Search Results: "tew"

21 July 2024

Russell Coker: SE Linux Policy for Dell Management

The recent issue of Windows security software killing computers has reminded me about the issue of management software for Dell systems. I wrote policy for the Dell management programs that extract information from iDRAC and store it in Linux. After the break I ve pasted in the policy. It probably needs some changes for recent software, it was last tested on a PowerEdge T320 and prior to that was used on a PowerEdge R710 both of which are old hardware and use different management software to the recent hardware. One would hope that the recent software would be much better but usually such hope is in vain. I deliberately haven t submitted this for inclusion in the reference policy because it s for proprietary software and also it permits many operations that we would prefer not to permit. The policy is after the break because it s larger than you want on a Planet feed. But first I ll give a few selected lines that are bad in a noteworthy way:
  1. sys_admin means the ability to break everything
  2. dac_override means break Unix permissions
  3. mknod means a daemon creates devices due to a lack of udev configuration
  4. sys_rawio means someone didn t feel like writing a device driver, maintaining a device driver for DKMS is hard and getting a driver accepted upstream requires writing quality code, in any case this is a bad sign.
  5. self:lockdown is being phased out, but used to mean bypassing some integrity protections, that would usually be related to sys_rawio or similar.
  6. dev_rx_raw_memory is bad, reading raw memory allows access to pretty much everything and execute of raw memory is something I can t imagine a good use for, the Reference Policy doesn t use this anywhere!
  7. dev_rw_generic_chr_files usually means a lack of udev configuration as udev should do that.
  8. storage_raw_write_fixed_disk shouldn t be needed for this sort of thing, it doesn t do anything that involves managing partitions.
Now without network access or other obvious ways of remote control this level of access while excessive isn t necessarily going to allow bad things to happen due to outside attack. But if there are bugs in the software there s nothing to stop it from giving the worst results.
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:capability   dac_override dac_read_search mknod sys_rawio sys_admin  ;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:lockdown integrity;
dev_rx_raw_memory(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_generic_chr_files(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_ipmi_dev(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_sysfs(dell_datamgrd_t)
storage_raw_read_fixed_disk(dell_datamgrd_t)
storage_raw_write_fixed_disk(dell_datamgrd_t)
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:lockdown integrity;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:capability   sys_admin sys_rawio  ;
dev_read_raw_memory(dellsrvadmin_t)
dev_rw_sysfs(dellsrvadmin_t)
dev_rx_raw_memory(dellsrvadmin_t)
The best thing that Dell could do for their customers is to make this free software and allow the community to fix some of these issues.
Here is dellsrvadmin.te:
policy_module(dellsrvadmin,1.0.0)
require  
  type dmidecode_exec_t;
  type udev_t;
  type device_t;
  type event_device_t;
  type mon_local_test_t;
 
type dellsrvadmin_t;
type dellsrvadmin_exec_t;
init_daemon_domain(dellsrvadmin_t, dellsrvadmin_exec_t)
type dell_datamgrd_t;
type dell_datamgrd_exec_t;
init_daemon_domain(dell_datamgrd_t, dell_datamgrd_t)
type dellsrvadmin_var_t;
files_type(dellsrvadmin_var_t)
domain_transition_pattern(udev_t, dellsrvadmin_exec_t, dellsrvadmin_t)
modutils_domtrans(dellsrvadmin_t)
allow dell_datamgrd_t device_t:dir rw_dir_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t device_t:chr_file create;
allow dell_datamgrd_t event_device_t:chr_file   read write  ;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:process signal;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:fifo_file rw_file_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:sem create_sem_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:capability   dac_override dac_read_search mknod sys_rawio sys_admin  ;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:lockdown integrity;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:unix_dgram_socket create_socket_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t self:netlink_route_socket r_netlink_socket_perms;
modutils_domtrans(dell_datamgrd_t)
can_exec(dell_datamgrd_t, dmidecode_exec_t)
allow dell_datamgrd_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:dir rw_dir_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:file manage_file_perms;
allow dell_datamgrd_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:lnk_file read;
allow dell_datamgrd_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:sock_file manage_file_perms;
kernel_read_network_state(dell_datamgrd_t)
kernel_read_system_state(dell_datamgrd_t)
kernel_search_fs_sysctls(dell_datamgrd_t)
kernel_read_vm_overcommit_sysctl(dell_datamgrd_t)
# for /proc/bus/pci/*
kernel_write_proc_files(dell_datamgrd_t)
corecmd_exec_bin(dell_datamgrd_t)
corecmd_exec_shell(dell_datamgrd_t)
corecmd_shell_entry_type(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rx_raw_memory(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_generic_chr_files(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_ipmi_dev(dell_datamgrd_t)
dev_rw_sysfs(dell_datamgrd_t)
files_search_tmp(dell_datamgrd_t)
files_read_etc_files(dell_datamgrd_t)
files_read_etc_symlinks(dell_datamgrd_t)
files_read_usr_files(dell_datamgrd_t)
logging_search_logs(dell_datamgrd_t)
miscfiles_read_localization(dell_datamgrd_t)
storage_raw_read_fixed_disk(dell_datamgrd_t)
storage_raw_write_fixed_disk(dell_datamgrd_t)
can_exec(mon_local_test_t, dellsrvadmin_exec_t)
allow mon_local_test_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:dir search;
allow mon_local_test_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:file read_file_perms;
allow mon_local_test_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:file setattr;
allow mon_local_test_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:sock_file write;
allow mon_local_test_t dell_datamgrd_t:unix_stream_socket connectto;
allow mon_local_test_t self:sem   create read write destroy unix_write  ;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:process signal;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:lockdown integrity;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:sem create_sem_perms;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:fifo_file rw_file_perms;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:packet_socket create;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:unix_stream_socket   connectto create_stream_socket_perms  ;
allow dellsrvadmin_t self:capability   sys_admin sys_rawio  ;
dev_read_raw_memory(dellsrvadmin_t)
dev_rw_sysfs(dellsrvadmin_t)
dev_rx_raw_memory(dellsrvadmin_t)
allow dellsrvadmin_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:dir rw_dir_perms;
allow dellsrvadmin_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:file manage_file_perms;
allow dellsrvadmin_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:lnk_file read;
allow dellsrvadmin_t dellsrvadmin_var_t:sock_file write;
allow dellsrvadmin_t dell_datamgrd_t:unix_stream_socket connectto;
kernel_read_network_state(dellsrvadmin_t)
kernel_read_system_state(dellsrvadmin_t)
kernel_search_fs_sysctls(dellsrvadmin_t)
kernel_read_vm_overcommit_sysctl(dellsrvadmin_t)
corecmd_exec_bin(dellsrvadmin_t)
corecmd_exec_shell(dellsrvadmin_t)
corecmd_shell_entry_type(dellsrvadmin_t)
files_read_etc_files(dellsrvadmin_t)
files_read_etc_symlinks(dellsrvadmin_t)
files_read_usr_files(dellsrvadmin_t)
logging_search_logs(dellsrvadmin_t)
miscfiles_read_localization(dellsrvadmin_t)
Here is dellsrvadmin.fc:
/opt/dell/srvadmin/sbin/.*        --        gen_context(system_u:object_r:dellsrvadmin_exec_t,s0)
/opt/dell/srvadmin/sbin/dsm_sa_datamgrd        --        gen_context(system_u:object_r:dell_datamgrd_t,s0)
/opt/dell/srvadmin/bin/.*        --        gen_context(system_u:object_r:dellsrvadmin_exec_t,s0)
/opt/dell/srvadmin/var(/.*)?                        gen_context(system_u:object_r:dellsrvadmin_var_t,s0)
/opt/dell/srvadmin/etc/srvadmin-isvc/ini(/.*)?        gen_context(system_u:object_r:dellsrvadmin_var_t,s0)

10 July 2024

Russell Coker: Computer Adavances in the Last Decade

I wrote a comment on a social media post where someone claimed that there s no computer advances in the last 12 years which got long so it s worth a blog post. In the last decade or so new laptops have become cheaper than new desktop PCs. USB-C has taken over for phones and for laptop charging so all recent laptops support USB-C docks and monitors with USB-C docks built in have become common. 4K monitors have become cheap and common and higher than 4K is cheap for some use cases such as ultra wide. 4K TVs are cheap and TVs with built-in Android computers for playing internet content are now standard. For most use cases spinning media hard drives are obsolete, SSDs large enough for all the content most people need to store are cheap. We have gone from gigabit Ethernet being expensive to 2.5 gigabit being cheap. 12 years ago smart phones were very limited and every couple of years there would be significant improvements. Since about 2018 phones have been capable of doing most things most people want. 5yo Android phones can run the latest apps and take high quality pics. Any phone that supports VoLTE will be good for another 5+ years if it has security support. Phones without security support still work and are quite usable apart from being insecure. Google and Samsung have significantly increased their minimum security support for their phones and the GKI project from Google makes it easier for smaller vendors to give longer security support. There are a variety of open Android projects like LineageOS which give longer security support on a variety of phones. If you deliberately choose a phone that is likely to be well supported by projects like LineageOS (which pretty much means just Pixel phones) then you can expect to be able to actually use it when it is 10 years old. Compare this to the Samsung Galaxy S3 released in 2012 which was a massive improvement over the original Galaxy S (the S2 felt closer to the S than the S3). The Samsung Galaxy S4 released in 2013 was one of the first phones to have FullHD resolution which is high enough that most people can t easily recognise the benefits of higher resolution. It wasn t until 2015 that phones with 4G of RAM became common which is enough that for most phone use it s adequate today. Now that 16G of RAM is affordable in laptops running more secure OSs like Qubes is viable for more people. Even without Qubes, OS security has been improving a lot with better compiler features, new languages like Rust, and changes to software design and testing. Containers are being used more but we still aren t getting all the benefits of that. TPM has become usable in the last few years and we are only starting to take advantage of what it can offer. In 2012 BTRFS was still at an early stage of development and not many people wanted to use it in production, I was using it in production then and while I didn t lose any data from bugs I did have some downtime because of BTRFS issues. Now BTRFS is quite solid for server use. DDR4 was released in 2014 and gave significant improvements over DDR3 for performance and capacity. My home workstation now has 256G of DDR4 which wasn t particularly expensive while the previous biggest system I owned had 96G of DDR3 RAM. Now DDR5 is available to again increase performance and size while also making DDR4 cheap on the second hand market. This isn t a comprehensive list of all advances in the computer industry over the last 12 years or so, it s just some things that seem particularly noteworthy to me. Please comment about what you think are the most noteworthy advances I didn t mention.

1 July 2024

Sahil Dhiman: Personal ASNs From India

Internet and it s working are interesting and complex. We need an IP address to connect to the Internet. A group of IP addresses with common routing policy is known as an Autonomous System (AS). Each AS has a globally unique Autonomous System Number (ASN) and is maintained by a single entity or individual(s). Your ISP would have an ASN. IP addresses/prefixes are advertised (announced) by an AS through Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to its peers (ASes which it connects to) to steer traffic in its direction or back. Take for example Google DNS service at 8.8.8.8 owned and operated by AS15169 Google LLC. AS15169 through BGP announcements, lets all its peers know that traffic for whole of 8.8.8.0/24 (including 8.8.8.8) prefix should be sent to them. See the following screenshot response of mtr -zt 8.8.8.8 from my system. From my Internet Service Provider (ISP), AS133982 Excitel Broadband, traffic travels to AS15169 to reach 8.8.8.8 (dns.google) and returns via the same path. This Inter-AS traffic makes the Internet tick. mtr from Excitel to Google ASes comes in different sizes and purposes. Like AS749 DoD Network Information Center which holds more than 200 million+ IPv4 addresses for historical reasons or AS23860 Alliance Broadband Services which has 68 thousand+ IPv4 address for purpose of providing consumer Internet. Similarly, some individuals also run their personal ASN including a bunch of Indians. Most of these Indian ASNs are IPv6 (primary or only) networks run for hobby and educational purposes. I was interested in this data, so complied a list of active ones (visible in the global routing table) from BGP.Tools: Let me know if I m missing someone.

27 May 2024

Sahil Dhiman: A Late, Late Debconf23 Post

After much procrastination, I have gotten around to complete my DebConf23 (DC23), Kochi blog post. I lost the original etherpad which was started before DebConf23, for jotting down things. Now, I have started afresh with whatever I can remember, months after the actual conference ended. So things might be as accurate as my memory. DebConf23, the 24th annual Debian Conference, happened in Infopark, Kochi, India from 10th September to 17th September 2023. It was preceded by DebCamp from 3rd September to 9th September 2023. First formal bid to host DebConf in India was made during DebConf18 in Hsinchu, Taiwan by Raju Dev, which didn t came our way. In next DebConf, DebConf19 in Curitiba, Brazil, another bid was made by him with help and support from Sruthi, Utkarsh and the whole team.This time, India got the opportunity to host DebConf22, which eventually became DebConf23 for the reasons you all know. I initially met the local team on the sidelines of DebConf20, which was also my first DebConf. Having recently switched to Debian, DC20 introduced me to how things work in Debian. Video team s call for volunteers email pulled me in. Things stuck, and I kept hanging out and helping the local Indian DC team with various stuff. We did manage to organize multiple events leading to DebConf23 including MiniDebConf India 2021 Online, MiniDebConf Palakkad 2022, MiniDebConf Tamil Nadu 2023 and DebUtsav Kochi 2023, which gave us quite a bit of experience and workout. Many local organizers from these conferences later joined various DebConf teams during the conference to help out. For DebConf23, originally I was part of publicity team because that was my usual thing. After a team redistribution exercise, Sruthi and Praveen moved me to sponsorship team, as anyhow we didn t had to do much publicity and sponsorship was one of those things I could get involved remotely. Sponsorship team had to take care of raising funds by reaching out to sponsors, managing invoices and fulfillment. Praveen joined as well in sponsorship team. We also had international sponsorship team, Anisa, Daniel and various Debian Trusted Organizations (TO)s which took care of reaching out to international organizations, and we took care of reaching out to Indian organizations for sponsorship. It was really proud moment when my present employer, Unmukti (makers of hopbox) came aboard as Bronze sponsor. Though fundraising seem to be hit hard from tech industry slowdown and layoffs. Many of our yesteryear sponsors couldn t sponsor. We had biweekly local team meetings, which were turned to weekly as we neared the event. This was done in addition to biweekly global team meeting. Pathu
Pathu, DebConf23 mascot
To describe the conference venue, it happened in InfoPark, Kochi with the main conference hall being Athulya Hall and food, accommodation and two smaller halls in Four Point Hotel, right outside Infopark. We got Athulya Hall as part of venue sponsorship from Infopark. The distance between both of them was around 300 meters. Halls were named Anamudi, Kuthiran and Ponmudi based on hills and mountain areas in host state of Kerala. Other than Annamudi hall which was the main hall, I couldn t remember the names of the hall, I still can t. Four Points was big and expensive, and we had, as expected, cost overruns. Due to how DebConf function, an Indian university wasn t suitable to host a conference of this scale. Infinity Pool at Night
Four Point's Infinity Pool at Night
I landed in Kochi on the first day of DebCamp on 3rd September. As usual, met Abraham first, and the better part of the next hour was spent on meet and greet. It was my first IRL DebConf so met many old friends and new folks. I got a room to myself. Abraham lived nearby and hadn t taken the accommodation, so I asked him to join. He finally joined from second day onwards. All through the conference, room 928 became in-famous for various reasons, and I had various roommates for company. In DebCamp days, we would get up to have breakfast and go back to sleep and get active only past lunch for hacking and helping in the hack lab for the day, followed by fun late night discussions and parties. Nilesh, Chirag and Apple at DC23
Nilesh, Chirag and Apple at DC23
The team even managed to get a press conference arranged as well, and we got an opportunity to go to Press Club, Ernakulam. Sruthi and Jonathan gave the speech and answered questions from journalists. The event was covered by media as well due to this. Ernakulam Press Club
Ernakulam Press Club
During the conference, every night the team use to have 9 PM meetings for retrospection and planning for next day, which was always dotted with new problems. Every day, we used to hijack Silent Hacklab for the meeting and gently ask the only people there at the time to give us space. DebConf, it itself is a well oiled machine. Network was brought up from scratch. Video team built the recording, audio mixing, live-streaming, editing and transcoding infrastructure on site. A gaming rig served as router and gateway. We got internet uplinks, a 1 Gbps sponsored leased line from Kerala Vision and a paid backup 100 Mbps connection from a different provider. IPv6 was added through HE s Tunnelbroker. Overall the network worked fine as additionally we had hotel Wi-Fi, so the conference network wasn t stretched much. I must highlight, DebConf is my only conference where almost everything and every piece of software in developed in-house, for the conference and modified according to need on the fly. Even event recording cameras, audio check, direction, recording and editing is all done on in-house software by volunteer-attendees (in some cases remote ones as well), all trained on the sideline of the conference. The core recording and mixing equipment is owned by Debian and travels to each venue. The rest is sourced locally. Gaming Rig which served as DC23 gateway router
Gaming Rig which served as DC23 gateway router
It was fun seeing how almost all the things were coordinated over text on Internet Relay Chat (IRC). If a talk/event was missing a talkmeister or a director or a camera person, a quick text on #debconf channel would be enough for someone to volunteer. Video team had a dedicated support channel for each conference venue for any issues and were quick to respond and fix stuff. Network information. Screengrab from closing ceremony
Network information. Screengrab from closing ceremony
It rained for the initial days, which gave us a cool weather. Swag team had decided to hand out umbrellas in swag kit which turned out to be quite useful. The swag kit was praised for quality and selection - many thanks to Anupa, Sruthi and others. It was fun wearing different color T-shirts, all designed by Abraham. Red for volunteers, light green for Video team, green for core-team i.e. staff and yellow for conference attendees. With highvoltage
With highvoltage
We were already acclimatized by the time DebConf really started as we had been talking, hacking and hanging out since last 7 days. Rush really started with the start of DebConf. More people joined on the first and second day of the conference. As has been the tradition, an opening talk was prepared by the Sruthi and local team (which I highly recommend watching to get more insights of the process). DebConf day 1 also saw job fair, where Canonical and FOSSEE, IIT Bombay had stalls for community interactions, which judging by the crowd itself turned out to be quite a hit. For me, association with DebConf (and Debian) started due to volunteering with video team, so anyhow I was going to continue doing that this conference as well. I usually volunteer for talks/events which anyhow I m interested in. Handling the camera, talkmeister-ing and direction are fun activities, though I didn t do sound this time around. Sound seemed difficult, and I didn t want to spoil someone s stream and recording. Talk attendance varied a lot, like in Bits from DPL talk, the hall was full but for some there were barely enough people to handle the volunteering tasks, but that s what usually happens. DebConf is more of a place to come together and collaborate, so talk attendance is an afterthought sometimes. Audience in highvoltage's Bits from DPL talk
Audience in highvoltage's Bits from DPL talk
I didn t submit any talk proposals this time around, as just being in the orga team was too much work already, and I knew, the talk preparation would get delayed to the last moment and I would have to rush through it. Enrico's talk
Enrico's talk
From Day 2 onward, more sponsor stalls were introduced in the hallway area. Hopbox by Unmukti , MostlyHarmless and Deeproot (joint stall) and FOSEE. MostlyHarmless stall had nice mechanical keyboards and other fun gadgets. Whenever I got the time, I would go and start typing racing to enjoy the nice, clicky keyboards. As the DebConf tradition dictates, we had a Cheese and Wine party. Everyone brought in cheese and other delicacies from their region. Then there was yummy Sadya. Sadya is a traditional vegetarian Malayalis lunch served over banana leaves. There were loads of different dishes served, the names of most I couldn t pronounce or recollect properly, but everything was super delicious. Day 4 was day trip and I chose to go to Athirappilly Waterfalls and Jungle safari. Pictures would describe the beauty better than words. The journey was bit long though. Athirappilly Falls
Athirappilly Falls

Pathu Pathu Tea Gardens
Tea Gardens
Late that day, we heard the news of Abraham gone missing. We lost Abraham. He had worked really hard all through the years for Debian and making this conference possible. Talks were cancelled for the next day and Jonathan addressed everyone. We went to Abraham s home the next day to meet his family. Team had arranged buses to Abraham s place. It was an unfortunate moment that I only got an opportunity to visit his place after he was gone. Days went by slowly after that. The last day was marked by a small conference dinner. Some of the people had already left. All through the day and next, we kept saying goodbye to friends, with whom we spent almost a fortnight together. Athirappilly Falls
Group photo with all DebConf T-shirts chronologically
This was 2nd trip to Kochi. Vistara Airway s UK886 has become the default flight now. I have almost learned how to travel in and around Kochi by Metro, Water Metro, Airport Shuttle and auto. Things are quite accessible in Kochi but metro is a bit expensive compared to Delhi. I left Kochi on 19th. My flight was due to leave around 8 PM, so I had the whole day to myself. A direct option would have taken less than 1 hour, but as I had time and chose to take the long way to the airport. First took an auto rickshaw to Kakkanad Water Metro station. Then sailed in the water metro to Vyttila Water Metro station. Vyttila serves as intermobility hub which connects water metro, metro, bus at once place. I switched to Metro here at Vyttila Metro station till Aluva Metro station. Here, I had lunch and then boarded the Airport feeder bus to reach Kochi Airport. All in all, I did auto rickshaw > water metro > metro > feeder bus to reach Airport. I was fun and scenic. I must say, public transport and intermodal integration is quite good and once can transition seamlessly from one mode to next. Kochi Water Metro
Kochi Water Metro

Scenes from Kochi Water Metro Scenes from Kochi Water Metro
Scenes from Kochi Water Metro
DebConf23 served its purpose of getting existing Debian people together, as well as getting new people interested and contributing to Debian. People who came are still contributing to Debian, and that s amazing. Streaming video stats
Streaming video stats. Screengrab from closing ceremony
The conference wasn t without its fair share of troubles. There were multiple money transfer woes, and being in India didn t help. Many thanks to multiple organizations who were proactive in helping out. On top of this, there was conference visa uncertainty and other issues which troubled visa team a lot. Kudos to everyone who made this possible. Surely, I m going to miss the name, so thank you for it, you know how much you have done to make this event possible. Now, DebConf24 is scheduled for Busan, South Korea, and work is already in full swing. As usual, I m helping with the fundraising part and plan to attend too. Let s see if I can make it or not. DebConf23 Group Photo
DebConf23 Group Photo. Click to enlarge.
Credits - Aigars Mahinovs
In the end, we kept on saying, no DebConf at this scale would come back to India for the next 10 or 20 years. It s too much trouble to be frank. It was probably the peak that we might not reach again. I would be happy to be proven wrong though :)

20 May 2024

Russell Coker: Respect and Children

I attended the school Yarra Valley Grammer (then Yarra Valley Anglican School which I will refer to as YV ) and completed year 12 in 1990. The school is currently in the news for a spreadsheet some boys made rating girls where unrapeable was one of the ratings. The school s PR team are now making claims like Respect for each other is in the DNA of this school . I d like to know when this DNA change allegedly occurred because respect definitely wasn t in the school DNA in 1990! Before I go any further I have to note that if the school threatens legal action against me for this post it will be clear evidence that they don t believe in respect. The actions of that school have wronged me, several of my friends, many people who aren t friends but who I wish they hadn t had to suffer and I hadn t had to witness it, and presumably countless others that I didn t witness. If they have any decency they would not consider legal action but I have learned that as an institution they have no decency so I have to note that they should read the Wikipedia page about the Streisand Effect [1] and keep it in mind before deciding on a course of action. I think it is possible to create a school where most kids enjoy being there and enjoy learning, where hardly any students find it a negative experience and almost no-one finds it traumatic. But it is not possible to do that with the way schools tend to be run. When I was at high school there was a general culture that minor sex crimes committed by boys against boys weren t a problem, this probably applied to all high schools. Things like ripping a boy s pants off (known as dakking ) were considered a big joke. If you accept that ripping the pants off an unwilling boy is a good thing (as was the case when I was at school) then that leads to thinking that describing girls as unrapeable is acceptable. The Wikipedia page for Pantsing [2] has a reference for this issue being raised as a serious problem by the British Secretary of State for Education and Skills Alan Johnson in 2007. So this has continued to be a widespread problem around the world. Has YV become better than other schools in dealing with it or is Dakking and Wedgies as well accepted now as it was when I attended? There is talk about schools preparing kids for the workforce, but grabbing someone s underpants without consent will result in instant dismissal from almost all employment. There should be more tolerance for making mistakes at school than at work, but they shouldn t tolerate what would be serious crimes in other contexts. For work environments there have been significant changes to what is accepted, so it doesn t seem unreasonable to expect that schools can have a similar change in culture. One would hope that spending 6 years wondering who s going to grab your underpants next would teach boys the importance of consent and some sympathy for victims of other forms of sexual assault. But that doesn t seem to happen, apparently it s often the opposite. When I was young Autism wasn t diagnosed for anyone who was capable of having a normal life. Teachers noticed that I wasn t like other kids, some were nice, but some encouraged other boys to attack me as a form of corporal punishment by proxy not a punishment for doing anything wrong (detentions were adequate for that) but for being different. The lesson kids will take from that sort of thing is that if you are in a position of power you can mistreat other people and get away with it. There was a girl in my year level at YV who would probably be diagnosed as Autistic by today s standards, the way I witnessed her being treated was considerably worse than what was described in the recent news reports but it is quite likely that worse things have been done recently which haven t made the news yet. If this issue is declared to be over after 4 boys were expelled then I ll count that as evidence of a cover-up. These things don t happen in a vacuum, there s a culture that permits and encourages it. The word respect has different meanings, it can mean treat a superior as the master or treat someone as a human being . The phrase if you treat me with respect I ll treat you with respect usually means if you treat me as the boss then I ll treat you as a human being . The distinction is very important when discussing respect in schools. If teachers are considered the ultimate bosses whose behaviour can never be questioned then many boys won t need much help from Andrew Tate in developing the belief that they should be the boss of girls in the same way. Do any schools have a process for having students review teachers? Does YV have an ombudsman to take reports of misbehaving teachers in the way that corporations typically have an ombudsman to take reports about bad managers? Any time you have people whose behaviour is beyond scrutiny or oversight you will inevitably have bad people apply for jobs, then bad things will happen and it will create a culture of bad behaviour. If teachers can treat kids badly then kids will treat other kids badly, and this generally ends with girls being treated badly by boys. My experience at YV was that kids barely had the status of people. It seemed that the school operated more as a caretaker of the property of parents than as an organisation that cares for people. The current YV website has a Whistleblower policy [3] that has only one occurrence of the word student and that is about issues that endanger the health or safety of students. Students are the people most vulnerable to reprisal for complaining and not being listed as an eligible whistleblower shows their status. The web site also has a flowchart for complaints and grievances [4] which doesn t describe any policy for a complaint to be initiated by a student. One would hope that parents would advocate for their children but that often isn t the case. When discussing the possibility of boys being bullied at school with parents I ve had them say things like my son wouldn t be so weak that he would be bullied , no boy will tell his parents about being bullied if that s their attitude! I imagine that there are similar but different issues of parents victim-blaming when their daughter is bullied (presumably substituting immoral for weak) but don t have direct knowledge of the topic. The experience of many kids is being disrespected by their parents, the school system, and often siblings too. A school can t solve all the world s problems but can ideally be a refuge for kids who have problems at home. When I was at school the culture in the country and the school was homophobic. One teacher when discussing issues such as how students could tell him if they had psychological problems and no-one else to talk to said some things like the Village People make really good music which was the only time any teacher said anything like It s OK to be gay (the Village People were the gayest pop group at the time). A lot of the bullying at school had a sexual component to it. In addition to the wedgies and dakking (which while not happening often was something you had to constantly be aware of) I routinely avoided PE classes where a shower was necessary because of a thug who hung around by the showers and looked hungrily at my penis, I don t know if he had a particular liking to mine or if he stared at everyone that way. Flashing and perving was quite common in change rooms. Presumably as such boy-boy sexual misbehaviour was so accepted that led to boys mistreating girls. I currently work for a company that is active in telling it s employees about the possibility of free psychological assistance. Any employee can phone a psychologist to discuss problems (whether or not they are work related) free of charge and without their manager or colleagues knowing. The company is billed and is only given a breakdown of the number of people who used the service and roughly what the issue was (work stress, family, friends, grief, etc). When something noteworthy happens employees are given reminders about this such as if you need help after seeing a homeless man try to steal a laptop from the office then feel free to call the assistance program . Do schools offer something similar? With the school fees paid to a school like YV they should be able to afford plenty of psychologist time. Every day I was at YV I saw something considerably worse than laptop theft, most days something was done to me. The problems with schools are part of larger problems with society. About half of the adults in Australia still support the Liberal party in spite of their support of Christian Porter, Cardinal Pell, and Bruce Lehrmann. It s not logical to expect such parents to discourage their sons from mistreating girls or to encourage their daughters to complain when they are mistreated. The Anglican church has recently changed it s policy to suggesting that victims of sexual abuse can contact the police instead of or in addition to the church, previously they had encouraged victims to only contact the church which facilitated cover-ups. One would hope that schools associated with the Anglican church have also changed their practices towards such things. I approve of the respect is in our DNA concept, it s like Google s former slogan of Don t be evil which is something that they can be bound to. Here s a list of questions that could be asked of schools (not just YV but all schools) by journalists when reporting on such things:
  1. Do you have a policy of not trying to silence past students who have been treated badly?
  2. Do you take all sexual assaults seriously including wedgies and dakking?
  3. Do you take all violence at school seriously? Even if there s no blood? Even if the victim says they don t want to make an issue of it?
  4. What are your procedures to deal with misbehaviour from teachers? Do the students all know how to file complaints? Do they know that they can file a complaint if they aren t the victim?
  5. Does the school have policies against homophobia and transphobia and are they enforced?
  6. Does the school offer free psychological assistance to students and staff who need it? NB This only applies to private schools like YV that have huge amounts of money, public schools can t afford that.
  7. Are serious incidents investigated by people who are independent of the school and who don t have a vested interest in keeping things quiet?
  8. Do you encourage students to seek external help from organisations like the ones on the resources list of the Grace Tame Foundation [5]? Having your own list of recommended external organisations would be good too.
Counter Arguments I ve had practice debating such things, here s some responses to common counter arguments. Conclusion I don t think that YV is necessarily worse than other schools, although I m sure that representatives of other private schools are now working to assure parents of students and prospective students that they are. I don t think that all the people who were employed as teachers there when I attended were bad people, some of them were nice people who were competent teachers. But a few good people can t turn around a bad system. I will note that when I attended all the sports teachers were decent people, it was the only department I could say such things about. But sports involves situations that can lead to a bad result, issues started at other times and places can lead to violence or harassment in PE classes regardless of how good the teachers are. Teachers who know that there are problems need to be able to raise issues with the administration. When a teacher quits teaching to join the clergy and another teacher describes it as a loss for the clergy but a gain for YV it raises the question of why the bad teacher in question couldn t have been encouraged to leave earlier. A significant portion of the population will do whatever is permitted. If you say no teacher would ever bully a student so we don t need to look out for that then some teacher will do exactly that. I hope that this will lead to changes both in YV and in other schools. But if they declare this issue as resolved after expelling 4 students then something similar or worse will happen again. At least now students know that when this sort of thing happens they can send evidence to journalists to get some action.

28 April 2024

Russell Coker: Kitty and Mpv

6 months ago I switched to Kitty for terminal emulation [1]. So far there s only been one thing that I couldn t effectively do with Kitty that I did with Konsole in the past, that is watching a music video in 1/4 of the screen while using the rest for terminals. I could setup multiple Kitty windows taking up the rest of the screen but I wanted to keep using a single Kitty with multiple terminals and just have mpv go over one of them. Kitty supports it s own graphical interface so mpv vo=kitty works but took 6* the CPU power in my tests which isn t good for a laptop. For X11 there s a ontop option for mpv that does what you expect, but that doesn t work on Wayland. Not working is mostly Wayland s fault as there is a long tail of less commonly used graphical operations that work in X11 but aren t yet implemented in Wayland. I have filed a Debian bug report about this, the mpv man page should note that it s only going to work on X11 on Linux. I have discovered a solution to that, in the KDE settings there s a Window Rules section, I created an entry for Window class exactly matching mpv and then added a rule Keep above other windows and set it for force and yes . After that I can just resize mpv to occlude just one terminal and keep using the rest. Also one noteworthy thing with this is that it makes mpv go on top of the KDE taskbar, which can be a feature.

26 April 2024

Russell Coker: Humane AI Pin

I wrote a blog post The Shape of Computers [1] exploring ideas of how computers might evolve and how we can use them. One of the devices I mentioned was the Humane AI Pin, which has just been the recipient of one of the biggest roast reviews I ve ever seen [2], good work Marques Brownlee! As an aside I was once given a product to review which didn t work nearly as well as I think it should have worked so I sent an email to the developers saying sorry this product failed to work well so I can t say anything good about it and didn t publish a review. One of the first things that caught my attention in the review is the note that the AI Pin doesn t connect to your phone. I think that everything should connect to everything else as a usability feature. For security we don t want so much connecting and it s quite reasonable to turn off various connections at appropriate times for security, the Librem5 is an example of how this can be done with hardware switches to disable Wifi etc. But to just not have connectivity is bad. The next noteworthy thing is the external battery which also acts as a magnetic attachment from inside your shirt. So I guess it s using wireless charging through your shirt. A magnetically attached external battery would be a great feature for a phone, you could quickly swap a discharged battery for a fresh one and keep using it. When I tried to make the PinePhonePro my daily driver [3] I gave up and charging was one of the main reasons. One thing I learned from my experiment with the PinePhonePro is that the ratio of charge time to discharge time is sometimes more important than battery life and being able to quickly swap batteries without rebooting is a way of solving that. The reviewer of the AI Pin complains later in the video about battery life which seems to be partly due to wireless charging from the detachable battery and partly due to being physically small. It seems the phablet form factor is the smallest viable personal computer at this time. The review glosses over what could be the regarded as the 2 worst issues of the device. It does everything via the cloud (where the cloud means a computer owned by someone I probably shouldn t trust ) and it records everything. Strange that it s not getting the hate the Google Glass got. The user interface based on laser projection of menus on the palm of your hand is an interesting concept. I d rather have a Bluetooth attached tablet or something for operations that can t be conveniently done with voice. The reviewer harshly criticises the laser projection interface later in the video, maybe technology isn t yet adequate to implement this properly. The first criticism of the device in the review part of the video is of the time taken to answer questions, especially when Internet connectivity is poor. His question who designed the Washington Monument took 8 seconds to start answering it in his demonstration. I asked the Alpaca LLM the same question running on 4 cores of a E5-2696 and it took 10 seconds to start answering and then printed the words at about speaking speed. So if we had a free software based AI device for this purpose it shouldn t be difficult to get local LLM computation with less delay than the Humane device by simply providing more compute power than 4 cores of a E5-2696v3. How does a 32 core 1.05GHz Mali G72 from 2017 (as used in the Galaxy Note 9) compare to 4 cores of a 2.3GHz Intel CPU from 2015? Passmark says that Intel CPU can do 48GFlop with all 18 cores so 4 cores can presumably do about 10GFlop which seems less than the claimed 20-32GFlop of the Mali G72. It seems that with the right software even older Android phones could give adequate performance for a local LLM. The Alpaca model I m testing with takes 4.2G of RAM to run which is usable in a Note 9 with 8G of RAM or a Pixel 8 Pro with 12G. A Pixel 8 Pro could have 4.2G of RAM reserved for a LLM and still have as much RAM for other purposes as my main laptop as of a few months ago. I consider the speed of Alpaca on my workstation to be acceptable but not great. If we can get FOSS phones running a LLM at that speed then I think it would be great for a first version we can always rely on newer and faster hardware becoming available. Marques notes that the cause of some of the problems is likely due to a desire to make it a separate powerful product in the future and that if they gave it phone connectivity in the start they would have to remove that later on. I think that the real problem is that the profit motive is incompatible with good design. They want to have a product that s stand-alone and justifies the purchase price plus subscription and that means not making it a phone accessory . While I think that the best thing for the user is to allow it to talk to a phone, a PC, a car, and anything else the user wants. He compares it to the Apple Vision Pro which has the same issue of trying to be a stand-alone computer but not being properly capable of it. One of the benefits that Marques cites for the AI Pin is the ability to capture voice notes. Dictaphones have been around for over 100 years and very few people have bought them, not even in the 80s when they became cheap. While almost everyone can occasionally benefit from being able to make a note of an idea when it s not convenient to write it down there are few people who need it enough to carry a separate device, not even if that device is tiny. But a phone as a general purpose computing device with microphone can easily be adapted to such things. One possibility would be to program a phone to start a voice note when the volume up and down buttons are pressed at the same time or when some other condition is met. Another possibility is to have a phone have a hotkey function that varies by what you are doing, EG if bushwalking have the hotkey be to take a photo or if on a flight have it be taking a voice note. On the Mobile Apps page on the Debian wiki I created a section for categories of apps that I think we need [4]. In that section I added the following list:
  1. Voice input for dictation
  2. Voice assistant like Google/Apple
  3. Voice output
  4. Full operation for visually impaired people
One thing I really like about the AI Pin is that it has the potential to become a really good computing and personal assistant device for visually impaired people funded by people with full vision who want to legally control a computer while driving etc. I have some concerns about the potential uses of the AI Pin while driving (as Marques stated an aim to do), but if it replaces the use of regular phones while driving it will make things less bad. Marques concludes his video by warning against buying a product based on the promise of what it can be in future. I bought the Librem5 on exactly that promise, the difference is that I have the source and the ability to help make the promise come true. My aim is to spend thousands of dollars on test hardware and thousands of hours of development time to help make FOSS phones a product that most people can use at low price with little effort. Another interesting review of the pin is by Mrwhostheboss [5], one of his examples is of asking the pin for advice about a chair but without him knowing the pin selected a different chair in the room. He compares this to using Google s apps on a phone and seeing which item the app has selected. He also said that he doesn t want to make an order based on speech he wants to review a page of information about it. I suspect that the design of the pin had too much input from people accustomed to asking a corporate travel office to find them a flight and not enough from people who look through the details of the results of flight booking services trying to save an extra $20. Some people might say if you need to save $20 on a flight then a $24/month subscription computing service isn t for you , I reject that argument. I can afford lots of computing services because I try to get the best deal on every moderately expensive thing I pay for. Another point that Mrwhostheboss makes is regarding secret SMS, you probably wouldn t want to speak a SMS you are sending to your SO while waiting for a train. He makes it clear that changing between phone and pin while sharing resources (IE not having a separate phone number and separate data store) is a desired feature. The most insightful point Mrwhostheboss made was when he suggested that if the pin had come out before the smartphone then things might have all gone differently, but now anything that s developed has to be based around the expectations of phone use. This is something we need to keep in mind when developing FOSS software, there s lots of different ways that things could be done but we need to meet the expectations of users if we want our software to be used by many people. I previously wrote a blog post titled Considering Convergence [6] about the possible ways of using a phone as a laptop. While I still believe what I wrote there I m now considering the possibility of ease of movement of work in progress as a way of addressing some of the same issues. I ve written a blog post about Convergence vs Transferrence [7].

23 March 2024

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (January and February 2024)

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months: The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months: Congratulations!

16 February 2024

Mike Gabriel: Debian Edu 12 - Call for Testing

This is a call for testing of Debian Edu based on Debian bookworm. With the Debian 12.5 point release all required packages have landed in the Debian Edu ISO images that allow you to install a Debian Edu system based on Debian 12. ISO Image Downloads You can find the Blueray Disc ISO image (use for main server installation) at: http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/release/current/amd64/iso-bd/debian-ed... For standalone workstation installations or installations on an already up-and-running Debian Edu site, please use the netinst ISO image: http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/release/current/amd64/iso-cd/debian-ed... Quick Start HowTo For testing Debian Edu 12, set up e.g. LXD or libVirt and install (at least) three virtual machines. In your virtualization software prepare an internal network where the VMs can reach one another without needing access to your local network. The three VMs: Happy testing! Further Readings Overall installation profile concept of Debian Edu:
https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/BeforeGettingStarted Debian Edu 12 manual:
https://jenkins.debian.net/userContent/debian-edu-doc/ Debian Edu 12 status page:
https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Status/Bookworm

30 January 2024

Antoine Beaupr : router archeology: the Soekris net5001

Roadkiller was a Soekris net5501 router I used as my main gateway between 2010 and 2016 (for r seau and t l phone). It was upgraded to FreeBSD 8.4-p12 (2014-06-06) and pkgng. It was retired in favor of octavia around 2016. Roughly 10 years later (2024-01-24), I found it in a drawer and, to my surprised, it booted. After wrangling with a RS-232 USB adapter, a null modem cable, and bit rates, I even logged in:
comBIOS ver. 1.33  20070103  Copyright (C) 2000-2007 Soekris Engineering.
net5501
0512 Mbyte Memory                        CPU Geode LX 500 Mhz 
Pri Mas  WDC WD800VE-00HDT0              LBA Xlt 1024-255-63  78 Gbyte
Slot   Vend Dev  ClassRev Cmd  Stat CL LT HT  Base1    Base2   Int 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
0:01:2 1022 2082 10100000 0006 0220 08 00 00 A0000000 00000000 10
0:06:0 1106 3053 02000096 0117 0210 08 40 00 0000E101 A0004000 11
0:07:0 1106 3053 02000096 0117 0210 08 40 00 0000E201 A0004100 05
0:08:0 1106 3053 02000096 0117 0210 08 40 00 0000E301 A0004200 09
0:09:0 1106 3053 02000096 0117 0210 08 40 00 0000E401 A0004300 12
0:20:0 1022 2090 06010003 0009 02A0 08 40 80 00006001 00006101 
0:20:2 1022 209A 01018001 0005 02A0 08 00 00 00000000 00000000 
0:21:0 1022 2094 0C031002 0006 0230 08 00 80 A0005000 00000000 15
0:21:1 1022 2095 0C032002 0006 0230 08 00 00 A0006000 00000000 15
 4 Seconds to automatic boot.   Press Ctrl-P for entering Monitor.
 
                                            
                                                  ______
                                                    ____  __ ___  ___ 
            Welcome to FreeBSD!                     __   '__/ _ \/ _ \
                                                    __       __/  __/
                                                                      
    1. Boot FreeBSD [default]                     _     _   \___ \___ 
    2. Boot FreeBSD with ACPI enabled             ____   _____ _____
    3. Boot FreeBSD in Safe Mode                    _ \ / ____   __ \
    4. Boot FreeBSD in single user mode             _)   (___         
    5. Boot FreeBSD with verbose logging            _ < \___ \        
    6. Escape to loader prompt                      _)  ____)    __   
    7. Reboot                                                         
                                                  ____/ _____/ _____/
                                            
                                            
                                            
    Select option, [Enter] for default      
    or [Space] to pause timer  5            
  
Copyright (c) 1992-2013 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
        The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
FreeBSD is a registered trademark of The FreeBSD Foundation.
FreeBSD 8.4-RELEASE-p12 #5: Fri Jun  6 02:43:23 EDT 2014
    root@roadkiller.anarc.at:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/ROADKILL i386
gcc version 4.2.2 20070831 prerelease [FreeBSD]
Timecounter "i8254" frequency 1193182 Hz quality 0
CPU: Geode(TM) Integrated Processor by AMD PCS (499.90-MHz 586-class CPU)
  Origin = "AuthenticAMD"  Id = 0x5a2  Family = 5  Model = a  Stepping = 2
  Features=0x88a93d<FPU,DE,PSE,TSC,MSR,CX8,SEP,PGE,CMOV,CLFLUSH,MMX>
  AMD Features=0xc0400000<MMX+,3DNow!+,3DNow!>
real memory  = 536870912 (512 MB)
avail memory = 506445824 (482 MB)
kbd1 at kbdmux0
K6-family MTRR support enabled (2 registers)
ACPI Error: A valid RSDP was not found (20101013/tbxfroot-309)
ACPI: Table initialisation failed: AE_NOT_FOUND
ACPI: Try disabling either ACPI or apic support.
cryptosoft0: <software crypto> on motherboard
pcib0 pcibus 0 on motherboard
pci0: <PCI bus> on pcib0
Geode LX: Soekris net5501 comBIOS ver. 1.33 20070103 Copyright (C) 2000-2007
pci0: <encrypt/decrypt, entertainment crypto> at device 1.2 (no driver attached)
vr0: <VIA VT6105M Rhine III 10/100BaseTX> port 0xe100-0xe1ff mem 0xa0004000-0xa00040ff irq 11 at device 6.0 on pci0
vr0: Quirks: 0x2
vr0: Revision: 0x96
miibus0: <MII bus> on vr0
ukphy0: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> PHY 1 on miibus0
ukphy0:  none, 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto, auto-flow
vr0: Ethernet address: 00:00:24:cc:93:44
vr0: [ITHREAD]
vr1: <VIA VT6105M Rhine III 10/100BaseTX> port 0xe200-0xe2ff mem 0xa0004100-0xa00041ff irq 5 at device 7.0 on pci0
vr1: Quirks: 0x2
vr1: Revision: 0x96
miibus1: <MII bus> on vr1
ukphy1: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> PHY 1 on miibus1
ukphy1:  none, 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto, auto-flow
vr1: Ethernet address: 00:00:24:cc:93:45
vr1: [ITHREAD]
vr2: <VIA VT6105M Rhine III 10/100BaseTX> port 0xe300-0xe3ff mem 0xa0004200-0xa00042ff irq 9 at device 8.0 on pci0
vr2: Quirks: 0x2
vr2: Revision: 0x96
miibus2: <MII bus> on vr2
ukphy2: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> PHY 1 on miibus2
ukphy2:  none, 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto, auto-flow
vr2: Ethernet address: 00:00:24:cc:93:46
vr2: [ITHREAD]
vr3: <VIA VT6105M Rhine III 10/100BaseTX> port 0xe400-0xe4ff mem 0xa0004300-0xa00043ff irq 12 at device 9.0 on pci0
vr3: Quirks: 0x2
vr3: Revision: 0x96
miibus3: <MII bus> on vr3
ukphy3: <Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface> PHY 1 on miibus3
ukphy3:  none, 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto, auto-flow
vr3: Ethernet address: 00:00:24:cc:93:47
vr3: [ITHREAD]
isab0: <PCI-ISA bridge> at device 20.0 on pci0
isa0: <ISA bus> on isab0
atapci0: <AMD CS5536 UDMA100 controller> port 0x1f0-0x1f7,0x3f6,0x170-0x177,0x376,0xe000-0xe00f at device 20.2 on pci0
ata0: <ATA channel> at channel 0 on atapci0
ata0: [ITHREAD]
ata1: <ATA channel> at channel 1 on atapci0
ata1: [ITHREAD]
ohci0: <OHCI (generic) USB controller> mem 0xa0005000-0xa0005fff irq 15 at device 21.0 on pci0
ohci0: [ITHREAD]
usbus0 on ohci0
ehci0: <AMD CS5536 (Geode) USB 2.0 controller> mem 0xa0006000-0xa0006fff irq 15 at device 21.1 on pci0
ehci0: [ITHREAD]
usbus1: EHCI version 1.0
usbus1 on ehci0
cpu0 on motherboard
pmtimer0 on isa0
orm0: <ISA Option ROM> at iomem 0xc8000-0xd27ff pnpid ORM0000 on isa0
atkbdc0: <Keyboard controller (i8042)> at port 0x60,0x64 on isa0
atkbd0: <AT Keyboard> irq 1 on atkbdc0
kbd0 at atkbd0
atkbd0: [GIANT-LOCKED]
atkbd0: [ITHREAD]
atrtc0: <AT Real Time Clock> at port 0x70 irq 8 on isa0
ppc0: parallel port not found.
uart0: <16550 or compatible> at port 0x3f8-0x3ff irq 4 flags 0x10 on isa0
uart0: [FILTER]
uart0: console (19200,n,8,1)
uart1: <16550 or compatible> at port 0x2f8-0x2ff irq 3 on isa0
uart1: [FILTER]
Timecounter "TSC" frequency 499903982 Hz quality 800
Timecounters tick every 1.000 msec
IPsec: Initialized Security Association Processing.
usbus0: 12Mbps Full Speed USB v1.0
usbus1: 480Mbps High Speed USB v2.0
ad0: 76319MB <WDC WD800VE-00HDT0 09.07D09> at ata0-master UDMA100 
ugen0.1: <AMD> at usbus0
uhub0: <AMD OHCI root HUB, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1> on usbus0
ugen1.1: <AMD> at usbus1
uhub1: <AMD EHCI root HUB, class 9/0, rev 2.00/1.00, addr 1> on usbus1
GEOM: ad0s1: geometry does not match label (255h,63s != 16h,63s).
uhub0: 4 ports with 4 removable, self powered
Root mount waiting for: usbus1
Root mount waiting for: usbus1
uhub1: 4 ports with 4 removable, self powered
Trying to mount root from ufs:/dev/ad0s1a
The last log rotation is from 2016:
[root@roadkiller /var/log]# stat /var/log/wtmp      
65 61783 -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 208219 1056 "Nov  1 05:00:01 2016" "Jan 18 22:29:16 2017" "Jan 18 22:29:16 2017" "Nov  1 05:00:01 2016" 16384 4 0 /var/log/wtmp
Interestingly, I switched between eicat and teksavvy on December 11th. Which year? Who knows!
Dec 11 16:38:40 roadkiller mpd: [eicatL0] LCP: authorization successful
Dec 11 16:41:15 roadkiller mpd: [teksavvyL0] LCP: authorization successful
Never realized those good old logs had a "oh dear forgot the year" issue (that's something like Y2K except just "Y", I guess). That was probably 2015, because the log dates from 2017, and the last entry is from November of the year after the above:
[root@roadkiller /var/log]# stat mpd.log 
65 47113 -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 193008 71939195 "Jan 18 22:39:18 2017" "Jan 18 22:39:59 2017" "Jan 18 22:39:59 2017" "Apr  2 10:41:37 2013" 16384 140640 0 mpd.log
It looks like the system was installed in 2010:
[root@roadkiller /var/log]# stat /
63 2 drwxr-xr-x 21 root wheel 2120 512 "Jan 18 22:34:43 2017" "Jan 18 22:28:12 2017" "Jan 18 22:28:12 2017" "Jul 18 22:25:00 2010" 16384 4 0 /
... so it lived for about 6 years, but still works after almost 14 years, which I find utterly amazing. Another amazing thing is that there's tuptime installed on that server! That is a software I thought I discovered later and then sponsored in Debian, but turns out I was already using it then!
[root@roadkiller /var]# tuptime 
System startups:        19   since   21:20:16 11/07/15
System shutdowns:       0 ok   -   18 bad
System uptime:          85.93 %   -   1 year, 11 days, 10 hours, 3 minutes and 36 seconds
System downtime:        14.07 %   -   61 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes and 45 seconds
System life:            1 year, 73 days, 1 hour, 26 minutes and 20 seconds
Largest uptime:         122 days, 9 hours, 17 minutes and 6 seconds   from   08:17:56 02/02/16
Shortest uptime:        5 minutes and 4 seconds   from   21:55:00 01/18/17
Average uptime:         19 days, 19 hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds
Largest downtime:       57 days, 1 hour, 9 minutes and 59 seconds   from   20:45:01 11/22/16
Shortest downtime:      -1 years, 364 days, 23 hours, 58 minutes and 12 seconds   from   22:30:01 01/18/17
Average downtime:       3 days, 5 hours, 51 minutes and 43 seconds
Current uptime:         18 minutes and 23 seconds   since   22:28:13 01/18/17
Actual up/down times:
[root@roadkiller /var]# tuptime -t
No.        Startup Date                                         Uptime       Shutdown Date   End                                                  Downtime
1     21:20:16 11/07/15      1 day, 0 hours, 40 minutes and 12 seconds   22:00:28 11/08/15   BAD                                  2 minutes and 37 seconds
2     22:03:05 11/08/15      1 day, 9 hours, 41 minutes and 57 seconds   07:45:02 11/10/15   BAD                                  3 minutes and 24 seconds
3     07:48:26 11/10/15    20 days, 2 hours, 41 minutes and 34 seconds   10:30:00 11/30/15   BAD                        4 hours, 50 minutes and 21 seconds
4     15:20:21 11/30/15                      19 minutes and 40 seconds   15:40:01 11/30/15   BAD                                   6 minutes and 5 seconds
5     15:46:06 11/30/15                      53 minutes and 55 seconds   16:40:01 11/30/15   BAD                           1 hour, 1 minute and 38 seconds
6     17:41:39 11/30/15     6 days, 16 hours, 3 minutes and 22 seconds   09:45:01 12/07/15   BAD                4 days, 6 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds
7     16:38:12 12/11/15   50 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes and 49 seconds   10:35:01 01/31/16   BAD                                 10 minutes and 52 seconds
8     10:45:53 01/31/16     1 day, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 16 seconds   08:14:09 02/02/16   BAD                                  3 minutes and 48 seconds
9     08:17:56 02/02/16    122 days, 9 hours, 17 minutes and 6 seconds   18:35:02 06/03/16   BAD                                 10 minutes and 16 seconds
10    18:45:18 06/03/16   29 days, 17 hours, 14 minutes and 43 seconds   12:00:01 07/03/16   BAD                                 12 minutes and 34 seconds
11    12:12:35 07/03/16   31 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes and 26 seconds   05:30:01 08/04/16   BAD                                 14 minutes and 25 seconds
12    05:44:26 08/04/16     15 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes and 35 seconds   07:40:01 08/19/16   BAD                                  6 minutes and 51 seconds
13    07:46:52 08/19/16     7 days, 5 hours, 23 minutes and 10 seconds   13:10:02 08/26/16   BAD                                  3 minutes and 45 seconds
14    13:13:47 08/26/16   27 days, 21 hours, 36 minutes and 14 seconds   10:50:01 09/23/16   BAD                                  2 minutes and 14 seconds
15    10:52:15 09/23/16   60 days, 10 hours, 52 minutes and 46 seconds   20:45:01 11/22/16   BAD                 57 days, 1 hour, 9 minutes and 59 seconds
16    21:55:00 01/18/17                        5 minutes and 4 seconds   22:00:04 01/18/17   BAD                                 11 minutes and 15 seconds
17    22:11:19 01/18/17                       8 minutes and 42 seconds   22:20:01 01/18/17   BAD                                   1 minute and 20 seconds
18    22:21:21 01/18/17                       8 minutes and 40 seconds   22:30:01 01/18/17   BAD   -1 years, 364 days, 23 hours, 58 minutes and 12 seconds
19    22:28:13 01/18/17                      20 minutes and 17 seconds
The last few entries are actually the tests I'm running now, it seems this machine thinks we're now on 2017-01-18 at ~22:00, while we're actually 2024-01-24 at ~12:00 local:
Wed Jan 18 23:05:38 EST 2017
FreeBSD/i386 (roadkiller.anarc.at) (ttyu0)
login: root
Password:
Jan 18 23:07:10 roadkiller login: ROOT LOGIN (root) ON ttyu0
Last login: Wed Jan 18 22:29:16 on ttyu0
Copyright (c) 1992-2013 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
        The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
FreeBSD 8.4-RELEASE-p12 (ROADKILL) #5: Fri Jun  6 02:43:23 EDT 2014
Reminders:
 * commit stuff in /etc
 * reload firewall (in screen!):
    pfctl -f /etc/pf.conf ; sleep 1
 * vim + syn on makes pf.conf more readable
 * monitoring the PPPoE uplink:
   tail -f /var/log/mpd.log
Current problems:
 * sometimes pf doesn't start properly on boot, if pppoe failed to come up, use
   this to resume:
     /etc/rc.d/pf start
   it will kill your shell, but fix NAT (2012-08-10)
 * babel fails to start on boot (2013-06-15):
     babeld -D -g 33123 tap0 vr3
 * DNS often fails, tried messing with unbound.conf (2014-10-05) and updating
   named.root (2016-01-28) and performance tweaks (ee63689)
 * asterisk and mpd4 are deprecated and should be uninstalled when we're sure
   their replacements (voipms + ata and mpd5) are working (2015-01-13)
 * if IPv6 fails, it's because netblocks are not being routed upstream. DHCPcd
   should do this, but doesn't start properly, use this to resume (2015-12-21):
     /usr/local/sbin/dhcpcd -6 --persistent --background --timeout 0 -C resolv.conf ng0
This machine is doomed to be replaced with the new omnia router, Indiegogo
campaign should ship in april 2016: http://igg.me/at/turris-omnia/x
(I really like the motd I left myself there. In theory, I guess this could just start connecting to the internet again if I still had the same PPPoE/ADSL link I had almost a decade ago; obviously, I do not.) Not sure how the system figured the 2017 time: the onboard clock itself believes we're in 1980, so clearly the CMOS battery has (understandably) failed:
> ?
comBIOS Monitor Commands
boot [drive][:partition] INT19 Boot
reboot                   cold boot
download                 download a file using XMODEM/CRC
flashupdate              update flash BIOS with downloaded file
time [HH:MM:SS]          show or set time
date [YYYY/MM/DD]        show or set date
d[b w d] [adr]           dump memory bytes/words/dwords
e[b w d] adr value [...] enter bytes/words/dwords
i[b w d] port            input from 8/16/32-bit port
o[b w d] port value      output to 8/16/32-bit port
run adr                  execute code at adr
cmosread [adr]           read CMOS RAM data
cmoswrite adr byte [...] write CMOS RAM data
cmoschecksum             update CMOS RAM Checksum
set parameter=value      set system parameter to value
show [parameter]         show one or all system parameters
?/help                   show this help
> show
ConSpeed = 19200
ConLock = Enabled
ConMute = Disabled
BIOSentry = Enabled
PCIROMS = Enabled
PXEBoot = Enabled
FLASH = Primary
BootDelay = 5
FastBoot = Disabled
BootPartition = Disabled
BootDrive = 80 81 F0 FF 
ShowPCI = Enabled
Reset = Hard
CpuSpeed = Default
> time
Current Date and Time is: 1980/01/01 00:56:47
Another bit of archeology: I had documented various outages with my ISP... back in 2003!
[root@roadkiller ~/bin]# cat ppp_stats/downtimes.txt
11/03/2003 18:24:49 218
12/03/2003 09:10:49 118
12/03/2003 10:05:57 680
12/03/2003 10:14:50 106
12/03/2003 10:16:53 6
12/03/2003 10:35:28 146
12/03/2003 10:57:26 393
12/03/2003 11:16:35 5
12/03/2003 11:16:54 11
13/03/2003 06:15:57 18928
13/03/2003 09:43:36 9730
13/03/2003 10:47:10 23
13/03/2003 10:58:35 5
16/03/2003 01:32:36 338
16/03/2003 02:00:33 120
16/03/2003 11:14:31 14007
19/03/2003 00:56:27 11179
19/03/2003 00:56:43 5
19/03/2003 00:56:53 0
19/03/2003 00:56:55 1
19/03/2003 00:57:09 1
19/03/2003 00:57:10 1
19/03/2003 00:57:24 1
19/03/2003 00:57:25 1
19/03/2003 00:57:39 1
19/03/2003 00:57:40 1
19/03/2003 00:57:44 3
19/03/2003 00:57:53 0
19/03/2003 00:57:55 0
19/03/2003 00:58:08 0
19/03/2003 00:58:10 0
19/03/2003 00:58:23 0
19/03/2003 00:58:25 0
19/03/2003 00:58:39 1
19/03/2003 00:58:42 2
19/03/2003 00:58:58 5
19/03/2003 00:59:35 2
19/03/2003 00:59:47 3
19/03/2003 01:00:34 3
19/03/2003 01:00:39 0
19/03/2003 01:00:54 0
19/03/2003 01:01:11 2
19/03/2003 01:01:25 1
19/03/2003 01:01:48 1
19/03/2003 01:02:03 1
19/03/2003 01:02:10 2
19/03/2003 01:02:20 3
19/03/2003 01:02:44 3
19/03/2003 01:03:45 3
19/03/2003 01:04:39 2
19/03/2003 01:05:40 2
19/03/2003 01:06:35 2
19/03/2003 01:07:36 2
19/03/2003 01:08:31 2
19/03/2003 01:08:38 2
19/03/2003 01:10:07 3
19/03/2003 01:11:05 2
19/03/2003 01:12:03 3
19/03/2003 01:13:01 3
19/03/2003 01:13:58 2
19/03/2003 01:14:59 5
19/03/2003 01:15:54 2
19/03/2003 01:16:55 2
19/03/2003 01:17:50 2
19/03/2003 01:18:51 3
19/03/2003 01:19:46 2
19/03/2003 01:20:46 2
19/03/2003 01:21:42 3
19/03/2003 01:22:42 3
19/03/2003 01:23:37 2
19/03/2003 01:24:38 3
19/03/2003 01:25:33 2
19/03/2003 01:26:33 2
19/03/2003 01:27:30 3
19/03/2003 01:28:55 2
19/03/2003 01:29:56 2
19/03/2003 01:30:50 2
19/03/2003 01:31:42 3
19/03/2003 01:32:36 3
19/03/2003 01:33:27 2
19/03/2003 01:34:21 2
19/03/2003 01:35:22 2
19/03/2003 01:36:17 3
19/03/2003 01:37:18 2
19/03/2003 01:38:13 3
19/03/2003 01:39:39 2
19/03/2003 01:40:39 2
19/03/2003 01:41:35 3
19/03/2003 01:42:35 3
19/03/2003 01:43:31 3
19/03/2003 01:44:31 3
19/03/2003 01:45:53 3
19/03/2003 01:46:48 3
19/03/2003 01:47:48 2
19/03/2003 01:48:44 3
19/03/2003 01:49:44 2
19/03/2003 01:50:40 3
19/03/2003 01:51:39 1
19/03/2003 11:04:33 19   
19/03/2003 18:39:36 2833 
19/03/2003 18:54:05 825  
19/03/2003 19:04:00 454  
19/03/2003 19:08:11 210  
19/03/2003 19:41:44 272  
19/03/2003 21:18:41 208  
24/03/2003 04:51:16 6
27/03/2003 04:51:20 5
30/03/2003 04:51:25 5
31/03/2003 08:30:31 255  
03/04/2003 08:30:36 5
06/04/2003 01:16:00 621  
06/04/2003 22:18:08 17   
06/04/2003 22:32:44 13   
09/04/2003 22:33:12 28   
12/04/2003 22:33:17 6
15/04/2003 22:33:22 5
17/04/2003 15:03:43 18   
20/04/2003 15:03:48 5
23/04/2003 15:04:04 16   
23/04/2003 21:08:30 339  
23/04/2003 21:18:08 13   
23/04/2003 23:34:20 253  
26/04/2003 23:34:45 25   
29/04/2003 23:34:49 5
02/05/2003 13:10:01 185  
05/05/2003 13:10:06 5
08/05/2003 13:10:11 5
09/05/2003 14:00:36 63928
09/05/2003 16:58:52 2
11/05/2003 23:08:48 2
14/05/2003 23:08:53 6
17/05/2003 23:08:58 5
20/05/2003 23:09:03 5
23/05/2003 23:09:08 5
26/05/2003 23:09:14 5
29/05/2003 23:00:10 3
29/05/2003 23:03:01 10   
01/06/2003 23:03:05 4
04/06/2003 23:03:10 5
07/06/2003 23:03:38 28   
10/06/2003 23:03:50 12   
13/06/2003 23:03:55 6
14/06/2003 07:42:20 3
14/06/2003 14:37:08 3
15/06/2003 20:08:34 3
18/06/2003 20:08:39 6
21/06/2003 20:08:45 6
22/06/2003 03:05:19 138  
22/06/2003 04:06:28 3
25/06/2003 04:06:58 31   
28/06/2003 04:07:02 4
01/07/2003 04:07:06 4
04/07/2003 04:07:11 5
07/07/2003 04:07:16 5
12/07/2003 04:55:20 6
12/07/2003 19:09:51 1158 
12/07/2003 22:14:49 8025 
15/07/2003 22:14:54 6
16/07/2003 05:43:06 18   
19/07/2003 05:43:12 6
22/07/2003 05:43:17 5
23/07/2003 18:18:55 183  
23/07/2003 18:19:55 9
23/07/2003 18:29:15 158  
23/07/2003 19:48:44 4604 
23/07/2003 20:16:27 3
23/07/2003 20:37:29 1079 
23/07/2003 20:43:12 342  
23/07/2003 22:25:51 6158
Fascinating. I suspect the (IDE!) hard drive might be failing as I saw two new files created in /var that I didn't remember seeing before:
-rw-r--r--   1 root    wheel        0 Jan 18 22:55 3@T3
-rw-r--r--   1 root    wheel        0 Jan 18 22:55 DY5
So I shutdown the machine, possibly for the last time:
Waiting (max 60 seconds) for system process  bufdaemon' to stop...done
Waiting (max 60 seconds) for system process  syncer' to stop...
Syncing disks, vnodes remaining...3 3 0 1 1 0 0 done
All buffers synced.
Uptime: 36m43s
usbus0: Controller shutdown
uhub0: at usbus0, port 1, addr 1 (disconnected)
usbus0: Controller shutdown complete
usbus1: Controller shutdown
uhub1: at usbus1, port 1, addr 1 (disconnected)
usbus1: Controller shutdown complete
The operating system has halted.
Please press any key to reboot.
I'll finally note this was the last FreeBSD server I personally operated. I also used FreeBSD to setup the core routers at Koumbit but those were replaced with Debian recently as well. Thanks Soekris, that was some sturdy hardware. Hopefully this new Protectli router will live up to that "decade plus" challenge. Not sure what the fate of this device will be: I'll bring it to the next Montreal Debian & Stuff to see if anyone's interested, contact me if you can't show up and want this thing.

26 January 2024

Dima Kogan: mrcal 2.4 released!

mrcal 2.4 is out: the release notes. Once again, this is mostly a bug-fix release en route to the big new features coming in 3.0. The most noteworthy fixes: The portability work was motivated by Matt Morley, who was interested in integrating mrcal into PhotonVision, the toolkit used by students in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Matt completed that work, and mrcal is now a part of PhotonVision 2024.1.2! Thanks, Matt! I don't know if there will be a mrcal 2.5, but the next interesting release will be mrcal 3.0. The biggest internal rework is complete: the new cross-reprojection uncertainty quantification method is implemented, tested and documented. The results are very promising, but lots needs to happen before we can reliably compute intrinsics without chessboards and produce full SFM solves in mrcal and all the related things.

9 January 2024

Louis-Philippe V ronneau: 2023 A Musical Retrospective

I ended 2022 with a musical retrospective and very much enjoyed writing that blog post. As such, I have decided to do the same for 2023! From now on, this will probably be an annual thing :) Albums In 2023, I added 73 new albums to my collection nearly 2 albums every three weeks! I listed them below in the order in which I acquired them. I purchased most of these albums when I could and borrowed the rest at libraries. If you want to browse though, I added links to the album covers pointing either to websites where you can buy them or to Discogs when digital copies weren't available. Once again this year, it seems that Punk (mostly O !) and Metal dominate my list, mostly fueled by Angry Metal Guy and the amazing Montr al Skinhead/Punk concert scene. Concerts A trend I started in 2022 was to go to as many concerts of artists I like as possible. I'm happy to report I went to around 80% more concerts in 2023 than in 2022! Looking back at my list, April was quite a busy month... Here are the concerts I went to in 2023: Although metalfinder continues to work as intended, I'm very glad to have discovered the Montr al underground scene has departed from Facebook/Instagram and adopted en masse Gancio, a FOSS community agenda that supports ActivityPub. Our local instance, askapunk.net is pretty much all I could ask for :) That's it for 2023!

4 January 2024

Michael Ablassmeier: Migrating a system to Hetzner cloud using REAR and kexec

I needed to migrate an existing system to an Hetzner cloud VPS. While it is possible to attach KVM consoles and custom ISO images to dedicated servers, i didn t find any way to do so with regular cloud instances. For system migrations i usually use REAR, which has never failed me. (and also has saved my ass during recovery multiple times). It s an awesome utility! It s possible to do this using the Hetzner recovery console too, but using REAR is very convenient here, because it handles things like re-creating the partition layout and network settings automatically! The steps are:

Example To create a rescue image on the source system:
apt install rear
echo OUTPUT=ISO > /etc/rear/local.conf
rear mkrescue -v
[..]
Wrote ISO image: /var/lib/rear/output/rear-debian12.iso (185M)
My source system had a 128 GB disk, so i registered an instance on Hetzner cloud with greater disk size to make things easier: image Now copy the ISO image to the newly created instance and extract its data:
 apt install kexec-tools
 scp rear-debian12.iso root@49.13.193.226:/tmp/
 modprobe loop
 mount -o loop rear-debian12.iso /mnt/
 cp /mnt/isolinux/kernel /tmp/
 cp /mnt/isolinux/initrd.cgz /tmp/
Install kexec if not installed already:
 apt install kexec-tools
Note down the current gateway configuration, this is required later on to make the REAR recovery console reachable via SSH:
root@testme:~# ip route
default via 172.31.1.1 dev eth0
172.31.1.1 dev eth0 scope link
Reboot the running VPS instance into the REAR recovery image using somewhat the same kernel cmdline:
root@testme:~# cat /proc/cmdline
BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-6.1.0-13-amd64 root=UUID=5174a81e-5897-47ca-8fe4-9cd19dc678c4 ro consoleblank=0 systemd.show_status=true console=tty1 console=ttyS0
kexec --initrd /tmp/initrd.cgz --command-line="consoleblank=0 systemd.show_status=true console=tty1 console=ttyS0" /tmp/kernel
Connection to 49.13.193.226 closed by remote host.
Connection to 49.13.193.226 closed
Now watch the system on the Console booting into the REAR system: image Login the recovery console (root without password) and fix its default route to make it reachable:
ip addr
[..]
2: enp1s0
..
$ ip route add 172.31.1.1 dev enp1s0
$ ip route add default via 172.31.1.1
ping 49.13.193.226
64 bytes from 49.13.193.226: icmp_seq=83 ttl=52 time=27.7 ms
The network configuration might differ, the source system in this example used DHCP, as the target does. If REAR detects changed static network configuration it guides you through the setup pretty nicely. Login via SSH (REAR will store your ssh public keys in the image) and start the recovery process, follow the steps as suggested by REAR:
ssh -l root 49.13.193.226
Welcome to Relax-and-Recover. Run "rear recover" to restore your system !
RESCUE debian12:~ # rear recover
Relax-and-Recover 2.7 / Git
Running rear recover (PID 673 date 2024-01-04 19:20:22)
Using log file: /var/log/rear/rear-debian12.log
Running workflow recover within the ReaR rescue/recovery system
Will do driver migration (recreating initramfs/initrd)
Comparing disks
Device vda does not exist (manual configuration needed)
Switching to manual disk layout configuration (GiB sizes rounded down to integer)
/dev/vda had size 137438953472 (128 GiB) but it does no longer exist
/dev/sda was not used on the original system and has now 163842097152 (152 GiB)
Original disk /dev/vda does not exist (with same size) in the target system
Using /dev/sda (the only available of the disks) for recreating /dev/vda
Current disk mapping table (source => target):
  /dev/vda => /dev/sda
Confirm or edit the disk mapping
1) Confirm disk mapping and continue 'rear recover'
[..]
User confirmed recreated disk layout
[..]
This step re-recreates your original disk layout and mounts it to /mnt/local/ (this example uses a pretty lame layout, but usually REAR will handle things like lvm/btrfs just nicely):
mount
/dev/sda3 on /mnt/local type ext4 (rw,relatime,errors=remount-ro)
/dev/sda1 on /mnt/local/boot type ext4 (rw,relatime)
Now clone your source systems data to /mnt/local/ with whatever utility you like to use and exit the recovery step. After confirming everything went well, REAR will setup the bootloader (and all other config details like fstab entries and adjusted network configuration) for you as required:
rear> exit
Did you restore the backup to /mnt/local ? Are you ready to continue recovery ? yes
User confirmed restored files
Updated initramfs with new drivers for this system.
Skip installing GRUB Legacy boot loader because GRUB 2 is installed (grub-probe or grub2-probe exist).
Installing GRUB2 boot loader...
Determining where to install GRUB2 (no GRUB2_INSTALL_DEVICES specified)
Found possible boot disk /dev/sda - installing GRUB2 there
Finished 'recover'. The target system is mounted at '/mnt/local'.
Exiting rear recover (PID 7103) and its descendant processes ...
Running exit tasks
Now reboot the recovery console and watch it boot into your target systems configuration: image Being able to use this procedure for complete disaster recovery within Hetzner cloud VPS (using off-site backups) gives me a better feeling, too.

4 December 2023

Ian Jackson: Don t use apt-get source; use dgit

tl;dr: If you are a Debian user who knows git, don t work with Debian source packages. Don t use apt source, or dpkg-source. Instead, use dgit and work in git. Also, don t use: VCS links on official Debian web pages, debcheckout, or Debian s (semi-)official gitlab, Salsa. These are suitable for Debian experts only; for most people they can be beartraps. Instead, use dgit. > Struggling with Debian source packages? A friend of mine recently asked for help on IRC. They re an experienced Debian administrator and user, and were trying to: make a change to a Debian package; build and install and run binary packages from it; and record that change for their future self, and their colleagues. They ended up trying to comprehend quilt. quilt is an ancient utility for managing sets of source code patches, from well before the era of modern version control. It has many strange behaviours and footguns. Debian s ancient and obsolete tarballs-and-patches source package format (which I designed the initial version of in 1993) nowadays uses quilt, at least for most packages. You don t want to deal with any of this nonsense. You don t want to learn quilt, and suffer its misbehaviours. You don t want to learn about Debian source packages and wrestle dpkg-source. Happily, you don t need to. Just use dgit One of dgit s main objectives is to minimise the amount of Debian craziness you need to learn. dgit aims to empower you to make changes to the software you re running, conveniently and with a minimum of fuss. You can use dgit to get the source code to a Debian package, as a git tree, with dgit clone (and dgit fetch). The git tree can be made into a binary package directly. The only things you really need to know are:
  1. By default dgit fetches from Debian unstable, the main work-in-progress branch. You may want something like dgit clone PACKAGE bookworm,-security (yes, with a comma).
  2. You probably want to edit debian/changelog to make your packages have a different version number.
  3. To build binaries, run dpkg-buildpackage -uc -b.
  4. Debian package builds are often disastrously messsy: builds might modify source files; and the official debian/rules clean can be inadequate, or crazy. Always commit before building, and use git clean and git reset --hard instead of running clean rules from the package.
Don t try to make a Debian source package. (Don t read the dpkg-source manual!) Instead, to preserve and share your work, use the git branch. dgit pull or dgit fetch can be used to get updates. There is a more comprehensive tutorial, with example runes, in the dgit-user(7) manpage. (There is of course complete reference documentation, but you don t need to bother reading it.) Objections But I don t want to learn yet another tool One of dgit s main goals is to save people from learning things you don t need to. It aims to be straightforward, convenient, and (so far as Debian permits) unsurprising. So: don t learn dgit. Just run it and it will be fine :-). Shouldn t I be using official Debian git repos? Absolutely not. Unless you are a Debian expert, these can be terrible beartraps. One possible outcome is that you might build an apparently working program but without the security patches. Yikes! I discussed this in more detail in 2021 in another blog post plugging dgit. Gosh, is Debian really this bad? Yes. On behalf of the Debian Project, I apologise. Debian is a very conservative institution. Change usually comes very slowly. (And when rapid or radical change has been forced through, the results haven t always been pretty, either technically or socially.) Sadly this means that sometimes much needed change can take a very long time, if it happens at all. But this tendency also provides the stability and reliability that people have come to rely on Debian for. I m a Debian maintainer. You tell me dgit is something totally different! dgit is, in fact, a general bidirectional gateway between the Debian archive and git. So yes, dgit is also a tool for Debian uploaders. You should use it to do your uploads, whenever you can. It s more convenient and more reliable than git-buildpackage and dput runes, and produces better output for users. You too can start to forget how to deal with source packages! A full treatment of this is beyond the scope of this blog post.

comment count unavailable comments

Russ Allbery: Cumulative haul

I haven't done one of these in quite a while, long enough that I've already read and reviewed many of these books. John Joseph Adams (ed.) The Far Reaches (sff anthology)
Poul Anderson The Shield of Time (sff)
Catherine Asaro The Phoenix Code (sff)
Catherine Asaro The Veiled Web (sff)
Travis Baldree Bookshops & Bonedust (sff)
Sue Burke Semiosis (sff)
Jacqueline Carey Cassiel's Servant (sff)
Rob Copeland The Fund (nonfiction)
Mar Delaney Wolf Country (sff)
J.S. Dewes The Last Watch (sff)
J.S. Dewes The Exiled Fleet (sff)
Mike Duncan Hero of Two Worlds (nonfiction)
Mike Duncan The Storm Before the Storm (nonfiction)
Kate Elliott King's Dragon (sff)
Zeke Faux Number Go Up (nonfiction)
Nicola Griffith Menewood (sff)
S.L. Huang The Water Outlaws (sff)
Alaya Dawn Johnson The Library of Broken Worlds (sff)
T. Kingfisher Thornhedge (sff)
Naomi Kritzer Liberty's Daughter (sff)
Ann Leckie Translation State (sff)
Michael Lewis Going Infinite (nonfiction)
Jenna Moran Magical Bears in the Context of Contemporary Political Theory (sff collection)
Ari North Love and Gravity (graphic novel)
Ciel Pierlot Bluebird (sff)
Terry Pratchett A Hat Full of Sky (sff)
Terry Pratchett Going Postal (sff)
Terry Pratchett Thud! (sff)
Terry Pratchett Wintersmith (sff)
Terry Pratchett Making Money (sff)
Terry Pratchett Unseen Academicals (sff)
Terry Pratchett I Shall Wear Midnight (sff)
Terry Pratchett Snuff (sff)
Terry Pratchett Raising Steam (sff)
Terry Pratchett The Shepherd's Crown (sff)
Aaron A. Reed 50 Years of Text Games (nonfiction)
Dashka Slater Accountable (nonfiction)
Rory Stewart The Marches (nonfiction)
Emily Tesh Silver in the Wood (sff)
Emily Tesh Drowned Country (sff)
Valerie Vales Chilling Effect (sff)
Martha Wells System Collapse (sff)
Martha Wells Witch King (sff)

2 November 2023

Fran ois Marier: Upgrading from Debian 11 bullseye to 12 bookworm

Over the last few months, I upgraded my Debian machines from bullseye to bookworm. The process was uneventful, but I ended up reconfiguring several things afterwards in order to modernize my upgraded machines.

Logcheck I noticed in this release that the transition to journald is essentially complete. This means that rsyslog is no longer needed on most of my systems:
apt purge rsyslog
Once that was done, I was able to comment out the following lines in /etc/logcheck/logcheck.logfiles.d/syslog.logfiles:
#/var/log/syslog
#/var/log/auth.log
I did have to adjust some of my custom logcheck rules, particularly the ones that deal with kernel messages:
--- a/logcheck/ignore.d.server/local-kernel
+++ b/logcheck/ignore.d.server/local-kernel
@@ -1,1 +1,1 @@
-^\w 3  [ :[:digit:]] 11  [._[:alnum:]-]+ kernel: \[[0-9. ]+]\ IN=eno1 OUT= MAC=[0-9a-f:]+ SRC=[0-9a-f.:]+
+^\w 3  [ :[:digit:]] 11  [._[:alnum:]-]+ kernel: (\[[0-9. ]+]\ )?IN=eno1 OUT= MAC=[0-9a-f:]+ SRC=[0-9a-f.:]+
Then I moved local entries from /etc/logcheck/logcheck.logfiles to /etc/logcheck/logcheck.logfiles.d/local.logfiles (/var/log/syslog and /var/log/auth.log are enabled by default when needed) and removed some files that are no longer used:
rm /var/log/mail.err*
rm /var/log/mail.warn*
rm /var/log/mail.info*
Finally, I had to fix any unescaped characters in my local rules. For example error == NULL \*error == NULL must now be written as error == NULL \ \ \*error == NULL.

Networking After the upgrade, I got a notice that the isc-dhcp-client is now deprecated and so I removed if from my system:
apt purge isc-dhcp-client
This however meant that I need to ensure that my network configuration software does not depend on the now-deprecated DHCP client. On my laptop, I was already using NetworkManager for my main network interfaces and that has built-in DHCP support.

Migration to systemd-networkd On my backup server, I took this opportunity to switch from ifupdown to systemd-networkd by removing ifupdown:
apt purge ifupdown
rm /etc/network/interfaces
putting the following in /etc/systemd/network/20-wired.network:
[Match]
Name=eno1
[Network]
DHCP=yes
MulticastDNS=yes
and then enabling/starting systemd-networkd:
systemctl enable systemd-networkd
systemctl start systemd-networkd
I also needed to install polkit:
apt install --no-install-recommends policykit-1
in order to allow systemd-networkd to set the hostname. In order to start my firewall automatically as interfaces are brought up, I wrote a dispatcher script to apply my existing iptables rules.

Migration to predictacle network interface names On my Linode server, I did the same as on the backup server, but I put the following in /etc/systemd/network/20-wired.network since it has a static IPv6 allocation:
[Match]
Name=enp0s4
[Network]
DHCP=yes
Address=2600:3c01::xxxx:xxxx:xxxx:939f/64
Gateway=fe80::1
and switched to predictable network interface names by deleting these two files:
  • /etc/systemd/network/50-virtio-kernel-names.link
  • /etc/systemd/network/99-default.link
and then changing eth0 to enp0s4 in:
  • /etc/network/iptables.up.rules
  • /etc/network/ip6tables.up.rules
  • /etc/rc.local (for OpenVPN)
  • /etc/logcheck/ignored.d.*/*
Then I regenerated all initramfs:
update-initramfs -u -k all
and rebooted the virtual machine. Giving systemd-resolved control of /etc/resolv.conf After reading this history of DNS resolution on Linux, I decided to modernize my resolv.conf setup and let systemd-resolved handle /etc/resolv.conf. I installed the package:
apt install systemd-resolved
and then removed no-longer-needed packages:
apt purge resolvconf avahi-daemon
I also disabled support for Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) after reading this person's reasoning by putting the following in /etc/systemd/resolved.conf.d/llmnr.conf:
[Resolve]
LLMNR=no
I verified that mDNS is enabled and LLMNR is disabled:
$ resolvectl mdns
Global: yes
Link 2 (enp0s25): yes
Link 3 (wlp3s0): yes
$ resolvectl llmnr
Global: no
Link 2 (enp0s25): no
Link 3 (wlp3s0): no
Note that if you want auto-discovery of local printers using CUPS, you need to keep avahi-daemon since cups-browsed doesn't support systemd-resolved. You can verify that it works using:
sudo lpinfo --include-schemes dnssd -v

Dynamic DNS I replaced ddclient with inadyn since it doesn't work with no-ip.com anymore, using the configuration I described in an old blog post.

chkrootkit I moved my customizations in /etc/chkrootkit.conf to /etc/chkrootkit/chkrootkit.conf after seeing this message in my logs:
WARNING: /etc/chkrootkit.conf is deprecated. Please put your settings in /etc/chkrootkit/chkrootkit.conf instead: /etc/chkrootkit.conf will be ignored in a future release and should be deleted.

ssh As mentioned in Debian bug#1018106, to silence the following warnings:
sshd[6283]: pam_env(sshd:session): deprecated reading of user environment enabled
I changed the following in /etc/pam.d/sshd:
--- a/pam.d/sshd
+++ b/pam.d/sshd
@@ -44,7 +44,7 @@ session    required     pam_limits.so
 session    required     pam_env.so # [1]
 # In Debian 4.0 (etch), locale-related environment variables were moved to
 # /etc/default/locale, so read that as well.
-session    required     pam_env.so user_readenv=1 envfile=/etc/default/locale
+session    required     pam_env.so envfile=/etc/default/locale
 # SELinux needs to intervene at login time to ensure that the process starts
 # in the proper default security context.  Only sessions which are intended
I also made the following changes to /etc/ssh/sshd_config.d/local.conf based on the advice of ssh-audit 2.9.0:
-KexAlgorithms curve25519-sha256@libssh.org,curve25519-sha256,diffie-hellman-group14-sha256,diffie-hellman-group16-sha512,diffie-hellman-group18-sha512,diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha256
+KexAlgorithms curve25519-sha256@libssh.org,curve25519-sha256,sntrup761x25519-sha512@openssh.com,diffie-hellman-group16-sha512,diffie-hellman-group18-sha512

25 October 2023

Sven Hoexter: Curing vpnc-scripts Symptoms

I stick to some very archaic workflows, e.g. to connect to some corp VPN I just run sudo vpnc-connect and later on sudo vpnc-disconnect. In the past that also managed to restore my resolv.conf, currently it doesn't. According to a colleague that's also the case for Ubuntu. Taking a step back, the sane way would be to use the NetworkManager vpnc plugin, but that does not work with this specific case because we use uncool VPN tech which requires the Enable weak authentication setting for vpnc. There is a feature request open for that one at https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/NetworkManager-vpnc/-/issues/11 Taking another step back I thought that it shouldn't be that hard to add some checkbox, a boolean and render out another config flag or line in a config file. Not as intuitive as I thought this mix of XML and C. So let's quickly look elsewhere. What happens is that the backup files in /var/run/vpnc/ are created by the vpnc-scripts script called vpnc-script, but not moved back, because it adds some pid as a suffix and the pid is not the final pid of the vpnc process. Basically it can not find the backup when it tries to restore it. So I decided to replace the pid guessing code with a suffix made up of the gateway IP and the tun interface name. No idea if that is stable in all circumstance (someone with a vpn name DNS RR?) or several connections to different gateways. But good enough for myself, so here is my patch:
vpnc-scripts [master]$ cat debian/patches/replace-pid-detection 
Index: vpnc-scripts/vpnc-script
===================================================================
--- vpnc-scripts.orig/vpnc-script
+++ vpnc-scripts/vpnc-script
@@ -91,21 +91,15 @@ OS=" uname -s "
 HOOKS_DIR=/etc/vpnc
-# Use the PID of the controlling process (vpnc or OpenConnect) to
-# uniquely identify this VPN connection. Normally, the parent process
-# is a shell, and the grandparent's PID is the relevant one.
-# OpenConnect v9.0+ provides VPNPID, so we don't need to determine it.
-if [ -z "$VPNPID" ]; then
-    VPNPID=$PPID
-    PCMD= ps -c -o cmd= -p $PPID 
-    case "$PCMD" in
-        *sh) VPNPID= ps -o ppid= -p $PPID  ;;
-    esac
+# This whole script is called twice via vpnc-connect. On the first run
+# the variables are empty. Catch that and move on when they're there.
+if [ -n "$VPNGATEWAY" ]; then
+    BACKUPID="$ VPNGATEWAY _$ TUNDEV "
+    DEFAULT_ROUTE_FILE=/var/run/vpnc/defaultroute.$ BACKUPID 
+    DEFAULT_ROUTE_FILE_IPV6=/var/run/vpnc/defaultroute_ipv6.$ BACKUPID 
+    RESOLV_CONF_BACKUP=/var/run/vpnc/resolv.conf-backup.$ BACKUPID 
 fi
-DEFAULT_ROUTE_FILE=/var/run/vpnc/defaultroute.$ VPNPID 
-DEFAULT_ROUTE_FILE_IPV6=/var/run/vpnc/defaultroute_ipv6.$ VPNPID 
-RESOLV_CONF_BACKUP=/var/run/vpnc/resolv.conf-backup.$ VPNPID 
 SCRIPTNAME= basename $0 
 # some systems, eg. Darwin & FreeBSD, prune /var/run on boot
Or rolled into a debian package at https://sven.stormbind.net/debian/vpnc-scripts/ The colleague decided to stick to NetworkManager, moved the vpnc binary aside and added a wrapper which invokes vpnc with --enable-weak-authentication. The beauty is, all of this will break on updates, so at some point someone has to understand GTK4 to fix the NetworkManager plugin for good. :)

22 October 2023

Aigars Mahinovs: Figuring out finances part 3

So now that I have something that looks very much like a budgeting setup going, I am going to .. delete it! Why? Well, at the end of the last part of this, the Firefly III instance was running on a tiny Debian server in a Docker container right next to another Docker container that is running the main user of this server - a Home Assistant instance that has been managing my home for several years already. So why change that? See, there is one bit of knowledge that is very crucial to your Home Assistant experience, which is not really emphasised enough in the Home Assistant documentation. In fact back when I was getting into the Home Assistant both the main documentation and basically all the guides around were just coming off the hype of Docker disrupting everything and that is a big reason why everyone suggested to install and use Home Assistant as a Docker container on top of any kind of stable OS. In fact I used to run it for years on my TerraMaster NAS, just so that I don't have a separate home server running 24/7 at home and just have everything inside the very compact NAS case. So here is the thing you NEED to know - Home Assistant Container is DEMO version of Home Assistant! If you want to have a full Home Assistant experience and use the knowledge of the huge community around the HA space, you have to use the Home Assistant OS. Ideally on dedicated hardware. Ideally on HA Green box, but any tiny PC would also work great. Raspberry Pi 4+ is common, but quite weak as the network size grows and especially the SD card for storage gets old very fast. Get a real small x86 PC with at least 4Gb RAM and a NVME SSD (eMMC is fine too). You want to have an Ethernet port and a few free USB ports. I would also suggest immediately getting HA SkyConnect adapter that can do Zigbee networking and will do Matter soon (tm). I am making do with a SonOff Zigbee gateway, but it is quite hacky to get working and your whole Zigbee communication breaks down if the WiFi goes down - suboptimal. So I took a backup of the Home Assistant instance using it's build-in tools. I took an export of my fully configured Firefly III instance and proceeded to wipe the drive of the NUC. That was not a smart idea. :D On the Home Assitant side I was really frustrated by the documentation that was really focused on users that are (likely) using Windows and are using an SD card in something like Raspberry Pi to get Home Assistant OS running. It recommended downloading Etcher to write the image to the boot medium. That is a really weird piece of software that managed to actually crash consistently when I was trying to run it from Debian Live or Ubuntu Live on my NUC. It took me way too long to give up and try something much simpler - dd. xzcat haos_generic-x86-64-11.0.img.xz dd of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=1M That just worked, prefectly and really fast. If you want to use a GUI in a live environment, then just using the gnome-disk-utility ("Disks" in Gnome menu) and using the "Restore Disk Image ..." on a partition would work just as well. It even supports decompressing the XZ images directly while writing. But that image is small, will it not have a ton of unused disk space behind the fixed install partition? Yes, it will ... until first boot. The HA OS takes over the empty space after its install partition on the first boot-up and just grows its main partition to take up all the remaining space. Smart. After first boot is completed, the first boot wizard can be accessed via your web browser and one of the prominent buttons there is restoring from backup. So you just give it the backup file and wait. Sadly the restore does not actually give any kind of progress, so your only way to figure out when it is done is opening the same web adress in another browser tab and refresh periodically - after restoring from backup it just boots into the same config at it had before - all the settings, all the devices, all the history is preserved. Even authentification tokens are preserved so if yu had a Home Assitant Mobile installed on your phone (both for remote access and to send location info and phone state, like charging, to HA to trigger automations) then it will just suddenly start working again without further actions needed from your side. That is an almost perfect backup/restore experience. The first thing you get for using the OS version of HA is easy automatic update that also automatically takes a backup before upgrade, so if anything breaks you can roll back with one click. There is also a command-line tool that allows to upgrade, but also downgrade ha-core and other modules. I had to use it today as HA version 23.10.4 actually broke support for the Sonoff bridge that I am using to control Zigbee devices, which are like 90% of all smart devices in my home. Really helpful stuff, but not a must have. What is a must have and that you can (really) only get with Home Assistant Operating System are Addons. Some addons are just normal servers you can run alongside HA on the same HA OS server, like MariaDB or Plex or a file server. That is not the most important bit, but even there the software comes pre-configured to use in a home server configuration and has a very simple config UI to pre-configure key settings, like users, passwords and database accesses for MariaDB - you can litereally in a few clicks and few strings make serveral users each with its own access to its own database. Couple more clicks and the DB is running and will be kept restarted in case of failures. But the real gems in the Home Assistant Addon Store are modules that extend Home Assitant core functionality in way that would be really hard or near impossible to configure in Home Assitant Container manually, especially because no documentation has ever existed for such manual config - everyone just tells you to install the addon from HA Addon store or from HACS. Or you can read the addon metadata in various repos and figure out what containers it actually runs with what settings and configs and what hooks it puts into the HA Core to make them cooperate. And then do it all over again when a new version breaks everything 6 months later when you have already forgotten everything. In the Addons that show up immediately after installation are addons to install the new Matter server, a MariaDB and MQTT server (that other addons can use for data storage and message exchange), Z-Wave support and ESPHome integration and very handy File manager that includes editors to edit Home Assitant configs directly in brower and SSH/Terminal addon that boht allows SSH connection and also a web based terminal that gives access to the OS itself and also to a comand line interface, for example, to do package downgrades if needed or see detailed logs. And also there is where you can get the features that are the focus this year for HA developers - voice enablers. However that is only a beginning. Like in Debian you can add additional repositories to expand your list of available addons. Unlike Debian most of the amazing software that is available for Home Assistant is outside the main, official addon store. For now I have added the most popular addon repository - HACS (Home Assistant Community Store) and repository maintained by Alexbelgium. The first includes things like NodeRED (a workflow based automation programming UI), Tailscale/Wirescale for VPN servers, motionEye for CCTV control, Plex for home streaming. HACS also includes a lot of HA UI enhacement modules, like themes, custom UI control panels like Mushroom or mini-graph-card and integrations that provide more advanced functions, but also require more knowledge to use, like Local Tuya - that is harder to set up, but allows fully local control of (normally) cloud-based devices. And it has AppDaemon - basically a Python based automation framework where you put in Python scrips that get run in a special environment where they get fed events from Home Assistant and can trigger back events that can control everything HA can and also do anything Python can do. This I will need to explore later. And the repository by Alex includes the thing that is actually the focus of this blog post (I know :D) - Firefly III addon and Firefly Importer addon that you can then add to your Home Assistant OS with a few clicks. It also has all kinds of addons for NAS management, photo/video server, book servers and Portainer that lets us setup and run any Docker container inside the HA OS structure. HA OS will detect this and warn you about unsupported processes running on your HA OS instance (nice security feature!), but you can just dismiss that. This will be very helpful very soon. This whole environment of OS and containers and apps really made me think - what was missing in Debian that made the talented developers behind all of that to spend the immense time and effor to setup a completely new OS and app infrastructure and develop a completel paraller developer community for Home Assistant apps, interfaces and configurations. Is there anything that can still be done to make HA community and the general open source and Debian community closer together? HA devs are not doing anything wrong: they are using the best open source can provide, they bring it to people whould could not install and use it otherwise, they are contributing fixes and improvements as well. But there must be some way to do this better, together. So I installed MariaDB, create a user and database for Firefly. I installed Firefly III and configured it to use the MariaDB with the web config UI. When I went into the Firefly III web UI I was confronted with the normal wizard to setup a new instance. And no reference to any backup restore. Hmm, ok. Maybe that goes via the Importer? So I make an access token again, configured the Importer to use that, configured the Nordlinger bank connection settings. Then I tried to import the export that I downloaded from Firefly III before. The importer did not auto-recognose the format. Turns out it is just a list of transactions ... It can only be barely useful if you first manually create all the asset accounts with the same names as before and even then you'll again have to deal with resolving the problem of transfers showing up twice. And all of your categories (that have not been used yet) are gone, your automation rules and bills are gone, your budgets and piggy banks are gone. Boooo. It will be easier for me to recreate my account data from bank exports again than to resolve data in that transaction export. Turns out that Firefly III documenation explicitly recommends making a mysqldump of your own and not rely on anything in the app itself for backup purposes. Kind of sad this was not mentioned in the export page that sure looked a lot like a backup :D After doing all that work all over again I needed to make something new not to feel like I wasted days of work for no real gain. So I started solving a problem I had for a while already - how do I add cash transations to the system when I am out of the house with just my phone in the hand? So far my workaround has been just sending myself messages in WhatsApp with the amount and description of any cash expenses. Two solutions are possible: app and bot. There are actually multiple Android-based phone apps that work with Firefly III API to do full financial management from the phone. However, after trying it out, that is not what I will be using most of the time. First of all this requires your Firefly III instance to be accessible from the Internet. Either via direct API access using some port forwarding and secured with HTTPS and good access tokens, or via a VPN server redirect that is installed on both HA and your phone. Tailscale was really easy to get working. But the power has its drawbacks - adding a new cash transaction requires opening the app, choosing new transaction view, entering descriptio, amount, choosing "Cash" as source account and optionally choosing destination expense account, choosing category and budget and then submitting the form to the server. Sadly none of that really works if you have no Internet or bad Internet at the place where you are using cash. And it's just too many steps. Annoying. An easier alternative is setting up a Telegram bot - it is running in a custom Docker container right next to your Firefly (via Portainer) and you talk to it via a custom Telegram chat channel that you create very easily and quickly. And then you can just tell it "Coffee 5" and it will create a transaction from the (default) cash account in 5 amount with description "Coffee". This part also works if you are offline at the moment - the bot will receive the message once you get back online. You can use Telegram bot menu system to edit the transaction to add categories or expense accounts, but this part only work if you are online. And the Firefly instance does not have to be online at all. Really nifty. So next week I will need to write up all the regular payments as bills in Firefly (again) and then I can start writing a Python script to predict my (financial) future!

12 October 2023

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in September 2023

Welcome to the September 2023 report from the Reproducible Builds project In these reports, we outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As a quick recap, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, almost all software is distributed to end users as pre-compiled binaries.
Andreas Herrmann gave a talk at All Systems Go 2023 titled Fast, correct, reproducible builds with Nix and Bazel . Quoting from the talk description:

You will be introduced to Google s open source build system Bazel, and will learn how it provides fast builds, how correctness and reproducibility is relevant, and how Bazel tries to ensure correctness. But, we will also see where Bazel falls short in ensuring correctness and reproducibility. You will [also] learn about the purely functional package manager Nix and how it approaches correctness and build isolation. And we will see where Bazel has an advantage over Nix when it comes to providing fast feedback during development.
Andreas also shows how you can get the best of both worlds and combine Nix and Bazel, too. A video of the talk is available.
diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can locate and diagnose reproducibility issues. This month, Chris Lamb fixed compatibility with file(1) version 5.45 [ ] and updated some documentation [ ]. In addition, Vagrant Cascadian extended support for GNU Guix [ ][ ] and updated the version in that distribution as well. [ ].
Yet another reminder that our upcoming Reproducible Builds Summit is set to take place from October 31st November 2nd 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. If you haven t been before, our summits are a unique gathering that brings together attendees from diverse projects, united by a shared vision of advancing the Reproducible Builds effort. During this enriching event, participants will have the opportunity to engage in discussions, establish connections and exchange ideas to drive progress in this vital field. If you re interested in joining us this year, please make sure to read the event page, the news item, or the invitation email that Mattia Rizzolo sent out recently, all of which have more details about the event and location. We are also still looking for sponsors to support the event, so please reach out to the organising team if you are able to help. Also note that PackagingCon 2023 is taking place in Berlin just before our summit.
On the Reproducible Builds website, Greg Chabala updated the JVM-related documentation to update a link to the BUILDSPEC.md file. [ ] And Fay Stegerman fixed the builds failing because of a YAML syntax error.

Distribution work In Debian, this month: September saw F-Droid add ten new reproducible apps, and one existing app switched to reproducible builds. In addition, two reproducible apps were archived and one was disabled for a current total of 199 apps published with Reproducible Builds and using the upstream developer s signature. [ ] In addition, an extensive blog post was posted on f-droid.org titled Reproducible builds, signing keys, and binary repos .

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

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project operates a comprehensive testing framework (available at tests.reproducible-builds.org) in order to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. In August, a number of changes were made by Holger Levsen:
  • Disable armhf and i386 builds due to Debian bug #1052257. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • Run diffoscope with a lower ionice priority. [ ]
  • Log every build in a simple text file [ ] and create persistent stamp files when running diffoscope to ease debugging [ ].
  • Run schedulers one hour after dinstall again. [ ]
  • Temporarily use diffoscope from the host, and not from a schroot running the tested suite. [ ][ ]
  • Fail the diffoscope distribution test if the diffoscope version cannot be determined. [ ]
  • Fix a spelling error in the email to IRC gateway. [ ]
  • Force (and document) the reconfiguration of all jobs, due to the recent rise of zombies. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • Deal with a rare condition when killing processes which should not be there. [ ]
  • Install the Debian backports kernel in an attempt to address Debian bug #1052257. [ ][ ]
In addition, Mattia Rizzolo fixed a call to diffoscope --version (as suggested by Fay Stegerman on our mailing list) [ ], worked on an openQA credential issue [ ] and also made some changes to the machine-readable reproducible metadata, reproducible-tracker.json [ ]. Lastly, Roland Clobus added instructions for manual configuration of the openQA secrets [ ].

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:

6 October 2023

Emanuele Rocca: Custom Debian Installer and Kernel on a USB stick

There are many valid reasons to create a custom Debian Installer image. You may need to pass some special arguments to the kernel, use a different GRUB version, automate the installation by means of preseeding, use a custom kernel, or modify the installer itself.
If you have a EFI system, which is probably the case in 2023, there is no need to learn complex procedures in order to create a custom Debian Installer stick.
The source of many frustrations is that the ISO format for CDs/DVDs is read-only, but you can just create a VFAT filesystem on a USB stick, copy all ISO contents onto the stick itself, and modify things at will.

Create a writable USB stick
First create a FAT32 filesystem on the removable device and mount it. The device is sdX in the example.
$ sudo parted --script /dev/sdX mklabel msdos
$ sudo parted --script /dev/sdX mkpart primary fat32 0% 100%
$ sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdX1
$ sudo mount /dev/sdX1 /mnt/data/
Then copy to the USB stick the installer ISO you would like to modify, debian-testing-amd64-netinst.iso here.
$ sudo kpartx -v -a debian-testing-amd64-netinst.iso
# Mount the first partition on the ISO and copy its contents to the stick
$ sudo mount /dev/mapper/loop0p1 /mnt/cdrom/
$ sudo rsync -av /mnt/cdrom/ /mnt/data/
$ sudo umount /mnt/cdrom
# Same story with the second partition on the ISO
$ sudo mount /dev/mapper/loop0p2 /mnt/cdrom/
$ sudo rsync -av /mnt/cdrom/ /mnt/data/
$ sudo umount /mnt/cdrom
$ sudo kpartx -d debian-testing-amd64-netinst.iso
$ sudo umount /mnt/data
Now try booting from the USB stick just to verify that everything went well and we can start customizing the image.

Boot loader, preseeding, installer hacks
The easiest things we can change now are the shim, GRUB, and GRUB s configuration. The USB stick contains the shim under /EFI/boot/bootx64.efi, while GRUB is at /EFI/boot/grubx64.efi. This means that if you want to test a different shim / GRUB version, you just replace the relevant files. That s it. Take for example /usr/lib/grub/x86_64-efi/monolithic/grubx64.efi from the package grub-efi-amd64-bin, or the signed version from grub-efi-amd64-signed and copy them under /EFI/boot/grubx64.efi. Or perhaps you want to try out systemd-boot? Then take /usr/lib/systemd/boot/efi/systemd-bootx64.efi from the package systemd-boot-efi, copy it to /EFI/boot/bootx64.efi and you re good to go. Figuring out the right systemd-boot configuration needed to start the Installer is left as an exercise.
By editing /boot/grub/grub.cfg you can pass arbitrary arguments to the kernel and the Installer itself. See the official Installation Guide for a comprehensive list of boot parameters.
One very commong thing to do is automating the installation using a preseed file. Add the following to the kernel command line: preseed/file=/cdrom/preseed.cfg and create a /preseed.cfg file on the USB stick. As a little example:
d-i time/zone select Europe/Rome
d-i passwd/root-password this-is-the-root-password
d-i passwd/root-password-again this-is-the-root-password
d-i passwd/user-fullname string Emanuele Rocca
d-i passwd/username string ema
d-i passwd/user-password password lol-haha-uh
d-i passwd/user-password-again password lol-haha-uh
d-i apt-setup/no_mirror boolean true
d-i popularity-contest/participate boolean true
tasksel tasksel/first multiselect standard
See Steve McIntyre s awesome page with the full list of available settings and their description: https://preseed.einval.com/debian-preseed/.
Two noteworthy settings are early_command and late_command. They can be used to execute arbitrary commands and provide thus extreme flexibility! You can go as far as replacing parts of the installer with a sed command, or maybe wgetting an entirely different file. This is a fairly easy way to test minor Installer patches. As an example, I ve once used this to test a patch to grub-installer:
d-i partman/early_command string wget https://people.debian.org/~ema/grub-installer-1035085-1 -O /usr/bin/grub-installer
Finally, the initrd contains all early stages of the installer. It s easy to unpack it, modify whatever component you like, and repack it. Say you want to change a given udev rule:
$ mkdir /tmp/new-initrd
$ cd /tmp/new-initrd
$ zstdcat /mnt/data/install.a64/initrd.gz   sudo cpio -id
$ vi lib/udev/rules.d/60-block.rules
$ find .   cpio -o -H newc   zstd --stdout > /mnt/data/install.a64/initrd.gz

Custom udebs
From a basic architectural standpoint the Debian Installer can be seen as an initrd that loads a series of special Debian packages called udebs. In the previous section we have seen how to (ab)use early_command to replace one of the scripts used by the Installer, namely grub-installer. It turns out that such script is installed by a udeb, so let s do things right and build a new Installer ISO with our custom grub udeb.
Fetch the code for the grub-installer udeb, make your changes and build it with a classic dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot.
Then get the Installer code and install all dependencies:
$ git clone https://salsa.debian.org/installer-team/debian-installer/
$ cd debian-installer/
$ sudo apt build-dep .
Now add the grub-installer udeb to the localudebs directory and create a new netboot image:
$ cp /path/to/grub-installer_1.198_arm64.udeb build/localudebs/
$ cd build
$ fakeroot make clean_netboot build_netboot
Give it some time, soon enough you ll have a brand new ISO to test under dest/netboot/mini.iso.

Custom kernel
Perhaps there s a kernel configuration option you need to enable, or maybe you need a more recent kernel version than what is available in sid.
The Debian Linux Kernel Handbook has all the details for how to do things properly, but here s a quick example.
Get the Debian kernel packaging from salsa and generate the upstream tarball:
$ git clone https://salsa.debian.org/kernel-team/linux/
$ ./debian/bin/genorig.py https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git
For RC kernels use the repo from Linus instead of linux-stable.
Now do your thing, for instance change a config setting by editing debian/config/amd64/config. Don t worry about where you put it in the file, there s a tool from https://salsa.debian.org/kernel-team/kernel-team to fix that:
$ /path/to/kernel-team/utils/kconfigeditor2/process.py .
Now build your kernel:
$ export MAKEFLAGS=-j$(nproc)
$ export DEB_BUILD_PROFILES='pkg.linux.nokerneldbg pkg.linux.nokerneldbginfo pkg.linux.notools nodoc'
$ debian/rules orig
$ debian/rules debian/control
$ dpkg-buildpackage -b -nc -uc
After some time, if everything went well, you should get a bunch of .deb files as well as a .changes file, linux_6.6~rc3-1~exp1_arm64.changes here. To generate the udebs used by the Installer you need to first get a linux-signed .dsc file, and then build it with sbuild in this example:
$ /path/to/kernel-team/scripts/debian-test-sign linux_6.6~rc3-1~exp1_arm64.changes
$ sbuild --dist=unstable --extra-package=$PWD linux-signed-arm64_6.6~rc3+1~exp1.dsc
Excellent, now you should have a ton of .udebs. To build a custom installer image with this kernel, copy them all under debian-installer/build/localudebs/ and then run fakeroot make clean_netboot build_netboot as described in the previous section. In case you are trying to use a different kernel version from what is currently in sid, you will have to install the linux-image package on the system building the ISO, and change LINUX_KERNEL_ABI in build/config/common. The linux-image dependency in debian/control probably needs to be tweaked as well.
That s it, the new Installer ISO should boot with your custom kernel!
There is going to be another minor obstacle though, as anna will complain that your new kernel cannot be found in the archive. Copy the kernel udebs you have built onto a vfat formatted USB stick, switch to a terminal, and install them all with udpkg:
~ # udpkg -i *.udeb
Now the installation should proceed smoothly.

Next.