slef-reflections on debian


Packaging

Mozilla Firefox and IceWeasel

Posted by mjr 2007-11-08

This follows last year's problems with Mozilla packages.

FTP.mozilla.org now has a (Not-?)Firefox 2.0.0.9 "compiled with branding, logos and talkback removed" according to John O'Duinn's Soapbox - download non-automated en-US free-software builds.

Is this really free? What does it mean for Debian's Iceweasel and GNU's Iceweasel if so? I guess the GNU one will keep going, to avoid the auto-installation of non-free plugins, but it might allow more work to be shared.

Cowbuilder

I installed cowdancer for cowbuilder from etch but the tree it built seemed to have a few problems.

Firstly, it didn't work (sudo cowbuilder --login, right?). It was missing cow-shell, libcowdancer and start-stop-daemon, which I copied into the tree from the system. Is this a bug, user error or something really strange?

Secondly, it seemed to be pointing at ftp.jp.debian.org which is very very slow for me. I guess this is either a missing feature or a user error.

Is there a good HOWTO about care and feeding of a cowbuilder?

Anyway, despite the above, the long-overdue git RFS has been answered. Thanks Ian.

Vincent Bernat commented:

"cowbuilder just uses pbuilder. You can set mirror with --mirror switch or in your pbuilderrc (or in /etc/pbuilder)."

Thanks for the useful tip. So I should have written my pbuilderrc before using cowbuilder for the first time. Which rc line is equivalent to cowbuilder's --basepath option?


Society

Oops I did it again

Posted by mjr 2007-11-08

I wrote a lot of messages on Sunday, trying to clear some things up and start a few slow balls rolling before various workshops, meetings and training sessions this week. Sadly, I botched at least three subject lines.

One was the "Dear Blogger" post on this site which was written to someone who blogs, not Google's Blogger site. Few people saw the second mistake, so I'll not republish it here.

The third was trying to ask whether debian t-shirts like the one I wear are affected by the Uzbek cotton problems which were in the news several times last week. That was on debian-project so I got some personal abuse for the botched subject. Debian lists are more funny than fun - some people get less flak for mailing violent threats than I do for a misjudged subject line...

Oh, and about the cotton-picking: it appears the debian project doesn't know where material for debian-branded clothing comes from and some seem to argue strongly that we should remain ignorant of it...

Heroes

2007-08-10 (Permalink): Yesterday sucked. I thought I'd try cheering myself up by doing some work for/with someone I've enjoyed collaborating with before.

So this morning, I translated Christian Perrier's call for Esperanto D-I testing and Serge Leblanc had tested it before lunch. What a star!

I think it's easy to see the problems and overlook good things like this. I know which I prefer, but people tend to focus on bad news more than good, don't they? Pick any debian news service and good news seems like a small fraction. Want to change that?

Planet Debian Editorial Policy

2007-08-09 (Permalink): Once again, someone suggests banning feeds with low debian-specific content from Planet Debian. (lists.d.o) This time, it's led by Steve McIntyre, whose blog comments about his work, friends, family trips and pub challenges, among other things.

This purge saw Evan Prodromou unlink his journal (which comments about his work, friends, family trips and wikipeda, among other things) in reaction to hate, commenting:

"I've heard from people who really like reading my blog posts on Planet Debian, and people who really hate them.

The people who like my blog can add it to their feed readers directly. I believe I've followed the rules for PD, but there's no point antagonizing people who don't want to read it"

I'm sad to see one of the more interesting "off-topic" authors disappear from the site like this. Hatred wins again?

Updated: Evan's back. Yippee!

ak commented:

"People should get themselves RSS feedreaders with some filter functionality to filter out postings from people they don't want to read. Using kill files has been common on Usenet and in mailing lists for decades, so why not apply the same technique to planet.d.o. instead of excluding content from it that could be potentially interesting to other readers?"

I don't know why not. The discussion mentioned a killfile-capable web version of planet debian, so people don't even need RSS feedreaders.

2007-08-09 (Permalink): Steve McIntyre responded on his own blog to claim I

"blatantly missed the point, presumably to cause offence"

so I've updated the original to try to be more accurate. I didn't post to cause offence. I posted mainly because Evan simply unlinked, rather than leaving a "I've gone" post, so many readers wouldn't have realised what had happened. While I was posting, I wanted to express my disappointment at this sorry situation.

That "presumably to cause offence" is typical of the public online mud-slinging I've come to expect from a few particular developers. That is trolling. It's far smarter, more subtle spin than anything I can write. I feel you'd only presume that if you already wanted to think ill of me, as it's untrue. (If you know me, I doubt you'd presume it.) If a post is "troll-like", it's probably an error, maybe from my different style to most hackers. (I was taught writing by tabloid news... seriously. I try my best to overcome, but I don't always succeed when writing in a hurry, reacting to news.)

Please, if anyone feels one of my posts went a bit awry, please take it up with me, either directly (email, IRC, jabber, telephone) or in the forum where it went bad. It's stupid to start criticising with a public notice in a different forum, unless you're trying to turn a mistake into a multi-modal flamewar. Myself, I had already replied in the original forum to the debian-project thread about why I disliked the unlinking suggestions.

It didn't look much like a discussion: Steve McIntyre only posted once, then took no further part, and Planet Debian had already lost one valuable author. (For those who don't know, any debian developer can alter PD settings at present, but I think you'd need a brass neck to go against a stated position of debian's second-in-charge like that.)

It looked like we were talking about bumping people off the planet again, without involving our users (one of our priorities?) in the discussion.

So I posted.

2007-05 (Permalink): Apparently, it is fine if others flood planet debian with repeats because they screwed an upgrade, post questionable career advice or misleading documentation links, make fun of unrelated computer companies, or discuss the weather or traffic, but I posted about Eurovision and Martin Zobel-Helas unlinked my entries and sent me a rude email.

Isn't planet debian a planet of debian developers, not just a planet of debian development? Even if you only write about debian, please don't force that on everyone else. I like reading about the other stuff developers do - even the loony political views that I don't agree with...

Didn't someone put up a Planet Debian Tech a while ago? Maybe that's what Martin Zobel-Helas should read. Whatever happened to it?

Kevin Mark commented:

"Hear hear! I was waiting to read about the Eurovision results! But I'm sure AJ and Martin want a let's take the fun out of Debian planet debian tech and I'm sure someone can make them a custom feed for the cost of a reasonable bounty!

Nice to know I'm not alone. (Why mention AJ?)

Joachim Breitner wrote:

"I once tried to start a German planet Debian because the official only allows English postings. Maybe it would be nice to have some kind of tagging standard that works across aggregators. This way, we could allow any kind of posts on p.d.o, and allow various sets to chose from, based on tags. I, for example, would choose (german OR english), others might chose (english AND tech), or ((french OR english) AND debian). Some (NOT politics). And some just (jokes) :-)"

Why didn't German planet debian work?

I think there's a sort-of standard in dc:subject and xml:lang, but we'd need to agree a tag dictionary. And I think planetplanet generates files, so we'd need some cached or database solution.

Joachim Breitner replied:

"To be correct, I tried setting up an international planet debian on gluck with no language restrictions, but interest was rather low and planet (the software) is not really maintenance-free, so I stopped after a while.

A German planet was tried by someone around Christmas, I think, but AFAIR he lost interest while trying to make it look pretty. I guess I should follow up on that. :-)

(PS: Can you make the comment form store the information in a cookie? Would save some typing.)"

Sorry, these pages are static html at the moment. You could try using Saved Forms in Iceweasel/Firefox, which may be configured at Edit: Preferences: Privacy: Saved Forms or similar.

Debian Maintainers

2007-07-27 (Permalink): I've voted in favour of the Debian Maintainers GR because, despite flaws like micro-managing the initial situation [Sven Mueller], I believe it is a useful step towards reforming the New Maintainer process.

Those of you with long memories may recall that I think NM should be a modern portfolio-based qualification [-project, April 2006, but probably not the first time I explained it] instead of the current, inconsistent AM-dependent one which sees good people applying too early and sometimes being turned away, sometimes being accepted too quickly, but most often sitting in DAMnation.

Despite some claims to be interested in fixing NM [Raphael Hertzog], it seems the current NM team requires throwing more people at the buggy system [Raphael Hertzog] before even considering fixing the damn bugs. Of course, I suspect any suggestion would be met with a claim that NM then wasn't performing too badly, now that it had more people. I think that's damage, so I hope the DM GR can be a first stepping stone in a new path to becoming a DD which routes around the damage.

zugschlus becomes asuffield

2007-07-19 (Permalink): Marc 'Zugschlus' Haber:

"I think I'm going to stop being responsive to users. They're not worth the blood pressure."

Andrew Suffield:

"But realistically, all that is fairly minor compared to the number of idiot users, idiot developers, kooks, luddites, zealots, managers, politicians, and self-obsessed fools that everybody has to deal with in the free software world."

I think I have a new source of blunt put-downs.

Pancake Society

2007-07-05: Like Mike O'Connor's wife, people here are happier about the 10th anniversary of the Social Contract because of the pancakes more than its cultural significance.

In his Everything goes into stew: Celebrating Freedom, there's a pancake recipe which may as well include stew. It's typical of the sort of bloat which users fear from a maintainer who doubled the length of his package name!

Let's keep the Social Contract simple: one egg, 1/4l of milk, 200g flour, beat it all together, stand for 10 minutes, pour some into a hot oil-sprayed pan, fry while easing with a spatula and toss when firm enough.

If you want to complicate things, run your pancake through the streets - don't add stuff to pancake batter.

When did foo(l) join the debian project?

In response to John Goerzen's question, I'd try the following steps:

Check keyring.debian.org/changelog - this will give a near-definitive answer for all DDs joining since 19 Jan 1998.

If that fails, check the web archive copies of the 1997 debian people page to find out when they first appear and which packages to check.

Check as many package changelogs as possible on the package tracking system and the rest on the debian archive to find the earliest entries. (Update: for completeness, check the signature on the matching dsc and its key creation date.)

Then look in their $HOME on master for the earliest timestamp.

And finally, search list archives and the web for any welcome message (rare), the first use of their @debian.org address, or a signature where they claim to be a debian developer.

Any other ways to guess the date?

Ben Armstrong commented:

"When trying to pin down the exact date when I joined, the keyring changelog is no help. First entry for me is in 2000, which is 3 years later. The web archive is no good, as I joined too late in 1997. Searching for me in the PTS shows my first changelog entry 6 Nov 1997, but that's a bit sloppy because that datestamp was added when the packaging process started. It doesn't reflect when the package was finally uploaded. Mailing list posts are little help. But the first file on master is Dec 8 1997 .Xauthority. So I know it was between November 6th and Dec 8th. Not too bad, but I'd love to know the exact day."

Glad it was some use. I have my suspicions that the only way to find the exact date is to get all the keyring maintainers from that time and regress them under hypnosis. Do you think we can arrange that as a BOF at Debconf next week? The "Cracking Open Minds to Discover Debian Developer Joining Dates BOF"?

The Rabid Right Fallacy

Another problematic meme is the idea that no-one need tolerate anyone - even those who are tolerant (known as the Rabid Right meme). When someone has no tolerance for others (for example, flaming people who expect any attempt at fairness, or who follow different social interaction patterns) then they have no place in a community such as Debian. They should clear off to some hard-hierarchy project - it's not like there's any shortage of Rabid Right hackers in this world. </sarcasm>

Update: the "Right" in "Rabid Right" above refers to a right, not right-wing politics. The "Rabid Right" is a right to be intolerant, a right to froth at the mouth, a right to appear rabid about a topic. There is no such right and there should be no such right: the Rabid Right meme is harmful. If you always think politics when you hear "right", please read more about rights.

For what it's worth, I believe life should be fair (idealism) and life is not fair (pragmatism). It is possible for those two beliefs to coexist.

Expulsion could be fair, but (IIRC) every expulsion proposed so far would have been unfair and based on personal issues, rather than repeated offences: we may be reaching the point where a fair expulsion could happen. It seems a shame none of those who hold the smaller penalties are willing to use them in a Non-Discriminatory way.

The "can't take their job away" meme seems more myth than meme, but it does need sorting out in the few places where it occurs. I doubt it will happen under this DPL.

debian.ch, the personal abuse society

I reject the unconstitutional honorary membership allocated by debian.ch and I have not made the mistake that I made with DUS, of possibly accepting membership by conduct. You can tell debian.ch is nothing to do with me: its director can't even print my name right.

Will debian.ch continue to be used for personal abuse? Will the next DPL actually defend the debian name against these unethical debian-countrycode enterprises?

Update: To madduck, because you don't even have comments on your blog: Yes, the debian user database is wrong. I don't know why my gecos is different from my GPG key, most of my IDs and my AM report and I've asked for it to be corrected for years, as readers of debian lists may remember, but it's well-known how responsive admin@db.d.o can be sometimes. IIRC, Ian Jackson once refused to sign my key because my IDs and db.d.o disagree.

Seeing as it was posted to another blog, I'll delete the similar comment, but that's fairly unusual for me.

The Nerd Barrier: Is this why some DDs can't understand me?

I don't usually do these, but this one could be fun for planet debian:

You Are 20% Nerdy

You are definitely not nerdy - in fact, you probably don't know any nerds. You probably care a little too much about your image. No one will know if you secretly watch Star Trek reruns!

How Nerdy Are You?

I think most of my few points are linked to debian development... this is partly why the idea of more "social conformance" testing for new maintainers worries me. It could mean I'll always stand out like a bizarre blue-haired hacker.

No Mail Today

2006-02-01: As far as I can tell, I was not getting any email from debian.org because master cached a bogus MX record for phonecoop.coop. Update 2: superstar DSAs stroked the right widget so email should start flowing again.

I think I can't even email anyone at debian.org or lists because debian uses sender verify.

Update: It seems that debian.org's use of sender verify means debian will get blacklisted. An anonymous commenter posted:

"I'm arguing against Debian admins using Sender Verify because it's evil. Even uceprotect will list them if they caught a mail from them: http://www.uceprotect.net/en/index.php?m=10&s=0"

Update: Steinar H. Gunderson - Sender verify says we shouldn't care.


Debconf7 (Edinburgh)

Blogging from debconf7: 5. How many rainstorms does it take to kill one audio player?

Partly because of a lack of funding for debconf, partly because of bad organisation (long story, may be told later) and partly to get back to work (got a new contract on Thursday, so it was worth it), I left debconf on Wednesday, the day of the day trip. Those of you who were there may have noticed it rained pretty damn hard. After I checked out, I sat in the lobby and lined all my luggage with plastic, to make really sure it was waterproof. I left a few things which didn't matter, like bottles, in the side pockets, outside the plastic. I headed out with the intention of visiting Teviot one last time, to pick up things from the Front Desk which arrived after I did, but as I waded uphill, I changed my plan and headed straight for Waverley station. There I sat, snacking and drip-drying until my train left.

I watched the day trippers leave, but I don't think they looked up to the bridge where I sat. There was a very strange sign fragment on the ground on the far side of the train tracks at Waverley platform 7: it said

"How many assassins does it take to kill one man?"

How debconf-coincidence is that? I tried to get a picture, but my camera wasn't happy about the light levels. Anyone else see it? Is it still there?

I met some very nice people on the train to Manchester. Sat at the same table as me were a young web designer and someone who was stationed in London (during World War 2, IIRC). Both had interesting stories and both had connections to France. A fourth person got on in Lancashire and just sat quietly, reading the University of Lancaster Travel Plan 2004.

Manchester city centre was fascinating. I travelled through it a quite few times more than 10 years ago, but it has poshed up since then. Most buildings seem relentlessly gothic, like someone took London St Pancras as the inspiration for an entire city, but there's the occasional classical and modernist building punctuating things. I'll put the photos up soon.

After a quick walk around, I felt it was about to rain again and I didn't fancy a second soaking in one day, so I headed into a pretty good cafe called "Java" by Oxford Road station and waited for my train. The rest of the journey back was pretty uneventful, as far as I can recall.

Unfortunately, once I got home, I discovered that some of my hardware was outside the plastic lining and was soaked by the first rainstorm... these posts have been delayed while I got some of it working again, but it seems that the infernal Samsung YP-U2 is totally dead.

Links: my Samsung YP-U2 wouldn't upgrade and Wouter's Eclectic Blog: Review: Samsung YP-T10

Blogging from debconf7: 4. Sleepin ur BoF, hijakin ur sesh, climbin ur volkano

This has been delayed for a few days, for reasons I explain in another post, so my remaining debconf posts will be published quite quickly, every few hours.

Monday started with me nearly asleep in the back of the Debian-Med session. Interesting stuff and I'm starting to get involved in supplying web apps to the health sector, but I must watch the session back. Then bureado's excellent debian in venezuela talk and a big shock for me when I got called out. The afternoon and evening were mentioned in the last post.

Tuesday opened with me confused in the Xen session and then I went to a good-looking session on combining the debian-installer, ubuntu OEM bits, backuppc and openvpn but lkcl didn't show. (His diary suggests he was around. Wonder what happened.) I kicked the session along a bit and learned stuff from others about preseeding, FAI, backuppc, bacula, amanda and so on, but it didn't seem like anyone had plugged these together in quite the same way. At the end of the session, I bumped into Eddie Bleasdale who it seems is working with Phil Hands and lkcl on a very interesting project. He spoke more about it in a meeting the afternoon, hoping that Phil would arrive to handle the technical side. Phil timed his entry to perfection, about 30 minutes after the end of the talk.

In between the hijacked talks, I went for a walk up to the top of Arthur's Seat and back with jumpula and someone else whose name I've forgotten - sorry!

Oh, and what is it with all the loldebian posts this week?

Blogging from debconf7: 3. A Short History of Time

The second day of debconf went a bit odd. It seemed like, apart from the first session, everything else I attended was at a different time to when it was advertised yesterday. Even my talk had moved and I didn't notice, so I turned up early and was thrown before I started. Maybe more on that later. (Summary: 2 dozen rattling around a large hall, no clock, and I really hate fixed microphones. It dragged.)

Anyway, things which I didn't think would conflict suddenly did and things which I thought conflicted didn't any more - but I didn't notice the missing conflicts until too late. I bumped into Sam who seems to be tracking conference sessions on a pad of paper - I've no idea how he's managing that.

The SPI half-human half-IRC board meeting was interesting to watch. I also discovered that my typing speed has dropped a little and that it's much harder to copy-type north americans than locals. I still don't know what tune was being whistled when the board stopped talking and started typing.

Blogging from debconf7: 2. Day 1 (or is it Day 9?)

So that was the first day of debconf, which the schedule sometimes calls 17.06 (Ja?) and in other places Day 9 (DebCamp counted from day one, AIUI). I went to four talks today and I've sent them some feedback. I went to the welcome, CC-workgroup (Evan's not there, which was interesting), Popcon-mining and SPI. It was useful in one talk being able to relay from IRC, but I must try to keep my battery charged more.

I'm planning to do four talks tomorrow, over a longer time, with some gaps for hacking and working (they're paying for me to be at debconf, so I'm not really away away). It also seems that I can't collect comments to my blog in the normal way while I'm here. I think it's network/rDNS-related, so I might figure that out tomorrow. Apologies if your comments are queued.

Blogging from debconf7: The Journeyer

Just stopped off in Derby on the way to Edinburgh. It was a good move in one way, because my inbound train was running over 30 minutes late (diverted due to the floods in the Midlands) and my outbound one is only 10 minutes late... but the manager just announced flooding in West Yorkshire, so I guess we'll see. The inbound train was called Vyjaer Kernewek (or something like that), which was nice to see.

Derby was useful in another way (besides a good wifi-enabled light meal at the big blue coffee shop). I didn't plan that when I set off, but by Bristol it was already obvious that I couldn't carry all my widgets in one bag. I also couldn't get the laptop out on the train, for fear of a packing explosion.

So, Derby has shops. It also seems to have a market-free market place as the focus of the city centre. There's a view up to the cathedral, a small waterfall... and the Derby Mountain Rescue. I suppose the peaks are near, but mountains?

The market wasn't in the marketplace. It seemed to be under cover in two parts. One is in the guildhall and the other is in a shopping centre that seems to have an identity crisis - is it the Eagle Centre, or is it Westfield? - and also has a building site attached that greets you as you approach from the railway. Not good tourist promotion.

Until the building site, the City-Rail Trail is signposted well, about 5 minutes walk, but the signposts are a bit odd. I noticed the funny ridges first and dismissed them as an anti-spin thing, but then I noticed some bronze floppy disks (I'll post a photo once I find the right USB lead). Other attachments included spark plugs and glasses. There's no sign explaining it that I saw. What the heck is that all about?

Coda: No, it wasn't a good move. Apparently there's more flooding in South Yorkshire, so I arrived about midnight and this is posted the next day. At least I'm having a better time of it than damog, who's stuck in New York and I wonder whether other tales of woe will appear on Planet Debian as people find net access. Now for breakfast and planning the day.

Debconf7 loves climate change?

I've just noticed that some debconf7 registrations close this week.

Yes, this week - a full two months before national rail advance tickets go on sale. What's that about?

Meanwhile, the debconf7 travel page (SSL) seems to have far more airline details than railway ones. I'm almost wondering if someone involved owns an airport up there or something...

Please, for the sake of our British Isles, don't fly to debconf from Europe and especially not from the UK! For example, flying from London dumps 193kg of carbon into the upper atmosphere (where it's over twice as damaging), but a train only 24kg near the ground (source).

Jon Dowland replied

"MJ, the debconf7 travel page has far more flight information on it than anything else because it has been put together primarily by people who are figuring out international travel arrangements which will require flights."

International travel does not necessarily require flights. Intercontinental travel probably does, due to time constraints, or maybe even cross-continent, but I've seen DDs from nearby countries posting about booking their flights, and putting the deadlines before land tickets are even on sale is really shameful.

"It could certainly use some more information for people travelling more locally. If you have some advice on how to get there from Europe or the UK without flying, please contribute it: the site is a wiki, you can sign up for an account and edit the page yourself."

As I've posted elsewhere, it's a mediawiki rather than a wiki, so once I get around to installing mvs, I can sign up and edit it. (Bring back patches in the mail...) However, I'm not sure how best to get to Edinburgh without flying yet, because most tickets aren't on sale yet, which is where I started, remember?

David Moreno Garza replied

"in 3rd world countries, some things like technology, travelling or taking care of the environment are not a matter of choice, unfortunately. [...]"

Sure, if people are travelling from 3rd world countries to Edinburgh, then flying is probably the only practical way, but surely people from nearby countries can get to Scotland without dumping CO2 into our sky?

Travelling to Debconf7

I've booked my travel to Debconf7. Here are some tips for anyone making the trip over land from England:

There are cheap megatrains and megabuses from central Edinburgh to/from Manchester (train, weekdays) and Sheffield Meadowhall (bus, everyday) which give useful connections to points further south, avoiding London.

Caledonian Sleeper Bargain Berths are now bookable, but Fridays go quickly (and seem to have gone for 15th). Similarly, there seem to be no cheap tickets left on the train up the Welsh border to Manchester for most useful dates.

Find your "magic towns" for train tickets: stations where you can break long journeys to save money. They're often stations with more than one fast train operator, so these are usually old railway towns. For example, mine are Crewe and Derby from Somerset. Sometimes you don't even need to get off the train, but if you do change trains, you might be gambling on delays on the way to that town (if using timed tickets and so on), so allow enough time!

Debconf's arrivals day (Saturday 16 June) is the European Day of Action Against Airport Expansion so arriving over land is a damn good idea, even without the CO2 reasons. (Debconf's last day is Pride Scotia - is all the silly scheduling deliberate?)

Joachim Breitner wrote:

"Damn it! Now I was waiting for the night train tickets back from Edinburgh, just to notice now that they don't operate on Saturdays!

I wonder if there is some car going from Edinburgh to London on Saturday, 23rd...

(/me is worrying about his trip)"

and 10 minutes later:

"Never mind, there are still overnight busses available - and damn cheap :-)"

I hope that crew of that overnight bus are kinder than the one I did London-Paris on a while ago: calling out over the public address at 0230 stops that no-one had tickets for, then arriving over an hour early in Paris. No-one wanted to be in Paris at 0430.

Anyway, I think I'll spend a few hours in Manchester and Derby - anyone got tips on where to eat or what to see?

The slef travel service

Now I've got my tickets, I've put some tips about finding cheap debconf land travel onto the debconf site. (I know that was selfish, but debconf's travel deadlines sucked and it refused to help pay for travel, so please excuse me looking after myself first.)

Damog emailed me, grumbling about how hard it is to find cheap/quick land travel from a major English city to Edinburgh. I sent back three options for under GBP 35 return, but I've heard nothing more. Hope it worked.

Simon Richter wrote GyrosGeier's blog - Why the environment loses out, again. complaining that Deutsche Bahn quote 426 ? (EUR, I guess) to go to Edinburgh from Munich. Well, I just asked Lufthansa and they quote up to EUR 1400 to fly Munich-Edinburgh, but I'm sure you can find that cheaper too - obviously, if you get only one quote from a dominant supplier, that may not be the best price available. I don't know about travel from Germany, but someone already left a link to another ticket agency in the comments.

Debconf Cheese and Wine BoF and the UK Import Laws

A comment on El Blog de Jose that

"I plan to carry white cheese to the Cheese and Wine BoF, and I'd love any comments on how to transport them without posing a biological threat for Europe"

triggered some memories of the warning signs I saw at the port of Dover about the UK milk product import restrictions when returning from my last trip. So, I posted my concerns to debconf-discuss.

Until you hear otherwise, if you're outside the EU/EEA, I suggest that you don't try bringing cheese to Edinburgh. I hope that you'd have it confiscated, rather than being fined and/or imprisoned, but I don't know how they'd treat a foreigner trying to carry in enough cheese for a party.



Project Leadership

DPL Debate: I thought you were special. I thought you should know

So, that was the debate. Now I can stop and read the answers properly. It was a bit disappointing that one candidate (gustavo) didn't appear, one was late (sjr) and one withdrew on the day of the debates (svenl). I guess I'll see what explanations are submitted.

The debate opened with a fairly gentle question, asking for introductions. Makes sure the process is working, I guess. Generally inoffensive, but Anthony Towns's answer is puzzling: shouldn't he have documented stuff during the last transition if he thought it lacking? If he's re-elected, there won't be a transition, so any documentation would be based on year-old memories... he's giving an argument for electing someone else!

The communication question got a variety of responses. Not sure that Wouter Verhelst's aim of better team communications is achievable, but maybe it is - don't know without more communication from people who aren't currently communicating well! Not sure whether Steve McIntyre is arguing for diplomacy and politeness or the truth of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is more worrying.

Releases. Oh! Releases. Aigars Mahinovs's plan to release less often is interesting, but is it realist or defeatist?

None of the candidates seem keen to give NM the radical revision that I think it needs - the median time in DAMnation is longer than the median time for the whole of the AM-led review, contrary to what Wouter Verhelst seems to claim later (line 754). About the only reforms suggested are Anthony Towns making permissions more gradual and Steve McIntyre's (IMO scary) social conformance test.

Each of the candidates sees a slightly different thing as debian's biggest problem, although some of them overlap. Maybe this is the axis that differentiates the candidates most? Also, a full range of "code of conduct" views seem to be there: from it being a good idea, through leaving it for others to try, to being opposed.

Then it was onto the buck-passing round. Another communication question brought some similar responses and this absolute gem from Aigars Mahinovs:-

"A technical solution to a social problem - a cron job that will send the email every two months, 6 text files with a template saying that nothing has been done and I just need to remember to write something good into those files before they are sent."

I like that idea!

A few technical questions brought some interesting reminders about work that is actually already underway, but maybe not very visible, then there was a question about other distributions. Predictably, most of the focus fell on Utnubu and other derivatives, with a few mentions of Gentoo too.

The targetted questions brought a few amusing replies: at least one candidate seems to say that they won't pursue a past comment if elected, while Anthony Towns seems to see the new FDL and CC licences and GPL'd Java as personal achievements.

The cage fight (or open discussion, as it is more usually known) spent most of its time emphasising and clarifying points from earlier. It only seemed to be at the end when it cut new ground, with questions about demographics and $10million.

Finally, closing summaries again showed the differences of approaches and views. Then that was that and the participants logged off into the night...

Wouter Verhelst wrote:

"That line 754 came across pretty horrible, TBH. I didn't have much time to think my reply through, and it shows.

What I wanted to say is that for the bits the NMs are actually involved in (ID check, T&S, P&P, etc), P&P is what takes up the most time.

Waiting for an AM, waiting for the FD to check the report, and waiting for the DAM to figure it out and say "okay" all does, indeed, take much longer than that, on average."

I still don't understand how this matches the NM statistics that show the AM processing step (which includes ID check, T&S and P&P IIRC) has a shorter median than waiting for DAM. Waiting for DAM is what often takes up most time.

During the audience discussion, I was told by a 2007 DD that they spent a year waiting for DAM, just like I did back in 2002. (I also was re-tested about free software while seeing NMs with very questionable philosophies get fast-tracked past me - I don't know if those still happen.) NM is still broken, but it's somehow not a campaign topic in this year's DPL election AFAICS.

Elsewhere, gustavo posted that his no-show was because he was in a car crash - I think that's a fair reason for missing the debate. I'll hop on IRC after 1400 and see if I can record his answers.

I hopped onto IRC and put most of the debate questions to Gustavo Franco (stratus). You can read it next to the others - SynrG and pusling tried to help recreate the cage fight, but I think we're just too tame.

There's also this linux.com article where Steve McIntyre and Anthony Towns don't answer questions and it seems the reporters didn't notice Sven Luther's withdrawal.

My DPL Vote, but While There's Moonlight and Music and Love and Romance...

A lot of people seem to post their votes onto planet these days. More so than 2 or 3 years ago. I'm still not going to post the full details, but here's my usual summary, based on the debate and the platforms.

Above None Of The Above
  • Sam Hocevar - I share his view of the problems, although I don't agree with all the suggested actions. A bit quirky, but seems nice enough.
  • Aigars Mahinovs - I think he could be an accountable and fair DPL. Has ideas - not all good ideas and I don't like the aim of releasing less often - but I can't see him driving on if he's getting flamed to a well-done crisp. A leader more than a ruler.
  • Gustavo Franco - nice guy, but maybe I just think that because I've had more direct contact with him than other candidates recently. I agree with most of his views of the problems, except Ubuntu and the tattoo. Maybe too inexperienced for this time.
  • Raphael Hertzog - I think the team model is a good idea for the size of the project now and it learns from past attempts.
Borderline
  • Wouter Verhelst - I'd be voting mainly based on what I've seen of him. I don't want to vote for someone standing with a low-detail platform, as that's just scary. Even when people break promises, it's hard enough to remove them. The debate did give a bit more detail. I fear the adoption of ESR-style "authority follows responsibility" - that's just impractical for parts of the debian infrastructure.
  • Simon Richter - Generally OK, but I'm worried by the cutting it fine with the platform, not posting any rebuttals and being late for the debate because one battery went flat.
Below NOTA
  • Steve McIntyre - This won't surprise anyone: it's because of the manner in which the Debian UK Society retail business was started; but also the trial misadvertised as mediation of the d-i conflict. I shudder to think what social conformance tests he wants in NM.
  • Anthony Towns - last year I didn't vote for this politician (while correct in one way, most DDs have never even seen me in a mediation situation and he didn't have the courage to cc me on that email) because I thought that email suggested he'd be a terrible DPL. This year, he's demonstrated how terrible and the platform and debate suggests he hasn't even noticed: he thinks he's been a successful leader, despite the recall vote. One or two interesting ideas, but not enough to overcome that. His rebuttal seems to utterly miss Sam Hocevar's point about how being not-evil (Corporate Social Responsibility, as seen in the private sector) is different from actively being good (Concern for Community, as seen in the third sector): is that being dense or devious?

So, how wrong am I this year? Is there more trouble ahead?

The DPL is Gone! All Hail the DPL!

I was away when the results were announced, so I didn't comment on it at the time, but this seems a good result.

For those of you who are non-graphical and maths-blind: Sam Hocevar is the new DPL. Steve McIntyre was arguably second, with Raphaël Hertzog and Wouter Verhelst also in the second group. Gustavo Franco and Anthony Towns were also above None Of The Above, with Simon Richter and Aigars Mahinovs below.

With the exception of the scarily high placings of Anthony Towns and Steve McIntyre, that seems a good result to me. Hopefully it was just the "don't change horses in mid-stream" silly ticket boosting those two.

Sam Hocevar's first Bits from the DPL has just gone out so: where do you want debian to go today?


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