett representing the member association NUUG, alongside the member association EFN and the DNS registrar IMC, challenging the seizure of the DNS name It was interesting to sit in a court of law for the first time in my life. Our team can be seen in the picture above: attorney Ola Tellesb , EFN board member Tom Fredrik Blenning, IMC CEO Morten Emil Eriksen and NUUG board member Petter Reinholdtsen. The case at hand is that the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (aka kokrim) decided on their own, to seize a DNS domain early last year, without following the official policy of the Norwegian DNS authority which require a court decision. The web site in question was a site covering Popcorn Time. And Popcorn Time is the name of a technology with both legal and illegal applications. Popcorn Time is a client combining searching a Bittorrent directory available on the Internet with downloading/distribute content via Bittorrent and playing the downloaded content on screen. It can be used illegally if it is used to distribute content against the will of the right holder, but it can also be used legally to play a lot of content, for example the millions of movies available from the Internet Archive or the collection available from Vodo. We created a video demonstrating legally use of Popcorn Time and played it in Court. It can of course be downloaded using Bittorrent. I did not quite know what to expect from a day in court. The government held on to their version of the story and we held on to ours, and I hope the judge is able to make sense of it all. We will know in two weeks time. Unfortunately I do not have high hopes, as the Government have the upper hand here with more knowledge about the case, better training in handling criminal law and in general higher standing in the courts than fairly unknown DNS registrar and member associations. It is expensive to be right also in Norway. So far the case have cost more than NOK 70 000,-. To help fund the case, NUUG and EFN have asked for donations, and managed to collect around NOK 25 000,- so far. Given the presentation from the Government, I expect the government to appeal if the case go our way. And if the case do not go our way, I hope we have enough funding to appeal. From the other side came two people from kokrim. On the benches, appearing to be part of the group from the government were two people from the Simonsen Vogt Wiik lawyer office, and three others I am not quite sure who was. kokrim had proposed to present two witnesses from The Motion Picture Association, but this was rejected because they did not speak Norwegian and it was a bit late to bring in a translator, but perhaps the two from MPA were present anyway. All seven appeared to know each other. Good to see the case is take seriously. If you, like me, believe the courts should be involved before a DNS domain is hijacked by the government, or you believe the Popcorn Time technology have a lot of useful and legal applications, I suggest you too donate to the NUUG defense fund. Both Bitcoin and bank transfer are available. If NUUG get more than we need for the legal action (very unlikely), the rest will be spend promoting free software, open standards and unix-like operating systems in Norway, so no matter what happens the money will be put to good use. If you want to lean more about the case, I recommend you check out the blog posts from NUUG covering the case. They cover the legal arguments on both sides.

9 January 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Where did that package go? geolocated IP traceroute

Did you ever wonder where the web trafic really flow to reach the web servers, and who own the network equipment it is flowing through? It is possible to get a glimpse of this from using traceroute, but it is hard to find all the details. Many years ago, I wrote a system to map the Norwegian Internet (trying to figure out if our plans for a network game service would get low enough latency, and who we needed to talk to about setting up game servers close to the users. Back then I used traceroute output from many locations (I asked my friends to run a script and send me their traceroute output) to create the graph and the map. The output from traceroute typically look like this:
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
 1 (  0.447 ms  0.486 ms  0.621 ms
 2 (  0.467 ms  0.578 ms  0.675 ms
 3 (  0.385 ms  0.373 ms  0.358 ms
 4 (  1.174 ms  1.172 ms  1.153 ms
 5 (  2.627 ms (  3.172 ms (  2.857 ms
 6 (  0.662 ms  0.637 ms (  0.622 ms
 7 (  0.931 ms  0.917 ms  0.955 ms
 8  * * *
 9  * * *
This show the DNS names and IP addresses of (at least some of the) network equipment involved in getting the data traffic from me to the server, and how long it took in milliseconds for a package to reach the equipment and return to me. Three packages are sent, and some times the packages do not follow the same path. This is shown for hop 5, where three different IP addresses replied to the traceroute request. There are many ways to measure trace routes. Other good traceroute implementations I use are traceroute (using ICMP packages) mtr (can do both ICMP, UDP and TCP) and scapy (python library with ICMP, UDP, TCP traceroute and a lot of other capabilities). All of them are easily available in Debian. This time around, I wanted to know the geographic location of different route points, to visualize how visiting a web page spread information about the visit to a lot of servers around the globe. The background is that a web site today often will ask the browser to get from many servers the parts (for example HTML, JSON, fonts, JavaScript, CSS, video) required to display the content. This will leak information about the visit to those controlling these servers and anyone able to peek at the data traffic passing by (like your ISP, the ISPs backbone provider, FRA, GCHQ, NSA and others). Lets pick an example, the Norwegian parliament web site It is read daily by all members of parliament and their staff, as well as political journalists, activits and many other citizens of Norway. A visit to the web site will ask your browser to contact 8 other servers:,,,,,, and I extracted this by asking PhantomJS to visit the Stortinget web page and tell me all the URLs PhantomJS downloaded to render the page (in HAR format using their netsniff example. I am very grateful to Gorm for showing me how to do this). My goal is to visualize network traces to all IP addresses behind these DNS names, do show where visitors personal information is spread when visiting the page.

map of combined traces for URLs used by using GeoIP When I had a look around for options, I could not find any good free software tools to do this, and decided I needed my own traceroute wrapper outputting KML based on locations looked up using GeoIP. KML is easy to work with and easy to generate, and understood by several of the GIS tools I have available. I got good help from by NUUG colleague Anders Einar with this, and the result can be seen in my kmltraceroute git repository. Unfortunately, the quality of the free GeoIP databases I could find (and the for-pay databases my friends had access to) is not up to the task. The IP addresses of central Internet infrastructure would typically be placed near the controlling companies main office, and not where the router is really located, as you can see from the KML file I created using the GeoLite City dataset from MaxMind.

scapy traceroute graph for URLs used by I also had a look at the visual traceroute graph created by the scrapy project, showing IP network ownership (aka AS owner) for the IP address in question. The graph display a lot of useful information about the traceroute in SVG format, and give a good indication on who control the network equipment involved, but it do not include geolocation. This graph make it possible to see the information is made available at least for UNINETT, Catchcom, Stortinget, Nordunet, Google, Amazon, Telia, Level 3 Communications and NetDNA.

example geotraceroute view for In the process, I came across the web service GeoTraceroute by Salim Gasmi. Its methology of combining guesses based on DNS names, various location databases and finally use latecy times to rule out candidate locations seemed to do a very good job of guessing correct geolocation. But it could only do one trace at the time, did not have a sensor in Norway and did not make the geolocations easily available for postprocessing. So I contacted the developer and asked if he would be willing to share the code (he refused until he had time to clean it up), but he was interested in providing the geolocations in a machine readable format, and willing to set up a sensor in Norway. So since yesterday, it is possible to run traces from Norway in this service thanks to a sensor node set up by the NUUG assosiation, and get the trace in KML format for further processing.

map of combined traces for URLs used by using geotraceroute Here we can see a lot of trafic passes Sweden on its way to Denmark, Germany, Holland and Ireland. Plenty of places where the Snowden confirmations verified the traffic is read by various actors without your best interest as their top priority. Combining KML files is trivial using a text editor, so I could loop over all the hosts behind the urls imported by and ask for the KML file from GeoTraceroute, and create a combined KML file with all the traces (unfortunately only one of the IP addresses behind the DNS name is traced this time. To get them all, one would have to request traces using IP number instead of DNS names from GeoTraceroute). That might be the next step in this project. Armed with these tools, I find it a lot easier to figure out where the IP traffic moves and who control the boxes involved in moving it. And every time the link crosses for example the Swedish border, we can be sure Swedish Signal Intelligence (FRA) is listening, as GCHQ do in Britain and NSA in USA and cables around the globe. (Hm, what should we tell them? :) Keep that in mind if you ever send anything unencrypted over the Internet. PS: KML files are drawn using the KML viewer from Ivan Rublev, as it was less cluttered than the local Linux application Marble. There are heaps of other options too. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

4 January 2017

Petter Reinholdtsen: Introducing ical-archiver to split out old iCalendar entries

Do you have a large iCalendar file with lots of old entries, and would like to archive them to save space and resources? At least those of us using KOrganizer know that turning on and off an event set become slower and slower the more entries are in the set. While working on migrating our calendars to a Radicale CalDAV server on our Freedombox server, my loved one wondered if I could find a way to split up the calendar file she had in KOrganizer, and I set out to write a tool. I spent a few days writing and polishing the system, and it is now ready for general consumption. The code for ical-archiver is publicly available from a git repository on github. The system is written in Python and depend on the vobject Python module. To use it, locate the iCalendar file you want to operate on and give it as an argument to the ical-archiver script. This will generate a set of new files, one file per component type per year for all components expiring more than two years in the past. The vevent, vtodo and vjournal entries are handled by the script. The remaining entries are stored in a 'remaining' file. This is what a test run can look like:
% ical-archiver t/2004-2016.ics 
Found 3612 vevents
Found 6 vtodos
Found 2 vjournals
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2004.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2005.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2006.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2007.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2008.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2009.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2010.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2011.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2012.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2013.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vevent-2014.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vjournal-2007.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vjournal-2011.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-subset-vtodo-2012.ics
Writing t/2004-2016.ics-remaining.ics
As you can see, the original file is untouched and new files are written with names derived from the original file. If you are happy with their content, the *-remaining.ics file can replace the original the the others can be archived or imported as historical calendar collections. The script should probably be improved a bit. The error handling when discovering broken entries is not good, and I am not sure yet if it make sense to split different entry types into separate files or not. The program is thus likely to change. If you find it interesting, please get in touch. :) As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

23 December 2016

Petter Reinholdtsen: Appstream just learned how to map hardware to packages too!

I received a very nice Christmas present today. As my regular readers probably know, I have been working on the the Isenkram system for many years. The goal of the Isenkram system is to make it easier for users to figure out what to install to get a given piece of hardware to work in Debian, and a key part of this system is a way to map hardware to packages. Isenkram have its own mapping database, and also uses data provided by each package using the AppStream metadata format. And today, AppStream in Debian learned to look up hardware the same way Isenkram is doing it, ie using fnmatch():
% appstreamcli what-provides modalias \
Identifier: pymissile [generic]
Name: pymissile
Summary: Control original Striker USB Missile Launcher
Package: pymissile
% appstreamcli what-provides modalias usb:v0694p0002d0000
Identifier: libnxt [generic]
Name: libnxt
Summary: utility library for talking to the LEGO Mindstorms NXT brick
Package: libnxt
Identifier: t2n [generic]
Name: t2n
Summary: Simple command-line tool for Lego NXT
Package: t2n
Identifier: python-nxt [generic]
Name: python-nxt
Summary: Python driver/interface/wrapper for the Lego Mindstorms NXT robot
Package: python-nxt
Identifier: nbc [generic]
Name: nbc
Summary: C compiler for LEGO Mindstorms NXT bricks
Package: nbc
A similar query can be done using the combined AppStream and Isenkram databases using the isenkram-lookup tool:
% isenkram-lookup usb:v1130p0202d0100dc00dsc00dp00ic03isc00ip00in00
% isenkram-lookup usb:v0694p0002d0000
You can find modalias values relevant for your machine using cat $(find /sys/devices/ -name modalias). If you want to make this system a success and help Debian users make the most of the hardware they have, please helpadd AppStream metadata for your package following the guidelines documented in the wiki. So far only 11 packages provide such information, among the several hundred hardware specific packages in Debian. The Isenkram database on the other hand contain 101 packages, mostly related to USB dongles. Most of the packages with hardware mapping in AppStream are LEGO Mindstorms related, because I have, as part of my involvement in the Debian LEGO team given priority to making sure LEGO users get proposed the complete set of packages in Debian for that particular hardware. The team also got a nice Christmas present today. The nxt-firmware package made it into Debian. With this package in place, it is now possible to use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT unit with only free software, as the nxt-firmware package contain the source and firmware binaries for the NXT brick. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

21 December 2016

Holger Levsen: 20161221-debian-edu-sprint-in-oslo

What we did at the Debian Edu / Skolelinux gathering in November 2016 in Oslo From November 25 to 27 some people met in the hackerspace bitraf in downtown Oslo. On Saturday and Sunday we met in the morning and hacked and translated all day until we went for dinners in the evening. Despite the short time I think we managed to get a lot done and had good fun, so I'm hoping we'll have another gathering in 2017! Debian Edu / Skolelinux is currently in better shape regarding the upcoming Debian release than we ever have been, which is pretty awesome. Today, on December 21st, all our changes are in Stretch, except for debian-edu-artwork.git, which awaits a desktop-base upload to unstable the only thing missing is being able to install Debian Edu using our profiles from official media releasing Debian Edu Stretch on the same day as Debian Stretch would be a huge success though! These are the notes taken in a pad (thanks riseup!) during the meeting: Phil Hands worked on Knut Yrvin worked on Ingrid Yrvin worked on Ole-Erik Yrvin worked on Wolfgang Schweer worked on Petter Reinholdtsen worked on Dominik George worked on Holger Levsen worked on Mike Gabriel was sick and couldnt come to Oslo and worked at home instead: Thanks to the Debian sprints programm and our sponsors for supporting the travel of Wolfgang, Dominik, Phil and myself! Mike opted out from reimbursement as he couldn't travel due to sickness.

20 December 2016

Petter Reinholdtsen: Isenkram updated with a lot more hardware-package mappings

The Isenkram system I wrote two years ago to make it easier in Debian to find and install packages to get your hardware dongles to work, is still going strong. It is a system to look up the hardware present on or connected to the current system, and map the hardware to Debian packages. It can either be done using the tools in isenkram-cli or using the user space daemon in the isenkram package. The latter will notify you, when inserting new hardware, about what packages to install to get the dongle working. It will even provide a button to click on to ask packagekit to install the packages. Here is an command line example from my Thinkpad laptop:
% isenkram-lookup  
It can also list the firware package providing firmware requested by the load kernel modules, which in my case is an empty list because I have all the firmware my machine need:
% /usr/sbin/isenkram-autoinstall-firmware -l
info: did not find any firmware files requested by loaded kernel modules.  exiting
The last few days I had a look at several of the around 250 packages in Debian with udev rules. These seem like good candidates to install when a given hardware dongle is inserted, and I found several that should be proposed by isenkram. I have not had time to check all of them, but am happy to report that now there are 97 packages packages mapped to hardware by Isenkram. 11 of these packages provide hardware mapping using AppStream, while the rest are listed in the modaliases file provided in isenkram. These are the packages with hardware mappings at the moment. The marked packages are also announcing their hardware support using AppStream, for everyone to use: air-quality-sensor, alsa-firmware-loaders, argyll, array-info, avarice, avrdude, b43-fwcutter, bit-babbler, bluez, bluez-firmware, brltty, broadcom-sta-dkms, calibre, cgminer, cheese, colord, colorhug-client, dahdi-firmware-nonfree, dahdi-linux, dfu-util, dolphin-emu, ekeyd, ethtool, firmware-ipw2x00, fprintd, fprintd-demo, galileo, gkrellm-thinkbat, gphoto2, gpsbabel, gpsbabel-gui, gpsman, gpstrans, gqrx-sdr, gr-fcdproplus, gr-osmosdr, gtkpod, hackrf, hdapsd, hdmi2usb-udev, hpijs-ppds, hplip, ipw3945-source, ipw3945d, kde-config-tablet, kinect-audio-setup, libnxt, libpam-fprintd, lomoco, madwimax, minidisc-utils, mkgmap, msi-keyboard, mtkbabel, nbc, nqc, nut-hal-drivers, ola, open-vm-toolbox, open-vm-tools, openambit, pcgminer, pcmciautils, pcscd, pidgin-blinklight, printer-driver-splix, pymissile, python-nxt, qlandkartegt, qlandkartegt-garmin, rosegarden, rt2x00-source, sispmctl, soapysdr-module-hackrf, solaar, squeak-plugins-scratch, sunxi-tools, t2n, thinkfan, thinkfinger-tools, tlp, tp-smapi-dkms, tp-smapi-source, tpb, tucnak, uhd-host, usbmuxd, viking, virtualbox-ose-guest-x11, w1retap, xawtv, xserver-xorg-input-vmmouse, xserver-xorg-input-wacom, xserver-xorg-video-qxl, xserver-xorg-video-vmware, yubikey-personalization and zd1211-firmware If you know of other packages, please let me know with a wishlist bug report against the isenkram-cli package, and ask the package maintainer to add AppStream metadata according to the guidelines to provide the information for everyone. In time, I hope to get rid of the isenkram specific hardware mapping and depend exclusively on AppStream. Note, the AppStream metadata for broadcom-sta-dkms is matching too much hardware, and suggest that the package with with any ethernet card. See bug #838735 for the details. I hope the maintainer find time to address it soon. In the mean time I provide an override in isenkram.

11 December 2016

Petter Reinholdtsen: Oolite, a life in space as vagabond and mercenary - nice free software

In my early years, I played the epic game Elite on my PC. I spent many months trading and fighting in space, and reached the 'elite' fighting status before I moved on. The original Elite game was available on Commodore 64 and the IBM PC edition I played had a 64 KB executable. I am still impressed today that the authors managed to squeeze both a 3D engine and details about more than 2000 planet systems across 7 galaxies into a binary so small. I have known about the free software game Oolite inspired by Elite for a while, but did not really have time to test it properly until a few days ago. It was great to discover that my old knowledge about trading routes were still valid. But my fighting and flying abilities were gone, so I had to retrain to be able to dock on a space station. And I am still not able to make much resistance when I am attacked by pirates, so I bougth and mounted the most powerful laser in the rear to be able to put up at least some resistance while fleeing for my life. :) When playing Elite in the late eighties, I had to discover everything on my own, and I had long lists of prices seen on different planets to be able to decide where to trade what. This time I had the advantages of the Elite wiki, where information about each planet is easily available with common price ranges and suggested trading routes. This improved my ability to earn money and I have been able to earn enough to buy a lot of useful equipent in a few days. I believe I originally played for months before I could get a docking computer, while now I could get it after less then a week. If you like science fiction and dreamed of a life as a vagabond in space, you should try out Oolite. It is available for Linux, MacOSX and Windows, and is included in Debian and derivatives since 2011. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

25 November 2016

Petter Reinholdtsen: Quicker Debian installations using eatmydata

Two years ago, I did some experiments with eatmydata and the Debian installation system, observing how using eatmydata could speed up the installation quite a bit. My testing measured speedup around 20-40 percent for Debian Edu, where we install around 1000 packages from within the installer. The eatmydata package provide a way to disable/delay file system flushing. This is a bit risky in the general case, as files that should be stored on disk will stay only in memory a bit longer than expected, causing problems if a machine crashes at an inconvenient time. But for an installation, if the machine crashes during installation the process is normally restarted, and avoiding disk operations as much as possible to speed up the process make perfect sense. I added code in the Debian Edu specific installation code to enable eatmydata, but did not have time to push it any further. But a few months ago I picked it up again and worked with the libeatmydata package maintainer Mattia Rizzolo to make it easier for everyone to get this installation speedup in Debian. Thanks to our cooperation There is now an eatmydata-udeb package in Debian testing and unstable, and simply enabling/installing it in debian-installer (d-i) is enough to get the quicker installations. It can be enabled using preseeding. The following untested kernel argument should do the trick:
preseed/early_command="anna-install eatmydata-udeb"
This should ask d-i to install the package inside the d-i environment early in the installation sequence. Having it installed in d-i in turn will make sure the relevant scripts are called just after debootstrap filled /target/ with the freshly installed Debian system to configure apt to run dpkg with eatmydata. This is enough to speed up the installation process. There is a proposal to extend the idea a bit further by using /etc/ instead of apt.conf, but I have not tested its impact.