Planet Debian

Syndicate content
Planet Debian -
Updated: 15 hours 13 min ago

Mike Hommey: Looking for a new project name for git-remote-hg

Tue, 2015-02-03 05:07

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve been working on a (fast) git remote helper to access mercurial without a local mercurial clone, with the main goal to make it work for Gecko developers.

The way git remote helpers work forces how their executable is named: For a foo:: remote prefix, the executable must be named git-remote-foo. So for hg::, it’s git-remote-hg.

As you may know, there already exists a project with that name. And when I picked the name for this new helper, I didn’t really care to find a separate name, especially considering its prototype nature.

Now that I’m satisfied enough with it that I’m close to release it with a version number (which will be 0.1.0), I’m thinking that the confusion with the other project with that name is not really helpful, and an unfortunate implementation detail.

So I’m looking for a new project name… and have no good idea.

Dear lazy web, do you have good ideas?

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in January 2015

Mon, 2015-02-02 11:41

FTP assistant

This month at the beginning of the year has been rather quiet as well. All in all I marked 50 packages for accept and rejected only 17 packages.

Squeeze LTS

This was my seventh month that I did some work for the Squeeze LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian.

This month I got assigned a workload of 12h and I spent these hours to upload new versions of:

  • [DLA 127-1] pyyaml security update
  • [DLA 128-1] sox security update
  • [DLA 138-1] jasper security update
  • [DLA 145-1] php5 security update

In doing so, preparing the upload for php5 consumed most of the time as support from Upstream for the old version in Squeeze no longer exists. Oddly enough, a simple one-line-patch seems to have created a regression …

I also sponsored the upload of [DLA 133-1] unrtf security update, [DLA 134-1] curl security update and [DLA 130-1] firebird2.1 security update. Many thanks to Nguyen Cong from Toshiba who prepared the patches for these packages.

I also uploaded two DLAs for polarssel ([DLA 129-1] polarssl security update and [DLA 144-1] polarssl security update) although no LTS sponsor indicated any interest.

Other packages

Thanks to the relentless QA work of Andreas Beckmann, his piuparts tests detected an issue in the greylistd package. If greylistd has been installed in Wheezy, removed but not purged afterwards, the whole system dist-upgraded to Jessie and afterwards greylistd is installed again, there would be an error message. RC bug taken, fixed package uploaded and unblock request approved.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppStreams 0.1.0

Mon, 2015-02-02 08:37

The new package RcppStreams arrived on CRAN on Saturday. RcppStreams brings the excellent Streamulus C++ template library for event stream processing to R.

Streamulus, written by Irit Katriel, uses very clever template meta-programming (via Boost Fusion) to implement an embedded domain-specific event language created specifically for event stream processing.

The packages wraps the four existing examples by Irit, all her unit tests and includes a slide deck from a workshop presentation. The framework is quite powerful, and it brings a very promising avenue for (efficient !!) stream event processing to R.

The NEWS file entries follows below:

Changes in version 0.1.0 (2015-01-30)
  • First CRAN release

  • Contains all upstream examples and documentation from Streamulus

  • Added Rcpp Attributes wrapping and minimal manual pages

  • Added Travis CI unit testing

Courtesy of CRANberries, there is also a copy of the DESCRIPTION file for this initial release. More detailed information is on the RcppStreams page page and of course on the Streamulus page.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Steinar H. Gunderson: Multicast tunnel tuning

Sun, 2015-02-01 13:58

New things learned over the weekend:

  • A Cisco 871 is seemingly too old to handle 15 Mbit/sec of multicast-IPv4-over-GRE-over-IPv6 (even though the same over IPv4 seemingly went fine a while back).
  • Cisco 2901 will inevitably flush its entire input queue (dropping up to a hundred packets or so) due to a process called SPD (Selective Packet Discard) trying to prioritize control traffic; “no spd enable” globally seems to help a lot.
  • GRE supports sequence numbers, but you seemingly have to write your own software to actually reorder packets (as opposed to just dropping them; dropping is already better than nothing for TV traffic, though, as far as I understand).
  • You cannot open a GRE tunnel to yourself (for instance to insert your own packet reordering); Linux thinks it's a routing loop and drops the outgoing packets. The only reasonable workaround seems to be to use a TUN/TAP interface instead.
  • If you get the protocol number in the TUN header wrong, tcpdump will show no issues but the packets will be dropped by the kernel.
  • Even if you open a raw socket to listen for IPPROTO_GRE packets, Linux will send ICMP unreachables for incoming traffic. I couldn't find a better way to fix this than to ip6tables it away.

Perhaps I should file a bug for the latter one. But for now, I'll enjoy much more stable TV streams than I had before the weekend. :-)

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Iustin Pop: Morning snow

Sun, 2015-02-01 07:37

Woke up on Sunday morning to see… snow! It snowed during the night, such that there were around 5 or 6 centimetres of snow on the ground.

The second surprise was that, from my window at least, it seemed the snow on the street and sidewalks was still there! To see snow, uncleaned, after eight in the morning, is a welcome surprise in Switzerland!

So I wanted to quickly dress and go for a short run, but I was delayed by a page from work (oncall this weekend)… it became a race between me solving the page and the people who ruin the snow by making it safe to walk. So I had to work fast, skip breakfast (I like running on an empty stomach), and a while later I was finally outside, and started my run.

The snow right outside was pristine, untouched by anything. Further on, some signs of cleaning (and some people busy at work with shovels). Half of the sidewalks were already cleared, but the other half was mighty fun to run in - reasonably dry snow, and soft, not at all like running on pavement.

By the time I was inside, the big and "serious" cleaning machines were out on the streets, ensuring the snow doesn't endanger cars. Sigh, living in a city. But all in all, a good Sunday morning start!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Debian GNU/Hurd on VirtualBox

Sun, 2015-02-01 05:51

One of the great things about Debian is the wide range of kernels it supports can run. This gives the user the flexibility to not spend time on the common userland stuff. For example, most apps, package management and system admin tasks are common across all Debian platforms.

These platforms may not be optimal at par to Linux, but still, choice is good.

For long, I had used Debian GNU/Hurd, only on a KVM hypervisor. Recently being involved in VirtualBox maintenance, I've almost beeing using VirtualBox for all my virtualization tasks. So it was time to try out Hurd on VirtualBox.

All praises to the work the Debian Hurd team has put, it just works wonderfully.

To try out Hurd on VirtualBox:

  1. You could download ready to use VirtualBox images from here.
  2. These are raw images. For VirtualBox, I'd recommend you convert the image to VDI format.
    1. rrs@learner:~/VirtualBox VMs$ VBoxManage convertdd debian-hurd-20150105.img debian-hurd-20150105.vdi --format VDI Converting from raw image file="debian-hurd-20150105.img" to file="debian-hurd-20150105.vdi"... Creating dynamic image with size 3146776576 bytes (3001MB)...
    2. The VDI format may help in with some of the goodies VirtualBox has to offer, like efficient snapshots.
  3. The rest remains the same. You need to configure the VM just as else. Currently supported arch is x86 only, so make the selections accordingly.
  4. The final VM config may look something like the following screenshot.
  5. And here's the result in a video captured on VirtualBox running Debian GNU/Hurd.


Categories: Keywords: Images: 
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Francois Marier: Upgrading Lenovo ThinkPad BIOS under Linux

Sat, 2015-01-31 22:30

The Lenovo support site offers downloadable BIOS updates that can be run either from Windows or from a bootable CD.

Here's how to convert the bootable CD ISO images under Linux in order to update the BIOS from a USB stick.

Checking the BIOS version

Before upgrading your BIOS, you may want to look up which version of the BIOS you are currently running. To do this, install the dmidecode package:

apt-get install dmidecode

then run:


or alternatively, look at the following file:

cat /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/bios_version Updating the BIOS using a USB stick

To update without using a bootable CD, install the genisoimage package:

apt-get install genisoimage

then use geteltorito to convert the ISO you got from Lenovo:

geteltorito -o bios.img gluj19us.iso

Insert a USB stick you're willing to erase entirely and then copy the image onto it (replacing sdX with the correct device name, not partition name, for the USB stick):

dd if=bios.img of=/dev/sdX

then restart and boot from the USB stick by pressing Enter, then F12 when you see the Lenovo logo.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

John Goerzen: Home Automation, part 2: Z-Wave and ISY programming

Sat, 2015-01-31 15:32

In my part 1 post yesterday, I wrote about the start of the home automation project. I mentioned that I was using Insteon switches, and they mostly were working well (I forgot to mention an annoyance: you can dim, but not totally shut off, their LED status light.) Anyhow, the Insteon battery-operated sensors seem to not be as good as their Z-Wave competition.

Setting up Z-Wave

Z-Wave devices get joined to the Z-Wave network in much the same way Bluetooth devices get paired with each other. The first time you use a Z-Wave device, you join it to the controller. The controller assigns it an ID on your network, and both devices discover the best route to communicate with each other.

I discovered that the Z-Wave module on the ISY-994i has particularly poor reception. Combined with the generally short range of battery-operated Z-wave devices, this meant that my sensors didn’t work reliably. As with Insteon, AC-powered Z-wave devices tend to be repeaters, but I didn’t have any AC-powered Z-wave devices. I went looking for Z-wave repeaters, and found some. But then I discovered that a Z-wave relay-based appliance switch was actually $5 cheaper, acted as a repeater, and could be used as a switch down the road if needed. A couple of those solved my communications issues. You join them to the network as usual, but then either re-join the battery-powered sensors (so they see the new route) or do a “network heal” (every device on the network re-learns about its neighbors and routes to the other devices) so they see the new route.

Z-Wave Motion / Occupancy Sensors

If you have been in new buildings, chances are you have seen light switches with built-in occupancy sensors. My doctor’s office has these. They are typically the same size as a regular light switch, but with a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor used to automatically turn the lights off after a timeout (or even on, when someone walks into the room.) These work fine for small rooms, but if you’ve ever been in a bathroom with a PIR lightswitch that goes off while you’re still in the room, you are aware of their faults for larger rooms!

Most of the time, when you read about “occupancy sensors”, it’s really a PIR sensor, and the term is used interchangeably with “motion detector.” Motion detectors in home automation systems are commonly used for a number of purposes: detecting occuption of rooms for automatic control of lighting or HVAC systems, triggering alerts, or even locking or unlocking doors.

My friend told me he had poor luck with the Insteon PIR sensors, so I tried two different Z-Wave models: the $48 Aeon/Aeotec multi-sensor and the $30 Ecolink PIRZWAVE2-ECO. The Aeon device is clearly the more capable; it can be used indoors or out, and has a lot of options that can be configured by Z-Wave configuration parameters. It also has a ball/socket mount, so it can be easily aimed in different directions. It can draw power from 4 AAA batteries, or a mini USB cable (cable, but not power supply, included). The Aeon multi-sensor also has a temperature, humidity, and illumination (lux) sensor – but, as you’ll see, they have some drawbacks.

The Ecolink device is more basic; it has a few settings that can be altered via jumpers, but none that can be altered via Z-Wave configuration commands. That makes it a bit of a hassle, since you have to open it up to change, and when you do, it triggers a “tamper alarm” that is both undocumented and never seems to go away. It is powered by a single CR123A 3V Lithium battery, which are about $2 each on Amazon.

Both units have a default PIR timeout of 4 minutes. That means that after sensing motion, they will transmit the “on” signal (meaning motion detected) and then transmit no further signals for at least 4 minutes. This is because operating the radio consumes far more battery power than simply monitoring the PIR sensor, and it cuts down on repeated on/off transmissions. In this configuration, both units should have battery life of 6 months to a year, I figure, with an edge for the Ecolink, perhaps.

Both can also be configured to transmit more frequently; the Ecolink has a jumper that can change its timeout to 10 seconds, whereas the Aeon can be configured over Z-Wave for any timeout between 10 seconds and 65535 seconds (values above 4 minutes are rounded to the nearest minute, for some reason.)

Both also have adjustable sensitivity; on the Aeon this is via an adjustment knob, and on the Ecolink it’s via jumpers. And both can report their battery level to enable software alerts when it’s getting low.

The Aeon ships with its temperature, humidity, battery, and lux sensors disabled. This appears to be the cause of much confusion online, as they send one transmission and then no more. Sadly, one has to resort to the hard-to-find but very helpful MultiSensor engineering spec document to figure out the way to enable those sensors and set their interval. (It must be said, however, that I doubt most consumers will understand how to set bitfields, and this is either not covered or covered incorrectly in their other manuals.) This can be a real power drain, so I just set it to report battery level every 6 hours (so I can alert myself if it gets low) and leave it at that.

The Ecolink manual claims a detection radius of 39 feet and a total angle of 90deg (45deg left or right from center) and a 3-year battery life (I’m skeptical). It also is rated for indoor use only. Aeotec claims a detection radius of 16 feet and a total angle of 120 deg. Be skeptical of all these figures.

Once set up with good reception, both devices have been working fine.

Programming the controller

The ISY-994i-Zw Pro controller I mentioned in Part 1 has its own sort of programming language. It’s a lot better than the sort of GUI clicky mess that is found in most of these things, but it still has a sort of annoying Java-based editor where you select keywords from a menu and such. Although you can backup and restore the device, and import and export the programs, the file formats are XML and not really suitable for hand-editing. Sigh.

The language is limited, but gets the job done. Here is a simple program that turns off the fan in a bathroom 30 minutes after the light was turned off:

If Status '1st Floor / Bathroom + Laundry / Main Bath Fan' is On And Status '1st Floor / Bathroom + Laundry / Main Bath Light' is Off Then Wait 30 minutes Set '1st Floor / Bathroom + Laundry / Main Bath Fan' Off Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

The if/then/else clauses should probably be more properly called when/do/finally. The “if” clauses are evaluated whenever a relevant event occurs. If the If evaluates to true, if executes the Then section. The program in “Then” is uninterruptible except for “wait” and “repeat” statements. So in this case, the program begins, and if the light stays off and the fan stays on, 30 minutes later it turns off the fan. But if the light comes back on, the program aborts (since there is nothing in “else”). Similarly, if the fan goes off, the program aborts.

A more complicated example: motion-activated lamp

There is a table lamp in our living room controlled by Insteon. By adding a motion sensor in that room, it can be automatically turned on by someone walking through the room. Now, to be useful, I don’t want it to turn on during the day. I also don’t want it to turn on or adjust itself if other lights are on in the room, or if I turned it on myself; that could cause it to go on and off while I’m watching TV, for instance. It’s just to be helpful at night. Because the ISY-994i is pretty limited, having almost no control flow operations, this — as with many tasks — requires several “programs”.

First, here’s my “main”:

If Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' is Off And $LR_Lamp_Lockout is 0 And Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / ZW 005 Binary Sensor' is On And From Sunset To Sunrise (next day) And $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working is not 0 And Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Floor Lamp' is Off And Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / Dining Light' is Off And Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Light' is Off Then Set '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' 22% Set '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR S Remote (Table Lamp)' 22% Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

So, let’s look at the conditions. This program triggers if the lamp is off, the sensor is on, the time is between sunset and sunrise, and three other lights are off. (I will explain the lockout and motion_working variables later). If this is the case, it sets the lamp to 22% (and also informs the wall switch for it that the lamp is at 22%). I pick this precise value because it is unlikely I would manually set it via the wall switch, and therefore “lamp is 22% bright” doubles as a “lamp was turned on by this program” flag.

So this is the turning the lamp on bit. Let’s look at the program that turns it back off later:

If Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' is 22% And ( Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / ZW 005 Binary Sensor' is Off Or $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working is 0 Or Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Light' is not Off Or Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Floor Lamp' is not Off Or Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / Dining Light' is not Off ) Then Wait 15 seconds Set '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR S Remote (Table Lamp)' Off Set '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' Off Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

This is using a sensor with a 4-minute timeout, so the lamp will always be on for at least 4 minutes and 15 seconds. This program runs if the lamp is still at the program-set level (so if, for instance, I turned the lamp full on, the program does nothing to override my setting.) Then, it looks for a condition to trigger turning the lamp off, which could be any of the sensor indicating no more motion, another program detecting it’s lost communication with the sensor, or somebody turning on one of the bigger lights in the room. Then it simply sets the light (and the wall switch controlling it) to off.

There are a couple more bits to this puzzle. What if the system turned the lamp on, but I really want it off? If I walked up to the wall switch and pushed “off”, the lamp would go off. And then, a couple seconds later, come back on, since the state of the system met the conditions for the lamp-on program. So we need a lockout that prevents this from happening. Here’s my “trigger lockout” program:

If Control '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' is switched Off Or Control '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR Table Lamp' is switched Fast Off Or Control '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR S Remote (Table Lamp)' is switched Fast Off Or Control '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / LR S Remote (Table Lamp)' is switched Off Then $LR_Lamp_Lockout += 1 Run Program 'LR Lamp Clear Lockout' (If) Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

So if someone pushes the “off” button at the lamp switch box at the outlet it’s plugged into (unlikely), or at the wall switch, it increments the lockout variable and runs another program. This other program is unique in that it is flagged “disabled”, meaning it is never run automatically by the system, only when called by another program. Here’s the clear lockout program:

If $LR_Lamp_Lockout > 0 Then Wait 5 minutes $LR_Lamp_Lockout = 0 Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

Thus by pushing the “off” button on the switch, the motion-triggered program won’t turn the lamp back on for at least 5 minutes.

Before I had reliable Z-Wave communication to the device, I had some times where it would simply drop off the Z-Wave network until a reboot. This was particularly annoying if it occured after having detected motion, since the state of the sensor in the ISY controller is simply whatever state it last received. Therefore, I wrote this program to check if it believes the motion sensor is working:

If Status '1st Floor / Living + Dining Room / ZW 005 Binary Sensor' is On Then $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working = 1 Wait 1 hour $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working = 0 Else $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working = 1

We don’t really care if the motion sensor is broken when the status is off; all that happens then is no lamp turns on. So this program activates when the status is set to on. It flips the working flag to true, then waits for an hour. If the sensor shows no motion within that hour, the program skips to the else (keeping the flag true). But if it is still on after an hour, it decides “it must not be working” and sets the working flag to false. You can see that flag used in the other programs’ logic. But because of the Else, which is run whenever the conditions that caused the Then clause to run become false, as soon as the system receives “no motion”, it will flag the sensor as working again.

The final piece to this puzzle is a program flagged to run at boot time of the controller:

If - No Conditions - (To add one, press 'Schedule' or 'Condition') Then $LR_Lamp_Motion_Working = 1 Else - No Actions - (To add one, press 'Action')

This simply initializes the motion working variable to a known state.


The Insteon KeypadLinc is a nice device. It can control a single load directly, but all 8 buttons are fully responsive in the Insteon system. They each also have individually-addressible LED backlights. They are commonly used to do things like “ALL OFF”, “TV” (to set lights for watching TV), “AWAY” (to set the system for everyone being out of the house for awhile), etc. They are the size of a regular Decora switch, and I have installed one already, but haven’t programmed much of it yet.


The ISY has an extensive REST API, which I’ve used to integrate it a bit with my Debian systems. More on that another time.

Mobile app

Mobile apps are a common thing people look for in these systems. You can’t use the Insteon app with the ISY, but they recommend Mobilinc Pro. It does the job. Mobilinc tries to sell a $10/mo connection service, which is totally unnecessary if you can figure out SSL, and has on-screen buttons to bypass, but judging by the Google Play reviews, a lot of people thought they had to pay for that and uninstalled it afterwards.

Future directions

Many people put in electronic door locks. I don’t plan to do that. I do plan to have the house systems be aware of the general state of things (is the house empty? is everyone asleep?) and do appropriate things with lighting and HVAC. I don’t really expect the savings in power for lighting control to pay for the system anytime soon. However, if it can achieve some savings in heating and cooling, it may well be able to pay for itself in a few years. So my big next step is thermostats that can integrate with all this.

I have had a water mess in my basement before, and water leak sensors are a very common item people deploy in these setups. I certainly plan to add a few of them.

Door-open sensors are also useful; they trigger more instantly and reliably than motion detectors and can be used in some nice ways (is it after dark and the door is opening when the house is vacant? If so, turn on the light nearby in case their hands are full.)


Some issues I ran into so far are already discussed above. One other major one involves SSL on the ISY-994i Pro. The method for adding SSL keys is cumbersome, but the processor on the device — which appears to run some sort of Java — is just not up to working with SSL. Apparently they only recently got it fast enough to work with 2048-bit keys. This is rather undocumented, though, so I obtained a cert for a 4096-bit key, my usual. Attempting to connect to the box with SSL appeared to hang not just that but confuse a lot of other things on it as well. Turned out it wasn’t hung; it just too a minute and 45 seconds to complete the SSL handshake. Moral of the story: use 2048-bit keys, or stunnel4 or some such to re-wrap the SSL communications with a stronger key.

The KeypadLinc backlights can be completely shut off, and both their on and off levels can be customized. I have it set to shut off the backlight during the day and turn it on at night. The wall switches, however, can’t have their brightness status LED bar entirely shut off. They can be made dim, but don’t ever go away. That’s rather annoying.

Also annoying is that Insteon doesn’t make switches in the traditional toggle switch style in colors other than white. As our house had mostly black switches, I was forced into the Decora style.

Overall thoughts

This has been a great learning experience for me in a number of ways. I have only begun to tap what the system can do, and the real benefits will probably come once I get the heating and cooling into the mix. It’s quite a nice way for a geek to go, and the improvements in lighting have also been popular with everyone else in the house.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

John Goerzen: First Steps with Home Automation and LED Lighting

Fri, 2015-01-30 22:46

I’ve been thinking about home automation — automating lights, switches, thermostats, etc. — for years. Literally decades, in fact. When I was a child, my parents had a RadioShack X10 control module and one or two target devices. I think I had fun giving people a “light show” turning on or off one switch and one outlet remotely.

But I was stuck — there are a daunting number of standards for home automation these days. Zigbee, UPB, Z-Wave, Insteon, and all sorts of Wifi-enabled things that aren’t really compatible with each other (hellooooo, Nest) or have their own “ecosystem” that isn’t all that open (helloooo, Apple). Frankly I don’t think that Wifi is a great home automation protocol; its power drain completely prohibits it being used in a lot of ways.

Earlier this month, my awesome employer had our annual meeting and as part of that our technical teams had some time for anyone to talk about anything geeky. I used my time to talk about flying quadcopters, but two of my colleagues talked about home automation. I had enough to have a place to start, and was hooked.

People use these systems to do all sorts of things: intelligently turn off lights when rooms aren’t occupied, provide electronic door locks (unlockable via keypad, remote, or software), remote control lighting and heating/cooling via smartphone apps, detect water leakage, control switches with awkward wiring environments, buttons to instantly set multiple switches to certain levels for TV watching, turning off lights left on, etc. I even heard examples of monitoring a swamp cooler to make sure it is being used correctly. The possibilities are endless, and my geeky side was intrigued.

Insteon and Z-Wave

Based on what I heard from my colleagues, I decided to adopt a hybrid network consisting of Insteon and Z-Wave.

Both are reliable protocols (with ACKs and retransmit), so they work far better than X10 did. Both have all sorts of controls and sensors available (browse around on for some ideas).

Insteon is a particularly interesting system — an integrated dual-mesh network. It has both powerline and RF signaling, and most hardwared Insteon devices act as repeaters for both the wired and RF network simultaneously. Insteon packets contain a maximum hop count that is decremented after each relay, and the packets repeat in such as way that they collide and strengthen one another. There is no need to maintain routing tables or anything like that; it simply scales nicely.

This system addresses all sorts of potential complexities. It addresses the split-phase problem of powerline-only systems, but using an RF bridge. It addresses long distances and outbuildings by using the powerline signaling. I found it to work quite well.

The downside to Insteon is that all the equipment comes from one vendor: Insteon. If you don’t like their thermostat or motion sensor, you don’t have any choice.

Insteon devices can be used entirely without a central controller. Light switches can talk to each other directly, and you can even set them up so that one switch controls dozens of others, if you have enough patience to go around your house pressing tiny “set” buttons.

Enter Z-Wave. Z-Wave is RF-only, and while it is also a mesh network, it is source-routed, meaning that if you move devices around, you have to “heal” your network as all your nodes have to re-learn the path to each other. It also doesn’t have the easy distance traversal of Insteon, of course. On the other hand, hundreds of vendors make Z-Wave products, and they mostly interoperate well. Z-Wave is said to scale practically to maybe two or three dozen devices, which would have been an issue for me, buut with Insteon doing the heavy lifting and Z-Wave filling in the gaps, it’s worked out well.

Controlling it all

While both Insteon (and, to a certain extent, Z-Wave) devices can control each other, to really spread your wings, you need more centralized control. This lets you have programs that do things like “if there’s motion in the room on a weekday and it’s dark outside, then turn on a light, and turn it back off 5 minutes later.”

Insteon has several options. One, you can buy their “power line modem” (PLM). This can be hooked up to a PC to run either Insteon’s proprietary software, or something open-source like MisterHouse, written in Perl. Or you can hook it up to a controller I’ll mention in a minute. Those looking for a fairly simpe controller might get the Insteon 2242-222 Hub, which has the obligatory smartphone app and basic schedules.

For more sophisticated control, my friend recommended the ISY-994i controller. Not only does it have a lot more capable programming language (though still frustrating), it supports both Insteon and Z-Wave in an integrated box, and has a comprehensive REST API for integrating with other things. I went this route.

First step: LED lighting

I began my project by replacing my light bulbs with LEDs. I found that I could get Cree 4-Flow 60W equivs for $10 at Home Depot. They are dimmable, a key advantage over CFL, and also maintain their brightness throughout their life far better. As I wanted to install dimmer switches, I got a combination of Cree 60W bulbs, Cree TW bulbs (which have a better color spectrum coverage for more true colors), and Cree 100W equiv bulbs for places I needed more coverage. I even put in a few LED flood lights to replace my can lights.

Overall I was happy with the LEDs. They are a significant improvement over the CFLs I had been using, and use even less power to boot. I have had issues with three Cree bulbs, though: one arrived broken, and two others have had issues such as being quite dim. They have a good warranty, but it seems their QA could be better. Also, they can have a tendency to flickr when dimmed, though this plagues virtually all LED bulbs.

I had done quite a bit of research. CNET has some helpful brightness guides, and Insteon has a color temperature chart. CNET also had a nifty in-depth test of LED bulbs.

Second step: switches

Once the LED bulbs were in place, I was then able to start installing smart switches. I picked up Insteon’s basic switch, the SwitchLinc 2477D at Menard’s. This is a dimmable switch and requires a neutral wire in the box, but acts as a dual-band repeater for the system as well.

The way Insteon switches work, they can be standalone, or controllers, responders, or both in a “scene”. A scene is where multiple devices act together. You can create virtual 3-way switches in a scene, or more complicated things where different lights are turned on at different levels.

Anyhow, these switches worked out quite well. I have a few boxes where there is no neutral wire, so I had to use the Insteon SwitchLinc 2474D in them. That switch is RF-only and is supposed to have a minimum load of 20W, though they seemed to work OK — albeit with limited range and the occasional glitch — with my LEDs. There is also the relay-based SwitchLinc 2477S for use with non-dimmable lights, fans, etc. You can also get plug-in modules for controlling lamps and such.

I found the Insteon devices mostly lived up to their billing. Occasionally I could provoke a glitch by changing from dimming to brightening in rapid succession on a remote switch controlling a load on a distant one. Twice I had to power cycle an Insteon switch that got confused (rather annoying when they’re hardwared). Other than that, though, it’s been solid. From what I gather, this stuff isn’t ever quite as reliable as a 1950s mechanical switch, but at least in this price range, this is about as good as it gets these days.

Well, this post got quite long, so I will have to follow up with part 2 in a little while. I intend to write about sensors and the Z-Wave network (which didn’t work quite as easily as Insteon), as well as programming the ISY and my lessons learned along the way.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo: Hallo, Planet Debian!

Fri, 2015-01-30 16:20


I just created this blog and asked to get it aggregated to the Debian Planet, so first things first -- in the initial post I wanted to say Hallooooo! to the people in the community and to talk about my work and interests in Debian.

Probably most of you never interacted with or even heard of me before. I am contributor/Maintainer since ~2010 and Developer only for ~2 years, and most of the things that I worked in or packages that I maintain are "low profile" or unintrusive, except perhaps for work in aptitude and SDL libraries, if you happen to be interested in these packages or others that I [co-]maintain.

More recently, during 2014, I was helping to bootstrap and bring to life a new architecture, OpenRISC or1k. Perhaps I should devote a future post to explain a bit more about the history, status and news --or, lately, lack thereof-- about this port. This is one of the main reasons why I thought that it would be useful to have a blog -- to register activities for which it is difficult to get information by other means.

Apart from or1k, as it often happens with porting efforts in Debian, the work done also helped indirectly other architectures added last year (mips64el, arm64, ppc64el). Additionally, a few of my NMUs were directly targetted to help ppc64el to get ready in time for the architecture evaluation. None of the porters working in ppc64el were Debian Maintainers/Developers and some of the patches that they created did not benefit directly the other ports, so in the packages without active maintainers, the requests were not getting much attention in the crucial time before the evaluation. In some cases, these packages were in the critical path to build many other packages or support important user-case scenarios.

So I was very pleased when I learnt that arm64 and ppc64el will be in the next stable release --Jessie-- as officially supported architectures. They came without much noise or ceremonious celebrations, but I think that this is a great success story for these architectures and for Debian, and even for the computing world in general. Time will tell. In the meantime, congratulations to all people involved!

In addition to porting packages within Debian, I also sent some patches upstream to get the packages that I maintain compiling in the new architectures, and sent upstream patches needed to support or1k specifically (jemalloc, nspr, libgc, cmake, components of

Enough for the first post.

Just to finish, let me say that after about a decade without a personal website or blog (the previous ones not about Debian or even computing), here I am again. Let's see how it goes and I hope to have enough interesting things to tell you to keep the blog alive.

Or, in other words... “To infinity… and beyond!”

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Richard Hartmann: Release Critical Bug report for Week 05

Fri, 2015-01-30 15:57

The UDD bugs interface currently knows about the following release critical bugs:

  • In Total: 1083 (Including 186 bugs affecting key packages)
    • Affecting Jessie: 175 (key packages: 122) That's the number we need to get down to zero before the release. They can be split in two big categories:
      • Affecting Jessie and unstable: 124 (key packages: 89) Those need someone to find a fix, or to finish the work to upload a fix to unstable:
        • 21 bugs are tagged 'patch'. (key packages: 13) Please help by reviewing the patches, and (if you are a DD) by uploading them.
        • 8 bugs are marked as done, but still affect unstable. (key packages: 6) This can happen due to missing builds on some architectures, for example. Help investigate!
        • 95 bugs are neither tagged patch, nor marked done. (key packages: 70) Help make a first step towards resolution!
      • Affecting Jessie only: 51 (key packages: 33) Those are already fixed in unstable, but the fix still needs to migrate to Jessie. You can help by submitting unblock requests for fixed packages, by investigating why packages do not migrate, or by reviewing submitted unblock requests.
        • 30 bugs are in packages that are unblocked by the release team. (key packages: 18)
        • 21 bugs are in packages that are not unblocked. (key packages: 15)

How do we compare to the Squeeze and Wheezy release cycles?

Week Squeeze Wheezy Jessie 43 284 (213+71) 468 (332+136) 319 (240+79) 44 261 (201+60) 408 (265+143) 274 (224+50) 45 261 (205+56) 425 (291+134) 295 (229+66) 46 271 (200+71) 401 (258+143) 427 (313+114) 47 283 (209+74) 366 (221+145) 342 (260+82) 48 256 (177+79) 378 (230+148) 274 (189+85) 49 256 (180+76) 360 (216+155) 226 (147+79) 50 204 (148+56) 339 (195+144) ??? 51 178 (124+54) 323 (190+133) 189 (134+55) 52 115 (78+37) 289 (190+99) 147 (112+35) 1 93 (60+33) 287 (171+116) 140 (104+36) 2 82 (46+36) 271 (162+109) 157 (124+33) 3 25 (15+10) 249 (165+84) 172 (128+44) 4 14 (8+6) 244 (176+68) 187 (132+55) 5 2 (0+2) 224 (132+92) 175 (124+51) 6 release! 212 (129+83) 7 release+1 194 (128+66) 8 release+2 206 (144+62) 9 release+3 174 (105+69) 10 release+4 120 (72+48) 11 release+5 115 (74+41) 12 release+6 93 (47+46) 13 release+7 50 (24+26) 14 release+8 51 (32+19) 15 release+9 39 (32+7) 16 release+10 20 (12+8) 17 release+11 24 (19+5) 18 release+12 2 (2+0)

Graphical overview of bug stats thanks to azhag:

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Chris Lamb: Calculating the ETA to zero in shell

Fri, 2015-01-30 15:49
< Faux> I have a command which emits a number. This number is heading towards zero. I want to know when it will arrive at zero, and how close to zero it has got.

Damn right you can.

eta2zero () { A=$(eval ${@}) while [ ${A} -gt 0 ] do B=$(eval ${@}) printf %$((${A} - ${B}))s A=${B} sleep 1 done | pv -s ${A} >/dev/null }

In action:

$ rm -rf /big/path & [1] 4895 $ eta2zero find /big/path \| wc -l 10 B 0:00:14 [ 0 B/s] [================================> ] 90% ETA 0:00:10

(Sincere apologies for the lack of strace...)

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Rapha&#235;l Hertzog: My Free Software Activities for January 2015

Fri, 2015-01-30 08:55

My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donators (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

Debian LTS

This month I have been paid to work 12 hours on Debian LTS. I did the following tasks:

  • CVE triage. I pushed 24 commits to the securitry tracker. I spent more time on this task than usually (see details below).
  • I released DLA-143-1 on python-django (fixing 3 CVE). While I expected the update to be quick, my testing revealed that even though the patches applied mostly fine, they did not work as expected. I ended up spending almost 4 hours to properly backport the fixes and the corresponding tests (to ensure that the fixes are working properly).

I want to expand on two cases that I stumbled upon in my CVE triage work and that took quite long to investigate each. While my after-the-fact description is rather straightforward, the real process involved more iterations and data gathering that I do not mention here.

First I was investigating CVE-2012-6685 on libnokogiri-ruby and the upstream bug discussion revealed that libxml2 could also be part of the problem. Using the tests cases submitted there, I confirmed that libxml2 was also affected by an issue of its own… then I started to analyze the history of CVE of libxml2 to find out whether that issue got a CVE assigned: yes, that was CVE-2014-0191 (although the CVE description is unrelated). But this CVE was marked as fixed in all releases. Why? It turns out that the upstream fix for this CVE is just the complement of another commit that was merged way earlier (and that was used as a basis for the commit as the copy/paste of the comment shows). When the security teams integrated the upstream patch in wheezy/squeeze, they were probably not aware that a full fix required to also include something else. In the end, I thus reopened CVE-2014-0191 on our tracker (commit here).

The second problematic case was pound. Thijs Kinkhorst added pound related data on the multiple (high profile) SSL related issues. So it appeared on my radar of new vulnerable package in Squeeze because it was marked that CVE-2009-3555 was fixed in version 2.6-2 while Squeeze has 2.5-1. There was no bug reference in the security tracker and the Debian changelog for that version only mentioned an “anti_beast patch” which is yet another issue (CVE-2011-3389). I had to dig a bit deeper… in the end I discovered that the above patch also has provisions for the CVE that was of interest to me, except that Brian May recently reported in #765649 that the package was still vulnerable to this issue… I tried to understand where the above patch was failing and thus submitted my findings to the bug. And I updated the tracker data with my newly gained knowledge (commit 31751 and 31752).


For me, January is always the month where I try to close the accounting books of Freexian. This year is no exception except that it’s the first year where I do this with Tryton. I first upgraded to Tryton 3.4 to have the latest version.

Despite this I discovered multiple problems while doing so… since I don’t want to have those problems next year, I reported them and prepared fixes for those related to the French chart of accounts:

  • #4464: CSV export on tree views is unusable
  • #4466: add missing deferral properties on accounts
  • #4468: drop abusive reconcile properties on some accounts
  • #4469: convert account 6354 into a real non-view account
  • #4479: balance non-deferral accounts is broken with non-view parent accounts

I mentioned this idea last month… setting up and maintaining a lot of sbuild chroots can be tiresome so I wanted to automate this as much as possible. To achieve this I created three Salt formulas and got them added to the official Saltstack repository:

Each one builds on top of the former. debootstrap-formula creates chroots with debootstrap or cdebootstrap. schroot-formula does the same and registers those chroots in schroot. And sbuild-formula does the same as schroot-formula but with different defaults that are more suited to sbuild chroots (and obviously ensures that sbuild is installed and that generated chroots are buildd chroots).

With the sbuild formula I can put this in pillar data:

sbuild: chroots: wheezy: architectures: [amd64, i386] extra_dists: - wheezy-backports - wheezy-security extra_aliases: - wheezy-backports - stable-security - wheezy-security jessie: [...]

And then a simple salt-call state.highstate (I’m running in standalone mode) will ensure that I have all the chroots properly setup.

Misc packaging

I packaged new upstream releases of Django in experimental and opened a pre-approval request to get the latest 1.7.x in jessie (#775892). It seems to be a difficult sell for the release team, which is a pity because we have active Debian developers, active upstream developers, and everybody is well aware of the no-new features rule to avoid regressions. Where is the risk?

I also filed an unblock request for Dolibarr (on the request of the security team which wants to see the CVE fix reach Jessie). I did small contributions to two bugs that were of special interest to some of my donators (#751339 and #774811), they were not under my responsibility but I tried to get them moving by pinging the relevant people.

I prepared a security upload for Django in Wheezy (python-django_1.4.5-1+deb7u9) and sent it to the security team. While doing this I discovered a small problem in their backported patch that I reported upstream in Django’s ticket #24239.

Debian France

With the new year, it’s again time to organize a general assembly with the election of a third of its board. So we solicited candidacies among the members and I’m pleased to see that we got 6 candidacies for the 3 seats. It’s a good sign that we still have enough persons caring about the association. One of them is even speaking of Debconf 17 in France… great plans!

On my side, I announced that I would not candidate to be president for the next year. I will stay on the board though to ensure we have a smooth transition.


See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

One comment | Liked this article? Click here. | My blog is Flattr-enabled.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dirk Eddelbuettel: littler 0.2.2

Fri, 2015-01-30 06:48

A new minor release of littler is available now.

Several examples were added or extended:

  • a new script check.r to check a source tarball with R CMD check after loading required packages first (and a good use case was given in the recent UBSAN testing with Rocker post);
  • a new script to launch Shiny apps via runApp();
  • a new feature to install.r and install2.r whereby source tarballs are recognized and installed directly
  • new options to install.r and install2.r to set repos and lib location.

See the littler examples page for more details.

Another useful change is that r now reads either one (or both) of /etc/littler.r and ~/.littler.r. These are interpreted as standard R files, allowing users to provide initialization, package loading and more.

Carl Boettiger and I continue to make good use of these littler examples (to to install directly from CRAN or GitHub, or to run checks) in our Rocker builds of R for Docker.

Full details for the littler release are provided as usual at the ChangeLog page.

The code is available via the GitHub repo, from tarballs off my littler page and the local directory here. A fresh package has gone to the incoming queue at Debian; Michael Rutter will probably have new Ubuntu binaries at CRAN in a few days too.

Comments and suggestions are welcome via the mailing list or issue tracker at the GitHub repo.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Laura Arjona: Going selfhosting: Installing Debian Wheezy in my home server

Thu, 2015-01-29 20:28

It was in my mind to open a new series of articles with topic “selfhosting”, because I really believe in free software based network services and since long time I want to plug a machine 24×7 at home to host my blog, microblog, MediaGoblin, XMPP server, mail, and, in conclusion, all the services that now I trust to very kind third parties that run them with free software, but I know I could run myself (and offer them to my family and friends).

Last September I bought the domain (curious, they say “buy” but it’s a rent, for 1,2,3 years… never yours.  Pending another post about my adventures with the domain name, dynamic DNS, and SSL certs!) and I bought an HP Microserver G7 N54L, with 2 GB RAM. It had a 250GB SATA harddisk and I bought 2 more SATA harddisks, 1 TB each, to setup a RAID 1 (mirror). Total cost (with keyboard and mouse), 300€. A friend gave me a TFT monitor that was too old for him (1024×768) but it serves me well, (it’s a server, no graphical interface, and I will connect remotely most of the times).

Installing Debian stable (wheezy)

I decided to install Debian stable. Jessie was not frozen yet, and since it was my first non-LAMP server install, I wanted to make sure that errors and problems would be my errors, not issues of the non-released-yet distro.

I thought to install YunoHost or some other distro “prepared” for selfhosting, but I’ve never tried them, and I have not much free time, so I decided to stick on Debian, my beloved distro, because it’s the one that I know best and I’m part of its awesome community. And maybe I could contribute back some bug reports or documentation.

I wanted to try a crypto setup (just for fun, just for learn, for its benefits, and to be one more freecrypto-tester in the world) so after reading a bit:

and some other pages, and try some different things, this is the setup that I managed to configure:

  • A “rescue” system with /boot and / partitions, both in the 250 GB disk.
  • A RAID 1 system of the two 1TB disks, setup in the BIOS of the machine (so the motherboard handles the RAID and the OS is focused in other things).
  • Inside the Debian installer, I went to manual partition, then I put my /boot in the 250GB disk (yes, a 2nd /boot there), and then selected the 1TB disk (since the RAID was already made, it appeared a single 1TB disk) as physical device to be encrypted.
  • After that, still in the Debian installer, I setup LVM there: configured a volume group, then, two volumes, one for / and the other one for swap.
  • Then I saved the changes and go on installing my system.

Everything went well. Yay!

Some doubts and one problem

Everything went quite well except some doubts:

  • I’m still not sure if this BIOS RAID (“Fake RAID”) is better than a software RAID or not. I suppose it’s better since I delegate in the motherboard to do it, and leave the OS to care about other things (transcode my videos yeah!). But I don’t know how to measure ‘performance’ and which metrics and results should I expect. The disks (cheap disks) are a bit noisy (just a bit! or maybe it’s the fan that it’s very quiet! poor Laura, never saw/had a ‘luxury’ machine like this one :)
  • I had to install firmware-linux-nonfree in order to properly use the graphics card (Mobility Radeon HD 4225/4250). I have no graphical environment there, only a console, so I was not sure if installing the firmware or not (without the firmware, the letters of the console were bigger, but I just don’t mind since I most of the time I log in remotely from my laptop). Then, two questions arised to my ignorant mind:
    1. Do I need the driver for better performance (aka is the graphics card used for rendering/transcoding/showing images and videos in my MediaGoblin site or just when it’s needed to display them in local (and subsequently, never)?
    2. If I leave the system like that, and forget about the firmware warning at boot time, can the hardware be damaged by the default (free) driver? (for example, due to fan controlling malfunction or something like that).

After talking about this issues with friends (and in debian-women IRC channel), I decided to install the non-free driver, just in case, with the same reasoning as with the RAID: let the card do the job, so the CPU can care about other things. Again, I notice that learning a bit about benchmarking (and having some time to do some tests) would be nice…

And now, the problem:

  • I noticed something strange in my setup. Sometimes, after a system reboot, cryptsetup was not accepting the password to unlock the encrypted disk. And believe me, I was typing it carefully. But when I completely shutdown the computer, unplug the cable, replug the cable, and start again, the password was accepted. The keyboard is USB and this machine does not accept other connection for the keyboard. The keyboard configuration, language and so, was all correct. No Non-ASCII symbols in my password. My password would need to press the same keys in a Spanish and an English keyboard.
  • I thought that maybe something in my RAID was failing. I tried to disconnect one of the disks, and see if (1) the bug was solved (no) and (2) the RAID was working (yes). I made the same with the other disk. I was happy that I could reconstruct my RAID when plugging the disk again. But still I had the problem of the password.

I left this problem apart and go on installing the software. I would think later what to do.

Installing MediaGoblin

The most urgent selfhosting service, for me, was GNU MediaGoblin, because I wanted to show my server to my family in Christmas, and upload the pictures of the babies and kids of the family. And it’s a project where I contribute translations and I am a big fan, so I would be very proud of hosting my own instance.

I followed the documentation to setup 2 instances of GNU MediaGoblin 0.7 (the stable release in the moment), with their corresponding PostgreSQL databases. Why two instances? Well, I want an instance to host and show my videos, images, and replicate videos that I like, and a private one for sharing photos and videos with my family. MediaGoblin has no privacy settings yet, so I installed separate instances, and the private one I put it in a different port, with a self-signed SSL cert, and enabled http-authorization in Nginx, so only authorized Linux users of my machine can accesss the website.

Installing MediaGoblin was easier than what I thought. I only had some small doubts about the documentation, and they were solved in the IRC channel. You can access, for example, my user profile in my public instance, and see some different files that I already uploaded. I’m very happy!!

Face to face with the bug, again

I had to solve the problem of the password not accepted in reboots. I began to think that it could be a bug in cryptsetup. Should I upgrade the package to the version in wheezy-backports? Jessie was almost frozen, maybe it was time to upgrade the whole system, to see if the problem was solved (and to see how my MediaGoblin was working or not in Jessie. It should work, it’s almost packaged! But who knows). And if it didn’t work, maybe it was time to file a bug…

So I upgraded my system to Debian Jessie. And after upgrade, the system didn’t boot. But that’s the story of another blog post (that I still need to finish to write… don’t worry, it has happy end, as you could see accessing my Mediagoblin site!).


You can comment in this thread.

Filed under: My experiences and opinion Tagged: Debian, encryption, English, libre software, MediaGoblin, Moving into free software, N54L, selfhosting, sysadmin
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Holger Levsen: 20150129-reproducible-fosdem

Thu, 2015-01-29 11:16
Bit by bit identical binaries coming to a FOSDEM near you

Tomorrow I'll be going to FOSDEM because of the rather great variety of talks, contributors and beers - and because even after 10 years I still love to see the Grand Place at night!

On Saturday afternoon I'll be giving a talk titled "Stretching out for trustworthy reproducible builds - the status of reproducing byte-for-byte identical binary packages from a given source". I'm pretty thankful to the FOSDEM organisers for accepting this talk despite me submitting it rather (too) late, which was mostly due to the rapid developments in recent times. These are exciting times indeed: it'll be an opportunity to present what we did, how we did it, the progresses we had so far, our findings, and our plans for the future. The interview by the FOSDEM organizers might give you some preliminary insights, but you should come if you can!

So, please spread the word: this talk will not at all only be about Debian. We hope to have many upstream software developers and maintainers from other distributions attending as we will explain how reproducible builds are about reliability in software development and deployment in general. We hope one day reproducibility will be the norm everywhere and thus we want to reach out to upstreams and other distros now.

And it's getting even better: I learned a very pleasant surprise yesterday: I won't be giving this talk alone but rather together with Lunar! I would have gladly given this talk alone as planned, but team work is soo much more fun - and more productive too as this very project is showing everyday!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Craig Small: Juniper Firewalls and IPv6

Thu, 2015-01-29 01:49

I found an interesting side-effect of the Juniper firewalls when you introduce IPv6.  In hindsight it appears perfectly reasonable but if you are not aware of it in the first place you may have a much more permissive firewall than you thought.  My setup is such that my internet address changes every time I connect to an ISP. I have services “behind” the Juniper that I want to expose onto the Internet, in this case a mailserver.

Most of the documentation states to have a reasonably open firewall rule and a nat rule.

[edit security nat] destination { pool mailserver-smtp { address port 25; } } [edit security policies] from-zone Internet to-zone Internal { policy Mailserver { match { source-address any; destination-address any; application smtp; } then { permit; } } }

Pretty standard stuff and its documented in plenty of places. We cannot set a destination address because its dynamic, so set it to all.  My next step was, ok my mailserver is on IPv4 and IPv6, how do I let the IPv6 connections in?

Any means ANY

That’s where I noticed I had a problem, they could already get in. In fact anyone could get to the mailserver (good) and anything else that had an open SMTP port on my network and used IPv6 (bad). It seems that any destination address means ANY IPv4 or IPv6 address.  Both myself and the writers of the documentation hadn’t initially thought of what happens when you add IPv6.

The solution is to not let any destination, but any IPv4 and the specific mailserver destination. First create an addressbook entry for the IPv6 address of the mailserver.

[edit security address-book global] address mailserver-ipv6 2001:Db8:1111:2222::100/128;


then adjust the rule

[edit security policies] from-zone Internet to-zone Internal { policy Mailserver { match { source-address any; destination-address [ any-ipv4 mailserver-ipv6]; application smtp; } then { permit; } } }

That way there is access to the mailserver using either IPv4 or IPv6.  I’m also going to try to see if I adjust the rule so the destination only includes the mailserver address (both IPv4 and IPv6) even though the IPv4 is NATed and see if that works.


Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Andrea Veri: The GNOME Infrastructure Apprentice Program

Wed, 2015-01-28 11:59

Many times it happened seeing someone joining the #sysadmin IRC channel requesting participation to the team after having spent around 5 minutes trying to explain what the skills and the knowledge were and why this person felt it was the right figure for the position. And it was always very disappointing for me having to reject all these requests as we just didn’t have the infrastructure in place to let new people join the rest of the team with limited privileges.

With the introduction of FreeIPA, more fine-grained ACLs (and hiera-eyaml-gpg for securing tokens, secrets, passwords out of Puppet itself) we are so glad to announce the launch of the “GNOME Infrastructure Apprentice Program” (from now till the end of the post just “Program”). If you are familiar with the Fedora Infrastructure and how it works you might know what this is about already. If you don’t please read further ahead.

The Program will allow apprentices to join the Sysadmin Team with a limited set of privileges which mainly consist in being able to access the Puppet repository and all the stored configuration files that run the machines powering the GNOME Infrastructure every day. Once approved to the Program apprentices will be able to submit patches for review to the team and finally see their work merged on the production environment if the proposed changes matched the expectations and addressed comments.

While the Program is open to everyone to join, we have some prerequisites in place. The interested person should be:

  1. Part of an existing FOSS community
  2. Familiar with how a FOSS Project works behind the scenes
  3. Familiar with popular tools like Puppet, Git
  4. Familiar with RHEL as the OS of choice
  5. Familiar with popular Sysadmin tools, softwares and procedures
  6. Eager to learn new things, make constructive discussions with a team, provide feedback and new ideas

If you feel like having all the needed prerequisites and would be willing to join follow these steps:

  1. Subscribe to the gnome-infrastructure and infrastructure-announce mailing lists
  2. Join the #sysadmin IRC channel on
  3. Send a presentation e-mail to the gnome-infrastructure mailing list stating who you are, what your past experiences and plans are as an Apprentice
  4. Once the presentation has been sent an existing Sysadmin Team member will evaluate your application and follow-up with you introducing you to the Program

More information about the Program is available here.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RInside 0.2.12

Wed, 2015-01-28 09:24

A new release 0.2.12 of RInside is now on CRAN. RInside provides a set of convenience classes which facilitate embedding of R inside of C++ applications and programs, using the classes and functions provided by the Rcpp integration package.

This release adds new examples which were contributed by Christian Authmann, plus some updates and fixes including one requested by the CRAN maintainers regarding GNU extensions to Makefile. The NEWS extract below has more details.

Changes in RInside version 0.2.12 (2015-01-27)
  • Several new examples have been added (with most of the work done by Christian Authmann):

    • standard/rinside_sample15.cpp shows how to create a lattice plot (following a StackOverflow question)

    • standard/rinside_sample16.cpp shows object wrapping, and exposing of C++ functions

    • standard/rinside_sample17.cpp does the same via C++11

    • sandboxed_servers/ adds an entire framework of client/server communication outside the main process (but using a subset of supported types)

  • standard/rinside_module_sample9.cpp was repaired following a fix to InternalFunction in Rcpp

  • For the seven example directories which contain a Makefile, the Makefile was renamed GNUmakefile to please R CMD check as well as the CRAN Maintainers.

CRANberries also provides a short report with changes from the previous release. More information is on the RInside page. Questions, comments etc should go to the rcpp-devel mailing list off the Rcpp R-Forge page.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Russell Coker: SE Linux Play Machine Over Tor

Wed, 2015-01-28 02:44

I work on SE Linux to improve security for all computer users. I think that my work has gone reasonably well in that regard in terms of directly improving security of computers and helping developers find and fix certain types of security flaws in apps. But a large part of the security problems we have at the moment are related to subversion of Internet infrastructure. The Tor project is a significant step towards addressing such problems. So to achieve my goals in improving computer security I have to support the Tor project. So I decided to put my latest SE Linux Play Machine online as a Tor hidden service. There is no real need for it to be hidden (for the record it’s in my bedroom), but it’s a learning experience for me and for everyone who logs in.

A Play Machine is what I call a system with root as the guest account with only SE Linux to restrict access.

Running a Hidden Service

A Hidden Service in TOR is just a cryptographically protected address that forwards to a regular TCP port. It’s not difficult to setup and the Tor project has good documentation [1]. For Debian the file to edit is /etc/tor/torrc.

I added the following 3 lines to my torrc to create a hidden service for SSH. I forwarded port 80 for test purposes because web browsers are easier to configure for SOCKS proxying than ssh.

HiddenServiceDir /var/lib/tor/hidden_service/
HiddenServicePort 22
HiddenServicePort 80

Generally when setting up a hidden service you want to avoid using an IP address that gives anything away. So it’s a good idea to run a hidden service on a virtual machine that is well isolated from any public network. My Play machine is hidden in that manner not for secrecy but to prevent it being used for attacking other systems.

SSH over Tor

Howtoforge has a good article on setting up SSH with Tor [2]. That has everything you need for setting up Tor for a regular ssh connection, but the tor-resolve program only works for connecting to services on the public Internet. By design the .onion addresses used by Hidden Services have no mapping to anything that reswemble IP addresses and tor-resolve breaks it. I believe that the fact that tor-resolve breaks thins in this situation is a bug, I have filed Debian bug report #776454 requesting that tor-resolve allow such things to just work [3].

Host *.onion
ProxyCommand connect -5 -S localhost:9050 %h %p

I use the above ssh configuration (which can go in ~/.ssh/config or /etc/ssh/ssh_config) to tell the ssh client how to deal with .onion addresses. I also had to install the connect-proxy package which provides the connect program.

ssh root@zp7zwyd5t3aju57m.onion
The authenticity of host ‘zp7zwyd5t3aju57m.onion ()
ECDSA key fingerprint is 3c:17:2f:7b:e2:f6:c0:c2:66:f5:c9:ab:4e:02:45:74.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

I now get the above message when I connect, the ssh developers have dealt with connecting via a proxy that doesn’t have an IP address.

Also see the general information page about my Play Machine, that information page has the root password [4].

Related posts:

  1. Trust and My SE Linux Play Machine When discussing the machine there are two common comments I...
  2. New SE Linux Play Machine Online After over a year I have finally got a SE...
  3. Play Machine Online Again I have returned from the US and my SE Linux...
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets