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Debian

Installing Debian on modern hardware

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Debian

It is an unfortunate fact of life that non-free firmware blobs are required to use some hardware, such as network devices (WiFi in particular), audio peripherals, and video cards. Beyond that, those blobs may even be required in order to install a Linux distribution, so an installation over the network may need to get non-free firmware directly from the installation media. That, as might be guessed, is a bit of a problem for distributions that are not willing to officially ship said firmware because of its non-free status, as a recent discussion in the Debian community shows.

Surely Dan Pal did not expect the torrent of responses he received to his short note to the debian-devel mailing list about problems he encountered trying to install Debian. He wanted to install the distribution on a laptop that was running Windows 10, but could not use the normal network installation mechanism because the WiFi device required non-free firmware. He tracked down the DVD version of the distribution and installed that, but worried that Debian is shooting itself in the foot by not prominently offering more installation options: "The current policy of hiding other versions of Debian is limiting the adoption of your OS by people like me who are interested in moving from Windows 10."

The front page at debian.org currently has a prominent "Download" button that starts to retrieve a network install ("netinst") CD image when clicked. But that image will not be terribly useful for systems that need non-free firmware to make the network adapter work. Worse yet, it is "impossible to find" a working netinst image with non-free firmware, Sven Joachim said, though he was overstating things a bit. Alexis Murzeau suggested adding a link under the big download button that would lead users to alternate images containing non-free firmware. He also pointed out that there are two open bugs (one from 2010 and another from 2016) that are related, so the problem is hardly a new one.

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Debian: Ease of Use, Lomiri and More

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Debian
  • Thomas Lange: Making Debian available

    This is the subject of an interesting thread on the debian-devel mailing list.

    It started with ".. The current policy of hiding other versions of Debian is limiting the adoption of your OS by people like me.."

    It seems that this user managed to contact us developers and give us some important information how we can improve the user experience. The following discussion shows that all our users need non-free firmware to get their wireless network cards run.

    Do we provide such installation images for our users?

    Sure. We build them regularly, host them on our servers, we also sign the hash sum with our official signing key. But we hide them very well and still call them unofficial. Why? I would like to have a more positive name for those images. Ubuntu has the HWE (Hardware Enablement) kernel. Maybe Debian firmware enablement images?

  • UBports: Packaging of Lomiri Operating Environment for Debian (part 04)

    Before and during FOSDEM 2020, I agreed with the people (developers, supporters, managers) of the UBports Foundation to package the Unity8 Operating Environment for Debian. Since 27th Feb 2020, Unity8 has now become Lomiri.

    Things got delayed a little recently as my main developer contact on the upstream side was on sick leave for a while. Fortunately, he has now fully recovered and work is getting back on track.

  • Debian's Gunnar Wolf: Back to school... As a student

    Although it was a much larger step when I made a similar announcement seven years ago, when I started my Specialization, it is still a big challenge ahead, and I am very happy to pursue this: I have been admitted to a PhD program at UNAM, the university I have worked at for almost 20 years, and one of the top universities in Latin America. What program will I be part of? Doctorado en Ciencia e Ingeniería de la Computación (Computer Science and Engineering Doctorate… Quite a broad program name, yes, sounds like anything goes).

  • [Debian-based] SteamTinkerLaunch – SparkyLinux

    There is a new application available for Sparkers: SteamTinkerLaunch

How to Install Debian 10 Buster [Step by Step - with Screenshots]

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Debian

This beginner's guide explains the steps to install Debian 10 Buster. The following process includes the step by step guide with screenshots and prepared to be followed by any user.
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Debian based PinePhone Mobian Edition Review. Spec, Price, and More.

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Linux
Debian
Gadgets

We take a detailed look at the PinePhone Mobian Edition and give you a perspective on the features, prices and comparisions.
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Debian: Vendoring, FOSSHOST and Freexian’s Debian LTS

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Debian
  • Bug#971515: marked as done (kubernetes: excessive vendoring (private libraries))
    This means that you claim that the problem has been dealt with.
    If this is not the case it is now your responsibility to reopen the
    Bug report if necessary, and/or fix the problem forthwith.
    
    (NB: If you are a system administrator and have no idea what this
    message is talking about, this may indicate a serious mail system
    misconfiguration somewhere. Please contact owner@bugs.debian.org
    immediately.)
    
    
  • The Debian tech committee allows Kubernetes vendoring

    Back in October, LWN looked at a conversation within the Debian project regarding whether it was permissible to ship Kubernetes bundled with some 200 dependencies. The Debian technical committee has finally come to a conclusion on this matter: this bundling is acceptable and the maintainer will not be required to make changes

  • Kentaro Hayashi: fabre.debian.net is sponsored by FOSSHOST

    Today, we are pleased to announce that fabre.debian.net has migrated to FOSSHOST

    FOSSHOST provides us a VPS instance which is located at OSU Open Source Lab. It improves a lack of enough server resources then service availability especially.

  • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2020

    A Debian LTS logo Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian’s Debian LTS offering.

    Debian project funding

    In December, we put aside 2100 EUR to fund Debian projects. The first project proposal (a tracker.debian.org improvement for the security team) was received and quickly approved by the paid contributors, then we opened a request for bids and the bid winner was announced today (it was easy, we had only one candidate). Hopefully this first project will be completed until our next report.

    We’re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article.

Debian Developers: Christian Kastner, Junichi Uekawa, and Michael Prokop

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Debian
  • Christian Kastner: Keeping your Workstation Silent

    I've tried numerous coolers in the past, some of monstrous proportions (always thinking that more mass must be better, and reputable brands are equally good), but I was never really satisfied; hence, I was doubtful that trying yet another cooler would make a difference. I'm glad I tried the Noctua NH-D15 anyway. With some tweaking to the fan profile in the BIOS, it's totally inaudible at normal to medium workloads, and just a very gentle hum at full load—subtle enough to disappear in the background.

    For the past decade, I've also regularly purchased sound-proofed cases, but this habit appears anachronistic now. Years ago, sound-proofed cases helped contain the noise of a few HDDs. However, all of my boxes now contain NVMe drives (which, to me, are the biggest improvement to computing since CPUs going multi-core).

    On the other hand, some of my boxes now contain powerful GPUs used for GPGPU computing, and with the recent higher-end Nvidia and AMD cards all pulling in over 300W, there is a lot of heat to manage. The best way to quickly dump heat is with good airflow. Sound-proofing works against that. Its insulation restricts airflow, which ultimately causes even more noise, as the GPU's fans need to spin at very high RPMs. This is, of course, totally obvious in hindsight.

  • Junichi Uekawa: It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer.

    It's been 20 years since I became a Debian Developer. Lots of fun things happened, and I think fondly of the team. I am no longer active for the past 10 years due to family reasons, and it's surprising that I have been inactive for that long. I still use Debian, and I still participate in the local Debian meetings.

  • Michael Prokop: Revisiting 2020

    Mainly to recall what happened last year and to give thoughts and plan for the upcoming year(s) I’m once again revisiting my previous year (previous editions: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 + 2012).

    Due to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020 was special™ for several reasons, but overall I consider myself and my family privileged and am very grateful for that.

    In terms of IT events, I planned to attend Grazer Linuxdays and DebConf in Haifa/Israel. Sadly Grazer Linuxdays didn’t take place at all, and DebConf took place online instead (which I didn’t really participate in for several reasons). I took part in the well organized DENOG12 + ATNOG 2020/1 online meetings. I still organize our monthly Security Treff Graz (STG) meetups, and for half of the year, those meetings took place online (which worked OK-ish overall IMO).

    Only at the beginning of 2020, I managed to play Badminton (still playing in the highest available training class (in german: “Kader”) at the University of Graz / Universitäts-Sportinstitut, USI). For the rest of the year – except for ~2 weeks in October or so – the sessions couldn’t occur.

    Plenty of concerts I planned to attend were cancelled for obvious reasons, including the ones I would have played myself. But I managed to attend Jazz Redoute 2020 – Dom im Berg, Martin Grubinger in Musikverein Graz and Emiliano Sampaio’s Mega Mereneu Project at WIST Moserhofgasse (all before the corona situation kicked in). The concert from Tonč Feinig & RTV Slovenia Big Band occurred under strict regulations in Summer. At the beginning of 2020, I also visited Literaturshow “Roboter mit Senf” at Literaturhaus Graz.

Bullseye freeze

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Debian

Bullseye is freezing! Yay! (And Trondheim is now below -10.)

It's too late for that kind of change now, but it would have been nice if plocate could have been default for bullseye...

It seems that since buster, there's an override in place to change its priority away from standard, and I haven't been able to find anyone who could tell me why. (It was known that it was request moved away from standard for cloud images, which makes a lot of sense, but not for desktop/server images.)

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YunoHost 4.1 Release Makes DIY Self-Hosting Even More Simple

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Server
Debian

If you don’t know what YunoHost is, it is a Debian-based operating system that aims to make self-hosting easy by simplifying the administration of the server and letting you easily deploy apps/services.

Initially, it was developed by “Kload” but when interest around YunoHost and self-hosting started growing, more people joined in as volunteers and since then, they have been developing and maintaining the operating system.

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Debian discusses vendoring—again

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Debian

The problems with "vendoring" in packages—bundling dependencies rather than getting them from other packages—seems to crop up frequently these days. We looked at Debian's concerns about packaging Kubernetes and its myriad of Go dependencies back in October. A more recent discussion in that distribution's community looks at another famously dependency-heavy ecosystem: JavaScript libraries from the npm repository. Even C-based ecosystems are not immune to the problem, as we saw with iproute2 and libbpf back in November; the discussion of vendoring seems likely to recur over the coming years.

Many application projects, particularly those written in languages like JavaScript, PHP, and Go, tend to have a rather large pile of dependencies. These projects typically simply download specific versions of the needed dependencies at build time. This works well for fast-moving projects using collections of fast-moving libraries and frameworks, but it works rather less well for traditional Linux distributions. So distribution projects have been trying to figure out how best to incorporate these types of applications.

This time around, Raphaël Hertzog raised the issue with regard to the Greenbone Security Assistant (gsa), which provides a web front-end to the OpenVAS vulnerability scanner (which is now known as Greenbone Vulnerability Management or gvm).

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Comments in Slashdot: Debian Discusses Vendoring -- Again

Debian: Reports From Louis-Philippe Véronneau, Thorsten Alteholz and Jonathan McDowell

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Debian

  • Louis-Philippe Véronneau: puppetserver 6: a Debian packaging post-mortem

    I have been a Puppet user for a couple of years now, first at work, and eventually for my personal servers and computers. Although it can have a steep learning curve, I find Puppet both nimble and very powerful. I also prefer it to Ansible for its speed and the agent-server model it uses.

    Sadly, Puppet Labs hasn't been the most supportive upstream and tends to move pretty fast. Major versions rarely last for a whole Debian Stable release and the upstream .deb packages are full of vendored libraries.1

    Since 2017, Apollon Oikonomopoulos has been the one doing most of the work on Puppet in Debian. Sadly, he's had less time for that lately and with Puppet 5 being deprecated in January 2021, Thomas Goirand, Utkarsh Gupta and I have been trying to package Puppet 6 in Debian for the last 6 months.

    With Puppet 6, the old ruby Puppet server using Passenger is not supported anymore and has been replaced by puppetserver, written in Clojure and running on the JVM. That's quite a large change and although puppetserver does reuse some of the Clojure libraries puppetdb (already in Debian) uses, packaging it meant quite a lot of work.

  • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in December 2020

    This month I only accepted 8 packages and like last month rejected 0. Despite the holidays 293 packages got accepted.

  • Jonathan McDowell: Free Software Activities for 2020

    As a reader of Planet Debian I see a bunch of updates at the start of each month about what people are up to in terms of their Free Software activities. I’m not generally active enough in the Free Software world to justify a monthly report, but I did a report of my Free Software Activities for 2019 and thought I’d do another for 2020. I ended up not doing as much as last year; I put a lot of that down to fatigue about the state of the world and generally not wanting to spend time on the computer at the end of the working day.

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More in Tux Machines

EasyOS Dunfell 2.6.1 released for x86_64 PC

Yesterday announced EasyOS Dunfell 2.6.1 aarch64 for the Raspberry Pi4: https://bkhome.org/news/202101/easyos-dunfell-261-released-for-the-raspberry-pi4.html Today it is the turn for EasyOS Dunfell-series 2.6.1 64-bit on the PC. This is the first official release in this series. Same packages compiled in OpenEmbedded. Latest SeaMonkey 2.53.6. A different kernel for the PC build, 5.10.11. Read all about it here: http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/dunfell/2.6.1/release-notes-2.6.1.htm As stated in the release notes, all three streams are being sync'ed to the same version number. The Buster-series 2.6.1 will probably be uploaded tomorrow. I have to compile the latest 5.4.x kernel, and SeaMonkey 2.53.6. As to which you would choose for the PC, it is like asking "which is better, strawberry icecream or chocolate icecream?" Read more

Top 20 Uses of Linux

The Linux OS and its related distros and flavors have transformed it from hardcore software into an industrial brand. Even if you are not a fan of it, the Linux OS might be as common as the air you breathe if you closely analyze your day to day interactive activities. Almost all the modern technologies that transform and innovate the tech industry have a Linux OS DNA imprinted on them. Those that are yet to be branded with their innovative uniqueness and recognition are waiting in line for the famed chance. Therefore, you might boldly claim that the Linux OS does not run your life, but the world around you cannot avoid the flirty pursuits of this open-source and free software. Nowadays, almost anything that can be described as cool is either pursuing Linux or is being pursued by Linux. It is the perfect symbiotic relationship in a world that tries to find a balance in technology and innovation. This article explores the awesomeness and outreach of the Linux OS in the world around us. It might even be an eye-opener for some of us to start taking our Linux skills to the next level. Top500 quotes Linux as the powerhouse or engine behind five-hundred fastest computers worldwide. I do not know of the speed of the computer composing this article or whether it qualifies to be among the listed five-hundred fastest computers worldwide. However, one thing is certain; it is 100% Linux DNA. On this note, let us start parading the top 20 uses of Linux. Read more

parted-3.4 released [stable]

Parted 3.4 has been released.  This release includes many bug fixes and new features. 
Here is Parted's home page: 
    http://www.gnu.org/software/parted/ 
For a summary of all changes and contributors, see: 
  https://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/parted.git/log/?h=v3.4 
or run this command from a git-cloned parted directory: 
  git shortlog v3.3..v3.4 (appended below) 
Here are the compressed sources and a GPG detached signature[*]: 
  http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/parted/parted-3.4.tar.xz 
  http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/parted/parted-3.4.tar.xz.sig 
Use a mirror for higher download bandwidth: 
  https://www.gnu.org/order/ftp.html 
[*] Use a .sig file to verify that the corresponding file (without the 
.sig suffix) is intact.  First, be sure to download both the .sig file 
and the corresponding tarball.  Then, run a command like this: 
  gpg --verify parted-3.4.tar.xz.sig 
If that command fails because you don't have the required public key, 
then run this command to import it: 
  gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 117E8C168EFE3A7F 
and rerun the 'gpg --verify' command. 
This release was bootstrapped with the following tools: 
  Autoconf 2.69 
  Automake 1.16.1 
  Gettext 0.21 
  Gnulib v0.1-4131-g252c4d944a 
  Gperf 3.1 
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Kernel: LWN's Latest and IO_uring Patches

  • Resource limits in user namespaces

    User namespaces provide a number of interesting challenges for the kernel. They give a user the illusion of owning the system, but must still operate within the restrictions that apply outside of the namespace. Resource limits represent one type of restriction that, it seems, is proving too restrictive for some users. This patch set from Alexey Gladkov attempts to address the problem by way of a not-entirely-obvious approach. Consider the following use case, as stated in the patch series. Some user wants to run a service that is known not to fork within a container. As a way of constraining that service, the user sets the resource limit for the number of processes to one, explicitly preventing the process from forking. That limit is global, though, so if this user tries to run two containers with that service, the second one will exceed the limit and fail to start. As a result, our user becomes depressed and considers a career change to goat farming. Clearly, what is needed is a way to make at least some resource limits apply on per-container basis; then each container could run its service with the process limit set to one and everybody will be happy (except perhaps the goats).

  • Fast commits for ext4

    The Linux 5.10 release included a change that is expected to significantly increase the performance of the ext4 filesystem; it goes by the name "fast commits" and introduces a new, lighter-weight journaling method. Let us look into how the feature works, who can benefit from it, and when its use may be appropriate. Ext4 is a journaling filesystem, designed to ensure that filesystem structures appear consistent on disk at all times. A single filesystem operation (from the user's point of view) may require multiple changes in the filesystem, which will only be coherent after all of those changes are present on the disk. If a power failure or a system crash happens in the middle of those operations, corruption of the data and filesystem structure (including unrelated files) is possible. Journaling prevents corruption by maintaining a log of transactions in a separate journal on disk. In case of a power failure, the recovery procedure can replay the journal and restore the filesystem to a consistent state. The ext4 journal includes the metadata changes associated with an operation, but not necessarily the related data changes. Mount options can be used to select one of three journaling modes, as described in the ext4 kernel documentation. data=ordered, the default, causes ext4 to write all data before committing the associated metadata to the journal. It does not put the data itself into the journal. The data=journal option, instead, causes all data to be written to the journal before it is put into the main filesystem; as a side effect, it disables delayed allocation and direct-I/O support. Finally, data=writeback relaxes the constraints, allowing data to be written to the filesystem after the metadata has been committed to the journal. Another important ext4 feature is delayed allocation, where the filesystem defers the allocation of blocks on disk for data written by applications until that data is actually written to disk. The idea is to wait until the application finishes its operations on the file, then allocate the actual number of data blocks needed on the disk at once. This optimization limits unneeded operations related to short-lived, small files, batches large writes, and helps ensure that data space is allocated contiguously. On the other hand, the writing of data to disk might be delayed (with the default settings) by a minute or so. In the default data=ordered mode, where the journal entry is written only after flushing all pending data, delayed allocation might thus delay the writing of the journal. To assure data is actually written to disk, applications use the fsync() or fdatasync() system calls, causing the data (and the journal) to be written immediately.

  • MAINTAINERS truth and fiction

    Since the release of the 5.5 kernel in January 2020, there have been almost 87,000 patches from just short of 4,600 developers merged into the mainline repository. Reviewing all of those patches would be a tall order for even the most prolific of kernel developers, so decisions on patch acceptance are delegated to a long list of subsystem maintainers, each of whom takes partial or full responsibility for a specific portion of the kernel. These maintainers are documented in a file called, surprisingly, MAINTAINERS. But the MAINTAINERS file, too, must be maintained; how well does it reflect reality? The MAINTAINERS file doesn't exist just to give credit to maintainers; developers make use of it to know where to send patches. The get_maintainer.pl script automates this process by looking at the files modified by a patch and generating a list of email addresses to send it to. Given that misinformation in this file can send patches astray, one would expect it to be kept up-to-date. Recently, your editor received a suggestion from Jakub Kicinski that there may be insights to be gleaned from comparing MAINTAINERS entries against activity in the real world. A bit of Python bashing later, a new analysis script was born.

  • Experimental Patches Allow For New Ioctls To Be Built Over IO_uring

    IO_uring continues to be one of the most exciting technical innovations in the Linux kernel in recent years not only for more performant I/O but also opening up other doors for new Linux innovations. IO_uring has continued adding features since being mainlined in 2019 and now the newest proposed feature is the ability to build new ioctls / kernel interfaces atop IO_uring. The idea of supporting kernel ioctls over IO_uring has been brought up in the past and today lead IO_uring developer Jens Axboe sent out his initial patches. These initial patches are considered experimental and sent out as "request for comments" - they provide the infrastructure to provide a file private command type with IO_uring handling the passing of the arbitrary data.