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Sylvain Le Gall: Release of OASIS 0.4.5

23 October, 2014 - 06:42

On behalf of Jacques-Pascal Deplaix

I am happy to announce the release of OASIS v0.4.5.

OASIS is a tool to help OCaml developers to integrate configure, build and install systems in their projects. It should help to create standard entry points in the source code build system, allowing external tools to analyse projects easily.

This tool is freely inspired by Cabal which is the same kind of tool for Haskell.

You can find the new release here and the changelog here. More information about OASIS in general on the OASIS website.

Here is a quick summary of the important changes:

  • Build and install annotation files.
  • Use builtin bin_annot and annot tags.
  • Tag .mly files on the same basis as .ml and .mli files (required by menhir).
  • Remove 'program' constraint from C-dependencies. Currently, when a library has C-sources and e.g. an executable depends on that library, then changing the C-sources and running '-build' does not yield a rebuild of the library. By adding these dependencies (rather removing the constraint), it seems to work fine.
  • Some bug fixes

Features:

  • no_automatic_syntax (alpha): Disable the automatic inclusion of -syntax camlp4o for packages that matches the internal heuristic (if a dependency ends with a .syntax or is a well known syntax).
  • compiled_setup_ml (alpha): Fix a bug using multiple arguments to the configure script.

This new version is a small release to catch up with all the fixes/pull requests present in the VCS that have not yet been published. This should made the life of my dear contributors easier -- thanks again for being patient.

I would like to thanks again the contributor for this release: Christopher Zimmermann, Jerome Vouillon, Tomohiro Matsuyama and Christoph Höger. Their help is greatly appreciated.

Petter Reinholdtsen: listadmin, the quick way to moderate mailman lists - nice free software

23 October, 2014 - 02:00

If you ever had to moderate a mailman list, like the ones on alioth.debian.org, you know the web interface is fairly slow to operate. First you visit one web page, enter the moderation password and get a new page shown with a list of all the messages to moderate and various options for each email address. This take a while for every list you moderate, and you need to do it regularly to do a good job as a list moderator. But there is a quick alternative, the listadmin program. It allow you to check lists for new messages to moderate in a fraction of a second. Here is a test run on two lists I recently took over:

% time listadmin xiph
fetching data for pkg-xiph-commits@lists.alioth.debian.org ... nothing in queue
fetching data for pkg-xiph-maint@lists.alioth.debian.org ... nothing in queue

real    0m1.709s
user    0m0.232s
sys     0m0.012s
%

In 1.7 seconds I had checked two mailing lists and confirmed that there are no message in the moderation queue. Every morning I currently moderate 68 mailman lists, and it normally take around two minutes. When I took over the two pkg-xiph lists above a few days ago, there were 400 emails waiting in the moderator queue. It took me less than 15 minutes to process them all using the listadmin program.

If you install the listadmin package from Debian and create a file ~/.listadmin.ini with content like this, the moderation task is a breeze:

username@example.org
spamlevel 23
default discard
discard_if_reason "Posting restricted to members only. Remove us from your mail list."

password secret
adminurl https://{domain}/mailman/admindb/{list}
mailman-list@lists.example.com

password hidden
other-list@otherserver.example.org

There are other options to set as well. Check the manual page to learn the details.

If you are forced to moderate lists on a mailman installation where the SSL certificate is self signed or not properly signed by a generally accepted signing authority, you can set a environment variable when calling listadmin to disable SSL verification:

PERL_LWP_SSL_VERIFY_HOSTNAME=0 listadmin

If you want to moderate a subset of the lists you take care of, you can provide an argument to the listadmin script like I do in the initial screen dump (the xiph argument). Using an argument, only lists matching the argument string will be processed. This make it quick to accept messages if you notice the moderation request in your email.

Without the listadmin program, I would never be the moderator of 68 mailing lists, as I simply do not have time to spend on that if the process was any slower. The listadmin program have saved me hours of time I could spend elsewhere over the years. It truly is nice free software.

As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

Konstantinos Margaritis: Eigen NEON port extended to ARMv8!

22 October, 2014 - 18:44

Soon after the VSX port, and as promised I have completed the ARMv8 NEON (a.k.a. Advanced SIMD) port. Basically this extends support to 64-bit doubles and also provides faster alternatives to division as ARMv8 has builtin instructions for division both for 32-bit floats and 64-bit doubles. Preliminary benchmarks (bench_gemm):

Steve Kemp: On writing test-cases and testsuites.

22 October, 2014 - 17:21

Last night I mostly patched my local copy of less to build and link against the PCRE regular expression library.

I've wanted to do that for a while, and reading Raymond Chen's blog post last night made me try it out.

The patch was small and pretty neat, and I'm familiar with GNU less having patched it in the past. But it doesn't contain tests.

Test cases are hard. Many programs, such as less, are used interactively which makes writing a scaffold hard. Other programs suffer from a similar fate - I'm not sure how you'd even test a web browser such as Firefox these days - mangleme would catch some things, eventually, but the interactive stuff? No clue.

In the past MySQL had a free set of test cases, but my memory is that Oracle locked them up. SQLite is famous for its decent test coverage. But off the top of my head I can't think of other things.

As a topical example there don't seem to be decent test-cases for either bash or openssl. If it compiles it works, more or less.

I did start writing some HTTP-server test cases a while back, but that was just to automate security attacks. e.g. Firing requests like:

GET /../../../etc/passwd HTTP/1.0
GET //....//....//....//etc/passwd HTTP/1.0
etc

(It's amazing how many toy HTTP server components included in projects and products don't have decent HTTP-servers.)

I could imagine that being vaguely useful, especially because it is testing the protocol-handling rather than a project-specific codebase.

Anyway, I'm thinking writing test cases for things is good, but struggling to think of a decent place to start. The project has to be:

  • Non-interactive.
  • Open source.
  • Widely used - to make it a useful contribution.
  • Not written in some fancy language.
  • Open to receiving submissions.

Comments welcome; but better yet why not think about the test-coverage of any of your own packages and projects...?

Russ Allbery: Another haul post

22 October, 2014 - 11:44

I know I've been very quiet here lately. That's due to a variety of reasons, but mostly because settling in to a new job is taking nearly all of my attention and time. When that's combined with getting obsessed with watching the League of Legends world championships, it means no real time for writing things.

I've had lots of time for reading things, though, and have a lot of book reviews that I need to write. So, of course, I felt like buying more books.

Elizabeth Bear — One-Eyed Jack (sff)
Steven Brust — Hawk (sff)
Kenneth T. Jackson — Crabgrass Frontier (non-fiction)
Ann Leckie — Ancillary Sword (sff)
Scott Lynch — Republic of Thieves (sff)
Randall Munroe — What If? (non-fiction)
Sarah Tolmie — The Stone Boatmen (sff)
Jeffrey Toobin — The Oath (non-fiction)

I'm pretty excited about everything in this shipment, but particularly the new Vlad Taltos novel from Brust and the sequel to Ancillary Justice (probably the best novel that I've read so far this year). And of course there's What If?.

Junichi Uekawa: Migrating my diary system to some new server.

22 October, 2014 - 08:31
Migrating my diary system to some new server. I took the chance to migrate my system from CVS-based system to Git-based system. It no longer relies on a chain of CVS commit hooks, and now I have a makefile to publish. I also took the chance to rewrite my 15 year old elisp so that I can use UTF-8 instead of a mix of ISO-2022-JP and EUC-JP. Dusting off some old code. No test exists, what could go wrong!

Lucas Nussbaum: Tentative summary of the amendments of the init system coupling GR

21 October, 2014 - 21:07

This is an update of my previous attempt at summarizing this discussion. As I proposed one of the amendments, you should not blindly trust me, of course. :-)

First, let’s address two FAQ:

What is the impact on jessie?
On the technical level, none. The current state of jessie already matches what is expected by all proposals. It’s a different story on the social level.

Why are we voting now, then?
Ian Jackson, who submitted the original proposal, explained his motivation in this mail.

We now have four different proposals: (summaries are mine)

  • [iwj] Original proposal (Ian Jackson): Packages may not (in general) require one specific init system (Choice 1 on this page)
  • [lucas] Amendment A (Lucas Nussbaum): support for alternative init systems is desirable but not mandatory (Choice 2 on this page)
  • [dktrkranz] Amendment B (Luca Falavigna): Packages may require a specific init system (Choice 3 on this page)
  • [plessy] Amendment C (Charles Plessy): No GR, please; already resolved (Choice 4 on this page)

[plessy] is the simplest, and does not discuss the questions that the other proposals are answering, given it considers that they already have been resolved (even though I disagree with this analysis).

In order to understand the three other proposals, it’s useful to break them down into several questions.

Q1: support for the default init system on Linux
A1.1: packages MUST work with the default init system on Linux as PID 1.
(That is the case in both [iwj] and [lucas])

A1.2: packages SHOULD work with the default init system on Linux as PID 1.
With [dktrkranz], it would no longer be required to support the default init system, as maintainers could choose to require another init system that the default, if they consider this a prerequisite for its proper operation; and no patches or other derived works exist in order to support other init systems. That would not be a policy violation. (see this mail and its reply for details). Theoretically, it could also create fragmentation among Debian packages requiring different init systems: you would not be able to run pkgA and pkgB at the same time, because they would require different init systems.

Q2: support for alternative init systems as PID 1
A2.1: packages MUST work with one alternative init system (in [iwj])
(if you are confused with “one” here, it’s basically fine to read it as “sysvinit” instead. See this subthread for a discussion about this)
To the user, that brings the freedom to switch init systems (assuming that the package will not just support two init systems with specific interfaces, but rather a generic interface common to many init systems).
However, it might require the maintainer to do the required work to support additional init systems, possibly without upstream cooperation.
Lack of support is a policy violation (severity >= serious, RC).
Bugs about degraded operation on some init systems follow the normal bug severity rules.

A2.2: packages SHOULD work with alternative init systems as PID 1. (in [lucas])
This is a recommendation. Lack of support is not a policy violation (bug severity < serious, not RC). A2.3: nothing is said about alternative init systems (in [dktrkranz]). Lack of support would likely be a wishlist bug.

Q3: special rule for sysvinit to ease wheezy->jessie upgrades
(this question is implicitly dealt with in [iwj], assuming that one of the supported init systems is sysvinit)

A3.1: continue support for sysvinit (in [lucas])
For the jessie release, all software available in Debian ‘wheezy’ that supports being run under sysvinit should continue to support sysvinit unless there is no technically feasible way to do so.

A3.2: no requirement to support sysvinit (in [dktrkranz])
Theoretically, this could require two-step upgrades: first reboot with systemd, then upgrade other packages

Q4: non-binding recommendation to maintainers
A4.1: recommend that maintainers accept patches that add or improve
support for alternative init systems. (in both [iwj] and [lucas], with a different wording)

A4.2: say nothing (in [dktrkranz])

Q5: support for init systems with are the default on non-Linux ports
A5.1: non-binding recommendation to add/improve support with a high priority (in [lucas])

A5.2: say nothing (in [iwj] and [dktrkranz])

 

Comments are closed: please discuss by replying to that mail.

Erich Schubert: Avoiding systemd isn't hard

21 October, 2014 - 20:17
Don't listen to trolls. They lie. Debian was and continues to be about choice. Previously, you could configure Debian to use other init systems, and you can continue to do so in the future. In fact, with wheezy, sysvinit was essential. In the words of trolls, Debian "forced" you to install SysV init! With jessie, it will become easier to choose the init system, because neither init system is essential now. Instead, there is an essential meta-package "init", which requires you to install one of systemd-sysv | sysvinit-core | upstart. In other words, you have more choice than ever before. Again: don't listen to trolls. However, notice that there are some programs such as login managers (e.g. gdm3) which have an upstream dependency on systemd. gdm3 links against libsystemd0 and depends on libpam-systemd; and the latter depends on systemd-sysv | systemd-shim so it is in fact a software such as GNOME that is pulling systemd onto your computer. IMHO you should give systemd a try. There are some broken (SysV-) init scripts that cause problems with systemd; but many of these cases have now been fixed - not in systemd, but in the broken init script. However, here is a clean way to prevent systemd from being installed when you upgrade to jessie. (No need to "fork" Debian for this, which just demonstrates how uninformed some trolls are ... - apart from Debian being very open to custom debian distributions, which can easily be made without "forking".) As you should know, apt allows version pinning. This is the proper way to prevent a package from being installed. All you need to do is create a file named e.g. /etc/apt/preferences.d/no-systemd with the contents:
Package: systemd-sysv
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: -1
from the documentation, a priority less than 0 disallows the package from being installed. systemd-sysv is the package that would enable systemd as your default init (/sbin/init). This change will make it much harder for aptitude to solve dependencies. A good way to help it to solve the dependencies is to install the systemd-shim package explicitly first: aptitude install systemd-shim After this, I could upgrade a Debian system from wheezy to jessie without being "forced" to use systemd... In fact, I could also do an aptitude remove systemd systemd-shim. But that would have required the uninstallation of GNOME, gdm3 and network-manager - you may or may not be willing to do this. On a server, there shouldn't be any component actually depending on systemd at all. systemd is mostly a GNOME-desktop thing as of now. As you can see, the trolls are totally blaming the wrong people, for the wrong reasons... and in fact, the trolls make up false claims (as a fact, systemd-shim was updated on Oct 14). Stop listening to trolls, please. If you find a bug - a package that needlessly depends on systemd, or a good way to remove some dependency e.g. via dynamic linking, please contribute a patch upstream and file a bug. Solve problems at the package/bug level, instead of wasting time doing hate speeches.

Thomas Goirand: OpenStack Juno is out, Debian (and Ubuntu Trusty ports) packages ready

21 October, 2014 - 13:45

This is just a quick announce: Debian packages for Juno are out. In fact, they were ready the day of the release, on the 16th of October. I uploaded it all (to Experimental) the same day, literally a few hours after the final released was git tagged. But I had no time to announce it.

This week-end, I took the time to do an Ubuntu Trusty port, which I also publish (it’s just a mater of rebuilding all, and it should work out of the box). Here are the backports repositories. For Wheezy:

deb http://archive.gplhost.com/debian juno-backports main

deb http://archive.gplhost.com/debian juno main

For trusty:

deb http://archive.gplhost.com/debian trusty-juno-backports main

But of course, everything is also available directly in Debian. Since Sid/Jessie contains OpenStack Icehouse (which has more chance to receive long enough security support), and it will be like this until Jessie is released. So I have uploaded all of Juno into Debian Experimental. This shows on the OpenStack qa page (you may also notice that the team is nearly reaching 200 packages… though am planning to off-load some of that to the Python module team, when the migration to Git will be finished). On the QA page, you may also see that I uploaded all of the last Icehouse point release to Sid, and that all packages migrated to Jessie. There’s only a few minor issues with some Python modules which I fixed, that haven’t migrated to Jessie yet.

I can already tell that all packages can be installed without an issue, and that I know Horizon at least works as expected. But I didn’t have time to test it all just yet. I’m currently working on doing even more installation automation at the package level (by providing some OVS bridging init script and such, to make it more easy to run Tempest functional testing). I’ll post more about this when it’s ready.

Michal &#268;iha&#345;: Hosted Weblate has new UI

20 October, 2014 - 21:00

The biggest part of this HackWeek will be spent on Weblate. The major task is to complete new UI for it. There have been already some blog posts about that here, so regular readers of my blog already know it is using Twitter Bootstrap.

Today it has reached point where I think it's good enough for wider testing and I've deployed it at Hosted Weblate (see Weblate website for conditions for getting hosting there).

I expect there will be some rough edges, so don't hesitate to report any issues, so that I can quickly fix them.

Filed under: English phpMyAdmin SUSE Weblate | 0 comments | Flattr this!

Michal &#268;iha&#345;: Enca 1.16

20 October, 2014 - 16:00

As a first tiny project in this HackWeek, Enca 1.16 has been just released. It mostly brings small code cleanups and missing aliases for languages, but fixes also some minor bugs found by Coverity Scan.

If you don't know Enca, it is an Extremely Naive Charset Analyser. It detects character set and encoding of text files and can also convert them to other encodings using either a built-in converter or external libraries and tools like libiconv, librecode, or cstocs.

Full list of changes for 1.16 release:

  • Fixed typo in Belarusian language name
  • Added aliases for Chinese and Yugoslavian languages

Still enca is in maintenance mode only and I have no intentions to write new features. However there is no limitation to other contributors :-).

You can download from http://cihar.com/software/enca/.

Filed under: Enca English SUSE | 0 comments | Flattr this!

Francois Marier: LXC setup on Debian jessie

20 October, 2014 - 10:00

Here's how to setup LXC-based "chroots" on Debian jessie. While this is documented on the Debian wiki, I had to tweak a few things to get the networking to work on my machine.

Start by installing (as root) the necessary packages:

apt-get install lxc libvirt-bin debootstrap
Network setup

I decided to use the default /etc/lxc/default.conf configuration (no change needed here):

lxc.network.type = veth
lxc.network.flags = up
lxc.network.link = virbr0
lxc.network.hwaddr = 00:FF:AA:xx:xx:xx
lxc.network.ipv4 = 0.0.0.0/24

but I had to make sure that the "guests" could connect to the outside world through the "host":

  1. Enable IPv4 forwarding by putting this in /etc/sysctl.conf:

    net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
    
  2. and then applying it using:

    sysctl -p
    
  3. Ensure that the network bridge is automatically started on boot:

    virsh -c lxc:/// net-start default
    virsh -c lxc:/// net-autostart default
    
  4. and that it's not blocked by the host firewall, by putting this in /etc/network/iptables.up.rules:

    -A INPUT -d 224.0.0.251 -s 192.168.122.1 -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -d 192.168.122.255 -s 192.168.122.1 -j ACCEPT
    -A INPUT -d 192.168.122.1 -s 192.168.122.0/24 -j ACCEPT
    
  5. and applying the rules using:

    iptables-apply
    
Creating a container

Creating a new container (in /var/lib/lxc/) is simple:

sudo MIRROR=http://ftp.nz.debian.org/debian lxc-create -n sid64 -t debian -- -r sid -a amd64

You can start or stop it like this:

sudo lxc-start -n sid64 -d
sudo lxc-stop -n sid64
Connecting to a guest using ssh

The ssh server is configured to require pubkey-based authentication for root logins, so you'll need to log into the console:

sudo lxc-stop -n sid64
sudo lxc-start -n sid64

then install a text editor inside the container because the root image doesn't have one by default:

apt-get install vim

then paste your public key in /root/.ssh/authorized_keys.

Then you can exit the console (using Ctrl+a q) and ssh into the container. You can find out what IP address the container received from DHCP by typing this command:

sudo lxc-ls --fancy
Fixing Perl locale errors

If you see a bunch of errors like these when you start your container:

perl: warning: Setting locale failed.
perl: warning: Please check that your locale settings:
LANGUAGE = (unset),
LC_ALL = (unset),
LANG = "fr_CA.utf8"
    are supported and installed on your system.
perl: warning: Falling back to the standard locale ("C").

then log into the container as root and use:

dpkg-reconfigure locales

to enable the same locales as the ones you have configured in the host.

Neil Williams: OpenTAC – an automation lab in a box

20 October, 2014 - 06:34

I’ve previously covered running LAVA on ARM devices, now that the packages are in Debian. I’ve also covered setting up the home lab, including the difficulty in obtaining the PDU and relying on another machine to provide USB serial converters with inherent problems of needing power to keep the same devices assigned to the same ser2net ports.

There have been ideas about how to improve the situation. Conferences are a prime example – setting up a demo involving LAVA means bringing a range of equipment, separate power bricks, separate network switches (with power bricks), a device of some kind to connect up the USB serial converters (and power brick) and then the LAVA server (with SATA drive and power brick) – that is without the actual devices and their cables and power. Each of those power cables tend to be a metre long, with networking and serial, it quickly becomes a cable spaghetti.

Ideas around this also have application inside larger deployments, so the hardware would need to daisy-chain to provide services to a rack full of test devices.

The objective is a single case providing network, power and serial connectivity to a number of test devices over a single power input and network uplink. Naturally, with a strong free software and open development bias, the unit will be Open Hardware running Debian, albeit with a custom Beaglebone Linux kernel. It’s a Test Automation Controller, so we’re using the name OpenTAC.

Progress

Open hardware ARM device running Debian to automate tests on 4 to 8 devices, initially aimed at LAVA support for Linaro engineers. Power distribution, serial console, network and optional GPIO extensions.

The design involves:

  • A Beaglebone Black (revC)
    • USB hotplug support required, certainly during development.
  • Custom PCB connected as a Beaglebone Cape, designed by Andy Simpkins.
  • Base board provides 4 channels:
    • 5V Power – delivered over USB
    • Ethernet – standard Cat5, no LEDs
    • Serial connectivity
      • RS232
      • UART
    • GPIO
  • Internal gigabit network switch
  • Space for a board like a CubieTruck (with SATA drive) to act as LAVA server
  • Daughter board:
    • Same basic design as the base board, providing another 4 channels, equivalent to the base channels. When the daughter board is fitted, a second network switch would be added instead of the CubieTruck.
  • Power consumption measurement per channel
    • queries made via the Beaglebone Black over arbitrary time periods, including during the test itself.
  • The GPIO lines can be used to work around issues with development boards under test, including closing connections which may be required to get a device to reboot automatically, without manual intervention.
  • Serial connections to test devices can be isolated during device power-cycles – this allows for devices which pull power over the serial connection. (These are typically hardware design issues but the devices still need to be tested until the boards can be modified or replaced.)
  • Thermal control, individual fan control via the Beaglebone Black.
  • 1U case – rackable or used alone on the desk of developers.
  • Software design:
    • lavapdu backend module for PDU control (opentac.py) & opentac daemon on the BBB
      • telnet opentac-01 3225
    • ser2net for serial console control
      • telnet opentac-01 4000

The initial schematics are now complete and undergoing design review. A lot of work remains …

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.2.1

20 October, 2014 - 05:09

A new maintenance release of littler is available now.

The main change are a few updates and extensions to the examples provided along with littler. Several of those continue to make use of the wonderful docopt package by Edwin de Jonge. Carl Boettiger and I are making good use of these littler examples, particularly to install directly from CRAN or GitHub, in our Rocker builds of R for Docker (about which we should have a bit more to blog soon too).

Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page.

The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs off my littler page and the local directory here. A fresh package has gone to the incoming queue at Debian; Michael Rutter will probably have new Ubuntu binaries at CRAN in a few days too.

Comments and suggestions are welcome via the mailing list or issue tracker at the GitHub repo.

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

Thorsten Alteholz: Key transition, move to stronger key

20 October, 2014 - 04:44

Finally I was able to do the enormous paperwork (no, it is not that much) to switch my old 1024D key to a new 4096R one. I was a bit afraid that there might be something bad happening, but my fear was without any reason. After the RT bug was closed, I could upload and sent signed emails to mailing lists. So thanks alot to everyone involved.

old key, 0xD362B62A54B99890

pub   1024D/54B99890 2008-07-23
      Key fingerprint = 36E2 EDDE C21F EC8F 77B8  7436 D362 B62A 54B9 9890
uid                  Thorsten Alteholz (...)
sub   4096g/622D94A8 2008-07-23


new key, 0xA459EC6715B0705F

pub   4096R/0xA459EC6715B0705F 2014-02-03
  Schl.-Fingerabdruck = C74F 6AC9 E933 B306 7F52  F33F A459 EC67 15B0 705F
uid                 [ uneing.] Thorsten Alteholz (...)
sub   4096R/0xAE861AE7F39DF730 2014-02-03
  Schl.-Fingerabdruck = B8E7 6074 5FF4 C707 1C77  870C AE86 1AE7 F39D F730
sub   4096R/0x96FCAC0D387B5847 2014-02-03
  Schl.-Fingerabdruck = 6201 FBFF DBBD E078 22EA  BB96 96FC AC0D 387B 5847

Benjamin Mako Hill: Another Round of Community Data Science Workshops in Seattle

19 October, 2014 - 09:19
Pictures from the CDSW sessions in Spring 2014

I am helping coordinate three and a half day-long workshops in November for anyone interested in learning how to use programming and data science tools to ask and answer questions about online communities like Wikipedia, free and open source software, Twitter, civic media, etc. This will be a new and improved version of the workshops run successfully earlier this year.

The workshops are for people with no previous programming experience and will be free of charge and open to anyone.

Our goal is that, after the three workshops, participants will be able to use data to produce numbers, hypothesis tests, tables, and graphical visualizations to answer questions like:

  • Are new contributors to an article in Wikipedia sticking around longer or contributing more than people who joined last year?
  • Who are the most active or influential users of a particular Twitter hashtag?
  • Are people who participated in a Wikipedia outreach event staying involved? How do they compare to people that joined the project outside of the event?

If you are interested in participating, fill out our registration form here before October 30th. We were heavily oversubscribed last time so registering may help.

If you already know how to program in Python, it would be really awesome if you would volunteer as a mentor! Being a mentor will involve working with participants and talking them through the challenges they encounter in programming. No special preparation is required. If you’re interested, send me an email.

Erich Schubert: Beware of trolls - do not feed

19 October, 2014 - 01:15
A particularly annoying troll has been on his hate crusade against systemd for months now. Unfortunately, he's particularly active on Debian mailing lists (but apparently also on Ubuntu and the Linux Kernel mailing list) and uses a tons of fake users he keeps on setting up. Our listsmasters have a hard time blocking all his hate, sorry. Obviously, this is also the same troll that has been attacking Lennart Poettering. There is evidence that this troll used to go by the name "MikeeUSA", and has quite a reputation with anti-feminist hate for over 10 years now. Please, do not feed this troll. Here are some names he uses on YouTube: Gregory Smith, Matthew Bradshaw, Steve Stone. Blacklisting is the best measure we have, unfortunately. Even if you don't like the road systemd is taking or Lennart Poetting personall - the behaviour of that troll is unacceptable to say the least; and indicates some major psychological problems... also, I wouldn't be surprised if he is also involved in #GamerGate. See this example (LKML) if you have any doubts. We seriously must not tolerate such poisonous people. If you don't like systemd, the acceptable way of fighting it is to write good alternative software. End of story.

Rhonda D'Vine: Trans Gender Moves

18 October, 2014 - 18:14

Yesterday I managed to get the last ticket from the waitinglist for the premiere of Trans Gender Moves. It is a play about the lives of three people: A transman, a transwoman and an intersexual person. They tell stories from their life, their process of finding their own identity over time. With in parts amusing anecdotes and ones that gets you thinking I can just wholeheartly encourage you to watch it if you have the chance to. It will still be shown the next few days, potentially extending depending on the requests for tickets, from what I've been told by one of the actors.

The most funny moment for me though was when I was talking with one of the actors about that it really touched me that I was told that one of them will be moving into into the same building I will be moving into in two year's time. Unfortunately that will be delayed a bit because they found me thinks field hamster or the likes in the ground and have to wait until spring for them to move. :/

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Steve Kemp: On the names we use in email

18 October, 2014 - 16:18

Yesterday I received a small rush of SPAM mails, all of which were 419 scams, and all of them sent by "Mrs Elizabeth PETERSEN".

It struck me that I can't think of ever receiving a legitimate mail from a "Mrs XXX [YYY]", but I was too busy to check.

Today I've done so. Of the 38,553 emails I've received during the month of October 2014 I've got a hell of a lot of mails with a From address including a "Mrs" prefix:

Mrs.Clanzo Amaki" <marilobouabre14@yahoo.co.jp>
"Mrs Sarah Mamadou"<investment@payment.com>
rs Abia Abrahim <missfatimajinnah@yahoo.co.jp>
Mrs. Josie Wilson" <linn3_2008@yahoo.co.jp>
"Mrs. Theresa Luis"<tomaslima@jorgelima.com>

There are thousands more. Not a single one of them was legitimate.

I have one false-positive when repeating the search for a Mr-prefix. I have one friend who has set his sender-address to "Mr Bob Smith", which always reads weirdly to me, but every single other email with a Mr-prefix was SPAM.

I'm not going to use this in any way, since I'm happy with my mail-filtering setup, but it was interesting observation.

Names are funny. My wife changed her surname post-marriage, but that was done largely on the basis that introducing herself as "Doctor Kemp" was simpler than "Doctor Foreign-Name", she'd certainly never introduce herself ever as Mrs Kemp.

Trivia: In Finnish the word for "Man" and "Husband" is the same (mies), but the word for "Woman" (nainen) is different than the word for "Wife" (vaimo).

Martin Pitt: Ramblings from LinuxCon/Plumbers 2014

18 October, 2014 - 00:54

I’m on my way home from Düsseldorf where I attended the LinuxCon Europe and Linux Plumber conferences. I was quite surprised how huge LinuxCon was, there were about 1.500 people there! Certainly much more than last year in New Orleans.

Containers (in both LXC and docker flavors) are the Big Thing everybody talks about and works with these days; there was hardly a presentation where these weren’t mentioned at all, and (what felt like) half of the presentations were either how to improve these, or how to use these technologies to solve problems. For example, some people/companies really take LXC to the max and try to do everything in them including tasks which in the past you had only considered full VMs for, like untrusted third-party tenants. For example there was an interesting talk how to secure networking for containers, and pretty much everyone uses docker or LXC now to deploy workloads, run CI tests. There are projects like “fleet” which manage systemd jobs across an entire cluster of containers (distributed task scheduler) or like project-builder.org which auto-build packages from each commit of projects.

Another common topic is the trend towards building/shipping complete (r/o) system images, atomic updates and all that goodness. The central thing here was certainly “Stateless systems, factory reset, and golden images” which analyzed the common requirements and proposed how to implement this with various package systems and scenarios. In my opinion this is certainly the way to go, as our current solution on Ubuntu Touch (i. e. Ubuntu’s system-image) is far too limited and static yet, it doesn’t extend to desktops/servers/cloud workloads at all. It’s also a lot of work to implement this properly, so it’s certainly understandable that we took that shortcut for prototyping and the relatively limited Touch phone environment.

On Plumbers my main occupations were mostly the highly interesting LXC track to see what’s coming in the container world, and the systemd hackfest. On the latter I was again mostly listening (after all, I’m still learning most of the internals there..) and was able to work on some cleanups and improvements like getting rid of some of Debian’s patches and properly run the test suite. It was also great to sync up again with David Zeuthen about the future of udisks and some particular proposed new features. Looks like I’m the de-facto maintainer now, so I’ll need to spend some time soon to review/include/clean up some much requested little features and some fixes.

All in all a great week to meet some fellows of the FOSS world a gain, getting to know a lot of new interesting people and projects, and re-learning to drink beer in the evening (I hardly drink any at home :-P).

If you are interested you can also see my raw notes, but beware that there are mostly just scribbling.

Now, off to next week’s Canonical meeting in Washington, DC!

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