Category Archives: Companies

Terrible twos

Two years ago I started my employment with rPath.
Lots of things happened so far; I’ve learned a lot and I still feel like I have a lot more to learn. That’s a good thing, I believe if you think there is nothing more to learn it’s probably time to look for another challenge. Pico della Mirandolla allegedly said something along the lines of “I know everything there can be known, and even more than that”. I’ll try not to say the same thing any time soon :-)

The wonderful world of PGP

In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to lately, here’s a quick overview.

Aside from the weekly Conary releases and  the regular bug fixes, I’ve been busy trying to make Conary no longer depend on gnupg. As dumb (to re-implement gnupg) as this sounds, it gives us several advantages, one of them being the ability to customize the trust model to our liking. The lack of a good way to tie into gnupg (other than invoking gpg) is another good reason.

Look for the new code in Conary 2.0.

The long road to Conary 1.2

Conary 1.2 is finally out!

We are very excited, I think this is a great achievement for Conary. It packs three months of work behind the scenes on several new features and a ton of bug fixes, while we were maintaining the former stable Conary 1.1 branch. The release announcement is pretty long, as a result.

Many thanks to the Foresight community, who agreed to try some early releases and provided valuable feedback (not to mention uncovering those minor things that we like to call undiscovered features, for lack of a better term :-) ).

What I’ve been up to

It’s been a while since my last post, so here’s what’s been going on.

  •  Very busy working on Conary (though still not making progress fast enough through my issues list).
  • Speaking of that, I’ve reached the respectable 6 months with rPath.
  • Moved over the weekend.
  • Packaged gnucash 2.1.0 – and hit some guile issues in the process. Hopefully will finish tomorrow.
  • Does “April 17th” tell you something?
  • Before moving, a bunch of repairs made – that was all my spare time went.
  • Ran an orienteering event at the Schenck forest (and I missed a bunch of controls). Got to cross a 20-ish-ft river over a rotten log 3 times before the heavy rain started. I was completely soaked when I finished. But it was fun.
  • Did not run as much lately because of my evenings being “a different workout”.

The Mercurial Plugin for Jira (or Read the Code, Luke)

As Matt (the author of the Mercurial plugin for Jira) pointed out in his comment, there was an issue with the permissions for the plugin. Seemingly random people were able to see the Mercurial Commits tab, and all along I thought I messed something up when I ported the plugin from Jira 3.6.2 to Jira 3.6.5 and then to Jira 3.7. (Yes, I know Jira 3.8 is out, we didn’t schedule the migration yet).

Lately I’ve been busy closing bugs in Conary land, and haven’t got the time to go back and investigate what’s going on. Last week I finally decided I should look at the code – and it became very obvious. There is a View Version Control permission that controls who can see what, and it turned out only several groups were granted that permission. We’ve only allowed access to commits to internal users for now, but that may change in the future.

Also, yesterday I noticed that Jira was not indexing the Mercurial repositories anymore. As usual, catalina.out is full of useless messages, so reading the code again pointed out that I got the configuration wrong. Funny it did work at all. Turns out hg.clonedir.idx is indeed supposed to be the top directory where your Mercurial clones are, and not the directory where you cloned the repository. That is derived from the URL. Doh!

Random bits

Apparently I didn’t get in the habit of blogging short entries often.

Today liferea notified me there is a new release of WordPress that I should upgrade, so I figured I might as well post something.

First off, liferea is slowly becoming a habit. I use it to track announcements about new software (see paragraph above), keep in touch with my friends, read news from ./ and some other news sites. To the point that I have now to see how I can replicate the feeds on all of my computers. Maybe I should try a news reader from yahoo.

A lot of exciting things happened. We’ve finished upgrading rPath’s issue tracker, Jira, to the latest version. And we did it in a eat-your-own-dogfood way: it’s a software appliance living on a Xen machine, as a domU. I was involved in this initially just for the Mercurial plugin for Jira, but figured we might as well go to the latest version of Jira. I had to fix several other plugins that were broken by API change (yes I wish you didn’t have to touch plugins to make them work on newer versions). It’s pretty cool, if your reference a Jira issue in your mercurial commit message, it will get indexed by Jira and linked to the issue (viewable as the Mercurial Commits tab). This link is an example.

The software appliance lets you isolate the application from the base operating system, and it makes it trivial to update it. No mess left on the host operating system either. I know package managers are supposed to help there, I’ve been installing rpm packages for almost 10 years now, trying to achieve that. But the very moment you deploy the system in a production environment, you know things get installed that you didn’t plan for. Conary helps a lot here.

I am looking forward to version 0.45 of Inkscape to land in Foresight. The screenshots look awesome. Ken promises he’ll have it committed in a couple of hours. It’s very nice to have the latest and greatest software, and Foresight is doing a great job there. A big thanks to the Foresight community and to Ken for making Foresight a great distribution – which DistroWatch reviewed yesterday.

On the personal front, we’ve been unhappy with my daughter’s school (or maybe looking for a reason to move into a larger home). At any rate, we’re in negotiations for the repairs the seller has to perform before we close. This is exciting. Except for the hour I spent today with the heating technician inspecting the gas pack in a chilly 18 degrees Fahrenheit. And for the amount of siding that has to be fixed. Hopefully we’ll get to an agreement on this. But I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with lenders, insurance agencies, inspectors, real estate agents and the such.


Wow, almost a month from the previous post. If blogging were one of my New Year resolutions, I’d be behind already.

Anyway, I was pretty busy lately. We had friends visiting for Christmas, more friends visiting between Christmas and New Year, and an orienteering event at Lake Johnson to organize.

I’ve been playing with vmware quite a bit lately, partly for my work with software appliances (which are a very cool concept) and for Condes, the Orienteering course editor. I initially tried to run Condes under wine, and it installs and starts, but for some unknown reason all features on the map are drawn with extra thick lines/points, so everything becomes unreadable. I believe something in the way Condes displays OCAD maps. Otherwise, Condes can be run in Windows under vmware, but it’s slower. I’ve found a thread about Condes on Linux here, and I’ve chimed in, let’s see how much interest my experience generates.

I’ve also dipped my toes in the murky waters of Java programming, working on porting some jira plugins to the latest and greatest, version 3.7.1. I haven’t decided yet if I like maven or not. The fact that maven2 is not backwards compatible with maven1 (and doesn’t complain if it can’t find the .pom file) makes me a bit hesitant. Also, packaging Java applications feels weird: each application ships with all the jar files. Sure, you remove the inter-dependency between applications, you can now independently upgrade one without touching the other, but if you have a security issue and have to patch version X of a jar file, you’re dead in the water since there are no good ways you can list all applications that use a jar (that I could find, at least). That’s my 10k foot view of a subject I am not familiar with, so take it with as much salt as you like.

Back to software appliances. Isn’t it nice that when you need a PostgreSQL database server, you just go and download a PostgreSQL appliance that you unzip and start using vmplayer or xen and run it as a server? It even comes with phpPgAdmin, so you can do all the administration remotely. It literally takes a few minutes to have something up and running and not worry about extra packages you have to install, extra hardware to solve possible security problems etc.

One final gripe. I spent an hour last night with someone from Fidelity trying to understand where some of my ESPP stock has gone. To make the story short, they will gladly lose history of your purchases because the software that does the transactions uses an “oldest first” policy. Enough said. Your assets are still there, it’s not like you lose money, but you do lose important historical information.

… And the week after the week of vacation

First week at the new company (rPath). Not a lot of comments, other than I am trying to learn as fast as I can.

I’ve started by installing rPath Linux on the laptop, and just finished reinstalling it with Foresight Linux, mostly because I was looking for more recent versions of NetworkManager, XChat and a working suspend-to-RAM. Plus, Foresight has a lot more desktop goodies.
After using Foresight for about half an hour, I can say I got 33% of what I wanted. XChat has been replaced with xchat-gnome, and suspend didn’t work in different ways (no kernel support – easily fixed by running the rPath Linux kernel). Another thing is the music player: Foresight comes with Banshee whereas Fedora Core 5 comes with Rhythmbox. Apparently I will have to look at Amarok too.

I did spend some of my time with paperwork, inherrent to getting a new job (new health insurance plan etc.).

Hopefully I will not be subject to the viruses that are affecting some of my friends (no, not computer viruses, I’m talking about cold/flu), and the weather on Sunday will hold for the orienteering event.

Abulafia is no more

Before you jump at me and say “dude, you’re a bit late, Abulafia died more than 7 centuries ago”, breathe, drink a glass of water, and read on.

I so happened to name my workstation with the same name used by Umberto Eco for the word processor of one of his characters in Foucault’s Pendulum. I guess I could have come up with something better. Anyway.

Friday was my last day at Red Hat. As I was about to reinstall my machines, I noticed that Abulafia’s uptime is 99 days. Too bad.

I am taking this week off to play “the home dad” (to some extent since both kids are in school), finish some long-standing home improvement projects, most likely get a new LCD monitor since my 5 years old ViewSonic 17″ CRT is slowly dying apparently, and trying to relax before I get on a new adventure.