Search Results: "gus"

12 June 2023

Bits from Debian: Registration and the Call for Proposals for DebConf23 are now open!

For DebConf23, we're pleased to announce opening of registration and call for proposal. Following is the info text -
Registration and the Call for Proposals for DebConf23 are now open. The 24th edition of the Debian annual conference will be held from September 10th to September 17th, 2023, in Infopark, Kochi, India. The main conference will be preceded by DebCamp, which will take place from September 3rd to September 9th, 2023. The registration form can be accessed by creating an account on the DebConf23 website and clicking on "register" in the profile section. The number of attendees is capped at 300 this year. All registrations will be reviewed by bursary team, and completing the registration form does not guarantee attendance. As always, basic registration for DebConf is free of charge for attendees. If you are attending the conference in a professional capacity or as a representative of your company, we kindly ask that you consider registering in one of our paid categories to help cover the costs of organizing the conference and to support subsidizing other community members. The last day to register with guaranteed swag is 5th August. We also encourage eligible individuals to apply for a diversity bursary. Travel, food, and accommodation bursaries are available. More details can be found on the bursary info page. The last day to apply for a bursary is 1st July. Applicants should receive feedback on their bursary application by 16th July. The call for proposals for talks, discussions and other activities is also open. To submit a proposal you need to create an account on the website, and then use the "Submit Talk" button in the profile section. The last day to submit and have your proposal be considered for the main conference schedule, with video coverage guaranteed, is 13th August. DebConf23 is also accepting sponsors. Interested companies and organizations may contact the DebConf team through or visit the DebConf23 website.

31 May 2023

Russ Allbery: Review: Night Watch

Review: Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #29
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: November 2002
Printing: August 2014
ISBN: 0-06-230740-1
Format: Mass market
Pages: 451
Night Watch is the 29th Discworld novel and the sixth Watch novel. I would really like to tell people they could start here if they wanted to, for reasons that I will get into in a moment, but I think I would be doing you a disservice. The emotional heft added by having read the previous Watch novels and followed Vimes's character evolution is significant. It's the 25th of May. Vimes is about to become a father. He and several of the other members of the Watch are wearing sprigs of lilac for reasons that Sergeant Colon is quite vehemently uninterested in explaining. A serial killer named Carcer the Watch has been after for weeks has just murdered an off-duty sergeant. It's a tense and awkward sort of day and Vimes is feeling weird and wistful, remembering the days when he was a copper and not a manager who has to dress up in ceremonial armor and meet with committees. That may be part of why, when the message comes over the clacks that the Watch have Carcer cornered on the roof of the New Hall of the Unseen University, Vimes responds in person. He's grappling with Carcer on the roof of the University Library in the middle of a magical storm when lightning strikes. When he wakes up, he's in the past, shortly after he joined the Watch and shortly before the events of the 25th of May that the older Watch members so vividly remember and don't talk about. I have been saying recently in Discworld reviews that it felt like Pratchett was on the verge of a breakout book that's head and shoulders above Discworld prior to that point. This is it. This is that book. The setup here is masterful: the sprigs of lilac that slowly tell the reader something is going on, the refusal of any of the older Watch members to talk about it, the scene in the graveyard to establish the stakes, the disconcerting fact that Vetinari is wearing a sprig of lilac as well, and the feeling of building tension that matches the growing electrical storm. And Pratchett never gives into the temptation to explain everything and tip his hand prematurely. We know the 25th is coming and something is going to happen, and the reader can put together hints from Vimes's thoughts, but Pratchett lets us guess and sometimes be right and sometimes be wrong. Vimes is trying to change history, which adds another layer of uncertainty and enjoyment as the reader tries to piece together both the true history and the changes. This is a masterful job at a "what if?" story. And, beneath that, the commentary on policing and government and ethics is astonishingly good. In a review of an earlier Watch novel, I compared Pratchett to Dickens in the way that he focuses on a sort of common-sense morality rather than political theory. That is true here too, but oh that moral analysis is sharp enough to slide into you like a knife. This is not the Vimes that we first met in Guards! Guards!. He has has turned his cynical stubbornness into a working theory of policing, and it's subtle and complicated and full of nuance that he only barely knows how to explain. But he knows how to show it to people.
Keep the peace. That was the thing. People often failed to understand what that meant. You'd go to some life-threatening disturbance like a couple of neighbors scrapping in the street over who owned the hedge between their properties, and they'd both be bursting with aggrieved self-righteousness, both yelling, their wives would either be having a private scrap on the side or would have adjourned to a kitchen for a shared pot of tea and a chat, and they all expected you to sort it out. And they could never understand that it wasn't your job. Sorting it out was a job for a good surveyor and a couple of lawyers, maybe. Your job was to quell the impulse to bang their stupid fat heads together, to ignore the affronted speeches of dodgy self-justification, to get them to stop shouting and to get them off the street. Once that had been achieved, your job was over. You weren't some walking god, dispensing finely tuned natural justice. Your job was simply to bring back peace.
When Vimes is thrown back in time, he has to pick up the role of his own mentor, the person who taught him what policing should be like. His younger self is right there, watching everything he does, and he's desperately afraid he'll screw it up and set a worse example. Make history worse when he's trying to make it better. It's a beautifully well-done bit of tension that uses time travel as the hook to show both how difficult mentorship is and also how irritating one's earlier naive self would be.
He wondered if it was at all possible to give this idiot some lessons in basic politics. That was always the dream, wasn't it? "I wish I'd known then what I know now"? But when you got older you found out that you now wasn't you then. You then was a twerp. You then was what you had to be to start out on the rocky road of becoming you now, and one of the rocky patches on that road was being a twerp.
The backdrop of this story, as advertised by the map at the front of the book, is a revolution of sorts. And the revolution does matter, but not in the obvious way. It creates space and circumstance for some other things to happen that are all about the abuse of policing as a tool of politics rather than Vimes's principle of keeping the peace. I mentioned when reviewing Men at Arms that it was an awkward book to read in the United States in 2020. This book tackles the ethics of policing head-on, in exactly the way that book didn't. It's also a marvelous bit of competence porn. Somehow over the years, Vimes has become extremely good at what he does, and not just in the obvious cop-walking-a-beat sort of ways. He's become a leader. It's not something he thinks about, even when thrown back in time, but it's something Pratchett can show the reader directly, and have the other characters in the book comment on. There is so much more that I'd like to say, but so much would be spoilers, and I think Night Watch is more effective when you have the suspense of slowly puzzling out what's going to happen. Pratchett's pacing is exquisite. It's also one of the rare Discworld novels where Pratchett fully commits to a point of view and lets Vimes tell the story. There are a few interludes with other people, but the only other significant protagonist is, quite fittingly, Vetinari. I won't say anything more about that except to note that the relationship between Vimes and Vetinari is one of the best bits of fascinating subtlety in all of Discworld. I think it's also telling that nothing about Night Watch reads as parody. Sure, there is a nod to Back to the Future in the lightning storm, and it's impossible to write a book about police and street revolutions without making the reader think about Les Miserables, but nothing about this plot matches either of those stories. This is Pratchett telling his own story in his own world, unapologetically, and without trying to wedge it into parody shape, and it is so much the better book for it. The one quibble I have with the book is that the bits with the Time Monks don't really work. Lu-Tze is annoying and flippant given the emotional stakes of this story, the interludes with him are frustrating and out of step with the rest of the book, and the time travel hand-waving doesn't add much. I see structurally why Pratchett put this in: it gives Vimes (and the reader) a time frame and a deadline, it establishes some of the ground rules and stakes, and it provides a couple of important opportunities for exposition so that the reader doesn't get lost. But it's not good story. The rest of the book is so amazingly good, though, that it doesn't matter (and the framing stories for "what if?" explorations almost never make much sense). The other thing I have a bit of a quibble with is outside the book. Night Watch, as you may have guessed by now, is the origin of the May 25th Pratchett memes that you will be familiar with if you've spent much time around SFF fandom. But this book is dramatically different from what I was expecting based on the memes. You will, for example see a lot of people posting "Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably Priced Love, And a Hard-Boiled Egg!", and before reading the book it sounds like a Pratchett-style humorous revolutionary slogan. And I guess it is, sort of, but, well... I have to quote the scene:
"You'd like Freedom, Truth, and Justice, wouldn't you, Comrade Sergeant?" said Reg encouragingly. "I'd like a hard-boiled egg," said Vimes, shaking the match out. There was some nervous laughter, but Reg looked offended. "In the circumstances, Sergeant, I think we should set our sights a little higher " "Well, yes, we could," said Vimes, coming down the steps. He glanced at the sheets of papers in front of Reg. The man cared. He really did. And he was serious. He really was. "But...well, Reg, tomorrow the sun will come up again, and I'm pretty sure that whatever happens we won't have found Freedom, and there won't be a whole lot of Justice, and I'm damn sure we won't have found Truth. But it's just possible that I might get a hard-boiled egg."
I think I'm feeling defensive of the heart of this book because it's such an emotional gut punch and says such complicated and nuanced things about politics and ethics (and such deeply cynical things about revolution). But I think if I were to try to represent this story in a meme, it would be the "angels rise up" song, with all the layers of meaning that it gains in this story. I'm still at the point where the lilac sprigs remind me of Sergeant Colon becoming quietly furious at the overstep of someone who wasn't there. There's one other thing I want to say about that scene: I'm not naturally on Vimes's side of this argument. I think it's important to note that Vimes's attitude throughout this book is profoundly, deeply conservative. The hard-boiled egg captures that perfectly: it's a bit of physical comfort, something you can buy or make, something that's part of the day-to-day wheels of the city that Vimes talks about elsewhere in Night Watch. It's a rejection of revolution, something that Vimes does elsewhere far more explicitly. Vimes is a cop. He is in some profound sense a defender of the status quo. He doesn't believe things are going to fundamentally change, and it's not clear he would want them to if they did. And yet. And yet, this is where Pratchett's Dickensian morality comes out. Vimes is a conservative at heart. He's grumpy and cynical and jaded and he doesn't like change. But if you put him in a situation where people are being hurt, he will break every rule and twist every principle to stop it.
He wanted to go home. He wanted it so much that he trembled at the thought. But if the price of that was selling good men to the night, if the price was filling those graves, if the price was not fighting with every trick he knew... then it was too high. It wasn't a decision that he was making, he knew. It was happening far below the areas of the brain that made decisions. It was something built in. There was no universe, anywhere, where a Sam Vimes would give in on this, because if he did then he wouldn't be Sam Vimes any more.
This is truly exceptional stuff. It is the best Discworld novel I have read, by far. I feel like this was the Watch novel that Pratchett was always trying to write, and he had to write five other novels first to figure out how to write it. And maybe to prepare Discworld readers to read it. There are a lot of Discworld novels that are great on their own merits, but also it is 100% worth reading all the Watch novels just so that you can read this book. Followed in publication order by The Wee Free Men and later, thematically, by Thud!. Rating: 10 out of 10

26 May 2023

Valhalla's Things: Late Victorian Combinations

Posted on May 26, 2023
A woman wearing a white linen combination suite, with a very fitted top, small sleevelets that cover the armpits (to protect the next layers from sweat) and split drawers. The suite buttons up along the front (where it is a bit tight around the bust) and has a line of lace at the neckline and two tucks plus some lace at the legs. Some time ago, on an early Friday afternoon our internet connection died. After a reasonable time had passed we called the customer service, they told us that they would look into it and then call us back. On Friday evening we had not heard from them, and I was starting to get worried. At the time in the evening when I would have been relaxing online I grabbed the first Victorian sewing-related book I found on my hard disk and started to read it. For the record, it wasn t actually Victorian, it was Margaret J. Blair. System of Sewing and Garment Drafting. from 1904, but I also had available for comparison the earlier and smaller Margaret Blair. System of Garment Drafting. from 1897. A page from the book showing the top part of a pattern with all construction lines Anyway, this book had a system to draft a pair of combinations (chemise top + drawers); and months ago I had already tried to draft a pair from another system, but they didn t really fit and they were dropped low on the priority list, so on a whim I decided to try and draft them again with this new-to-me system. Around 23:00 in the night the pattern was ready, and I realized that my SO had gone to sleep without waiting for me, as I looked too busy to be interrupted. The next few days were quite stressful (we didn t get our internet back until Wednesday) and while I couldn t work at my day job I didn t sew as much as I could have done, but by the end of the week I had an almost complete mockup from an old sheet, and could see that it wasn t great, but it was a good start. One reason why the mockup took a whole week is that of course I started to sew by machine, but then I wanted flat-felled seams, and felling them by hand is so much neater, isn t it? And let me just say, I m grateful for the fact that I don t depend on streaming services for media, but I have a healthy mix of DVDs and stuff I had already temporary downloaded to watch later, because handsewing and being stressed out without watching something is not really great. Anyway, the mockup was a bit short on the crotch, but by the time I could try it on and be sure I was invested enough in it that I decided to work around the issue by inserting a strip of lace around the waist. And then I went back to the pattern to fix it properly, and found out that I had drafted the back of the drawers completely wrong, making a seam shorter rather than longer as it should have been. ooops. I fixed the pattern, and then decided that YOLO and cut the new version directly on some lightweight linen fabric I had originally planned to use in this project. The result is still not perfect, but good enough, and I finished it with a very restrained amount of lace at the neckline and hems, wore it one day when the weather was warm (loved the linen on the skin) and it s ready to be worn again when the weather will be back to being warm (hopefully not too soon). The last problem was taking pictures of this underwear in a way that preserves the decency (and it even had to be outdoors, for the light!). This was solved by wearing leggings and a matched long sleeved shirt under the combinations, and then promptly forgetting everything about decency and, well, you can see what happened. A woman mooning by keeping the back of split drawers open with her hands, but at least there are black leggings under them. The pattern is, as usual, published on my pattern website as #FreeSoftWear. And then, I started thinking about knits. In the late Victorian and Edwardian eras knit underwear was a thing, also thanks to the influence of various aspects of the rational dress movement; reformers such as Gustav J ger advocated for wool underwear, but mail order catalogues from the era such as (starting from page 67) have listings for both cotton and wool ones. From what I could find, back then they would have been either handknit at home or made to shape on industrial knitting machines; patterns for the former are available online, but the latter would probably require a knitting machine that I don t currently1 have. However, this is underwear that is not going to be seen by anybody2, and I believe that by using flat knit fabric one can get a decent functional approximation. In The Stash I have a few meters of a worked cotton jersey with a pretty comfy feel, and to make a long story short: this happened. a woman wearing a black cotton jersey combination suite; the front is sewn shut, but the neck is wide and finished with elastic.  The top part is pretty fitted, but becomes baggier around the crotch area and the legs are a comfortable width. I suspect that the linen one will get worn a lot this summer (linen on the skin. nothing else need to be said), while the cotton one will be stored away for winter. And then maybe I may make a couple more, if I find out that I m using it enough.

  1. cue ominous music. But first I would need space to actually keep and use it :)
  2. other than me, my SO, any costuming friend I may happen to change in the presence of, and everybody on the internet in these pictures.

13 May 2023

Sergio Durigan Junior: Ubuntu debuginfod and source code indexing

You might remember that in my last post about the Ubuntu debuginfod service I talked about wanting to extend it and make it index and serve source code from packages. I m excited to announce that this is now a reality since the Ubuntu Lunar (23.04) release. The feature should work for a lot of packages from the archive, but not all of them. Keep reading to better understand why.

The problem While debugging a package in Ubuntu, one of the first steps you need to take is to install its source code. There are some problems with this:
  • apt-get source required dpkg-dev to be installed, which ends up pulling in a lot of other dependencies.
  • GDB needs to be taught how to find the source code for the package being debugged. This can usually be done by using the dir command, but finding the proper path to be is usually not trivial, and you find yourself having to use more complex commands like set substitute-path, for example.
  • You have to make sure that the version of the source package is the same as the version of the binary package(s) you want to debug.
  • If you want to debug the libraries that the package links against, you will face the same problems described above for each library.
So yeah, not a trivial/pleasant task after all.

The solution Debuginfod can index source code as well as debug symbols. It is smart enough to keep a relationship between the source package and the corresponding binary s Build-ID, which is what GDB will use when making a request for a specific source file. This means that, just like what happens for debug symbol files, the user does not need to keep track of the source package version. While indexing source code, debuginfod will also maintain a record of the relative pathname of each source file. No more fiddling with paths inside the debugger to get things working properly. Last, but not least, if there s a need for a library source file and if it s indexed by debuginfod, then it will get downloaded automatically as well.

but not a perfect one In order to make debuginfod happy when indexing source files, I had to patch dpkg and make it always use -fdebug-prefix-map when compiling stuff. This GCC option is used to remap pathnames inside the DWARF, which is needed because in Debian/Ubuntu we build our packages inside chroots and the build directories end up containing a bunch of random cruft (like /build/ayusd-ASDSEA/something/here). So we need to make sure the path prefix (the /build/ayusd-ASDSEA part) is uniform across all packages, and that s where -fdebug-prefix-map helps. This means that the package must honour dpkg-buildflags during its build process, otherwise the magic flag won t be passed and your DWARF will end up with bogus paths. This should not be a big problem, because most of our packages do honour dpkg-buildflags, and those who don t should be fixed anyway.

especially if you re using LTO Ubuntu enables LTO by default, and unfortunately we are affected by an annoying (and complex) bug that results in those bogus pathnames not being properly remapped. The bug doesn t affect all packages, but if you see GDB having trouble finding a source file whose full path starts without /usr/src/..., that is a good indication that you re being affected by this bug. Hopefully we should see some progress in the following weeks.

Your feedback is important to us If you have any comments, or if you found something strange that looks like a bug in the service, please reach out. You can either send an email to my public inbox (see below) or file a bug against the ubuntu-debuginfod project on Launchpad.

Petter Reinholdtsen: OpenSnitch in Debian ready for prime time

A bit delayed, the interactive application firewall OpenSnitch package in Debian now got the latest fixes ready for Debian Bookworm. Because it depend on a package missing on some architectures, the autopkgtest check of the testing migration script did not understand that the tests were actually working, so the migration was delayed. A bug in the package dependencies is also fixed, so those installing the firewall package (opensnitch) now also get the GUI admin tool (python3-opensnitch-ui) installed by default. I am very grateful to Gustavo I iguez Goya for his work on getting the package ready for Debian Bookworm. Armed with this package I have discovered some surprising connections from programs I believed were able to work completly offline, and it has already proven its worth, at least to me. If you too want to get more familiar with the kind of programs using Internett connections on your machine, I recommend testing apt install opensnitch in Bookworm and see what you think. The package is still not able to build its eBPF module within Debian. Not sure how much work it would be to get it working, but suspect some kernel related packages need to be extended with more header files to get it working. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

6 May 2023

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in April 2023

Welcome to the April 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. And, as always, if you are interested in contributing to the project, please visit our Contribute page on our website.

General news Trisquel is a fully-free operating system building on the work of Ubuntu Linux. This month, Simon Josefsson published an article on his blog titled Trisquel is 42% Reproducible!. Simon wrote:
The absolute number may not be impressive, but what I hope is at least a useful contribution is that there actually is a number on how much of Trisquel is reproducible. Hopefully this will inspire others to help improve the actual metric.
Simon wrote another blog post this month on a new tool to ensure that updates to Linux distribution archive metadata (eg. via apt-get update) will only use files that have been recorded in a globally immutable and tamper-resistant ledger. A similar solution exists for Arch Linux (called pacman-bintrans) which was announced in August 2021 where an archive of all issued signatures is publically accessible.
Joachim Breitner wrote an in-depth blog post on a bootstrap-capable GHC, the primary compiler for the Haskell programming language. As a quick background to what this is trying to solve, in order to generate a fully trustworthy compile chain, trustworthy root binaries are needed and a popular approach to address this problem is called bootstrappable builds where the core idea is to address previously-circular build dependencies by creating a new dependency path using simpler prerequisite versions of software. Joachim takes an somewhat recursive approach to the problem for Haskell, leading to the inadvertently humourous question: Can I turn all of GHC into one module, and compile that? Elsewhere in the world of bootstrapping, Janneke Nieuwenhuizen and Ludovic Court s wrote a blog post on the GNU Guix blog announcing The Full-Source Bootstrap, specifically:
[ ] the third reduction of the Guix bootstrap binaries has now been merged in the main branch of Guix! If you run guix pull today, you get a package graph of more than 22,000 nodes rooted in a 357-byte program something that had never been achieved, to our knowledge, since the birth of Unix.
More info about this change is available on the post itself, including:
The full-source bootstrap was once deemed impossible. Yet, here we are, building the foundations of a GNU/Linux distro entirely from source, a long way towards the ideal that the Guix project has been aiming for from the start. There are still some daunting tasks ahead. For example, what about the Linux kernel? The good news is that the bootstrappable community has grown a lot, from two people six years ago there are now around 100 people in the #bootstrappable IRC channel.

Michael Ablassmeier created a script called pypidiff as they were looking for a way to track differences between packages published on PyPI. According to Micahel, pypidiff uses diffoscope to create reports on the published releases and automatically pushes them to a GitHub repository. This can be seen on the pypi-diff GitHub page (example).
Eleuther AI, a non-profit AI research group, recently unveiled Pythia, a collection of 16 Large Language Model (LLMs) trained on public data in the same order designed specifically to facilitate scientific research. According to a post on MarkTechPost:
Pythia is the only publicly available model suite that includes models that were trained on the same data in the same order [and] all the corresponding data and tools to download and replicate the exact training process are publicly released to facilitate further research.
These properties are intended to allow researchers to understand how gender bias (etc.) can affected by training data and model scale.
Back in February s report we reported on a series of changes to the Sphinx documentation generator that was initiated after attempts to get the alembic Debian package to build reproducibly. Although Chris Lamb was able to identify the source problem and provided a potential patch that might fix it, James Addison has taken the issue in hand, leading to a large amount of activity resulting in a proposed pull request that is waiting to be merged.
WireGuard is a popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that aims to be faster, simpler and leaner than other solutions to create secure connections between computing devices. According to a post on the WireGuard developer mailing list, the WireGuard Android app can now be built reproducibly so that its contents can be publicly verified. According to the post by Jason A. Donenfeld, the F-Droid project now does this verification by comparing their build of WireGuard to the build that the WireGuard project publishes. When they match, the new version becomes available. This is very positive news.
Author and public speaker, V. M. Brasseur published a sample chapter from her upcoming book on corporate open source strategy which is the topic of Software Bill of Materials (SBOM):
A software bill of materials (SBOM) is defined as a nested inventory for software, a list of ingredients that make up software components. When you receive a physical delivery of some sort, the bill of materials tells you what s inside the box. Similarly, when you use software created outside of your organisation, the SBOM tells you what s inside that software. The SBOM is a file that declares the software supply chain (SSC) for that specific piece of software. [ ]

Several distributions noticed recent versions of the Linux Kernel are no longer reproducible because the BPF Type Format (BTF) metadata is not generated in a deterministic way. This was discussed on the #reproducible-builds IRC channel, but no solution appears to be in sight for now.

Community news On our mailing list this month: Holger Levsen gave a talk at foss-north 2023 in Gothenburg, Sweden on the topic of Reproducible Builds, the first ten years. Lastly, there were a number of updates to our website, including:
  • Chris Lamb attempted a number of ways to try and fix literal : .lead appearing in the page [ ][ ][ ], made all the Back to who is involved links italics [ ], and corrected the syntax of the _data/sponsors.yml file [ ].
  • Holger Levsen added his recent talk [ ], added Simon Josefsson, Mike Perry and Seth Schoen to the contributors page [ ][ ][ ], reworked the People page a little [ ] [ ], as well as fixed spelling of Arch Linux [ ].
Lastly, Mattia Rizzolo moved some old sponsors to a former section [ ] and Simon Josefsson added Trisquel GNU/Linux. [ ]

  • Vagrant Cascadian reported on the Debian s build-essential package set, which was inspired by how close we are to making the Debian build-essential set reproducible and how important that set of packages are in general . Vagrant mentioned that: I have some progress, some hope, and I daresay, some fears . [ ]
  • Debian Developer Cyril Brulebois (kibi) filed a bug against after they noticed that there are many missing dinstalls that is to say, the snapshot service is not capturing 100% of all of historical states of the Debian archive. This is relevant to reproducibility because without the availability historical versions, it is becomes impossible to repeat a build at a future date in order to correlate checksums. .
  • 20 reviews of Debian packages were added, 21 were updated and 5 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Chris Lamb added a new build_path_in_line_annotations_added_by_ruby_ragel toolchain issue. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo announced that the data for the stretch archive on has been archived. This matches the archival of stretch within Debian itself. This is of some historical interest, as stretch was the first Debian release regularly tested by the Reproducible Builds project.

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:

diffoscope development diffoscope version 241 was uploaded to Debian unstable by Chris Lamb. It included contributions already covered in previous months as well a change by Chris Lamb to add a missing raise statement that was accidentally dropped in a previous commit. [ ]

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project operates a comprehensive testing framework (available at in order to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. In April, a number of changes were made, including:
  • Holger Levsen:
    • Significant work on a new Documented Jenkins Maintenance (djm) script to support logged maintenance of nodes, etc. [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    • Add the new APT repo url for Jenkins itself with a new signing key. [ ][ ]
    • In the Jenkins shell monitor, allow 40 GiB of files for diffoscope for the Debian experimental distribution as Debian is frozen around the release at the moment. [ ]
    • Updated Arch Linux testing to cleanup leftover files left in /tmp/archlinux-ci/ after three days. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Mark a number of nodes hosted by Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) as online and offline. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Update the node health checks to detect failures to end schroot sessions. [ ]
    • Filter out another duplicate contributor from the contributor statistics. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo:

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:

4 May 2023

Valhalla's Things: Linen Slippers

Posted on May 4, 2023
A pair of espadrille-like slippers in white fabric. I hate going out to buy shoes. Even more so I hate buying home shoes, which is what I spend most of my life in, also because no matter what I buy they seem to disintegrate after a season or so. So, obviously, I ve been on a quest to make my own. As a side note, going barefoot (with socks) would only move the wear issue to the socks, so it s not really a solution, and going bare barefoot on ceramic floors is not going to happen, kaythanksbye. For the winter I m trying to make knit and felted slippers; I ve had partial success, and they should be pretty easy to mend (I ve just had to do the first mend, with darning and needle felting, and it seems to have worked nicely). For the summer, I ve been thinking of something sewn, and with the warm season approaching (and the winter slippers needing urgent repairs) I decided it was time to work on them. I already had a shaped (left/right) pattern for a sole from my hiking sandals attempts (a topic for another post), so I started by drafting a front upper, and then I started to have espadrille feeling and decided that a heel guard was needed. As for fabric, looking around in the most easily accessible part of the Stash I ve found the nice heavyweight linen I m using for my Augusta Stays, of which I still have a lot and which looked almost perfect except for one small detail: it s very white. I briefly thought about dyeing, but I wanted to start sewing NOW to test the pattern, so, yeah, maybe it will happen one day, or maybe I ll have patchy dust-grey slippers. If I ll ever have a place where I can do woad dyeing a blue pair will happen, however. Contrary to the typical espadrillas I decided to have a full lining, and some padding between the lining and the sole, using cotton padding leftovers from my ironing board. To add some structure I also decided to add a few rows of cording (and thus make the uppers in two layers of fabric), to help prevent everything from collapsing flat. As for the sole, that s something that is still causing me woes: I do have some rubber sole sheets (see hiking sandals above), but I suspect that they require glueing, which I m not sure would work well with the natural fabric uppers and will probably make repairs harder to do. In the past I tried to make some crocheted rope soles and they were a big failure: they felt really nice on the foot, but they also self-destroyed in a matter of weeks, which is not really the kind of sole I m looking for. the slippers with the braided soles on top. Now I have some ~ 3 mm twine that feels much harsher on the hands while working it (and would probably feel harsher on the feet, but that s what the lining and padding are for), so I hope it may be a bit more resistant, and I tried to make a braided rope sole. Of course, I have published the pattern and instructions for the slippers as well as those for the braided rope sole as #FreeSoftWear. Now what is left is trying everything under daily use, and I hope I will have updates on this at the end of the season, rather than soon :D

19 April 2023

Ian Jackson: The Rust Foundation's bad draft trademark policy

tl;dr The Rust Foundation s proposed new trademark policy is far too restrictive, and will cause (more) drama unless it is substantially revised. Process Rust is a trademark owned by the Foundation. The Rust Foundation still seems to be finding its feet. Evidently, one of the items on its backlog was to update the trademark policy. Apparently they have been working on this for some time, in an informal working group. In August, there was a survey. (I saw it in This Week In Rust, the community-curated newsletter where most important stuff appears, and responded.) I don t think the results of this survey have been published anywhere. Last week (12th April) the Foundation published an official Inside Rust blog post linking to a draft. They included a link to a feedback survey, closing on the 17th of April i.e., it was open for 5 days. This is far too short a period for formal feedback on such a draft. Especially given that this process has apparently already been generating significant controversy within parts of the Rust community. Substance Overall, this policy is poor. It is far too restrictive. It is likely to lead to (further) controversy and argument, including conflicts with Rust s downstreams. It does not serve the needs of the Rust community. In particular, the Rust community does not need the trademark to: The community does need the trademark to: It might be useful to use the trademark to strengthen licensing or CoC compliance. For example, good faith redistributions of a modified Rust, as Rust , would be Free Software, even though the copyright licence permits proprietary derivatives; so use of the Rust trademark should probably require use of a Free licence. There should be a series of blanket permissions to use the word Rust in for example: Currently there aren t. For example the current Debian practice of calling Rust libraries rust-<name-of-crate> is probably in violation. There are a number of more detailed problems with the wording. Values The policy has all the hallmarks of excessive influence from traditional trademark lawyers and not enough influence from the Free Software community. I would like to remind the Free Software activists on the inside of this process that the lawyers are there to serve you and the community. The values embodied in trademark law often conflict with the values of the Free Software community. The Rust Project should adopt a trademark policy which follows the community s values - even if that might weaken our ability to sue evildoers. Next steps The Foundation should take a step back and pause the process. Then, the Foundation should restart the process from a much earlier stage, with much wider publicity. Each stage should be widely advertised to the whole community, with opportunities for feedback. This should include publishing the results of the August 2022 survey. The Foundation should publish a sketch of the legal advice they have received, publicly say what the plausible options are and what their consequences might be (for the community, for downstreams, and for the Foundation s enforcement ability). (Some of this will no doubt repeat the work that has been done in the informal trademark working group. That work wasn t widely enough advertised.) Echoes of a dispute from 2006 Mozilla made a very similar mistake with Firefox in 2006. The official policy stated that no-one was allowed to distribute Firefox with any patches, unless those patches had been pre-approved by Mozilla. Debian is committed to Software Freedom. This must includes the freedom to modify the software as one sees fit, even if the original authors don t agree. Now, overly-restrictive trademark policies are hardly new. Debian often takes the practical view that usually the upstream with such a policy doesn t really mean it. But Mozilla decided they did mean it. They contacted Debian asking for Debian to get their patches approved. Since that wasn t acceptable to Debian, they stopped using the word Firefox . For a decade, Debian s Firefox browser was called Iceweasel . We don t want something similar happening to Rust .

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14 April 2023

Russ Allbery: Review: Babel

Review: Babel, by R.F. Kuang
Publisher: Harper Voyage
Copyright: August 2022
ISBN: 0-06-302144-7
Format: Kindle
Pages: 544
Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution, to give it its full title, is a standalone dark academia fantasy set in the 1830s and 1840s, primarily in Oxford, England. The first book of R.F. Kuang's previous trilogy, The Poppy War, was nominated for multiple awards and won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel. Babel is her fourth book. Robin Swift, although that was not his name at the time, was born and raised in Canton and educated by an inexplicable English tutor his family could not have afforded. After his entire family dies of cholera, he is plucked from China by a British professor and offered a life in England as his ward. What follows is a paradise of books, a hell of relentless and demanding instruction, and an unpredictably abusive emotional environment, all aiming him towards admission to Oxford University. Robin will join University College and the Royal Institute of Translation. The politics of this imperial Britain are almost precisely the same as in our history, but one of the engines is profoundly different. This world has magic. If words from two different languages are engraved on a metal bar (silver is best), the meaning and nuance lost in translation becomes magical power. With a careful choice of translation pairs, and sometimes additional help from other related words and techniques, the silver bar becomes a persistent spell. Britain's industrial revolution is in overdrive thanks to the country's vast stores of silver and the applied translation prowess of Babel. This means Babel is also the only part of very racist Oxford that accepts non-white students and women. They need translators (barely) more than they care about maintaining social hierarchy; translation pairs only work when the translator is fluent in both languages. The magic is also stronger when meanings are more distinct, which is creating serious worries about classical and European languages. Those are still the bulk of Babel's work, but increased trade and communication within Europe is eroding the meaning distinctions and thus the amount of magical power. More remote languages, such as Chinese and Urdu, are full of untapped promise that Britain's colonial empire wants to capture. Professor Lowell, Robin's dubious benefactor, is a specialist in Chinese languages; Robin is a potential tool for his plans. As Robin discovers shortly after arriving in Oxford, he is not the first of Lowell's tools. His predecessor turned against Babel and is trying to break its chokehold on translation magic. He wants Robin to help. This is one of those books that is hard to review because it does some things exceptionally well and other things that did not work for me. It's not obvious if the latter are flaws in the book or a mismatch between book and reader (or, frankly, flaws in the reader). I'll try to explain as best I can so that you can draw your own conclusions. First, this is one of the all-time great magical system hooks. The way words are tapped for power is fully fleshed out and exceptionally well-done. Kuang is a professional translator, which shows in the attention to detail on translation pairs. I think this is the best-constructed and explained word-based magic system I've read in fantasy. Many word-based systems treat magic as its own separate language that is weirdly universal. Here, Kuang does the exact opposite, and the result is immensely satisfying. A fantasy reader may expect exploration of this magic system to be the primary point of the book, however, and this is not the case. It is an important part of the book, and its implications are essential to the plot resolution, but this is not the type of fantasy novel where the plot is driven by character exploration of the magic system. The magic system exists, the characters use it, and we do get some crunchy details, but the heart of the book is elsewhere. If you were expecting the typical relationship of a fantasy novel to its magic system, you may get a bit wrong-footed. Similarly, this is historical fantasy, but it is the type of historical fantasy where the existence of magic causes no significant differences. For some people, this is a pet peeve; personally, I don't mind that choice in the abstract, but some of the specifics bugged me. The villains of this book assert that any country could have done what Britain did in developing translation magic, and thus their hoarding of it is not immoral. They are obviously partly lying (this is a classic justification for imperialism), but it's not clear from the book how they are lying. Technologies (and magic here works like a technology) tend to concentrate power when they require significant capital investment, and tend to dilute power when they are portable and easy to teach. Translation magic feels like the latter, but its effect in the book is clearly the former, and I was never sure why. England is not an obvious choice to be a translation superpower. Yes, it's a colonial empire, but India, southeast Asia, and most certainly Africa (the continent largely not appearing in this book) are home to considerably more languages from more wildly disparate families than western Europe. Translation is not a peculiarly European idea, and this magic system does not seem hard to stumble across. It's not clear why England, and Oxford in particular, is so dramatically far ahead. There is some sign that Babel is keeping the mechanics of translation magic secret, but that secret has leaked, seems easy to develop independently, and is simple enough that a new student can perform basic magic with a few hours of instruction. This does not feel like the kind of power that would be easy to concentrate, let alone to the extreme extent required by the last quarter of this book. The demand for silver as a base material for translation magic provides a justification for mercantilism that avoids the confusing complexities of currency economics in our actual history, so fine, I guess, but it was a bit disappointing for this great of an idea for a magic system to have this small of an impact on politics. I'll come to the actual thrust of this book in a moment, but first something else Babel does exceptionally well: dark academia. The remainder of Robin's cohort at Oxford is Remy, a dark-skinned Muslim from Calcutta; Victoire, a Haitian woman raised in France; and Letty, the daughter of a British admiral. All of them are non-white except Letty, and Letty and Victoire additionally have to deal with the blatant sexism of the time. (For example, they have to live several miles from Oxford because women living near the college would be a "distraction.") The interpersonal dynamics between the four are exceptionally well done. Kuang captures the dislocation of going away to college, the unsettled life upheaval that makes it both easy and vital to form suddenly tight friendships, and the way that the immense pressure from classes and exams leaves one so devoid of spare emotional capacity that those friendships become both unbreakable and badly strained. Robin and Remy almost immediately become inseparable in that type of college friendship in which profound trust and constant companionship happen first and learning about the other person happens afterwards. It's tricky to talk about this without spoilers, but one of the things Kuang sets up with this friend group is a pointed look at intersectionality. Babel has gotten a lot of positive review buzz, and I think this is one of the reasons why. Kuang does not pass over or make excuses for characters in a place where many other books do. This mostly worked for me, but with a substantial caveat that I think you may want to be aware of before you dive into this book. Babel is set in the 1830s, but it is very much about the politics of 2022. That does not necessarily mean that the politics are off for the 1830s; I haven't done the research to know, and it's possible I'm seeing the Tiffany problem (Jo Walton's observation that Tiffany is a historical 12th century women's name, but an author can't use it as a medieval name because readers think it sounds too modern). But I found it hard to shake the feeling that the characters make sense of their world using modern analytical frameworks of imperialism, racism, sexism, and intersectional feminism, although without using modern terminology, and characters from the 1830s would react somewhat differently. This is a valid authorial choice; all books are written for the readers of the time when they're published. But as with magical systems that don't change history, it's a pet peeve for some readers. If that's you, be aware that's the feel I got from it. The true center of this book is not the magic system or the history. It's advertised directly in the title the necessity of violence although it's not until well into the book before the reader knows what that means. This is a book about revolution, what revolution means, what decisions you have to make along the way, how the personal affects the political, and the inadequacy of reform politics. It is hard, uncomfortable, and not gentle on its characters. The last quarter of this book was exceptional, and I understand why it's getting so much attention. Kuang directly confronts the desire for someone else to do the necessary work, the hope that surely the people with power will see reason, and the feeling of despair when there are no good plans and every reason to wait and do nothing when atrocities are about to happen. If you are familiar with radical politics, these aren't new questions, but this is not the sort of thing that normally shows up in fantasy. It does not surprise me that Babel struck a nerve with readers a generation or two younger than me. It captures that heady feeling on the cusp of adulthood when everything is in flux and one is assembling an independent politics for the first time. Once I neared the end of the book, I could not put it down. The ending is brutal, but I think it was the right ending for this book. There are two things, though, that I did not like about the political arc. The first is that Victoire is a much more interesting character than Robin, but is sidelined for most of the book. The difference of perspectives between her and Robin is the heart of what makes the end of this book so good, and I wish that had started 300 pages earlier. Or, even better, I wish Victoire has been the protagonist; I liked Robin, but he's a very predictable character for most of the book. Victoire is not; even the conflicts she had earlier in the book, when she didn't get much attention in the story, felt more dynamic and more thoughtful than Robin's mix of guilt and anxiety. The second is that I wish Kuang had shown more of Robin's intellectual evolution. All of the pieces of why he makes the decisions that he does are present in this book, and Kuang shows his emotional state (sometimes in agonizing detail) at each step, but the sense-making, the development of theory and ideology beneath the actions, is hinted at but not shown. This is a stylistic choice with no one right answer, but it felt odd because so much of the rest of the plot is obvious and telegraphed. If the reader shares Robin's perspective, I think it's easy to fill in the gaps, but it felt odd to read Robin giving clearly thought-out political analyses at the end of the book without seeing the hashing-out and argument with friends required to develop those analyses. I felt like I had to do a lot of heavy lifting as the reader, work that I wish had been done directly by the book. My final note about this book is that I found much of it extremely predictable. I think that's part of why reviewers describe it as accessible and easy to read; accessibility and predictability can be two sides of the same coin. Kuang did not intend for this book to be subtle, and I think that's part of the appeal. But very few of Robin's actions for the first three-quarters of the book surprised me, and that's not always the reading experience I want. The end of the book is different, and I therefore found it much more gripping, but it takes a while to get there. Babel is, for better or worse, the type of fantasy where the politics, economics, and magic system exist primarily to justify the plot the author wanted. I don't think the societal position of the Institute of Translation that makes the ending possible is that believable given the nature of the technology in question and the politics of the time, and if you are inclined to dig into the specifics of the world-building, I think you will find it frustrating. Where it succeeds brilliantly is in capturing the social dynamics of hothouse academic cohorts, and in making a sharp and unfortunately timely argument about the role of violence in political change, in a way that the traditionally conservative setting of fantasy rarely does. I can't say Babel blew me away, but I can see why others liked it so much. If I had to guess, I'd say that the closer one is in age to the characters in the book and to that moment of political identity construction, the more it's likely to appeal. Rating: 7 out of 10

10 April 2023

Russell Coker: BTRFS Rebuild Time

In February I replaced a Dell T320 server with a HP Z640 workstation for a home server/workstation [1]. The T320 has 8*3.5 drive bays which I had used to put 3*4TB disks in a BTRFS RAID-10 array for 6TB of usable capacity. The Z640 has only 2*3.5 bays and 4*2.5 bays, so one option I could have taken was to buy a 4TB 2.5 SSD and keep the same 3*4TB array as before. Instead I chose to use an 8TB disk I had spare in an array with one of the original 4TB disks and some extra on NVMe devices (the system has 2*1TB NVMe devices which are used as a 380G RAID-1 for the root filesystem and the rest for the storage array). It s nice how BTRFS allows putting any storage you have in a RAID-10 configuration. Unfortunately it seems that I chose the wrong 4TB disk to use for this as it failed three days ago. It gave thousands of read and write errors and Linux decided that the drive no longer existed. I tried rebooting the system to get it in the BTRFS array again but it failed again and failed so quickly that it wasn t even possible to use the data on it as part of a RAID rebuild. So I removed that disk and put in one of the other 4TB disks. As the array is comprised of an 8TB disk and 3 other devices that don t add up to 8TB the layout is the 8TB disk having one copy of everything and the other devices having parts of it. So the rebuild process comprised of copying data from the 8TB disk to the 4TB disk. For a RAID array run in the manner of Linux software RAID the rebuild of a RAID-1 involves a linear copy of data which is the optimal case for hard disks, copying 4TB of data in that manner would have an average speed of a bit over 100MB/s and take about 11 hours. With BTRFS the source disk has to be updated for each block that is recreated so the process was bottlenecked on writing to the 8TB disk. It took 2 days 23 hours to complete. The process involved reading 3,478,031MB and writing 4,405,545MB. The system was live for the process and some cron jobs etc were writing to the array, but in the 12 hours since the rebuild completed the array has had 7,038MB written. So presumably during the rebuild time about 42G of actual data were written to the array and the other 4.3TB written to the 8TB disk were from the process of copying 3.5TB from it to another device. Iostat reported that there were 645.36 TPS for the duration of the rebuild which seems like a decent number for a hard drive, during the process iostat reported that the drive had 99%+ of IO capacity used for the duration. While waiting for this to complete I wrote a blog post about storage trends [2]. One thing I didn t mention in that post is that if you are the type of person who checks the rebuild process fifty times a day then that should be counted as part of the cost of using slow storage. If instead of an 8TB disk plus some SSD storage I had used 2*4TB disks and 1*4TB SSD as I had considered doing then instead of having 3.8TB on one device I would have had about 2.5TB and the reconstruct would have probably taken 2/3 of the time. If I had moved the array to 3*4TB SSDs then it would have taken a small fraction of the time. One thing to note is that I made a mistake in this operation by removing the failed device instead of doing a btrfs replace operation which can be significantly faster. If I had correctly done this then I would have written a blog post about the rebuild taking 2 days or something, the issues of hard drives being slow and me compulsively checking the progress would still apply.

25 March 2023

Russ Allbery: Review: Thief of Time

Review: Thief of Time, by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #26
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: May 2001
Printing: August 2014
ISBN: 0-06-230739-8
Format: Mass market
Pages: 420
Thief of Time is the 26th Discworld novel and the last Death novel, although he still appears in subsequent books. It's the third book starring Susan Sto Helit, so I don't recommend starting here. Mort is the best starting point for the Death subseries, and Reaper Man provides a useful introduction to the villains. Jeremy Clockson was an orphan raised by the Guild of Clockmakers. He is very good at making clocks. He's not very good at anything else, particularly people, but his clocks are the most accurate in Ankh-Morpork. He is therefore the logical choice to receive a commission by a mysterious noblewoman who wants him to make the most accurate possible clock: a clock that can measure the tick of the universe, one that a fairy tale says had been nearly made before. The commission is followed by a surprise delivery of an Igor, to help with the clock-making. People who live in places with lots of fields become farmers. People who live where there is lots of iron and coal become blacksmiths. And people who live in the mountains near the Hub, near the gods and full of magic, become monks. In the highest valley are the History Monks, founded by Wen the Eternally Surprised. Like most monks, they take apprentices with certain talents and train them in their discipline. But Lobsang Ludd, an orphan discovered in the Thieves Guild in Ankh-Morpork, is proving a challenge. The monks decide to apprentice him to Lu-Tze the sweeper; perhaps that will solve multiple problems at once. Since Hogfather, Susan has moved from being a governess to a schoolteacher. She brings to that job the same firm patience, total disregard for rules that apply to other people, and impressive talent for managing children. She is by far the most popular teacher among the kids, and not only because she transports her class all over the Disc so that they can see things in person. It is a job that she likes and understands, and one that she's quite irate to have interrupted by a summons from her grandfather. But the Auditors are up to something, and Susan may be able to act in ways that Death cannot. This was great. Susan has quickly become one of my favorite Discworld characters, and this time around there is no (or, well, not much) unbelievable romance or permanently queasy god to distract. The clock-making portions of the book quickly start to focus on Igor, who is a delightful perspective through whom to watch events unfold. And the History Monks! The metaphysics of what they are actually doing (which I won't spoil, since discovering it slowly is a delight) is perhaps my favorite bit of Discworld world building to date. I am a sucker for stories that focus on some process that everyone thinks happens automatically and investigate the hidden work behind it. I do want to add a caveat here that the monks are in part a parody of Himalayan Buddhist monasteries, Lu-Tze is rather obviously a parody of Laozi and Daoism in general, and Pratchett's parodies of non-western cultures are rather ham-handed. This is not quite the insulting mess that the Chinese parody in Interesting Times was, but it's heavy on the stereotypes. It does not, thankfully, rely on the stereotypes; the characters are great fun on their own terms, with the perfect (for me) balance of irreverence and thoughtfulness. Lu-Tze refusing to be anything other than a sweeper and being irritatingly casual about all the rules of the order is a classic bit that Pratchett does very well. But I also have the luxury of ignoring stereotypes of a culture that isn't mine, and I think Pratchett is on somewhat thin ice. As one specific example, having Lu-Tze's treasured sayings be a collection of banal aphorisms from a random Ankh-Morpork woman is both hilarious and also arguably rather condescending, and I'm not sure where I landed. It's a spot-on bit of parody of how a lot of people who get very into "eastern religions" sound, but it's also equating the Dao De Jing with advice from the Discworld equivalent of a English housewife. I think the generous reading is that Lu-Tze made the homilies profound by looking at them in an entirely different way than the woman saying them, and that's not completely unlike Daoism and works surprisingly well. But that's reading somewhat against the grain; Pratchett is clearly making fun of philosophical koans, and while anything is fair game for some friendly poking, it still feels a bit weird. That isn't the part of the History Monks that I loved, though. Their actual role in the story doesn't come out of the parody. It's something entirely native to Discworld, and it's an absolute delight. The scene with Lobsang and the procrastinators is perhaps my favorite Discworld set piece to date. Everything about the technology of the History Monks, even the Bond parody, is so good. I grew up reading the Marvel Comics universe, and Thief of Time reminds me of a classic John Byrne or Jim Starlin story, where the heroes are dumped into the middle of vast interdimensional conflicts involving barely-anthropomorphized cosmic powers and the universe is revealed to work in ever more intricate ways at vastly expanding scales. The Auditors are villains in exactly that tradition, and just like the best of those stories, the fulcrum of the plot is questions about what it means to be human, what it means to be alive, and the surprising alliances these non-human powers make with humans or semi-humans. I devoured this kind of story as a kid, and it turns out I still love it. The one complaint I have about the plot is that the best part of this book is the middle, and the end didn't entirely work for me. Ronnie Soak is at his best as a supporting character about three quarters of the way through the book, and I found the ending of his subplot much less interesting. The cosmic confrontation was oddly disappointing, and there's a whole extended sequence involving chocolate that I think was funnier in Pratchett's head than it was in mine. The ending isn't bad, but the middle of this book is my favorite bit of Discworld writing yet, and I wish the story had carried that momentum through to the end. I had so much fun with this book. The Discworld novels are clearly getting better. None of them have yet vaulted into the ranks of my all-time favorite books there's always some lingering quibble or sagging bit but it feels like they've gone from reliably good books to more reliably great books. The acid test is coming, though: the next book is a Rincewind book, which are usually the weak spots. Followed by The Last Hero in publication order. There is no direct thematic sequel. Rating: 8 out of 10

21 March 2023

Gunnar Wolf: Impact of parallelism and processor architecture while building a kernel

Given that B lint just braggedblogged about how efficiently he can build a Linux kernel (less than 8 seconds, wow! Well, yes, until you read it is the result of aggressive caching and is achieved only for a second run), and that a question just popped up today on the Debian ARM mailing list, is an ARM computer a good choice? Which one? , I decided to share my results of an experiment I did several months ago, to graphically show to my students the effects of parallelism, the artifacts of hyperthreading, the effects of different architecture sets, and even illustrate about the actual futility of my experiment (somewhat referring to John Gustafson s reevaluation of Amdahl s law, already 30 years ago One does not take a fixed-size problem and run it on various numbers of processors except when doing academic research ; thanks for referring to my inconsequential reiterative compilations as academic research! ) I don t expect any of the following images to be groundbreaking, but at least, next time I need to find them it is quite likely I ll be able to find them and I will be able to more easily refer to them in online discussions So What did I do? I compiled Linux repeatedly, on several of the machines I had available, varying the -j flag (how many cores to use simultaneously), starting with single-core, and pushing up until just a bit over the physical number of cores the CPU has. Sadly, I lost several of my output images, but the three following are enough to tell interesting bits of the story: Of course, I have to add that this is not a scientific comparison; the server and my laptop have much better I/O than the Raspberry s puny micro-SD card (and compiling hundreds of thousands of files is quite an IO-stressed job, even though the full task does exhibit the very low compared single-threaded performance of the Raspberry even compared with the Yoga). No optimizations were done (they would be harmful to the effects I wanted to show!), the compile was made straight from the upstream sources.

13 March 2023

Antoine Beaupr : Framework 12th gen laptop review

The Framework is a 13.5" laptop body with swappable parts, which makes it somewhat future-proof and certainly easily repairable, scoring an "exceedingly rare" 10/10 score from There are two generations of the laptop's main board (both compatible with the same body): the Intel 11th and 12th gen chipsets. I have received my Framework, 12th generation "DIY", device in late September 2022 and will update this page as I go along in the process of ordering, burning-in, setting up and using the device over the years. Overall, the Framework is a good laptop. I like the keyboard, the touch pad, the expansion cards. Clearly there's been some good work done on industrial design, and it's the most repairable laptop I've had in years. Time will tell, but it looks sturdy enough to survive me many years as well. This is also one of the most powerful devices I ever lay my hands on. I have managed, remotely, more powerful servers, but this is the fastest computer I have ever owned, and it fits in this tiny case. It is an amazing machine. On the downside, there's a bit of proprietary firmware required (WiFi, Bluetooth, some graphics) and the Framework ships with a proprietary BIOS, with currently no Coreboot support. Expect to need the latest kernel, firmware, and hacking around a bunch of things to get resolution and keybindings working right. Like others, I have first found significant power management issues, but many issues can actually be solved with some configuration. Some of the expansion ports (HDMI, DP, MicroSD, and SSD) use power when idle, so don't expect week-long suspend, or "full day" battery while those are plugged in. Finally, the expansion ports are nice, but there's only four of them. If you plan to have a two-monitor setup, you're likely going to need a dock. Read on for the detailed review. For context, I'm moving from the Purism Librem 13v4 because it basically exploded on me. I had, in the meantime, reverted back to an old ThinkPad X220, so I sometimes compare the Framework with that venerable laptop as well. This blog post has been maturing for months now. It started in September 2022 and I declared it completed in March 2023. It's the longest single article on this entire website, currently clocking at about 13,000 words. It will take an average reader a full hour to go through this thing, so I don't expect anyone to actually do that. This introduction should be good enough for most people, read the first section if you intend to actually buy a Framework. Jump around the table of contents as you see fit for after you did buy the laptop, as it might include some crucial hints on how to make it work best for you, especially on (Debian) Linux.

Advice for buyers Those are things I wish I would have known before buying:
  1. consider buying 4 USB-C expansion cards, or at least a mix of 4 USB-A or USB-C cards, as they use less power than other cards and you do want to fill those expansion slots otherwise they snag around and feel insecure
  2. you will likely need a dock or at least a USB hub if you want a two-monitor setup, otherwise you'll run out of ports
  3. you have to do some serious tuning to get proper (10h+ idle, 10 days suspend) power savings
  4. in particular, beware that the HDMI, DisplayPort and particularly the SSD and MicroSD cards take a significant amount power, even when sleeping, up to 2-6W for the latter two
  5. beware that the MicroSD card is what it says: Micro, normal SD cards won't fit, and while there might be full sized one eventually, it's currently only at the prototyping stage
  6. the Framework monitor has an unusual aspect ratio (3:2): I like it (and it matches classic and digital photography aspect ratio), but it might surprise you

Current status I have the framework! It's setup with a fresh new Debian bookworm installation. I've ran through a large number of tests and burn in. I have decided to use the Framework as my daily driver, and had to buy a USB-C dock to get my two monitors connected, which was own adventure. Update: Framework just (2023-03-23) just announced a whole bunch of new stuff: The recording is available in this video and it's not your typical keynote. It starts ~25 minutes late, audio is crap, lightning and camera are crap, clapping seems to be from whatever staff they managed to get together in a room, decor is bizarre, colors are shit. It's amazing.

Specifications Those are the specifications of the 12th gen, in general terms. Your build will of course vary according to your needs.
  • CPU: i5-1240P, i7-1260P, or i7-1280P (Up to 4.4-4.8 GHz, 4+8 cores), Iris Xe graphics
  • Storage: 250-4000GB NVMe (or bring your own)
  • Memory: 8-64GB DDR4-3200 (or bring your own)
  • WiFi 6e (AX210, vPro optional, or bring your own)
  • 296.63mm X 228.98mm X 15.85mm, 1.3Kg
  • 13.5" display, 3:2 ratio, 2256px X 1504px, 100% sRGB, >400 nit
  • 4 x USB-C user-selectable expansion ports, including
    • USB-C
    • USB-A
    • HDMI
    • DP
    • Ethernet
    • MicroSD
    • 250-1000GB SSD
  • 3.5mm combo headphone jack
  • Kill switches for microphone and camera
  • Battery: 55Wh
  • Camera: 1080p 60fps
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint Reader
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Power Adapter: 60W USB-C (or bring your own)
  • ships with a screwdriver/spludger
  • 1 year warranty
  • base price: 1000$CAD, but doesn't give you much, typical builds around 1500-2000$CAD

Actual build This is the actual build I ordered. Amounts in CAD. (1CAD = ~0.75EUR/USD.)

Base configuration
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1240P (AKA Alder Lake P 8 4.4GHz P-threads, 8 3.2GHz E-threads, 16 total, 28-64W), 1079$
  • Memory: 16GB (1 x 16GB) DDR4-3200, 104$

  • Keyboard: US English, included

Expansion Cards
  • 2 USB-C $24
  • 3 USB-A $36
  • 2 HDMI $50
  • 1 DP $50
  • 1 MicroSD $25
  • 1 Storage 1TB $199
  • Sub-total: 384$

  • Power Adapter - US/Canada $64.00

  • Before tax: 1606$
  • After tax and duties: 1847$
  • Free shipping

Quick evaluation This is basically the TL;DR: here, just focusing on broad pros/cons of the laptop.


  • the 11th gen is out of stock, except for the higher-end CPUs, which are much less affordable (700$+)
  • the 12th gen has compatibility issues with Debian, followup in the DebianOn page, but basically: brightness hotkeys, power management, wifi, the webcam is okay even though the chipset is the infamous alder lake because it does not have the fancy camera; most issues currently seem solvable, and upstream is working with mainline to get their shit working
  • 12th gen might have issues with thunderbolt docks
  • they used to have some difficulty keeping up with the orders: first two batches shipped, third batch sold out, fourth batch should have shipped (?) in October 2021. they generally seem to keep up with shipping. update (august 2022): they rolled out a second line of laptops (12th gen), first batch shipped, second batch shipped late, September 2022 batch was generally on time, see this spreadsheet for a crowdsourced effort to track those supply chain issues seem to be under control as of early 2023. I got the Ethernet expansion card shipped within a week.
  • compared to my previous laptop (Purism Librem 13v4), it feels strangely bulkier and heavier; it's actually lighter than the purism (1.3kg vs 1.4kg) and thinner (15.85mm vs 18mm) but the design of the Purism laptop (tapered edges) makes it feel thinner
  • no space for a 2.5" drive
  • rather bright LED around power button, but can be dimmed in the BIOS (not low enough to my taste) I got used to it
  • fan quiet when idle, but can be noisy when running, for example if you max a CPU for a while
  • battery described as "mediocre" by Ars Technica (above), confirmed poor in my tests (see below)
  • no RJ-45 port, and attempts at designing ones are failing because the modular plugs are too thin to fit (according to Linux After Dark), so unlikely to have one in the future Update: they cracked that nut and ship an 2.5 gbps Ethernet expansion card with a realtek chipset, without any firmware blob (!)
  • a bit pricey for the performance, especially when compared to the competition (e.g. Dell XPS, Apple M1)
  • 12th gen Intel has glitchy graphics, seems like Intel hasn't fully landed proper Linux support for that chipset yet

Initial hardware setup A breeze.

Accessing the board The internals are accessed through five TorX screws, but there's a nice screwdriver/spudger that works well enough. The screws actually hold in place so you can't even lose them. The first setup is a bit counter-intuitive coming from the Librem laptop, as I expected the back cover to lift and give me access to the internals. But instead the screws is release the keyboard and touch pad assembly, so you actually need to flip the laptop back upright and lift the assembly off (!) to get access to the internals. Kind of scary. I also actually unplugged a connector in lifting the assembly because I lifted it towards the monitor, while you actually need to lift it to the right. Thankfully, the connector didn't break, it just snapped off and I could plug it back in, no harm done. Once there, everything is well indicated, with QR codes all over the place supposedly leading to online instructions.

Bad QR codes Unfortunately, the QR codes I tested (in the expansion card slot, the memory slot and CPU slots) did not actually work so I wonder how useful those actually are. After all, they need to point to something and that means a URL, a running website that will answer those requests forever. I bet those will break sooner than later and in fact, as far as I can tell, they just don't work at all. I prefer the approach taken by the MNT reform here which designed (with the 100 rabbits folks) an actual paper handbook (PDF). The first QR code that's immediately visible from the back of the laptop, in an expansion cord slot, is a 404. It seems to be some serial number URL, but I can't actually tell because, well, the page is a 404. I was expecting that bar code to lead me to an introduction page, something like "how to setup your Framework laptop". Support actually confirmed that it should point a quickstart guide. But in a bizarre twist, they somehow sent me the URL with the plus (+) signs escaped, like this:\+Laptop\+DIY\+Edition\+Quick\+Start\+Guide/57
... which Firefox immediately transforms in:
I'm puzzled as to why they would send the URL that way, the proper URL is of course:
(They have also "let the team know about this for feedback and help resolve the problem with the link" which is a support code word for "ha-ha! nope! not my problem right now!" Trust me, I know, my own code word is "can you please make a ticket?")

Seating disks and memory The "DIY" kit doesn't actually have that much of a setup. If you bought RAM, it's shipped outside the laptop in a little plastic case, so you just seat it in as usual. Then you insert your NVMe drive, and, if that's your fancy, you also install your own mPCI WiFi card. If you ordered one (which was my case), it's pre-installed. Closing the laptop is also kind of amazing, because the keyboard assembly snaps into place with magnets. I have actually used the laptop with the keyboard unscrewed as I was putting the drives in and out, and it actually works fine (and will probably void your warranty, so don't do that). (But you can.) (But don't, really.)

Hardware review

Keyboard and touch pad The keyboard feels nice, for a laptop. I'm used to mechanical keyboard and I'm rather violent with those poor things. Yet the key travel is nice and it's clickety enough that I don't feel too disoriented. At first, I felt the keyboard as being more laggy than my normal workstation setup, but it turned out this was a graphics driver issues. After enabling a composition manager, everything feels snappy. The touch pad feels good. The double-finger scroll works well enough, and I don't have to wonder too much where the middle button is, it just works. Taps don't work, out of the box: that needs to be enabled in Xorg, with something like this:
cat > /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf <<EOF
Section "InputClass"
      Identifier "libinput touch pad catchall"
      MatchIsTouchpad "on"
      MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
      Driver "libinput"
      Option "Tapping" "on"
      Option "TappingButtonMap" "lmr"
But be aware that once you enable that tapping, you'll need to deal with palm detection... So I have not actually enabled this in the end.

Power button The power button is a little dangerous. It's quite easy to hit, as it's right next to one expansion card where you are likely to plug in a cable power. And because the expansion cards are kind of hard to remove, you might squeeze the laptop (and the power key) when trying to remove the expansion card next to the power button. So obviously, don't do that. But that's not very helpful. An alternative is to make the power button do something else. With systemd-managed systems, it's actually quite easy. Add a HandlePowerKey stanza to (say) /etc/systemd/logind.conf.d/power-suspends.conf:
You might have to create the directory first:
mkdir /etc/systemd/logind.conf.d/
Then restart logind:
systemctl restart systemd-logind
And the power button will suspend! Long-press to power off doesn't actually work as the laptop immediately suspends... Note that there's probably half a dozen other ways of doing this, see this, this, or that.

Special keybindings There is a series of "hidden" (as in: not labeled on the key) keybindings related to the fn keybinding that I actually find quite useful.
Key Equivalent Effect Command
p Pause lock screen xset s activate
b Break ? ?
k ScrLk switch keyboard layout N/A
It looks like those are defined in the microcontroller so it would be possible to add some. For example, the SysRq key is almost bound to fn s in there. Note that most other shortcuts like this are clearly documented (volume, brightness, etc). One key that's less obvious is F12 that only has the Framework logo on it. That actually calls the keysym XF86AudioMedia which, interestingly, does absolutely nothing here. By default, on Windows, it opens your browser to the Framework website and, on Linux, your "default media player". The keyboard backlight can be cycled with fn-space. The dimmer version is dim enough, and the keybinding is easy to find in the dark. A skinny elephant would be performed with alt PrtScr (above F11) KEY, so for example alt fn F11 b should do a hard reset. This comment suggests you need to hold the fn only if "function lock" is on, but that's actually the opposite of my experience. Out of the box, some of the fn keys don't work. Mute, volume up/down, brightness, monitor changes, and the airplane mode key all do basically nothing. They don't send proper keysyms to Xorg at all. This is a known problem and it's related to the fact that the laptop has light sensors to adjust the brightness automatically. Somehow some of those keys (e.g. the brightness controls) are supposed to show up as a different input device, but don't seem to work correctly. It seems like the solution is for the Framework team to write a driver specifically for this, but so far no progress since July 2022. In the meantime, the fancy functionality can be supposedly disabled with:
echo 'blacklist hid_sensor_hub'   sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/framework-als-blacklist.conf
... and a reboot. This solution is also documented in the upstream guide. Note that there's another solution flying around that fixes this by changing permissions on the input device but I haven't tested that or seen confirmation it works.

Kill switches The Framework has two "kill switches": one for the camera and the other for the microphone. The camera one actually disconnects the USB device when turned off, and the mic one seems to cut the circuit. It doesn't show up as muted, it just stops feeding the sound. Both kill switches are around the main camera, on top of the monitor, and quite discreet. Then turn "red" when enabled (i.e. "red" means "turned off").

Monitor The monitor looks pretty good to my untrained eyes. I have yet to do photography work on it, but some photos I looked at look sharp and the colors are bright and lively. The blacks are dark and the screen is bright. I have yet to use it in full sunlight. The dimmed light is very dim, which I like.

Screen backlight I bind brightness keys to xbacklight in i3, but out of the box I get this error:
sep 29 22:09:14 angela i3[5661]: No outputs have backlight property
It just requires this blob in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/backlight.conf:
Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Card0"
    Driver      "intel"
    Option      "Backlight"  "intel_backlight"
This way I can control the actual backlight power with the brightness keys, and they do significantly reduce power usage.

Multiple monitor support I have been able to hook up my two old monitors to the HDMI and DisplayPort expansion cards on the laptop. The lid closes without suspending the machine, and everything works great. I actually run out of ports, even with a 4-port USB-A hub, which gives me a total of 7 ports:
  1. power (USB-C)
  2. monitor 1 (DisplayPort)
  3. monitor 2 (HDMI)
  4. USB-A hub, which adds:
  5. keyboard (USB-A)
  6. mouse (USB-A)
  7. Yubikey
  8. external sound card
Now the latter, I might be able to get rid of if I switch to a combo-jack headset, which I do have (and still need to test). But still, this is a problem. I'll probably need a powered USB-C dock and better monitors, possibly with some Thunderbolt chaining, to save yet more ports. But that means more money into this setup, argh. And figuring out my monitor situation is the kind of thing I'm not that big of a fan of. And neither is shopping for USB-C (or is it Thunderbolt?) hubs. My normal autorandr setup doesn't work: I have tried saving a profile and it doesn't get autodetected, so I also first need to do:
autorandr -l framework-external-dual-lg-acer
The magic:
autorandr -l horizontal
... also works well. The worst problem with those monitors right now is that they have a radically smaller resolution than the main screen on the laptop, which means I need to reset the font scaling to normal every time I switch back and forth between those monitors and the laptop, which means I actually need to do this:
autorandr -l horizontal &&
eho Xft.dpi: 96   xrdb -merge &&
systemctl restart terminal xcolortaillog background-image emacs &&
i3-msg restart
Kind of disruptive.

Expansion ports I ordered a total of 10 expansion ports. I did manage to initialize the 1TB drive as an encrypted storage, mostly to keep photos as this is something that takes a massive amount of space (500GB and counting) and that I (unfortunately) don't work on very often (but still carry around). The expansion ports are fancy and nice, but not actually that convenient. They're a bit hard to take out: you really need to crimp your fingernails on there and pull hard to take them out. There's a little button next to them to release, I think, but at first it feels a little scary to pull those pucks out of there. You get used to it though, and it's one of those things you can do without looking eventually. There's only four expansion ports. Once you have two monitors, the drive, and power plugged in, bam, you're out of ports; there's nowhere to plug my Yubikey. So if this is going to be my daily driver, with a dual monitor setup, I will need a dock, which means more crap firmware and uncertainty, which isn't great. There are actually plans to make a dual-USB card, but that is blocked on designing an actual board for this. I can't wait to see more expansion ports produced. There's a ethernet expansion card which quickly went out of stock basically the day it was announced, but was eventually restocked. I would like to see a proper SD-card reader. There's a MicroSD card reader, but that obviously doesn't work for normal SD cards, which would be more broadly compatible anyways (because you can have a MicroSD to SD card adapter, but I have never heard of the reverse). Someone actually found a SD card reader that fits and then someone else managed to cram it in a 3D printed case, which is kind of amazing. Still, I really like that idea that I can carry all those little adapters in a pouch when I travel and can basically do anything I want. It does mean I need to shuffle through them to find the right one which is a little annoying. I have an elastic band to keep them lined up so that all the ports show the same side, to make it easier to find the right one. But that quickly gets undone and instead I have a pouch full of expansion cards. Another awesome thing with the expansion cards is that they don't just work on the laptop: anything that takes USB-C can take those cards, which means you can use it to connect an SD card to your phone, for backups, for example. Heck, you could even connect an external display to your phone that way, assuming that's supported by your phone of course (and it probably isn't). The expansion ports do take up some power, even when idle. See the power management section below, and particularly the power usage tests for details.

USB-C charging One thing that is really a game changer for me is USB-C charging. It's hard to overstate how convenient this is. I often have a USB-C cable lying around to charge my phone, and I can just grab that thing and pop it in my laptop. And while it will obviously not charge as fast as the provided charger, it will stop draining the battery at least. (As I wrote this, I had the laptop plugged in the Samsung charger that came with a phone, and it was telling me it would take 6 hours to charge the remaining 15%. With the provided charger, that flew down to 15 minutes. Similarly, I can power the laptop from the power grommet on my desk, reducing clutter as I have that single wire out there instead of the bulky power adapter.) I also really like the idea that I can charge my laptop with a power bank or, heck, with my phone, if push comes to shove. (And vice-versa!) This is awesome. And it works from any of the expansion ports, of course. There's a little led next to the expansion ports as well, which indicate the charge status:
  • red/amber: charging
  • white: charged
  • off: unplugged
I couldn't find documentation about this, but the forum answered. This is something of a recurring theme with the Framework. While it has a good knowledge base and repair/setup guides (and the forum is awesome) but it doesn't have a good "owner manual" that shows you the different parts of the laptop and what they do. Again, something the MNT reform did well. Another thing that people are asking about is an external sleep indicator: because the power LED is on the main keyboard assembly, you don't actually see whether the device is active or not when the lid is closed. Finally, I wondered what happens when you plug in multiple power sources and it turns out the charge controller is actually pretty smart: it will pick the best power source and use it. The only downside is it can't use multiple power sources, but that seems like a bit much to ask.

Multimedia and other devices Those things also work:
  • webcam: splendid, best webcam I've ever had (but my standards are really low)
  • onboard mic: works well, good gain (maybe a bit much)
  • onboard speakers: sound okay, a little metal-ish, loud enough to be annoying, see this thread for benchmarks, apparently pretty good speakers
  • combo jack: works, with slight hiss, see below
There's also a light sensor, but it conflicts with the keyboard brightness controls (see above). There's also an accelerometer, but it's off by default and will be removed from future builds.

Combo jack mic tests The Framework laptop ships with a combo jack on the left side, which allows you to plug in a CTIA (source) headset. In human terms, it's a device that has both a stereo output and a mono input, typically a headset or ear buds with a microphone somewhere. It works, which is better than the Purism (which only had audio out), but is on par for the course for that kind of onboard hardware. Because of electrical interference, such sound cards very often get lots of noise from the board. With a Jabra Evolve 40, the built-in USB sound card generates basically zero noise on silence (invisible down to -60dB in Audacity) while plugging it in directly generates a solid -30dB hiss. There is a noise-reduction system in that sound card, but the difference is still quite striking. On a comparable setup (curie, a 2017 Intel NUC), there is also a his with the Jabra headset, but it's quieter, more in the order of -40/-50 dB, a noticeable difference. Interestingly, testing with my Mee Audio Pro M6 earbuds leads to a little more hiss on curie, more on the -35/-40 dB range, close to the Framework. Also note that another sound card, the Antlion USB adapter that comes with the ModMic 4, also gives me pretty close to silence on a quiet recording, picking up less than -50dB of background noise. It's actually probably picking up the fans in the office, which do make audible noises. In other words, the hiss of the sound card built in the Framework laptop is so loud that it makes more noise than the quiet fans in the office. Or, another way to put it is that two USB sound cards (the Jabra and the Antlion) are able to pick up ambient noise in my office but not the Framework laptop. See also my audio page.

Performance tests

Compiling Linux 5.19.11 On a single core, compiling the Debian version of the Linux kernel takes around 100 minutes:
5411.85user 673.33system 1:37:46elapsed 103%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 831700maxresident)k
10594704inputs+87448000outputs (9131major+410636783minor)pagefaults 0swaps
This was using 16 watts of power, with full screen brightness. With all 16 cores (make -j16), it takes less than 25 minutes:
19251.06user 2467.47system 24:13.07elapsed 1494%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 831676maxresident)k
8321856inputs+87427848outputs (30792major+409145263minor)pagefaults 0swaps
I had to plug the normal power supply after a few minutes because battery would actually run out using my desk's power grommet (34 watts). During compilation, fans were spinning really hard, quite noisy, but not painfully so. The laptop was sucking 55 watts of power, steadily:
  Time    User  Nice   Sys  Idle    IO  Run Ctxt/s  IRQ/s Fork Exec Exit  Watts
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Average  87.9   0.0  10.7   1.4   0.1 17.8 6583.6 5054.3 233.0 223.9 233.1  55.96
 GeoMean  87.9   0.0  10.6   1.2   0.0 17.6 6427.8 5048.1 227.6 218.7 227.7  55.96
  StdDev   1.4   0.0   1.2   0.6   0.2  3.0 1436.8  255.5 50.0 47.5 49.7   0.20
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Minimum  85.0   0.0   7.8   0.5   0.0 13.0 3594.0 4638.0 117.0 111.0 120.0  55.52
 Maximum  90.8   0.0  12.9   3.5   0.8 38.0 10174.0 5901.0 374.0 362.0 375.0  56.41
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
CPU:  55.96 Watts on average with standard deviation 0.20
Note: power read from RAPL domains: package-0, uncore, package-0, core, psys.
These readings do not cover all the hardware in this device.

memtest86+ I ran Memtest86+ v6.00b3. It shows something like this:
Memtest86+ v6.00b3        12th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-1240P
CLK/Temp: 2112MHz    78/78 C   Pass  2% #
L1 Cache:   48KB    414 GB/s   Test 46% ##################
L2 Cache: 1.25MB    118 GB/s   Test #3 [Moving inversions, 1s & 0s] 
L3 Cache:   12MB     43 GB/s   Testing: 16GB - 18GB [1GB of 15.7GB]
Memory  :  15.7GB  14.9 GB/s   Pattern: 
CPU: 4P+8E-Cores (16T)    SMP: 8T (PAR))    Time:  0:27:23  Status: Pass     \
RAM: 1600MHz (DDR4-3200) CAS 22-22-22-51    Pass:  1        Errors: 0
Memory SPD Information
 - Slot 2: 16GB DDR-4-3200 - Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A.C16FP (2022-W23)
                          Framework FRANMACP04
 <ESC> Exit  <F1> Configuration  <Space> Scroll Lock            6.00.unknown.x64
So about 30 minutes for a full 16GB memory test.

Software setup Once I had everything in the hardware setup, I figured, voil , I'm done, I'm just going to boot this beautiful machine and I can get back to work. I don't understand why I am so na ve some times. It's mind boggling. Obviously, it didn't happen that way at all, and I spent the best of the three following days tinkering with the laptop.

Secure boot and EFI First, I couldn't boot off of the NVMe drive I transferred from the previous laptop (the Purism) and the BIOS was not very helpful: it was just complaining about not finding any boot device, without dropping me in the real BIOS. At first, I thought it was a problem with my NVMe drive, because it's not listed in the compatible SSD drives from upstream. But I figured out how to enter BIOS (press F2 manically, of course), which showed the NVMe drive was actually detected. It just didn't boot, because it was an old (2010!!) Debian install without EFI. So from there, I disabled secure boot, and booted a grml image to try to recover. And by "boot" I mean, I managed to get to the grml boot loader which promptly failed to load its own root file system somehow. I still have to investigate exactly what happened there, but it failed some time after the initrd load with:
Unable to find medium containing a live file system
This, it turns out, was fixed in Debian lately, so a daily GRML build will not have this problems. The upcoming 2022 release (likely 2022.10 or 2022.11) will also get the fix. I did manage to boot the development version of the Debian installer which was a surprisingly good experience: it mounted the encrypted drives and did everything pretty smoothly. It even offered me to reinstall the boot loader, but that ultimately (and correctly, as it turns out) failed because I didn't have a /boot/efi partition. At this point, I realized there was no easy way out of this, and I just proceeded to completely reinstall Debian. I had a spare NVMe drive lying around (backups FTW!) so I just swapped that in, rebooted in the Debian installer, and did a clean install. I wanted to switch to bookworm anyways, so I guess that's done too.

Storage limitations Another thing that happened during setup is that I tried to copy over the internal 2.5" SSD drive from the Purism to the Framework 1TB expansion card. There's no 2.5" slot in the new laptop, so that's pretty much the only option for storage expansion. I was tired and did something wrong. I ended up wiping the partition table on the original 2.5" drive. Oops. It might be recoverable, but just restoring the partition table didn't work either, so I'm not sure how I recover the data there. Normally, everything on my laptops and workstations is designed to be disposable, so that wasn't that big of a problem. I did manage to recover most of the data thanks to git-annex reinit, but that was a little hairy.

Bootstrapping Puppet Once I had some networking, I had to install all the packages I needed. The time I spent setting up my workstations with Puppet has finally paid off. What I actually did was to restore two critical directories:
So that I would keep the previous machine's identity. That way I could contact the Puppet server and install whatever was missing. I used my Puppet optimization trick to do a batch install and then I had a good base setup, although not exactly as it was before. 1700 packages were installed manually on angela before the reinstall, and not in Puppet. I did not inspect each one individually, but I did go through /etc and copied over more SSH keys, for backups and SMTP over SSH.

LVFS support It looks like there's support for the (de-facto) standard LVFS firmware update system. At least I was able to update the UEFI firmware with a simple:
apt install fwupd-amd64-signed
fwupdmgr refresh
fwupdmgr get-updates
fwupdmgr update
Nice. The 12th gen BIOS updates, currently (January 2023) beta, can be deployed through LVFS with:
fwupdmgr enable-remote lvfs-testing
echo 'DisableCapsuleUpdateOnDisk=true' >> /etc/fwupd/uefi_capsule.conf 
fwupdmgr update
Those instructions come from the beta forum post. I performed the BIOS update on 2023-01-16T16:00-0500.

Resolution tweaks The Framework laptop resolution (2256px X 1504px) is big enough to give you a pretty small font size, so welcome to the marvelous world of "scaling". The Debian wiki page has a few tricks for this.

Console This will make the console and grub fonts more readable:
cat >> /etc/default/console-setup <<EOF
echo GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768 >> /etc/default/grub

Xorg Adding this to your .Xresources will make everything look much bigger:
! 1.5*96
Xft.dpi: 144
Apparently, some of this can also help:
! These might also be useful depending on your monitor and personal preference:
Xft.autohint: 0
Xft.lcdfilter:  lcddefault
Xft.hintstyle:  hintfull
Xft.hinting: 1
Xft.antialias: 1
Xft.rgba: rgb
It my experience it also makes things look a little fuzzier, which is frustrating because you have this awesome monitor but everything looks out of focus. Just bumping Xft.dpi by a 1.5 factor looks good to me. The Debian Wiki has a page on HiDPI, but it's not as good as the Arch Wiki, where the above blurb comes from. I am not using the latter because I suspect it's causing some of the "fuzziness". TODO: find the equivalent of this GNOME hack in i3? (gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['scale-monitor-framebuffer']"), taken from this Framework guide


BIOS configuration The Framework BIOS has some minor issues. One issue I personally encountered is that I had disabled Quick boot and Quiet boot in the BIOS to diagnose the above boot issues. This, in turn, triggers a bug where the BIOS boot manager (F12) would just hang completely. It would also fail to boot from an external USB drive. The current fix (as of BIOS 3.03) is to re-enable both Quick boot and Quiet boot. Presumably this is something that will get fixed in a future BIOS update. Note that the following keybindings are active in the BIOS POST check:
Key Meaning
F2 Enter BIOS setup menu
F12 Enter BIOS boot manager
Delete Enter BIOS setup menu

WiFi compatibility issues I couldn't make WiFi work at first. Obviously, the default Debian installer doesn't ship with proprietary firmware (although that might change soon) so the WiFi card didn't work out of the box. But even after copying the firmware through a USB stick, I couldn't quite manage to find the right combination of ip/iw/wpa-supplicant (yes, after repeatedly copying a bunch more packages over to get those bootstrapped). (Next time I should probably try something like this post.) Thankfully, I had a little USB-C dongle with a RJ-45 jack lying around. That also required a firmware blob, but it was a single package to copy over, and with that loaded, I had network. Eventually, I did managed to make WiFi work; the problem was more on the side of "I forgot how to configure a WPA network by hand from the commandline" than anything else. NetworkManager worked fine and got WiFi working correctly. Note that this is with Debian bookworm, which has the 5.19 Linux kernel, and with the firmware-nonfree (firmware-iwlwifi, specifically) package.

Battery life I was having between about 7 hours of battery on the Purism Librem 13v4, and that's after a year or two of battery life. Now, I still have about 7 hours of battery life, which is nicer than my old ThinkPad X220 (20 minutes!) but really, it's not that good for a new generation laptop. The 12th generation Intel chipset probably improved things compared to the previous one Framework laptop, but I don't have a 11th gen Framework to compare with). (Note that those are estimates from my status bar, not wall clock measurements. They should still be comparable between the Purism and Framework, that said.) The battery life doesn't seem up to, say, Dell XPS 13, ThinkPad X1, and of course not the Apple M1, where I would expect 10+ hours of battery life out of the box. That said, I do get those kind estimates when the machine is fully charged and idle. In fact, when everything is quiet and nothing is plugged in, I get dozens of hours of battery life estimated (I've seen 25h!). So power usage fluctuates quite a bit depending on usage, which I guess is expected. Concretely, so far, light web browsing, reading emails and writing notes in Emacs (e.g. this file) takes about 8W of power:
Time    User  Nice   Sys  Idle    IO  Run Ctxt/s  IRQ/s Fork Exec Exit  Watts
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Average   1.7   0.0   0.5  97.6   0.2  1.2 4684.9 1985.2 126.6 39.1 128.0   7.57
 GeoMean   1.4   0.0   0.4  97.6   0.1  1.2 4416.6 1734.5 111.6 27.9 113.3   7.54
  StdDev   1.0   0.2   0.2   1.2   0.0  0.5 1584.7 1058.3 82.1 44.0 80.2   0.71
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
 Minimum   0.2   0.0   0.2  94.9   0.1  1.0 2242.0  698.2 82.0 17.0 82.0   6.36
 Maximum   4.1   1.1   1.0  99.4   0.2  3.0 8687.4 4445.1 463.0 249.0 449.0   9.10
-------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---- ------ ------ ---- ---- ---- ------
System:   7.57 Watts on average with standard deviation 0.71
Expansion cards matter a lot in the battery life (see below for a thorough discussion), my normal setup is 2xUSB-C and 1xUSB-A (yes, with an empty slot, and yes, to save power). Interestingly, playing a video in a (720p) window in a window takes up more power (10.5W) than in full screen (9.5W) but I blame that on my desktop setup (i3 + compton)... Not sure if mpv hits the VA-API, maybe not in windowed mode. Similar results with 1080p, interestingly, except the window struggles to keep up altogether. Full screen playback takes a relatively comfortable 9.5W, which means a solid 5h+ of playback, which is fine by me. Fooling around the web, small edits, youtube-dl, and I'm at around 80% battery after about an hour, with an estimated 5h left, which is a little disappointing. I had a 7h remaining estimate before I started goofing around Discourse, so I suspect the website is a pretty big battery drain, actually. I see about 10-12 W, while I was probably at half that (6-8W) just playing music with mpv in the background... In other words, it looks like editing posts in Discourse with Firefox takes a solid 4-6W of power. Amazing and gross. (When writing about abusive power usage generates more power usage, is that an heisenbug? Or schr dinbug?)

Power management Compared to the Purism Librem 13v4, the ongoing power usage seems to be slightly better. An anecdotal metric is that the Purism would take 800mA idle, while the more powerful Framework manages a little over 500mA as I'm typing this, fluctuating between 450 and 600mA. That is without any active expansion card, except the storage. Those numbers come from the output of tlp-stat -b and, unfortunately, the "ampere" unit makes it quite hard to compare those, because voltage is not necessarily the same between the two platforms.
  • TODO: review Arch Linux's tips on power saving
  • TODO: i915 driver has a lot of parameters, including some about power saving, see, again, the arch wiki, and particularly enable_fbc=1
TL:DR; power management on the laptop is an issue, but there's various tweaks you can make to improve it. Try:
  • powertop --auto-tune
  • apt install tlp && systemctl enable tlp
  • nvme.noacpi=1 mem_sleep_default=deep on the kernel command line may help with standby power usage
  • keep only USB-C expansion cards plugged in, all others suck power even when idle
  • consider upgrading the BIOS to latest beta (3.06 at the time of writing), unverified power savings
  • latest Linux kernels (6.2) promise power savings as well (unverified)
Update: also try to follow the official optimization guide. It was made for Ubuntu but will probably also work for your distribution of choice with a few tweaks. They recommend using tlpui but it's not packaged in Debian. There is, however, a Flatpak release. In my case, it resulted in the following diff to tlp.conf: tlp.patch.

Background on CPU architecture There were power problems in the 11th gen Framework laptop, according to this report from Linux After Dark, so the issues with power management on the Framework are not new. The 12th generation Intel CPU (AKA "Alder Lake") is a big-little architecture with "power-saving" and "performance" cores. There used to be performance problems introduced by the scheduler in Linux 5.16 but those were eventually fixed in 5.18, which uses Intel's hardware as an "intelligent, low-latency hardware-assisted scheduler". According to Phoronix, the 5.19 release improved the power saving, at the cost of some penalty cost. There were also patch series to make the scheduler configurable, but it doesn't look those have been merged as of 5.19. There was also a session about this at the 2022 Linux Plumbers, but they stopped short of talking more about the specific problems Linux is facing in Alder lake:
Specifically, the kernel's energy-aware scheduling heuristics don't work well on those CPUs. A number of features present there complicate the energy picture; these include SMT, Intel's "turbo boost" mode, and the CPU's internal power-management mechanisms. For many workloads, running on an ostensibly more power-hungry Pcore can be more efficient than using an Ecore. Time for discussion of the problem was lacking, though, and the session came to a close.
All this to say that the 12gen Intel line shipped with this Framework series should have better power management thanks to its power-saving cores. And Linux has had the scheduler changes to make use of this (but maybe is still having trouble). In any case, this might not be the source of power management problems on my laptop, quite the opposite. Also note that the firmware updates for various chipsets are supposed to improve things eventually. On the other hand, The Verge simply declared the whole P-series a mistake...

Attempts at improving power usage I did try to follow some of the tips in this forum post. The tricks powertop --auto-tune and tlp's PCIE_ASPM_ON_BAT=powersupersave basically did nothing: I was stuck at 10W power usage in powertop (600+mA in tlp-stat). Apparently, I should be able to reach the C8 CPU power state (or even C9, C10) in powertop, but I seem to be stock at C7. (Although I'm not sure how to read that tab in powertop: in the Core(HW) column there's only C3/C6/C7 states, and most cores are 85% in C7 or maybe C6. But the next column over does show many CPUs in C10 states... As it turns out, the graphics card actually takes up a good chunk of power unless proper power management is enabled (see below). After tweaking this, I did manage to get down to around 7W power usage in powertop. Expansion cards actually do take up power, and so does the screen, obviously. The fully-lit screen takes a solid 2-3W of power compared to the fully dimmed screen. When removing all expansion cards and making the laptop idle, I can spin it down to 4 watts power usage at the moment, and an amazing 2 watts when the screen turned off.

Caveats Abusive (10W+) power usage that I initially found could be a problem with my desktop configuration: I have this silly status bar that updates every second and probably causes redraws... The CPU certainly doesn't seem to spin down below 1GHz. Also note that this is with an actual desktop running with everything: it could very well be that some things (I'm looking at you Signal Desktop) take up unreasonable amount of power on their own (hello, 1W/electron, sheesh). Syncthing and containerd (Docker!) also seem to take a good 500mW just sitting there. Beyond my desktop configuration, this could, of course, be a Debian-specific problem; your favorite distribution might be better at power management.

Idle power usage tests Some expansion cards waste energy, even when unused. Here is a summary of the findings from the powerstat page. I also include other devices tested in this page for completeness:
Device Minimum Average Max Stdev Note
Screen, 100% 2.4W 2.6W 2.8W N/A
Screen, 1% 30mW 140mW 250mW N/A
Backlight 1 290mW ? ? ? fairly small, all things considered
Backlight 2 890mW 1.2W 3W? 460mW? geometric progression
Backlight 3 1.69W 1.5W 1.8W? 390mW? significant power use
Radios 100mW 250mW N/A N/A
USB-C N/A N/A N/A N/A negligible power drain
USB-A 10mW 10mW ? 10mW almost negligible
DisplayPort 300mW 390mW 600mW N/A not passive
HDMI 380mW 440mW 1W? 20mW not passive
1TB SSD 1.65W 1.79W 2W 12mW significant, probably higher when busy
MicroSD 1.6W 3W 6W 1.93W highest power usage, possibly even higher when busy
Ethernet 1.69W 1.64W 1.76W N/A comparable to the SSD card
So it looks like all expansion cards but the USB-C ones are active, i.e. they draw power with idle. The USB-A cards are the least concern, sucking out 10mW, pretty much within the margin of error. But both the DisplayPort and HDMI do take a few hundred miliwatts. It looks like USB-A connectors have this fundamental flaw that they necessarily draw some powers because they lack the power negotiation features of USB-C. At least according to this post:
It seems the USB A must have power going to it all the time, that the old USB 2 and 3 protocols, the USB C only provides power when there is a connection. Old versus new.
Apparently, this is a problem specific to the USB-C to USB-A adapter that ships with the Framework. Some people have actually changed their orders to all USB-C because of this problem, but I'm not sure the problem is as serious as claimed in the forums. I couldn't reproduce the "one watt" power drains suggested elsewhere, at least not repeatedly. (A previous version of this post did show such a power drain, but it was in a less controlled test environment than the series of more rigorous tests above.) The worst offenders are the storage cards: the SSD drive takes at least one watt of power and the MicroSD card seems to want to take all the way up to 6 watts of power, both just sitting there doing nothing. This confirms claims of 1.4W for the SSD (but not 5W) power usage found elsewhere. The former post has instructions on how to disable the card in software. The MicroSD card has been reported as using 2 watts, but I've seen it as high as 6 watts, which is pretty damning. The Framework team has a beta update for the DisplayPort adapter but currently only for Windows (LVFS technically possible, "under investigation"). A USB-A firmware update is also under investigation. It is therefore likely at least some of those power management issues will eventually be fixed. Note that the upcoming Ethernet card has a reported 2-8W power usage, depending on traffic. I did my own power usage tests in powerstat-wayland and they seem lower than 2W. The upcoming 6.2 Linux kernel might also improve battery usage when idle, see this Phoronix article for details, likely in early 2023.

Idle power usage tests under Wayland Update: I redid those tests under Wayland, see powerstat-wayland for details. The TL;DR: is that power consumption is either smaller or similar.

Idle power usage tests, 3.06 beta BIOS I redid the idle tests after the 3.06 beta BIOS update and ended up with this results:
Device Minimum Average Max Stdev Note
Baseline 1.96W 2.01W 2.11W 30mW 1 USB-C, screen off, backlight off, no radios
2 USB-C 1.95W 2.16W 3.69W 430mW USB-C confirmed as mostly passive...
3 USB-C 1.95W 2.16W 3.69W 430mW ... although with extra stdev
1TB SSD 3.72W 3.85W 4.62W 200mW unchanged from before upgrade
1 USB-A 1.97W 2.18W 4.02W 530mW unchanged
2 USB-A 1.97W 2.00W 2.08W 30mW unchanged
3 USB-A 1.94W 1.99W 2.03W 20mW unchanged
MicroSD w/o card 3.54W 3.58W 3.71W 40mW significant improvement! 2-3W power saving!
MicroSD w/ card 3.53W 3.72W 5.23W 370mW new measurement! increased deviation
DisplayPort 2.28W 2.31W 2.37W 20mW unchanged
1 HDMI 2.43W 2.69W 4.53W 460mW unchanged
2 HDMI 2.53W 2.59W 2.67W 30mW unchanged
External USB 3.85W 3.89W 3.94W 30mW new result
Ethernet 3.60W 3.70W 4.91W 230mW unchanged
Note that the table summary is different than the previous table: here we show the absolute numbers while the previous table was doing a confusing attempt at showing relative (to the baseline) numbers. Conclusion: the 3.06 BIOS update did not significantly change idle power usage stats except for the MicroSD card which has significantly improved. The new "external USB" test is also interesting: it shows how the provided 1TB SSD card performs (admirably) compared to existing devices. The other new result is the MicroSD card with a card which, interestingly, uses less power than the 1TB SSD drive.

Standby battery usage I wrote some quick hack to evaluate how much power is used during sleep. Apparently, this is one of the areas that should have improved since the first Framework model, let's find out. My baseline for comparison is the Purism laptop, which, in 10 minutes, went from this:
sep 28 11:19:45 angela systemd-sleep[209379]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT/charge_now                      =   6045 [mAh]
... to this:
sep 28 11:29:47 angela systemd-sleep[209725]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT/charge_now                      =   6037 [mAh]
That's 8mAh per 10 minutes (and 2 seconds), or 48mA, or, with this battery, about 127 hours or roughly 5 days of standby. Not bad! In comparison, here is my really old x220, before:
sep 29 22:13:54 emma systemd-sleep[176315]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/energy_now                     =   5070 [mWh]
... after:
sep 29 22:23:54 emma systemd-sleep[176486]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/energy_now                     =   4980 [mWh]
... which is 90 mwH in 10 minutes, or a whopping 540mA, which was possibly okay when this battery was new (62000 mAh, so about 100 hours, or about 5 days), but this battery is almost dead and has only 5210 mAh when full, so only 10 hours standby. And here is the Framework performing a similar test, before:
sep 29 22:27:04 angela systemd-sleep[4515]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_full                    =   3518 [mAh]
sep 29 22:27:04 angela systemd-sleep[4515]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2861 [mAh]
... after:
sep 29 22:37:08 angela systemd-sleep[4743]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2812 [mAh]
... which is 49mAh in a little over 10 minutes (and 4 seconds), or 292mA, much more than the Purism, but half of the X220. At this rate, the battery would last on standby only 12 hours!! That is pretty bad. Note that this was done with the following expansion cards:
  • 2 USB-C
  • 1 1TB SSD drive
  • 1 USB-A with a hub connected to it, with keyboard and LAN
Preliminary tests without the hub (over one minute) show that it doesn't significantly affect this power consumption (300mA). This guide also suggests booting with nvme.noacpi=1 but this still gives me about 5mAh/min (or 300mA). Adding mem_sleep_default=deep to the kernel command line does make a difference. Before:
sep 29 23:03:11 angela systemd-sleep[3699]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2544 [mAh]
... after:
sep 29 23:04:25 angela systemd-sleep[4039]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   2542 [mAh]
... which is 2mAh in 74 seconds, which is 97mA, brings us to a more reasonable 36 hours, or a day and a half. It's still above the x220 power usage, and more than an order of magnitude more than the Purism laptop. It's also far from the 0.4% promised by upstream, which would be 14mA for the 3500mAh battery. It should also be noted that this "deep" sleep mode is a little more disruptive than regular sleep. As you can see by the timing, it took more than 10 seconds for the laptop to resume, which feels a little alarming as your banging the keyboard to bring it back to life. You can confirm the current sleep mode with:
# cat /sys/power/mem_sleep
s2idle [deep]
In the above, deep is selected. You can change it on the fly with:
printf s2idle > /sys/power/mem_sleep
Here's another test:
sep 30 22:25:50 angela systemd-sleep[32207]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   1619 [mAh]
sep 30 22:31:30 angela systemd-sleep[32516]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   1613 [mAh]
... better! 6 mAh in about 6 minutes, works out to 63.5mA, so more than two days standby. A longer test:
oct 01 09:22:56 angela systemd-sleep[62978]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3327 [mAh]
oct 01 12:47:35 angela systemd-sleep[63219]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3147 [mAh]
That's 180mAh in about 3.5h, 52mA! Now at 66h, or almost 3 days. I wasn't sure why I was seeing such fluctuations in those tests, but as it turns out, expansion card power tests show that they do significantly affect power usage, especially the SSD drive, which can take up to two full watts of power even when idle. I didn't control for expansion cards in the above tests running them with whatever card I had plugged in without paying attention so it's likely the cause of the high power usage and fluctuations. It might be possible to work around this problem by disabling USB devices before suspend. TODO. See also this post. In the meantime, I have been able to get much better suspend performance by unplugging all modules. Then I get this result:
oct 04 11:15:38 angela systemd-sleep[257571]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3203 [mAh]
oct 04 15:09:32 angela systemd-sleep[257866]: /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   3145 [mAh]
Which is 14.8mA! Almost exactly the number promised by Framework! With a full battery, that means a 10 days suspend time. This is actually pretty good, and far beyond what I was expecting when starting down this journey. So, once the expansion cards are unplugged, suspend power usage is actually quite reasonable. More detailed standby tests are available in the standby-tests page, with a summary below. There is also some hope that the Chromebook edition specifically designed with a specification of 14 days standby time could bring some firmware improvements back down to the normal line. Some of those issues were reported upstream in April 2022, but there doesn't seem to have been any progress there since. TODO: one final solution here is suspend-then-hibernate, which Windows uses for this TODO: consider implementing the S0ix sleep states , see also troubleshooting TODO: consider

Standby expansion cards test results This table is a summary of the more extensive standby-tests I have performed:
Device Wattage Amperage Days Note
baseline 0.25W 16mA 9 sleep=deep nvme.noacpi=1
s2idle 0.29W 18.9mA ~7 sleep=s2idle nvme.noacpi=1
normal nvme 0.31W 20mA ~7 sleep=s2idle without nvme.noacpi=1
1 USB-C 0.23W 15mA ~10
2 USB-C 0.23W 14.9mA same as above
1 USB-A 0.75W 48.7mA 3 +500mW (!!) for the first USB-A card!
2 USB-A 1.11W 72mA 2 +360mW
3 USB-A 1.48W 96mA <2 +370mW
1TB SSD 0.49W 32mA <5 +260mW
MicroSD 0.52W 34mA ~4 +290mW
DisplayPort 0.85W 55mA <3 +620mW (!!)
1 HDMI 0.58W 38mA ~4 +250mW
2 HDMI 0.65W 42mA <4 +70mW (?)
  • USB-C cards take no extra power on suspend, possibly less than empty slots, more testing required
  • USB-A cards take a lot more power on suspend (300-500mW) than on regular idle (~10mW, almost negligible)
  • 1TB SSD and MicroSD cards seem to take a reasonable amount of power (260-290mW), compared to their runtime equivalents (1-6W!)
  • DisplayPort takes a surprising lot of power (620mW), almost double its average runtime usage (390mW)
  • HDMI cards take, surprisingly, less power (250mW) in standby than the DP card (620mW)
  • and oddly, a second card adds less power usage (70mW?!) than the first, maybe a circuit is used by both?
A discussion of those results is in this forum post.

Standby expansion cards test results, 3.06 beta BIOS Framework recently (2022-11-07) announced that they will publish a firmware upgrade to address some of the USB-C issues, including power management. This could positively affect the above result, improving both standby and runtime power usage. The update came out in December 2022 and I redid my analysis with the following results:
Device Wattage Amperage Days Note
baseline 0.25W 16mA 9 no cards, same as before upgrade
1 USB-C 0.25W 16mA 9 same as before
2 USB-C 0.25W 16mA 9 same
1 USB-A 0.80W 62mA 3 +550mW!! worse than before
2 USB-A 1.12W 73mA <2 +320mW, on top of the above, bad!
Ethernet 0.62W 40mA 3-4 new result, decent
1TB SSD 0.52W 34mA 4 a bit worse than before (+2mA)
MicroSD 0.51W 22mA 4 same
DisplayPort 0.52W 34mA 4+ upgrade improved by 300mW
1 HDMI ? 38mA ? same
2 HDMI ? 45mA ? a bit worse than before (+3mA)
Normal 1.08W 70mA ~2 Ethernet, 2 USB-C, USB-A
Full results in standby-tests-306. The big takeaway for me is that the update did not improve power usage on the USB-A ports which is a big problem for my use case. There is a notable improvement on the DisplayPort power consumption which brings it more in line with the HDMI connector, but it still doesn't properly turn off on suspend either. Even worse, the USB-A ports now sometimes fails to resume after suspend, which is pretty annoying. This is a known problem that will hopefully get fixed in the final release.

Battery wear protection The BIOS has an option to limit charge to 80% to mitigate battery wear. There's a way to control the embedded controller from runtime with fw-ectool, partly documented here. The command would be:
sudo ectool fwchargelimit 80
I looked at building this myself but failed to run it. I opened a RFP in Debian so that we can ship this in Debian, and also documented my work there. Note that there is now a counter that tracks charge/discharge cycles. It's visible in tlp-stat -b, which is a nice improvement:
root@angela:/home/anarcat# tlp-stat -b
--- TLP 1.5.0 --------------------------------------------
+++ Battery Care
Plugin: generic
Supported features: none available
+++ Battery Status: BAT1
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/manufacturer                   = NVT
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/model_name                     = Framewo
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/cycle_count                    =      3
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_full_design             =   3572 [mAh]
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_full                    =   3541 [mAh]
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_now                     =   1625 [mAh]
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/current_now                    =    178 [mA]
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/status                         = Discharging
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_control_start_threshold = (not available)
/sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/charge_control_end_threshold   = (not available)
Charge                                                      =   45.9 [%]
Capacity                                                    =   99.1 [%]
One thing that is still missing is the charge threshold data (the (not available) above). There's been some work to make that accessible in August, stay tuned? This would also make it possible implement hysteresis support.

Ethernet expansion card The Framework ethernet expansion card is a fancy little doodle: "2.5Gbit/s and 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet", the "clear housing lets you peek at the RTL8156 controller that powers it". Which is another way to say "we didn't completely finish prod on this one, so it kind of looks like we 3D-printed this in the shop".... The card is a little bulky, but I guess that's inevitable considering the RJ-45 form factor when compared to the thin Framework laptop. I have had a serious issue when trying it at first: the link LEDs just wouldn't come up. I made a full bug report in the forum and with upstream support, but eventually figured it out on my own. It's (of course) a power saving issue: if you reboot the machine, the links come up when the laptop is running the BIOS POST check and even when the Linux kernel boots. I first thought that the problem is likely related to the powertop service which I run at boot time to tweak some power saving settings. It seems like this:
echo 'on' > '/sys/bus/usb/devices/4-2/power/control'
... is a good workaround to bring the card back online. You can even return to power saving mode and the card will still work:
echo 'auto' > '/sys/bus/usb/devices/4-2/power/control'
Further research by Matt_Hartley from the Framework Team found this issue in the tlp tracker that shows how the USB_AUTOSUSPEND setting enables the power saving even if the driver doesn't support it, which, in retrospect, just sounds like a bad idea. To quote that issue:
By default, USB power saving is active in the kernel, but not force-enabled for incompatible drivers. That is, devices that support suspension will suspend, drivers that do not, will not.
So the fix is actually to uninstall tlp or disable that setting by adding this to /etc/tlp.conf:
... but that disables auto-suspend on all USB devices, which may hurt other power usage performance. I have found that a a combination of:
and this on the kernel commandline:
... actually does work correctly. I now have this in my /etc/default/grub.d/framework-tweaks.cfg file:
# net.ifnames=0: normal interface names ffs (e.g. eth0, wlan0, not wlp166
# nvme.noacpi=1: reduce SSD disk power usage (not working)
# mem_sleep_default=deep: reduce power usage during sleep (not working)
# usbcore.quirk is a workaround for the ethernet card suspend bug: https:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="net.ifnames=0 nvme.noacpi=1 mem_sleep_default=deep usbcore.quirks=0bda:8156:k"
# fix the resolution in grub for fonts to not be tiny
Other than that, I haven't been able to max out the card because I don't have other 2.5Gbit/s equipment at home, which is strangely satisfying. But running against my Turris Omnia router, I could pretty much max a gigabit fairly easily:
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate         Retr
[  5]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.09 GBytes   937 Mbits/sec  238             sender
[  5]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.09 GBytes   934 Mbits/sec                  receiver
The card doesn't require any proprietary firmware blobs which is surprising. Other than the power saving issues, it just works. In my power tests (see powerstat-wayland), the Ethernet card seems to use about 1.6W of power idle, without link, in the above "quirky" configuration where the card is functional but without autosuspend.

Proprietary firmware blobs The framework does need proprietary firmware to operate. Specifically:
  • the WiFi network card shipped with the DIY kit is a AX210 card that requires a 5.19 kernel or later, and the firmware-iwlwifi non-free firmware package
  • the Bluetooth adapter also loads the firmware-iwlwifi package (untested)
  • the graphics work out of the box without firmware, but certain power management features come only with special proprietary firmware, normally shipped in the firmware-misc-nonfree but currently missing from the package
Note that, at the time of writing, the latest i915 firmware from linux-firmware has a serious bug where loading all the accessible firmware results in noticeable I estimate 200-500ms lag between the keyboard (not the mouse!) and the display. Symptoms also include tearing and shearing of windows, it's pretty nasty. One workaround is to delete the two affected firmware files:
cd /lib/firmware && rm adlp_guc_70.1.1.bin adlp_guc_69.0.3.bin
update-initramfs -u
You will get the following warning during build, which is good as it means the problematic firmware is disabled:
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/i915/adlp_guc_69.0.3.bin for module i915
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/i915/adlp_guc_70.1.1.bin for module i915
But then it also means that critical firmware isn't loaded, which means, among other things, a higher battery drain. I was able to move from 8.5-10W down to the 7W range after making the firmware work properly. This is also after turning the backlight all the way down, as that takes a solid 2-3W in full blast. The proper fix is to use some compositing manager. I ended up using compton with the following systemd unit:
Description=start compositing manager
ExecStart=compton --show-all-xerrors --backend glx --vsync opengl-swc
compton is orphaned however, so you might be tempted to use picom instead, but in my experience the latter uses much more power (1-2W extra, similar experience). I also tried compiz but it would just crash with:
anarcat@angela:~$ compiz --replace
compiz (core) - Warn: No XI2 extension
compiz (core) - Error: Another composite manager is already running on screen: 0
compiz (core) - Fatal: No manageable screens found on display :0
When running from the base session, I would get this instead:
compiz (core) - Warn: No XI2 extension
compiz (core) - Error: Couldn't load plugin 'ccp'
compiz (core) - Error: Couldn't load plugin 'ccp'
Thanks to EmanueleRocca for figuring all that out. See also this discussion about power management on the Framework forum. Note that Wayland environments do not require any special configuration here and actually work better, see my Wayland migration notes for details.
Also note that the iwlwifi firmware also looks incomplete. Even with the package installed, I get those errors in dmesg:
[   19.534429] Intel(R) Wireless WiFi driver for Linux
[   19.534691] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: enabling device (0000 -> 0002)
[   19.541867] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode (-2)
[   19.541881] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode (-2)
[   19.541882] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541890] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode (-2)
[   19.541895] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode (-2)
[   19.541896] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541903] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode (-2)
[   19.541907] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode (-2)
[   19.541908] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-70.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541913] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode (-2)
[   19.541916] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode (-2)
[   19.541917] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-69.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541922] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode (-2)
[   19.541926] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode (-2)
[   19.541927] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-68.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.541933] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode (-2)
[   19.541937] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode (-2)
[   19.541937] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: Direct firmware load for iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-67.ucode failed with error -2
[   19.544244] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-66.ucode
[   19.544257] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: api flags index 2 larger than supported by driver
[   19.544270] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: TLV_FW_FSEQ_VERSION: FSEQ Version:
[   19.544523] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwl-debug-yoyo.bin (-2)
[   19.544528] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: firmware: failed to load iwl-debug-yoyo.bin (-2)
[   19.544530] iwlwifi 0000:a6:00.0: loaded firmware version 66.55c64978.0 ty-a0-gf-a0-66.ucode op_mode iwlmvm
Some of those are available in the latest upstream firmware package (iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-71.ucode, -68, and -67), but not all (e.g. iwlwifi-ty-a0-gf-a0-72.ucode is missing) . It's unclear what those do or don't, as the WiFi seems to work well without them. I still copied them in from the latest linux-firmware package in the hope they would help with power management, but I did not notice a change after loading them. There are also multiple knobs on the iwlwifi and iwlmvm drivers. The latter has a power_schmeme setting which defaults to 2 (balanced), setting it to 3 (low power) could improve battery usage as well, in theory. The iwlwifi driver also has power_save (defaults to disabled) and power_level (1-5, defaults to 1) settings. See also the output of modinfo iwlwifi and modinfo iwlmvm for other driver options.

Graphics acceleration After loading the latest upstream firmware and setting up a compositing manager (compton, above), I tested the classic glxgears. Running in a window gives me odd results, as the gears basically grind to a halt:
Running synchronized to the vertical refresh.  The framerate should be
approximately the same as the monitor refresh rate.
137 frames in 5.1 seconds = 26.984 FPS
27 frames in 5.4 seconds =  5.022 FPS
Ouch. 5FPS! But interestingly, once the window is in full screen, it does hit the monitor refresh rate:
300 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.000 FPS
I'm not really a gamer and I'm not normally using any of that fancy graphics acceleration stuff (except maybe my browser does?). I installed intel-gpu-tools for the intel_gpu_top command to confirm the GPU was engaged when doing those simulations. A nice find. Other useful diagnostic tools include glxgears and glxinfo (in mesa-utils) and (vainfo in vainfo). Following to this post, I also made sure to have those settings in my about:config in Firefox, or, in user.js:
user_pref("media.ffmpeg.vaapi.enabled", true);
Note that the guide suggests many other settings to tweak, but those might actually be overkill, see this comment and its parents. I did try forcing hardware acceleration by setting gfx.webrender.all to true, but everything became choppy and weird. The guide also mentions installing the intel-media-driver package, but I could not find that in Debian. The Arch wiki has, as usual, an excellent reference on hardware acceleration in Firefox.

Chromium / Signal desktop bugs It looks like both Chromium and Signal Desktop misbehave with my compositor setup (compton + i3). The fix is to add a persistent flag to Chromium. In Arch, it's conveniently in ~/.config/chromium-flags.conf but that doesn't actually work in Debian. I had to put the flag in /etc/chromium.d/disable-compositing, like this:
export CHROMIUM_FLAGS="$CHROMIUM_FLAGS --disable-gpu-compositing"
It's possible another one of the hundreds of flags might fix this issue better, but I don't really have time to go through this entire, incomplete, and unofficial list (!?!). Signal Desktop is a similar problem, and doesn't reuse those flags (because of course it doesn't). Instead I had to rewrite the wrapper script in /usr/local/bin/signal-desktop to use this instead:
exec /usr/bin/flatpak run --branch=stable --arch=x86_64 org.signal.Signal --disable-gpu-compositing "$@"
This was mostly done in this Puppet commit. I haven't figured out the root of this problem. I did try using picom and xcompmgr; they both suffer from the same issue. Another Debian testing user on Wayland told me they haven't seen this problem, so hopefully this can be fixed by switching to wayland.

Graphics card hangs I believe I might have this bug which results in a total graphical hang for 15-30 seconds. It's fairly rare so it's not too disruptive, but when it does happen, it's pretty alarming. The comments on that bug report are encouraging though: it seems this is a bug in either mesa or the Intel graphics driver, which means many people have this problem so it's likely to be fixed. There's actually a merge request on mesa already (2022-12-29). It could also be that bug because the error message I get is actually:
Jan 20 12:49:10 angela kernel: Asynchronous wait on fence 0000:00:02.0:sway[104431]:cb0ae timed out (hint:intel_atomic_commit_ready [i915]) 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] GPU HANG: ecode 12:0:00000000 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] Resetting chip for stopped heartbeat on rcs0 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] GuC firmware i915/adlp_guc_70.1.1.bin version 70.1 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] HuC firmware i915/tgl_huc_7.9.3.bin version 7.9 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] HuC authenticated 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] GuC submission enabled 
Jan 20 12:49:15 angela kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: [drm] GuC SLPC enabled
It's a solid 30 seconds graphical hang. Maybe the keyboard and everything else keeps working. The latter bug report is quite long, with many comments, but this one from January 2023 seems to say that Sway 1.8 fixed the problem. There's also an earlier patch to add an extra kernel parameter that supposedly fixes that too. There's all sorts of other workarounds in there, for example this:
echo "options i915 enable_dc=1 enable_guc_loading=1 enable_guc_submission=1 edp_vswing=0 enable_guc=2 enable_fbc=1 enable_psr=1 disable_power_well=0"   sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/i915.conf
from this comment... So that one is unsolved, as far as the upstream drivers are concerned, but maybe could be fixed through Sway.

Weird USB hangs / graphical glitches I have had weird connectivity glitches better described in this post, but basically: my USB keyboard and mice (connected over a USB hub) drop keys, lag a lot or hang, and I get visual glitches. The fix was to tighten the screws around the CPU on the motherboard (!), which is, thankfully, a rather simple repair.

USB docks are hell Note that the monitors are hooked up to angela through a USB-C / Thunderbolt dock from Cable Matters, with the lovely name of 201053-SIL. It has issues, see this blog post for an in-depth discussion.

Shipping details I ordered the Framework in August 2022 and received it about a month later, which is sooner than expected because the August batch was late. People (including me) expected this to have an impact on the September batch, but it seems Framework have been able to fix the delivery problems and keep up with the demand. As of early 2023, their website announces that laptops ship "within 5 days". I have myself ordered a few expansion cards in November 2022, and they shipped on the same day, arriving 3-4 days later.

The supply pipeline There are basically 6 steps in the Framework shipping pipeline, each (except the last) accompanied with an email notification:
  1. pre-order
  2. preparing batch
  3. preparing order
  4. payment complete
  5. shipping
  6. (received)
This comes from the crowdsourced spreadsheet, which should be updated when the status changes here. I was part of the "third batch" of the 12th generation laptop, which was supposed to ship in September. It ended up arriving on my door step on September 27th, about 33 days after ordering. It seems current orders are not processed in "batches", but in real time, see this blog post for details on shipping.

Shipping trivia I don't know about the others, but my laptop shipped through no less than four different airplane flights. Here are the hops it took: I can't quite figure out how to calculate exactly how much mileage that is, but it's huge. The ride through Alaska is surprising enough but the bounce back through Winnipeg is especially weird. I guess the route happens that way because of Fedex shipping hubs. There was a related oddity when I had my Purism laptop shipped: it left from the west coast and seemed to enter on an endless, two week long road trip across the continental US.

Other resources

26 February 2023

Russ Allbery: Review: An Informal History of the Hugos

Review: An Informal History of the Hugos, by Jo Walton
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: August 2018
ISBN: 1-4668-6573-3
Format: Kindle
Pages: 564
An Informal History of the Hugos is another collection of Jo Walton's posts. As with What Makes This Book So Great, these are blog posts that are still available for free on-line. Unlike that collection, this series happened after got better at tags, so it's much easier to find. Whether to buy it therefore depends on whether having it in convenient book form is worth it to you. Walton's previous collection was a somewhat random assortment of reviews of whatever book she felt like reviewing. As you may guess from the title, this one is more structured. She starts at the first year that the Hugo Awards were given out (1953) and discusses the winners for each year up through 2000. Nearly all of that discussion is about the best novel Hugo, a survey of other good books for that year, and, when other awards (Nebula, Locus, etc.) start up, comparing them to the winners and nominees of other awards. One of the goals of each discussion is to decide whether the Hugo nominees did a good job of capturing the best books of the year and the general feel of the genre at that time. There are a lot of pages in this book, but that's partly because there's a lot of filler. Each post includes all of the winners and (once a nomination system starts) nominees in every Hugo category. Walton offers an in-depth discussion of the novel in every year, and an in-depth discussion of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (technically not a Hugo but awarded with them and voted on in the same way) once those start. Everything else gets a few sentences at most, so it's mostly just lists, all of which you can readily find elsewhere if you cared. Personally, I would have omitted categories without commentary when this was edited into book form. Two other things are included in this book. Most helpfully, Walton's reviews of novels in the shortlist are included after the discussion of that year. If you like Walton's reviews, this is great for all the reasons that What Makes This Book So Great was so much fun. Walton has a way of talking about books with infectious enthusiasm, brief but insightful technical analysis, and a great deal of genre context without belaboring any one point. They're concise and readable and never outlast my attention span, and I wish I could write reviews half as well. The other inclusion is a selection of the comments from the original blog posts. When these posts originally ran, they turned into a community discussion of the corresponding year of SF, and Tor included a selection of those comments in the book. Full disclosure: one of those comments is mine, about the way that cyberpunk latched on to some incorrect ideas of how computers work and made them genre conventions to such a degree that most cyberpunk takes place in a parallel universe with very different computer technology. (I suppose that technically makes me a published author to the tune of a couple of pages.) While I still largely agree with the comment, I blamed Neuromancer for this at the time, and embarrassingly discovered when re-reading it that I had been unfair. This is why one should never express opinions in public where someone might record them. Anyway, there is a general selection of comments from random people, but the vast majority of the comments are discussions of the year's short fiction by Rich Horton and Gardner Dozois. I understand why this was included; Walton doesn't talk about the short fiction, Dozois was a legendary SF short fiction editor and multiple Hugo winner, and both Horton and Dozois reviewed short fiction for Locus. But they don't attempt reviews. For nearly all stories under discussion, unless you recognized the title, you would have no idea even what sub-genre it was in. It's just a sequence of assertions about which title or author was better. Given that there are (in most years) three short fiction categories to the one novel category and both Horton and Dozois write about each category, I suspect there are more words in this book from Horton and Dozois than Walton. That's a problem when those comments turn into tedious catalogs. Reviewing short fiction, particularly short stories, is inherently difficult. I've tried to do a lot of that myself, and it's tricky to find something useful to say that doesn't spoil the story. And to be fair to Horton and Dozois, they weren't being paid to write reviews; they were just commenting on blog posts as part of a community conversation, and I doubt anyone thought this would turn into a book. But when read as a book, their inclusion in this form wasn't my favorite editorial decision. This is therefore a collection of Walton's commentary on the selections for best novel and best new writer alongside a whole lot of boring lists. In theory, the padding shouldn't matter; one can skip over it and just read Walton's parts, and that's still lots of material. But Walton's discussion of the best novels of the year also tends to turn into long lists of books with no commentary (particularly once the very-long Locus recommended list starts appearing), adding to the tedium. This collection requires a lot of skimming. I enjoyed this series of blog posts when they were first published, but even at the time I skimmed the short fiction comments. Gathered in book form with this light of editing, I think it was less successful. If you are curious about the history of science fiction awards and never read the original posts, you may enjoy this, but I would rather have read another collection of straight reviews. Rating: 6 out of 10

25 February 2023

Petter Reinholdtsen: OpenSnitch available in Debian Sid and Bookworm

Thanks to the efforts of the OpenSnitch lead developer Gustavo I iguez Goya allowing me to sponsor the upload, the interactive application firewall OpenSnitch is now available in Debian Testing, soon to become the next stable release of Debian. This is a package which set up a network firewall on one or more machines, which is controlled by a graphical user interface that will ask the user if a program should be allowed to connect to the local network or the Internet. If some background daemon is trying to dial home, it can be blocked from doing so with a simple mouse click, or by default simply by not doing anything when the GUI question dialog pop up. A list of all programs discovered using the network is provided in the GUI, giving the user an overview of how the machine(s) programs use the network. OpenSnitch was uploaded for NEW processing about a month ago, and I had little hope of it getting accepted and shaping up in time for the package freeze, but the Debian ftpmasters proved to be amazingly quick at checking out the package and it was accepted into the archive about week after the first upload. It is now team maintained under the Go language team umbrella. A few fixes to the default setup is only in Sid, and should migrate to Testing/Bookworm in a week. During testing I ran into an issue with Minecraft server broadcasts disappearing, which was quickly resolved by the developer with a patch and a proposed configuration change. I've been told this was caused by the Debian packages default use if /proc/ information to track down kernel status, instead of the newer eBPF module that can be used. The reason is simply that upstream and I have failed to find a way to build the eBPF modules for OpenSnitch without a complete configured Linux kernel source tree, which as far as we can tell is unavailable as a build dependency in Debian. We tried unsuccessfully so far to use the kernel-headers package. It would be great if someone could provide some clues how to build eBPF modules on build daemons in Debian, possibly without the full kernel source. As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

17 February 2023

Enrico Zini: Monitoring a heart rate monitor

I bought myself a cheap wearable Bluetooth LE heart rate monitor in order to play with it, and this is a simple Python script to monitor it and plot data. Bluetooth LE I was surprised that these things seem decently interoperable. You can use hcitool to scan for devices:
hcitool lescan
You can then use gatttool to connect to device and poke at them interactively from a command line. Bluetooth LE from Python There is a nice library called Bleak which is also packaged in Debian. It's modern Python with asyncio and works beautifully! Heart rate monitors Things I learnt: How about a proper fitness tracker? I found OpenTracks, also on F-Droid, which seems nice Why script it from a desktop computer? The question is: why not? A fitness tracker on a phone is useful, but there are lots of silly things one can do from one's computer that one can't do from a phone. A heart rate monitor is, after all, one more input device, and there are never enough input devices! There are so many extremely important use cases that seem entirely unexplored:

8 February 2023

Chris Lamb: Most anticipated films of 2023

Very few highly-anticipated movies appear in January and February, as the bigger releases are timed so they can be considered for the Golden Globes in January and the Oscars in late February or early March, so film fans have the advantage of a few weeks after the New Year to collect their thoughts on the year ahead. In other words, I'm not actually late in outlining below the films I'm most looking forward to in 2023...

Barbie No, seriously! If anyone can make a good film about a doll franchise, it's probably Greta Gerwig. Not only was Little Women (2019) more than admirable, the same could be definitely said for Lady Bird (2017). More importantly, I can't help feel she was the real 'Driver' behind Frances Ha (2012), one of the better modern takes on Claudia Weill's revelatory Girlfriends (1978). Still, whenever I remember that Barbie will be a film about a billion-dollar toy and media franchise with a nettlesome history, I recall I rubbished the "Facebook film" that turned into The Social Network (2010). Anyway, the trailer for Barbie is worth watching, if only because it seems like a parody of itself.

Blitz It's difficult to overstate just how important the aerial bombing of London during World War II is crucial to understanding the British psyche, despite it being a constructed phenomenon from the outset. Without wishing to underplay the deaths of over 40,000 civilian deaths, Angus Calder pointed out in the 1990s that the modern mythology surrounding the event "did not evolve spontaneously; it was a propaganda construct directed as much at [then neutral] American opinion as at British." It will therefore be interesting to see how British Grenadian Trinidadian director Steve McQueen addresses a topic so essential to the British self-conception. (Remember the controversy in right-wing circles about the sole Indian soldier in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk (2017)?) McQueen is perhaps best known for his 12 Years a Slave (2013), but he recently directed a six-part film anthology for the BBC which addressed the realities of post-Empire immigration to Britain, and this leads me to suspect he sees the Blitz and its surrounding mythology with a more critical perspective. But any attempt to complicate the story of World War II will be vigorously opposed in a way that will make the recent hullabaloo surrounding The Crown seem tame. All this is to say that the discourse surrounding this release may be as interesting as the film itself.

Dune, Part II Coming out of the cinema after the first part of Denis Vileneve's adaptation of Dune (2021), I was struck by the conception that it was less of a fresh adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert than an attempt to rehabilitate David Lynch's 1984 version and in a broader sense, it was also an attempt to reestablish the primacy of cinema over streaming TV and the myriad of other distractions in our lives. I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the original novel, finding within it a certain prurience regarding hereditary military regimes and writing about them with a certain sense of glee that belies a secret admiration for them... not to mention an eyebrow-raising allegory for the Middle East. Still, Dune, Part II is going to be a fantastic spectacle.

Ferrari It'll be curious to see how this differs substantially from the recent Ford v Ferrari (2019), but given that Michael Mann's Heat (1995) so effectively re-energised the gangster/heist genre, I'm more than willing to kick the tires of this about the founder of the eponymous car manufacturer. I'm in the minority for preferring Mann's Thief (1981) over Heat, in part because the former deals in more abstract themes, so I'd have perhaps prefered to look forward to a more conceptual film from Mann over a story about one specific guy.

How Do You Live There are a few directors one can look forward to watching almost without qualification, and Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke Howl's Moving Castle, etc.) is one of them. And this is especially so given that The Wind Rises (2013) was meant to be the last collaboration between Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Let's hope he is able to come out of retirement in another ten years.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Given I had a strong dislike of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), I seriously doubt I will enjoy anything this film has to show me, but with 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark remaining one of my most treasured films (read my brief homage), I still feel a strong sense of obligation towards the Indiana Jones name, despite it feeling like the copper is being pulled out of the walls of this franchise today.

Kafka I only know Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland through her Spoor (2017), an adaptation of Olga Tokarczuk's 2009 eco-crime novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. I wasn't an unqualified fan of Spoor (nor the book on which it is based), but I am interested in Holland's take on the life of Czech author Franz Kafka, an author enmeshed with twentieth-century art and philosophy, especially that of central Europe. Holland has mentioned she intends to tell the story "as a kind of collage," and I can hope that it is an adventurous take on the over-furrowed biopic genre. Or perhaps Gregor Samsa will awake from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed in his bed into a huge verminous biopic.

The Killer It'll be interesting to see what path David Fincher is taking today, especially after his puzzling and strangely cold Mank (2020) portraying the writing process behind Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941). The Killer is said to be a straight-to-Netflix thriller based on the graphic novel about a hired assassin, which makes me think of Fincher's Zodiac (2007), and, of course, Se7en (1995). I'm not as entranced by Fincher as I used to be, but any film with Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton (with a score by Trent Reznor) is always going to get my attention.

Killers of the Flower Moon In Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese directs an adaptation of a book about the FBI's investigation into a conspiracy to murder Osage tribe members in the early years of the twentieth century in order to deprive them of their oil-rich land. (The only thing more quintessentially American than apple pie is a conspiracy combined with a genocide.) Separate from learning more about this disquieting chapter of American history, I'd love to discover what attracted Scorsese to this particular story: he's one of the few top-level directors who have the ability to lucidly articulate their intentions and motivations.

Napoleon It often strikes me that, despite all of his achievements and fame, it's somehow still possible to claim that Ridley Scott is relatively underrated compared to other directors working at the top level today. Besides that, though, I'm especially interested in this film, not least of all because I just read Tolstoy's War and Peace (read my recent review) and am working my way through the mind-boggling 431-minute Soviet TV adaptation, but also because several auteur filmmakers (including Stanley Kubrick) have tried to make a Napoleon epic and failed.

Oppenheimer In a way, a biopic about the scientist responsible for the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project seems almost perfect material for Christopher Nolan. He can certainly rely on stars to queue up to be in his movies (Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Kenneth Branagh, etc.), but whilst I'm certain it will be entertaining on many fronts, I fear it will fall into the well-established Nolan mould of yet another single man struggling with obsession, deception and guilt who is trying in vain to balance order and chaos in the world.

The Way of the Wind Marked by philosophical and spiritual overtones, all of Terrence Malick's films are perfumed with themes of transcendence, nature and the inevitable conflict between instinct and reason. My particular favourite is his stunning Days of Heaven (1978), but The Thin Red Line (1998) and A Hidden Life (2019) also touched me ways difficult to relate, and are one of the few films about the Second World War that don't touch off my sensitivity about them (see my remarks about Blitz above). It is therefore somewhat Malickian that his next film will be a biblical drama about the life of Jesus. Given Malick's filmography, I suspect this will be far more subdued than William Wyler's 1959 Ben-Hur and significantly more equivocal in its conviction compared to Paolo Pasolini's ardently progressive The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). However, little beyond that can be guessed, and the film may not even appear until 2024 or even 2025.

Zone of Interest I was mesmerised by Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin (2013), and there is much to admire in his borderline 'revisionist gangster' film Sexy Beast (2000), so I will definitely be on the lookout for this one. The only thing making me hesitate is that Zone of Interest is based on a book by Martin Amis about a romance set inside the Auschwitz concentration camp. I haven't read the book, but Amis has something of a history in his grappling with the history of the twentieth century, and he seems to do it in a way that never sits right with me. But if Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers (1997) proves anything at all, it's all in the adaption.

1 February 2023

Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities January 2023

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




  • Debian BTS: unarchive/reopen/triage bugs for reintroduced packages cycle/pygopherd and ask about guile-2.2 reintroduction bugs
  • Debian IRC: fix topic/info of obsolete channel
  • Debian wiki: unblock IP addresses, approve accounts, approve domains.

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

Sponsors The celery, docutils, pyemd work was sponsored. All other work was done on a volunteer basis.

22 January 2023

Dirk Eddelbuettel: BH 1.81.0-1 oon CRAN: New Upstream, New Library, sprintf Change

Boost Boost is a very large and comprehensive set of (peer-reviewed) libraries for the C++ programming language, containing well over one hundred individual libraries. The BH package provides a sizeable subset of header-only libraries for (easier, no linking required) use by R. It is fairly widely used: the (partial) CRAN mirror logs (aggregated from the cloud mirrors) show over 32.6 million package downloads. Version 1.81.0 of Boost was released in December following the regular Boost release schedule of April, August and December releases. As the commits and changelog show, we packaged it almost immediately and started testing following our annual update cycle which strives to balance being close enough to upstream and not stressing CRAN and the user base too much. The reverse depends check revealed about a handful of packages requiring changes or adjustments which is a pretty good outcome given the over three hundred direct reverse dependencies. So we opened issue #88 to coordinate the issue over the winter break during which CRAN also closes (just as we did before), and also send a wider PSA tweet as a heads-up. Our sincere thanks to the two packages that already updated, and the four that likely will soon. Our thanks also to CRAN for reviewing the package impact over the last few days since I uploaded the package earlier this week. There are a number of changes I have to make each time in BH, and it is worth mentioning them. Because CRAN cares about backwards compatibility and the ability to be used on minimal or older systems, we still adjust the filenames of a few files to fit a jurassic constraints of just over a 100 characters per filepath present in some long-outdated versions of tar. Not a big deal. We also, and that is more controversial, silence a number of #pragma diagnostic messages for g++ and clang++ because CRAN insists on it. I have no choice in that matter. Next, and hopefully this time only, we also found and replaced a few remaining sprintf uses and replaced them with snprintf. Many of the Boost libraries did that, so I hope by the next upgrade for Boost 1.84.0 next winter this will be fully taken care of. Lastly, and also only this time, we silenced a warning about Boost switching to C++14 in the next release 1.82.0 in April. This may matter for a number of packages having a hard-wired selection of C++11 as their C++ language standard. Luckily our compilers are good enough for C++14 so worst case I will have to nudge a few packages next December. This release adds one new library for url processing which struck us as potentially quite useful. The more detailed NEWS log follows.

Changes in version 1.81.0-1 (2023-01-17)
  • Upgrade to Boost 1.81.0 (#87)
  • Added url (new in 1.81.0)
  • Converted remaining sprintf to snprintf (#90 fixing #89)
  • Comment-out gcc warning messages in three files

Via my CRANberries, there is a diffstat report relative to the previous release. Comments and suggestions about BH are welcome via the issue tracker at the GitHub repo. If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

16 January 2023

Russ Allbery: Review: The Truth

Review: The Truth, by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #25
Publisher: Harper
Copyright: November 2000
Printing: August 2014
ISBN: 0-06-230736-3
Format: Mass market
Pages: 435
The Truth is the 25th Discworld novel. Some reading order guides group it loosely into an "industrial revolution" sequence following Moving Pictures, but while there are thematic similarities I'll talk about in a moment, there's no real plot continuity. You could arguably start reading Discworld here, although you'd be spoiled for some character developments in the early Watch novels. William de Worde is paid to write a newsletter. That's not precisely what he calls it, and it's not clear whether his patrons know that he publishes it that way. He's paid to report on news of Ankh-Morpork that may be of interest of various rich or influential people who are not in Ankh-Morpork, and he discovered the best way to optimize this was to write a template of the newsletter, bring it to an engraver to make a plate of it, and run off copies for each of his customers, with some minor hand-written customization. It's a comfortable living for the estranged younger son of a wealthy noble. As the story opens, William is dutifully recording the rumor that dwarfs have discovered how to turn lead into gold. The rumor is true, although not in the way that one might initially assume.
The world is made up of four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. This is a fact well known even to Corporal Nobbs. It's also wrong. There's a fifth element, and generally it's called Surprise. For example, the dwarfs found out how to turn lead into gold by doing it the hard way. The difference between that and the easy way is that the hard way works.
The dwarfs used the lead to make a movable type printing press, which is about to turn William de Worde's small-scale, hand-crafted newsletter into a newspaper. The movable type printing press is not unknown technology. It's banned technology, because the powers that be in Ankh-Morpork know enough to be deeply suspicious of it. The religious establishment doesn't like it because words are too important and powerful to automate. The nobles and the Watch don't like it because cheap words cause problems. And the engraver's guild doesn't like it for obvious reasons. However, Lord Vetinari knows that one cannot apply brakes to a volcano, and commerce with the dwarfs is very important to the city. The dwarfs can continue. At least for now. As in Moving Pictures, most of The Truth is an idiosyncratic speedrun of the social effects of a new technology, this time newspapers. William has no grand plan; he's just an observant man who likes to write, cares a lot about the truth, and accidentally stumbles into editing a newspaper. (This, plus being an estranged son of a rich family, feels very on-point for journalism.) His naive belief is that people want to read true things, since that's what his original patrons wanted. Truth, however, may not be in the top five things people want from a newspaper. This setup requires some narrative force to push it along, which is provided by a plot to depose Vetinari by framing him for murder. The most interesting part of that story is Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, the people hired to do the framing and then dispose of the evidence. They're a classic villain type: the brains and the brawn, dangerous, terrifying, and willing to do horrible things to people. But one thing Pratchett excels at is taking a standard character type, turning it a bit sideways, and stuffing in things that one wouldn't think would belong. In this case, that's Mr. Tulip's deep appreciation for, and genius grasp of, fine art. It should not work to have the looming, awful person with anger issues be able to identify the exact heritage of every sculpture and fine piece of goldsmithing, and yet somehow it does. Also as in Moving Pictures (and, in a different way, Soul Music), Pratchett tends to anthropomorphize technology, giving it a life and motivations of its own. In this case, that's William's growing perception of the press as an insatiable maw into which one has to feed words. I'm usually dubious of shifting agency from humans to things when doing social analysis (and there's a lot of social analysis here), but I have to concede that Pratchett captures something deeply true about the experience of feedback loops with an audience. A lot of what Pratchett puts into this book about the problematic relationship between a popular press and the truth is obvious and familiar, but he also makes some subtle points about the way the medium shapes what people expect from it and how people produce content for it that are worthy of Marshall McLuhan. The interactions between William and the Watch were less satisfying. In our world, the US press is, with only rare exceptions, a thoughtless PR organ for police propaganda and the exonerative tense. Pratchett tackles that here... sort of. William vaguely grasps that his job as a reporter may be contrary to the job of the Watch to maintain order, and Vimes's ambivalent feelings towards "solving crimes" push the story in that direction. But this is also Vimes, who is clearly established as one of the good sort and therefore is a bad vehicle for talking about how the police corrupt the press. Pratchett has Vimes and Vetinari tacitly encourage William, which works within the story but takes the pressure off the conflict and leaves William well short of understanding the underlying politics. There's a lot more that could be said about the tension between the press and the authorities, but I think the Discworld setup isn't suitable for it. This is the sort of book that benefits from twenty-four volumes of backstory and practice. Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork cast ticks along like a well-oiled machine, which frees up space that would otherwise have to be spent on establishing secondary characters. The result is a lot of plot and social analysis shoved into a standard-length Discworld novel, and a story that's hard to put down. The balance between humor and plot is just about perfect, the references and allusions aren't overwhelming, and the supporting characters, both new and old, are excellent. We even get a good Death sequence. This is solid, consistent stuff: Discworld as a mature, well-developed setting with plenty of stories left to tell. Followed by Thief of Time in publication order, and later by Monstrous Regiment in the vaguely-connected industrial revolution sequence. Rating: 8 out of 10