My Free Software Activities in April 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 handled a new LTS sponsor that wanted to see wheezy keep supporting armel and armhf. This was not part of our initial plans (set during last Debconf) and I thus mailed all teams that were impacted if we were to collectively decide that it was OK to support those architectures. While I was hoping to get a clear answer rather quickly, it turns out that we never managed to get an answer to the question from all parties. Instead the discussion drifted on the more general topic of how we handle sponsorship/funding in the LTS project.

Fortunately, the buildd maintainers said they were OK with this and the ftpmasters had no objections, and they both implicitly enacted the decision: Ansgar Burchardt kept the armel/armhf architectures in the wheezy/updates suite when he handled the switch to the LTS team, and Aurélien Jarno also configured wanna-build to keep building armel/armhf for the suite. The DSA team did not confirm that this change was not interfering with one of their plans to decommission some hardware. Build daemons are a shared resource anyway and a single server is likely to handle builds for multiple releases.

DebConf 16

This month I registered for DebConf 16 and submitted multiple talk/BoF proposals:

  • Kali Linux’s Experience of a Debian Derivative Based on Testing (Talk)
  • 2 Years of Work of Paid Contributors in the Debian LTS Project (Talk)
  • Using Debian Money to Fund Debian Projects (BoF)

I want to share the setup we use in Kali as it can be useful for other derivatives and also for Debian itself to help smooth the relationship with derivatives.

I also want to open again the debate on the usage of money within Debian. It’s a hard topic but we should really strive to take some official position on what’s possible and what’s not possible. With Debian LTS and its sponsorship we have seen that we can use money to some extent without hurting the Debian project as a whole. Can this be transposed to other teams or projects? What are the limits? Can we define a framework and clear rules? I expect the discussion to be very interesting in the BoF. Mehdi Dogguy has agreed to handle this BoF with me.


Django. I uploaded 1.8.12 to jessie-backports and 1.9.5 to unstable. I filed two upstream bugs (26473 and 26474) for two problems spotted by lintian.

Unfortunately, when I wanted to upload it to unstable, the test suite did not ran. I pinned this down to a sqlite regression. Chris Lamb filed #820225 and I contacted the SQLite and Django upstream developers by email to point them to this issue. I helped the SQLite upstream author (Richard Hipp) to reproduce the issue and he was quick to provide a patch which landed in 3.12.1.

Later in the month I made another upload to fix an upgrade bug (#821789).

GNOME 3.20. As for each new version, I updated gnome-shell-timer to ensure it works with the new GNOME. This time I spent a bit more time to fix a regression (805347) that dates back to a while and that would never be fixed otherwise since the upstream author orphaned this extension (as he no longer uses GNOME).

I have also been bitten by display problems where accented characters would be displayed below the character that follows. With the help of members of the GNOME team, we found out that this was a problem specific to the cantarell font and was only triggered with Harfbuzz 1.2. This is tracked in Debian with #822682 on harfbuzz and #822762 in fonts-cantarell. There’s a new upstream release (with the fix) ready to be packaged but unfortunately it is blocked by the lack of a recent fontforge in Debian. I thus mailed debian-mentors in the hope to find volunteers to help the pkg-fonts team to package a newer version…

Misc Debian/Kali work

Distro Tracker. I started to mentor Vladimir Likic who contacted me because he wants to contribute to Distro Tracker. I helped him to setup his development environment and we fixed a few issues in the process.

Bug reports. I filed many bug reports, most of them due to my work on Kali:

  • #820288: a request to keep the wordpress package installable in older releases (due to renaming of many php packages)
  • #820660: request support of by-hash indices in reprepro
  • #820867: possibility to apply overrides on already installed packages in reprepro
  • #821070: jessie to stretch upgrade problem with samba-vfs-modules
  • #822157: python-future hides and breaks python-configparser
  • #822669: dh_installinit inserts useless autoscript for System V init script when package doesn’t contain any
  • #822670: dh-systemd should be merged into debhelper, we have systemd by default and debhelper should have proper support for it by default

I also investigated #819958 that was affecting testing since it has been reported to Kali as well. And I made an NMU of dh-make-golang to fix #819472 that I reported earlier.


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

My Free Software Activities in October 2015

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 13.25 hours on Debian LTS. During this time I worked on the following things:

  • I prepared and released DLA 330-1 fixing two CVE on unzip.
  • I prepared a bouncycastle update fixing CVE-2015-7940 (after having requested that CVE assignment since nobody had done it yet) but I have not yet released the corresponding DLA yet since I’m waiting for a review by the upstream author. This is hairy cryptographic Java code that was non-trivial to backport and I’d rather make sure that I do not mess anything. The patches are available in the bug report #802671 that I opened.
  • I tested the update to MySQL 5.5 with multiple packages and sent back my findings to the debian-lts mailing list.

I also started a conversation about what paid contributors could work on if they have some spare cycle as the current funding level might allow us to invest some time on work outside of just plain security updates.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

I spent quite some time finalizing the Jessie book update, both for the content and for the layout of the printed book.

Debian Handbook: cover of the jessie edition

Misc Debian work

GNOME 3.18. I uploaded a new gnome-shell-timer working with GNOME Shell 3.18 and I filed bugs #800660 and #802480 about an annoying gnome-keyring regression… I did multiple test rounds with the Debian maintainers (Dmitry Shachnev, kudos to him!) and the upstream developers (see here and here). Apart from those regressions, I like GNOME 3.18!

Python-modules team migration to Git. After the Git migration, and since the team policy now imposes usage of git-dpm on all members, I made some tries with it on the python-django package while pushing version 1.8.5 to experimental. And the least I can say is that I’m not pleased with the result. I thus filed 3 bugs summarizing the problems I have with git-dpm: #801666 (no way to set the upstream branch names from within the repository), #801667 (no clean way to merge between packaging branches), #801668 (does not create upstream tag immediately on tarball import). That is on top of other randomly stupid bugs that were already reported like #801548 (does not work with perfectly valid pre-existing upstream tags).

Django packaging. I filed bugs on all packages build-depending on python-django that fail to build with Django 1.8 and informed them that I would upload Django 1.8 to unstable in early November (it’s done already). Then I fixed python-django-jsonfield myself since Distro Tracker relies on this package.

Following this small mass-bug filing, I filed a wishlist bug on devscripts to improve the “mass-bug” helper script (see #801926). And since I used “ratt” to rebuild the packages, I filed a wishlist issue on this new tool as well.

Tryton 3.6 upgrade. I upgraded my own Tryton installation to version 3.6 and filed bug #803066 because the SysV init script was not working properly. That also reminded me that the DD process of Matthias Behrle (the tryton package maintainer) was stalled due to a bug in the NM infrastructure so I pinged the NM team and we sorted out a way for me to advocate him and get his process going…

Distro Tracker. I continued my work to refactor the way we handle incoming mail processing (branch people/hertzog/mailprocessing). It’s now mostly finished and I need to deploy it in a test environment before being able to roll it out on


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

My Free Software Activities in September 2014

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 (26.6 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

Django 1.7

Since Django 1.7 got released early September, I updated the package in experimental and continued to push for its inclusion in unstable. I sent a few more patches to multiple reverse build dependencies who had asked for help (python-django-bootstrap-form, horizon, lava-server) and then sent the package to unstable. At that time, I bumped the severity of all bug filed against packages that were no longer building with Django 1.7.

Later in the month, I made sure that the package migrated to testing, it only required a temporary removal of mumble-django (see #763087). Quite a few packages got updated since then (remaining bugs here).

Debian Long Term Support

I have worked towards keeping Debian Squeeze secure, see the dedicated article: My Debian LTS report for September 2014.

Distro Tracker

The pace of development on slowed down a bit this month, with only 30 new commits in the repository, closing 6 bugs. Some of the changes are noteworthy though: the news now contain true links on bugs, CVE and plain URLs (example here). I have also fixed a serious issue with the way users were identified when they used their Alioth account credentials to login via

On the development side, we’re now able to generate the test suite code coverage which is quite helpful to identify parts of the code that are clearly missing some tests (see bin/ in the repository).

Misc packaging

Publican. I have been behind packaging new upstream versions of Publican and with the freeze approaching, I decided to take care of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped and found numerous issues that I have filed upstream (invalid public identifier, PDF build fails with noNumberLines function available, build of the manual requires the network). Most of those have been fixed upstream in the mean time but the last issue seems to be a problem in the way we manage our Docbook XML catalogs in Debian. I have thus filed #763598 (docbook-xml: xmllint fails to identify local copy of docbook entities file) which is still waiting an answer from the maintainer.

Package sponsorship. I have sponsored new uploads of dolibarr (RC bug fix), tcpdf (RC bug fix), tryton-server (security update) and django-ratelimit.

GNOME 3.14. With the arrival of GNOME 3.14 in unstable, I took care of updating gnome-shell-timer and also filed some tickets for extensions that I use: and

git-buildpackage. I filed multiple bugs on git-buildpackage for little issues that have been irking me since I started using this tool: #761160 (gbp pq export/switch should be smarter), #761161 (gbp pq import+export should preserve patch filenames), #761641 (gbp import-orig should be less fragile and more idempotent).


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

GNOME 3 transition happening in Debian unstable

The few articles I wrote that explained how to install GNOME 3 from Debian experimental have been very popular. So I figured out that a small update would be welcome.

The Debian GNOME team started uploading a mix of GNOME 3.0 and 3.2 packages to Debian unstable because the release team is ready to take care of this transition. This means that as soon as the packages are ready in Debian unstable, the release team will ensure that they also reach wheezy (aka the current testing distribution).

So if you’re a Debian unstable/testing user with a GNOME Desktop, expect some important changes… by the way my experience with GNOME 3 was recently plagued by some rendering issues resulting in parts of the screen not being properly refreshed. While trying to track this down (and investigating clutter as a possible culprit) I came upon this mail on the clutter-devel mailing list. I recompiled mutter with the indicated patch and it fixed my issue. I immediately uploaded mutter with the fix… so this issue should be gone for the many people who are going to experience GNOME 3 for the first time in the coming days.

It’s also worth noting that contrary to how upstream handles it (they hide the fallback mode and the user has to enable an option to use it in place of the GNOME Shell), Debian has a dedicated session for the GNOME 3 fallback mode so you decide what you get right from the login screen. This will be appreciated by the people who do not see GNOME 3 as a step in the right direction. Unless they switch to XFCE as some did.

As far I am concerned, I’m already used to GNOME 3. I spend most of my time in terminals, browsers and an IRC application and the whole Shell does not fundamentally changes my work habits.