Archive for the ‘Debian’ Category.

Seeing your fixed in the wild

Debian logo Yesterday, at the exercise class for the course on Security and Fault-tolerance in Distributed Systems, Christian Cachin booted his laptop to show us some graphs explaining how the sophistication of onlin attacks have gone up, while the level of knowledge necessary to execute these attacks have dropped.

His laptop was running Debian and I noticed that the image of the Debian Swirl in his version of GDM has a little white border around it. And this is exciting for me because I made that border! :-) Or at least I filled wishlist bug #201303 against the gdm package, which the maintainer then accepted. It’s very cool to see something like this — even though it’s a purely cosmetic thing.

I’m back online

I’m have finally brought my computer back online again — so now the title of this website is true once again :-) The first thing to do was to update my Debian installation with about 400 MiB of updates. I’m tracking the soon-to-be-stable “testing” distribution of Debian, which means that I receive bug fixes pretty quickly after they are found and committed to the “unstable” distribution. But it also means that a lot of updates pile up when my computer isn’t online.

I’m online through a Netopia ADSL router, which we could buy from Bluewin for 200 CHF. That included the PCMCIA card for Stéphanie’s computer as well, so I think the price is reasonable. The only minus is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any way of making the card run under Debian — I’ve searched a lot and tried all the tricks I know but nothing worked. So I guess Stéphanie will be limited to Windows for now.

Visiting Aalborg

I’m visiting my family in Aalborg for a couple of days — when I go to Switzerland next month they wont be just an hours drive away anymore :-)

The plan for this week is to package the stuff in my room and move it up here to my parents. I’ll bring some of it with me to Switzerland, but only the most important stuff. Of course that includes my computer!

Speaking of my computer… I’ve ordered two Seagate 7200.7 SATA NCQ disks each with 120 GB. The plan is to combine them into a RAID 1 mirror so that I will have a reliable place for my photos and other data. In Skejbygård I could just copy my data to my friend Svend’s computer, but that wont work anymore when I’m in Switzerland. And besides: I’ve wanted a RAID system for quite some time now — I believe that the Debian installer can install on a RAID 1 system now.

Good times!

Sorry about the lack of news lately… I’ve had my mind on so many other things. The most important thing in my life now is Stéphanie — my girlfriend. We’ve just spend two wonderful days in Aalborg with my mom and dad and in general we just try to spend as much time together as possible!

I’m having holidays right now — no less than two weeks off! This is because of the new quarter system they’ve made for the natural sciences department where we’re going to have a break in the middle of the semester for our quarter exams. But I’m still having the good old semester courses, so I don’t have any exams now, and hence I have two weeks with nothing to do except enjoying myself!

[Debian logo][Debian] Right now I’m about to install [Debian][] on Stéphanies laptop — she’s already using SuSE but, frankly, I cannot figure out how their package system works… it looks very similar to the RPM-thing RedHat uses, with the same dependency problems. That’s what I like most about Debian: you don’t have to dig around on the web to find the right packages to satisfy the dependencies, for all the packages that depend on each other are usually right there next to each other on the same server and so APT can figure it out automagically. I know that there’s similar things for RPM packages, but I don’t want to use a lot of time to figure it out, I want something I’m familiar with.

That’s it for now — see you all later!

The DFSG vs the LPPL

I just saw this huge discussion over at the Debian-devel mailinglist about whether or not the LPPL (LaTeX Project Public License) is a free license. That is free in the Debian sense: it has be fulfill the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines) before it can be included in the main section of the Debian archives. There’s currently lots of stuff in the archive that’s licensed under the LPPL, but the Debian guys would rather see that it was distributed under another license, or that the LPPL is changed to conform with the DFSG.

The problem seams to be, that the LPPL forbids you from modifying a file and then redistributing it using the same filename. This is important for us LaTeX folks, because one of the promises of LaTeX (and TeX) is, that a document processed today will look identical when it’s processed 10 years from now. If everybody is allowed to change important files, then that promise would be hard to keep. This isn’t just a theoretical concern — it has happened that someone changed the Computer Modern fonts made by Donald E. Knuth and distributed them as the original set. They thought that they were helping people by improving the fonts, but that wasn’t how others looked at it. I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but if they had changed the width of a character just a little, then it could mean that lines would be broken differently, something that must not happen. If an author has prepared a document using his own installation of LaTeX, then he has to be absolutely sure that the publishers version of LaTeX will place the letters at the exact same position on the page.

One the other hand, then the Debian guys want to reserver the right to change the files in their LaTeX distribution, in case they discover a security risk or something like that. This is a very hypothetical situation, but they want the right to do this anyway.

So, is boils down to a question of trust: do the LaTeX community trust the users not to cause havoc by distributing modified files from the core of TeX and LaTeX? Apparently not, and after the story about the improved CM fonts, I can understand their fear. I don’t think they fear that the teTeX maintainers would go crazy, it’s more about the principle that people has the option of changing those files.

I hope that they can works things out — it would be a real shame if this “battle of principles” should end with moving the teTeX packages to non-free, as almost everybody recognizes that TeX and LaTeX are some of the finest examples of free software.