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Updated: 2 hours 3 min ago

Norbert Preining: Debian/TeX Live January 2017

4 hours 12 sec ago

As the freeze of the next release is closing in, I have updated a bunch of packages around TeX: All of the TeX Live packages (binaries and arch independent ones) and tex-common. I might see whether I get some updates of ConTeXt out, too.

The changes in the binaries are mostly cosmetic: one removal of a non-free (unclear-free) file, and several upstream patches got cherrypicked (dvips, tltexjp contact email, upmendex, dvipdfmx). I played around with including LuaTeX v1.0, but that breaks horribly with the current packages in TeX Live, so I refrained from it. The infrastructure package tex-common got a bugfix for updates from previous releases, and for the other packages there is the usual bunch of updates and new packages. Enjoy!

New packages

arimo, arphic-ttf, babel-japanese, conv-xkv, css-colors, dtxdescribe, fgruler, footmisx, halloweenmath, keyfloat, luahyphenrules, math-into-latex-4, mendex-doc, missaali, mpostinl, padauk, platexcheat, pstring, pst-shell, ptex-fontmaps, scsnowman, stanli, tinos, undergradmath, yaletter.

Updated packages

acmart, animate, apxproof, arabluatex, arsclassica, babel-french, babel-russian, baskervillef, beamer, beebe, biber, biber.x86_64-linux, biblatex, biblatex-apa, biblatex-chem, biblatex-dw, biblatex-gb7714-2015, biblatex-ieee, biblatex-philosophy, biblatex-sbl, bidi, calxxxx-yyyy, chemgreek, churchslavonic, cochineal, comicneue, cquthesis, csquotes, ctanify, ctex, cweb, dataref, denisbdoc, diagbox, dozenal, dtk, dvipdfmx, dvipng, elocalloc, epstopdf, erewhon, etoolbox, exam-n, fbb, fei, fithesis, forest, glossaries, glossaries-extra, glossaries-french, gost, gzt, historische-zeitschrift, inconsolata, japanese-otf, japanese-otf-uptex, jsclasses, latex-bin, latex-make, latexmk, lt3graph, luatexja, markdown, mathspec, mcf2graph, media9, mendex-doc, metafont, mhchem, mweights, nameauth, noto, nwejm, old-arrows, omegaware, onlyamsmath, optidef, pdfpages, pdftools, perception, phonrule, platex-tools, polynom, preview, prooftrees, pst-geo, pstricks, pst-solides3d, ptex, ptex2pdf, ptex-fonts, qcircuit, quran, raleway, reledmac, resphilosophica, sanskrit, scalerel, scanpages, showexpl, siunitx, skdoc, skmath, skrapport, smartdiagram, sourcesanspro, sparklines, tabstackengine, tetex, tex, tex4ht, texlive-scripts, tikzsymbols, tocdata, uantwerpendocs, updmap-map, uplatex, uptex, uptex-fonts, withargs, wtref, xcharter, xcntperchap, xecjk, xellipsis, xepersian, xint, xlop, yathesis.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Hideki Yamane: It's all about design

Tue, 2017-01-17 21:45
From Arturo's blog
When I asked why not Debian, the answer was that it was very difficult to install and manage.It's all about design, IMHO.
Installer, website, wiki... It should be "simple", not verbose, not cheap.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RProtoBuf 0.4.8: Windows support for proto3

Tue, 2017-01-17 20:21

Issue ticket #20 demonstrated that we had not yet set up Windows for version 3 of Google Protocol Buffers ("Protobuf") -- while the other platforms support it. So I made the change, and there is release 0.4.8.

RProtoBuf provides R bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers ("Protobuf") data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol by numerous projects.

The NEWS file summarises the release as follows:

Changes in RProtoBuf version 0.4.8 (2017-01-17)
  • Windows builds now use the proto3 library as well (PR #21 fixing #20)

CRANberries also provides a diff to the previous release. The RProtoBuf page has an older package vignette, a 'quick' overview vignette, a unit test summary vignette, and the pre-print for the JSS paper. Questions, comments etc should go to the GitHub issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Arturo Borrero González: Debian is a puzzle: difficult

Tue, 2017-01-17 12:10

Debian is very difficult, a puzzle. This surprising statement was what I got last week when talking with a group of new IT students (and their teachers).

I would like to write down here what I was able to obtain from that conversation.

From time to time, as part of my job at CICA, we open the doors of our datacenter to IT students from all around Andalusia (our region) who want to learn what we do here and how we do it. All our infraestructure and servers are primarily built using FLOSS software (we have some exceptions, like backbone routers and switches), and the most important servers run Debian.

As part of the talk, when I am in such a meeting with a visiting group, I usually ask about which technologies they use and learn in their studies. The other day, they told me they use mostly Ubuntu and a bit of Fedora.

When I asked why not Debian, the answer was that it was very difficult to install and manage. I tried to obtain some facts about this but I failed in what seems to be a case of bad fame, a reputation problem which was extended among the teachers and therefore among the students. I didn’t detect any branding biasing or the like. I just seems lack of knowledge, and bad Debian reputation.

Using my DD powers and responsabilities, I kindly asked for feedback to improve our installer or whatever they may find difficult, but a week later I have received no email so far.

Then, what I obtain is nothing new:

  • we probably need more new-users feedback
  • we have work to do in the marketing/branding area
  • we have very strong competitors out there
  • we should keep doing our best

I myself recently had to use the Ubuntu installer in a laptop, and it didn’t seem that different to the Debian one: same steps and choices, like in every other OS installation.

Please, spread the word: Debian is not difficult. Certainly not perfect, but I don’t think that installing and using Debian is such a puzzle.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Linux Tablet-Mode Usability

Tue, 2017-01-17 09:02

In my ongoing quest to get Tablet-Mode working on my Hybrid machine, here's how I've been living with it so far. My intent is to continue using Free Software for both use cases. My wishful thought is to use the same software under both use cases. 

  • Browser: On the browser front, things are pretty decent. Chromium has good support for Touchscreen input. Most of the Touchscreen use cases work well with Chromium. On the Firefox side, after a huge delay, finally, Firefox seems to be catching up. Hopefully, with Firefox 51/52, we'll have a much more usable Touchscreen browser.
  • Desktop Shell: One of the reason of migrating to GNOME was its touch support. From what I've explored so far, GNOME is the only desktop shell that has touch support natively done. The feature isn't complete yet, but is fairly well usable.
    • Given that GNOME has touchscreen support native, it is obvious to be using GNOME equivalent of tools for common use cases. Most of these tools inherit the touchscreen capabilities from the underneath GNOME libraries.
    • File Manager: Nautilus has decent support for touch, as a file manager. The only annoying bit is a right-click equivalent. Or in touch input sense, a long-press.
    • Movie Player: There's a decent movie player, based on GNOME libs; GNOME MPV. In my limited use so far, this interface seems to have good support. Other contenders are:
      • SMPlayer is based on Qt libs. So initial expectation would be that Qt based apps would have better Touch support. But I'm yet to see any serious Qt application with Touch input support. Back to SMPlayer, the dev is pragmatic enough to recognize tablet-mode users and as such has provided a so called "Tablet Mode" view for SMPlayer (The tooltip did not get captured in the screenshot).
      • MPV doesn't come with a UI but has basic management with OSD. And in my limited usage, the OSD implementation does seem capable to take touch input.
  • Books / Documents: GNOME Documents/Books is very basic in what it has to offer, to the point that it is not much useful. But since it is based on the same GNOME libraries, it enjoys native touch input support. Calibre, on the other hand, is feature rich. But it is based on (Py)Qt. Touch input is told to work for Windows. For Linux, there's no support yet. The good thing about Calibre is that it has its own UI, which is pretty decent in a Tablet-Mode Touch workflow.
  • Photo Management: With compact digital devices commonly available, digital content (Both Photos and Videos) is on the rise. The most obvious names that come to mind are Digikam and Shotwell.
    • Shotwell saw its reincarnation in the recent past. From what I recollect, it does have touch support but was lacking quite a bit in terms of features, as compared to Digikam.
    • Digikam is an impressive tool for digital content management. While Digikam is a KDE project, thankfully it does a great job in keeping its KDE dependencies to a bare minimum. But given that Digikam builds on KDE/Qt libs, I haven't had any much success in getting a good touch input solution for Tablet Mode. To make it barely usable in Table-Mode, one could choose a theme preference with bigger toolbars, labels and scrollbars. This helps in making a touch input workaround use case. As you can see, I've configured the Digikam UI with Text alongside Icons for easy touch input.
  • Email: The most common use case. With Gmail and friends, many believe standalone email clients are no more a need. But there always are users like us who prefer emails offline, encrypted emails and prefer theis own email domains. Many of these are still doable with free services like Gmail, but still.
    • Thunderbird shows its age at times. And given the state of Firefox in getting touch support (and GTK3 port), I see nothing happening with TB.
    • KMail was something I discontinued while still being on KDE. The debacle that KDEPIM was, is something I'd always avoid, in the future. Complete waste of time/resource in building, testing, reporting and follow-ups.
    • Geary is another email client that recently saw its reincarnation. I recently had explored Geary. It enjoys similar benefits like the rest applications using GNOME libraries. There was one touch input bug I found, but otherwise Geary's featureset was limited in comparison to Evolution.
    • Migration to Evolution, when migrating to GNOME, was not easy. GNOME's philosophy is to keep things simple and limited. In doing that, they restrict possible flexibilities that users may find obvious. This design philosophy is easily visible across all applications of the GNOME family. Evolution is no different. Hence, coming from TB to E was a small unlearning + newLearning curve. And since Evolution is using the same GNOME libraries, it enjoys similar benefits. Touch input support in Evolution is fairly good. The missing bit is the new Toolbar and Menu structure that many have noticed in the newer GNOME applications (Photos, Documents, Nautilus etc). If only Evolution (and the GNOME family) had the option of customization beyond the developer/project's view, there wouldn't be any wishful thoughts.
      • Above is a screenshot of 2 windows of Evoluiton. In its current form too, Evolution is a gem at times. For my RSS feeds, they are stored in a VFolder in Evolution, so that I can read them when offline. RSS feeds are something I read up in Tablet-mode. On the right is an Evolution window with larger fonts, while on the left, Evoltuion still retains its default font size. This current behavior helps me get Table-Mode Touch working to an extent. In my wishful thoughts, I wish if Evolution provided flexibility to change Toolbar icon sizes. That'd really help easily touch the delete button when in Tablet Mode. A simple button, Tablet Mode, like what SMPlayer has done, would keep users sticky with Evolution.

My wishful thought is that people write (free) software, thinking more about usability across toolkits and desktop environments. Otherwise, the year of the Linux desktop, laptop, tablet; in my opinion, is yet to come. And please don't rip apart tools, in porting them to newer versions of the toolkits. When you rip a tool, you also rip all its QA, Bug Reporting and Testing, that was done over the years.

Here's an example of a tool (Goldendict), so well written. Written in Qt, Running under GNOME, and serving over the Chromium interface.


In this whole exercise of getting a hybrid working setup, I also came to realize that there does not seem to be a standardized interface, yet, to determine the current operating mode of a running hybrid machine. From what we explored so far, every product has its own way to doing it. Most hybrids come pre-installed and supported with Windows only. So, their mode detection logic seems to be proprietary too. In case anyone is awaer of a standard interface, please drop a note in the comments.

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Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2016

Mon, 2017-01-16 09:39

Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In December, about 175 work hours have been dispatched among 14 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours did not increase but a new silver sponsor is in the process of joining. We are only missing another silver sponsor (or two to four bronze sponsors) to reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position.

The security tracker currently lists 31 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file 27. The situation improved a little bit compared to last month.

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

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Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Maria Glukhova: APK, images and other stuff.

Sun, 2017-01-15 19:00

2 more weeks of my awesome Outreachy journey have passed, so it is time to make an update on my progress.

I continued my work on improving diffoscope by fixing bugs and completing wishlist items. These include:

Improving APK support

I worked on #850501 and #850502 to improve the way diffoscope handles APK files. Thanks to Emanuel Bronshtein for providing clear description on how to reproduce these bugs and ideas on how to fix them.

And special thanks to Chris Lamb for insisting on providing tests for these changes! That part actually proved to be little more tricky, and I managed to mess up with these tests (extra thanks to Chris for cleaning up the mess I created). Hope that also means I learned something from my mistakes.

Also, I was pleased to see F-droid Verification Server as a sign of F-droid progress on reproducible builds effort - I hope these changes to diffoscope will help them!

Adding support for image metadata

That came from #849395 - a request was made to compare image metadata along with image content. Diffoscope has support for three types of images: JPEG, MS Windows Icon (*.ico) and PNG. Among these, PNG already had good image metadata support thanks to sng tool, so I worked on .jpeg and .ico files support. I initially tried to use exiftool for extracting metadata, but then I discovered it does not handle .ico files, so I decided to use a bigger force - ImageMagick’s identify - for this task. I was glad to see it had that handy -format option I could use to select only the necessary fields (I found their -verbose, well, too verbose for the task) and presenting them in the defined form, negating the need of filtering its output.

What was particulary interesting and important for me in terms of learning: while working on this feature, I discovered that, at the moment, diffoscope could not handle .ico files at all - img2txt tool, that was used for retrieving image content, did not support that type of images. But instead of recognizing this as a bug and resolving it, I started to think of possible workaround, allowing for retrieving image metadata even after retrieving image content failed. Definetely not very good thinking. Thanks Mattia Rizzolo for actually recognizing this as a bug and filing it, and Chris Lamb for fixing it!

Other work Order-like differences, part 2

In the previous post, I mentioned Lunar’s suggestion to use hashing for finding order-like difference in wide variety of input data. I implemented that idea, but after discussion with my mentor, we decided it is probably not worth it - this change would alter quite a lot of things in core modules of diffoscope, and the gain would be not really significant.

Still, implementing that was an important experience for me, as I had to hack on deepest and, arguably, most difficult modules of diffoscope and gained some insight on how they work.

Comparing with several tools (work in progress)

Although my initial motivation for this idea was flawed (the workaround I mentioned earlier for .ico files), it still might be useful to have a mechanism that would allow to run several commands for finding difference, and then give the output of those that succeed, failing if and only if they all have failed.

One possible case when it might happen is when we use commands coming from different tools, and one of them is not installed. It would be nice if we still used the other and not the uninformative binary diff (that is a default fallback option for when something goes wrong with more “clever” comparison). I am still in process of polishing this change, though, and still in doubt if it is needed at all.

Side note - Outreachy and my university progress

In my Outreachy application, I promised that if I am selected into this round, I will do everything I can to unload the required time period from my university time commitements. I did that by moving most of my courses to the first half of the academic year. Now, the main thing that is left for me to do is my Master’s thesis.

I consulted my scientific advisors from both universities that I am formally attending (SFEDU and LUT - I am in double degree program), and as a result, they agreed to change my Master’s thesis topic to match my Outreachy work.

Now, that should have sounded like an excellent news - merging these activities together actually mean I can allocate much more time to my work on reproducible builds, even beyond the actual internship time period. That was intended to remove a burden from my shoulders.

Still, I feel a bit uneasy. The drawback of this decision lies in fact I have no idea on how to write scientific report based on pure practical work. I know other students from my universities have done such things before, but choosing my own topic means my scientific advisors can’t help me much - this is just out of their area of expertise.

Well, wish me luck - I’m up to the challenge!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Sam Hartman: Musical Visualization of Network Traffic

Sun, 2017-01-15 18:19
I've been working on a fun holiday project in my spare time lately. It all started innocently enough. The office construction was nearing its end, and it was time for my workspace to be set up. Our deployment wizard and I were discussing. Normally we stick two high-end monitors on a desk. I'm blind; that seemed silly. He wanted to do something similarly nice for me, so he replaced one of the monitors with excellent speakers. They are a joy to listen to, but I felt like I should actually do something with them. So, I wanted to play around with some sort of audio project.
I decided to take a crack at an audio representation of network traffic. The solaris version of ping used to have an audio option, which would produce sound for successful pings. In the past I've used audio queues to monitor events like service health and build status.
It seemed like you could produce audio to give an overall feel for what was happening on the network. I was imagining a quick listen would be able to answer questions like:

  1. How busy is the network

  2. How many sources are active

  3. Is the traffic a lot of streams or just a few?

  4. Are there any interesting events such as packet loss or congestion collapse going on?

  5. What's the mix of services involved

I divided the project into three segments, which I will write about in future entries:

  • What parts of the network to model

  • How to present the audio information

  • Tools and implementation

I'm fairly happy with what I have. It doesn't represent all the items above. As an example, it doesn't directly track packet loss or retransmissions, nor does it directly distinguish one service from another. Still, just because of the traffic flow, rsync sounds different from http. It models enough of what I'm looking for that I find it to be a useful tool. And I learned a lot about music and Linux audio. I also got to practice designing discrete-time control functions in ways that brought back the halls of MIT.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Rcpp 0.12.9: Next round

Sun, 2017-01-15 17:26

Yesterday afternoon, the nineth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp made it to the CRAN network for GNU R. Windows binaries have by now been generated; and the package was updated in Debian too. This 0.12.9 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, and the 0.12.8 release in November --- making it the thirteenth release at the steady bi-montly release frequency.

Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 906 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further. That is up by sixthythree packages over the two months since the last release -- or about a package a day!

Some of the changes in this release are smaller and detail-oriented. We did squash one annoying bug (stemming from the improved exception handling) in Rcpp::stop() that hit a few people. Nathan Russell added a sample() function (similar to the optional one in RcppArmadillo; this required a minor cleanup by for small number of other packages which used both namespaces 'opened'. Date and Datetime objects now have format() methods and << output support. We now have coverage reports via covr as well. Last but not least James "coatless" Balamuta was once more tireless on documentation and API consistency --- see below for more details.

Changes in Rcpp version 0.12.9 (2017-01-14)
  • Changes in Rcpp API:

    • The exception stack message is now correctly demangled on all compiler versions (Jim Hester in #598)

    • Date and Datetime object and vector now have format methods and operator<< support (#599).

    • The size operator in Matrix is explicitly referenced avoiding a g++-6 issues (#607 fixing #605).

    • The underlying date calculation code was updated (#621, #623).

    • Addressed improper diagonal fill for non-symmetric matrices (James Balamuta in #622 addressing #619)

  • Changes in Rcpp Sugar:

    • Added new Sugar function sample() (Nathan Russell in #610 and #616).

    • Added new Sugar function Arg() (James Balamuta in #626 addressing #625).

  • Changes in Rcpp unit tests

    • Added Environment::find unit tests and an Environment::get(Symbol) test (James Balamuta in #595 addressing issue #594).

    • Added diagonal matrix fill tests (James Balamuta in #622 addressing #619)

  • Changes in Rcpp Documentation:

    • Exposed pointers macros were included in the Rcpp Extending vignette (MathurinD; James Balamuta in #592 addressing #418).

    • The file Rcpp.bib move to directory bib which is guaranteed to be present (#631).

  • Changes in Rcpp build system

    • Travis CI now also calls covr for coverage analysis (Jim Hester in PR #591)

Thanks to CRANberries, you can also look at a diff to the previous release. As always, even fuller details are on the Rcpp Changelog page and the Rcpp page which also leads to the downloads page, the browseable doxygen docs and zip files of doxygen output for the standard formats. A local directory has source and documentation too. Questions, comments etc should go to the rcpp-devel mailing list off the R-Forge page.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Mehdi Dogguy: Debian from 10,000 feet

Sun, 2017-01-15 12:12
Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis, I am sure of that! :-) Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in organisation.

We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to identify elements/events/things which could put that goal at risk. To this end, we've organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. I believe it is an interesting read and is useful for Debian old-timers as well as newcomers. It helps to convey a better understanding of the project's status. For each item, we've tried to identify an action.

Here are a few things we've worked on:
  • Identify new potential contributors by attending and speaking at conferences where Free and Open Sources software are still not very well-known, or where we have too few contributors.

    Each Debian developer is encouraged to identify events where we can promote FOSS and Debian. As DPL, I'd be happy to cover expenses to attend such events.
  • Our average age is also growing over the years. It is true that we could attract more new contributors than we already do.

    We can organize short internships. We should not wait for students to come to us. We can get in touch with universities and engineering schools and work together on a list of topics. It is easy and will give us the opportunity to reach out to more students.

    It is true that we have tried in the past to do that. We may organize a sprint with interested people and share our experience on trying to do internships on Debian-related subjects. If you have successfully done that in the past and managed to attract new contributors that way, please share your experience with us!

    If you see other ways to attract new contributors, please get in touch so that we can discuss!
  • Not easy to get started in the project.

    It could be argued that all the information is available, but rather than being easily findable from on starting point, it is scattered over several places (documentation on our website, wiki, metadata on bug reports, etc…).

    Fedora and Mozilla both worked on this subject and did build a nice web application to make this easier and nicer. The result of this is asknot-ng.

    A would be wonderful! Any takers? We can help by providing a virtual machine to build this. Being a DD is not mandatory. Everyone is welcome!
  • Cloud images for Debian.

    This is a very important point since cloud providers are now major distributions consumers. We have to ensure that Debian is correctly integrated in the cloud, without making compromises on our values and philosophy.

    I believe this item has been worked on during the last Debian Cloud sprint. I am looking forward to seeing the positive effects of this sprint in the long term. I believe it does help us to build a stronger relationship with cloud providers and gives us a nice opportunity to work with them on a shared set of goals!
During next DebConf, we can review the progress that has been made on each item and discuss new ones. In addition to this session acting as a health check, I see it as a way for the DPL to discuss, openly and publicly, about the important changes that should be implemented in the project and imagine together a better future.

In the meantime, everyone should feel free to pick one item from the list and work on it. :-)
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Mike Gabriel: UIF bug: Caused by flawed IPv6 DNS resolving in Perl's NetAddr::IP

Sat, 2017-01-14 17:16

TL;DR; If you use NetAddr::IP->new6() for resolving DNS names to IPv6 addresses, the addresses returned by NetAddr::IP are not what you might expect. See below for details.

Issue #2 in UIF

Over the last couple of days, I tried to figure out the cause of a weird issue observed in UIF (Universal Internet Firewall [1], a nice Perl tool for setting up ip(6)tables based Firewalls).

Already a long time ago, I stumbled over a weird DNS resolving issue of DNS names to IPv6 addresses in UIF that I reported as issue #2 [2] against upstream UIF back then.

I happen to be co-author of UIF. So, I felt very ashamed all the time for not fixing the issue any sooner.

As many of us DDs try to get our packages into shape before the next Debian release these days, I find myself doing the same. I started investigating the underlying cause of issue #2 in UIF a couple of days ago.

Issue #119858 on CPAN

Today, I figured out that the Perl code in UIF is not causing the observed phenomenon. The same behaviour is reproducible with a minimal and pure NetAddr::IP based Perl script (reported as Debian bug #851388 [2]. Thanks to Gregor Herrmann for forwarding Debian bug upstream (#119858 [3]).

Here is the example script that shows the flawed behaviour:

#!/usr/bin/perl use NetAddr::IP; my $hostname = ""; my $ip6 = NetAddr::IP->new6($hostname); my $ip4 = NetAddr::IP->new($hostname); print "$ip6 <- WTF???\n"; print "$ip4\n"; exit(0);

... gives...

[mike@minobo ~]$ ./ 0:0:0:0:0:0:808:808/128 <- WTF??? In words...

So what happens in NetAddr::IP is that with the new6() "constructor" you initialize a new IPv6 address. If the address is a DNS name, NetAddr::IP internally resolves it into an IPv4 address and converts this IPv4 address into some IPv6'ish format. This bogus IPv6 address is not the one matching the given DNS name.

Impacted Software in Debian

Various Debian packages use NetAddr::IP and may be affected by this flaw, here is an incomplete list (use apt-rdepends -r libnetaddr-ip-perl for the complete list):

  • spamassassin
  • postgrey
  • postfix-policyd-spf-perl
  • mtpolicyd
  • xen-tools
  • fwsnort
  • freeip-server
  • 389-ds
  • uif

Any of the above packages could be affected if NetAddr::IP->new6(<dnsname>) is being used. I haven't checked any of the code bases, but possibly the corresponding maintainers may want to do that.



Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Russ Allbery: Review: Enchanters' End Game

Sat, 2017-01-14 15:18

Review: Enchanters' End Game, by David Eddings

Series: The Belgariad #5 Publisher: Del Rey Copyright: December 1984 Printing: February 1990 ISBN: 0-345-33871-5 Format: Mass market Pages: 372

And, finally, the conclusion towards which everything has been heading, and the events for which Castle of Wizardry was the preparation. (This is therefore obviously not the place to start with this series.) Does it live up to all the foreshadowing and provide a satisfactory conclusion? I'd say mostly. The theology is a bit thin, but Eddings does a solid job of bringing all the plot threads together and giving each of the large cast a moment to shine.

Enchanters' End Game (I have always been weirdly annoyed by that clunky apostrophe) starts with more of Garion and Belgarath, and, similar to the end of Castle of Wizardry, this feels like them rolling on the random encounter table. There is a fairly important bit with Nadraks at the start, but the remaining detour to the north is a mostly unrelated bit of world-building. Before this re-read, I didn't remember how extensive the Nadrak parts of this story were; in retrospect, I realize a lot of what I was remembering is in the Mallorean instead. I'll therefore save my commentary on Nadrak gender roles for an eventual Mallorean re-read, since there's quite a lot to dig through and much of it is based on information not available here.

After this section, though, the story leaves Garion, Belgarath, and Silk for nearly the entire book, returning to them only for the climax. Most of this book is about Ce'Nedra, the queens and kings of the west, and what they're doing while Garion and his small party are carrying the Ring into Mordor— er, you know what I mean.

And this long section is surprisingly good. We first get to see the various queens of the west doing extremely well managing the kingdoms while the kings are away (see my previous note about how Eddings does examine his stereotypes), albeit partly by mercilessly exploiting the sexism of their societies. The story then picks up with Ce'Nedra and company, including all of the rest of Garion's band, being their snarky and varied selves. There are some fairly satisfying set pieces, some battle tactics, some magical tactics, and a good bit of snarking and interplay between characters who feel like old friends by this point (mostly because of Eddings's simple, broad-strokes characterization).

And Ce'Nedra is surprisingly good here. I would say that she's grown up after the events of the last book, but sadly she reverts to being awful in the aftermath. But for the main section of the book, partly because she's busy with other things, she's a reasonable character who experiences some actual consequences and some real remorse from one bad decision she makes. She's even admirable in how she handles events leading up to the climax of the book.

Eddings does a good job showing every character in their best light, putting quite a lot of suspense (and some dramatic rescues) into this final volume, and providing a final battle that's moderately interesting. I'm not sure I entirely bought the theological ramifications of the conclusion (the bits with Polgara do not support thinking about too deeply), but the voice in Garion's head continues to be one of the better characters of the series. And Errand is a delight.

After the climax, the aftermath sadly returns to Eddings's weird war between the sexes presentation of all gender relationships in this series, and it left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. (There is absolutely no way that some of these relationships would survive in reality.) Eddings portrays nearly every woman as a manipulative schemer, sometimes for good and sometimes for evil, and there is just so much gender stereotyping throughout this book for both women and men. You can tell he's trying with the queens, but women are still only allowed to be successful at politics and war within a very specific frame. Even Polgara gets a bit of the gender stereotyping, although she remains mostly an exception (and one aspect of the ending is much better than it could have been).

Ah well. One does not (or at least probably should not) read this series without being aware that it has some flaws. But it has a strange charm as well, mostly from its irreverence. The dry wise-cracking of these characters rings more true to me than the epic seriousness of a lot of fantasy. This is how people behave under stress, and this is how quirky people who know each other extremely well interact. It also keeps one turning the pages quite effectively. I stayed up for several late nights finishing it, and was never tempted to put it down and stop reading.

This is not great literature, but it's still fun. It wouldn't sustain regular re-reading for me, but a re-read after twenty years or so was pretty much exactly the experience I was hoping for: an unchallenging, optimistic story with amusing characters and a guaranteed happy ending. There's a place for that.

Followed, in a series sense, by the Mallorean, the first book of which is The Guardians of the West. But this is a strictly optional continuation; the Belgariad comes to a definite end here.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Sven Hoexter: moto g falcon reactivation and exodus mod

Sat, 2017-01-14 08:43

I started to reactivate my old moto g falcon during the last days of CyanogenMod in December of 2016. First step was a recovery update to TWRP 3.0.2-2 so I was able to flash CM13/14 builds. While CM14 nightly builds did not boot at all the CM13 builds did, but up to the last build wifi connections to the internet did not work. I could actually register with my wifi (Archer C7 running OpenWRT) but all apps claim the internet connection check failed and I'm offline. So bummer, without wifi a smartphone is not much fun.

I was pretty sure that wifi worked when I last used that phone about 1.5 years ago with CM11/12, so I started to dive into the forums of xda-developers to look for alternatives. Here I found out about Exodus. I've a bit of trouble trusting stuff from xda-developer forums but what the hell, the phone is empty anyway so nothing to loose and I flashed the latest falcon build.

To flash it I had to clean the whole phone, format all partitions via TWRP and then sideloaded the zip image file via adb (adb from the Debian/stretch adb package works like a charm, thank you guys!). Booted and bäm wifi works again! Now Exodus is a really striped down mod, to do anything useful with it I had to activate the developer options and allow USB debugging. Afterwards I could install the f-droid and Opera apk via "adb install foo.apk".

Lineage OS

As I could derive from another thread on xda-developers Lineago OS has the falcon still on the shortlist for 14.x nightly builds. Maybe that will be an alternative again in the future. For now Exodus is a bit behind the curve (based on Android 6.0.1 from September 2016) but at least it's functional.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Jonathan McDowell: Cloning a USB LED device

Sat, 2017-01-14 06:53

A month or so ago I got involved in a discussion on IRC about notification methods for a headless NAS. One of the options considered was some sort of USB attached LED. DealExtreme had a cheap “Webmail notifier”, which was already supported by mainline kernels as a “Riso Kagaku” device but it had been sold out for some time.

This seemed like a fun problem to solve with a tinyAVR and V-USB. I had my USB relay board so I figured I could use that to at least get some code to the point that the kernel detected it as the right device, and the relay output could be configured as one of the colours to ensure it was being driven in roughly the right manner. The lack of a full lsusb dump (at least when I started out) made things a bit harder, plus the fact that the Riso uses an output report unlike the relay code, which uses a control message. However I had the kernel source for the driver and with a little bit of experimentation had something which would cause the driver to be loaded and the appropriate files in /sys/class/leds/ to be created. The relay was then successfully activated when the red LED was supposed to be on.

hid-led 0003:1294:1320.0001: hidraw0: USB HID v1.01 Device [MAIL MAIL ] on usb-0000:00:14.0-6.2/input0 hid-led 0003:1294:1320.0001: Riso Kagaku Webmail Notifier initialized

I subsequently ordered some Digispark clones and modified the code to reflect the pins there (my relay board used pins 1+2 for USB, the Digispark uses pins 3+4). I then soldered a tricolour LED to the board, plugged it in and had a clone of the Riso Kaguku device for about £1.50 in parts (no doubt much cheaper in bulk). Very chuffed.

In case it’s useful to someone, the code is released under GPLv3+ and is available at;a=summary or on GitHub at I’m seeing occasional issues on an older Dell machine that only does USB2 with enumeration, but it generally is fine once it gets over that.

(FWIW, Jon, who started the original discussion, ended up with a BlinkStick Nano which is a neater device with 2 LEDs but still based on an Tiny85.)

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Jamie McClelland: What's Up with WhatsApp?

Fri, 2017-01-13 21:03

Despite my jaded feelings about corporate Internet services in general, I was suprised to learn that WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption was a lie. In short, it is possible to send an encrypted message to a user that is intercepted and effectively de-crypted without the sender's knowledge.

However, I was even more surprised to read Open Whisper Systems critique of the original story, claiming that it is not a backdoor because the WhatsApp sender's client is always notified when a message is de-crypted.

The Open Whisper Systems post acknowledges that the WhatsApp sender can choose to disable these notifications, but claims that is not such a big deal because the WhatsApp server has no way to know which clients have this feature enabled and which do not, so intercepting a message is risky because it could result in the sender realizing it.

However, there is a fairly important piece of information missing, namely: as far as I can tell, the setting to notify users about key changes is disabled by default.

So, using the default installation, your end-to-end encrypted message could be intercepted and decrypted without you or the party you are communicating with knowing it. How is this not a back door? And yes, if the interceptor can't tell whether or not the sender has these notifications turned on, the interceptor runs the risk of someone knowing they have intercepted the message. Great. That's better than nothing. Except that there is strong evidence that many powerful governments on this planet routinely risk exposure in their pursuit of compromising our ability to communicate securely. And... not to mention non-governmental (or governmental) adversaries for whom exposure is not a big deal.

Furthermore a critical reason for end-to-end encrption is so that your provider does not have the technical capacity to intercept your communications. That's simply not true of WhatsApp. It is true of Signal and OMEMO, which requires the active participation of the sender to compromise the communication.

Why in the world would you distribute a client that not only has the ability to surpress such warnings, but has it enabled by default?

Some may argue that users regularly dismiss notifications like "fingerprint has changed" and that this problem is the achilles heal of secure communications. I agree. But... there is still a monumental difference between a user absent-mindedly dismissing an important security warning and never seeing the warning in the first place.

This flaw in WhatsApp is a critical reminder that secure communications doesn't just depend on a good protocol or technology, but on trust in the people who design and maintain our systems.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Elena 'valhalla' Grandi: Modern XMPP Server

Fri, 2017-01-13 07:59
Modern XMPP Server

I've published a new HOWTO on my website '': already wrote about the Why (and the What, Who and When), so I'll just quote his conclusion and move on to the How.

I now have an XMPP setup which has all the features of the recent fancy chat systems, and on top of that it runs, client and server, on Free Software, which can be audited, it is federated and I can self-host my own server in my own VPS if I want to, with packages supported in Debian.


I've decided to install, mostly because it was recommended by the RTC QuickStart Guide; I've heard that similar results can be reached with and other servers.

I'm also targeting stable (+ backports); as I write this is jessie; if there are significant differences I will update this article when I will upgrade my server to stretch. Right now, this means that I'm using prosody 0.9 (and that's probably also the version that will be available in stretch).

Installation and prerequisites

You will need to enable the repository and then install the packages prosody and prosody-modules.

You also need to setup some TLS certificates (I used Let's Encrypt; and make them readable by the prosody user; you can see Chapter 12 of the RTC QuickStart Guide for more details.

On your firewall, you'll need to open the following TCP ports:

  • 5222 (client2server)

  • 5269 (server2server)

  • 5280 (default http port for prosody)

  • 5281 (default https port for prosody)

The latter two are needed to enable some services provided via http(s), including rich media transfers.

With just a handful of users, I didn't bother to configure LDAP or anything else, but just created users manually via:

prosodyctl adduser

In-band registration is disabled by default (and I've left it that way, to prevent my server from being used to send spim

prosody configuration

You can then start configuring prosody by editing /etc/prosody/prosody.cfg.lua and changing a few values from the distribution defaults.

First of all, enforce the use of encryption and certificate checking both for client2server and server2server communications with:

c2s_require_encryption = true
s2s_secure_auth = true

and then, sadly, add to the whitelist any server that you want to talk to and doesn't support the above:

s2s_insecure_domains = { "" }


For each virtualhost you want to configure, create a file /etc/prosody/conf.avail/ with contents like the following:

VirtualHost ""
enabled = true
ssl = {
key = "/etc/ssl/private/";
certificate = "/etc/ssl/public/";

For the domains where you also want to enable MUCs, add the follwing lines:

Component "" "muc"
restrict_room_creation = "local"

the "local" configures prosody so that only local users are allowed to create new rooms (but then everybody can join them, if the room administrator allows it): this may help reduce unwanted usages of your server by random people.

You can also add the following line to enable rich media transfers via http uploads (XEP-0363):

Component "" "http_upload"

The defaults are pretty sane, but see for details on what knobs you can configure for this module

Don't forget to enable the virtualhost by linking the file inside /etc/prosody/conf.d/.

additional modules

Most of the other interesting XEPs are enabled by loading additional modules inside /etc/prosody/prosody.cfg.lua (under modules_enabled); to enable mod_something just add a line like:


Most of these come from the prosody-modules package (and thus from ) and some may require changing when prosody 0.10 will be available; when this is the case it is mentioned below.

  • mod_carbons (XEP-0280)
    To keep conversations syncronized while using multiple devices at the same time.

    This will be included by default in prosody 0.10.

  • mod_privacy + mod_blocking (XEP-0191)
    To allow user-controlled blocking of users, including as an anti-spim measure.

    In prosody 0.10 these two modules will be replaced by mod_privacy.

  • mod_smacks (XEP-0198)
    Allow clients to resume a disconnected session before a customizable timeout and prevent message loss.

  • mod_mam (XEP-0313)
    Archive messages on the server for a limited period of time (default 1 week) and allow clients to retrieve them; this is required to syncronize message history between multiple clients.

    With prosody 0.9 only an in-memory storage backend is available, which may make this module problematic on servers with many users. prosody 0.10 will fix this by adding support for an SQL backed storage with archiving capabilities.

  • mod_throttle_presence + mod_filter_chatstates (XEP-0352)
    Filter out presence updates and chat states when the client announces (via Client State Indication) that the user isn't looking. This is useful to reduce power and bandwidth usage for "useless" traffic.

@Gruppo Linux Como @LIFO
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Ben Hutchings: Debian 8 kernel security update

Thu, 2017-01-12 17:41

There are a fair number of outstanding security issues in the Linux kernel for Debian 8 "jessie", but none of them were considered serious enough to issue a security update and DSA. Instead, most of them are being fixed through the point release (8.7) which will be released this weekend. Don't forget that you need to reboot to complete a kernel upgrade.

This update to linux (version 3.16.39-1) also adds the perf security mitigation feature from Grsecurity. You can disable unprivileged use of perf entirely by setting sysctl kernel.perf_event_paranoid=3. (This is the default for Debian "stretch".)

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, December 2016

Thu, 2017-01-12 17:30

I was assigned 13.5 hours of work by Freexian's Debian LTS initiative and carried over 2 from November. I worked only 10 hours, so I carry over 5.5 hours.

As for the last few months, I spent all of this time working on the linux (kernel) package. I backported several security fixes and did some testing of the more invasive changes.

I also added the option to mitigate security issues in the performance events (perf) subsystem by disabling use by unprivileged users. This feature comes from Grsecurity and has been included in Debian unstable and Android kernels for a while. However, for Debian 7 LTS it has to be explicitly enabled by setting sysctl kernel.perf_event_paranoid=3.

I uploaded these changes as linux 3.2.84-1 and then (on 1st January) issued DLA 722-1.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Laptop Mode Tools 1.71

Thu, 2017-01-12 03:54

I am pleased to announce the 1.71 release of Laptop Mode Tools. This release includes some new modules, some bug fixes, and there are some efficiency improvements too. Many thanks to our users; most changes in this release are contributions from our users.

A filtered list of changes in mentioned below. For the full log, please refer to the git repository. 

Source tarball, Feodra/SUSE RPM Packages available at:

Debian packages will be available soon in Unstable.

Mailing List:


1.71 - Thu Jan 12 13:30:50 IST 2017     * Fix incorrect import of os.putenv     * Merge pull request #74 from Coucouf/fix-os-putenv     * Fix documentation on where we read battery capacity from     * cpuhotplug: allow disabling specific cpus     * Merge pull request #78 from aartamonau/cpuhotplug     * runtime-pm: refactor listed_by_id()     * wireless-power: Use iw and fallback to iwconfig if it not available     * Prefer available AC supply information over battery state to determine ON_AC     * On startup, we want to force the full execution of LMT.     * Device hotplugs need a forced execution for LMT to apply the proper settings     * runtime-pm: Refactor list_by_type()     * kbd-backlight: New module to control keyboard backlight brightness     * Include Transmit power saving in wireless cards     * Don't run in a subshell     * Try harder to check battery charge     * New module: vgaswitcheroo     * Revive bluetooth module. Use rfkill primarily. Also don't unload (incomplete list of) kernel modules


What is Laptop Mode Tools Description: Tools for Power Savings based on battery/AC status  Laptop mode is a Linux kernel feature that allows your laptop to save  considerable power, by allowing the hard drive to spin down for longer  periods of time. This package contains the userland scripts that are  needed to enable laptop mode.  .  It includes support for automatically enabling laptop mode when the  computer is working on batteries. It also supports various other power  management features, such as starting and stopping daemons depending on  power mode, automatically hibernating if battery levels are too low, and  adjusting terminal blanking and X11 screen blanking  .  laptop-mode-tools uses the Linux kernel's Laptop Mode feature and thus  is also used on Desktops and Servers to conserve power Categories: Keywords: Like: 
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Steinar H. Gunderson: 3G-SDI signal support

Wed, 2017-01-11 14:03

I had to figure out what kinds of signal you can run over 3G-SDI today, and it's pretty confusing, so I thought I'd share it.

For the reference, 3G-SDI is the same as 3G HD-SDI, an extension of HD-SDI, which is an extension of the venerable SDI standard (well, duh). They're all used for running uncompressed audio/video data of regular BNC coaxial cable, possibly hundreds of meters, and are in wide use in professional and semiprofessional setups.

So here's the rundown on 3G-SDI capabilities:

  • 1080p60 supports 10-bit 4:2:2 Y'CbCr. Period.
  • 720p60/1080p30/1080i60 supports a much wider range of formats: 10-bit 4:4:4:4 RGBA (alpha optional), 10-bit 4:4:4:4 Y'CbCrA (alpha optional), 12-bit 4:4:4 RGB, 12-bit 4:4:4 Y'CbCr or finally 12-bit 4:2:2 Y'CbCr (seems rather redundant).
  • There's also a format exclusively for 1080p24 (actually 2048x1080) that supports 12-bit X'Y'Z. Digital cinema, hello. Apart from that, it supports pretty much what 1080p30 does. There's also a 2048x1080p30 (no interlaced version) mode for 12-bit 4:2:2:4 Y'CbCrA, but it seems rather obscure.

And then there's dual-link 3G-SDI, which uses two cables instead of one—and there's also Blackmagic's proprietary “6G-SDI”, which supports basically everything dual-link 3G-SDI does. But in 2015, seemingly there was also a real 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI, and it's unclear to me whether it's in any way compatible with Blackmagic's offering. It's all confusing. But at least, these are the differences from single-link to dual-link 3G-SDI:

  • 1080p60 supports essentially everything that 720p60 supports on single-link: 10-bit 4:4:4:4 RGBA (alpha optional), 10-bit 4:4:4:4 Y'CbCrA (alpha optional), 12-bit 4:4:4 RGB, 12-bit 4:4:4 Y'CbCr and the redundant 12-bit 4:2:2 Y'CbCr.
  • 2048x1080 4:4:4 X'Y'Z' now also supports 1080p25 and 1080p30.

4K? I don't know. 120fps? I believe that's also a proprietary extension of some sort.

And of course, having a device support 3G-SDI doesn't mean at all it's required to support all of this; in particular, I believe Blackmagic's systems don't support alpha at all except on their single “12G-SDI” card, and I'd also not be surprised if RGB support is rather limited in practice.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets