Saturday, 18 December 2021

Debian media team - testing and releasing Debian 11.2 20211218 2030

 We've more or less finished the release of the Debian CD/DVD/Blu-Ray and other media for Bullseye 11.2 release. This is one of the (roughly) quarterly point releases and roll-up releases.

Thanks firstly to the developers, users, helpers, bug filers who help to keep Debian moving and working and to the release team and press team who more or less finish their job before the media team start theirs.

Thanks to Sledge and RattusRattus and Isy in Cambridge and to Schweer who single-handedly clears all the Debian-edu testing. This release run seemed to be a bit more slick, a bit faster, a few fewer problems and it's always a joy to work with colleagues who are like family.

The last couple of years have been more than a bit difficult: this (should) be more or less the last major action from the release team and others for 2021.

I'm going to take the opportunity this gives me to wish all concerned with Debian (and every other Linux) the very best wishes for the year to come. Surely, it can only get better - eventually.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Oh, my goodness, where's the fantastic barbeque [OMGWTFBBQ 2021]

 I'm guessing the last glasses will be through the dishwasher (again) and Pepper the dog can settle down without having to cope with so many people.

For those who don't know - Steve and his wife Jo (Sledge and Randombird) hold a barbeque in their garden every August Bank Holiday weekend [UK Bank Holiday on the last Monday in August]. The barbeque is not small - it's the dominating feature in the suburban garden, brick built, with a dedication stone, lights, electricity. The garden is small, generally made smaller by forty or so Debian friends and allies standing and sitting around. People are talking, arguing, hugging people they've not seen for (literal) years and putting the world to rights. 

This is Debian central point - with large quantities of meat and salads, an amount of beer/alcohol and "Cambridge gin" and general goodwill. This year was more than usually atmospheric because for some of us it was the first time with a large group of people in a while. Side conversations abound: for me it was learning something about the high energy particle physics community, how to precision build helicopters, fly quadcopters and precision 3D print anything, the maths of Isy counting crochet stitches to sew together randomly sized squares ... and, of course, obligatory things like how random is random and what's good enough entropy. And a few sessions of the game of our leader.

This is also a place for stuff to get done: I was unashamedly using this to upgrade the storage in my laptop while there were sensible engineers around. A corner of the table, a RattusRattus and it was quickly sorted - then a discussion around the internals of Thinkpads as he took his apart. Then getting a full install - Gb Ethernet to the Debian mirror in the cupboard six feet away is faster bandwidth than a jumbo jet full of tapes. Then getting mail to work again - it's handy when the mailserver owner is next to you, having come in from the garden to help, and finally IRC. And not just me: "You need a GPG key signed - there's three DPLs here, there's a release manager - but you've just missed one of the DAMs." plus an in-depth GPG how-to session on the other side of the table.

I was the luckiest one with the most comfortable bed in the house overnight but I couldn't stay for last night. Thanks once again to all involved but especially Steve and Jo who do this for the love of it, and the fun, and the community and the family. Oh, and thanks to Lenovo - not just for being a platinum sponsor of Debconf but also for providing the official laptop of this and most Debian occasions 😀

Saturday, 28 August 2021

"If you do it twice, it's tradition" - says nattie

 Thanks to all who've made Debconf 21 such a good place to be.


A song for Debconf21 ["What shall we do with the drunken sailor"]

What shall we do with the online Debconf?

What shall we do with the online Debconf?

What shall we do with the online Debconf?

Earl-y in the morning


Close it up as we agreed it

Save each script in case we need it

Work out how we best live-feed it

Next year’s Debconf’s dawning


Next year’s Kosovo and Pristina

This virtual Debconf needs no cleaner

Hope when COVID’s gone we’re keener

To meet up every morning

Thanks to the Debconf orga team

Thanks to those who Loopy meme

Things are not always as they seeem

In virtual Debconf’s morning


Bullseye’s out – its share is rising

Debconf’s fun and quite surprising

Linux – 30 :)

Yours and my thing - Debian’s 28


Thanks to all who video’d sessions

Debconf T-shirts - prized possessions

Debcamp bug-fixed some regressions

Now onto next year!

A closing song for Debconf 21 [Frere Jacques/Brueder Martin]



Virtual DebConf’s

Now all through

Closed for you

Kosovo is next year

See you in Pristina!!

DebConf 22

Twenty twenty-two

Monday, 16 August 2021

Happy Birthday, Debian!

 28 today. In a video call for Debian day earlier on, I was reminiscing about the earliest distributions: MCC Interim Linux gave instructions to turn it's final version into Debian. Debian is the second oldest Linux distribution, just behind Slackware.

Debian 1.2 was my first Debian: my latest is, obviously, Debian Bullseye. Debian is like a family - often discordant, sometimes dysfunctional but always full of people that care and are cared for. I wish that some of my friends and colleagues no longer with us could be here to see just how well we're doing.

This is something that's been with me for so long that I can't imagine life without it: software, obscure hardware but above all friends closer than family. The biggest software project anywhere, potentially, and it's all for free - and 95.7% independently reproducible. Thanks to all my colleagues and co-workers who've become friends over the years without whom none of this would be possible. Oh, and thanks to Ian Murdock - I never got to meet him but I did get to email him when he was in charge of Progeny. Without him, none of this would even have started.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Vanilla Debian on a Raspberry Pi 4 with UEFI

Thanks to the good folk who put the hard work into building a UEFI implementation for the Raspberry Pi 4 which "just works", allowing you to install Debian straightforwardly, and especially to Pete Batard who has written up the process and collected a zip file together. 

Not quite so straightforward ...

I have an early model Raspberry Pi 4. I wanted to install Debian on an SSD  connected via a cable to a USB3 port. It turned out that the version of the software in the EEPROM would not boot reliably so the first task was to update this with the latest stable EEPROM available from the Raspberry Pi downloads.

The easiest way to do this was to boot an SD card with Raspbian on. Once that was done, I had a Pi that would boot from an SSD.

Untar the files

A tarball of UEFI from Pete's Github repository at - latest is v 1.29 as at 20210814.

Plugging in the SSD to another machine to format the drive: msdos format, one ESP partition in FAT32 and marked bootable and the rest of the drive blank.

One aarch64 DVD image from the usual place.

Untar the UEFI  tarball into the ESP partition you've just made

 Plug the SSD into a USB3 port on the RPi using a USB -> SATA cable

Write the aarch image to a USB stick using dd and place that into one of the other USB ports. Add a keyboard.


Power up the RPi4, hit Esc and work your way through UEFI to select a boot device and go, save the settings and go.

The install is almost identical to any Debian d-i install.

There is a setting in UEFI to reclaim the 1G of memory that was masked out, there's a setting for control of the fan shim if you have that style of fan.

End result - happiness

Done the other day and sitting next to me on the desktop.


And we're almost there with media testing - 202108142013

It's been quite a long day - last few normal tests are being run through now.

Lots more involvement from more people: nothing too catastrophic and a good many installs run through. The usual back and forth and noticing odd things that crop up: it's always interesting to get someone else's viewpoint and second pair of eyes on something.

Thanks also to Schweer who's done his usual solo testing of all the Debian-Edu software, quietly and with no fuss.

Looking good.

Still chasing through release testing Debian media for Bullseye release 202108141655

 Lots of people - lots of effort - we're gradually closing in on a last few tests.

It's been quite a long time but we're significantly ahead of where we would be on many tests for release candidates and main releases. It's always fun to do and chat back and forth. Having new testers check in from tomorrow (Australia) has also been a novelty.

It's been a very long wait for this but "This is the best Debian release ever", as they say.