24 September, 2006


Pre-Release mindi and mondo Packages Available

I have some hopes that mindi 1.20 and mondo 2.20 will be released sufficiently early for the freeze (i.e. soon ;-) ). To help ensuring that things are indeed in good shape at release time, I thought, I make some pre-release packages available.

Please test and send feedback - good or bad!

I've done some testing myself on amd64/DVD and i386/NFS with good results apart from the missing fixes for #320152 and #379966 - they will be in upstream or the final package versions though.


Yeah - OpenOffice packages for amd64!

Just noticed the new native 2.04~rc2 OpenOffice packages for amd64 in unstable. My first impression is: Wow, I've never seen writer starting up so fast! (Way under a second.)

Congratulations to the Debian OpenOffice.org Team!

20 September, 2006


Bending the DFSG a little...

...is what Mike Connor appears to be suggesting here. As far as I can tell, this has already happened - the way I interpret #8 of the DFSG, it is not just about Debian and derivatives but absolutely everyone including Osama Bin Laden and George Walker Bush and even John Howard. ;-)

Seriously, though, I perfectly understand that Mozilla needs to protect its brand and they certainly have every right to do so. And we have every right to change the name and modify the code without asking anyone for approval. A right that we will have to exercise by the looks of it. How about 'freefox' (probably too close) or the 'browser otherwise known as firefox', short 'bokaf' (anyone?).

I believe that Mozilla is doing the free software movement a disservice when they are as hard-nosed about their brand as it appears they are. They certainly need to put mechanisms in place to protect themselves from the Dr. Evils of the world. Debian most definitely does not belong into this category (neither do Redhat nor Suse nor any other Linux distribution I can think of). So why not just let sleeping dogs lie?

Eric Dorland and Steve Langasek are my heroes for remaining calm and on topic in the discussion.

19 September, 2006


AFS Support for Mondo Rescue

I've finally uploaded mondo-2.09-3 packages which contain the changes to get Mondo Rescue working with AFS to fix #385790. I should have communicated better with Bruno because he has done some work in parallel on this. We have come largely to the same conclusions, though, which is always reassuring.

2.09-3 also has some more changes done in the post-nuke arena. I felt that because it is now an integral part of the Debian package it needed some more love. Changes are:
With these changes added, post-nuke behaviour is still not perfect but probably good enough for now. Hopefully, Bruno agrees and accepts the changes upstream.

Finally, I've managed to get hold of a VXA-1a tape streamer. It's IDE which sucks because Debian removed ide-scsi from the standard kernels a while back, so the vxaTool doesn't work (yes, I know how to compile kernels, but I like to run a standard environment so that I can pick up on and reproduce issues). Then again, it's just for testing anyway and I can report that I've successfully done test runs with Mondo Rescue using it.

Speaking of testing, mondo-2.09-3 was tested:
(mindi-2.09-2 which I uploaded a few days ago was basically tested the same.)

12 September, 2006


Easy Peasy AFS on Debian

Bug #385790 prompted me to set up an AFS client on my sid installation. This is something I hadn't done since I left uni almost nine years ago. Back then it was a bit fiddly to get the Transarc AFS client for Linux to work if I remember correctly.

Things have quite obviously improved since then. The following is all that was required (with some helpful information provided by the submitter - thanks, Kevin!):
(The need to reconfigure may be a bug, not sure.)

In summary, OpenAFS and Sam Hartman's packaging effort make AFS a breeze to install on Debian!

Now all I have to do is find the time to fix the bug. ;-)

[Update] Important detail I forgot to mention: Open port 7001 on your firewall for UDP.
[Update] Added what to answer, i.e. 'Yes'. Doh.

10 September, 2006


SAP on Debian

SAP has supported Linux for many years. Debian, though, is not one of the supported distributions which I find unfortunate because I am an SAP consultant and a Debian developer. ;-)

I have manually installed an SAP Testdrive system on Debian from RPM packages years ago which was very painful. Gregor Wolf's instructions on SDN make things look much less daunting for a regular install. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to try this in the next couple of months...


Mark Shuttleworth on Debian

Mark's take on what Debian's strengths and weaknesses are makes for an interesting read. The way I interpret it, he wants us to be the plateau that other parties can put their spikes on top of (to use his symbolism). He mentions etch towards the end as one of those spikes, but essentially suggests we focus pretty much all our energy on sid because this is what we are good at and where our passion lies.

I beg to differ.

I firmly believe that Debian must remain relevant as an end-user distribution. Not only because essentially this is what our Social Contract is all about but also because without (relevant) releases I very much doubt we'd be able to keep the momentum and attract (or even keep) good people as (new) developers.

From Mark's point of view, his line of argumentation certainly makes sense: The better sid, the better a derivative like Ubuntu. From our point of view I believe it doesn't.

And by the way, I do run sarge on my machine as "production" environment and I am thus much looking forward to the release of etch.

That said, I do think that Ubuntu is better than Debian in some ways (but certainly not all), so on this I agree with Mark. I am just not sure that this really has to stay this way. Competition is good. ;-)

04 September, 2006


Vista rocks, AIGLX/Compiz is so, so

Nothing like the above to get a bit of an audience, I guess... ;-)

I tried the freely available (i.e. no Passport account or other crap required) pre-RC1 build of Windows Vista sometime last week. Whilst I didn't delve all that deeply into new stuff that's under the bonnet, I played around with the new Aero GUI a bit. And I must say that I'm somewhat impressed. I thought the Luna style of XP was totally, utterly and completely ridiculous when I first saw it. Compared to that, Aero is quite neat and subtle. I rather like the frosted glass effect of the window title bar, the way windows are stacked at an angle for easy selection, the glowing window buttons and a few other bits and pieces.

I've since wiped that disk and installed Fedora Core 6 Test 2 to have a look at AIGLX/Compiz. I thought I use Fedora since this is where AIGLX originates. I'm not at all excited about XGL because it appears to pretty much require proprietary drivers - not good. (I've actually got a Radeon 9600 which has experimental but AFAICS working 3D acceleration in Xorg from version 7.0). So far, so good. I got the cube thing working, wobbly windows, window and menu shadows, minimise/restore window effects, the 'film' desktop chooser, transparency on move and likely more that I can't recall right now. It's all working and not crashing. The only issue is that it doesn't feel "natural" (for lack of a better word). Maybe it's because there is a bit of a lag when doing something for the first time or after a while, i.e. moving a new and large window or spinning the desktop cube. I certainly think that my Radeon 9600 card should be up to it - after all it spins the cube at break-neck speeds. When doing similar things on OSX or even Vista it feels like this is just what you do; with AIGLX/Compiz it more feels like "Look what I can do!" without that certain matter-of-course-ness. Or, to reveal my age ;-), it feels a bit like early eighties pop music that had just discovered the possibilities of digital synthesizers. (Also, and this can probably be considered a real bug, scrolling in Firefox is dead slow with AIGLX/Compiz.)

Having said all that, I'm surely and truly excited about the possibilities of a vectorised desktop and think it's got oodles of potential. And I'm equally surely and truly appreciating the work people have put into this. I've merely come to realise that the blurred videos on youtube may not necessarily convey the current state of affairs with total accuracy.

01 September, 2006



linux.conf.au will be held from 15 - 20 January 2007 in Sydney, Australia.

Hopefully, Bruno and I will be given the opportunity to share with others our experience with upstream/downstream maintenance of Mondo Rescue. The presentation we have submitted about this is called "Mondo Rescue & Debian - an Example for Upstream/Downstream Collaboration".

It would be positively fabulous to actively participate in the conference and to be surrounded by people that share the same interest in FOSS. And meeting Bruno in person would be cool, too - after all, we've worked quite closely together for a year now without even speaking to each other. Maybe we'd even get some hacking done! ;-)

I am excited!

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