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 March 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 (114.19 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Simple-CDD and debian-cd

I tried to use wheezy’s version of debian-cd and simple-cdd to generate an automatic installer. In this process, I filed a couple of bugs on simple-cdd (#701963: type-handling package is gone and should not be listed in default.downloads, and #701998: the --keyboard parameter is not working with wheezy’s debian-installer) and I commited fixes for a few issues in debian-cd:

  • r2518: adjust Makefile for new xorriso requirement
  • r2520: add missing depends on dosfstools
  • r2521: use --no-check-gpg when querying debootstrap
  • r2522: make debian-cd work with a mirror without sources)

Debian France

I completed the new website for Debian France and I put it online. Later I merged some supplementary enhancements prepared by Tanguy Ortolo (and I gave him commits rights at the same time).

I tried to update our Galette installation to the latest upstream version but I reverted to the former version after having encountered two problems (filed here and here). In the process, I created a Debian package for galette (you can grab it on

I also suggested an idea of improvement for Galette’s paypal plugin and it has been quickly implemented. Thus I updated the plugin installed on

Kali related work

It’s been a few months that I have been helping the Kali team to prepare this new Debian derivative. Now that the derivative has gone public, I can attribute some of my Debian work to my collaboration with the Kali team.

This month I contributed a few features and fixes to debian-installer and live-build:

After the launch, we registered Kali in the derivative census. Paul Wise quickly reported some misfiled bugs from early Kali users and I discovered that reportbug was not behaving properly even though we correctly updated base-files (see #703678 on reportbug and #703677 on lsb-release).

Misc packaging work

  • I sponsored a new upstream version of dnsjava because it’s required by Jitsi.
  • I prepared rebuild and uploaded it to testing-proposed-updates for a RC bug fix.
  • I uploaded Publican 3.1.5 to experimental and filed #703514 to request a new upstream version of docbook-xsl that is needed by Publican.
  • I filed #703995 to fix apt-setup’s handling of the apt-setup/multiarch preseed option.

DPL election

I also spent quite some time to read and participate to the discussions on debian-vote since it was campaigning time for the DPL candidates


This was a rather active month if you take into account the fact that I got a second son — Lucas — on March 6th.

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.

Why you should always have a network connection when installing Debian

This is a simple tip but an important one: when you’re installing Debian, take the time required to ensure the machine is connected to the Internet with a wired connection. If you have DHCP available, the debian-installer will use it to configure the network.

Why not use the wireless connection?

Because debian-installer in Squeeze doesn’t support WPA encryption, but only WEP. So if you’re using WPA, picking the wireless connection will lead to no working network during the installation and this is to be avoided.

If you’re still using WEP, you can go ahead of course.

If you only have a wireless connection with WPA, your might want to help the debian-installer team and add the required support. Matthew Palmer did some work on it a few months ago (see this mail and his branch in the netcfg git repository) but he resigned from the d-i team in the mean time. So WPA support is still not available in the wheezy debian-installer.

Why is the network so important?

  1. The “tasks” that you select during the installation process might suggest installation of supplementary packages that are not available on your installation disc. If you install without network, the resulting system might differ from the expected one since it will be missing some packages that are available in the Debian repositories but not on your installation disc.
  2. Your installation media might be old and there are security updates that have been published. If you do your initial installation with network, the security updates will be installed before the reboot and thus before the services are exposed over the network.
  3. If you’re not installing a desktop with network-manager (Debian’s default GNOME Desktop provides it), the initial network configuration is important since this configuration is kept for the future. And you surely want network connectivity on your machine, don’t you?
  4. Without network, APT’s sources.list will not be properly configured to include an HTTP mirror of your country. And really, I prefer when apt-get install can work without the initial installation disc.

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