Michal Čihař - Blog Archives for Debian

N950 experiences

As I hav ethis toy for more than week, I can share a little more information about it. Please note that some experiences are based on fact that this is my first "big" phone with touchscreen.

The big screen is great for reading. Much better than my old Nokia E52. It is also much better readable on direct sun light. The dark side of this is of course power consumption, but I think this might still get improved for production pieces.

Having Linux on the phone is nice, ssh to phone and you can do anything comfortably with real keyboard (N950's QWERTY keyboard is great, but still quite small). Having Debian based system there is even better, though I felt a bit strange when I first ran apt-get upgrade on my phone :-). Well there are some changes from standard Debian system like extented fields in debian/control for icons, but generally it feels pretty much as Debian.

There are lot of things to try on N950, you can find some hints on N950 landing page, I still need to try most of that :-).

Linux hardware support

Remembering not so far away history, I'm always a bit afraid when I'm about to use new hardware with Linux. It used to be troublesome to make some devices work.

After getting Linux based phone last week, I've also received new notebook, where I want to run Debian as well. I expected various troubles, but surprisingly everything works like a charm without single line of configuration. Wireless networking, docking station, card reader, webcam, fingerprint reader and so on.

All I had to do is to pull SSD out of old X60 notebook and put it into new X220. The only (though unnecessary) change was installation of 64-bit kernel (I currently see no big benefit in migrating to 64-bit userspace) and everything is working. Can your operating system do this?

Thanks to all people who have helped in this.

Not going to DebConf

Year ago, when DebConf 11 in Banja Luka has been announced, I was really happy for the location and was sure I'm going to visit it. I applied early, requested sponsorship, but then things got slightly more complicated and in the end I had to say no quite shortly before reconfirmation deadline.

So I will not meet all the great people behind Debian this year and will wait for another chance (probably in two years, as Nicaragua sounds attractive, but when I would be so far away I'd like to spend at least month in the area and time and money is always problem in such case :-)).

Lack of time

You can see it from my blog activity as well, I simply lack time for lot of things.

My Gammu mail folders are horribly full of unread mail, it took me there three months to release a new testing version and there are still some patches pending for review.

On phpMyAdmin side I spend most time with my GSoC students, who progress really well, but that's pretty much all I can do there. The good news is that phpmyadmin.cz website has new maintainer and is again getting new content. Hopefully it will stay alive for longer time to bring back lost visitors.

My Debian contributions are in still pretty good shape and I manage to fix important bugs, though my MPD related packages are still for sale. Still considering whether to go or not to go to Debconf, my decision will be probably based on fact whether I will get travel sponsorship or not (and when it would happen).

Besides these free software activities I began to be more active in Společné aktivity (in Czech) project for organizing various activities to spend free time.

Occasionally I also contribute to OpenStretMap, but it's more or less random time when I notice something is wrong or when I manage to visit some place which is not that good mapped. The good thing is that Prague is pretty good shape there, so it does not motivate me to spend too much time on this :-).

And of course there is my work at SUSE, working on usual L3 front and improving our Django based incident tracking tool.

Maybe I should step down from some of these, but it would be pretty hard for me to choose which one...

PPA for Debian

There seem to be lot of momentum in discussions about making Debian testing more attractive to users on debian-devel mailing list (see Lucas's summary for summary of the lengthy discussion).

One of the raised points there is that Debian misses equivalent of Ubuntu's PPA or openSUSE build service. As Debian is usually about do-ocracy, it will be there once it will be implemented, but I still don't think it is always useful to have such thing.

The problem with both (but this is especially the case for openSUSE build service) is that you need to add dozens of home: projects with questionable quality of the software. This usually leads to horrible mess, especially in case of incompatible libraries with different build options (anybody using wxWidgets?).

It can definitely lower barrier for people to create packages for the distro, but is it really good to lower barrier that much? I'd really prefer new things to be uploaded to Debian itself without need to use any external repositories, it would ensure at least some level of quality and compatibility with other packages.

Bloating dependencies

It looks like many peoples decided it is right time to bloat my system with stuff I don't use.

The first think I did not like when squeeze went out was libpcsclite1 pulling pcsd and hal into my system. This is being solved on two fronts - porting pcsd to udev (in #612971) and disabling libpcslite1 support in wpasupplicant. Both of them being good ideas.

What actually drove me to writing this post is today's update, where aptitude suddenly wanted to install whole latex and thus using about 760MiB of extra disk space. I know disk space is supposed to be cheap these days, but it's not that cheap with SSD in notebook. The culprit turned out to be doxygen, which up to now happily lived without single bit of latex, but now needs it (though temporarily according to changelog).

I know it is tempting to enable every possible feature in your package, but in same cases it is really not something what most of people would appreciate.

German-Czech dictionary for Debian

Okay, I finally decided it's about time to make Debian package out of German-Czech dictionary for which I'm providing builds for StarDict.

Daily snapshots are (as usual) available in my Debian repository and the monthly builds will be uploaded to Debian (once it passes NEW queue).

The dictionary currently lists only few words, but I hope it will improve in near future.

Upgrading to Squeeze

Squeeze was released this weekend and it's time to slowly migrate servers to it. The first to upgrade came the ones backing up phpMyAdmin demo server. Reason for trying them first is they have mostly same setup as other, while definitely not being critical to run all the time. For simple reasons that users break them time to time as well :-).

Everything went surprisingly smoothly, the only problematic thing being no availability of MariaDB packages for Squeeze right now. But it does not matter that much, as Lenny packages still work fine.

There should be no visible changes on the servers, but in case there is something broken, please let me know.

While having experience with upgrading database servers, I went to production database server and it is now running Squeeze as well. What still remains is the server doing virtualization, but I prefer to do this in time when I can quickly get to the housing, in case something goes wrong with the reboot.

Going to FOSDEM 2011

It looks like I will make it again to visit FOSDEM this year. This time it won't be meeting of whole phpMyAdmin team, but just few members but I hope to meet other people in person as well.

If you have something you would like to discuss with me in person there, it's best time to let me know so that we can schedule it.

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

PS: It looks like it might be good timing for Debian release party as well :-).