Search Results: "acz"

4 January 2016

John Goerzen: Hiking a mountain with Ian Murdock

Would you like to hike a mountain? That question caught me by surprise. It was early in 2000, and I had flown to Tucson for a job interview. Ian Murdock was starting a new company, Progeny, and I was being interviewed for their first hire. Well, I thought, hiking will be fun. So we rode a bus or something to the top of the mountain and then hiked down. Our hike was full of well, everything. Ian talked about Tucson and the mountains, about his time as the Debian project leader, about his college days. I asked about the plants and such we were walking past. We talked about the plans for Progeny, my background, how I might fit in. It was part interview, part hike, part two geeks chatting. Ian had no HR telling him you can t go hiking down a mountain with a job candidate, as I m sure HR would have. And I am glad of it, because even 16 years later, that is still by far the best time I ever had at a job interview, despite the fact that it ruined the only pair of shoes I had brought along I had foolishly brought dress shoes for a, well, job interview. I guess it worked, too, because I was hired. Ian wanted to start up the company in Indianapolis, so over the next little while there was the busy work of moving myself and setting up an office. I remember those early days Ian and I went computer shopping at a local shop more than once to get the first workstations and servers for the company. Somehow he had found a deal on some office space in a high-rent office building. I still remember the puzzlement on the faces of accountants and lawyers dressed up in suits riding in the elevators with us in our shorts and sandals, or tie-die, next to them. Progeny s story was to be a complicated one. We set out to rock the world. We didn t. We didn t set out to make lasting friendships, but we often did. We set out to accomplish great things, and we did some of that, too. We experienced a full range of emotions there elation when we got hardware auto-detection working well or when our downloads looked very popular, despair when our funding didn t come through as we had hoped, being lost when our strategy had to change multiple times. And, as is the case everywhere, none of us were perfect. I still remember the excitement after we published our first release on the Internet. Our little server that could got pegged at 100Mb of outbound bandwidth (that was something for a small company in those days.) The moment must have meant something, because I still have the mrtg chart from that day on my computer, 15 years later. Progeny's Bandwidth Chart We made a good Linux distribution, an excellent Debian derivative, but commercial success did not flow from it. In the succeeding months, Ian and the company tried hard to find a strategy that would stick and make our big break. But that never happened. We had several rounds of layoffs when hoped-for funding never materialized. Ian eventually lost control of the company, and despite a few years of Itanium contract work after I left, closed for good. Looking back, Progeny was life compressed. During the good times, we had joy, sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose at doing something well that was worth doing. I had what was my dream job back then: working on Debian as I loved to do, making the world a better place through Free Software, and getting paid to do it. And during the bad times, different people at Progeny experienced anger, cynicism, apathy, sorrow for the loss of our friends or plans, or simply a feeling to soldier on. All of the emotions, good or bad, were warranted in their own way. Bruce Byfield, one of my co-workers at Progeny, recently wrote a wonderful memoriam of Ian. He wrote, More than anything, he wanted to repeat his accomplishment with Debian, and, naturally he wondered if he could live up to his own expectations of himself. That, I think, was Ian s personal tragedy that he had succeeded early in life, and nothing else he did with his life could quite measure up to his expectations and memories. Ian was not the only one to have some guilt over Progeny. I, for years, wondered if I should have done more for the company, could have saved things by doing something more, or different. But I always came back to the conclusion I had at the time: that there was nothing I could do a terribly sad realization. In the years since, I watched Ubuntu take the mantle of easy-to-install Debian derivative. I saw them reprise some of the ideas we had, and even some of our mistakes. But by that time, Progeny was so thoroughly forgotten that I doubt they even realized they were doing it. I had long looked at our work at Progeny as a failure. Our main goal was never accomplished, our big product never sold many copies, our company eventually shuttered, our rock-the-world plan crumpled and forgotten. And by those traditional measurements, you could say it was a failure. But I have come to learn in the years since that success is a lot more that those things. Success is also about finding meaning and purpose through our work. As a programmer, success is nailing that algorithm that lets the application scale 10x more than before, or solving that difficult problem. As a manager, success is helping team members thrive, watching pieces come together on projects that no one person could ever do themselves. And as a person, success comes from learning from our experiences, and especially our mistakes. As J. Michael Straczynski wrote in a Babylon 5 episode, loosely paraphrased: Maybe this experience will be a good lesson. Too bad it was so painful, but there ain t no other kind. The thing about Progeny is this Ian built a group of people that wanted to change the world for the better. We gave it our all. And there s nothing wrong with that. Progeny did change the world. As us Progeny alumni have scattered around the country, we benefit from the lessons we learned there. And many of us were different , sort of out of place before Progeny, and there we found others that loved C compilers, bootloaders, and GPL licenses just as much as we did. We belonged, not just online but in life, and we went on to pull confidence and skill out of our experience at Progeny and use them in all sorts of ways over the years. And so did Ian. Who could have imagined the founder of Debian and Progeny would one day lead the cause of an old-guard Unix turning Open Source? I run ZFS on my Debian system today, and Ian is partly responsible for that and his time at Progeny is too. So I can remember Ian, and Progeny, as a success. And I leave you with a photo of my best memento from the time there: an original unopened boxed copy of Progeny Linux. IMG_6197_v1

29 December 2015

Norbert Preining: CafeOBJ 1.5.5 released

Yesterday we have released CafeOBJ 1.5.5 with a long list of changes, and many more internal changes. Documentation pages have been updated with the latest reference manual (PDF, Html) as well as some new docs on CITP (in Japanese for now) and tutorials. cafeobj-logo To quote from our README:
CafeOBJ is a new generation algebraic specification and programming language. As a direct successor of OBJ, it inherits all its features (flexible mix-fix syntax, powerful typing system with sub-types, and sophisticated module composition system featuring various kinds of imports, parameterised modules, views for instantiating the parameters, module expressions, etc.) but it also implements new paradigms such as rewriting logic and hidden algebra, as well as their combination.
Changes Availability Binary packages for Windows, MacOS, and Linux have been built, and can be found at the CafeOBJ download page. The source code can also be found on the download page, or directly from here: cafeobj-1.5.5.tar.gz. The CafeOBJ Debian package will be updated soon. Macports file has also been updated, please see the above download/install page for details how to add our sources to your macport. Bug reports If you find a bug, have suggestions, or complains, please open an issue at the issue tracker for CafeOBJ. For other inquiries, please use

13 September 2011

Vincent Sanders: Electricity is really just organized lightning.

I have recently been working on a project that requires a 12V supply. Ordinarily this is no problem my selection of bench supplies are generally more than a match for anything I throw at them.

My TS3022S Bench SupplyThis project however needed a little more "oomph" than usual, specifically 200W more. Funnily enough a precision variable output bench supply capable of supplying 20A are rare and *very* expensive beasties.

So we turn to a fixed output supply, after all I will want to run my project without hogging my bench supplies anyway. These can be bought from various electronics suppliers like Farnell from around the 50 mark and Chinese imports from Ebay sellers start around the 20 mark.

All very well and good but that is money I was not planning on spending and possibly a month of waiting for an already badly delayed project. So I decided to Convert an old ATX PSU into a 12V source. This is not a new idea and a quick search revealed many suitable guides online. I had a quick skim, decided I did understand the general idea and ploughed ahead.

Wikipedia has a very useful page on the ATX standard complete with pinout diagrams and colour codes. The pile of grey box ATX supplies available on my shelf was examined and one was helpfully labelled with a sticker proclaiming 22A@12V and we had a winner.

Opening the case of the donor 450W CIT branded supply revealed a mostly empty enclosure with the usual basic switching arrangement. I removed most of the wire loom aside from two of each output voltage (3.3V, 5V and 12V i figured the other voltages might be useful in future) and three commons, the 3.3V and 5V sense lines were also kept. Each of these pairs were cut to length and leads were wired to 4mm sockets.

The "PWR_EN" line was wired via a toggle switch to ground so the output can be switched on and off easily. The 5V standby and a 5V output line were wired to a green/red bi-colour LED (via 270 current limit resistors) to give indication that mains is present and when the output is on.

Holes were drilled for four 4mm sockets an indicator LED and a switch. The connectors and switches were all mounted in the PSU casework. I plugged it all in, put an 8.2 load resistor on the 5V line with an ammeter in line and a voltmeter across the 12V rail.

ATX bench power supply I turned the mains on and the LED lit up green (5V standby worked) and when I flicked the output switch the LED turned orange, the 12V line went to 12V and the expected 0.6A flowed through the load resistor.

Basically, Success!

I have since loaded the supply up to the 200W operating load and nothing unexpected has happened so I am happy. Seems converting an ATX PSU is a perfectly good way of getting a 200W 12V supply and I can recommend it for anyone as cheap as me willing to put an hour or so into such a project.

19 April 2011

Patrick Schoenfeld: password-gorilla ACCEPTED into unstable

The password-gorilla package has lacked some love since a while and at some point in time I orphaned it.
That happened due to the fact, that the upstream author was pretty unresponsive and inactive and my own TCL skills are very limited. As a result password-gorilla package was in a bad state, at least from a user point of view, with several (apparently) random happening error message and alike, stalling feature development etc.

But in the meanwhile there was a promising event arising. A guy, named Zbigniew Diaczyszyn, wrote me a mail that he intended to continue upstream development. Well, meanwhile is kind of an understatement. That first mail already happened in December 2009. And he asked me, if I'd like to continue maintaining password-gorilla in Debian. I agreed to that, but as promising as it sounded to have a new upstream, I was not sure if that would work out. However: My doubt were not justified.

In the time between 2009 and now Zbigniew managed to become the official upstream (with the accreditation of the previous upstream), create a github project for it and make several releases.

I know there are several people out there who tested password-gorilla. I know there were magazine reviews including the old version, which were a bit buggy with recent tcl/tk versions. It made a quiet good multi-platform password manager, with support for very common password file formats, stand in a bad light.
I recommend previous users of password-gorilla to try the new version, which recently has been
uploaded to unstable.

13 September 2010

Amaya Rodrigo: Of inner peace and struggle

[Nothing related to Debian here, move on if you don't care about my recurring obsession with the end of the world, Cassandra pains, or Big Phat Living Room Revolution yearnings].

Although I am still looking for a community of anarcho-primitivists that want to accept me joining their frugal living, and simply slip off the social construct, the system, the fucking face of earth, call it what you will, I could find some comfort in my favourite feminist blogger's take on the subject of my midlife crisis regarding ecology, capitalism, patriarchy, child bearing, overpopulation, meat consumption and all the rumination of consuming thoughts that (still) make my life miserable and have kept me running away from human contact for a year.

[Emphasis mine]

At what point does human culture depart from the Natural? With the invention of computers? TV? Cars? The cotton gin? Electricity? Taco stands? Gunpowder? The printing press? Written language? Shoes? Crop cultivation? Yurts? The wheel? Did humans become unnatural when the good old days of picturesque, endless agrarian toil, feudal oppression, unchecked disease, ignorance, and death from dysentery at 35 turned into the bad new days of urban post-industrial capitalism where a pound of fair-trade organic coffee costs $12.99 and your email inbox is full of spam?

ah. Everything humans do, or have ever done, is natural. We can t do anything else. The idea that modern culture is un-natural is nostalgic and inaccurate. Living off the grid in a yurt is good in some absolute sense, whereas driving an SUV from a suburban bungalow to the stripmall is bad ? Come on. This a romantic, but misguided view. The cosmic reaction to a 20 Ford Expedition is the same as to a sanctimonious Prius: bupkis. The universe doesn t give a fuck about you or your lifestyle choices. It doesn t give a fuck about the economy, oil spills, or civil unrest in Blargistan. It doesn t give a fuck about katydids. Eventually our whole planet will be erased from space, and the galaxy won t bat an eye. The inevitable extinction of our species (imminent, according to research here at Spinster Laboratories) via the exhaustion of available resources is as natural as a fresh-picked peach. As Andre 3000 and other dude philosophers have observed, nothing is forever.

Yes, yes, when people use the word natural what they really mean is free of chemical additives and maybe some of the assorted hippie concepts that go with that narrative. Barter economies, home furnishings made from bamboo, vegan cookbooks, living in the country. While I would argue that it is just as natural for people to put chemical additives in things as it is to not put chemical additives in things, I admit that it is appealing to fantasize that the source of human misery is an unnatural isolation from Nature, and that doing yoga on an organic rubber mat and drinking organic spinach smoothies will put me back in sync with the cosmos.

But alas, I m already in sync with the cosmos, and so are you. In other words, this is it. This is what we ve become, and this is what we get. Which is not to say that a person can t fantasize about a verdant paradise full of songbirds and polar bears and Bengal tigers, untouched by human influence. Only, that world isn t a world we could actually live in. The minute you add contented children, lazy from a carefree day at the swimming hole, eating ripe plums on the porch at sunset to that scenario, natural history changes, and it s right back to our scorched-earth dystopia. Our giant brains use up resources, it s as simple as that.

As long as we re still here, though, we might as well try to make the best of it.

Though the comfort is somewhat ephemeral, because deep inside, I know she's wrong, I know another way is feasible, but I have given up already, I have very well come to terms with extiction, I get an enormous pleasure from the thought of the very well deserved human mass suicide-by-cop^Wnature, and in fact, I trust and hope it will save me personally from facing the hard times ahead, as I am a damn coward, paralized by fear, hopeless about the flock ever getting it (is it so hard, really?), while doing as much as I can but completely overwhelmed by the need of changing a world everyone seems to like just as it is. I can certainly empathize with much more disturbed ways of airing similar anguish, among many other examples, such as The Unabomber, or The Weather Underground. I don't even want to go there as I know violence all too well and it is not fun to be on the receiving end. But I see the screaming desperation behind the motives of acts I am not at the liberty to discuss here. I wonder if consumption of resources in the form of books will numb the disorder or make it worse and what sort of medical arrangement the stablishment has for it. As you click away the previous links will mean nothing to you because a)it is Wikipedia after all, and b)you probably don't even understand what the problem of eating animal corpses is, humans are omnivores after all, and what is all this nonsense about dropping language altogether.

WTF, there was no comfort after all, and I am still a nutjob.

4 December 2007

Ondřej Čertík: M rida - wrap up

From November 28 till December 2, 2007, I attended a Debian QA and release teams work session in Extremadura, which is an autonomous community of western Spain, that managed to install Debian on 90000 computers in every school (technically a Debian based distribution called gnuLinEx) and Junta de Extremadura also sponsored this meeting.

I took photos of all participants, see my first, second and third posts. When I arrived at the Madrid airport where we first met, I set myself a goal to remember all names and faces, so I used my blog to help me and I think I succeeded in the end. :)

See also our wiki page that we used prior and during the meeting.

So what did we do besides throwing candies?

Lucas Nussbaum will send a summary email soon about the meeting, so I'll just speak for myself:

I worked with Gon ri on svnbuildstat, that is a service for building packages and show statistics about lintian/linda/piuparts checks. It for example contains all packages of the Debian Python Modules Team (that I am a member of) and many others. We discussed and started to work on how to create robust buildbots, that can be installed as a regular Debian package with zero (if possible) configuration, so that many people can just install them without pain, thus providing a huge scalability to the project.

We wrote a preliminary patch to pbuilder for killing the build if it exceeds given memory/disk usage. I had to learn the internals of pbuilder and I lost quite some time squashing some stupid bug I caused while writing the patch.

I spent most of my time with svnbuildstat, mostly learning and discussing things. This will be important for the future, but to also have some real results, I also fixed some packages I comaintain:

Together with Kumar Appaiah we fixed the python-numpy package and I had it uploaded, then I learned how to work with quilt instead of dpatch to handle patches in Debian packages, thanks to Holger's webpage, that contains a nice tutorial. Then I switched from dpatch to quilt in python-scipy and backported a patch from upstream svn to fix a segfault bug and had the package uploaded.

Then I finished the Cython package and had it uploaded. Cython is a marvelous package to speed up Python programs and interface C/C++ programs. I greatly recommend to try. If you don't like it, you can try some of at least 10 other ways to wrap C code in Python. I also used quilt in there to backport a patch from the upstream Mercurial repository to implement parsing @classmethods. Quilt is really a pleasure to work with.

Impressions from the meeting

I've been using Debian since 2001 as my only operating system on all of my computers, so I am not a complete beginner. But it never occured to me I could get involved in Debian more than a user and an occasional bug reporter. What a mistake.

I started packaging new things and fixing packages that I need for my work and that didn't work. This got me involved quite a bit in Debian. But in M rida it was the first time I could dring a beer (well, especially wine) with Debian Developers and I found out they are really cool people. They are all very skilled. Also something, that I love about Debian, is that the people involved in it share two common features, that are very important for them - respect to democracy and personal freedom. When I think about it, those are probably the first two items on my presonal list of values.

Of course, everytime there is a group of 1000+ people, there are good and bad people, more and less skilled, but important is the overall atmosphere - and that is as I described. I think Debian is truly unique. There is Gentoo, that has maybe 40 (?) active developers. There is Ubuntu, that has maybe 100 (?) developers, but it's basically a comercial distribution and there is not so many interesting work for non employees of Canonical. There is opensuse and fedora, where I am not sure about the numbers. The atmosphere in Debian can change in the future, one never knows, but as of the end of 2007, I think it's very cool to get involved.

Maybe it's not for everyone, but it's the right place for me.

Ondřej Čertík: Merida

We spent the whole Friday hacking, Lucas will send a summary email soon. More people joined.

Ana Guerrero:

Amaya Rodrigo:

Mark Purcell:

Kilian Krause and C sar G mez Mart n

and Holger Levsen with red hair:

On Saturday we were again working and in the late afternoon we took a walk in M rida, visited the famous ancient Roman monuments. Now it's 3:30am and we will soon go to Madrid and back home.

Ondřej Čertík: M rida - remaining photo

This post is dedicated to dato (blog), whose picture I forgot to take (thanks Cyril Brulebois for taking this one).

From left to right: Gon ri Le Bouder, me, Lars Wirzenius, Holger Levsen and Adeodato "dato" Sim !