Sean Whitton: Kant and tear gas

Planet Debian - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 14:15

Over the past year I’ve been refining my understanding of the core claims of Kantian ethics. I’ve realised that I have deeply Kantian intuitions about a lot of issues, and I understand these intuitions better now that I can put them in Kantian terms. Consider two exercises of state power: riot police suppressing protesters by non-lethal means, and soldiers shooting protesters to death. I feel more uncomfortable thinking about the first: there’s something altogether more sinister about it than the second, even though the second is much more sad.

I think that the reason is that non-lethal weaponry is designed to take away people’s agency, and it often achieves this aim by means of emotional manipulation. Riot police use so-called “baton charges” to incite fearful retreat. Protesters have reasoned that in their political situation, they have a duty to resist the incumbent government. Riot police seek to unseat this conviction and cause fear to determine what the protesters will do. In Kantian terms, the riot police fail to respect the moral agency of the protesters by seeking to unseat the moral personality’s determination of what the protester will do.

A controversial example that Kant uses to make this point is the axe murderer case. Kant asks us to imagine that someone bangs on our front door and begs us to hide him in our house, because someone who wishes to kill him is coming up behind them. We do so. When the axe murderer arrives, he goes door-to-door and asks us whether the intended victim is in each house. Kant says that it is morally wrong to lie to the axe murderer and say that the victim is not in your house. How could this be? Surely there is a moral duty to protect the victim from being killed? Indeed there is, but when it comes into conflict with the duty not to lie, that second duty wins out. That’s because respecting the moral agency of individuals is paramount. In this case, we would fail to respect the murderer’s agency if we didn’t allow him to take the decision to murder or not murder the victim; by lying to him we (disrespectfully) bypass his choice as to whether to do it.

It’s obviously crazy to say that we are morally required to give up the victim. Kant gives the wrong answer in this case. However, the case definitely reveals a requirement to respect other people’s view of what they should do, and give them a chance to do it. Similarly it seems like we shouldn’t give semi-automatics to our riot police, but there’s something wrong with a lot of what they do.

During the recent campaigns about Britain’s EU referendum, some criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning on the grounds that he failed to make an emotional appeal, instead asking people to make their own rational decision when they come to cast their vote. So he lost out the emotional appeals other people were making. It seems that he was successfully respecting individual agency. You’ve got to give people a chance to live up to their own idea of what they should do.

I’m not sure how to reconcile these various ideas, and I’m not sure what it says about me that I find non-lethal weaponry as uncomfortable as I do.

Categories: Elsewhere

Liip: A quick look on the current state of Drupal 8 (ecosystem)

Planet Drupal - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 13:21

Eight months ago Drupal 8.0.0 was released. Exciting news for drupalists. Since then comparing D8’s features to its predecessor is a topic in daily business. «Can drupal 8 do what we can do now with 7 today?”. After playing around with D8 i get the feeling some crucial features are missing. Dries invited people to tell ”why we not use or migrate to drupal 8” – and got a clear answer: A majority of drupalist (60%) are waiting for certain modules. So the follow up question would be what are these modules.

On the fly my top 10 wishlist would be:

  • pathauto
  • token
  • webform
  • metadata
  • views_bulk_operations
  • flag
  • rules
  • xmlsitemap
  • redirect
  • search_api

Today it seems quite difficult to get a good overview of D8 ecosystem. Also because some module development moved to github to have a better collaboration tool. I was irritated to see no D8 version of the webform module in the download section on drupal.org  – That’s a module with 1/2 million downloads for D7. Comments on this issue gives some answers. Without committed maintainers from the beginning the porting takes much longer. A highly complex module like webform probably needs almost complete rewrite to fit into the new core of D8. Porting module from D7 to D6 was much easier. For forms we could use in some cases the core Form API, core contact forms or the eform module. But our clients would most likely miss out on the experience of D7s webform module.

Under the hood Drupal 8 core changed significantly. Symfony2 for example is now playing its music to give us new possibilities. I guess in some cases there are new solutions we have yet to discover. From a suitebuilder point of view, D8 is delightfully similar to what we know from D7. However, it will take some getting used to not trying to add the old modules we know to this new architecture.

In the end the importance of a variety of mature modules that play together nicely is crucial when it comes to efficiency, maintainability and stability of a project…

“I am confident that Drupal 8 will be adopted at “full-force” by the end of 2016.”
Dries Buytaert

Drupal is a registered trademark of Dries Buytaert.

Categories: Elsewhere

Petter Reinholdtsen: Unlocking HTC Desire HD on Linux using unruu and fastboot

Planet Debian - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 11:30

Yesterday, I tried to unlock a HTC Desire HD phone, and it proved to be a slight challenge. Here is the recipe if I ever need to do it again. It all started by me wanting to try the recipe to set up an hardened Android installation from the Tor project blog on a device I had access to. It is a old mobile phone with a broken microphone The initial idea had been to just install CyanogenMod on it, but did not quite find time to start on it until a few days ago.

The unlock process is supposed to be simple: (1) Boot into the boot loader (press volume down and power at the same time), (2) select 'fastboot' before (3) connecting the device via USB to a Linux machine, (4) request the device identifier token by running 'fastboot oem get_identifier_token', (5) request the device unlocking key using the HTC developer web site and unlock the phone using the key file emailed to you.

Unfortunately, this only work fi you have hboot version 2.00.0029 or newer, and the device I was working on had 2.00.0027. This apparently can be easily fixed by downloading a Windows program and running it on your Windows machine, if you accept the terms Microsoft require you to accept to use Windows - which I do not. So I had to come up with a different approach. I got a lot of help from AndyCap on #nuug, and would not have been able to get this working without him.

First I needed to extract the hboot firmware from the windows binary for HTC Desire HD downloaded as 'the RUU' from HTC. For this there is is a github project named unruu using libunshield. The unshield tool did not recognise the file format, but unruu worked and extracted rom.zip, containing the new hboot firmware and a text file describing which devices it would work for.

Next, I needed to get the new firmware into the device. For this I followed some instructions available from HTC1Guru.com, and ran these commands as root on a Linux machine with Debian testing:

adb reboot-bootloader fastboot oem rebootRUU fastboot flash zip rom.zip fastboot flash zip rom.zip fastboot reboot

The flash command apparently need to be done twice to take effect, as the first is just preparations and the second one do the flashing. The adb command is just to get to the boot loader menu, so turning the device on while holding volume down and the power button should work too.

With the new hboot version in place I could start following the instructions on the HTC developer web site. I got the device token like this:

fastboot oem get_identifier_token 2>&1 | sed 's/(bootloader) //'

And once I got the unlock code via email, I could use it like this:

fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

And with that final step in place, the phone was unlocked and I could start stuffing the software of my own choosing into the device. So far I only inserted a replacement recovery image to wipe the phone before I start. We will see what happen next. Perhaps I should install Debian on it. :)

Categories: Elsewhere

Daniel Pocock: Can you help with monitoring packages in Debian and Ubuntu?

Planet Debian - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 11:14

Debian (and consequently Ubuntu) contains a range of extraordinarily useful monitoring packages.

I've been maintaining several of them at a basic level but as more of my time is taken up by free Real-Time Communications software, I haven't been able to follow the latest upstream releases for all of the other packages I maintain. The versions we are distributing now still serve their purpose well, but as some people would like newer versions, I don't want to stand in the way.

Monitoring packages are for everyone. Even if you are a single user or developer with a single desktop or laptop and no servers, you may still find some of these packages useful.

For example, after doing an apt-get upgrade or dist-upgrade, it can be extremely beneficial to look at your logs in LogAnalyzer with all the errors and warnings colour-coded so you can see at a glance whether your upgrade broke anything. If you are testing new software before a release or trying to troubleshoot erratic behavior, this type of colour-coded feedback can also help you focus on possible problems without the eyestrain of tailing a logfile.

How to help

A good first step is simply looking over the packages maintained by the pkg-monitoring group and discovering whether any of them are useful for your own needs.

You may be familiar with alternatives that exist in Debian, if so, feel free to comment on whether you believe any of these packages should be dropped by cre
ating a wishlist bug against the package concerned.

The next step is joining the pkg-monitoring mailing list. If you are a Debian Developer or Debian Maintainer with upload rights already, you can join the group on alioth. If you are not at that level yet, you are still very welcome to test new versions of the packages and upload them on mentors.debian.net and then join the mentors mailing list to look for a member of the community who can help review your work and sponsor an upload for you.

Each of the packages should have a README.source file in the repository explaining more about how the package is maintained. Familiarity with Git is essential. Note that all of the packages keep their debian/* artifacts in a branch called debian/sid while the master branch tracks the upstream repository.

You can clone the Debian package repositories for any of these projects from alioth and build them yourself, try building packages of new upstream versions and try to investigate any of the bug reports submitted to Debian. Some of the bugs may have already been fixed by upstream changes and can be marked appropriately.

Integrating your monitoring systems

Two particular packages I would like to highlight are ganglia-nagios-bridge and syslog-nagios-bridge. They are not exclusively for Nagios and could also be used with Icinga or other monitoring dashboards. The key benefit of these packages is that all the alerting is consolidated in a single platform, Nagios, which is able to display them in a colour-coded dashboard and intelligently send notifications to people in a manner that is fully configurable. If you haven't integrated your monitoring systems already, these projects provide a simple and lightweight way to start doing so.

Categories: Elsewhere

Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, June 2016

Planet Debian - Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:24

I was assigned another 15 hours of work by Freexian's Debian LTS initiative and carried over 5 from last month. I worked a total of 19 hours, carrying over 1.

I spent a week in the Front Desk role and triaged many new security issues for wheezy.

I prepared the Linux 3.2.81 stable update, sent it out for review and finally released it. I then rebased the wheezy-security branch on top of that and added some later security fixes that were not yet suitable for a kernel.org update. I uploaded to wheezy-security and issued DLA-516-1.

I started working on the next Linux stable updates (3.2.82 and the next wheezy LTS update) and on an update for imagemagick, but haven't uploaded anything for them yet.

Categories: Elsewhere


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