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June 13, 2013
Andreas K. Hüttel a.k.a. dilfridge (homepage, bugs)

Last week we had our monthly Gentoo KDE team meeting; here are few details that are probably worth sharing.

  • So far we've provided the useflag "semantic-desktop" which in particular controls the nepomuk functionality. Some components of KDE require this functionality unconditionally, and if you try to build without it, bugs and build failures may occur. In addition, by now it is easily and reliably possible to disable e.g. the file indexer at runtime. So, we've decided that starting with KDE 4.11 we will remove the useflag and hard-enable the functionality and the required dependencies in the ebuilds. The changes are being done already in the KDE overlay in the live ebuilds (which build upstream git master and form the templates for the upcoming 4.11 releases).
  • After recent experiences the plan to drop kdepim-4.4 is off the table again. We will keep it in the portage tree as alternative version and try to support it until it finally breaks.
  • In the meantime we (well, mainly Chris Reffett) have started in the KDE overlay to package Plasma Active, the tablet Plasma workspace environment. Since Gentoo ARM support is already excellent, this may become a highly valuable addition. Unfortunately, it's not really ready yet for the main tree and general use, but packaging work will continue in the overlay- what we need most is testing and bug reporting!
Independent of the meeting, a stabilization request has already been filed for KDE 4.10.3;  thanks to the work of the kde stable testers, we can keep everyone uptodate. And as a final note, my laptop is back to kmail1... Cheers!

Edit, 13/6/2013: Johu has posted a blog entry on how to disable the semantic desktop functionality at runtime.

Johannes Huber a.k.a. johu (homepage, bugs)
Disabling semantic-desktop at runtime (June 13, 2013, 21:44 UTC)

Today we bumped  KDE SC 4.11 beta 1 (4.10.80) in the gentoo kde overlay. The semantic-desktop use flag is dropped in >=kde-base/4.10.80, as you may already noticed or read in dilfridges blog post. So if your hardware is not powerful enough or you just don’t want to use the feature you can easily disable it at runtime.

1. Go to the “System Settings” and search for “Desktop Search”

System Settings


2. Uncheck at least the file and email indexer. You can also disable the “Nepomuk Semantic Desktop”.

Desktop Search Settings

Have fun!

Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
Vertigo (June 13, 2013, 20:47 UTC)

16850004 16850003 16850007 16850010 16850011


June 10, 2013
Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)
Game Review: Metal Gear Rising (June 10, 2013, 18:32 UTC)

Okay I know that most of you do not follow my blog with the intention of reading about videogames, but given my Open Source time lately has been limited by me being quite busy with settling down and caring for an apartment, some updates are better than nothing. And since one of the first things that I bought for my apartment was a TV and a (new) PlayStation 3, I got to spend some time with Metal Gear Rising I thought it might be a good idea to write something about it.

First of all I have to apologize to the fans of the whole saga. I only played Metal Gear Solid 4 before, and I didn’t even finish it (my first PS3 died while I was playing it, and I had no backup of the save games — and since this happened quite a bit within the game I didn’t want to play it back from the start afterwards, I might do so now, honestly). I’m also not a big fan of stealth games (I never even completed the demo of Thief, for instance). But I liked MGS4 and I wanted to give a try to MGR simply because I loved the character of Raiden (I like blades, what can I say).

So the gameplay is nice. I love being able to cut almost everything down to pieces, especially when I’m pissed off by the neighbour’s alarm ringing at ten in the night. Or seven in the morning on a bank holiday. I admit I played through in easy mode (I wanted to vent off the stress, not cause more), and thus that might have helped with being able to get away with a basically random kind of attacks. But I liked it, and I liked the fact that it’s not entirely random. I think it might be worth a re-play now that I understand the attacks better (I’m hoping in a new game plus kind of deal).

Graphic is .. well, it’s not like there are any more games that have a bad graphics, but it could be better. It does not feel at the level of Metal Gear Solid 4. It’s also running in 720p, which is surprising for a new game. Although it might have something to do with the fact that the PS3 lacks the memory to run this properly. Oh well, not surprised I’d say, but a bit disappointed.

The soundtrack, oh wow the soundtrack! I’ve loved the soundtrack to the point I had to get it on iTunes. It charges me the same way as DMC4 did.

Unfortunately, maybe because I played in Easy mode, the game is quite too short. Yes there are downloadable chapters, and side “VR” missions, but the former you have to pay for extra, which is just a lowly trick for the publisher, and the latter is not part of the story. One “file” (chapter) consists of … one cut scene and a single batter. That’s not really that nice, in my opinion. As I said I’m going to re-play it with a bit more clue about the attacks, it’s likely going to be more enjoyable. But seriously even in “easy”, two weeks playing on and off were enough to get to the final Metal Gear… I’m not really excited about it.

Jeremy Olexa a.k.a. darkside (homepage, bugs)
Road Trip Ready (June 10, 2013, 07:47 UTC)

I’m leaving my home base in Australia, Skydive Maitland, and venturing off. It all started with an idea, and this:


I took the seats out of the van, put a bed in the back and now I’m ready to go.


My grand plan is to go all the way around Australia. Some people tell me it is 25,000km or so. I have no real time commitments (as always), so for now I’m heading “north” – to where it is warmer. I think I’m the only guy chasing mild winter on my rtw trip, no more! I’m leaving Maitland with new friends to visit again and I did about 250+ jumps in the 3 months I was working there, good times.


June 09, 2013
Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: graphviz (June 09, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

Visualization of data is often needed in order to understand what the data means. When data needs to be visualized automatically, I often use the graphviz tools. Not that they are extremely pretty, but it works very well and is made to be automated.

Let me give a few examples of when visualization helps…

In SELinux, there is the notion of domain transitions: security contexts that can transition to another security context (and thus change the permissions that the application/process has). Knowing where domains can transition to (and how) as well as how domains can be transitioned to (so input/output, if you may) is an important aspect to validate the security of a system. The information can be obtained from tools such as sesearch, but even on a small system you easily find hundreds of transitions that can occur. Visualizing the transitions in a graph (using dot or neato) shows how a starting point can move (or cannot move – equally important to know ;-) to another domain. So a simple sesearch with a few awk statements in the middle and a dot at the end produces a nice graph in PNG format to analyze further.

A second visualization is about dependencies. Be it package dependencies or library dependencies, or even architectural dependencies (in IT architecturing, abstraction of assets and such also provides a dependency-like structure), with the Graphviz tools the generation of dependency graphs can be done automatically. At work, I sometimes use a simple home-brew web-based API to generate the data (similar to Ashitani’s Ajax/Graphviz) since the workstations don’t allow installation of your own software – and they’re windows.

Another purpose I use graphviz for is to quickly visualize processes during the design. Of course, this can be done using Visio or easily as well, but these have the disadvantage that you already require some idea on how the process will evolve. With the dot language, I can just start writing processes in a simple way, combining steps into clusters (or in scheduling terms: streams or applications ;-) and let Graphviz visualize it for me. When the process is almost finished, I can either copy the result in to generate a nicer drawing or use the Graphviz result (especially when the purpose was just rapid prototyping).

And sometimes it is just fun to generate graphs based on data. For instance, I can take the IRC logs of #gentoo or #gentoo-hardened to generate graphs showing interactions between people (who speaks to who and how frequently) or to find out the strength of topics (get the keywords and generate communication graphs based on those keywords).

June 08, 2013
Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)

When you think of SSD manufacturers, it might be obvious to think of them as Linux friendly, given they target power users, and Linux users are for the most part are power users. Seems like this is not that true for Crucial. My main personal laptop has, since last year, a 64GB Crucial M4 SSD – given I’ve not been using a desktop computer for a while it does start to feel small, but that’s a different point – which underwent a couple of firmware update since then. In particular, there is a new release 070H that is supposed to fix some nasty power saving issues.

Crucial only provide firmware update utilities for Windows 7 and 8 (two different versions of them), and then they have an utility for “Windows and Mac” — the latter is actually a ZIP file that contains an ISO file… well, I don’t have a CD to burn with me, so my first option was to run the Windows 7 file from my Windows 7 install, which resides on the external SATA harddrive. No luck with that, from what I read on the forums what the upgrader does is simply setting up an EFI application to boot, and then reboot. Unfortunately in my case there are two EFI partitions, because of the two bootable drives, and that most likely messes up with the upgrader.

Okay strike one, let’s look at the ISO file. The ISO is very simple and very small.. it basically is just an ISOLINUX tree that uses memdisk to launch a 2.88MB image file (2.88MB is a semi-standard floppy disk size, which never really went popular for real disks, but has been leveraged by most virtual floppy disk images in bootable CD-Roms for the expanded size). Okay what’s in the image file then? Nothing surprising, it’s a FreeDOS image, with Crucial’s own utility and the firmware.

So if you remember, I had some experience with trying to update BIOS through FreeDOS images, and I have my trusty USB stick with FreeDOS arriving on Tuesday with most of my personal effects that were in Italy waiting for me to find a final place to move my stuff on. But I wanted to see if I could try to boot the image file without needing the FreeDOS stick, so I checked. Grub2 does not include a direct way to load image — the reference to memdisk in their manual refers to the situation where you’re loading a standalone or rescue Grub image, nothing to do with what we care about.

The most obvious way to run the image is through SYSLINUX’s memdisk loader. Debian even has a package that allows you to just drop the images in /boot/images and adds them to the grub menu. Quick and easy, no? Well, no. The problem is that memdisk needs to be loaded with linux16 — and, well, Grub 2 does not support it if you’re booting via EFI, like I am.

I guess I’ll wait until Tuesday night, when my BIOS disk will be here, and I’ll just use it to update the SSD. It should solve the issue once and for all.

Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

Just a quick update on Freeverb3 in Gentoo: media-libs/freeverb3-3.0.0 is now unmasked and working with media-sound/audacious-3.3.4, the latest Audacious in Gentoo. Give it a try :-)

PS: The theme on the screenshot is Radience known from Ubuntu or x11-themes/light-themes in Gentoo.

Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: LibreOffice (June 08, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

Of course, working with a Linux desktop eventually requires you to work with an office suite. Although I have used alternatives like AbiWord and Calligra in the past, and although I do think that Google Docs might eventually become powerful enough to use instead, I’m currently using LibreOffice.

The use of LibreOffice for Linux users is well known: it has decent Microsoft Office support (although I hardly ever need it; most users don’t mind exporting the files in an open document format and publishers often support OpenOffice/LibreOffice formats themselves) and its features are becoming more and more powerful, such as the CMIS support (for online collaboration through content management systems). It also has a huge community, sharing templates and other documents that make life with LibreOffice even much prettier. Don’t forget to check out its extensive documentation.

The aspects of LibreOffice I use the most are of course its writer (word processor) and calc (spreadsheet application). The writer-part is for when I do technical writing, whereas the spreadsheet application is for generating simple management sheets for startups and households that want to keep track of things (such as budgets, creating invoices, data for mail-merge, etc.). At my work, Excel is one of the most used “end user computing” tools, so I happen to get acquainted with quite a few spreadsheet tips and tricks that are beneficial for small companies or organizations ;-) Also, Calc has support for macro-like enhancements, which makes it a good start for fast application development (until the requests of the user/client has been stabilized, after which I usually suggest a real application development ;-)

I generally don’t use its presentation part much though – if I get a powerpoint, I first see if Google Docs doesn’t show it sufficiently well. If not, then I try it out in LibreOffice. But usually, if someone sends me a presentation, I tend to ask for a PDF version.

June 07, 2013
Pavlos Ratis a.k.a. dastergon (homepage, bugs)

soc-logo-300x200Last week Google announced all the accepted student proposals for Google Summer Of Code 2013… included mine !!
I will participate in this year’s GSoC with Gentoo Foundation. My proposal was about (aka Gentoo Identity). Gentoo Identity will be an LDAP web interface written using Django, which is a Python web framework. That will allow Gentoo developers _and_ users to configure easily their attributes from Gentoo’s LDAP server. This project is based on a previous GSoC project(codename ‘Okupy’). The web application will be for general usage and not only for LDAP administrators and sysadmins. I am also going to rewrite perl_ldap script  in python and improve it.  Currently perl_ldap  script is the only way to edit attirbutes from Gentoo’s LDAP server.

Some major features are:

  • LDAP Authentication.
  • Editable LDAP attributes via web forms.
  • Information about Gentoo developers (full name, gpg key, location, team) in a list like a address book.
  • Additional information about other accounts based on the ACL.
  • Enable privileged users/groups(recruiters, devrel, infrastructure team) to add new accounts and edit their information based on their ACL.

For more information about Gentoo identity, check my full proposal.

The expected outcome is a fully functional and scalable LDAP web interface, where both users and developers will be able to edit their attributes easily.

Theo Chatzimichos from Gentoo Infrastructure team will be my mentor and my co-mentor will be Gentoo Infrastructure lead, Robin Johnson. Also Gentoo dev, Matthew Summers as  a previous GSoC mentor of Okupy will help us in the Django part. In addition Michał Górny will work in parallel in another GSoC project for Gentoo Identity. His project aims to built a complete OpenID provider on top of it, to provide a common authentication and identity exchange mechanism for all Gentoo sites.

I am going to post weekly reports about the status of the project with more technical details. To come in contact for feedback and questions please send your emails at identity[AT]gentoo[DOT]org.

Happy coding!

Michal Hrusecky a.k.a. miska (homepage, bugs)

Database ServerRecently I had some time to do some clenaups/changes/updates in server:database repo regarding MySQL (and MariaDB). Nothing too big. Well actually, there are few little things that I want to talk about and that is the reason for this blog post, but still, nothing really important…

MySQL 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7

MySQL 5.6 is stable for some time already, so it’s time to put it in the action. So I sent the request to include it in Factory and therefore in openSUSE 13.1. There is off course a list of interesting stuff you might want to take a look at before you update. If you don’t want to update, you can install mysql-community-server_55 from server:database repo and stay a little bit longer with version 5.5. On the other hand, staying with old versions is boring, so you can also switch to mysql-community-server_57 which provides new MySQL 5.7. So if you are into databases and especially into MySQL and forks (we have MariaDB 5.5 and 10.0 as well), we have plenty of toys for you to play with.

NOTE: Having MySQL 5.6 in openSUSE 13.1 doesn’t mean switching default back to Oracles MySQL, M in LAMP still means MariaDB for whatever it is worth. It just mean, that you have MySQL 5.6 as an alternative available if you prefer it.

Default configuration

One of the interesting changes that happened in MySQL 5.6 is new default configuration. MySQL usually shipped with some examples of configuration that you can use. It  was there since forever and never changed, although typical computers went from 256M of RAM to 8G. It contained some buffers sizes and various other optimizations. I heard various complains that it would be better shipping without it than with the one that is there. What folks at Oracle did was drop most of it and replace it with pretty much empty one, with various settings commented and described. They probably heard the same complains :-D I consider it a really good step. Defaults are bult-in after all, so why to put them in config file? So I took theirs, added few things. For example Barracuda file format. It was set to be default upstream for few versions but they decided to go back to Antelope. But it’s also one of the thing people complain to me the most about – that they have to set file_per_table and Barracuda manually. And I added examples for multi configuration that we for some reason have included and exposed. This same config file will be pushed to MariaDB as well.

If you are interested in current state, you can see the config file on github and if you have some suggestions that everybody can benefit from, let me know either via comments or via pull request on github ;-)


Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: firefox (June 07, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

Browsers are becoming application disclosure frameworks rather than the visualization tools they were in the past. More and more services, like the one I discussed not that long ago, are using browsers are their client side while retaining the full capabilities of end clients (such as drag and drop, file management, editing capabilities and more).

The browser I use consistently is Firefox. I do think I will move to Chromium (or at least use it more actively) sooner or later, but firefox at this point in time covers all my needs. It isn’t just the browser itself though, but also the wide support in add-ons that I am relying upon. This did make me push out SELinux policies to restrict the actions that firefox can do, because it has become almost an entire operating system by itself (like ChromeOS versus Chrome/Chromium). With a few tunable settings (SELinux booleans) I can enable/disable access to system devices (such as webcams), often vulnerable plugins (flash, java), access to sensitive user information (I don’t allow firefox access to regular user files, only to the downloaded content) and more.

One of the add-ons that is keeping me with Firefox for now is NoScript. Being a security-conscious guy, being able to limit the exposure of my surfing habits to advertisement companies (and others) is very important to me. The NoScript add-on does this perfectly. The add-on is very extensible (although I don’t use that – just the temporary/permanent allow) and easy to work with: on a site where you notice some functionality isn’t working, right-click and seek the proper domain to allow methods from. Try-out a few of them temporarily until you find the “sweet spot” and then allow those for future reference.

Another extension I use often (not often enough) is the spelling checker capabilities. On multi-line fields, this gives me enough feedback about what I am typing and if it doesn’t use a mixture of American English and British English. But with a simple javascript bookmarklet, I can even enable spell check on a rendered page (simple javascript that sets the designMode variable and the contentEditable variable to true), which is perfect for the Gorg integration while developing Gentoo documentation.

The abilities of a browser are endless: I have extensions that offer ePub reading capabilities, full web development capabilities (to edit/verify CSS and HTML changes), HTTPS Everywhere (to enforce SSL when the site supports it), SQLite manager, Tamper Data (to track and manipulate HTTP headers) and more. With the GoogleTalk plugins, doing video chats and such is all done through the browser.

This entire eco-system of plugins and extensions make the browser a big but powerful interface, but also an important resource to properly manage: keep it up-to-date, backup your settings (including auto-stored passwords if you enable that), verify its integrity and ensure it runs in its confined SELinux domain.

June 06, 2013
Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: bash and kiss tools (June 06, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

Okay, this just had to be here. I’m an automation guy – partially because of my job in which I’m responsible for the long-term strategy behind batch, scheduling and workload automation, but also because I believe proper automation makes life just that much easier. And for personal work, why not automate the majority of stuff as well? For most of the automation I use, I use bash scripts (or POSIX sh scripts that I try out with the dash shell if I need to export the scripts to non-bash users).

The Bourne-Again SHell (or bash) is the default shell on Gentoo Linux systems, and is a powerful shell in features as well. There are numerous resources available on bash scripting, such as the Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide or the (not purely bash), and specific features of Bash have several posts and articles all over the web.

Shell scripts are easy to write, but their power comes from the various tools that a Linux system contains (including the often forgotten GNU-provided ones, of which bash is one of them). My system is filled with scripts, some small, some large, all with a specific function that I imagined I would need to use again later. I prefix almost all my scripts with sw (first letters of SwifT) or mgl (in case the scripts have the potential to be used by others) so I can easily find them (if they are within my ${PATH} of course, not all of them are): just type the first letters followed by two tabs and bash shows me the list of scripts I have:

$ sw\t\t
swbackup               swdocbook2html      swsandboxfirefox    swletter      swpics
swstartvm              swstripcomment      swvmconsole         swgenpdf      swcheckmistakes
swdoctransaccuracy     swhardened-secmerge swmailman2mbox      swmassrename  swmassstable
swmovepics             swbumpmod           swsecontribmerge    swseduplicate swfindbracket
swmergeoverlay         swshowtree          swsetvid            swfileprocmon swlocalize
swgendigest            swgenmkbase         swgenfinoverview    swmatchcve

$ mgl\t\t
mglshow                mglverify         mglgxml2docbook       mglautogenif  mgltellabout
mgltellhowto           mgltellwhynot     mglgenmodoverview     mglgenoval    mglgensetup
mglcertcli             mglcleannode      mglwaitforfile

With the proper basic template, I can keep the scripts sane and well documented. None of the scripts execute something without arguments, and “-h” and “–help” are always mapped to the help information. Those that (re)move files often have a “-p” (or “–pretend”) flag that instead of executing the logic, echo’s it to the screen.

A simple example is the swpics script. It mounts the SD card, moves the images to a first location (Pictures/local/raw), unmounts the SD card, renames the pictures based on the metadata information, finds duplicates based on two checksums (in case I forgot to wipe the SD card afterwards – I don’t wipe it from the script) and removes the duplicates, converts the raws into JPEGs and moves these to a minidlna-served location so I can review the images from DLNA-compliant devices when I want and then starts the Geeqie application. When the Geeqie application has finished, it searches for the removed raws and removes those from the minidlna-served location as well. It’s simple, nothing fancy, and saves me a few minutes of work every time.

The kiss tools are not really a toolset that is called kiss, but rather a set of commands that are simple in their use. Examples are exiv2 (to manage JPEG EXIF information, including renaming them based on the EXIF timestamp), inotifywait (passive waiting for file modification/writes), sipcalc (calculating IP addresses and subnetwork ranges), socat (network socket “cat” tool), screen (or tmux, to implement virtual sessions), git (okay, not that KISS, but perfect for what it does – versioning stuff) and more. Because these applications just do what they are supposed to, without too many bells and whistles, it makes it easy to “glue” them together to get an automated flow.

Automation saves you from performing repetitive steps manually, so is a real time-saver. And bash is a perfect scripting language for it.

June 05, 2013
Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
mongoDB : latest releases (June 05, 2013, 10:34 UTC)


Just bumped it to portage and fixed an open bug along. This is yet another bugfix release which backports the switch to the Cyrus SASL2 library for sasl authentication (kerberos). Dependencies were adjusted so you no longer need libgsasl on your systems (remember to depclean).


  • config upgrade fails if collection missing “key” field
  • migrate to Cyrus SASL2 library for sasl authentication
  • rollback files missing after rollback


This one is important to note and I strongly encourage you to upgrade asap as it fixes an important security bug (CVE-2013-2132). I’ve almost dropped all other versions from tree anyway…

highlights 2.5.x

  • support GSSAPI (kerberos) authentication
  • support for SSL certificate validation with hostname matching
  • support for delegated and role based authentication

mongodb-2.5.x dev

What’s cooking for the next 2.6 releases ? Let’s take a quick look as of today.

  • background indexing on secondaries (hell yes!)
  • new implementation of external sort
  • add support for building from source with particular C++11 compilers (will fix a gentoo bug reported quite a long time ago)
  • mongod automatically continues in progress index builds following restart

Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: geekie (June 05, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

In the past, when I had to manage my images (pictures) I used GQview (which started back in 2008). But the application doesn’t get many updates, and if an application does not get many updates, it either means it is no longer maintained or that it does its job perfectly. Sadly, for GQview, it is the unmaintained reason (even though the application seems to work pretty well for most tasks). Enter Geeqie, a fork of GQview to keep evolution on the application up to speed.

The Geeqie image viewer is a simple viewer that allows to easily manipulate images (like rotation). I launch it the moment I insert my camera’s SD card into my laptop for image processing. It quickly shows the thumbnails of all images and I start processing them to see which ones are eligible for manipulations later on (or are just perfect – not that that occurs frequently) and which can be deleted immediately. You can also quickly set Exif information (to annotate the image further) and view some basic aspects of the picture (such as histogram information).

Two features however are what is keeping me with this image viewer: finding duplicates, and side-by-side comparison.

With the duplicate feature, geekie can compare images by name, size, date, dimensions, checksum, path and – most interestingly, similarity. If you start working on images, you often create intermediate snapshots or tryouts. Or, when you start taking pictures, you take several ones in a short time-frame. With the “find duplicate” feature, you can search through the images to find all images that had the same base (or are taking quickly after each other) and see them all simultaneously. That allows you to remove those you don’t need anymore and keep the good ones. I also use this feature often when people come with their external hard drive filled with images – none of them having any exif information anymore and not in any way structured – and ask to see if there are any duplicates on it. A simple checksum might reveal the obvious ones, but the similarity search of geeqie goes much, much further.

The side-by-side comparison creates a split view of the application, in which each pane has another image. This feature I use when I have two pictures that are taken closely after another (so very, very similar in nature) and I need to see which one is better. With the side-by-side comparison, I can look at artifacts in the image or the consequences of the different aperture, ISO and shutter speed.

And the moment I start working on images, Gimp and Darktable are just a single click away.

June 04, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

Today the Humble Indie Bundle #8 has just been upgraded with four more games: (links go to YouTube videos)

7 more days to go right now.

Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers

Oil Rush

Intrusion 2

English Country Tune

Arun Raghavan a.k.a. ford_prefect (homepage, bugs)
PulseAudio 4.0 and more (June 04, 2013, 02:45 UTC)

And we’re back … PulseAudio 4.0 is out! There’s both a short and super-detailed changelog in the release notes. For the lazy, this release brings a bunch of Bluetooth stability updates, better low latency handling, performance improvements, and a whole lot more. :)

One interesting thing is that for this release, we kept a parallel next branch open while master was frozen for stabilising and releasing. As a result, we’re already well on our way to 5.0 with 52 commits since 4.0 already merged into master.

And finally, I’m excited to announce PulseAudio is going to be carrying out two great projects this summer, as part of the Google Summer of Code! We are going to have Alexander Couzens (lynxis) working on a rewrite of module-tunnel using libpulse, mentored by Tanu Kaskinen. In addition to this, Damir Jelić (poljar) working on improvements to resampling, mentored by Peter Meerwald.

That’s just some of the things to look forward to in coming months. I’ve got a few more things I’d like to write about, but I’ll save that for another post.

Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: freemind (June 04, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

Anyone who is even remotely busy with innovation will know what mindmaps are. They are a means to visualize information, ideas or tasks in whatever structure you like. By using graphical annotations the information is easier to look through, even when the mindmap becomes very large. In the commercial world, mindmapping software such as XMind and Mindmanager are often used. But these companies should really start looking into Freemind.

The Freemind software is a java-based mind map software, running perfectly on Windows, Linux or other platforms. Installation is a breeze (if you are allowed to on your work, you can just launch it from a USB drive if you want, so no installation hassles whatsoever) and its interface is very intuitive. For all the whistles and bells that the commercial ones provide, I just want to create my mindmaps and export them into a format that others can easily use and view.

At my real-time job, we (have to) use XMind. If someone shares a mindmap (“their mind” map as I often see it – I seem to have a different mind than most others in how I structure things, except for one colleague who imo does not structure things at all) they just share the XMind file and hope that the recipients can read it. Although XMind can export mindmaps just fine, I do like the freemind approach where a simple java applet can show the entire mindmap as interactively as you would navigate through the application itself. This makes it perfect for discussing ideas because you can close and open branches easily.

The export/import capabilities of freemind are also interesting. Before being forced to use XMind, we were using Mindmanager and I could just easily import the mindmaps into freemind. The file format that freemind uses is an XML-based one, so translating those onto other formats is not that difficult if you know some XSLT.

I personally use freemind when I embark on a new project, to structure the approach, centralize all information, keep track of problems (and their solutions), etc. The only thing I am missing is a nice interface for mobile devices though.

June 03, 2013
Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
My application base: (June 03, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

The next few weeks (months even) will be challenging my free time as I’m working on (too many) projects simultaneously (sadly, only a few of those are free software related, most are house renovations). But that shouldn’t stop me from starting a new set of posts, being my application base. In this series, I’ll cover a few applications (or websites) that I either use often or that I should use more. In either case, the application does its job very well so why not give some input on it?

The first on the agenda is the website.

With, you get a web-browser based drawing application for diagrams, flowcharts, UML, BPMN etc. I came across this application while looking for an alternative to Dia, which by itself was supposed to be an alternative to Microsoft Visio (err, no). Don’t get me wrong, Dia is nice, but it lacks evolution and just doesn’t feel easy. on the other hand is evolving constantly, and it is also active on Google Plus where you can follow up on all recent developments and thoughts (I hope I get the G+ link correctly, it’s not that I don’t like numbers, just not in URLs).

I started using while documenting free software IT architectures (such as implementations of BIND, PostgreSQL, etc.) for which I needed some diagrams. Although is an online application (and its underlying engine is not completely free software) you can easily work with it from different locations. It integrates with Google Drive to store the diagrams on if you want – and if you don’t, you can always save the diagrams in their native XML format on your system and open them later again.

The interface is very easy to use, and I recently found out that it now also supports mobile devices, which is perfect for tablets (the mobile device support is recent afaik and still undergoing updates). The site also works well in various browsers (tried IExplorer 10 at work, Firefox and Google Chrome and they all seem to work nicely) – eat that stupid commercial vendors that force me into using IExplorer 8 or Firefox 10 – you know who you are!

A site/service to keep a close eye on. The service itself is free (and doesn’t seem too limited due to it), but also has commercial support if you want through Google Apps and Confluence integration. I don’t have much experience with those yet but that might change in the near future (projects, projects).

June 02, 2013
Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
Roadtrip 3600 (June 02, 2013, 19:03 UTC)

Deuxième roadtrip en Harley : la côte d’Azur et Biarritz.

Un vrai tour de France en un peu moins de deux semaines. 3600 kilomètres de liberté : Paris – Luberon – Gorges du Verdon – Grimaud (30 ans du HOG) – Marseille – Biarritz + les premières photos de vacances avec le GF670W, magique !000059

04760004 04760003

Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)

One of the things I have been meaning to implement on my system is a way to properly “remove” old files from the system. Currently, I do this through frequently listing all files, going through them and deleting those I feel I no longer need (in any case, I can retrieve them back from the backup within 60 days). But this isn’t always easy since it requires me to reopen the files and consider what I want to do with them… again.

Most of the time, when files are created, you generally know how long they are needed on the system. For instance, an attachment you download from an e-mail to view usually has a very short lifespan (you can always re-retrieve it from the e-mail as long as the e-mail itself isn’t removed). Same with output you captured from a shell command, a strace logfile, etc. So I’m wondering if I can’t create a simple method for keeping track of expiration dates on files, similar to the expiration dates supported for z/OS data sets. And to implement this, I am considering to use extended attributes.

The idea is simple: when working with a file, I want to be able to immediately set an expiration date to it:

$ strace -o strace.log ...
$ expdate +7d strace.log

This would set an extended attribute named user.expiration with the value being the number of seconds since epoch (which you can obtain through date +%s if you want) on which the file can be expired (and thus deleted from the system). A system cronjob can then regularly scan the system for files with the extended attribute set and, if the expiration date is beyond the current date, the file can be removed from the system (perhaps first into a specific area where it lingers for an additional while just in case).

It is just an example of course. The idea is that the extended attributes keep information about the file close to the file itself. I’m probably going to have an additional layer on top if it, checking SELinux contexts and automatically identifying expiration dates based on their last modification time. Setting the expiration dates manually after creating the files is prone to be forgotten after a while. And perhaps introduce the flexibility of setting an user.expire_after attribute is well, telling that the file can be removed if it hasn’t been touched (modification time) in at least XX number of days.

June 01, 2013
Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
Hacking java bytecode with dhex (June 01, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

I found myself in a weird situation: a long long time ago, I wrote a java application that I didn’t touch nor ran for a few years. Today, I found it on a backup and wanted to run it again (its a graphical application for generating HTML pages). However, it failed in a particular feature. Not with an exception or stack trace, just functionally. Now, I have the source code at hand, so I look into the code and find the logical error. Below is a snippet of it:

if (myHandler != null) {
  int i = startValue + maxRange;
  for (int j = endValue; j > i; j--) {
    ... (do some logic)

It doesn’t matter what the code is supposed to do, but from what I can remember, I shouldn’t be adding maxRange to the i variable (yet – as I do that later in the code). But instead of setting up the java development environment, emerging the IDE etc. I decided to just edit the class file directly using dhex (a wonderful utility I recently discovered) because doing things the hard way is sometimes fun as well. So I ran javap -c MyClass to get some java bytecode information from the method, which gives me:

   8:   ifnull  116
   11:  iload_2
   12:  iload_3
   13:  iadd
   14:  istore  5
   16:  iload_2
   17:  istore  6
   19:  iload   6
   21:  iload   5
   23:  if_icmpge       106

I know lines 11 and 12 is about pushing the 2nd and 3rd arguments of the function (which are startValue and maxRange) to the stack to add them (line 13). To remove the third argument, I can change this opcode from 1d (iload_3) to 03 (iconst_0). This way, zero is added and the code itself just continues as needed. And for some reason, that seems to be the only mistake I made then because the application now works flawlessly.

Hacking is fun.

May 31, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

Quick summary

Humble Indie Bundle #8 (still available, get yours quickly!) includes seven games, most of them with (FLAC and MP3) soundtrack as dedicated downloads.
With Hotline Miami, one of the bundle’s most exciting games, no soundtrack is included. Well, maybe it is! :-) Friend Jonathan and I wrote a command line tool to extract the original OGG Vorbis music files from the game’s .wad file today. It’s free software licensed under GPL v3 or later and hosted at Github.

Superficial file format analysis

The game consists of a few files only, the biggest file is HotlineMiami_GL.wad. Using a hex viewer like od(1) you see filenames on the first page, already. However, the .wad seemed to be in a proprietary format and we could not figure it out quick enough. (If you find a way to extract all files from the archive, please comment below!)

Using the strings(1) command a list of Music/*.ogg files can be found:

$ strings HotlineMiami_GL.wad | grep -Eo '^.+\.ogg'

So we knew we were looking for OGG Vorbis content. Jonathan had the idea to just scan for any OGG Vorbis content in the file (i.e. guessing the offsets), rather than trying to understand where those Music/*.ogg file offsets where located. The OGG file format is well suited for that. Basically we just had to search for the byte sequence “OggS”, extract a few bytes from the header starting at that location, do some simple math, and write a block of continues bytes to a dedicated file.

Our tool in action

Clone, compile and run:

$ make
cc -std=c99 -Wall -Wextra -pedantic   -c -o extract.o extract.c
cc   extract.o -o extract-hotline-miami-soundtrack

$ ./extract-hotline-miami-soundtrack
File "ANewMorning.ogg" (offset 324769444 to 328796370, size 4026926 bytes) extracted.
File "Crush.ogg" (offset 328796370 to 331873115, size 3076745 bytes) extracted.
File "Crystals.ogg" (offset 331873115 to 338070714, size 6197599 bytes) extracted.
File "Daisuke.ogg" (offset 338070714 to 342209815, size 4139101 bytes) extracted.
File "DeepCover.ogg" (offset 342209815 to 354220376, size 12010561 bytes) extracted.
File "ElectricDreams.ogg" (offset 354220376 to 361621106, size 7400730 bytes) extracted.
File "Flatline.ogg" (offset 361621106 to 364436799, size 2815693 bytes) extracted.
File "HorseSteppin.ogg" (offset 364436799 to 379380866, size 14944067 bytes) extracted.
File "Hotline.ogg" (offset 379380866 to 384817467, size 5436601 bytes) extracted.
File "Hydrogen.ogg" (offset 384817467 to 393673098, size 8855631 bytes) extracted.
File "InnerAnimal.ogg" (offset 393673098 to 401464171, size 7791073 bytes) extracted.
File "ItsSafeNow.ogg" (offset 401464171 to 407138611, size 5674440 bytes) extracted.
File "Knock.ogg" (offset 407138611 to 414801118, size 7662507 bytes) extracted.
File "Miami2.ogg" (offset 414801118 to 420456265, size 5655147 bytes) extracted.
File "Musikk2.ogg" (offset 420456265 to 425787691, size 5331426 bytes) extracted.
File "Paris2.ogg" (offset 425787691 to 433210181, size 7422490 bytes) extracted.
File "Perturbator.ogg" (offset 433210181 to 441536474, size 8326293 bytes) extracted.
File "Release.ogg" (offset 441536474 to 452985194, size 11448720 bytes) extracted.
File "SilverLights.ogg" (offset 452985194 to 462700814, size 9715620 bytes) extracted.
File "Static.ogg" (offset 462700814 to 464811086, size 2110272 bytes) extracted.
File "ToTheTop.ogg" (offset 464811086 to 468529275, size 3718189 bytes) extracted.
File "TurfIntro.ogg" (offset 468529275 to 472214580, size 3685305 bytes) extracted.
File "TurfMain.ogg" (offset 472214580 to 480864247, size 8649667 bytes) extracted.

While not all files seem to contain proper tags, all of them seem perfectly playable. The bitrate seems constant 224 kb/s for all, could be worse. At least to our ears, these files sound like higher quality than this “Hotline Miami Soundtrack (Full)” video on YouTube. But you don’t need that anymore now anyway, right? :-)

Again, the code is up here.

[EDIT]: Someone uploaded track “Daisuke” to The Infinite Jukeboxcheck it out!

[EDIT]: Our extractor inspired Andy to take it a little further and extract all files from the .wad file. Check out his code on GitHub, it’s GPL 3, too.

Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)

Load balancing traffic between servers can sometimes lead to headaches depending on your topology and budget. Here I’ll discuss how to create a self load balanced cluster of web servers distributing HTTP requests between themselves and serving them at the same time. Yes, this means that you don’t need dedicated load balancers !

I will not go into the details on how to configure your kernel for ipvsadm etc since it’s already covered enough on the web but instead focus on the challenges and subtleties of achieving a load balancing based only on the realservers themselves. I expect you reader have a minimal knowledge of the terms and usage of ipvsadm and keepalived.

The setup

Let’s start with a scheme and some principles explaining our topology.

  • 3 web servers / realservers (you can do the same using 2)
  • Local subnet :
  • LVS forwarding method : DR (direct routing)
  • LVS scheduler : WRR (you can choose your own)
  • VIP :
  • Main interface for VIP : bond0


Let’s take a look at what happens as this will explain a lot of why we should configure the servers in a quite special way.

black arrow / serving

  1. the master server (the one who has the VIP) receives a HTTP port connection request
  2. the load balancing scheduler decides he’s the one who’ll serve this request
  3. the local web server handles the request and replies to the client

 blue arrow / direct routing / serving

  1. the master server receives a HTTP port connection request
  2. the load balancing scheduler decides the blue server should handle this request
  3. the HTTP packet is given to the blue server as-this (no modification is made on the packet)
  4. the blue server receives a packet whose destination IP is the VIP but he doesn’t hold the VIP (tricky part)
  5. the blue server’s web server handles the request and replies to the client

IP configuration

Almost all the tricky part lies in what needs to be done in order to solve the point #4 of the blue server example. Since we’re using direct routing, we need to configure all our servers so they accept packets directed to the VIP even if they don’t have it configured on their receiving interface.

The solution is to have the VIP configured on the loopback interface (lo) with a host scope on the keepalived BACKUP servers while it is configured on the main interface (bond0) on the keepalived MASTER server. This is what is usually done when you use pacemaker and ldirectord with IPAddr2 but keepalived does not handle this kind of configuration natively.

We’ll use the notify_master and notify_backup directives of keepalived.conf to handle this :

notify_master /etc/keepalived/
notify_backup /etc/keepalived/

We’ll discuss a few problems to fix before detailing those scripts.

The ARP problem

Now some of you wise readers will wonder about the ARP cache corruptions which will happen when multiple hosts claim to own the same IP address on the same subnet. Let’s fix this problem now then as the kernel does have a way of handling this properly. Basically we’ll ask the kernel not to advert the server’s MAC address for the VIP on certain conditions using the arp_ignore and arp_announce sysctl.

Add those lines on the sysctl.conf of your servers :

net.ipv4.conf.all.arp_ignore = 3
net.ipv4.conf.all.arp_announce = 2

Read more about those parameters for the detailed explanation of those values.

The IPVS synchronization problem

This is another problem arising from the fact that the load balancers are also acting as realservers. When keepalived starts, it spawns a synchronization process on the master and backup nodes so you load balancers’ IPVS tables stay in sync. This is needed for a fully transparent fail over as it keeps track of the sessions’ persistence so the clients don’t get rebalanced when the master goes down. Well, this is the limitation of our setup : clients’ HTTP sessions served by the master node will fail if he goes down. But note that the same will happen to the other nodes because we have to get rid of this synchronization to get our setup working. The reason is simple : IPVS table sync conflicts with the actual acceptance of the packet by our loopback set up VIP. Both mechanisms can’t coexist together, so you’d better use this setup for stateless (API?) HTTP servers or if you’re okay with this eventuality.

Final configuration


ip addr del dev lo
ipvsadm --restore < /tmp/keepalived.ipvs
  1. drop the VIP from the loopback interface (it will be setup by keepalived on the master interface)
  2. restore the IPVS configuration


ip addr add scope host dev lo
ipvsadm --save > /tmp/keepalived.ipvs
ipvsadm --clear
  1. add the VIP to the loopback interface, scope host
  2. keep a copy of the IPVS configuration, if we get to be master, we’ll need it back
  3. drop the IPVS local config so it doesn’t conflict with our own web serving


Even if it offers some serious benefits, remember the main limitation of this setup : if the master fails, all sessions of your web servers will be lost. So use it mostly for stateless stuff or if you’re okay with this. My setup and explanations may have some glitches, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong somewhere.

Sven Vermeulen a.k.a. swift (homepage, bugs)
A SELinux policy for incron: finishing up (May 31, 2013, 01:50 UTC)

After 9 posts, it’s time to wrap things up. You can review the final results online (incron.te, incron.if and incron.fc) and adapt to your own needs if you want. But we should also review what we have accomplished so far…

We built the start of an entire policy for a daemon (the inotify cron daemon) for two main types: the daemon itself, and its management application incrontab. We defined new types and contexts, we used attributes, declared a boolean and worked with interfaces. That’s a lot to digest, and yet it is only a part of the various capabilities that SELinux offers.

The policy isn’t complete though. We defined a type called incron_initrc_exec_t but don’t really use it further. In practice, we would need to define an additional interface (probably named incron_admin) that allows users and roles to manage incron without needing to grant this user/role sysadm_r privileges. I leave that up to you as an exercise for now, but I’ll post more about admin interfaces and how to work with them on a system in the near future.

We also made a few assumptions and decisions while building the policy that might not be how you yourself would want to build the policy. SELinux is a MAC system, but the policy language is very flexible. You can use an entirely different approach in policies if you want. For instance, incron supports launching the incrond as a command-line, foreground process. This could help users run incrond under their privileges for their own files – we did not consider this case in our design. Although most policies try to capture all use cases of an application, there will be cases when a policy developer did either not consider the use case or found that it infringed with his own principles on policy development (and allowed activities on a system).

In Gentoo Hardened, I try to write down the principles and policies that we follow in a Gentoo Hardened SELinux Development Policy document. As decisions need to be taken, such a document might help find common consensus on how to approach SELinux policy development further, and I seriously recommend that you consider writing up a similar document yourself, especially if you are going to develop policies for a larger organization.

One of the deficiencies of the current policy is that it worked with the unmodified incron version. If we would patch incron so that it could change context on executing the incrontab files of a user, then we can start making use of the default context approach (and perhaps even enhance with PAM services). In that case, user incrontabs could be launched entirely from the users’ context (like user_u:user_r:user_t) instead of the system_u:system_r:incrond_t or transitioned system_u:system_r:whatever_t contexts. Having user provided commands executed in the system context is a security risk, so in our policy we would not grant the incron_role to untrusted users – probably only to sysadm_t and even then he probably would be better with using the /etc/incron.d anyway.

The downside of patching code however is that this is only viable if upstream wants to support this – otherwise we would need to maintain the patches ourselves for a long time, creating delays in releases (upstream released a new version and we still need to reapply and refactor patches) and removing precious (human) resources from other, Gentoo Hardened/SELinux specific tasks (like bugfixing and documentation writing ;-)

Still, the policy returned a fairly good view on how policies can be developed. And as I said, there are still other things that weren’t discussed, such as:

  • Build-time decisions, which can change policies based on build options of the policy. In the reference policy, this is most often used for distribution-specific choices: if Gentoo would use one approach and Redhat another, then the differences would be separated through ifdef(`distro_gentoo',`...') and ifdef(`distro_redhat',`...') calls.
  • Some calls might only be needed if another policy is loaded. I think all calls made currently are part of base modules, so can be expected to be available at all times. But if we would need something like icecast_signal(incrond_t), then we would need to put that call inside a optional_policy(`...') statement. Otherwise, our policy would fail to load because the icecast SELinux policy isn’t loaded.
  • We could even introduce specific statements like dontaudit or neverallow to fine-tune the policy. Note though that neverallow is a compile-time statement: it is not a way to negate allow rules: if there is one allow that would violate the neverallow, then that module just refuses to build.

Furthermore, if you want to create policies to be pushed upstream to the reference policy project, you will need to look into the StyleGuide and InterfaceNaming documents as those define the order that rules should be placed and the name syntax for interfaces. I have been contributing a lot to the reference policy and I still miss a few of these, so for me they are not that obvious. But using a common style is important as it allows for simple patching, code comparison and even allows us to easily read through complex policies.

If you don’t want to contribute it, but still use it on your Gentoo system, you can use a simple ebuild to install the files. Create an ebuild (for instance selinux-incron), put the three files in the files/ subdirectory, and use the following ebuild code:

# Copyright 1999-2013 Gentoo Foundation
# Distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License v2
# $Header$

POLICY_FILES="incron.te incron.fc incron.if"

inherit selinux-policy-2

DESCRIPTION="SELinux policy for incron, the inotify cron daemon"

KEYWORDS="~amd64 ~x86"

When installed, the interface files will be published as well and can then be used by other modules (something we couldn’t do in the past few posts) or by the selocal tool.

May 30, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

Humble Indie Bundle 8 includes these games and (most of) their soundtracks: (links go to YouTube videos)

  1. Hotline Miami
  2. Proteus
  3. Little Inferno
  4. Awesomenauts
  5. Capsized
  6. Thomas Was Alone
  7. Dear Esther

Hotline Miami


Little Inferno



Thomas Was Alone



Dear Esther

May 29, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

Originial title (and link): GNµ 11 – LinuxTag Berlin 2013 – Teil 2: Gentoo, Fedora, Mageia

English subtitles available, audio is German.

Patrick Lauer a.k.a. bonsaikitten (homepage, bugs)
Having fun with cross-compiling (May 29, 2013, 09:48 UTC)

$ file build/root-filesystem-*/bin/mksh
build/root-filesystem-armv4tl/bin/mksh:       ELF 32-bit LSB executable, ARM, EABI4 version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-armv6l/bin/mksh:        ELF 32-bit LSB executable, ARM, EABI4 version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-i486/bin/mksh:          ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-i586/bin/mksh:          ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-i686/bin/mksh:          ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-mips/bin/mksh:          ELF 32-bit MSB executable, MIPS, MIPS-I version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-mips64/bin/mksh:        ELF 64-bit MSB executable, MIPS, MIPS64 version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-mipsel/bin/mksh:        ELF 32-bit LSB executable, MIPS, MIPS-I version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-powerpc-440fp/bin/mksh: ELF 32-bit MSB executable, PowerPC or cisco 4500, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-powerpc/bin/mksh:       ELF 32-bit MSB executable, PowerPC or cisco 4500, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-sh4/bin/mksh:           ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Renesas SH, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-sparc/bin/mksh:         ELF 32-bit MSB executable, SPARC version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
build/root-filesystem-x86_64/bin/mksh:        ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
... that is the result of an afternoon of hacking on Aboriginal Linux to include mksh support.
Why? eh ... why not. And for such a crude hack it works surprisingly well - only two of the arm crosscompile targets failed.

May 27, 2013
Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)

While I don’t want to say that all privacy advocates are the bad kind of crybabies that I described on my previous post there are certainly a lot I would call hypocrite when it gets to things like the loyalty schemes I already wrote about.

So as I said on that post, the main complain about loyalty scheme involve possible involvement with bad government (in which case we have a completely different problem), and basically have to do with hypothetical scenarios of a dystopian future. So what they are afraid of is not the proper use of the tool that is loyalty schemes, but of their abuse.

On the other hand, the same kind of persons advocate for tools like Tor, Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve or FreedomBox. These tools are supposed to help people fight repressive governments among others, but there are obvious drawbacks. Pirates use the same technologies. And so do cybercriminals (and other kind of criminals too).

Where I see a difference is that while even the Irish Times struggled to find evidence of the privacy invasion, or governmental abuse of loyalty schemes (as you probably noticed they had to resort complaining about a pregnant teenager who was found out through target advertising), it’s extremely easy to find evidence of the cyber organized crime relying on tools like Liberty Reserve. Using the trump card of paedophiles would probably be a bad idea, but I’d bet my life on many of them doing so.

Yes of course there are plenty of honest possible uses you could have for these technologies, but I’d also think that if you start with the assumption that your government is not completely corrupted or abusive (which, I know, could be considered a very fantastic assumption), and that you don’t just want to ignore anti-piracy laws because you don’t like them (while I still agree that many of those laws are completely idiotic, I have explained my standing already), then the remaining positive uses are marginal, compared to the criminal activities that they enable.

Am I arguing against Tor and FreedomBox? Not really. But I am arguing against things like MegaUpload, Liberty Reserve and Bitcoin — and I would say that most people who are defending Kim Dotcom and the likes of him are not my peers. I would push them together with the religious people I’m acquainted with, which is to say, I keep them at arm’s length.

Michał Górny a.k.a. mgorny (homepage, bugs)
The pointless art of subslots (May 27, 2013, 18:00 UTC)

The sub-slots feature of EAPI 5 was announced as if it was the ultimate solution to the problem of SONAME changes on library upgrades. However, the longer I see it, the more I believe that it is not really a good solution, and that it misses the actual issue targeting somewhere nearby.

The issue is likely well-known by most of the Gentoo users. Every time a library changes its ABI, it changes the SONAME (the filename programs link to) to avoid breaking existing programs. When the package is upgraded, the new version is installed under the new name, and the old one is removed. As a direct result, all applications linking to the old version become broken and need to be rebuilt.

The classic way of handling this is to run the revdep-rebuild tool. It takes a while to scan the system with it but it supposedly finds all broken executables and initiates a rebuild of them. Of course, the system is in broken state until all relevant packages are rebuilt, and sometimes they just fail to build…

As you can guess, this is far from being perfect. That’s why people tried to find a better solution, and a few solutions were actually implemented. I’d like to describe them in a quasi-chronological order.

Using slots with slot-operator deps

A perfect solution that has been long advocated by Exherbo developers. I’m not aware, though, if they ever used it themselves. I didn’t see an exact explanation of how they expect it to be done, therefore I am mostly explaining here how I think it could be done.

The idea is that every SONAME-version of the library uses a different slot. That is, every time the SONAME changes, you change slot as well. Using different slots for each SONAME means that the incompatible versions of the library can be installed in parallel until all applications are rebuilt. This has a few requirements though.

First of all, only the newest slot may install development files such as headers. This requires that every version bump is accompanied by a revision bump of the older version, dropping the development files. On each upgrade, user builds not only the new version but also rebuilds the older version.

To handle the upgrades without a small moment of breakage (and risk of longer breakage if a build fails), the package manager would need to build both packages before starting the merge process. I doubt that enforcing this is really possible right now.

Secondly, the ebuilds installing development files would need to block the older versions (in other slots) doing the same while keeping the versions lacking development files non-blocked.

To explain this better: let’s assume that we have: foo-1, foo-1-r1, foo-2, foo-2-r1, foo-3, … The -r0 versions have development files and -r1 versions don’t have them (they are just the upgrade compatibility ebuilds). Now, the blocker in foo-3 would need to block all the older -r0 versions and not -r1 ones.

In a real-life situation, there will likely be differing revision numbers as well. And I don’t know any way of handling this other than explicitly listing all blocked versions, one by one.

And in the end, reverse dependencies need to use a special slot-dependency operator which binds the dependency to the slot that was used during the package build. But it’s least of the problems, I believe.

The solution of preserved-libs

An another attempt of solving the issue was developed in portage-2.2. Although it is available in mainstream portage nowadays, it is still disabled by default due to a few bugs and the fact that some people believe it’s a hack.

The idea of preserved-libs is for the package manager to actually trace library linkage within installed programs and automatically preserve old versions of libraries as long as the relevant programs are not rebuilt to use the newer versions. As complex and as simple as that.

Preserving libraries this way doesn’t require any specific action from the package maintainer. Portage detects itself that a library with a new SONAME has been installed during an upgrade and preserves the old one. It also keeps track of all the consumers that link against the old version and remove it after the last one is rebuilt.

Of course it is not perfect. It can’t handle all kinds of incompatibilities, it won’t work outside the traditional executable-library linkage and the SONAME tracking is not perfect. But I believe this is the best solution we can have.

The nothing-new in sub-slots

Lately, a few developers who believed that preserved-libs is not supposed to go mainstream decided to implemented a different solution. After some discussion, the feature was quickly put into EAPI 5 and then started to be tested on the tree.

The problem is that it’s somehow a solution to the wrong problem. As far as I am concerned, the major issue with SONAMEs changing is that the system is broken between package rebuilds. Tangentially to this, sub-slots mostly address having to call tools like revdep-rebuild which is not a solution to the problem.

Basically all sub-slots do is forcing rebuild on a given set of reverse dependencies when the sub-slot of package changes. The rebuilds are pulled into the same dependency graph as the upgrade to be forced immediately after it.

I can agree that sub-slots have their uses. For example, xorg-server modules definitely benefit from them, and so may other cases which weren’t handled by preserved-libs already. For other cases the sub-slots are either not good enough (virtuals), redundant (regular libraries) or even broken (packages installing multiple libraries).

Aside from the xorg module benefit, I don’t see much use of sub-slots. On systems not having preserved-libs enabled, they may eventually remove the need for revdep-rebuild. On systems having preserved-libs, it can only result in needless or needlessly hurried rebuilds.

A short summary

So, we’re having two live solutions right now: one in preserved-libs, and other in sub-slots. The former addresses the issue of system being broken mid-upgrade, the latter removes (partially?) the need for calling an external tool. The former allows you to rebuild the affected packages at any convenient time, the latter forces you to do it right away.

What really worries me is that people are so opposed to preserved-libs, and at the same time accept a partial, mis-designed work called sub-slots that easily. Then advertise it without thoroughly explaining how and when to use it, and what are the problems with it. And, for example, unnecessarily rebuilding webkit-gtk regularly would be an important issue.

A particular result of that was visible when sub-slot support was introduced into app-text/poppler. That package installs a core library with quite an unstable ABI and a set of interface libraries with stable ABIs. External packages usually link with the latter.

When sub-slot support was enabled on poppler, all reverse dependencies were desired to use sub-slot matching. As a result, every poppler upgrade required needlessly rebuilding half of the system. The rev-deps were reverted but this only made people try to extend the sub-slots into a more complex and even less maintainable idea.

Is this really what we all want? Does it benefit us? And why the heck people reinvented library preservation in eclasses?!

May 26, 2013
Andreas K. Hüttel a.k.a. dilfridge (homepage, bugs)

Gnupg is an excellent tool for encryption and signing, however, while breaking encryption or forging signatures of large key size is likely somewhere between painful and impossible even for agencies on significant budget, all this is always only as safe as your private key. Let's insert the obvious semi-relevant xkcd reference here, but someone hacking your computer, installing a keylogger and grabbing the key file is more likely. While there are no preventive measures that work for all conceivable attacks, you can at least make things as hard as possible. Be smart, use a smartcard. You'll get a number of additional bonuses on the way. I'm writing up here my personal experiences, as a kind of guide. Also, I am picking a compromise between ultra-security and convenience. Please do not complain if you find guides on the web on how to do things "better".

The smart cards

Obviously, you will need one or more OpenPGP-compatible smart cards and a reader device. I ordered my cards from kernel concepts since that shop is referred in the GnuPG smartcard howto. These are the cards developed by g10code, which is Werner Koch's company (he is the principal author of GnuPG). The website says "2048bit RSA capable", the text printed on the card says "3072bit RSA capable", but at least the currently sold cards support 4096bit RSA keys just fine. (You will need at least app-crypt/gnupg-2.0.19-r2 for encryption keys bigger than 3072bit, see this link and this portage commit.)

The readers

While the GnuPG smartcard howto provides a list of supported reader devices, that list (and indeed the whole document) is a bit stale. The best source of information that I found was the page on the Debian Wiki; Yutaka Niibe, who edits that page regularly, is also one of the code contributors to the smartcard part of GnuPG. In general there are two types of readers, those with a stand-alone pinpad and those without. The extra pinpad takes care that for normal operations like signing and encryption the pin for unlocking the keys is never entering the computer itself- so without tampering with the reader hardware it is impossible pretty hard to sniff it. I bought a SCM SPG532 reader, one of the devices supported ever first by GnuPG, however it's not produced anymore and you may have to resort to newer models soon.

Drivers and software

Now, you'll want to activate the USE flag "smartcard" and maybe "pkcs11", and rebuild app-crypt/gnupg. Afterwards, you may want to log out and back in again, since you may need the gpg-agent from the new emerge.
Several different standards for card reader access exist. One particular is the USB standard for integrated circuit card interface devices, short CCID; the driver for that one is directly built into GnuPG, and the SCM SPG532 is such a device. Another set of drivers is provided by sys-apps/pcsc-lite; that will be used by GnuPG if the built-in stuff fails, but requires a daemon to be running (pcscd, just add it to the default runlevel and start it). The page on the Debian Wiki also lists the required drivers.
These drivers do not need much (or any) configuration, but should work in principle out of the box. Testing is easy, plug in the reader, insert a card, and issue the command
gpg --card-status
If it works, you should see a message about (among other things) manufacturer and serial number of your card. Otherwise, you'll just get an uninformative error. The first thing to check is then (especially for CCID) if the device permissions are OK; just repeat above test as root. If you can now see your card, you know you have permission trouble.
Fiddling with the device file permissions was a serious pain, since all online docs are hopelessly outdated. Please forget about the files linked in the GnuPG smartcard howto. (One cannot be found anymore, the other does not work alone and tries to do things in unnecessarily complicated ways.) At some point in time I just gave up on things like user groups and told udev to hardwire the device to my user account: I created the following file into /etc/udev/rules.d/gnupg-ccid.rules:
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ENV{PRODUCT}=="4e6/e003/*", OWNER:="huettel", MODE:="600"
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ENV{PRODUCT}=="4e6/5115/*", OWNER:="huettel", MODE:="600"
With similar settings it should in principle be possible to solve all the permission problems. (You may want to change the USB id's and the OWNER for your needs.) Then, a quick
udevadm control --reload-rules
followed by unplugging and re-plugging the reader. Now you should be able to check the contents of your card.
If you still have problems, check the following: for accessing the cards, GnuPG starts a background process, the smart card daemon (scdaemon). scdaemon tends to hang every now and then after removing a card. Just kill it (you need SIGKILL)
killall -9 scdaemon
and try again accessing the card afterwards; the daemon is re-started by gnupg. A lot of improvements in smart card handling are scheduled for gnupg-2.0.20; I hope this will be fixed as well.
Here's how a successful card status command looks like on a blank card:
huettel@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --card-status
Application ID ...: D276000124010200000500000AFA0000
Version ..........: 2.0
Manufacturer .....: ZeitControl
Serial number ....: 00000AFA
Name of cardholder: [not set]
Language prefs ...: de
Sex ..............: unspecified
URL of public key : [not set]
Login data .......: [not set]
Signature PIN ....: forced
Key attributes ...: 2048R 2048R 2048R
Max. PIN lengths .: 32 32 32
PIN retry counter : 3 0 3
Signature counter : 0
Signature key ....: [none]
Encryption key....: [none]
Authentication key: [none]
General key info..: [none]
huettel@pinacolada ~ $

That's it for now, part 2 will be about setting up the basic card data and gnupg functions, then we'll eventually proceed to ssh and pam...

Edit: You can find part 2 here.

This is part 2 of a tutorial on OpenPGP smartcard use with Gentoo. Part 1 can be found in an earlier blog post. This time, we assume that you already have a smart card and a functioning reader, and continue setting up the card. Then we'll make everything ready for use with GnuPG by setting up a key pair. As already stated, I am picking a compromise between ultra-security and convenience. Please do not complain if you find guides on the web on how to do things "better". All information here is provided as a best effort, however I urge you to read up on your own. Even if you follow this guide to the last letter- if things break, it is your own responsibility.

Setting the AdminPIN and the PIN

OK, let's start. We insert a blank card into the card reader. The card should come with some paper documentation, stating the initial values of the PIN and the AdminPIN- these we will need in a moment. Now, we want to edit the card properties. We can do this with the command "gpg --card-edit".
jones@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --card-edit 

Application ID ...: D276000124010200000500000AFA0000
Version ..........: 2.0
Manufacturer .....: ZeitControl
Serial number ....: 00000AFA
Name of cardholder: [not set]
Language prefs ...: de
Sex ..............: unspecified
URL of public key : [not set]
Login data .......: [not set]
Signature PIN ....: forced
Key attributes ...: 2048R 2048R 2048R
Max. PIN lengths .: 32 32 32
PIN retry counter : 3 0 3
Signature counter : 0
Signature key ....: [none]
Encryption key....: [none]
Authentication key: [none]
General key info..: [none]

gpg/card> help
quit       quit this menu
admin      show admin commands
help       show this help
list       list all available data
fetch      fetch the key specified in the card URL
passwd     menu to change or unblock the PIN
verify     verify the PIN and list all data
unblock    unblock the PIN using a Reset Code
This menu is not really that helpful yet. However, a lot more commands are hidden below the "admin" keyword:
gpg/card> admin
Admin commands are allowed

gpg/card> help
quit       quit this menu
admin      show admin commands
help       show this help
list       list all available data
name       change card holder's name
url        change URL to retrieve key
fetch      fetch the key specified in the card URL
login      change the login name
lang       change the language preferences
sex        change card holder's sex
cafpr      change a CA fingerprint
forcesig   toggle the signature force PIN flag
generate   generate new keys
passwd     menu to change or unblock the PIN
verify     verify the PIN and list all data
unblock    unblock the PIN using a Reset Code
First of all we change the AdminPIN and the PIN from the manufacturer defaults to some nice random-looking values that only we know.
gpg/card> passwd
gpg: OpenPGP card no. D276000124010200000500000AFA0000 detected

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? 3
At this point a window from gpg-agent pops up (same as when asking for a passphrase), requests the old AdminPIN and twice the new AdminPIN. Make sure you remember the new AdminPIN or write it down somewhere safe. The AdminPIN allows to change the card parameters (from name of cardholder to stored keys and PIN) and can be used to reset the PIN if you have forgotten it or mistyped it three times. However, if you mistype the AdminPIN three times, your card locks up completely and is basically trash. Note that changing the PINs cannot be done via a reader keypad yet.

PIN changed.

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? 1
PIN changed.

1 - change PIN
2 - unblock PIN
3 - change Admin PIN
4 - set the Reset Code
Q - quit

Your selection? q


Setting the cardholder data

Now, let's enter the cardholder data. With the first change you will be prompted for the AdminPIN.
gpg/card> nameCardholder's surname: Jones
Cardholder's given name: Henry W.

gpg/card> lang
Language preferences: en

gpg/card> sex
Sex ((M)ale, (F)emale or space): M

gpg/card> quit
jones@pinacolada ~ $
What are the remaining commands good for? Well...
  • "url" sets an URL where to retrieve the public keys. We will use that later on. 
  • "login" sets a log-in data field. Here you could store your username for e.g. network authentication. 
  • "forcesig" toggles a flag inside the card that has been introduced because of German legislative requirements for some smartcard applications. Normally, once you have inserted the card into the reader, you enter the PIN once for unlocking e.g. the encryption or the signature key, and then the key remains open for the moment. If the signature PIN is "forced", you will have to reenter the PIN again each time you want to make a signature.
  • "generate" generates a RSA key pair directly on the card. This is the "high security option"; the generated private key will and can never leave the card, which enhances its security but also makes backups of the key impossible.
Which leaves the "reset code" to be explained. Imagine you are issued a card by e.g. your employer. The card will be preset with your name, login, and keys, and you should not be able to change that. So, you will not know the AdminPIN. If you enter your user PIN wrong three times in a row, it is invalidated. Now the reset code instead of the AdminPIN can also be used to reset the PIN. Basically this is the same functionality as the PUK for mobile phone SIM cards. The definitive source on all this functionality is the OpenPGP Card 2.0 specification.

Generating GnuPG keypairs

As mentioned in the beginning, there are many different ways to proceed. A keypair can be generated on the card or in the computer. Different types of keys or parts of keys can be uploaded to the card. I'm now presenting the following use case:
  • We generate the GnuPG keys not on the card but on the trusted computer, and then copy them to the card. This makes backups of the keys possible, and you can also upload them later to a second card should the first one accidentally drop into the document shredder.
  • We upload the whole key, not just subkeys as described in some howtos. This makes it possible to access the entire GnuPG functionality from the card- decrypting, signing, and also especially certifying (i.e. signing keys). Of course this means that your primary key is on the card, too.
In general, before you generate a GnuPG keyset you may want to read up on GnuPG best practices; see e.g. this mailing list post of our Gentoo Infra team lead robbat2 for information and further pointers.
Enough talk. We use GPG to generate a 4096bit RSA primary key for signing and certifying with an 4096bit RSA encryption subkey. Note that for all the following steps you need in Gentoo at least app-crypt/gnupg-2.0.19-r2; I strongly recommend app-crypt/gnupg-2.0.20 since there smartcard handling has improved a lot.
jones@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --gen-key
gpg (GnuPG) 2.0.19; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Please select what kind of key you want:
   (1) RSA and RSA (default)
   (2) DSA and Elgamal
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
Your selection? 1
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 4096
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0) 3y

Key expires at Tue May 24 23:26:58 2016 CEST
Is this correct? (y/N) y

GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key.

Real name: Henry W. Jones Jr.
Email address:
You selected this USER-ID:
    "Henry W. Jones Jr. <>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? o
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.

We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform

some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
gpg: /home/jones/.gnupg/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created

gpg: key 14ED37BC marked as ultimately trusted
public and secret key created and signed.

gpg: checking the trustdb
gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, PGP trust model
gpg: depth: 0  valid:   1  signed:   0  trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 1u
gpg: next trustdb check due at 2016-05-24
pub   4096R/14ED37BC 2013-05-25 [expires: 2016-05-24]
      Key fingerprint = 3C94 3AC9 713D E3E3 B3C6  BF73 3898 61DB 14ED 37BC
uid                  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
sub   4096R/345D5ECB 2013-05-25 [expires: 2016-05-24]

jones@pinacolada ~ $
Got it. Now we do something unusual- in addition to the sign/certify (SC) main key and the encryption (E) subkey, we add a second subkey, an authentication (A) key (for later on). We edit the just generated key with the --expert option:
jones@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --expert --edit 14ED37BC
gpg (GnuPG) 2.0.19; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: SC  
                     trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: E   
[ultimate] (1). Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> addkey
Please select what kind of key you want:

   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
   (5) Elgamal (encrypt only)
   (6) RSA (encrypt only)
   (7) DSA (set your own capabilities)
   (8) RSA (set your own capabilities)
Your selection? 8
We select to add an RSA key where we set the capabilities ourselves. Now we disable Sign and Encrypt, and enable Authenticate instead.
Possible actions for a RSA key: Sign Encrypt Authenticate
Current allowed actions: Sign Encrypt

   (S) Toggle the sign capability
   (E) Toggle the encrypt capability
   (A) Toggle the authenticate capability
   (Q) Finished

Your selection? s

Possible actions for a RSA key: Sign Encrypt Authenticate
Current allowed actions: Encrypt

   (S) Toggle the sign capability
   (E) Toggle the encrypt capability
   (A) Toggle the authenticate capability
   (Q) Finished

Your selection? e

Possible actions for a RSA key: Sign Encrypt Authenticate
Current allowed actions:

   (S) Toggle the sign capability
   (E) Toggle the encrypt capability
   (A) Toggle the authenticate capability
   (Q) Finished

Your selection? a

Possible actions for a RSA key: Sign Encrypt Authenticate
Current allowed actions: Authenticate

   (S) Toggle the sign capability
   (E) Toggle the encrypt capability
   (A) Toggle the authenticate capability
   (Q) Finished

Your selection? q
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 4096
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0) 3y
Key expires at Tue May 24 23:39:55 2016 CEST
Is this correct? (y/N) y
Really create? (y/N) y
We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.

pub  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: SC  
                     trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: E   
sub  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: A   
[ultimate] (1). Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> save
jones@pinacolada ~ $
This additional key cannot be used directly by GnuPG, but it is stored in the keyring and will come in handy later on.

Copying the keys to the smartcard

Now we copy the secret keys to the smartcard.
jones@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --edit 14ED37BC
gpg (GnuPG) 2.0.19; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: SC  
                     trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: E   
sub  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24  usage: A   
[ultimate] (1). Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
With "toggle" we switch from public key to secret key view.
gpg> toggle

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
ssb  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
We select the authentication key and move it to the card (we need the AdminPIN for that):
gpg> key 2

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
ssb* 4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> keytocard
Signature key ....: [none]
Encryption key....: [none]
Authentication key: [none]

Please select where to store the key:
   (3) Authentication key
Your selection? 3

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
ssb* 4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
Then, we select the encryption key and deselect the authentication key; same procedure follows.
gpg> key 1

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb* 4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
ssb* 4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> key 2

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb* 4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
ssb  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> keytocard
Signature key ....: [none]
Encryption key....: [none]
Authentication key: 8474 2310 057F 1D64 056F  5903 F15B 3DEE 808D 3DB3

Please select where to store the key:
   (2) Encryption key
Your selection? 2

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb* 4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
ssb  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
Finally we deselect the encryption key, so no subkey is selected anymore, and move the primary (signature/certification) key.
gpg> key 1

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
ssb  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>

gpg> keytocard
Really move the primary key? (y/N) y
Signature key ....: [none]
Encryption key....: 2050 EC35 2F6C 3EB0 223C  C551 279A 16D7 345D 5ECB
Authentication key: 8474 2310 057F 1D64 056F  5903 F15B 3DEE 808D 3DB3

Please select where to store the key:
   (1) Signature key
   (3) Authentication key
Your selection? 1

sec  4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
ssb  4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
ssb  4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: never     
                     card-no: 0005 00000AFA
(1)  Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
Now we leave GnuPG, and it's important that we leave without saving. Otherwise, the secret key would be deleted on-disk and only remain on the card. (Of course, this may also be desired.)
gpg> quit
Save changes? (y/N) n
Quit without saving? (y/N) y
jones@pinacolada ~ $
Now, the card is basically ready for use. Let's have a look at its contents once more:
jones@pinacolada ~ $ gpg --card-status
Application ID ...: D276000124010200000500000AFA0000
Version ..........: 2.0
Manufacturer .....: ZeitControl
Serial number ....: 00000AFA
Name of cardholder: Henry W. Jones
Language prefs ...: en
Sex ..............: male
URL of public key : [not set]
Login data .......: [not set]
Signature PIN ....: forced
Key attributes ...: 4096R 4096R 4096R
Max. PIN lengths .: 32 32 32
PIN retry counter : 3 0 3
Signature counter : 0
Signature key ....: 3C94 3AC9 713D E3E3 B3C6  BF73 3898 61DB 14ED 37BC
      created ....: 2013-05-25 21:30:56
Encryption key....: 2050 EC35 2F6C 3EB0 223C  C551 279A 16D7 345D 5ECB
      created ....: 2013-05-25 21:30:56
Authentication key: 8474 2310 057F 1D64 056F  5903 F15B 3DEE 808D 3DB3
      created ....: 2013-05-25 21:39:35
General key info..: pub  4096R/14ED37BC 2013-05-25 Henry W. Jones Jr. <>
sec   4096R/14ED37BC  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb   4096R/345D5ECB  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
ssb   4096R/808D3DB3  created: 2013-05-25  expires: 2016-05-24
jones@pinacolada ~ $
We'll discuss how to exactly use the card next time (but that's not really hard to figure out either :). Cheers!

May 25, 2013
Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)
You call it privacy invasion, I don't. (May 25, 2013, 22:51 UTC)

So it looks like the paranoid came to my last post about loyalty cards complaining about the invasion of privacy that these cards come with. Maybe they expected that the myth of the Free Software developer who’s against all big corporation, who wants to be off the grid, and all that kind of stuff that comes out when you think of Stallman. Well, too bad as I’m not like that, while still considering myself a left-winger, but a realist one that cannot see how you can get workers happy by strangling the companies (the alternative to which is not, contrarily to what most people seem to think, just accepting whatever the heck they want).

But first an important disclaimer. What I’m writing here is my personal opinion and in no way that of my employer. Even if my current employer could be considered involved in what I’m going to write, this is an opinion I maintained for years — lu_zero can confirm it.

So, we’ve been told about the evil big brother of loyalty card since I can remember, when I was still a little boy. They can track what you buy, they can profile you, thus they will do bad things to you. But honestly I don’t see that like it has happened at all. Yes, they can track what you buy, they might even profile you, but about the evil things they do to you, I still have not heard of anything — and before you start with the Government (capital and evil G), if you don’t trust your government, a loyalty card programme is the last thing you should be worried in.

Let’s have a look first at the situation presented by the Irish Times article which I referred to in my first post on the topic. At least, they have been close to reality enough, so instead of going the paranoia of the Big Brother, they simply noted that marketeers will know about your life, although they do portray it as only negative.

Before long, he had come up with a list of 25 products which, if bought in certain amounts and in a certain sequence, allowed him to tell if a shopper was pregnant and when her due date was.

In his book, Duhigg tells the story of a man who goes into a branch of Target near Minneapolis. He is not happy as he wants to know why the retailer has suddenly started to send his high school-going daughter coupons for baby clothes and cribs. He asks the manager if the shop is trying to encourage very young girls, such as his daughter, to get pregnant.

The manager is bemused but promises to look into it, which he does. He finds that this girl had indeed been targeted with all manner of promos for baby products so he calls the father several days later to convey his apologies and his confusion.

That’s when the man tells him that when he raised the issue with his daughter, she told him she was pregnant. The retailer took a lot of flak when the details of its data mining emerged but the controversy blew over.

So first I would say I find it utterly ludicrous that sending coupons for “baby clothes and cribs” would “encourage very young girls […] to get pregnant”. I would also suggest that if the girl is so young that it’s scandalous that she could get pregnant, then it might indeed be too soon for her to have a loyalty card. In Italy for instance you have to be 18 before you can get a loyalty card for any program — why? Because you expect that a minor still does not have an absolutely clear idea of what his or her choices are going to mold their future as.

Then let’s see what the problem is about privacy here… if the coupons are sent by mail, one would expect that they are seen only by the addressee — if you have no expectation of privacy on personal mail, it’s hard to blame it strongly on the loyalty programmes. In this case, if you would count the profiling as a violation of privacy of the girl, then you would expect that her father looking at the coupons would be a bigger invasion still. That would be like reading a diary. If you argue that the father has a right to know as she’s a minor, I would answer that then she shouldn’t have the card to begin with.

Then there is the (anonymous, goes without saying) comment on my post, where they try to paint loyalty schemes in an even grimmer light, first by stating that data is sold to third party companies at every turn… well, turns out that’s illegal in most of Europe if you don’t provide a way for the customer not to have his data sold. And turns out that’s one of the few things I do take care of, but simply because I don’t want junk mail from a bunch of companies I don’t really care about. So using the “they’ll sell your detail” scare, to me, sounds like the usual bull.

Then it goes on to say that “Regularly purchasing alcohol and buying in the wrong neighbourhoods will certainly decrease your score to get loans.” — well, so what? The scores are statistical analysis of the chance of recovering or defaulting on a loan, I don’t blame banks for trying to make them more accurate. And maybe it’s because I don’t drink but I don’t see a problem with profiling as an alcoholic a person that would be buying four kegs of beer a day — either that or they have a bar.

Another brought point? A scare on datamining. Okay the term sounds bad, but data mining at the end is just a way for businesses to get better at what they do. If you want to blame them for doing so, it’s your call, but I think you’re out of your mind. There are obvious bad cases for data mining, but that is not the default case. As Jo pointed out on Twitter, we “sell” our shopping habits to the store chains, and what we get back are discounts, coupons and the like. It’s a tit-for-tat scenario, which to me is perfectly fine And applies to more than just loyalty card schemes.

Among others, this is why I have been blocking a number of webrobots on my ModSecurity Ruleset — those that try to get data without giving anything back, for me, are just bad companies. If you want to get something, give something bad back.

And finally, the comment twice uses the phrase, taken from the conspirationists’ rulebook, “This is only the beginning”. Sorry guys, you’ve been saying that this is the beginning for the past thirty years. I start to think you’re not smarter than me, just much more paranoid, too much.

To sum it up, I’m honestly of the opinion that all the people in countries that are in all effect free and democratic that complain about “invasion of privacy”, are only complaining because they want to keep hiding their bad sides, be it bad habits, false statements, or previous errors. Myself, as you can see from this blog, i tend to be fairly open. There is very little I would be embarrassed by, probably only the fact that I do have a profile on a dating site, but even in that, well, I’ve been as honest as a person can be. Did I do something stupid in my past? I think quite a few things. On the other hand, I don’t really care.

So, there you go, this is my personal opinion about all the paranoids who think that they have to live off the grid to be free. Unless you’re in a country that is far from democratic, I’d just say you’re a bunch of crybabies. As I said, places where your Government can’t be trusted, have much bigger problems than loyalty schemes or profiling.

Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
San Francisco : street art (May 25, 2013, 12:00 UTC)




May 21, 2013
Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)

My original post about loyalty cards missed the supermarkets that I’m actually using nowadays, because they are conveniently located just behind my building (for one) and right on the way back home from my office (for the other). Both of them are part of the EuroSpar chain and have the added convenience of being open respectively 24/7 and 7-22.

Mangled bill from EuroSpar

So, when I originally asked the store if they had any loyalty card, I was told they didn’t. I checked the website anyway and found the name of their loyalty program, which is “SuperEasy”, and the next time, I asked about it explicitly, and they gave me the card and a form to fill in; after filling almost all of it, I found that I could also do it online, so I trashed the paper form. They can’t get my name right anywhere here when I spell it.

On the website, strangely enough they even accept my surname as it should be, wow that’s a miracle, I thought… until I went to use the card at the shop and got back the bill that you see on the left. Yes that’s UTF-8 converted to some other 8-bit codepage which is not Latin-1. Indeed it reminds me of CP850 at the time of MS-DOS. Okay I give up, but the funniest part was getting the bill tonight, the one on the right.

The other mangled bill from EuroSpar

But beside them mangling my name in many different possible ways, is there anything that makes EuroSpar special enough for me to write a follow-up post on a topic that I don’t really care about or, honestly, have experience in? Yes of course. Compared with the various rewards I have been talking about last time, this seems to be mostly the same: one point per euro spent, and one cent per point redeemed.

The big difference here is that the points are accrued to the cent, rather than to the lower euro threshold! Not too shabby, considering that unlike Dunnes they do not round their prices to full euros most of the time. And the other one is that even though they have a single loyalty scheme for all the stores.. the cards are per-store, or so they proclaim. The two here are probably owned by the same person so they are actually linked and they work on each.

Another interesting point is that while both EuroSpar host an Insomnia café, neither accept Insomnia’s own loyalty card (ZapaTag) — instead they offer something similar in the sense that you get the 10th drink free. A similar offer is present at the regular Insomnia shops, but there, while you can combine the 10th drink offer with the ZapaTag points, you cannot combine it with other offers such as my usual coffee and brownie for €3,75 (the coffee alone is €3,25 while the brownie is €2,25)… at EuroSpar instead this is actually combinable, but of course if I use the free coffee while getting a brownie, I still have to pay almost as much as the coffee.. but sometimes I can skip on the pastry.

So yes, I think it was worth noting the differences about EuroSpar. And as a final note I’ll just say that even the pharmacy on the way to work has a loyalty card… and it’s the usual discount one, or as they call it “PayBack Card”. I have to see what Tesco does, but they somehow blacklisted my apartment in their delivery service.

Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
rabbitMQ : v3.1.1 released (May 21, 2013, 13:04 UTC)

EDIT: okay, they just released v3.1.1 so here it goes on portage as well !


  • relax validation of x-match binding to headers exchange for compatibility with brokers < 3.1.0
  • fix bug in ack handling for transactional channels that could cause queues to crash
  • fix race condition in cluster autoheal that could lead to nodes failing to re-join the cluster

3.1.1 changelog is here.

I’ve bumped the rabbitMQ message queuing server on portage. This new version comes with quite a nice bunch of bugfixes and features.


  • eager synchronisation of slaves by policy (manual & automatic)
  • cluster “autoheal” mode to automatically choose nodes to restart when a partition has occurred
  • cluster “pause minority” mode to prefer partition tolerance over availability
  • improved statistics (including charts) in the management plugin
  • quite a bunch of performance improvements
  • some nice memory leaks fixes

Read the full changelog.

May 19, 2013
Andreas K. Hüttel a.k.a. dilfridge (homepage, bugs)

I was very sceptic for a long time. Then, I slowly started to trust the kmail2/akonadi combination. I've been using it on my office desktop for a long time, and it works well and is very stable and fast there. (Might be related to the fact that the IMAP server is just across the lawn.) Some time ago, when I deemed things solid enough I even upgraded my laptop again, despite earlier problems. In Gentoo, we've been keeping kdepim-4.4 around all the time, and as you may have read, internal discussions led indeed to the decision to finally drop it some time ago.
What happened in the meantime?
1) One of the more annoying bugs mentioned in my last blog post was fixed with some help from Kevin Kofler. Seems like Debian stumbled into the same issue long ago.
2) I was on vacation. Which was fun, but mostly unrelated to the issue at hand. None of my Gentoo colleagues went ahead with the removal in the meantime. A lot of e-mails accumulated in my account.
3) Coming back, I was on the train with my laptop, sorting the mail. The train was full, the onboard WLAN slightly overstressed, the 4G network just about more reliable. Network comes and goes sometime with a tunnel, no problem. Or so I thought.
4) Half an hour before arriving back home I realized that silently a large part of the e-mails that I had (I though) moved (using kmail2-4.10.3 / akonadi-1.9.2) from one folder to another over ~3 hours had disappeared on one side, and not re-appeared on the other. Restarting kmail2 and akonadi did not help. A quick check of the webmail interface of my provider confirmed that also on the IMAP server the mails were gone in both folders. &%(/&%(&/$/&%$§&/
I wasn't happy. Luckily there were daily server backup snapshots, and after a few days delay I had all the documents back. Nevertheless... Now, I am considering what to do next. (Needless to say, in my opinion we should forget dropping kmail1 in Gentoo for now.) Options...
a) migrate the laptop back to kmail1, which is way more resistant to dropped connections and flaky internet connection - doable but takes a bit of time
b) install OfflineIMAP and Dovecot on the laptop, and let kmail2/akonadi access the localhost Dovecot server - probably the most elegant solution but for the fact that OfflineIMAP seems to have trouble mirroring our Novell Groupwise IMAP server
c) other e-mail client? I've heard good things about trojita...
Summarizing... no idea still how to go ahead, no good solution available. And I actually like the kdepim integration idea, so I'll never be the first one to completely migrate away from it! I am sincerely sorry for the sure fact that this post is disheartening to all the people who put a lot of effort into improving kmail2 and akonadi. It has become a huge lot better. However, I am just getting more and more convinced that the complexity of this combined system is too much to handle and that kmail should never have gone the akonadi way.

May 18, 2013
Andreas K. Hüttel a.k.a. dilfridge (homepage, bugs)
Gentoo CUPS-1.6 status (May 18, 2013, 21:02 UTC)

We've had CUPS 1.6 in the Gentoo portage tree for a while now already. It has even been keyworded by most of the arches (hooray!), and from the bug reports quite some people use it. Sometime in the intermediate future we'll stabilize it, however until then quite some bugs still have to be resolved.
CUPS 1.6 brings changes. The move to Apple has messed up the project priorities, and backward compatibility was kicked out of the window with a bang. As I've already detailed in a short previous blog post, per se, CUPS 1.6 does not "talk" the printer browsing protocol of previous versions anymore but solely relies on zeroconf (which is implemented in Gentoo by net-dns/avahi). Some other features were dropped as well...
Luckily, CUPS was and is open source, and that the people at Apple removed the code from the main CUPS distribution did not mean that it was actually gone. In the end, all these feature just made their way from the main CUPS package to a new package net-print/cups-filters maintained at The Linux Foundation. There, the code is evolving fast, bugs are fixed and features are introduced. Even network browsing with the CUPS-1.5 protocol has been restored by now; cups-filters includes a daemon called cups-browsed which can generate print queues on the fly and accepts configuration directives similar to CUPS-1.5. As far as we in Gentoo (and any other Linux distribution) are concerned, we can get along without zeroconf just fine.
The main thing that is hindering CUPS-1.6 stabilization a the moment is that the CUPS website is down, kind of. Their server had a hardware failure, and since nearly a month (!!!) only minimal, static pages are up. In particular, what's missing is the CUPS bugtracker (no I won't sign up for an Apple ID to submit CUPS bugs) and access to the Subversion repository of the source. (Remind me to git-svn clone the code history as soon as it's back and push it to gitorious.)
So... feel free to try out CUPS-1.6, testing and submitting bugs for sure helps. However, it may take some time to get these fixed...

May 17, 2013
Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)

It is a common request in squid to have it block downloading certain files based on their extension in the url path. A quick look at google’s results on the subject apparently gives us the solution to get this done easily by squid.

The common solution is to create an ACL file listing regular expressions of the extensions you want to block and then apply this to your http_access rules.




acl blockExtensions urlpath_regex -i "/etc/squid/blockExtensions.acl"


http_access allow localnet !blockExtensions

Unfortunately this is not enough to prevent users from downloading .exe files. The mistake here is that we assume that the URL will strictly finish by the extension we want to block, consider the two examples below :     // will be DENIED as expected    // WON'T be denied as it does not match the regex !

Squid uses the extended regex processor which is the same as egrep. So we need to change our blockExtensions.acl file to handle the possible ?whatever string which may be trailing our url_path. Here’s the solution to handle all the cases :



You will still be hated for limiting people’s need to download and install shit on their Windows but you implemented it the right way and no script kiddie can brag about bypassing you ;)

Diego E. Pettenò a.k.a. flameeyes (homepage, bugs)
Life in the new city (May 17, 2013, 19:54 UTC)

Okay so now it’s over a month I’ve been staying in Dublin, it’s actually over a month I’m at my new job, and it is shaping up as a very good new experience for me. But even more than the job, the new experiences come with having an apartment. Last year I was leaving within the office where I was working, and before that I’ve been living with my mother, so finally having a place of mine is a new world entirely. Well, I’ll admit it: only partially.

Even though I’ve been living with my mother, like the stereotype of Italian guys suggests, it’s not like I’ve bee a parasite. Indeed, I’ve been paying all the bills for the past four years, and still I’m paying them from here. I’ve also been doing my share of grocery shopping, cleaning and maintenance tasks, but at least I did avoid the washing machine most of the time. So yeah, it wasn’t a complete revolution for my life, but it was a partial one. So right now I do feel slightly worse for wear, especially because I had a very bad experience with the kitchen, which was not cleaned before I moved in.

Thankfully, Ikea exists everywhere. And their plastic mats for drawers and cabinets are a lifesaver. Too bad I already finished the roll and I’ve not completed half the kitchen yet. I think I’ll go back to Ikea in two weeks (not next week because my sister’s visiting). With this time I bought the same identical lamp three times. Originally in Italy, then again in Los Angeles, and now in Dublin — only difference is that the American version has a loop to be able to orient it, probably because health and safety does not require having enough common sense as to not touch the hot cone…

The end line is that I’m very happy about having moved to Dublin. I love the place, and I love the people. My new job is also quite interesting, even if not as open-source focused as my previous ones (which does not mean it is completely out of the way of open source anyway), and the colleagues are terrific… hey some even read my blog before, thanks guys!

While settling down took most of my time and left me no time to do real Gentoo contributions or blogging (luckily Sven seems to have taken my place on Planet Gentoo), things are getting much better (among others I finally have a desk in the apartment, and tomorrow I’m going to get a TV as well, which I know will boost my ability to keep the house clean — because it won’t require me to stick to the monitor to watch something). So expect more presence from me soon enough!

Greg KH a.k.a. gregkh (homepage, bugs)

A few years ago, I gave a history of the 2.6.32 stable kernel, and mentioned the previous stable kernels as well. I'd like to apologize for not acknowledging the work of Adrian Bunk in maintaining the 2.6.16 stable kernel for 2 years after I gave up on it, allowing it to be used by many people for a very long time.

I've updated the previous post with this information in it at the bottom, for the archives. Again, many apologies, I never meant to ignore the work of this developer.

May 16, 2013
Alexys Jacob a.k.a. ultrabug (homepage, bugs)
Fujifilm GF670W (May 16, 2013, 20:12 UTC)

It’s been so long since I switched to film-only photography that I decided a few months ago to sell all my digital equipment. I already own a Nikon FM2 camera which I love but I’ve to admit that I was and still am totally amazed by the pictures taken by my girlfriend’s Rolleiflex 3.5F. The medium format is the kind of rendering I was craving to get and that sooner or later I’d step into the medium format world. Well, I didn’t have to wait as when we were in Tokyo to celebrate new year 2013 I fell in love with what was the perfect match between my love for wide angles and medium format film photography : the Fujifilm GF670W !

For my soon to come birthday, I got myself my new toy in advance so I could use it in my upcoming roadtrip around France (I’ll talk about it soon, it was awesome). Oddly, the only places in the world where you can get this camera is in the UK and in Japan so I bought it from the very nice guys at Dale photographic. Here is the beast (literally) :


Yes, this is a big camera and it comes with a very nice leather case and a lens hood. This is a telemetric camera with a comfortable visor, it accepts 120 and 220 films and is capable of shooting in standard 6×6 and 6×7 !

In the medium format world, the 55mm lens is actually a wide angle one as it is comparable to a 28mm in the usual 24×36 world. Its performances are not crazy on paper with a 4.5 aperture and a shutter speed going from 4s to 1/500s (as fast as a 1956 Rolleiflex) but the quality is just stunning as it’s sharp and offers a somewhat inexistant chromatic abberation.

Want proof ? These are some of my first roll’s shoots uploaded at full resolution :



May 14, 2013
Michal Hrusecky a.k.a. miska (homepage, bugs)
Spring Europen 2013 (May 14, 2013, 17:00 UTC)

Europen talkThis Monday I was the first time guest and speaker at (contrary to it’s name) local Czech conference Europen. It was interesting experience. And I would like to share a bit of what I experienced. What made it different from conferences I usually speak at was the audience. Not many Linux guys and quite some Windows guys. I was told that this conference is for various IT professionals and people from academia interested in Open Source.

I was asked to speak there about something techy, low-levelly, genericy, and not SUSE only stuff. I offered OBS and Studio introduction as these are crown jewels of openSUSE environment, but I was told that they would prefer something more generic and little bit more hardcore. So in the end I decided to speak about packaging as that is something I do that since a long time ago. And to make it nor a workshop nor SUSE specific talk, I put in two more packaging systems that I worked with apart from rpm – Portage (from Gentoo) and BitBake (from Open Embedded).

Whenever I visit open source event in Czech Republic, I always know quite some people there already. I know the most prominent people from Linux magazines, other distributions and some other people who are big open source enthusiasts. On this conference, I knew something like six attendees in total (and all of them were there to give a talk and not sure what to expect from audience). Almost everybody was running MS Windows with few MacOS exceptions. Really quite different world.

As I said, in the end I spoke about why do we do software packages in Linux and how do we do it. I spoke about rpm and spec files, about Portage and BitBake showing how nice it is to have inheritance. And in the end I put in part about how great OBS is anyway.

From the almost a day I was at the conference, most questions and feedback got LibUCW library, but Martin Mareš gave amazing presentation and he had a really interesting topic. LibUCW is cool. If I’ll find a free time, I’ll write something about it separately. Otherwise audience was quite calm and quiet. For my presentation, I got question about cross-compilation of rpms, so in the end after the talk I could recommend OBS once more ;-)

It was definitely interesting experience as these people were mostly out of our usual scope. If you are interested in browsing the slides, you can, sources are on my github, but they contain quite some pages of example recipes that I was commenting on the spot.

I use it since a long time, so since it works pretty good for me, I want to share how to handle the spam for your address with procmail.

First, you need to say that procmail will filter your email(s):
echo "| /usr/bin/procmail" > /home/${USER}/.forward

Then create a simple /home/${USER}/.procmailrc with this content:
* ^X-Spam-Status: Yes

* ^X-Spam-Level: \*\*\*

* ! ^List-Id
* ^X-Spam-Level: \*\*

* ^Subject:.*viagra*

* ^Subject:.*cialis*

* ^Subject:.*money*

* ^Subject:.*rolex*

* ^Subject:.*scount*

* ^Subject:.*Viagra*

* ^Subject:.*Cialis*

* ^Subject:.*Marketing*

* ^Subject:.*marketing*

* ^Subject:.*Money*

* ^Subject:.*Rolex*

* ^Subject:.*Scount*

* ^Subject:.*glxgug*

* ^Subject:.*offizielle sieger*

* ^Subject:.*educational*

:0 B:
* $ content-[^:]+:${WS}*.+(\<)*(file)?name${WS}*=${WS}*\/.+\.(pif|scr|com|cpl|vbs|mim|hqx|bhx|uue|uu|b64)\"?$

:0 B:
* ^Content-Type: .*;$[ ]*(file)?name=\"?.*\.(pif|scr|com|cpl|vbs)\"?$

:0 B:
* ^Content-Type: .*; [ ]*(file)?name=\"?.*\.(pif|scr|com|cpl|vbs)\"?$

With the filter for X-Spam-Status and X-Spam-Level you will avoid the majority of the incoming spam.
Some mails that does not have any Spam flag, contains subject like viagra, cialis ( which I absolutely don’t need :D ), rolex and scount.
Yes, I could you the (c|C)ase syntax, but I had problems, so I prefer to write twice the rules instead of have any sort of troubles.
Note: with this email address I’m not subscribed to any newsletter or any sort of offers/catalogs so I filtered scount, markerting, money.

Sometimes I receive mails from people that are not spammer, with the X-Spam-Level flag with one star, so I decided to move these email into a folder, they will be double-checked with naked eye:

* ^X-Spam-Level: \*

To avoid confusion I always prefer to use a complete path here.

After a stabilization you will always see the annoying mail from the bugzilla which contains ${arch} stable, so if you want to drop them:

:0 B
* ^*(alpha|amd64|arm|hppa|ia64|m68k|ppc|ppc64|s390|sh|sparc|x86) stable*

Now, if you are using more email clients, on more computers, you may need to set the filters here instead of on all clients you are using, so for example:

* ^From.*
* ^TO.*

And so on….
These, hints obviously are valid on all postfix-based mailserver; if you are using e.g. qmail, you need to move the .procmailrc, but this is still valid.
I hope this will help :)

If you need a particular set of rules, you can write it if you take a look at the source/header of the message, so If for example I don’t like to see the mails from bugzilla of the bugs that I reported:

the header says: X-Bugzilla-Reporter:

* ^From.*
* ^X-Bugzilla-Reporter.*

May 12, 2013
Andreas K. Hüttel a.k.a. dilfridge (homepage, bugs)
Lab::Measurement 3.11 released (May 12, 2013, 10:34 UTC)

Lab::Measurement 3.11 has been uploaded to CPAN. This is a minor maintenance release, with small bug fixes in the voltage source handling (gate protect and sweep functionality) and the Yokogawa drivers (output voltage range settings).

May 11, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)

When working on (the still on-going) migration of the Gentoo java project repositories from SVN to Git I ran into bugs with svn2git 1.0.8 and my own svneverever 1.2.1.

The bug with svn2git 1.0.8 was a regression that broke support for (non-ASCII) UTF-8 author names in identity maps. That’s fixed in dev-vcs/svn2git-1.0.8-r1 in Gentoo. I sent the patch upstream and to the Debian package maintainer, too.

For svneverever, a directory that re-appeared after deletion was reported to only live once, e.g. the output was

(2488; 9253)  /projects
(2490; 9253)      /java-config-2
(2490; 2586)          /trunk

if directory /projects/java-config-2/trunk/ got deleted at revision 2586, no matter if was re-created later. With 9253 revisions in total, the correct output (with svneverever 1.2.2) is:

(2488; 9253)  /projects
(2490; 9253)      /java-config-2
(2490; 9253)          /trunk

That’s fixed in svneverever 1.2.2.

If svneverever is of help to you, please support me on Flattr. Thanks!

May 10, 2013
Gentoo at LinuxTag 2013 in Berlin (May 10, 2013, 01:03 UTC)

LinuxTag 2013 runs from May 22nd to May 25th in Berlin, Germany. With more than 10,000 visitors last year, it is one of the biggest Linux and open source events in Europe.

You will find the Gentoo booth at Hall 7.1c, Booth 179. Come and visit us! You will meet many of our developers and users, talk with us, plus get some of the Gentoo merchandise you have always wanted.

May 07, 2013
Jan Kundrát a.k.a. jkt (homepage, bugs)
On Innovation, NIH, Trojita and KDE PIM (May 07, 2013, 08:03 UTC)

Jos wrote a blog post yesterday commenting on the complexity of the PIM problem. He raises an interesting concern about whether we would be all better if there was no Trojitá and I just improved KMail instead. As usual, the matter is more complicated than it might seem on a first sight.

Executive Summary: I tried working with KDEPIM. The KDEPIM IMAP stack required a total rewrite in order to be useful. At the time I started, Akonadi did not exist. The rewrite has been done, and Trojitá is the result. It is up to the Akonadi developers to use Trojitá's IMAP implementation if they are interested; it is modular enough.

People might wonder why Trojitá exists at all. I started working on it because I wasn't happy with how the mail clients performed back in 2006. The supported features were severely limited, the speed was horrible. After studying the IMAP protocol, it became obvious that the reason for this slowness is the rather stupid way in which the contemporary clients treated the remote mail store. Yes, it's really a very dumb idea to load tens of thousands of messages when opening a mailbox for the first time. Nope, it does not make sense to block the GUI until you fetch that 15MB mail over a slow and capped cell phone connection. Yes, you can do better with IMAP, and the possibility has been there for years. The problem is that the clients were not using the IMAP protocol in an efficient manner.

It is not easy to retrofit a decent IMAP support into an existing client. There could be numerous code paths which just assume that everything happens synchronously and block the GUI when the data are stuck on the wire for some reason. Doing this properly, fetching just the required data and doing all that in an asynchronous manner is not easy -- but it's doable nonetheless. It requires huge changes to the overall architecture of the legacy applications, however.

Give Trojitá a try now and see how fast it is. I'm serious here -- Trojitá opens a mailbox with tens of thousands of messages in a fraction of second. Try to open a big e-mail with vacation pictures from your relatives over a slow link -- you will see the important textual part pop up immediately with the images being loaded in the background, not disturbing your work. Now try to do the same in your favorite e-mail client -- if it's as fast as Trojitá, congratulations. If not, perhaps you should switch.

Right now, the IMAP support in Trojitá is way more advanced than what is shipped in Geary or KDE PIM -- and it is this solid foundation which leads to Trojitá's performance. What needs work now is polishing the GUI and making it play well with the rest of a users' system. I don't care whether this polishing means improving Trojitá's GUI iteratively or whether its IMAP support gets used as a library in, say, KMail -- both would be very succesfull outcomes. It would be terrific to somehow combine the nice, polished UI of the more established e-mail clients with the IMAP engine from Trojitá. There is a GSoC proposal for integrating Trojitá into KDE's Kontact -- but for it to succeed, people from other projects must get involved as well. I have put seven years of my time into making the IMAP support rock; I would not be able to achieve the same if I was improving KMail instead. I don't need a fast KMail, I need a great e-mail client. Trojitá works well enough for me.

Oh, and there's also a currently running fundraiser for better address book integration in Trojitá. We are not asking for $ 100k, we are asking for $ 199. Let's see how many people are willing to put the money where their mouth is and actually do something to help the PIM on a free desktop. Patches and donations are both equally welcome. Actually, not really -- great patches are much more appreciated. Because Jos is right -- it takes a lot of work to produce great software, and things get better when there are more poeple working towards their common goal together.

Update: it looks like my choice of kickstarter platform was rather poor, catincan apparently doesn't accept PayPal :(. There's the possiblity of direct donations over SourceForge/PayPal -- please keep in mind that these will be charged even if less donors pledge to the idea.

May 05, 2013

Since a long time I realized that is a pita every time that I keyword, receive a repoman failure for dependency.bad(mostly) that does not regard the arch that I’m changing.
So, checking in the repoman manual, I realized that –ignore-arches looks bad for my case and I decided to request a new feature: –include-arches.
This feature, as explained in the bug, checks only for the arches that you write as argument and should be used only when you are keywording/stabilizing.

Some examples/usage:

First, it saves time, the following example will try to run repoman full in the kdelibs directory:
$ time repoman full > /dev/null 2>&1
real 0m12.434s

$ time repoman full --include-arches "amd64" > /dev/null 2>&1
real 0m3.880s

Second, kdelibs suffers for a dependency.bad on amd64-fbsd, so:
$ repoman full
RepoMan scours the neighborhood...
>>> Creating Manifest for /home/ago/gentoo-x86/kde-base/kdelibs
dependency.bad 2
kde-base/kdelibs/kdelibs-4.10.2.ebuild: PDEPEND: ~amd64-fbsd(default/bsd/fbsd/amd64/9.0) ['>=kde-base/nepomuk-widgets-4.10.2:4[aqua=]']

$ repoman full --include-arches "amd64"
RepoMan scours the neighborhood...
>>> Creating Manifest for /home/ago/gentoo-x86/kde-base/kdelibs

Now when I will keyword the packages I can check for specific arches and skip the unuseful checks since they causes, in this case, only a waste of time.
Thanks to Zac for the work on it.

May 03, 2013
Sebastian Pipping a.k.a. sping (homepage, bugs)
May 3rd = Day Against DRM (May 03, 2013, 14:23 UTC)

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