Kickstart the Arabic Translation of the Debian Handbook

Cover of the Debian Administrator's Handbook (Wheezy edition)I just wanted to highlight that Muhammad Saied, a volunteer translator of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, is currently running a crowdfunding campaign with Mohamed Amine so that they can complete the Arabic translation that they started.

There’s only 6 days left to collect the last $2500… click here to help spread Debian to the Arabic world.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook, now in French and Spanish!

Cahier de l'Admin Debian WheezyBarely one and half month after the release of the Wheezy version of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, I’m proud to announce that two translations have been completed: French and Spanish.

And, as promised in the last liberation campaign, the French translation has been published as a paperback by Eyrolles (see the cover above).

Check out the article on debian-handbook.info for more information.

My Free Software Activities in December 2013

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (147.56 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

Cover of the Debian Administrator's Handbook (Wheezy edition)I spent a good chunk of December on the book. First finalizing the English version and getting it out (BTW, just for the launch, there’s a 10% discount on the paperback that lasts only until January 9th!). Then working on updating the French translation. Eyrolles will publish a new edition of the French book based on this translation. Expect some further news about this during January!

Debian France

I contributed to many discussions within Debian France.

Starting with a complaint that most events are organized in Paris, I proposed to map the location of Debian France members. We added new fields in the membership management page so that members can add their GPS coordinates and Frédéric Decou made some experiments with Openstreetmap. Someone else (Kiriarat) volunteered to write the required glue code. A manual map is currently maintained on the website.

Sample logo receivedIn the discussions about the setup of the Debian France shop, I suggested to update our logo with a nicer looking one. We got a few suggestions and after further discussions with Alexandre Delanoë and Sylvestre Ledru, we organized a small contest to entice designers to submit a logo proposal to us (the winner earns a set of Debian goodies). We got 46 proposals (see my favorite on the right)! The board is currently pre-selecting the logos and setting up the final vote for our members. The winner shall be announced at the end of the upcoming mini-debconf in Paris.

I also continued the work to finalize new bylaws and new internal rules. They shall be adopted during the next general assembly which will happen during the mini-debconf.

Misc Debian Work

WordPress maintenance. I mentored Pablo Vasquez to do his first small contribution to the WordPress packaging. I really appreciate this but he’s not yet ready to assume maintenance of a big package like WordPress on his own. I got multiple other offers of help and pinged them all while filing #733726 to coordinate the work on the new upstream version. But I got no reply :-( Handing over packages to new maintainers is hard…

Init system discussion. The technical committee has the hard task of picking the default init system that will replace the traditional System V init (see #727708). I followed this huge discussion closely and contributed a bit where I add something meaningful to say. Final decision is expected sometimes in January. FWIW, I share entirely Russ Allbery’s point of view in those discussions. I have been running systemd on some of my computers for a few months already.

Fixing lxc in stable. The lxc package in stable has a non-working “debian” template. I really dislike documenting that things are broken so instead of doing that in the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, I opted to do something about it. I prepared a non maintainer upload for stable (see #680469 for the problem and #732358 for the stable update request).

Misc stuff. I sponsored a tcpdf upload. I filed an enhancement request on Publican to have it keep processing instructions present in translations. I uploaded new versions of publican-librement and debian-handbook. I filed #732678 against git-buildpackage because it failed to properly call lintian when given the -A dpkg-buildpackage argument.

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

The Debian Wheezy Handbook is now available

After multiple months of hard work, I’m pleased to announce that Roland and I finished updating the Debian Administrator’s Handbook for Debian Wheezy.

Grab it now!

By the way, as part of the launch of this updated edition, you can benefit from a 10% discount on any paperback copy ordered before January 9th 2014. Just click here and place your order.

Cover of the Debian Administrator's Handbook (Wheezy edition)

We have put lots of hard work on this edition, doing quite some janitorial work. We didn’t cover as many new topics as I would have liked, but I’m still proud of the end result.

The book has a nice preface co-signed by the current and former Debian Project Leaders. Let me quote a short extract:

The book you have in your hands is different. It’s a free as in freedom book, a book which is up to Debian freedom standards for every aspects of your digital life. […] You can apt-get install this book, you can redistribute it, you can fork this book or, better, submit bug reports and patches for it, so that other in the future can benefit from your contributions. The “maintainers” of this book — who are also its authors — are longstanding members of the Debian Project, who grok the freedom ethos that permeates every aspect of Debian.

Enjoy it and share your comments! Even better if you write up a review that we can link from the website.

My Free Software Activities in November 2013

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (44.52 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

Wheezy update completed. Roland and I completed the update of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook for Debian 7 Wheezy. We still have some proofreading work to do but you can already enjoy the result here: http://debian-handbook.info/browse/wheezy/

Feel free to report back any problem that you discover. You can also submit us patches ready to apply if you want to go one step further.

Publican contributions. The book is generated with publican and I maintain its Debian package. This month I got a release critical bug because it stopped working… it turns out that the problem lied in libxml-treebuilder-perl and I thus reassigned #728885 while providing a tentative patch to the upstream author. After a few days without action from the pkg-perl team, and after having received a FTBFS bug on debian-handbook (of course publican was broken in unstable!), I prepared a fixed package myself and I uploaded it (I’m still part of the pkg-perl team although I’m inactive).

Since I used publican heavily this month, I filed two tickets in its bugzilla. I requested a new feature in #1034836 (the possibility to keep around the former string for fuzzy strings to update), and I reported a problem with the handling of “\n” in PO files in #1036150.

Debian France

Galette update. I updated the galette package and its paypal plugin, and I deployed those on france.debian.net. It had some fixes for the reminder mails sent to members.

Bylaws update. I also resumed my work on preparing new bylaws for Debian France. Sylvestre Ledru came up with a draft (with the help of a lawyer) a few months ago and I’m reviewing/improving them now. The main goal is to clarify that Debian France is meant to be a Trusted Organization for the Debian project.

Debian France Shop. We had the idea since a few months already but Sylvestre did the leg work to open a Debian France shop with the help of EnVenteLibre. I asked our members to prepare some CSS that better match the Debian colors and this should be fixed in a few days. The first goodies will also start to appear shortly, just in time for Christmas!

Misc Debian work

Distro Tracker. In the continuation of the Google Summer of Code, I asked the DSA team to setup a new virtual machine to host tracker.debian.org, an instance of Distro Tracker, the rewritten Package Tracking System. They have done their part of the job (except the mail setup), it’s now waiting on me to find some time to complete some cleanups and deploy the thing.

WordPress. I packaged wordpress 3.7.1 and sent a call for help on debian-mentors. I got 3 replies, I gave them some initial direction but I haven’t heard back anything since. WordPress 3.8 is expected in a few days, hopefully one of the new volunteers will take care of preparing the next update.

Dpkg regressions. I haven’t done anything for multiple months but at least I keep running the git version of dpkg and I detected two regressions. Good to have them squashed before the upcoming 1.17.2 upload to unstable.

PTS fix. I fixed some warnings that the PTS code started generating since the upgrade of its host to wheezy. They were generating some annoying backscatter mails to users of the pts@qa.debian.org bot.

Ruby security update. I helped the ruby team to prepare the required security updates of ruby1.8 and ruby1.9.1 (see #730178 and #730189). This work was sponsored by Kali/Offensive Security.

Smartcard setup. I bought 2 OpenPGP smartcards with a reader and I moved all my private keys on those devices (one card with the master key for signature/certification to be kept at home, one card for daily/mobile usage with the subkeys for encryption/signature/authentication). My laptop’s harddrive doesn’t contain any private key anymore. I have kept the required offline backup in a safe place, but in the end, my private keys are much harder to steal. I should write down my findings in another article…

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

Will Debian’s technical committee coopt Keith Packard or Philipp Kern?

The process has been ongoing for more than a year but the Debian technical committee is about to select a candidate to recommend for its vacant seat. The Debian Project Leader will then (likely) appoint him (looks like it won’t be a women).

According to recent discussions on debian-ctte@lists.debian.org, it seems that either Keith Packard or Philipp Kern will join the committee.

If you look at the current membership of the committee, you will see:

  • Bdale Garbee: USA
  • Russ Allbery: USA
  • Don Armstrong: USA
  • Andreas Barth: Germany
  • Ian Jackson: United Kingdom
  • Steve Langasek: USA
  • Colin Watson: United Kingdom

That’s very Anglo-Saxon centric (6 out of 7 members). While I trust the current members and while I know that they are open-minded people, it still bothers me to see this important body with so few diversity.

Coming back to the choice at hand, Keith Packard is American and Philipp Kern is German. No new country in the mix. I can only hope that Philipp will be picked to bring some more balance in the body.

My Free Software Activities in September 2013

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (86.18 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Package Tracking System^U Distro Tracker

Marko Lalic implemented quite a few interesting features in the last weeks of the Google Summer of Code (support of teams most notably). Unfortunately he didn’t deploy (yet) the latest changes on pts.debian.net.

Given the good work he made over the summer, I marked him as successful in his GSOC. Hopefully he will stick around and continue to contribute, he promised to try to handle some mass renaming that we agreed upon. Effectively, after much bike-shedding, I decided that the software would be called “Distro Tracker”.

Once those last-minute cleanups are done, I plan to request “tracker.debian.org” to Debian System Administrators. This means that it will be deployed in parallel to the current PTS at least until we’re at feature parity in the new codebase.

The new codebase should be much more easy to get started with, so I should do some promotion and invite people to contribute to it… possibly by writing some short “how to get started” documentation.

I started by creating a dedicated wiki page: http://wiki.debian.org/qa.debian.org/distro-tracker

Misc packaging

I got two REJECTs from ftpmasters this month (one for galette, one for dolibarr). I took care of fixing the various issues in galette and the package has been promptly accepted afterwards. For dolibarr, I mentored the upstream maintainer about the various problems and got him to fix it. It took a bit more time and the package is thus still in NEW.

I packaged wordpress 3.6, and then wordpress 3.6.1 (security update). python-django also had multiple security updates this month, I took care of one or two uploads but Luke Faraone dealt with most of them (including backports to Squeeze!).

I packaged Publican 3.6.1 and uploaded dh-linktree 0.4 to fix a FTBFS issue introduced with Perl 5.18.

Of anecdotal importance, but I also filed bug #721849 after seeing how much energy was spent to ensure debian/rules didn’t contain an improper copyright statement.

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

Finding a new name for the Package Tracking System

The Google Summer of Code rewriting the Package Tracking System is approaching its end and I’m starting to think about deploying it on debian.org. Its scope has expanded over the years and the rewritten PTS will continue this trend by bringing some new features for teams (like the possibility to subscribe to all packages of a team).

I believe that its current hostname (and name) doesn’t reflect properly the role of the PTS. Add to this the fact that there’s still some work left to be done to reach feature-parity with the current PTS, I’m considering deploying it in parallel to the current PTS under a new name.

“Package Tracking System” is also a bit too long for a name, and sounds more like a description than a name…

But if I get rid of “packages.qa.debian.org” and “Package Tracking System”, how should we call the new PTS? :-)

The PTS is a sort of central place that brings together information from many parts of Debian. It’s currently mainly a consumer/dispatcher of information but I expect to integrate some of the external services that are useful for all Debian derivatives, and it will thus become more and more a producer of first-hand information as well.

To replace packages.qa.debian.org, Stefano Zacchiroli suggested me hub.debian.org and I must say I like it, it’s short and relatively close to what the PTS actually is (and reminds me of DEP-2 — the new PTS will be an asset to make it a reality). My other ideas were devel.debian.org, inside.debian.org, watch.debian.org, track.debian.org, … do you have better suggestions? what’s your preference?

Finding a better name is harder, but there’s room to build on the hub concept and similar images. I would like a full name that’s not too long and an associated abbreviation/short name for the top-level Python package (currently we use “pts” for that Python package). Can you come up with something original and satisfactory?

My latest thoughts end up with “DistroHub” as full name and “dhub” as Python package name. Still boring…

So, dear lazy web, I heard that we’re good at bikeshedding in Debian, so can you come up with something better? Share your suggestions in the comments!

My Free Software Activities in August 2013

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (47.50 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Package Tracking System

There are only 2-3 weeks left in the summer of code project dedicated to rewrite the package tracking system. We have come a long way during August… check it out yourself in pts.debian.net.

The rewrite doesn’t have all the features of the old PTS yet, but I opted to keep some of the easy and less interesting features for others to re-implement. Instead I asked Marko to work in the coming weeks on new features that will bring more value, like the possibility to have user accounts with the possibility to easily review and tweak all your subscriptions on the web, and like the possibility to subscribe to groups of packages (i.e. those managed by a team).

Our main problem right now is that exim has a pretty poor default behavior of forking hundreds of processes if you get hundreds of mails (in a batch) to an address that delivers via a pipe (postfix is saner, it serializes the deliveries on pipes). The new PTS is much more modular and its memory footprint is bigger (about 3 times more for the process that delivers mails, 30Mb instead of 10Mb), and in such a situation we managed to run out of memory… for now we worked around the situation with an exim setting that queues mails once the load gets too high but it’s a poor workaround IMO. We could obviously implement our own queue and a daemon but I’d like to avoid this. So who knows how to tell exim to behave? :-)

On the positive side, Marko has gotten some feedback from people who like the new PTS and are using it daily already. And several persons have expressed their interest to work on the new codebase already.

On my side, I created a package so that it’s easy to deploy for derivatives. In this process, I revamped the way we manage the Django settings (for development and for production). The package is not finished yet, but it’s mostly usable already. But I still want to do some cleanup/refactoring in the models before others start deploying it. We must also enable South to make it possible to upgrade easily afterwards.

DebConf 13 in Vaumarcus

From August 10th to 17th, I was attending DebConf 13. It matched the only week of vacation that my wife had this summer so we went there with the whole family (that is with a 3 years old son, and 6 months old one). Thus I could not immerse myself in Debconf and missed all the nice things that happen outside of the talk rooms. I picked 3-4 interesting talks per day and I spent the rest with my family.

On the positive side, I was pleased that my wife could meet (or at least see) some other Debian people. She knows quite a few (of you) by name because I have been telling her Debian stories for years now…

Debian France

Debian France sold quite some merchandise during Debconf but I didn’t take care of that. It was supervised by Sylvestre Ledru but fortunately he got the help of multiple persons, both to bring everything there, to sell it, and to bring back the rest.

The good news of the month is that the upstream author of galette published a new version with all the features that we ordered him a few months ago. We send now automatic reminders to members who must renew their subscription, we have automatic update of our accounting books (in a ledger file in a git repository) when we people donate or pay their subscription via the paypal form on our website.

I was so pleased to finally have this that I took some hours to finalize the packaging of galette, so that it could be uploaded to Debian. It’s now waiting in the NEW queue. I also spent multiple hours to write the python script that is executed by galette and that updates the accounting files.

Misc Debian stuff

Debian Packaging. I did two uploads of logidee-tools to fix bugs #718671 and #718836. I created a package for Dolibarr a PHP-based CRM and ERP software (it doesn’t do accounting however), it’s sitting in the NEW queue for almost a month already. I forwarded #719000 to the upstream Publican developers. I filed #720393 to request a new upstream version of libphp-mailer.

git-multimail. After its deployment on Alioth last month, Niels Thykier reported me a case where it lead to bounces, I filed this as a new upstream ticket and in fact I fixed it myself a few days after. I got the fixed version installed on Alioth.

dpkg. I investigated why the the automatic builds of dpkg were no longer happening and asked Michael Prokop if he could install a newer version of gettext in the build chroot. He told me that he would need a backport for that so I asked Santiago Vila if he was willing to provide it and he kindly accepted. A few days after, the package was in backports and I’m now again running the latest dpkg out of git thanks to the nice service provided by Michael.

Misc discussions. The thread about “user planets” drifted into a discussion of how to avoid “promotional posts” on such planets and in that context someone again brought up the Debian Machine Usage Policy as a way to shut down any kind of (self-)promotional content on planet if there’s money involved. This always irritates me and this time I opted to ask James Troup about the origin of that clause in the DMUP. So who is willing to work with DSA to fix the DMUP so that people stop abusing it in contexts where it doesn’t make sense?

I also participated in some discussions concerning dgit. I like the ideas behind the tool, but I’m saddened by the behavior of Ian Jackson. I helped him to fill his gap of knowledge about new sources formats but he keeps on bashing about the “3.0 (quilt)” source format both in the manual page and in the output of the program. He believes that dgit is no longer an experiment but the truth is that it’s still a poorly commented Perl script doing lots of hackish things.

Kali Linux

Between Debconf and all, I haven’t done much for Kali except a couple of fixes. There’s a nice story of how I tracked a bug in live-installer on the Kali blog. That fix has been committed to Debian. I also improved live-build to include xfsprogs/jfsutils on the ISO image when you include the debian-installer (so that you don’t end up in problems when you pick JFS or XFS as file systems for your installation).

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

My Free Software Activities in July 2013

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (167.67 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

After the successful crowdfunding campaign, I had a bunch of rewards to ship: I subcontracted most of the job but I had to take care of the books with dedication. I also dealt regularly with books/stickers coming back to the sender (due to invalid address or people not picking up their parcels in the post-office).

After the rewards, we had to take care to actually finalize the liberation of the French translation. I merged the translations we had in Git and Roland updated/translated a few strings that weren’t in the original book in French. Then I have put the book online.

Last but not least, I started to work on updating the English book for Debian 7 (Roland started way before me) and we have put some updated chapters up for review.

Debian France

Elections. After Debian France’s general assembly, the new board of administrators voted the officers: I have been re-elected as President, Sylvestre continues as Treasurer but we have a new Secretary in the person of Alexandre Delanoë. Welcome Alexandre!

I did the administrative work to register the new board/officers in the « Tribunal d’instance » and to give access to the internal git repositories to the new members.

Galette. I also did a bunch of tests on Galette’s new features that Debian France ordered to the upstream author. They should all land in the next upstream release due in the next weeks. \o/

Accounting. I worked on the accounting to bring it up-to-date so that Sylvestre can pick up the work from now on. We’re learning how to best use ledger for our needs.

PTS rewrite

I continued to spend about 12 hours a week to mentor Marko Lalic who is rewriting the Package Tracking System. I’m pretty happy with the results so far so I marked him as “pass” for the mid-term evaluation required by Google. You can have a look at the documentation and the web interface is starting to show some content.

The email interface is fully working and I have configured the real PTS to forward all mails to our test instance (pts.debian.net) so that you can use the rewritten PTS for real-life work. Mail your subscription commands to control@pts.debian.net and start using it!

Thanks to the test driven development methodology we’re using, we’re pretty confident that it works reasonably well! :-)

I also packaged python-django-jsonfield (still in NEW) since Marko has been using this python module in his code, and filed bug #717900 on sqlite3 to raise a limit that we have hit with queries made by the PTS.

Kali Linux

I used the Calxeda Highbank node donated to Debian by Offensive Security to test the new -armmp kernel flavor on it. It seemed to work except for a missing network driver (filed in #717269).

Misc Debian work

Issues with social networks. With the move of identi.ca to pump.io, we don’t have any possibility to auto-post status updates based on RSS feeds. Identi.ca’s @debian account was also configured to push updates to the @debian account on twitter.com (and from there it was grabbed in the Debian page on Facebook). This is also gone… so to limit the damage, I setup twitterfeed.com so that the twitter/facebook accounts continue to have updates). If you’re looking for a development project, here’s an area that is not well covered by free software! We need code to do what twitterfeed does… and we need that code to also support pump.io.

Dpkg work. It’s been a long time since I last pushed some code to dpkg’s git repository. I took care of reworking and merging a patch submitted by Steve Langasek to fix #716948 (an issue with dpkg-maintscript-helper rm_conffile messing with conffiles that the package no longer owns).

Git mail notification. When I was still administrator of Alioth, I wrote git-commit-notice (a fork of Git’s post-receive-email) and many packaging projects are using this hook script to send commit notices to mailing lists. This script has not been updated for multiple years and it started spewing warnings recently due to deprecated features in Wheezy’s git. So I looked at updating it and while doing so I discovered a much better replacement with git-multimail. Thus I adapted git-commit-notice to work on top of this new script. The result has now been installed on git.debian.org (this is to be properly announced in the next DeveloperNews).

Misc work. I packaged sql-ledger 3.0.5-1, forwarded #714739 on publican, and I participated in discussions to move the French Debian planets to planet.debian.org.

Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.