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Updated: 41 min 38 sec ago

Steve Kemp: Getting ready for Stretch

Wed, 24/05/2017 - 22:00

I run about 17 servers. Of those about six are very personal and the rest are a small cluster which are used for a single website. (Partly because the code is old and in some ways a bit badly designed, partly because "clustering!", "high availability!", "learning!", "fun!" - seriously I had a lot of fun putting together a fault-tolerant deployment with haproxy, ucarp, etc, etc. If I were paying for it the site would be both retired and static!)

I've started the process of upgrading to stretch by picking a bunch of hosts that do things I could live without for a few days - in case there were big problems, or I needed to restore from backups.

So far I've upgraded:

  • master.steve
    • This is a puppet-master, so while it is important killing it wouldn't be too bad - after all my nodes are currently setup properly, right?
    • Upgrading this host changed the puppet-server from 3.x to 4.x.
    • That meant I had to upgrade all my client-systems, because puppet 3.x won't talk to a 4.x master.
    • Happily jessie-backports contains a recent puppet-client.
    • It also meant I had to rework a lot of my recipes, in small ways.
  • builder.steve
    • This is a host I use to build packages upon, via pbuilder.
    • I have chroots setup for wheezy, jessie, and stretch, each in i386 and amd64 flavours.
  • git.steve
    • This is a host which stores my git-repositories, via gitbucket.
    • While it is an important host in terms of functionality, the software it needs is very basic: nginx proxies to a java application which runs on localhost:XXXX, with some caching magic happening to deal with abusive clients.
    • I do keep considering using gitlab, because I like its runners, etc. But that is pretty resource intensive.
    • On the other hand If I did switch I could drop my builder.steve host, which might mean I'd come out ahead in terms of used resources.
  • leave.steve
    • Torrent-box.
    • Upgrading was painless, I only run rtorrent, and a simple object storage system of my own devising.

All upgrades were painless, with only one real surprise - the attic-backup software was removed from Debian.

Although I do intend to retry using Larss' excellent obnum in the near future pragmatically I wanted to stick with what I'm familiar with. Borg backup is a fork of attic I've been aware of for a long time, but I never quite had a reason to try it out. Setting it up pretty much just meant editing my backup-script:


Once I did that, and created some new destinations all was good: ~ $ borg init /backups/ ~ $ borg init /backups/ ~ $ ..

Upgrading other hosts, for example my website(s), and my email-box, will be more complex and fiddly. On that basis they will definitely wait for the formal stretch release.

But having a couple of hosts running the frozen distribution is good for testing, and to let me see what is new.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Some minor updates ..

Sun, 14/05/2017 - 22:00

The past few weeks have been randomly busy, nothing huge has happened, but several minor diversions.


I made a new release of my console-based mail-client, with integrated Lua scripting, this is available for download over at

I've also given a talk (!!) on using a literate/markdown configuration for GNU Emacs. In brief I created two files:


This contains both my configuration of GNU Emacs as well as documentation for the same. Neat.


This parse the previous file, specifically looking for "code blocks" which are then extracted and evaluated.

This system is easy to maintain, and I'm quite happy with it :)


Somebody nice took the time to report a couple of bugs against my simple bytecode-intepretting virtual-machine project - all found via fuzzing.

I've done some fun fuzzing of my own in the past, so this was nice to see. I've now resolved those bugs, and updated the file to include instructions on fuzzing it. (Which I started doing myself, after receiving the first of the reports )

Finally I have more personal news too: I had a pair of CT-scans carried out recently, and apparently here in sunny Finland (that's me being ironic, it was snowing in the first week of May) when you undergo a CT-scan you can pay to obtain your data on CD-ROM.

I'm 100% definitely going to get a copy of my brain-scan data. I'll be able to view a 3d-rendered model of my own brain on my desktop. (Once upon a time I worked for a company that produced software, sold to doctors/surgeons, for creating 3d-rendered volumes from individual slices. I confirmed with the radiologist that handled my tests that they do indeed use the standard DICOM format. Small world.)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (March and April 2017)

Sun, 14/05/2017 - 13:39

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Guilhem Moulin (guilhem)
  • Lisa Baron (jeffity)
  • Punit Agrawal (punit)

The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

  • Sebastien Jodogne
  • Félix Lechner
  • Uli Scholler
  • Aurélien Couderc
  • Ondřej Kobližek
  • Patricio Paez


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Bursary applications for DebConf17 are closing in 48 hours!

Mon, 08/05/2017 - 21:30

This is a final reminder: if you intend to apply for a DebConf17 bursary and have not yet done so, please proceed as soon as possible.

Bursary applications for DebConf17 will be accepted until May 10th at 23:59 UTC. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be considered.

You can apply for a bursary when you register for the conference.

Remember that giving a talk is considered towards your bursary; if you have a submission to make, submit it even if it is only sketched-out. You will be able to detail it later.

Please make sure to double-check your accommodation choices (dates and venue). Details about accommodation arrangements can be found on the wiki.

Note: For DebCamp we only have on-site accommodation available. The option chosen in the registration system will only be for the DebConf period (August 5 to 12).

See you in Montréal!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: 3d-Printing is cool

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 22:00

I've heard about 3d-printing a lot in the past, although the hype seems to have mostly died down. My view has always been "That seems cool", coupled with "Everybody says making the models is very hard", and "the process itself is fiddly & time-consuming".

I've been sporadically working on a project for a few months now which displays tram-departure times, this is part of my drive to "hardware" things with Arduino/ESP8266 devices . Most visitors to our flat have commented on it, at least once, and over time it has become gradually more and more user-friendly. Initially it was just a toy-project for myself, so everything was hard-coded in the source but over time that changed - which I mentioned here, (specifically the Access-point setup):

  • When it boots up, unconfigured, it starts as an access-point.
    • So you can connect and configure the WiFi network it should join.
  • Once it's up and running you can point a web-browser at it.
    • This lets you toggle the backlight, change the timezone, and the tram-stop.
    • These values are persisted to flash so reboots will remember everything.

I've now wired up an input-button to the device too, experimenting with the different ways that a single button can carry out multiple actions:

  • Press & release - toggle the backlight.
  • Press & release twice - a double-click if you like - show a message.
  • Press, hold for 1 second, then release - re-sync the date/time & tram-data.

Anyway the software is neat, and I can't think of anything obvious to change. So lets move onto the real topic of this post: 3D Printing.

I randomly remembered that I'd heard about an online site holding 3D-models, and on a whim I searched for "4x20 LCD". That lead me to this design, which is exactly what I was looking for. Just like open-source software we're now living in a world where you can get open-source hardware! How cool is that?

I had to trust the dimensions of the model, and obviously I was going to mount my new button into the box, rather than the knob shown. But having a model was great. I could download it, for free, and I could view it online at

But with a model obtained the next step was getting it printed. I found a bunch of commercial companies, here in Europe, who would print a model, and ship it to me, but when I uploaded the model they priced it at €90+. Too much. I'd almost lost interest when I stumbled across a site which provides a gateway into a series of individual/companies who will print things for you, on-demand: 3dhubs.

Once again I uploaded my model, and this time I was able to select a guy in the same city as me. He printed my model for 1/3-1/4 of the price of the companies I'd found, and sent me fun pictures of the object while it was in the process of being printed.

To recap I started like this:

Then I boxed it in cardboard which looked better than nothing, but still not terribly great:

Now I've found an online case-design for free, got it printed cheaply by a volunteer (feels like the wrong word, after-all I did pay him), and I have something which look significantly more professional:

Inside it looks as neat as you would expect:

Of course the case still cost 5 times as much as the actual hardware involved (button: €0.05, processor-board €2.00 and LCD I2C display €3.00). But I've gone from being somebody who had zero experience with hardware-based projects 4 months ago, to somebody who has built a project which is functional and "pretty".

The internet really is a glorious thing. Using it for learning, and coding is good, using it for building actual physical parts too? That's something I never could have predicted a few years ago and I can see myself doing it more in the future.

Sure the case is a little rough around the edges, but I suspect it is now only a matter of time until I learn how to design my own models. An obvious extension is to add a status-LED above the switch, for example. How hard can it be to add a new hole to a model? (Hell I could just drill it!)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Call for Proposals for DebConf17 Open Day

Tue, 18/04/2017 - 08:00

The DebConf team would like to call for proposals for the DebConf17 Open Day, a whole day dedicated to sessions about Debian and Free Software, and aimed at the general public. Open Day will preceed DebConf17 and will be held in Montreal, Canada, on August 5th 2017.

DebConf Open Day will be a great opportunity for users, developers and people simply curious about our work to meet and learn about the Debian Project, Free Software in general and related topics.

Submit your proposal

We welcome submissions of workshops, presentations or any other activity which involves Debian and Free Software. Activities in both English and French are accepted.

Here are some ideas about content we'd love to offer during Open Day. This list is not exhaustive, feel free to propose other ideas!

  • An introduction to various aspects of the Debian Project
  • Talks about Debian and Free Software in art, education and/or research
  • A primer on contributing to Free Software projects
  • Free software & Privacy/Surveillance
  • An introduction to programming and/or hardware tinkering
  • A workshop about your favorite piece of Free Software
  • A presentation about your favorite Free Software-related project (user group, advocacy group, etc.)

To submit your proposal, please fill the form at


We need volunteers to help ensure Open Day is a success! We are specifically looking for people familiar with the Debian installer to attend the Debian installfest, as resources for people seeking help to install Debian on their devices. If you're interested, please add your name to our wiki:


Participation to Open Day is free and no registration is required.

The schedule for Open Day will be announced in June 2017.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: DPL elections 2017, congratulations Chris Lamb!

Sun, 16/04/2017 - 17:40

The Debian Project Leader elections finished yesterday and the winner is Chris Lamb!

Of a total of 1062 developers, 322 developers voted using the Condorcet method.

More information about the result is available in the Debian Project Leader Elections 2017 page.

The current Debian Project Leader, Mehdi Dogguy, congratulated Chris Lamb in his Final bits from the (outgoing) DPL message. Thanks, Mehdi, for the service as DPL during this last twelve months!

The new term for the project leader starts on April 17th and expires on April 16th 2018.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Unknown parallel universe uses Debian

Sat, 01/04/2017 - 14:30

This post was an April Fools' Day joke.

The space agencies running the International Space Station (ISS) reported that a laptop accidentally threw to space as waste in 2013 from the International State Station may have connected with a parallel Universe. This laptop was running Debian 6 and the ISS engineers managed to track its travel through the outer space. In early January, the laptop signal was lost but recovered back two weeks later in the same place. ISS engineers suspect that the laptop may had met and crossed a wormhole arriving a parallel Universe from where "somebody" sent it back later.

Eventually the laptop was recovered and in an first analysis the ISS engineers found that the laptop have a dual boot: a partition running the Debian installation made by them and a second partition running what seems to be a Debian fork or derivative totally unknown until now.

The engineers have been in contact with the Debian Project in the last weeks and a Debian group formed with delegates from different Debian teams have begun to study this new Debian derivative system. From the early results of this research, we can proudly say that somebody (or a group of beings) in a parallel universe understand Earth computers, and Debian, enough to:

  • Clone the existing Debian system in a new partition and provide a dual boot using Grub.
  • Change the desktop wallpaper from the previous Spacefun theme to one in rainbow colors.
  • Fork all the packages whose source code was present in the initial Debian system, patch multiple bugs in those packages and some patches more for some tricky security problems.
  • Add ten new language locales that do not correspond to any language spoken in Earth, with full translation for four of them.
  • A copy of the Debian website repository, migrated to the git version control system and perfectly running, has been found in the /home/earth0/Documents folder. This new repo includes code to show the Debian micronews in the home page and many other improvements, keeping the style of not needing JavaScript and providing a nice control of up-to-date/outdated translations, similar to the one existing in Debian.

The work towards knowing better this new Universe and find a way to communicate with them has just began; all the Debian users and contributors are invited to join the effort to study the operating system found. We want to prepare our Community and our Universe to live and work peacefully and respectfully with the parallel Universe communities, in the true spirit of Free Software.

In the following weeks a General Resolution will be proposed for updating our motto to "the multiversal operating system".

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian Project Leader elections 2017

Sat, 25/03/2017 - 22:30

It's that time of year again for the Debian Project: the elections of its Project Leader!

The Project Leader position is described in the Debian Constitution.

Two Debian Developers run this year to become Project Leader: Mehdi Dogguy, who has held the office for the last year, and Chris Lamb.

We are in the middle of the campaigning period that will last until the end of April 1st. The candidates and Debian contributors are already engaging in debates and discussions on the debian-vote mailing list.

The voting period starts on April 2nd, and during the following two weeks, Debian Developers can vote to choose the person that will fit that role for one year.

The results will be published on April 16th with the term for new the project leader starting the following day.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: DebConf17 welcomes its first eighteen sponsors!

Mon, 20/03/2017 - 15:15

DebConf17 will take place in Montreal, Canada in August 2017. We are working hard to provide fuel for hearts and minds, to make this conference once again a fertile soil for the Debian Project flourishing. Please join us and support this landmark in the Free Software calendar.

Eighteen companies have already committed to sponsor DebConf17! With a warm welcome, we'd like to introduce them to you.

Our first Platinum sponsor is Savoir-faire Linux, a Montreal-based Free/Open-Source Software company which offers Linux and Free Software integration solutions and actively contributes to many free software projects. "We believe that it's an essential piece [Debian], in a social and political way, to the freedom of users using modern technological systems", said Cyrille Béraud, president of Savoir-faire Linux.

Our first Gold sponsor is Valve, a company developing games, social entertainment platform, and game engine technologies. And our second Gold sponsor is Collabora, which offers a comprehensive range of services to help its clients to navigate the ever-evolving world of Open Source.

As Silver sponsors we have credativ (a service-oriented company focusing on open-source software and also a Debian development partner), Mojatatu Networks (a Canadian company developing Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions), the Bern University of Applied Sciences (with over 6,600 students enrolled, located in the Swiss capital), Microsoft (an American multinational technology company), Evolix (an IT managed services and support company located in Montreal), Ubuntu (the OS supported by Canonical) and Roche (a major international pharmaceutical provider and research company dedicated to personalized healthcare).

ISG.EE, IBM, Bluemosh, Univention and Skroutz are our Bronze sponsors so far.

And finally, The Linux foundation, Réseau Koumbit and are our supporter sponsors.

Become a sponsor too!

Would you like to become a sponsor? Do you know of or work in a company or organization that may consider sponsorship?

Please have a look at our sponsorship brochure (or a summarized flyer), in which we outline all the details and describe the sponsor benefits.

For further details, feel free to contact us through, and visit the DebConf17 website at

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Build Android apps with Debian: apt install android-sdk

Wed, 15/03/2017 - 12:00

In Debian stretch, the upcoming new release, it is now possible to build Android apps using only packages from Debian. This will provide all of the tools needed to build an Android app targeting the "platform" android-23 using the SDK build-tools 24.0.0. Those two are the only versions of "platform" and "build-tools" currently in Debian, but it is possible to use the Google binaries by installing them into /usr/lib/android-sdk.

This doesn't cover yet all of the libraries that are used in the app, like the Android Support libraries, or all of the other myriad libraries that are usually fetched from jCenter or Maven Central. One big question for us is whether and how libraries should be included in Debian. All the Java libraries in Debian can be used in an Android app, but including something like Android Support in Debian would be strange since they are only useful in an Android app, never for a Debian app.

Building apps with these packages

Here are the steps for building Android apps using Debian's Android SDK on Stretch.

  1. sudo apt install android-sdk android-sdk-platform-23
  2. export ANDROID_HOME=/usr/lib/android-sdk
  3. In build.gradle, set compileSdkVersion to 23 and buildToolsVersion to 24.0.0
  4. run gradle build

The Gradle Android Plugin is also packaged. Using the Debian package instead of the one from online Maven repositories requires a little configuration before running gradle. In the buildscript block:

  • add maven { url 'file:///usr/share/maven-repo' } to repositories
  • use compile '' to load the plugin

Currently there is only the target platform of API Level 23 packaged, so only apps targeted at android-23 can be built with only Debian packages. There are plans to add more API platform packages via backports. Only build-tools 24.0.0 is available, so in order to use the SDK, build scripts need to be modified. Beware that the Lint in this version of Gradle Android Plugin is still problematic, so running the :lint tasks might not work. They can be turned off with lintOptions.abortOnError in build.gradle. Google binaries can be combined with the Debian packages, for example to use a different version of the platform or build-tools.

Why include the Android SDK in Debian?

While Android developers could develop and ship apps right now using these Debian packages, this is not very flexible since only build-tools-24.0.0 and android-23 platform are available. Currently, the Debian Android Tools Team is not aiming to cover the most common use cases. Those are pretty well covered by Google's binaries (except for the proprietary license on the Google binaries), and are probably the most work for the Android Tools Team to cover. The current focus is on use cases that are poorly covered by the Google binaries, for example, like where only specific parts of the whole SDK are used. Here are some examples:

  • tools for security researchers, forensics, reverse engineering, etc. which can then be included in live CDs and distros like Kali Linux
  • a hardened APK signing server using apksigner that uses a standard, audited, public configuration of all reproducibly built packages
  • Replicant is a 100% free software Android distribution, so of course they want to have a 100% free software SDK
  • high security apps need a build environment that matches their level of security, the Debian Android Tools packages are reproducibly built only from publicly available sources
  • support architectures besides i386 and amd64, for example, the Linaro LAVA setup for testing ARM devices of all kinds uses the adb packages on ARM servers to make their whole testing setup all ARM architecture
  • dead simple install with strong trust path with mirrors all over the world

In the long run, the Android Tools Team aims to cover more use cases well, and also building the Android NDK. This all will happen more quickly if there are more contributors on the Android Tools team! Android is the most popular mobile OS, and can be 100% free software like Debian. Debian and its derivatives are one of the most popular platforms for Android development. This is an important combination that should grow only more integrated.

Last but not least, the Android Tools Team wants feedback on how this should all work, for example, ideas for how to nicely integrate Debian's Java libraries into the Android gradle workflow. And ideally, the Android Support libraries would also be reproducibly built and packaged somewhere that enforces only free software. Come find us on IRC and/or email!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: How I started programming

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 01:00

I've written parts of this story in the past, but never in one place and never in much detail. So why not now?

In 1982 my family moved house, so one morning I went to school and at lunch-time I had to walk home to a completely different house.

We moved sometime towards the end of the year, and ended up spending lots of money replacing the windows of the new place. For people in York I was born in Farrar Street, Y010 3BY, and we moved to a place on Thief Lane, YO1 3HS. Being named as it was I "ironically" stole at least two street-signs and hung them on my bedroom wall. I suspect my parents were disappointed.

Anyway the net result of this relocation, and the extra repairs meant that my sisters and I had a joint Christmas present that year, a ZX Spectrum 48k.

I tried to find pictures of what we received but unfortunately the web doesn't remember the precise bundle. All together though we received:

I know we also received Horace and the Spiders, and I have vague memories of some other things being included, including a Space Invaders clone. No doubt my parents bought them separately.

Highlights of my Spectrum-gaming memories include R-Type, Strider, and the various "Dizzy" games. Some of the latter I remember very fondly.

Unfortunately this Christmas was pretty underwhelming. We unpacked the machine, we cabled it up to the family TV-set - we only had the one, after all - and then proceeded to be very disappointed when nothing we did resulted in a successful game! It turns out our cassette-deck was not good enough. Being back in the 80s the shops were closed over Christmas, and my memory is that it was around January before we received a working tape-player/recorder, such that we could load games.

Happily the computer came with manuals. I read one, skipping words and terms I didn't understand. I then read the other, which was the spiral-bound orange book. It contained enough examples and decent wording that I learned to write code in BASIC. Not bad for an 11/12 year old.

Later I discovered that my local library contained "computer books". These were colourful books that promised "The Mystery of Silver Mounter", or "Write your own ADVENTURE PROGRAMS". But were largely dry books that contained nothing but multi-page listings of BASIC programs to type in. Often with adjustments that had to be made for your own computer-flavour (BASIC varying between different systems).

If you want to recapture the magic scroll to the foot of this Osbourne page and you can download them!

Later I taught myself Z80 Assembly Language, partly via the Spectrum manual and partly via such books as these two (which I still own 30ish years later):

  • Understanding your Spectrum, Basic & Machine Code Programming.
    • by Dr Ian Logan
  • An introduction to Z80 Machine Code.
    • R.A & J.W Penfold

Pretty much the only reason I continued down this path is because I wanted infinite/extra lives in the few games I owned. (Which were largely pirated via the schoolboy network of parents with cassette-copiers.)

Eventually I got some of my l33t POKES printed in magazines, and received free badges from the magazines of the day such as Your Sinclair & Sinclair User. For example I was "Hacker of the Month" in the Your Sinclair issue 67 , Page 32, apparently because I "asked so nicely in my letter".

Terrible scan is terrible:

Anyway that takes me from 1980ish to 1984. The only computer I ever touched was a Spectrum. Friends had other things, and there were Sega consoles, but I have no memories of them. Suffice it to say that later when I first saw a PC (complete with Hercules graphics, hard drives, and similar sourcery, running GEM IIRC) I was pleased that Intel assembly was "similar" to Z80 assembly - and now I know the reason why.

Some time in the future I might document how I got my first computer job. It is hillarious. As was my naivete.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (January and February 2017)

Wed, 08/03/2017 - 00:30

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Ulrike Uhlig (ulrike)
  • Hanno Wagner (wagner)
  • Jose M Calhariz (calharis)
  • Bastien Roucariès (rouca)

The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

  • Dara Adib
  • Félix Sipma
  • Kunal Mehta
  • Valentin Vidic
  • Adrian Alves
  • William Blough
  • Jan Luca Naumann
  • Mohanasundaram Devarajulu
  • Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana
  • Vincent Prat


Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Rotating passwords

Thu, 23/02/2017 - 23:00

Like many people I use a password-manage to record logins to websites. I previously used a tool called pwsafe, but these days I switched to using pass.

Although I don't like the fact the meta-data is exposed the tool is very useful, and its integration with git is both simple and reliable.

Reading about the security issue that recently affected cloudflare made me consider rotating some passwords. Using git I figured I could look at the last update-time of my passwords. Indeed that was pretty simple:

git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | while read filename; do echo "$(git log -1 --format="%ad" -- $filename) $filename" done

Of course that's not quite enough because we want it sorted, and to do that using the seconds-since-epoch is neater. All together I wrote this:

#!/bin/sh # # Show password age - should be useful for rotation - we first of all # format the timestamp of every *.gpg file, as both unix+relative time, # then we sort, and finally we output that sorted data - but we skip # the first field which is the unix-epoch time. # ( git ls-tree -r --name-only HEAD | grep '\.gpg$' | while read filename; do \ echo "$(git log -1 --format="%at %ar" -- $filename) $filename" ; done ) \ | sort | awk '{for (i=2; i<NF; i++) printf $i " "; print $NF}'

Not the cleanest script I've ever hacked together, but the output is nice:

steve@ssh ~ $ cd ~/Repos/personal/pass/ steve@ssh ~/Repos/personal/pass $ ./password-age | head -n 5 1 year, 10 months ago GPG/root@localhost.gpg 1 year, 10 months ago GPG/ 1 year, 10 months ago GPG/ 1 year, 10 months ago Git/ 1 year, 10 months ago Git/

Now I need to pick the sites that are more than a year old and rotate credentials. Or delete accounts, as appropriate.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Apologies for the blog-churn.

Sat, 18/02/2017 - 23:00

I've been tweaking my blog a little over the past few days, getting ready for a new release of the chronicle blog compiler (github).

During the course of that I rewrote all the posts to have 100% lower-case file-paths. Redirection-pages have been auto-generated for each page which was previously mixed-case, but unfortunately that will have meant that the RSS feed updated unnecessarily:

  • If it used to contain:
  • It would have been updated to contain

That triggered a lot of spamming, as the URLs would have shown up as being new/unread/distinct.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Old packages are interesting.

Thu, 09/02/2017 - 01:00

Recently Vincent Bernat wrote about writing his own simple terminal, using vte. That was a fun read, as the sample code built really easily and was functional.

At the end of his post he said :

evilvte is quite customizable and can be lightweight. Consider it as a first alternative. Honestly, I don’t remember why I didn’t pick it.

That set me off looking at evilvte, and it was one of those rare projects which seems to be pretty stable, and also hasn't changed in any recent release of Debian GNU/Linux:

  • lenny had 0.4.3-1.
  • etch had nothing.
  • squeeze had 0.4.6-1.
  • wheezy has release 0.5.1-1.
  • jessie has release 0.5.1-1.
  • stretch has release 0.5.1-1.
  • sid has release 0.5.1-1.

I wonder if it would be possible to easily generate a list of packages which have the same revision in multiple distributions? Anyway I had a look at the source, and unfortunately spotted that it didn't entirely handle clicking on hyperlinks terribly well. Clicking on a link would pretty much run:

firefox '%s'

That meant there was an obvious security problem.

It is a great terminal though, and it just goes to show how short, simple, and readable such things can be. I enjoyed looking at the source, and furthermore enjoyed using it. Unfortunately due to a dependency issue it looks like this package will be removed from stretch.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: DebConf17: Call for Proposals

Tue, 07/02/2017 - 21:39

The DebConf Content team would like to Call for Proposals for the DebConf17 conference, to be held in Montreal, Canada, from August 6 through August 12, 2017.

You can find this Call for Proposals in its latest form at:

Please refer to this URL for updates on the present information.

Submitting an Event

Submit an event proposal and describe your plan. Please note, events are not limited to traditional presentations or informal sessions (BoFs). We welcome submissions of tutorials, performances, art installations, debates, or any other format of event that you think would be beneficial to the Debian community.

Please include a short title, suitable for a compact schedule, and an engaging description of the event. You should use the field "Notes" to provide us information such as additional speakers, scheduling restrictions, or any special requirements we should consider for your event.

Regular sessions may either be 20 or 45 minutes long (including time for questions), other kinds of sessions (like workshops) could have different durations. Please choose the most suitable duration for your event and explain any special requests.

You will need to create an account on the site, to submit a talk. We'd encourage Debian account holders (e.g. DDs) to use Debian SSO when creating an account. But this isn't required for everybody, you can sign up with an e-mail address and password.


The first batch of accepted proposals will be announced in April. If you depend on having your proposal accepted in order to attend the conference, please submit it as soon as possible so that it can be considered during this first evaluation period.

All proposals must be submitted before Sunday 4 June 2017 to be evaluated for the official schedule.

Topics and Tracks

Though we invite proposals on any Debian or FLOSS related subject, we have some broad topics on which we encourage people to submit proposals, including:

  • Blends
  • Debian in Science
  • Cloud and containers
  • Social context
  • Packaging, policy and infrastructure
  • Embedded
  • Systems administration, automation and orchestration
  • Security

You are welcome to either suggest more tracks, or become a coordinator for any of them; please refer to the Content Tracks wiki page for more information on that.

Code of Conduct

Our event is covered by a Code of Conduct designed to ensure everyone's safety and comfort. The code applies to all attendees, including speakers and the content of their presentations. For more information, please see the Code on the Web, and do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions or are unsure about certain content you'd like to present.

Video Coverage

Providing video of sessions amplifies DebConf achievements and is one of the conference goals. Unless speakers opt-out, official events will be streamed live over the Internet to promote remote participation. Recordings will be published later under the DebConf license, as well as presentation slides and papers whenever available.

DebConf would not be possible without the generous support of all our sponsors, especially our Platinum Sponsor Savoir-Faire Linux. DebConf17 is still accepting sponsors; if you are interested, or think you know of others who would be willing to help, please get in touch!

In case of any questions, or if you wanted to bounce some ideas off us first, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at

We hope to see you in Montreal!

The DebConf team

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian welcomes its Outreachy interns

Sun, 05/02/2017 - 12:00

Better late than never, we'd like to welcome our three Outreachy interns for this round, lasting from the 6th of December 2016 to the 6th of March 2017.

Elizabeth Ferdman is working in the Clean Room for PGP and X.509 (PKI) Key Management.

Maria Glukhova is working in Reproducible builds for Debian and free software.

Urvika Gola is working in improving voice, video and chat communication with free software.

From the official website: Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

The Outreachy program is possible in Debian thanks to the effort of Debian developers and contributors that dedicate part of their free time to mentor students and outreach tasks, and the help of the Software Freedom Conservancy, who provides administrative support for Outreachy, as well as the continued support of Debian's donors, who provide funding for the internships.

Debian will also participate in the next round for Outreachy, during the summer of 2017. More details will follow in the next weeks.

Join us and help extend Debian! You can follow the work of the Outreachy interns reading their blogs (they are syndicated in Planet Debian), and chat with us in the #debian-outreach IRC channel and mailing list.

Congratulations, Elizabeth, Maria and Urvika!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs