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Chris Lamb: Slack integration for Django

24 January, 2015 - 05:46

I recently started using the Slack group chat tool in a few teams. Wishing to add some vanity notifications such as sales and user growth milestones from some Django-based projects, I put together an easy-to-use integration between the two called django-slack.

Whilst you can use any generic Python-based method of sending messages to Slack, using a Django-specific integration has some advantages:

  • It can use the Django templating system, rather than constructing messages "by hand" in and which violates abstraction layers and often requires unwieldy and ugly string manipulation routines that would be trivial inside a regular template.
  • It can easily enabled and disabled in certain environments, preventing DRY violations by centralising logic to avoid sending messages in development, staging environments, etc.
  • It can use other Django idioms such as a pluggable backend system for greater control over exactly how messages are transmitted to the Slack API (eg. sent asynchronously using your queuing system, avoiding slowing down clients).

Here is an example of how to send a message from a Django view:

from django_slack import slack_message

def view(request, item_id):
    item = get_object_or_404(Item, pk=item_id)

    slack_message('items/viewed.slack', {
        'item': item,
        'user': request.user,

    return render(request, 'items/view.html', {
        'item': item,

Where items/viewed.slack (in your templates directory) might contain:

{% extends django_slack %}

{% block text %}
{{ user.get_full_name }} just viewed {{ item.title }} ({{ item.content|urlize }}).
{% endblock %}

.slack files are regular Django templates — text is automatically escaped as appropriate and that you can use the regular template filters and tags such as urlize, loops, etc.

By default, django-slack posts to the #general channel, but it can be overridden on a per-message basis by specifying a channel block:

{% block channel %}
{% endblock %}

You can also set the icon, URL and emoji in a similar fashion. You can set global defaults for all of these attributes to avoid DRY violations within .slack templates as well.

For more information please see the project homepage or read the documentation. Patches and other contributions are welcome via the django-slack GitHub project.

Richard Hartmann: Release Critical Bug report for Week 04

24 January, 2015 - 00:59

The UDD bugs interface currently knows about the following release critical bugs:

  • In Total: 1117 (Including 191 bugs affecting key packages)
    • Affecting Jessie: 187 (key packages: 116) That's the number we need to get down to zero before the release. They can be split in two big categories:
      • Affecting Jessie and unstable: 132 (key packages: 89) Those need someone to find a fix, or to finish the work to upload a fix to unstable:
        • 24 bugs are tagged 'patch'. (key packages: 15) Please help by reviewing the patches, and (if you are a DD) by uploading them.
        • 4 bugs are marked as done, but still affect unstable. (key packages: 3) This can happen due to missing builds on some architectures, for example. Help investigate!
        • 104 bugs are neither tagged patch, nor marked done. (key packages: 71) Help make a first step towards resolution!
      • Affecting Jessie only: 55 (key packages: 27) Those are already fixed in unstable, but the fix still needs to migrate to Jessie. You can help by submitting unblock requests for fixed packages, by investigating why packages do not migrate, or by reviewing submitted unblock requests.
        • 25 bugs are in packages that are unblocked by the release team. (key packages: 8)
        • 30 bugs are in packages that are not unblocked. (key packages: 19)

>How do we compare to the Squeeze and Wheezy release cycles?

Week Squeeze Wheezy Jessie 43 284 (213+71) 468 (332+136) 319 (240+79) 44 261 (201+60) 408 (265+143) 274 (224+50) 45 261 (205+56) 425 (291+134) 295 (229+66) 46 271 (200+71) 401 (258+143) 427 (313+114) 47 283 (209+74) 366 (221+145) 342 (260+82) 48 256 (177+79) 378 (230+148) 274 (189+85) 49 256 (180+76) 360 (216+155) 226 (147+79) 50 204 (148+56) 339 (195+144) ??? 51 178 (124+54) 323 (190+133) 189 (134+55) 52 115 (78+37) 289 (190+99) 147 (112+35) 1 93 (60+33) 287 (171+116) 140 (104+36) 1 93 (60+33) 287 (171+116) 140 (104+36) 2 82 (46+36) 271 (162+109) 157 (124+33) 3 25 (15+10) 249 (165+84) 172 (128+44) 4 14 (8+6) 244 (176+68) 187 (132+55) 5 2 (0+2) 224 (132+92) 6 release! 212 (129+83) 7 release+1 194 (128+66) 8 release+2 206 (144+62) 9 release+3 174 (105+69) 10 release+4 120 (72+48) 11 release+5 115 (74+41) 12 release+6 93 (47+46) 13 release+7 50 (24+26) 14 release+8 51 (32+19) 15 release+9 39 (32+7) 16 release+10 20 (12+8) 17 release+11 24 (19+5) 18 release+12 2 (2+0)

Graphical overview of bug stats thanks to azhag:

Enrico Zini: mozilla-facepalm

23 January, 2015 - 21:13
Mozilla marketplace facepalm

This made me sad.

My view, which didn't seem to be considered in that discussion, is that people concerned about software freedom and security are likely to stay the hell away from such an app market and its feedback forms.

Also, that thread made me so sad about the state of that developer community that I seriously do not feel like investing energy into going through the hoops of getting an account in their bugtracker to point this out.


Jaldhar Vyas: Mini-Debconf Mumbai 2015

23 January, 2015 - 13:47

Last weekend I went to Mumbai to attend the Mini-Debconf held at IIT-Bombay. These are my impressions of the trip.

Arrival and Impressions of Mumbai

Getting there was a quite an adventure in itself. Unlike during my ill-fated attempt to visit a Debian event in Kerala last year when a bureaucratic snafu left me unable to get a visa, the organizers started the process much earlier at their end this time and with proper permissions. Yet in India, the wheels only turn as fast as they want to turn so despite their efforts, it was only literally at the last minute that I actually managed to secure my visa. I should note however that Indian government has done a lot to improve the process compared to the hell I remember from, say, a decade ago. It's fairly straightforward for tourist visas now and I trust they will get around to doing the same for conference visas in the fullness of time. I didn't want to commit to buying a plane ticket until I had the visa so I became concerned that the only flights left would be either really expensive or on the type of airline that flies you over Syria or under the Indian Ocean. I lucked out and got a good price on a Swiss Air flight, not non-stop but you can't have everything.

So Thursday afternoon I set off for JFK. With only one small suitcase getting there by subway was no problem and I arrived and checked in with plenty of time. Even TSA passed me through with only a minimal amount of indignity. The first leg of my journey took me to Zurich in about eight hours. We were only in Zurich for an hour and then (by now Friday) it was another 9 hours to Mumbai. Friday was Safala Ekadashi but owing to the necessity of staying hydrated on a long flight I drank a lot of water and ate some fruit which I don't normally do on a fasting day. It was tolerable but not too pleasant; I definitely want to try and make travel plans to avoid such situations in the future.

Friday evening local time I got to Mumbai. Chhattrapati Shivaji airport has improved a lot since I saw t last and now has all the amenities an international traveller needs including unrestricted free wifi (Zurich airport are you taking notes?) But here my first ominous piece of bad luck began. No sign of my suitcase. Happily some asking around revealed that it had somehow gotten on some earlier Swiss Air flight instead of the one I was on and was actually waiting for me. I got outside and Debian Developer Praveen Arimbrathodiyil was waiting to pick me up.

Normally I don't lke staying in Mumbai very much even though I have relatives there but that's because we usually went during July-August—the monsoon season—when Mumbai reverts back to the swampy archipelago it was originally built on. This time the weather was nice, cold by local standards, but lovely and spring-like to someone from snowy New Jersey. There have been a lot of improvements to the road infrastructure and people are actually obeying the traffic laws. (Within reason of course. Whether or not a family of six can arrange themselves on one Bajaj scooter is no business of the cops.)

The Hotel Tuliip (yes, two i's. Manager didn't know why.) Residency where I was to stay while not quite a five star establishment was adequate for my needs with a bed, hot water shower, and air conditioning. And a TV which to the bellhops great confusion I did not want turned on. (He asked about five times.) There was no Internet access per se but the manager offered to hook up a wireless router to a cable. Which on closer inspection turned out to have been severed at the base. He assured me it would be fixed tomorrow so I didn't complain and decided to do something more productive thank checking my email like sleeping.

The next day I woke up in total darkness. Apparently there had been some kind of power problem during the night which tripped a fuse or something. A call to the front desk got them to fix that and then the second piece of bad luck happened. I plugged my Thinkpad in and woke it up from hibernation and a minute later there was a loud pop from the power adapter. Note I have a travel international plug adapter with surge protector so nothing bad ought to have happened but the laptop would on turning on display the message "critical low battery error" and immediately power off. I was unable to google what that meant without Internet access but I decided not to panic and continue getting ready. I would have plenty of opportunity to troubleshoot at the conference venue. Or so I thought...

I took an autorickshaw to IIT. There also there have been positive improvements. Being quite obviously a foreigner I was fully prepared to be taken along the "scenic route." But now there are fair zones and the rickshaws all have (tamperproof!) digital fare meters so I was deposited at the main gate without fuss. After reading a board with a scary list of dos and don'ts I presented myself at security only to be inexplicably waved through without a second glance. Later I found out they've abandoned all the security theatre but not got around to updating the signs yet. Mumbai is one of the biggest, densely populated cities in the world but the IIT campus is an oasis of tranquility on the shores of Lake Powai. It's a lot bigger than it looked on the map so I had to wander around a bit before I reached the conference venue but I did make for the official registration time.


I was happy to meet several old friends (Such as Kartik Mistry and Kumar Appiah who along with Praveen and myself were the other DDs there,) people who I've corresponded with but never met, and many new people. I'm told 200+ people registered altogether. Most seemed to be students from IIT and elsewhere in Mumbai but there were also some Debian enthusiasts from further afield and most hearteningly some "civilians" who wanted to know what this was all about.

With the help of a borrowed Thinkpad adapter I got my laptop running again. (Thankfully, despite the error message, the battery itself was unharmed.) However, my streak of bad luck was not yet over. It was that very weekend that IIT had a freak campus-wide network outage something that had never happened before. And as the presentation for the talk I was to give had apparently been open when I hibernated my laptop the night before, the sudden forced shutdown had trashed the file. (ls showed it as 0 length. An fsck didn't help.) I possibly had a backup on my server but with no Internet access I had no way to retrieve it. I still remained cool. The talk was scheduled for the second day so I could recover it at the hotel.


Professor Kannan Maudgalya of the FOSSEE (Free and Open Source Software for Education) Project which is part of the central government Ministry for Human Resource Development spoke about various activities of his project. Of particular interest to us are:

  • A scheme to get labs and college engineering/computer science departments off proprietary software by helping them identify relevant free software (writing it if necessary.) and helping them transition to it. Similarly getting curricula away from textbooks that use proprietary software by rewriting exercises to use free equivalents.
  • A series of videos for self-instruction kind of like Khan Academy but geared to the challenges of being used in places where there might not be a net connection or even a trained teacher.
  • The Vidyut tablet. A very low cost (~5000 Rupees) ARM-based netbook that runs Linux or Android software. You may have heard about earlier plans for a cheap tablet like this. Vidyut is the next generation correcting some flaws in previous attempts. Not only the software but the hardware is free too. It is currently running a stripped down version of Ubuntu but there was a request to port it to Debian and I'm happy to report several Debian users have accepted the challenge.
FOSSEE is well funded, backed by the government and has enthusiastic staff so we should be seeing a lot more from them in the future.

Veteran Free Software activist Venky Hariharan spoke about his experiences in lobbying the government on tech issues. He noted that there has been a sea change in attitudes towards Linux and Open source in the bureacracy of late. Several states have been aggressively mandating the use of it as have several national ministries and agencies. We the community can provide a valuable service by helping them in the transition. They also need to be educated on how to work with the community (contributing changes back, not working behind closed doors etc.)

Debian History and Debian Cycle

Shirish Agarwal spoke about the Debian philosophy and foundational documents such as the social contract and DFSG and how the release cycle works. Nothing new to an experienced user but informative to the newcomers in the audience and sparked some questions and discussion.


One of my main missions in attending was to help get as many isolated people as possible into the web of trust. Unfortunately the keysigning was not adequately publicized and few people were ready. I would have led them through the process of creating a new key there and then but with the lack of connectivity that idea had to be abandoned. I did manage to sign about 8-10 keys during other times.

Future Directions for Debian-IN BOF

I led this one. Lots of spirited discussion and I found feedback from new users in particular to be very helpful. Some take aways are:

  • Some people said it is hard to find concise, easily digestible information about what Debian can do. (I.e. Can I surf the web? Can I play a certain game? etc.) Debian-IN's web presence in particular needs a lot of improvement. We should also consider other channels such as a facebook page. A volunteer stepped up to look into these issues.
  • Along these lines it was felt that we cannot just wait for people to come to us, we should do more outreach. I pointed out that one group that we need to reach out more to is the Debian Project at large. We need to do more publicity in debian-project, DWN, Planet etc. to let everyone know whats going on in India. I also felt that we have a strong base amongst CS/engineering students but should do more to attract other demographics.
  • Debian events have suffered from organizational problems. Partly this is because the people involved are not professional event planners. They are learning how to do it which is an ongoing process and execution is improving with each iteration so no worries there but problems also arise because Debian-IN is dependent on other entities for many things and those entities do not always have, shall we say, the same sense of urgency. Therefore we need legal standing of our own for accepting donations, inviting foreign guests etc. This doesn't necessarily have to be a separate organization. Affiliating with an existing group is an option providing they share our ideology. Swathanthra Malayalam Computing was one suggestion.
  • There is still not much Debian presence in the North and East of India. (Which includes large cities like Delhi and Kolkata.) Unfortunately until we can find volunteers in those areas to take the lead on organizing something there is not a lot we can do to rectify the situation.
  • We must have Debian-IN t-shirts.

Lil' Debi

Kumar Sukhani was a Debian GSoC student and his project which he demonstrated was to be able to install Debian on an Android phone. Why would you want to do this? Apart from the evergreen "Because I can", you can run server software such as sshd on your phone or even use it as an ARM development board. Unfortunately my phone uses Blackberry 10 OS which can run android apps (emulated under QNX) but wouldn't be able to use this. When I get a real Android phone I will try it out.

Debian on ARM

Siji Sunny gave this talk which was geared more towards hardware types which I am not but one thing I learned was thee difference between all the different ARM subarchitectures. I knew Siji first from a previous incarnation when he worked at CDAC with the late and much lamented Prof. R.K. Joshi. We had a long conversation about those days. Prof. Joshi/CDAC had developed an Indic rendering system called Indix which alas became the Betamax to Pango's VHS but he was also very involved in other Indic computing issues such as working with the Unicode Consortium and the preseration of Sanskrit manuscripts which is also an interest of mine. One good thing that cameout of Indix was some rather nice fonts. I had thought they were still buried in the dungeons of CDAC but apparently they were freed at one point. That's one more thing for me to look into.

Evening/Next morning<

My cousin met me and we had a leisurely dinner together. It was quite late by the time I got back to the hotel. FOSSEE had kindly lent me one of their tablets (which incidently are powerful enough to run LibreOffice comfortably.) so I thought I might be able to quickly redo my presentation before bedtime. Well, wouldn't you know it the wifi was not fixed. As I should have guessed but all the progress I'd had made me giddily optimistic. There was an option of trying to find an Internet cafe in a commercial area 15-20 minutes walk away. If this had been Gujarat I would have tried it but although I can more or less understand Hindi I can barely put together two sentences and Marathi I don't know at all. So I gave up that idea. I redid the slides from memory as best I could and went to sleep.

In the morning I checked out and ferried myself and my suitcase via rickshaw back to the IIT campus. This time I got the driver to take me all the way in to the conference venue. Prof. Maudgalya kindly offered to let me keep the tablet to develop stuff on. I respectfully had to decline because although I love to collect bits of tech the fact it is it would have just gathered dust and ought to go to someone who can make a real contribution with it. I transferred my files to a USB key and borrowed a loaner laptop for my talk.

Debian Packaging Workshop

While waiting to do my talk I sat in on a workshop Praveen ran taking participants through the whole process of creating a Debian package (a ruby gem was the example.) He's done this before so it was a good presentation and well attended but the lack of connectivity did put a damper on things.

Ask Me Anything

It turned out the schedule had to be shuffled a bit so my talk was moved later from the announced time. A few people had already showed up so I took some random questions about Debian from them instead.

GNOME Shell Accessibility With Orca

Krishnakant Mane is remarkable. Although he is blind, he is a developer and a major contributor to Open Source projects. He talked about the Accessibility features of GNOME and compared them (favorably I might add) with proprietary screen readers. Not a subject that's directly useful to me but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Rust: The memory safe language Manish Goregaokar talked about one of the new fad programming languages that have gotten a lot of buzz lately. This one is backed by Mozilla and it's interesting enough but I'll stick with C++ and Perl until one of the new ones "wins."

Building a Mail Server With Debian

Finally I got to give my talk and, yup, the video out on my borrowed laptop was incompatible with the projector. A slight delay to transfer everything to another laptop and I was able to begin. I talked about setting up BIND, postfix, and of course dovecot along with spamassassin, clamav etc. It turned out I had more than enough material and I went atleast 30 minutes over time and even then I had to rush at the end. People said they liked it so I'm happy.

The End

I gave the concluding remarks. Various people were thanked (including myself) mementos were given and pictures were taken. Despite a few mishaps I enjoyed myself and I am glad I attended. The level of enthusiasm was very high and lessons were learned so the next Debian-IN event should be even better.

My departing flight wasn't due to leave until 1:20AM so I killed a few hours with my family before the flight. Once again I was stopping in Zurich, this time for most of a day. The last of my blunders was not to take my coat out of my suitcase and the temperature outside was 29F so I had to spend that whole time enjoing the (not so) many charms of Zurich airport. Atleast the second flight took me to Newark instead of JFK so I was able to get home a little earlier on Monday evening, exhausted but happy I made the trip.

Michael Prokop: check-mk: monitor switches for GBit links

23 January, 2015 - 07:04

For one of our customers we are using the Open Monitoring Distribution which includes Check_MK as monitoring system. We’re monitoring the switches (Cisco) via SNMP. The switches as well as all the servers support GBit connections, though there are some systems in the wild which are still operating at 100MBit (or even worse on 10MBit). Recently there have been some performance issues related to network access. To make sure it’s not the fault of a server or a service we decided to monitor the switch ports for their network speed. By default we assume all ports to be running at GBit speed. This can be configured either manually via:

cat etc/check_mk/conf.d/wato/
checkgroup_parameters.setdefault('if', [])

checkgroup_parameters['if'] = [
  ( {'speed': 1000000000}, [], ['switch1', 'switch2', 'switch3', 'switch4'], ALL_SERVICES, {'comment': u'GBit links should be used as default on all switches'} ),
] + checkgroup_parameters['if']

or by visting Check_MK’s admin web-interface at ‘WATO Configuration’ -> ‘Host & Service Parameters’ -> ‘Parameters for Inventorized Checks’ -> ‘Networking’ -> ‘Network interfaces and switch ports’ and creating a rule for the ‘Explicit hosts’ switch1, switch2, etc and setting ‘Operating speed’ to ‘1 GBit/s’ there.

So far so straight forward and this works fine. Thanks to this setup we could identify several systems which used 100Mbit and 10MBit links. Definitely something to investigate on the according systems with their auto-negotiation configuration. But to avoid flooding the monitoring system and its notifications we want to explicitly ignore those systems in the monitoring setup until those issues have been resolved.

First step: identify the checks and their format by either invoking `cmk -D switch2` or looking at var/check_mk/autochecks/

OMD[synpros]:~$ cat var/check_mk/autochecks/
  ("switch2", "cisco_cpu", None, cisco_cpu_default_levels),
  ("switch2", "cisco_fan", 'Switch#1, Fan#1', None),
  ("switch2", "cisco_mem", 'Driver text', cisco_mem_default_levels),
  ("switch2", "cisco_mem", 'I/O', cisco_mem_default_levels),
  ("switch2", "cisco_mem", 'Processor', cisco_mem_default_levels),
  ("switch2", "cisco_temp_perf", 'SW#1, Sensor#1, GREEN', None),
  ("switch2", "if64", '10101', {'state': ['1'], 'speed': 1000000000}),
  ("switch2", "if64", '10102', {'state': ['1'], 'speed': 1000000000}),
  ("switch2", "if64", '10103', {'state': ['1'], 'speed': 1000000000}),
  ("switch2", "snmp_info", None, None),
  ("switch2", "snmp_uptime", None, {}),

Second step: translate this into the according format for usage in etc/check_mk/

checks = [
  ( 'switch2', 'if64', '10105', {'state': ['1'], 'errors': (0.01, 0.1), 'speed': None}), # MAC: 00:42:de:ad:be:af,  10MBit
  ( 'switch2', 'if64', '10107', {'state': ['1'], 'errors': (0.01, 0.1), 'speed': None}), # MAC: 00:23:de:ad:be:af, 100MBit
  ( 'switch2', 'if64', '10139', {'state': ['1'], 'errors': (0.01, 0.1), 'speed': None}), # MAC: 00:42:de:ad:be:af, 100MBit

Using this configuration we ignore the operation speed on ports 10105, 10107 and 10139 of switch2 using the the if64 check. We kept the state setting untouched where sensible (‘1′ means that the expected operational status of the interface is to be ‘up’). The errors settings specifies the error rates in percent for warnings (0.01%) and critical (0.1%). For further details refer to the online documentation or invoke ‘cmk -M if64′.

Final step: after modifying the checks’ configuration make sure to run `cmk -IIu switch2 ; cmk -R` to renew the inventory for switch2 and apply the changes. Do not forget to verify the running configuration by invoking ‘cmk -D switch2′:

Erich Schubert: Year 2014 in Review as Seen by a Trend Detection System

23 January, 2015 - 02:00
We ran our trend detection tool Signi-Trend (published at KDD 2014) on news articles collected for the year 2014. We removed the category of financial news, which is overrepresented in the data set. Below are the (described) results, from the top 50 trends (I will push the raw result to appspot if possible due to file limits). I have highlighted the top 10 trends in bold, but otherwise ordered them chronologically. January 2014-01-29: Obama's State of the Union address February 2014-02-05..23: Sochi Olympics (11x, including the four below) 2014-02-07: Gay rights protesters arrested at Sochi Olympics 2014-02-08: Sochi Olympics begins 2014-02-16: Injuries in Sochi Extreme Park 2014-02-17: Men's Snowboard cross finals called of because of fog 2014-02-19: Violence in Ukraine and Kiev 2014-02-22: Yanukovich leaves Kiev 2014-02-23: Sochi Olympics close 2014-02-28: Crimea crisis begins March 2014-03-01..06: Crimea crisis escalates futher (3x) 2014-03-08: Malaysia Airlines machine missing in South China Sea (2x) 2014-03-18: Crimea now considered part of Russia by Putin 2014-03-28: U.N. condemns Crimea's secession April 2014-04-17..18: Russia-Ukraine crisis continues (3x) 2014-04-20: South Korea ferry accident May 2014-05-18: Cannes film festival 2014-05-25: EU elections June 2014-06-13: Islamic state Camp Speicher massacre in Iraq 2014-06-16: U.S. talks to Iran about Iraq July 2014-07-17..19: Malaysian airline shot down over Ukraine (3x, 2x top 10) 2014-07-20: Israel shelling Gaza kills 40+ in a day August 2014-08-07: Russia bans EU food imports 2014-08-20: Obama orders U.S. air strikes in Iraq against IS 2014-08-30: EU increases sanctions against Russia September 2014-09-04: NATO summit 2014-09-23: Obama orders more U.S. air strikes against IS Oktober 2014-10-16: Ebola case in Dallas 2014-10-24: Ebola patient in New York is stable November 2014-11-02: Elections: Romania, and U.S. rampup 2014-11-05: U.S. Senate elections 2014-11-25: Ferguson prosecution Dezember 2014-12-08: IOC Olympics sport additions 2014-12-11: CIA prisoner center in Thailand 2014-12-15: Sydney cafe hostage siege 2014-12-17: U.S. and Cuba relations improve unexpectedly 2014-12-19: North Korea blamed for Sony cyber attack 2014-12-28: AirAsia flight 8501 missing As you can guess, we are really happy with this result - just like the result for 2013 it mentiones all the key events. There is one "false positive" there: 2014-11-02 has a lot of articles talking about "president" and "elections", but not all refer to the same topic (we did not do topic modeling yet). There are also some events missing that we would have liked to appear. For example the Chile/Peru earth quake. But I looked at the data: there were not that many reports on this in the data source. Also, there is little about the islamic state - but it has been going on throughout the year. Also Facebook bought Whatsapp on February 19 - which was a very visible trend on Twitter; but likely this was filtered out via the financials category in this data set.

MJ Ray: Outsourcing email to Google means SPF allows phishing?

22 January, 2015 - 10:57

I expect this is obvious to many people but bahumbug To Phish, or Not to Phish? just woke me up to the fact that if Google hosts your company email then its Sender Policy Framework might make other Google-sent emails look legitimate for your domain. When combined with the unsupportive support of the big free webmail hosts, is this another black mark against SPF?

Diego Escalante Urrelo: Link Pack #04

22 January, 2015 - 07:55

Writing Your Way to Happiness (
Researches believe that the way we think about, and remember, “our story” can be so powerful that it can actually influence our happiness and success. It’s a nice little article summarizing actual research. The main study referred put fresh university students to test: a group received tools to “rewrite” their memory and story of their academic performance, another group didn’t. The first group improved their grades and had only 1 student drop school within a year, the other group had 4 drop outs and no specific improvement.

I’ve been thinking about this as I recently rewrote my About page and also started writing down some past Travel journals. Looking back and rewriting your own story is incredibly empowering, it’s a fantastic rush of confidence and self-assertion. Memory is always betraying us, and remembering our success is not particularly high on the list of things to keep.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.

Students who had been prompted to change their personal stories improved their grade-point averages and were less likely to drop out over the next year than the students who received no information. In the control group, which had received no advice about grades, 20 percent of the students had dropped out within a year. But in the intervention group, only 1 student — or just 5 percent — dropped out.

Old Masters at the Top of Their Game (
Fantastic read on how these artists defy the conventions of old meaning useless. Masters at their art, they haven’t quit nor have laid to rest and cash their reputation. They keep making, they stay alive (physically and metaphorically) through art.

No rush to get to their age, but still a really interesting “letter from the future”. Full of cheat codes, read this now.

Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.

T. H. White, the British naturalist turned novelist to write “The Once and Future King,” calls upon the druid Merlyn to teach the lesson to the young prince Arthur:

“You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

A Life with a View (
A somewhat tricky read, but with a nice payback. Take your time, and savor it slowly. It’s a very interesting look into how we keep wanting new stuff, and how we shield from ourselves by looking for the “place with no yearns”, the place where we won’t want anything anymore doesn’t exist.

Chains very well into the reads I shared a few days ago on practical contentment.

The arrival fallacy is about seeking a life from which one can look with a complacent equanimity upon the rest of reality, without yearning. It is an ideal of a life that is defined primarily by blindness to itself. You yearn while you see your life as others see it, until you arrive at a situation where you can disappear into the broader background, and see comfortably without being seen discomfittingly, especially by yourself.

Once you’re there, the yearning stops, so the theory goes. Of course it is a laughably bad theory.

How To Escape From A Moving Car (
By Adam Kirley, stunt double for Daniel Craig in the crazy crane scene of Casino Royale (where 007 jumps from monkey nuts high to donkey bonkers high, a badger bum crazy distance). Really funny, and one of those things I always find myself thinking… Almost as much as what to do in case of a Post Office Showdown (

Everyone’s first instinct is to put their hands or legs down first. That’s the worst thing you can do: you will break something. The pointy parts of your body hurt – elbows, knees, hips, ankles. Put your fists under your chin, and bring your elbows together. Keep your chin tucked in to your chest to protect your head. The best point of impact is the back of the shoulder and your back. If you dive out directly onto your shoulder you’ll break it.

What the World Looks Like with Social Anxiety (
Funny vignettes about how the world looks like when you are socially anxious. I can only really identify with the last one:

Shea Strauss.

Helsinki Bus Station Theory (
Don’t get off the bus. Art comes to those who wait and persevere. At first, you replicate the same route others have done, but only if you stay long enough in such path you begin to find your own path. Although perhaps a little more classic in conception, this is an interesting text advising artists to don’t give up just because they don’t compare well to the masters of their current art or genre. Only those who persevere will catch up and diverge from the masters.

You could say that diverging early is also a way to find your path, but there’s still a case to be made for learning from those who came before. Whether you want to imitate them, or rebel against them, you still need to know them.

My take: it doesn’t hurt to pick up some biographies or works from past masters and see what made them masters. Create your master genealogy, kinda like in Steal Like an Artist (which I recently read but haven’t got around to write about yet).

Georges Braque has said that out of limited means, new forms emerge. I say, we find out what we will do by knowing what we will not do.

And so, if your heart is set on 8×10 platinum landscapes in misty southern terrains, work your way through those who inspire you, ride their bus route and damn those who would say you are merely repeating what has been done before. Wait for the months and years to pass and soon your differences will begin to appear with clarity and intelligence, when your originality will become visible, even the works from those very first years of trepidation when everything you did seemed so done before.

At 90, She’s Designing Tech For Aging Boomers (
The inspiring tale of a 90 year old woman who joined IDEO to contribute a unique point of view to the design process. You can never stop learning, life never ceases to be interesting. It’s short, and not incredibly shocking, but that this has happened somewhere as referenced and revered as IDEO says a lot.

And for the bulging demographic of baby boomers growing old, Beskind has this advice: Embrace change and design for it.

Previously on Link Pack
  • Link Pack #04 - Writing Your Way to Happiness ( Researches believe that the way we think about, and remember, “our story” can be so powerful that it can actually influence our happiness and success. It’s a nice little article summarizing actual research. The main study referred put fresh university students to test: a group received tools to “rewrite”…
  • Link Pack #03 - What’s that? The third edition of Link Pack of course! Playing with Power (7 minutes, Vimeo) A super awesome story about a stop motion animator that turned a Nintendo Power Glove into the perfect animation tool. It’s a fun, inspiring video :-). I love the Power Glove, it’s so bad. The Power Glove – Angry…
  • Link Pack #02 - First sequel to my Link Pack “series” (I’ll remove the quotes when it’s LP#05): Link Pack #01. This time I’m going for fewer articles, to try to keep things less overwhelming. There’s no special theme, and I’m actually leaving out some nice things I read recently. On the plus side, that means I have good…
  • Link pack #01 - Following the lead of my dear friend Daniel and his fantastic and addictive “Summing up” series, here’s a link pack of recent stuff I read around the web. Link pack is definitely a terrible name, but I’m working on it. How to Silence Negative Thinking On how to avoid the pitfall of being a Negatron…

Tomasz Buchert: Expired keys in Debian keyring

22 January, 2015 - 04:00

A new version of Stellarium was recently released (0.13.2), so I wanted to upload it to Debian unstable as I usually do. And so I did, but it was rejected without me even knowing, since I got no e-mail response from ftp-masters.

It turns out that my GPG key in the Debian keyring expired recently and so my upload was rightfully rejected. Not a big deal, actually, since you can easily move the expiration date (even after its expiration!). I did it already and the updated key is already propagated, but be aware that Debian keyring does not synchronize with other keyservers! To update your key in Debian (if you are a Debian Developer or Mantainer) you must send your updated keys to like that (you should replace my ID with your own):

$ gpg --keyserver --send-keys 24B17D29

Debian keyring is distributed as a standard DEB package and apparently it may take up to a month to have your updated key in Debian. It seems that I may be unable to upload packages for some time.

But the whole story made me thinking: am I the only one who forgot to update his key in Debian keyring? To verify it I wrote the following snippet (works in Python 2 and 3!) which shows keys expired in the Debian keyring (well, two of them). As a bonus, it also shows keys that have non-UTF8 characters in UIDs – see #738483 for more information.

# be sure to do "apt-get install python-gnupg"

import gnupg
import datetime

def check_keys(keyring, tab = ""):
    gpg = gnupg.GPG(keyring = keyring)
    gpg.decode_errors = 'replace' # see:
    keys = gpg.list_keys()
    now =
    for key in keys:
        uids = key['uids']
        uid = uids[0]
        if key['expires'] != '':
            expire = datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp(int(key['expires']))
            diff = expire - now
            if diff.days < 0:
                print(u'{}EXPIRED: Key of {} expired {} days ago.'.format(tab, uid, -diff.days))
        mangled_uids = [ u for u in uids if u'\ufffd' in u ]
        if len(mangled_uids) > 0:
            print(u'{}MANGLED: Key of {} has some mangled uids: {}'.format(tab, uid, mangled_uids))

keyrings = [

for keyring in keyrings:
    print(u"CHECKING {}".format(keyring))
    check_keys(keyring, tab = "    ")

I’m not going to show the output of this code, because it contains names and e-mail adresses which I really shouldn’t post. But you can run it yourself. You will see that there is a small group of people with expired keys (including me!). Interestingly, some keys have expired a long time ago: there is one that expired more than 7 years ago!

The outcome of the story is: yes, you should have an expiration date on your key for safety reasons, but be careful - it can surprise you at the worst moment.

Chris Lamb: Sprezzatura

21 January, 2015 - 17:31

Wolf Hall on Twitter et al:

He says, "Majesty, we were talking of Castiglione's book. You have found time to read it?"

"Indeed. He extrolls sprezzatura. The art of doing everything gracefully and well, without the appearance of effort. A quality princes should cultivate."

"Yes. But besides sprezzatura one must exhibit at all times a dignified public restraint..."

Enrico Zini: miniscreen

21 January, 2015 - 17:13
Playing with python, terminfo and command output

I am experimenting with showing progress on the terminal for a subcommand that is being run, showing what is happening without scrolling away the output of the main program, and I came out with this little toy. It shows the last X lines of a subcommand output, then gets rid of everything after the command has ended.

Usability-wise, it feels like a tease to me: it looks like I'm being shown all sorts of information then they are taken away from me before I managed to make sense of them. However, I find it cute enough to share:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
#coding: utf-8
# Copyright 2015 Enrico Zini <>.  Licensed under the terms
# of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or any later version.

import argparse
import fcntl
import select
import curses
import contextlib
import subprocess
import os
import sys
import collections
import shlex
import shutil
import logging

def stream_output(proc):
    Take a subprocess.Popen object and generate its output, line by line,
    annotated with "stdout" or "stderr". At process termination it generates
    one last element: ("result", return_code) with the return code of the
    fds = [proc.stdout, proc.stderr]
    bufs = [b"", b""]
    types = ["stdout", "stderr"]
    # Set both pipes as non-blocking
    for fd in fds:
        fcntl.fcntl(fd, fcntl.F_SETFL, os.O_NONBLOCK)
    # Multiplex stdout and stderr with different prefixes
    while len(fds) > 0:
        s =, (), ())
        for fd in s[0]:
            idx = fds.index(fd)
            buf =
            if len(buf) == 0:
                if len(bufs[idx]) != 0:
                    yield types[idx], bufs.pop(idx)
                bufs[idx] += buf
                lines = bufs[idx].split(b"\n")
                bufs[idx] = lines.pop()
                for l in lines:
                    yield types[idx], l
    res = proc.wait()
    yield "result", res

def miniscreen(has_fancyterm, name, maxlines=3, silent=False):
    Show the output of a process scrolling in a portion of the screen.

    has_fancyterm: true if the terminal supports fancy features; if false, just
    write lines to standard output

    name: name of the process being run, to use as a header

    maxlines: maximum height of the miniscreen

    silent: do nothing whatsoever, used to disable this without needing to
            change the code structure

        with miniscreen(True, "my process", 5) as print_line:
            for i in range(10):
                print_line(("stdout", "stderr")[i % 2], "Line #{}".format(i))
    if not silent and has_fancyterm:
        # Discover all the terminal control sequences that we need
        output_normal = str(curses.tigetstr("sgr0"), "ascii")
        output_up = str(curses.tigetstr("cuu1"), "ascii")
        output_clreol = str(curses.tigetstr("el"), "ascii")
        cols, lines = shutil.get_terminal_size()
        output_width = cols

        fg_color = (curses.tigetstr("setaf") or
                    curses.tigetstr("setf") or "")
        sys.stdout.write(str(curses.tparm(fg_color, 6), "ascii"))

        output_lines = collections.deque(maxlen=maxlines)

        def print_lines():
            Print the lines in our buffer, then move back to the beginning
            sys.stdout.write("{} progress:".format(name))
            for msg in output_lines:
            sys.stdout.write(output_up * len(output_lines))


            def _progress_line(type, line):
                Print a new line to the miniscreen
                # Add the new line to our output buffer
                msg = "{} {}".format("." if type == "stdout" else "!", line)
                if len(msg) > output_width - 4:
                    msg = msg[:output_width - 4] + "..."
                # Update the miniscreen

            yield _progress_line

            # Clear the miniscreen by filling our ring buffer with empty lines
            # then printing them out
            for i in range(maxlines):
    elif not silent:
        def _progress_line(type, line):
            print("{}: {}".format(type, line))
        yield _progress_line
        def _progress_line(type, line):
        yield _progress_line

def run_command_fancy(name, cmd, env=None, logfd=None, fancy=True, debug=False):
    quoted_cmd = " ".join(shlex.quote(x) for x in cmd)"%s running command %s", name, quoted_cmd)
    if logfd: print("runcmd:", quoted_cmd, file=logfd)

    # Run the script itself on an empty environment, so that what was
    # documented is exactly what was run
    proc = subprocess.Popen(cmd, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE, env=env)

    with miniscreen(fancy, name, silent=debug) as progress:
        stderr = []
        for type, val in stream_output(proc):
            if type == "stdout":
                val = val.decode("utf-8")
                if logfd: print("stdout:", val, file=logfd)
                log.debug("%s stdout: %s", name, val)
                progress(type, val)
            elif type == "stderr":
                val = val.decode("utf-8")
                if logfd: print("stderr:", val, file=logfd)
                log.debug("%s stderr: %s", name, val)
                progress(type, val)
            elif type == "result":
                if logfd: print("retval:", val, file=logfd)
                log.debug("%s retval: %d", name, val)
                retval = val

    if retval != 0:
        lastlines = min(len(stderr), 5)
        log.error("%s exited with code %s", name, retval)
        log.error("Last %d lines of standard error:", lastlines)
        for line in stderr[-lastlines:]:
            log.error("%s: %s", name, line)

    return retval

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description="run a command showing only a portion of its output")
parser.add_argument("--logfile", action="store", help="specify a file where the full execution log will be written")
parser.add_argument("--debug", action="store_true", help="debugging output on the terminal")
parser.add_argument("--verbose", action="store_true", help="verbose output on the terminal")
parser.add_argument("command", nargs="*", help="command to run")
args = parser.parse_args()

if args.debug:
    loglevel = logging.DEBUG
elif args.verbose:
    loglevel = logging.INFO
    loglevel = logging.WARN
logging.basicConfig(level=loglevel, stream=sys.stderr)
log = logging.getLogger()

fancy = False
if not args.debug and sys.stdout.isatty():
    if curses.tigetnum("colors") > 0:
        fancy = True

if args.logfile:
    logfd = open("output.log", "wt")
    logfd = None

retval = run_command_fancy("miniscreen example", args.command, logfd=logfd)


Jonathan McDowell: Moving to Jekyll

21 January, 2015 - 17:00

I’ve been meaning to move away from Movable Type for a while; they no longer provide the “Open Source” variant, I’ve had some issues with the commenting side of things (more the fault of spammers than Movable Type itself) and there are a few minor niggles that I wanted to resolve. Nothing has been particularly pressing me to move and I haven’t been blogging as much so while I’ve been keeping an eye open for a replacement I haven’t exerted a lot of energy into the process. I have a little bit of time at present so I asked around on IRC for suggestions. One was ikiwiki, which I use as part of helping maintain the SPI website (and think is fantastic for that), the other was Jekyll. Both are available as part of Debian Jessie.

Jekyll looked a bit fancier out of the box (I’m no web designer so pre-canned themes help me a lot), so I decided to spend some time investigating it a bit more. I’d found a Movable Type to ikiwiki converter which provided a starting point for exporting from the SQLite3 DB I was using for MT. Most of my posts are in markdown, the rest (mostly from my Blosxom days) are plain HTML, so there wasn’t any need to do any conversion on the actual content. A minor amount of poking convinced Jekyll to use the same URL format (permalink: /:year/:month/:title.html in the _config.yml did what I wanted) and I had to do a few bits of fix up for some images that had been uploaded into MT, but overall fairly simple stuff.

Next I had to think about comments. My initial thought was to just ignore them for the moment; they weren’t really working on the MT install that well so it’s not a huge loss. I then decided I should at least see what the options were. Google+ has the ability to embed in your site, so I had a play with that. It worked well enough but I didn’t really want to force commenters into the Google ecosystem. Next up was Disqus, which I’ve seen used in various places. It seems to allow logins via various 3rd parties, can cope with threading and deals with the despamming. It was easy enough to integrate to play with, and while I was doing so I discovered that it could cope with importing comments. So I tweaked my conversion script to generate a WXR based file of the comments. This then imported easily into Disqus (and also I double checked that the export system worked).

I’m sure the use of a third party to handle comments will put some people off, but given the ability to export I’m confident if I really feel like dealing with despamming comments again at some point I can switch to something locally hosted. I do wish it didn’t require Javascript, but again it’s a trade off I’m willing to make at present.

Anyway. Thanks to Tollef for the pointer (and others who made various suggestions). Hopefully I haven’t broken (or produced a slew of “new” posts for) any of the feed readers pointed at my site (but you should update to use feed.xml rather than any of the others - I may remove them in the future once I see usage has died down).

(On the off chance it’s useful to someone else the conversion script I ended up with is available. There’s a built in Jekyll importer that may be a better move, but I liked ending up with a git repository containing a commit for each post.)

Jo Shields: Linux packages, January 2015 edition

21 January, 2015 - 08:26

The latest version of Mono has released (actually, it happened a week ago, but it took me a while to get all sorts of exciting new features bug-checked and shipshape).

Stable packages

This release covers Mono 3.12, and MonoDevelop 5.7. These are built for all the same targets as last time, with a few caveats (MonoDevelop does not include F# or ASP.NET MVC 4 support). ARM packages will be added in a few weeks’ time, when I get the new ARM build farm working at Xamarin’s Boston office.

Ahead-of-time support

This probably seems silly since upstream Mono has included it for years, but Mono on Debian has never shipped with AOT’d mscorlib.dll or mcs.exe, for awkward package-management reasons. Mono 3.12 fixes this, and will AOT these assemblies – optimized for your computer – on installation. If you can suggest any other assemblies to add to the list, we now support a simple manifest structure so any assembly can be arbitrarily AOT’d on installation.

Goodbye Mozroots!

I am very pleased to announce that as of this release, Mono users on Linux no longer need to run “mozroots” to get SSL working. A new command, “cert-sync”, has been added to this release, which synchronizes the Mono SSL certificate store against your OS certificate store – and this tool has been integrated into the packaging system for all packages, so it is automatically used. Just make sure the ca-certificates-mono package is installed on Debian/Ubuntu (it’s always bundled on RPM-based) to take advantage! It should be installed on fresh installs by default. If you want to invoke the tool manually (e.g. you installed via make install, not packages) use

cert-sync /path/to/ca-bundle.crt

On Debian systems, that’s

cert-sync /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

and on Red Hat derivatives it’s

cert-sync /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt

Your distribution might use a different path, if it’s not derived from one of those.

Windows installer back from the dead

Thanks to help from Alex Koeplinger, I’ve brought the Windows installer back from the dead. The last release on the website was for 3.2.3 (it’s actually not this version at all – it’s complicated…), so now the Windows installer has parity with the Linux and OSX versions. The Windows installer (should!) bundles everything the Mac version does – F#, PCL facades, IronWhatever, etc, along with Boehm and SGen builds of the Mono runtime done with Visual Studio 2013.

An EXPERIMENTAL OH MY GOD DON’T USE THIS IN PRODUCTION 64-bit installer is in the works, when I have the time to try and make a 64-build of Gtk#.

Dimitri John Ledkov: Python 3 ports of launchpadlib & ubuntu-dev-tools (library) are available

21 January, 2015 - 07:06
I'm happy to announce that Python 3 ports of launchpadlib & ubuntu-dev-tools (library) are available for consumption.

These are 1.10.3 & 0.155 respectfully.

This means that everyone should start porting their reports, tools, and scriptage to python3.

ubuntu-dev-tools has the library portion ported to python3, as I did not dare to switch individual scripts to python3 without thorough interactive testing. Please help out porting those and/or file bug reports against the python3 port. Feel free to subscribe me to the bug reports on launchpad.

For the time being, I believe some things will not be easy to port to python3 because of the elephant in the room - bzrlib. For some things like lp-shell, it should be easy to move away from bzrlib, as non-vcs things are used there. For other things the current suggestion is to probably fork to bzr binary or a python2 process. I ponder if a minimal usable python3-bzrlib wrapper around python2 bzrlib is possible to satisfy the needs of basic and common scripts.

On a side note, launchpadlib & lazr.restfulclient have out of the box proxy support enabled. This makes things like add-apt-repository work behind networks with such setup. I think a few people will be happy about that.

All of these goodies are available in Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) or Debian Experimental (and/or NEW queue).

Jonathan Wiltshire: Never too late for bug-squashing

21 January, 2015 - 05:20

With over a hundred RC bugs still outstanding for Jessie, there’s never been a better time to host a bug-squashing party in your local area. Here’s how I do it.

  1. At home is fine, if you don’t mind guests. You don’t need to seek out a sponsor and borrow or hire office space. If there isn’t room for couch-surfers, the project can help towards travel and accommodation expenses. My address isn’t secret, but I still don’t announce it – it’s fine to share it only with the attendees once you know who they are.
  2. You need a good work area. There should be room for people to sit and work comfortably – a dining room table and chairs is ideal. It should be quiet and free from distractions. A local mirror is handy, but a good internet connection is essential.
  3. Hungry hackers eat lots of snacks. This past weekend saw five of us get through 15 litres of soft drinks, two loaves of bread, half a kilo of cheese, two litres of soup, 22 bags of crisps, 12 jam tarts, two pints of milk, two packs of chocolate cake bars, and a large bag of biscuits (and we went out for breakfast and supper). Make sure there is plenty available before your attendees arrive, along with a good supply of tea and coffee.
  4. Have a work plan. Pick a shortlist of RC bugs to suit attendees’ strengths, or work on a particular packaging group’s bugs, or have a theme, or something. Make sure there’s a common purpose and you don’t just end up being a bunch of people round a table.
  5. Be an exemplary host. As the host you’re allowed to squash fewer bugs and instead make sure your guests are comfortable, know where the bathroom is, aren’t going hungry, etc. It’s an acceptable trade-off. (The reverse is true: if you’re attending, be an exemplary guest – and don’t spend the party reading news sites.)

Now, go host a BSP of your own, and let’s release!

Never too late for bug-squashing is a post from: | Flattr

Sven Hoexter: Heads up: possible changes in fonts-lyx

21 January, 2015 - 03:02

Today the super nice upstream developers of LyX reached out to me (and pelle@) as the former and still part time lyx package maintainers to inform us of an ongoing discussion in The current aproach to fix this bug might result in a name change of all fonts shipped in fonts-lyx with the next LyX release.

Why is it relevant for people not using LyX?

For some historic reasons beyond my knowledge the LyX project ships a bunch of math symbol fonts converted to ttf files. From a seperate source package they moved to be part of the lyx source package and are currently delivered via the fonts-lyx package.

Over time a bunch of other packages picked this font package up as a dependency. Among them also rather popular packages like icedove, which results in a rather fancy popcon graph. Drawback as usual is that changes might have a visible impact in places where you do not expect them.

So if you've some clue about fonts, or depend on fonts-lyx in some way, you might want to follow that issue cited above and/or get in contact with the LyX developers.

If you've some spare time feel also invited to contribute to the lyx packaging in Debian. It really deserves a lot more love then what it seldomly gets today by the brave Nick Andrik, Per and myself.

Daniel Pocock: Quantifying the performance of the Microserver

21 January, 2015 - 02:53

In my earlier blog about choosing a storage controller, I mentioned that the Microserver's on-board AMD SB820M SATA controller doesn't quite let the SSDs perform at their best.

Just how bad is it?

I did run some tests with the fio benchmarking utility.

Lets have a look at those random writes, they simulate the workload of synchronous NFS write operations:

rand-write: (groupid=3, jobs=1): err= 0: pid=1979
  write: io=1024.0MB, bw=22621KB/s, iops=5655 , runt= 46355msec

Now compare it to the HP Z800 on my desk, it has the Crucial CT512MX100SSD1 on a built-in LSI SAS 1068E controller:

rand-write: (groupid=3, jobs=1): err= 0: pid=21103
  write: io=1024.0MB, bw=81002KB/s, iops=20250 , runt= 12945msec

and then there is the Thinkpad with OCZ-NOCTI mSATA SSD:

rand-write: (groupid=3, jobs=1): err= 0: pid=30185
  write: io=1024.0MB, bw=106088KB/s, iops=26522 , runt=  9884msec

That's right, the HP workstation is four times faster than the Microserver, but the Thinkpad whips both of them.

I don't know how much I can expect of the PCI bus in the Microserver but I suspect that any storage controller will help me get some gain here.

Sven Hoexter: python-ipcalc bumped from 0.3 to 1.1.3

21 January, 2015 - 02:16

I've helped a friend to get started with Debian packaging and he has now adopted python-ipcalc. Since I've no prior experience with packaging of Python modules and there were five years of upstream development in between, I've uploaded to experimental to give it some exposure.

So if you still use the python-ipcalc package, which is part of all current Debian releases and the upcoming jessie release, please check out the package from experimental. I think the only reverse dependency within Debian is sshfp, that one of course also requires some testing.

Raphael Geissert: Edit Debian, with iceweasel

20 January, 2015 - 14:00
Soon after publishing the chromium/chrome extension that allows you to edit Debian online, Moez Bouhlel sent a pull request to the extension's git repository: all the changes needed to make a firefox extension!

After another session of browser extensions discovery, I merged the commits and generated the xpi. So now you can go download the Debian online editing firefox extension and hack the world, the Debian world.

Install it and start contributing to Debian from your browser. There's no excuse now.

Daniel Pocock: jSMPP project update, 2.1.1 and 2.2.1 releases

20 January, 2015 - 04:29

The jSMPP project on Github stopped processing pull requests over a year ago and appeared to be needing some help.

I've recently started hosting it under and tried to merge some of the backlog of pull requests myself.

There have been new releases:

  • 2.1.1 works in any project already using 2.1.0. It introduces bug fixes only.
  • 2.2.1 introduces some new features and API changes and bigger bug fixes

The new versions are easily accessible for Maven users through the central repository service.

Apache Camel has already updated to use 2.1.1.

Thanks to all those people who have contributed to this project throughout its history.


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