My Free Software Activities in February and March 2016

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.

I skipped my monthly report last time so this one will cover two months. I will try to list only the most important things to not make it too long. 🙂

The Debian Handbook

I worked with Ryuunosuke Ayanokouzi to prepare a paperback version of the Japanese translation of my book. Thanks to the efforts of everybody, it’s now available. Unfortunately, Lulu declined to take it in “distribution” program so it won’t be available on traditional bookstores (like Amazon, etc.). The reason is that they do not support non-latin character sets in the meta-data.

I tried to cheat a little bit by inputting the description in English (still explaining that the book was in Japanese) but they rejected it nevertheless because the English title could mislead people. So the paperback is only available on Fortunately, the shipping costs are reasonable if you pick the most economic offer.

Following this I invited the Italian, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese translators to complete the work (they were close will all the strings already translated, mainly missing translated screenshots and some backcover content) so that we can also release paperback versions in those languages. It’s getting close to completion for them. Hopefully we will have those available until next month.

Distro Tracker

In early February, I tweaked the configuration to send (by email) exceptions generated by incoming mails and by routine task. Before this they were logged but I did not take the time to look into them. This quickly brought a few issues into light and I fixed them as they appeared: for instance the bounce handling code was getting confused when the character case was not respected, and it appears that some emails come back to us after having been lowercased. Also the code was broken when the “References” field used more than one line on incoming control emails.

This brought into light a whole class of problems with the database storing twice the same email with only differing case. So I did further work to merge all those duplicate entries behind a single email entry.

Later, the experimental Sources files changed and I had to tweak the code to work with the removal of the Files field (relying instead on Checksums-* to find out the various files part of the entry).

At some point, I also fixed the login form to not generate an exception when the user submits an empty form.

I also decided that I no longer wanted to support Django 1.7 in distro tracker as Django 1.8 is the current LTS version. I asked the Debian system administrators to update the package on with the version in jessie-backports. This allowed me to fix a few deprecation warnings that I kept triggering because I wanted the code to work with Django 1.7.

One of those warnings was generated by django-jsonfield though and I could not fix it immediately. Instead I prepared a pull request that I submitted to the upstream author.

Oh, and a last thing, I tweaked the CSS to densify the layout on the package page. This was one of the most requested changes from the people who were still preferring over

Kali and new pkg-security team

As part of my Kali work, I have been fixing RC bugs in Debian packages that we use in Kali. But in many cases, I stumbled upon packages whose maintainers were really missing in action (MIA). Up to now, we were only doing non-maintainers upload (NMU) but I want to be able to maintain those packages more effectively so we created a new pkg-security team (we’re only two right now and we have no documentation yet, but if you want to join, you’re welcome, in particular if you maintain a package which is useful in the security field).

arm64 work. The first 3 packages that we took over (ssldump, sucrack, xprobe) are actually packages that were missing arm64 builds. We just started our arm64 port on Kali and we fixed them for that architecture. Since they were no longer properly maintained, in most cases it was just a matter of using dh_autoreconf to get up-to-date config.{sub,guess} files.

We still miss a few packages on arm64: vboot-utils (that we will likely take over soon since it’s offered for adoption), ruby-libv8 and ruby-therubyracer, ntopng (we have to wait a new luajit which is only in experimental right now). We also noticed that dh-make-golang was not available on arm64, after some discussion on #debian-buildd, I filed two bugs for this: #819472 on dh-make-golang and #819473 on dh-golang.

RC bug fixing. hdparm was affected by multiple RC bugs and the release managers were trying to get rid of it from testing. This removed multiple packages that were used by Kali and its users. So I investigated the situation of that package, convinced the current maintainers to orphan it, asked for new maintainers on debian-devel, reviewed multiple updates prepared by the new volunteers and sponsored their work. Now hdparm is again RC-bug free and has the latest upstream version. We also updated jsonpickle to 0.9.3-1 to fix RC bug #812114 (that I forwarded upstream first).

Systemd presets support in init-system-helpers. I tried to find someone (to hire) to implement the system preset feature I requested in #772555 but I failed. Still Andreas Henriksson was kind enough to give it a try and sent a first patch. I tried it and found some issues so I continued to improve it and simplify it… I submitted an updated patch and pinged Martin Pitt. He pointed me to the DEP-8 test failures that my patch was creating. I quickly fixed those afterwards. This patch is in use in Kali and lets us disable network services by default. I would like to see it merged in Debian so that everybody can setup systemd preset file and have their desire respected at installation time.

Misc bug reports. I filed #813801 to request a new upstream release of kismet. Same for masscan in #816644 and for wkhtmltopdf in #816714. We packaged (before Debian) a new upstream release of ruby-msgpack and found out that it was not building on armel/armhf so we filed two upstream tickets (with a suggested fix). In #814805, we asked the pyscard maintainer to reinstate python-pyscard that was dropped (keeping only the Python3 version) as we use the Python 2 version in Kali.

And there’s more: I filed #816553 (segfault) and #816554 against cdebootstrap. I asked for dh-python to have a better behaviour after having being bitten by the fact that “dh –with python3” was not doing what I expected it to do (see #818175). And I reported #818907 against live-build since it is failing to handle a package whose name contains an upper case character (it’s not policy compliant but dpkg supports them).

Misc packaging

I uploaded Django 1.9.2 to unstable and 1.8.9 to jessie-backports. I provided the supplementary information that Julien Cristau asked me in #807654 but despite this, this jessie update has been ignored for the second point release in a row. It is now outdated until I update it to include the security fixes that have been released in the mean time but I’m not yet sure that I will do it… the lack of cooperation of the release team for that kind of request is discouraging.

I sponsored multiple uploads of dolibarr (on security update notably) and tcpdf (to fix one RC bug).


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

Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2016

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

Individual reports

In February, 112.50 work hours have been dispatched among 11 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours continued to decrease a little bit. It’s not worrisome yet but we should try to get back to a positive slope if we want to be able to do an outstanding job for wheezy LTS. On the positive side, TOSHIBA renewed their platinum sponsorship for another 6 months at least and we have some contacts for new sponsors, though they are far from being concluded yet.

We are now in transition between squeeze LTS and wheezy LTS. The paid contributors are helping the security team by fixing packages that were fixed in squeeze already but that are still outstanding in wheezy. They are also taking generic measures to prepare wheezy LTS (for example to ensure all packages work with OpenJDK 7.x since support for 6.x will be dropped in the LTS period).

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold (none this month).

Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2016

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

Individual reports

In December, 113.50 work hours have been dispatched among 9 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

As expected, we had a small drop in the amount of hours sponsored. New sponsors (re-)joined but others stopped too (Gree this time)… mostly balancing the result. We only lost 2 hours of sponsored work.

It would be nice if we could invert that curve and actually start again to get closer to our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position. Let’s hope that the switch to wheezy as the version supported by the LTS team will motivate many companies relying on Debian 7 in their IT system.

In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation is close to last month(17 packages in dla-needed.txt, 27 in the list of CVE). It looks like that having about 20 packages needing an update is the normal situation and that we can’t really get further down given the time required to process some updates (sometimes we wait until the upstream authors provides a patch, and so on).

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

My Free Software Activities in January 2016

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

I did not ask for any paid hours this month and won’t be requesting paid hours for the next 5 months as I have a big project to handle with a deadline in June. That said I still did a few LTS related tasks:

  • I uploaded a new version of debian-security-support (2016.01.07) to officialize that virtualbox-ose is no longer supported in Squeeze and that redmine was not really supportable ever since we dropped support for rails.
  • Made a summary of the discussion about what to support in wheezy and started a new round of discussions with some open questions. I invited contributors to try to pickup one topic, study it and bring the discussion to some conclusion.
  • I wrote a blog post to recruit new paid contributors. Brian May, Markus Koschany and Damyan Ivanov candidated and will do their first paid hours over February.

Distro Tracker

Due to many nights spent on playing Splatoon (I’m at level 33, rank B+, anyone else playing it?), I did not do much work on Distro Tracker.

After having received the bug report #809211, I investigated the reasons why SQLite was no longer working satisfactorily in Django 1.9 and I opened the upstream ticket 26063 and I had a long discussion with two upstream developers to find out the best fix. The next point release (1.9.2) will fix that annoying regression.

I also merged a couple of contributions (two patches from Christophe Siraut, one adding descriptions to keywords, cf #754413, one making it more obvious that chevrons in action items are actionable to show more data, a patch from Balasankar C in #810226 fixing a bad URL in an action item).

I fixed a small bug in the “unsubscribe” command of the mail bot, it was not properly recognizing source packages.

I updated the task notifying of new upstream versions to use the data generated by UDD (instead of the data generated by Christoph Berg’s mole-based implementation which was suffering from a few bugs). 

Debian Packaging

Testing experimental sbuild. While following the work of Johannes Schauer on sbuild, I installed the version from experimental to support his work and give him some feedback. In the process I uncovered #810248.

Python sponsorship. I reviewed and uploaded many packages for Daniel Stender who keeps doing great work maintaining prospector and all its recursive dependencies: pylint-common, python-requirements-detector, sphinx-argparse, pylint-django, prospector. He also prepared an upload of python-bcrypt which I requested last month for Django.

Django packaging. I uploaded Django 1.8.8 to jessie-backports.
My stable updates for Django 1.7.11 was not handled before the release of Debian 8.3 even though it was filed more than 1.5 months before.

Misc stuff. My stable update for debian-handbook has been accepted fairly shortly after my last monthly report (thank you Adam!) so I uploaded the package once acked by a release manager. I also sponsor a backports upload of zim prepared by Joerg Desch.

Kali related work

Kernel work. The switch to Linux 4.3 in Kali resulted in a few bug reports that I investigated with the help of #debian-kernel and where I reported my findings back so that the Debian kernel could also benefit from the fixes I uploaded to Kali: first we included a patch for a regression in the vmwgfx video driver used by VMWare virtual machines (which broke the gdm login screen), then we fixed the input-modules udeb to fix support of some Logitech keyboards in debian-installer (see #796096).

Misc work. I made a non-maintainer upload of python-maxminddb to fix #805689 which had been removed from stretch and that we needed in Kali. I also had to NMU libmaxminddb since it was no longer available on armel and we actually support armel in Kali. During that NMU, it occurred to me that dh-exec could offer a feature of “optional install”, that is installing a file that exists but not failing if it doesn’t exist. I filed this as #811064 and it stirred up quite some debate.


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