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!

Software Freedom Day celebrations and Debian

Gmail MX over IPv6

It looks like even is now advertising SMTP over IPv6:

lucab@galatea:~$ dig mx
;            IN    MX

;; ANSWER SECTION:        408    IN    MX    10        408    IN    MX    20        408    IN    MX    5        408    IN    MX    40        408    IN    MX    30

lucab@galatea:~$ dig any
; IN    ANY

;; ANSWER SECTION: 259 IN    AAAA    2a00:1450:8005::1a 205 IN    A

Looking at my mailserver logs, only inbound so far.

Gmail MX over IPv6

After Eight revenge: Bus Pirate DIY thin mint case

A couple of weeks ago, my Bus Pirate was still missing a decent enclosure. That same rainy day, I regretfully ran out of my supply of After Eight :(.

As I had to recycle the thin mint packaging, I took the chance to make a shiny sweet case for the little board.

After a bit of hole-cutting, this is the final result:

It looks good, doesn’t it? 😉

After Eight revenge: Bus Pirate DIY thin mint case

A journey through MSP430 and mspgcc

NOTE: Work in progress, some posts may still be missing

This the (not-yet) complete summary of a series of articles related to MSP430 MCU family and GNU/Linux.
The aim of these posts is to give an overview of the msp430 history and status with regard to a free (as in speech) tool-chain.
These articles were written in the last quarter of 2011, after the first official release of a free GCC-based MSP430 tool-chain.

This series is not intended as a tutorial on msp430 programming, and does not cover proprietary tools or tool-chain for other OSes.
If you are looking for help on these other topics or for additional details not provided in these posts, you can dig the TI msp430 official page or the 43oh community site.

The GNU/Linux and MSP430 series is composed by the following posts:

  1. Intro to TI MSP430 and Launchpad: a low-power embedded MCU
  2. How to have fun with MSP430 and GNU/Linux
  3. MSPGCC: uniarch and the bright future
  4. mspdebug: MSP430 programming and debugging


A journey through MSP430 and mspgcc

OpenOCD and the Bus Pirate

As an enthusiast  Open Hardware supporter, I regularly read the always brilliant Dangerous Prototype blog.
Last week it featured a short but complete tutorial about unbricking a Seagate Dockstar with OpenOCD and the Bus Pirate.

The Bus Pirate is an open source hacker multi-tool that talks to electronic stuff, and which can be used as a JTAG adaptor (and much more!).
OpenOCD, the widespread free JTAG debugger, recently gained support for it.

The good news is that, after almost a year and half of development, OpenOCD 0.5.0 has been finally released and is currently available in both Debian testing and unstable. Get it from the repository while it is hot, no need to fiddle with autotools and build tools anymore 🙂

As a side-note for interested parties, SWD (Serial Wire Debugging) support is currently under development, along with its companion library (libswd).

Hack and enjoy!

OpenOCD and the Bus Pirate

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.

Online sprints, or how to revive a L10N team

Resoconto della Debian/Ubuntu Community Conference 2010, Perugia

Nei giorni 17/18/19 settembre si è svolta a Perugia la quinta edizione della Italian Debian Community Conference, che ha visto la partecipazione di un buon numero di sviluppatori e utenti.
Per la prima volta l’evento è stato organizzato insieme alla comunità italiana Ubuntu, dando vita ad un nuovo tipo di conferenza congiunta mirata ad incentivare il lavoro comune, enfatizzando i molti tratti condivisi dai due progetti.

Dopo una prima serata informale, trascorsa a discutere dei progetti in corso cenando in compagnia, la conferenza ha ufficialmente preso il via sabato, presso l’università di Perugia, con una serie di talk tecnici volti a incoraggiare la partecipazione di nuovi contributori sia nel campo dello sviluppo che in quelli della traduzione, documentazione e promozione. L’evento è stato anche un’opportunità per celebrare il Software Freedom Day, con la partecipazione di alcune scuole della zona e del FSUG Italia.

DUCC-IT '10 Group Photo

All’evento erano presenti anche membri dei team Debian Women e Ubuntu Women (il cui obiettivo principale consiste nel promuovere la presenza femminile nei due progetti) che hanno dato vita ad un dibattito sulla presenza delle donne nel panorama italiano del software libero, presso i locali dell’hacklab perugino. La discussione ha toccato diverse tematiche, tra cui la grande differenza di numero tra contributori di sesso maschile e femminile, i motivi alla base di questa sproporzione e le iniziative da intraprendere per invertire questa tendenza.

Questo nuovo tipo di collaborazione tra le due comunità si è rivelato vincente sotto molti aspetti, permettendo di condividere nuove conoscenze e di migliorare i progetti comuni. L’auspicio conclusivo dei partecipanti è stato quello di poter ripetere in futuro questo tipo di collaborazioni, estendendolo anche ad altri campi.
In particolare, è stata prevista nei primi mesi del 2010 l’organizzazione di altri eventi comuni, come un translation party ed un nuovo meeting delle comunità.

Inoltre, sarà presto disponibile un resoconto più dettagliato dell’evento con foto, commenti, registrazioni delle sessioni e relative slide.
Ringraziamo il dipartimento di matematica dell’università di Perugia, l’hacklab Projects On Island, FSUG Italia, la communità Ubuntu-it e tutti gli individui che hanno collaborato alla realizzazione di questo evento.

Resoconto della Debian/Ubuntu Community Conference 2010, Perugia

Report from the Debian/Ubuntu Community Conference, ITA 2010

From the 17th to the 19th of September in Perugia, Italy, it took place the 5th edition of the Italian Debian Community Conference, which has been attended by many contributors and users.

For the first time, the event has been organized in collaboration with the Italian Ubuntu community, as to create a new joint conference in order to foster shared contributions and emphasizing the large common ground of our projects. This new experimental kind of mini-conference was then labeled DUCC-IT, to reflect both the local profile and the mutual collaboration.

After the initial social night, spent discussing of several ongoing free software efforts and having dinner all together, the conference official opening started on Saturday, temporarily housed at University of Perugia, with a series of talks and hands-on session aimed at recruiting new contributors to work on development, translations, documentation writing and marketing. It has been a good opportunity to celebrate the Software Freedom Day too, in collaboration with FSUG Italia and the participation of some local schools.

DUCC-IT '10 Group Photo

The event been also attended by some members of the Debian Women and Ubuntu Women teams (whose goal is to promote women participation in both projects), who organized a round-table debate taking the Italian panorama as a study case. The discussion embraced different topics, ranging from the wide difference in numbers, to the deep causes of this phenomenon and how to improve the situation. With the help of the hacklab staff (hosting the debate), an audio/video streaming has been made available in real-time, and many remote participants joined us with comments and questions.

This new kind of collaboration between our communities was found to be really positive and more events has already been drafted for the next year, including a translation sprint and a contributors meeting.

We encourage worldwide local communities to try and engage in a similar experiment: organizing and joining a DUCC event will be pure fun.

A detailed report of the conference will be soon available, completed by photos, participants’ comments, video records and slides for the talks.
We’d really like to thank the Math Department of University of Perugia, the Projectz On Island hacklab, FSUG Italia, the Ubuntu-it community and everyone who contribute to this event.

Report from the Debian/Ubuntu Community Conference, ITA 2010

Too many gurus spoil the plug

Being a rather patient and peaceful guy, I acknowledge that perfection is a difficult goal and I rarely rant publicly about troubles I’ve stumbled upon.
Today however, I feel I have to wholeheartedly agree with Bernd about Guruplug: it has been a waste of money.

I received mine in May, with the order placed and payed in February. First thing noticed is the issue with the power supply: I really think they forgot QA testing on these machines, as my PSU (and many others, just skim through the official forum) blew up just an hour after power-up.

I wasn’t lucky enough to admire over-heating and internal (mis-)cooling, as it went immediately through GlobalScale sales department for a RMA under warranty.

And then I waited for GlobalScale, for an actually working unit. And still I am, it’s almost September now. Patiently waiting (hoping, I’d say) for some answers.

I’m not sure who to blame here, Marvell, GlobalScale or both, for this issues with regards to QA, design and sales. But I’m quite sure the final result has been already perfectly described: a major fail.

Too many gurus spoil the plug

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.

Sending mail through a SSL-only relay server with ssmtp