Software Freedom Day celebrations and Debian

Right now, in many parts of the world, people are celebrating the Software Freedom Day 2012. The Debian project as well is participating to some of these events with talks, demos and partying.

In particular, you can find our project members actively involved in different locations and activies, among which:

Brazil – Novo Hamburgo, RS

  • BASH for sysadmins
  • What is the Debian Project?
  • ZFS: quick presentation for sysadmins.

Italy – Quiliano, SV

  • Introduction to the Debian Project

UK – Rugby

A series of hands-on live demonstrations, including:

  • Linux-based machines running Debian or Debian-derived distributions
  • FreedomBox for visitors to check out
  • Raspberry Pi machines running Raspbian, used to help local children and parents learn Scratch

Personally, right now I’m celebrating in Italy, attending a talk by the famous kernel hacker Alessandro Rubini (a really great speech about our freedom and how software impacts it).

Cheers from the Italian Riviera!

Online sprints, or how to revive a L10N team

The Italian L10N team has not been very active nor growing in recent years. In particular, we pretty much failed at attracting new members in our team, with the result that untranslated files are piling up and manpower is scarce.

Following a suggestion of our uber-active Francesca,  we decided to try a new move to invert the trend: organizing brief weekly online sprints open to everybody, where graybeard translators will help newcomers getting to grips on Debian L10N infrastructure while collaboratively working on yet-untranslated targets.

Last week, we tried our first and very introductory sprint, with a preliminary meeting on IRC to give instructions and setup ad-hoc pads. As a result, we ended with linux-2.6 po-debconf and a web-page completely translated and proofread by almost fifteen people in just a couple a hours. The key point however is that the majority of participants were fresh L10N-newbies, which we hope will join us permanently very soon after this first contact.

Encouraged by the initial positive result, we already announced our next sprint for Thursday 11th, which will be focused on package descriptions translation (preceded by a crash course on DDTSS, its related web interface).

We hope that even more users will join us this time, and encourage other “stalled” translation teams in experimenting a similar approach to revive activity and encourage participation.

Sending mail through a SSL-only relay server with ssmtp

I sometime feel the need of sending mail directly from my terminal (eg. with mail or reportbug) without having a complete mail-server on my laptop, which is often offline or NATted. For this, I’ve started to use ssmtp, a simple MTA which only delivers local mails to a more powerful remote SMTP-server. I’ve configured it to only communicate over an encrypted TLS connection to well-known port 465, to avoid man-in-the-middle sniffers and firewalls filtering outgoing port 25. This is my configuration (can be tuned via /etc/ssmtp/smtp.conf on Debian-like systems):


Of course, you need an external mail server configured to relay your mail and accepting TLS connections. For this purpose, you could also use a free mail service, like GMail.

Btrfs, sulla cresta dell’onda

Arrivata l’estate, e il caldo, sembra ci sia sempre bisogno di qualche nuova moda. Ora sembra essere il momento di btrfs.
Ottimo articolo di vaurora su LWN, subito slashdottato, cui seguono una marea di articoli, tweet e segnalazioni; how-to a volontà, e pure Marco Bellumori sul planet italiano. Nonostante tutto, io ci andrei coi piedi di piombo.

Capiamoci: adoro btrfs. Seguo da diverso tempo il progetto ed effettivamente non mi azzarderei ad usarlo per niente altro rispetto a quello che viene consigliato: testing e benchmarking. E no, convertirci la root della propria workstation non mi sembra un grande idea, nemmeno se lo fa Linus in persona (per poi toccare con mano il risultato).

Attualmente a btrfs manca ancora molto per  essere un filesystem anche solo lontanamente utilizzabile e per soddisfare tutte le promesse che (l’ottima)  progettazione lascia intendere (ENOSPC, gestione degli snapshot, un RAID meno incasinato per citarne alcuni). Per non parlare della parte userland, che oserei definire ancora parecchio abbozzata. Non posso quindi che mettere in guardia gli utenti/smanettoni/saccenti  dell’ultima ora e nel contempo invitare chi ha voglia di mettere mano al codice a dare un’occhiata e perdere qualche ora sopra a questo preogetto, a mio parere molto promettente. Per conto mio, continuo a studiarmi il design e sistemare piccoli buchi di volta in volta.

Ah, se nonostante tutto siete riusciti a incasinare la vostra installazione, qui ci sono dei dischi live che vi potrebbero tornare utili per recuperare i dati.

Git repository with Apache (via WebDAV) and gitweb

I’ve just finished setting up my semi-personal git repository. I was forced to use apache authentication on https (instead of the usual git-daemon or a more canonical ssh authentication) as my hostel/university firewall is particularly fascist. I choose gitweb as web interface, because it seems to be the most widespread and I’m quite comfortable with it (and is available in Debian Etch ;) ).

Logo git

As a starting point, I used the official Howto to understand how this is expected to work, and a quick readme for gitweb. I won’t go into details about gitweb configuration, as it’s extensively explained somewhere else.

First of all, the usual Vhost, Root and SSL lines:

<VirtualHost *:443>
SSLEngine On
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/your_domain.key
SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/your_domain.crt
DocumentRoot /var/www/git

Then the gitweb relevant part:

Options Indexes FollowSymlinks ExecCGI
DirectoryIndex index
Alias /gitweb.css /var/www/gitweb.css
Alias /git-logo.png /var/www/git-logo.png
Alias /git-favicon.png /var/www/git-favicon.png
ScriptAlias /index /usr/lib/cgi-bin/gitweb.cgi

All those Aliases are just because I didn’t copy those file in proper directories, but instead I used directly the one provided by packages. index here is used only as placeholder for the gitweb index script.
Then the real repository part, managed with DAV:

<Location /my_repo.git>
Dav on
AuthType Basic
AuthName "My repo with git"
AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/git_repo.passwd
Require valid-user

This way, everybody can git-clone my repository (yes, it mainly contains free-software stuff :) ), but pushing is only available to those authenticated (via the usual BasicAuth mechanism and ~/.netrc credentials).

Nemiver in experimental

A lot of new features were recently added to nemiver, a new and promising standalone graphical debugger for GNOME. Jonathan and Dodji announced a shiny new global variables watcher and an impressive hex memory viewer/editor, based on gtkhex widget. However, before being able to release the next stable version, they need a lot of testing and bug-hunting: so I’ve just uploaded a recent SVN version to experimental.

Please test and report any bug not yet reported.Also, note that upstream contributors are always really welcome, and that there is also plenty of non-coding work to do, as documentation and translations are still in progress…

Live from DCC-IT 2007

In diretta dalla Debian Community Conference 2007, con l’immancabile foto di gruppo:


Mepis torna a Debian

A giocar col fuoco prima o poi ci si scotta.mepis.png

È quello che ha imparato a proprie spese anche Warren Woodford, fondatore di SimplyMEPIS, che dopo esser passato nella schiera delle derivate ubuntu a Marzo 2006 tra grandi annunci e fanfare, ora deve fare dietro-front.

«Ubuntu is almost a whole new distro each time it’s released. By using experimental code, each and every time, the Ubuntu code tree is inherently less stable than the Debian code tree, which contains additional levels of testing and vetting and fixing of code.»

Dalla prossima versione MEPIS sarà di nuovo Debian-based, con un cuore “etch“.


Beryl soon in Debian

Following today post from Fra about beryl, I’d like to report a conversation on IRC that I’ve had with David Nusinow some days ago, about the inclusion in Debian of an official package for Beryl, because I tend to avoid unofficial packages.

<kaeso> just a question: is there some plan for inclusion of beryl in main?
<gravity> Yes, shawn wants to wait for it to stabilize before putting it it
<gravity> Packages are ready to go in our svn repo
<kaeso> estimated time?
<gravity> Post-etch
<kaeso> oh fine

Actual packages are available in the svn repo. Maybe they worth a try…

Once again, many thanks to the Debian X Strike Force for their invaluable and great work!

ATI mobility X700 and free driver under Linux

Finally I got it!
My ATI Mobility X700 card is currently running with completely free driver “radeon” under a Debian Unstable. I spent a lot of time configuring it, because for some strange reasons the monitor often went blank screen, but in the end, without external or taken from CVS/SVN code, it works fine, even with 3D hardware acceleration. Relevant parts of my xorg.conf, plus some benchmarks and variuos considerations are available in a mail to debian-italian and in the subsequent thread.

Special thanks to the R300 project, the Debian X Strike Force and all Xorg guys!

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