Search Results: "wagner"

27 December 2022

Chris Lamb: Favourite books of 2022: Fiction

This post marks the beginning my yearly roundups of the favourite books and movies that I read and watched in 2022 that I plan to publish over the next few days. Just as I did for 2020 and 2021, I won't reveal precisely how many books I read in the last year. I didn't get through as many books as I did in 2021, though, but that's partly due to reading a significant number of long nineteenth-century novels in particular, a fair number of those books that American writer Henry James once referred to as "large, loose, baggy monsters." However, in today's post I'll be looking at my favourite books that are typically filed under fiction, with 'classic' fiction following tomorrow. Works that just missed the cut here include John O'Brien's Leaving Las Vegas, Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor and possibly The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, or Elif Batuman's The Idiot. I also feel obliged to mention (or is that show off?) that I also read the 1,079-page Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, but I can't say it was a favourite, let alone recommend others unless they are in the market for a good-quality under-monitor stand.

Mona (2021) Pola Oloixarac Mona is the story of a young woman who has just been nominated for the 'most important literary award in Europe'. Mona sees the nomination as a chance to escape her substance abuse on a Californian campus and so speedily decamps to the small village in the depths of Sweden where the nominees must convene for a week before the overall winner is announced. Mona didn't disappear merely to avoid pharmacological misadventures, though, but also to avoid the growing realisation that she is being treated as something of an anthropological curiosity at her university: a female writer of colour treasured for her flourish of exotic diversity that reflects well upon her department. But Mona is now stuck in the company of her literary competitors who all have now gathered from around the world in order to do what writers do: harbour private resentments, exchange empty flattery, embody the selfsame racialised stereotypes that Mona left the United States to avoid, stab rivals in the back, drink too much, and, of course, go to bed together. But as I read Mona, I slowly started to realise that something else is going on. Why does Mona keep finding traces of violence on her body, the origins of which she cannot or refuses to remember? There is something eerily defensive about her behaviour and sardonic demeanour in general as well. A genre-bending and mind-expanding novel unfolded itself, and, without getting into spoiler territory, Mona concludes with such a surprising ending that, according to Adam Thirlwell:
Perhaps we need to rethink what is meant by a gimmick. If a gimmick is anything that we want to reject as extra or excessive or ill-fitting, then it may be important to ask what inhibitions or arbitrary conventions have made it seem like excess, and to revel in the exorbitant fictional constructions it produces. [...]
Mona is a savage satire of the literary world, but it's also a very disturbing exploration of trauma and violence. The success of the book comes in equal measure from the author's commitment to both ideas, but also from the way the psychological damage component creeps up on you. And, as implied above, the last ten pages are quite literally out of this world.

My Brilliant Friend (2011)
The Story of a New Name (2012)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2013)
The Story of the Lost Child (2014) Elena Ferrante Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Quartet follows two girls, both brilliant in their own way. Our protagonist-narrator is Elena, a studious girl from the lower rungs of the middle class of Naples who is inspired to be more by her childhood friend, Lila. Lila is, in turn, far more restricted by her poverty and class, but can transcend it at times through her fiery nature, which also brands her as somewhat unique within their inward-looking community. The four books follow the two girls from the perspective of Elena as they grow up together in post-war Italy, where they drift in-and-out of each other's lives due to the vicissitudes of change and the consequences of choice. All the time this is unfolding, however, the narrative is very always slightly charged by the background knowledge revealed on the very first page that Lila will, many years later, disappear from Elena's life. Whilst the quartet has the formal properties of a bildungsroman, its subject and conception are almost entirely different. In particular, the books are driven far more by character and incident than spectacular adventures in picturesque Italy. In fact, quite the opposite takes place: these are four books where ordinary-seeming occurrences take on an unexpected radiance against a background of poverty, ignorance, violence and other threats, often bringing to mind the films of the Italian neorealism movement. Brilliantly rendered from beginning to end, Ferrante has a seemingly studious eye for interpreting interactions and the psychology of adolescence and friendship. Some utterances indeed, perhaps even some glances are dissected at length over multiple pages, something that Vittorio De Sica's classic Bicycle Thieves (1948) could never do. Potential readers should not take any notice of the saccharine cover illustrations on most editions of the books. The quartet could even win an award for the most misleading artwork, potentially rivalling even Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it is revealed that the drippy illustrations and syrupy blurbs ("a rich, intense and generous-hearted story ") turn out to be part of a larger metatextual game that Ferrante is playing with her readers. This idiosyncratic view of mine is partially supported by the fact that each of the four books has been given a misleading title, the true ambiguity of which often only becomes clear as each of the four books comes into sharper focus. Readers of the quartet often fall into debating which is the best of the four. I've heard from more than one reader that one has 'too much Italian politics' and another doesn't have enough 'classic' Lina moments. The first book then possesses the twin advantages of both establishing the environs and finishing with a breathtaking ending that is both satisfying and a cliffhanger as well but does this make it 'the best'? I prefer to liken the quartet more like the different seasons of The Wire (2002-2008) where, personal favourites and preferences aside, although each season is undoubtedly unique, it would take a certain kind of narrow-minded view of art to make the claim that, say, series one of The Wire is 'the best' or that the season that focuses on the Baltimore docks 'is boring'. Not to sound like a neo-Wagnerian, but each of them adds to final result in its own. That is to say, both The Wire and the Neopolitan Quartet achieve the rare feat of making the magisterial simultaneously intimate.

Out There: Stories (2022) Kate Folk Out There is a riveting collection of disturbing short stories by first-time author Kate Fork. The title story first appeared in the New Yorker in early 2020 imagines a near-future setting where a group of uncannily handsome artificial men called 'blots' have arrived on the San Francisco dating scene with the secret mission of sleeping with women, before stealing their personal data from their laptops and phones and then (quite literally) evaporating into thin air. Folk's satirical style is not at all didactic, so it rarely feels like she is making her points in a pedantic manner. But it's clear that the narrator of Out There is recounting her frustration with online dating. in a way that will resonate with anyone who s spent time with dating apps or indeed the contemporary hyper-centralised platform-based internet in general. Part social satire, part ghost story and part comic tales, the blurring of the lines between these factors is only one of the things that makes these stories so compelling. But whilst Folk constructs crazy scenarios and intentionally strange worlds, she also manages to also populate them with characters that feel real and genuinely sympathetic. Indeed, I challenge you not to feel some empathy for the 'blot' in the companion story Big Sur which concludes the collection, and it complicates any primary-coloured view of the dating world of consisting entirely of predatory men. And all of this is leavened with a few stories that are just plain surreal. I don't know what the deal is with Dating a Somnambulist (available online on Hobart Pulp), but I know that I like it.

Solaris (1961) Stanislaw Lem When Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the strange ocean that covers its surface, instead of finding an entirely physical scientific phenomenon, he soon discovers a previously unconscious memory embodied in the physical manifestation of a long-dead lover. The other scientists on the space station slowly reveal that they are also plagued with their own repressed corporeal memories. Many theories are put forward as to why all this is occuring, including the idea that Solaris is a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories. Yet if that is the case, the planet's purpose in doing so is entirely unknown, forcing the scientists to shift focus and wonder whether they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their own minds and in their desires. This would be an interesting outline for any good science fiction book, but one of the great strengths of Solaris is not only that it withholds from the reader why the planet is doing anything it does, but the book is so forcefully didactic in its dislike of the hubris, destructiveness and colonial thinking that can accompany scientific exploration. In one of its most vitriolic passages, Lem's own anger might be reaching out to the reader:
We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don t want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can t accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, of a civilisation superior to our own, but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primaeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us that we don t like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains since we don t leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned, and that reality is revealed to us that part of our reality that we would prefer to pass over in silence then we don t like it anymore.
An overwhelming preoccupation with this idea infuses Solaris, and it turns out to be a common theme in a lot of Lem's work of this period, such as in his 1959 'anti-police procedural' The Investigation. Perhaps it not a dislike of exploration in general or the modern scientific method in particular, but rather a savage critique of the arrogance and self-assuredness that accompanies most forms of scientific positivism, or at least pursuits that cloak themselves under the guise of being a laudatory 'scientific' pursuit:
Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.
I doubt I need to cite specific instances of contemporary scientific pursuits that might meet Lem's punishing eye today, and the fact that his critique works both in 2022 and 1961 perhaps tells us more about the human condition than we'd care to know. Another striking thing about Solaris isn't just the specific Star Trek and Stargate SG-1 episodes that I retrospectively realised were purloined from the book, but that almost the entire register of Star Trek: The Next Generation in particular seems to be rehearsed here. That is to say, TNG presents itself as hard and fact-based 'sci-fi' on the surface, but, at its core, there are often human, existential and sometimes quite enormously emotionally devastating human themes being discussed such as memory, loss and grief. To take one example from many, the painful memories that the planet Solaris physically materialises in effect asks us to seriously consider what it actually is taking place when we 'love' another person: is it merely another 'mirror' of ourselves? (And, if that is the case, is that... bad?) It would be ahistorical to claim that all popular science fiction today can be found rehearsed in Solaris, but perhaps it isn't too much of a stretch:
[Solaris] renders unnecessary any more alien stories. Nothing further can be said on this topic ...] Possibly, it can be said that when one feels the urge for such a thing, one should simply reread Solaris and learn its lessons again. Kim Stanley Robinson [...]
I could go on praising this book for quite some time; perhaps by discussing the extreme framing devices used within the book at one point, the book diverges into a lengthy bibliography of fictional books-within-the-book, each encapsulating a different theory about what the mechanics and/or function of Solaris is, thereby demonstrating that 'Solaris studies' as it is called within the world of the book has been going on for years with no tangible results, which actually leads to extreme embarrassment and then a deliberate and willful blindness to the 'Solaris problem' on the part of the book's scientific community. But I'll leave it all here before this review gets too long... Highly recommended, and a likely reread in 2023.

Brokeback Mountain (1997) Annie Proulx Brokeback Mountain began as a short story by American author Annie Proulx which appeared in the New Yorker in 1997, although it is now more famous for the 2005 film adaptation directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee. Both versions follow two young men who are hired for the summer to look after sheep at a range under the 'Brokeback' mountain in Wyoming. Unexpectedly, however, they form an intense emotional and sexual attachment, yet life intervenes and demands they part ways at the end of the summer. Over the next twenty years, though, as their individual lives play out with marriages, children and jobs, they continue reuniting for brief albeit secret liaisons on camping trips in remote settings. There's no feigned shyness or self-importance in Brokeback Mountain, just a close, compassionate and brutally honest observation of a doomed relationship and a bone-deep feeling for the hardscrabble life in the post-War West. To my mind, very few books have captured so acutely the desolation of a frustrated and repressed passion, as well as the particular flavour of undirected anger that can accompany this kind of yearning. That the original novella does all this in such a beautiful way (and without the crutch of the Wyoming landscape to look at ) is a tribute to Proulx's skills as a writer. Indeed, even without the devasting emotional undertones, Proulx's descriptions of the mountains and scree of the West is likely worth the read alone.

Luster (2020) Raven Leilani Edie is a young Black woman living in New York whose life seems to be spiralling out of control. She isn't good at making friends, her career is going nowhere, and she has no close family to speak of as well. She is, thus, your typical NYC millennial today, albeit seen through a lens of Blackness that complicates any reductive view of her privilege or minority status. A representative paragraph might communicate the simmering tone:
Before I start work, I browse through some photos of friends who are doing better than me, then an article on a black teenager who was killed on 115th for holding a weapon later identified as a showerhead, then an article on a black woman who was killed on the Grand Concourse for holding a weapon later identified as a cell phone, then I drown myself in the comments section and do some online shopping, by which I mean I put four dresses in my cart as a strictly theoretical exercise and then let the page expire.
She starts a sort-of affair with an older white man who has an affluent lifestyle in nearby New Jersey. Eric or so he claims has agreed upon an 'open relationship' with his wife, but Edie is far too inappropriate and disinhibited to respect any boundaries that Eric sets for her, and so Edie soon becomes deeply entangled in Eric's family life. It soon turns out that Eric and his wife have a twelve-year-old adopted daughter, Akila, who is also wait for it Black. Akila has been with Eric's family for two years now and they aren t exactly coping well together. They don t even know how to help her to manage her own hair, let alone deal with structural racism. Yet despite how dark the book's general demeanour is, there are faint glimmers of redemption here and there. Realistic almost to the end, Edie might finally realise what s important in her life, but it would be a stretch to say that she achieves them by the final page. Although the book is full of acerbic remarks on almost any topic (Dogs: "We made them needy and physically unfit. They used to be wolves, now they are pugs with asthma."), it is the comments on contemporary race relations that are most critically insightful. Indeed, unsentimental, incisive and funny, Luster had much of what I like in Colson Whitehead's books at times, but I can't remember a book so frantically fast-paced as this since the Booker-prize winning The Sellout by Paul Beatty or Sam Tallent's Running the Light.

29 December 2021

Chris Lamb: Favourite books of 2021: Memoir/biography

Just as I did for 2020, I won't publically disclose exactly how many books I read in 2021, but they evidently provoked enough thoughts that felt it worth splitting my yearly writeup into separate posts. I will reveal, however, that I got through more books than the previous year, and, like before, I enjoyed the books I read this year even more in comparison as well. How much of this is due to refining my own preferences over time, and how much can be ascribed to feeling less pressure to read particular books? It s impossible to say, and the question is complicated further by the fact I found many of the classics I read well worth of their entry into the dreaded canon. But enough of the throat-clearing. In today's post I'll be looking at my favourite books filed under memoir and biography, in no particular order. Books that just missed the cut here include: Bernard Crick's celebrated 1980 biography of George Orwell, if nothing else because it was a pleasure to read; Hilary Mantel's exhilaratingly bitter early memoir, Giving up the Ghost (2003); and Patricia Lockwood's hilarious Priestdaddy (2017). I also had a soft spot for Tim Kreider's We Learn Nothing (2012) as well, despite not knowing anything about the author in advance, likely a sign of good writing. The strangest book in this category I read was definitely Michelle Zauner's Crying in H Mart. Based on a highly-recommended 2018 essay in the New Yorker, its rich broth of genuine yearning for a departed mother made my eyebrows raise numerous times when I encountered inadvertent extra details about Zauner's relationships.

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces (2020) Laura Tunbridge Whilst it might immediately present itself as a clickbait conceit, organising an overarching narrative around just nine compositions by Beethoven turns out to be an elegant way of saying something fresh about this grizzled old bear. Some of Beethoven's most famous compositions are naturally included in the nine (eg. the Eroica and the Hammerklavier piano sonata), but the book raises itself above conventional Beethoven fare when it highlights, for instance, his Septet, Op. 20, an early work that is virtually nobody's favourite Beethoven piece today. The insight here is that it was widely popular in its time, played again and again around Vienna for the rest of his life. No doubt many contemporary authors can relate to this inability to escape being artistically haunted by an earlier runaway success. The easiest way to say something interesting about Beethoven in the twenty-first century is to talk about the myth of Beethoven instead. Or, as Tunbridge implies, perhaps that should really be 'Beethoven' in leaden quotation marks, given so much about what we think we know about the man is a quasi-fictional construction. Take Anton Schindler, Beethoven's first biographer and occasional amanuensis, who destroyed and fabricated details about Beethoven's life, casting himself in a favourable light and exaggerating his influence with the composer. Only a few decades later, the idea of a 'heroic' German was to be politically useful as well; the Anglosphere often need reminding that Germany did not exist as a nation-state prior to 1871, so it should be unsurprising to us that the late nineteenth-century saw a determined attempt to create a uniquely 'German' culture ex nihilo. (And the less we say about Immortal Beloved the better, even though I treasure that film.) Nevertheless, Tunbridge cuts through Beethoven's substantial legacy using surgical precision that not only avoids feeling like it is settling a score, but it also does so in a way that is unlikely to completely alienate anyone emotionally dedicated to some already-established idea of the man to bring forth the tediously predictable sentiment that Beethoven has 'gone woke'. With Alex Ross on the cult of Wagner, it seems that books about the 'myth of X' are somewhat in vogue right now. And this pattern within classical music might fit into some broader trend of deconstruction in popular non-fiction too, especially when we consider the numerous contemporary books on the long hangover of the Civil Rights era (Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility, etc.), the multifarious ghosts of Empire (Akala's Natives, Sathnam Sanghera's Empireland, etc.) or even the 'transmogrification' of George Orwell into myth. But regardless of its place in some wider canon, A Life in Nine Pieces is beautifully printed in hardback form (worth acquiring for that very reason alone), and it is one of the rare good books about classical music that can be recommended to both the connoisseur and the layperson alike.

Sea State (2021) Tabitha Lasley In her mid-30s and jerking herself out of a terrible relationship, Tabitha Lasley left London and put all her savings into a six-month lease on a flat within a questionable neighbourhood in Aberdeen, Scotland. She left to make good on a lukewarm idea for a book about oil rigs and the kinds of men who work on them: I wanted to see what men were like with no women around, she claims. The result is Sea State, a forthright examination of the life of North Sea oil riggers, and an unsparing portrayal of loneliness, masculinity, female desire and the decline of industry in Britain. (It might almost be said that Sea State is an update of a sort to George Orwell's visit to the mines in the North of England.) As bracing as the North Sea air, Sea State spoke to me on multiple levels but I found it additionally interesting to compare and contrast with Julian Barnes' The Man with Red Coat (see below). Women writers are rarely thought to be using fiction for higher purposes: it is assumed that, unlike men, whatever women commit to paper is confessional without any hint of artfulness. Indeed, it seems to me that the reaction against the decades-old genre of autofiction only really took hold when it became the domain of millennial women. (By contrast, as a 75-year-old male writer with a firmly established reputation in the literary establishment, Julian Barnes is allowed wide latitude in what he does with his sources and his writing can be imbued with supremely confident airs as a result.) Furthermore, women are rarely allowed metaphor or exaggeration for dramatic effect, and they certainly aren t permitted to emphasise darker parts in order to explore them... hence some of the transgressive gratification of reading Sea State. Sea State is admittedly not a work of autofiction, but the sense that you are reading about an author writing a book is pleasantly unavoidable throughout. It frequently returns to the topic of oil workers who live multiple lives, and Lasley admits to living two lives herself: she may be in love but she's also on assignment, and a lot of the pleasure in this candid and remarkably accessible book lies in the way these states become slowly inseparable.

Twilight of Democracy (2020) Anne Applebaum For the uninitiated, Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine who won a Pulitzer-prize for her 2004 book on the Soviet Gulag system. Her latest book, however, Twilight of Democracy is part memoir and part political analysis and discusses the democratic decline and the rise of right-wing populism. This, according to Applebaum, displays distinctly authoritarian tendencies, and who am I to disagree? Applebaum does this through three main case studies (Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States), but the book also touches on Hungary as well. The strongest feature of this engaging book is that Appelbaum's analysis focuses on the intellectual classes and how they provide significant justification for a descent into authoritarianism. This is always an important point to be remembered, especially as much of the folk understanding of the rise of authoritarian regimes tends to place exaggerated responsibility on the ordinary and everyday citizen: the blame placed on the working-class in the Weimar Republic or the scorn heaped upon 'white trash' of the contemporary Rust Belt, for example. Applebaum is uniquely poised to discuss these intellectuals because, well, she actually knows a lot of them personally. Or at least, she used to know them. Indeed, the narrative of the book revolves around two parties she hosted, both in the same house in northwest Poland. The first party, on 31 December 1999, was attended by friends from around the Western world, but most of the guests were Poles from the broad anti-communist alliance. They all agreed about democracy, the rule of law and the route to prosperity whilst toasting in the new millennium. (I found it amusing to realise that War and Peace also starts with a party.) But nearly two decades later, many of the attendees have ended up as supporters of the problematic 'Law and Justice' party which currently governs the country. Applebaum would now cross the road to avoid them, and they would do the same to her, let alone behave themselves at a cordial reception. The result of this autobiographical detail is that by personalising the argument, Applebaum avoids the trap of making too much of high-minded abstract argument for 'democracy', and additionally makes her book compellingly spicy too. Yet the strongest part of this book is also its weakest. By individualising the argument, it often feels that Applebaum is settling a number of personal scores. She might be very well justified in doing this, but at times it feels like the reader has walked in halfway through some personal argument and is being asked to judge who is in the right. Furthermore, Applebaum's account of contemporary British politics sometimes deviates into the cartoonish: nothing was egregiously incorrect in any of her summations, but her explanation of the Brexit referendum result didn't read as completely sound. Nevertheless, this lively and entertaining book that can be read with profit, even if you disagree with significant portions of it, and its highly-personal approach makes it a refreshing change from similar contemporary political analysis (eg. David Runciman's How Democracy Ends) which reaches for that more 'objective' line.

The Man in the Red Coat (2019) Julian Barnes As rich as the eponymous red coat that adorns his cover, Julian Barnes quasi-biography of French gynaecologist Samuel-Jean Pozzi (1846 1918) is at once illuminating, perplexing and downright hilarious. Yet even that short description is rather misleading, for this book evades classification all manner number of ways. For instance, it is unclear that, with the biographer's narrative voice so obviously manifest, it is even a biography in the useful sense of the word. After all, doesn't the implied pact between author and reader require the biographer to at least pretend that they are hiding from the reader? Perhaps this is just what happens when an author of very fine fiction turns his hand to non-fiction history, and, if so, it represents a deeper incursion into enemy territory after his 1984 metafictional Flaubert's Parrot. Indeed, upon encountering an intriguing mystery in Pozzi's life crying out for a solution, Barnes baldly turns to the reader, winks and states: These matters could, of course, be solved in a novel. Well, quite. Perhaps Barnes' broader point is that, given that's impossible for the author to completely melt into air, why not simply put down your cards and have a bit of fun whilst you're at it? If there's any biography that makes the case for a rambling and lightly polemical treatment, then it is this one. Speaking of having fun, however, two qualities you do not expect in a typical biography is simply how witty they can be, as well as it having something of the whiff of the thriller about it. A bullet might be mentioned in an early chapter, but given the name and history of Monsieur Pozzi is not widely known, one is unlikely to learn how he lived his final years until the closing chapters. (Or what happened to that turtle.) Humour is primarily incorporated into the book in two main ways: first, by explicitly citing the various wits of the day ( What is a vice? Merely a taste you don t share. etc.), but perhaps more powerful is the gentle ironies, bon mots and observations in Barnes' entirely unflappable prose style, along with the satire implicit in him writing this moreish pseudo-biography to begin with. The opening page, with its steadfast refusal to even choose where to begin, is somewhat characteristic of Barnes' method, so if you don't enjoy the first few pages then you are unlikely to like the rest. (Indeed, the whole enterprise may be something of an acquired taste. Like Campari.) For me, though, I was left wryly grinning and often couldn't wait to turn the page. Indeed, at times it reminded me of a being at a dinner party with an extremely charming guest at the very peak of his form as a wit and raconteur, delighting the party with his rambling yet well-informed discursive on his topic de jour. A significant book, and a book of significance.

5 September 2021

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in August 2021

Welcome to the latest report from the Reproducible Builds project. In this post, we round up the important things that happened in the world of reproducible builds in August 2021. As always, if you are interested in contributing to the project, please visit the Contribute page on our website.
There were a large number of talks related to reproducible builds at DebConf21 this year, the 21st annual conference of the Debian Linux distribution (full schedule):
PackagingCon (@PackagingCon) is new conference for developers of package management software as well as their related communities and stakeholders. The virtual event, which is scheduled to take place on the 9th and 10th November 2021, has a mission is to bring different ecosystems together: from Python s pip to Rust s cargo to Julia s Pkg, from Debian apt over Nix to conda and mamba, and from vcpkg to Spack we hope to have many different approaches to package management at the conference . A number of people from reproducible builds community are planning on attending this new conference, and some may even present. Tickets start at $20 USD.
As reported in our May report, the president of the United States signed an executive order outlining policies aimed to improve the cybersecurity in the US. The executive order comes after a number of highly-publicised security problems such as a ransomware attack that affected an oil pipeline between Texas and New York and the SolarWinds hack that affected a large number of US federal agencies. As a followup this month, however, a detailed fact sheet was released announcing a number large-scale initiatives and that will undoubtedly be related to software supply chain security and, as a result, reproducible builds.
Lastly, We ran another productive meeting on IRC in August (original announcement) which ran for just short of two hours. A full set of notes from the meeting is available.

Software development kpcyrd announced an interesting new project this month called I probably didn t backdoor this which is an attempt to be:
a practical attempt at shipping a program and having reasonably solid evidence there s probably no backdoor. All source code is annotated and there are instructions explaining how to use reproducible builds to rebuild the artifacts distributed in this repository from source. The idea is shifting the burden of proof from you need to prove there s a backdoor to we need to prove there s probably no backdoor . This repository is less about code (we re going to try to keep code at a minimum actually) and instead contains technical writing that explains why these controls are effective and how to verify them. You are very welcome to adopt the techniques used here in your projects. ( )
As the project s README goes on the mention: the techniques used to rebuild the binary artifacts are only possible because the builds for this project are reproducible . This was also announced on our mailing list this month in a thread titled i-probably-didnt-backdoor-this: Reproducible Builds for upstreams. kpcyrd also wrote a detailed blog post about the problems surrounding Linux distributions (such as Alpine and Arch Linux) that distribute compiled Python bytecode in the form of .pyc files generated during the build process.

diffoscope diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility. Not only can it locate and diagnose reproducibility issues, it can provide human-readable diffs from many kinds of binary formats. This month, Chris Lamb made a number of changes, including releasing version 180), version 181) and version 182) as well as the following changes:
  • New features:
    • Add support for extracting the signing block from Android APKs. [ ]
    • If we specify a suffix for a temporary file or directory within the code, ensure it starts with an underscore (ie. _ ) to make the generated filenames more human-readable. [ ]
    • Don t include short GCC lines that differ on a single prefix byte either. These are distracting, not very useful and are simply the strings(1) command s idea of the build ID, which is displayed elsewhere in the diff. [ ][ ]
    • Don t include specific .debug-like lines in the ELF-related output, as it is invariably a duplicate of the debug ID that exists better in the readelf(1) differences for this file. [ ]
  • Bug fixes:
    • Add a special case to SquashFS image extraction to not fail if we aren t the superuser. [ ]
    • Only use java -jar /path/to/apksigner.jar if we have an apksigner.jar as newer versions of apksigner in Debian use a shell wrapper script which will be rejected if passed directly to the JVM. [ ]
    • Reduce the maximum line length for calculating Wagner-Fischer, improving the speed of output generation a lot. [ ]
    • Don t require apksigner in order to compare .apk files using apktool. [ ]
    • Update calls (and tests) for the new version of odt2txt. [ ]
  • Output improvements:
    • Mention in the output if the apksigner tool is missing. [ ]
    • Profile diffoscope.diff.linediff and specialize. [ ][ ]
  • Logging improvements:
    • Format debug-level messages related to ELF sections using the diffoscope.utils.format_class. [ ]
    • Print the size of generated reports in the logs (if possible). [ ]
    • Include profiling information in --debug output if --profile is not set. [ ]
  • Codebase improvements:
    • Clarify a comment about the HUGE_TOOLS Python dictionary. [ ]
    • We can pass -f to apktool to avoid creating a strangely-named subdirectory. [ ]
    • Drop an unused File import. [ ]
    • Update the supported & minimum version of Black. [ ]
    • We don t use the logging variable in a specific place, so alias it to an underscore (ie. _ ) instead. [ ]
    • Update some various copyright years. [ ]
    • Clarify a comment. [ ]
  • Test improvements:
    • Update a test to check specific contents of SquashFS listings, otherwise it fails depending on the test systems user ID to username passwd(5) mapping. [ ]
    • Assign seen and expected values to local variables to improve contextual information in failed tests. [ ]
    • Don t print an orphan newline when the source code formatting test passes. [ ]

In addition Santiago Torres Arias added support for Squashfs version 4.5 [ ] and Felix C. Stegerman suggested a number of small improvements to the output of the new APK signing block [ ]. Lastly, Chris Lamb uploaded python-libarchive-c version 3.1-1 to Debian experimental for the new 3.x branch python-libarchive-c is used by diffoscope.

Distribution work In Debian, 68 reviews of packages were added, 33 were updated and 10 were removed this month, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Two new issue types have been identified too: nondeterministic_ordering_in_todo_items_collected_by_doxygen and kodi_package_captures_build_path_in_source_filename_hash. kpcyrd published another monthly report on their work on reproducible builds within the Alpine and Arch Linux distributions, specifically mentioning rebuilderd, one of the components powering The report also touches on binary transparency, an important component for supply chain security. The @GuixHPC account on Twitter posted an infographic on what fraction of GNU Guix packages are bit-for-bit reproducible: Finally, Bernhard M. Wiedemann posted his monthly reproducible builds status report for openSUSE.

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: Elsewhere, it was discovered that when supporting various new language features and APIs for Android apps, the resulting APK files that are generated now vary wildly from build to build (example diffoscope output). Happily, it appears that a patch has been committed to the relevant source tree. This was also discussed on our mailing list this month in a thread titled Android desugaring and reproducible builds started by Marcus Hoffmann.

Website and documentation There were quite a few changes to the Reproducible Builds website and documentation this month, including:
  • Felix C. Stegerman:
    • Update the website self-build process to not use the buster-backports suite now that Debian Bullseye is the stable release. [ ]
  • Holger Levsen:
    • Add a new page documenting various package rebuilder solutions. [ ]
    • Add some historical talks and slides from DebConf20. [ ][ ]
    • Various improvements to the history page. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Rename the Comparison protocol documentation category to Verification . [ ]
    • Update links to F-Droid documentation. [ ]
  • Ian Muchina:
    • Increase the font size of titles and de-emphasize event details on the talk page. [ ]
    • Rename the README file to to improve the user experience when browsing the Git repository in a web browser. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
    • Drop a position:fixed CSS statement that is negatively affecting with some width settings. [ ]
    • Fix the sizing of the elements inside the side navigation bar. [ ]
    • Show gold level sponsors and above in the sidebar. [ ]
    • Updated the documentation within reprotest to mention how ldconfig conflicts with the kernel variation. [ ]
  • Roland Clobus:
    • Added a ticket number for the issue with the live Cinnamon image and diffoscope. [ ]

Testing framework The Reproducible Builds project runs a testing framework at, to check packages and other artifacts for reproducibility. This month, the following changes were made:
  • Holger Levsen:
    • Debian-related changes:
      • Make a large number of changes to support the new Debian bookworm release, including adding it to the dashboard [ ], start scheduling tests [ ], adding suitable Apache redirects [ ] etc. [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
      • Make the first build use LANG=C.UTF-8 to match the official Debian build servers. [ ]
      • Only test Debian Live images once a week. [ ]
      • Upgrade all nodes to use Debian Bullseye [ ] [ ]
      • Update README documentation for the Debian Bullseye release. [ ]
    • Other changes:
      • Only include rsync output if the $DEBUG variable is enabled. [ ]
      • Don t try to install mock, a tool used to build Fedora packages some time ago. [ ]
      • Drop an unused function. [ ]
      • Various documentation improvements. [ ][ ]
      • Improve the node health check to detect zombie jobs. [ ]
  • Jessica Clarke (FreeBSD-related changes):
    • Update the location and branch name for the main FreeBSD Git repository. [ ]
    • Correctly ignore the source tarball when comparing build results. [ ]
    • Drop an outdated version number from the documentation. [ ]
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
    • Block F-Droid jobs from running whilst the setup is running. [ ]
    • Enable debugging for the rsync job related to Debian Live images. [ ]
    • Pass BUILD_TAG and BUILD_URL environment for the Debian Live jobs. [ ]
    • Refactor the master_wrapper script to use a Bash array for the parameters. [ ]
    • Prefer YAML s safe_load() function over the unsafe variant. [ ]
    • Use the correct variable in the Apache config to match possible existing files on disk. [ ]
    • Stop issuing HTTP 301 redirects for things that not actually permanent. [ ]
  • Roland Clobus (Debian live image generation):
    • Increase the diffoscope timeout from 120 to 240 minutes; the Cinnamon image should now be able to finish. [ ]
    • Use the new snapshot service. [ ]
    • Make a number of improvements to artifact handling, such as moving the artifacts to the Jenkins host [ ] and correctly cleaning them up at the right time. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Where possible, link to the Jenkins build URL that created the artifacts. [ ][ ]
    • Only allow only one job to run at the same time. [ ]
  • Vagrant Cascadian:
    • Temporarily disable armhf nodes for DebConf21. [ ][ ]

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

20 August 2021

Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 181 released

The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 181. This version includes the following changes:
[ Chris Lamb ]
* New features and bug fixes:
  - Don't require apksigner in order to compare .apk files using apktool.
  - Add a special-case to squshfs image extraction to not fail if we aren't
    root/superuser. (Closes: #991059)
  - Reduce the maximum line length to avoid O(n^2) Wagner-Fischer algorithm,
    which meant that diff generation took an inordinate amount of time.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#272)
  - Include profiling information in --debug output if --profile is not set.
  - Don't print an orphan newline when the Black source code formatter
    self-test passes.
* Tests:
  - Update test to check specific contents of squashfs listing, otherwise it
    fails depending on the test systems uid-to-username mapping in passwd(5).
  - Assign "seen" and "expected" values to local variables to improve
    contextual information in/around failed tests.
* Misc changes:
  - Print the size of generated HTML, text (etc.) reports.
  - Profile calls to specialize and diffoscope.diff.linediff.
  - Update various copyright years.
You find out more by visiting the project homepage.

23 July 2021

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (May and June 2021)

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!

4 January 2021

Jan Wagner: Backing up Windows (the hard way)

Sometimes you need to do things you don't like and you don't know where you will end up.
In our household there exists one (production) system running Windows. Don't ask why and please no recommandations how to substitute it. Some things are hard to (ex)change, for example your love partner. Looking into Backup with rsync on Windows (WSL) I needed to start a privileged powershell, so I first started an unprivileged one:
Just to start a privileged:
Start-Process powershell -Verb runAs
Now you can follow the Instructions from Microsoft to install OpenSSH. Or just install the OpenSSH Server:
Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Server~~~~
Check if a firewall rule was created (maybe you want to adjust it):
Get-NetFirewallRule -Name *ssh*
Start the OpenSSH server:
Start-Service sshd
Running OpenSSH server as service:
Set-Service -Name sshd -StartupType 'Automatic'
You can create the .ssh directory with the correct permissions by connecting to localhost and creating the known_hosts file.
ssh user@
When you intend to use public key authentication for users in the administrators group, have a look into How to Login Windows Using SSH Key Under Local Admin. Indeed you can get rsync running via WSL. But why load tons of dependencies on your system? With the installation of rsync I cheated a bit and used chocolately by running choco install rsync, but there is also an issue requesting rsync support for the OpenSSH server which includes an archive with a rsync.exe and libraries which may also fit. You can place those files for example into C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH so they are in the PATH. So here we are. Now I can solve all my other issues with BackupPC, Windows firewall and the network challenges to get access to the isolated dedicated network of the windows system.

22 December 2020

Jan Wagner: Call for testing: monitoring-plugins 2.3 in experimental

As announced recently I prepared a monitoring-plugins 2.3 package for experimental. If there is enough positive feedback until 12th January 2021, I intend to upload this into unstable targeted for Debian Bullseye.

Happy testing.

13 December 2020

Jan Wagner: Monitoring Plugins 2.3 released

While our last release has matured for quite a little time, there raised demands within our community for a new release. The development has settled this fall and @sni was already using master for a while in production, so we thought about to release. Anyway Debian Freeze is coming, let's cut a new upstream release! The last question was: Who should cut the release? The last releases was done by @JeremyHolger, but these days everybody is short on time. Fortunately Holger has documented the whole release process very well, so I jumped on the band wagon and slipped into the release wizard role.
Surprisingly it seems I was able to fix all faults I've done in the release process (beside using the 2.2 link in the release announcement mail) and kicked the release of monitoring-plugins 2.3 successfully. Grab the new Monitoring Plugins release while it's hot (and give the new check_curl a try)!
Hopefully monitoring-plugins 2.3 will hit Debian experimental soon.

6 August 2020

Chris Lamb: The Bringers of Beethoven

This is a curiously poignant work to me that I doubt I would ever be able to communicate. I found it about fifteen years ago, along with a friend who I am quite regrettably no longer in regular contact with, so there was some complicated nostalgia entangled with rediscovering it today. What might I say about it instead? One tell-tale sign of 'good' art is that you can find something new in it, or yourself, each time. In this sense, despite The Bringers of Beethoven being more than a little ridiculous, it is somehow 'good' music to me. For example, it only really dawned on me now that the whole poem is an allegory for a GDR-like totalitarianism. But I also realised that it is not an accident that it is Beethoven himself (quite literally the soundtrack for Enlightenment humanism) that is being weaponised here, rather than some fourth-rate composer of military marches or one with a problematic past. That is to say, not only is the poem arguing that something universally recognised as an unalloyed good can be subverted for propagandistic ends, but that is precisely the point being made by the regime. An inverted Clockwork Orange, if you like. Yet when I listen to it again I can't help but laugh. I think of the 18th-century poet Alexander Pope, who first used the word bathos to refer to those abrupt and often absurd transitions from the elevated to the ordinary, contrasting it with the concept of pathos, the sincere feeling of sadness and tragedy. I can't think of two better words.

6 July 2020

Reproducible Builds: Reproducible Builds in June 2020

Welcome to the June 2020 report from the Reproducible Builds project. In these reports we outline the most important things that we and the rest of the community have been up to over the past month.

What are reproducible builds? One of the original promises of open source software is that distributed peer review and transparency of process results in enhanced end-user security. But whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free and open source software for malicious flaws, almost all software today is distributed as pre-compiled binaries. This allows nefarious third-parties to compromise systems by injecting malicious code into seemingly secure software during the various compilation and distribution processes.

News The GitHub Security Lab published a long article on the discovery of a piece of malware designed to backdoor open source projects that used the build process and its resulting artifacts to spread itself. In the course of their analysis and investigation, the GitHub team uncovered 26 open source projects that were backdoored by this malware and were actively serving malicious code. (Full article) Carl Dong from Chaincode Labs uploaded a presentation on Bitcoin Build System Security and reproducible builds to YouTube: The app intended to trace infection chains of Covid-19 in Switzerland published information on how to perform a reproducible build. The Reproducible Builds project has received funding in the past from the Open Technology Fund (OTF) to reach specific technical goals, as well as to enable the project to meet in-person at our summits. The OTF has actually also assisted countless other organisations that promote transparent, civil society as well as those that provide tools to circumvent censorship and repressive surveillance. However, the OTF has now been threatened with closure. (More info) It was noticed that Reproducible Builds was mentioned in the book End-user Computer Security by Mark Fernandes (published by WikiBooks) in the section titled Detection of malware in software. Lastly, reproducible builds and other ideas around software supply chain were mentioned in a recent episode of the Ubuntu Podcast in a wider discussion about the Snap and application stores (at approx 16:00).

Distribution work In the ArchLinux distribution, a goal to remove .doctrees from installed files was created via Arch s TODO list mechanism. These .doctree files are caches generated by the Sphinx documentation generator when developing documentation so that Sphinx does not have to reparse all input files across runs. They should not be packaged, especially as they lead to the package being unreproducible as their pickled format contains unreproducible data. Jelle van der Waa and Eli Schwartz submitted various upstream patches to fix projects that install these by default. Dimitry Andric was able to determine why the reproducibility status of FreeBSD s base.txz depended on the number of CPU cores, attributing it to an optimisation made to the Clang C compiler [ ]. After further detailed discussion on the FreeBSD bug it was possible to get the binaries reproducible again [ ]. For the GNU Guix operating system, Vagrant Cascadian started a thread about collecting reproducibility metrics and Jan janneke Nieuwenhuizen posted that they had further reduced their bootstrap seed to 25% which is intended to reduce the amount of code to be audited to avoid potential compiler backdoors. In openSUSE, Bernhard M. Wiedemann published his monthly Reproducible Builds status update as well as made the following changes within the distribution itself:

Debian Holger Levsen filed three bugs (#961857, #961858 & #961859) against the reproducible-check tool that reports on the reproducible status of installed packages on a running Debian system. They were subsequently all fixed by Chris Lamb [ ][ ][ ]. Timo R hling filed a wishlist bug against the debhelper build tool impacting the reproducibility status of 100s of packages that use the CMake build system which led to a number of tests and next steps. [ ] Chris Lamb contributed to a conversation regarding the nondeterministic execution of order of Debian maintainer scripts that results in the arbitrary allocation of UNIX group IDs, referencing the Tails operating system s approach this [ ]. Vagrant Cascadian also added to a discussion regarding verification formats for reproducible builds. 47 reviews of Debian packages were added, 37 were updated and 69 were removed this month adding to our knowledge about identified issues. Chris Lamb identified and classified a new uids_gids_in_tarballs_generated_by_cmake_kde_package_app_templates issue [ ] and updated the paths_vary_due_to_usrmerge as deterministic issue, and Vagrant Cascadian updated the cmake_rpath_contains_build_path and gcc_captures_build_path issues. [ ][ ][ ]. Lastly, Debian Developer Bill Allombert started a mailing list thread regarding setting the -fdebug-prefix-map command-line argument via an environment variable and Holger Levsen also filed three bugs against the debrebuild Debian package rebuilder tool (#961861, #961862 & #961864).

Development On our website this month, Arnout Engelen added a link to our Mastodon account [ ] and moved the SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH git log example to another section [ ]. Chris Lamb also limited the number of news posts to avoid showing items from (for example) 2017 [ ]. strip-nondeterminism is our tool to remove specific non-deterministic results from a completed build. It is used automatically in most Debian package builds. This month, Mattia Rizzolo bumped the debhelper compatibility level to 13 [ ] and adjusted a related dependency to avoid potential circular dependency [ ].

Upstream work The Reproducible Builds project attempts to fix unreproducible packages and we try to to send all of our patches upstream. This month, we wrote a large number of such patches including: Bernhard M. Wiedemann also filed reports for frr (build fails on single-processor machines), ghc-yesod-static/git-annex (a filesystem ordering issue) and ooRexx (ASLR-related issue).

diffoscope diffoscope is our in-depth diff-on-steroids utility which helps us diagnose reproducibility issues in packages. It does not define reproducibility, but rather provides a helpful and human-readable guidance for packages that are not reproducible, rather than relying essentially-useless binary diffs. This month, Chris Lamb uploaded versions 147, 148 and 149 to Debian and made the following changes:
  • New features:
    • Add output from strings(1) to ELF binaries. (#148)
    • Dump PE32+ executables (such as EFI applications) using objdump(1). (#181)
    • Add support for Zsh shell completion. (#158)
  • Bug fixes:
    • Prevent a traceback when comparing PDF documents that did not contain metadata (ie. a PDF /Info stanza). (#150)
    • Fix compatibility with jsondiff version 1.2.0. (#159)
    • Fix an issue in GnuPG keybox file handling that left filenames in the diff. [ ]
    • Correct detection of JSON files due to missing call to File.recognizes that checks candidates against file(1). [ ]
  • Output improvements:
    • Use the CSS word-break property over manually adding U+200B zero-width spaces as these were making copy-pasting cumbersome. (!53)
    • Downgrade the tlsh warning message to an info level warning. (#29)
  • Logging improvements:
  • Testsuite improvements:
    • Update tests for file(1) version 5.39. (#179)
    • Drop accidentally-duplicated copy of the --diff-mask tests. [ ]
    • Don t mask an existing test. [ ]
  • Codebase improvements:
    • Replace obscure references to WF with Wagner-Fischer for clarity. [ ]
    • Use a semantic AbstractMissingType type instead of remembering to check for both types of missing files. [ ]
    • Add a comment regarding potential security issue in the .changes, .dsc and .buildinfo comparators. [ ]
    • Drop a large number of unused imports. [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    • Make many code sections more Pythonic. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
    • Prevent some variable aliasing issues. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Use some tactical f-strings to tidy up code [ ][ ] and remove explicit u"unicode" strings [ ].
    • Refactor a large number of routines for clarity. [ ][ ][ ][ ]
trydiffoscope is the web-based version of diffoscope. This month, Chris Lamb also corrected the location for the celerybeat scheduler to ensure that the clean/tidy tasks are actually called which had caused an accidental resource exhaustion. (#12) In addition Jean-Romain Garnier made the following changes:
  • Fix the --new-file option when comparing directories by merging and (#180)
  • Allow user to mask/filter diff output via --diff-mask=REGEX. (!51)
  • Make child pages open in new window in the --html-dir presenter format. [ ]
  • Improve the diffs in the --html-dir format. [ ][ ]
Lastly, Daniel Fullmer fixed the Coreboot filesystem comparator [ ] and Mattia Rizzolo prevented warnings from the tlsh fuzzy-matching library during tests [ ] and tweaked the build system to remove an unwanted .build directory [ ]. For the GNU Guix distribution Vagrant Cascadian updated the version of diffoscope to version 147 [ ] and later 148 [ ].

Testing framework We operate a large and many-featured Jenkins-based testing framework that powers Amongst many other tasks, this tracks the status of our reproducibility efforts across many distributions as well as identifies any regressions that have been introduced. This month, Holger Levsen made the following changes:
  • Debian-related changes:
    • Prevent bogus failure emails from every night. [ ]
    • Merge a fix from David Bremner s database of .buildinfo files to include a fix regarding comparing source vs. binary package versions. [ ]
    • Only run the Debian package rebuilder job twice per day. [ ]
    • Increase bullseye scheduling. [ ]
  • System health status page:
    • Add a note displaying whether a node needs to be rebooted for a kernel upgrade. [ ]
    • Fix sorting order of failed jobs. [ ]
    • Expand footer to link to the related Jenkins job. [ ]
    • Add archlinux_html_pages, openwrt_rebuilder_today and openwrt_rebuilder_future to known broken jobs. [ ]
    • Add HTML <meta> header to refresh the page every 5 minutes. [ ]
    • Count the number of ignored jobs [ ], ignore permanently known broken jobs [ ] and jobs on known offline nodes [ ].
    • Only consider the known offline status from Git. [ ]
    • Various output improvements. [ ][ ]
  • Tools:
    • Switch URLs for the Grml Live Linux and PureOS package sets. [ ][ ]
    • Don t try to build a disorderfs Debian source package. [ ][ ][ ]
    • Stop building diffoscope as we are moving this to Salsa. [ ][ ]
    • Merge several is diffoscope up-to-date on every platform? test jobs into one [ ] and fail less noisily if the version in Debian cannot be determined [ ].
In addition: Marcus Hoffmann was added as a maintainer of the F-Droid reproducible checking components [ ], Jelle van der Waa updated the is diffoscope up-to-date in every platform check for Arch Linux and diffoscope [ ], Mattia Rizzolo backed up a copy of a remove script run on the Codethink-hosted jump server [ ] and Vagrant Cascadian temporarily disabled the fixfilepath on bullseye, to get better data about the ftbfs_due_to_f-file-prefix-map categorised issue. Lastly, the usual build node maintenance was performed by Holger Levsen [ ][ ], Mattia Rizzolo [ ] and Vagrant Cascadian [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ].

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:

This month s report was written by Bernhard M. Wiedemann, Chris Lamb, Eli Schwartz, Holger Levsen, Jelle van der Waa and Vagrant Cascadian. It was subsequently reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC and the mailing list.

30 June 2020

Chris Lamb: Free software activities in June 2020

Here is my monthly update covering what I have been doing in the free software world during June 2020 (previous month): For Lintian, the static analysis tool for Debian packages:

Reproducible Builds One of the original promises of open source software is that distributed peer review and transparency of process results in enhanced end-user security. However, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free and open source software for malicious flaws, almost all software today is distributed as pre-compiled binaries. This allows nefarious third-parties to compromise systems by injecting malicious code into ostensibly secure software during the various compilation and distribution processes. The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised. The project is proud to be a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella allowing projects to operate as non-profit initiatives without managing their own corporate structure. If you like the work of the Conservancy or the Reproducible Builds project, please consider becoming an official supporter. This month, I:

Elsewhere in our tooling, I made the following changes to diffoscope including preparing and uploading versions 147, 148 and 149 to Debian: trydiffoscope is the web-based version of diffoscope. This month, I specified a location for the celerybeat scheduler to ensure that the clean/tidy tasks are actually called which had caused an accidental resource exhaustion. (#12)

Debian I filed three bugs against: Debian LTS This month I have worked 18 hours on Debian Long Term Support (LTS) and 5 hours on its sister Extended LTS project. You can find out more about the project via the following video:

11 June 2020

Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 147 released

The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 147. This version includes the following changes:
[ Chris Lamb ]
* New features:
  - Add output from strings(1) to ELF binaries. It is intended this will
    expose expose build paths that are hidden somewhere within the objdump(1)
    output. (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#148)
  - Add basic zsh shell tab-completion support.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#158)
* Bug fixes:
  - Prevent a traceback when comparing a PDF document that does not contain
    any metadata, ie. it is missing a PDF "/Info" stanza.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#150)
  - Fix compatibility with jsondiff 1.2.0 which was causing a traceback and
    log the version of jsondiff we are using to aid debugging in the future.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#159
  - Fix an issue in GnuPG keybox handling that left filenames in the diff.
  - Don't mask an existing test name; ie. ensure it is actually run.
* Reporting:
  - Log all calls to subprocess.check_output by using our own wrapper utility.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#151)
* Code improvements:
  - Replace references to "WF" with "Wagner-Fischer" for clarity.
  - Drop a large number of unused imports (list_libarchive,
    ContainerExtractionError, etc.)
  - Don't assign exception to a variable that we do not use.
  - Compare string values with the equality operator, not via "is" identity.
  - Don't alias an open file to a variable when we don't use it.
  - Don't alias "filter" builtin.
  - Refactor many small parts of the HTML generation, dropping explicit
    u"unicode" strings, tidying the generation of the "Offset X, Y lines
    modified" messages, moving to PEP 498 f-strings where appropriate, etc.
  - Inline a number of single-used utility methods.
You find out more by visiting the project homepage.

12 July 2017

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 115 in Stretch cycle

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday July 2 and Saturday July 8 2017: Reproducible work in other projects Ed Maste pointed to a thread on the LLVM developer mailing list about container iteration being the main source of non-determinism in LLVM, together with discussion on how to solve this. Ignoring build path issues, container iteration order was also the main issue with rustc, which was fixed by using a fixed-order hash map for certain compiler structures. (It was unclear from the thread whether LLVM's builds are truly path-independent or rather that they haven't done comparisons between builds run under different paths.) Bugs filed Patches submitted upstream: Reviews of unreproducible packages 52 package reviews have been added, 62 have been updated and 20 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues. No issue types were updated or added this week. Weekly QA work During our reproducibility testing, FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by: diffoscope development Development continued in git with contributions from: With these changes, we are able to generate a dynamically loaded HTML diff for GCC-6 that can be displayed in a normal web browser. For more details see this mailing list post. Misc. This week's edition was written by Ximin Luo, Bernhard M. Wiedemann and Chris Lamb & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

7 March 2017

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (January and February 2017)

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!

18 January 2017

Jan Wagner: Migrating Gitlab non-packaged PostgreSQL into omnibus-packaged

With the release of Gitlab 8.15 it was announced that PostgreSQL needs to be upgraded. As I migrated from a source installation I used to have an external PostgreSQL database instead of using the one shiped with the omnibus package.
So I decided to do the data migration into the omnibus PostgreSQL database now which I skipped before. Let's have a look into the databases:
$ sudo -u postgres psql -d template1
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
gitlabhq_production=# \l  
                                             List of databases
         Name                  Owner         Encoding   Collate    Ctype           Access privileges
 gitlabhq_production     git                 UTF8       C.UTF-8   C.UTF-8  
 gitlab_mattermost       git                 UTF8       C.UTF-8   C.UTF-8  
gitlabhq_production=# \q  
Dumping the databases and stop PostgreSQL. Maybe you need to adjust database names and users for your needs.
$ su postgres -c "pg_dump gitlabhq_production -f /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql" && \
su postgres -c "pg_dump gitlab_mattermost -f /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql" && \  
/etc/init.d/postgresql stop
Activate PostgreSQL shipped with Gitlab Omnibus
$ sed -i "s/^postgresql\['enable'\] = false/#postgresql\['enable'\] = false/g" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \
sed -i "s/^#mattermost\['enable'\] = true/mattermost\['enable'\] = true/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \  
gitlab-ctl reconfigure  
Testing if the connection to the databases works
$ su - git -c "psql --username=gitlab  --dbname=gitlabhq_production --host=/var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/"
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
gitlabhq_production=# \q  
$ su - git -c "psql --username=gitlab  --dbname=mattermost_production --host=/var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/"
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
mattermost_production=# \q  
Ensure pg_trgm extension is enabled
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'CREATE EXTENSION IF NOT EXISTS "pg_trgm";'
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'CREATE EXTENSION IF NOT EXISTS "pg_trgm";'
Adjust permissions in the database dumps. Indeed please verify that users and databases might need to be adjusted too.
$ sed -i "s/OWNER TO git;/OWNER TO gitlab;/" /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql && \
sed -i "s/postgres;$/gitlab-psql;/" /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql  
$ sed -i "s/OWNER TO git;/OWNER TO gitlab_mattermost;/" /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql && \
sed -i "s/postgres;$/gitlab-psql;/" /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql  
(Re)import the data
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -f /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'REVOKE ALL ON SCHEMA public FROM "gitlab-psql";' && \
sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'GRANT ALL ON SCHEMA public TO "gitlab-psql";'  
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -f /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'REVOKE ALL ON SCHEMA public FROM "gitlab-psql";' && \
sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'GRANT ALL ON SCHEMA public TO "gitlab-psql";'  
Make use of the shipped PostgreSQL
$ sed -i "s/^gitlab_rails\['db_/#gitlab_rails\['db_/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \
sed -i "s/^mattermost\['sql_/#mattermost\['sql_/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \  
gitlab-ctl reconfigure  
Now you should be able to connect to all the Gitlab services again. Optionally remove the external database
apt-get remove postgresql postgresql-client postgresql-9.4 postgresql-client-9.4 postgresql-client-common postgresql-common  
Maybe you also want to purge the old database content
apt-get purge postgresql-9.4  

Jan Wagner: Migrating Gitlab non-packaged PostgreSQL into omnibus-packaged

With the release of Gitlab 8.15 it was announced that PostgreSQL needs to be upgraded. As I migrated from a source installation I used to have an external PostgreSQL database instead of using the one shiped with the omnibus package.
So I decided to do the data migration into the omnibus PostgreSQL database now which I skipped before. Let's have a look into the databases:
$ sudo -u postgres psql -d template1
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
gitlabhq_production=# \l  
                                             List of databases
         Name                  Owner         Encoding   Collate    Ctype           Access privileges
 gitlabhq_production     git                 UTF8       C.UTF-8   C.UTF-8  
 gitlab_mattermost       git                 UTF8       C.UTF-8   C.UTF-8  
gitlabhq_production=# \q  
Dumping the databases and stop PostgreSQL. Maybe you need to adjust database names and users for your needs.
$ su postgres -c "pg_dump gitlabhq_production -f /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql" && \
su postgres -c "pg_dump gitlab_mattermost -f /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql" && \  
/etc/init.d/postgresql stop
Activate PostgreSQL shipped with Gitlab Omnibus
$ sed -i "s/^postgresql\['enable'\] = false/#postgresql\['enable'\] = false/g" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \
sed -i "s/^#mattermost\['enable'\] = true/mattermost\['enable'\] = true/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \  
gitlab-ctl reconfigure  
Testing if the connection to the databases works
$ su - git -c "psql --username=gitlab  --dbname=gitlabhq_production --host=/var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/"
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
gitlabhq_production=# \q  
$ su - git -c "psql --username=gitlab  --dbname=mattermost_production --host=/var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/"
psql (9.2.18)  
Type "help" for help.
mattermost_production=# \q  
Ensure pg_trgm extension is enabled
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'CREATE EXTENSION IF NOT EXISTS "pg_trgm";'
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'CREATE EXTENSION IF NOT EXISTS "pg_trgm";'
Adjust permissions in the database dumps. Indeed please verify that users and databases might need to be adjusted too.
$ sed -i "s/OWNER TO git;/OWNER TO gitlab;/" /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql && \
sed -i "s/postgres;$/gitlab-psql;/" /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql  
$ sed -i "s/OWNER TO git;/OWNER TO gitlab_mattermost;/" /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql && \
sed -i "s/postgres;$/gitlab-psql;/" /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql  
(Re)import the data
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -f /tmp/gitlabhq_production.sql
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'REVOKE ALL ON SCHEMA public FROM "gitlab-psql";' && \
sudo gitlab-psql -d gitlabhq_production -c 'GRANT ALL ON SCHEMA public TO "gitlab-psql";'  
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -f /tmp/gitlab_mattermost.sql
$ sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'REVOKE ALL ON SCHEMA public FROM "gitlab-psql";' && \
sudo gitlab-psql -d mattermost_production -c 'GRANT ALL ON SCHEMA public TO "gitlab-psql";'  
Make use of the shipped PostgreSQL
$ sed -i "s/^gitlab_rails\['db_/#gitlab_rails\['db_/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \
sed -i "s/^mattermost\['sql_/#mattermost\['sql_/" /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb && \  
gitlab-ctl reconfigure  
Now you should be able to connect to all the Gitlab services again. Optionally remove the external database
apt-get remove postgresql postgresql-client postgresql-9.4 postgresql-client-9.4 postgresql-client-common postgresql-common  
Maybe you also want to purge the old database content
apt-get purge postgresql-9.4  

3 November 2016

Jan Wagner: Container Orchestration Thoughts

Container Orchestration ThoughtsSince some time everybody (read developer) want to run his new microservice stacks in containers. I can understand that building and testing an application is important for developers.
One of the benefits of containers is, that developer (in theory) can put their new version of applications into production on their own. This is the point where operations is affected and operations needs to evaluate, if that might evolve into better workflow. For yolo^WdevOps people there are some challenges that needs to be solved, or at least mitigated, when things needs to be done in large(r) scale.

Orchestration Engine Running Docker, which is actual the most preferred container solution, on a single host with docker command line client is something you can do, but there you leave the gap between dev and ops.

UI For Docker Since some time there is UI For Docker available for visualizing and managing containers on a single docker node. It's pretty awesome and the best feature so far is the Container Network view, which also shows the linked container. Container Orchestration Thoughts

Portainer Portainer is pretty new and it can be deployed as easy as UI For Docker. But the (first) great advantage: it can handle Docker Swarm. Beside that it has many other great features. Container Orchestration Thoughts

Rancher Rancher describes themselves as 'container management platform' that 'supports and manages all of your Kubernetes, Mesos, and Swarm clusters'. This is great because this are all of the relevant docker cluster orchestrations at the market actually. Container Orchestration Thoughts For the use cases, we are facing, Kubernetes and Mesos seems both like bloated beasts. Usman Ismail has written a really good comparison of Orchestration Engine options which goes into details. Container Orchestration Thoughts

Docker Swarm As there is actually no clear defacto standard/winner of the (container) orchestration wars, I would prevent to be in a vendor lock-in situation (yet). Docker swarm seems to be evolving and is getting more nice features other competitors doesn't provide.
Due the native integration into the docker framework and great community I believe Docker Swarm will be the Docker Orchestration of the choice on the long run. This should be supported by Rancher 1.2 which is not released yet.
From this point of view it looks very reasonable that Docker Swarm in combination with Rancher (1.2) might be a good strategy to maintain your container farms in the future. If you think to put Docker Swarm into production in the actual state, I recommend to read Docker swarm mode: What to know before going live on production by Panjamapong Sermsawatsri.

Persistent Storage While it is a best practice to use data volume container these days, providing persistent storage across multiple hosts for shared volumes seems to be tricky. In theory you can mount a shared-storage volume as a data volume and there are several volume plugins which supports shared storage. For example you can use the convoy plugin which gives you:
  • thin provisioned volumes
  • snapshots of volumes
  • backup of snapshots
  • restore volumes
As backend you can use:
  • Device Mapper
  • Virtual File System(VFS)/Network File System(NFS)
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store(EBS)
The good thing is, that convoy is integrated into Rancher. For more information I suggest to read Setting Up Shared Volumes with Convoy-NFS, which also mentions some limitations. If you want test Persistent Storage Service, Rancher provides some documentation. Actually I did not evaluate shared-storage volumes yet, but I don't see a solution I would love to use in production (at least on-premise) without strong downsides. But maybe things will go further and there might be a great solution for this caveats in the future.

Keeping base images up-to-date Since some time there are many projects that tries to detect security problems in your container images in several ways.
Beside general security considerations you need to deal somehow with issues in your base images that you build your applications on. Of course, even if you know you have a security issue in your application image, you need to fix it, which depends on the way how you based your application upon.

Ways to base your application image
  • You can build your application image entire from scratch, which leaves all the work to your development team and I wouldn't recommend it that way.
  • You also can create one (or more) intermediate image(s) that will be used by your development team.
  • The development team might ground their work on images in public available or private (for example the one bundled to your gitlab CI/CD solution) registries.

Whats the struggle with the base image? If you are using images being not (well) maintained by other people, you have to wait for them to fix your base image. Using external images might also lead into trust problems (can you trust those people in general?).
In an ideal world, your developers have always fresh base images with fixed security issues. This can probably be done by rebuilding every intermediate image periodically or when the base image changes.

Paradigm change Anyway, if you have a new application image available (with no known security issues), you need to deploy it to production. This is summarized by Jason McKay in his article Docker Security: How to Monitor and Patch Containers in the Cloud:
To implement a patch, update the base image and then rebuild the application image. This will require systems and development teams to work closely together.
So patching security issues in the container world changes workflow significant. In the old world operation teams mostly rolled security fixes for the base systems independent from development teams.
Now hitting containers the production area this might change things significant.

Bringing updated images to production Imagine your development team doesn't work steady on a project, cause the product owner consider it feature complete. The base image is provided (in some way) consistently without security issues. The application image is build on top of that automatically on every update of the base image.
How do you push in such a scenario the security fixes to production? From my point of view you have two choices:
  • Let the development team require to test the resulting application image and put it into production
  • Push the new application image without review by the development team into production
The first scenario might lead into a significant delay until the fixes hit production created by the probably infrequent work of the development team. The latter one brings your security fixes early to production by the notable higher risk to break your application. This risk can be reduced by implementing massive tests into CI/CD pipelines by the development team. Rolling updates provided by Docker Swarm might also reduce the risk of ending with a broken application. When you are implementing an update process of your (application) images to production, you should consider Watchtower that provides Automatic Updates for Docker Containers.

Conclusion Not being a product owner or the operations part of an application that is facing a widely adopted usage that would compensate the actual tradeoffs we are still facing I tend not to move large scale production projects into a container environment.
This means not that this might be a bad idea for others, but I'd like to sort out some of the caveats before. I'm still interested to put smaller projects into production, being not scared to reimplement or move them on a new stack.
For smaller projects with a small number of hosts Portainer looks not bad as well as Rancher with the Cattle orchestration engine if you just want to manage a couple of nodes. Things are going to be interesting if Rancher 1.2 supports Docker swarm cluster out of the box. Let's see what the future will bring us to the container world and how to make a great stack out of it.

Update I suggest to read Docker in Production: A History of Failure and the answer Docker in Production: A retort to understand the actual challenges when running Docker in larger scale production environments.

29 January 2016

Jan Wagner: Oxidized - silly attempt at (Really Awesome New Cisco confIg Differ)

Since ages I wanted have replaced this freaking backup solution of our Network Equipment based on some hacky shell scripts and expect uploading the configs on a TFTP server. Years ago I stumbled upon RANCID (Really Awesome New Cisco confIg Differ) but had no time to implement it. Now I returned to my idea to get rid of all our old crap.
I don't know where, I think it was at DENOG2, I saw RANCID coupled with a VCS, where the NOC was notified about configuration (and inventory) changes by mailing the configuration diff and the history was indeed in the VCS.
The good old RANCID seems not to support to write into a VCS out of the box. But for the rescue there is rancid-git, a fork that promises git extensions and support for colorized emails. So far so good. While I was searching for a VCS capable RANCID, somewhere under a stone I found Oxidized, a 'silly attempt at rancid'. Looking at it, it seems more sophisticated, so I thought this might be the right attempt. Unfortunately there is no Debian package available, but I found an ITP created by Jonas. Anyway, for just looking into it, I thought the Docker path for a testbed might be a good idea, as no Debian package ist available (yet). For oxidized configuration is only a configfile needed and as nodes source a rancid compatible router.db file can be used (beside SQLite and http backend). A migration into a production environment seems pretty easy. So I gave it a go. I assume Docker is installed already. There seems to be a Docker image on Docker Hub, that looks official, but it seems not maintained (actually). An issue is open for automated building the image.

Creating Oxidized container image The official documentation describes the procedure. I used a slightly different approach.
docking-station:~# mkdir -p /srv/docker/oxidized/  
docking-station:~# git clone \  
docking-station:~# docker build -q -t oxidized/oxidized:latest \  
I thought it might be a good idea to also tag the image with the actual version of the gem.
docking-station:~# docker tag oxidized/oxidized:latest \  
docking-station:~# docker images   grep oxidized  
oxidized/oxidized   latest    35a325792078  15 seconds ago  496.1 MB  
oxidized/oxidized   0.11.0    35a325792078  15 seconds ago  496.1 MB  
Create initial default configuration like described in the documentation.
docking-station:~# mkir -p /srv/docker/oxidized/.config/  
docking-station:~# docker run -e CONFIG_RELOAD_INTERVAL=600 \  
 -v /srv/docker/oxidized/.config/:/root/.config/oxidized \
 -p 8888:8888/tcp -t oxidized/oxidized:latest oxidized

Adjusting configuration After this I adjusted the default configuration for writing a log, the nodes config into a bare git, having nodes secrets in router.db and some hooks for debugging.

Creating node configuration
docking-station:~# echo "" >> \  
docking-station:~# echo "" >> \  

Starting the oxidized beast
docking-station:~# docker run -e CONFIG_RELOAD_INTERVAL=600 \  
 -v /srv/docker/oxidized/.config/:/root/.config/oxidized \
 -p 8888:8888/tcp -t oxidized/oxidized:latest oxidized
Puma 2.16.0 starting...  
* Min threads: 0, max threads: 16
* Environment: development
* Listening on tcp://
If you want to have the container get started with the docker daemon automatically, you can start the container with --restart always and docker will take care of it. If I wanted to make it running permanent, I would use a systemd unitfile.

Reload configuration immediately If you don't want to wait to automatically reload of the configuration, you can trigger it.
docking-station:~# curl -s http://localhost:8888/reload?format=json \  
 -O /dev/null
docking-station:~# tail -2 /srv/docker/oxidized/.config/log/oxidized.log  
I, [2016-01-29T16:50:46.971904 #1]  INFO -- : Oxidized starting, running as pid 1  
I, [2016-01-29T16:50:47.073307 #1]  INFO -- : Loaded 2 nodes  

Writing nodes configuration
docking-station:/srv/docker/oxidized/.config/oxidized.git# git shortlog  
Oxidizied (2):  
Writing the nodes configurations into a local bare git repository is neat but far from perfect. It would be cool to have all the stuff in a central VCS. So I'm pushing it every 5 minutes into one with a cron job.
docking-station:~# cat /etc/cron.d/doxidized  
# m h dom mon dow user  command                                                 
*/5 * * * *    root    $(/srv/docker/oxidized/bin/
docking-station:~# cat /srv/docker/oxidized/bin/  
git push origin master --quiet  
Now having all the nodes configurations in a source code hosting system, we can browse the configurations, changes, history and even establish notifications for changes. Mission accomplished! Now I can test the coverage of our equipment. The last thing that would make me super happy, a oxidized Debian package!

21 January 2016

Jan Wagner: Using nginx as reverse proxy (for containered Ghost)

In some cases it might be a good idea to use a reverse proxy in front of a web application. Nginx is a very common solution for this scenario these days. As I started with containers for some of my playgrounds, I decided to go this route.

Container security When looking around to implement a nginx in front of a Docker web application, in most cases nginx itself is also a Docker container.
In my eyes Docker containers have a huge disadvantage. To get updated software (at least security related) into production, you have to hope that your container image is well maintained or you have to care about it yourself. If this not the case, you might worry.
As long as you don't have container solutions deployed in large scale (and make use of automatically rebuilding and deploying your container images) I would recommend to keep the footprint of your containered applications as small as possible from security point of view. So I decided to run my nginx on the same system where the Docker web applications are living, but you can also have it placed on a system in front of your container systems. Updates are supplied via usual Distribution security updates.

Installing nginx
# aptitude install nginx
I don't will advise you on the usual steps about setting up nginx, but will focus on things required to proxy into your container web application.

Configuration of nginx As our Docker container for Ghost exposes port 2368, we need to define our upstream server. I've done that in conf.d/docker-ghost.conf.
upstream docker-ghost    
  server localhost:2368;
The vHost configuration can be taken into /etc/nginx/nginx.conf but I would recommend to use a config file in /etc/nginx/sites-available/ instead.
  listen 80;
  include /etc/nginx/snippets/ghost_vhost.conf;
  location /  
    proxy_pass                          http://docker-ghost;
    proxy_set_header  Host              $http_host;   # required for docker client's sake
    proxy_set_header  X-Real-IP         $remote_addr; # pass on real client's IP
    proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-For   $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
    proxy_read_timeout                  900;
Let's enable the configuration and reload nginx:
# ln -s ../sites-available/ghost.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ghost.conf && \
 service nginx configtest && service nginx reload

Going further This is a very basic configuration. You might think about delivering static content (like images) directly from your Docker data volume, caching and maybe encryption.

19 January 2016

Jan Wagner: Trying icinga2 and icingaweb2 with Docker

In case you ever wanted to look at Icinga2, even into distributed features, without messing with installing whole server setups, this might interesting for you. At first, you need to have a running Docker on your system. For more information, have a look into my previous post!

Initiating Docker images
$ git clone && \
  cd docker-icinga2
$ make temp
$ make grab
$ make prod

Setting IcingaWeb2 password (Or using the default one)
$ make enter
docker exec -i -t  cat cid  /bin/bash  
root@ce705e592611:/# openssl passwd -1 f00b4r  
root@ce705e592611:/# mysql -h mysql icingaweb2 -p -e \  
  "UPDATE icingaweb_user SET password_hash='$1$jgAqBcIm$aQxyTPIniE1hx4VtIsWvt/' WHERE name='icingaadmin';"
Enter password:  
root@ce705e592611:/# exit  

Setting Icinga Classic UI password
$ make enter
docker exec -i -t  cat cid  /bin/bash  
root@ce705e592611:/# htpasswd /etc/icinga2-classicui/htpasswd.users icingaadmin  
New password:  
Re-type new password:  
Adding password for user icingaadmin  
root@ce705e592611:/# exit  

Cleaning things up and making permanent
$ docker stop icinga2 && docker stop icinga2-mysql
$ cp -a /tmp/datadir ~/docker-icinga2.datadir
$ echo "~/docker-icinga2.datadir" > ./DATADIR
$ docker start icinga2-mysql && rm cid && docker rm icinga2 && \
  make runprod
chmod 777 /tmp/tmp.08c34zjRMpDOCKERTMP  
Now you should be able to access the IcingaWeb2 web interface on http://localhost:4080/icingaweb2 and the Icinga Classic UI web interface at http://localhost:4080/icinga2-classicui. For further information about this Docker setup please consult the documentation written by Joshua Cox who has worked on this project. For information about Icinga2 itself, please have a look into the Icinga2 Documentation.