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Gregor Herrmann: GDAC 2014/8

9 December, 2014 - 03:49

today, a pkg-perl member who was not very active for the last 2 or so years "re-appeared", & together we prepared & uploaded a new package. – always good to see people coming back!

this posting is part of GDAC (gregoa's debian advent calendar), a project to show the bright side of debian & why it's fun for me to contribute.

Bernhard R. Link: The Colon in the Shell.

9 December, 2014 - 02:35

I was recently asked about some construct in a shell script starting with a colon(:), leading me into a long monologue about it. Afterwards I realized I had forgotten to mention half of the nice things. So here for your amusement some usage for the colon in the shell:

To find the meaning of ":" in the bash manpage[1], you have to look at the start of the SHELL BUILTIN COMMANDS section. There you find:

: [arguments]
	No effect; the command does nothing beyond expanding arguments and performing any specified redirections.  A zero exit code is returned.

If you wonder what the difference to true is: I don't know any difference (except that there is no /bin/:)

So what is the colon useful for? You can use it if you need a command that does nothing, but still is a command.

  • For example, if you want to avoid using a negation (for fear of history expansion still being on by default on a interactive bash or wanting to support ancient shells), you cannot simply write
    if conditon ; then
    	# this will be an error
    	echo condition is false
    but need some command there, for which the colon can be used:
    if conditon ; then
    	: # nothing to do in this case
    	echo condition is false
    To confuse your reader, you can use the fact that the colon ignores it's arguments and you only have normal words there:
    if conditon ; then
    	: nothing to do in this case # <- this works but is not good style
    	echo condition is false
    though I strongly recommend against it (exercise: why did I use a # there for my remark?).
  • This of course also works in other cases:
    while processnext ; do
  • The ability to ignore the actual arguments (but still processing them as with every command that ignores it arguments) can also be used, like in:
    : ${VARNAME:=default}
    which sets VARNAME to a default if unset or empty. (One could also use that the first time it is used, or ${VARNAME:-default} everywhere, but this can be more readable).
  • In other cases you do not strictly need a command, but using the colon can clear things up, like creating or truncating a file using a redirection:
    : > /path/to/file

Then there is more things you can do with the colon, most I'd put under "abuse":

  • misuing it for comments:
    : ====== here
    While it has the advantage of also showing up in -x output, the to be expected confusion of the reader and the danger of using any shell active character makes this general a bad idea.
  • As it practically the same as true it can be used as a shorter form of true. Given that true is more readable that is a bad idea. (At least it isn't as evil as using the empty string to denote true.)
    # bad style!
    if condition ; then doit= ; doit2=: ; else doit=false ; doit2=false ; fi
    if $doit ; then echo condition true ; fi
    if $doit2 && true ; then echo condition true ; fi
  • Another way to scare people:
    $ignoreornot echo This you can see.
    $ignoreornot echo This you cannot see.
    While it works, I recommend against it: Easily confusing and any > in there or $(...) will likely rain harvoc over you.
  • Last and least, one can shadow the built-in colon with a different one. Only useful for obfuscation, and thus likely always evil. :(){:&:};: anyone?

This is of course not a complete list. But unless I missed something else, those are the most common cases I run into.

[1] <rant>If you never looked at it, better don't start: the bash manpage is legendary for being quite useless as hiding all information in other information in a quite absurd order. Unless you look at documentation about how to write a shell script parser, then the bash manpage is really what you want to read.</rant>

Andrew Pollock: [tech] A geek Dad goes to Kindergarten with a box full of Open Source and some vegetables

9 December, 2014 - 00:04

Zoe's Kindergarten encourages parents to come in and spend some time with the kids. I've heard reports of other parents coming in and doing baking with the kids or other activities at various times throughout the year.

Zoe and I had both wanted me to come in for something, but it had taken me until the last few weeks of the year to get my act together and do something.

I'd thought about coming in and doing some baking, but that seemed rather done to death already, and it's not like baking is really my thing, so I thought I'd do something technological. I just wracked my brains for something low effort and Kindergarten-age friendly.

The Kindergarten has a couple of eduss touch screens. They're just some sort of large-screen with a bunch of inputs and outputs on them. I think the Kindergarten mostly uses them for showing DVDs and hooking up a laptop and possibly doing something interactive on them.

As they had HDMI input, and my Raspberry Pi had HDMI output, it seemed like a no-brainer to do something using the Raspberry Pi. I also thought hooking up the MaKey MaKey to it would make for a more fun experience. I just needed to actually have it all do something, and that's where I hit a bit of a creative brick wall.

I thought I'd just hack something together where based on different inputs on the MaKey MaKey, a picture would get displayed and a sound played. Nothing fancy at all. I really struggled to get a picture displayed full screen in a time efficient manner. My Pi was running Raspbian, so it was relatively simple to configure LightDM to auto-login and auto-start something. I used triggerhappy to invoke a shell script, which took care of playing a sound and an image.

Playing a sound was easy. Displaying an image less so, especially if I wanted the image loaded fast. I really wanted to avoid having to execute an image viewer every time an input fired, because that would be just way too slow. I thought I'd found a suitable application in Geeqie, because it supported being out of band managed, but it's problem was it also responded to the inputs from the MaKey MaKey, so it became impossible to predictably display the right image with the right input.

So the night before I was supposed to go to Kindergarten, I was up beating my head against it, and decided to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. I was looking around for a Kindergarten-friendly game that used just the arrow keys, and I remembered the trusty old Frozen Bubble.

This ended up being absolutely perfect. It had enough flags to control automatic startup, so I could kick it straight into a dumbed-down full screen 1 player game (--fullscreen --solo --no-time-limit)

The kids absolutely loved it. They were cycled through in groups of four and all took turns having a little play. I brought a couple of heads of broccoli, a zucchini and a potato with me. I started out using the two broccoli as left and right and the zucchini to fire, but as it turns out, not all the kids were as good with the "left" and "right" as Zoe, so I swapped one of the broccoli for a potato and that made things a bit less ambiguous.

The responses from the kids were varied. Quite a few clearly had their minds blown and wanted to know how the broccoli was controlling something on the screen. Not all of them got the hang of the game play, but a lot did. Some picked it up after having a play and then watching other kids play and then came back for a more successful second attempt. Some weren't even sure what a zucchini was.

Overall, it was a very successful activity, and I'm glad I switched to Frozen Bubble, because what I'd originally had wouldn't have held up to the way the kids were using it. There was a lot of long holding/touching of the vegetables, which would have fired hundreds of repeat events, and just totally overwhelmed triggerhappy. Quite a few kids wanted to pick up and hold the vegetables instead of just touch them to send an event. As it was, the Pi struggled to play Frozen Bubble enough as it was.

The other lesson I learned pretty quickly was that an aluminium BBQ tray worked a lot better as the grounding point for the MaKey MaKey than having to tether an anti-static strap around each kid's ankle as they sat down in front of the screen. Once I switched to the tray, I could rotate kids through the activity much faster.

I just wish I was a bit more creative, or there were more Kindergarten-friendly arrow-key driven Linux applications out there, but I was happy with what I managed to hack together with a fairly minimal amount of effort.

Niels Thykier: Jessie has half the number of RC bugs compared to Wheezy

8 December, 2014 - 14:08

In the last 24 hours, the number of RC bugs currently affecting Jessie was reduced to just under half of the same number for Wheezy.


There are still a lot of bugs to be fixed, but please keep up the good work. :)


Clint Adams: I don't care about the sunshine, yeah

8 December, 2014 - 09:32

Rhoda is guarded. She is secretly in love with her brother. When he gets a girlfriend, she finds a boyfriend. She tells no one what she's really thinking.

Rhoda likes to seize the day. In the midst of evening conversation, she will excuse herself to “use the bathroom” or “come right back”, then, within literally two minutes, she will go home with an acquaintance or stranger. Often these encounters or the aftermaths thereof do not go according to her liking, and she will make veiled remarks of hostility, should she see those people again.

Rhoda was unhappy so she changed “everything” in her life. Though multiple things remained constant, she concluded that she was, in fact, the problem.

Rhoda does not make enough money on which to live. She works part-time, and turns down all other job offers. Other people make up for her financial shortcomings so that she is not homeless and starving.

Rhoda is certain that it is more difficult to be female than male.

Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez: Keysigning, it’s never too late

8 December, 2014 - 06:30

I managed to sign all the keys from DebConf14 within a month after the conference ended, but I had still a pile of keys to sign
going back to DebConf11 from several minidebconfs and other small events. Today it was frakking cold and I finally managed to sign something close to 100 keys. I didn’t sign any key with less than 2048 bits, expired or revoked.

If you got your key signed by me (or get it in the next hours), sorry it took so long!

Junichi Uekawa: Got nasne.

8 December, 2014 - 05:10
Got nasne. Got it working with Android, PlayStation VITA, and a Sony TV. Each platform seem to require some form of payment in addition to buying the Nasne itself. Something about ecosystem and lock in that I don't like.

Sven Hoexter: Failing with F5: Implementing HTTP session persistence

8 December, 2014 - 04:15

In the old days people deployed the Apache HTTPD together with mod_jk and mod_balancer in front of Apache Tomcat instances to achieve scalability and resilience. That sooner or later turns out to not provide features you nowadays would like to have to run a service 24/7. So it happened that I had to jump into the sometimes cold sea of managing services fronted by F5 BigIP devices, a somewhat common load balancing solution.

Soon after you start to introduce loadbalancing, because you grow beyond the "one fat webserver" state, you'll have the requirement to implement some way of session persistence. In the old days you might have added a unique jvmRoute value to your mod_balancer pool and to your tomcat configuration to match the connection to the right pool member. If you're clever you've set it on the Tomcat as a variable that automatically builds up the jvmRoute based on the hostname, so you can add new instances without having to touch the Tomcat configuration. In case you were not that clever (like we were when we started) you might have added placeholders in the server.xml to set the jvmRoute value in your deployment script.

I think in a somewhat better world your first step usually is to introduce a shared session store, be it the php session handler backed by a memcached or Hazelcast for the Java afficionados, to avoid the persistence requirement on your balancer. But if you grow even bigger the requirement will soon reappear because you might have to add some form of sharding and now have to sent users to the same cluster serving a specific shard.

In the end all of that is not cool and your developers have to be aware of those issues. For all cases where fault tolerance within the session is not a priority we aimed for something that we can enable or disable on the balancer without application code changes.

The "let the box do its job" solution

The nicest solution from our point of view is letting the F5 inject a cookie that points the device on subsequent requests to the right pool node. If you like you can define the cookie name, a timeout, force the injection on replies and some other tunables. Take a look at the help for ltm persistence cookie if you'd like to have a look at the details.

The "let's do it by hand but on the box" solution

Most Java frameworks provide a session cookie called JSESSIONID. Why not use that one and add a persistence table entry on the BigIP with the cookie as the lookup key? As always if there's no solution provided out of the box you can implement an iRule for it. Kind of an F5 mantra.

There are many examples out there, here is what we ended up with:

    if { [HTTP::cookie "JSESSIONID"] ne "" }{
        persist uie [string tolower [HTTP::cookie "JSESSIONID"]] 1800 

    if { [HTTP::cookie "JSESSIONID"] ne "" }{
        persist add uie [string tolower [HTTP::cookie "JSESSIONID"]] 1800
And here is where I failed

Now imagine you're running an application that so far handles only machine to machine traffic without session persistence. A few month later you're approached to enable session persistence, because someone introduced a management console for the application as a web user interface. Without further ado you jump on board and provide - showcasing the flexibility of the new balancer - session persistence based on cookies injected by the BigIP. You've done it before, you enable it for the test environment, everything looks fine, you enable it for the production setup. Everything is fine (at least for now ...), the WUI workes fine, sessions are persistent to the node the user hit first.

A month or two later someone from the development team approaches you again, this time asking if the balancing setup has some issues because over 90% of the live traffic hit one of the two machines in the pool until it wents down due to a crash or a deployment. Then about 90% hit the other node, even after the crashed one is resurrected. But every time the developer tests the balancing with a "while true" loop sending several hundred requests via curl the balancing is perfectly equal.

After beeing puzzled by the behaviour myself we started to look at the live traffic with tcpdump and suddenly it was all clear when I saw the BigIP cookie beeing passed around. Actually everything behaved as we configured it. The application used a proper HTTP library and that one implemented cookies: If you receive one you're polite and pass it back to the sender.

The original sender of course also implements HTTP with cookie support and now, due to the natur of the traffic, we have long living connections between two applications passing around the same cookie. On every single HTTP request sent through this connection. And every time the balancer will look at the cookie and happily base the routing decision on the pool member noted in this cookie.

When we tested with curl we did not have the usage of cookies on our mind. Because our false assumption was that the applications do not create cookies for machine to machine traffic. Nobody, including myself, actively remembered the decision to base the session persistence on cookies injected by the balancer.

We went on and switched to the iRule mentioned above. Luckily we already had that one implemented and tested for a different use case with the requirement to not inject additional cookies.

  1. Can we maybe improve the change process for the balancer to handle a mixed traffic scenario?
  2. Do we need monitoring to monitor the balancing of requests?
  3. Is it a wise idea to mix machine2machine and user2machine traffic on the same port?
  4. Should we maybe, if we seperate properly, place management applications on a different system?
  5. Is our documentation sufficient?

Combine 3. and 4. and ask yourself how resilient you are if someone tries to exhaust the memory of the balancer with a lot of connection attempts that have random JSESSIONID cookies? Or is it even possible to exhaust ressource with faked BigIP cookies you inject? Maybe it's even a vector for something like

Quite some questions left to think about and draft answers for.

Miriam Ruiz: Falling Trees, by Robert Fulghum

8 December, 2014 - 03:35

In the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it. (Can’t lay my hands on the article, but I swear I read it.) Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over. The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree. According to the villagers, it always works.

Ah, those poor nave innocents. Such quaintly charming habits of the jungle. Screaming at trees, indeed. How primitive. Too bad thay don’t have the advantages of modern technology and the scientific mind.

Me? I yell at my wife. And yell at the telephone and the lawn mower. And yell at the TV and the newspaper and my children. I’ve been known to shake my fist and yell at the sky at times.

Man next door yells at his car a lot. And this summer I heard him yell at a stepladder for most of an afternoon. We modern, urban, educated folks yell at traffic and umpires and bills and banks and machines–especially machines. Machines and relatives get most of the yelling.

Don’t know what good it does. Machines and things just sit there. Even kicking doesn’t always help. As for people, well, the Solomon Islanders may have a point. Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts….

by Robert Fulghum (All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten)

Gregor Herrmann: GDAC 2014/7

7 December, 2014 - 23:48

creating a free operating system in general & fixing bugs in particular is a collaborative effort. today's example is bug report #766773 (& friends) which involved communication in the BTS & on IRC between the bug submitter, the maintainer of a related package, the release team, & me as a bug triager. & 2.5 hours later, another block for the jessie release is gone. – thanks everybody for yet another pleasant collaboration experience!

this posting is part of GDAC (gregoa's debian advent calendar), a project to show the bright side of debian & why it's fun for me to contribute.

Steve Kemp: I eventually installed Debian on a new desktop.

7 December, 2014 - 15:12

Recently I build a new desktop system. The hightlights of the hardware are a pair of 512Gb SSDs, which were to be configured in software RAID for additional speed and reliability (I'm paranoid that they'd suddenly stop working one day). From power-on to the (GNOME) login-prompt takes approximately 10 seconds.

I had to fight with the Debian installer to get the beast working though as only the Jessie Beta 2 installer would recognize the SSDs, which are Crucual MX100 devices. My local PXE-setup which deploys the daily testing installer, and the wheezy installer, both failed to recognize the drives at all.

The biggest pain was installing grub on the devices. I think this was mostly this was due to UFI things I didn't understand. I created spare partitions for it, and messaged around with grub-ufi, but ultimately disabled as much of the "fancy modern stuff" as I could in the BIOS, leaving me with AHCI for the SATA SSDs, and then things worked pretty well. After working through the installer about seven times I also simplified things by partitioning and installing on only a single drive, and only configured the RAID once I had a bootable and working system.

(If you've never done that it's pretty fun. Install on one drive. Ignore the other. Then configure the second drive as part of a RAID array, but mark the other half as missing/failed/dead. Once you've done that you can create filesystems on the various /dev/mdX devices, rsync the data across, and once you boot from the system with root=/dev/md2 you can add the first drive as the missing half. Do it patiently and carefully and it'll just work :)

There were some niggles though:

  • Jessie didn't give me the option of the gnome desktop I know/love. So I had to install gnome-session-fallback. I also had to mess around with ~/.config/autostart because the gnome-session-properties command (which should let you tweak the auto-starting applications) doesn't exist anymore.

  • Setting up custom keyboard-shortcuts doesn't seem to work.

  • I had to use gnome-tweak-tool to get icons, etc, on my desktop.

Because I assume the SSDs will just die at some point, and probably both on the same day, I installed and configured obnam to run backups. There is more testing and similar, but this is the core of my backup script:


# backup "/" - minus some exceptions.
obnam backup -r /media/backups/storage --exclude=/proc --exclude=/sys --exclude=/dev --exclude=/media /

# keep files for various periods
obnam forget --keep="30d,8w,8m" --repository /media/backups/storage

Gregor Herrmann: GDAC 2014/6

7 December, 2014 - 05:07

positive feedback is motivating (probably not only) for me. a recent example showing that our work on creating a great operating system is appreciated was sent to the debian-project list yesterday. – thanks!

this posting is part of GDAC (gregoa's debian advent calendar), a project to show the bright side of debian & why it's fun for me to contribute.

Holger Levsen: 20141206-distro-collaboration

7 December, 2014 - 02:21
Distro collaboration...

So it seems I now use to mentor a Debian applicant for GNOME's Outreach Project for Women to improve Ubuntu's apparmor software

Thanks to the Fedora Project for this nice service to the community!

Hideki Yamane: for Asia/Pacific region

6 December, 2014 - 15:48
Thanks to DSAs' deployment, now there is mirror in Japan. It means users who live in Asia/Pacific region are not annoyed with slow download speed for stable security update - anymore :)
New mirror is kindly hosted by Sakura Internet, Inc. (さくらインターネット株式会社) as well as mirror server in Ishikari, Hokkaido (北海道石狩市).

Kudos to Sakura Internet! (twitter: CEO Kunihiro Tanaka and PR)

Rhonda D'Vine: Fiona Apple

6 December, 2014 - 06:16

I do hang out in #debian-women on IRC, which shouldn't be much of a surprise after my last blog entry about my Feminist Year. And for readers of my blog it also shouldn't be much of a surprise that Music is an important part of my life. Recently a colleague from Debian though asked me in said IRC channel about whether I can recommend some female artists or bands. Which got me looking through my recommendations so far, and actually, there weren't many of those in here, unfortunately. So I definitely want to work on that because there are so many female singers, songwriters and bands out there that I totally would like to share with the broader audience.

I want to start out with a strong female voice who was introduced to me by another strong woman—thanks for that! Fiona Apple definitely has her own style and is something special, she stands out. Here are my suggestions:

  • Hot Knife: This was the song I was introduced to her with. And I love the kettledrum rhythm and sound.
  • Criminal: Definitely a different sound, but it was the song that won her a Grammy.
  • Not About Love: Such a lovely composition. I do love the way she plays the piano.

Like always, enjoy!

/music | permanent link | Comments: 0 | Flattr this

Gregor Herrmann: GDAC 2014/5

6 December, 2014 - 04:48

today I had a short chat with a fellow DD living in a neighbouring country. nothing spectacular in itself; but it reminded me again that debian is more than creating an operating system together for me – it's also about a couple of friendships that grow out of it & which are dear to me.

this posting is part of GDAC (gregoa's debian advent calendar), a project to show the bright side of debian & why it's fun for me to contribute.

Joey Hess: clean OS reinstalls with propellor

6 December, 2014 - 03:24

You have a machine someplace, probably in The Cloud, and it has Linux installed, but not to your liking. You want to do a clean reinstall, maybe switching the distribution, or getting rid of the cruft. But this requires running an installer, and it's too difficult to run d-i on remote machines.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could point a program at that machine and have it do a reinstall, on the fly, while the machine was running?

This is what I've now taught propellor to do! Here's a working configuration which will make propellor convert a system running Fedora (or probably many other Linux distros) to Debian:

testvm :: Host
testvm = host ""
        & os (System (Debian Unstable) "amd64")
        & OS.cleanInstallOnce (OS.Confirmed "")
                `onChange` propertyList "fixing up after clean install"
                        [ User.shadowConfig True
                        , OS.preserveRootSshAuthorized
                        , OS.preserveResolvConf
                        , Apt.update
                        , "/dev/sda"
                                `requires` Grub.installed Grub.PC
        & Hostname.sane
        & Hostname.searchDomain
        & Apt.installed ["linux-image-amd64"]
        & Apt.installed ["ssh"]
        & User.hasSomePassword "root"

And here's a video of it in action.

It was surprisingly easy to build this. Propellor already knew how to create a chroot, so from there it basically just has to move files around until the chroot takes over from the old OS.

After the cleanInstallOnce property does its thing, propellor is running inside a freshly debootstrapped Debian system. Then we just need a few more Propertites to get from there to a bootable, usable system: Install grub and the kernel, turn on shadow passwords, preserve a few config files from the old OS, etc.

It's really astounding to me how much easier this was to build than it was to build d-i. It took years to get d-i to the point of being able to install a working system. It took me a few part days to add this capability to propellor (It's 200 lines of code), and I've probably spent a total of less than 30 days total developing propellor in its entirity.

So, what gives? Why is this so much easier? There are a lot of reasons:

  • Technology is so much better now. I can spin up cloud VMs for testing in seconds; I use VirtualBox to restore a system from a snapshot. So testing is much much easier. The first work on d-i was done by booting real machines, and for a while I was booting them using floppies.

  • Propellor doesn't have a user interface. The best part of d-i is preseeding, but that was mostly an accident; when I started developing d-i the first thing I wrote was main-menu (which is invisible 99.9% of the time) and we had to develop cdebconf, and tons of other UI. Probably 90% of d-i work involves the UI. Jettisoning the UI entirely thus speeds up development enormously. And propellor's configuration file blows d-i preseeding out of the water in expressiveness and flexability.

  • Propellor has a much more principled design and implementation. Separating things into Properties, which are composable and reusable gives enormous leverage. Strong type checking and a powerful programming language make it much easier to develop than d-i's mess of shell scripts calling underpowered busybox commands etc. Properties often Just Work the first time they're tested.

  • No separate runtime. d-i runs in its own environment, which is really a little custom linux distribution. Developing linux distributions is hard. Propellor drops into a live system and runs there. So I don't need to worry about booting up the system, getting it on the network, etc etc. This probably removes another order of magnitude of complexity from propellor as compared with d-i.

This seems like the opposite of the Second System effect to me. So perhaps d-i was the second system all along?

I don't know if I'm going to take this all the way to propellor is d-i 2.0. But in theory, all that's needed now is:

  • Teaching propellor how to build a bootable image, containing a live Debian system and propellor. (Yes, this would mean reimplementing debian-live, but I estimate 100 lines of code to do it in propellor; most of the Properties needed already exist.) That image would then be booted up and perform the installation.
  • Some kind of UI that generates the propellor config file.
  • Adding Properties to partition the disk.

cleanInstallOnce and associated Properties will be included in propellor's upcoming 1.1.0 release, and are available in git now.

Oh BTW, you could parameterize a few Properties by OS, and Propellor could be used to install not just Debian or Ubuntu, but whatever Linux distribution you want. Patches welcomed...

Richard Hartmann: Release Critical Bug report for Week 49

6 December, 2014 - 03:24

Look at that bug count!

At that pace, Jessy will happen before FOSDEM ;)

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

  • In Total: 1101 (Including 169 bugs affecting key packages)
    • Affecting Jessie: 226 (key packages: 119) 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: 147 (key packages: 85) Those need someone to find a fix, or to finish the work to upload a fix to unstable:
        • 28 bugs are tagged 'patch'. (key packages: 22) Please help by reviewing the patches, and (if you are a DD) by uploading them.
        • 10 bugs are marked as done, but still affect unstable. (key packages: 6) This can happen due to missing builds on some architectures, for example. Help investigate!
        • 109 bugs are neither tagged patch, nor marked done. (key packages: 57) Help make a first step towards resolution!
      • Affecting Jessie only: 79 (key packages: 34) 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.
        • 54 bugs are in packages that are unblocked by the release team. (key packages: 18)
        • 25 bugs are in packages that are not unblocked. (key packages: 16)

How do we compare to the Squeeze release cycle?

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) 52 115 (78+37) 289 (190+99) 1 93 (60+33) 287 (171+116) 2 82 (46+36) 271 (162+109) 3 25 (15+10) 249 (165+84) 4 14 (8+6) 244 (176+68) 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:

Iustin Pop: Jump!

6 December, 2014 - 01:02
Jump!!! What
  • Tandem skydive! or alternatively: a real "one-way" plane ticket ☺
  • Start point: ~4'250 meters above the ocean (14'000ft)
  • End point: on the beach
  • Total time: less than ten minutes
  • Time in "real" free fall: according to Wikipedia, around 12 seconds, with most of the terminal velocity being reached at about 8 seconds
  • Terminal velocity: ~190Km/h, ~120mph (again, according to Wikipedia)
  • Time in "fake" free fall until the chute opened: around one minute
  • Time spent going slowly down, with a few fun manoeuvres: don't remember, 3-5 minutes?

At the end of November, we had a team offsite planned, with lots of fun and exciting activities in a somewhat exotic location. I was quite looking forward to it, when - less than two weeks before the event - a colleague asked if anyone is interested in going skydiving as an extra activity. Without thinking too much, I said "yes" immediately, because: a) I've never done it before, and b) it sounded really cool! Other people said yes as well, so we were set up to have a really good time!

Of course, as the time counted down and we were approaching the offsite, I was thinking: OK, this sounds cool, but: will I be fine? do I have altitude sickness? All kinds of such, rather logistical, questions. In order to not think too much, I did exactly zero research on the topic (all mentions of Wikipedia above are from post-fact reading).

So, we went on the offsite - which was itself cool - and then, on the last day, right before going back, the skydive event!

How it went

The weather on the day of the jump was nice, the sky not perfectly clear, just a bit of small clouds and some haze. We waited for our turn, got the instruction for what to do (and not to do!), got hooked into the harness, prepared everything, and then boarded the plane; it needed only a very short run before taking off the ground.

It took around ten minutes or so to get to the jump altitude, which I spent partially looking forward to it, partially trying to calm the various emotions I had - a very interesting mix. It was actually annoying just having to wait and wait the ten long minutes, I wished that we actually get to the jumping altitude faster. The altimeter on the instructor's hand was showing 4'000, then 4'100, 4'150, then he reminded me again what I need to do (or rather, not to do), and then - people were already jumping from the plane! I was third from our team to jump, and I had the opportunity to see how people were not simply "exiting" the plane, but rather - exiting and then immediately disappearing from view!

Finally we were on the edge of the door, a push and then - I'm looking down, more than two and a half miles of nothing between me and the ground. Just air and the thought - "Why did I do this"? - as I start falling. For the first around ten seconds, it's actually a free fall, gaining speed almost at standard acceleration, and the result - Weightlessness - it's the weirdest feeling ever: all your organs floating in your body, no compression or torsion forces. Much more weird a roller-coaster that never ends; then most I had on roller-coasters was around one second of such acceleration, and you still are in contact with the chair or the restraints, whereas this long fall was very confusing for my brain - it felt somewhat like when you're tripping and you need to do something to regain balance, except in sky-diving you can't do anything, of course. There's nothing to grab, nothing to hold on, and you keep falling.

After ten long seconds we reached terminal velocity, phase 1 ends, and phase 2 begins, in which - while still falling - the friction with the air compensates exactly the earth's pull and one is falling at a constant speed and it's the most wonderful state ever. Like floating on the air, except that you're actually falling at almost 200kph, and yes, the closest feeling to flying, I guess. It doesn't hurt that you're no longer weightless, which means back to some level of normality.

The location of the skydive was very beautiful: the blue ocean beneath, the blue sky above, somewhere to the side the beach, and the air filling the mouth and lungs without any effort is the only sign that I'm moving really fast. The way this whole thing feels is very alien if you never jumped before, but one gets accustomed to it quite fast - and that means I got too comfortable and excited and forgot the correct position to keep my legs in, the instructor reminded me, and as I put my legs back in the correct position, which is (among others) with the soles of the feet pointing up, I felt again the air going strongly into my shoes, and a thought crossed my mind: what if I the air blows off one of my shoes (the right one, more precisely) and I lose it? How do I get to the airport for the trip back? Will I look suspicious at the security check? The banality of this thought, given that I was still up in the air somewhere and travelling quite fast, was so comical that I started laughing ☺

And then, an unexpected noise, the chute opens, and I feel like someone is pulling me strongly up. Of course nobody is pulling "up", I'm just slowing down very fast on this final phase (Wikipedia says: 3 to 4g). And then, once at the new terminal velocity, the lack of wind noise and the quietness of everything around gives a different kind of awesome - more majestic and serene this time, rather than the adrenaline-filled moments before.

Because one is still up and the beach looks small, you actually feel that you're suspended in the air, almost frozen. Of course, that feeling goes away quickly when the instructor start telling me to pull the strings, and we enter a fast spin - so fast that my body is almost horizontal again - a reminder that we're still in the air, going somewhat fast, and not in "normal" conditions.

I'm again reminded of the speed once we get closer to the earth, the people on the beach start to get bigger fast, and now we're gliding over the beach and finally land in the sand. The adventure is over, but I'm still pumped up and my body is still full of adrenaline, and I feel like you've just been in heaven - which is true, for some definitions of ☺.

The first thing I realise is that the earth is very solid. And not moving at all. Everything is very very slow… which is both good and bad. My body is confused at the very fast sequence of events, and why did everything stop??


I learned all about the terminal velocity, how fast you get there, and so on a day later, from Wikipedia and other sources. It helped explain and clarify the things I experienced during the dive, because there in the air I was quite confused (and my body even more so). Knowing this in advance would have spoiled the surprise, but on the other hand would have allowed me to enjoy the experience slightly better.

Looking back, I can say a few of things. First, it was really awesome - not what I was expecting, much more awesome (in the real sense of awe) than I thought, but also not as easy or trivial as I believed from just seeing videos of people "floating" during their dive. Yep, worth doing, and hard to actually put in words (I tried to, but I think this rambling is more confusing than helping).

Phase one was too long (and a bit scary), phase two was too short (and the best thing), phase three was relaxing (and just the right length).

I also wonder how it is to jump alone - without the complicated and heavy harness, without an instructor, just you up there. Oh, and the parachute. And the reserve parachute ☺, of course. Point is, this was awesome, but I was mostly a passive spectator, so I wonder what it feels like to be actually in control (as much as one can be, falling down) and responsible.

And finally, as we left the offsite location just a couple of hours after the skydive, and we had a 4½ hours flight back, I couldn't believe myself how slow everything was. I never experienced quite such a thing, I was sitting in this normal airplane flying high and fast, but for me everything was going in slow motion and I was bored out of my mind. Adrenaline aftershock or something like that? Also interesting!

Stefano Zacchiroli: Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant

5 December, 2014 - 22:51
Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant

I'm glad to announce that I've been awarded a 5,000 USD "Flash Grant" by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

Flash grants are an interesting funding model, which I've just learned about. You don't need to apply for them. Rather, you get nominated by current fellows, and then selected and approached by the foundation for funding. The grant amount is smaller than actual fellowships, but it comes with very few strings attached: furthering open knowledge (which is the foundation's core mission) and being transparent about how you use the money.

I'm lucky enough to already have a full-time job to pay my bills, and I do my Free Software activism mostly in my spare time. So I plan to use the money not to pay my bills, but rather to boost the parts of my Free Software activities that could benefit from some funding. I don't have a fully detailed budget yet but, tentatively: some money will go to fund Debsources development (by others), some into promoting my thoughts on the dark ages of Free Software, and maybe some into helping the upcoming release of Debian. I'll provide a public report at the end of the funding period (~6 months from now).

I'd like to thank the Shuttleworth Foundation for the grant and foundation's fellow Jonas Öberg for making this possible.


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