My Free Software Activities in July 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.

DebConf 16

I was in South Africa for the whole week of DebConf 16 and gave 3 talks/BoF. You can find the slides and the videos in the links of their corresponding page:

I was a bit nervous about the third BoF (on using Debian money to fund Debian projects) but discussed with many persons during the week and it looks like the project evolved quite a bit in the last 10 years and while it’s still a sensitive topic (and rightfully so given the possible impacts) people are willing to discuss the issues and to experiment. You can have a look at the gobby notes that resulted from the live discussion.

I spent most of the time discussing with people and I did not do much technical work besides trying (and failing) to fix accessibility issues with tracker.debian.org (help from knowledgeable people is welcome, see #830213).

Debian Packaging

I uploaded a new version of zim to fix a reproducibility issue (and forwarded the patch upstream).

I uploaded Django 1.8.14 to jessie-backports and had to fix a failing test (pull request).

I uploaded python-django-jsonfield 1.0.1 a new upstream version integrating the patches I prepared in June.

I managed the (small) ftplib library transition. I prepared the new version in experimental, ensured reverse build dependencies do still build and coordinated the transition with the release team. This was all triggered by a reproducible build bug that I got and that made me look at the package… last time upstream had disappeared (upstream URL was even gone) but it looks like he became active again and he pushed a new release.

I filed wishlist bug #832053 to request a new deblog command in devscripts. It should make it easier to display current and former build logs.

Kali related Debian work

I worked on many issues that were affecting Kali (and Debian Testing) users:

  • I made an open-vm-tools NMU to get the package back into testing.
  • I filed #830795 on nautilus and #831737 on pbnj to forward Kali bugs to Debian.
  • I wrote a fontconfig patch to make it ignore .dpkg-tmp files. I also forwarded that patch upstream and filed a related bug in gnome-settings-daemon which is actually causing the problem by running fc-cache at the wrong times.
  • I started a discussion to see how we could fix the synaptics touchpad problem in GNOME 3.20. In the end, we have a new version of xserver-xorg-input-all which only depends on xserver-xorg-input-libinput and not on xserver-xorg-input-synaptics (no longer supported by GNOME). This is after upstream refused to reintroduce synaptics support.
  • I filed #831730 on desktop-base because KDE’s plasma-desktop is no longer using the Debian background by default. I had to seek upstream help to find out a possible solution (deployed in Kali only for now).
  • I filed #832503 because the way dpkg and APT manages foo:any dependencies when foo is not marked “Multi-Arch: allowed” is counter-productive… I discovered this while trying to use a firefox-esr:any dependency. And I filed #832501 to get the desired “Multi-Arch: allowed” marker on firefox-esr.

Thanks

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

My Free Software Activities in June 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 packaging

Django and Python. I uploaded Django 1.9.7 and filed an upstream ticket (#26755) for a failure seen in its DEP-8 tests.

I packaged/sponsored python-django-modeltranslation and python-paypal. I opened a pull request on model-translation to fix failing tests in the Debian package build.

I packaged a new python-django-jsonfield (1.0.0), filed a bug and discovered some regression in its PostgreSQL support. I helped on the upstream ticket and I have been granted commit rights. I used this opportunity to do some bug triage and push a few fixes. I also discussed the future of the module and ended up starting a discussion on Django’s developer list about the possibility to add a JSONField to the core.

CppUTest. I uploaded a new upstream version (3.8) with more than a year of work. I found out that make install does not install a required header so I opened a ticket with a patch. The package ended up not compiling on quite a few architectures so I opened a ticket and prepared a fix for some of those failures with the help of the upstream developers. I also added a DEP-8 tests after having uploaded a broken (untested) package…

systemd support in net-snmp and postfix. I worked on adding native systemd service units to net-snmp (#782243) and postfix (#715188). In both cases, the maintainers have not been very reactive so far so I uploaded my changes as delayed NMU.

pkg-security team. The team that I started quietly a few months ago is now growing, both with new members and new packages. I created the required Teams/pkg-security wiki page. I sponsored xprobe, hydra, made an upload of medusa to merge Kali changes into Debian (and at the same time submitting the patch to upstream).

fontconfig. After having read Jonathan McDowell’s analysis of a bug that I experienced multiple times (and that many Kali users had too), I opened bug #828037 to get it fixed once for all. Unfortunately, nothing happened yet.

DebConf 16

I spent some time to prepare the 2 talks and the BoF that I will give/manage in Cape Town next week:

  • Kali Linux’s Experience https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/39/
  • 2 Years of Work of Paid Contributors in the Debian LTS Project https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/40/
  • Using Debian Money to Fund Debian Projects https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/41/

Distro Tracker

I continued to mentor Vladimir Likic who managed to finish his first patch. He is now working on documentation for new contributors based on his recent experience.

I enhanced the tox configuration to run tests with Django 1.8 LTS with fatal warnings (python -Werror) so as to ensure that I’m not relying on any deprecated feature and so that I can be sure that the codebase will work on the next Django LTS release (1.11). Thanks to this, I did discover quite a few places where I have been using deprecated API and I fixed them all (the JSONField update to 1.0.0 I mentionned above was precisely to fix such a warning).

I also fixed a few more issues with folded mail headers that you can’t inject back in a new Message object and with messages lacking the subject field. All those have been caught through real (spam) email generating exceptions wich are then mailed to me.

Kali related work

I uploaded a new live-boot (5.20160608) to Debian to fix a bug where the boot process was blocking on some timeout.

I forwarded a Kali bug against libatk-wrapper-java (#827741) which turned out to be an OpenJDK bug.

I filed #827749 against reprepro to request a way to remove selected internal file references. This is required if you want to be able to make a file disappear and if that file is part of a snapshot that you want to keep despite this. But in truth, my real need is to be able to replace the .orig.tar.gz used by Kali by the orig.tar.gz used by Debian… those conflicts break the mirroring/import script.

Salt

I have been using salt to deploy a new service, and I developed patches for a few issues in salt formulas. I also created a new letsencrypt-sh formula to manage TLS certificates with the letsencrypt.sh ACME client.

Thanks

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

My Free Software Activities in May 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

Due to some departure and increased workload, I wanted to find out a few new paid contributors for Debian LTS. So I sent a mail to debian-jobs@lists.debian.org and contrary to last time (where I posted the announce only here on my blog), I had plenty of replies… I ended up enrolling 6 new contributors and refusing 3 persons that did not have the required profile.

All new contributors are supposed to handle at least one LTS update on their free time to get up to speed. But from the 6 new contributors only 3 managed to handle their “training update” in May. 🙁

During the month I spent quite some time providing guidance to the new contributors both in private mails and on the debian-lts mailing list.

I also reviewed a xen update where I had (rightfully) some doubts about the work done.

Packaging work

fonts-cantarell. After having diagnosed the problem last month, I got annoyed enough by the lack of a fixed package that I found a way to package a newer upstream release of fonts-cantarell without requiring a fontforge update that was likely to take some time still… so I prepared and uploaded 0.0.24-1.

cpputest. Bug #823711 reported some license issues with some of the files. I immediately forwarded this upstream (issue 961) and fixed it in Debian by repacking the upstream tarball. Fortunately upstream has been quick to handle his and there’s a new upstream release (3.8) where the problematic files have been dropped.

live-boot. Kali’s live images were no longer booting (stuck in the initrd) and with the help of Ben Hutchings we diagnosed this back to #823069 which I fixed in live-boot 20160511.

udev. I filed #824025 to request that the rule defining the MAC-based name of USB network interfaces be isolated in its own file so that it can be easily disabled (we do that in Kali).

Misc stuff. I packaged Django 1.8.13 in jessie-backports. I filed
#824165 against sbuild being broken with “$apt_allow_unauthenticated = 1;” in .sbuildrc. I filed a wishlist bug #824168 against apt-listchanges to suggest that it ignores news from auto-installed packages. I filed #825923 to report a regression in python-nltk (discovered in Kali first).

Infrastructure work

packages.debian.org. A few months ago, I wrote a patch for packages.debian.org so that it forwards emails to tracker.debian.org instead of packages.qa.debian.org. At that time, I was in touch with Rhonda and was hoping that she would apply it rather quickly (the patch is rather short). After a few more pings, she made it clear that she was not alone and that I should rather file a proper request so that someone else can also process it. So I filed #824085 and tried to find someone else to apply my patch. Most of the members of pkg_maint said that they were part of the group only due to generic webmaster involvement but that they did not want to touch that part. Fortunately, Martin Zobel Helas was more receptive to my request and helped me to deploy my changes. I committed my change and Martin pulled it in the live checkout on picconi.debian.org.

This update is also a first step towards the possibility to use foo@packages.debian.org and/or teams+foo@tracker.debian.org in the Maintainer field of a package. With this we can get rid of dedicated mailing lists that just duplicate the work of the package tracker. And we no longer need to care about the fact that the Maintainer is handled differently than Uploaders since all (human) co-maintainers would then be listed in Uploaders only (and the package tracker would deal appropriately with mails sent to the Maintainer).

Distro Tracker. I improved the import process to be able to force a new processing of source packages that were already imported. This was useful to let it recognize architectures which were newly added in its database (and that were ignored and thus not displayed up to now).

I also made a first review of the AppStream patch submitted by Matthias Klump in #806740.

Thanks

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

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.

Packaging

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.

Thanks

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