Posts Tagged ‘Debian’

First UEFI PlugFest for Linuxers


After the 3 days dedicated to LinuxCon US 2013 in New Orleans, it was time to contribute to the UEFI Plugfest organized for the first time as a co-located event.

So what is a UEFI plugfest ? Well it’s a place where hardware manufacturers and software producers meet to check the compatibility of their implementations with regards to UEFI. So Every hardware manufacturer brings some systems, sometimes early units or prototypes, and try them with the latest operating systems available to find out potential issues, some other bring cards to see whether their UEFI driver works fine on computer manufacturer and operating system producers want to try their latest version on these often brand new systems.

UEFI PlugFest

I think it was a brilliant idea to mix the 2 populations for multiple reasons:

  • UEFI members were for sure impressed by the technical knowledge floating around, and employed in such an open fashion, which is not the standard way of working of this standard body.
  • Linux kernel members could exchange with manufacturer representatives of UEFI systems which definitely helped reducing all the FUD around this technology, in particular Secure Boot. They also had the opportunity to test some not yet available hardware platform to ensure their distributions/drivers/tools were working fine or fix them if that wasn’t the case

UEFI PlugFest - Samer El-Haj-Mahmoud, HP

So in the HP area, under the lead of Dong Wei who is UEFI Forum Vice President and HP Fellow, we tried with 2 colleagues various Linux distributions (and even Windows, but not me !) on the 4 systems that were around. And some findings were interesting !

UEFI PlugFest - Dong Wei, HP

  • Debian 7.1 had grub issue at boot and we were not able to install it
  • Mageia 3 has no UEFI support yet and we were not able to install it easily. However, support is planned for Mageia 4, and some info have been published recently to detail how to perform UEFI based installation.
  • Ubuntu 13.10 provides all what is needed to install in a UEFI compliant environment, thanks to their documentation. We were also able to test SecureBoot with success with their version of Matthew Garrett‘s shim bootloader, signed by Microsoft. They are also working on an interesting tool: FWTS aka Firmware Test Suite, which should be adopted by all distributions IMHO in order to have (for once !) a single tool able to perform firmware compliance tests for a Linux environment. Easy to use, pretty comprehensive, reports lots of useful info. Too bad that they are not providing their certification tools online anymore :-(
  • OpenSUSE 12.3+ again has what is needed for UEFI support. Same mechanism with a shim bootloader, but this time signed multiple times by Microsoft and SUSE. However, this requires a more recent implementation of the UEFI specification, which wasn’t the case on all our system during this event. SUSE provides in particular an excellent documentation on UEFI support, including the possibility to sign its own kernel with pesign in order to use it with SecureBoot.
  • Fedora 19 provides mostly all what is needed. Install worked in UEFI mode without problem. We used the updated version of the shim and shim-unsigned packages from Fedora 20 in order to avoid some issues. However, the multisign issue met with OpenSUSE was also encountered here. More over, Fedora doesn’t provide a good documentation yet for signing your own kernel, which was reported upstream and could benefit from this article. Also the usage of mokutil is broken and should be fixed for Fedora 20.
  • UEFI PlugFest - Samer El-Haj-Mahmoud, HP

    We also got visited by two Kernel Maintainers Greg Kroah-Hartman and James Bottomley who even tried some of his tools on our systems.
    UEFI PlugFest - James Bottomley, Parallels - Neill Kapron, HP

    Note that Some USB keys even correctly formated didn’t boot correctly on some platforms so if you encounter this issue, try using another USB key.

    Finally I made some tries with MondoRescue on the Last Fedora distribution installed. I thought the work done to support EFI on Itanium would be sufficient, but there are some detection problems for the boot loader in mindi need to be solved and are now tracked upstream as well.

    And on top of all what I was able to learn working with my 3 colleagues, I was pointed to a very instructive article from Ken Thomson on Trusting Trust, I hadn’t read before (and I encourage you to read it), following discussions on Secure Boot. And we had a very nice dinner downtown, a walk through Bourbon Street
    Bourbon Street

    followed by a real air of New Orleans Jazz.

    That was the end of a very rich US week. More to come on other more recent travels later.

Some interesting stuff for MondoRescue 3.0.4


Well at least I hope so !!

It took me much more time than I expected, and made me sleep at insane hours (yes really !), but I think that the beta that I built today under should be of interest for MondoRescue users.

Some new distros are now added to the list of the one I’m building for (Ubuntu 13.04, Debian 7.1, Mageia 3, Fedora 18, …) Usual job for me, but hey, still of interest for people wanting the latest one.

Speaking of latest Debian, MondoRescue should now work better on it thanks to the fixes around #699 (NFS and SSHFS support), softlink in LocateDeps which have now their target scanned, and some deblint issues removed, including right test binaries placement, and man pages for perl scripts. I have someone working now with me on the re-integration of MondoRescue into Debian, so this version should help him reducing the diffs with his tree, and allow for the next steps (on the packaging itself) to go forward for our goal.

Of course, some annoying bugs reported have been fixed. At least we all hope so ;-)

  • grub2 support in #686 by adding grub.conf, grub.cfg and modified to (Thanks to Victor Gattegno),
  • Fix support for OBDR tapes connected to SCSI cards and addition of an obdr modsboot parameter if some additional drivers should be removed,
  • an particularly nasty bug (there since rev 1 !) on SLES 11 SP2 by removing a dd in mindi which was filling the target dir,
  • the full management of scratch and tmp dir has been rewritten, hopefully for a better implementation now and a full resolution of #640,
  • the removal of the notion of number of media (limited to 50 abusively). Cf: #706
  • the addition of a -F option which allows mondoarchive to fail at first interaction. Cf: #702
  • sparse file support by adding a CLI parameter -M to modify the biggie file size limit, by default 64 MB, and by using st_blocks instead of st_size. Cf: #700
  • Fix #679 again and #685 by reducing the list of possible kernels (Thanks to Victor Gattegno and Didier Diaz)
  • Fix #696 for VGs not having a ‘-’ in their name such as multipath aliases
  • Fix #703 by removing the errctl field used in star and log all star msgs into mondorestore.log. star is now considered production level as afio

And some improvements in the doc such as:

  • Adds more info in mindi log file (df -i, df -a, grub/lilo conf files, fdisk -l)
  • Add an example to use a fixed IP configuration at boot time through mindi.conf
  • Be more precise in messages displayed at restore time when a non-rewinding device should be used
  • Document the new -F and -M options
  • Precise the usage conditions of the exclude option (differences between device vs directory exclusion)
  • Indicate the other new tools than mkinitrd to help rebuilding the boot env (Thanks to Philippe Lefevre)
  • Precising compression rates on GUI button to ease choice (0 is no compression)

Some ongoing efforts at this point would require your help, dear reader to give appropriate feedback to see if we are making progresses:

  • Fix #628 by avoiding to erase choices done for variable bkpinfo->isodir and g_isodir_device in iso_fiddly_bits later in the code
  • Fix #208 by adding cifs support with first modifications to add cifs support as an external FS

So please help us by downloading this beta, which is IMO near from being the next stable and report wheher it’s working fine for you, or whether it’s working really fine for you ;-)

I have to say that most of these bugs wouldn’t have been fixed without the work I’ve done for HP’s customers recently, who are using extensively the tool, and were needing these fixes to have it fully working in their environment (RHEL and SLES in multiple versions on HP ProLiant servers). Pending their feedback on this version, I’ll declare it stable if they give me the green light, which should arrive soon now.

Bdale Garbee will soon need your help


TES 2009 - Bdale Garbee
For all of you, Debian fans, or Freedombox fans, former HP colleague, or even just if you enjoyed one of his numerous talk everywhere around the world, here is an opportunity to bring back to Bdale what he brought to Open Source since so many years. Bdale and his family lost their house in the fire which has devastated the Black Forest of Colorado.

Of course, nothing will be able to replace souvenir and memories lost due to the fire. But I hope our community can unite and help one of its most talented members feel the friendship we all have for him and his great work and attitude in the past.

I hope he will open a paypal account or any other similar way for us to give even a minimal amount to help him and his family pass the sad moments, and recover at least from a material point of view rapidly from the disaster. I hope he will receive from all over the world where he left such nice impressions after his conferences and talks (as in Canberra this year, in Brussels for the Fosdem or in Prague), the kind words he deserves and proposals of support from everybody in a situation to do it.

Write to him at to show that lots of people think to him and associate themselves with his pain. I’m sure it will be one of the manifestation of support he will appreciate. This great Open Source Ambassador will soon need your help. Show again the power of a community.

Distro Recipes 2013: Nice first !


Distro Recipes 2013
As indicated, I had the opportunity to talk during the first Distro Recipes event organized in Paris last week, at the invitation of Hupstream. As Yoann Sculo posted, this was a very interesting day for me, and I really regret I was busy to also attend the first day and the opening.

After a nice welcome breakfast, Aurélien Bompard started by presenting the Fedora distribution.
Aurélien Bompard presenting the Fedora distribution
He did a great job especially expalining how easy it was to become a Fedora maintainer, even if a comparison to Debian revealed that it’s much less different that what people may think (it also takes time to become a packager able to modify most distro packages) and I know by experience that the Fedora packagers are really picky (sometimes for not so good reasons) with new contributions.

After that I talked about HP and Linux distributions. I used in fact the standard HP marketing presentation of the company as a starter (modified of course to suit my needs and include more penguins !) in order to explain the span of our activities, our relationship with communities including distributions, announced that HP will even soon provide firmware for ProLiant servers under a package format (rpm and deb), the fact that HP doesn’t see Linux demand for desktop/laptop on the consumer market (no, it’s not just a price issue that would make Linux more appealing in that case as I justified) but that we do support Linux on some enterprise desktops/laptops. Hopefully this was useful and/or new to some of the audience.

Then Dodji Seketeli made the type of talk making you believe that you could contribute to gcc ! Of course, when he details how much time it took him to add some of the features of the next stable version, you know you can’t ! Well I at least ;-) Anyway lots of good news and features that make that future version 4.8 expected soon.
Dodji Seketeli on gcc

That conclude our morning sessions, and it was then time to eat !! Especially as we had a great buffet waiting for us as you can see:
Repas midi

In order to avoid a sleepy afternoon, we started right after by a round table with 7 people (!), that I had the pleasure to chair. With a representative of each distribution (Mageia, openSUSE, Fedora, Debian, Arch, Embedded) and a Microsoft representative, you could expect blood and swords fight ! Not at all, I was surprisingly happy that the elements were clearly exposed, each representative defending their own work rather than criticizing, and finding ways to propose more future joint work. Of course, some subjects such as LSB/FHS lead to more debate, but very constructive and I really enjoyed this time slot as a way to show that differences are an added value ! It was also the opportunity for me to meet with Colin Guthrie and Frédérc Crozat, which I had never met before. These distros should be happy to have such representatives defending them (and the others too of course ;-)) Finally if you have ideas to share to improve cross-distribution work , consider joining the mailing listdedicated to his topic and start sharing your ideas.

Then it was time again for the remaining presentations. The first was Lucas Nussbaum. Long time Debian Developer, (he is even running for the Debian Project Leader now, vote for him !) he made a convincing picture of the Debian ecosystem, the numerous Web sites that contributors can create to enhance the distribution with stats, infos, Ubuntu correlations, … As usual, Debian appears as a very mature distribution, with a strong Governance, being perl friendly… If I had to change I may well become a debianers. But isn’t it because of the pres, as the morning I was a fedorian ;-)
Lucas Nussbaum pour Debian

The next speaker was a long time Linux enthousiast Pierre Ficheux. In fact back when it was Minitel time (not 2.0) I used his xtel program !! Pierre made a presentation (in english but with the accent ;-)) around embedded Linux distributions, presenting various way to tailor one for your device (he was using a Raspberry Pi) depending whether you use an Ubuntu, a Yocto generated one or a pure OpenEmbedded linux one. Definitely a good idea to explore for my Pi !
Pierre Ficheux sur Yocto (Open Wide)

And then we had the lightnings talks. Aurélien Bompard was there again for HyperKitty. Too bad it’s devoted to mailan, as I think Sympa would also benefit from such a work, as their archive management (at least on the latest versions I used) could be improved.
Aurélien Bompard pour HyperKitty

I came then again on stage for a presentation (building cross-distro packages for upstream projects) and made a short demo which I think is explaining much more than my slides, so I plan on using it more in the future !

After me, Eric Leblond explained how his upstream project (ulogd2) wasn’t picked up correclty by most distributions and asked for help to improce that.

And final speaker was Nicolas Vérité who made a panel on all mobile Linux distributions, recommending to follow closely Tizen for the future as the main force in this area.
Nicolas Vérité sur Distros Mobile

Too bad it was already over. Anne closed the session and I’d like to thank her for the invitation and the perfect organization of this first cross-distributions vent as a real success. Well done and see you next year hopefully !
Anne Nicolas (Hupstream)

Bdale Garbee has been HP’s best Open Source Ambassador


As announced by Kirk Bresniker during its keynote at LinuxCon this week, Bdale Garbee has left HP yesterday.

When he warned me in July of his willingness to leave, in order to have more time for his family, his own FLOSS projects (FreedomBox, Debian, …), I really was shocked and had a very bad night. It’s difficult for me to imagine Open Source at HP without him to represent it.

Bdale was IMHO our best Ambassador in the FLOSS community. He has a large ring of relationships in a large set of projects, and knows personality lots of key FLOSS personalities, some of them being even friends. He was giving a lot of credibility to HP around our FLOSS activities, and was listen internaly from both our internal community members, as well as our management, allowing our community to pass supportive FLOSS messages to it.

I had my first interaction with Bdale at HP in 2001. At that time Bruce Perens was the HP FLOSS representative (even he also was a big FLOSS personality, I preferred when Bdale took over the role), and as he couldn’t make the NordU 2002 Keynote, he was proposing that either Bdale or me did it !! As Bdale wasn’t available, I was the one replacing both him and Bruce !! Believe me, speaking of Open Source, Linux and freedom in Finland during a keynote session after a couple of months at HP was a bit stressing ! I still remember it. But that was great. Side note, if any event is willing to host me as a keynote speaker, I think I could do a much better job today ;-)

In 2002, Bdale was elected Debian Project Leader. He was the first HP employee leading this project. I then had the pleasure to meet with him face to face (well with my size, I can not really look at Bdale easily !) and I really was looking forward each time for this type of non-virtual meeting, as it was for me an opportunity to learn more on Open Source at HP and at large. Which was the case during various Fosdem, LinuxCon or our own internal TES. As I’ve always been impressed by his profound knowledge of this ecosystem, and the deep thoughts he’s able to have on various areas making this IT sector.

That’s why I built his application form so he could become Lutèce d’Or (personality of the year) during the event Paris, Capitale du Libre. That was my contribution back to his incredible work for FLOSS. But not the only one, as he told me once that MondoRescue saved once a critical Debian server he was hosting. Hopefully, you’ll continue to use

Bdale is one of the people I admire in the IT industry with Linus Torvalds and Larry Wall (In the music, I also have my heroes such as Gustav Leonhardt, Jordi Savall and her wife Montserrat Figueras, Jean Belliard or Frans Brüggen). I’m sure our paths will cross again very soon, and I hope our frienship will be reinforced by regular chats, mails and face to face meetings during FLOSS events. And in the mean time, I wish to him all the best for his new activities, that will benefit to all of us, and for his new life 2.0 !

Hopefully HP will find other FLOSS representatives. Corporations always say that anybody is replaceable. I disagree. Everybody brings a unique touch. And here, for sure, it will never be the same. You’ll be missed.

All the best Bdale for your future, and hope rockets flied this week-end ;-)

Proposition of Cross-Distro Mini-Conf for 2012


Time has come again to think to our friends down under ! Since I was there in 2007 for a MondoRescue conference I think this is really a place to be in the FLOSS ecosystem when possible; Too bad it’s so far away from France :-( Travel costs are not light either.

But I thought I should propose the follwoing mini-conf, as the one I attended in Fosdem 2010 on the same topic worked very interesting, and allowed to start some joint collaboration that I think is fruitful and avoid/reduce fragmentation.

I hope it will be accepted to give me an opportunity to fly there and meet with the great community which gathers there each year.

So here it is (Thanks to the great example provided by Martin Michlmayr last year)

The “Cross-Distribution” mini-conf at LCA 2012 (Ballarat, Australia; January 16-20 2012) is for people interested in cooperation between Open Source distributions. Topics include contributors agreements, licensing policies, packaging best practices and tools, sharing patches to upstream projects, communications, working with upstream Open Source developers, translations, governance, workflow in place, version control systems, bug reporting management and sharing,, funding, marketing, lessons from your experience, and whatever related topics people would like to bring up. Whether you are a single contributor working on a single package, or leading a full distribution, managing a full distribution infrastructure, or representing it in the press, whether it’s famous as Debian or less as AbulEdu this mini-conf hopes to bring different people together to exchange thoughts and facilitate discussion about these topics.

Presentation submitters should feel free to suggest their own topics. Here is a list of potentially interesting subjects (in no particular order):

* Building software packages on a large scale
* Choosing valid licenses and copyright policies
* Patch management
* Working with upstream
* Forking a distribution
* Experiences in distributed development
* Managing bug report and enhancement request
* Tools to support making a distribution
* Translation of a distribution
* Reuse between distributions
* Collaborationbetween distributions
* Distribution structures
* Distribution Development Management and Governance
* Distribution Corporate Governance
* Lessons learned in building up your distribution
* Marketing
* Communication
* Copyrights
* Applying your copyright and license choices

We hope to receive proposals for:

* 50 minute expert panel discussions
* 50 minute full presentations
* 25 minute half presentations
* 5-10 minute lightning talks (e.g. success stories, …)

To submit a proposal, please contact Bruno Cornec at and include the following information:

* Your name
* Brief bio noting any previous speaking experience
* Talk title
* Brief outline of your proposed talk
* Notes of any special equipment / facilities you may require


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