Going to RMLL (LSM) and Debconf!

Next week, I’ll head to Strasbourg for Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre 2011. On monday morning, I’ll be giving my Debian Packaging Tutorial for the second time. Let’s hope it goes well and I can recruit some future DDs!

Then, at the end of July, I’ll attend Debconf again. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate in Debcamp this year, but I look forward to a full week of talks and exciting discussions. There, I’ll be chairing two sessions about Ruby in Debian and Quality Assurance.

Slides from RMLL (and much more)

So, I’m back from the Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre, which took place in Nantes this year. It was great to see all those people from the french Free Software community again, and I look forward to seeing them again next year in Bordeaux (too bad the Toulouse bid wasn’t chosen).

The Debian booth, mainly organized by Xavier Oswald and Aurélien Couderc, with help from Raphaël, Roland and others (but not me!), got a lot of visits, and Debian’s popularity is high in the community (probably because RMLL is mostly for über-geeks, and Debian’s market share is still very high in this sub-community).

I spent quite a lot of time with the Ubuntu-FR crew, which I hadn’t met before. They do an awesome work on getting new people to use Linux (providing great docs and support), and do very well (much better than in the past) at giving a good global picture of the Free Software world (Linux != Ubuntu, other projects do exist and play a very large role in Ubuntu’s success, etc). It’s great to see Free Software’s promotion in France being in such good hands. (Full disclosure: I got a free mug (recycled plastic) with my Ubuntu-FR T-shirt, which might affect my judgement).

I gave two talks, on two topics I wanted to talk about for some time. First one was about the interactions between users, distributions and upstream projects, with a focus on Ubuntu’s development model and relationships with Debian and upstream projects. Second one was about voting methods, and Condorcet in particular. If you attended one of those talks, feedback (good or bad) is welcomed (either in comments or by mail). Slides are also available (in french):

On a more general note, I still don’t understand why the “Mondiales” in RMLL’s title isn’t being dropped or replaced by “Francophones“. Seeing the organization congratulate themselves because 30% of the talks were in english was quite funny, since in most cases, the english part of the talk was “Is there someone not understanding french? no? OK, let’s go on in french.“, and all the announcements were made in french only. Seriously, RMLL is a great (probably the best) french-speaking community event. But it’s not FOSDEM: different goals, different people. Instead of trying (and failing) to make it an international event, it would be much better to focus on making it a better french-speaking event, for example by getting more french-speaking developers to come and talk (you see at least 5 times more french-speaking developers in FOSDEM than in RMLL).

I’m now back in Lyon for two days, before leaving to Montreal Linux Symposium, then coming back to Lyon for three days, then Debconf from 23rd to 31st, and then moving to Nancy, where I will start as an assistant professor in september (a permanent (tenured) position).

Living in France? Not an April member? You are WRONG.

I’ve been a member of April, the french association for promotion and defense of Free Software, for a bit more than a year, and I often regret not becoming a member earlier. (I was feeling so guilty and shameful about not being a member that I actually postponed becoming a member.)

Stop feeling guilty and shameful, become an April member today!

Why Is becoming an April member so important?

  • Clearly, April doesn’t address the same problems as your local LUG. April is a country-wide organization, and it works on country-wide problems. It’s the only group able to work on such problems at this scale (I’m not sure of the situation in other countries, but I think CCC shares a similar role in Germany for example).
  • Each time I talk to people really involved in April (which I’m not), I’m amazed by how powerful they have become. They are able to talk to french or european deputies or ministers’ cabinets, and are considered important. They are doing a fantastic job spreading what matters to us to legislative and executive powers in France and Europe.

Some of the things they worked on recently (from the top of my head):

  • Lobbying on :
    • OOXML
    • General announcements about politics (Plan France Numérique 2012, aka Plan Besson).
    • European telecom package and HADOPI law (french graduated response) law, through Quadrature du net. (OK, it doesn’t have anything to do with April, but most of the people involved in Quadrature du Net are also involved in April :-)
    • vente liée : the fact that it’s not possible to buy a computer without a Windows license. It’s illegal in French law, but still the de facto situation almost everywhere.
  • Organization of a campaign where candidates to elections in France where asked questions, or asked to sign a declaration about Free Software. In 2007, 8 out of the 12 candidates of the french presidential election answered April’s questions.

So, really, become a member today. It’s only 10 EUR, and you already know they will be well used. April is trying to reach 5000 members by the end of 2008.

(Apparently, if you use that address, April will now that you came from me. No benefit for me at all.)


It’s really funny to see how popular things can get, and then totally disappear. Some time ago, there was a TV show on the french TV called “Un an de +”, that talked about what was in the news one year before. It was really interesting to see how quickly everybody can forget stuff that looks so important now.

For example, who remembers Second Life? Apparently, it has been on the decline for some time already, according to Google Trends:

Will Facebook be the next Second Life?

Looking for cliques in the GPG signatures graph

The strongly connected set of the GPG keys graph contains a bit more than 40000 keys now (yes, that’s a lot of geeks!). I wondered what was the biggest clique (complete subgraph) in that graph, and also of course the biggest clique I was in.

It’s easy to grab the whole web of trust there. Finding the maximum clique in a graph is NP-complete, but there are algorithms that work quite well for small instances (and you don’t need to consider all 40000 keys: to be in a clique of n keys, a key must have at least n-1 signatures, so it’s easy to simplify the graph — if you find a clique with 20 keys, you can remove all keys that have less than 19 signatures).

My first googling result pointed to Ashay Dharwadker’s solver implementation (which also proves P=NP ;). Googling further allowed me to find the solver provided with the DIMACS benchmarks. It’s clearly not the state of the art, but it was enough in my case (allowed to find the result almost immediately).

The biggest clique contains 47 keys. However, it looks like someone had fun, and injected a lot of bogus keys in the keyring. See the clique. So I ignored those keys, and re-ran the solver. And guess what’s the size of the biggest “real” clique? Yes. 42. Here are the winners:

CF3401A9 Elmar Hoffmann 
AF260AB1 Florian Zumbiehl 
454C864C Moritz Lapp 
E6AB2957 Tilman Koschnick 
A0ED982D Christian Brueffer 
5A35FD42 Christoph Ulrich Scholler 
514B3E7C Florian Ernst 
AB0CB8C0 Frank Mohr 
797EBFAB Enrico Zini 
A521F8B5 Manuel Zeise 
57E19B02 Thomas Glanzmann 
3096372C Michael Fladerer 
E63CD6D6 Daniel Hess 
A244C858 Torsten Marek 
82FB4EAD Timo Weingärtner
1EEF26F4 Christoph Ulrich Scholler 
AAE6022E Karlheinz Geyer 
EA2D2C41 Mattia Dongili 
FCC5040F Stephan Beyer 
6B79D401 Giunchedi Filippo 
74B11360 Frank Mohr 
94C09C7F Peter Palfrader
2274C4DA Andreas Priesz 
3B443922 Mathias Rachor 
C54BD798 Helmut Grohne 
9DE1EEB1 Marc Brockschmidt 
41CF0322 Christoph Reeg 
218D18D7 Robert Schiele 
0DCB0431 Daniel Hess 
B84EF12A Mathias Rachor 
FD6A8D9D Andreas Madsack 
67007C30 Bernd Paysan 
9978AF86 Christoph Probst 
BD8B050D Roland Rosenfeld 
E3DB4EA7 Christian Barth 
E263FCD4 Kurt Gramlich 
0E6D09CE Mathias Rachor 
2A623F72 Christoph Probst 
E05C21AF Sebastian Inacker 
5D64F870 Martin Zobel-Helas 
248AEB73 Rene Engelhard 
9C67CD96 Torsten Veller

It’s likely that this happened thanks to a very successful key signing party somewhere in germany (looking at the email addresses). [Update: It was the LinuxTag 2005 KSP.] It might be a nice challenge to beat that clique during next Debconf ;)

And the biggest clique I’m in contains 23 keys. Not too bad.

Is Mozilla the new XFree86? Could Ubuntu actually help?

All the recent moves of Mozilla make me feel that they are really taking the XFree86 path. Reading the Launchpad bug log about the EULA shows that most of the posters agree on who is on the wrong side, and favor switching to IceWeasel or Epiphany+Webkit.

Even if Mozilla is apparently going to back off on the EULA story, it looks like the harm was done. If they want to fix that, they will have to start listening to other players in the Free Software community. Or just watch Webkit eat their market share.

Since Ubuntu leaders are apparently talking to Mozilla about that, I really hope that they are aiming for a solution that will help the Free Software community as a whole, and are not looking for a work-around that will “fix” the problem for Ubuntu.

There has been a lot of noise about the lack of “giving back” to the community by Ubuntu. Using Ubuntu user base to weight in and solve such issues in a way that benefit the whole community would probably be seen as a much more valuable contribution than another bunch of patches.

3G Internet access using mobile phone + laptop in France

In France, we only have 3 mobile network operators: Orange, SFR, and Bouygues Telecom. They usually discuss their rates together to make sure that one of them doesn’t break the market by creating too interesting rates (that’s why it would be so cool if Free.fr could get a 3G license, and why the governement can tell them “do what we want, or we will give Free a 3G license” – source).

I’ve long been interested in using my mobile phone with my laptop to access the Internet. With the 3 operators, you can get a contract for a 3G USB key, but that’s not really interesting: it’s expensive, and there’s a limit on volume of data, so you have to monitor your bandwidth. Also, I only need to use my mobile phone as modem a few times a month. So I’m not really interested in paying an expensive monthly fee for that.

What do french MNOs offer?

Most of them have rather interesting offers when you want to get unlimited internet access from your mobile, but that doesn’t cover the case of using your phone as a modem, to access the internet on another device (e.g laptop). I’m not sure how they can see the difference, but apparently they do. (It seems that there are hacks making use of those unlimited rates, using your phone as a router between the Wifi network (but your phone has to support Wifi) and the 3G network, using apps like WMWiFiRouter. Another hack is to use the same HTTP proxy on the laptop than on the phone, which seems to give unlimited HTTP access.)

But offers for using your phone as a modem are clearly less interesting (probably because they want to push their USB 3G cards offers):

Apparently, you are billed only based on the volume (see page 46 of this document), with a progressive rate. 5 MB/month costs 9 EUR, 100 MB costs 20 EUR, and over 100 MB, you pay 1 EUR/MB (!).

See page 40-41 of this document. You pay 0.50 EUR for a 30 minutes session, with 2 MB of data included. After those 2 MB of data, you pay 1 EUR/MB.

Those rates are really crazy. Using a mobile phone on an HSDPA network (called “3G+” in France), you can easily reach 1 Mbps. (and I did see this rate while fetching files using rsync, so I was not particularly aiming at performance!). 1 Mbps translates to 7.5 EUR/min using the 1 EUR/MB rate. Or 12.5 cts/sec!!!

Surprisingly, Orange (ex-France Telecom), which is usually not the most innovative MNO and ISP in France, saves us. With Orange, you pay 0.5 EUR for a 20 mins session, with unlimited volume (sessions called “session multimédia” by Orange). I was so surprised that I called the assistance to check. And after trying it yesterday, I was a bit anxious when checking my online bill this morning. But it works!

Important note before you try (from Orange website):
La session multimédia est une tarification valable pour les clients forfaits mobile Orange (hors forfaits Orange pour iPhone, Mobicarte et cartes prépayées). Pour les clients Classique, Intense, Pro, Click le forfait et Initial dont la souscription ou le réengagment est antérieur au 14 juin 2007, pour les clients forfaits bloqués dont la souscription ou le réengagement est antérieur au 16 août 2007 et pour les clients bénéficiant d’une offre blackberry, l’accord exprès de l’abonné à bénéficier de la session multimédia est nécessaire. Les autres clients bénéficient de la tarification au volume.

Tele2 sucks (or “QoS for dummies”)

I just discovered that, since I enabled the TV over DSL option, Tele2 limited my downstream bandwidth to 8mbps (instead of 20 mbps). All the time. Even when I don’t use the TV. Because allowing 20 mbps could have affected the quality of TV reception (when the TV is off?).

They proudly advertise that offer as:

  • unlimited DSL up to 20 mbps
  • 41 TV channels and 32 radio channels included

It seems that they forgot the “OR” in between.