Search Results: "Robert Millan"

22 February 2014

Robert Millan: Newcons coming to Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (testers wanted!)

FreeBSD vt(4) -commonly known as Newcons -, which is planned to replace Syscons as the default FreeBSD console, is now available on Debian GNU/kFreeBSD. It is enabled by default, but only in kfreebsd-11 packages from experimental. Newcons provides many interesting new features, such as KMS support, Unicode, double-width CJK characters, etc. More details are available in FreeBSD wiki. Ironically, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is in a bit more of a hurry to deploy Newcons than FreeBSD is. The reason for this is that Newcons is practically a requirement for using the new KMS drivers. While FreeBSD Ports, in order to ensure a smooth transition, preserve support for UMS (User Mode Setting) in their X11/DRI userland, Debian supports many kernels and (contrary to some ill claims I heard) gives priority to new features on Debian GNU/Linux port, which is the one with most users and developers. In this case, it means KMS is the only option when it comes to X11/DRI userland in Debian. Anyway, we ve been making some nice progress. Here s a screenshot of Newcons in action in a Debian system (running on VirtualBox, thus with VGA backend): newcons The idea is to backport this to kfreebsd 10.0, as FreeBSD plans to merge it into stable/10 anyway. However, it is still in the process of being tested (and being polished on FreeBSD, I hear they plan to merge it on March).

15 September 2013

Robert Millan: Rooting the LG Optimus L3 (and just about any Android model, really)

I recently purchased an LG Optimus L3 ( e400 ) mobile phone. I ve to admit it would be a perfectly fine purchase if it wasn t for the huge amount of time I had to invest in order for this thing to recognize me as its master. Even though I wanted to install CyanogenMod in it, the device blocked my attempts to install it through ROM Manager. Yes, for some awkward reason LG kept on thinking they still owned the device even after they sold it to me. Anyway, as none of the rooting instructions for LG Optimus L3 I found on the net worked for me, I figured I should try with the recently-discovered master key vulnerability. A bit of research shows there s very extensive documentation on this hole and how to exploit it, as well as proof-of-concept exploits. But unfortunately, I haven t been able to find any complete solution to implement this in easy steps. On the soulders of giants After running through the whole manual setup of this exploit (and succesfully rooting my LG Optimus L3), I figured it would be useful if I put the pieces together into a unified script. So here it is, an exploit for the Android master key vulnerability which will give you root access to almost every Android device in existance: Enjoy. Oh and btw: fuck you LG.

19 April 2012

Raphaël Hertzog: People behind Debian: Samuel Thibault, working on accessibility and the Hurd

Samuel Thibault is a French guy like me, but it took years until we met. He tends to keep a low profile, even though he s doing lots of good work that deserves to be mentioned. He focuses on improving Debian s accessibility and contributes to the Hurd. Who said he s a dreamer? :-) Checkout his interview to have some news of Wheezy s status on those topics. Raphael: Who are you? Samuel: I am 30 years old, and live in Bordeaux, France. During the workday, I teach Computer Science (Architecture, Networking, Operating Systems, and Parallel Programming, roughly) at the University of Bordeaux, and conduct researches in heterogeneous parallel computing. During the evening, I play the drums and the trombone in various orchestra (harmonic/symphonic/banda/brass). During the night, I hack on whatever fun things I can find, mainly accessibility and the Hurd at the moment, but also miscellaneous bits such as the Linux console support. I am also involved in the development of Aquilenet, an associative ISP around Bordeaux, and getting involved in the development of the network infrastructure in Bordeaux. I am not practicing Judo any more, but I roller-skate to work, and I like hiking in the mountains. I also read quite a few mangas. Saturday mornings do not exist in my schedule (Sunday mornings do, it s Brass Band rehearsal :) ). Raphael: How did you start contributing to Debian? Samuel: Bit by bit. I have been hacking around GNU/Linux since around 1998. I installed my first Debian system around 2000, as a replacement for my old Mandrake installation (which after all my tinkering was actually no longer looking like a Mandrake system any more!). That was Potato at the time, which somebody offered me through a set of CDs (downloading packages over the Internet was unthinkable at the time with the old modems). I have been happily reading and hacking around documentation, source code, etc. provided on them. Contribution things really started to take off when I went to the ENS Lyon high school in 2001: broadband Internet access in one s own student room! Since sending a mail was then really free, I started submitting bugs against various packages I was using. Right after that I started submitting patches along them, and then patches to other bugs. I did that for a long time actually. I had very little knowledge of all packaging details at the time, I was just a happy hacker submitting reports and patches against the upstream source code. At ENS Lyon, I met a blind colleague with very similar hacking tastes (of course we got friends) and he proposed me, for our student project, to work on a brlnet project (now called brlapi), a client/server protocol that lets applications render text on braille devices themselves. Along the way, I got to learn in details how a blind person can use a Unix system and the principles that should be followed when developing Accessibility. That is how I got involved in it. We presented our project at JDLL, and the Hurd booth happened to be next to our table, so I discussed with the Hurd people there about how the Hurd console could be used through braille. That is how I got into the Hurd too. From then on, I progressively contributed more and more to the upstream parts of both accessibility software and the Hurd. And then to the packaging part of them. Through patches in bug reports first, as usual, as well as through discussions on the mailing lists. But quickly enough people gave me commit access so I could just throw the code in. I was also given control over the Hurd buildds to keep them running. It was all good at that stage: I could contribute in all the parts I was caring about. People however started telling me that I should just apply for being a Debian Developer; both from accessibility and Hurd sides. I had also seen a bunch of my friends going through the process. I was however a bit scared (or probably it was just an excuse) by having to manage a gpg key, it seemed like a quite dangerous tool to me (even if I already had commit access to glibc at the time anyway ). I eventually applied for DM in 2008 so as to at least be able to upload some packages to help the little manpower of the Accessibility and Hurd teams. Henceforth I had already a gpg key, thus no excuse any more. And having it in the DM keyring was not enough for e.g. signing the hurd-i386 buildd packages. So I ended up going through NM in 2009, which went very fast, since I had already been contributing to Debian and learning all the needed stuff for almost 10 years! I now have around 50 packages in my QA page, and being a DD is actually useful for my work, to easily push our software to the masses :) So to sum it up, the Debian project is very easy to contribute to and open to new people. It was used during discussions at the GNU Hackers Meeting 2011 as an example of a very open community with public mailing lists and discussions. The mere fact that anybody can take the initiative of manipulating the BTS (if not scared by the commands) without having to ask anybody is an excellent thing to welcome contributions; it is notable tha the GNU project migrated to the Debbugs BTS. More generally, I don t really see the DD status as a must, especially now that we have the DM status (which is still a very good way to drag people into becoming DDs). For instance, I gave a talk at FOSDEM 2008 about the state of accessibility in Debian. People did not care whom I was, they cared that there was important stuff going on and somebody talking about it. More generally, decisions that are made through a vote are actually very rare. Most of the time, things just happen on the mailing lists or IRC channels where anybody can join the discussion. So I would recommend beginners to first use the software, then start reporting bugs, then start digging in the software to try fix the bugs by oneself, eventually propose patches, get them reviewed. At some point the submitted patches will be correct already most of the time. That s when the maintainers will start getting bored of just applying the patches, and simply provide with commit access, and voil , one has become a main contributor. Raphael: You re one of the main contributors to the Debian GNU/Hurd port. What motivates you in this project? Samuel: As I mentioned above, I first got real contact with the Hurd from the accessibility point of view. That initially brought me into the Hurd console, which uses a flexible design and nice interfaces to interact with it. The Hurd driver for console accessibility is actually very straightforward, way simpler than the Windows or Linux drivers. That is what caught me initially. I have continued working on it for several reasons. First, the design is really interesting for users. There are many things that are natural in the Hurd while Linux is still struggling to achieve them, such as UID isolation, recently mentioned in LWN. What I really like in the Hurd is that it excels at providing users with the same features as the administrator s. For instance, I find it annoying that I still can not mount an ISO image that I build on e.g. Linux now has FUSE which is supposed to permit that, but I have never seen it enabled on an ssh-accessible machine, only on desktop machines, and usually just because the administrator happens to be the user of the machine (who could as well just have used sudo ) For me, it is actually Freedom #0 of Free Software: let the user run programs for any purpose, that is, combining things together all the possible ways, and not being prevented from doing some things just because the design does not permit to achieve them securely. I had the chance to give a Hurd talk to explain that at GHM 2011, whose main topic was extensibility , I called it GNU/Hurd AKA Extensibility from the Ground, because the design of the Hurd is basically meant for extensibility, and does not care whether it is done by root or a mere user. All the tools that root uses to build a GNU/Hurd system can be used by the user to build its own GNU/Hurd environment. That is guaranteed by the design itself: the libc asks for things not to the kernel, but to servers (called translators), which can be provided by root, or by the user. It is interesting to see that it is actually also tried with varying success in GNU/Linux, through gvfs or Plash. An example of things I love being able to do is: $ zgrep foo ~/*.gz On my Hurd box, the ~/ftp: directory is indeed actually served by an ftpfs translator, run under my user uid, which is thus completely harmless to the system. Secondly and not the least, the Hurd provides me with interesting yet not too hard challenges. LWN confirmed several times that the Linux kernel has become very difficult to significantly contribute to, so it is no real hacking fun any more. I have notably implemented TLS support in the Hurd and the Xen and 64bit support in the GNU Mach kernel used by the Hurd. All three were very interesting to do, but were already done for Linux (at least for all the architectures which I actually know a bit and own). It happens that both TLS and Xen hacking experience became actually useful later on: I implemented TLS in the threading library of our research team, and the Xen port was a quite interesting line on my CV for getting a postdoc position at XenSource :) Lastly, I would say that I am used to lost causes :) My work on accessibility is sometimes a real struggle, so the Hurd is almost a kind of relief. It is famous for his vapourware reputation anyway, and so it is fun to just try to contribute to it nevertheless. An interesting thing is that the opinion of people on the Hurd is often quite extreme, and only rarely neutral. Some will say it is pure vapourware, while others will say that it is the hope of humanity (yes we do see those coming to #hurd, and they are not always just trolls!). When I published a 0.401 version on 2011 April 1st, the comments of people were very diverse, and some even went as far as saying that it was horrible of us to make a joke about the promised software :) Raphael: The FTPmasters want to demote the Hurd port to the archive if it doesn t manage a stable release with wheezy. We re now at 2 months of the freeze. How far are you from being releasable ? Samuel: Of course, I can not speak for the Debian Release team. The current progress is however encouraging. During Debconf11, Michael Banck and I discussed with a few Debian Release team members about the kind of goals that should be achieved, and we are near completion of that part. The Debian GNU/Hurd port can almost completely be installed from the official mirrors, using the standard Debian Installer. Some patches need some polishing, but others are just waiting for being uploaded Debian GNU/Hurd can start a graphical desktop and run office tools such as gnumeric, as well as the iceweasel graphical web browser, KDE applications thanks to Pino Toscano s care, and GNOME application thanks to Emilio Pozuelo Monfort s care. Of course, general textmode hacking with gcc/make/gdb/etc. just works smoothly. Thanks to recent work on ghc and ada by Svante Signell, the archive coverage has passed 76%. There was a concern about network board driver support: until recently, the GNU Mach kernel was indeed still using a glue layer to embed the Linux 2.2 or even 2.0 drivers (!). Finding a network board supported by such drivers had of course become a real challenge. Thanks to the GSoC work of Zheng Da, the DDE layer can now be used to embed Linux 2.6.32 drivers in userland translators, which was recently ACCEPTed into the archive, and thus brings way larger support for network boards. It also pushes yet more toward the Hurd design: network drivers as userland process rather than kernel modules. That said, the freeze itself is not the final deadline. Actually, freeze periods are rests for porters, because maintainers stop bringing newer upstream versions which of course break on peculiar architectures. That will probably be helpful to continue improving the archive coverage. Raphael: The kfreebsd port brought into light all the packages which were not portable between different kernels. Did that help the Hurd port or are the problems too different to expect any mutual benefit? Samuel: The two ports have clearly helped each other in many aspects. The hurd-i386 port is the only non-Linux one that has been kept working (at least basically) for the past decade. That helped to make sure that all tools (dpkg, apt, toolchain, etc.) were able to cope with non-Linux ports, and keep that odd-but-why-not goal around, and evidently-enough achievable. In return, the kFreeBSD port managed to show that it was actually releasable, at least as a technological preview, thus making an example. In the daily work, we have sometimes worked hand in hand. The recent porting efforts of the Debian Installer happened roughly at the same time. When fixing some piece of code for one, the switch-case would be left for the other. When some code could be reused by the other, a mail would be sent to advise doing so, etc. In the packaging effort, it also made a lot of difference that a non-Linux port is exposed as released architecture: people attempted by themselves to fix code that is Linuxish for no real reason. The presence of the kFreeBSD is however also sometimes a difficulty for the Hurd: in the discussions, it sometimes tends to become a target to be reached, even if the systems are not really comparable. I do not need to detail the long history of the FreeBSD kernel and the amount of people hacking on it, some of them full-time, while the Hurd has only a small handful of free-time hackers. The FreeBSD kernel stability has already seen long-term polishing, and a fair amount of the Debian software was actually already ported to the FreeBSD kernel, thanks to the big existing pure-FreeBSD hackerbase. These do not hold for the GNU/Hurd port, so the expectations should go along. Raphael: You re also very much involved in the Debian Accessibility team. What are the responsibilities of this team and what are you doing there? Samuel: As you would expect it, the Debian Accessibility team works on packaging accessibility-related packages, and helping users with them; I thus do both. But the goal is way beyond just that. Actual accessibility requires integration. Ideally enough, a blind user should be able to just come to a Debian desktop system, plug his braille device, or press a shortcut to enable speech synthesis, and just use the damn computer, without having to ask the administrator to install some oddly-named package and whatnot. Just like any sighted user would do. He should be able to diagnose why his system does not boot, and at worse be able to reinstall his computer all by himself (typically at 2am ). And that is hard to achieve, because it means discussing about integration by default of accessibility features. For instance, the Debian CD images now beep during at the boot menu. That is a precious feature that has been discussed between debian-boot and debian-accessibility for a few weeks before agreeing on how to do it without too much disturbance. Similarly, my proposition of installing the desktop accessibility engines has been discussed for some time before being commited. What was however surprisingly great is that when somebody brought the topic back for discussion, non-debian-accessibility people answered themselves. This is reassuring, because it means things can be done durably in Debian. On the installation side, our current status is that the stable Debian installer has a high contrast color theme, and several years ago, I have pushed toward making standard CD images automatically detect braille devices, which permits standalone installation. I have added to the Wheezy installer some software speech synthesis (which again brought discussion about size increase vs versatility etc.) for blind people who do not have a braille device. I find it interesting to work on such topic in Debian rather than another distribution, because Debian is an upstream for a lot of distributions. Hopefully they just inherit our accessibility work. It at least worked for the text installer of Ubuntu. Of course, the Accessibility team is looking for help, to maintain our current packages, but also introduce new packages from the TODO list or create some backports. One does not need to be an expert in accessibility: tools can usually be tested, at least basically, by anybody, without particular hardware (I do not own any, I contributed virtual ones to qemu). For new developments and ideas, it is strongly recommended to come and discuss on debian-accessibility, because it is easy to get on a wrong track that does not bring actual accessibility. We still have several goals to achieve: the closest one is to just fix the transition to gnome3, which has been quite bad for accessibility so far :/ On the longer run, we should ideally reach the scenario I have detailed above: desktop accessibility available and ready to be enabled easily by default. Raphael: What s the biggest problem of Debian? Samuel: Debian is famous for its heated debian-devel discussions. And some people eventually say this no fun any more . That is exemplified in a less extreme way in the debian-boot/accessibility discussions that I have mentioned above. Sometimes, one needs to have a real stubborn thick head to continue the discussion until finding a compromise that will be accepted for commit. That is a problem because people do not necessarily have so much patience, and will thus prefer to contribute to a project with easier acceptance. But it is also a quality: as I explained above, once it is there, it is apparently for good. The Ubuntu support of accessibility in its installer has been very diverse, in part due to quite changing codebase. The Debian Installer codebase is more in a convergence process. Its base will have almost not changed between squeeze and wheezy. That allowed the Debian Accessibility team to continue improving its accessibility support, and not have to re-do it. A wiki page explains how to test its accessibility features, and some non-debian-accessibility people do go through it. A problem I am much more frightened by is the manpower in some core teams. The Debian Installer, grub, glibc, Xorg, gcc, mozilla derivatives, When reading the changelogs of these, we essentially keep seeing the same very few names over and over. And when one core developer leaves, it is very often still the same names which appear again to do the work. It is hard to believe that there are a thousand DDs working on Debian. I fear that Debian does not manage to get people to work on core things. I often hear people saying that they do not even dare thinking about putting their hands inside Xorg, for instance. Xorg is complex, but it seems to me that it tends to be overrated, and a lot of people could actually help there, as well as all the teams mentioned above. And if nobody does it, who will? Raphael: Do you have wishes for Debian Wheezy? Samuel: That is an easy one :) Of course I wish that we manage to release the hurd-i386 port. I also wish that accessibility of gnome3 gets fixed enough to become usable again. The current state is worrying: so much has changed that the transition will be difficult for users already, the current bugs will clearly not help. I also hope to find the time to fix the qt-at-spi bridge, which should (at last!) bring complete KDE accessibility. Raphael: Is there someone in Debian that you admire for their contributions? Samuel: Given the concerns I expressed above, I admire all the people who do spend time on core packages, even when that is really not fun everyday. Just to alphabetically name a few people I have seen so often here and there in the areas I have touched in the last few years: Aur lien Jarno, Bastian Blank, Christian Perrier, Colin Watson, Cyril Brulebois, Frans Pop, J rg Jaspert, Joey Hess, Josselin Mouette, Julien Cristau, Matthias Klose, Mike Hommey, Otavio Salvador, Petr Salinger, Robert Millan, Steve Langasek. Man, so many things that each of them works on! Of course this list is biased towards the parts that I touched, but people working in others core areas also deserve the same admiration.
Thank you to Samuel for the time spent answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed reading his answers as I did. Note that older interviews are indexed on

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19 December 2011

Robert Millan: ZFS v28

ZFS v28 (finally, with deduplication) is available in latest D-I daily builds when selecting kernel of FreeBSD 9 as boot option. Testers wanted!!

9 August 2011

Robert Millan: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD on production

Yesterday I begun using Debian GNU/kFreeBSD squeeze in thorin, my main workstation. During the last few weeks I had to work through some of the limitations that were holding me back, such automated driver load and FUSE. I was lucky enough that other people filled the missing pieces I wanted, such as NFS client support and a GRUB bugfix that broke booting from Mirrored pools. I have to say that I m very satisfied. Barring a pair of small nuissances here and there, the result is quite impressive: That s basically my personal experience as newbie Debian GNU/kFreeBSD user. Of course my perspective is very limited because I just started and yes, I am biased. Anyway, what about yours? If you have installed Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, was it meant for production or just a toy machine ? If you considered using it on production, did it succeed at satisfying your needs, or did something hold you back? Leave your comment!

3 August 2011

Robert Millan: Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was first released with Squeeze in last february. The technology preview label indicated, among other things, that it had a number of limitations when compared with what users would expect: missing features, incomplete functionality, etc. But it has seen many noteworthy improvements since then. Here are some that I would like to mention:

4 February 2011

Robert Millan: Diskless Debian GNU/kFreeBSD HOWTO

It was completely non-obvious; In some cases I had to figure it out by reading kFreeBSD source code; I write it down here so it s not forgotten ;-) This is a short guide on how to boot Debian GNU/kFreeBSD via network on a diskless machine, using GRUB as the bootloader.
  • Step 1: Configure your DHCP/TFTP environment to load GRUB from network. See the PXE GRUB documentation for details.
  • Step 2: Rebuild kfreebsd-8 package with BOOTP and BOOTP_NFSROOT options, as described in upstream handbook. They need to be added to the debian/arch/*/*.config file for your architecture. This kernel can still be used for normal, disk-based boot, but it will issue DHCP requests to attempt network boot every time you start it.
  • Step 3: Put your kFreeBSD in TFTP directory and configure GRUB to load it. This requires only one command in grub.cfg. My setup:
    set timeout=1
    set default=0 menuentry Debian GNU/kFreeBSD
    echo Loading kFreeBSD
    kfreebsd /beastie/boot/kfreebsd-8.1-1-amd64.gz
    echo Booting
  • Step 4: Build a directory tree with your GNU/kFreeBSD userland, and export it via NFS. I copied it from an existing Debian GNU/kFreeBSD install, but I suppose debootstrap could do the job as well.
  • Step 5: kFreeBSD mounts root NFS in readonly mode initially, and Debian userland turns out to be very unhappy with that. If you want things to work you ll need to either setup tmpfs in a few places (e.g. /tmp) or adjust fstab so that / is remounted as writable by the INIT scripts. Example fstab line: / nfs rw 0 0
    This, however, will only work if mount_nfs(8) is in your system. And (well, too bad) it hasn t been packaged yet. So you can copy it from a FreeBSD base tarball, along with its dependencies (/lib/, /libexec and /etc/netconfig).
  • Step 6: Finally the system boots, but you ll soon notice that file locks don t work. This breaks some daemons (rsyslog), dpkg, apt and possibly a lot other things. Actual (i.e. non-local) file locking on NFS requires a running lock daemon, both on client and on server. However, since FreeBSD lockd isn t packaged either, and you probably don t need global locks anyway, I suggest you disable it with nolockd mount option.
    The tricky part is that as explained in mount_nfs manpage, nolockd will only be honored when performing the initial mount, and it will be silently ignored if used while updating the mount options. So fstab is not an option.
    The only way I could find of telling the kernel to use arbitrary options when mounting / is by sending them via DHCP. Use the following options in your dhcpd.conf:
    option option-130 code 130 = text;
    option option-130 nolockd ;
  • Et voil . A Debian GNU/kFreeBSD system running completely in diskless mode. Enjoy!

    19 January 2011

    Robert Millan: Finally, amd32 is taking shape

    When AMD launched its now widely used 64-bit architecture in year 2000, it started marketing it as a significant step forward because of it having longer word and pointer size. One just has to check the advertising material and notice those big 64 being touted as the main improvement. But it is commonly accepted that most applications don t need a 64-bit address space for anything. Building them in LP64 model is just a waste of memory due to increase of pointer size. Even though this made most applications lag behind, the new architecture still was an improvement in terms of speed because of the AMD revised ISA, featuring changes like: To summarize, most of the merit from AMD64 architecture was in fixing some of the insanity of Intel 386 ISA (instruction set architecture), rather than the increased pointer size which was a source of inefficiency most of the time. Perhaps AMD didn t evaluate this correctly, or perhaps its marketing side won over technical merit. However, although the new hardware is biased towards LP64 data model, it s not actually enforced. It was a matter of time until an independent project took over and attempted to fix this, combining the AMD64 ISA with ILP32 data model. I ve been reading with much interest in the binutils and gcc mailing lists that such project is beginning to take shape. A port of binutils, GCC, GDB and Linux is already available. Future plans include porting Glibc which will make it possible to build a standard GNU derivative out of this. Sadly, I don t have the time to devote to this project myself, but I ll continue following its progress. I m looking forward to bringing this speed boost to my machines.

    27 November 2010

    Robert Millan: About ZFS in Squeeze (2)

    Sometimes it s nice being wrong. Contrary to what I predicted, ZFS will be supported in Debian Squeeze using the official installer. This means that Debian Squeeze will be one of the first GNU distributions to support ZFS. In fact, even though ZFS support didn t make it to Debian-Installer beta1 by the time it was released, it is now available in the netboot images (this happens because netboot images fetch newer installer components from the internet). As a consequence of this my unofficial installer can now be considered obsolete. So why did I say something that turned out to be grossly inaccurate? It s not due to anyone s fault really. At that time, the version of Parted that included ZFS detection hadn t migrated to Squeeze. The unblock policy didn t appear to allow this migration. However, the Release Team kindly decided to make an exception that allowed this, and after Parted had migrated the changes in Debian-Installer itself went in quite smoothly.

    25 November 2010

    Robert Millan: Re: The Freaky Wall

    Heya Sergio Your blog doesn t allow comments :-( so I reply here. First off, thanks for being one of the first Debian developers in trying out my modified installer with ZFS support, you guys made my day! Some quick notes on the bugs you found: The missing //@ prefix bug is #600578, fixed in upstream, in sid and in squeeze. Thanks :-) The boot partition stays in /target/boot in final install bug is not in BTS. It was present in a preliminar version of partman-zfs which was never uploaded. The version currently in the archive correctly uses altroot option to fix this. The /lib/modules is needed for boot problem was reported as #600568, but I haven t been able to persuade the kFreeBSD maintainers that this is necessary. It s not critical anyway. Glad you finally got a working setup.

    13 October 2010

    Robert Millan: About ZFS in Squeeze

    The bad news is that you won t be able to use ZFS as your root filesystem in Debian Squeeze with the official installer. The blocker is missing support in GNU Parted. Unfortunately the patch I sent in August wasn t integrated in time for the freeze (and still isn t, but there s no hurry now, it ll hopefully be there for Wheezy). The good news is that all fixes required for the installed system (including ZFS userland utilities and GRUB) made it and are already in Squeeze. As a result, the unofficial installer I built in September will (unless something weird happens) continue to work during Squeeze life cycle. Note that although the installer itself is modified, it installs a pristine Debian GNU/kFreeBSD system from official packages. Hope this is helpful to you if you plan on deploying ZFS in your organization and the other approaches don t fit well enough with your needs.

    12 September 2010

    Robert Millan: Graphical installer for Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

    Now that Debian s graphical installer flavour has migrated to X11, porting it to GNU/kFreeBSD became a low hanging fruit, so I shamelessly picked it up and here comes a version of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD installer with graphical support. Oh, and a screenshot too: Enjoy.

    6 September 2010

    Robert Millan: Debian Installer with ZFS

    Long time no see Not much hacking in the last few months. Not much ranting either (some of you I m sure will appreciate ;-). Anyway, I recently grew excited to learn that ZFS is coming to Debian. I decided to bite the bullet, patched the missing bits in GRUB and Parted, a few small changes in D-I and there s now a modified Debian Installer with ZFS support for you to play with. Enjoy! Note1: I didn t have time or interest in warping D-I into the N:1:M model used in ZFS. Instead, this installer assumes each zpool has exactly one device and exactly one filesystem. However, you can later add more devices ( zpool attach ) or create new filesystems in the same pool ( zfs create ). Note2: Don t ask for i386, it was intentionally left out. ZFS is designed with modern CPUs in mind. It can work on i386 with special tuning but I don t want to encourage users to do this unless they re well aware of what they re doing.

    29 January 2010

    Robert Millan: Cooperative geolocation

    I m about as much annoyed by geolocation as everyone else, but I think this controversial proposal for cooperative geolocation is a good thing. Up untill now, geolocation is being imposed on you by using an IP-to-location map. With cooperative geolocation, you re the one in control. You can disable it if it bothers you. Perhaps you can even pretend to be somewhere else (useful e.g. when traveling), assuming they didn t add any idiotic authority-based authentication to it (which I didn t check).

    11 January 2010

    Robert Millan: GRUB gets new face

    My friend Jo Shields added the missing piece by writing the first theme that fit the basic requirements (uses only legal & free fonts and images with no external dependencies), and now GRUB gets a new face! This is just one of the ton of possibilities our new graphical menu framework was designed for. If you want to try it out, grub-pc 1.98~experimental.20100111.1-1 has just been uploaded to Debian/experimental. For non-Debian systems, Jo s blog post provides a standalone tarball which can be used with GRUB Experimental branch in Bazaar. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible, including Jo, Colin for developing the gfxmenu framework and Vladimir for his extensive work reviewing and polishing it. Now for the obvious question (before anyone asks): when is this reaching mainstream? Well, there s lots of code being added, and keep in mind GRUB is a bootloader and it must not compromise on its main feature (being able to boot!), so we need a pack of brave souls to try out the code, find bugs and report them. Once we re reasonably sure the new code is mature, it ll find its way to GRUB trunk and eventually GRUB 1.98. So you can help us out! Install it; spread the news; make your desktop a bit nicer and come to us if you find that something went terribly wrong ;-)

    3 January 2010

    Thorsten Glaser: new MirBSD-current snapshot; more TODO done

    The MirBSD Midi-ISO (bi-arch manifold boot) and NetInstall for both i386 and sparc have been upgraded to the 20091226 snapshot (sorry for the delay). A separate news announcement will be done when a full ISO (MirBSD + MirGRML) is done. Other than that, I have fixed a couple of things all over the place, jupp for example. The planned release of mksh R39b is still not done though, as I m only human as well, and too much hacking isn t something one can do without relaxing some in between. On the Debian front, my RCBD #1 was continued, here s #1 results: Explanations: I did go overboard during the first patching session, but I suppose this is what the NM learning period is for too. The autossh maintainer said thanks and will probably integrate my patches, so I don t need to NMU. I could close the dietlibc bug. The other two didn t look as good, I had to separate the fix for the RC bug (and other required fixes, such as ftp-master rejects there were none though) and my other fixes; I submit the former as NMU diffs again and pointed Zack to the .dsc files, and opened the aforementioned two new bugs with the rest of the diffs, so the proper maintainers can take and apply them. There s questioning if gidentd should be removed (see the PR for more); the acorn-fdisk upstream (arm-fdisk it s called there) is not actively developing but will receive patches; the autossh maintainer said thanks but I didn t yet hear back from upstream. The binutils as intel_mode bug was fixed upstream and in experimental for my case, but I had to reopen things because the variant documented in binutils-current still doesn t work, so others (who use the new, more intel-like, syntax) don t run into it. Luk sent me a request to do more mipsel-FTBFS-due-to-toolchain-bugs workarounds. Will do (but can t promise to do so before the upcoming BSP. Robert Millan incorporated something like manifold-boot into GRUB 2, after I described it to him (the debian-bsd@ people are currently sorting out some heisenbugs with it, though). Now there s three variants (but then, this helps spotting bugs that don t appear in all implementations). sendmail 8.13.4 is out, I wonder when OgreBSD will upgrade I could do it myself again, but this time it s not that urgent. Still waiting for the TLS extension, though

    31 December 2009

    Robert Millan: Gnote 0.7.0

    I was very glad today to discover (yes, shame on me for not noticing earlier) that the Gnote project has come back to activity. A new maintainer, Debarshi Ray, has just released 0.7.0. I m very pleased to see that Gnote continues being maintained. It s even more important now, as Fedora ships it in its default GNOME desktop, and so does gNewSense (the 100% free GNU/Linux distribution). It s nice to see that the community doesn t let down those who, for one reason or another, committed to Gnote and put their weight on it. As for me, now that 0.6.2 has migrated to testing, I ll get back to rolling out package updates. Expect 0.7.0 to land in Debian sid soon!

    25 December 2009

    Robert Millan: Multiple GRUB terminals

    To be found in Vladimir s multiple terminal branch, GRUB 2 displays in multiple terminals simultaneously, with a separate menu viewer for each one, resulting in menus with different metrics rendering the same content! In this screenshot, GRUB running in QEMU with a serial terminal attached to it in a separate window: Expect this to land in GRUB Experimental branch soon.

    21 December 2009

    Robert Millan: GRUB i18n

    Better late than never. We promised internationalization and here comes GRUB with gettext support. Many thanks to Carles Pina for bringing GRUB a bit closer to end users. Here s GRUB menu in Catalan: GRUB menu And here s the Catalan version of GRUB command-line interface: GRUB command-line Help is much welcome from translators who want to add their own languages! Like many other GNU projects, translation support for GRUB is coordinated by the Translation Project. If you re excited by the idea that your strings will be the very first localized message that is displayed on every user s box, or simply want to bring our cause for computer freedom further, get in touch with your language team.

    12 December 2009

    Robert Millan: GRUB on Yeeloong reaching maturity

    From preliminar/experimental port to almost-complete in 48 days. Nice work, Vladimir.
    GRUB gfxterm on Yeeloong