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11 January 2024

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in December 2023

Welcome to the December 2023 report from the Reproducible Builds project! In these reports we outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As a rather rapid recap, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, almost all software is distributed to end users as pre-compiled binaries (more).

Reproducible Builds: Increasing the Integrity of Software Supply Chains awarded IEEE Software Best Paper award In February 2022, we announced in these reports that a paper written by Chris Lamb and Stefano Zacchiroli was now available in the March/April 2022 issue of IEEE Software. Titled Reproducible Builds: Increasing the Integrity of Software Supply Chains (PDF). This month, however, IEEE Software announced that this paper has won their Best Paper award for 2022.

Reproducibility to affect package migration policy in Debian In a post summarising the activities of the Debian Release Team at a recent in-person Debian event in Cambridge, UK, Paul Gevers announced a change to the way packages are migrated into the staging area for the next stable Debian release based on its reproducibility status:
The folks from the Reproducibility Project have come a long way since they started working on it 10 years ago, and we believe it s time for the next step in Debian. Several weeks ago, we enabled a migration policy in our migration software that checks for regression in reproducibility. At this moment, that is presented as just for info, but we intend to change that to delays in the not so distant future. We eventually want all packages to be reproducible. To stimulate maintainers to make their packages reproducible now, we ll soon start to apply a bounty [speedup] for reproducible builds, like we ve done with passing autopkgtests for years. We ll reduce the bounty for successful autopkgtests at that moment in time.

Speranza: Usable, privacy-friendly software signing Kelsey Merrill, Karen Sollins, Santiago Torres-Arias and Zachary Newman have developed a new system called Speranza, which is aimed at reassuring software consumers that the product they are getting has not been tampered with and is coming directly from a source they trust. A write-up on goes into some more details:
What we have done, explains Sollins, is to develop, prove correct, and demonstrate the viability of an approach that allows the [software] maintainers to remain anonymous. Preserving anonymity is obviously important, given that almost everyone software developers included value their confidentiality. This new approach, Sollins adds, simultaneously allows [software] users to have confidence that the maintainers are, in fact, legitimate maintainers and, furthermore, that the code being downloaded is, in fact, the correct code of that maintainer. [ ]
The corresponding paper is published on the arXiv preprint server in various formats, and the announcement has also been covered in MIT News.

Nondeterministic Git bundles Paul Baecher published an interesting blog post on Reproducible git bundles. For those who are not familiar with them, Git bundles are used for the offline transfer of Git objects without an active server sitting on the other side of a network connection. Anyway, Paul wrote about writing a backup system for his entire system, but:
I noticed that a small but fixed subset of [Git] repositories are getting backed up despite having no changes made. That is odd because I would think that repeated bundling of the same repository state should create the exact same bundle. However [it] turns out that for some, repositories bundling is nondeterministic.
Paul goes on to to describe his solution, which involves forcing git to be single threaded makes the output deterministic . The article was also discussed on Hacker News.

Output from libxlst now deterministic libxslt is the XSLT C library developed for the GNOME project, where XSLT itself is an XML language to define transformations for XML files. This month, it was revealed that the result of the generate-id() XSLT function is now deterministic across multiple transformations, fixing many issues with reproducible builds. As the Git commit by Nick Wellnhofer describes:
Rework the generate-id() function to return deterministic values. We use
a simple incrementing counter and store ids in the 'psvi' member of
nodes which was freed up by previous commits. The presence of an id is
indicated by a new "source node" flag.
This fixes long-standing problems with reproducible builds, see
This also hardens security, as the old implementation leaked the
difference between a heap and a global pointer, see
The old implementation could also generate the same id for dynamically
created nodes which happened to reuse the same memory. Ids for namespace
nodes were completely broken. They now use the id of the parent element
together with the hex-encoded namespace prefix.

Community updates There were made a number of improvements to our website, including Chris Lamb fixing the generate-draft script to not blow up if the input files have been corrupted today or even in the past [ ], Holger Levsen updated the Hamburg 2023 summit to add a link to farewell post [ ] & to add a picture of a Post-It note. [ ], and Pol Dellaiera updated the paragraph about tar and the --clamp-mtime flag [ ]. On our mailing list this month, Bernhard M. Wiedemann posted an interesting summary on some of the reasons why packages are still not reproducible in 2023. diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can locate and diagnose reproducibility issues. This month, Chris Lamb made a number of changes, including processing objdump symbol comment filter inputs as Python byte (and not str) instances [ ] and Vagrant Cascadian extended diffoscope support for GNU Guix [ ] and updated the version in that distribution to version 253 [ ].

Challenges of Producing Software Bill Of Materials for Java Musard Balliu, Benoit Baudry, Sofia Bobadilla, Mathias Ekstedt, Martin Monperrus, Javier Ron, Aman Sharma, Gabriel Skoglund, C sar Soto-Valero and Martin Wittlinger (!) of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, have published an article in which they:
deep-dive into 6 tools and the accuracy of the SBOMs they produce for complex open-source Java projects. Our novel insights reveal some hard challenges regarding the accurate production and usage of software bills of materials.
The paper is available on arXiv.

Debian Non-Maintainer campaign As mentioned in previous reports, the Reproducible Builds team within Debian has been organising a series of online and offline sprints in order to clear the huge backlog of reproducible builds patches submitted by performing so-called NMUs (Non-Maintainer Uploads). During December, Vagrant Cascadian performed a number of such uploads, including: In addition, Holger Levsen performed three no-source-change NMUs in order to address the last packages without .buildinfo files in Debian trixie, specifically lorene (0.0.0~cvs20161116+dfsg-1.1), maria (1.3.5-4.2) and ruby-rinku (1.7.3-2.1).

Reproducibility testing framework The Reproducible Builds project operates a comprehensive testing framework (available at in order to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. In December, a number of changes were made by Holger Levsen:
  • Debian-related changes:
    • Fix matching packages for the [R programming language]( [ ][ ][ ]
    • Add a Certbot configuration for the Nginx web server. [ ]
    • Enable debugging for the create-meta-pkgs tool. [ ][ ]
  • Arch Linux-related changes
    • The asp has been deprecated by pkgctl; thanks to dvzrv for the pointer. [ ]
    • Disable the Arch Linux builders for now. [ ]
    • Stop referring to the /trunk branch / subdirectory. [ ]
    • Use --protocol https when cloning repositories using the pkgctl tool. [ ]
  • Misc changes:
    • Install the python3-setuptools and swig packages, which are now needed to build OpenWrt. [ ]
    • Install pkg-config needed to build Coreboot artifacts. [ ]
    • Detect failures due to an issue where the fakeroot tool is implicitly required but not automatically installed. [ ]
    • Detect failures due to rename of the vmlinuz file. [ ]
    • Improve the grammar of an error message. [ ]
    • Document that has been updated to FreeBSD 14.0. [ ]
In addition, node maintenance was performed by Holger Levsen [ ] and Vagrant Cascadian [ ].

Upstream patches The Reproducible Builds project detects, dissects and attempts to fix as many currently-unreproducible packages as possible. We endeavour to send all of our patches upstream where appropriate. This month, we wrote a large number of such patches, including:

If you are interested in contributing to the Reproducible Builds project, please visit our Contribute page on our website. However, you can get in touch with us via:

7 December 2023

Daniel Kahn Gillmor: New OpenPGP certificate for dkg, December 2023

dkg's New OpenPGP certificate in December 2023 In December of 2023, I'm moving to a new OpenPGP certificate. You might know my old OpenPGP certificate, which had an fingerprint of C29F8A0C01F35E34D816AA5CE092EB3A5CA10DBA. My new OpenPGP certificate has a fingerprint of: D477040C70C2156A5C298549BB7E9101495E6BF7. Both certificates have the same set of User IDs:
  • Daniel Kahn Gillmor
  • <>
  • <>
You can find a version of this transition statement signed by both the old and new certificates at: The new OpenPGP certificate is:
When I have some reasonable number of certifications, i'll update the certificate associated with my e-mail addresses on, in DANE, and in WKD. Until then, those lookups should continue to provide the old certificate.

10 October 2023

Matthias Klumpp: How to indicate device compatibility for your app in MetaInfo data

At the moment I am hard at work putting together the final bits for the AppStream 1.0 release (hopefully to be released this month). The new release comes with many new new features, an improved developer API and removal of most deprecated things (so it carefully breaks compatibility with very old data and the previous C API). One of the tasks for the upcoming 1.0 release was #481 asking about a formal way to distinguish Linux phone applications from desktop applications. AppStream infamously does not support any is-for-phone label for software components, instead the decision whether something is compatible with a device is based the the device s capabilities and the component s requirements. This allows for truly adaptive applications to describe their requirements correctly, and does not lock us into form factors going into the future, as there are many and the feature range between a phone, a tablet and a tiny laptop is quite fluid. Of course the match to current device capabilities check does not work if you are a website ranking phone compatibility. It also does not really work if you are a developer and want to know which devices your component / application will actually be considered compatible with. One goal for AppStream 1.0 is to have its library provide more complete building blocks to software centers. Instead of just a here s the data, interpret it according to the specification API, libappstream now interprets the specification for the application and provides API to handle most common operations like checking device compatibility. For developers, AppStream also now implements a few virtual chassis configurations , to roughly gauge which configurations a component may be compatible with. To test the new code, I ran it against the large Debian and Flatpak repositories to check which applications are considered compatible with what chassis/device type already. The result was fairly disastrous, with many applications not specifying compatibility correctly (many do, but it s by far not the norm!). Which brings me to the actual topic of this blog post: Very few seem to really know how to mark an application compatible with certain screen sizes and inputs! This is most certainly a matter of incomplete guides and good templates, so maybe this post can help with that a bit:

The ultimate cheat-sheet to mark your app chassis-type compatible As a quick reminder, compatibility is indicated using AppStream s relations system: A requires relation indicates that the system will not run at all or will run terribly if the requirement is not met. If the requirement is not met, it should not be installable on a system. A recommends relation means that it would be advantageous to have the recommended items, but it s not essential to run the application (it may run with a degraded experience without the recommended things though). And a supports relation means a given interface/device/control/etc. is supported by this application, but the application may work completely fine without it.

I have a desktop-only application A desktop-only application is characterized by needing a larger screen to fit the application, and requiring a physical keyboard and accurate mouse input. This type is assumed by default if no capabilities are set for an application, but it s better to be explicit. This is the metadata you need:
<component type="desktop-application">
With this requires relation, you require a small-desktop sized screen (at least 768 device-independent pixels (dp) on its smallest edge) and require a keyboard and mouse to be present / connectable. Of course, if your application needs more minimum space, adjust the requirement accordingly. Note that if the requirement is not met, your application may not be offered for installation.
Note: Device-independent / logical pixels One logical pixel (= device independent pixel) roughly corresponds to the visual angle of one pixel on a device with a pixel density of 96 dpi (for historical X11 reasons) and a distance from the observer of about 52 cm, making the physical pixel about 0.26 mm in size. When using logical pixels as unit, they might not always map to exact physical lengths as their exact size is defined by the device providing the display. They do however accurately depict the maximum amount of pixels that can be drawn in the depicted direction on the device s display space. AppStream always uses logical pixels when measuring lengths in pixels.

I have an application that works on mobile and on desktop / an adaptive app Adaptive applications have fewer hard requirements, but a wide range of support for controls and screen sizes. For example, they support touch input, unlike desktop apps. An example MetaInfo snippet for these kind of apps may look like this:
<component type="desktop-application">
Unlike the pure desktop application, this adaptive application requires a much smaller lowest display edge length, and also supports touch input, in addition to keyboard and mouse/touchpad precision input.

I have a pure phone/table app Making an application a pure phone application is tricky: We need to mark it as compatible with phones only, while not completely preventing its installation on non-phone devices (even though its UI is horrible, you may want to test the app, and software centers may allow its installation when requested explicitly even if they don t show it by default). This is how to achieve that result:
<component type="desktop-application">
    <display_length compare="lt">1280</display_length>
We require a phone-sized display minimum edge size (adjust to a value that is fit for your app!), but then also recommend the screen to have a smaller edge size than a larger tablet/laptop, while also recommending touch input and not listing any support for keyboard and mouse. Please note that this blog post is of course not a comprehensive guide, so if you want to dive deeper into what you can do with requires/recommends/suggests/supports, you may want to have a look at the relations tags described in the AppStream specification.

Validation It is still easy to make mistakes with the system requirements metadata, which is why AppStream 1.0 will provide more commands to check MetaInfo files for system compatibility. Current pre-1.0 AppStream versions already have an is-satisfied command to check if the application is compatible with the currently running operating system:
:~$ appstreamcli is-satisfied ./org.example.adaptive_app.metainfo.xml
Relation check for: */*/*/org.example.adaptive_app/*
   Unable to check display size: Can not read information without GUI toolkit access.
   No recommended items are set for this software.
   Physical keyboard found.
   Pointing device (e.g. a mouse or touchpad) found.
   This software supports touch input.
In addition to this command, AppStream 1.0 will introduce a new one as well: check-syscompat. This command will check the component against libappstream s mock system configurations that define a most common (whatever that is at the time) configuration for a respective chassis type. If you pass the --details flag, you can even get an explanation why the component was considered or not considered for a specific chassis type:
:~$ appstreamcli check-syscompat --details ./org.example.phoneapp.metainfo.xml
Chassis compatibility check for: */*/*/org.example.phoneapp/*
   recommends: This software recommends a display with its shortest edge
   being << 1280 px in size, but the display of this device has 1280 px.
   recommends: This software recommends a touch input device.
   recommends: This software recommends a display with its shortest edge 
   being << 1280 px in size, but the display of this device has 1280 px.
   recommends: This software recommends a touch input device.
   requires: This software needs a display for graphical content.
   recommends: This software needs a display for graphical content.
   recommends: This software recommends a touch input device.
   Compatible (100%)
   Compatible (100%)
I hope this is helpful for people. Happy metadata writing!

12 September 2023

Jo Shields: Building a NAS

The status quo Back in 2015, I bought an off-the-shelf NAS, a QNAP TS-453mini, to act as my file store and Plex server. I had previously owned a Synology box, and whilst I liked the Synology OS and experience, the hardware was underwhelming. I loaded up the successor QNAP with four 5TB drives in RAID10, and moved all my files over (after some initial DoA drive issues were handled).
QNAP TS-453mini product photoQNAP TS-453mini product photo
That thing has been in service for about 8 years now, and it s been a mixed bag. It was definitely more powerful than the predecessor system, but it was clear that QNAP s OS was not up to the same standard as Synology s perhaps best exemplified by HappyGet 2 , the QNAP webapp for downloading videos from streaming services like YouTube, whose icon is a straight rip-off of StarCraft 2. On its own, meaningless but a bad omen for overall software quality
The logo for QNAP HappyGet 2 and Blizzard's Starcraft 2 side by sideThe logo for QNAP HappyGet 2 and Blizzard s StarCraft 2 side by side
Additionally, the embedded Celeron processor in the NAS turned out to be an issue for some cases. It turns out, when playing back videos with subtitles, most Plex clients do not support subtitles properly instead they rely on the Plex server doing JIT transcoding to bake the subtitles directly into the video stream. I discovered this with some Blu-Ray rips of Game of Thrones some episodes would play back fine on my smart TV, but episodes with subtitled Dothraki speech would play at only 2 or 3 frames per second. The final straw was a ransomware attack, which went through all my data and locked every file below a 60MiB threshold. Practically all my music gone. A substantial collection of downloaded files, all gone. Some of these files had been carried around since my college days digital rarities, or at least digital detritus I felt a real sense of loss at having to replace. This episode was caused by a ransomware targeting specific vulnerabilities in the QNAP OS, not an error on my part. So, I decided to start planning a replacement with:
  • A non-garbage OS, whilst still being a NAS-appliance type offering (not an off-the-shelf Linux server distro)
  • Full remote management capabilities
  • A small form factor comparable to off-the-shelf NAS
  • A powerful modern CPU capable of transcoding high resolution video
  • All flash storage, no spinning rust
At the time, no consumer NAS offered everything (The Asustor FS6712X exists now, but didn t when this project started), so I opted to go for a full DIY rather than an appliance not the first time I ve jumped between appliances and DIY for home storage.

Selecting the core of the system There aren t many companies which will sell you a small motherboard with IPMI. Supermicro is a bust, so is Tyan. But ASRock Rack, the server division of third-tier motherboard vendor ASRock, delivers. Most of their boards aren t actually compliant Mini-ITX size, they re a proprietary Deep Mini-ITX with the regular screw holes, but 40mm of extra length (and a commensurately small list of compatible cases). But, thankfully, they do have a tiny selection of boards without the extra size, and I stumbled onto the X570D4I-2T, a board with an AMD AM4 socket and the mature X570 chipset. This board can use any AMD Ryzen chip (before the latest-gen Ryzen 7000 series); has built in dual 10 gigabit ethernet; IPMI; four (laptop-sized) RAM slots with full ECC support; one M.2 slot for NVMe SSD storage; a PCIe 16x slot (generally for graphics cards, but we live in a world of possibilities); and up to 8 SATA drives OR a couple more NVMe SSDs. It s astonishingly well featured, just a shame it costs about $450 compared to a good consumer-grade Mini ITX AM4 board costing less than half that. I was so impressed with the offering, in fact, that I crowed about it on Mastodon and ended up securing ASRock another sale, with someone else looking into a very similar project to mine around the same timespan. The next question was the CPU. An important feature of a system expected to run 24/7 is low power, and AM4 chips can consume as much as 130W under load, out of the box. At the other end, some models can require as little as 35W under load the OEM-only GE suffix chips, which are readily found for import on eBay. In their PRO variant, they also support ECC (all non-G Ryzen chips support ECC, but only Pro G chips do). The top of the range 8 core Ryzen 7 PRO 5750GE is prohibitively expensive, but the slightly weaker 6 core Ryzen 5 PRO 5650GE was affordable, and one arrived quickly from Hong Kong. Supplemented with a couple of cheap 16 GiB SODIMM sticks of DDR4 PC-3200 direct from Micron for under $50 a piece, that left only cooling as an unsolved problem to get a bootable test system. The official support list for the X570D4I-2T only includes two rackmount coolers, both expensive and hard to source. The reason for such a small list is the non standard cooling layout of the board instead of an AM4 hole pattern with the standard plastic AM4 retaining clips, it has an Intel 115x hole pattern with a non-standard backplate (Intel 115x boards have no backplate, the stock Intel 115x cooler attaches to the holes with push pins). As such every single cooler compatibility list excludes this motherboard. However, the backplate is only secured with a mild glue with minimal pressure and a plastic prying tool it can be removed, giving compatibility with any 115x cooler (which is basically any CPU cooler for more than a decade). I picked an oversized low profile Thermalright AXP120-X67 hoping that its 120mm fan would cool the nearby MOSFETs and X570 chipset too.
Thermalright AXP120-X67, AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 5650GE, ASRock Rack X570D4I-2T, all assembled and running on a flat surface

Testing up to this point Using a spare ATX power supply, I had enough of a system built to explore the IPMI and UEFI instances, and run MemTest86 to validate my progress. The memory test ran without a hitch and confirmed the ECC was working, although it also showed that the memory was only running at 2933 MT/s instead of the rated 3200 MT/s (a limit imposed by the motherboard, as higher speeds are considered overclocking). The IPMI interface isn t the best I ve ever used by a long shot, but it s minimum viable and allowed me to configure the basics and boot from media entirely via a Web browser.
Memtest86 showing test progress, taken from IPMI remote control window
One sad discovery, however, which I ve never seen documented before, on PCIe bifurcation. With PCI Express, you have a number of lanes which are allocated in groups by the motherboard and CPU manufacturer. For Ryzen prior to Ryzen 7000, that s 16 lanes in one slot for the graphics card; 4 lanes in one M.2 connector for an SSD; then 4 lanes connecting the CPU to the chipset, which can offer whatever it likes for peripherals or extra lanes (bottlenecked by that shared 4x link to the CPU, if it comes down to it). It s possible, with motherboard and CPU support, to split PCIe groups up for example an 8x slot could be split into two 4x slots (eg allowing two NVMe drives in an adapter card NVME drives these days all use 4x). However with a Cezanne Ryzen with integrated graphics, the 16x graphics card slot cannot be split into four 4x slots (ie used for for NVMe drives) the most bifurcation it allows is 8x4x4x, which is useless in a NAS.
Screenshot of PCIe 16x slot bifurcation options in UEFI settings, taken from IPMI remote control window
As such, I had to abandon any ideas of an all-NVMe NAS I was considering: the 16x slot split into four 4x, combined with two 4x connectors fed by the X570 chipset, to a total of 6 NVMe drives. 7.6TB U.2 enterprise disks are remarkably affordable (cheaper than consumer SATA 8TB drives), but alas, I was locked out by my 5650GE. Thankfully I found out before spending hundreds on a U.2 hot swap bay. The NVMe setup would be nearly 10x as fast as SATA SSDs, but at least the SATA SSD route would still outperform any spinning rust choice on the market (including the fastest 10K RPM SAS drives)

Containing the core The next step was to pick a case and power supply. A lot of NAS cases require an SFX (rather than ATX) size supply, so I ordered a modular SX500 unit from Silverstone. Even if I ended up with a case requiring ATX, it s easy to turn an SFX power supply into ATX, and the worst result is you have less space taken up in your case, hardly the worst problem to have. That said, on to picking a case. There s only one brand with any cachet making ITX NAS cases, Silverstone. They have three choices in an appropriate size: CS01-HS, CS280, and DS380. The problem is, these cases are all badly designed garbage. Take the CS280 as an example, the case with the most space for a CPU cooler. Here s how close together the hotswap bay (right) and power supply (left) are:
Internal image of Silverstone CS280 NAS build. Image stolen from ServeTheHome
With actual cables connected, the cable clearance problem is even worse:
Internal image of Silverstone CS280 NAS build. Image stolen from ServeTheHome
Remember, this is the best of the three cases for internal layout, the one with the least restriction on CPU cooler height. And it s garbage! Total hot garbage! I decided therefore to completely skip the NAS case market, and instead purchase a 5.25 -to-2.5 hot swap bay adapter from Icy Dock, and put it in an ITX gamer case with a 5.25 bay. This is no longer a served market 5.25 bays are extinct since nobody uses CD/DVD drives anymore. The ones on the market are really new old stock from 2014-2017: The Fractal Design Core 500, Cooler Master Elite 130, and Silverstone SUGO 14. Of the three, the Fractal is the best rated so I opted to get that one however it seems the global supply of new old stock fully dried up in the two weeks between me making a decision and placing an order leaving only the Silverstone case. Icy Dock have a selection of 8-bay 2.5 SATA 5.25 hot swap chassis choices in their ToughArmor MB998 series. I opted for the ToughArmor MB998IP-B, to reduce cable clutter it requires only two SFF-8611-to-SF-8643 cables from the motherboard to serve all eight bays, which should make airflow less of a mess. The X570D4I-2T doesn t have any SATA ports on board, instead it has two SFF-8611 OCuLink ports, each supporting 4 PCI Express lanes OR 4 SATA connectors via a breakout cable. I had hoped to get the ToughArmor MB118VP-B and run six U.2 drives, but as I said, the PCIe bifurcation issue with Ryzen G chips meant I wouldn t be able to run all six bays successfully.
NAS build in Silverstone SUGO 14, mid build, panels removed
Silverstone SUGO 14 from the front, with hot swap bay installed

Actual storage for the storage server My concept for the system always involved a fast boot/cache drive in the motherboard s M.2 slot, non-redundant (just backups of the config if the worst were to happen) and separate storage drives somewhere between 3.8 and 8 TB each (somewhere from $200-$350). As a boot drive, I selected the Intel Optane SSD P1600X 58G, available for under $35 and rated for 228 years between failures (or 11,000 complete drive rewrite cycles). So, on to the big expensive choice: storage drives. I narrowed it down to two contenders: new-old-stock Intel D3-S4510 3.84TB enterprise drives, at about $200, or Samsung 870 QVO 8TB consumer drives, at about $375. I did spend a long time agonizing over the specification differences, the ZFS usage reports, the expected lifetime endurance figures, but in reality, it came down to price $1600 of expensive drives vs $3200 of even more expensive drives. That s 27TB of usable capacity in RAID-Z1, or 23TB in RAID-Z2. For comparison, I m using about 5TB of the old NAS, so that s a LOT of overhead for expansion.
Storage SSD loaded into hot swap sled

Booting up Bringing it all together is the OS. I wanted an appliance NAS OS rather than self-administering a Linux distribution, and after looking into the surrounding ecosystems, decided on TrueNAS Scale (the beta of the 2023 release, based on Debian 12).
TrueNAS Dashboard screenshot in browser window
I set up RAID-Z1, and with zero tuning (other than enabling auto-TRIM), got the following performance numbers:
4k random writes19.3k75.6 MiB/s
4k random reads36.1k141 MiB/s
Sequential writes 2300 MiB/s
Sequential reads 3800 MiB/s
Results using fio parameters suggested by Huawei
And for comparison, the maximum theoretical numbers quoted by Intel for a single drive:
4k random writes16k?
4k random reads90k?
Sequential writes 280 MiB/s
Sequential reads 560 MiB/s
Numbers quoted by Intel SSD successors Solidigm.
Finally, the numbers reported on the old NAS with four 7200 RPM hard disks in RAID 10:
4k random writes4301.7 MiB/s
4k random reads800632 MiB/s
Sequential writes 311 MiB/s
Sequential reads 566 MiB/s
Performance seems pretty OK. There s always going to be an overhead to RAID. I ll settle for the 45x improvement on random writes vs. its predecessor, and 4.5x improvement on random reads. The sequential write numbers are gonna be impacted by the size of the ZFS cache (50% of RAM, so 16 GiB), but the rest should be a reasonable indication of true performance. It took me a little while to fully understand the TrueNAS permissions model, but I finally got Plex configured to access data from the same place as my SMB shares, which have anonymous read-only access or authenticated write access for myself and my wife, working fine via both Linux and Windows. And that s it! I built a NAS. I intend to add some fans and more RAM, but that s the build. Total spent: about $3000, which sounds like an unreasonable amount, but it s actually less than a comparable Synology DiskStation DS1823xs+ which has 4 cores instead of 6, first-generation AMD Zen instead of Zen 3, 8 GiB RAM instead of 32 GiB, no hardware-accelerated video transcoding, etc. And it would have been a whole lot less fun!
The final system, powered up
(Also posted on PCPartPicker)

12 July 2023

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in June 2023

Welcome to the June 2023 report from the Reproducible Builds project In our reports, we outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As always, if you are interested in contributing to the project, please visit our Contribute page on our website.

We are very happy to announce the upcoming Reproducible Builds Summit which set to take place from October 31st November 2nd 2023, in the vibrant city of Hamburg, Germany. Our summits are a unique gathering that brings together attendees from diverse projects, united by a shared vision of advancing the Reproducible Builds effort. During this enriching event, participants will have the opportunity to engage in discussions, establish connections and exchange ideas to drive progress in this vital field. Our aim is to create an inclusive space that fosters collaboration, innovation and problem-solving. We are thrilled to host the seventh edition of this exciting event, following the success of previous summits in various iconic locations around the world, including Venice, Marrakesh, Paris, Berlin and Athens. If you re interesting in joining us this year, please make sure to read the event page] which has more details about the event and location. (You may also be interested in attending PackagingCon 2023 held a few days before in Berlin.)
This month, Vagrant Cascadian will present at FOSSY 2023 on the topic of Breaking the Chains of Trusting Trust:
Corrupted build environments can deliver compromised cryptographically signed binaries. Several exploits in critical supply chains have been demonstrated in recent years, proving that this is not just theoretical. The most well secured build environments are still single points of failure when they fail. [ ] This talk will focus on the state of the art from several angles in related Free and Open Source Software projects, what works, current challenges and future plans for building trustworthy toolchains you do not need to trust.
Hosted by the Software Freedom Conservancy and taking place in Portland, Oregon, FOSSY aims to be a community-focused event: Whether you are a long time contributing member of a free software project, a recent graduate of a coding bootcamp or university, or just have an interest in the possibilities that free and open source software bring, FOSSY will have something for you . More information on the event is available on the FOSSY 2023 website, including the full programme schedule.
Marcel Fourn , Dominik Wermke, William Enck, Sascha Fahl and Yasemin Acar recently published an academic paper in the 44th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy titled It s like flossing your teeth: On the Importance and Challenges of Reproducible Builds for Software Supply Chain Security . The abstract reads as follows:
The 2020 Solarwinds attack was a tipping point that caused a heightened awareness about the security of the software supply chain and in particular the large amount of trust placed in build systems. Reproducible Builds (R-Bs) provide a strong foundation to build defenses for arbitrary attacks against build systems by ensuring that given the same source code, build environment, and build instructions, bitwise-identical artifacts are created.
However, in contrast to other papers that touch on some theoretical aspect of reproducible builds, the authors paper takes a different approach. Starting with the observation that much of the software industry believes R-Bs are too far out of reach for most projects and conjoining that with a goal of to help identify a path for R-Bs to become a commonplace property , the paper has a different methodology:
We conducted a series of 24 semi-structured expert interviews with participants from the project, and iterated on our questions with the reproducible builds community. We identified a range of motivations that can encourage open source developers to strive for R-Bs, including indicators of quality, security benefits, and more efficient caching of artifacts. We identify experiences that help and hinder adoption, which heavily include communication with upstream projects. We conclude with recommendations on how to better integrate R-Bs with the efforts of the open source and free software community.
A PDF of the paper is now available, as is an entry on the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security website and an entry under the TeamUSEC Human-Centered Security research group.
On our mailing list this month:
The antagonist is David Schwartz, who correctly says There are dozens of complex reasons why what seems to be the same sequence of operations might produce different end results, but goes on to say I totally disagree with your general viewpoint that compilers must provide for reproducability [sic]. Dwight Tovey and I (Larry Doolittle) argue for reproducible builds. I assert Any program especially a mission-critical program like a compiler that cannot reproduce a result at will is broken. Also it s commonplace to take a binary from the net, and check to see if it was trojaned by attempting to recreate it from source.

Lastly, there were a few changes to our website this month too, including Bernhard M. Wiedemann adding a simplified Rust example to our documentation about the SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH environment variable [ ], Chris Lamb made it easier to parse our summit announcement at a glance [ ], Mattia Rizzolo added the summit announcement at a glance [ ] itself [ ][ ][ ] and Rahul Bajaj added a taxonomy of variations in build environments [ ].

Distribution work 27 reviews of Debian packages were added, 40 were updated and 8 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. A new randomness_in_documentation_generated_by_mkdocs toolchain issue was added by Chris Lamb [ ], and the deterministic flag on the paths_vary_due_to_usrmerge issue as we are not currently testing usrmerge issues [ ] issues.
Roland Clobus posted his 18th update of the status of reproducible Debian ISO images on our mailing list. Roland reported that all major desktops build reproducibly with bullseye, bookworm, trixie and sid , but he also mentioned amongst many changes that not only are the non-free images being built (and are reproducible) but that the live images are generated officially by Debian itself. [ ]
Jan-Benedict Glaw noticed a problem when building NetBSD for the VAX architecture. Noting that Reproducible builds [are] probably not as reproducible as we thought , Jan-Benedict goes on to describe that when two builds from different source directories won t produce the same result and adds various notes about sub-optimal handling of the CFLAGS environment variable. [ ]
F-Droid added 21 new reproducible apps in June, resulting in a new record of 145 reproducible apps in total. [ ]. (This page now sports missing data for March May 2023.) F-Droid contributors also reported an issue with broken resources in APKs making some builds unreproducible. [ ]
Bernhard M. Wiedemann published another monthly report about reproducibility within openSUSE

Upstream patches

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project operates a comprehensive testing framework (available at in order to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. In June, a number of changes were made by Holger Levsen, including:
  • Additions to a (relatively) new Documented Jenkins Maintenance (djm) script to automatically shrink a cache & save a backup of old data [ ], automatically split out previous months data from logfiles into specially-named files [ ], prevent concurrent remote logfile fetches by using a lock file [ ] and to add/remove various debugging statements [ ].
  • Updates to the automated system health checks to, for example, to correctly detect new kernel warnings due to a wording change [ ] and to explicitly observe which old/unused kernels should be removed [ ]. This was related to an improvement so that various kernel issues on Ubuntu-based nodes are automatically fixed. [ ]
Holger and Vagrant Cascadian updated all thirty-five hosts running Debian on the amd64, armhf, and i386 architectures to Debian bookworm, with the exception of the Jenkins host itself which will be upgraded after the release of Debian 12.1. In addition, Mattia Rizzolo updated the email configuration for the domain to correctly accept incoming mails from [ ] as well as to set up DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) signing [ ]. And working together with Holger, Mattia also updated the Jenkins configuration to start testing Debian trixie which resulted in stopped testing Debian buster. And, finally, Jan-Benedict Glaw contributed patches for improved NetBSD testing.

If you are interested in contributing to the Reproducible Builds project, please visit our Contribute page on our website. However, you can get in touch with us via:

23 April 2023

Petter Reinholdtsen: Speech to text, she APTly whispered, how hard can it be?

While visiting a convention during Easter, it occurred to me that it would be great if I could have a digital Dictaphone with transcribing capabilities, providing me with texts to cut-n-paste into stuff I need to write. The background is that long drives often bring up the urge to write on texts I am working on, which of course is out of the question while driving. With the release of OpenAI Whisper, this seem to be within reach with Free Software, so I decided to give it a go. OpenAI Whisper is a Linux based neural network system to read in audio files and provide text representation of the speech in that audio recording. It handle multiple languages and according to its creators even can translate into a different language than the spoken one. I have not tested the latter feature. It can either use the CPU or a GPU with CUDA support. As far as I can tell, CUDA in practice limit that feature to NVidia graphics cards. I have few of those, as they do not work great with free software drivers, and have not tested the GPU option. While looking into the matter, I did discover some work to provide CUDA support on non-NVidia GPUs, and some work with the library used by Whisper to port it to other GPUs, but have not spent much time looking into GPU support yet. I've so far used an old X220 laptop as my test machine, and only transcribed using its CPU. As it from a privacy standpoint is unthinkable to use computers under control of someone else (aka a "cloud" service) to transcribe ones thoughts and personal notes, I want to run the transcribing system locally on my own computers. The only sensible approach to me is to make the effort I put into this available for any Linux user and to upload the needed packages into Debian. Looking at Debian Bookworm, I discovered that only three packages were missing, tiktoken, triton, and openai-whisper. For a while I also believed ffmpeg-python was needed, but as its upstream seem to have vanished I found it safer to rewrite whisper to stop depending on in than to introduce ffmpeg-python into Debian. I decided to place these packages under the umbrella of the Debian Deep Learning Team, which seem like the best team to look after such packages. Discussing the topic within the group also made me aware that the triton package was already a future dependency of newer versions of the torch package being planned, and would be needed after Bookworm is released. All required code packages have been now waiting in the Debian NEW queue since Wednesday, heading for Debian Experimental until Bookworm is released. An unsolved issue is how to handle the neural network models used by Whisper. The default behaviour of Whisper is to require Internet connectivity and download the model requested to ~/.cache/whisper/ on first invocation. This obviously would fail the deserted island test of free software as the Debian packages would be unusable for someone stranded with only the Debian archive and solar powered computer on a deserted island. Because of this, I would love to include the models in the Debian mirror system. This is problematic, as the models are very large files, which would put a heavy strain on the Debian mirror infrastructure around the globe. The strain would be even higher if the models change often, which luckily as far as I can tell they do not. The small model, which according to its creator is most useful for English and in my experience is not doing a great job there either, is 462 MiB (deb is 414 MiB). The medium model, which to me seem to handle English speech fairly well is 1.5 GiB (deb is 1.3 GiB) and the large model is 2.9 GiB (deb is 2.6 GiB). I would assume everyone with enough resources would prefer to use the large model for highest quality. I believe the models themselves would have to go into the non-free part of the Debian archive, as they are not really including any useful source code for updating the models. The "source", aka the model training set, according to the creators consist of "680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask supervised data collected from the web", which to me reads material with both unknown copyright terms, unavailable to the general public. In other words, the source is not available according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the model should be considered non-free. I asked the Debian FTP masters for advice regarding uploading a model package on their IRC channel, and based on the feedback there it is still unclear to me if such package would be accepted into the archive. In any case I wrote build rules for a OpenAI Whisper model package and modified the Whisper code base to prefer shared files under /usr/ and /var/ over user specific files in ~/.cache/whisper/ to be able to use these model packages, to prepare for such possibility. One solution might be to include only one of the models (small or medium, I guess) in the Debian archive, and ask people to download the others from the Internet. Not quite sure what to do here, and advice is most welcome (use the debian-ai mailing list). To make it easier to test the new packages while I wait for them to clear the NEW queue, I created an APT source targeting bookworm. I selected Bookworm instead of Bullseye, even though I know the latter would reach more users, is that some of the required dependencies are missing from Bullseye and I during this phase of testing did not want to backport a lot of packages just to get up and running. Here is a recipe to run as user root if you want to test OpenAI Whisper using Debian packages on your Debian Bookworm installation, first adding the APT repository GPG key to the list of trusted keys, then setting up the APT repository and finally installing the packages and one of the models:
curl \
  -o /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/pere-whisper.asc
mkdir -p /etc/apt/sources.list.d
cat > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pere-whisper.list <<EOF
deb bookworm main
deb-src bookworm main
apt update
apt install openai-whisper
The package work for me, but have not yet been tested on any other computer than my own. With it, I have been able to (badly) transcribe a 2 minute 40 second Norwegian audio clip to test using the small model. This took 11 minutes and around 2.2 GiB of RAM. Transcribing the same file with the medium model gave a accurate text in 77 minutes using around 5.2 GiB of RAM. My test machine had too little memory to test the large model, which I believe require 11 GiB of RAM. In short, this now work for me using Debian packages, and I hope it will for you and everyone else once the packages enter Debian. Now I can start on the audio recording part of this project. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

1 April 2023

Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities March 2023

Focus This month I didn't have any particular focus. I just worked on issues in my info bubble.




  • Debian QA services: disabled updating jessie as it was removed
  • Debian IRC: rescued #debian-s390x from inactive person
  • Debian servers: repair a /etc git repo
  • Debian wiki: unblock IP addresses, approve accounts

  • Respond to queries from Debian users and contributors on the mailing lists and IRC

Sponsors The gensim, sptag, purple-discord, harmony work was sponsored. All other work was done on a volunteer basis.

28 February 2023

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in February 2023

Here s my (forty-first) monthly but brief update about the activities I ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

This was my 50th month of actively contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March 2019 and a DD on Christmas 19! \o/ There s a bunch of things I do, both, technical and non-technical. Here are the things I did this month:


  • Looked up some Release team documentation.
  • Sponsored php-font-lib and php-dompdf-svg-lib for William.
  • Granted DM rights for php-dompdf.
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • Reviewed micro bits for Nilesh, new uploads and changes.
  • Ruby sprints.
  • Bug work (on BTS and #debian-ruby) for rails and redmine.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.
A huge thanks to Freexian for sponsoring my Debian work and Entrouvert for sponsoring the Redmine backports. :D

This was my 25th month of actively contributing to Ubuntu. Now that I joined Canonical to work on Ubuntu full-time, there s a bunch of things I do! \o/ I mostly worked on different things, I guess. I was too lazy to maintain a list of things I worked on so there s no concrete list atm. Maybe I ll get back to this section later or will start to list stuff from the fall, as I was doing before. :D

Debian (E)LTS
Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project to extend the lifetime of all Debian stable releases to (at least) 5 years. Debian LTS is not handled by the Debian security team, but by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in making it a success. And Debian Extended LTS (ELTS) is its sister project, extending support to the stretch and jessie release (+2 years after LTS support). This was my forty-first month as a Debian LTS and thirty-second month as a Debian ELTS paid contributor.
I worked for 24.25 hours for LTS and 28.50 hours for ELTS.

LTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:
  • Fixed CVE-2022-47016 for tmux and uploaded to buster via 2.8-3+deb10u1.
    But decided to not roll the DLA for the package as the CVE got rejected upstream.
  • Issued DLA 3359-1, fixing CVE-2019-13038 and CVE-2021-3639, for libapache2-mod-auth-mellon.
    For Debian 10 buster, these problems have been fixed in version 0.14.2-1+deb10u1.
  • Issued DLA 3360-1, fixing CVE-2021-30151 and CVE-2022-23837, for ruby-sidekiq.
    For Debian 10 buster, these problems have been fixed in version 5.2.3+dfsg-1+deb10u1.
  • Worked on ruby-rails-html-sanitize and added notes to the security-tracker.
    TL;DR: we need newer methods in ruby-loofah to make the patches for ruby-rails-html-sanitize backportable.
  • Started to look at other set of packages meanwhile.

ELTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:
  • Issued ELA 813-1, fixing CVE-2017-12618 and CVE-2022-25147, for apr-util.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version 1.5.4-1+deb8u1.
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 1.5.4-3+deb9u1.
  • Issued ELA 814-1, fixing CVE-2022-39286, for jupyter-core.
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 4.2.1-1+deb9u1.
  • Issued ELA 815-1, fixing CVE-2022-44792 and CVE-2022-44793, for net-snmp.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 5.7.3+dfsg-1.7+deb9u5.
  • Helped facilitate RabbitMQ s update queries by one of our customers.
  • Started to look at other set of packages meanwhile.

Other (E)LTS Work:
Until next time.
:wq for today.

3 February 2023

Scarlett Gately Moore: KDE Snaps, snapcraft, Debian packages.

Sunset, Witch Wells ArizonaSunset, Witch Wells Arizona
Another busy week! In the snap world, I have been busy trying to solve the problem of core20 snaps needing security updates and focal is no longer supported in KDE Neon. So I have created a ppa at Which of course presents more work, as kf5 5.99.0 requires qt5 5.15.7. Sooo this is a WIP. Snapcraft kde-neon-extension is moving along as I learn the python ways of formatting, and fixing some issues in my tests. In the Debian world, I am sad to report Mycroft-AI has gone bust, however the packaging efforts are not in vain as the project has been forked to and should be relatively easy to migrate. I have spent some time verifying the libappimage in buster is NOT vulnerable with CVE-2020-25265 as the code wasn t introduced yet. Skanpage, plasma-bigscreen both have source uploads so the can migrate to testing to hopefully make it into bookworm! As many of you know, I am seeking employment. I am a hard worker, that thrives on learning new things. I am a self starter, knowledge sponge, and eager to be an asset to < insert your company here > ! Meanwhile, as interview processes are much longer than I remember and the industry exploding in layoffs, I am coming up short on living expenses as my unemployment lingers on. Please consider donating to my gofundme. Thank you for your consideration.I still have a ways to go to cover my bills this month, I will continue with my work until I cannot, I hate asking, but please consider a donation. Thank you!GoFundMe

23 December 2022

Scarlett Gately Moore: Debian uploads, Core22 KDE snap content pack and more!

I have been quite busy! I have been working on several projects so my cover image is a lovely sunset where I live. Debian: I have updated and uploaded several packages and working on more. KDE Snaps: I have reworked the CI to now do Core22 snaps! They will publish to the beta channel until we get them tested. First snap completed is the ever important KDE Frameworks / QT content snap + SDK! Applications will start after I tackle the kde-neon extention in snapcraft. GUI-Testing: I have begun learning/writing some GUI tests using python and, inspired by one of my favorite people, Harald. See for more info and I hope to get these in repos near you soon! In closing, I am still seeking employment/sponsor amidst this terrible layoff season. If anyone knows of anyone with my diverse skill set please let me know. In the meantime if you can spare anything to keep the lights on I would be ever so grateful. Patreon: Cash App: $ScarlettMoore0903 Stripe: Thank you, I want to wish everyone a very merry < insert your holiday here > !!!

7 October 2022

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in September 2022

Welcome to the September 2022 report from the Reproducible Builds project! In our reports we try to outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As a quick recap, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, almost all software is distributed to end users as pre-compiled binaries. If you are interested in contributing to the project, please visit our Contribute page on our website.
David A. Wheeler reported to us that the US National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have released a document called Securing the Software Supply Chain: Recommended Practices Guide for Developers (PDF). As David remarked in his post to our mailing list, it expressly recommends having reproducible builds as part of advanced recommended mitigations . The publication of this document has been accompanied by a press release.
Holger Levsen was made aware of a small Microsoft project called oss-reproducible. Part of, OSSGadget, a larger collection of tools for analyzing open source packages , the purpose of oss-reproducible is to:
analyze open source packages for reproducibility. We start with an existing package (for example, the NPM left-pad package, version 1.3.0), and we try to answer the question, Do the package contents authentically reflect the purported source code?
More details can be found in the file within the code repository.
David A. Wheeler also pointed out that there are some potential upcoming changes to the OpenSSF Best Practices badge for open source software in relation to reproducibility. Whilst the badge programme has three certification levels ( passing , silver and gold ), the gold level includes the criterion that The project MUST have a reproducible build . David reported that some projects have argued that this reproducibility criterion should be slightly relaxed as outlined in an issue on the best-practices-badge GitHub project. Essentially, though, the claim is that the reproducibility requirement doesn t make sense for projects that do not release built software, and that timestamp differences by themselves don t necessarily indicate malicious changes. Numerous pragmatic problems around excluding timestamps were raised in the discussion of the issue.
Sonatype, a pioneer of software supply chain management , issued a press release month to report that they had found:
[ ] a massive year-over-year increase in cyberattacks aimed at open source project ecosystems. According to early data from Sonatype s 8th annual State of the Software Supply Chain Report, which will be released in full this October, Sonatype has recorded an average 700% jump in repository attacks over the last three years.
More information is available in the press release.
A number of changes were made to the Reproducible Builds website and documentation this month, including Chris Lamb adding a redirect from /projects/ to /who/ in order to keep old or archived links working [ ], Jelle van der Waa added a Rust programming language example for SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH [ ][ ] and Mattia Rizzolo included Protocol Labs amongst our project-level sponsors [ ].

Debian There was a large amount of reproducibility work taking place within Debian this month:
  • The nfft source package was removed from the archive, and now all packages in Debian bookworm now have a corresponding .buildinfo file. This can be confirmed and tracked on the associated page on the site.
  • Vagrant Cascadian announced on our mailing list an informal online sprint to help clear the huge backlog of reproducible builds patches submitted by performing NMU (Non-Maintainer Uploads). The first such sprint took place on September 22nd with the following results:
    • Holger Levsen:
      • Mailed #1010957 in man-db asking for an update and whether to remove the patch tag for now. This was subsequently removed and the maintainer started to address the issue.
      • Uploaded gmp to DELAYED/15, fixing #1009931.
      • Emailed #1017372 in plymouth and asked for the maintainer s opinion on the patch. This resulted in the maintainer improving Vagrant s original patch (and uploading it) as well as filing an issue upstream.
      • Uploaded time to DELAYED/15, fixing #983202.
    • Vagrant Cascadian:
      • Verify and updated patch for mylvmbackup (#782318)
      • Verified/updated patches for libranlip. (#788000, #846975 & #1007137)
      • Uploaded libranlip to DELAYED/10.
      • Verified patch for cclive. (#824501)
      • Uploaded cclive to DELAYED/10.
      • Vagrant was unable to reproduce the underlying issue within #791423 (linuxtv-dvb-apps) and so the bug was marked as done .
      • Researched #794398 (in clhep).
    The plan is to repeat these sprints every two weeks, with the next taking place on Thursday October 6th at 16:00 UTC on the #debian-reproducible IRC channel.
  • Roland Clobus posted his 13th update of the status of reproducible Debian ISO images on our mailing list. During the last month, Roland ensured that the live images are now automatically fed to openQA for automated testing after they have been shown to be reproducible. Additionally Roland asked on the debian-devel mailing list about a way to determine the canonical timestamp of the Debian archive. [ ]
  • Following up on last month s work on reproducible bootstrapping, Holger Levsen filed two bugs against the debootstrap and cdebootstrap utilities. (#1019697 & #1019698)
Lastly, 44 reviews of Debian packages were added, 91 were updated and 17 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. A number of issue types have been updated too, including the descriptions of cmake_rpath_contains_build_path [ ], nondeterministic_version_generated_by_python_param [ ] and timestamps_in_documentation_generated_by_org_mode [ ]. Furthermore, two new issue types were created: build_path_used_to_determine_version_or_package_name [ ] and captures_build_path_via_cmake_variables [ ].

Other distributions In openSUSE, Bernhard M. Wiedemann published his usual openSUSE monthly report.

diffoscope diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility. Not only can it locate and diagnose reproducibility issues, it can provide human-readable diffs from many kinds of binary formats. This month, Chris Lamb prepared and uploaded versions 222 and 223 to Debian, as well as made the following changes:
  • The cbfstools utility is now provided in Debian via the coreboot-utils package so we can enable that functionality within Debian. [ ]
  • Looked into Mach-O support.
  • Fixed the service by addressing a compatibility issue between glibc/seccomp that was preventing the Docker-contained diffoscope instance from spawning any external processes whatsoever [ ]. I also updated the requirements.txt file, as some of the specified packages were no longer available [ ][ ].
In addition Jelle van der Waa added support for file version 5.43 [ ] and Mattia Rizzolo updated the packaging:
  • Also include coreboot-utils in the Build-Depends and Test-Depends fields so that it is available for tests. [ ]
  • Use pep517 and pip to load the requirements. [ ]
  • Remove packages in Breaks/Replaces that have been obsoleted since the release of Debian bullseye. [ ]

Reprotest reprotest is our end-user tool to build the same source code twice in widely and deliberate different environments, and checking whether the binaries produced by the builds have any differences. This month, reprotest version 0.7.22 was uploaded to Debian unstable by Holger Levsen, which included the following changes by Philip Hands:
  • Actually ensure that the setarch(8) utility can actually execute before including an architecture to test. [ ]
  • Include all files matching *.*deb in the default artifact_pattern in order to archive all results of the build. [ ]
  • Emit an error when building the Debian package if the Debian packaging version does not patch the Python version of reprotest. [ ]
  • Remove an unneeded invocation of the head(1) utility. [ ]

Upstream patches The Reproducible Builds project detects, dissects and attempts to fix as many currently-unreproducible packages as possible. We endeavour to send all of our patches upstream where appropriate. This month, we wrote a large number of such patches, including:

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project runs a significant testing framework at in order to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. This month, however, the following changes were made:
  • Holger Levsen:
    • Add a job to build reprotest from Git [ ] and use the correct Git branch when building it [ ].
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
    • Enable syncing of results from building live Debian ISO images. [ ]
    • Use scp -p in order to preserve modification times when syncing live ISO images. [ ]
    • Apply the shellcheck shell script analysis tool. [ ]
    • In a build node wrapper script, remove some debugging code which was messing up calling scp(1) correctly [ ] and consquently add support to use both scp -p and regular scp [ ].
  • Roland Clobus:
    • Track and handle the case where the Debian archive gets updated between two live image builds. [ ]
    • Remove a call to sudo(1) as it is not (or no longer) required to delete old live-build results. [ ]

Contact As ever, if you are interested in contributing to the Reproducible Builds project, please visit our Contribute page on our website. However, you can get in touch with us via:

29 September 2022

Antoine Beaupr : Detecting manual (and optimizing large) package installs in Puppet

Well this is a mouthful. I recently worked on a neat hack called puppet-package-check. It is designed to warn about manually installed packages, to make sure "everything is in Puppet". But it turns out it can (probably?) dramatically decrease the bootstrap time of Puppet bootstrap when it needs to install a large number of packages.

Detecting manual packages On a cleanly filed workstation, it looks like this:
root@emma:/home/anarcat/bin# ./puppet-package-check -v
listing puppet packages...
listing apt packages...
loading apt cache...
0 unmanaged packages found
A messy workstation will look like this:
root@curie:/home/anarcat/bin# ./puppet-package-check -v
listing puppet packages...
listing apt packages...
loading apt cache...
288 unmanaged packages found
apparmor-utils beignet-opencl-icd bridge-utils clustershell cups-pk-helper davfs2 dconf-cli dconf-editor dconf-gsettings-backend ddccontrol ddrescueview debmake debootstrap decopy dict-devil dict-freedict-eng-fra dict-freedict-eng-spa dict-freedict-fra-eng dict-freedict-spa-eng diffoscope dnsdiag dropbear-initramfs ebtables efibootmgr elpa-lua-mode entr eog evince figlet file file-roller fio flac flex font-manager fonts-cantarell fonts-inconsolata fonts-ipafont-gothic fonts-ipafont-mincho fonts-liberation fonts-monoid fonts-monoid-tight fonts-noto fonts-powerline fonts-symbola freeipmi freetype2-demos ftp fwupd-amd64-signed gallery-dl gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf gcolor3 gcp gdisk gdm3 gdu gedit gedit-plugins gettext-base git-debrebase gnome-boxes gnote gnupg2 golang-any golang-docker-credential-helpers golang-golang-x-tools grub-efi-amd64-signed gsettings-desktop-schemas gsfonts gstreamer1.0-libav gstreamer1.0-plugins-base gstreamer1.0-plugins-good gstreamer1.0-plugins-ugly gstreamer1.0-pulseaudio gtypist gvfs-backends hackrf hashcat html2text httpie httping hugo humanfriendly iamerican-huge ibus ibus-gtk3 ibus-libpinyin ibus-pinyin im-config imediff img2pdf imv initramfs-tools input-utils installation-birthday internetarchive ipmitool iptables iptraf-ng jackd2 jupyter jupyter-nbextension-jupyter-js-widgets jupyter-qtconsole k3b kbtin kdialog keditbookmarks keepassxc kexec-tools keyboard-configuration kfind konsole krb5-locales kwin-x11 leiningen lightdm lintian linux-image-amd64 linux-perf lmodern lsb-base lvm2 lynx lz4json magic-wormhole mailscripts mailutils manuskript mat2 mate-notification-daemon mate-themes mime-support mktorrent mp3splt mpdris2 msitools mtp-tools mtree-netbsd mupdf nautilus nautilus-sendto ncal nd ndisc6 neomutt net-tools nethogs nghttp2-client nocache npm2deb ntfs-3g ntpdate nvme-cli nwipe obs-studio okular-extra-backends openstack-clients openstack-pkg-tools paprefs pass-extension-audit pcmanfm pdf-presenter-console pdf2svg percol pipenv playerctl plymouth plymouth-themes popularity-contest progress prometheus-node-exporter psensor pubpaste pulseaudio python3-ldap qjackctl qpdfview qrencode r-cran-ggplot2 r-cran-reshape2 rake restic rhash rpl rpm2cpio rs ruby ruby-dev ruby-feedparser ruby-magic ruby-mocha ruby-ronn rygel-playbin rygel-tracker s-tui sanoid saytime scrcpy scrcpy-server screenfetch scrot sdate sddm seahorse shim-signed sigil smartmontools smem smplayer sng sound-juicer sound-theme-freedesktop spectre-meltdown-checker sq ssh-audit sshuttle stress-ng strongswan strongswan-swanctl syncthing system-config-printer system-config-printer-common system-config-printer-udev systemd-bootchart systemd-container tardiff task-desktop task-english task-ssh-server tasksel tellico texinfo texlive-fonts-extra texlive-lang-cyrillic texlive-lang-french texlive-lang-german texlive-lang-italian texlive-xetex tftp-hpa thunar-archive-plugin tidy tikzit tint2 tintin++ tipa tpm2-tools traceroute tree trocla ucf udisks2 unifont unrar-free upower usbguard uuid-runtime vagrant-cachier vagrant-libvirt virt-manager vmtouch vorbis-tools w3m wamerican wamerican-huge wfrench whipper whohas wireshark xapian-tools xclip xdg-user-dirs-gtk xlax xmlto xsensors xserver-xorg xsltproc xxd xz-utils yubioath-desktop zathura zathura-pdf-poppler zenity zfs-dkms zfs-initramfs zfsutils-linux zip zlib1g zlib1g-dev
157 old: apparmor-utils clustershell davfs2 dconf-cli dconf-editor ddccontrol ddrescueview decopy dnsdiag ebtables efibootmgr elpa-lua-mode entr figlet file-roller fio flac flex font-manager freetype2-demos ftp gallery-dl gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf gcolor3 gcp gdu gedit git-debrebase gnote golang-docker-credential-helpers golang-golang-x-tools gtypist hackrf hashcat html2text httpie httping hugo humanfriendly iamerican-huge ibus ibus-pinyin imediff input-utils internetarchive ipmitool iptraf-ng jackd2 jupyter-qtconsole k3b kbtin kdialog keditbookmarks keepassxc kexec-tools kfind konsole leiningen lightdm lynx lz4json magic-wormhole manuskript mat2 mate-notification-daemon mktorrent mp3splt msitools mtp-tools mtree-netbsd nautilus nautilus-sendto nd ndisc6 neomutt net-tools nethogs nghttp2-client nocache ntpdate nwipe obs-studio openstack-pkg-tools paprefs pass-extension-audit pcmanfm pdf-presenter-console pdf2svg percol pipenv playerctl qjackctl qpdfview qrencode r-cran-ggplot2 r-cran-reshape2 rake restic rhash rpl rpm2cpio rs ruby-feedparser ruby-magic ruby-mocha ruby-ronn s-tui saytime scrcpy screenfetch scrot sdate seahorse shim-signed sigil smem smplayer sng sound-juicer spectre-meltdown-checker sq ssh-audit sshuttle stress-ng system-config-printer system-config-printer-common tardiff tasksel tellico texlive-lang-cyrillic texlive-lang-french tftp-hpa tikzit tint2 tintin++ tpm2-tools traceroute tree unrar-free vagrant-cachier vagrant-libvirt vmtouch vorbis-tools w3m wamerican wamerican-huge wfrench whipper whohas xdg-user-dirs-gtk xlax xmlto xsensors xxd yubioath-desktop zenity zip
131 new: beignet-opencl-icd bridge-utils cups-pk-helper dconf-gsettings-backend debmake debootstrap dict-devil dict-freedict-eng-fra dict-freedict-eng-spa dict-freedict-fra-eng dict-freedict-spa-eng diffoscope dropbear-initramfs eog evince file fonts-cantarell fonts-inconsolata fonts-ipafont-gothic fonts-ipafont-mincho fonts-liberation fonts-monoid fonts-monoid-tight fonts-noto fonts-powerline fonts-symbola freeipmi fwupd-amd64-signed gdisk gdm3 gedit-plugins gettext-base gnome-boxes gnupg2 golang-any grub-efi-amd64-signed gsettings-desktop-schemas gsfonts gstreamer1.0-libav gstreamer1.0-plugins-base gstreamer1.0-plugins-good gstreamer1.0-plugins-ugly gstreamer1.0-pulseaudio gvfs-backends ibus-gtk3 ibus-libpinyin im-config img2pdf imv initramfs-tools installation-birthday iptables jupyter jupyter-nbextension-jupyter-js-widgets keyboard-configuration krb5-locales kwin-x11 lintian linux-image-amd64 linux-perf lmodern lsb-base lvm2 mailscripts mailutils mate-themes mime-support mpdris2 mupdf ncal npm2deb ntfs-3g nvme-cli okular-extra-backends openstack-clients plymouth plymouth-themes popularity-contest progress prometheus-node-exporter psensor pubpaste pulseaudio python3-ldap ruby ruby-dev rygel-playbin rygel-tracker sanoid scrcpy-server sddm smartmontools sound-theme-freedesktop strongswan strongswan-swanctl syncthing system-config-printer-udev systemd-bootchart systemd-container task-desktop task-english task-ssh-server texinfo texlive-fonts-extra texlive-lang-german texlive-lang-italian texlive-xetex thunar-archive-plugin tidy tipa trocla ucf udisks2 unifont upower usbguard uuid-runtime virt-manager wireshark xapian-tools xclip xserver-xorg xsltproc xz-utils zathura zathura-pdf-poppler zfs-dkms zfs-initramfs zfsutils-linux zlib1g zlib1g-dev
Yuck! That's a lot of shit to go through. Notice how the packages get sorted between "old" and "new" packages. This is because popcon is used as a tool to mark which packages are "old". If you have unmanaged packages, the "old" ones are likely things that you can uninstall, for example. If you don't have popcon installed, you'll also get this warning:
popcon stats not available: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '/var/log/popularity-contest'
The error can otherwise be safely ignored, but you won't get "help" prioritizing the packages to add to your manifests. Note that the tool ignores packages that were "marked" (see apt-mark(8)) as automatically installed. This implies that you might have to do a little bit of cleanup the first time you run this, as Debian doesn't necessarily mark all of those packages correctly on first install. For example, here's how it looks like on a clean install, after Puppet ran:
root@angela:/home/anarcat# ./bin/puppet-package-check -v
listing puppet packages...
listing apt packages...
loading apt cache...
127 unmanaged packages found
ca-certificates console-setup cryptsetup-initramfs dbus file gcc-12-base gettext-base grub-common grub-efi-amd64 i3lock initramfs-tools iw keyboard-configuration krb5-locales laptop-detect libacl1 libapparmor1 libapt-pkg6.0 libargon2-1 libattr1 libaudit-common libaudit1 libblkid1 libbpf0 libbsd0 libbz2-1.0 libc6 libcap-ng0 libcap2 libcap2-bin libcom-err2 libcrypt1 libcryptsetup12 libdb5.3 libdebconfclient0 libdevmapper1.02.1 libedit2 libelf1 libext2fs2 libfdisk1 libffi8 libgcc-s1 libgcrypt20 libgmp10 libgnutls30 libgpg-error0 libgssapi-krb5-2 libhogweed6 libidn2-0 libip4tc2 libiw30 libjansson4 libjson-c5 libk5crypto3 libkeyutils1 libkmod2 libkrb5-3 libkrb5support0 liblocale-gettext-perl liblockfile-bin liblz4-1 liblzma5 libmd0 libmnl0 libmount1 libncurses6 libncursesw6 libnettle8 libnewt0.52 libnftables1 libnftnl11 libnl-3-200 libnl-genl-3-200 libnl-route-3-200 libnss-systemd libp11-kit0 libpam-systemd libpam0g libpcre2-8-0 libpcre3 libpcsclite1 libpopt0 libprocps8 libreadline8 libselinux1 libsemanage-common libsemanage2 libsepol2 libslang2 libsmartcols1 libss2 libssl1.1 libssl3 libstdc++6 libsystemd-shared libsystemd0 libtasn1-6 libtext-charwidth-perl libtext-iconv-perl libtext-wrapi18n-perl libtinfo6 libtirpc-common libtirpc3 libudev1 libunistring2 libuuid1 libxtables12 libxxhash0 libzstd1 linux-image-amd64 logsave lsb-base lvm2 media-types mlocate ncurses-term pass-extension-otp puppet python3-reportbug shim-signed tasksel ucf usr-is-merged util-linux-extra wpasupplicant xorg zlib1g
popcon stats not available: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '/var/log/popularity-contest'
Normally, there should be unmanaged packages here. But because of the way Debian is installed, a lot of libraries and some core packages are marked as manually installed, and are of course not managed through Puppet. There are two solutions to this problem:
  • really manage everything in Puppet (argh)
  • mark packages as automatically installed
I typically chose the second path and mark a ton of stuff as automatic. Then either they will be auto-removed, or will stop being listed. In the above scenario, one could mark all libraries as automatically installed with:
apt-mark auto $(./bin/puppet-package-check   grep -o 'lib[^ ]*')
... but if you trust that most of that stuff is actually garbage that you don't really want installed anyways, you could just mark it all as automatically installed:
apt-mark auto $(./bin/puppet-package-check)
In my case, that ended up keeping basically all libraries (because of course they're installed for some reason) and auto-removing this:
dh-dkms discover-data dkms libdiscover2 libjsoncpp25 libssl1.1 linux-headers-amd64 mlocate pass-extension-otp pass-otp plocate x11-apps x11-session-utils xinit xorg
You'll notice xorg in there: yep, that's bad. Not what I wanted. But for some reason, on other workstations, I did not actually have xorg installed. Turns out having xserver-xorg is enough, and that one has dependencies. So now I guess I just learned to stop worrying and live without X(org).

Optimizing large package installs But that, of course, is not all. Why make things simple when you can have an unreadable title that is trying to be both syntactically correct and click-baity enough to flatter my vain ego? Right. One of the challenges in bootstrapping Puppet with large package lists is that it's slow. Puppet lists packages as individual resources and will basically run apt install $PKG on every package in the manifest, one at a time. While the overhead of apt is generally small, when you add things like apt-listbugs, apt-listchanges, needrestart, triggers and so on, it can take forever setting up a new host. So for initial installs, it can actually makes sense to skip the queue and just install everything in one big batch. And because the above tool inspects the packages installed by Puppet, you can run it against a catalog and have a full lists of all the packages Puppet would install, even before I even had Puppet running. So when reinstalling my laptop, I basically did this:
apt install puppet-agent/experimental
puppet agent --test --noop
apt install $(./puppet-package-check --debug \
    2>&1   grep ^puppet\ packages 
      sed 's/puppet packages://;s/ /\n/g'
      grep -v -e onionshare -e golint -e git-sizer -e github-backup -e hledger -e xsane -e audacity -e chirp -e elpa-flycheck -e elpa-lsp-ui -e yubikey-manager -e git-annex -e hopenpgp-tools -e puppet
) puppet-agent/experimental
That massive grep was because there are currently a lot of packages missing from bookworm. Those are all packages that I have in my catalog but that still haven't made it to bookworm. Sad, I know. I eventually worked around that by adding bullseye sources so that the Puppet manifest actually ran. The point here is that this improves the Puppet run time a lot. All packages get installed at once, and you get a nice progress bar. Then you actually run Puppet to deploy configurations and all the other goodies:
puppet agent --test
I wish I could tell you how much faster that ran. I don't know, and I will not go through a full reinstall just to please your curiosity. The only hard number I have is that it installed 444 packages (which exploded in 10,191 packages with dependencies) in a mere 10 minutes. That might also be with the packages already downloaded. In any case, I have that gut feeling it's faster, so you'll have to just trust my gut. It is, after all, much more important than you might think.

Similar work The blueprint system is something similar to this:
It figures out what you ve done manually, stores it locally in a Git repository, generates code that s able to recreate your efforts, and helps you deploy those changes to production
That tool has unfortunately been abandoned for a decade at this point. Also note that the AutoRemove::RecommendsImportant and AutoRemove::SuggestsImportant are relevant here. If it is set to true (the default), a package will not be removed if it is (respectively) a Recommends or Suggests of another package (as opposed to the normal Depends). In other words, if you want to also auto-remove packages that are only Suggests, you would, for example, add this to apt.conf:
AutoRemove::SuggestsImportant false;
Paul Wise has tried to make the Debian installer and debootstrap properly mark packages as automatically installed in the past, but his bug reports were rejected. The other suggestions in this section are also from Paul, thanks!

20 September 2022

Simon Josefsson: Privilege separation of GSS-API credentials for Apache

To protect web resources with Kerberos you may use Apache HTTPD with mod_auth_gssapi however, all web scripts (e.g., PHP) run under Apache will have access to the Kerberos long-term symmetric secret credential (keytab). If someone can get it, they can impersonate your server, which is bad. The gssproxy project makes it possible to introduce privilege separation to reduce the attack surface. There is a tutorial for RPM-based distributions (Fedora, RHEL, AlmaLinux, etc), but I wanted to get this to work on a DPKG-based distribution (Debian, Ubuntu, Trisquel, PureOS, etc) and found it worthwhile to document the process. I m using Ubuntu 22.04 below, but have tested it on Debian 11 as well. I have adopted the gssproxy package in Debian, and testing this setup is part of the scripted autopkgtest/debci regression testing. First install the required packages:
root@foo:~# apt-get update
root@foo:~# apt-get install -y apache2 libapache2-mod-auth-gssapi gssproxy curl
This should give you a working and running web server. Verify it is operational under the proper hostname, I ll use in this writeup.
root@foo:~# curl --head
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
The next step is to create a keytab containing the Kerberos V5 secrets for your host, the exact steps depends on your environment (usually kadmin ktadd or ipa-getkeytab), but use the string HTTP/ and then confirm using something like the following.
root@foo:~# ls -la /etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab
-rw------- 1 root root 176 Sep 18 06:44 /etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab
root@foo:~# klist -k /etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab -e
Keytab name: FILE:/etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab
KVNO Principal
---- --------------------------------------------------------------------------
   2 HTTP/ (aes256-cts-hmac-sha1-96) 
   2 HTTP/ (aes128-cts-hmac-sha1-96) 
The file should be owned by root and not be in the default /etc/krb5.keytab location, so Apache s libapache2-mod-auth-gssapi will have to use gssproxy to use it.

Then configure gssproxy to find the credential and use it with Apache.
root@foo:~# cat<<EOF > /etc/gssproxy/80-httpd.conf
mechs = krb5
cred_store = keytab:/etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab
cred_store = ccache:/var/lib/gssproxy/clients/krb5cc_%U
euid = www-data
process = /usr/sbin/apache2
For debugging, it may be useful to enable more gssproxy logging:
root@foo:~# cat<<EOF > /etc/gssproxy/gssproxy.conf
debug_level = 1
Restart gssproxy so it finds the new configuration, and monitor syslog as follows:
root@foo:~# tail -F /var/log/syslog &
root@foo:~# systemctl restart gssproxy
You should see something like this in the log file:
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo gssproxy[4076]: [2022/09/18 05:03:15]: Exiting after receiving a signal
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo systemd[1]: Stopping GSSAPI Proxy Daemon
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo systemd[1]: gssproxy.service: Deactivated successfully.
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo systemd[1]: Stopped GSSAPI Proxy Daemon.
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo gssproxy[4092]: [2022/09/18 05:03:15]: Debug Enabled (level: 1)
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo systemd[1]: Starting GSSAPI Proxy Daemon
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo gssproxy[4093]: [2022/09/18 05:03:15]: Kernel doesn't support GSS-Proxy (can't open /proc/net/rpc/use-gss-proxy: 2 (No such file or directory))
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo gssproxy[4093]: [2022/09/18 05:03:15]: Problem with kernel communication! NFS server will not work
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo systemd[1]: Started GSSAPI Proxy Daemon.
Sep 18 07:03:15 foo gssproxy[4093]: [2022/09/18 05:03:15]: Initialization complete.
The NFS-related errors is due to a default gssproxy configuration file, it is harmless and if you don t use NFS with GSS-API you can silence it like this:
root@foo:~# rm /etc/gssproxy/24-nfs-server.conf
root@foo:~# systemctl try-reload-or-restart gssproxy
The log should now indicate that it loaded the keytab:
Sep 18 07:18:59 foo systemd[1]: Reloading GSSAPI Proxy Daemon 
Sep 18 07:18:59 foo gssproxy[4182]: [2022/09/18 05:18:59]: Received SIGHUP; re-reading config.
Sep 18 07:18:59 foo gssproxy[4182]: [2022/09/18 05:18:59]: Service: HTTP, Keytab: /etc/gssproxy/httpd.keytab, Enctype: 18
Sep 18 07:18:59 foo gssproxy[4182]: [2022/09/18 05:18:59]: New config loaded successfully.
Sep 18 07:18:59 foo systemd[1]: Reloaded GSSAPI Proxy Daemon.
To instruct Apache or actually, the MIT Kerberos V5 GSS-API library used by mod_auth_gssap loaded by Apache to use gssproxy instead of using /etc/krb5.keytab as usual, Apache needs to be started in an environment that has GSS_USE_PROXY=1 set. The background is covered by the gssproxy-mech(8) man page and explained by the gssproxy README.

When systemd is used the following can be used to set the environment variable, note the final command to reload systemd.
root@foo:~# mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/apache2.service.d
root@foo:~# cat<<EOF > /etc/systemd/system/apache2.service.d/gssproxy.conf
root@foo:~# systemctl daemon-reload
The next step is to configure a GSS-API protected Apache resource:
root@foo:~# cat<<EOF > /etc/apache2/conf-available/private.conf
<Location /private>
  AuthType GSSAPI
  AuthName "GSSAPI Login"
  Require valid-user
Enable the configuration and restart Apache the suggested use of reload is not sufficient, because then it won t be restarted with the newly introduced GSS_USE_PROXY variable. This just applies to the first time, after the first restart you may use reload again.
root@foo:~# a2enconf private
Enabling conf private.
To activate the new configuration, you need to run:
systemctl reload apache2
root@foo:~# systemctl restart apache2
When you have debug messages enabled, the log may look like this:
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo systemd[1]: Stopping The Apache HTTP Server 
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo gssproxy[4182]: [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: Client [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (/usr/sbin/apache2) [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: connected (fd = 10)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (pid = 4651) (uid = 0) (gid = 0)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]:
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo gssproxy[4182]: message repeated 4 times: [ [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: Client [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (/usr/sbin/apache2) [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: connected (fd = 10)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (pid = 4651) (uid = 0) (gid = 0)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]:]
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo systemd[1]: apache2.service: Deactivated successfully.
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo systemd[1]: Stopped The Apache HTTP Server.
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo systemd[1]: Starting The Apache HTTP Server
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo gssproxy[4182]: [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: Client [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (/usr/sbin/apache2) [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: connected (fd = 10)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (pid = 4657) (uid = 0) (gid = 0)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]:
root@foo:~# Sep 18 07:32:23 foo gssproxy[4182]: message repeated 8 times: [ [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: Client [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (/usr/sbin/apache2) [2022/09/18 05:32:23]: connected (fd = 10)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]: (pid = 4657) (uid = 0) (gid = 0)[2022/09/18 05:32:23]:]
Sep 18 07:32:23 foo systemd[1]: Started The Apache HTTP Server.
Finally, set up a dummy test page on the server:
root@foo:~# echo OK > /var/www/html/private
To verify that the server is working properly you may acquire tickets locally and then use curl to retrieve the GSS-API protected resource. The "--negotiate" enables SPNEGO and "--user :" asks curl to use username from the environment.
root@foo:~# klist
Ticket cache: FILE:/tmp/krb5cc_0
Default principal: jas@GSSPROXY.EXAMPLE.ORG
Valid starting Expires Service principal
09/18/22 07:40:37 09/19/22 07:40:37 krbtgt/GSSPROXY.EXAMPLE.ORG@GSSPROXY.EXAMPLE.ORG
root@foo:~# curl --negotiate --user :
The log should contain something like this:
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [2022/09/18 05:56:00]: Client [2022/09/18 05:56:00]: (/usr/sbin/apache2) [2022/09/18 05:56:00]: connected (fd = 10)[2022/09/18 05:56:00]: (pid = 5042) (uid = 33) (gid = 33)[2022/09/18 05:56:00]:
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [CID 10][2022/09/18 05:56:00]: gp_rpc_execute: executing 6 (GSSX_ACQUIRE_CRED) for service "HTTP", euid: 33,socket: (null)
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [CID 10][2022/09/18 05:56:00]: gp_rpc_execute: executing 6 (GSSX_ACQUIRE_CRED) for service "HTTP", euid: 33,socket: (null)
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [CID 10][2022/09/18 05:56:00]: gp_rpc_execute: executing 1 (GSSX_INDICATE_MECHS) for service "HTTP", euid: 33,socket: (null)
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [CID 10][2022/09/18 05:56:00]: gp_rpc_execute: executing 6 (GSSX_ACQUIRE_CRED) for service "HTTP", euid: 33,socket: (null)
Sep 18 07:56:00 foo gssproxy[4872]: [CID 10][2022/09/18 05:56:00]: gp_rpc_execute: executing 9 (GSSX_ACCEPT_SEC_CONTEXT) for service "HTTP", euid: 33,socket: (null)
The Apache log will look like this, notice the authenticated username shown. - jas@GSSPROXY.EXAMPLE.ORG [18/Sep/2022:07:56:00 +0200] "GET /private HTTP/1.1" 200 481 "-" "curl/7.81.0"
Congratulations, and happy hacking!

6 June 2022

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in May 2022

Welcome to the May 2022 report from the Reproducible Builds project. In our reports we outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As ever, if you are interested in contributing to the project, please visit our Contribute page on our website.

Repfix paper Zhilei Ren, Shiwei Sun, Jifeng Xuan, Xiaochen Li, Zhide Zhou and He Jiang have published an academic paper titled Automated Patching for Unreproducible Builds:
[..] fixing unreproducible build issues poses a set of challenges [..], among which we consider the localization granularity and the historical knowledge utilization as the most significant ones. To tackle these challenges, we propose a novel approach [called] RepFix that combines tracing-based fine-grained localization with history-based patch generation mechanisms.
The paper (PDF, 3.5MB) uses the Debian mylvmbackup package as an example to show how RepFix can automatically generate patches to make software build reproducibly. As it happens, Reiner Herrmann submitted a patch for the mylvmbackup package which has remained unapplied by the Debian package maintainer for over seven years, thus this paper inadvertently underscores that achieving reproducible builds will require both technical and social solutions.

Python variables Johannes Schauer discovered a fascinating bug where simply naming your Python variable _m led to unreproducible .pyc files. In particular, the types module in Python 3.10 requires the following patch to make it reproducible:
--- a/Lib/
+++ b/Lib/
@@ -37,8 +37,8 @@ _ag = _ag()
 AsyncGeneratorType = type(_ag)
 class _C:
-    def _m(self): pass
-MethodType = type(_C()._m)
+    def _b(self): pass
+MethodType = type(_C()._b)
Simply renaming the dummy method from _m to _b was enough to workaround the problem. Johannes bug report first led to a number of improvements in diffoscope to aid in dissecting .pyc files, but upstream identified this as caused by an issue surrounding interned strings and is being tracked in CPython bug #78274.

New SPDX team to incorporate build metadata in Software Bill of Materials SPDX, the open standard for Software Bill of Materials (SBOM), is continuously developed by a number of teams and committees. However, SPDX has welcomed a new addition; a team dedicated to enhancing metadata about software builds, complementing reproducible builds in creating a more secure software supply chain. The SPDX Builds Team has been working throughout May to define the universal primitives shared by all build systems, including the who, what, where and how of builds:
  • Who: the identity of the person or organisation that controls the build infrastructure.
  • What: the inputs and outputs of a given build, combining metadata about the build s configuration with an SBOM describing source code and dependencies.
  • Where: the software packages making up the build system, from build orchestration tools such as Woodpecker CI and Tekton to language-specific tools.
  • How: the invocation of a build, linking metadata of a build to the identity of the person or automation tool that initiated it.
The SPDX Builds Team expects to have a usable data model by September, ready for inclusion in the SPDX 3.0 standard. The team welcomes new contributors, inviting those interested in joining to introduce themselves on the SPDX-Tech mailing list.

Talks at Debian Reunion Hamburg Some of the Reproducible Builds team (Holger Levsen, Mattia Rizzolo, Roland Clobus, Philip Rinn, etc.) met in real life at the Debian Reunion Hamburg (official homepage). There were several informal discussions amongst them, as well as two talks related to reproducible builds. First, Holger Levsen gave a talk on the status of Reproducible Builds for bullseye and bookworm and beyond (WebM, 210MB): Secondly, Roland Clobus gave a talk called Reproducible builds as applied to non-compiler output (WebM, 115MB):

Supply-chain security attacks This was another bumper month for supply-chain attacks in package repositories. Early in the month, Lance R. Vick noticed that the maintainer of the NPM foreach package let their personal email domain expire, so they bought it and now controls foreach on NPM and the 36,826 projects that depend on it . Shortly afterwards, Drew DeVault published a related blog post titled When will we learn? that offers a brief timeline of major incidents in this area and, not uncontroversially, suggests that the correct way to ship packages is with your distribution s package manager .

Bootstrapping Bootstrapping is a process for building software tools progressively from a primitive compiler tool and source language up to a full Linux development environment with GCC, etc. This is important given the amount of trust we put in existing compiler binaries. This month, a bootstrappable mini-kernel was announced. Called boot2now, it comprises a series of compilers in the form of bootable machine images.

Google s new Assured Open Source Software service Google Cloud (the division responsible for the Google Compute Engine) announced a new Assured Open Source Software service. Noting the considerable 650% year-over-year increase in cyberattacks aimed at open source suppliers, the new service claims to enable enterprise and public sector users of open source software to easily incorporate the same OSS packages that Google uses into their own developer workflows . The announcement goes on to enumerate that packages curated by the new service would be:
  • Regularly scanned, analyzed, and fuzz-tested for vulnerabilities.
  • Have corresponding enriched metadata incorporating Container/Artifact Analysis data.
  • Are built with Cloud Build including evidence of verifiable SLSA-compliance
  • Are verifiably signed by Google.
  • Are distributed from an Artifact Registry secured and protected by Google.
(Full announcement)

A retrospective on the Rust programming language Andrew bunnie Huang published a long blog post this month promising a critical retrospective on the Rust programming language. Amongst many acute observations about the evolution of the language s syntax (etc.), the post beings to critique the languages approach to supply chain security ( Rust Has A Limited View of Supply Chain Security ) and reproducibility ( You Can t Reproduce Someone Else s Rust Build ):
There s some bugs open with the Rust maintainers to address reproducible builds, but with the number of issues they have to deal with in the language, I am not optimistic that this problem will be resolved anytime soon. Assuming the only driver of the unreproducibility is the inclusion of OS paths in the binary, one fix to this would be to re-configure our build system to run in some sort of a chroot environment or a virtual machine that fixes the paths in a way that almost anyone else could reproduce. I say almost anyone else because this fix would be OS-dependent, so we d be able to get reproducible builds under, for example, Linux, but it would not help Windows users where chroot environments are not a thing.
(Full post)

Reproducible Builds IRC meeting The minutes and logs from our May 2022 IRC meeting have been published. In case you missed this one, our next IRC meeting will take place on Tuesday 28th June at 15:00 UTC on #reproducible-builds on the OFTC network.

A new tool to improve supply-chain security in Arch Linux kpcyrd published yet another interesting tool related to reproducibility. Writing about the tool in a recent blog post, kpcyrd mentions that although many PKGBUILDs provide authentication in the context of signed Git tags (i.e. the ability to verify the Git tag was signed by one of the two trusted keys ), they do not support pinning, ie. that upstream could create a new signed Git tag with an identical name, and arbitrarily change the source code without the [maintainer] noticing . Conversely, other PKGBUILDs support pinning but not authentication. The new tool, auth-tarball-from-git, fixes both problems, as nearly outlined in kpcyrd s original blog post.

diffoscope diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility. Not only can it locate and diagnose reproducibility issues, it can provide human-readable diffs from many kinds of binary formats. This month, Chris Lamb prepared and uploaded versions 212, 213 and 214 to Debian unstable. Chris also made the following changes:
  • New features:
    • Add support for extracting vmlinuz Linux kernel images. [ ]
    • Support both python-argcomplete 1.x and 2.x. [ ]
    • Strip sticky etc. from x.deb: sticky Debian binary package [ ]. [ ]
    • Integrate test coverage with GitLab s concept of artifacts. [ ][ ][ ]
  • Bug fixes:
    • Don t mask differences in .zip or .jar central directory extra fields. [ ]
    • Don t show a binary comparison of .zip or .jar files if we have observed at least one nested difference. [ ]
  • Codebase improvements:
    • Substantially update comment for our calls to zipinfo and zipinfo -v. [ ]
    • Use assert_diff in test_zip over calling get_data with a separate assert. [ ]
    • Don t call re.compile and then call .sub on the result; just call re.sub directly. [ ]
    • Clarify the comment around the difference between --usage and --help. [ ]
  • Testsuite improvements:
    • Test --help and --usage. [ ]
    • Test that --help includes the file formats. [ ]
Vagrant Cascadian added an external tool reference xb-tool for GNU Guix [ ] as well as updated the diffoscope package in GNU Guix itself [ ][ ][ ].

Distribution work In Debian, 41 reviews of Debian packages were added, 85 were updated and 13 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. A number of issue types have been updated, including adding a new nondeterministic_ordering_in_deprecated_items_collected_by_doxygen toolchain issue [ ] as well as ones for mono_mastersummary_xml_files_inherit_filesystem_ordering [ ], extended_attributes_in_jar_file_created_without_manifest [ ] and apxs_captures_build_path [ ]. Vagrant Cascadian performed a rough check of the reproducibility of core package sets in GNU Guix, and in openSUSE, Bernhard M. Wiedemann posted his usual monthly reproducible builds status report.

Upstream patches The Reproducible Builds project detects, dissects and attempts to fix as many currently-unreproducible packages as possible. We endeavour to send all of our patches upstream where appropriate. This month, we wrote a large number of such patches, including:

Reproducible builds website Chris Lamb updated the main Reproducible Builds website and documentation in a number of small ways, but also prepared and published an interview with Jan Nieuwenhuizen about Bootstrappable Builds, GNU Mes and GNU Guix. [ ][ ][ ][ ] In addition, Tim Jones added a link to the Talos Linux project [ ] and billchenchina fixed a dead link [ ].

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project runs a significant testing framework at, to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. This month, the following changes were made:
  • Holger Levsen:
    • Add support for detecting running kernels that require attention. [ ]
    • Temporarily configure a host to support performing Debian builds for packages that lack .buildinfo files. [ ]
    • Update generated webpages to clarify wishes for feedback. [ ]
    • Update copyright years on various scripts. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
    • Provide a facility so that Debian Live image generation can copy a file remotely. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • Roland Clobus:
    • Add initial support for testing generated images with OpenQA. [ ]
And finally, as usual, node maintenance was also performed by Holger Levsen [ ][ ].

Misc news On our mailing list this month:

Contact If you are interested in contributing to the Reproducible Builds project, please visit our Contribute page on our website. However, you can get in touch with us via:

3 January 2022

Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in December 2021

FTP master This month I accepted 412 and rejected 44 packages. The overall number of packages that got accepted was 423. Debian LTS This was my ninetieth month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian. This month my all in all workload has been 40h. During that time I did LTS and normal security uploads of: I also started to work on libarchive Further I worked on packages in NEW on security-master. In order to faster process such packages, I added a notification when work arrived there. Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties. Debian ELTS This month was the forty-second ELTS month. During my allocated time I uploaded: Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties. Debian Astro Related to my previous article about fun with telescopes I uploaded new versions or did source uploads for: Besides the indi-stuff I also uploaded Other stuff I celebrated christmas :-).

6 December 2021

Matthias Klumpp: New things in AppStream 0.15

On the road to AppStream 1.0, a lot of items from the long todo list have been done so far only one major feature is remaining, external release descriptions, which is a tricky one to implement and specify. For AppStream 1.0 it needs to be present or be rejected though, as it would be a major change in how release data is handled in AppStream. Besides 1.0 preparation work, the recent 0.15 release and the releases before it come with their very own large set of changes, that are worth a look and may be interesting for your application to support. But first, for a change that affects the implementation and not the XML format: 1. Completely rewritten caching code Keeping all AppStream data in memory is expensive, especially if the data is huge (as on Debian and Ubuntu with their large repositories generated from desktop-entry files as well) and if processes using AppStream are long-running. The latter is more and more the case, not only does GNOME Software run in the background, KDE uses AppStream in KRunner and Phosh will use it too for reading form factor information. Therefore, AppStream via libappstream provides an on-disk cache that is memory-mapped, so data is only consuming RAM if we are actually doing anything with it. Previously, AppStream used an LMDB-based cache in the background, with indices for fulltext search and other common search operations. This was a very fast solution, but also came with limitations, LMDB s maximum key size of 511 bytes became a problem quite often, adjusting the maximum database size (since it has to be set at opening time) was annoyingly tricky, and building dedicated indices for each search operation was very inflexible. In addition to that, the caching code was changed multiple times in the past to allow system-wide metadata to be cached per-user, as some distributions didn t (want to) build a system-wide cache and therefore ran into performance issues when XML was parsed repeatedly for generation of a temporary cache. In addition to all that, the cache was designed around the concept of one cache for data from all sources , which meant that we had to rebuild it entirely if just a small aspect changed, like a MetaInfo file being added to /usr/share/metainfo, which was very inefficient. To shorten a long story, the old caching code was rewritten with the new concepts of caches not necessarily being system-wide and caches existing for more fine-grained groups of files in mind. The new caching code uses Richard Hughes excellent libxmlb internally for memory-mapped data storage. Unlike LMDB, libxmlb knows about the XML document model, so queries can be much more powerful and we do not need to build indices manually. The library is also already used by GNOME Software and fwupd for parsing of (refined) AppStream metadata, so it works quite well for that usecase. As a result, search queries via libappstream are now a bit slower (very much depends on the query, roughly 20% on average), but can be mmuch more powerful. The caching code is a lot more robust, which should speed up startup time of applications. And in addition to all of that, the AsPool class has gained a flag to allow it to monitor AppStream source data for changes and refresh the cache fully automatically and transparently in the background. All software written against the previous version of the libappstream library should continue to work with the new caching code, but to make use of some of the new features, software using it may need adjustments. A lot of methods have been deprecated too now. 2. Experimental compose support Compiling MetaInfo and other metadata into AppStream collection metadata, extracting icons, language information, refining data and caching media is an involved process. The appstream-generator tool does this very well for data from Linux distribution sources, but the tool is also pretty heavyweight with lots of knobs to adjust, an underlying database and a complex algorithm for icon extraction. Embedding it into other tools via anything else but its command-line API is also not easy (due to D s GC initialization, and because it was never written with that feature in mind). Sometimes a simpler tool is all you need, so the libappstream-compose library as well as appstreamcli compose are being developed at the moment. The library contains building blocks for developing a tool like appstream-generator while the cli tool allows to simply extract metadata from any directory tree, which can be used by e.g. Flatpak. For this to work well, a lot of appstream-generator s D code is translated into plain C, so the implementation stays identical but the language changes. Ultimately, the generator tool will use libappstream-compose for any general data refinement, and only implement things necessary to extract data from the archive of distributions. New applications (e.g. for new bundling systems and other purposes) can then use the same building blocks to implement new data generators similar to appstream-generator with ease, sharing much of the code that would be identical between implementations anyway. 2. Supporting user input controls Want to advertise that your application supports touch input? Keyboard input? Has support for graphics tablets? Gamepads? Sure, nothing is easier than that with the new control relation item and supports relation kind (since 0.12.11 / 0.15.0, details):
3. Defining minimum display size requirements Some applications are unusable below a certain window size, so you do not want to display them in a software center that is running on a device with a small screen, like a phone. In order to encode this information in a flexible way, AppStream now contains a display_length relation item to require or recommend a minimum (or maximum) display size that the described GUI application can work with. For example:
  <display_length compare="ge">360</display_length>
This will make the application require a display length greater or equal to 300 logical pixels. A logical pixel (also device independent pixel) is the amount of pixels that the application can draw in one direction. Since screens, especially phone screens but also screens on a desktop, can be rotated, the display_length value will be checked against the longest edge of a display by default (by explicitly specifying the shorter edge, this can be changed). This feature is available since 0.13.0, details. See also Tobias Bernard s blog entry on this topic. 4. Tags This is a feature that was originally requested for the LVFS/fwupd, but one of the great things about AppStream is that we can take very project-specific ideas and generalize them so something comes out of them that is useful for many. The new tags tag allows people to tag components with an arbitrary namespaced string. This can be useful for project-internal organization of applications, as well as to convey certain additional properties to a software center, e.g. an application could mark itself as featured in a specific software center only. Metadata generators may also add their own tags to components to improve organization. AppStream gives no recommendations as to how these tags are to be interpreted except for them being a strictly optional feature. So any meaning is something clients and metadata authors need to negotiate. It therefore is a more specialized usecase of the already existing custom tag, and I expect it to be primarily useful within larger organizations that produce a lot of software components that need sorting. For example:
  <tag namespace="lvfs">vendor-2021q1</tag>
  <tag namespace="plasma">featured</tag>
This feature is available since 0.15.0, details. 5. MetaInfo Creator changes The MetaInfo Creator (source) tool is a very simple web application that provides you with a form to fill out and will then generate MetaInfo XML to add to your project after you have answered all of its questions. It is an easy way for developers to add the required metadata without having to read the specification or any guides at all. Recently, I added support for the new control and display_length tags, resolved a few minor issues and also added a button to instantly copy the generated output to clipboard so people can paste it into their project. If you want to create a new MetaInfo file, this tool is the best way to do it! The creator tool will also not transfer any data out of your webbrowser, it is strictly a client-side application. And that is about it for the most notable changes in AppStream land! Of course there is a lot more, additional tags for the LVFS and content rating have been added, lots of bugs have been squashed, the documentation has been refined a lot and the library has gained a lot of new API to make building software centers easier. Still, there is a lot to do and quite a few open feature requests too. Onwards to 1.0!

1 November 2021

Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in October 2021

FTP master This month I accepted 341 and rejected 46 packages. The rejection is as high as last month. I hope everybody is aware that pressing just one key when accepting a package is much faster than writing an explanation why a package has to be rejected. Anyway, the overall number of packages that got accepted was 355. Debian LTS This was my eighty-eighth month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian. This month my all in all workload has been 28.5h. During that time I did LTS and normal security uploads of: I also continued to work on exiv2. Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties. Debian ELTS This month was the fortieth ELTS month. During my allocated time I uploaded: Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties. Debian Printing I improved packaging or fixed bugs or uploaded a new version of: Last but not least I looked at some old bugs and checked whether they could be closed. Debian Astro Though being a silent member of Debian Astro for a long time, I am now going to be more active now. Most of the time I will be focused on packages for telescope control, but of course I won t stay away from other topics. So I uploaded: If you know of other missing packages, don t hesitate to tell me! Other stuff On my neverending golang challenge I again uploaded some packages either for NEW or as source upload. I uploaded new upstream versions of: I improved packaging or fixed bugs of:

1 September 2021

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in August 2021

Here s my (twenty-third) monthly but brief update about the activities I ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

This was my 32nd month of actively contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March 2019 and a DD on Christmas 19! \o/ Tough month but I mostly spent on it churning through the immense backlog. But that somewhat backfired and I have even more backlog than ever. :D Anyway, I did the following stuff in Debian:

Uploads and bug fixes:
  • ruby3.0 (3.0.0-2) - Upload to unstable! \o/

Other $things:
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.

This was my 7th month of actively contributing to Ubuntu. Now that I ve joined Canonical to work on Ubuntu full-time, there s a bunch of things I do! \o/ I mostly worked on different things, I guess. But mostly on packaging keylime and some Google Agents upload(s) and SRU(s). Also did a lot of reviewing, et al. I was too lazy to maintain a list of things I worked on so there s no concrete list atm. Maybe I ll get back to this section later or will start to list stuff from next month onward, as I ve been doing before. :D

Debian (E)LTS
Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project to extend the lifetime of all Debian stable releases to (at least) 5 years. Debian LTS is not handled by the Debian security team, but by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in making it a success. And Debian Extended LTS (ELTS) is its sister project, extending support to the Jessie release (+2 years after LTS support). This was my twenty-third month as a Debian LTS and eleventh month as a Debian ELTS paid contributor.
I was assigned 23.75 hours for LTS and 40.00 hours for ELTS and worked on the following things:
(however, I only worked for 23.75h on ELTS work, thereby, carrying the rest to next month)

LTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:

ELTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:

Other (E)LTS Work:
  • Front-desk duty from 26-07 until 01-08 and from 30-08 until 05-09 for both LTS and ELTS.
  • Triaged haproxy, ntfs-3g, and cyrus-imapd, and exiv2, ffmpeg, git, gpac, inetutils, mc, modsecurity-crs, node-object-path, php-pear, systemd-cron, node-tar, ruby2.3, gst-plugins-bad0.10, jsoup, libxstream-java, qemu, tomcat7, ruby2.1, prototypejs, pillow, cpio, and qtbase-opensource-src, and amd64-microcode.
  • Mark CVE-2021-39240/haproxy as not-affected for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-39241/haproxy as not-affected for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-39242/haproxy as not-affected for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-33582/cyrus-imapd as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2020-18771/exiv2 as no-dsa for exiv2 for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2020-18899/exiv2 as no-dsa for exiv2 for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-38171/ffmpeg as postponed for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-40330/git as no-dsa for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2020-19481/gpac as ignored for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-40491/inetutils as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-36370/mc as no-dsa for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-35368/modsecurity-crs as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-23434/node-object-path as end-of-life for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-32610/php-pear as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2017-9525/systemd-cron as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37701/node-tar as end-of-life for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37712/node-tar as end-of-life in stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-3750/qemu as postponsed for jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-27511/prototypejs as postponsed for jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-23437/pillow as postponed for stretch and jessie.
  • Auto EOL ed gpac, cacti, openscad, cgal, cyrus-imapd-2.4, libsolv, mosquitto, atomicparsley, gtkpod, node-tar, libapache2-mod-auth-openidc, neutron, inetutils and linux for jessie.
  • Drop cpio from ela-needed; open issues don t warrant an ELA.
  • Attended monthly Debian LTS meeting.
  • Answered questions (& discussions) on IRC (#debian-lts and #debian-elts).
  • General and other discussions on LTS private and public mailing list.

Until next time.
:wq for today.

18 June 2021

Gunnar Wolf: Fighting spam on roundcube with modsecurity

Every couple of months, one of my users falls prey to phishing attacks, and send their login/password data to an unknown somebody who poses as Well, as me, their always-friendly and always-helpful systems administrator. What follows is, of course, me spending a week trying to get our systems out of all of the RBLs/DNSBLs. But, no matter how fast I act, there s always distruption and lost mails (bounced or classified as spam) for my users. Most of my users use the Webmail I have configured on our institute s servers, Roundcube, for which I have the highest appreciation. Only that Of course, when a user yields their username and password to an attacker, it is very successful at Sending huge amounts of unrequested mail, leading to my server losing its reputation This week, I set two bits of mitigation strategies. The first one, most straightforward, was to ask Roundcube to disallow sending mails with over ten recipients. In a Debian install, this is as easy as setting up the following variable in /etc/roundcube/
$config['max_recipients'] = 10
However, a dilligent spammer can still clog the server by sending many, many, many, many requests maybe each of them with ten recipients only; last weekend, I got a new mail every three seconds or so. Adding rate limit to a specific Roundcube action is not easy, however, or at least it took me quite a bit of headbanging to get it right . Roundcube is a very AJAX-y system where all (most, at least) actions are received by /index.php and there is quite a bit of parsing to do to understand the actions done. When sending a mail, of course, it is done using the POST HTTP verb, and the URI-specified variables include _task=mail&_unlock=loading<message_id> (of course, with changing message IDs). After some poking here and there, I faced to SpiderLabs ModSecurity Only that I am not yet well versed in writing rules for it. But after quite a bit of reading, poking, breaking I was able to come up with the following rules:
# How often does the limit counter expire   ratelimit_client=60,
# every 60 seconds
SecRule REQUEST_LINE "@rx POST.*_task=mail&_unlock" id:10,phase:2,nolog,pass,setuid:% tx.ua_hash ,setvar:user.ratelimit_client=+1,expirevar:user.ratelimit_client=60
# How many requests do we allow in the specified time period?  
# @gt 3, 3 requests
SecRule user:ratelimit_client "@gt 2" chain,id:100009,phase:2,deny,status:429,setenv:RATELIMITED,log,msg:RATE-LIMITED
SecRule REQUEST_LINE "@rx POST.*_task=mail&_unlock"
The first line specifies the rule will match request lines specifying the POST verb aind including the _task=mail&_unlock fragment in the URL. It increments tht ratelimit_client user variable, but expires it after 60 seconds. The first line verifies whether the above specified variable (do note that it s user: instead of user.) is greater than 2. If so, it sets the deny action, HTTP return status of 429 (Too Many Requests), and logs the reason why this request was denied (rate-limited). And Given the way Roundcube works, this even works transparently! If a user hits the limit, the mail sending component will just wait and, after a while, time out. Then, the user can click Send again. If legitimate users are too productive and try to send over three mails in a minute, they won t lose any of it; spammers will (hopefully!) find it unbearably slow and give up. Logging is quite informative; I will probably later restrict it to show fewer parts (even if just for privacy sake, as it logs the full request!) For a complex permissions framework such as mod_security, having information such as the following is most welcome in order to find a possibly misbehaving rule:
Message: Access denied with code 429 (phase 2). Pattern match "POST.*_task=mail&_unlock" at REQUEST_LINE. [file "/etc/modsecurity/rate_limit_sender.conf"] [line "20"] [id "100009"] [msg "RATELIMITED BOT"]
Apache-Error: [file "apache2_util.c"] [line 273] [level 3] [client] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 429 (phase 2). Pattern match "POST.*_task=mail&_unlock" at REQUEST_LINE. [file "/etc/modsecurity/rate_limit_sender.conf"] [line "20"] [id "100009"] [msg "RATELIMITED BOT"] [hostname ""] [uri "/roundcube/"] [unique_id "YMzJLR9jVDMGsG@18kB1qAAAAAY"]
Action: Intercepted (phase 2)
Stopwatch: 1624033581838813 1204 (- - -)
Stopwatch2: 1624033581838813 1204; combined=352, p1=29, p2=140, p3=0, p4=0, p5=94, sr=81, sw=89, l=0, gc=0
Response-Body-Transformed: Dechunked
Producer: ModSecurity for Apache/2.9.3 (
Server: Apache
WebApp-Info: "default" "-" ""
Engine-Mode: "ENABLED"
I truly, truly hope this is the last time my server falls in the black pits of DNSBL/RBL lists

22 May 2021

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Setting Up a Secure Webapp

As a person who prefers full access to data in the simplest format, while at the same time having it useful with latest technologies, my quest for trying things out is an ongoing activity. Earlier, I blogged about my needs of collating news feeds in a simple format, readily accessible offline, while still being useful and aligned with the modern paradigm. In today s age, the other common aspect of our life, is digitization of moments. With the advent of great technology and affordable economics, the world now has access to great devices to capture moments in digital form. Most people, these days, are equipped with smart devices, like mobile phones, that come with pretty good image capturing devices. Our lives, our societies, how we interact; a lot of it is now built around the assumption of smart devices and digital services. A lot of good things have happened of it. We are now able to send messages to people, securely, in a matter of seconds. We are now able to capture moments, which otherwise we d often miss; all thanks to devices like smart mobile phones that most of all carry almost all along with us. In this regard, we are quite indebted to the technology revolution that has improved life styles all over. Of course, like every coin has a flip side, thus too, too much of obsession with digital life, also has its drawbacks. A simple reminder to self should always be about what a human life is designed for and try to live by its rules.

Moments Given the tools general availability, we are all more used to capturing moments. Once upon a time, taking a photo meant going to a photo studio. Then came a generation where we d have personal devices with roll films, to which we captured the moments. And then get it processed from a photo developing service provider. And that is when we d know which all moments came out correct and which ones were spoilt. In such cases, there s always the wish I could have that moment again. Thankfully, now, in our current generation, we have the liberty to take pictures and validate them almost immediately. We also have the flexibility to take multiple shots of the moment and do the filtering later. There s also many intelligent and invasive services, all mostly provided free, to help you organize these moments; at a small cost of keeping an eye on your life activity. In a summary, mankind, now, generates lots and lots of data. So much lot that now even mammoths like Google are forced to make a call whether it is more profitable to sniff user activity while providing them a service for free, or ask people to pay otherwise too.

Privacy Many of us are wary of the amount of personal data we generate, which is our asset; and how the big tech giants want a piece of it in the name of free services. And in such quest, free aside, there s always a lookout for privacy savvy tools that can help us draw a bold line in between Public and Private

Google Photos Google Photos has been a great tool. The way it organizes, siphons and present your data is simply amazing. No good would have been the photos taken, if they weren t easily searchable, organized, annotated, and presented. But Google Photos is proprietary and invasive. The amount of information they have access to should be a concern to all people. For services that invade so much, the world needs Free Services.

PhotoPrism I only came across this project around a month ago, while the project has been around since 2019. So far, in my exploration, this is one of the best Free Software tools to manage and organize my digital photos. The other favorite tool that I regularly depend on is Digikam and it still is a gem. In a gist, PhotoPrism aims to be the equivalent of Google Photos, for the privacy savvy people. As of date, it has a decent list of features available. And for some of the missing ones, I ve come up with a fairly okay workflow with other tools, which is one of the reasons of this blog post. PhotoPrism is a web app, written in the Go Programming Language. Its layout and workflow as a Photo Management application is similar to Google Photos. It is very performant compared to other applications. Since it is a Progressive Web App, access through a Laptop, Tablet or Mobile is almost the same. It uses Google TensorFlow for some of its features and thus you feel like using Google Photos in some regard. Some shortcomings and workarounds
  • Facial Recognition: To date, facial recognition is a planned feature. But this was easy to tackle given that Digikam has pretty solid facial recognition. So I use Digikam to detect, recognize and annotate faces. And then PhotoPrism is happy enough to use those annotations and present relevant data.
  • HTTP Web App: The upstream project has done a good job of making use of Docker container technology in presenting this web app solution. A software solution, the equivalent of a Google Photos, does need a heavyweight config. In free software, it is all about reusing available tools. PhotoPrism makes use of tools like MySQL, Vue.js, TensorFlow, GoLang, GoLibs and strives to provide a single package solution, all thanks to Docker containers.
In its current offering, PhotoPrism is run as a HTTP Web App. I wanted to have an added layer of security on top of it. And thus run an nginx reverse proxy on top of it. Along with it, I run the proxy service on HTTPS, thus making all traffic from clients to the proxy encrypted. I also wanted an added layer of HTTP AUTH on top, so I explored some options and finally settled down with http-auth-digest Also, in the current implementation, PhotoPrism doesn t have a strong notion of normal and private photos in its data organization. I wanted normal photos available under a standard auth realm and private photos under a different realm. And along with a different realm, I also wanted some added security directives for it. So far, it looks like I ve put together a decent solution with the help of nginx.
  • First of all, since the port from the host is forwarded to the docker instance, that needed to be controlled. Instead of the default of listening on all interfaces, I changed it to loopback only. Because my primary and only interface is going to be the nginx reverse proxy
  • Setup nginx with a self-signed certificate to have all communication encrypted.
  • Setup nginx as a reverse proxy to talk to PhotoPrism.
       listen 80;
       listen [::]:80;
       server_name lenovo;
       return 302 https://$host$request_uri;
       rewrite ^ https://$http_host$request_uri? permanent;    # force redirect http to https
        server_tokens off;
    listen 443 ssl http2 default_server;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2 default_server;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/private/ssl-cert-snakeoil.key;
    ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/ssl-cert-snakeoil.pem;
    server_tokens off;
    server_name lenovo;
    client_max_body_size 500M;
        auth_digest_expires 900s;
        auth_digest_evasion_time 5s;
        auth_digest_replays 500;
    location /private  
        auth_digest 'abc';
        auth_digest_user_file /etc/nginx/htdigest;
        auth_digest_expires 900s;
        auth_digest_evasion_time 5s;
        auth_digest_replays 500;
        proxy_pass http://localhost:2342/private;
    location /discover  
        auth_digest 'abc';
        auth_digest_user_file /etc/nginx/htdigest;
        auth_digest_expires 900s;
        auth_digest_evasion_time 5s;
        auth_digest_replays 500;
        proxy_pass http://localhost:2342/discover;
    location /  
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_buffering off;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_pass http://localhost:2342;
        auth_basic "Priv";
        auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/htpasswd;
  • nginx packaging: I was so happy to see the simplicity of the nginx packaging in Debian. Becuase http-auth-digest is not upstream, it needs to be pulled in separately and compiled. I was happy to see how simple the packaging structure of nginx in Debian is. It was just a matter of putting in the module in the right modules location, which as structured such in the packaging falls under the debian/ packaging sub-folder, that any future upgrades will be quite easy to manage.
  • http-auth-digest: I d love to see http-auth-digest module be part of the upstream package. While I m a web n00b, I felt this module perfect for my use case. From what I ve understood, set up and tested so far, this module fills in all my requirements; which is more of like a session management.
With the combined setup in place, https://host is authenticated with a different set of credentials. On the other hand, https://host/discover and /private get covered with a different set of credentials and policies. While, this will continue to be an ongoing effort and audit of the services that I build, so far now, I feel this is in decent shape that I can use it as my daily driver. The end result is:
nginx auth prompt
nginx auth prompt
PhotoPrism Photo List
PhotoPrism Photo List
PhotoPrism Menu
PhotoPrism Menu

  • Things can really get frustrating at times. These days, it is Google that contributes to it.
    • It is is now fair to say that Google is big enough to rewrite all the standards. Or at least break them. Or best, their arrogance of it. This bug report is a fine example of what other ways it could have been dealt.