My Free Software Activities for January 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 12 hours on Debian LTS. I did the following tasks:

  • CVE triage. I pushed 24 commits to the securitry tracker. I spent more time on this task than usually (see details below).
  • I released DLA-143-1 on python-django (fixing 3 CVE). While I expected the update to be quick, my testing revealed that even though the patches applied mostly fine, they did not work as expected. I ended up spending almost 4 hours to properly backport the fixes and the corresponding tests (to ensure that the fixes are working properly).

I want to expand on two cases that I stumbled upon in my CVE triage work and that took quite long to investigate each. While my after-the-fact description is rather straightforward, the real process involved more iterations and data gathering that I do not mention here.

First I was investigating CVE-2012-6685 on libnokogiri-ruby and the upstream bug discussion revealed that libxml2 could also be part of the problem. Using the tests cases submitted there, I confirmed that libxml2 was also affected by an issue of its own… then I started to analyze the history of CVE of libxml2 to find out whether that issue got a CVE assigned: yes, that was CVE-2014-0191 (although the CVE description is unrelated). But this CVE was marked as fixed in all releases. Why? It turns out that the upstream fix for this CVE is just the complement of another commit that was merged way earlier (and that was used as a basis for the commit as the copy/paste of the comment shows). When the security teams integrated the upstream patch in wheezy/squeeze, they were probably not aware that a full fix required to also include something else. In the end, I thus reopened CVE-2014-0191 on our tracker (commit here).

The second problematic case was pound. Thijs Kinkhorst added pound related data on the multiple (high profile) SSL related issues. So it appeared on my radar of new vulnerable package in Squeeze because it was marked that CVE-2009-3555 was fixed in version 2.6-2 while Squeeze has 2.5-1. There was no bug reference in the security tracker and the Debian changelog for that version only mentioned an “anti_beast patch” which is yet another issue (CVE-2011-3389). I had to dig a bit deeper… in the end I discovered that the above patch also has provisions for the CVE that was of interest to me, except that Brian May recently reported in #765649 that the package was still vulnerable to this issue… I tried to understand where the above patch was failing and thus submitted my findings to the bug. And I updated the tracker data with my newly gained knowledge (commit 31751 and 31752).


For me, January is always the month where I try to close the accounting books of Freexian. This year is no exception except that it’s the first year where I do this with Tryton. I first upgraded to Tryton 3.4 to have the latest version.

Despite this I discovered multiple problems while doing so… since I don’t want to have those problems next year, I reported them and prepared fixes for those related to the French chart of accounts:

  • #4464: CSV export on tree views is unusable
  • #4466: add missing deferral properties on accounts
  • #4468: drop abusive reconcile properties on some accounts
  • #4469: convert account 6354 into a real non-view account
  • #4479: balance non-deferral accounts is broken with non-view parent accounts


I mentioned this idea last month… setting up and maintaining a lot of sbuild chroots can be tiresome so I wanted to automate this as much as possible. To achieve this I created three Salt formulas and got them added to the official Saltstack repository:

Each one builds on top of the former. debootstrap-formula creates chroots with debootstrap or cdebootstrap. schroot-formula does the same and registers those chroots in schroot. And sbuild-formula does the same as schroot-formula but with different defaults that are more suited to sbuild chroots (and obviously ensures that sbuild is installed and that generated chroots are buildd chroots).

With the sbuild formula I can put this in pillar data:

      architectures: [amd64, i386]
        - wheezy-backports
        - wheezy-security
        - wheezy-backports
        - stable-security
        - wheezy-security

And then a simple salt-call state.highstate (I’m running in standalone mode) will ensure that I have all the chroots properly setup.

Misc packaging

I packaged new upstream releases of Django in experimental and opened a pre-approval request to get the latest 1.7.x in jessie (#775892). It seems to be a difficult sell for the release team, which is a pity because we have active Debian developers, active upstream developers, and everybody is well aware of the no-new features rule to avoid regressions. Where is the risk?

I also filed an unblock request for Dolibarr (on the request of the security team which wants to see the CVE fix reach Jessie). I did small contributions to two bugs that were of special interest to some of my donators (#751339 and #774811), they were not under my responsibility but I tried to get them moving by pinging the relevant people.

I prepared a security upload for Django in Wheezy (python-django_1.4.5-1+deb7u9) and sent it to the security team. While doing this I discovered a small problem in their backported patch that I reported upstream in Django’s ticket #24239.

Debian France

With the new year, it’s again time to organize a general assembly with the election of a third of its board. So we solicited candidacies among the members and I’m pleased to see that we got 6 candidacies for the 3 seats. It’s a good sign that we still have enough persons caring about the association. One of them is even speaking of Debconf 17 in France… great plans!

On my side, I announced that I would not candidate to be president for the next year. I will stay on the board though to ensure we have a smooth transition.


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

My Free Software Activities for December 2014

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 20 hours on Debian LTS. I did the following tasks:

  • CVE triage: I pushed 47 commits to the security tracker this month. Due to this, I submitted two wishlist bugs against the security tracker: #772927 and #772961.
  • I released DLA-106-1 which had been prepared by Osamu Aoki.
  • I released DLA-111-1 fixing one CVE on cpio.
  • I released DLA-113-1 and DLA-114-1 on bsd-mailx/heirloom-mailx fixing one CVE for the former and two CVE for the latter.
  • I released DLA-120-1 on xorg-server. This update alone took more than 6h to backport all the patches, fixing a massive set of 12 CVE.

Not in the paid hours, but still related to Debian LTS, I kindly asked Linux Weekly News to cover Debian LTS in their security page and this is now live. You will see DLA on the usual security page and there’s also a dedicated page tracking this:

I modified the LTS wiki page to have a dedicated Funding sub-page. This avoids having a direct link to Freexian’s offer on the main LTS page (which surprised a few persons) and allows to give some more background information and makes it possible for other persons/companies to also get listed in the same way (since there’s no exclusive relationship between Debian and Freexian here!).

And I also answered some questions of Nguyen Cong (a new LTS contributor, employed by Toshiba with explicit permission to contribute to LTS during work hours! \o/), on IRC, on (again) and on the mailing list! It’s great to see the LTS project expanding beyond current members of the Debian project.

Distro Tracker

I want to give again some more priority to Distro Tracker at least to complete the transition from the old PTS to this new service… last month has been a bit better than November but not by much.

I reviewed a patch in #771604 (about displaying long descriptions), I merged another patch in #757443 (fixing bad markup which rendered the page unusable with Konqueror), I fixed #760382 where package gone through NEW would never lose their version in NEW.

Kali related contributions

I’m not covering my Kali work here but only some things which got contributed upstream (or to Debian).

First I ensured that we could build the Kali ISO with live-build 4.x in jessie. This resulted in multiple patches merged to the Debian live project (1 2 3 4). I also submitted a patch for a regression in the handling of conditionals in package lists, it got dropped and has been fixed differently instead. I also filed #772651 to report a problem in how live-build decided of the variant of the live-config package to install.

Kali has forked the sysvinit package to be able to disable the services by default and I was investigating how to port this feature in the new systemd world. It turns out systemd has such a feature natively: it’s called Preset files. Unfortunately it’s not usable in Debian because Debian does not call systemctl preset during package installation. I filed bug #772555 to get this fixed (in Stretch, it’s too late for Jessie :-().


I’m using salt to automate some administration task in Kali, at home and at work. I discovered recently that the project tries to collect “Salt Formulas”: those are ready to use instructions for as many services as possibles.

I started using this for some simple services and quickly felt the need to extend “salt-formula”, the set of states used to configure salt with salt. I submitted 5 pull requests (#73 and #74 to configure salt in standalone mode, #75 to enable the upstream package repositories, #76 to automatically download and enable the desired salt formulas, #77 for some bugfixes) and they have all been merged in less than 24 hours (that’s the kind of thing that motivates you to contribute again in the future!).

I also submitted a bug fix for samba-formula and a bug report in salt itself (#19180).

BTW I have some salt states to setup schroot and sbuild. I will try to package those as proper salt formulas in the future…

Misc stuff

Mailing list governance. In Debian, we often complain about meta-discussion on mailing lists (i.e. discussions about how we discuss together) and at the same time we need to have that kind of discussions from time to time. So I suggested to host those discussions in a new mailing list and to get this new list setup, our rules require to have other people interested in having this list. The idea had some support when we discussed it on debian-private, so I relaunched it on debian-project while filing the official request in the BTS: #772645. Unfortunately, I only got one second. So if you’re interested in pursuing this idea, speak up now…

Sponsorship. I sponsored another Galette plugin this month: galette-plugin-fullcard. Thanks to François-Régis Vuillemin for his work.

Publican. Following one of my bug report against Publican and with the help of the upstream author, we identified the problem and I submitted a patch.


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

My Free Software Activities in November 2014

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 18 hours on Debian LTS (14h allocated by Freexian + 4h I did not spend last month). I did the following tasks:

  • CVE triage: I pushed 19 commits to the security tracker. I also tried to encourage some maintainers to provide security updates for packages that are not in use by the current LTS sponsors and that are thus not in our priority list.
  • DLA 87: dbus update fixing 3 CVE
  • DLA 93: libgcrypt11 update fixing 1 CVE
  • DLA 96: openjdk-6 security update fixing 21 CVE
  • Worked on preparing a security update to linux. It’s not released yet.

Updating the linux source package took a good half of the allocated time. We opted to update the kernel to the upstream version I integrated the upstream patches and identified about 130 patches that we had to disable (because they were already integrated upstream). Then I updated our “openvz flavor” patch to apply on top of the new kernel. This required quite a bit of manual conflict resolution and there are even parts where I was not sure that I took the correct decision. I was not able to find an upstream openvz git tree on this kernel version to to double check.

Instead I asked Ben Hutchings to review my patch. He told me that he did not volunteer to work on LTS, but that he would be open to contribute to it for money. Following this remark, as the coordinator of Freexian’s offer, I offered him to join to the set of paid LTS contributors to take care of the kernel and he accepted.

So hopefully we will be able to wrap this linux upload in the first week of december. We had no uploads of the kernel in Squeeze since July so it’s good to know that we now have someone who will be able to handle it in priority.

Distro Tracker

No new developments this month. Instead I spent some time to import old historic news so that when you lookup removed packages you have some actual content instead of a 404 error. For example you can look at python2.1.

Another thing that I did is to tag some bugs with the newly-announced tag “newcomer”. Those are easy bugs that are ideal targets for new contributors who’d like to get started: here’s the list. It’s up to you now! 😉

DEP-14: Recommended layout for Git packaging repositories

I have drafted an initial version of a document called Recommended layout for Git packaging repositories and submitted it for discussion on debian-devel.

The discussion has been interesting and constructive (yes this is still possible in Debian!). I have a bunch of improvements in my local copy and needs to process a few more feedback before submitting an updated draft. It’s not a revolution but it’s a good step to try to standardize tags and branches naming conventions.

Systemd, the tech-ctte and our mailing lists

As an old-timer, I care a lot about the governance of Debian and it’s annoying to see how the systemd debate brought back some of our old daemons in terms of hostile atmosphere on our mailing lists.

We can disagree on a lot of things, but we must respect each other and we are here to work together on solutions for everybody. As such I wrote to the persons who cross the line to invite them to behave better. And I’m glad that our listmasters are backing up our calls with bans when appropriate. I believe we must go further in that direction and I shared an idea (on a debian-private thread that should have never existed, much like most of the traffic on that list) that I shall formalize and share on debian-project@l.d.o at some point.

At the same time, we also had another governance-related discussion with the idea to impose some turnover in the technical committee. I’m glad to see that we will soon vote on this topic. This is a good thing in general even though we just had 3 tech-ctte members who retired.

Misc stuff

I sponsored an upload of galette and of 3 of its plugins. I reviewed jitsi-videobridge and jitsi-meet on

I filed a few bugs:

  • #768256 about huge vim icons in the GNOME contextual menus
  • #768540: cdebootstrap: fails to bootstrap old releases with dpkg not supporting data.tar.xz
  • #770011: lynx -dump badly converting …


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.