Search Results: "Simon Kainz"

12 June 2016

Mario Lang: A Raspberry Pi Zero in a Handy Tech Active Star 40 Braille Display

TL;DR: I put a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, a Bluetooth USB dongle, and the required adapter cable into my new Handy Tech Active Star 40 braille display. An internal USB port provides the power. This has transformed my braille display into an ARM-based, monitorless, Linux laptop that has a keyboard and a braille display. It can be charged/powered via USB so it can also be run from a power bank or a solar charger, thus potentially being able to run for days, rather than just hours, without needing a standard wall-jack. [picture: a Raspberry Pi Zero embedded within an Active Star 40] [picture: a braille display with a keyboard on top and a Raspberry Pi Zero inside]
Some Background on Braille Display Form Factors Braille displays come in various sizes. There are models tailored for desktop use (with 60 cells or more), models tailored for portable use with a laptop (usually with 40 cells), and, nowadays, there are even models tailored for on-the-go use with a smartphone or similar (with something like 14 or 18 cells). Back in the old days, braille displays were rather massive. A 40-cell braille display was typically about the size of a 13" laptop. In modern times, manufacturers have managed to reduce the size of the internals such that a 40-cell display can be placed in front of a laptop or keyboard instead of placing the laptop on top of the braille display. While this is a nice achievement, I personally haven't found it to be very convenient because you now have to place two physically separate devices on your lap. It's OK if you have a real desk, but, at least in my opinion, if you try to use your laptop as its name suggests, it's actually inconvenient to use a small form factor, 40-cell display. For this reason, I've been waiting for a long-promised new model in the Handy Tech Star series. In 2002, they released the Handy Tech Braille Star 40, which is a 40-cell braille display with enough space to put a laptop directly on top of it. To accommodate larger laptop models, they even built in a little platform at the back that can be pulled out to effectively enlarge the top surface. Handy Tech has now released a new model, the Active Star 40, that has essentially the same layout but modernized internals. [picture: a plain Active Star 40] You can still pull out the little platform to increase the space that can be used to put something on top. [picture: an Active Star 40 with extended platform and a laptop on top] But, most conveniently, they've designed in an empty compartment, roughly the size of a modern smartphone, beneath the platform. The original idea was to actually put a smartphone inside, but this has turned out (at least to me) to not be very feasible. Fortunately, they thought about the need for electricity and added a Micro USB cable terminating within the newly created, empty compartment. My first idea was to put a conventional Raspberry Pi inside. When I received the braille display, however, we immediately noticed that a standard-sized rpi is roughly 3mm too high to fit into the empty compartment. Fortunately, though, a co-worker noticed that the Raspberry Pi Zero was available for order. The Raspberry Pi Zero is a lot thinner, and fits perfectly inside (actually, I think there's enough space for two, or even three, of them). So we ordered one, along with some accessories like a 64GB SDHC card, a Bluetooth dongle, and a Micro USB adapter cable. The hardware arrived a few days later, and was immediately bootstrapped with the assistance of very helpful friends. It works like a charm!
Technical Details The backside of the Handy Tech Active Star 40 features two USB host ports that can be used to connect devices such as a keyboard. A small form-factor, USB keyboard with a magnetic clip-on is included. When a USB keyboard is connected, and when the display is used via Bluetooth, the braille display firmware additionally offers the Bluetooth HID profile, and key press/release events received via the USB port are passed through to it. I use the Bluetooth dongle for all my communication needs. Most importantly, BRLTTY is used as a console screen reader. It talks to the braille display via Bluetooth (more precisely, via an RFCOMM channel). The keyboard connects through to Linux via the Bluetooth HID profile. Now, all that is left is network connectivity. To keep the energy consumption as low as possible, I decided to go for Bluetooth PAN. It appears that the tethering mode of my mobile phone works (albeit with a quirk), so I can actually access the internet as long as I have cell phone reception. Additionally, I configured a Bluetooth PAN access point on my desktop machines at home and at work, so I can easily (and somewhat more reliably) get IP connectivity for the rpi when I'm near one of these machines. I plan to configure a classic Raspberry Pi as a mobile Bluetooth access point. It would essentially function as a Bluetooth to ethernet adapter, and should allow me to have network connectivity in places where I don't want to use my phone.
BlueZ 5 and PAN It was a bit challenging to figure out how to actually configure Bluetooth PAN with BlueZ 5. I found the bt-pan python script (see below) to be the only way so far to configure PAN without a GUI. It handles both ends of a PAN network, configuring a server and a client. Once instructed to do so (via D-Bus) in client mode, BlueZ will create a new network device - bnep0 - once a connection to a server has been established. Typically, DHCP is used to assign IP addresses for these interfaces. In server mode, BlueZ needs to know the name of a bridge device to which it can add a slave device for each incoming client connection. Configuring an address for the bridge device, as well as running a DHCP server + IP Masquerading on the bridge, is usually all you need to do.
A Bluetooth PAN Access Point with Systemd I'm using systemd-networkd to configure the bridge device. /etc/systemd/network/pan.netdev:
Now, BlueZ needs to be told to configure a NAP profile. To my surprise, there seems to be no way to do this with stock BlueZ 5.36 utilities. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Luckily, I found a very nice blog post, as well as an accommodating Python script that performs the required D-Bus calls. For convenience, I use a Systemd service to invoke the script and to ensure that its dependencies are met. /etc/systemd/system/pan.service:
Description=Bluetooth Personal Area Network
After=bluetooth.service systemd-networkd.service
# Ugly hack to work around #787480
iptables -F
iptables -t nat -F
iptables -t mangle -F
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
exec /usr/local/sbin/bt-pan --systemd --debug server pan
This last file wouldn't be necessary if IPMasquerade= were supported in Debian right now (see #787480). After the obligatory systemctl daemon-reload and systemctl restart systemd-networkd, you can start your Bluetooth Personal Area Network with systemctl start pan.
Bluetooth PAN Client with Systemd Configuring the client is also quite easy to do with Systemd. /etc/systemd/network/
Description=Bluetooth Personal Area Network client
ExecStart=/usr/local/sbin/bt-pan --debug --systemd client %I --wait
Now, after the usual configuration reloading, you should be able to connect to a specific Bluetooth access point with:
systemctl start pan@00:11:22:33:44:55
Pairing via the Command Line Of course, the server and client-side service configuration require a pre-existing pairing between the server and each of its clients. On the server, start bluetoothctl and issue the following commands:
power on
agent on
scan on
scan off
Once you've set scan mode to on, wait a few seconds until you see the device you're looking for scroll by. Note its device address, and use it for the pair and (optional) trust commands. On the client, the sequence is essentially the same except that you don't need to issue the trust command. The server needs to trust a client in order to accept NAP profile connections from it without waiting for manual confirmation by the user. I'm actually not sure if this is the optimal sequence of commands. It might be enough to just pair the client with the server and issue the trust command on the server, but I haven't tried this yet.
Enabling Use of the Bluetooth HID Profile Essentially the same as above also needs to be done in order to use the Bluetooth HID profile of the Active Star 40 on Linux. However, instead of agent on, you need to issue the command agent KeyboardOnly. This explicitly tells bluetoothctl that you're specifically looking for a HID profile.
Configuring Bluetooth via the Command Line Feels Vague While I'm very happy that I actually managed to set all of this up, I must admit that the command-line interface to BlueZ feels a bit incomplete and confusing. I initially thought that agents were only for PIN code entry. Now that I've discovered that "agent KeyboardOnly" is used to enable the HID profile, I'm not sure anymore. I'm surprised that I needed to grab a script from a random git repository in order to be able to set up PAN. I remember, with earlier version of BlueZ, that there was a tool called pand that you could use to do all of this from the command-line. I don't seem to see anything like that for BlueZ 5 anymore. Maybe I'm missing something obvious?
Performance The data rate is roughly 120kB/s, which I consider acceptable for such a low power solution. The 1GHz ARM CPU actually feels sufficiently fast for a console/text-mode person like me. I'll rarely be using much more than ssh and emacs on it anyway.
Console fonts and screen dimensions The default dimensions of the framebuffer on the Raspberry Pi Zero are a bit unexpectedly strange. fbset reports that the screen dimension is 656x416 pixels (of course, no monitor connected). With a typical console font of 8x16, I got 82 columns and 26 lines. With a 40 cell braille display, the 82 columns are very inconvenient. Additionally, as a braille user, I would like to be able to view Unicode braille characters in addition to the normal charset on the console. Fortunately, Linux supports 512 glyphs, while most console fonts do only provide 256. console-setup can load and combine two 256-glyph fonts at once. So I added the following to /etc/default/console-setup to make the text console a lot more friendly to braille users:
FONT="Lat15-Terminus16.psf.gz brl-16x8.psf"


You need console-braille installed for brl-16x8.psf to be available.

Further Projects There's a 3.5mm audio jack inside the braille display as well. Unfortunately, there are no converters from Mini-HDMI to 3.5mm audio that I know of. It would be very nice to be able to use the sound card that is already built into the Raspberry Pi Zero, but, unfortunately, this doesn't seem possible at the moment. Alternatively, I'm looking at using a Micro USB OTG hub and an additional USB audio adapter to get sound from the Raspberry Pi Zero to the braille display's speakers. Unfortunately, the two USB audio adapters I've tried so far have run hot for some unknown reason. So I have to find some other chipset to see if the problem goes away. A little nuisance, currently, is that you need to manually power off the Raspberry, wait a few seconds, and then power down the braille display. Turning the braille display off cuts power delivery via the internal USB port. If this is accidentally done too soon then the Raspberry Pi Zero is shut down ungracefully (which is probably not the best way to do it). We're looking into connecting a small, buffering battery to the GPIO pins of the rpi, and into notifying the rpi when external power has dropped. A graceful, software-initiated shutdown can then be performed. You can think of it as being like a mini UPS for Micro USB.
The image If you are a happy owner of a Handy Tech Active Star 40 and would like to do something similar, I am happy to share my current (Raspbian Stretch based) image. In fact, if there is enough interest by other blind users, we might even consider putting a kit together that makes it as easy as possible for you to get started. Let me know if this could be of interest to you.
Thanks Thanks to Dave Mielke for reviewing the text of this posting. Thanks to Simon Kainz for making the photos for this article. And I owe a big thank you to my co-workers at Graz University of Technology who have helped me a lot to bootstrap really quickly into the rpi world.
P.S. My first tweet about this topic is just five days ago, and apart from the soundcard not working yet, I feel like the project is already almost complete! By the way, I am editing the final version of this blog posting from my newly created monitorless ARM-based Linux laptop via an ssh connection to my home machine.

21 August 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: Final week

Well, here are the stats for the final week of the DUCK challenge as well as DebConf15: So we had 21 packages fixed and uploaded by 14 different uploaders. People were really working hard on this during DebConf. A big "Thank You" to you!! Since the start of this challenge, a total of 89 packages, were fixed. Here is a quick overview:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
# Packages 10 15 10 14 10 9 21
Total 10 25 35 49 59 68 89
Thank you all for participating - either on purpose or "accidentially": Some people were really surprised as i sneaked up on them at DebConf15, confronting them with a green lighter! I just tried to put even more fun into Debian, i hope this worked out Pevious articles are here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5,Week 6.

20 August 2015

Simon Kainz: vim in Heidelberg

Following the tradition of Love Locks, apparently there is someone really in love with vim in Heidelberg! Valerie Found at the Old Bridge in Heidelberg during DebConf15.

16 August 2015

Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez: Debconf15 and happy birthday Debian!

Debconf15 started yesterday and as expected, talk rooms are always fully crowded! I had to stand up in a couple of talks and I watched another couple of them from outside thanks to the real time streaming. Thanks to the fantastic work of the video team, video recordings of the talks from yesterday have started to be available at
I would heartily recommend you to watch Debian s Central Role in the Future of Software Freedom by Bradley M. Kuhn (video available).
I was expecting a good talk and Bradley exceeded my expectations. I also got to meet again Simon Kainz and to get my DUCK branded lighter from the duck challenge :) After dinner, we celebrated Debian s 22 birthday, that s exactly today. We had a wonderful cake made by DebConf attendees made by small pieces of pastry with fruits drawing a mosaic with a Debian swirl.
While the cake was a very nice detail, the best part of it was watching the people making the cake. Everybody had a great time and this kind of things are what make Debian (and DebConf) great. When people work together to make something wonderful.

15 August 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 6

Well, here are the stats for week 6 of the DUCK challenge: So we had 9 packages fixed and uploaded by 7 different uploaders. A big "Thank You" to you!! Since the start of this challenge, a total of 68 packages, were fixed. Here is a quick overview:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
# Packages 10 15 10 14 10 9 -
Total 10 25 35 49 59 68 -
The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. So, assuming that the current rate of packages fixed will be somewhat stable and there will be no additional regessions, the number of packages with issues should be down to 0 in about 209 weeks (~ 4 years ) I just arrived at DebConf15 in Heidelberg, and will try to find all of you who fixed & uploaded packages. If you are one of the guys and see me lingering around, please talk to me and get your lighter! The DUCK Challenge will run until the end of DebConf15, but as there might be some delay by my scripts detecting your upload, please contact my directly. Pevious articles are here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5.

9 August 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 5

Slighthly delayed, but here are the stats for week 5 of the DUCK challenge: So we had 10 packages fixed and uploaded by 10 different uploaders. A big "Thank You" to you!! Since the start of this challenge, a total of 59 packages, were fixed. Here is a quick overview:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
# Packages 10 15 10 14 10 - -
Total 10 25 35 49 59 - -
The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. Only 2 more weeks to DebConf15 so please get involved: The DUCK Challenge is running until end of DebConf15! Pevious articles are here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.

31 July 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 4

The DUCK challenge is making a quite stable progress: in the last 4 weeks there were approximately 12.25 packages fixed and uploaded per week. In the current week the following packages were fixed and uploaded into unstable: So we had 14 packages fixed and uploaded by 10 different uploaders. A big "Thank You" to you!! Since the start of this challenge, a total of 49 packages, uploaded by 31 different persons were fixed. Here is a quick overview:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
# Packages 10 15 10 14 - - -
Total 10 25 35 49 - - -
The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. DebConf15 is approaching quite fast, so please get involved: The DUCK Challenge is running until end of DebConf15! Pevious articles are here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3.

24 July 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 3

One more update on the the DUCK challenge: In the current week, the following packages were fixed and uploaded into unstable: So we had 10 packages fixed and uploaded by 8 different uploaders. A big "Thank You" to you!! Since the start of this challenge, a total of 35 packages, uploaded by 25 different persons were fixed. Here is a quick overview:
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7
# Packages 10 15 10 - - - -
Total 10 25 35 - - - -
The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. There is still lots of time till the end of DebConf15 and the end of the DUCK Challenge, so please get involved. Pevious articles are here: Week 1, Week 2.

17 July 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 2

Just a litte update on the DUCK challenge: In the last week, the following packages were fixed and uploaded into unstable: Last week we had 10 packages uploaded & fixed, the current week resulted in 15 fixed packages. So there are currently 25 packages fixed by 20 different uploaders. I really hope i can meet you all at DebConf15!! The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. A big "Thank You" to you. There is still lots of time till the end of DebConf15 and the end of the DUCK Challenge, so please get involved. And rememeber: debcheckout fails? FIX MORE URLS

9 July 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge: week 1

After announcing the DUCK challenge last week the following packages were fixed and uploaded into unstable: A big "Thank You" to you. The list of the fixed and updated packages is availabe here. I will try to update this ~daily. If I missed one of your uploads, please drop me a line. There is still lots of time till the end of DebConf15 and the end of the DUCK Challenge, so please get involved.

2 July 2015

Simon Kainz: DUCK challenge at DebConf15

New features in DUCK Carnivore-* data DUCK now uses carnivore- names,email tables from UDD, giving a nice list of packages grouped by Maintainer/Uploader names. Domain grouping A per-domain-listing is now also available here. DUCK challenge at DebConf15 After announcing DUCK in mid-june 2012, the number of source packages with issues is still somewhat stable around 1700. After a recent update of the curl libs, i also managed to get rid of 200 false positives, caused by SSL-verification issues, as can be seen here. To speed things up a bit and lower the number of broken links, i hereby propose the following challenge: The first 99 persons who fix at least 1 broken URL and upload the fixed package before end of DebConf15 will get an awesome "200 OK" DUCK-branded lighter at DebConf15! Lighter Army of Lighters The challenge starts right now! I will try hard to not forget anyone who fixes packages (note the s ;-), but if you feel missed out, please contact me at DC15. Also, please remember that this is not a valid excuse to NMU packages ;-). su

1 January 2015

Simon Kainz: Pigs-in-a-mud-pond Cake

In lack of some New-Years-Charms, this is our attempt at creating something by ourselves: Step 1 Make some pigs (Pigs being a symbol of luck!) 1 2 (Closeup, probably NSFW :-) ) Step 2 Make some pie. We made a simple, two layeres chocolate pie, topped with some jam to prevent that is all gets very dry. We then made the pond "walls" by sticking KitKat on the side of the pie. We used molten chocolate as "glue". 3 Step 3 Add some more chocolate and add the pigs! 4 5 (Piggy relaxing in liquid chocolate! :-) Step 4 Enjoy! Happy 2015!

2 September 2014

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities in August 2014

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you re among the people who made a donation to support my work (65.55 , thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it s just an interesting status update on my various projects. Distro Tracker Even though I was officially in vacation during 3 of the 4 weeks of August, I spent many nights working on Distro Tracker. I m pleased to have managed to bring back Python 3 compatibility over all the (tested) code base. The full test suite now passes with Python 3.4 and Django 1.6 (or 1.7). From now on, I ll run tox on all code submitted to make sure that we won t regress on this point. tox also runs flake8 for me so that I can easily detect when the submitted code doesn t respect the PEP8 coding style. It also catches other interesting mistakes (like unused variable or too complex functions). Getting the code to pass flake8 was also a major effort, it resulted in a huge commit (89 files changed, 1763 insertions, 1176 deletions). Thanks to the extensive test suite, all those refactoring only resulted in two regressions that I fixed rather quickly. Some statistics: 51 commits over the last month, 41 by me, 3 by Andrew Starr-Bochicchio, 3 by Christophe Siraut, 3 by Joseph Herlant and 1 by Simon Kainz. Thanks to all of them! Their contributions ported some features that were already available on the old PTS. The new PTS is now warning of upcoming auto-removals, is displaying problems with uptream URLs, includes a short package description in the page title, and provides a link to screenshots (if they exist on We still have plenty of bugs to handle, so you can help too: check out I always leave easy bugs for others to handle, so grab one and get started! I ll review your patch with pleasure. :-) Tryton After my last batch of contributions to Tryton s French Chart of Accounts (#4108, #4109, #4110, #4111) C dric Krier granted me commit rights to the account_fr mercurial module. Debconf 14 I wasn t able to attend this year but thanks to awesome work of the video team, I watched some videos (and I still have a bunch that I want to see). Some of them were put online the day after they had been recorded. Really amazing work! Django 1.7 After the initial bug reports, I got some feedback of maintainers who feared that it would be difficult to get their packages working with Django 1.7. I helped them as best as I can by providing some patches (for horizon, for django-restricted-resource, for django-testscenarios). Since I expected many maintainers to be not very pro-active, I rebuilt all packages with Django 1.7 to detect at least those that would fail to build. I tagged as confirmed all the corresponding bug reports. Looking at;tag=django17, one can see that some progress has been made with 25 packages fixed. Still there are at least 25 others that are still problematic in sid and 35 that have not been investigated at all (except for the automatic rebuild that passed). Again your help is more than welcome! It s easy to install python-django 1.7 from experimental and they try to use/rebuild the packages from the above list. Dpkg translation With the freeze approaching, I wanted to ensure that dpkg was fully translated in French. I thus pinged and merged some translations that were done by volunteers. Unfortunately it looks like nobody really stepped up to maintain it in the long run so I did myself the required update when dpkg 1.17.12 got uploaded. Is there anyone willing to manage dpkg s French translation? With the latest changes in 1.17.13, we have again a few untranslated strings:
$ for i in $(find . -name fr.po); do echo $i; msgfmt -c -o /dev/null --statistics $i; done
1083 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 1 untranslated message.
268 translated messages, 3 fuzzy translations.
545 translated messages.
2277 translated messages, 8 fuzzy translations, 3 untranslated messages.
Misc stuff I made an xsane QA upload (it s currently orphaned) to drop the (build-)dependency on liblcms1 and avoid getting it removed from Debian testing (see #745524). For the record, how-can-i-help warned me of this after one dist-upgrade. With the Django 1.7 work and the need to open up an experimental branch, I decided to switch python-django s packaging to git even though the current team policy is to use subversion. This triggered (once more) the discussion about a possible switch to git and I was pleased to see more enthusiasm this time around. Barry Warsaw tested a few workflows, shared his feeling and pushed toward a live discussion of the switch during Debconf. It looks like it might happen for good this time. I contributed my share in the discussions on the mailing list. Thanks See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

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16 June 2014

Simon Kainz: on using crippled installers

Maybe someone else is using iDataPlex HW, so this might come in helpful... TL, DR: Dear Hardware Vendors! Please don't force people to use specific Linux distributions when a simple unzip command would do the same. At work we run (amongst others) an HPC system consisting of 120 IBM System X iDataPlex dx360 M4 Nodes. Recently, after some MCE logs caused by DIMM errors, the IBM guy refused to send me replacement DIMMs if if didn't update IMM firware and tortue test the machine some days more. Well, ok... IBM uses the so called UpdateXpress tool to update IMM and UEFI firmware. The tool is available for rhel4 to rhel7 (both 32 and 64 bit), SLES10 & SLES11 and Microsoft Windows. I tried all of the available UpdateXpress System Pack Installers, with basically the same result everytime:
WARNING! This package doesn't appear to match your system.
         The following information was determined for your system:
           distribution = Unknown
           release = -1
           processor architecture = Unknown
I tried to set up a fake RHEL environment (customized /usr/local/uname, custom /et/RHel-release, etc...) but after some more tries, the installer (yes, it's still the installer I am trying to run) fails with some strange SEGFAULTS. After some closer inspection, (well, the RHEL4 uxspi binary is about 109MB big!) i tried to unzip it, and voila:
~/firmware$ unzip ibm_utl_uxspi_9.60_rhel4_32-64.bin
Archive:  ibm_utl_uxspi_9.60_rhel4_32-64.bin
   creating: rhel6_64/image/
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
   creating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/elxFC.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/elxCNA.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/ibmc.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/FPGA-S.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/degraded.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/brocadeFC.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/qlgcFC.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/broadcom.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/LSI.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/brocadeCNA.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/uefi.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/diags.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/qlgcCNA.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/VMwareESXi.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/ibmc2.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/esxi_assoc_templates/FPGA.uxt  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/UXLite_UPDATEID.dat  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
  inflating: rhel6_64/image/  
I managed to find a iflash64 binary, and after so trial and error, came up with the following workflow:
./iflash64 --host your_host_imm_IP --user your_username --password your_password --package imm2_1aoo56d-3.73.upd --reboot
IBM Command Line IMM Flash Update Utility v2.02.11
Licensed Materials - Property of IBM
(C) Copyright IBM Corp. 2009 - 2014  All Rights Reserved.
Connected to IMM at IP address x.x.x.x.
Update package firmware type: IMM2
Update package build level:   xxxxxx
Target's current build level: xxxxxx
Would you like to continue with the update? y/n: y
Node 0: The IMM is preparing to receive the update.
Node 0: Transferring image: 98%
Node 0: Transfer complete.
Node 0: Validating image.
Node 0: Updating firmware:  0%
Node 0: Updating firmware:  100%
Node 0: Update complete.
Performing activation of the firmware:
Connected to IMM at IP address successfully.
Waiting up to 360 seconds for the activation to complete:
And so on... Conclusio: Dear Hardware Vendors! Please don't force people to use specific Linux distributions when a simple unzip command would do the same.

22 April 2014

Simon Kainz: Valerie

This will be my one and only off-topic posting, but I just have to share all my joy and happiness with all of you! On monday, April 14th 2014, our beautiful daughter Valerie was born. As we almost live next door to our midwife, we just grabbed our stuff and walked over to the midwife's house, as my wife told me "things are starting". My wife was very glad to be able to give birth in such a beautiful, cosy and comfortable place, with no hassle, no beeping machines and nervous hospital staff running around. This helped her to "let go", and she gave birth to our beautiful daughter after about 2 hours. I took a 4 week break from work to support my wife and daughter. This is quite involving :-) , so please forgive me if I don't reply quickly to your mails. Screenshot: Valerie

10 March 2014

Simon Kainz: DUCK for packagers

I finally managed to package duck 0.4 for Debian/unstable. Additionally to you can now run all (in fact even more than on the website) checks on your own. Intended as as helper tool for packaging work, it inspects debian/control files as well as upstream metadata files. By trying to use the approriate tool for each URL, it tries to find out (eg. using git ls-remote for GIT repos) if a given repository is availabe. Email addresses in Maintainer and Uploaders fields as well as mailto: URLs are checked by trying to find MX, A or AAAA records for the email domain. Usage Without any additional options, duck looks for the following files: Just hop into your extracted package source tree (the one containing the debian subdir), and run:
$ duck
If everything is ok, you won't get any output. To see what's going on, run:
$ duck -v
debian/control: Maintainer: Simon Kainz OK
debian/control: Vcs-Git: git:// OK
debian/control: Vcs-Browser: OK
debian/control: Homepage: OK
Errors show up like this:
$ duck -v
debian/control: Maintainer: Simon Kainz simon@domain.invalid: ERROR
Simon Kainz simon@domain.invalid: No MX entry found.
Simon Kainz simon@domain.invalid: No A entry found.
Simon Kainz simon@domain.invalid: No AAAA entry found.
debian/control: Vcs-Git: git:// ERROR
fatal: unable to connect to Name or service not known
debian/control: Vcs-Browser: OK
debian/control: Homepage: OK
Missing features Currently the following VCS URLs are not supported: If someone knows how to get the state of one of the repos based on the VCSs above, preferably without needing to check out the complete source code, please contact me. And remember: "Always duck before dput" :-)

12 February 2014

Mario Lang: Roughly 1500 source packages have possibly broken links in debian/control

There are currently roughly 1500 source packages in Debian which possibly (very likely actually) do have broken URLs in debian/control. While it is quite useful that we have VCS information and Homepage URLs in the Packages file these days, we also created a rather big source of bitrot. These URLs are typically paste-and-forget. Sure, people occasionally catch the fact that a homepage or VCS has moved, especially if they are active and in good contact with their upstreams. However, there are also other cases...
DUCK to the rescue! My coworker Simon Kainz has worked on a service that helps at least to track which URLs are currently broken. We've initially discussed some way to make this a part of Lintian, which is what I would have prefered. However, for good reasons, Lintian doesn't want to call out to the net by default, so these checks would likely not get run by many developers anyway. So Simon ended up creating DUCK - the Debian Url ChecKer which actually goes out to the net and verifies that all the Vcs-* and Homepage fields of debian/control are actually reachable. The frontend allows developers to search for packages they maintain, to quickly see if they have any URLs which are possibly broken. There is a slight chance of temporary network problems of course, so what DUCK does is to show the status of checks in the last few days, so that you quickly see if you are dealing with a typical false positive. First of all, thanks to Simon! I think DUCK is an excellent project for a future NM candidate. I actually already wanted to advocate him for DD, but we ended up on a website which suggested that new contributors should start by applying for DM these days, and only later go for DD. I find that actually quite strange, especially in Simons case, but well, we did not feel like argueing. Secondly, and thats also very important: whats needed to improve the overall quality of URLs in the package system is your attention! You can easily search for email addresses of maintainers or uploaders. Team members can create a bookmark entry that checks for problems in all packages maintained by the teams they are a member of. You just need to actually visit these pages from time to time. It would probably not be well received if we filed all these bugs at once :-). So we need you to care, since we don't want to generate too much noise regarding "just these broken URLs". Or are they? If your vcs fields are broken, debcheckout will not work properly. Which defeats the purpose of debcheckout. If your homepage URL is broken, packages.d.o will also have a wrong link. 1500 packages with broken URLs. Don't you think we can do better then that?