I haven’t been posting anything on my personal blog in a long while, let’s fix that!

Partial reason for this is that I’ve been busy documenting progress on the Debian Installer on my company’s blog. So far, the following posts were published there:

After the Stretch release, it was time to attend DebConf’17 in Montreal, Canada. I’ve presented the latest news on the Debian Installer front there as well. This included a quick demo of my little framework which lets me run automatic installation tests. Many attendees mentioned openQA as the current state of the art technology for OS installation testing, and Philip Hands started looking into it. Right now, my little thing is still useful as it is, helping me reproduce regressions quickly, and testing bug fixes… so I haven’t been trying to port that to another tool yet.

I also gave another presentation in two different contexts: once at a local FLOSS meeting in Nantes, France and once during the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, France. Nothing related to Debian Installer this time, as the topic was how I helped a company upgrade thousands of machines from Debian 6 to Debian 8 (and to Debian 9 since then). It was nice to have Evolix people around, since we shared our respective experience around automation tools like Ansible and Puppet.

After the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, another event: the mini-DebConf in Cambridge, UK. I tried to give a lightning talk about “how snapshot.debian.org helped saved the release(s)” but clearly speed was lacking, and/or I had too many things to present, so that didn’t work out as well as I hoped. Fortunately, no time constraints when I presented that during a Debian meet-up in Nantes, France. :)

Since Reproducible Tails builds were announced, it seemed like a nice opportunity to document how my company got involved into early work on reproducibility for the Tails project.

On an administrative level, I’m already done with all the paperwork related to the second financial year. \o/

Next things I’ll likely write about: the first two D-I Buster Alpha releases (many blockers kept popping up, it was really hard to release), and a few more recent release critical bug reports.

Posted @ 15/01/2018 Tags:

Executive summary

Since October 2015, I've been running a FLOSS consulting company, specialized on Debian, called DEBAMAX.

DEBAMAX logo

Longer version

Everything started two years ago. Back then I blogged about one of the biggest changes in my life: trying to find the right balance between volunteer work as a Debian Developer, and entrepreneurship as a Freelance Debian consultant. Big change because it meant giving up the comfort of the salaried world, and figuring out whether working this way would be sufficient to earn a living…

I experimented for a while under a simplified status. It comes with a number of limitations but that’s a huge win compared to France’s heavy company-related administrativia. Here’s what it looked like, everything being done online:

  • 1 registration form to begin with: wait a few days, get an identifier from INSEE, mention it in your invoices, there you go!

  • 4 tax forms a year: taxes can be declared monthly or quarterly, I went for the latter.

A number of things became quite clear after a few months:

  • I love this new job! Sharing my Debian knowledge with customers, and using it to help them build/improve/stabilise their products and their internal services feels great!

  • Even if I wasn't aware of that initially, it seems like I've got a decent network already: Debian Developers, former coworkers, and friends thought about me for their Debian-related tasks. It was nice to hear about their needs, say yes, sign paperwork, and start working right away!

  • While I'm trying really hard not to get too optimistic (achieving a given turnover on the first year doesn't mean you're guaranteed to do so again the following year), it seemed to go well enough for me to consider switching from this simplified status to a full-blown company.

Thankfully I was eligible to being accompanied by the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI Rennes), which provides teaching sessions for new entrepreneurs, coaching, and meeting opportunities (accountants, lawyers, insurance companies, …). Summer in France is traditionally rather quiet (read: almost everybody is on vacation), so DEBAMAX officially started operating in October 2015. Besides different administrative and accounting duties, running this company doesn't change the way I've been working since July 2014, so everything is fine!

As before, I won't be writing much about it through my personal blog, except for an occasional update every other year; if you want to follow what's happening with DEBAMAX:

  • Website: debamax.com — in addition to the usual company, services, and references sections, it features a blog (with RSS) where some missions are going to be detailed (when it makes sense to share and when customers are fine with it). Spoiler alert: Tails is likely to be the first success story there. ;)
  • Twitter: @debamax — which is going to be retweeted for a while from my personal account, @CyrilBrulebois.
Posted @ 22/08/2016 Tags:

Time for a quick recap of the beginning of the Stretch release cycle as far as the Debian Installer is concerned:

  • It took nearly 3 months after the Jessie release, but linux finally managed to get into shape and fit for migration to testing, which unblocked the way for an debian-installer upload.
  • Trying to avoid last-minute fun, I’ve updated the britney freeze hints file to put into place a block-udeb on all packages.
  • Unfortunately, a recent change in systemd (implementation of Proposal v2: enable stateless persistant network interface names) found its way into testing a bit before that, so I’ve had my share of last-minute fun anyway! Indeed, that resulted in installer system and installed system having different views on interface naming. Thankfully I was approached by Michael Biebl right before my final tests (and debian-installer upload) so there was little head scratching involved. Commits were already in the master branch so a little plan was proposed in Fixing udev-udeb vs. net.ifnames for Stretch Alpha 1. This was implemented in two shots, given the extra round trip due to having dropped a binary package in the meanwhile and due to dak’s complaining about it.
  • After the usual round of build (see logs), and dak copy-installer to get installer files from unstable to testing, and urgent to get the source into testing as well (see request), I’ve asked Steve McIntyre to start building images through debian-cd. As expected, some troubles were run into, but they were swiftly fixed!
  • While Didier Raboud and Steve were performing some tests with the built images, I’ve prepared the announcement for dda@, and updated the usual pages in the debian-installer corner of the website: news entry, errata, and homepage.
  • Once the website was rebuilt to include these changes, I’ve sent the announce, and lifted all block-udeb.

(On a related note, I’ve started tweeting rather regularly about my actions, wins & fails, using the #DebianInstaller hashtag. I might try and aggregate my tweets as @CyrilBrulebois into more regular blog posts, time permitting.)

Executive summary: D-I Stretch Alpha 1 is released, time to stretch a bit!

Stretching cat

(Credit: rferran on openclipart)

Posted @ 22/07/2015 Tags:

I’m not used to talking about my day job but here’s an exception.

Over the past few years I worked in two startups (3 years each). It was nice to spend time in different areas: one job was mostly about research and development in a Linux cluster environment; the other one was about maintaining a highly-customized, Linux-based operating system, managing a small support team, and performing technological surveillance in IT security.

In the meanwhile I’ve reached a milestone: 10 years with Debian. I had been wondering for a few months whether I could try my luck going freelance, becoming a Debian consultant. I finally decided to go ahead and started in August!

The idea is to lend a hand for various Debian-related things like systems administration, development/debugging, packaging/repository maintenance, or Debian Installer support, be it one-shot or on a regular basis. I didn’t think about trainings/workshops at first but sharing knowledge is something I’ve always liked, even if I didn’t become a teacher.

For those interested, details can be found on my website: https://mraw.org/.

Update: It moved to https://debamax.com/ since then.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’m going to put an end to my volunteer activities within Debian, especially as a Debian Installer release manager. Quite the contrary in fact! See the August and September debian-boot@ archives, which have been busy months. :)

Posted @ 15/09/2014 Tags:

Problem

Discussions are sometimes started by mailing a few different mailing lists so that all relevant parties have a chance to be aware of a new topic. It’s all nice when people can agree on a single venue to send their replies to, but that doesn’t happen every time.

Case in point, I’m getting 5 copies of a bunch of mails, through the following debian-* lists: accessibility, boot, cd, devel, project.

Needless to say: Reading, or marking a given mail as read once per maildir rapidly becomes a burden.

Solution

I know some people use a duplicate killer at procmail time (hello gregor) but I’d rather keep all mails in their relevant maildirs.

So here’s mark-read-everywhere.pl which seems to do the job just fine for my particular setup: all maildirs below ~/mails/* with the usual cur, new, tmp subdirectories.

Basically, given a mail piped from mutt, compute a hash on various headers, look at all new mails (new subdirectories), and mark the matching ones as read (move to the nearby cur subdirectories, and change suffix from , to ,S).

Mutt key binding (where X is short for cross post):

macro index X "<pipe-message>~/bin/mark-as-read-everywhere.pl<enter>"

This isn’t pretty or bulletproof but it already started saving time!

Now to wonder: was it worth the time to automate that?

Posted @ 11/08/2014 Tags:

I noticed a while ago a Perl script file included on my blog wasn’t served properly, since the charset wasn’t announced and web browsers didn’t display it properly. The received file was still valid UTF-8 (hello, little © character), at least!

First, wrong intuition

Reading Apache’s /etc/apache2/conf.d/charset it looks like the following directive might help:

AddDefaultCharset UTF-8

but comments there suggest reading the documentation! And indeed that alone isn’t sufficient since this would only affect text/plain and text/html. The above directive would have to be combined with something like this in /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/mime.conf:

AddType text/plain .pl

Real solution

To avoid any side effects on other file types, the easiest way forward seems to avoid setting AddDefaultCharset and to associate the UTF-8 charset with .pl files instead, keeping the text/x-perl MIME type, with this single directive (again in /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/mime.conf):

AddCharset UTF-8 .pl

Looking at response headers (wget -d) we’re moving from:

Content-Type: text/x-perl

to:

Content-Type: text/x-perl; charset=utf-8

Conclusion

Nothing really interesting, or new. Just a small reminder that tweaking options too hastily is sometimes a bad idea. In other news, another Perl script is coming up soon. :)

Posted @ 11/08/2014 Tags:

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