I attended DebConf’15 last week. After being on semi-vacation from Debian for the last few months, recovering after the end of my second DPL term, it was great to be active again, talk to many people, and go back to doing technical work. Unfortunately, I caught the debbug quite early in the week, so I was not able to make it as intense as I wanted, but it was great nevertheless.

I still managed to do quite a lot:

  • I rewrote a core part of UDD, which will make it easier to monitor data importer scripts and reduce the cron-spam
  • with DSA members, I worked on finding a suitable workaround for the storage performance issues that have been plaguing UDD for the last few months. fsyncs() will now longer hang for 15 minutes, yay!
  • I added a DUCK importer to UDD, and added that information to the Debian Maintainer Dashboard
  • I worked a bit on cleaning up the status of my packages, including digging into a strange texlive issue (that showed up in developers-reference), that is now fixed in unstable
  • I worked a bit on improving git-buildpackage documentation (more to come in that area)
  • Last but not least, I played Mao for the first time in years, and it was a lot of fun. (even if my brain is still slowly recovering)

DC15 was a great DebConf, probably one of the two bests I’ve attended so far. I’m now looking forward to DC16 in Cape Town!

Debian Package of the Day revival (quite)

TL;DR: static version of, as it was when it was shut down in 2009, available!

A long time ago, between 2006 and 2009, there was a blog called Debian Package of the Day. About once per week, it featured an article about one of the gems available in the Debian archive: one of those many great packages that you had never heard about.

At some point in November 2009, after 181 articles, the blog was hacked and never brought up again. Last week I retrieved the old database, generated a static version, and put it online with the help of DSA. It is now available again at Some of the articles are clearly outdated, but many of them are about packages that are still available in Debian, and still very relevant today.

Software for brainstorm / ideas sharing and voting?

Some time ago, Ubuntu had Ubuntu Brainstorm, a website where non-developers could submit ideas of improvements, and other people could comment and vote on them. I was wondering if there was existing software to deploy a similar service, e.g. as a plugin to popular forum software. I’ve found, but relying on the Cloud for that is not acceptable for my planned use.

(For clarification: my immediate interest for that is unrelated to Debian work)

Half of the package maintainers are not DDs or DMs

During the Paris Mini-Debconf, Nicolas Dandrimont talked about The state of GSoC and beyond. He said that Half of Debian’s packages are maintained by sponsored maintainers. That statement was actually wrong, as he confirmed later.

However, using a few UDD queries, I could come up with:

  • 3147 packages out of 18649 packages in sid (17%) were last uploaded using a sponsored upload.
  • There are 963 distinct sponsorees, vs. a total of 2015 distinct emails in the Changed-By field of packages in sid. Given that it’s more likely for DDs to have used several emails to upload packages, it’s very likely that half of the package maintainers are sponsored maintainers.
  • There are 2185 packages without a DD in either the Maintainer: or the Uploaders: fields. (That includes some packages that are maintained by a team that could include some DDs)

Full UDD notes:

all packages in sid:
select source, version from sources_uniq where release = 'sid'

packages in sid known to upload_history:
select source, version from upload_history where
(source, version) in (select source, version from sources_uniq where release = 'sid')

packages that were uploaded by the changed_by person:
create temporary table sources_not_sponsored as select distinct source, version
 from upload_history, carnivore_keys, carnivore_emails
 where (source, version) in (select source, version from sources_uniq where release = 'sid')
 and fingerprint = key
 and =
 and = changed_by_email;

packages not uploaded by the changed_by person:
create temp table uh_sid as select source, version, fingerprint, changed_by_email
from upload_history
where (source, version) in (select source, version from sources_uniq where release = 'sid');

create temp table uh_sid_sponsored as select source, version, fingerprint, changed_by_email from uh_sid
where (source, version) not in (select source, version from sources_not_sponsored);

list with sponsor login:
select distinct source, version, fingerprint, changed_by_email, login
from uh_sid_sponsored
left join carnivore_keys on fingerprint = key
left join carnivore_login on =;

=> 4188 sponsored packages. some of them are in a strange state (changed_by is a DD, but uploaded by another DD). excluding those:

create temp table sponsored_but_dds as select distinct source, version, fingerprint, changed_by_email, login
from uh_sid_sponsored, carnivore_emails, carnivore_login
where changed_by_email =
and =;

create temp table really_sponsored as select distinct source, version, fingerprint, changed_by_email, login
from uh_sid_sponsored
left join carnivore_keys on fingerprint = key
left join carnivore_login on =
where (source, version) not in (select source, version from sponsored_but_dds);

=> 3147 sponsored packages

select distinct changed_by_email from really_sponsored ;
=> 963 different sponsorees

select distinct changed_by_email from upload_history where
(source, version) in (select source, version from sources_uniq where release = 'sid');
=> 2015 distinct emails.

no DD amongst maintainer or uploader:

create temp table dds_emails as select email from carnivore_emails, carnivore_login
where =;

select source, version, maintainer, uploaders from sources_uniq
where release='sid'
and maintainer_email not in (select * from dds_emails)
and not exists (select * from uploaders where release = 'sid' and sources_uniq.source = uploaders.source and sources_uniq.version = uploaders.version and email in (select * from dds_emails))
and maintainer_email != ''
and (source, version) in (select source, version from really_sponsored);

Introducing the Debian Maintainer Dashboard — help needed!

The brand new machine for Ultimate Debian Database motivated me to do UDD-related work again, so I implemented an old idea: build a maintainer/team-centric dashboard relying on UDD, the Debian Maintainer Dashboard.

The idea is to expose as much useful information as possible about a maintainer’s packages, both in the traditional (Developers Packages Overview-like) “big table with all the info”, but also in a task-oriented listing (to answer the “ok, I have two hours for Debian, what should I do now?” question).

At this point, the Debian Maintainer Dashboard already brings several cool features (try it with my packages or pkg-ruby’s packages, or your own!):

  • Reports buildd issues (failed builds)
  • Upstream status monitor that works (UDD has its own)
  • Knows about teams’ VCS (if your team uses PET) and display the current version in the VCS
  • Lists packages you maintain or co-maintain, and also the package you showed interest for by subscribing to them on the PTS

Of course, as of now, it’s pretty ugly: that’s the “help needed” part of the post. I really suck at web design, and would really appreciate if someone would help me to turn it into something nice to use. Besides adding links and colors everywhere, it could probably be nice to add sortable tables, and to create tabs for “TODO items”, “Versions” and “Bugs” (and possibly Lintian, for example). Contact me if you are interested.

Debian archive rebuilds on Amazon Web Services

I like to think that archive rebuilds play an important role in Debian Quality Assurance and Release Management efforts. By trying to rebuild every Debian package from source, one can identify packages that do not build anymore due to changes in other packages (compilers, interpreters, libraries, …). It is also a good way to stress-test all packages that are involved in building other packages.

Since 2007, I had been running Debian archive rebuilds on the Grid’5000 testbed, a research infrastructure for performing experiments on distributed systems – HPC/Grid/Cloud/P2P. I filed more than 6000 release-critical bugs in the process.

Late last year, Amazon kindly offered us a grant to allow us to run such QA tests on Amazon Web Services. With Sébastien Badia, we ported the rebuild infrastructure to AWS (scripts), and several rebuilds have already been carried out on AWS.

On the technical level, 50 to 100 EC2 spot instances are started, and then controlled from a master instance using SSH. On build instances, a classic sbuild setup is used. Logs are retrieved to the master node after rebuilds, and build instances are simply shut down when there are no more tasks to process. Several tasks are processed simultaneously on each instance, and when they fail, they are retried again with no other concurrent build on the same instance, to eliminate random failures caused by load or timing issues. All the scripts are designed to support other kind of QA tests, not just rebuilds.

Moving to Amazon Web Services will facilitate sharing the human workload of doing those tests. It is now possible for developers interested in custom tests to do them themselves (hint hint).

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.

#debian-ubuntu on OFTC

If you are a Debian developer and need realtime interaction with an Ubuntu developer about the state of your packages in Ubuntu (or vice-versa), #debian-ubuntu on might be useful. I had forgotten about that channel, but it resurfaced during the discussions about improving communication between both projects.

EtherPad: web-based collaborative editor

I recently (during a UDS lightning talk) discovered EtherPad. It’s a collaborative editor (like gobby), but uses a browser instead of a standalone application. It’s free software (Google open sourced it after buying the company that was developing it), and there’s a free online instance at Setting up a new pad is as simple as going to and clicking Create Pad. It’s written in Java, and not packaged in Debian (yet).