the fable of the #debian channel is fun to read (but unfortunately also quite true).

[ published on Mon 10.06.2013 19:43 | filed in interests/debian | ]

My nice-but-cumbersome lapdog decided some time ago that being asked to suspend is insulting or something, and now goes catatonic instead: the suspend works fine, but absolutelly nothing, ever, wakes it up again.

"Roses are red and my SO-DIMMs still hot,
you asked me to sleep but I'll let you rot."

A lot of debugging (and swearing) later, I now know that the culprit (at least for kernel is the module lpc_sch, which isn't needed for normal operations anyway. blam! Bye-bye, module.

[ published on Wed 30.05.2012 20:19 | filed in interests/debian | ]

I thoroughly detest udev: large, ugly, inflexible, disgusting, recently started to insist on DEVTMPFS and /usr being on / (or having an initramdisk, neither of which I accept) and so on.

For the few situations where there are dynamic changes on my boxes (e.g. usb sticks, radio killswitch and so on) I've made do with hotplug until now, but that set of shell scripts has simply grown too annoying to maintain. But recently I found out about mdev, a small component of busybox, and I took to it instantly.

Mdev was designed to be a micro-udev for all kinds of embedded systems where busybox is playing the vital role of providing most (if not all) classic unix tools. To me mdev is the embodiment of the unix mindset: do one thing, and do it well.

And that's what it does: if given the -s switch, it trawls /sys for things that look like devices and creates them in /dev. When run without args as hotplug helper, it creates the device the kernel tells it about, or loads firmware if that's asked for, or removes a device if the kernel says it is going away. These operations are adjustable via a straightforward, simple configuration file which also lets you tell it to run commands of your choice (and load modules), and that's all there is to it. mdev consists of about 650 lines of C, and it works very well.

What it is/was lacking, is support for kernel uevents with action=change, which some subsystems use (e.g. the rfkill subsystem signals changes to any radio kill switches that way). So I wrote this tiny patch to add that capability (I hope upstream includes it in the next version of busybox), and mdev now runs *-tagged commands on add, remove and change.

The other lacking thing is documentation - in the debian packages, that is. mdev is decently explained in docs/mdev.txt and examples/mdev*.conf in the source tarball, but the debian maintainer chose not to ship any of that. I'd recommend getting and reading those documents first if you ponder playing with mdev.

So, to help others along a bit, here is my own setup as an example:

I do have a few extra bits and pieces (e.g. startup scripts, small rfkill and bluetooth agents), but they're somewhat idiosyncratic and likely not very useful to others (but just ask if you do want them).

[ published on Mon 07.05.2012 20:23 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Last year I needed/wanted a new laptop, something with decent battery life but still lightweight and with a useful vertical screen resolution. The Acer C110 I had before was nice but lasted less than 2 hrs on battery. So I got an Atom-based unit, an Acer Aspire One 751h: 1.3GHz Atom Z520, 2Gb memory, 160Gb disk, 1366x768/11.6in display, 1.37kg (weighed it myself), 6+ hours of battery life, and - very important to me - a decent, full-size keyboard, all packed into the size of a sheet of A4.

Nice gear - except for the not-quite-Intel GMA500 graphics crap, for which no decent (semi-)free drivers exist. I won't bore you with the tedious story of getting decent graphics going - it was quite tedious, but I'm really stubborn.

So here are some of my lessons learned, hopefully helpful to you people out there. The features and subsystems not mentioned (the majority) worked out of the box or without more than normal configuration steps required.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 22.03.2011 19:46 | filed in interests/debian | ]

I detest udev. With a passion. Because of bugs like #453356 or #339797 and as a matter of general principle because it's overcomplex, brittle, and Just Plain Wrong. No, a dynamic /dev is not generally desirable. No, I don't want you to fuck up my /dev and slow down every single boot by redoing the same damn crap all the time. No, I don't like your rule language or your lousy diagnostics.

So I consider myself the president-and-first-member of the G.R.O.S.U. ("Get Rid of Slimy Udev") club. But I do eat my own dog food (debian developer and all that), so here's my alternative setup to avoid udev without losing useful capabilities:

Udev itself I get rid of by creating a dummy dependency fulfiller package using equivs. Here's the resulting .deb for the lazy ones.

The few hotplugging activities that I do like to handle (eg. initializing the Bluetooth env if/when I use the killswitch, or auto-mounting removable storage) I take care of with hotplug: ancient, trusty, simple, totally sufficient.

Here's my cut-down-and-minimized hotplug package. Share and enjoy.

[ published on Sun 20.03.2011 22:10 | filed in interests/debian | ]

...the non-geeky middle-aged checkout chick at Aldi starts chatting to you about her now using this Linux Thing, and that being quite cool.

I wore my Tux shirt today (which has a penguin and the slogan "Linux - for IQs higher than 95" embroidered) and she said something like 'hmm, I guess I've got an IQ higher than 95 then!'; her new EEE pc thingie which comes with Linux was quite nice and so on.

[ published on Tue 19.02.2008 20:42 | filed in interests/debian | ]

After the almost-fiasco of upgrading my Ultra2 to Etch, I've ended up with a number of useful things to know and remember about Etch and/or this kind of setup. Share and Enjoy, I say, so here goes.

click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sun 29.04.2007 19:15 | filed in interests/debian | ]

...because while debian's Sarge-to-Etch wasn't too ugly a transition, it nevertheless isn't something I want to do too often for all the boxes I'm responsible for. (As a matter of fact there's a few I'll leave running Sarge.) Here's all the notes I've made during the upgrade; maybe useful to others, maybe not.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 19.04.2007 13:18 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Some time ago I mentioned a big mess in debian's sudo regarding the environment cleanup. The mess is even worse: run sudo env and you'll either get a single PATH that is SECURE_PATH (and thus not yours) or you'll get two bad PATHes for the price of one! Hurry! This offer ends soon! ahem

Guess what is implied by the env_reset/env_keep fix for losing all your other variables... The problem affects all the 1.6.8's, that means sarge/security's p7-1.3 is as borked as sid's p12. p7-1.2 didn't force you to use env_reset so you didn't feel the problem as badly.

I'm a perfectionist. Not only do I now know exactly what is broken, I also have a fix. It requires recompiling sudo.

[ published on Sun 26.02.2006 18:28 | filed in interests/debian | ]

This recent advisory suggests that one updates his sudo installation. With the subsequent result of being trapped in a mess of obscure, badly documented env_something options, a suggestion of env_check which doesn't work and no way of passing environment variables to the sudo'd process. Great.

Much cursing later it turns out that only this makes sudo tick again: Defaults env_reset, env_keep="XAUTHORITY DISPLAY" or, more to my liking in the case of unrestricted sudo, env_keep=*

[ published on Sat 21.01.2006 12:35 | filed in interests/debian | ]

The original list is there and deals with the US Army, but Debian seems to be going there rather quickly. Damn politics. So, while there are no 213 things yet, it likely won't take long. Sigh.

  • Not allowed to post about Ubuntu on d-d-a.
  • Not allowed to post about a posting about Ubuntu on d-d-a.
  • Especially if the post doesn't mention Ubuntu at all and is somewhat sarcastic.
  • Must not imply the listmasters are sarcasm-impaired as they don't like this.
  • I must not expect democratic behaviour in the Project.
  • Not allowed to post anything containing non-politically-correct words (like "lesbian") on d-d-a.
  • Debian does not have a Cabal.
  • Not allowed to request an update on the stalled GFDL argument with the FSF. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
  • I am not authorized to question authorities.
  • Especially not debian-admin.
  • Not allowed to call an RC bug an RC bug, if it happens to affect the scum architectures.

Additions welcome.

[ published on Mon 16.01.2006 22:18 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Well, more than a few - and some kooks, as usual. debian-devel feels like nan-ae at times... This is how my email load went up after the infamous "proposal" hit the nets (blue being spam, green being real mail):


That TINC is not true for Debian is unfortunately pretty obvious by now, even to a non-political tech like me; that there are voices of reason left in high places is good to see reinforced, however.

So thank you, Martin Schulze, for that post. You put the concerns of lots of us in words very nicely.

[ published on Wed 16.03.2005 21:45 | filed in interests/debian | ]

i hate spam, i said that already, and last weak i got over 200 spams on a single day. then i decided that it's time to implement my long-time plan of firing up spamassassin on my two old servers, and to do it right and run it as a sendmail milter.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Sat 17.01.2004 23:20 | filed in interests/debian | ]

I've given a talk about Debian at SAGE-AU's annual conference in 2003. The paper and presentation slides are avaliable here. It was very well received, and I'll give some follow-up presentations at this year's Tasmanian Summer IT Conference as well as the SAGE-VIC IT Symposion

[ published on Sun 11.01.2004 22:21 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Debian is my favourite open source project. The structure of stuff in Debian very much pleases my sense of perfectionism. Plus, Debian is perfect for server machines.

I'm supporting the project by packaging and maintaining various stuff, most notably kuvert my mail privacy tool.

This list shows the packages I'm currently maintaining and a bit of technical status for each of them.

[ published on Sun 11.01.2004 22:17 | filed in interests/debian | ]

Debian Silver Server
© Alexander Zangerl