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Mar. 29th, 2013

08:04 pm - DPL election campaign, week 3

Here are some of the topics that people have asked about on debian-vote in the final week of the DPL election campaign period:

The campaign period stops at 23:59:59 UTC on Saturday 30 March, so you still have about a day left to raise new questions.

Mar. 23rd, 2013

11:33 am - DPL election campaign, week 2

As a follow-up to my previous post, here are some of the topics that people have asked about on debian-vote in the second week of the DPL election campaign period:

Mar. 15th, 2013

01:37 pm - DPL election campaign, week 1

The first week of the DPL election campaign period has been pretty busy for me. Between spending a night in a data centre (awake) and analysing TCP packet traces for paid work, I've been puzzling over answering voter questions on debian-vote. Here are some of the topics people have asked about so far:

In other Debian news, the DebConf14 decision process is gradually moving forward – please look at the bids and ask questions about them on debconf-team.

Mar. 10th, 2013

02:52 pm - Debian Project Leader platform

It should appear on vote.debian.org soon, but in the mean time you can find my Debian Project Leader platform here.

I look forward to hearing other people's improvements on the ideas I have suggested!

Mar. 1st, 2013

12:53 am - Ten years in Debian

I was reminded by Mike Hommey's post that it's about ten years since my own first Debian uploads, in 2003. After a recent thread where I mentioned how I started programming, I was thinking back to how I found my way into the Debian project.

Back in the mid-'90s, when I was a keen user of Acorn's proprietary operating system, I was introduced to Debian by my high-school friend Chris Rutter. I had accounts on a series of servers he ran, first using the RiscBSD port of NetBSD to ARM, then switching over to Debian, where he helped with the ARM port. I can't remember for sure the various dates, but certainly by the time I went to university in 1998 I knew enough to be recruited as a sysadmin by the college computing society, even if I still had a lot to learn.

For a number of years I then remained a happy Debian user, on servers I helped administrate and on personal machines, without feeling a need to join the project. I never went through what now seems to be a normal phase of trying out different distributions, since Debian gave me what I wanted – unless you count the spectator sport of watching Matthew Garrett fight to install unusual operating systems on whatever strange hardware he had picked up recently. As a programmer, I began to appreciate the value of free software in making it much easier to find out how things work and to fix them when they are broken, so started to prefer Debian for ideological reasons too. Watching the Acorn operating system I'd previously used die off also encouraged me against spending more time learning details of proprietary systems.

At the end of 2001 I got a Compaq iPAQ – the early models were closely based on a DEC research project, and could be reflashed to run Linux. I'd worked on a few small free software projects before in university, but this was my first entry to the wider free software community. I soon became involved in the GPE project, which was writing a GTK-based set of applications for these limited-resource devices (e.g. 32 MB RAM, 16 MB permanent storage for the base OS, X, applications and user data).

It's from GPE that I finally ended up making packages for Debian. Although Debian wouldn't fit on the kind of devices that we were targetting with GPE, some people were using Debian derivatives there, and other people wanted to use GPE applications on systems which were comparatively more powerful but which still wouldn't run a full Gnome or KDE desktop. I adopted a Debian package or two from Philip Blundell, then packaged another set from scratch myself. And in the summer of 2003 I met up with GPE and Debian people at LinuxTag in Germany, then attended my first DebConf in Norway, and got absorbed into the Debian community from my previous status of happening to know a few Debian people.

This post is long enough, so I'll keep discussion of the NM process or of what I've done in Debian since 2003 for another time, but I'll mention one thought in closing. When I first got interested in contributing to Debian, even though I had known a few people working on Debian for years already, finding my way into this large, distributed project with high standards of quality seemed intimidating. Once I started maintaining packages, and once I met more Debian people, I perhaps still felt intimidated by the high standards, but I found that Debian was a very welcoming project to join. If you're reading this on Planet but still feel an outsider to Debian, I encourage you to go ahead and jump in deeper, and I hope that you'll find you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed working in Debian over the last ten years.

Feb. 16th, 2013

03:16 pm - DPL game

(I'm hoping that this game can save me from the clutches of the other unnamed people who suggest that I stand myself.)

Jun. 24th, 2012

12:34 pm - DebConf attendee numbers

Strangely enough I'm quite busy a few days before I leave for DebConf, but I just wanted to clarify that Phil's recent post on DebConf numbers was, as the saying goes, comparing apples and oranges.

We have many different counts of attendee numbers at different points in the DebConf cycle.  Here are some of the counts we might be interested in:

  1. Number of people who are registered before the deadline for requesting sponsored accommodation;
  2. Number of people who are registered when we start finalising venue arrangements;
  3. Number of people who are registered just before we start the confirmation period;
  4. Number of people who have confirmed they plan to come at the end of the confirmation period;
  5. Number of people who are registered and confirmed by the end of DebConf;
  6. Number of people who actually attend DebConf;
  7. Number of people who actually attend DebConf and bother to tell the conference Front Desk they have arrived;
  8. Number of people who actually attend DebConf and bother to tell the conference Front Desk they have arrived, and get marked correctly as attending in the registration system;
  9. Number of people who actually attend DebConf or Debian Day.
After DebConf is finished, the numbers we would most like to know are 6 and 9, but usually we have to focus on 8 and make a guess at the number of Debian Day attendees.

I haven't traced back where Phil's numbers came from, but it looks like he was comparing something close to 3 (for DebConf10 and DebConf11) with something close to 4 for DebConf12.

For past conferences, it makes more sense to look at 8:

For DebConf12 all we can do at this stage is look at something close to 4, which is currently about 180 people. If you look at the equivalent graph for DC11, you will see that more people continue to register (or to turn up unregistered and get registered afterwards) until the end of DebConf:

Having said all that, I do expect DebConf12 to be smaller than last year. Attendee numbers vary with, among other factors:
Of course, we can only choose DebConf venues from places where there is a local team ready to do the necessary work – I would encourage anyone who thinks that they can offer a good venue for a future conference to consider putting forward a bid for DebConf14!

May. 26th, 2012

08:31 pm - DebConf9.0.1

[Caceres 2012-05-04]

Aug. 27th, 2011

05:10 pm - Using the HP LaserJet Professional P1102w in Debian GNU/Linux

I got a new cheap laser printer, an HP "LaserJet Professional P1102W" (£75). As I wasted some time before I got it set up right, here are suggestions on how to get it working over wireless within Debian.

Getting wireless working

Connecting directly to the printer's default ad-hoc wireless network didn't seem to work usefully (I could connect to the network, but not reach the printer). HP's official hplip tools also didn't get me anywhere (even after editing models.dat to say that, yes, this model is a wireless printer). Forum discussions which got this far just suggested using a Microsoft system to configure wireless, but fortunately there is a better solution.

To set up wireless, temporarily plug in the printer with the supplied USB cable, and run ewsgateway.py from here to talk to the printer's embedded web server over USB:


Starting the program gave me a 'Could not access some devices' warning that could safely be ignored -- the printer itself was listed fine. Click 'Start' then 'Launch browser', and use the printer's web interface to choose the right wireless network and supply a password if needed.

If you want to check the printer's status (including what IP address it is using), hold down the cancel button on the printer (lower button, with a cross) and it will print a status page.


HP's official hplip tools seem to require downloading some additional non-free software to support this printer, and then failed to work for me anyway, but the free foo2zjs works fine for this printer.

Unfortunately the foo2zjs in squeeze is too old, but the version in wheezy (current testing) is fine. If you're running squeeze, you can easily make your own backport: e.g. add "deb-src http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ testing main" to your sources.list, "apt-get build-dep foo2zjs; apt-get source foo2zjs", enter the new directory and "debuild -uc -us", then install the resulting package.

To set up the printer, visit localhost:631 in a web browser (if that doesn't work, check your CUPS installation), and go to "Administration" then choose "Add Printer". The printer should be discovered over wireless using Zeroconf. To get the right printer driver, choose "HP" and click "Continue", then then scroll through the big list to find the right option -- for me, it was "HP LaserJet Pro P1102w Foomatic/foo2zjs-z2 (recommended) (en)". Note that the list is sorted using all the words, so similar model numbers can be far apart. Ignore any similar entries with hpijs / hplib. Click "Add Printer" leaving the PPD field blank, then "Set default options" to finish configuration.

A warning for those who want hplip: as the printer wasn't  working with the packaged hplip, I tried getting the latest version directly.  The official hplip installer from HP supports Debian, but after reassuringly checking dependencies and pulling in any additional required packages, it scattered un-packaged files across the disk for the hplip software itself.

Jul. 3rd, 2011

02:42 pm - Survey about DebConf day trip preferences

If you plan to attend DebConf in the future, it would be great if you could complete a small survey about your preferences for the DebConf day trip:


The survey questions have been kept to a minimum. If you would like to make more detailed suggestions, or to tell us what you thought about previous DebConf day trips, please send public comments to the thread on debconf-discuss@lists.debian.org, or send me a message directly if you don't want your comments to be published.

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