19 Apr 2014

feedPlanet Debian

Steve Kemp: I was beaten to the punch, but felt nothing

A while back I mented github-backed DNS hosting.

Turns out NameCast.net does that already, and there is an interesting writeup on the design of something similar, from the same authors in 2009.

Fun to read.

In other news applying for jobs is a painful annoyance.

Should anybody wish to employ an Edinburgh-based system administrator, with a good Debian record, then please do shout at me. Remote work is an option, as is a local office, if you're nearby.

Now I need to go hide from the sun, lest I get burned again...

Good news? Going on holiday to Helsinki in a week or so, for Vappu. Anybody local who wants me should feel free to grab me, via the appropriate channels.

19 Apr 2014 7:03pm GMT

Joey Hess: propellor-driven DNS and backups

Took a while to get here, but Propellor 0.4.0 can deploy DNS servers and I just had it deploy mine. Including generating DNS zone files.

Configuration is dead simple, as far as DNS goes:

     & alias "ns1.example.com"
        & Dns.secondary hosts "joeyh.name"
                & Dns.primary hosts "example.com"
                        (Dns.mkSOA "ns1.example.com" 100)
                        [ (RootDomain, NS $ AbsDomain "ns1.example.com")
            , (RootDomain, NS $ AbsDomain "ns2.example.com")

The awesome thing is that propellor fills in all the other information in the zone file by looking at the properties of the hosts it knows about.

 , host "blue.example.com"
        & ipv4 ""
        & ipv6 "fe80::26fd:52ff:feea:2294"

        & alias "example.com"
        & alias "www.example.com"
        & alias "example.museum"
        & Docker.docked hosts "webserver"
            `requres` backedup "/var/www"
        & alias "ns2.example.com"
        & Dns.secondary hosts "example.com"

When it sees this host, Propellor adds its IP addresses to the example.com DNS zone file, for both its main hostname ("blue.example.com"), and also its relevant aliases. (The .museum alias would go into a different zone file.)

Multiple hosts can define the same alias, and then you automaticlly get round-robin DNS.

The web server part of of the blue.example.com config can be cut and pasted to another host in order to move its web server to the other host, including updating the DNS. That's really all there is to is, just cut, paste, and commit!

I'm quite happy with how that worked out. And curious if Puppet etc have anything similar.

One tricky part of this was how to ensure that the serial number automtically updates when changes are made. The way this is handled is Propellor starts with a base serial number (100 in the example above), and then it adds to it the number of commits in its git repository. The zone file is only updated when something in it besides the serial number needs to change.

The result is nice small serial numbers that don't risk overflowing the (so 90's) 32 bit limit, and will be consistent even if the configuration had Propellor setting up multiple independent master DNS servers for the same domain.

Another recent feature in Propellor is that it can use Obnam to back up a directory. With the awesome feature that if the backed up directory is empty/missing, Propellor will automcatically restore it from the backup.

Here's how the backedup property used in the example above might be implemented:

backedup :: FilePath -> Property
backedup dir = Obnam.backup dir daily
    [ "--repository=sftp://rsync.example.com/~/webserver.obnam"
    ] Obnam.OnlyClient
    `requires` Ssh.keyImported SshRsa "root"
    `requires` Ssh.knownHost hosts "rsync.example.com" "root"
    `requires` Gpg.keyImported "1B169BE1" "root"

Notice that the Ssh.knownHost makes root trust the ssh host key belonging to rsync.example.com. So Propellor needs to be told what that host key is, like so:

 , host "rsync.example.com"
        & ipv4 ""
        & sshPubKey "ssh-rsa blahblahblah"

Which of course ties back into the DNS and gets this hostname set in it. But also, the ssh public key is available for this host and visible to the DNS zone file generator, and that could also be set in the DNS, in a SSHFP record. I haven't gotten around to implementing that, but hope at some point to make Propellor support DNSSEC, and then this will all combine even more nicely.

By the way, Propellor is now up to 3 thousand lines of code (not including Utility library). In 20 days, as a 10% time side project.

19 Apr 2014 7:08am GMT

Russell Coker: Swap Space and SSD

In 2007 I wrote a blog post about swap space [1]. The main point of that article was to debunk the claim that Linux needs a swap space twice as large as main memory (in summary such advice is based on BSD Unix systems and has never applied to Linux and that most storage devices aren't fast enough for large swap). That post was picked up by Barrapunto (Spanish Slashdot) and became one of the most popular posts I've written [2].

In the past 7 years things have changed. Back then 2G of RAM was still a reasonable amount and 4G was a lot for a desktop system or laptop. Now there are even phones with 3G of RAM, 4G is about the minimum for any new desktop or laptop, and desktop/laptop systems with 16G aren't that uncommon. Another significant development is the use of SSDs which dramatically improve speed for some operations (mainly seeks).

As SATA SSDs for desktop use start at about $110 I think it's safe to assume that everyone who wants a fast desktop system has one. As a major limiting factor in swap use is the seek performance of the storage the use of SSDs should allow greater swap use. My main desktop system has 4G of RAM (it's an older Intel 64bit system and doesn't support more) and has 4G of swap space on an Intel SSD. My work flow involves having dozens of Chromium tabs open at the same time, usually performance starts to drop when I get to about 3.5G of swap in use.

While SSD generally has excellent random IO performance the contiguous IO performance often isn't much better than hard drives. My Intel SSDSC2CT12 300i 128G can do over 5000 random seeks per second but for sustained contiguous filesystem IO can only do 225M/s for writes and 274M/s for reads. The contiguous IO performance is less than twice as good as a cheap 3TB SATA disk. It also seems that the performance of SSDs aren't as consistent as that of hard drives, when a hard drive delivers a certain level of performance then it can generally do so 24*7 but a SSD will sometimes reduce performance to move blocks around (the erase block size is usually a lot larger than the filesystem block size).

It's obvious that SSDs allow significantly better swap performance and therefore make it viable to run a system with more swap in use but that doesn't allow unlimited swap. Even when using programs like Chromium (which seems to allocate huge amounts of RAM that aren't used much) it doesn't seem viable to have swap be much bigger than 4G on a system with 4G of RAM. Now I could buy another SSD and use two swap spaces for double the overall throughput (which would still be cheaper than buying a PC that supports 8G of RAM), but that still wouldn't solve all problems.

One issue I have been having on occasion is BTRFS failing to allocate kernel memory when managing snapshots. I'm not sure if this would be solved by adding more RAM as it could be an issue of RAM fragmentation - I won't file a bug report about this until some of the other BTRFS bugs are fixed. Another problem I have had is when running Minecraft the driver for my ATI video card fails to allocate contiguous kernel memory, this is one that almost certainly wouldn't be solved by just adding more swap - but might be solved if I tweaked the kernel to be more aggressive about swapping out data.

In 2007 when using hard drives for swap I found that the maximum space that could be used with reasonable performance for typical desktop operations was something less than 2G. Now with a SSD the limit for usable swap seems to be something like 4G on a system with 4G of RAM. On a system with only 2G of RAM that might allow the system to be usable with swap being twice as large as RAM, but with the amounts of RAM in modern PCs it seems that even SSD doesn't allow using a swap space larger than RAM for typical use unless it's being used for hibernation.


It seems that nothing has significantly changed in the last 7 years. We have more RAM, faster storage, and applications that are more memory hungry. The end result is that swap still isn't very usable for anything other than hibernation if it's larger than RAM.

It would be nice if application developers could stop increasing the use of RAM. Currently it seems that the RAM requirements for Linux desktop use are about 3 years behind the RAM requirements for Windows. This is convenient as a PC is fully depreciated according to the tax office after 3 years. This makes it easy to get 3 year old PCs cheaply (or sometimes for free as rubbish) which work really well for Linux. But it would be nice if we could be 4 or 5 years behind Windows in terms of hardware requirements to reduce the hardware requirements for Linux users even further.

Related posts:

  1. Swap Space There is a wide-spread myth that swap space should be...
  2. Modern Swap Use A while ago I wrote a blog post debunking the...
  3. Killing Servers with Virtualisation and Swap The Problem: A problem with virtual machines is the fact...

19 Apr 2014 4:58am GMT

Russell Coker: Phone Based Lectures

Early this month at a LUV meeting I gave a talk with only my mobile phone to store notes. I used Google Keep to write the notes as it's one of the easiest ways of writing a note on a PC and quickly transferring it to a phone - if I keep doing this I will find some suitable free software for this task. Owncloud seems promising [1], but at the moment I'm more concerned with people issues than software.

Over the years I've experimented with different ways of presenting lectures. I'm now working with the theory that presenting the same data twice (by speaking and text on a projector) distracts the audience and decreases learning.

Editing and Viewing Notes

Google Keep is adequate for maintaining notes, it's based on notes that are a list of items (like a shopping list) which is fine for lecture notes. It probably has lots of other functionality but I don't care much about that. Keep is really fast at updating notes, I can commit a change on my laptop and have it visible on my phone in a few seconds over 3G.

Most of the lectures that I've given have involved notes on a laptop. My first laptop was a Thinkpad 385XD with a 12.1″ display and all my subsequent laptops have had a bigger screen. When a laptop with a 12″ or larger screen is on a lectern I can see the notes at a glance without having to lean forward when 15 or fewer lines of text are displayed on the screen. 15 lines of text is about the maximum that can be displayed on a slide for the audience to read and with the width of a computer display or projector is enough for a reasonable quantity of text.

When I run Keep on my Galaxy Note 2 it displays about 20 rather short lines of text in a "portrait" orientation (5 points for a lecture) and 11 slightly longer lines in a "landscape" orientation (4 points). In both cases the amount of text displayed on a screen is less than that with a laptop while the font is a lot smaller. My aim is to use free software for everything, so when I replace Keep with Owncloud (or something similar) I will probably have some options for changing the font size. But that means having less than 5 points displayed on screen at a time and thus a change in the way I present my talks (I generally change the order of points based on how well the audience seem to get the concepts so seeing multiple points on screen at the same time is a benefit).

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a 5.5″ display which is one of the largest displays available in a phone. The Sony Xperia X Ultra is one of the few larger phones with a 6.44″ display - that's a large phone but still not nearly large enough to have more than a few points on screen with a font readable by someone with average vision while it rests on a lectern.

The most obvious solution to the problem of text size is to use a tablet. Modern 10″ tablets have resolutions ranging from 1920*1080 to 2560*1600 and should be more readable than the Thinkpad I used in 1998 which had a 12″ 800*600 display. Another possibility that I'm considering is using an old phone, a Samsung Galaxy S weighs 118 to 155 grams and is easier to hold up than a Galaxy Note 2 which weighs 180g. While 60g doesn't seem like much difference if I'm going to hold a phone in front of me for most of an hour the smaller and lighter phone will be easier and maybe less distracting for the audience.

Distributing URLs

When I give a talk I often want to share the addresses of relevant web sites with the audience. When I give a talk with the traditional style lecture notes I just put the URLs on the final page (sometimes using tinyurl.com) for people to copy during question time. When I use a phone I have to find another way.

I did a test with QR code recognition and found that a code that takes up most of the width of the screen of my Galaxy Note 2 can be recognised by a Galaxy S at a distance of 50cm. If I ran the same software on a 10″ tablet then it would probably be readable at a distance of a meter, if I had the QR code take up the entire screen on a tablet it might be readable at 1.5m away, so it doesn't seem plausible to hold up a tablet and allow even the first few rows of the audience to decode a QR code. Even if newer phones have better photographic capabilities than the Galaxy S that I had available for testing there are still lots of people using old phones who I want to support. I think that if QR codes are to be used they have to be usable by at least the first three rows of the audience for a small audience of maybe 50 people as that would allow everyone who's interested to quickly get in range and scan the code at the end.

Chris Samuel has a photo (taken at the same meeting) showing how a QR code from a phone could be distributed to a room [2]. But that won't work for all rooms.

One option is to just have the QR code on my phone and allow audience members to scan it after the lecture. As most members of the audience won't want the URLs it should be possible for the interested people to queue up to scan the QR code(s).

Another possibility I'm considering is to use a temporary post on my documents blog (which isn't syndicated) for URLs. The WordPress client for Android works reasonably well so I could edit the URL list at any time. That would work reasonably well for talks that have lots of URLs - which is quite rare for me.

A final option is to use Twitter, at the end of a talk I could just tweet the URLs with suitable descriptions. A good portion of the Tweets that I have written is URLs for web sites that I find interesting so this isn't a change. This is probably the easiest option, but with the usual caveat of using a proprietary service as an interim measure until I get a free software alternative working.

Any suggestions?

Please comment if you have any ideas about ways of addressing these issues.

Also please let me know if anyone is working on a distributed Twitter replacement. Please note that anything which doesn't support followers on multiple servers and re-tweets and tweeting to users on other servers isn't useful in this regard.

Related posts:

  1. Questions During Lectures An issue that causes some discussion and debate is the...
  2. Choosing an Android Phone My phone contract ends in a few months, so I'm...
  3. Sex and Lectures about Computers I previously wrote about the appropriate references to porn in...

19 Apr 2014 3:49am GMT

Thomas Goirand: OpenStack 2014.1, aka Icehouse, is out

The new version of OpenStack is out, and I have just finished uploading it all into Debian Sid. With a total of 38 packages that I uploaded yesterday (which was exhausting!), most, if not all, were only moving from Experimental to Sid with only tiny updates, and this represents the achievement of 6 months of packaging work. The new feature list is impressive, and I would like to highlight some part of it:

For the moment, I haven't packaged Sahara (eg: Hadoop as a service), but it might come later as a customer of us might require it.

There's a lot less unit tests issues in the packages I uploaded to Sid: all SQLAlchemy issues have been dealt with. I wasn't confident with the Havana release that Sid / Testing would be a good environment for OpenStack, but this time with Icehouse, I think it should be much better. Please test this brand new release and report issues on the BTS. As always, the packages are available also as Wheezy backports through the usual channels (see the official install guide).

19 Apr 2014 2:55am GMT

Steinar H. Gunderson: Cosplay

Cubemap number of viewers graph, spiking sharply

9.2 Gbit/sec. Cubemap, yo.

19 Apr 2014 1:15am GMT

Ben Hutchings: Linux kernel update for Debian 7.5; new Intel Ethernet drivers

Debian 7.5 will include an update to the Linux kernel, based on Linux 3.2.57. Package version 3.2.57-2 is currently available in the wheezy-proposed-updates suite. I would appreciate any testing people can do to find regressions in the next few days.

In addition to bug fixes, this version updates the e1000e and igb drivers. The drivers are now based on the versions found in Linux 3.13, which support several newer chips (i210, i211, i217, i218, i354). Please consider testing this new kernel if you have an Intel gigabit Ethernet controller, even if it was already supported in Linux 3.2.

19 Apr 2014 1:04am GMT

Paul Tagliamonte: Hy at PyCon 2014

I gave a talk this year at PyCon 2014, about one of my favorite subjects: Hy. Many of my regular readers will have no doubt explored Hy's thriving GitHub org, played with try-hy, or even installed it locally by pip installing it. I was lucky enough to be able to attend PyCon on behalf of Sunlight, with a solid contingint of my colleagues. We put together a writeup on the Sunlight blog if anyone was interested in our favorite talks.

Tons of really amazing questions, and such an amazingly warm reception from so many of my peers throughout this year's PyCon. Thank you so much to everyone that attended the talk. As always, you should Fork Hy on GitHub, follow @hylang on the twitters, and send in any bugs you find!

Hopefully I'll be able to put my talk up in blog-post form soon, but until then feel free to look over the slides or just watch the talk.

An extra shout-out to @akaptur for hacking on Hy during the sprints, and giving the exception system quite the workthrough. Thanks, Allison!

19 Apr 2014 12:13am GMT

18 Apr 2014

feedPlanet Debian

Thorsten Glaser: Stay off my computer, puppet!

I was out, seeing something that wasn't there yet when I was at school (the "web" was not ubiquitous, back then), and decided to have a look:


Ugh. Oh well, PocketIE doesn't provide a "View Source" thingy, so I asked Natureshadow (who got the same result on his Android, and had no "View Source" either apparently, so he used cURL to see it). We saw (here, re-enacted using ftp(1)):

    tg@blau:~ $ ftp -Vo - http://www.draitschbrunnen.de/
  <!-- pageok -->
  <!-- managed by puppet -->

This is the final straw… after puppet managed to trash a sudoers(5) at work (I warned people to not introduce it) now it breaks websites. ☺

(Of course, tools are useful, but at best to the skill of their users. Merely dumbly copying recipes from "the 'net" without any understanding just makes debugging harder for those of us with skills.)

ObQuestion: Does anyone have ⓐ a transcript (into UTF-8) and ⓑ a translation for the other half of the OpenBSD 2.8 poster? (I get asked this regularily.)
Update: One person sent me the Kanji and Kana for it in UTF-8 「俺のマシンに手を出すな!」, and they and one more person told me it's "Hands off my machine!" or "Don't lay a hand on my machine!". Now I'm not studying Japanese, but it LGTM in FixedMisc [MirOS], and JMdict from MirPorts says: ore no mashin ni te (w)o dasu na (roughly: my machine; particle; hands; particle; put out; prohibition) ☺ Thanks all, now I know what to tell visitors who wonder about that poster on my wall.

ObTip: I can install a few hundred Debian VMs at work manually before the effort needed to automate d-i would amortise. So I decided not to. Coworkers are shocked. I keep flexibility (can decide to have machines differ), and the boss accepts my explanations. Think before doing automation just for the sake of automation!

18 Apr 2014 10:45pm GMT

Richard Hartmann: higher security

Instant classic


NO, there were errors:
The certificate does not apply to the given host
The certificate authority's certificate is invalid
The root certificate authority's certificate is not trusted for this purpose
The certificate cannot be verified for internal reasons

Signature Algorithm: md5WithRSAEncryption
    Issuer: C=XY, ST=Snake Desert, L=Snake Town, O=Snake Oil, Ltd, OU=Certificate Authority, CN=Snake Oil CA/emailAddress=ca@snakeoil.dom
        Not Before: Oct 21 18:21:51 1999 GMT
        Not After : Oct 20 18:21:51 2001 GMT
    Subject: C=XY, ST=Snake Desert, L=Snake Town, O=Snake Oil, Ltd, OU=Webserver Team, CN=www.snakeoil.dom/emailAddress=www@snakeoil.dom
            X509v3 Subject Alternative Name: 

For your own pleasure:

openssl s_client -connect www.walton.com.tw:443 -showcerts

or just run

echo '
' | openssl x509 -noout -text

At least they're secure against heartbleed.

18 Apr 2014 10:22am GMT

17 Apr 2014

feedPlanet Debian

Siri Reiter: That goddamned perfection again

Since the MiniDebConf Jonas and I have been travelling in Spain, France and finally staying in Belgium for a week, getting some work done. It's been harder than imagined to work during travel. I haven't exercised either, and regained at least three of four kilos I spent much time and effort getting rid in the year preceding. I thrive in my home and find it hard to keep my own time and focus when I am deprived of my own space.

It was challenging to give a talk, "Why aren't more designers using Debian or working for Debian", my first public talk. I've been working to recapture my points in writing, to make a stronger statement, but I seem to blur my own views with conflicting ones, and I'm loosing momentum every day.

One of my reasons for speaking up was to do it even though I'm not at trained speaker and have "nothing" to contribute but my opinions from the angle of a user that happens to be a designer. Not claiming to be a superior designer, but one that would like to contribute if it was easier to figure out how. And since the community wants to encourage designers to contribute to the Debian project, I figured it to be a good idea to talk about how this has been challenging to me as a dedicated user and completely out of the question for any other designer I know - or knew before the minidebconf. No reseach, no scientific proofs, just my wiew from my "dumb user" and designer's perspective.

I saw one single attendant rolling his eyes during my talk. I didn't care at that time, but I've given that look more consideration than the people approaching me after the talk, saying thank you for voicing their opinions and thoughts. I think that's absolutely astonishing and at the same time it's just typically me. It makes me angry, first with myself for not speaking to this man's perception of things, then with myself for not just letting go of that image. I'm really glad that so many seemed to listen with curiosity and interest. What if one more - or half of the auditorium - had rolled their eyes? I don't like to feel that vulnerable.

The truth is, though, that I'm really not. I gave the talk against my fear of failure and public humiliation and I'm convinced that my thoughts and actions matter, just as anybody's does, if we dare to say what's on our minds and to take action. I believe it's in anybody's power to "make a difference" and even "change the world" - at least in a small way. I guess that's one of the underlying reasons to be a designer in the first place. That is quite a strong position to take.

I've created the wikipage http://wiki.debian.org/Design - well knowing that design is a word with many meanings. Everything is design. Since the talk I've been in doubt about that page. About the project, my aim with it, what to do about it, how to move on with just a tiny babystep, and I realise that I'm simply afraid to be disturbing someone's peace, making people angry or roll their eyes at my fumbling attempts to figure out in public what can be done to make a thriving community of designers collaborating with coders to make better, more usable and attractive software in the free, wide world. I'm starting a design process, not presenting a perfect, finished solution.

Now, having put these thoughts into words, perhaps, my mind will be somewhat appeaced and let me move on with my intended tasks of cultivating that acclaimed space in the Debian information jungle into a friendly and welcoming place with info that makes it easier to be a contributing designer in Debian.

17 Apr 2014 6:09pm GMT

Elena 'valhalla' Grandi: DUCC-IT

There is exactly one month left before DUCC-IT, the Debian Ubuntu Community Conference Italia: a great chance to meet your free software developing neighborhoods.

This year it will be just one day, in Cesena, and it will include events targeted to both the community and a wider public.

The Call for Paper is still open, but only for a few days, so if you want to propose a talk/session hurry up!

#duccit14 @Debian

17 Apr 2014 4:28pm GMT

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 79: Magic, flu shots, and play dates and dinner

Zoe slept until 7:45am this morning, which is absolutely unheard of in our house. She did wake up at about 5:15am yelling out for me because she'd kicked her doona off and lost Cowie, but went back to sleep once I sorted that out.

She was super grumpy when she woke up, which I mostly attributed to being hungry, so I got breakfast into her as quickly as possible and she perked up afterwards.

Today there was a free magic show at the Bulimba Library at 10:30am, so we biked down there. I really need to work on curbing Zoe's procrastination. We started trying to leave the house at 10am, and as it was, we only got there with 2 minutes to spare before the show started.

Magic Glen put on a really good show. He was part comedian, part sleight of hand magician, and he did a very entertaining show. There were plenty of gags in it for the adults. Zoe started out sitting in my lap, but part way through just got up and moved closer to the front to sit with the other kids. I think she enjoyed herself. I'd have no hesitation hiring this guy for a future birthday party.

Zoe had left her two stuffed toys from the car at Megan's house on Tuesday after our Port of Brisbane tour, and so after the magic show we biked to her place to retrieve them. It was close to lunch by this stage, so we stayed for lunch, and the girls had a bit of a play in the back yard while Megan's little sister napped.

It was getting close to time to leave for our flu shots, so I decided to just bike directly to the doctor from Megan's place. I realised after we left that we'd still left the stuffed toys behind, but the plan was to drive back after our flu shots and have another swim their neighbour's pool, so it was all good.

We got to the doctor, and waited for Sarah to arrive. Sarah and I weren't existing patients at Zoe's doctor, but we'd decided to get the flu shot as a family to try and ease the experience for Zoe. We both had to do new patient intake stuff before we had a consult with Zoe's doctor and got prescriptions for the flu shot.

I popped next door to the adjacent pharmacy get the prescriptions filled, and then the nurse gave us the shots.

For the last round of vaccinations that Zoe received, she needed three, and she screamed the building down at the first jab. The poor nurse was very shaken, so we've been working to try and get her to feel more at ease about this one.

Zoe went first, and she took a deep breath, and she was winding up to freak out when she had her shot, but then it was all over, and she let the breath go, and looked around with a kind of "is that it?" reaction. She didn't even cry. I was so proud of her.

I got my shot, and then Sarah got hers, and we had to sit in the waiting room for 10 minutes to make sure we didn't turn into pumpkins, and we were on our way.

We biked home, I grabbed our swim gear, and we drove back to Megan's place.

The pool ended up being quite cold. Megan didn't want to get in, and Zoe didn't last long either. Megan's Mum was working back late, so I invited Megan, her Dad and her sister over for dinner, and we headed home so I could prepare it. One of Zoe's stuffed toys had been located.

We had a nice dinner of deviled sausages made in the Thermomix, and for a change I didn't have a ton of leftovers. Jason had found the other stuffed toy in his truck, so we'd finally tracked them both down.

After Megan and family went home, I got Zoe to bed without much fuss, and pretty much on time. I think she should sleep well tonight.

17 Apr 2014 5:18am GMT

16 Apr 2014

feedPlanet Debian

Wouter Verhelst: Call for help for DVswitch maintenance

I've taken over "maintaining" DVswitch from Ben Hutchings a few years ago, since Ben realized he didn't have the time anymore to work on it well.

After a number of years, I have to admit that I haven't done a very good job. Not becase I didn't want to work on it, but mainly because I don't have enough time to fix DVswitch against the numerous moving targets that it uses; the APIs of libav and of liblivemedia are fluent enough that just making sure everything remains compilable and in working order is quite a job.

DVswitch is used by many people; DebConf, FOSDEM, and the CCC are just a few examples, but I know of at least three more.

Most of these (apart from DebConf and FOSDEM) maintain local patches which I've been wanting to merge into the upstream version of dvswitch. However, my time is limited, and over the past few years I've not been able to get dvswitch into a state where I confidently felt I could upload it into Debian unstable for a release. One step we took in order to get that closer was to remove the liblivemedia dependency (which implied removing the support for RTSP sources). Unfortunately, the resulting situation wasn't good enough yet, since libav had changed API enough that current versions of DVswitch compiled against current versions of libav will segfault if you try to do anything useful.

I must admit to myself that I don't have the time and/or skill set to maintain DVswitch on an acceptable level all by myself. So, this is a call for help:

If you're using DVswitch for your conference and want to continue doing so, please talk to us. The first things we'll need to do:

See you there?

16 Apr 2014 4:24pm GMT

Richard Hartmann: secure password storage

Dear lazyweb,

for obvious reaons I am in the process of cycling out a lot of passwords.

For the last decade or so, I have been using openssl.vim to store less-frequently-used passwords and it's still working fine. Yet, it requires some manual work, not least of which manually adding random garbage at the start of the plain text (and in other places) every time I save my passwords. In the context of changing a lot of passwords at once, this has started to become tedious. Plus, I am not sure if a tool of the complexity and feature-set of Vim is the best choice for security-critical work on encrypted files.

Long story short, I am looking for alternatives. I did some research but couldn't come up with anything I truly liked; as there's bound to be tools which fit the requirements of like-minded people, I decided to ask around a bit.

My personal short-list of requirements is:

Any and all feedback appreciated. Depending on the level of feedback, I may summarize my own findings and suggestions into a follow-up post.

16 Apr 2014 6:47am GMT

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 78: Alginate, dragon boats and relatives

I ordered some alginate the other day, and it arrived yesterday, but we were out, so I had to pick it up from the post office this morning.

Anshu and I picked it up before Zoe was dropped off. We had a couple of attempts at making some, but didn't quite get the ratios or the quantity right, and we were too slow, so we'll have to try again. The plan is to try and make a cast of Zoe's hand, since we were messing around with plaster of Paris recently. I've found a good Instructable to try and follow.

Nana and her dragon boating team were competing in the Australian Dragon Boat Championships over Easter, and her first race was today. It also ended up that today was the best day to try and go and watch, so when she called to say her first race would be around noon, I quickly decided we should jump in the car and head up to Kawana Waters.

We abandoned the alginate, and I slapped together a picnic lunch for Zoe and I, and we bid Anshu farewell and drove up.

Zoe's fever seemed to break yesterday afternoon after Sarah picked her up, and she slept well, but despite all that, she napped in the car on the way up, which was highly unusual, but helped pass the time. She woke up when we arrived. I managed to get a car park not too far from the finish line, and we managed to find Nana, whose team was about the enter the marshaling area.

Her boat was closest to the shore we were watching from, and her boat came second in their qualifying round for the 200 metre race, meaning they went straight through to the semi-finals.

The semi-finals were going to be much later, and I wanted to capitalise on the fact that we were going to have to drive right past my Mum and Dad's place on the way home to try and see my sister and her family, since we missed them on Monday.

We headed back after lunch and a little bit of splashing around in the lake, and ended up staying for dinner at Mum and Dad's. Zoe had a great time catching up with her cousin Emma, and fooling around with Grandpa and Uncle Michael.

She got to bed a little bit late by the time we got home, but I'm hopeful she'll sleep well tonight.

16 Apr 2014 5:18am GMT