Older blog entries for pabs3 (starting at number 55)

Debian bug squashing party in Perth

There is a Debian bug squashing party (BSP) in Perth, Western Australia being organised for the weekend of 9-11th of March. It will be held at the University of Western Australia in loft of the University Computer Club (UCC) in the student guild building. Sadly it is a bit far to travel for the majority of Debian contributors (and they probably wouldn't enjoy being upside down) but hopefully we can attract some locals and get them addicted to fixing bugs and contributing to Debian and the FLOSS community in general.

Come one, come all, lets squish some bugs and get Debian into better shape for the coming freeze in June for the release of Debian 7 (wheezy).

Thanks go to the UCC folks for the venue and to PLUG folks for helping with organisation and promotion of the event.

Syndicated 2012-02-02 08:16:52 from Advogato

apt-get purge defoma

Debian is finally transitioning from the unmaintained and Debian-specific font manager called defoma. The replacement is called fontconfig and it is maintained upstream and in Debian (by upstream) and is cross-distribution with wide support from our upstreams and other distributions. With the upload of libwmf (thanks Loïc!) the last package in Debian sid declaring a strict dependency on defoma has removed this dependency. There is still more to do, some more bugs to file and some lenny->squeeze->wheezy upgrade testing to do. Thanks go to Christian PERRIER for slogging through and providing encouragement, bug reports and NMUs. The transition is unfortunately not without loss of functionality;

  • Xorg does not yet support fontconfig so for now programs relying on server-side fonts will only be able to use the xfonts- packages shipping their fonts in the directories known by the X server. According to Keith Packard it isn't easy to add fontconfig support to Xorg, there are some ways to paper over this though. We could use the Xorg server's font catalogue system to link to a fontconfig provided symlink farm (similar to what is done with defoma & Xorg). We could adjust the Xorg fonts utils to recurse into subdirectories. As far as I can tell, other distributions have completely ignored this issue and not all fonts are available to the Xorg server there.
  • There are some issues with Ghostscript and CJK that I do not fully understand, I am hoping these can be resolved before the release of wheezy. We need people to restart work on this issue.

TeX uses a different directory for fonts to the rest of the system. Fonts used by TeX cannot be used by the rest of the system and vice versa. This issue has always existed in Debian and other distributions and is unrelated to the removal of defoma.

If your software doesn't use one of the text renderers (such as Pango, Qt or QuesoGLC) that find fonts on their own and fall back on other fonts where needed (due to missing fonts or glyphs), please switch text rendering systems. If you are unable to switch, please use fontconfig to search for font filenames rather than hard-coding them at build time.

This message brought to you by the Debian Fonts Task Force. We welcome people who want to help us maintain font packages or improve support and quality assurance for fonts and font related software.

Syndicated 2012-01-07 04:30:08 from Advogato

Debian/Ubuntu games team meeting #6

The Debian/Ubuntu games team is organizing another meeting, if you're into developing and/or packaging of games, or just generally curious about games in Debian/Ubuntu, you should join!

It will be held next Saturday, on the 26th of November, in the #debian-games channel on irc.debian.org (also know as irc.oftc.net). More information is available on the meeting wiki page.

The agenda starts off with the usual round of introductions, so if you're new to the team, say hi! Then we'll be going through the action items from the last meeting, including work on the Debian Games LiveCD, and what's up with the /usr/games/ path anyways?

Next we'll be moving onto how the games team is faring in terms of members: are new recruits finding it comfortable, should we advertise more?

Next up it's the squeeky penguin: Wheezy is somewhere in the not-completely-distant future, how does that affect the games team, should we be scuffling to get specific tasks done?

Then onto the recurring question of sponsoring, and how to improve it, should we be utilising DebExpo more? What about our favourite PET?

Lastly, PlayDeb is doing some really neat stuff, would it make sense for our team to push some changes to PlayDeb? Would it make sense for PlayDeb to push changes to Debian Games?

Hopes are for a good discussion, and a merry time, hope to see you all there!

(This text provided by Martin Erik Werner)

Syndicated 2011-11-21 02:43:50 from Advogato

Migrating from Galeon to Iceweasel/Firefox

I have been a long-time user of the Galeon web browser, which, while powerful for its time, is getting a bit long in the teeth and has been abandoned for a long time. As a result I need to find something new.

As Galeon uses the Mozilla engine I figure switching to Iceweasel/Firefox will be the least amount of pain since they share similar formats for lots of the user configuration and data (with the exception of history). Switching to Firefox also gives me access to a lot of configurability and a vast sea of extensions all written in RDF, JavaScript and zoooool (ahem, XUL). Another plus was that I was already using Firebug for the occasional web development project.

Looking at the Mozilla addons site is like entering someone's shed. There will be the few beautiful unfinished projects still being worked on, one polished finished scuplture gathering dust but still admirable, things with power plugs from a bygone era, some things that have a coin slot on them, some cryptic machines with no visible screws or manuals, some spiders and their cobwebs and a few rats and mice chewing through things. A place where you can find some excellent, well documented, useful and Free Software extensions alongside lots of crud. Luckily for me the good stuff that I wanted to use was already in Debian or the friendly Debian Mozilla extension maintainers team was willing to package them for me.

In my quest for freedom from Galeon I first noticed that there is no up button in Iceweasel. Bummer, I use that a lot so I went searching for extensions. I soon found one extension, but it hadn't kept up with the ever-changing Mozilla APIs so it fell by the wayside. Thanks to the leavers of breadcrumbs I picked up the trail to a new shiny and working extension. Lo-and-behold I found Uppity, which was all about going up and as it turns out, much better at that than Galeon. Thanks to MozExt team, thats solved, next!

The next glaring problem was the lack of Galeon-style smart bookmarks. Before you ask, yes, Firefox smart keyword bookmarks are not the same thing. This was rediculously hard to search for due to the wording used by both projects being same same but different. Some folks switched to Epiphany to get the extra search boxes on their toolbars. Like this guy I was not interested in that, mainly due to the addons I would be missing out on. I tried a few different tacks, even searching for a way to have multiple search boxes in the Firefox toolbars. I soon gave up on finding an extension that would do this like Galeon does so I figured its time to roll up the sleeves and learn some zzzoooool. I already know a little bit about JavaScript and CSS so... First slap a dash of a tutorial about adding toolbar buttons, add a slither of adding extensions without installing them, stare down some Mozilla reference manuals, thrown in a pinch of favicons, give up on a wild goose chase or two, add a big fat blob of zoooool and sautee in fugly hacks. Soon enough you will have something hardcoded that works like Galeon smart bookmarks but looks even better.

A screenshot of hacky galeon smart bookmarks in Iceweasel

I may eventually turn this into a proper and functionally equivalent extension for Galeon-stlye smart bookmarks but for now it will remain a useful hack. If you want to get your hands dirty with zzzoooooool and try this out after modifying it to use your personal search URLs, please feel free to contact me.

For now the only remaining issue I can see is that the forward/back buttons in Iceweasel don't have the explict menu buttons. This is a minor issue for me so now it is time for me to figure out how to migrate my data and config1 before permanently switching away from Galeon.

Wish me luck!

1. Of course the data and config are fugly, but that is a something for another, much broader and more complicated hack

Syndicated 2011-11-04 03:29:09 from Advogato

Convenient login to Debian porterboxen

Whenever I want to login to a Debian porterbox to figure out some architecture-specific issue I typically do not care which particular host I am going to login to, just what architecture the host is.

After discovering that it is not yet easy for the Debian sysadmins (DSA) to add aliases to DNS for this purpose, I whipped up a quick script to grab the relevant data about Debian machines from the Debian LDAP server and work around this in my OpenSSH config.

To use the script you should run the script and place the magic comment lines suggested by the script into your ~/.ssh/config file and then run the script again, which will contact the Debian LDAP server using python-ldap, download the relevant information and replace the relevant part of your ~/.ssh/config file with some OpenSSH configuration directives to map Debian architecture names to hostnames. Within just a few seconds you will be able to login to armel, powerpc.port or kfreebsd-amd64.port.debian.org instead of needing to manually look up which servers to login for a particular architecture.

Syndicated 2011-11-02 05:19:16 from Advogato

Revisiting personal software freedom

Since it was Software Freedom Day again, I figured I should revisit my personal software freedom and see what has changed since my post two years ago. There hasn't been a vrms meme again this year so I don't have anyone else to compare with. A small survey on IRC indicates folks still need non-free nVidia drivers, embedded software, GNU documentation, Java and more.

Since then I have switched my laptop from the Dell Inspiron 6400 to the Thinkpad X201 Tablet. Nothing really changed with my laptop, GNU documentation is still non-free and the new Intel WiFi chip on my new laptop still uses non-free embedded software. To remind myself of the non-free bits embedded in the hardware (CPU microcode, BIOS, EC etc), I have installed intel-microcode and microcode.ctl.

Since then I didn't get any new phone, still the same OpenMoko FreeRunner. I'm now using QtMoko on a 4GB microSD card and Debian and SHR on other cards for testing. QtMoko is based on Debian and is the latest incarnation of Qtopia. It is probably free but I haven't done any audit of it. One interesting thing that changed with the FreeRunner in the past two years is that Harald Welte and friends started OsmocomBB, a project to create free software for the GSM modem built into the FreeRunner and many old feature-phones. I haven't tried it yet due to lack of time. While at the Chaos Communication Camp 2011 I learnt about the blackbox that SIM cards are (video), which hopefully OsmocomBB has a chance to protect against. AFAIK nothing else has changed to improve software freedom on the FreeRunner, the WiFi, GPS and other parts still contain non-free software with no chance of a replacement in sight.

Since then I am still using the same wireless router and ADSL modem and I wasn't brave enough to try replacing their software. I still use gmail out of intertia, but I at least have started using offlineimap to prepare for the day when I will move away from it. I still use Google Maps, mainly for searching for public transport routes. With my recent travels in Europe I encountered many places where OpenStreetMap has much better coverage than Google. One nice thing about Google Maps adding public transport information is that public transport organisations have been publishing public data feeds for Google to consume. Apparently there is also a realtime variant. I also found one website using a JSON API for Google street view. The combination of these gives me hope for better support for spatial data in free software. The data (aerial and streets) will obviously remain a much longer term freeness issue though.

For flash video on the web get-flash-videos appeared and made it even easier to ignore flash, especially since I got a few patches added to it. In addition Swfdec died but Gnash improved enough to replace it. Lightspark was also created but has so far been pretty buggy and unstable. Free RAR v3 format support appeared in the form of TheUnarchiver. The Voxware audio codec and DigiTrakker MDL files are still not supported by Rhythmbox. Unicode has been updated and so now Debian doesn't support every script fully. I still manage to avoid Skype. The nouveau drivers have matured enough to provide 3D support, multi-monitor support and general stability for the one nVidia card I used in the past two years.

Overall, I'm reasonably happy with my level of software freedom. My main strategy for preventing regressions in my software freedom remains to just avoid doing things that require non-free software. The most problematic FLOSS issues for me are embedded software, spatial data support and Flash support. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.

Happy Software Freedom Day everyone!

Syndicated 2011-09-18 03:59:59 from Advogato

Looking at the logos of Debian derivatives

The logos of the Debian derivatives registered in the derivatives census are overwhelmingly stored in PNG format, with a handful of JPEG and GIF images. One derivative (LMDE) doesn't have a logo registered in the census.

Half of the logo image files have some embedded indication of which program was used to create them or which program they passed through last.

Just over half of these were created with some proprietary Adobe or Macromedia program. The one that surprised me was Emdebian's logo indicating it was created in Adobe Photoshop 3.0, but to be fair it looks like several of the Debian logo files were also created in Adobe Photoshop 3.0 so that might just be copied from the Debian logos. Two of the logos have an easter-egg reminding everyone who looks about the obsession some part of Adobe has with rubber ducks.

Just under half of them were created using Free Software, with most of those being produced in the GIMP and a few in Inkscape.

One of them looks like a derivative work of the KDE logo. Two of them incorporate the Debian swirl indicating their Debian heritage. Two of them in some way incorporate the Tux Linux mascot indicating that they use Linux. One of the logos contains the word Debian and one contains "sid". Three of the logos mention both GNU and Linux and another mentions only GNU. One of them mentions the government organisation sponsoring the distro (LinEx).

A few logos consist solely of text and a few have no text, but most combine both elements. Three have some indication of a URL in them. Several of them have some sort of indication of what the distribution's focus is.

One has Adobe's XMP XML cruft embedded in it indicating document identifiers and two logos have an embedded ICC profile. One logo has the author's name in it.

Syndicated 2011-07-11 16:55:12 from Advogato

Announcing Planet Debian Derivatives!

The first concrete outcome from the Debian derivatives census is the creation of Planet Debian Derivatives. For those of you who are interested in the activites of distributions derived from Debian, it aggregates the blogs and planets of all the distributions represented in the derivatives census. The list of feeds will be expanded semi-automatically as more distributions participate in the census and maintainers of census pages add new blog and planet URLs. Many thanks to Joerg Jaspert for doing the nessecary setup procedures for the addition of the new sub-planet to Planet Debian. I'm glad that it was accepted alongside the sole language-based sub-planet (Planet Debian Spanish).

I plan further integration of informaton about derivatives with Debian infrastructure. My next target will be integration of information about the packages in Debian derivatives into Debian. I hope to work on getting that information into UDD (and rmadison) and the packages.d.o site during DebConf11 and DebCamp. If you are interested in helping out, please add your ideas to the integration wiki page, check out the code and add more scripts to it.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other activities related to Debian derivatives, please direct them to the debian-derivatives list and the #debian-derivatives IRC channel on OFTC.

Those of you interested in the other side of the software stream might want to take a look at Planet Debian Upstream, which is run by the excellent Joey Hess. He is also on the lookout for interesting blogs by people writing software that is packaged in Debian. The site is created using ikiwiki, hosted on branchable and editable with an OpenID account.

Syndicated 2011-06-16 08:33:26 from Advogato

Debian/Ubuntu games team meeting

The Debian/Ubuntu games team has been less active over the past few years, so we are having an IRC meeting at the end of the week as part of an attempt to revive the team a bit. Some of you might have seen the announcement in the Debian Misc Developer News issue 26. So if you have an interest in gaming and Debian/Ubuntu, please join us on the IRC channel. Gamers and lurkers welcome, come one come all!

The agenda for the meeting is not yet finalised so if you would like to influence it please take a look at the poll. The primary focus of the meeting looks like it will be reviving the team and looking forward to our goals for Debian wheezy.

Syndicated 2011-03-16 04:24:07 from Advogato

Looking towards Debian wheezy

So Debian squeeze has finally been released and it is time to look toward to what we might work on or want to happen for the next release, codenamed Debian wheezy. An informal discussion on IRC mentioned libburnia libraries and apps, finishing DEP5, objnam, wayland, multiarch, Matthew Palmer plans to work on netcfg, ifupdown and the KDE team plan to remove Qt3/KDE3.

I personally plan to work on catching up with my packages, the removal of defoma, boosting the Debian games team, improving collaboration with derivatives, changes to the Debian wiki, reviewing more packages mentioned on debian-mentors and more.

I am really excited to see the cross-distro collaboration of Enrico Zini and others in bringing application management to Linux distributions, the multiarch work by Steve Langasek and others and hopefully optimistic about the recent discussions of automated post-install testing.

I probably will not work on almost all of these but I would like to see multiarch, cross compiliation, widespread systemd integration, netconf revival, porting to phones/tablets, OEM mode and media for d-i, partitioning improvments for d-i, widespread automated post-install testing, expansion of daca, deployment of debexpo, widespread adoption of PET, automated removal of bad packages, better pro-active security measures, building all packages on buildds, migration away from Debian-specific stuff in favour of cross-distro solutions, addition of new UI experiences (like MeeGo, Android, Unity, QtMoko), addition of new APIs for portability (like Android, Khronos, MacOS/iOS stuff), more interesting/weird ports, merging derivatives into Debian, better integration of Debian Pure Blends, removing non-free packages where free alternatives exist, ex-developers and MIA folks returning to Debian, expansion of the backports repository, fixes for lots of bugs and probably other things I forgot.

What are you going to work on? What do you wish you could work on? What work are you hoping others will do? What work are you excited about that others are doing?

Syndicated 2011-02-08 12:10:44 from Advogato

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