Booting ISO or USB key images directly from Grub2?

I’m playing with the idea of booting ISO images and USB key images stored in a disk partition directly from Grub2. That would allow to install Linux or test liveCDs without even using a USB key. It seems that Grub2 has everything needed for that (with a combination of drivemap and chainloader), but I can’t seem to get it working and, as usual with boot stuff, it’s a pain to understand what’s happening.

Has somebody recently tried that, or can point me to a howto?

Receive Ubuntu bugs by mail with the Debian PTS

It is now possible to subscribe to Ubuntu bugmail for the packages you care about, without having to use Launchpad (and subscribe on a per-package basis there). This is implemented as a new opt-in Package Tracking System keyword: derivatives-bugs.

To subscribe for all your packages, use keyword [email] + derivatives-bugs (as documented in the Developers Reference). You might also want to subscribe to derivatives (Ubuntu diff, etc. also opt-in).

Of course, if other derivative distributions are interested in providing such data, don’t hesitate to contact me or the Debian QA team.

Also, if you are like me and never remember about subscribing to packages you maintain, you can use that UDD script to check for missing subscriptions.

“But why isn’t Debian using Launchpad?”

Due to my work on Ultimate Debian Database, I’m sometimes asked why Debian isn’t using Launchpad.

First, “using Launchpad” can mean two different things.

The first possibility is using Canonical’s instance of Launchpad. That would mean creating a Debian project on, and using Canonical’s infrastructure. Well, that’s clearly not a good idea. We (Debian) do not want to depend on Canonical to fix bugs or make enhancements that we require to improve Debian. For example, Canonical imposes the use of the Bazaar Version Control System in Launchpad: you simply can’t use Git instead (git-bzr hacks don’t count). We want to stay in control of our infrastructure, for obvious reasons.

So the other possibility would be to setup our own instance of Launchpad, given that Launchpad is now Free Software. However, it is not clear if it is actually possible: I was told by a Launchpad developer that they didn’t know of any external (outside Canonical) installation of Launchpad.

Even if this was possible, it is not clear at all that the Ubuntu infrastructure is superior to the Debian infrastructure. The Debian infrastructure has many nice features that are missing in Launchpad, for example version-tracking in the Bug Tracking System, which allows to track (by parsing the changelog) the versions of a package where a bug has been fixed or not (example with iceweasel).

So, when switching to Launchpad, we would have to reimplement quite a lot of needed features in in, with no clear benefit: the Debian infrastructure works fine, and is actively maintained.

It’s also interesting to note that while the Ubuntu infrastructure is centered on Launchpad, there are quite a lot of external services that are not integrated in Launchpad: the Ubuntu popularity contest, merges.u.c, patches.u.c, the various services on and qa.u.c, etc. With the Debian model, it is very easy to add a new service and get it integrated with the various dashboard (Debian Developer’s Packages Overview, Packages Tracking System). Within Ubuntu, those external services are really second-class citizens. All in all, the infrastructures of the two projects reflect their organizations: bazaar model for Debian, with an emphasis on collaboration between the services, controlled by Canonical for Ubuntu.

Castles in the air

When people ask me why I’m so fond of “computers”, I already answer that it’s like being able to build very large buildings or bridges, super-fast cars, etc without having to care about buying the raw material needed, or about the consequences: computers are like a giant Lego box which is only limited by the programmer’s abilities.

What I discovered today is that there’s a quote from Frederick P. Brooks that says about the same thing:

“The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.”