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d-i preseeding is not the answer

25.11.2014 by tg@
Tags: debian rant work

This post details what the d-i team currently shows as the only way.

It has several shortcomings and one missing documentation part.

Shortcoming: --purge is missing from the apt-get invocation. This leaves packages in “rc” state (requiring a manual dpkg --purge to completely remove them later, as they are then invisible to apt).

Worse shortcoming: this still leaves all dependencies pulled in by systemd around on the system, because packages installed by debootstrap are not eligible for “apt-get --purge autoremove”. Additionally, it does not influence debootstrap’s (nōn-existent, see #557322, #668001, #768062) dependency resolver, leading to possibly pessimistic package selections.

Missing: you can just hit Alt-F2 and enter the command…

	in-target apt-get --purge -y install sysvinit-core
 

… there, no need to preseed. But this does not eliminate the aforementioned shortcomings, of course.

Apparently (the actual results have not yet been published by the Secretary), the GR is over, and the worst possible option has won. This is an absolutely ambiguous result, while at the same time sending a clear signal that Debian is not to be trusted wrt. investing anything into it, right now.

Why is this? Simply: “GR not required” means that “whatever people do is probably right”. Besides this, we have one statement from the CTTE (“systemd is default init system for jessie. Period.”) and nothing else. This means that runit, or upstart, or file-rc, or uselessd, can be the default init system for zurg^H^H^H^Hstretch, or even the only one. It also means that the vast majority of Debian Developers are sheeple, neither clearly voting to preserve freedom of choice between init systems for its users, nor clearly voting to unambiguously support systemd and progress over compatibility and choice, nor clearly stating that systemd is important but supporting other init systems is still recommended. (I’ll not go into detail on how the proposer of the apparently winning choice recommends others to ignore ftpmaster constraints and licences, and even suggests to run a GR to soften up the DFSG interpretation.) I’d have voted this as “no, absolutely not” if it was possible to do so more strongly.

Judging from the statistics, the only thing I voted above NOTA/FD is the one least accepted by DDs, although the only other proposal I considered is the first-rated of them: support for other init systems is recommended but not required. What made me vote it below NOTA/FD was: “The Debian Project makes no statement at this time on sysvinit support beyond the jessie release.” This sentence made even this proposal unbearable, unacceptable, for people wanting to invest (time, money, etc.) into Debian.

Update: Formal result announced. So 358 out of 483 voting DDs decided to be sheeple (if I understand the eMail correctly). We had 1006 DDs with voting rights, which is a bit ashaming as well. That’s 48.01% only. I wonder what’s worse.

This opens up a very hard problem: I’m absolutely stunned by this and wondering what to do now. While there is no real alternative to Debian at $dayjob I can always create customised packages in my own APT repository, and – while it was great when those were eventually (3.1.17-1) accepted into Debian, even replacing the previous packages completely – it is simpler and quicker to not do so. While $dayjob benefits from having packages I work on inside Debian itself, even though I cannot always test all scenarios Debian users would need, some work reduction due to… reactions… already led to Debian losing out on Mediawiki for jessie and some additional suffering. With my own package repository, I can – modulo installing/debootstrap – serve my needs for $dayjob much quicker, easily, etc. and only miss out on absolutely delightful user feedback. But then, others could always package software I’m upstream of for Debian. Or, if I do not leave the project, continue doing so via QA uploads.

I’m also disappointed because I have invested quite some effort into trying to make Debian better (my idea to join as DD was “if I’ve got to use it, it better be damn good!”), into packaging software and convincing people at work that developing software as Debian packages instead of (or not) thinking of packaging later was good. I’ve converted our versions of FusionForge and d-push to Debian packages, and it works pretty damn well. Sometimes it needs backports of my own, but that’s the corportate world, and no problem to an experienced DD. (I just feel bad we ($orkplace) lost some people, an FTP master along them, before this really gained traction.)

I’d convert to OpenBSD because, despite MirBSD’s history with them, they’re the only technically sound alternative, but apparently tedu (whom I respect technically, and who used to offer good advice to even me when asked, and who I think wouldn’t choose systemd himself) still (allying with the systemd “side” (I’m not against people being able to choose systemd, for the record, I just don’t want to be forced into it myself!)) has some sort of grudge against me. Plus, it’d be hard to get customers to follow. So, no alternative right now. But I’m used to managing my own forks of software; I’m doomed to basically hack and fix anything I use (I recently got someone who owns a licence to an old-enough Visual Studio version to transfer that to me, so I can hack on the Windows Mobile 6 version of Cachebox, to fix bugs in one of the geocaching applications I use. Now I “just” need to learn C# and the .NET Compact Framework. So I’m also used to some amount of pain.)

I’m still unresolved wrt. the attitude I should show the Debian project now. I had decided to just continue to live on, and work on the things I need done, but that was before this GR non-result. I absolutely cannot recommend anyone to “invest” into Debian (without sounding hypocriet), but I cannot recommend anything else either. I cannot justify leaving but don’t know if I want to stay. I think I should sleep over it.

One thing I promised, and thus will do, is to organise a meeting of the Debian/m68k people soonish. But then, major and important and powerful forces inside Debian still insist that Debian-Ports are not part of it… [Update: yes, DSA is moving it closer, thanks for that by the way, but that doesn’t mean anything to certain maintainers or the Release Team, although, the latter is actually understandable and probably sensible.] yet, all forks of Debian now suffer from the systemd adoption in it instead of having a freedom-of-choice upstream. I’ve said, and I still feel that systemd adoption should have done in a Debian downstream / (pure?) blend, and maybe (parts of) GNOME removed from Debian itself for it. (Adding cgroups support to the m68k kernel to support systemd was done. I adviced against it, on the grounds of memory and code size. But no downstream can remove it now.)

On a closing note: an Ewok told me I should not be surprised because of my communication style on the mailing lists. I just got private mails telling me that, indeed, I’ve been more civilised recently, plus I’ve not started out as aggressively as it became in the end of the heated systemd debate (with this GR result, I precisely lost what I had feared), plus I’ve hung on Usenet for too long… and I’m sometimes terse when I don’t want to repeat the, for me, same topic once again (I’ve usually looked at the things before and decided they’re just another hype, and know from experience to avoid them). So I feel this should not be held against me. Listen to advice, please. (I’m also somewhat shocked by certain people asserting systemd is “unavoidable”, now.)

Debian is a bit like a school class…

09.10.2014 by tg@
Tags: personal rant

… which has never quite taken you as-is, bordering bullying maybe, and has now made up rules to include some new kids, using these as excuse to bully you around even more. You stay the outsider, having tried to struggle along for a while, except of course when they want to copy off your homework. Or, as happened to me, during a Maths test, with carbon paper. Then you're thanked for a short while, and after some time, you're alone again.

… except, it all happened in the city, not in the internet, which happily multiplies negative voices and likes to take things out of context, especially if part of the context was in private mail or other threads or long buried (closed as ignored/WONTFIX) bugreports.

Of course, some sorts of misbehaviour are okay, as long as those who do toe the party line ‒ and aren't outcast, to start with.

I still pride myself as independent thinker and like to play the devil's advocate rule (heh, double entendree, being a BSD person). Critically looking at something new has led to lots of tys moments. If people listened to my criticism in the first place, effort could have been saved.

It seems to be an anglo-american-australian thing, putting political correctness in expressions over real niceness. And the opinion about cursing, in general. And this SJW thing. You know, a good friend is someone who you can be silent with, while being happy together. One whom you can insult, be it in jest or in anger, and still stay friends.

And look at those newcomers! Shiny, with makeup that promises faster boot times (eh? I fail to see how this is relevant in a Unix…) and all that. But these superficial people, always jumping from one thing (HAL, consolekit) to the next, giving up their own projects which they forced upon others the minute before ‒ no consistency.

I'm too old for this shit. Ignore my rambling. Couldn't sleep.

mksh R50d released

07.10.2014 by tg@
Tags: bug debian mksh news pcli

The last MirBSD Korn Shell update broke update-initramfs because I accidentally introduced a regression in field splitting while fixing other bugs – sorry!

mksh R50d was just released to fix that, and a small NULL pointer dereference found by Goodbox on IRC. Thanks to my employer tarent for a bit of time to work on it.

mksh R50c released, security fix

03.10.2014 by tg@
Tags: android bug debian mksh news pcli release security

The MirBSD Korn Shell has got a new security and maintenance release.

This release fixes one mksh(1)-specific issue when importing values from the environment. The issue has been detected by the main developer during careful code review, looking at whether the shell is affected by the recent “shellshock” bugs in GNU bash, many of which also affect AT&T ksh93. (The answer is: no, none of these bugs affects mksh.) Stephane Chanzelas kindly provided me with an in-depth look at how this can be exploited. The issue has not got a CVE identifier because it was identified as low-risk. The problem here is that the environment import filter mistakenly accepted variables named “FOO+” (for any FOO), which are, by general environ(7) syntax, distinct from “FOO”, and treated them as appending to the value of “FOO”. An attacker who already had access to the environment could so append values to parameters passed through programs (including sudo(8) or setuid) to shell scripts, including indirectly, after those programs intended to sanitise the environment, e.g. invalidating the last $PATH component. It could also be used to circumvent sudo’s environment filter which protected against the vulnerability of an unpatched GNU bash being exploited.

tl;dr: mksh not affected by any shellshock bugs, but we found a bug of our own, with low impact, which does not affect any other shell, during careful code review. Please do update to mksh R50c quickly.

mksh R50b released

03.09.2014 by tg@
Tags: mksh news pcli

The MirBSD Korn Shell has got a new bugfix release. Thought you’d want to know ☺

mksh R50, jupp 27 released

29.06.2014 by tg@
Tags: jupp mksh news pcli

Both the MirBSD Korn Shell and jupp – the editor which sucks less have seen new releases today. Please test them, report all bugs, and otherwise enjoy all the bugfixes.

Other subprojects will also have new releases… once I get around doing so after hacking them…

Update 03.07.2014: New release for MirCPIO, that is, cpio(1) and pax(1) and tar(1) in a somewhat portable package.

-r--r--r-- 4 tg miros-cvssrc 141973 Jul 3 19:56 /MirOS/dist/mir/cpio/paxmirabilis-20140703.cpio.gz

Dear FSF, stop recommending Enigmail.

05.06.2014 by tg@
Tags: debian pcli rant security tip work

Dear FSF, stop recommending Enigmail, please. It is broken, simple as that. Even if you switch everything HTML-related off, it still defaults to the latin9 (ISO-8859-15) encoding instead of UTF-8, and possibly some other nasties. Worse, it’s based upon obsolete Thunderbird/Icedove technology, which is dead since the release of Firefox® 17 and will only degrate over time.

Side note: I was asked recently how much entropy is used while generating a PGP key using GnuPG on Windows®, after having done the same for OpenSSL on Debian (and possibly almost all other OSes). I had to try to find out which was the actual code (GnuPG 2 with libgcrypt, it turns out), and it was not pretty. (You are hereby adviced to create a 600-byte file ${GNUPGHOME:-~/.gnupg}/random_seed from a good source before even attempting to use GnuPG 2 for the first time. OK, you can run gpg -k once, to create the GNUPGHOME directory from a skeleton.)

Friseure!

21.05.2014 by tg@
Tags: personal rant

Mein Friseur hat zugemacht. Jetzt versuche ich seit Wochen, einen neuen zu finden. Der sollte aufhaben, wenn ich von der Arbeit komme. Technisch beëinflußt suche ich zunächst im Netz… aber liebe Leute, ich will keine 20 € und mehr ausgeben und dafür beim Friseur Kaffee aus einer Saeco trinken (das mache ich auf Arbeit kostenlos), oder für 36 € das 40-Minuten-Wellness-Paket mit irgendwelchen abgedrehten Pflegen haben oder von Promi-Friseuren beackert werden.

Ich will einfach nur nen verdammten normalen sommerlichen Kurzhaarschnitt, für ein Dutzend Quakes, ggfs. ein paar mehr, gern auch mit Rasur. Und zwar abends so zwischen 18 und 19 Uhr, oder samstags am späten (lies: 14 Uhr) Vormittag, wenn ich halbwegs wach bin.
Ist das denn so schwer?

(Okay, die meisten haben vermutlich keine Webseite. Aber wie findet man die? Und die zwei mit einer Facebook- aber keiner Webseite kommen, habe ich extra von der Arbeit aus nachgesehen, auch nicht in Frage.)

</rant>

More on the Vim thing

20.05.2014 by tg@
Tags: tip

As an update to the issue with Vim not treating a file as UTF-8 Benny wrote about earlier, there’s more to note:

  • The file in question contained two lines that were copied from the Other BSD, which were not UTF-8. This probably led to Vim not wanting to treat the entire file as UTF-8. (This is not normally a problem in vi(1), AFAIK (but in nvi in Debian, which truncates the file on write, with no way to recover), and jupp even has mixed-encoding files as a primary use case.)
  • When treating the file as UTF-8 forcefully, which Benny used, the file was saved with the offending bytes replaced by question marks (which was discovered by me in cvs(1) diff(1), leading to a fix and this post-mortem analysis)

This is apparently something every editor user should know about. Another lesson learned: run $VCS diff before committing!

And something for me to take from this: check file encodings when importing from poorer OSes, and in general.

Today I learned something about file encodings in vim. When your terminal is UTF-8 but Vim insists on treating the file you are opening as latin-1, here is what to do: Setting fileencoding on the already opened file will not work, it will only try to convert the file (i.e. the wrongly interpreted UTF-8 sequences) to UTF-8. Don't do this!

The solution is to reopen the file using

:e ++enc=utf8

or specify the ++enc parameter when opening the file from inside vim. The more you know.

Quotes of the day – SWB Engrish

17.05.2014 by tg@
Tags: fun

Stadtwerke Bonn conduct track works on the third
weekend of May 23-25th on several sections of the
line 61. The orbits of lines 61, 62 and 65 drive from
Friday 23 May to Sunday 25 May not on their usual
line paths
. Due the track works a train replacement
service by busses will be established.

Please note: The travel time of the shuttle busses
takes longer. It is recommend to adjust the traveling
plan.

We apologise for any inconvenience!

(Emphasis mine. Inconvenience, such as almost C|N>K…)

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