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Entries posted in November 2006

What I find is pleasing and I'm feeling fine

1 November 2006 21:50

I spent a good few hours reviewing all the logrotate files included in Debian's Sarge release the other day.

Using the Debian package search it was easy to find all the packages which install a file into /etc/logrotate.d/.

Once I had the list of packages I simply ran "apt-get source `cat packages.txt`" and started looking over the contents.

That is another area which has been audited. So far I think the systematic checking like that is quite a good way to find things. So far I can remember:

  • Looking at files installed into /etc/cron.d/
  • Looking at logrotate files
  • Looking at all init scripts.
  • Looking at all php scripts.

On the one hand spending hours looking at source code to try and detect flaws is frustrating when nothing is found, but on the other hand it is good that we have software in such good shape.

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Soon turned out had a heart of glass

5 November 2006 21:50

I did my good deed for the day deleting Sven Luther's spam from the wiki.

I figure by now anybody that cares has heard enough, and for the people who don't care this abuse of the projects resources is not useful.

It looks like my deletions were reverted, so now I officially don't care any more.

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I could kill, but I don't care about it

15 November 2006 21:50

I've significantly updated the code behind the Debian Administration website over the past few days.


  • A fair amount of authority has been delegated to other users.
  • Several icky aspects of the code have been tidied up.
  • The test cases are more thorough.
  • The site stoodup to being on the front-page of Digg for a day. With no manual tweaking at all!

I still need to decide whether to open up the inter-user messaging system, and implement a few more tweaks and fixups. But these are pretty trivial to do, it is more a matter of deciding whether they are appropriate things than actually writing the code.

All of this work combined with travelling a fair amount recently has left me behind on several fronts though.

I'm going to dedicate tomorrow to catching up on the biggest outstanding issues, but I'm not sure how far I'll get.

Being behind on things actually makes me feel pretty good, I'm no longer on as many critic paths as I was a few months ago, so whilst getting behind is frustrating and annoying it doesn't affect quite so many people/projects/packages/things.

Either way better to be happy and behind than the reverse ..

ObXen: The xen-hosting setup managed to reach an uptime of 100 days. I'm obviously not geeky enough; powers of ten remain much more significant to me than powers of two!

Actually I take that back: I can recite powers of two to rediculous degrees and disassemble x86 and z80 hex dumps into opcodes with a fair degree of accuracy .. About time I got more practised at patching binaries; although its hard to find GNU/Linux software which requires serial numbers ;)

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You and I should get along so awfully

22 November 2006 21:50

I spent a good few hours fixing a security problem in the Debian Administration website over the past few days. (A theoretical hole, rather than one being actively exploited. Of course "theoretical" doesn't mean it wasn't real!)

Now its time for everybody else to test/fix their sites ;)

Still behind, although less so than previously. Right now I'm in a happy daze after an amazingly wonderful romantic meal last night - and a fair amount of wine.

I like to go eating out at posh restaurants once a month or so. That way it is regular, but still novel enough to be exciting.

I guess I'm just a sucker for fancy food and people calling me Sir. (And only rarely adding "... you're making a scene.")

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Friend or enemy we're all to blame

24 November 2006 21:50

There has been an interesting thread on the debian-isp mailing list talking about control panel software for virtual hosting.

I'm biased against several of the available control panels, but there are certainly times when I wish there were a simple solution or two which I could try that didn't involve throwing away all my current setup and migrating all at once mail, web, etc.

I've ruled out several systems due to :

  • Lack of roadmap.
  • No support for software I like
    • exim4, for example.
    • No simple way to customise modules enabled on a per-domain basis. (PHP is icky and I don't want it.)
  • No real predictable support, or development activity
  • Security issues
  • PHP issues.

Every now and again I think about updating my hosting scripts such that they could be driven by a graphical control panel. But each time I get this thought I decide against it because:

  • I too mandate certain software and that might not sit well with potential users.
  • Most of the hard parts of a control panel are the GUI/presentation
    • I suck at making "pretty" interfaces/sites.

The other reason not to do it is that I have a system which is portable, well understood (by myself at least!) and isn't hard to migrate away from if I wished in a piecemeal basis.

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I feel for you

26 November 2006 21:50

The Debian Administration website now supports secure logins over SSL, with magical redirections and stuff.

Try it.

Now I have to go out and find a new mobile phone, since my current one has a broken menu-key, meaning I can't use half the facilities. Grr.

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Blame it on rock and roll

27 November 2006 21:50

I spent a while on IRC today, rare for me, and one of the repeatable topics of conversation was showing mugshots of people in chat.

I wrote a trivial /showface command for irssi which just spawned mozilla to show a hackergotchi from planet.debian.org and that was neat.

However it suffers from the problem that you cannot spawn a graphical application from inside Screen easily. So I came up with a cunning alternative: using the DBUS notification deamon.

So now I have face.c which uses wget to download an image, then dbus to display it.

Compile it like this:

apt-get install libnotify1 notification-daemon dbus 
apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev libglib2.0-dev libnotify-dev

gcc `pkg-config --cflags gtk+-2.0` \
    `pkg-config --cflags glib-2.0` \
 face.c -lnotify -o face

Now copy the face script to drive it and you can run /showface skx and it will show you my image.

Neat hack.

(I suspect it will fail if I logout of X and restart - then reattach to screen since my DBUS identifier/session will be different. But I'm still pleased that I didn't have to quit the currently open screen session and I can make graphics appear from within it)

Update: now with caching and error detection. It will also disable itself for channels not matching ^#debian*

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