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Jonathan McDowell: The terrible PIC ecosystem

25 December, 2016 - 07:51

I recently had call to play with some 1-Wire devices at work (more of which in a future post). It was taking a while for the appropriate programmer to turn up, so of course I pulled out my trusty BusPirate. It turned out the devices in question would only talk in overdrive mode, while the Bus Pirate could only offer standard mode. So I set about trying to figure out how to add the appropriate support.

This is is a huge endorsement for test equipment with Free Software firmware. Rather than giving up I was able to go and grab the current firmware, which has been adopted by the community since Dangerous Prototypes have discontinued development. What let me down was the ecosystem around the PIC24FJ64GA002.

My previous recent experience with microcontrollers has been with the ATTiny range and the STM32. Getting up and running with both of these was fairly easy - the tool chains necessary were already present in Debian, so all it took was a simple apt invocation to get up and running.

Not so with the PIC series, which surprised me. There seems to be some basic support for the earlier PIC16 range, but for later chips there’s nothing that works out of the box with Debian. Investigation revealed that this was because there’s nothing maintained that enabled Free development for the PIC range. The accepted solution is the closed MPLAB X. Now, in one sense fair play to Microchip for making this available. But in another, shame on you. I can’t imagine ever choosing to build something based on a chip that only had a closed source tool chain available. I want things I can use in Makefiles and properly script, that are available in my distro of choice and that generally work in the same fashion as the tool chains I’m used to. I understand there might be some benefit in a closed compiler in terms of performance (and have HPC friends who would never trust a benchmark provided using GCC), but in general that’s not the space I move in. Nor does it seem to be the sort of attitude you should be taking if you are trying to attract the hobbyist and small production run market.

Any yet this seems common amongst hardware manufacturers. People whose core business is selling physical items, where the software is only relevant in terms of being able to use those items, seem to consider the software to be precious. Instead of opening up programming specifications and allowing a more widespread use of the hardware, increasing sales. I understand there are some cases where this isn’t practical, but the default attitude is definitely one of being closed rather than open, which is a terrible shame.

Anyway. I do have some Bus Pirate 1-Wire overdrive support now working (pending some testing to ensure standard mode still works), but I am glad I never spent a lot of time getting involved with PICs now.

Shirish Agarwal: Trains, Planes and the future

25 December, 2016 - 04:41

Swacch Bharat – Indian Railways Copyright: Indian Express

Some of the content may be NSFW. viewer discretion advised.

I have had a life-long fascination with trains. One of my first memories was that of 5-7 year old, clutching my mother or grandmother’s hand seeing the steam engine lumbering down whistling and smoking at the same time. I was both afraid and strangely drawn to the iron beast and the first time I knew and then slowly understood that if we come with luggage and the steam-engine comes, it means we are going to travel.

I have travelled some, but there is lots to explore still and I do hope that I cover some more of it during my lifetime. The reason I am writing about trains is an article which caught my eye couple of days. Besides seeing the changing geography, the variety of food one can get on train and in stations is one of the primary reasons that Indians love to travel by trains. It is one place where you could have incredible conversations over cup of tea or favourite food and unlike air travel and the famed IFE (In-flight entertainment) people are actually pretty social even with all the gadgets. For those who are wondering, the author was travelling between Jamshedpur, Gujarat to Kolkatta, a train ride which has now gone on my bucket list for the delectable items the author has described

To add to the above, it is still cheaper than air travel, although that is changing a bit as Indian Railways seeks to modernize Railways and make it into world-class bullet trains.

Indian Railways has a long, rich culture and some of the most interesting nuggets you learn over time adds to the fascination of the Railways. For instance I’m sharing this letter which I read first in book and then saw in the New Delhi Railway Museum. The letter I am sharing below was written by a certain Shri Okhil Chandra Sen to the Sahibganj Railway Office in year 1909, almost 38 years before India became independent.

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station.

“This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report! to papers.”

If it were not for Mr. Okhil Chandra Sen we would still be running with ‘water bottle’ (improvement) and jeans/shorts/whatever (again improvement) while the possibility of falling over would always be omnipresent in a hurry. Now we do have toilets and some of the better trains even have Bio-toilets which should make things better as well.(/NSFW)

For the plane bit, most of my flights have been domestic flying. Some of my most memorable flights is when flying from Mumbai on a clear sky overlooking the Queen’s necklace, loving it and landing in Bangalore during mist or rain or both. Delhi is also good as airports go but nothing much adventurous about it. It was only with the experience of my first international flight, I realized the same feeling again, nervousness and sense of adventure as you meet new people. Nowadays every week I do try and broaden my horizon by seeking and learning a bit about International Travel.

Copyright: National Geographic Magazine

In this I came across an article on National Geographic site which also evoked similar feelings. While I can’t go back to the past and even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to improve my financial situation a lot, it still makes you wonder about a time when people had lot more adventure and lot more moving parts. I do wish they had a much bigger snapshot of that plane so I could really see how people sat in the old aircraft. The low-resolution picture doesn’t do justice to the poster and the idea of that time.

For the average joe today, s/he has to navigate security,check bags, get her/imself processed through passport control, get boarding pass, get to the gate on-time, get to the aircraft via bridge or bus, get to the seat, somehow make it through the ascent and use your IFE and get snacks and meals till it’s time to touch-down and re-do the whole drill again as many times you are connecting. I really admire Gunnar Wolf for the tenacity he showed for the x number of connections he made both ways.

Photo – Courtesy Changi International Airport, Singapore

While leafing through the interweb today, came across an article . While you can slice and dice the report anyway you want for me if ever I get a chance again for an International Travel, I would try to see I get a layover at these three airports in order of preference (this is on the basis that none of these airports need a transit visa for the activities shared) –

a. Changi International Airport – It is supposed to have shower amenities, has a movie theatre (+1), free tour of the city (+1) and of course as many Indians do go to Singapore as a destination in itself would have multiple vegetarian options (+2) so would be nice if I need to layover.

b. Zurich Airport (ZRH) – “For passengers with an extended layover, Zurich Airport offers bicycle and inline-skate rentals and excursions to the Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne.” – From While I’m not much of a bicycle and inline-skating freak, if the Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne is anything to the scale of Isiko Museum which I shared in a blog post sometime before, it would be worth by itself. I haven’t tried to find the site but can imagine, for e.g. if it has a full-scale model of a submarine or train engine, either steam-engines or ones like SNCF or any of the other bullet-trains and early aircraft, it would just blow my mind. When you are talking about transport, there is so much science, business, logistics etc. that I’m sure I’ll overload with information, photos and any trinkets they have to buy.

c. Central Japan International Airport (NGO) – “It has a 1,000-foot-long sky deck where passengers can watch ships sail into Nagoya Port. There’s also a traditional Japanese bathhouse where you can have a relaxing soak while watching the sunset over the bay.” –

Not a bad place to be if you need a layover. Just sink yourself in the bathhouse and see the bay and ships coming in. Luxury indeed.

Honourable mention –

d. Munich Airport (MUC) – “A nearby visitors park features minigolf and a display of historic aircraft.” – . Now this would have made my list but I guess one would need a Schengen visa to access the visitors park but then if you have that, then why just stay in the Airport itself, could travel through Europe itself and have a longish stop-over.

So all in all, it’s indeed a fascinating time to be alive, dreaming and just being. Till later.

Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #Best Airports, #Central Japan International Airport, #Changi International Airport, #Food, #Loo, #Nostalgia, #NSFW, #Planes, #Steam Engine, #Trains, #Zurich Airport, Indian Railways, memories

Russ Allbery: rra-c-util 6.2

25 December, 2016 - 03:22

This is my general collection of utility functions, standard tests, and portability code, mostly for C but also including a fair bit of Perl these days.

This release improves probing for GCC and Clang warning flags (thanks to Guillem Jover for a good hint there), adds a new is_file_contents test function to the Perl Test::RRA module for comparing whole files, and adds a new test that scans for non-https URLs in my documentation. It also fixes some issues with the Perl strictness test caused by not requiring a new enough version of Test::Strict.

You can get the latest release from the rra-c-util distribution page.

Dirk Eddelbuettel: anytime 0.2.0: Feature, fixes and tests!

25 December, 2016 - 01:02

A brand new anytime package just arrived at CRAN. This is release number eight, evenly spread with over two per month, since the initial release in September. Needless to say I have been told off not to make this many releases. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

anytime is a very focused package aiming to do just one thing really well: to convert anything in integer, numeric, character, factor, ordered, ... format to either POSIXct or Date objects -- and to do so without requiring a format string. See the anytime page, or the GitHub for a few examples.

This releases does a few things:

  • It fixes a misfeature apparent in some timezones: anydate() would somehow wrap around and return the previous day by accident. This has been addressed by moving the conversion to date directly into the C++ side of things.
  • New format helpers were added to format datetime or dates objects according to ISO 7601, RFC 2822 or RFC 3339 (see examples below).
  • Testing is now more stringent with actual comparisons to equivalent base R results; that way we are get getting bitten by different timezones.

The following is a quick illustration

R> library(anytime)
R> p <- anytime("2010-01-02 03:04:05.123456")
R> p
[1] "2010-01-02 03:04:05.123456 CST"
R> iso8601(p)
[1] "2010-01-02 03:04:05"
R> rfc2822(p)
[1] "Sat, 02 Jan 2010 03:04:05.123456 -0600"
R> rfc3339(p)
[1] "2010-01-02T03:04:05.123456-0600"

For symmetry, it also works for dates, but is less detailed

R> jl <- anydate("July 04, 1789")
R> jl
[1] "1789-07-04"
R> iso8601(jl)
[1] "1789-07-04"
R> rfc2822(jl)
[1] "Sat, 04 Jul 1789"
R> rfc3339(jl)
[1] "1789-07-04"

Of course, all commands are also fully vectorised. See the anytime page, or the GitHub for more examples.

Changes in anytime version 0.2.0 (2016-12-24)
  • Added (exported) helper functions iso8601(), rfc2822() and rfc3339() to format date(time) objects according to standards

  • Conversion to dates is now more robust thanks to improved internal processing (PR #39 closing #36)

  • The ISO 8601 format is now recognised, however the timezone information is not parsed by Boost Date_Time (which is a known upstream limitation) (PR #38 closing #37)

  • The 'allFormats.R' test script was significantly strengthened (#40)

  • Test scripts like 'simpleTests.R' have as also been strengthened (#41); on Windows and in one file two tests need to be skipped.

  • A new 'bulkTest.R' test script was added testing parsing against what R returns

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

Russell Coker: Video Mode and KVM

24 December, 2016 - 17:15

I recently changed my KVM servers to use the kernel command-line parameter nomodeset for the virtual machine kernels so that they don’t try to go into graphics mode. I do this because I don’t have X11 or VNC enabled and I want a text console to use with the -curses option of KVM. Without the nomodeset KVM just says that it’s in 1024*768 graphics mode and doesn’t display the text.

Now my KVM server running Debian/Unstable has had it’s virtual machines start going into graphics mode in spite of nomodeset parameter. It seems that an update to QEMU has added a new virtual display driver which recent kernels from Debian/Unstable support with the bochs_drm driver, and that driver apparently doesn’t respect nomodeset.

The solution is to create a file named /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf with the contents “blacklist bochs_drm” and now my virtual machines have a usable plain-text console again! This blacklist method works for all video drivers, you can blacklist similar modules for the other virtual display hardware. But it would be nice if the one kernel option would cover them all.

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Russ Allbery: Review: Warchild

24 December, 2016 - 09:17

Review: Warchild, by Karin Lowachee

Series: Warchild #1 Publisher: Warner Aspect Copyright: April 2002 ISBN: 0-446-61077-1 Format: Mass market Pages: 451

In a future world of deep space stations and starship trade routes, Jos Musey grew up on a merchant ship with a loving family and typical childhood companions. But, at the age of eight, his ship was taken by pirates and he's taken as a slave. That might have been the end of his story, but after a year of captivity he manages to escape during an alien attack on a distant frontier station. Jos then learns more than he ever expected to learn about the ongoing deep space war between the human military and the aliens and their human sympathizers. From both sides.

Warchild feels so much like a collection of 1980s SF tropes that I'm a bit surprised it was published in 2002. Some of those have been part of SF well before the 1980s: the coming-of-age story of a child in space, deep-space combat and merchant fleets, pirates, and sketchy stations. But when one adds the Japanese-inspired philosophy and combat training, with a bit of Karate Kid feel, plus the (oddly bolted on) cyberpunk "burndiving," this book feels deeply embedded in a specific generation of SF storytelling.

That's not necessarily a drawback. I like some of those tropes. The martial arts training coupled with careful and patient psychology worked very well for me. It may be a bit stereotyped, but Lowachee is careful to never present it as Asian; it's an alien philosophy and environment, and although it happens to wear its influences on its sleeves, it makes no attempt to tie that to any particular human culture. And the philosophy and, more to the point, the approach Niko takes with Jos is exactly what Jos needs. That section of the book (the second) was by far my favorite. I wish the whole book had been like that.

Unfortunately, it's not. The first part is a deeply uncomfortable account of Jos's capture and enslavement (with bonus implied pedophilia). It's thankfully the shortest section of the book, but it's an endless parade of horrors that I didn't enjoy reading. Lowachee took the stylistic choice of writing it in the second person, which is a literary trick that rarely works for me and didn't work here. I'm sure the goal is to make it feel more immediate, but I didn't need this scene to be more immediate, and second person always reads as awkward and forced. If the authors write characters well, I will identify with them, but if I feel like I'm being forced to identify with them, I just start getting irritated.

The third part of the book goes in yet a different direction: military SF, complete with hazing, camaraderie, esprit de corps, and bloody combat, with an uncomfortable undertone of constant stress due to Jos's complex and dangerous position. I wanted this to be much shorter and wanted the book to return to the part that I really liked. Unfortunately, that's not to be; the tone of this section is the tone for the rest of the book. To be fair, it's better than I expected it to be, and Jos's recovery and coming-of-age continues in more subtle and more satisfying ways than at first it seemed like it would. But Lowachee complicates and largely breaks a recovery that I was hoping would proceed down a more peaceful path, and replaced a beautiful and interesting (if a bit stereotyped) environment with bog-standard military SF. If you like that sort of thing, there's a lot of that thing here, but I've read a lot of books with that setting and far fewer about an Asian-inspired martial alien philosophy.

I think Warchild has a bit too much stuff going on and not enough recovery space. The cyberpunk angle probably gets developed more in later books of the series (the next book is Burndive, which is the name for cyberpunk hacking in this book), but it felt bolted on here. Jos's story has multiple false starts and complications, and Lowachee keeps pulling the rug out from under him again until both he and the reader go a bit numb. The ending mostly works, but it's a brutal resolution to the complex psychological situation Lowachee sets up. This book reminds me a bit of C.J. Cherryh in that the characters seem constantly stressed beyond their ability to cope. I wanted something a bit kinder and softer.

Despite that, the psychology and the brief moments of understanding and light are compelling enough that I'm still tempted to read on in this series. The subsequent books follow other characters; maybe they'll be a bit less nasty to their protagonists.

Followed by Burndive.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Russ Allbery: C TAP Harness 4.1

24 December, 2016 - 09:05

This is a minor release of my test framework for C packages. The only notable addition is a new is_bool function in the test library, which compares a boolean value to a desired value. This doesn't add any functionality over ok, but sometimes code reads more clearly (particularly when testing for an expected false value).

Of note mostly to me, this is the first release with the documentation generated by DocKnot.

You can get the latest version from the C TAP Harness distribution page.

Alessio Treglia: Creativity Draws on the Deep Well of the Past

24 December, 2016 - 00:15


Octagonal Well in the Cloister of Giuliano da Sangallo, Faculty of Engineering,
Via Eudossiana, Rome

In the tetralogy “Joseph and His Brothers“, Thomas Mann states, “Deep is the well of the past...”. Sometimes this well is bottomless and it may appear far away and passed, yet all of our actions and everyday decisions come to life by its contents. It is the fundamental substrate, the raw material from which to draw the basic connections of our creativity.

The image of the well, used by Thomas Mann, is very significant. In symbolism, the well is the place where you take contact with the deep self and where to get water that gives life. The ancient times remind us of the socializing role of the well, invested with an aura of sacredness, where sharing with others took place. It was…

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

Petter Reinholdtsen: Appstream just learned how to map hardware to packages too!

23 December, 2016 - 16:30

I received a very nice Christmas present today. As my regular readers probably know, I have been working on the the Isenkram system for many years. The goal of the Isenkram system is to make it easier for users to figure out what to install to get a given piece of hardware to work in Debian, and a key part of this system is a way to map hardware to packages. Isenkram have its own mapping database, and also uses data provided by each package using the AppStream metadata format. And today, AppStream in Debian learned to look up hardware the same way Isenkram is doing it, ie using fnmatch():

% appstreamcli what-provides modalias \
Identifier: pymissile [generic]
Name: pymissile
Summary: Control original Striker USB Missile Launcher
Package: pymissile
% appstreamcli what-provides modalias usb:v0694p0002d0000
Identifier: libnxt [generic]
Name: libnxt
Summary: utility library for talking to the LEGO Mindstorms NXT brick
Package: libnxt
Identifier: t2n [generic]
Name: t2n
Summary: Simple command-line tool for Lego NXT
Package: t2n
Identifier: python-nxt [generic]
Name: python-nxt
Summary: Python driver/interface/wrapper for the Lego Mindstorms NXT robot
Package: python-nxt
Identifier: nbc [generic]
Name: nbc
Summary: C compiler for LEGO Mindstorms NXT bricks
Package: nbc

A similar query can be done using the combined AppStream and Isenkram databases using the isenkram-lookup tool:

% isenkram-lookup usb:v1130p0202d0100dc00dsc00dp00ic03isc00ip00in00
% isenkram-lookup usb:v0694p0002d0000

You can find modalias values relevant for your machine using cat $(find /sys/devices/ -name modalias).

If you want to make this system a success and help Debian users make the most of the hardware they have, please helpadd AppStream metadata for your package following the guidelines documented in the wiki. So far only 11 packages provide such information, among the several hundred hardware specific packages in Debian. The Isenkram database on the other hand contain 101 packages, mostly related to USB dongles. Most of the packages with hardware mapping in AppStream are LEGO Mindstorms related, because I have, as part of my involvement in the Debian LEGO team given priority to making sure LEGO users get proposed the complete set of packages in Debian for that particular hardware. The team also got a nice Christmas present today. The nxt-firmware package made it into Debian. With this package in place, it is not possible to use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT unit with only free software, as the nxt-firmware package contain the source and firmware binaries for the NXT brick.

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

Shirish Agarwal: My letter to Government of Maharashtra on Real Estate Rules and Regulation Draft rules

23 December, 2016 - 04:42

While I try to minimize Politics and Economics as much as I can on this blog, it sometimes surfaces. It is possible that some people may benefit or at least be aware.

A bit of background is necessary before I jump into the intricacies of the Real Estate Rules and Regulation Draft Rules 2016 (RERA) .

While even before, but since 2007/8 homeowners from across the country have been suffering at the hands of the builder/promoter for number of years. While it would be wrong to paint all the Real Estate Developers and Builders (we as in all tenants and homeowners hope there are good ones out there) many Real Estate Builders and promoters have cheated homeowners of their hard-earned money. This has also lessened the secondary market and tenants like me have to fight over morsels as supply is tight.

There were two broad ways in which the cheating was done –

a. Take deposits and run away i.e. fly by night operators – Here the only option for a homeowner is to file an FIR (First Information Report) and hope the culprits are caught. 99% of the time the builder/promoter goes somewhere abroad and the potential home buyers/home-owners are left holding the can. This is usually done by small real estate promoters and builders.

b. The big boys would take all or most money of the project, may register or not register the flat in your name, either build a quarter or half-finished building and then make excuses. There are some who do not even build. The money given is used by the builder/developer either for his own needs or using that money in some high-profile project which is expensive and may have huge returns. They know that home-owners can’t do anything, at the most go to the court which will take more than a decade or two during which time the developer would have interest-free income and do whatever he wants to do.

One of the bigger stories which came up this year was when the Indian Cricket Captain, M.S. Dhoni (cricket is a religion in India, and the cricketers gods for millions of Indians) had to end his brand engagement and ambassadorship from Amrapali Housing Group. Apparently, his wife Sakshi was on the Board of directors at Amrapali Housing and had to resign

The Government knew of such issues and had been working since last few years. Under the present Government, a Model Agreement and a Model Real Estate Rules and Regulation Bill was passed on 31st March and came into force on 1st May 2016.

India, similar to the U.S. and U.K. follows a federal structure. While I have shared this before, most of the laws in India fall in either of three lists, Central List, Concurrent Lists and State Lists. Housing for instance, is a state subject so any laws concerning housing has to be made by the state legislature.

Having a statutory requirement to put the bill in 6 months from 1st of May, the Government of Maharashtra chose to put the draft rules in public domain on 12th December 2016, about 10 days ago and there were efforts to let it remain low-key so people do not object as we are still in the throes of demonetisation. The Government could have easily asked an extension and as both the State and the Centre are of the same Political Party they would have easily got it.

With that, below is the e-mail I sent to

Sub – Some suggestions for RERA – biggest suggestion, need to give more time study the implications for house-owners.

Respected Sir/Madame,

I will be publishing the below mail as a public letter on my blog as well.

I am writing as a citizen, a voter, a potential home owner, currently a tenant . If houses supply is not in time, it is us, the tenants who have the most to lose as we have to fight over whatever is in the market. I do also hope to be a home buyer at some point in time so these rules would affect me also somewhere in the hazy future.

I came to know through the media that Maharashtra Govt. recently introduced draft rules for RERA Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 . I hope to impress upon you that these proposed Rules and Regulations need to be thoroughly revised and new draft rules shared with the public at large with proper announcement in all newspapers and proper time ( more than a month ) to study and give replies on the said matter.

My suggestions and complaints are as under –

a. The first complaint and suggestion is that the date between the draft regulations and suggestions being invited by members of public is and was too little 12 December 2016 – 23 December 2016 (only 11 days) for almost 90 pages of Government rules and regulations which needs multiple rounds of re-reading to understand the implications of the draft rules .

Add to that unlike the Central Building Legislation, Model Agreement which was prepared by Centre and also given wide publicity, the Maharashtra Govt. didn’t do any such publicity to bring it to the
notice of the people.

b. I ask where was the hurry to publish these draft rules now when everybody is suffering through the result of cash-crunch on top of other things. If the said draft rules were put up in January 2017, I am sure more people would have responded to the draft rules. Ir raises suspicion in the mind of everybody the timing of sharing the draft rules and the limited time given to people to respond.

E.g. – When TRAI (Telephone Regulatory Authority of India) asked for suggestion it gives more than a month, and something like housing which is an existential question for everybody, i.e. the poor, the middle and the rich, you have given pretty less time. While I could change my telephone service providers at a moment’s notice without huge loss, the same cannot be said either for a house owner (in case of builder) or a tenant as well. This is just not done.

c. The documents are at
under different sub-headings while the correct structure of the documents can be found at nared’s site . At the very least, the documents should have been in proper order.

Coming to some of the salient points raised both in the media and elsewhere –

1. On page 6 of Part IV-A Ext1 .pdf you have written

” Explanation.-The registration of a real estate project shall not be required,-

(i) for the purpose of any renovations or repair or redevelopment which does not involve marketing, advertisement, selling or new allotment of any apartment , plot or building as the case may be under
the real estate project; ” – RERA draft rules

What it means is that the house owner and by the same stroke the tenant would have absolutely no voice to oppose any changes made to the structure at any point of time after the building is built. This means the builder is free to build 12-14-16 even 20 stories building when the original plans were for 6-8-10. This rule gives the builder to do free for all till the building doesn’t get converted into a
society, a process which does and can take years to happen.

2. A builder has to take innumerable permissions from different authorities at each and every stage till possession of a said property isn’t handed over to a home buyer and by its extension to the tenant. Now any one of these authorities could sit on the papers and there is no accountability of by when papers would be passed under a competent authority’s desk. There was a wide belief that there would be some
rules and regulations framed in this regard but the draft rules are silent on the subject matter.

3. In Draft rule 5. page 8 of Part IV-A Ext1 .pdf you write –

“Withdrawal of amounts deposited in separate account.-(1) With regard to the withdrawal of amounts
deposited under sub-clause (D) of clause (l) of sub-section (2) of section 4, the following provisions shall apply:-

(i) For new projects which will be registered after commencement. – ”

Deposit in the escrow account is from now onwards. So what happens to the projects which are ongoing at the moment, either at the registration stage or at building stage, thousands of potential house owners would be left to fend for themselves. There needs to be some recourse for them as well.

3b. Another suggestion is that the house-owners are duly informed when promoters/builders are taking money from the bank and should have the authority to see that proper documents and procedure was followed. It is possible that unscrupulous elements may either bypass it or give some different documents which are not in knowledge of the house-owner, thus defeating the purpose of the escrow account itself.

4. On page 44 of Pt.IV-A Ext. 161 in the Model Agreement to be entered
between the Promoter and the Alottee you have mentioned –

The Allottee hereby agrees to purchase from the Promoter and the Promoter hereby agrees to sell to the Allottee one Apartment No. ………….. of the type ………….. of carpet area admeasuring ……………….. sq. metres on ………… floor in the building __________along with (hereinafter referred to as “the Apartment”) as shown in the Floor plan thereof hereto annexed and marked Annexures C
for the consideration of Rs. ………………. including Rs. ………………. being the proportionate price of the common areas and facilities appurtenant to the premises, the nature, extent and description of the common/limited common areas and facilities which are more particularly described in the Second Schedule annexed herewith. (the price of the Apartment including the proportionate price of the limited common areas and facilities and parking spaces should be shown separately).

(ii) The Allottee hereby agrees to purchase from the Promoter and the Promoter hereby agrees to sell to the Allottee garage bearing Nos ____ situated at _______ Basement and/or stilt and /or ____podium being
constructed in the layout for the consideration of Rs. ____________/-

(iii) The Allottee hereby agrees to purchase from the Promoter and the Promoter hereby agrees to sell to the Allottee Car parking spaces bearing Nos ____ situated at _______ Basement and/or stilt and /or ____podium and/or open parking space, being constructed in the layout for the
consideration of Rs. ____________/-.

The total aggregate consideration amount for the apartment including garages/car parking spaces is
thus Rs.______/- ” – Draft rules.

What has been done here is the parking space has been divorced from sale of the flat . It is against natural justice, logic, common sense as well-known precedent in jurisprudence (i.e. law)

In September 2010, the bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik had ruled in a judgement stating developers cannot sell parking spaces as independent real-estate units. The court ruled that parking areas are ‘common areas and facilities’. This was on behalf of a precedent in Mumbai High Court as well.

This has been reiterated again and again in courts as well as consumer

and has been the norm in several Apartment Acts over multiple states –

5. In case of dispute, the case will high court which is inundated by huge number of pending cases.

As recently as August 2016 there was a news item in Indian Express which talks about the spike in pending cases. Putting a case in the high court will weigh heavily on the homeowner, financially and

It may be better to use the services of ‘National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’ (NCDRC) where there is possibility of quicker justice and quick resolution.

6. There is neither any clarity, incentive or punitive action against the promoter/builder if s/he delay conveyance to the society in order to get any future developmental and FSI rights. To delay handing over
conveyance, the builders delay completion of the last building in a said project. there should be punitive action against the builder if he is unable to prove any genuine cause.

7. There needs to be the provision with regard to need for developers to make public disclosures pertaining to building approvals. This while I had shared above needs to be explicitly mentioned so house-owners know the promoter/builder are on the right path.

8. There needs to be a provision that prohibits refusal to sell property to any person on the basis of his/her religion, marital status or dietary preferences.

9. There is lot of ambiguity if criminal proceedings can be initiated against a promoter/developer if s/he fails to deliver the flat on time.

The developer should be criminally liable if he doesn’t give the flat with all the amenities, fixtures and anything which was on agreement signed by both parties and for which the payment has been given in
full at time of possession of a flat.

10. Penalties for the promoter/builder is capped at 10% in case of any wrong-doing. Apart from proving the charge, the onus of which would lie on the house-owner, capping it at 10% is similar to –

A teacher telling a naughty student, do whatever you want to do, I am only going to hit you 5 times.

Such a drafting encourages the Promoter/builder to play mischief. The builder knows his exposure is pretty limited. Liability is limited so he will try to get with whatever he can. Having a high penalty clause will deter him.

11. There was talk and shown in the Center’s model agreement the precedent of providing names, addresses and contact details of other allot-tees or home-owners of a building that would have multiple dwelling units . This is nowhere either in the agreement or mentioned anywhere else in the four documents.

12. An addition to the above would be that the details provided should be correct and updated as per the records maintained by the Promoter/builder.

While the above is what I could perceive in the limited amount I came to know. This should be enough to convince that more needs to be done from the house-owner’s side.

Update – Just saw Quint’s Op-Ed goes in more detail.

Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #Draft Rules for Real Estate Rules and Regulation (2016), #hurry, #Name, #Response, Amrapali Group, Contact details of other hom-owners in a scheme., M.S. Dhoni

Urvika Gola: Outreachy- Week 1,2 Progress

23 December, 2016 - 03:01

Since the past few weeks I have been researching and working on  creating a white label version of Lumicall with my mentors Daniel, Juliana and Bruno.

Lumicall is a free and convenient app for making encrypted phone calls from Android. It uses the SIP protocol to interoperate with other apps and corporate telephone systems. Think of any app that you use to call others using an SIP ID.

What does it mean to make a  “white label” version of Lumicall?
White labelling is the idea of taking the whole or piece of Lumicall’s code by business users and tweaking it according to their requirements and functionality they want.

The white label version would have client’s name, logo, icons, themes etc which reflect their brand. Although, the underlying working of both the applications would be same.

Think of it like getting a cake from the local bakery, putting it into a home baking dish and passing it off as something you made in front of your friends and earning all the praise. Except cake is more appealing than apps.
What whitelabelling does is it takes away the pain of collecting cake ingredients, mixing them in right proportion, baking at the right temprature and uses the experience of one cake base to create more and more fancier, prettier, grander cakes. This lets the cool bakers (or the business users of lumicall) to focus on other aspects of the party like decoration, games and drinks (or monetization, publicity and new features)

Now you would wonder who these cool bakers or business users of lumicall would be?

  • Existing SIP providers can use white label version of Lumicall to expand their business and launch SIP client. This would provide a one stop shop for them!!
  • New SIP clients/developers can use Lumicall white label version to get the underlying working of making encrypted phone calls using SIP protocol, it will help them to focus on other additional functionalities they would like to include.
  • Moreover,  Companies that have existing clients such as shopping apps, social network apps can benefit from integrating lumicall to launch new business ideas

While researching this work that despite the commonalities, there would need to be a unique identifier for any application in the app store.

I found that there is difference between the package name and the applicationID. When I create a new project in Android Studio, the applicationId exactly matches the Java-style package name I chose during setup. However, the application ID and package name are independent of each other beyond this point. The thing to keep in mind is that app stores identify as a changed application ID as a different app altogether.

So if I were to make  N separate copies of the application code for N clients, it would be a maintenance nightmare, If the build system is Gradle, using product flavors is a trick that will make this maintenance easier. Instead of N separate copies, I would simply have N product flavors. Each flavor corresponds to a customized version of my application. Pro, free, whitelable are the basic flavors I have identified.  

Each flavor would use the same source code and files of the application but resources, icons, manifests etc that are specific to each flavor can be defined again in main/src/flavor_name directory under res folders etc. according to the requirement.

Here is a snippet from my build.gradle file::

Note: You have to define at least two flavors to be able to build multiple variants.
Because once you have flavors, you can only build “flavored” application. You can’t just build “default” configuration anymore. Define an empty flavor, with no applicationIdSuffix at all, and it will use all of the default config section.

This week I’d be moving forward with the implementation of whitelabelling using productFlavors in Lumicall.
I would love to hear from someone who has done this before!
Comment here or email me and I promise you an excellent home-made-store-brought cake!
Wishing you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS! !

Shirish Agarwal: The wine and dine at debconf16

22 December, 2016 - 15:51

FOR the Wine Connoisseur

All photos courtesy KK . If any deviations, would put up labels sharing whose copyright it is.

Before I get into all of that, I was curious about Canada and taking the opportunity of debconf happening there in a few months, asked few people what they thought of digital payments, fees and expenses in their country and if plastic cash is indeed used therein.

The first to answer was Tyler McDonald (no idea if he is anyway related to the fast-food chain McDonalds which is a worldwide operation.) This is what he had to say/share –

You can use credit / debit cards almost everywhere. Restaurant waiters also usually have wireless credit / debit terminals that they will bring to your table for you to settle your bill.

How much your bank charges depends on your Canadian bank and the banking plan you are on. For instance, on my plan through the Bank Of Montreal, I get (I think) 20 free transactions a month and then after that I’m charged $0.50CDN/piece. However, if I go to a Bank Of Montreal ATM and withdraw cash, there is no service fee for that.

There is no service fee for using *credit* cards, only *debit* cards tend to have the fee.

I live in a really rural area so I can’t always get to a Bank Of Montreal machine for cash. So what I usually end up doing, is either pay by credit and then pay of the balance right away so I don’t have to pay interest, or when I do use my bank card to pay for something, I ask if I can get cash back as well.

Yes, Canada converted to plastic notes a few years ago. We’ve also eliminated the penny. For cashless transactions, you pay the exact amount billed. If you’re paying somebody in cash, it is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. And for $1 or $2, instead of notes, we’ve moved over to coins.

I personally like the plastic notes. They’re smoother and feel more durable than the paper notes. I’ve had one go through a laundry load by accident and it came out the other side fine.

Another gentleman responded with slightly more information which probably would interest travellers from around the world, not just Indians –

Quebec has its own interbank system called Interac ( Quebec is a very proud and independent region and for many historical reasons they want to stand on their own, which is why they support their local systems. Some vendors will support only Interac for debit card transactions (at least this was the case when I stayed there the beginning of this decade, it might have changed a bit). *Most* vendors (including supermarkets like Provigo, Metro, etc) will accept major credit and debit cards, although MasterCard isn’t accepted as widely there as Visa is. So, if you have one of both, load up your Visa card instead of your MasterCard or get a prepaid Visa card from your bank. They support chip cards everywhere so don’t worry about that. If you have a 5 digit pin on any of your cards and a vendor asks you for a 4 digit pin, it will work 90%+ of the times if you just enter the first 4 digits, but it’s usually a good idea to go change your pin to a 4 digit just to be safe.

From the Indian perspective all of the above fits pretty neat as we also have Pin and Chip cards (domestically though most ATMs still use the magnetic strip and is suspected that the POS terminals aren’t any better.) That would be a whole different story so probably left for another day.

I do like the bit about pocketing the change tip. As far as number of free transactions go, it was pretty limited in India for few years before the demonetization happening now.

Few years before, I do remember doing as many transactions on the ATM as I please but then ATM’s have seen a downward spiral in terms of technology upgradation, maintenance etc. There is no penalty to the bank if the ATM is out-of-order. If there was significant penalty then we probably would have seen banks taking more care of ATM’s. It is a slightly more complex topic hence would take a stab at it some other day.

Do hope though that the terms for ATM usage for bank customers become lenient similar to Canada otherwise it would be difficult for Indians to jump on the digital band-wagon as you cannot function without cheap, user-friendly technology.

The image has been taken from this fascinating article which appeared in Indian Express couple of days back.

Coming back to the cheese and wine in the evening. I think we started coming back from Eagle Encounters around 16:30/17:00 hrs Cape Town time. Somehow the ride back was much more faster and we played some Bollywood party music while coming back (all cool). Suddenly remembered that I had to buy some cheese as I hadn’t bought any from India. There is quite a bit of a post where I’m trying to know/understand if spices can be smuggled (which much later I learnt I didn’t need to but that’s a different story altogether), I also had off-list conversations with people about cheese as well but wasn’t able to get any good recommendations. Then saw that KK bought Mysore Pak (apparently she took a chance not declaring it) which while not being exactly cheese fit right into things. In her own words “a South Indian ghee sweet fondly nicknamed ‘the blocks of cholesterol’ and ‘reason #3 for bypass surgery’.” – KK

So with Leonard’s help we stopped at a place where it looked like a chain of stores. Each store was selling something. Seeing that, I was immediately transported to Connaught Place, Delhi

The image comes from which attempts to explain Connaught Place. While the article is okish, it lacks soul and not written like a Delhite would write or anybody who has spent a chunk having spent holidays at CP. Another day, another story, sorry.

What I found interesting about the stores while they were next to each other, I also eyed an alcohol shop as well as an Adult/Sex shop. I asked Leonard as to how far we were from UCT and he replied hardly 5 minutes by car and was shocked to see both alcohol and a sex shop. While an alcohol shop some distance away from a college is understandable, there are few and far around Colleges all over India, but adult shops are a rarity.

Unfortunately, none of us have any photos of the place as till that time everybody’s phone was dead or just going to be dead and nobody had thought to bring a portable power pack to juice our mobile devices.

A part of me was curious to see what the sex shop would have and look from inside, but as was with younger people didn’t think it was appropriate.

All of us except Jaminy and someone else (besides Leonard) decided to stay back, while the rest of us went inside to explore the stores. It took me sometime to make my way to the cheese corner and had no idea which was good and which wasn’t. So with no idea of brands therein, the only way to figure out was the pricing. So bought two, one a larger 500 gm cheap piece and a smaller slightly more expensive one just to make sure that the Debian cheese team would be happy.

We did have a mini-adventure as for sometime Jaminy was missing, apparently she went goofing off or went to freshen up or something and we were unable to connect with her as all our phones were dead or dying.

Eventually we came back to UCT, barely freshened up when it was decided by our group to go and give our share of goodies to the cheese and wine party. When I went up to the room to share the cheese, came to know they needed a volunteer for cutting veggies etc.

Having spent years seeing ‘Yan Can Cook’

and having practised quite a bit tried to do some fancy decoration and some julian cutting but as we got dull knives and not much time, just did some plain old cutting

The Salads, partly done by me.

I have to share I had a fascinating discussion about cooking in Pressure Cookers. I was under the assumption that everybody knows how to use Pressure Cookers as they are one of the simplest ways to cook food without letting go of all the nutrients. At least, I believe this to be predominant in the Asian subcontinent and even the chinese have similar vessels for cooking.

I use what is called the first generation Pressure Cooker. I have been using a 1.5 l Prestige Pressure Cooker over half a decade, almost used daily without issues.

1.5 Litre Pressure Cooker with gasket and everything.

There are also induction pressure cookers nowadays in the Indian market and this model

Best cooker for doing Basmati Biryanis and things like that.

Basmati is long-grain, aromatic rice which most families used in very special occasions such as festivals, marriages, anything good and pure is associated with the rice.

I had also shared my lack of knowledge of industrial Microwave Ovens. While I do get most small Microwave Ovens like these , cooking in industrial ovens I simply have no clue.

Anyways, after that conversation I went back, freshened up a bit and sometime later found myself in the middle of this –

Random selection of wine bottles from all over the world.

Also at times found myself in middle of this –


I tried quite a few chocolates but the best one I liked (don’t remember the name) was a white caramel chocolate which literally melted into my mouth. Got the whole died and went to heaven experience. Who said gluttony is bad

Or this –

French Bread, Wine and chaos

As can be seen the French really enjoy their bread. I do remember a story vaguely (don’t remember if it was a children’s fairy tale or something) about how the French won a war through their french bread.

Or this –

Juices for those who love their health

We also had juices for the teetotaller or who can’t handle drinks. Unsurprisingly perhaps, by the end of the session, almost all the different wines were finito while there was still some juices left to go around.

From the Indian perspective, it wasn’t at all exciting, there were no brawls, everybody was too civilized and everybody staggered off when they met their quota. As I was in holiday spirit, stayed up late, staggered to my room, blissed out and woke up without any headache.

Pro tip – Drink lots and lots and lots of water especially if you are drinking. It flushes out most of the toxins and also helps in not having after-morning headaches. If I’m going drinking, I usually drown myself in at least a litre or two of water, even if I had to the bathroom couple of times before going to bed.

All in all, a perfect evening. I was able to connect/talk with some of the gods whom I had wanted to for a long time and they actually listened. Don’t remember if I mumbled something or made some sense in small-talk or whatever I did. But as shared, a perfect evening

Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #ATM usage, #Canada, #Cheese and Wine party, #Cheese shopping, #Connaught Place Delhi, #Debconf16, #Debit card, #French bread, #Julian cutting, #Mysore Pak, #white caramel chocolate

John Goerzen: Singing with Kids

22 December, 2016 - 08:35

For four years now, we’ve had a tradition: I go up to the attic one night, make a lot of noise, and pretend to be Santa. The boys don’t think Santa is real, but they get a huge kick out of this anyway.

The other day, this wound up with me singing a duet with my 7-year-old Oliver, and seeing a hugely delighted 10-year-old Jacob.

All last week, the boys had been lobbying for me to “be Santa”. They aren’t going to be able to be here on Christmas day this year, so I thought – why not let them have some fun. I chose one present to give them early too.

So, Saturday night, I said they could get ready for Santa. They found some cookies somewhere, got out some milk. And Oliver wrote this wonderful note to “Santa”:

That is a note I’m going to keep for a long time. He helpfully drew arrows pointing to the milk, cookies, and even the pen. He even started Santa’s reply at the bottom!

So, Saturday night, I snuck up to the attic, pretended to be Santa, and ate some cookies, drank some milk, and wrote Oliver a note. And I left a present.

Jacob has been really getting into music lately, and Laura suggested I find something for the boys. I went looking for something that could record also, and came up with what has got to be a kid’s dream: a karaoke machine.

The particular one I found came with two microphones, a CD player, audio recording onto SD card (though it’s a little dodgy), and a screen for showing words on any music that’s karaoke-enhanced.

Cue gasps of awe and excitement from the boys when we came down in our PJs and sweats at 6:45 Sunday morning to check it out.

Jacob excitedly began exploring all the knobs and options on it (they were particularly fond of the echo feature), while Oliver wanted to sing. So we found one of his favorite Christmas songs, and here he is singing it with me.

When you have a system with a line in, line out, and several microphone jacks, you can get creative. With a few bits of adapters from my attic, the headset I use for amateur radio worked with it perfectly. Add on a little mic extension cord, and pretty soon Oliver was pretending to be an announcer for a football game!

Then, Oliver decided he would act out a football game while Jacob and I were the announcers.

Something tells me there will be much fun had with this over the next while!

Just wait until I show them how to hook up a handheld radio to it in order to make a remotely-activated loudspeaker…

Dimitri John Ledkov: Ubuntu Archive and CD/USB images complete migration to 4096 RSA singing keys

22 December, 2016 - 01:24

Enigma machine photo by Alessandro Nassiri [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Ubuntu Archive and CD/USB image use OpenPGP cryptography for verification and integrity protection. In 2012, a new archive signing key was created and we have started to dual-sign everything with both old and new keys.

In April 2017, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) will go end of life. Precise was the last release that was signed with just the old signing key. Thus when Zesty Zapus is released as Ubuntu 17.04, there will no longer be any supported Ubuntu release that require the 2004 signing keys for validation.

The Zesty Zapus release is now signed with just the 2012 signing key, which is 4096 RSA based key. The old 2004 signing keys, where were 1024 DSA based, have been removed from the default keyring and are no longer trusted by default in Zesty and up. The old keys are available in the removed keys keyring in the ubuntu-keyring package, for example in case one wants to verify things from

Thus the signing key transition is coming to an end. Looking forward, I hope that by 18.04 LTS time-frame the SHA-3 algorithm will make its way into the OpenPGP spec and that we will possibly start a transition to 8096 RSA keys. But this is just wishful thinking as the current key strength, algorithm, and hashsums are deemed to be sufficient.

Holger Levsen: 20161221-debian-edu-sprint-in-oslo

22 December, 2016 - 00:43
What we did at the Debian Edu / Skolelinux gathering in November 2016 in Oslo

From November 25 to 27 some people met in the hackerspace bitraf in downtown Oslo. On Saturday and Sunday we met in the morning and hacked and translated all day until we went for dinners in the evening. Despite the short time I think we managed to get a lot done and had good fun, so I'm hoping we'll have another gathering in 2017!

Debian Edu / Skolelinux is currently in better shape regarding the upcoming Debian release than we ever have been, which is pretty awesome. Today, on December 21st, all our changes are in Stretch, except for debian-edu-artwork.git, which awaits a desktop-base upload to unstable… the only thing missing is being able to install Debian Edu using our profiles from official media… releasing Debian Edu Stretch on the same day as Debian Stretch would be a huge success though!

These are the notes taken in a pad (thanks riseup!) during the meeting:

Phil Hands worked on

  • improving automated tests of d-i and Debian Edu installations using
  • Managed to get the Main Server install to the point where it should be runnable regularly on jenkins
  • Worked around the current breakage in plymouth. Confirmed that the Standalone install is currently
  • sabotaged by KDE, despite it supposedly being MATE (this took quite a while).
  • Meanwhile, made some small steps towards making the Cucumber setup more flexible when adding new scenarios.

Knut Yrvin worked on

  • testing Debian Edu Stretch installations

Ingrid Yrvin worked on

  • reviewing translations to Norwegian

Ole-Erik Yrvin worked on

  • translating the Debian Edu manual to Norwegian
  • translating the Debian Edu Administrators Handbook (ITIL) to Norwegian

Wolfgang Schweer worked on

  • fixing PXE installations from installed Debian Edu servers
  • fixing desktop entries for our Mate desktop (Xfce benefits as well)
  • updating
  • testing sitesummary server/client with patch provided by Petter
  • testing if MATE functionalities (caja, atril, some mimetypes) are improved compared to jessie (they are)
  • filed bug #845997 about wrong mate-session priority.
  • discussed pros and cons of various DEs and the choice of DE to install
  • tested menu integration/translation for Xfce, LXQt, Plasma and MATE
  • gave assistance to install the Debian Edu combi server (workaround plymouth the issue in d-i environment)

Petter Reinholdtsen worked on

  • #832342 sitesummary: fails to extract information w/ recent stretch linux-images
  • Assisted norwegian translators.

Dominik George worked on

  • xrdp
    • xrdp upload to unstable: new upstream version with some fixes, closing four bugs.
    • thus prepare xrdp for the 0.9.1 release that upstream will do, in cooperation with Debian, before the freeze.
    • preparing uploads of guacamole-(client|server) to unstable
  • guacamole
    • Ported guacamole-server code to OpenSSL 1.1.
    • Did a guacamole-server license/copyright review.
    • Java help needed:
  • shared some nice/horrible experiences from school IT realities in Germany
  • gave a talk/initiated a discussion about Skolelinux Cloud / Skolelinux as a Service / evilly fighting Google Apps for Education
  • fixed #834065 (gosa-plugin-sudo: sudoHost does not allow '.' in GOsa, host.domain is not possible to be entered)
  • had an online meeting with the Teckids kids who need to teach Debian to their fellows tomorrow because I am in Oslo
  • set up some things for the pkg-remote team, which is the new umbrella for greate Debian remote desktop experience, needed by Debian Edu among others

Holger Levsen worked on

  • this report
  • getting icinga2 back into stretch
  • filed #845765 RM: nagios3 -- ROM; unfixed security uploads, no maintainer upload since 2 years
  • mentoring people
  • discussed some unexplained changes in src:debian-edu and made sure we get a useful debian/changelog entry
  • filed #845760 and #845762 against src:blends-dev
  • update wiki status pages
  • create sitesummary.git pkg testing job
  • uploaded sitesummary 0.1.26
  • uploaded debian-edu 1.915
  • filed #846002 "blends-tasks must be priority:standard and not make a mess out of tasksel menu"
  • filed #846003 "debian-cd: please provide different flavor/spins of netinst images"
  • filed #846005 "debian-cd: please provide flavor/spin netinst image with blends-tasks installed"
  • filed #846006 "debian-cd: please provide flavor/spin netinst image for Debian Edu"
  • retitled and updated #474745: "debian-edu-config: please dont enable non-free by default"
  • retitled #588510 rename thin-client-server profile to ltsp-server-profile (=found the name…!)
  • finally, uploaded debian-edu-doc 1.912~20161129

Mike Gabriel was sick and couldnt come to Oslo and worked at home instead:

  • smarty3 3.1.30-1 -> unstable
  • smarty-gettext 1.5.0-1 -> unstable, split up the plugin from tsmarty2c script. This avoids php-cli being pulled in when the plugin is needed only
  • smarty-lexer 3.1.30+dfsg1-1 -> unstable
  • argonaut 0.9.8-1 -> unstable (not so much Edu related)
  • fusiondirectory 1.0.17-1 -> unstable (not so much Edu related)
  • atril 1.16.1-1 -> unstable
  • mate-themes 3.22.4-1 -> unstable

Thanks to the Debian sprints programm and our sponsors for supporting the travel of Wolfgang, Dominik, Phil and myself! Mike opted out from reimbursement as he couldn't travel due to sickness.

Bits from Debian: Free FPGA programming with Debian

22 December, 2016 - 00:15

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) are increasingly popular for data acquisition, device control and application acceleration. Debian now features a completely Free set of tools to program FPGA in Verilog, prepare the binary and have it executed on an affordable device.

See for details. Readers familiar with the technology may rightly guess that this refers to the yosys package together with berkeley-abc, arachne-"Place-and-Route" and the icestorm tools to communicate with the device.

The packages have been contributed by the Debian Science team.

We hope this effort to support the FPGA community to collect an increasing number of skills to further smoothen the Open Source experience and lower the entry barriers for this tantalising technology.

Norbert Preining: Cornelia Travnicek – Junge Hunde

21 December, 2016 - 23:33

A novel on late adolescence and self-finding, set on a mixture of stages ranging from Vienna, its Hinterland, to China. The recent book of the Viennese young writer Cornelia Travnicek (official page, WikiPedia) tells a complicated story about finding and loosing your parents.

The main actors, Johanna, always helpful and supportive of those around here, and Ernst, a Chinese adoptive son in Austria, are good friends since early childhood. He sets out to find his parents in China, while she has to deal with profound change in her own world while worrying about his travel and distance.

Although in principle a nice and interesting story, I felt that the book is at times weighting too much on sentiments, second hand sentiments, and trying to extend the story. By itself this wouldn’t be a problem if the language would be of a great story teller, but in this case it just extends and gave me hard time continue reading. The surprising ending isn’t that surprising, a single line 2/3 through the book just let it slip so that it is clear who is the father.

All in all not a bad book, but I wouldn’t recommend it from the depth of my heart. Still, as Viennese I felt a bit nostalgic with parts of dialect appearing in the book.

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 86 in Stretch cycle

21 December, 2016 - 02:31

What happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday December 11 and Saturday December 17 2016:

Reproducible builds world summit

The 2nd Reproducible Builds World Summit was held in Berlin, Germany on December 13th-15th. The event was a great success with enthusiastic participation from an extremely diverse number of projects. Many thanks to our sponsors for making this event possible!

Whilst there is an in-depth report forthcoming, the Guix project have already released their own report.

Media coverage Reproducible work in other projects Documentation update

A large number of revisions were made to the website during the summit, including re-structuring existing content and creating a concrete plan to move the wiki content to the website:

Elsewhere in Debian
  • Chris Lamb submitted a patch for dak to preserve .buildinfo files on the local ftp-master filesystem. This is a temporary measure to prevent some "historical" data loss; the files are currently being silently discarded.
Packages reviewed and fixed, and bugs filed

Chris Lamb:

Daniel Shahaf:

Reiner Herrmann:

Reviews of unreproducible packages

9 package reviews have been added, 19 have been updated and 17 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues.

3 issue types have been added:

One issue type was updated:

Weekly QA work

During our reproducibility testing, some FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by:

  • Chris Lamb (9)
diffoscope development reprotest development trydiffoscope development
  • trydiffoscope was split from the main diffoscope repository by Chris Lamb so that the two projects can be released independently and so that trydiffoscope can more easily be available on PyPI. It also simplifies the diffoscope packaging.

  • trydiffoscope 64 was uploaded to unstable by Chris Lamb.


This week's edition was written by Chris Lamb and reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC and via email.

Mario Lang: Squarepusher's Shobaleader One

20 December, 2016 - 18:07

I recently was lucky enough to see one of my long-time favourite drum and bass artists live! Squarepusher! I know and love his music since the late 90s.

My girlfriend got us tickets for the Shobaleader One performance at Progy & Bess in Vienna. It was fantastic! 90 minutes of high energy jazz.

As a personal memory, I captured one of my favourite Squarepusher tracks, Cooper's World. This is another case of #unseenphotography.

While I am usually not very much into jazz, I like this fusion of dnb and jazz very much.

Petter Reinholdtsen: Isenkram updated with a lot more hardware-package mappings

20 December, 2016 - 17:55

The Isenkram system I wrote two years ago to make it easier in Debian to find and install packages to get your hardware dongles to work, is still going strong. It is a system to look up the hardware present on or connected to the current system, and map the hardware to Debian packages. It can either be done using the tools in isenkram-cli or using the user space daemon in the isenkram package. The latter will notify you, when inserting new hardware, about what packages to install to get the dongle working. It will even provide a button to click on to ask packagekit to install the packages.

Here is an command line example from my Thinkpad laptop:

% isenkram-lookup  

It can also list the firware package providing firmware requested by the load kernel modules, which in my case is an empty list because I have all the firmware my machine need:

% /usr/sbin/isenkram-autoinstall-firmware -l
info: did not find any firmware files requested by loaded kernel modules.  exiting

The last few days I had a look at several of the around 250 packages in Debian with udev rules. These seem like good candidates to install when a given hardware dongle is inserted, and I found several that should be proposed by isenkram. I have not had time to check all of them, but am happy to report that now there are 97 packages packages mapped to hardware by Isenkram. 11 of these packages provide hardware mapping using AppStream, while the rest are listed in the modaliases file provided in isenkram.

These are the packages with hardware mappings at the moment. The marked packages are also announcing their hardware support using AppStream, for everyone to use:

air-quality-sensor, alsa-firmware-loaders, argyll, array-info, avarice, avrdude, b43-fwcutter, bit-babbler, bluez, bluez-firmware, brltty, broadcom-sta-dkms, calibre, cgminer, cheese, colord, colorhug-client, dahdi-firmware-nonfree, dahdi-linux, dfu-util, dolphin-emu, ekeyd, ethtool, firmware-ipw2x00, fprintd, fprintd-demo, galileo, gkrellm-thinkbat, gphoto2, gpsbabel, gpsbabel-gui, gpsman, gpstrans, gqrx-sdr, gr-fcdproplus, gr-osmosdr, gtkpod, hackrf, hdapsd, hdmi2usb-udev, hpijs-ppds, hplip, ipw3945-source, ipw3945d, kde-config-tablet, kinect-audio-setup, libnxt, libpam-fprintd, lomoco, madwimax, minidisc-utils, mkgmap, msi-keyboard, mtkbabel, nbc, nqc, nut-hal-drivers, ola, open-vm-toolbox, open-vm-tools, openambit, pcgminer, pcmciautils, pcscd, pidgin-blinklight, printer-driver-splix, pymissile, python-nxt, qlandkartegt, qlandkartegt-garmin, rosegarden, rt2x00-source, sispmctl, soapysdr-module-hackrf, solaar, squeak-plugins-scratch, sunxi-tools, t2n, thinkfan, thinkfinger-tools, tlp, tp-smapi-dkms, tp-smapi-source, tpb, tucnak, uhd-host, usbmuxd, viking, virtualbox-ose-guest-x11, w1retap, xawtv, xserver-xorg-input-vmmouse, xserver-xorg-input-wacom, xserver-xorg-video-qxl, xserver-xorg-video-vmware, yubikey-personalization and zd1211-firmware

If you know of other packages, please let me know with a wishlist bug report against the isenkram-cli package, and ask the package maintainer to add AppStream metadata according to the guidelines to provide the information for everyone. In time, I hope to get rid of the isenkram specific hardware mapping and depend exclusively on AppStream.

Note, the AppStream metadata for broadcom-sta-dkms is matching too much hardware, and suggest that the package with with any ethernet card. See bug #838735 for the details. I hope the maintainer find time to address it soon. In the mean time I provide an override in isenkram.


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