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Entries posted in January 2006

Working Steve?

2 January 2006 21:50

Back to work tomorrow. First day in around 7 months.

Gonna be a tough day.

I still don't have a diagnosis, I'm still not cured/fixed/well, but my doctor suggested that going to work would help give me a sense of routine - and magically this would enable me to stay awake for 10+ hours.

I'm not convinced, but I'm prepared to give it a try for a few days/weeks.

Fingers crossed …

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Healthy Users

6 January 2006 21:50


Well today will be the end of my first (four-day) week at work.

Sadly I'm now going to be sent home. Without going into too many details after being signed off work ill for the past seven months the companies insurers will not accept me back at work unless I get a letter from my doctor certifying my fitness.

So officially I was never here this week, and I will not be returning until I've seen a doctor and procured the relevent piece of paper. Hopefully no more than a week.


Too often I've seen people looking for HOWTOs on different subjects, and complaining when none exist. (Most recently upon the xen-users mailing list).

I used to be quite calm about this, but now the more I see it the more irritated I get. Where is the willingness to experiment yourself gone? Too many users seem to want to just consume HOWTOs and not try things for themselves.

Hell if no documentation exists they could create it! That would be perfect.

More Users

In a similar vein to David Welton's plea to users to use mailing lists for posting questions, and relating to the point above.

It might be nice if people who follow a HOWTO would actually comment - even if it is just to say "Works as described. Excellent guide - will read again A+++". (Can you tell I've been buying toys from Ebay recently? ;) )

A similar feeling always comes over me when I make a new release of software via Freshmeat.net. There is a little "voting" system where you can rate your impression of all the projects. The problem is nobody votes! Ever!

Actually that isn't true, but it might as well be. Take a look at a project with 100+ people monitoring it for new releases, I practically promise there will be fewer than ten votes on the software - which makes it hard for people to search for projects based upon rating.

Ahhh well.

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Testing ...

9 January 2006 21:50

Perl Testing

Writing test cases for Perl code with Test::More is fun!

It is slightly less fun when you have to come up with creative solutions to the problem of your code requiring root privileges - which means that your script + tests will fail when run by a mere mortal user.

I was thinking I could run my test cases at the time that the Debian package is built, (and do so), but I realise now that the buildd system doesn't run with root privileges either - it uses sudo to install packages for example.

Ho hum.

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MIxed week

10 January 2006 21:50

The good:

  • Organized a hotel for my sister to stay in next week when she comes to visit me.
  • Managed to have one of my security bugs result in the first DSA of the year.
  • "Used my own initiative" to get a CVE ID for Ulf - who got the second DSA of the year.
  • Am once again capable of doing pull-ups with one arm.
  • Saw doctors, and should be back at work soon.
  • Almost solved the mystery of why the Elves had to leave Middle-Earth.
  • Started working on an open photo-publishing system, primarily for my own use, but may well end up being open to the world. (Depends on my motivation and bandwidth costs.)

The bad:

  • Forgot that smstools is in both Sarge + Woody.
  • Forgot to go shopping for washing powder; and have few clean clothes left to wear.
    • Actually I have lots of clothes, many clean, but nothing both sexy and clean.
  • Got the whole half-beard thing happening - due to lack of razors.
  • Haven't got a 2006 calandar yet. (physical/paper)

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Free the mallocs!

12 January 2006 21:50

Debian Bugs

I've noticed for a while that there are times when I just don't get any mail from the BTS. I have no idea why.

The same thing happened again with one of my packages, ApacheTop.

I noticed a discussion on debian-devel asking about learning to debug problems, inspired by a bug in the package.

Looking at the bug reports I saw a report had been made a few days earlier. So for fun I posted a quick how to debug this problem message.

After playing around it seemed like my simple solution of removing the offending free was the correct approach - because the code essentially does this:

  • struct *foo = NULL.
  • foo = realloc(size)
  • if ( foo->filename ) free( foo-filename);

The code doesn't NULL-fill the memory which it obtains via the realloc call, so it is liable to always attempt to crash with the free call.

So we have a leak. A small leak. Thankfully the function in question is only called when a new file is opened, which is essentially once per program-startup.

I can live with a leak like that, and so can my users. I insist ;0

New package uploaded now.

P.S. I have clean socks. Take that Mr. Not-Debian-related-blog-entry! :P

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She has the blood of reptile just underneath her skin

16 January 2006 21:50

Debian QA

I just noticed that my debian QA page shows "pending uploads". Neat.

Nice to see that since I recently sponsored a couple of minor bugfixed packages by Niv Altivanik, he does a good job at making packages so it isn't a problem.


Too many mails, we all know why.

I'm often curious why so many people take part in these "debates" who I do not recognise. Just looking over my debian mailfolders I see literally 50+ names with @debian.org email addresses which I swear I have never heard before.

Either I don't notice peoples addresses/names as much as I thought I did .. or they have too much free time for taking part in these …. discussions.

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You are the perfect drug

19 January 2006 21:50

I'm sure the people at debianhelp.co.uk are great, but I'm sick of their spamming.

I guess I'm no better though :S

In other Debian news today I'm usubscribing from debian-user, debian-project, and debian-devel. I find my patience for arguments waning.

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I only want to see you dancing

19 January 2006 21:50


Any Debian developers who fancy a postcard from Scotland mail me your address.

Its the time of year I usually send random cards to people, I figure doing so to people I've mailed lots in the past isn't going to be a bad thing either.

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Take me to that place I love

24 January 2006 21:50


I have resolved to actually sit down and keep working on GNUMP3d until I have:

  • Refactored all incoming request parsing.
  • Updated all HTML templates to use the HTML::Template module.
  • Reorganised each available theme such that it may be easily displayed in multiple languages.

Each of these things has needed doing for a while, but I find it hard to be enthusiastic.

Still the addition of new test cases should make it more interesting, and is liable to make the code correct too.


It looks like the current version of xen-tools is moving to testing today which means I should be able to upload a new revision tonight.

Maybe I should stop obsessing over the migration to testing of packages? I'm not too sure if I'm helping people by trying to make sure there is a "recent" version of each package in Testing before uploading to unstable.

(Mostly because I don't run testing, never have, and know nobody locally who has told me they do.)


There is a new project interested in group-maintainership of Debian games: details here.

I uploaded two packages to the shared SVN repository, but otherwise haven't done anything.

It seems like lots of people have grandiose ambitions, I guess we'll see how it works out.

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These are a few of my favourite things

26 January 2006 21:50


Yesterday was a hectic day involving lots of beer.

Last night I:

  • Went out for a meal with some visiting Americans. (2 pints of beer)
  • Went out to the Guildford Arms to meet some visiting Dutch people (2 pints of guiness) [Signed and uploaded all three GPG keys this morning]
  • Went out to The Auld Hoose to meet friends. (1 bottle Newcastle Brown Ale)

Waking up this morning was a long and gradual process.

Now I have to fight to install SCO upon a new HP server. The machine has no floppy drive, and requires additional drivers to be installed to access the disks. Fun stuff.


Some Debian work:

  • Orphaned "ud" since it is in a bad shape and I just can't bring myself to care.
  • (Now every package I "own" is in a great state and used by me semi-daily.)
  • Made a new sarge backport of xen-tools.
  • Have a pending upload of Komi to fix a FTBFS issue.
  • Need to make the CSS changes to the Debian Admin site to improve the site header.

Tomorrow I need to setup a new site to advert the commercial setup/support I've been doing for the past few months. First of all I need to actually clarify what I'll offer, then work out how to charge, etc.

In the past I've mostly done single-server setups for one-off fees, and maintainence which just included applying security updates plus monitoring disk-space + services.

Not sure that there is a huge market for it, but it is something I'd like to do more of, even if there is no money involved.

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Fun stuff

27 January 2006 21:50

Today I shall be mostly … exploiting security holes.

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