tiling terminals manager

I tried terminator (thanks go to Nicolas Valcarcel for asking me to sponsor a Debian upload, thus forcing me to try it, and Asheesh Laroia for doing a lightning talk at debconf about it), but I’m not convinced.
– More keybindings are clearly missing. You can only switch terminals using Previous/Next keybindings.
– More features would be great, like the ability to switch the position of two terminals (so you could reorganize them).
– It has some small usability problems, like the fact that the config is text-based, not using gconf, that it’s not possible to change the config without restarting it, that the title bar doesn’t display anything useful most of the time, since it prefixes the current terminal’s title with “Terminator: “, etc.

So, is there any other tiling terminals manager I should try, before filing tons of feature requests on terminator? My other requirement is that it mustn’t reinvent the wheel, but use the gnome-terminal widget.

Thank you.

Debian’s Freeze

Debian’s freeze sounds like a technical hack to address a social problem, and that disturbs me a bit.

The social problem is: At some point, we need everybody in Debian to make only non-disruptive changes, so everything can converge very fast into a releasable state.

The “solution” we are using is that we are blocking all packages from migrating to testing, and requiring manual review from someone on the release team. Consequences are:
– many people feel that you need to be very convincing to fix a small, not RC bug, even if fixing that bug definitely increases your package’s quality.
– the release team is completely overwhelmed by unblock requests during the freeze
– many people just stop trying to fix things during the freeze (which definitely doesn’t improve Debian’s quality), both because they think it’s hard to get a fix in, and because they don’t want to bother the release team

I wonder if we really need such a strict policy. Are there other Free Software projects that use such a technical measure to prevent software from disrupting stable releases? I am the impression that most other projects rely on social pressure instead of technical measures for that, except maybe during the last few hours before the release.

Couldn’t we act on the social level? We could default to allow everyone’s package to migrate to testing, and, when someone fucks up and uploads something that should not have been uploaded, block all his packages (switching to manual review mode) until the release. Of course, that require the release team to make decisions about _people_, which is harder than making decisions about _packages_. But if the rules are clearly stated, couldn’t this work?

Code for Debian versions comparison?

Do you know code that compare versions of debian packages (for example, that knows if 2:23.2.3~rc1-1 is lower than 2:23.2.3-2?), besides dpkg –compare-versions? If yes, please write a comment to this blog post, preferably with a link to the code.

Also, did someone already write a test suite for that? Who would be interested in such a test suite?

I’m considering writing a function in PL/SQL to compare debian versions (for the Ultimate Debian Database project). If someone already wrote that, I’m interested as well.

Of popular packages removed from testing, and the Ultimate Debian Database GSOC project

Some time ago, there was some flamewars^H^Hdebate about the Release Team’s removals of RC-buggy packages from testing. Basically, some people claimed that popular packages shouldn’t be removed, even if RC-buggy.

But, do we really miss popular packages in testing?

It’s difficult to know. You could get the popcon data, and compare it with the Packages files for testing and unstable. Or work with source packages (which removes a lot of noise), but then, you have to convert the popcon data (which uses binary packages names) to source packages. Not completely trivial.

That’s where the Ultimate Debian Database GSOC project comes to the rescue. The goal of Christian von Essen’s project is to gather data from various sources in Debian into a single SQL DB, so queries that combine all those data sources can easily be written.

For example, here is the query that lists the source packages that are in unstable, but not in testing, sorted by their popcon (using the number of insts of the most popular binary package of the source package as value for the source package):

SELECT DISTINCT unstable.package, insts
WHERE distribution = 'debian' and release = 'sid') AS unstable, popcon_src
WHERE unstable.package NOT IN (
   SELECT package FROM sources
   WHERE distribution = 'debian' AND release = 'lenny')
AND popcon_src.source = unstable.package ORDER BY insts DESC;

And the results are available on the web!

Top packages (> 1000 insts):

lzo	64962
gnome-cups-manager	32346
db4.6	20708
ffmpeg-debian	12908
freetype1	10569
flashplugin-nonfree	7116
perlftlib	6769
nvidia-graphics-drivers	3864
wxwindows2.4	3640
dvi2tty	2239
kdebase-runtime	1725
easytag	1717
g-wrap	1582
yaird	1507
slocate	1499
youtube-dl	1390
hugin	1275
w3c-libwww	1058

Interested in UDD? Join #debian-qa or debian-qa@lists.d.o (or talk to me @DebConf!)

Exporting logs from Suunto X6HR watches on Linux

I’m the happy owner of a nice geeky toy: a Suunto X6HR watch, that includes an altimeter and an heart rate monitor, which I use mainly for moutain biking and hiking.

During outings, the watch can log the altitude and heart rate every 2, 10 or 60 seconds, and the data can be transfered to a PC using a serial interface. The problem is that Suunto only provides software for Windows. I got tired of using virtualbox to connect to the watch (qemu doesn’t work, Suunto Activity Manager apparently does strange things with the serial port), so I reverse-engineered the protocol (using skimanager and J√©rome Kieffer’s work as a basis) and implemented a script to fetch the logs, and export them in a format suitable for gnuplot.

Of course, Suuntux is publicly available. I’d be happy to hear from you if it works for you too. Also, if you own a Suunto X6 (similar watch, without HRM), I’d be interested in supporting it too (if it’s not supported already).

Below is a example graph, from a short mountain bike ride just before leaving for Debconf.

example suuntux output