Older blog entries for Stevey (starting at number 198)


BitTorrent is a great application for downloading files, but it's a bit painful to setup as a server.

I have N large movies to distribute.

For each one I have to :

  • Create a .torrent file to host with a tracker.
  • Have one host somewhere download the initial copy to run as a seed.

The available servers seem to require one tracker per .torrent file - with no obvious way to automate the process.

What I'd like to do is have a server that would run as one process in an apache-like manner. Give it a document root and it would produce webpages with links to the .torrent files.

The first person to download could get the file via HTTP, and after that would be the seed.

Somebody, somewhere, tell me this exists?

23 Nov 2004 (updated 23 Nov 2004 at 18:00 UTC) »

Today I formatted a nice introductary document on Intrusion Detection Systems, using linuxdoc.

Writing the document as a single .xml file was very straight forward and this allowed me to format the document with a nice table of content in PDF and HTML.

The linuxdoc format is very simple, so there was no need to worry about undue formatting. (The tagset is minimal and simple to get the hang of).

However there was one small niggle - the PDF document was continuous.

By that I mean that the PDF document didn't start a new page for a new top-level section.

Since I figured this is what I want in all obvious settings I hacked my copy of linuxdoc to do this.

Edit the file /usr/share/linuxdoc-tools/dist/linuxdoc-tools/latex2e/mapping and insert "\n\\newpage" in the section marked <sect>.

This is written here for my own reference because it took me about 40 minutes to dig through the sources to work out how the transformation happened, and around ten minutes to remember enough LaTeX to force a pagebreak.

Diary Spam

A few people have posted that they have been forced to disable comments on their blog entries due to spam comments.

I'm having the same problem with my website's guestbook.

There seem to be a few bots going around scanning for Guestbook-esque URLS.

I see a single IP address test for a lots of CGI scripts, then shortly afterwards multiple distinct IP addresses post spamy links in my guestbook.

For the moment I've disabled the guestbook, and I will shortly remove links to it online.

I wonder if it's worth setting up a hack to run the comment against a spam filter? Or adding moderation? It's either that or add in some kinda image recognition test - but personally I'm not a big fan of those.

Mostly my guestbook doesn't get that much use anyway. Maybe 200 messages in a couple of years, but it's nice and friendly so it seems like giving in spam to lose it.


I did some more work on auditing code last night, and today.

I found several bugs but nothing exploitable.

Mostly I've been waiting for Sarge to be released before doing this for real, but since I've been reading the security team mail and being frustrated that I can't seem to actually do anything I started again.

I'll look over some more code tonight and post a couple of bug reports - mostly trivial unbounded copies that cause crashs. (A couple of "popen" bugs too).

I also released another version of debian-updates, a program which sends email if a machine is missing a security update. It's nothing major, just a couple of patches and minor updates.

I'm suprised people bother subscribing to the freshmeat project when there's an Debian repository where it can be updated from... and there's still the suprise the people will subscribe to a project without taking the time to rate it. *shrugs*


I configured a new virtual host yesterday in exchange for a couple of hundred pounds of stock, and a collection of DVDs.

I'm amused that I'll be getting stock thingys even though I have no expectation there will be a payoff, it's kinda free money and doing the work in exchange for my usual fee of DVDs is rewarding enough.

Simple stuff; take a pristine installation, make e-mail work, remove cruft, install monitoring software and the Darwin Streaming Server.

I think this makes the fourth or the fifth server setup I've done in exchange for films, it's making my DVD collection pretty impressive!

In terms of physical size the James Bond boxset, and the Inspector Morse box set take up the most room. I'm wondering if people really prefer the obvious large collections? It's suprising how much different packaging can reduce the physical size of a collection of discs.

20 discs in the Bond box set take up maybe three times the total room required to hold Buffy series 1-7. (I've not counted but we can assume 5+ discs per series).


I've just been playing around with Jabber some more, and the more I use it the more it rocks.

At work almost a year ago I setup an internal Jabber server and installed Exodus on all the Windows desktops.

We have some perl magic I wrote to generate rosters easily, so now everybody automatically has a bunch of groups for our different offices with all the staff members listed. This is very simple to use and adding a new staff member is only a minutes work.

As I have a Jabber client running from 9-5 every working day I've been looking at using it for giving me status reports and other information, rather than using email.

Writing a command line client to deliver a message to a specific user was easy with the Net::Jabber perl modules.

A quick hack later and rss2email is now sending me RSS feed notices to my jabber server.

This is a lot more convienent than having them go to email for me, and makes me wonder if I could update my server monitoring code to send out Jabber alerts to a bunch of people instead of sending off an email.

Something to play with for the week.

I should write a piece about setting up jabber on the Debian admin site. Work on that slowed for a few days whilst I try to get rid of the table design.

Still I've been told that my proposed design looks too washed out and amateurish. I guess there's a reason that my sites are all very simple looking - I just can't design stuff well.

Maybe I should look around at the Open Source Web Design galleries some more - they have some great stuff there, although it's hard to find the gems.

Qemu Rocks

Tonight I have mostly been ... Installing Windows 2000 on a Debian machine with Qemu, a processor emulator and virutalization program.

I have Windows 2000 running in a little window on my desktop. Speed isn't fantastic, but it's certainly usable.

Now I'm downloading service packs and updates, then I'll call it a night.

This will be useful for testing webpages with Internet Explorer, and generally messing about.


xmms is one of those programs that I use every day. Quite simply it rocks, especially when playing my music ;)

Compared to WinAmp it does everything I'm used to from a MP3/media player.

The only thing that it's missing is a plugin to bind keyboard shortcuts to actions.

Right now I'm using a second program, xbindkeys, to control xmms. Eg. Alt+Up = next track.

xbindkeys allows you to specify a command to run in response to a key combination, this works well for xmms when I can run 'xmms -next' to jump to the next track.

But some operations aren't possible, like controlling the volume. (I wrote a patch to control xmms volume, but it wasn't accepted).

There are different shell programs for xmms that allow other things to be controlled from the command line - but it strikes me that if I could write a plugin for xmms which would allow you to bind keys you'd gain access to all kinds of internals trivially.

So .. I get the source and look over a few hello world plugins and it all looks simple.

Except there is no "Keybinding Widget" that I can see in GTK.


I guess a text field which says 'Ctrl + A' could be written but it seems so wrong.

22 Oct 2004 (updated 27 Nov 2005 at 03:30 UTC) »

By strange coincidence I created a poll a week or so ago, about Debian Distributions

For those currently suggesting that most users run Unstable the current results might be a suprise:

Woody                3% (2 votes)
Woody and Backports 20% (13 votes)
Sid 	            35% (23 votes)
Testing             41% (27 votes)

It's not scientific because it doesnt differentiate between users and developers - but it's interesting regardless. I personally wouldn't ever run testing. I have stable machines which run services for users, (like at work), and I have unstable boxes I distribute upon. But nothing in between.

Feel free to take it, or view the live results.

(And yes this is a deliberate attempt at pimping the new, live, site ;)

Update: Nothing against testing, but given that I have to develop for unstable I think it seems reasonable to use it. My lack of using testing is not religious, nor should it be used as a datapoint in not using it.

Clearly testing it has a purpose. Clearly other people use it.

Clearly I'm not advocating using one distribution over another. I'm just sharing what I use.

Network Diagramming with Dia

After my previous lament over the lack of a decent diagramming tool for drawing pictures of networks several people pointed me at a GNOME-based tool called dia.

Dia is a portable application which runs on on Windows too, via a complete download containing zlib, gtk, etc. In short the windows download contains everything you need to get it running in one simple package.

It's a little reminiscent of the GIMP in the sense that it starts up with a blank canvas and a window with all the tools on it.

Right clicking upon the canvas allows some options to be applied. Clicking upon a shape in the tool window allows you to place it upon the canvas.

The tools are arranged in logical groups, Electronics, Cisco - Networking, etc. This makes it easy to work with a set or related images and keeps the display nice and clean.

Top level tools like different line drawing items, the text tool, etc are always visible which is very useful.

The files are saved as zlib compressed XML files, which I'm assuming means that they are possible to create via clever perl scripts if you needed to.

The application exports to PNG, JPG, SVG, EPS, PS, and several other formats.

In short this is a lovely application to use and a real credit to it's authors.

It's not often I see a program I've not heard of before and discover it's wonderful. I have literally no complaints about it at all.

That's probably enough propaganda - I redid my network diagram using it, so theres a very simple sample. (Be gentle it was my first go!)

My Home LAN

I put together a simple writeup of my home network.

Sadly the diagram is in blocky ASCII - I cannot find a decent network diagramming tool for Linux. Maybe I should look harder.

In short: I've now got two desktops, a laptop, and a Sun Netra. All running Debian.

Retro Gaming

I find myself strangely compelled, watching Gameszville (a poor TV gaming show which feels like a cheap and nasty clone of Gamesmaster which featured astronomer extraordinaire Patrick Moore.) because they are having a retro episode.

I love retro gaming.

I would kill things to get an Tetris arcade box - but never find any going cheap locally. I've seen a few online going for a couple of hundred dollars, but the shipping gto the UK would be cripplingly expensive.

Oh, and as a followup to a previous entry I made about Debian shirts - I now have a couple and a nice retro Space Invaders t-shirt.

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