Michal Čihař - Blog Archives for Debian

ColorHug client in unstable

It took me much more uploads than I expected, but ColorHug client is finally in unstable. I was fighting with various bugs, which I could not reproduce locally and of course with my own stupidity in configuring pbuilder.

Anyway the buildds overview now shows mostly green, so this is good. The remaining ones mostly wait for libgusb, which needs build on armhf and needs to be ported to non Linux (or rather libusb needs to exist there).

One of things I've learned on the way is that docbook-utils is not enough to convert docbook to man pages, you need docbook package as well. Still I don't understand why this did locally work for me...

The one outstanding issue is that client code assumes it runs on little endian host (or rather same endianity as the ColorHug device) and thus will break on PPC and other big endian machines. The upstream is aware of that an I even managed to produce patch which should fix it, though I have no means to test it (lack of big endian hardware and lack of the ColorHug device itself).

uTidyLib dead?

uTidyLib is definitely something you would call a dead project - no new release for seven years, dozens of open bugs and submitted patches and no active development. On the other side it is still used by several packages in Debian, thus worth maintaining. This is also reason, why there are few crucial patches in Debian repository to make it work (for example on 64-bit architectures).

While googling whether there is something new going on with uTidyLib, I've noticed two efforts. One is PyTidyLib, a complete reimplementation, which provides different API and thus does not seem to be used anywhere yet.

Another (well almost two years old, but I did not look earlier) effort is to fork in on Github and make it work with MacOS X. Okay, when somebody took the "effort", lets try to merge Debian patches there, hopefully there will be a release sometimes. So here is the pull request.

Update: I've just learned, there is another fork going on - https://github.com/lachlan-00/utidylib2

ColorHug for Debian and in Czech

Today, I've spent some time on ColorHug software (which I've preordered some time ago).

The first missing bit there were Debian packages. There are already some packages available for Ubuntu, but I've chosen clean start and did all the packaging on my own. The packages are now waiting in NEW queue (which is amazingly empty in last months) and will hopefully get accepted soon. In case you are too impatient, you can look to git repository on Alioth (you will need libgusb as well). Packaging effort lead to writing (quite minimalistic) man page for colorhug-ccmx, which I've also sent upstream.

The other thing, where I can help right now (not owning the device itself) is translation. As you can see on Transifex, my task is done here and Czech translation is complete :-).

New Pootle on l10n.cihar.com

Translation server for phpMyAdmin and Gammu/Wammu has been updated to run latest Pootle. I had to do this upgrade to be able to run on latest Django, which is used by other websites as well (this blog is one of them).

Unfortunately it was not as easy as running apt-get upgrade as Pootle package has been dropped from Debian recently. So I had to make quick and dirty packages myself (no removal of embedded software and so on).

Installing newer version lead to major breakage as the database upgrade silently failed and I had to recover manually. In the end I've dropped all pootle_* tables and recreated them again. Unfortunately this lead to loss of some data from user profiles, but I could not see other way around.

Anyway the service should be now back running in normal shape, so go ahead and translate :-).

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.