Category Archives: Debian

Debian planet posts.

post and pre-release fun

The last weeks before a Debian release are usually boring with respect to working on new stuff since unstable is pretty much closed to development. Now that the release is finished, this fun is back \o/

I have been in an ‘upload frenzy’ since yesterday night and I have updated some packages in unstable: KOffice[1] and KOffice-l10n 2.3.1, yakuake, rsibreak and tintin++. Another of my packages, kid3, got magically updated itself in unstable before I had time to look at it, the magic of having active co-maintainers.

[1] Thanks for the gentle push to update this, Pino :)

I also emailed one of my upstream maintainers to ask him about the KDE 4 version of his application and he will likely make a release soon. One of the goals for wheezy is remove completely KDE 3 and Qt 3. If you are maintaining a KDE 3 or Qt 3 based application, we are about to start annoying you about this! See http://wiki.debian.org/kdelibs4c2aRemoval and http://wiki.debian.org/qt3-x11-freeRemoval

The last 2 weeks before the release I had some fun watching how the Squeeze release countdown banner I published at http://news.debian.net spread to a lot of websites, personal blogs, community sites, forums to news portals.
The traffic has been increasing little by little through the 2 weeks the banner has been online and currently is still moderately high, since people keeps retweeting the news item about the Debian release. While writing these lines, the banner has been served 449575 times to a total of 244975 unique IP addresses!

Debian at the Google Code-in 2010-11

As you might know, Debian was one of the 20 organizations selected to participate in the first Google Code-in.

We got a moderate success since we started preparing the contest very late (I joined as mentor/admin the very first day of the contest!). Because of this, unlike other organizations, we did not manage to engage interested students from the very beginning of the Code-in. Since we did not have too many Debian tasks the first days, we did not attract many students, and thus did not have very many throughout the contest.

Given Debian tasks were mostly about improving and contributing to Debian, it was quite hard having tasks that did not require having a Debian installation and that made it difficult for many students to get involved. Also, until the last two weeks we did not have any translation task that could have attracted earlier students without too much confidence in their technical and English skills.

Nonetheless, Debian got 39 tasks done:

With about 30 students participating and at least one of the students has keep contributing to Debian after the contest!

The contest was sometimes stressful with several students wanting their tasks to be reviewed at the same time, and the date was problematic due to the winter (or summer!) holidays but still I am quite happy with the final result :D

Debian will be also participating again this year in the Google Summer of Code 2011. Join the soc-coordination mailing list and stay tunned if you want to participate as mentor or student.

KOffice 2.3.0 and future

It took a bit of time due to the holidays, but KOffice 2.3.0 is finally available from Debian experimental (give some hours to your mirror to sync!). If you are unstable user don’t be afraid to fetch it from experimental, it is there only because the Squeeze freeze. Squeeze will ship with KOffice 2.2.1, while not all the applications are so polished as it would be desirable, it clearly offers huge improvements over old KOffice 1.6.3.

I do not know if there will be a KOffice 2.3.1 upload but I know for sure the future is with Calligra :)

KOffice 2.2.0 packages for Debian

As some of you might have seen, KOffice 2.2.0 was finally released today. Quoting the release announcement:

“There are still areas in the user interface that we want to work on before stating that KOffice is fit for the general public. We are, however, at a stage where we think that KOffice can be used for real work by some users.”

I agree with this statement and it is still to be decided if KOffice 2.2.0 will make it into Squeeze. I am inclined to do so but I would love some well argumented feedback. Take into consideration some applications are more mature than others.

The packages will be uploaded to the official archive soon, but they still need some minor work and given they include new deb files (kformula shape and kexi), they need to go thru the NEW queue, it might take some time.

Meanwhile, you can find packages for amd64 & i386 from the semi-official repository at: http://qt-kde.debian.net/.
You also have available the localization packages (see the list here) and braindump, an interesting application based in KOffice libraries.

These packages are not in the Debian archive so please *don’t* report bugs against them in the Debian Bug Tracking System. If you see any packaging problem, please report it in the debian-kde mailing list.
If you find a bug, miss a feature or have a wishlist, please file a report in the KDE bugzilla: https://bugs.kde.org/ Include all the information you can about your system (Debian experimental, KOffice 2.2.0) and all the details you are able to give. In the case of crashes, install the package koffice-dbg to get a backtrace. Read more at this techbase article.

KDE 4.4.3 in unstable

Following Qt 4.6.2, uploaded a couple of weeks ago, KDE 4.4.3, has finally found its way to unstable in the last 48 hours.
Given KDE 4.5.0 is not expected until August, it is likely the next point release, 4.4.4, will be the KDE version included in next Debian stable, Squeeze. What this means: go and update to 4.4.3, test, and when you find a bug, please, follow this instructions. If you are lazy to read it: report upstream bugs at the KDE Bugzilla and report the packaging/integration bugs in the Debian BTS. When in doubt, you have the Debian KDE mailing list, that is being successful so far in maintaining a good signal-noise ratio.

I would like highlight the drop in the open bugs in the BTS experimented in the last 2-3 months, I published this graph in February:

Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years - February 2010

And look at the situation now:

Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years -May 2010

This is mainly due to the great work of Eckhart Wörner. Also there is other people who contributed to it more modestly, a big thank you to all of you!

As you can see in the second graph, there are less than 1000 bugs open now in the BTS, they are still too much and time has taught us it is very easy going over 1000 again, so we still welcome more volunteers looking at bugs.

If you are not the bugsquasher type, you can write HTML and you do some IRC, we also need somebody to help us reorganize a bit the pkg-kde website. I will help you personally on this task, but it is good if you can lurk by IRC and you are not scared to share your doubts with the rest of the team there.

Finally, I promise I will publish something about the status of KOffice pre-2.2 in Debian, but I still can not say whether it will be in Squeeze.

Not the Debian-KDE post you were waiting for

Sorry! I cannot tell you when KDE 4.4 will be uploaded to unstable. I am not working on that. My initial plan was writing about other tasks I am planning to work on and asking for your help. But I realized people would be more interested in knowing about KDE 4.4 packages. Once you know about this, I might trick you into helping in others areas ;)

Debian packages for KDE 4.4 are being worked on, just slowly and of course, keeping on with the quality you are used to. There will be also some changes that have been in some people’s TODO for long time.

The goal is having them in very good shape for Squeeze, that will ship with some point release of 4.4. The doubt is which point release will be: 4.4.2? 4.4.3 ? The schedule for the point releases has not been made yet, so it makes a bit harder trying to predict it. In the same lines, I can not tell you when Squeeze will be released neither, it needs to be frozen first!

If you want to know about the reasons of this delay, it is simple math: KDE has been growing a lot of more than the number of people working in Debian packages of KDE. I am not talking about size in lines of code in KDE, it is more the number of new dependencies that the KDE team have to take care now too: soprano, libutempter, … Have you wondered why some are under the name of Debian Krap maintainers? :) And there are releases much more often than in the KDE 3 times. You might have notice not only 4.3.5 have been skipped, it also was the case with 4.2.3 or 4.1.4.

This is not good or bad, it is just the same number of maintainers (or less) with more work. And what is worse… with more bugs open in the Debian BTS! I think reiterated calls for not to file upstream bugs in the Debian BTS and directly in KDE bugzilla (see my blog post about this here) have helped but still we have a large amount of bugs piled through the years. This graph could give you an estimate how we tried in the past fighting against without too much success:
Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years

Olivier Vitrat, we miss you :)

One of the most heavy (and boring) talks that needs to be done for the KDE 4.4 packages is the copyright checking. I am not sure a total newbie can help with this, but if you have knowledge about licenses and you want to try helping, we are waiting for you.

About other areas of the packaging maintenance, if you are interested in start learning and helping with future releases, you are welcome to start lurking in the #debian-qt-kde channel in OFTC and in the mailing lists.

Update February 21th: 4.4.0 is for sure not being uploaded into the archive. Probably KDE SC 4.4.1 to be released 2nd March will be uploaded to unstable or experimental.

How to get your bugs solved in Debian+KDE

Imagine you have found a bug in your Debian running KDE, a nasty one, and you want to get it resolved. What you should do?

This is centered on KDE and Debian but most of it is useful in general.

First Case: You have a problem and you have no idea whether it is a bug or not. Even worse, you don’t know which package to report it to.

This happens more often than you might believe; it even happens to experienced people. Your first step should be to checking user forums and mailing lists [0] to see if someone else has encountered the same issue. You might find that your problem is already known (and maybe easy to solve).

In the case that you do not find your problem there, then you can ask for help and post a mail or message explaining your problem. Pick one mailing list or forum board, the one you think is more appropriate, then post your issue there. The most detailed you are about your problem, the bigger is the likelihood of you obtaining help.

It could happen that:

  • you are told how to solve your problem. yay \o/
  • your problem is not a real bug in Debian/KDE and you learn why.
  • your problem is not solved, but you are at least pointed to the software that is causing it.
  • you do not get any answer.

If you do not get any answer it might be that nobody got into the same problem and they do not how to help you. But it is also possible you were not clear about your problem. Also, you need to be patient; it is unlikely someone will answer your question 2 minutes after you posted it.
If you find out more about your problem, it is a good idea to send another email or post updating your first message. If after 5-7 days you do not get any answer, you can try asking for help in another forum or mailing list.

If you are given pointers to what software is causing the problem you can go to the second case.

[0]
Mailing lists:

Forums:

Second case: You know where the problem is. Where you should report your bug?

First, you should check in both the Debian and the KDE bug tracking systems [1] to see if the bug is already reported. If that is the case, and you are able to give more information about it, update the bug report.

If the bug is not reported, then report it in the KDE bug tracking system if you think it is a problem in the application or in the Debian BTS if it is a packaging problem. If you’re not sure what kind of bug it is, you can go to the first case (in the beginning of this post) and ask in the users forums and mailing lists [0].

However, you won’t always get it right, and in some cases you will be pointed to the other bug tracking system. Do not take it personally; KDE developers can not help you with packaging problems and Debian packagers can’t always help you with the application bugs.

It might be that your problem is solved in the development version, so if possible check what is going on in the development version before report.

When reporting the problem, give all the details you can about your problem. If you can detail the steps to reproduce the bug, even better. Also, if you are asked for more information, reply the best you can. Somebody is trying to help you. Be nice !:)

Also, remember to be patient when reporting bugs or being asked for more information: both KDE and Debian are big projects with a lot of traffic on their respective bug reporting systems (esp. KDE), so sometimes there is not a quick reply from the developers.

[1]

In Debian, a lot of people report upstream issues in the bug tracking system and they think it is good and what they have to do. The truth is that in a very few cases, such as security bugs or data loss bugs, this is a good idea. But most of the time it is not useful to report problems to the people who can not solve them. Do not expect Debian/KDE maintainers to forward your problem upstream (a problem which they may well not be able to reproduce), then back to you when upstream ask for more information, then back with the information to upstream… it is time consuming and we have big (wo)manpower problems.

In any case, if you think the bug is very important and should be in the Debian BTS, you can report it in Debian as well as reporting it to KDE. Make sure you mention the KDE bug in the Debian bug.

Third case: your problem is not a bug, just a feature request.

Until now, I have talked about bugs, when you find something that is clearly not working right in your system. But what about when you want to ask for a new feature in a piece of software?

In very few cases this belongs in a Debian wish list. Most feature requests apply upstream and you should tell the about your idea. If you do not tell them, it is unlikely they will implement it. Still, after reporting, you should accept it if upstream thinks it is not a good idea or it is not interested enough to implement it.

Post updated on the 30th September, thanks to Rupert Swarbrick for grammar fixes.

Introducing http://news.debian.net

In short: what is http://news.debian.net? It is an unofficial news website where you can read and submit news about what is going on in the Debian project.

I have always missed having something similar to “KDE Dot News” in Debian. I refer to KDE’s news place because it is the project I more closely follow after Debian, but there are similar news websites for other projects such as Ubuntu’s Fridge.
The Debian project has http://www.debian.org/News/ but this is just a HTML version of the announce mailing lists.

For a long time, debian-devel-announce and debian-announce were enough but they are reserved to the very important stuff (at least they are supposed to) that is mandatory for developers to know. With the project growing over the years, every day we generate interesting bits about our project that are nice to know, but it is not always so important that it justifies an email to announce. This information usually ends split between:

  • personal blogs aggregated onto Planet. (Not everybody follows Debian Planet.)
  • several Debian mailing lists. (No-one is able to follow all the mails in all the mailing lists.)
  • changelog files of packages. (Nobody reads debian-devel-changes to know about uploads of major new version of software.)
  • IRC. (Not everybody is in IRC, and even people are unlikely to read everything.)

Several solutions were tried to solve this problem:

  • Debian Weekly News and Debian Project News. These keep a format that require too much work to maintain and they are currently not being published (although there is some work going on to rectify this). In addition, as they take some time in being published they often carried news items that are more than one week old, and thus did not qualify as “news” anymore.
  • http://times.debian.net This was an very interesting step in the right direction IMHO, but it was 90% aggregated content from other sources and submitting contributions was not easy.
  • http://twitter.com/debian Great idea but microblogging has some limitations: maximum length of the messages, no comment system, only DDs with their key at hand can send messages, ugly short URLs, …
  • Developers news in debian-devel-announce. Similar to Debian Weekly News, to make it worthwhile, you have to wait until you can aggregate few news items together which can result in the oldest news is not being really “new” anymore.

Finally, you have other different websites that are merely content aggregation from several sources, such as http://www.debian-news.net/.

What I was missing is a place to that allow people submit content easily (email, quick web form, and if you are really interested, publishing rights!), with short news (several lines, but not long but not so short as Twitter) and links to the interesting stuff for the rest of the project.

Examples of content I would like to have in http://news.debian.net

  • Small updates about uploads of an important version of new software, for example: KDE 4.3 has been uploaded to unstable or you have Python 3000 in experimental if you want to play with it. Obviously, and upload of KDE 4.3.1 or Python 3.0.1 are not interesting news.
  • Summaries of Debian Meetings. From time to time Debian teams meet and take decisions, some send an email to debian-devel-announce, some don’t. In any case, it would be interesting for all the project to know about them and their most important results. And of course, thanks to the sponsors.
  • Also, having a place to to publish interesting stuff such as DebConf videos or schedules. Yes, there is a DebConf blog, but as personal anecdote, when I wanted to make the schedule public it did not look easy to me find out how to publish stuff there and I decide to write about it on my own blog instead…
  • News about Debian running in new and exotic hardware.
  • Very short articles about companies and institutions using Debian.
  • Links to the most interesting posts of Debian contributors in Planet about Debian infrastructure improvements. Or, if it is the case, to a mail in the web archives.
  • … I am sure there are more examples, but this is what I can think of now :)

I will keep publishing/linking to the interesting stuff I see on Planet and on mailing lists but I do not read everything. If you have any interesting news you want to publish, please submit it. In the future, it would be nice to reach approximately 50% selected content from other sources (eg. personal posts from Planet) and 50% generated content.

If you have any comments, want to be an editor or want to help with the site design/theme (it can be highly improved), please drop me an email.