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Jonathan Carter: Debian project leader elections 2019

20 April, 2019 - 19:00

A few weeks ago, after a few days of internal turmoil on the matter, I committed to running for DPL.

The original nomination period was the week before, with no one stepping up for the position and with our current leader indicating that he wouldn’t be available to serve another term. This resulted in a bit of a knee-jerk reaction and slight panic, with threads popping up on the debian mailing lists pondering things like what a leaderless Debian would look like and whether we perhaps need more of a team than a single person to be the leader the project. There was also some discussion about burnout and whether it’s even fair to put so much pressure on a single person, and whether it’s possible to delegate more of the DPL’s responsibilities. The press also picked up on this and there were a few big stories on the matter that lead some to be slightly nervous on the matter.

Of course (as the LWN article pointed out), Debian’s constitution is quite thorough and has made provision for cases like these. If no one steps up, the nomination period is extended for another week, and it only took one such extension to produce 5 new candidates (of which one retracted soon afterwards due to time commitments).

I mentioned internal turmoil at the beginning of the post, this was because up until a few days before my self-nomination, I’ve been very confident, and consistently so for a very long time, that I never want to run for DPL. The work that I care about and spend most attention on doesn’t at all require me being a DPL. Also, having more responsibility in areas that I’d rather let others take care of sounded a bit daunting. I’d much rather spend time on technical and more general community issues than very specific interpersonal problems or administrative tasks like reading and approving budget proposals, sending out developer certificates, etc. On top of that, I was aware that running for DPL and opening myself like that means that I open myself to a very wide array of critique, that people might put everything I say under a microscope and try to tear it apart, and that running for DPL means being prepared for that.

Despite that turmoil, a small nagging part kept asking the questions “But what if?”, what if I were DPL, what would I do? What would I change? What would I do as DPL that would make Debian better, and better as a DPL than I just could as a normal debian developer? These questions helped form in my head what my platform would look like, why I wanted to run for DPL, and how the rest of my campaign would shaped up. This year is also unique for me compared to previous years in that I will actually have time over the next year to focus on DPL-like activities. That, combined with the plans that were shaping up that I’m very enthusiastic about, convinced me that it’s time to step up and proceed with my self-nomination.

Directly after the nomination period, the campaign period starts. There are surprisingly few rules (or even guidance) regarding the campaign period, the majority of it is where Debian developers (or anyone really, but mostly DDs) ask questions to the DPL candidates about their stance and policy on certain matters, how they plan to take action and often a few really tough hypothetical situations. Some questions even took advantage of the fact that April fools day falls in the campaign period, which led to some odd and interesting questions. Overall, I really enjoyed the campaign period. I was preparing myself for the worst case scenario before campaigning started, but what actually happened next astonished me. We had all kinds of Debian developers coming forward with high quality, productive discussions on all kinds of aspects which ranged from internal technical policies, how we work with upstreams, community matters, diversity, the DPL role itself, how Debian is changing and how to keep it relevant, community turnover, how we deal with money, how we market ourselves and so one. It was productive discussion and I enjoyed it.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, I’m very happy that I stepped up as a DPL candidate, and I’m very satisfied with how my campaign went and how I answered my questions. I’m also very happy that the elections turned out so vibrant and productive and I dare say even exciting. I hope that this will continue to happen for future elections, because it’s clear to me that a productive election period is good for the health of Debian.

In the future, someone may be reading this and ponder “Should I run for DPL?”. My advice would be to first take some stock and figure out if you’re at a place in your life where you can actually do that (Did you just start a new job? Would your employer support you? Did you recently get married, have kids? How’s your health? Can you afford to spend lots of unpaid time doing DPL work? etc…) and then also consider why you’d want to be DPL and what you’d like to achieve with such a role. If you weigh up all the aspects and it still feels right for you, then by all means go for it. In my opinion, even if you’re not elected you still help make Debian better by participating in the election process.

Voting closes in around 12 hours at the time of writing this. Good luck to all the candidates and thank you to everyone who participated in making this such a fantastic and surreal experience!

Michal Čihař: Weblate 3.6

20 April, 2019 - 18:00

Weblate 3.6 has been released today. It brings rewritten notifications, user data download and several other improvements. It also sets depreciation timeline for Python 2 installations - after April 2020 Weblate will only support Python 3.

Full list of changes:

  • Add support for downloading user data.
  • Addons are now automatically triggered upon installation.
  • Improved instructions for resolving merge conflicts.
  • Cleanup addon is now compatible with app store metadata translations.
  • Configurable language code syntax when adding new translations.
  • Warn about using Python 2 with planned termination of support in April 2020.
  • Extract special chars from the source string for visual keyboard.
  • Extended contributor stats to reflect both source and target counts.
  • Admins and consistency addons can now add translations even if disabled for users.
  • Fixed description of toggle disabling Language-Team header manipulation.
  • Notify users mentioned in comments.
  • Removed file format autodetection from component setup.
  • Fixed generating MO file for monolingual PO files.
  • Added digest notifications.
  • Added support for muting component notifications.
  • Added notifications for new alerts, whiteboard messages or components.
  • Notifications for administered projects can now be configured.
  • Improved handling of three letter language codes.

If you are upgrading from older version, please follow our upgrading instructions.

You can find more information about Weblate on, the code is hosted on Github. If you are curious how it looks, you can try it out on demo server. Weblate is also being used on as official translating service for phpMyAdmin, OsmAnd, Turris, FreedomBox, Weblate itself and many other projects.

Should you be looking for hosting of translations for your project, I'm happy to host them for you or help with setting it up on your infrastructure.

Further development of Weblate would not be possible without people providing donations, thanks to everybody who have helped so far! The roadmap for next release is just being prepared, you can influence this by expressing support for individual issues either by comments or by providing bounty for them.

Filed under: Debian English SUSE Weblate

Keith Packard: crickit-snek

20 April, 2019 - 14:45
CrickitSnek — snek on the Adafruit Crickit

I got a Crickit FeatherWing from Adafruit today. This board is supposed to act as an I/O expander for all of the Feather boards, but it's a completely operational SAMD21 machine with a pile of useful GPIO bits:

  • 4 “Capacitive Touch” pins (which are just regular GPIOs)
  • 8 Analog input/digital output pins
  • 4 Digital I/O pins
  • 4 High-current 5V digital output pins
  • 2 H-bridge motor controllers
  • 1 Audio amplifier
  • 1 high current output designed for NeoPixels

It's also got a USB port and an on-board NeoPixel, plus headers to plug in a Feather board.

There's no Crystal on the Crickit

To save cost, the Crickit design doesn't include any crystal at all. That required re-configuring the SAMD21 clock configuration to synchronize the 48MHz system clock from USB instead of from the 32.768kHz crystal present on the Metro and Feather boards. Once I had done this, the Crickit board appeared on USB and Snek was running.

Naming the Crickit pins

There are a bunch of separate I/O groupings on the Crickit board, and I wanted to make it easy to remember how to use them. Providing convenient names for each pin seemed like the the best plan.

On the Metro and Duemilanove boards, I just used numbers for all of the pins; 0-13 for the digital pins and 14-19 for the analog pins. This matches the Arduino conventions, although it doesn't provide the convenient 0-5 numbering for analog input. Having names for these pins will also be nice.

So, I hacked up the Snek 'builtins' mechanism to include builtins with numeric values. Now you can have as many builtin values as you want. I first replaced the wacky lexer hacks for values like 'math.pi', 'True' and 'False' and then went and added names for the pins on all devices.

Snek vs TI DRV8833

The TI DRV8833 motor controller chip on the Crickit has two pins per motor -- you set one pin to ground and drive the other with a PWM signal, which pin you PWM selects the direction of the motor. This doesn't directly map to how I expected motor controllers to work in Snek. Snek expects to have one pin control direction and the other control speed.

I had to do a bit of magic to make this work, but the joy of having an interpreter between the application and the hardware is having the ability to hide these kinds of details from the application

Minor Crickit Schematics Error

The Crickit Schematics linked from the Crickit Downloads page have the DRIVE labels flipped -- DRIVEIN1 is actually hooked to PB10, DRIVEIN2 to PB11, DRIVEIN3 to PA12 and DRIVEIN4 to PA13. The Eagle schematics on github are correct; it would be nice to have the images updated as those don't require downloading proprietary software to view.


All of these bits are in the Snek git repository and should be released in the next Snek version (0.97?).

Junichi Uekawa: Wanted to read up on how TLA+ works.

20 April, 2019 - 12:56
Wanted to read up on how TLA+ works. Then I noticed that Leslie's page has lots of videos, and now I'm watching him speak. It might be the way people do it but now I can't seem to focus on a video long enough...

Urvika Gola: Attending SREcon’19, Brooklyn

20 April, 2019 - 01:51

It was my first time attending the SRECON series and also one of the big step into learning about Site Reliability and Engineering. The conference had jam packed sessions on site reliability, Chaos engineering, Code reviewing culture, Incidents, SLOs and much more.

Resilience Engineering Mythbusting at #srecon
Adding a functionality is adding complexity into our systems.
Systems will fail for all sorts of reasons, always practise best practises (misnomer) one of them is NOT to deploy on a friday.

— Urvika Gola (@UrvikaGola) March 27, 2019

My notes would be redundant because there is nothing better than a comprehensive  write up about the conference by Tanya Reilly, you can read it here ->

Thanks to the organizers for putting up such an overwhelming, knowledgeable and fun conference!

Shashank Kumar: Event report for DebUtsav Delhi 2019

20 April, 2019 - 01:30

The Debian India Community in Delhi along with Mozilla Delhi/NCR community organized DebUtsav Delhi 2019 on 9 and 10 March, 2019.

For those who are unware, DebUtsav is an Indian style version of a typical Mini Debian Conference.

This was the first Debian related conference to be organized in the Northern region of India. We have had Mini Debian conferences previously in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and in different cities of state of Kerala. But this was the very first one in the Northern Region.

DebUtsav was made possible with the help from our sponsors

The event took place at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Delhi.

The event schedule was divided into two tracks.
  • Debian Track and FOSS Track. The Debian Track was specific for the talks or workshops related to Debian.
  • The FOSS track included talks/workshops ranging from General Free Software, Gender Diversity a Digital Security and privacy. The full schedule is present on the website

On the first day of DebUtsav

Debian Track

Although you can check the talks happened at the talks in the link to schedule. Some of the notable talks were Pirate Praveen on Debian Packaging in times of Docker and Flatpak. Abhijit Introduced us to the Debian LTS project. While Raju Devidas talked on "How to become a Debian Developer?" There were also workshops by Utkarsh Gupta and Sagar Ippalpalli on Packaging of Ruby Gems and Node Modules.

FOSS Track

Ashutosh Singh, also known as Juggernaut, talked on getting started into Open Source and Debian. The other talks in FOSS track included, a talk on Cryptography & Cryptanalysis by Ishan Malik. While Mohit Phulera talked about Setting up and using Google Vision API's. Thing to note here that both were first time speakers. DebUtsav got them started. We also had a Rust 101 workshop by Swarnim Arun. Karmanya Talked about Building Data Apps with Grames. The last talk for the day in FOSS track was by Himanshu, it had a funky name to it, SELinux: For the Asgardians

Second Day of DebUtsav

Debian Track

The first talk of the day was on an Introduction to the Hamara Linux project by Shivani Bharadwaj and Raju Devidas. They introduced the Hamara Project to the one's present as well as talked about there upcoming release of Hamara codenamed Svastik.

Later in the Debian track, we had the first ever Bug Squashing Party BSP in India. For the BSP we had 2 DD's and 2 DM's and many other active Debian contributors present. They helped people present to go through the Debian bug tracking system BTS and find bugs that they can help solve. Although we did not manage to get any bugsolved during the duration of BSP, we did managed to get some people get familiar with Debian's bug tracking eco-system, introduced them to the various teams within Debian in which they can co-ordinate to get started for solving bugs as well as contributing to Debian in general. The BSP proved to be a good starting point for Utkarsh Gupta. Within two-three weeks after the BSP he has already solved many bugs including 15 RC bugs.

FOSS track

The first talk in the FOSS track was on Digital Security and Privacy by Shashikanth.

In the second talk our DM Sruthi Chandran raised the question on How gender diverse and inclusinve is the Free Software Community?. She co-ordinated the sicussion very well and made sure that the people present during the session got involved.

Later in the Day we had talks by Pirate Praveen on Take back our data and Freedoms. Vipul Gupta talked about digging Opportunities in Open Source. Last talk which was scheduled for the foss track did not take place because of the un-availability of the speaker Ranjith Raj Vasam. Everyone got involved into the Debian BSP instead.

On the sidelines of the schedule of the second day, the podcast team of Decompiled was also present. With the efforts of the team, Raju Devidas interviewed Pirate Praveen. In the interview they talked about work done by Praveen over the years as well as his journey in Debian project.

Some statistics from DebUtsav
  • For both the days combined, around 120 people registered for attending DebUtsav, out of them around 95 attended the conference.
  • Around 10-15, unregistered attendees/on spot registrations were also present.
  • We had a total of 14 Women Attendees.

DebUtsav Delhi was lucky to have the presence of - 2 Debian Developers Pirate Praveen & Abhijith PA. - 2 Debian Maintainers Sruthi Chandran and Sagar Ippalpalli.

It is during the conversations that happened at the conference that we realized that there are a lot of first's happening in the Debian India Community.

  • Sruthi Chandran is the first Women Debian Maintainer from India, also soon to be the first women Debian Developer from India.
  • Presence of DD's proved useful for Utkarsh Gupta as he got his initial requirements for a DM fulfilled with his keys signed by the DD's present at DebUtsav. He is at the time of writing this event report, the youngest DM from India.
  • Currently Sruthi Chandran and Raju Devidas have there DD applications in process. If they get approved, we will be crossing the Double Digits of DD's from India for the first time. They are 9 now and with two more we will get to 11.
  • This was the first Debian related conference in Delhi or anywhere in Northern India.

DebUtsav Delhi proved very productive in introducing many new people to Debian project and to free software in general. Also it provided an opportunity for the Debian contributors from Delhi to meet the Debian Developers.

The conference was made possible by the continuous efforts of people from the communities of Mozilla Delhi NCR and Indian Linux User's Group Delhi. Some of the people involved in the effort could be seen on the Team section of

Thanks a lot to everyone for puting up there efforts for DebUtsav Delhi. We are looking forward to having another Debian event in Delhi and more events around India.

Dirk Eddelbuettel: tint 0.1.2: Some cleanups

19 April, 2019 - 22:13

A new version 0.1.2 of the tint package is arriving at CRAN as I write this. It follows the recent 0.1.1 release which included two fabulous new vignettes featuring new font choices. The package name expands from tint is not tufte as the package offers a fresher take on the Tufte-style for html and pdf presentations.

However, with the new vignettes in 0.1.1 we now had four full-length vignettes which made the package somewhat bulky. So for this release I reorganized things a little, added two new shorter vignettes with links to the full-length vignettes but keeping the size more constrained.

Two screenshots for the first pages of the Lato and Garamond vignettes follow (and are links to a higher-resolution full-length pdf versions):

The new vignettes can also be browsed from CRAN: html variant and pdf variant. They also show the new theme borrowed with thanks and credits from ggtufte.

The full list of changes is below.

Changes in tint version 0.1.2 (2019-04-19)
  • Two new shorter html and pdf vignettes have been added (with references to the longer vignettes) reducing package size.

  • New helper function 'theme_tint' based on a similar function in package 'ggtufte'.

Courtesy of CRANberries, there is a comparison to the previous release. More information is on the tint page.

For questions or comments use the issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

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

Molly de Blanc: developer

19 April, 2019 - 21:43

I became a Debian Developer towards the end of 2018. I started the process in August 2017 at DebConf in Montreal. Over the course of 17 months I wrote emails, searched the Debian wiki, and learned a lot about the project.

What’s a non-uploading Debian Developer (DD)?

A non-uploading DD is one who does not upload packages to the Debian code base. A non-uploading DD:

  • is member of the Debian project;
  • is allowed to vote about issues regarding the whole project;
  • can log in on most systems that keep Debian running; and
  • has access to the debian-private mailing list.
Why become a DD?

I had two main reasons for becoming a DD: I was told debian-private was mostly vacation notices and baby pictures. I also wanted to vote in the DPL elections.

It turns out -private contains ZERO baby pictures, and choosing who to vote for in DPL elections is hard work.

There are other reasons to become a non-uploading DD. I found that the most compelling one, from my perspective, was the authority and respect that comes along with it. When representing the project, which I have done on several occasions, it’s easier to get things done when you have a title or formal affiliation attached to your name.

I joined the A-H team with the understanding that I would become a DD — they preferred someone with official status in the project be on that team. In addition to empty promises of baby pictures, I became a DD because I wanted to take on more responsibility in the project.

There’s also a certain amount of the feeling of belonging that goes along with becoming a formal member of a project. There’s a lot to say about the value of the recognition of your peers — that they consider you a part of the team.

What do you do for Debian?

I’m on the Outreach and Anti-harassment teams.


The Outreach team coordinates Debian participation in internship programs, specifically, and currently, Google Summer of Code and Outreachy. We participate in Outreachy twice a year, and GSoC during the Northern Hemisphere summer. This mostly includes a lot of paperwork, emailing people to make sure they’re on task, and talking with the home organizations of Google and Outreachy.

Since I do not mentor any projects, this work is fairly condensed, though very demanding. It’s time sensitive, with externally imposed deadlines not of our own creation.

During a period of several weeks — and application periods overlap in March — we:

  • confirm with the Debian Project Leader funding for Outreachy;
  • put our calls for mentors;
  • assist mentors in finding co-mentors when appropriate;
  • evaluate projects, separating them into “approved” and “unapproved” categories, based on whether they meet the Debian participation criteria;
  • fill out the application forms for GSoC and Outreachy;
  • make announcements, calls for mentors, calls for projects, and calls for applicants;
  • field questions and requests from applicants;
  • keep up with mentors during the application period;
  • make formal decisions about the number of interns and who they are based on requests from mentors, available funding, and an amorphous process of reading mentor reports and trying best to judge who will not only be a successful intern, but who will be a successful mentor for a project;
  • keep up with mentors and interns during the period of the internship;
  • make sure everyone gets invoiced and paid appropriately;
  • make sure everyone has a good time; and
  • general other things as they come up.

As a total process, it’s quite consuming at times, but relaxed at other times. I would say that administering for Outreachy is an “easier” process, as the mentors are (generally, overall, usually) more experienced and self-managing. GSoC is also a much bigger program.


I could, and likely will, write a much longer post about this. I gave a talk at FOSDEM on the activities and operating procedures of the team. The quick summary is that we meet every fortnight, discuss reported incidents, and either: make recommendations to other teams about how to proceed or send personal emails to the individuals involved, pointing out inappropriate behaviors, and asking people to be more professional in their project participation.

What did your process include?

Mostly emails. A lot of emails, and back and forth with my AM (application manager). I’m sure many people say this, but my AM was great.

I went through the initial steps — deciding to apply after many, many people convinced me of the validity of my contributions to the project; getting my keysigned by an appropriate number of DDs; recruiting advocates for my application; etc.

Then came the questions and the tests. A big chunk of questions were around philosophy, policy, and procedures of the project. We covered licensing questions, the DFSG, the philosophy of user freedom, how different things within the Debian project are decided, and a bunch of other sections.

There where a technical section of my application, which covered more policy and procedure around how things are done within the Debian project. I worked on a bug (one on a piece of web site content) and submitted the edit on salsa, Debian’s instance of git. I collaborated in documents on, logged into servers using ssh, and encrypted and decrypted a number of files over the course of the procedure.

Why did it take so long?

I started my application in August of 2017, and got my welcome email December 26, 2018. I joked that I was going for the longest application period.

It took so long largely because my AM and I were both very, very busy. When faced with free time, we both frequently agreed to make the decision to instead work on our respective Debian work, rather than the application process. I think I speak for both of us when I say we agreed a lot of the other projects we were working on were more timely than my application.

At DC18, I did a personal sprint on my application, and my AM kindly did a personal sprint reviewing it. We met over IRC to handle final steps later that fall. I finished in November, days before the November keyring update, and my application was reviewed in December.

Iustin Pop: Debian DPL election 2019

19 April, 2019 - 18:43

As planned for this long weekend (in Switzerland), I went and re-read the platforms, and cast my vote. Which made me very happy, because I voted in the elections for the first time in a long while…

But it didn’t start like that. The first call for nominations ended up with no (valid) nominations, and the follow-up thread was a bit depressing (high load for the DPL role, unclear expectations, etc.) For a time, it looked like the project is drifting, and some of the trolling on the list definitely didn’t help. I managed to prod a bit the thread and there was a nice reply from Lucas which seems to open the gates—the discussion livened up, and after many more meaningful mails, we ended up with 4 candidates. That’s, in my memory, a very good result.

Which means I went and read the platforms multiple times, and tried to follow the campaign as well (not so successful though), and today I cast my vote. After the initial sad result, very happy to see there are still people who are willing to invest significant time into Debian and its future. Thanks all!

Coupled with the (hopefully soon) upcoming Buster release, and the fact that I managed to update all my small packages before it, I feel much better both about Debian and my involvement with it than a year ago.

Now just looking forward to Python 2 removal :)

Giovanni Mascellani: Paris BSP and this blog

18 April, 2019 - 16:00

Hello everybody!

I've never had a blog up to today, and apparently now I do. Why? Well, it happened that there was a Debian Bug Squashing Party in Paris a few weeks ago, and I thought that it might be nice to go, meet some nice people and humbly help releasing Buster. Great news is that the Debian project is willing to reimbourse its members some of the expenses for taking part to a BSP, asking in return to communicate publicly about what you do during a BSP so that others are motivated to participate as well.

So I guessed that might be the occasion for me to start a blog, and start writing something about what I do in Debian. Here it goes!

It was my first BSP ever, and I am very happy of it. We met for a couple of days at very nice Mozilla's office in Paris (I think they are moving and we were at the old one, though). We were probably around 15 people, mostly from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and UK (which is not surprising if you look at the high-speed rail map in Europe; or any map of Europe, as a matter of facts).

The great thing of a BSP is that you have a very short loop to other developers. Since a BSP is all about getting RC bugs closed, it is useful to talk directly to Release Team members, and discuss whether they would unblock your fix or not when you are not sure. This saves a lot in terms of human bandwidth and context-switching. Also, I had the occasion to watch more experienced developers in action and learn how to tackle issues I haven't dealt with ever before, like bumping up a library SONAME.

So here is what I managed to do during the BSP, in roughly chronological order.

  • Bug #920209: that is a bug I already had written a patch for a few months ago, but the whole thing had stagnated and the patch was never uploaded. A simple ping to the maintainer was enough: an easy one!

  • Bug #917711: a FTBFS caused by failing tests, in turn caused by a broken internal interface between two libraries. I was able to cook up a patch, but I was not really sure it was the right thing, so I opened a bug upstream, to which upstream never replied. However, upstream itself wrote a similar patch a few days after, which was then up uploaded to Debian by ivodd.

  • Bug #925957: this is a bug on a package I maintain, so it was imperative to get it done. fstransform is a tool to convert a filesystem to another format (like, XFS to ext4) without having to copy all the data to another filesystem and then back (see the upstream readme for more details). It is no mistery to anyone that such an operation is inherently dangerous, so both the program and its documentation warn prominently that data loss are always an option. The idea is: if fstransform can be useful for you, use it, but never on data you cannot afford to lose (you should always have a backup of such data, anyway). So this bug was about a reproducible failure case for fstransform when it was ran with a too little copying buffer. Of course the best thing is to have a proper fix, but since the upstream bug had stalled for an year an a half without a solution, the road of fixing it myself seemed implausible, especially because I do not know fstransform's internals. So my fix was to add a warning message (that the user has to explicitly acknowledge); this fits my model for fstransform: the user is advised that things might go wrong, but if they are ok, then good for them. This was also unblocked by the Release Team. Of course it is not the ideal solution, but at least the user knows what to expect from the program, which can still be useful if you are properly warned: given that Buster should be released as soon as possible this is, to me, a reasonable compromise. The bug submitter did not agree and reopened the bug. Fortunately a few days later the upstream author managed to find the proper fix, which I then uploaded.

  • Bug #912467: a FTBFS due to an updated reverse dependencies, a relatively common between Java packages. A partial patch had already been begun by andrewsh, but was never completed. Using that as a base and drawing from the corresponding upstream patch, it was not difficult to fix the build, as the API changes were mostly cosmetic. I uploaded my patch to salsa, but not the the archive, because I would like someone else to review it. So far, it has not happened, and maybe I should have another look at it.

  • Bug #917501: a rather nasty Eisenbug, that I could not really understand during the BSP: the bug occurred when I built with sbuild, but not when I build directly in my system, so that I could not debug it. Yesterday it was finally traced back to the usage of eatmydata by sanvila, which is plausible because I also use eatmydata with sbuild (it really boosts package installation!). The bug was downgraded to normal severity, and I guess it should also be reassigned to eatmydata, since it would be eatmydata's duty to be transparent to what is happening above it.

  • Bug #915319: a FTBFS due to a bad library detection procedure by CMake. The detection of libsmbclient.h failed because CMake insisted to compile with -std=c89 (or so), while that header requires C11. Easy to patch.

  • Bug #870267: Very very easy: the bug had already been solved, but was left open.

  • Bug #877773: it was quite easy to understand what had to be done here (i.e., a SONAME bump), but I had never done it. So I asked around and jcristau showed me how to do it, including requesting a mini transition and stuff. Very instructive, and, I think, really one of the points of gathering together instead of working everybody at home.

  • Bug #905697: I ported some of the kdepimlibs libraries to libical3, so that libical2 can be dropped from the archive. The difficult part was to backtrace the corresponding upstream patches, because in the meantime the libraries had reorganized in different repositories. In the end I found this patch, and it was not difficult to make it ready for Debian.

  • One last thing not coming from a bug: Debian Buster should finally support Secure Boot, so that the computer's firmware can cryptographically validate the operating system before launching it. The Debian EFI team recently updated the Secure Boot page on the wiki with a clear description of how it works and how to enable it in Debian. I reviewed it and sent an email with my thoughts to the relevant mailing list.

So here it is, my blog and my report. Now, Debian, give me my money! :-P

Many many thanks to Mozilla for allowing us to use their spaces for the BSP, and to jcristau and olasd who organized it. Now let's try to get Buster released and maybe see you in Brazil (I'm not sure yet I will be able to come, because of [INSERT_REASONS_HERE], but I hope so).

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, March 2019

16 April, 2019 - 17:23

Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In March, 204 work hours have been dispatched among 13 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

  • Abhijith PA did 14 hours (out of 14 hours allocated).
  • Adrian Bunk did 8 hours (out of 8 hours allocated).
  • Ben Hutchings did 22.5 hours (out of 20 hours allocated plus 16.5 extra hours from February, thus carrying over 14 hours to April).
  • Brian May did 10 hours (out of 10 hours allocated).
  • Chris Lamb did 18 hours (out of 18 hours allocated).
  • Emilio Pozuelo Monfort did 26 hours (out of 29.5 hours allocated + 2.5 extra hours from February, thus carrying over 6h to April).
  • Hugo Lefeuvre did 20 hours (out of 20 hours allocated).
  • Markus Koschany did 29.5 hours (out of 29.5 hours allocated).
  • Mike Gabriel did 14 hours (out of 10 hours allocated + 4 extra hours from February).
  • Ola Lundqvist did 8.5 hours (out of 8 hours allocated + 2 extra hours from last month, thus carrying over 1.5h to April).
  • Roberto C. Sanchez did 12 hours (out of 12 hours allocated + 16 extra hours from last month as well, thus carrying over 16h to April).
  • Sylvain Beucler did 29.5 hours (out of 29.5 hours allocated).
  • Thorsten Alteholz did 29.5 hours (out of 29.5 hours allocated).
Evolution of the situation

In March we had one new contributor, Sylvain Beucler, though we lost Antoine Beaupré. Thankfully we also gained Jonas Meurer starting in April, yet we are are still very much looking for new contributors. Please contact Holger if you are interested to become a paid LTS contributor.

On a positive note, we are also pleased to welcome a new French university among LTS sponsors: Université Grenoble Alpes.

The security tracker currently lists 36 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 39 packages needing an update.

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

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Bits from Debian: Debian Web Team Sprint 2019

16 April, 2019 - 14:20

The Debian Web team held a sprint for the first time, in Madrid (Spain) from March 15th to March 17th, 2019.

We discussed the status of the Debian website in general, review several important pages/sections and agreed on many things how to improve them.

For the sections we want to reorganise (mainly the homepage and a new section "download" which will group our current "CD" and "distrib" sections) , we have designed this workflow:

  • Create branches in the webwml repo,
  • Agreed on the new or modified content (started already during the sprint), and work on them further after the sprint
  • Review a lot of related open bugs to see if we can address them with the new content (done during the sprint)
  • Create bug reports for the things that cannot be solved quickly to keep them tracked (started during the sprint)
  • We agreed we should get further help from web designers/information architects (pending)
  • Once the English version is more or less settled, call for translations on the branch (pending)
  • If we have English and the main translations ready, merging into the master branch (pending)
  • We will try to have at least the homepage and the download section ready for the Buster release.

We also agreed that the press delegates should decide what new News entry is worth to be posted in the homepage instead of showing the last 6 entries.

For some other pages or areas (e.g. doc/books, misc/merchandise, /users) we found that the content is outdated and the team can not maintain it, we agreed in issuing a call for help (request for adoption) and if we cannot find volunteers for those pages/areas, we'll remove the content or move it to at the end of 2019.

We have agreed that we'll need to reduce the size (number of pages) of the website (*see some numbers about statistics at bottom) so it's more sustainable to keep the whole website up-to-date (content wise), so we'll remove some pages having content already covered in other pages, having content that currently is easy discoverable with a web search engine, can be maintained better in the wiki, etc.

We have talked a bit about certain other aspects like point release workflow, the build time of the website, team memberships and governance. In general the sprint has shown that for most of the discussed topics the migration to git as VCS and the existence of Salsa is a huge step forward for the usability and attractiveness for contributors of the webwml repository.

The core webteam is happy that the sprint has also attracted new people to jump in and which are also members of the webteam now. We welcome Thomas Lange and Carsten Schoenert in our team!

Finally, we have passed time together to socialize and knowing each other better, and got very motivated to continue working on the web.

Left to right: Rhonda D'Vine, Laura Arjona Reina, Thomas Lange, Carsten Schoenert, Steve McIntyre

A more detailed report has been sent to the debian-www mailing list.

The participants would like to thank all donors to the Debian project who helped to cover a large part of our expenses.

Olivier Berger: Labtainers in a Web desktop through noVNC X11 proxy, full docker containers

15 April, 2019 - 22:08

Here’s another recording of a demo I’ve made of our efforts on running Labtainers with a Web desktop.

This time, we’re using a modified version of DoroWu’s noVNC X11 wrapper container (“docker-ubuntu-vnc-desktop“), to provide an X11 Display to labtainers.

I initially adapted DoroWu’s container image by using Debian instead of Ubuntu, but it appeared that noVNC 1.0.0 was a bit too old in the Debian package. So I switched back to the same version as the one DoroWu chose, and this time no more disconnections.

Also, we’re now rebuilding the Labtainer master container from upstream’s Git repo. Fresh Labs every day

Labtainers in a Web desktop through noVNC X11 proxy, full containers from Olivier Berger on Vimeo.

See our previous post on a similar topic for the context.

You can find the Dockerfile and scripts at :, and the 2 container images have been put on the DockerHub.

We’d welcome some feedback on whether you find this interesting.

Shirish Agarwal: Hackergram Journey Part 2 – The Conclusion

15 April, 2019 - 18:16

If you have not read part 1 of the Hackergram Journey, I would suggest you to do that before reading it. This will give you more of a complete picture so you can understand where I’m coming from.

Breakfast, Lunch and talking with locals

The previious evening when I was put up at Lake Heritage, I went out and got 2-3 Electrals. I had ordered Dal and Rice in the evening but again there was no taste hence didn’t eat much. I forced myself to have at least 5-6 spoonfulls at one level to see if it will stay and also that I needed to have some food in the stomach . While the night was not peaceful, it was much more peaceful than at the Camp. I probably woke up handful of times but each time looking at the lake just filled me with peace. At times, I wished I was all better so could have spend the whole night just seeing the lake. Anyways, somehow the night passed, although not without showing me all the beautiful views of the lake and the different plays of light . The amateuer story-writer in me could think of so many stories which were and are waiting to be tapped in such a beautiful place. I kept wondering maybe this is why so many writers of Indian origin and even westerners come to places like these to write. I could understand why Ruskin Bond, a famous Children’s writer chose to make Uttarakhand and Mussorie his base rather than anywhere else. I know of quite a few writers in Hindi, Urdu fiction who wrote on crime, sex, human interest stories and were a craze in North India right from 1960’s till late 1990’s who came from such places and eventually settled in Delhi. Seeing the tranquility of the place and then places like Delhi, it is easy to see the dissonance the writers might have felt which they poured in their writing. I have to say that I felt Bhimtal is a place where one could pen many a fantasy story as its still somewhat of a raw place still.

Anyways, morning came , did my morning routine staff and ignoring Gauri’s suggestion took a bath. While it pained quite a bit at the knee, I felt like a whole different person. Came down to see what they have for breakfast. I didn’t want anything fancy just a toast and eggs or Pohe . Because they had neither at the hotel, was told of a small shop which was 20 meters from the Hotel. Went there, had tea, bread and egg and whole lot of conversation about Bhimtal and surroundings. According to the Gentleman, the local population of Bhimtal alone is approx. 40k according to some survey done couple of years back. I dunno if it would be sane or not to compare the population with Shivaji Nagar, Pune which is around 5-6 and has around 0.5 million residents and probably another 20-25% roving population due to the high number of schools and colleges that are in and around Shivaji Nagar has and lot of people come to Pune for study or/and work as has been shared time before. Maybe somebody local to Bhimtal, either Sanjay or Karan would probably be able to tell or share more of the same.

As I was feeling better, I interacted a bit with locals and came to know that there had been proposals and even people had drilled part of the mountain to have a factory which the locals protested and with passed a legislation in the local Municipality so such further incursions are not done or can be avoided. While I did see some construction in and around Bhimtal it seemed to be much more in control then what I had seen in Bhagsu, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and elsewhere. While here they still have enough water, Bhagsu and many other places in Himchal Pradesh where in the summer months they are completely dry. Few years back, I had taken part in the Chota Char Dham Yatra by myself in memory of my grandmother (mother’s side) except for Kedarnath had done all the other three. Had seen first-hand the kind of ecological destruction that Tehri Dam and its sisters were doing on the environment. I even lived in Tehri town which was built a little away but on top of the Dam and had come to know the helplessness of the people living their even before the 2013 flash floods happened. As shared in part 1, it is concerning for all if unchecked development takes place .

For lunch, I wanted to try Rice and Kadhi . While I have made Kadhi at home and my mum makes great Kadhi, the hotel didn’t have it so took another trip to a stall where they made Rice and Kadhi and had that in the Hotel Room. While wasn’t able to finish it fully, was able to finish 3/4th of the portion which made me feel good. It was tasy and filling. A part was also probably being cautious although did make sure to have lot of electral water so that I was constantly being hydrated even if it meant I had to go to the loo few times. Anyways lunch happened, had a lie for sometime, came down and saw that Sanjay and Karan had come to pick me for Kathgodham.

The Journey from Bhimtal to Kathgodam Railway Station.

As my bags were mostly packed, they just had to be fetched. While Karan did the hotel checkout thing, Sanjay helped me with the luggage and putting it in his car. The journey which lasted about 30-45 minutes was beautiful. Sanjay had Acousic blues which added to the beauty of the place and the ride. While Karan had questions for me as he wanted to know about Javascript, my mind was still unfolding hence decided to stick to the very basics . While I don’t remember if I told him about js-team in Debian, their work on Salsa . For those who don’t know what Salsa is, it is a gitlab instance which Debian uses and also contributes to. I possibly might not have shared the JS-Tutorial although that is more aimed at packaging javascript nodejs modules for Debian. I think Karan was more into upstream development hence told him about some of the web frameworks but obviously not all as still was in recovery mode and then again it is very much a personal choice what tool you choose to express yourself. For e.g. I find wordpress easier to use while there are many people who rave about medium while there are others who use their own very basic static sites using one of the tools mentioned in the list. So it probably is a good idea to just let them be and let them figure out what works for them. I did share that Pune has around 100 or so co-working places and there are some big names like TRIOS and others who are making quite some noise. There has also been quite some noises made about co-living . For Sanjay I did tell him that either Pune or most metros have more or less many places which have open mic nights. Although, the newest-oldest trend has been to open your place. for singers or performers. I had been to places such as these for more than a decade or more but now it’s a bit more formalised rather than something between friends. I shared about balconytv which Sanjay knew about. We also had discussions about Indian blues, melody etc. and time went by. Before we knew it, we were in/near Kathgodam Railway Station.

Kathgodam Railway Station

It is possible that I may have been to Kathgodam Railway Station before but that probably may have been a decade or more and somehow didn’t know/realize to know I was so close to Nainital and other places. Here’s a screenshot taken by a friend Siddharth S. who did the trip the other way from Delhi to Kathgodam or KGM and was able to take the picture from above.

Kathgodam or KGM Junction view from bridge, Copyright – Siddharth S.

As can be seen it looks so beautiful. Vinay, part of the hackergram team provided the tickets for KGM – Delhi Shatabdi Express.

KGM – NDLS Shatabdi Journey (12039)

While entering itself, I knew it was an LHB rake/train which while more comfortable than ICF Rakes are prone to more jerks than ICF Rakes. Unfortunately, this Rake i.e. 12039 has only 2 options, AC Chair Car and Executive Chair Car, no sleeper but as it is short distance doesn’t matter so much. While I have been probably been more than half a dozen times been in LHB Rakes and n number of times in ICF Rakes, I somehow enjoy the ICF Rakes more as they are open and people are usually more friendly . This time though, I was grateful as I wouldn’t have to speak people so much. To add to my surprise, I found that this one also had meals included. On some Shatabdi trains, you have the meals included, while on others you can choose not to. While there was more than enough servings of meals and snacks, I took only some as I didn’t want any nasty incidents to occur till Delhi and from then on to Pune. I would however say, I enjoyed the ice-cream (Amul) which was provided and also took bit of lunch that they provided. IRCTC food was ok, but nothing great to write home about apart from the ice-cream but that probably is the ice-cream manufacturer taking care. While Sanjay and Karan helped me with the luggage to the seat, it started right on time at 15:30 hrs. My neighbour for the remainder of the journey turned out to be a Gunman (Z-Force) who was duty-bound with another of his brethen to some politician who was travelling in A-1 (Executive Chair Car) . The travel itself was pretty straight forward. The route was Kathgodam (KGM) – Haldwani (HDW) – Lal Kuan (LKU) – Rudrapur City (RUPC) – Rampur (RMU) – Moradabad (MB) – Ghaziabad (GZB) and finally NDLS (New Delhi) . While the time was told to be 21:30 at New Delhi, it entered NDLS at 21:45 . I was a bit in a panicky mode at my flight was at 23:30 and although I had been told it should be enough time for the Airport. I didn’t know as it all depended on connectivity. The one thing I should have banked on was to buy some water bottles at KGM itself as my bottle of water had finished pretty early and it was risky to try and get a bottle from any of the intervening Stations .

NDLS at night The Race to DIAL

The above is the New Delhi Railway as it looks from outside at night. I came down from Platform 16 to the side from where I took the picture. I knew I didn’t have much of a time, so took this while on a semi-run. The bad thing about NDLS is that there are no signs anywhere to tell where the Metro is. I knew that there was a metro connection from there till Delhi Aerocity but didn’t know where. I was mis-guided (probably not intentionally) but it took quite an effort to reach the Metro Station. From where I took the photograph, the Metro Entrance is at 45 degrees angle and then you have to go down. Somehow I managed to reach to the Metro Station. buy the token for the train, take the escalator. Time 22:15 . The clock near the Metro showed 10 minutes for the arrival. 5 minutes later, the Metro arrived and I figured that the time it was showing was the time for departure. I reached Delhi Aerocity at 22:45 . At the end while coming up there were tickets to Delhi Terminal T1-C which as I had shared before I thought was a different terminal. I asked a few people and they said it was walkable distance. I walked a bit and asked some more people and learnt that the Airport (T1 and T1 -C ) were one and the same and it still was 4-5 kms. away . They suggested to take a bus or a rick. I asked the Rickshaw guys and sure enough they started quoting some ridiculous figures. I asked the bus guy and he said INR 30/- I bought the ticket and was tensed but soon the bus started. I was on tenterhooks but kept saying ‘it’s alright’ because there was no alternative. I somehow managed to get to the Airport and to the baggage drop and asked if I still was on time. Either seeing the desperation on my face or whatever, she allowed me to do the bag drop, time 23:15 . I didn’t have time to do anything. Fortunately, there was no queues in security and was able to go through. I just managed to reach the Indigo gate when they were making last announcements before closing the boarding. Time 23:20 – 23:25 . As luck would have it, there were 5-6 people who also were late like me. The Indigo Gate attendant/personnel had no choice and asked for a vehicle so we could all get on. Meanwhile, I put my boarding pass and my Government issued ID in my bag for safe-keeping. My boarding pass was 28-E

Indigo Boarding Pass

When I dis-embarked the vehicle at the Airplane, I knew I had to go to the back of the plane and realized I need to show the boarding pass again before . I fished in my backpack, showed the boarding pass, used the Aircraft passenger stairs with my hands-on baggage. As I was about to put my boarding pass in my backpack in a special envelope I found that my Govt. ID seemed to be missing. While I didn’t want to create a hassle but still had to inform the flight attendant so with great reluctance informed them. It took a few minutes while I tried to have as much water I could as I hadn’t had water for the last 5-6 hours and was stressed. I didn’t know what the flight attendants thought . Soon the skipper came and I showed him the boarding pass . Interestingly, he took a look at my surname and seeing it was Agarwal, assured me nothing was amiss and I should take my seat. I was wondering what would the scene have been if it was something else. Anyways, they tried to fish for the Govt. ID between the Gate and where the vehicle had dropped me and didn’t find it.

I was told to file a complaint in lost and found once I reached Pune Airport. We probably left Delhi around 23:45 – 23:50 or thereabouts. I had a feeling that there may be some hole in my envelope but didn’t want to investigate then. We still reached Pune on time. I disembarked, freshened myself, drank lots of water, again freshened myself, went to baggage claim, got my other backpack from the baggage claim and opened up the area where I kept my Govt. issued Id . Sure enough, it was right there, lying by its lonesome. I again put the two together, exited the Airport, went to the Parking area, took a rickshaw, called up home and was at home in about 45 odd minutes. There was relief from both sides. Over an early breakfast, mother told me that she also hadn’t been able to sleep for the last 3 days. After breakfast we slept like logs for 8-10 hours. Made lunch and slept again. Pune is and was burning as we are in the middle of summer and the temperature is around 36 – 38 degree celcius in the morning and sometimes humid in the evening. So while I’m now all well and good, it surely was an adventure .

What would I have done differently

If I had some idea, I probably would have taken the flight a day before, either take a room near NDLS or at Paharganj, a place which has lot of beauty in by itself. While I had and have extended family at Delhi, at times it is easier to just be with myself and I have found Paharganj to be a good place. There are many places in Paharganj from fancy to budget hotels and lot of them have beautiful frescos like the one I am sharing below.


While the above Fresco was done by somebody in the bathroom they had in Lake Heritage, I have seen many such mural paintings in many places. Paharganj for one, even South Goa old Portugese homes have lot of these and elsewhere. So

So I would have come to Delhi, stayed the day, meet friends and then taken the early Shatabdi from NDLS to KGM and reached KGM at around 12:30 in the afternoon. The hackergram had thought of this way too but discarded it as other people were arriving at 9:00 – 9:30 in the morning so it would have been impossible to reach NDLS in time. Even my plane had touched down at 5:30 and I was out of the terminal by 0600 hrs. By my own experience it would take anybody at least an hour to get from DIAL to NDLS using the most efficient ways. One thing that is in works and will improve DIAL is a proposed People-mover from Delhi Aerocity to Delhi Airport but that will happen by 2024 as it stands today. Showing a proposed map of the people-mover below.

DIAL proposed people-mover

The link that I am interested in the one in the red going from Aero City Station to T1 . There is also supposed to be a T4 terminal for more International Operations but all of this is supposed to happen by 2024 at latest.

What Steps can the Government take for more tourism in Uttarakhand

While it’s razor edge as Uttarakhand, Kumaon has lot of nature and heritage based tourist attractions. There are number of things that could be improved. For instance, the nearest Airport to Kathgodam is Pantnagar which perhaps could be developed into an Airport which could serve not just Delhi but other places such as Pune, Mumbai etc. but they will have to develop lot of infrastructure for that. I have no clue how big the Airport is and if it could handle something like an A320 or not. The other thing the Government could do is do a double electrified line from Rampur to Kathgodam . Right now it’s a single un-electrified semaphore signal based line. Again, dunno if it is viable, possible or would it endanger forest cover.

Note – Because of Jet Airways troubles as well as Max 737 groundings, the cost of fares shot up. A typical ticket from Pune to Delhi or vice-versa which usually costs around INR 3, 3.5 k/- shot to 7k/- and beyond. If a fifth operator doesn’t come soon, as a dear twitterati recently shared

India is a low ticket-size, high-volume and long term market where companies need a war chest of cash to survive and take on competition. Striking similarities between the ride hailing and the #aviation scene in India. #AvGeek #Uber

Vinamra Longani, Aviation Analyst on Twitter, 10:15 AM – 13 Apr 2019

C.J. Adams-Collier: The woes of 520-byte sectors

15 April, 2019 - 08:22

A couple years ago, I bought a 12G SAS disk to see if I could get it to work with the RAID controller with external SFF-8088 ports that came with the system I got while I was working at The Linux Foundation. I got an enclosure to go with it because I was enthusiastic and optimistic about my ability to get things all set up. My plan was to take the 1T disks I had in the storage server I had been using before, but which had since failed and to put them into this new enclosure. I got a couple of SFF-8088 cables, and the enclosure had some SFF-8088 to 7-pin SATA break-outs come with it. I bought an additional dual SFF-8088 to SFF-8087 adapter and a couple of SFF-8087 to 4x SFF-8482 cables. I got the 8482s because I imagined that these would be required to take full advantage of the 6TB SAS disk I purchased.

Unfortunately, when I attached the disks to the controller, none of them worked and I gave up for a good long time. Last week was spring break, and I took a few days off of work to hang out with my girls. While we weren’t all goofing off together, I was puttering around with a new HBA I got to replace the apparently non-functional HP RAID controller that came with the server.

However, when I removed the HP RAID controller and put in the LSI 9201-16E HBA I got to replace it with, there was again no SCSI love. The lsscsi command showed nothing. But the lspci command showed the controller, and I started digging through documentation to figure out what might be wrong. I eventually stumbled upon a firmware flashing ISO disk image on the Broadcom site. Broadcom apparently purchased LSI not too long ago and is now responsible for managing documentation and downloads for the legacy devices, of which I am now a proud owner.

I was able to build a USB disk with unetbootin and emacs. I had to modify the syslinux.cfg file to correct the path and case of the filenames. And for some reason, unetbootin replaced the filename of the disk image which freedos was supposed to boot with something useless. In any case, the entry in syslinux.cfg looks like this:

label ubnentry20
menu label 9201_16e
append initrd=/LSI/IMG/9201_16E.IMG

Unfortunately, the firmware on the 9201_16E.IMG fat filesystem was old, so I loop mounted it and wrote a more recent version of the firmware, mptsas2.rom and sas2flsh.exe to it. I’ve uploaded it to 9201_16E.IMG in case anyone might find it useful. While I’m at it, I suppose I should put the whole usb boot image up for those who might need it. See lsi-flash-usb.img.bz2. To use this disk image, decompress the .bz2 file and dd it to your USB block device, for instance /dev/sdb in my case:

$ bunzip2 /tmp/lsi-flash-usb.img.bz2 | sudo dd of=/dev/sdb

My server doesn’t have a fancy new UEFI system, so I used this boot disk to get access to the SAS controller in real mode. Once I booted it and selected 9201_16e (the 21st option from the top), I had to rapidly press the up or down arrow and select the EMM386 option to load the driver. I placed the more recent LSI controller firmware and BIOS in the \CJ directory. You should be able to

 cd \CJ 

and run


Answer the prompts, and afterwards you should have a controller with P20 firmware and BIOS written to it.

Daunting as this was, it only got me most of the way through the process. All of my SATA disks were working, but the SAS disk was not. After some sleuthing, I discovered that the disk was SCSI formatted to 520 byte blocks. Linux does not accept block sizes that are not a power of 2, and so i was unable to do anything with the disk using fdisk, kpartx, etc. Research pointed me to the sg_format utility, but I was unable to make that work. Here’s the output of the command:

$ sudo sg_format --format --size 1024 -vv /dev/sg4
open /dev/sg4 with flags=0x802
    inquiry cdb: 12 00 00 00 24 00 
    SEAGATE   DKS2F-H6R0SS      7FA6   peripheral_type: disk [0x0]
    inquiry cdb: 12 01 00 00 24 00 
    inquiry cdb: 12 01 80 01 00 00 
      Unit serial number: Z4D0M2BF0000W515S4WH
    inquiry cdb: 12 01 83 01 00 00 
      LU name: 5000c50062ba7973
    mode sense (10) cdb: 5a 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 fc 00 
    mode sense (10): pass-through requested 252 bytes (data-in) but got 28 bytes
Mode Sense (block descriptor) data, prior to changes:
Mode sense number of blocks maxed out, set longlba
    mode sense (10) cdb: 5a 10 01 00 00 00 00 00 fc 00 
    mode sense (10): pass-through requested 252 bytes (data-in) but got 36 bytes
Mode Sense (block descriptor) data, prior to changes:
  <<< longlba flag set (64 bit lba) >>>
  Number of blocks=11473076960 [0x2abd942e0]
  Block size=520 [0x208]
    mode select (10) cdb: 55 11 00 00 00 00 00 00 22 00 
    mode select (10) parameter list
00 00 00 00 01 00 00 10  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 04 00  01 0a 0c 14 ff 00 00 00
05 00
mode select (10):
Descriptor format, current; Sense key: Illegal Request
Additional sense: Parameter list length error
  Descriptor type: Sense key specific: Field pointer:
        Error in Command: byte 7 bit 7
  Descriptor type: Field replaceable unit code: 0x5
  Descriptor type: Vendor specific [0x80]
    00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 
 Raw sense data (in hex):
        72 05 1a 00 00 00 00 1c  02 06 00 00 cf 00 07 00
        03 02 00 05 80 0e 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
        00 00 00 00
MODE SELECT command: Illegal request sense key, apart from Invalid opcode

I was about to give up, but for some reason did not. I tried to find firmware and read any documentation about my disk, a Seagate ST6000NM0024. Eventually I found a github repo called ToolBin. In this repo there is a program named SeaChest_Format_121_1183_64 which seems to use a proprietary SCSI format command to tell the drive to format itself using 512-byte sectors. I can’t say for certain yet that it works, but it did not immediately fail as sg_format did. The command I used (and this will vary for you, depending on what

sg_scan -i

tells you is your scsi generic device) is:

./SeaChest_Format_121_1183_64 -d /dev/sg5 --fastFormat 1 --formatUnit 512 --confirm I-understand-this-command-will-erase-all-data-on-the-drive

Assuming this command results in success after the 12 hour run, I will purchase another 7 of these drives and fill out my disk array!

Format Unit Progress = 31.64%

Thanks to the #linux-raid channel for helping me through this!

Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in March 2019

14 April, 2019 - 22:33

Welcome to Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. ( a bit later than usual) If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

Debian Games
  • Lars Kruse reported a bug in the gui-sdl2 theme of Freeciv, the famous strategy game, which I could quickly fix.  (#923563)
  • I fixed RC bug #922947 in retroarch-assets because of a change in fonts-roboto that broke symlinks to font files.
  • Pedro Pena and Carlos Donizete Froes packaged two new games for Debian, Infinitetux (Pedro) and Pekka Kana 2 (Carlos). I reviewed and sponsored both games and they are currently waiting in the NEW queue. Infinitetux is a Super Mario like game written in Java. The original author of the game is no one else than Markus Persson, the developer of Minecraft. This game is one of his previous works that used the original game content from Nintendo. However Pedro completely replaced the artwork with freely available images and sounds. Quite interesting for Java developers: The game requires no third-party libraries and uses only classes from the JDK. Pekka Kana 2 is another jump-and-run game from Finnish creator Janne Kivilahti. He kindly released his game under a permissive BSD-2-clause license.
Debian Java
  • I tackled several RC bugs in Java packages this month.
  • libjogl2-java (#887140): The package failed to build on several non-supported architectures. Since we are already glad that it works on amd64 I had to limit the support in debian/control to those architectures where the package may be useful.
  • lucene-solr (#919638): Solr refused to start with Tomcat 9 because of more strict permissions in Tomcat’s systemd service file. I initially tried to fix this in Tomcat but had to add a new systemd conf file to lucene-solr that overrides the permissions now.
  • javahelper (#923756): I implemented a workaround for Javadoc build failures that started to occur only two months ago after the OpenJDK 11 package was upgraded.
  • owasp-java-html-sanitizer (#923654): I removed the now non-existent build-dependency on libjsr305-java-doc.
  • sweethome3d (#924594): I had to replace the virtual dependency on icedtea-netx-common with icedtea-netx.
  • I triaged a RC bug in libitext-java (#923364). Unfortunately the bug submitter did not provide further information.
  • It is a bit sad that Netbeans is currently affected by a severe bug which makes it impossible to create new Java projects. (#925509) I tried to fix it but I am stuck now. Help is appreciated.
  • I provided a patch to fix RC bug #923759 in netlib-java.
  • The  ublock-origin addon does not work anymore with Firefox 66 in unstable (#925337) which is caused by a value in its manifest file, incognito:split, that is not supported by Firefox. Previous versions of Firefox just emitted a warning, now it is fatal. The same value works fine with Chromium. At the moment we provide one webextension package for both browsers in Debian but it looks like we have to consider to provide two different packages of ublock-origin again, to avoid such pitfalls in the future. I have filed #926586 to get more feedback.
Debian LTS

This was my thirty-seventh month as a paid contributor and I have been paid to work 29,5 hours on Debian LTS, a project started by Raphaël Hertzog. In that time I did the following:

  • From 25.03.2019 until 31.03.2019 I was in charge of our LTS frontdesk. I investigated and triaged CVE in twig, ruby2.1, znc, wpa, cloud-init, dovecot, edk2, activemq, bwa, tomcat8, mosquitto, gpsd, nuget, rails, robocode, libav and clamav.
  • DLA-1708-1. Issued a security update for zabbix fixing 2 CVE.
  • DLA-1711-1. Issued a security update for systemd fixing 1 CVE.
  • DLA-1733-1. Issued a security update for wpa fixing 1 CVE.
  • DLA-1736-1. Issued a security update for dovecot fixing 1 CVE.
  • DLA-1738-1. Issued a security update for gpsd fixing 1 CVE.
  • DLA-1739-1. Issued a security update for rails fixing 2 CVE.
  • DLA-1753-1. Issued a security update for proftpd-dfsg to fix several memory leaks. However it turned out that under certain conditions #926719 the daemon now closes sftp connections. This appears to be an upstream bug that was fixed in version 1.3.6. I will investigate if we have to revert to the previous version or if we can move forward.
  • DLA-1755-1. Issued a security update for graphicsmagick fixing 6 CVE.
  • While I was working on DLA-1755-1 I discovered a regression in jasper which I addressed with DLA-1628-2.

Extended Long Term Support (ELTS) is a project led by Freexian to further extend the lifetime of Debian releases. It is not an official Debian project but all Debian users benefit from it without cost. The current ELTS release is Debian 7 „Wheezy“. This was my tenth month and I have been paid to work 15 hours on ELTS.

  • I was in charge of our ELTS frontdesk from 11.03.2019 until 17.03.2019 and I triaged CVE in cron, ntp, gdk-pixbuf, glib2.0 and libssh2.
  • ELA-92-1. Issued a security update for xmltooling fixing 1 CVE.
  • ELA-94-1. Issued a security update for openssh fixing 3 CVE.
  • ELA-105-1. Issued a security update for sqlalchemy fixing 2 CVE.
  • I started to work on src:linux and will provide a new package next week.

Thanks for reading and see you next time.

Jonathan Carter: Help test Debian Live

14 April, 2019 - 03:38


During the stretch release period, it became apparent that very few people had been testing Debian Live, and some nasty bugs were discovered only during final release testing. The final stretch images for Debian live wasn’t quite up to the quality the Debian community deserved, and it lead to Steve McIntyre asking “IMPORTANT: Do live Debian images have a future?“.

I decided to get involved and have been doing testing and bug fixes throughout the buster release cycle, and with today’s builds, I think we’re at a point where we have something good that’s ready for wide-scale testing.

The Buster live images come with something new that a bunch of other distributions have also adopted, which is the Calamares installer. Calamares is an independent installer project (They call it “The universal installer framework”) which offers a Qt based interface for installing a system. It doesn’t replace debian-installer on the live images, rather, it serves a different audience. Calamares is really easy to use, with friendly guided partitioning and really simple full-disk encryption setup. It doesn’t cover all the advanced features of debian-installer (although it very recently got RAID support) and it doesn’t have an unattended install mode either. However, for 95%+ of desktop and laptop users, Calamares is a much easier way to get a system installed, which makes it very appropriate for live systems. For anyone who needs anything more complicated, or who’s doing a mass-install, debian-installer is still available in both text and GUI forms.

An image is worth a thousand words, so here’s a bunch of screenshots showing what Calamares looks like on our Gnome live image:

Calamares Intro screen. Select timezone and localisation. Select keyboard model, layout and variant. Partition disk and configure encryption. Configure user and password. Confirm choices. Wait for installer to do the rest. Reboot or continue live environment.

Download and test

Today’s images are available with the Cinnamon, Gnome, KDE, LXDE, LXqt, Mate, standard (text-only) and Xfce desktop environments for:

I haven’t yet tested the i386 images myself, so anything is possible there. We’re also planning an upcoming beta (well, it will be called a release candidate but that’s because it will be RC1 of debian-installer) so if anyone has some time to do some testing that would be great. It’s especially useful to test on a wide variety of supported hardware and ensure that things work as they should. We’re already looking a lot better than they last cycle, but that’s no reason to be overconfident.

Please file bugs for major problems or hardware support issues. Feature requests bugs or similar bugs aren’t really useful at this stage.

More screenshots

This wasn’t my personal first choice for default wallpaper, but I like its colours and they work really well with all the other elements.

ISO splash image when booting in legacy mode

GRUB boot loader Plymouth boot splash GDM Login Screen
Gnome desktop

What about bullseye?

The next Debian release, Debian 11, will be code named ‘bullseye’.

I’m planning to schedule a BoF at DebConf19 for Debian Live where we cover at least the following:

  • Reduce the number of i386 images. We currently have 8 of them and we probably just need one or two light variants for the i386 machines that’s still supported by Debian.
  • Get the desktop teams more involved. And ideally, have them test and sign off for their live variant for alphas, betas and the final release. If you’re a maintainer of a desktop environment, it would be great if you could attend this session.
  • Reduce the number of paper cuts in our live media. We’ve made some progress on these during this cycle, but there are some minor annoyances that remain that we’d like to completely eliminate next time.

Well, if you got this far, thanks for reading! You can also join us on irc on #debian-live and #debian-boot on the oftc network if you have any questions.

François Marier: Secure ssh-agent usage

13 April, 2019 - 20:45

ssh-agent was in the news recently due to the compromise. The main takeaway from that incident was that one should avoid the ForwardAgent (or -A) functionality when ProxyCommand can do and consider multi-factor authentication on the server-side, for example using libpam-google-authenticator or libpam-yubico.

That said, there are also two options to ssh-add that can help reduce the risk of someone else with elevated privileges hijacking your agent to make use of your ssh credentials.

Prompt before each use of a key

The first option is -c which will require you to confirm each use of your ssh key by pressing Enter when a graphical prompt shows up.

Simply install an ssh-askpass frontend like ssh-askpass-gnome:

apt install ssh-askpass-gnome

and then use this to when adding your key to the agent:

ssh-add -c ~/.ssh/key
Automatically removing keys after a timeout

ssh-add -D will remove all identities (i.e. keys) from your ssh agent, but requires that you remember to run it manually once you're done.

That's where the second option comes in. Specifying -t when adding a key will automatically remove that key from the agent after a while.

For example, I have found that this setting works well at work:

ssh-add -t 10h ~/.ssh/key

where I don't want to have to type my ssh password everytime I push a git branch.

At home on the other hand, my use of ssh is more sporadic and so I don't mind a shorter timeout:

ssh-add -t 4h ~/.ssh/key
Making these options the default

I couldn't find a configuration file to make these settings the default and so I ended up putting the following line in my ~/.bash_aliases:

alias ssh-add='ssh-add -c -t 4h'

so that I can continue to use ssh-add as normal and have not remember to include these extra options.

Lucas Nussbaum: Introducing Debian Trends: historical graphs about Debian packaging practices, and “packages smells”

13 April, 2019 - 15:29

This is a slightly edited copy of the mail sent to debian-devel@.

TL;DR: see and

Following this blog post I did some work on setting up a proper framework to graph historical trends about Debian packaging practices. The result is now available at, and I’m confident that I will be able to update this on a regular basis (every few months).

Additionally (and much more controversially I guess :-) ) I also added an analysis of “package smells”, such as “not using dh”, “not using a recent debhelper compat level”, “not using a 3.0 source format”, etc. I understand that in some cases there might be good reasons to keep those “smells”, but I find it valuable to have them presented in a more actionable way to fix the cases that should be fixed. So there’s a list of smells, sorted by maintainer/uploader.

Given that Debian is currently frozen to prepare the buster release, this is a bad time to start fixing those smells, but I will send a reminder to debian-devel@ once buster is released. (It’s interesting to see how the number of smells plateaued during previous freezes).

Bits from Debian: Bursary applications for DebConf19 are closing in less than 72 hours!

13 April, 2019 - 15:15

If you intend to apply for a DebConf19 bursary and have not yet done so, please proceed as soon as possible!

Bursary applications for DebConf19 will be accepted until April 15th at 23:59 UTC. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be considered.

You can apply for a bursary when you register for the conference.

Remember that giving a talk or organising an event is considered towards your bursary; if you have a submission to make, submit it even if it is only sketched-out. You will be able to detail it later. DebCamp plans can be entered in the usual Sprints page at the Debian wiki.

Please make sure to double-check your accommodation choices (dates and venue). Details about accommodation arrangements can be found on the accommodation page.

See you in Curitiba!


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