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You have to go on living

11 June 2007 21:50

Debconf7 TODO:

These are my personal goals for the debcamp week:

  • Develop xen-tools to fix bugs reported by Henning.
  • Unify debootstrap.
  • Get involved in discussions of Debian init-systems.

The second item is the one that I'm most interersted in right now, but I'll leave it a day to see if there is any useful feedback or massive objections right now.

The debootstrap problem

Right now there are two versions of debootstrap - the "Debian one" and the "Ubuntu one".

The Ubuntu debootstrap package has support for installing additional suites; dapper, feisty, etc.. (My current understanding is that the Ubuntu debootstrap can still install Etch, Sarge, etc.)

Right now if you want to bootstrap an Ubuntu system on a Debian host you're out of luck unless you install the Ubuntu debootstrap package.

There is no real reason why this should be the case. Either distribution should be able to install the other.

Why I care

I wrote/maintain xen-tools. This package allows you to create Xen guests of different distributions. Most of the time the tool will install a distribution by invoking "debootstrap ...".

It would be nice if this could work upon a plain Debian system such that installing Dapper, Fiesty, etc, was supported.

What We Can't Solve

There are problems with debootstrap which I'm not going to attempt to solve. The most obvious one is that Sarge's debootstrap cannot install Etch.

There are a few open bugs in the Debian BTS which I will triage though, since some of them are safe to close.

The Approach

There are three approaches for this:

The hack

Download the source to Ubuntu's package. Test it can install Sarge, Etch & Lenny. Then upload to Debian.

What I'll do

I'll do three things:

  • Triage open bugs on debootstrap.
  • I'll compare the two scripts + manpages, to see if they've diverged.
  • I'll move the Ubuntu scripts into the Debian package.
The neat way forward

Split debootstrap into :

  • debootstrap
    • Compatability package, to pull in the next three:
  • debootstrap-common
    • The tool.
  • debootstrap-debian
    • Contains the scripts/support for installing Sarge, Etch & Lenny.
  • debootstrap-ubuntu
    • Contains the scripts/support for installing Dapper, Feisty, etc.

This second approach should be straightforward. The first thing to do is to test that actual debootstrap script differ little between the two distributions. That should be simple enough.

The next thing is to create the additional packages.


For this work to be useful it needs support from the maintainers of the Debian & Ubuntu packages. (I guess mostly the Debian maintainers actually.)


The good news is that between the version of debootstrap in Ubuntu right now, debootstrap-, and that in Debian sid, debootstrap-, the code has only one minor change. There is only a minor typo-fix in the manpage too.

So I can move the scripts into the package trivially...

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Seek & destroy

20 June 2007 21:50

Debconf7 continues very well, with a nice trip to a local sauna this evening.

Unfortunately our party had to split into two, with the ladies going to one section and the gentlemen to another. Still it was fun, and I'm glad I went. It was probably just as well that Megan didn't get to see me being terrified of the cold water!

Apart from that things went well today. I saw half a talk on Xen, sufficient to see my name in lights, then half a talk on security, again managing to see my name on the big screen.

If people, at debconf7, would like to learn more about security I've volunteered myself on the "skills exchange" page of the wiki to demonstrate the process which Moritz described as "manual and complicated". (ie. releasing a DSA and updating the webpage.) I think this will happen sometime on Friday.

I also need to track down AJ and talk about debootstrap work.

One more thing, before I go to sleep. During the security talk Moritz did mention the idea of being able to grep through the source code of the entire archive. This is a topic which has been raised before.

Right now I'm keen to make this possible, so overnight I'm syncing the latest sid archive and I think I have a plan to make it work.

  • Sync the sources of the given distribution.
  • Once that has happened recursively unpack any archive we can understand. (.tar.bz2, tar.gz, etc).
  • Either:
    • Write a simple script with "grep".
    • or import the unpacked root into a text indexing system.
    • Also it would be useful to recognize common files via SHA + MD5 checksums.
  • make some simple GUI.

I think that the sync will take a while for me on my home connection, and I also believe that the unpacking will be grossly CPU-intensive. Still it should be a worthwhile job even if I can't get it done, because it will tell us the kind of machine which is required to actually do it.

I'd like to use a project machine because I'm not entirely sure I have the necessary space but that should become apparent fairly quickly. (The archive I can handle, the unpacked tress might be a little bit much for me. Still I have 100Gb free and I guess that is a good starting point).

If anybody has any tips for full-text-indexers that would be appropriate for fast queries against a large directory tree of source code then I'd be interested in hearing about them.

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