My Free Software Activities for December 2014

My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donators (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

Debian LTS

This month I have been paid to work 20 hours on Debian LTS. I did the following tasks:

  • CVE triage: I pushed 47 commits to the security tracker this month. Due to this, I submitted two wishlist bugs against the security tracker: #772927 and #772961.
  • I released DLA-106-1 which had been prepared by Osamu Aoki.
  • I released DLA-111-1 fixing one CVE on cpio.
  • I released DLA-113-1 and DLA-114-1 on bsd-mailx/heirloom-mailx fixing one CVE for the former and two CVE for the latter.
  • I released DLA-120-1 on xorg-server. This update alone took more than 6h to backport all the patches, fixing a massive set of 12 CVE.

Not in the paid hours, but still related to Debian LTS, I kindly asked Linux Weekly News to cover Debian LTS in their security page and this is now live. You will see DLA on the usual security page and there’s also a dedicated page tracking this:

I modified the LTS wiki page to have a dedicated Funding sub-page. This avoids having a direct link to Freexian’s offer on the main LTS page (which surprised a few persons) and allows to give some more background information and makes it possible for other persons/companies to also get listed in the same way (since there’s no exclusive relationship between Debian and Freexian here!).

And I also answered some questions of Nguyen Cong (a new LTS contributor, employed by Toshiba with explicit permission to contribute to LTS during work hours! \o/), on IRC, on (again) and on the mailing list! It’s great to see the LTS project expanding beyond current members of the Debian project.

Distro Tracker

I want to give again some more priority to Distro Tracker at least to complete the transition from the old PTS to this new service… last month has been a bit better than November but not by much.

I reviewed a patch in #771604 (about displaying long descriptions), I merged another patch in #757443 (fixing bad markup which rendered the page unusable with Konqueror), I fixed #760382 where package gone through NEW would never lose their version in NEW.

Kali related contributions

I’m not covering my Kali work here but only some things which got contributed upstream (or to Debian).

First I ensured that we could build the Kali ISO with live-build 4.x in jessie. This resulted in multiple patches merged to the Debian live project (1 2 3 4). I also submitted a patch for a regression in the handling of conditionals in package lists, it got dropped and has been fixed differently instead. I also filed #772651 to report a problem in how live-build decided of the variant of the live-config package to install.

Kali has forked the sysvinit package to be able to disable the services by default and I was investigating how to port this feature in the new systemd world. It turns out systemd has such a feature natively: it’s called Preset files. Unfortunately it’s not usable in Debian because Debian does not call systemctl preset during package installation. I filed bug #772555 to get this fixed (in Stretch, it’s too late for Jessie :-().


I’m using salt to automate some administration task in Kali, at home and at work. I discovered recently that the project tries to collect “Salt Formulas”: those are ready to use instructions for as many services as possibles.

I started using this for some simple services and quickly felt the need to extend “salt-formula”, the set of states used to configure salt with salt. I submitted 5 pull requests (#73 and #74 to configure salt in standalone mode, #75 to enable the upstream package repositories, #76 to automatically download and enable the desired salt formulas, #77 for some bugfixes) and they have all been merged in less than 24 hours (that’s the kind of thing that motivates you to contribute again in the future!).

I also submitted a bug fix for samba-formula and a bug report in salt itself (#19180).

BTW I have some salt states to setup schroot and sbuild. I will try to package those as proper salt formulas in the future…

Misc stuff

Mailing list governance. In Debian, we often complain about meta-discussion on mailing lists (i.e. discussions about how we discuss together) and at the same time we need to have that kind of discussions from time to time. So I suggested to host those discussions in a new mailing list and to get this new list setup, our rules require to have other people interested in having this list. The idea had some support when we discussed it on debian-private, so I relaunched it on debian-project while filing the official request in the BTS: #772645. Unfortunately, I only got one second. So if you’re interested in pursuing this idea, speak up now…

Sponsorship. I sponsored another Galette plugin this month: galette-plugin-fullcard. Thanks to François-Régis Vuillemin for his work.

Publican. Following one of my bug report against Publican and with the help of the upstream author, we identified the problem and I submitted a patch.


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

My Free Software Activities in April 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 (102.70 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Debian France

Work on Galette. I spent quite some time on Debian France’s galette installation (the web application handling its member database), first converting its Postgres database to UTF-8, then upgrading to 0.7.4 while working-around many known problems.

I also created Debian packages of three Galette plugins that we have been using (galette-plugin-paypal, galette-plugin-admintools, galette-plugin-fullcard).

But every time I use galette, I tend to find something to report. This month I filed 5 tickets:

  • #588: galette should offer a way to send a test mail while setting up the mail notifications
  • #589: CSV export page contains an invalid download link
  • #590: confirmation page of a successful PayPal payment contains empty fields
  • #591: problem with the selection of recipients of a mailing
  • #595: galette should put a proper recipient in the “To:” field of automatically generated mails.

I tested quite some fixes prepared by the upstream author (3 of the above bugs are already fixed) and this lead to the bugfix release.

Preliminary work on new bylaws. I have setup a git repository to make it easier to collaborate on new versions of our bylaws and internal rules. The goal is to make Debian France a trusted organization of Debian and to update everything to be compliant with the “association 1901” law (we currently have a special statute reserved to associations from Alsace/Moselle).

Kali Linux

Improve accessibility support in Debian Wheezy. Offensive Security wanted Kali Linux to be fully accessible to disabled people. Since Wheezy was suffering from some serious regressions in that area, we hired Emilio Pozuelo Monfort to fix #680636 and #689559 in gdm3. On my side, I updated debian-installer’s finish-install to correctly pre-configure the system when you make an install with speech synthesis (patch submitted in #705599).
Thanks to accommodating release managers, this work has already been integrated in Wheezy and won’t have to wait the first point release.

Fix bugs in Debian’s live desktop installer. We also wanted to enable the desktop installer in the Kali live DVD. While our first tries a few months ago failed, this time it worked almost out of the box (thanks to Ben Armstrong who fixed it). I still identified a few issues that I fixed in debian-installer-launcher’s git repository.

Packaging and misc Debian work

  • I reviewed the work of Charles Plessy who drafted an important update of the Debian Policy to document dpkg triggers (see #582109)
  • I reviewed the libwebsockets package prepared by Peter Pentchev (ITP 697671)
  • I discovered Tanglu and joined their mailing list because I want to watch its evolution (and maybe use it as a test-bed for some future infrastructure developments).
  • I reviewed and committed a patch of Robert Spencer on debian-cd (see #703431).
  • I packaged version 3.3 of cpputest (in experimental). I tested a new upstream snapshot converted to autotools.

I also spent a significant number of hours to answer questions of students who want to participate in Google’s summer of code and who are interested by the rewrite of the Package Tracking System with Python and Django. Some of the discussions happened on


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

My Free Software Activities in February 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 (78.31 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Debian packaging

I wanted to update publican to the latest upstream release but I stopped after a few hours of work during which I filed two bugs that a modicum of testing should have caught before release. So I decided to wait for the next minor release.

I uploaded python-django 1.4.4 and 1.4.5, new upstream maintenance and security releases which thus went into wheezy. I also prepared a stable update of Django (1.2.3-3+squeeze5) which required me to backport the last 2 sets of security patches.

I uploaded a new revision of wordpress to fix a problem with TinyMCE (#700289) and to update/add many translation files (#697208).

Bug reporting and misc fixes

Live-build issue. I experienced some intermittent failures when building HDD live images with live-build on armel. Daniel Baumann directed me to the problematic piece of code (the “oversizing” of the image size was not enough) so I committed a small fix by increasing the oversizing factor to 6%.

Live-config issue. I also reported another issue that I diagnosed in live-config (#701788), namely that the script which setups sudo was failing when the default user is root.

git-buildpackage issue. I filed #700411 after noticing that git-import-orig imported the debian directory provided by upstream. Those directories are not used with “3.0 (quilt)” source package and their presence in the upstream branch is thus harmful: any change to the upstream debian directory will result in conflicts when you merge a new upstream release in your packaging branch.

rubygems integration. Later I had to package a bunch of ruby applications that were using Bundler and I wanted to reuse as many packaged ruby modules that I could. But for this, those modules had to provide the required rubygems meta-information. I filed #700419 to request those on rake-compiler and with the help of Cédric Boutillier (and others on #debian-ruby), we identified a bunch of ruby modules which could get those with a simple recompilation. I filed bin-nmu requests in #700605.

Misc bugs. simple-cdd offers to select profiles to install but I noticed that the associated debconf template was not translated (#700915). The startup scripts (provided by initscripts) in charge of activating the swap are supposed to handle a “noswap” kernel command line option to disable swap. In #701301, I reported that the option was not working correctly if “quiet” was present first in the command line due to spurious “break” statements.

Debian France

Administrative work. We were late for some legal procedures so I wrote the report of the last general assembly and sent it to the “Tribunal d’instance of Sarreguemines” to record the changes in the administrative board. I also completed the “special register” of the association, it’s a notebook that is legally required and that must document any important change in the governance structure of the association (new members of the board, headquarters change, new bylaws, etc.).

Galette developments. Debian France is funding a few enhancements to the Galette free software that we’re using to manage the association. I am in touch with the Galette developer to answer his questions and ensure that his work will meet our needs.


I have been looking for talented developers who have a genuine interest in my Librement project. I want to fund the initial development of the project but I don’t have the means to fund it entirely. So I really wanted to find developers who would find an interest beside the money that I would pay.

I got in touch with the team of developers from Scopyleft and they look like very good candidates. But they’re heavy users of the Scrum development method and asked me to play the role of “product owner”. So I started to describe the project with “user stories” (i.e. “create the backlog” in the Scrum jargon), you can have a look at them here on If you’re interested by the topic of free software funding, feel free to review and to send me your comments.

My goal is clearly to have a “minimal viable product” with the first iteration(s) that I fund and then use the platform itself to fund further developments of the project.


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

My Free Software Activities in December 2012

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 (836.78 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Debian Packaging

I uploaded Zim 0.58, WordPress 3.5 (and I had to file a ticket about the availability of sources of minified javascript files — again) and another security update for python-django (696535).

Speaking of python-django, I forwarded one bug report of Anders Kaseorg concerning Django’s bash completion (#695811).

I also sponsored the upload of ledgersmb 1.3.25-1.

Other Debian work

I contributed some patches to improve debian-installer support in live-build. I also added a work-around for bug #652946 in live-installer and committed a fix for this same bug in a jessie branch of partman-target.

I also prepared a bugfix for a counter-productive behavior of choose-mirror (#695261, it was not possible to override the codename of the release to install via preseed if you install from a CD with a full base system).

I discovered an oddity in the Packages.diff/Index file for the architectures armhf and s390x, I reported it to ftpmasters in #696792.

(All those issues were discovered while working for a customer)

Debian France

I spent quite some time on Debian France this month again. I started by setting up an internal gitolite to manage our accounting/administrative documents.

Then I updated galette, the web application that we are using to manage our database of members. In the process, I filed two bugs that we discovered. I immediately tested Galette by registering 4 members that joined during the former mini-Debconf in Paris.

We have plans to automate the membership renewal process so we have opened a Paypal account. This month we also cleared the last steps so that I and Sylvestre Ledru have full control on the Debian France bank account.

I also registered the new officers at the “Tribunal d’instance de Sarreguemines”.

Salt bug reports

During the last mini-debconf, I discovered Salt (thanks to Julien Cristau!) and since I had to switch some servers of mine, I took this opportunity to upgrade to wheezy and try out salt at the same time.

It took much more time than expected but the result is pleasant. The configuration of all my servers is now well documented/specified in a central Git repository, and moving services is much easier than before.

In the process, I filed quite some bugs (#2865, #2851, #2866 and #2875), most of them have been fixed in the 0.11.1 release that just happened.


I wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2013!

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