I’m in the process of moving the entries from this blog into my new site at http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog. Eventually I hope to have the Debian posts on that blog, running under the Ode platform, appearing with their own theme, something (i.e. different themes for different parts of the same site) that is very possible to do in Ode, a system developed by Rob Reed to use flat files like FlatPress, but in a less-WordPress-ish and more Blosxom-y way.
Today I turned off comments for all of these FlatPress blog entries because they have been attracting a significant amount of spam.
Turning off comments in FlatPress is not done globally. You (and most recently I) must go into each entry, one by one, and turn off comments for that particular entry. And hitting the “back” key in the browser sends you not to the page of entries you were working on but instead takes you back to the first page of entries. Opening up each entry in a new tab is the way I got around this.
I’m using Disqus comments on my new site, and for now I’ll keep them open on all entries. Some bloggers I know keep comments open on entries for a few weeks, then close them to discourage spam. I think this is a good practice, especially because most comments on old blog entries seem to point out that something in the entry is no longer correct now that the software/hardware/regime/world has changed.
I’ve got maybe a fifth of these entries at http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog/linux/debian/, and I’ll move the rest as time allows. Once they’re all moved, I’ll either post an entry saying that this particular blog (in FlatPress) is “frozen,” or I might just take the site down entirely since all the content will be available at the new site.
Since this is a “new” entry, I will leave comments turned on for now and see how the spam-related consequences manifest themselves.
The versioning of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, and the rebranded Iceweasel browser in Debian, going from 3.6.x to 4.x and now 5.x and 6.x has Linux users (and Debian users in particular) constantly messing with their sources to make sure they’ve got the version of Iceweasel they want.
I’ve added a few packages from Debian Backports related to LibreOffice to my Squeeze installation:
libreoffice-pdfimport (on the chance that I’ll actually do this some day)
and more importantly:
libreoffice-gnome, which makes LibreOffice look like it belongs in the GTK/GNOME world I’m working in.
libreoffice-gnome brought along a couple of dependencies, libreoffice-gtk and libreoffice-style-tango
I also added the mozilla-libreoffice plugin.
I didn’t add the libreoffice-emailmerge and libreoffice-evolution plugins because I can’t see using them.
Disclaimer: I used the Synaptic Package Manager to install the new packages. Once you have a new repository (like Debian Backports) set up, you can pluck packages at will in Synaptic without any special command-line magic, if that’s your thing (avoiding command-line magic) — not that there’s anything wrong with it.
I’ve already made my move in Debian Squeeze from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, and a peek in my unread messages from the Debian mailing lists turned up this official announcement:
Here is some of the text (a short how-to-install for Squeeze is included in the official newsletter):
The Debian project is proud to announce that the transition from
OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice has now been completed. LibreOffice has
already been available for “testing” and “unstable” since March and has
now been backported to Debian 6.0 “Squeeze”, too.
Rene Engelhard, Debian’s LibreOffice maintainer and member of
LibreOffice’s Engineering Steering Committee, says: “I am sure Debian and
its users will benefit greatly from this transition; I expect not only an
improved collaboration but also quicker development cycles.”
He’s a developer who has a great interest in helping out the end user, and I appreciate all he does very much.
One thing in a recent entry caught my eye: Raphael is looking for people who want to start getting involved in Debian. He has a page on the Debian Wiki on which he’s looking for people to help with dpkg, the developers-reference, the Package Tracking System, SAT-britney and the WordPress and quilt packages.
Skills needed range from coding in Perl and/or C (for dpkg) to a knowledge of good written English (developers-reference).
Having Raphael as a mentor sounds pretty good, if you ask me.
Raphael is also soliciting donations for the English translation of his Debian Handbook. He doesn’t have the donation mechanism set up yet, but once he does, I’ll let you know. Any book on Debian helps the entire project, and I’m eagerly awaiting this one.
It’s been a long time since I did a new Debian Squeeze installation, and I was just reminded about one essential step needed to make a functional desktop.
I’ve been running my Squeeze LXDE system today, and all of a sudden the CPU was pegged at 100 percent during a Firefox/Iceweasel session.
I opened up a terminal and took a look. Five Gnash processes were doing all of the damage.
There are 60-something updates waiting for me in Debian Squeeze at the moment, and such a large number of packages staring at me from Update Manager usually means a “major” Debian Stable update.
In this case it’s the second update of Debian Squeeze, 6.0.2. Check the link for everything changing in Debian in terms of bugfixes and and security updates.
As always, while new installation media is available for download, any Debian 6.x image will still install a system that can be fully updated via the usual tools (apt, Aptitude, Synaptic/Update Manager).
Whether or not this point release is some kind of milestone (it’s not, I think), it’s a good time as any to assess where I’ve been on the Linux and BSD desktop over the past few years. Am I setting a personal longevity record with Debian Squeeze?
If you don’t count Sarge, and I don’t because I’m running it on my Sun Sparcstation 20 now and not in the deep, dark past when Sarge was the current Stable release, Squeeze is third Debian Stable release I’ve run for significant periods of time.
That means I’ve been messing with Linux for a bit more than four years at this point. I started experimenting with Knoppix, Ubuntu, Puppy and Damn Small Linux in early 2007 (maybe late 2006) and did my first Debian installation after I read about Etch going Stable in April 2007.
It’s not the least eventful package installation I’ve ever done in Linux and BSD, but tapping into Debian Backports to install the Document Foundation’s new LibreOffice suite and replace the formerly Oracle-controlled, now-in-limbo OpenOffice is fairly easy if you follow the steps, refrain from panic and just type in the letter “y” a few times.
I added the Backports repository to my sources, issued the Aptitude command and then watched as the system removed OpenOffice and replaced it with LibreOffice.
I didn’t use the Synaptic Package Manager for this installation. Instead I used Aptitude, which I tend to trust more when things get complicated.
I don’t exactly keep tabs on what’s happening at Mozilla with Firefox/Iceweasel, but I came across this ZDNet article: Attention Firefox 4.x users - Firefox 5.0 is your security update by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.
The short version is that Mozilla is continuing development for Firefox not in the 4.0.x series but in 5.x. So there will presumably be no security updates past 4.0.1, which is what I’m running now from the Debian Mozilla Team’s repository.
Turmoil in the free-office-suite world has led to the formation of the Document Foundation and its forking of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice, and much if not most of the Linux world has declared its support for the more-community-oriented LibreOffice.
Just about every major (and most minor) Linux distribution that used to ship OpenOffice.org is now either already shipping or pledging to ship LibreOffice instead. I get the feeling that some will continue to offer OpenOffice in their repositories, but when it comes to the default office suite going forward, LibreOffice will fill that roll.
If I’m not incorrect, Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Fedora are already shipping LO.
And LibreOffice has been available in Debian Sid and Wheezy for awhile.
But what about Debian Squeeze, the project’s Stable release? Stable Debian releases traditionally don’t get new packages in their core repositories. That means LibreOffice will be included in the next Stable release, the current Testing release (Wheezy). Wheezy will be declared stable sometime in the future. I’d say a year from now.
But if you wanted LibreOffice in Squeeze until very recently, the package could be installed either from the Testing or Unstable archives.
Now there’s a “better,” safer way for Squeeze users to run LibreOffice …
Sorry it took so long.
I had a couple of issues with my web host. They’re not exactly related but became so once the whole ball got rolling.
My attempt to renew the domain name for this site failed, so the domain expired. Once I learned of the expiration (hint for the future: make the e-mail contact for your domain an e-mail account you actually check), I re-did the renewal, this time successfully.
Being honest, I think the “fail” was on my part. I renewed a few domains and probably renewed one that didn’t “need” it while skipping one of those that did need it.
Concurrently, while I’ve been using subdomains like http://debian.stevenrosenberg.net, I never set up the “root” domain http://stevenrosenberg.net.
I’d been meaning to take care of the “root” domain issue. Once I did, my subdomains stopped working.
So I backed up the content in the subdomains, removed the subdomains from the hosted account and then re-created and tested them.
I’m just now moving the content back into the newly created subdomains. If you can read this (and if you couldn’t read it, I’d have a hell of a time writing it), http://debian.stevenrosenberg.net is back.
While the site has been down, I’ve been blogging about Debian (among other things) at Click.
Recent Debian entries over there include:
Now that the transition to the new Alioth server is complete, The Debian Mozilla Team’s http://mozilla.debian.net site is back, as is the repository. I know because I got an Icedove update this morning.
Added to the choices of newer Mozilla appsat http://mozilla.debian.net are versions 5.0, Aurora and Beta of Iceweasel (aka Firefox). So you can get even closer to the bleeding edge of Firefox development on your Squeeze, Wheezy or Sid system.
Those Debian users (including myself) who use the Debian Mozilla Team APT archive at http://mozilla.debian.net for newer versions of Iceweasel and Icedove (aka Firefox and Thunderbird) may have noticed that the archive has been down for at least three (if not more) days.
While this is not exactly comforting to users, the reason, via Mike Hommey’s site (originally from the Debian User Forum) and according to the Debian Infrastructure Announce mailing list is a comprehensive upgrade to the Alioth server:
Dear Debian developers, contributors and visitors,
This is a reminder that some of the Alioth admins are gathered this
week-end to work on alioth.debian.org. One of the goals of the sprint
is to upgrade Alioth in every way we can find: kernel, Debian release,
FusionForge software, hardware, and so on. This will very probably
result in temporary downtime of the service, especially during the
move. We should be done by late afternoon (UK time) on Sunday, May
We apologize for the inconvenience, which we hope will be compensated
by a noticeable increase in performance.
I finally took my own advice and installed Iceweasel/Firefox 4 on my Debian Squeeze machine.
So far I don’t notice any performance improvements or regressions, but I’ve been running the browser all of an hour.
I just found out that the search function built into FlatPress does not look at the text of the entries but only at the titles (and possibly the tags; I’ll have to check on that one).
I know this because I was searching for an entry, and it wouldn’t come up when searching for a word I knew was in the body of the entry but not necessarily the title.
It’s not a FlatPress deal-breaker, but bloggers might want to explore the alternatives. I’ve been using the Google Custom Search box on some of my other blogs, and that works very well.
That’s especially the case right now as forum member pierovdfn has released a patch to one of the PHP files in FlatPress that eliminates a potential exploit in the authentication code.
For existing FlatPress installations, applying the patch is as easy as swapping in 21 lines of PHP code. I did it this morning, and everything is working fine.
Linux in general, and not Debian in specific, left the 32-bit SPARC platform behind a few years ago. There are no kernel hackers working on 32-bit SPARC, I’ve learned.
And while NetBSD still builds for 32-bit SPARC (and dozens of other architectures), I’ve found the 5.x series of NetBSD to be too crashy to use.
OpenBSD also supports 32-bit SPARC, and while those releases have always been solid (I’ve tried everything from 4.4 to 4.9-current), there isn’t much in the way of desktop software for the architecture. There are few packages, and most ports that aren’t already packages won’t build (or they’d probably be packages, too).
A year or so ago I tried to bring Debian to my 1995-era Sparcstation 20, a box I bought for $10 and not too much shipping, adding components that usually cost me $10 or less (30-something GB SCSI hard drive, CD drive, floppy drive, keyboard and mouse).
I did it for fun. And to learn. Most everything with old hardware is a learning experience.
My recent foray into running the 1995-era Sun Sparcstation 20, lately with OpenBSD, isn’t because I think a 16-year-old box will be in any way comparable to a modern (or even 10-year-old) Intel-based box.
Because it won’t.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to think when I got the SS20 for $10 a few years ago. But I wasn’t out a lot of money. I made sure to wait for a Sparcstation that was close to home to minimize shipping costs.
In case you’re wondering (and I know you are), it’s almost impossible to do “modern” computing on the Sparc. If it were a 64-bit SPARC box and not a 32-bit architecture, there would be a whole lot more options.
As it is, with 32-bit Sparc and Solaris 9 you can run the old Netscape browser that shipped in 2003. You can find packages for Firefox 2.0.0.x. That’s about it.
No current Linux that I know of runs on 32-bit SPARC. Again, 64-bit is a different story. Even FreeBSD runs on 64-bit only.
Blogsum is a written-from-scratch blogging application meant for use in the chroot web environment of OpenBSD. It uses an sqlite database and Perl on the back end.
The developer uses it for his Obfuscurity. blog.
Thanks to Chess Griffin, in whose Twitter feed I learned of this project.
I’ve been going back and forth on whether to get rid of my Sun Sparcstation 20 and all of the hardware and software that goes with it.
Once I got the SS20 for $10 plus a nominal shipping fee (and it’s the shipping that’ll kill you) from eBay, I got it running with OpenBSD and Solaris 9. Yeah, it’s a 1995-era system, and even though SPARC is optimized for Unix in a way x86 will never be, there’s only so much you can do with a 50 MHz SPARC CPU and 256 MB of RAM.
Even though I have a boxed edition of Solaris 9 for SPARC (I paid $1 for it), I don’t have access to updates, so it’s basically a system that is preserved in digital amber circa 2003. Not much help. And I’m not crazy about Solaris.
Both a couple of years ago and today, NetBSD is pretty crashy on this particular SS20, so then as now, I turned to OpenBSD.
Like databases, blogging and a CMS with the word “geek” in it?
I present Geeklog.
How did I find out about it? It powers Groklaw.
I really like the idea of an ARM-based, Debian-running home server, and I really like Excito’s Bubba 3.
The only problem? The Bubba is $393.75 U.S. (€279.20, exchange rate calculated by Google).
What can I do between those less-than-hardy plug servers for $100 and this $393 item?
Here’s what I’m looking for:
ARM is very attractive because of its low power use, but Intel’s Atom chips are getting better and better. While the Bubba does a lot, I would be more than OK setting up the server myself in Linux or BSD, or using something like FreeNAS.
In the realm of things that are actually available, there’s always Soekris, although price-wise the Bubba looks better. Alix is cheaper, but in the case of both Soekris and Alix, performance won’t be what I can get out of an Intel Atom board.
Factoring into this are the power-consumption numbers for Intel Atom:
I don’t see much out there in the way of ARM hardware for this particular purpose (and available for user builds).
But if I do decide to dip into the plug-computer space, Tonido Plug is there.
Here’s a review of Squeeze from the LinuxTweaking blog.
I’ve been planning to build a computer for at least a year.
I started with the idea of a mini-ITX motherboard and case to produce a small, low-power desktop, to which I’d hook up a keyboard, mouse and monitor and use as a traditional desktop computer.
Since that time I’ve shed quite a bit of old hardware. And if you want my Sun Sparcstation 20 or Alix Sparcstation 10 clone, come and get them. All the rest of the desktops are gone.
I’m no believer in laptops. Desktops are tougher, easier to fix, better performing. But they stay on a desk.
And while I’m often at a desk myself, it’s generally not the same desk all the time. I’ve begun using Dropbox so my “critical” files are available on more than one computer and are always in sync. Thus far I’m a believer.
But with a good, working laptop, always backed up in case of trouble, that I can use for my day job, at home, or anywhere I care to haul it, do I really need a traditional desktop computer at home on a desk that for the time being I’m not in front of all that often.
It’s so much easier to pull out the laptop in the house than to go into our detached home office. There might be a time when I’m out there more. But that time is not now.
So I really don’t need a traditional desktop computer.
What I do need (and/or want) is a server. I’m thinking principally of a file server-slash-backup server. Maybe a light-duty web server.
I want something that uses as little electricity as possible because I want to keep it on all the time and not feel like I’m killing the planet by millimeters with a light bulb or three’s worth of power dissipating 24/7/365.
Plug servers are too prone to failure. And while I want it to be small, I also want it to have a traditional hard drive, probably 2.5-inch laptop size. I’d like a 1 TB drive but know that most laptop drives are 500 GB in size. I imagine that 1 TB laptop drives will be available at some point in the near future.
I will consider low-power, small servers that are pre-made — and I’m talking about Excito, but I’m looking again at mini-ITX with a fanless motherboard and fanless power supply; like the kind of thing Logic Supply sells.