Search Results: "mithrandi"

18 August 2011

Raphaël Hertzog: People behind Debian: Peter Palfrader, Debian System Administrator

You might not know who Peter is because he s not very visible on Debian mailing lists. He s very active however and in particular on IRC. He was an admin of the OFTC IRC network at the time Debian switched from Freenode to OFTC. Nowadays he s a member of the Debian System Administration team who runs all the debian.org servers. If you went to a Debconf you probably met him since he s always looking for new signatures of his GPG key. He owns the best connected key in the PGP web of trust. He also wrote caff a popular GPG key signing tool. Raphael: Who are you? Peter: I m Peter Palfrader, also known as weasel. I m in my early 30s, born and raised in Innsbruck, Austria and am now living and working in Salzburg, Austria. In my copious free time, other than help running Debian s servers I also help maintaining the Tor project s infrastructure. Away from the computer I enjoy reading fiction (mostly English language Science Fiction and Fantasy), playing board games and going to the movies. Weather permitting, I also occasionally do some cycling. Raphael: How did you start contributing to Debian? Peter: I installed my first Debian the week slink came out. That was Debian 2.1 for the youngsters, in early 1999. The one thing I immediately liked about slink was that Debian s pppd supported RAS authentication which my university s dial-up system required. No way I d go back to SuSE 5.3 when I had working Internet with my Debian box. :) During that year I started getting involved in the German language Debian channel on IRCnet which got me in contact with some DDs. Christian Kurz (<shorty>) was working on Debian QA at the time and he asked my help in writing a couple of scripts. Some of that work, debcheck, still produces parts of the qa.d.o website, tho the relevance of that nowadays is probably negligible. While trying to learn more Perl earlier, I had written a program to produce syntax highlighted HTML for code snippets in various languages. I didn t really know what I was doing but it kinda worked, and probably still does since I still get mail from users every now and then. I figured that it would be really nice if people could just get my software together with Debian. According to code2html s Debian changelog the initial release of the package was done on a weekday at 2:30 in the morning early in 2000, and if my memory serves me correctly, shorty uploaded it shortly afterwards. I started packaging a couple of other piece of software and in the same year I sent my mail to the debian account managers to register my intent to become a DD. No new developers where being accepted at that time since the DAMs wanted to overhaul the entire process so I wasn t surprised to not get any immediate reply. Of course what the silence also meant was that the mail had been lost, but I only learned of that later when I took all my courage to ask DAM about the status of application a couple months later. Once that was sorted out I was assigned an AM, did the usual dance, and got my account late in November 2000. Raphael: Four years ago, the Debian System Administration team was a real bottleneck for the project and personal conflicts made it almost impossible to find solutions. You were eager to help and at some point you got dropped as a new member in that team. Can you share your story and how you managed the transition in the difficult climate at that time? Peter: Ah, that was quite the surprise for an awful lot of people, me included. Branden Robinson, who was our DPL for the 2005-2006 term, tried to get some new blood added to DSA who were at the time quite divided. He briefly talked to me on IRC some time in summer 2005, telling me I had come recommended for a role on the sysadmin team . In the course of these 15 minutes he outlined some of the issues he thought a new member of DSA would face and asked me if I thought I could help. My reply was cautiously positive, saying that I didn t want to step on anybody s toes but maybe I could be of some assistance. And that was the first and last of it, until some fine November day two years later I got an email from Phil Hands saying I ve just added you to the adm group, and added you to the debian-admin@d.o alias. and welcome on board . *blink* What!? My teammates at the time were James Troup (elmo), Phil Hands (fil), Martin Joey Schulze and Ryan Murray (neuro). The old team, while apparently not on good terms with one another, was however still around to do heavy lifting when required. I still remember when on my first or second day on the team two disks failed in the raid5 of ftp-master.debian.org aka ries. Neuro did the reinstall once new disks had arrived at Brown University. I m sure I d have been way out of my league had this job fallen to me. Fortunately my teammates were all willing and able to help me find whatever pieces of information existed that might help me learn how debian.org does its stuff. Unfortunately a lot of it only existed in various heads, or when lucky, in one of the huge mbox archives of the debian-admin alias or list. Anyway, soon I was able to get my hands dirty with upgrading from sarge to etch, which had been released about half a year earlier. Raphael: I know the DSA team has accomplished a lot over the last few years. Can you share some interesting figures? Peter: Indeed we have accomplished a lot. In my opinion the most important of these accomplishment is that we re actually once again a team nowadays. A team where people talk to one another and where nobody should be a SPoF. Since this year s debconf we are six people in the admin team: Tollef Fog Heen (Mithrandir) and Faidon Liambotis (paravoid) joined the existing members: Luca Filipozzi, Stephen Gran, Martin Zobel-Helas, and myself. Growing a core team, especially one where membership comes with uid0 on all machines, is not easy and that s why I m very glad we managed to actually do this step. I also think the infrastructure and our workflows have matured well over the last four years. We now have essential monitoring as a matter of course: Nagios not only checks whether all daemons that should be running are in fact running, but it also monitors hardware health of disks, fans, etc. where possible. We are alerted of outstanding security updates that need to be installed and of changes made to our systems that weren t then explicitly acked by one of us. We have set up a centralized configuration system, puppet, for some of our configuration that is the same, or at least similar, on all our machines. Most, if not all, pieces of software, scripts and helpers that we use on debian.org infrastructure is in publicly accessible git repositories. We have good communication with other teams in Debian that need our support, like the ftp folks or the buildd people. As for figures, I don t think there s anything spectacular. As of the time of our BoF at this year s DebConf, we take care of approximately 135 systems, about 100 of them being real iron, the other virtual machines (KVM). They are hosted at over 30 different locations, tho we are trying to cut down on that number, but that s a long and difficult process. We don t really collect a lot of other figures like web hits on www.debian.org or downloads from the ftp archive. The web team might do the former and the latter is pretty much impossible due to the distributed nature of our mirrors, as you well know. Raphael: The DSA team has a policy of eating its own dog food, i.e. you re trying to rely only on what s available in Debian. How does that work out and what are the remaining gaps? Peter: Mostly Debian, the OS, just meets our needs. Sure, the update frequency is a bit high, we probably wouldn t mind a longer release cycle. But on the other hand most software is recent enough. And when it s not, that s easy to fix with backports. If they aren t on backports.debian.org already, we ll just put them there (or ask somebody else to prepare a backport for us) and so everybody else benefits from that work too. Some things we need just don t, and probably won t, exist in Debian. These are mainly proprietary hardware health checks like HP s tools for their servers, or various vendors programs to query their raid controller. HP actually makes packages for their stuff which is very nice, but other things we just put into /usr/local, or if we really need it on a number of machines, package ourselves. The push to cripple our installers and kernels by removing firmware was quite annoying, since it made installing from the official media next to impossible in some cases. Support for working around these limitations has improved with squeeze so that s probably ok now. One of the other problems is that especially on embedded platforms most of the buildd work happens on some variation of development boards, usually due to increased memory and hard disk requirements than the intended market audience. This often implies that the kernel shipped with Debian won t be usable on our own debian.org machines. This makes keeping up with security and other kernel fixes way more error prone and time intensive. We keep annoying the right people in Debian to add kernel flavors that actually boot on our machines, and things are getting better, so maybe in the future this will no longer be a problem. Raphael: If you could spend all your time on Debian, what would you work on? Peter: One of the things that I think is a bit annoying for admins that maintain machines all over the globe is mirror selection. I shouldn t have to care where my packages come from, apt-get should just fetch them from a mirror, any mirror, that is close by, fast and recent. I don t need to know which one it was. We have deployed geodns for security.debian.org a while ago, and it seems to work quite well for the coarse granularity we desired for that setup, but geodns is an ugly hack (I think it is a layer violation), it might not scale to hundreds or thousands of mirrors, and it doesn t play well with DNSSEC. What I d really like to see is Debian support apt s mirror method that I think (and I apologize if I m wronging somebody) Michael Vogt implemented recently. The basic idea is that you simply add deb mirror://mirror.debian.org/ or something like that to your sources.list, and apt goes and asks that server for a list of mirrors it should use right now. The client code exists, but I don t know how well tested it is. What is missing is the server part. One that gives clients a mirror, or list of mirrors, that are close to them, current, and carry their architecture. It s probably not a huge amount of work, but at the same time it s also not entirely trivial. If I had more time on my hands this is something that I d try to do. Hopefully somebody will pick it up. Raphael: What motivates you to continue to contribute year after year? Peter: It s fun, mostly. Sure, there are things that need to be done regularly that are boring or become so after a while, but as a sysadmin you tend to do things once or twice and then seek to automate it. DSA s users, i.e. DDs, constantly want to play with new services or approaches to make Debian better and often they need our support or help in their endeavors. So that s a constant flow of interesting challenges. Another reason is that Debian is simply where some of my friends are. Working on Debian with them is interacting with friends. I not only use Debian at debian.org. I use it at work, I use it on my own machines, on the servers of the Tor project. When I was with OFTC Debian is what we put on our machines. Being a part of Debian is one way to ensure what Debian releases is actually usable to me, professionally and with other projects. Raphael: Is there someone in Debian that you admire for their contributions? Peter: That s a hard one. There are certainly people who I respect greatly for their technical or other contributions to Debian, but I don t want to single anybody out in particular. I think we all, everyone who ever contributed to Debian with code, support or a bug report, can be very proud of what we are producing one of the best operating systems out there.
Thank you to Peter for the time spent answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed reading his answers as I did. Subscribe to my newsletter to get my monthly summary of the Debian/Ubuntu news and to not miss further interviews. You can also follow along on Identi.ca, Twitter and Facebook.

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23 December 2008

Emilio Pozuelo Monfort: Collaborative maintenance

The Debian Python Modules Team is discussing which DVCS to switch to from SVN. Ondrej Certik asked how to generate a list of commiters to the team s repository, so I looked at it and got this:
emilio@saturno:~/deb/python-modules$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
865 piotr
609 morph
598 kov
532 bzed
388 pox
302 arnau
253 certik
216 shlomme
212 malex
175 hertzog
140 nslater
130 kobold
123 nijel
121 kitterma
106 bernat
99 kibi
87 varun
83 stratus
81 nobse
81 netzwurm
78 azatoth
76 mca
73 dottedmag
70 jluebbe
68 zack
68 cgalisteo
61 speijnik
61 odd_bloke
60 rganesan
55 kumanna
52 werner
50 haas
48 mejo
45 ucko
43 pabs
42 stew
42 luciano
41 mithrandi
40 wardi
36 gudjon
35 jandd
34 smcv
34 brettp
32 jenner
31 davidvilla
31 aurel32
30 rousseau
30 mtaylor
28 thomasbl
26 lool
25 gaspa
25 ffm
24 adn
22 jmalonzo
21 santiago
21 appaji
18 goedson
17 toadstool
17 sto
17 awen
16 mlizaur
16 akumar
15 nacho
14 smr
14 hanska
13 tviehmann
13 norsetto
13 mbaldessari
12 stone
12 sharky
11 rainct
11 fabrizio
10 lash
9 rodrigogc
9 pcc
9 miriam
9 madduck
9 ftlerror
8 pere
8 crschmidt
7 ncommander
7 myon
7 abuss
6 jwilk
6 bdrung
6 atehwa
5 kcoyner
5 catlee
5 andyp
4 vt
4 ross
4 osrevolution
4 lamby
4 baby
3 sez
3 joss
3 geole
2 rustybear
2 edmonds
2 astraw
2 ana
1 twerner
1 tincho
1 pochu
1 danderson
As it s likely that the Python Applications Packaging Team will switch too to the same DVCS at the same time, here are the numbers for its repo:

emilio@saturno:~/deb/python-apps$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
401 nijel
288 piotr
235 gothicx
159 pochu
76 nslater
69 kumanna
68 rainct
66 gilir
63 certik
52 vdanjean
52 bzed
46 dottedmag
41 stani
39 varun
37 kitterma
36 morph
35 odd_bloke
29 pcc
29 gudjon
28 appaji
25 thomasbl
24 arnau
20 sc
20 andyp
18 jalet
15 gerardo
14 eike
14 ana
13 dfiloni
11 tklauser
10 ryanakca
10 nxvl
10 akumar
8 sez
8 baby
6 catlee
4 osrevolution
4 cody-somerville
2 mithrandi
2 cjsmo
1 nenolod
1 ffm
Here I m the 4th most committer :D And while I was on it, I thought I could do the same for the GNOME and GStreamer teams:
emilio@saturno:~/deb/pkg-gnome$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
5357 lool
2701 joss
1633 slomo
1164 kov
825 seb128
622 jordi
621 jdassen
574 manphiz
335 sjoerd
298 mlang
296 netsnipe
291 grm
255 ross
236 ari
203 pochu
198 ondrej
190 he
180 kilian
176 alanbach
170 ftlerror
148 nobse
112 marco
87 jak
84 samm
78 rfrancoise
75 oysteigi
73 jsogo
65 svena
65 otavio
55 duck
54 jcurbo
53 zorglub
53 rtp
49 wasabi
49 giskard
42 tagoh
42 kartikm
40 gpastore
34 brad
32 robtaylor
31 xaiki
30 stratus
30 daf
26 johannes
24 sander-m
21 kk
19 bubulle
16 arnau
15 dodji
12 mbanck
11 ruoso
11 fpeters
11 dedu
11 christine
10 cpm
7 ember
7 drew
7 debotux
6 tico
6 emil
6 bradsmith
5 robster
5 carlosliu
4 rotty
4 diegoe
3 biebl
2 thibaut
2 ejad
1 naoliv
1 huats
1 gilir

emilio@saturno:~/deb/pkg-gstreamer$ svn log egrep "^r[0-9]+ cut -f2 -d sed s/-guest// sort uniq -c sort -n -r
891 lool
840 slomo
99 pnormand
69 sjoerd
27 seb128
21 manphiz
8 he
7 aquette
4 elmarco
1 fabian
Conclusions:
- Why do I have the full python-modules and pkg-gstreamer trees, if I have just one commit to DPMT, and don t even have commit access to the GStreamer team?
- If you don t want to seem like you have done less commits than you have actually done, don t change your alioth name when you become a DD ;) (hint: pox-guest and piotr in python-modules are the same person)
- If the switch to a new VCS was based on a vote where you have one vote per commit, the top 3 commiters in pkg-gnome could win the vote if they chosed the same! For python-apps it s the 4 top commiters, and the 7 ones for python-modules. pkg-gstreamer is a bit special :)

03 August 2007

Andrew McMillan: IPv6 Burninating all the Peasants

A recent thread which started on the Debian Release mailing list caught my eye this week. I attempted to aid the migration of this thread to the debian-ipv6 mailing list, which is really a better place for this and sorely in need of controversial topics for discussion. It is interesting how people can so blindly decide that broken things should be destroyed. Repair often appears not to be an option, even for a long-term, wide-reaching effort like this, though we are all working on open-source software! In this case there are an unknown number of less fortunate people in the world who are located behind some kinds of broken DNS infrastructure which discards 'AAAA' lookups. Of course 'AAAA' lookups are attempts to resolve a name to an IPv6 address, and the resolver in a 'modern' libc (i.e. one from the last five years or so :-) will try to retrieve an IPv6 address before it attempts to resolve a name as IPv4 with an 'A' lookup. That is how the standard is written, so if you want to comply with the standard you have to do it that way. Other things also interfere, but this element of the specified behaviour seems to cause the most annoying and pointless whingeing I have heard. I suppose that the people who want working IPv6 make it so, and do not have problems with this behaviour. But it seems that people who are behind this kind of broken DNS either disable IPv6, or they have to whine about IPv6 being turned on by default, and can't we please all go back to the good old days. What's wrong with IPv4 anyway? Doesn't NAT solve all of it's problems? Are we sure this new (heh!) technology is safe? Fortunately some people are so good at making their pain felt by other people that they can get other people to do their work for them. So Mithrandir has written a nice elegant patch for libc6 so that it won't do the IPv6 lookups unless you have a usable IPv6 configuration. I've filed bug #435646 against Debian to get this included, but Aurelian Jarno justifiably wants a few people to test it a bit harder... So I've taken the original patch and tweaked it to apply against current libc6 sources (2.6-5) and tested it for myself. It works as desired, as far as I can see, when comparing behaviour with an unpatched system. The patch is attached to the bug report, of course. Perhaps some other people out there can put a wee bit of CPU into testing this for other environments so that we can make life easier for those people with no time / inclination to use IPv6, to ensure that they don't just disable it because it is making life too painful for them in it's current form? How to build libc6 for fun and proft If you have appropriate deb-src URLs configured, and are running Sid, then the following will let you build a local copy of libc6 with the patch. This is probably better testing than if I just make my packages available (which are only i386 in any case).
apt-get build-dep glibc
apt-get source glibc
cd glibc-2.6
debian/rules unpack
cd build-tree/glibc-2.6
wget http://tinyurl.com/3xzm3o
patch -p0 <glibc-only-lookup-ipv6-if-it-makes-sense-debian.patch
cd -
dch --newversion 2.6-5+v6 "Apply IPv6 Resolver Sanity"
fakeroot debian/rules binary
Wait a few hours for it to build... Install... And then confirm that this only does 'AAAA' lookups if (when) you actually have a global or site scoped IPv6 address. When you only have a loopback or link local IPv6 address then you should only see 'A' record lookups. Step 3: profit! Whoops! I forgot the fun bit: please update the bug report :-) What the patch does In my opinion this is quite an elegant solution from Tolleff. He has picked a single characteristic of the IPv6 interfaces to further refine whether the IPv6 configuration of some interface is actually usable. With IPv6 it is much more common to have multiple addresses assigned to a single interface. Interfaces are automatically configured with a link-local address which is not globally routable, and the loopback interface is also configured with the IPv6 equivalent of 127.0.0.1 (which is "::1"). To get a usable IPv6 setup you will also end up with a more widely usable address. In most cases this will be a global address, meaning that it is (in theory) globally routable from other people who also have global addresses, or you could have a "site" address, which is the IPv6 equivalent of RFC1918 addressing. The patch considers that for the purposes of name resolution, it will be pointless to do AAAA lookups unless you have an address of the second kind. This means that people behind broken DNS won't be impacted unless the try and set up IPv6, and people who don't try and set up IPv6 won't get the 'hesitation' while their system attempts to resolve each address in IPv6 space first. It will also mean that when people start to enable IPv6 around them, their setup will continue to work correctly.

15 November 2005

Per-Arne Hellarvik: Hopefully working.

After a chat with Mithrandir, with a following mail to Mako,
I have (hopefully) now a HackerGotchi on p.d.o.

Smile, you're on line...