My Debian activities in April 2011

This is my monthly summary of my Debian related activities. If you’re among the people who support my work, then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

GNOME 3 packaging

Right after the GNOME 3 release, I was eager to try it out so I helped the pkg-gnome team to update some of the packages. I did some uploads of totem, totem-pl-parser, gvfs, mutter, gnome-shell, gnome-screensaver. I also kept people informed via my blog and prepared a pinning file for adventurous users who wanted to try it out from experimental (like me).

One month later, I’m still using GNOME 3. There are rough edges still, but not so many. And I’m starting to get used to it.

Debian Rolling planning

Debian Rolling is a project on my TODO list for quite some time. I decided it was time to do something about it and started a series of articles to help clarify my ideas while getting some early feedback. My goal was to prepare a somewhat polished proposal before posting it to a Debian mailing list.

But as usual with Murphy’s law, my plan did not work out as expected. Almost immediately after my first post the discussion started on debian-devel:

At this point it’s a discussion thread of several hundreds of messages (there are several screens of messages like the one above). Many of the sub-threads have been interesting, but the general discussions mixed too many different things so that there’s no clear outcome yet. Lucas Nussbaum tried to make a summary.

Obviously I must adjust my plan, there’s lots of feedback to process. I accepted to drive a DEP together with Sean Finney to help structure the part of the discussion that focuses on allowing development to continue during freezes. But I’m also eager to fix the marketing problem of testing and have the project recognize that testing is a product in itself and that end-users should be encouraged to use it.

Package Tracking System maintenance

The Package Tracking System is an important tool for Debian developers, and it has been broken by some change on the Bug Tracking System. I worked around it quite quickly so that few people noticed the problem but Cron kept reminding me that I had to properly fix it.

I ended up doing it last week-end. While working on the PTS, I took the opportunity to merge a patch from Jan Dittberner to enhance the news RSS feed that the PTS provides. And I also integrated information from (thanks to Mehdi Dogguy for reminding me #549115).

Multiarch update

Not much new this month. I fixed two bugs in the multiarch dpkg branch thanks to bug reports from Ubuntu users (LP 767634, LP 756381). I’m still waiting on Guillem Jover finishing his review of the multiarch branch. I’m pinging him from time to time but it looks like multi-arch is no longer in his short term priority list. 🙁

I’ve been running this code for more than 2 months and it works fine. I want to see it merged. I’m ready to update my code should anything need to be changed to please Guillem. But without any feedback we’re in a deadlock.

Misc dpkg work

While fixing a bug in update-alternatives (found in one of the valid reports on launchpad), I noticed that there was room for improvements in the error messages output by update-alternatives. I changed them to reuse the same strings that were already used in other parts of dpkg. The result is that there are a few strings less to translate (always a nice thing for the poor translators who have to deal with the thousands of strings that dpkg contains).

I also tried to fix some of the most cryptic error messages in dpkg (see #621763) but that work is stalled at the request of Guillem.

Book update

We (me and Roland Mas) are almost done with the update of our French book for Debian Squeeze. It will hit the shelves in July or September. I’m starting to prepare the fundraising campaign to make an English translation of it. We’ll use for this.

On my blog

I have been pleased to interview Meike Reichle, it’s the first women that I have interviewed in the series but it’s certainly not the last one. I also interviewed Adam D. Barratt, one of our tireless release managers.


Many thanks to the people who gave me 180.35 € in March and 235.37 € in April. That represents 1.5 and 2 days of work for those months.

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


  1. says

    Sometimes it’s interesting to see who gets the credits for something. I can just guess that our discussion four weeks ago got lost for you when I proposed a patch for the backports part of PTS, and even discussed it with you personally and adjusted the patch together with suggestions.

    Looking at the diff you produced it looks interesting, especially with respect to certain whitespace changes. Technicly my proposed diff from back then (april 12th) is just the same, though. You missed a change in www/bin/ though, is that intentional that it isn’t included in that file?

    • says

      Hi Rhonda, yes sorry. I completely forgot about this preliminary patch… you should have sent it to the BTS after the first round of discussion. I just redid the work while I could have saved some time. 😐

      I don’t have your diff anymore, what’s missing in www/bin/ ?

      • says

        I’m not certain why you try to belittle it now as “preliminary” when it is in essence the same as yours, minus some minor additional unrelated rewriting that you added. I’m happy that it at least seems to pay off for you, doing minor tweaks to an offered patch and asking for funding of your work on that grounds.

        Yes, it is right that I didn’t manage to put the patch into a bugreport, but given that we were actively discussing the patch over several hours, I actively did seek feedback and you were willing to give it readily, I wouldn’t assume that your memory is that short-wired.

        About the diff: In wwww/xsl/pts.xsl you use test=”str:replace($suite, ‘-backports’, ”) != $suite” where I did use test=”contains($suite, ‘-backports’)”, not sure wether that makes any big difference, for readability or performance wise.

        About, I seem to have been confused from a quick glance – it’s also exactly the same as I did propose and discuss it with you, so appart from the partly cleanup you did it’s exactly my patch. Makes contributions really felt welcome.

        You are also missing in your patch the thing that I wasn’t sure back then about inclusion: oldstable-backports-sloppy. This interesting details makes me think what your reason for leaving out this very specific detail is, besides that it also was missing from my discussed and proposed patch back then.

        • says

          Stop assuming bad faith, I really redid the work. Honestly. I said “preliminary” because I did not remember how far you were with your attempt, nothing else. I did not want to belittle your work. Sorry that you took it that way, it was not meant that way.

          The reason why I did not include -sloppy was: 1/ it’s only available for oldstable 2/ it would have required 2 special cases with the “str:replace” test (but not with your contains test).

  2. says

    Just don’t change a comma and call my work “preliminary”.

    (don’t worry, I will not assume untoward treatment)