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In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26

13 July 2007 21:50

Bootstrapping non-Debian distributions suck.

The only available tool appears to be rpmstrap which quite frankly fails more often than it works.

Since my xen-tools project needs to do carry out this kind of operation I've been pondering the idea of writing a tool which will install CentOS/Fedora/SuSE into a directory, in a similar fashion to debootstrap.

If there's nothing out there that you can point to, then I think that will be my next project.

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And behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Deat

13 July 2007 21:50

I've made some progress on the bootstrapping idea :)

As a proof of concept I wrote a simple script which will download *all* the required RPM files for an installation of Fedora-Core 6. (i386)

This downloads 348 .rpm files, which is about 700Mb. (I'm downloading way more files than I need, because I'm not using dependency-discovery yet....)

However the proof of concept works. I can successfully chroot inside the unpackaged directory tree - so I think it is sufficient to persuade me that I can dynamically determine which RPM files need to be installed. This avoiding the problem which rpmstrap suffers from. (ie. having a static list of specific RPM version to fetch.)

If you'd like to test my script, hardwired as it is, (did I mention ugly?), then feel free. In terms of requirements you'll need:

  • wget
  • rpm
  • alien

Note: I'd expect this script to take in the order of 30-40 minutes to run. It is pretty noisy though, so you'll know it hasn't died!

The script will live here for a day or two:

  • http://steve.org.uk/Software/tmp/fc6

PS. Don't run this as root. Please.

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That wasn't true. Made it up. Shouldn't have done that. Sorry.

18 April 2008 21:50


My blog compiler received a bit of love recently, primarily because MJ Ray wanted to use it.

As mentioned before I've added a simple spooling system, and the mercurial repository now contains a simple RSS importer.

Debian Work

In other news I've been working on various Debian packages, here is a brief summery:


After seeing a RFH bug I closed a few bash-completion bugs, and submitted patches for a couple more.

I was intending to do more, but I'm still waiting for the package code to be uploaded to the the alioth project.

javascript work

I've updated the jquery package I uploaded to follow the new "Javascript standard" - in quotes only because it is both minimal and new.

Once the alioth project has been configured I'll upload my sources.


I've agreed to work on a couple of SSL-related bugs in the Apache 2.x package(s) - time disappeared but I hope to get that done this weekend.

Initially that was because I was hoping I could trade a little love for getting a minor patch applied to mod_vhost_alias - instead I've now copied that module into libapache2-mod-vhost-bytemark and we'll maintain our own external module.


I've been loaned a Nokia 770 which is very nice. Having used it with vim, ssh & etc I think that I'd rather have a device with a real keyboard.

The Nokia 810 looks pretty ideal for me. I'm going to be asking around to see if I can get a donated/loaned device to play with for a while before I take the plunge and pay for one of my own.

I've got a couple more things on the go at the moment, but mostly being outdoors is more interesting to me than the alternative. Hence the downturn in writing and releasing security advisories.

I'll pick things up more fully over the coming weeks I'm sure.

ObQuote: Shaun of the Dead

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I feel a hate crime coming on.

6 December 2009 21:50

Recently I've been spidering the internet, merrily downloading content for the past few days.

The intention behind the spidering is to record, in a database, the following pieces of information for each image it stumbles across:

  • The page that contained the link to this image. (i.e. the image parent)
  • The image URL.
  • The MD5sum of the image itself.
  • The dimensions of the image.

I was motivated by seeing an image upon a website and thinking "Hang on I've seen that before - but where?".

Thus far I've got details of about 30,000 images and I can now find duplicates or answer the question "Does this image appear on the internet and if so where?".

Obviously this is going to be foiled trivially via rotations, cropping, or even resizing. But I'm going to let the spider run for the next few days at least to see what interesting things the data can be used for.

In other news I'm a little behind schedule but I'm going to be moving from Xen to KVM over the next week or ten days.

My current plan is to setup the new host on Monday, move myself there that same day. Once that's been demonstrated to work I can move the other users over one by one, probably one a day. That will allow a little bit of freedom for people to choose their downtime window, and will ensure that its not an all-or-nothing thing.

The new management system is pretty good, but I have the advantage here in that I've worked upon about four systems for driving KVM hosting. The system allows people to enable/disable VNC access, use the serial console, and either use one of a number of pre-cooked kernels or upload their own. (Hmmm security you say?)

ObFilm: Chasing Amy



So I have a new project

10 November 2013 21:50

Recently I decided to set myself a big photography challenge. The three options which I discussed with a couple of people were:

  • Photograph the front of every pub in the nearby area city-centre.
  • Photograph ever plaque, monument, and statue in the city-centre.
  • Photograph every gravestone and memorial bench in the city centre.

Ultimately I decided pubs would be most fun. Not least because you could do it every year or two, to see what changes occurred.

To make it more useful I decided to not only take the pictures, but to collect, and share, the meta-data too:

  • Lat/Longditude GPS for each pub.
  • Contact details for each pub.
  • etc.

Today I spent an hour walking up Easter road, and down Leith Walk. I shot the outside of about 20 pubs, and then fiddled with the layout and organization of the images.

I'm reasonably happy with the result, but it remains obvious that I'm not a designer.

The data-set use to generate the site - which is perhaps the most interesting/useful part of the whole exercise to other people - is available online too:

All the data, even the images, is stored on github for collaboration purposes. I'm not sure if folk will join in, but I can probably manage a few of the major thoroughfares every weekend indefinitely it will only take a couple of days to get "city-wide coverage", then the rest is gravy.