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jfhovinne pushed to master at jfhovinne/pycm15

Devel - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 17:50
Oct 24, 2015 jfhovinne pushed to master at jfhovinne/pycm15
  • afa4135 Add X10 library to encode/decode addresses and commands. Add script t…
Categories: Networks

Yonas Yanfa: Merging changes from GitHub back into Drupal.org

Planet Drupal - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 10:46

I recently needed to merge the work of pjonckiere and geertvd from GitHub back into Drupal.org. Here is how I did it using Git subtree merging:

# Clone the Drupal.org repository git clone --branch 8.x-1.x fizk@git.drupal.org:project/calendar.git cd calendar # Make sure to set your name and email address git config user.name "Yonas Yanfa" git config user.email fizk@473174.no-reply.drupal.org # Register the GitHub remote repository git remote add -f geertvd git@github.com:geertvd/calendar.git # Prepare for the later step to record the result as a merge git merge -s ours --no-commit geertvd/8.x-3.x # Read the GitHub branch into our Drupal.org branch git read-tree --reset -u geertvd/8.x-3.x # Commit the merge git commit -m 'Merge https://github.com/geertvd/calendar' # Pull in the GitHub commits git pull -s subtree geertvd 8.x-3.x # Verify that everything worked git log # Push the changes to Drupal.org git push

The neat thing is, if the developers that worked on GitHub use the same email address in GitHub and Drupal.org, Drupal will credit them with all the commits as if they originally made their commits in Drupal.org!

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Categories: Elsewhere

Russ Allbery: Review: Oathbreakers

Planet Debian - Sat, 24/10/2015 - 05:34

Review: Oathbreakers, by Mercedes Lackey

Series: Vows and Honor #2 Publisher: DAW Copyright: January 1989 ISBN: 0-88677-454-3 Format: Mass market Pages: 318

The Tarma and Kethry stories tend to be stand-alone and are readable out of order, and this isn't an exception. But if you want their background, consider reading Oathblood or (less recommended) The Oathbound before reading this book. (Reading Oathblood first may require a bit of finesse, since some of the stories in that book come after this novel. Unfortunately, there is no good ordering or collection of these stories that maintains internal chronological order.)

This is more like it. This is the Tarma and Kethry story that I remembered when calling them my favorite characters in the Valdemar universe.

Following the short stories merged into The Oathbound fixup novel, Tarma and Kethry are still trying to gather the resources required to start a school and to rebuild Tarma's clan. That's led to them signing with a highly-respected mercenary company: Idra's Sunhawks. Idra renounced her claims to the Rethwellen line of royal succession to lead the Sunhawks, creating a mercenary band that's legendary for their quality and battlefield capabilities. The story opens with a campaign in Jkatha, on one side of a civil war, which is mostly an opportunity to get to know the Sunhawks and to see Tarma and Kethry show their competence. The real story starts later, when Idra is called back to Rethwellen for family business and something goes very wrong.

I think Lackey is best at two types of stories: misunderstood young people who grow into themselves and their place in the world, and competent people displaying their competence. The Tarma and Kethry stories, and particularly Oathbreakers, are of the latter type. This is clearly wish fulfillment: Lackey's stories often lack nuance, there's rarely any doubt as to who the good and bad guys are, and, although very bad things can happen, you're probably going to get some sort of happy ending. But if you're in the mood for that sort of story, it's so satisfying.

The Tarma and Kethry we see here are a mature, experienced fighter and mage team (plus Warrl, who provides vitally important magical and combat assistance, as well as some pointed advice). They know what they're doing, they care deeply for each other, and both their relationship patterns and their capabilities are well-understood. Both do a bit of growing over the course of this novel, but that's not really the point. The point is seeing them take on unfamiliar challenges and tricky investigations while being very good at what they do. In other words, this isn't bildungsroman or high fantasy; it's sword and sorcery, and an excellent example of the genre.

Reading these books as part of the overall Valdemar series provides some enjoyable moments with the first explicit contact between Valdemar and its Heralds and Tarma and Kethry's world. The maps here firmly establish their home regions as well to the south of Valdemar and multiple kingdoms away, but Rethwellen (as previously established in earlier Herald-focused trilogies) is on Valdemar's southern border. Seeing Lackey's very separate magic and divinity systems cross and meet, with a bit of initial mutual suspicion, is a rather fun moment (if, at least, you're in the mood for a story in which the world has a vested interest in making sure all the good people like each other). Although I'm wondering why Kethry didn't get extremely uncomfortable when she crossed the border into Valdemar due to the trick that Vanyel pulled in his trilogy. (I seem to recall this is explained away at some point.)

Be warned that this novel does contain other elements typical of early Lackey. There is, for example, the inevitable rape, although thankfully off-camera and not quite as central to the plot. (Although in a way that makes it worse since it felt gratuitous. I'm unconvinced that the rape was at all necessary to the story that Lackey was telling.) Revenge and eye-for-an-eye justice are hotly defended by the protagonists. This isn't a series to look to for subtle and complex solutions to political problems; instead, everything gets better if you just kill all the evil people. There isn't anything quite as egregious as the actions of the supposed good guys in The Oathbound, but you still have to read past a certain bloodthirstiness in the stated good side of a very black-and-white morality.

That means this isn't a novel for all people or all moods. But within those genre conventions, which aren't that unusual for sword and sorcery, Oathbreakers is a lot of fun. It's one of the few Valdemar novels I've read during this re-read that lived up to my memory of it. Recommended if you like this sort of thing.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Categories: Elsewhere

Acquia Developer Center Blog: Automated Testing and govCMS

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 20:36
Adam Malone

When managing a whole government platform, as we do in Australia with govCMS, there need to be layers of testing, staging, and assurance before you push code to production.

Tags: acquia drupal planet
Categories: Elsewhere

Drupal Watchdog: Catche That Typo!

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 20:27
Article

The core Drupal community is notorious for obsessing over every little detail that is submitted as code. Single issues can have hundreds of comments and, at its very worst, can take years to be resolved.

As a community, though, we know that this obsession results in a much better product. Code quality comes at a cost: time. It is nearly impossible to both comprehensively review code and commit code quickly. But the upfront time costs for peer review will save you time down the line. Teams I've worked with have caught typos, security vulnerabilities, broken styles… you name it, we've caught it before it was deployed, thanks to the peer review process.

The remainder of this article outlines the step-by-step process needed to conduct a peer code review.

Working on New Code

Each time you start new work, make sure your local environment is as pristine as possible. Ideally, this would also include downloading a fresh copy of the database from your production server to ensure there are no half-baked Feature settings which could dirty your export.[1]

With the build environment as clean as possible, you're ready to start.

Categories: Elsewhere

Six Mile Tech: BadCamp for Drupal Newbies

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 20:14
Are you at BadCamp and new to Drupal? There will be tons of great sessions this weekend but I told my Beginning Drupal 8 class that I would send them a list of Drupal Beginner oriented sessions. If you are new to Drupal or just want a refresher on some basic Drupal concepts you might find these sessions useful.
Categories: Elsewhere

Frederic Marand: Drupal 8 tip of the day: replace hook_drush_command() by a YAML file

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 17:35

One of the big trends during the Drupal 8 creation has been the replacement of info hooks by two main mechanisms: annotations, and YAML files. In that light, hook_drush_command(), as the CLI equivalent of the late hook_menu, replaced by various YAML files, looks just like a perfect candidate for replacement by a commands section in some mymodule.drush.yml configuration file. Turns out it is incredibly easy to achieve. Let's see how to kill some hundred lines of code real fast !

read more

Categories: Elsewhere

OpenConcept: Tips for a Sustainable Drupal 7 & 8 Website

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 15:58

Stephanie Daniels sums it up well, "Optimized sites are better for the environment. That’s because they’re significantly faster, more usable, with content that’s optimized for SEO and user experience. It’s my belief that Drupal has all of the tools in place to create sustainable websites…if you just know where to look.".

If only I had Drupal back in 1995. That was the year I built my first website for a Fair Trade Retailer called Bridgehead. Back at this time, the Internet was a very different place. People were using the web at that point, but it wasn't embeded in our lives like it is now.

Even the ecological footprint of the Internet 20 years ago was pretty small. Sure, there was already a network of computers that spanned the globe, but there weren't the giant data centres that there are now.

There are over 1 million sites running Drupal right now, representing about 3% of the Internet. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is estimated to contributed around 2 to 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions according to the International Telecommunication Union. There is a nice breakdown of this energy consumption in the world's ICT. This is only growing as we find more ways to use the Internet to make our lives more convenient.

There are a few people in the web industry who are aware of this and are working to raise awareness of others. I've been inspired by both Mightybytes and Manoverboard who have been leading this discussion within the BCorporation community. This article is going to extend the work of Mightybytes in their 15 Ways to Optimize Drupal for Sustainable Web Design article as well as the post by Manoverboard in Creating a Responsible, Earth-Friendly Website. I don't want to repeat their work, but saw an opportunity to update a few things, particularly in line with Drupal 7 & 8.

Certainly with Google prioritizing speedy pages in their search rank many sites have started making performance a higher priority. The rise in mobile usage also is driving performance, as usually mobile devices have lower bandwidth than desktop devices.

In Drupal there is a lot that can be done on the front-end, the back-end, and on the server. With a good content strategy we can ensure that the content is easy to find, and simple to use. All of this will help reduce the time that a user needs to spend using your site, which will reduce it's total carbon emmissions.

Drupal Optimization

Here are some helpful tips to optimize your overall Drupal experience:

Remove unnecessary HTML to help the page load faster using the Fences module (7/8-dev). To change the to the lighter markup, make a copy of any tpl file that ships with the Fences module and add it to your custom theme. You can also make your own Fences-styled tpl files and place them in your theme by using the fences naming convention. Fences will automatically find them, and add them to the list available in the dropdown for field configuration.

Aggregate and compress your CSS and Javascript by enabling the Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation module (7/8-sandbox). You could just enable the default compression/aggregation code that comes with Core (Administer > Configuration > Performance), but there many advances in the Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation module which we feel will make your page load faster. There is a good explaination of how to move the JavaScript & CSS to the page footer in Drupal 7 to speed up the page load. In Drupal 8, Javascript by default runs in the footer. This module also allows sites to use Google's Content Delivery Network (CDN) to load jQuery. If a browser has already loaded a javascript file from a CDN, it will just use it's cached file rather than downloading it again.

An alternative module that uses Google's Closure Compiler webserver is minify which has fewer options and should be easier to set up. The Speedy module is another option.

Make sure you are delivering smaller images to your visitors using the Drupal Core's ImageCache module (7/8). This is especially important for mobile devices where the browser is rendering much smaller images. Page speed can be dramatically reduced by using big images that aren't optimized. Tools like TinyPNG can be useful to reduce image size before uploading them to your site.

There are so many reasons to design Mobile First, and using semantic HTML5 and modern CSS3. With Drupal we've been suggesting starting with a good base theme like Zen (7/8-patch) or Adaptive Theme (7/8-dev) for accessibility for years, but they also are great responsive platforms. Designing for a mobile device first forces organizations to prioritize what is most important to them and simplify their site. This can then be added to when a user is browsing your site with a big monitor and high bandwidth.

Use Scalor Vector Graphics (SVG) rather than PNGs or GIFs where possible. SVG files are usually very small, they can be written inline in HTML5 & CSS files, and they they scale without loosing clarity. This allows you to use the same image on your phone as you do on your desktop. Drupal 8 is replacing many of it's PNG files with SVG files for this purpose.

Today, LCD screens use the lest energy using a lighter colour palette. Of note, an old Cathode Ray Tube monitor will use about 200% more energy than a comparable LCD screen. So when designing your site, more than ever think about the advantages of a bit more white space.

Disable unnecessary and unused modules. There are modules like Devel (7/8-dev) that shouldn't be enabled on production site anyways for performance reasons. Drupal's statistics module can also slow down a page since it needs to write to the database for every page load. There are also modules like Views UI that are only needed when you are editing a View, so why not disable it by default. Some code from the enabled modules will be loaded with every page view, thus slowing down your site.

Many people visiting your site are probably skipping the home page and going directly to the content that the search engine sends them to. This is great for the user and also great for the environment. Make sure you've enabled the SEO Checklist module and follow the advice within it to ensure that search engines send visitors directly to the information they want.

Server-Level Optimization

For those more savvy with server maintenance:

Enable page and block cache (Administer > Configuration > Performance) in Drupal 7. There are a great many improvements in caching in Drupal 8 and sites with changing content will perform much better. Page caching and CSS/JS aggregation is enabled by default, so hopefully it will be employed by default by more sites in the future. There have also been huge page improvements in the dynamic page cache for all users which should help interactive sites and improvements for administrators.

You may also choose to compress the cached pages using here. This can also be done in Apache, so it really depends on how you configure your server, no point to compress them twice. Make sure to increase the cache lifetime in Drupal so that you are not having to regenerate the pages unless needed. If you want to go even farther, install Varnish and set up the Varnish module (7/8-dev). Varnish is a very powerful page caching tool that is very configurable. For some sites we recommend setting up a seperate Varnish server devoted to serving cached pages.

Memcached is a high-performance, distributed memory object caching system that can be used to speed up your Drupal site by alleviating database load. The Memcache module (7/8-dev) or Memcache Storage module is required to take full advantage of this, and Memcached can be run alongside Apache or on it's own server, depending on expected demands.

You should also look at optimizing your database on a regular basis. The DB Maintenace module (7/8-dev) uses cron to run MySQL's OPTIMIZE TABLE on a regular basis. Ideally you could do this with a cron script using MySQL commands in off-peak hours too.

echo "OPTIMIZE TABLE accesslog,cache,comments,node,users,watchdog;FLUSH TABLES;" |mysql -u user -ppasswd

There are a great many other suggestions from the community on how you can tune your server. There is an active community of Drupal developers interested in high performance configurations, it's worth checking out their ideas. There are also videos on MySQL performance improvements for Drupal.

In Drupal 7, install Alternative PHP Cache (APC) to and the APC module (7) to cache PHP code. For Drupal 8, look forward to using PHP7, which runs way faster, than earlier versions of PHP. Drupal 8 runs much faster in PHP7, but unfortunately, APC is not yet available in PHP7.

Think of using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver some of your content. A CDN serves content from a location that will be optimized for the visitor's location. Wim Leers has written a series of great posts on setting up the CDN module (7) to optimize your site.

Look into adopting HTTP/2 on your server because it offers performance improvements and may negate the advantages of aggregating CSS/JS files. At the moment there is great browser support for HTTP/2, but less than 2% of sites support this new protocol. Regardless, it is usually best to assume that less HTTP requests = faster page loading.

Sometimes though you just need to spend a bit more on faster hardware, more RAM and solid state drives. Having multiple servers can really help deal with busy sites.

Think about switching to a green hosting company. Look for a host that is using green energy and has a strong environmental policy. Your servers are running 24/7, so having a green host can have a significant impact on your CO2 output. Mightybytes has a blog and Manoverboard a White Paper about green hosting that are worth checking out.

Content Optimization

If your job is more catered towards the material shown on the site:

Think about your content. Could meaning be clearly conveyed with fewer images? Are the images optimized? Is content created using proper semantic markup that is styled using centralized (and cached) CSS files?

Andrew Boardman's blog on Manoverboard is great in encouraging us to keep it simple. Steve Krug's book Don’t Make Me Think contains principles that are "highly relevant to all digital interfaces not only for ease of use and human engagement but also in determining energy consumption that powers our online behaviours."

He also argues for archiving unused content. Users expect websites to contain fresh content and not to contain an active history of all pages that have ever been published. Fewer pages mean that there are more quality pages for search engines to index and that it takes less energy to maintain them.

Content should be findable. Users will benefit from sites that have a well considered navigational structure. Using structured taxonomies can also allow visitors to find related content. Enable Drupal's core search, or better yet set up Apache Solr and use the Apache Solr module to provide an amazing faceted search experience.

Don't use Flash. Aside from not working on many mobile devices, Flash is known to consume a lot of energy, which was one of the reasons that Apple used to not support Flash on iPhones. Use HTML5's <video> format which has huge accessibility advantages as well as it's environmental impact. There are of course other reasons not to rely on flash because of security or accessibility problems.

Evaluate Performance

Finally, when you've done all of your changes:

Don't trust that enabling these tools will work. Page optimization needs to be evaluated to determine that you are actually delivering faster pages. Yahoo's YSlow, Google's Insights & WebPageTest all offer means to evaluate web pages. Note that your performance on various pages may vary. Yahoo! also has a list of best practices that are worth considering.

Page speed will always vary based on load. Consider using the Apache HTTP server benchmarking tool to simulate how your website performs with a heavy page load. The Performance Logging and Monitoring module can help you track your performance over time as well.

It's also really worth taking a look at Mightybyte's EcoGrader tool to get a quick evaluation of some of these improvements on your site.

In the end, it isn't difficult to take the time to look over the suggestions in this post and make a difference for the sustainability of your website(s) and the environment. Regardless of your technical expertise, there are improvements to be made at any level of website development. All you need to do is use the tool's at your disposal.

Topic: Primary Image: 
Categories: Elsewhere

Clint Adams: Beware of typhoons or tsunamis

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 12:39

The 12 member nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact have agreed to prohibit demands that companies reveal software source code*, a step that appears aimed at curbing efforts by China to gain access to this sensitive information, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Source code is the confidential information for software and is a “blueprint” embedded in many commonly used products, such as vehicles, mobile phones and home appliances. Source code is usually tightly guarded because it conatins commands that make using the software easier.

China requires foreign companies operating there to hand over source code, a move that has sparked sharp criticism from many countries. Observers believe the decision by TPP participants to ban demands to reveal this code is intended to restrain China's move.

The TPP's electronic commerce chapter in principle prohibits the 12 member nations from demanding access to source code for mass-produced software. According to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Japan-Mongolia economic partnership agreement signed in February contains a stipulation banning demands for such information, but there are very few other examples around the world.

Japan, the United States and other nations that are home to many information technology companies want to make the stipulation effectively a global standard, and they are considering whether to incorporate such a condition in economic partnership agreements that will be inked in the future.

Source code is an important corporate secret for development firms.

*Source code—A software program written in a language a computer understands. As well as containing expert details about the unique functions of the product, the software is essential for fixing glitches and making improvements. Hackers have attempted to access source code because gaining this information would make it easier to create viruses that could exploit any software defects. In the software business, it is rarely made public, as it is considered a corporate secret.

Categories: Elsewhere

Petter Reinholdtsen: "Free Culture" by @lessig - The background story for Creative Commons - new edition available

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 12:10

Click here to buy the book.

In 2004, as the Creative Commons movement gained momentum, its creator Lawrence Lessig wrote the book Free Culture to explain the problems with increasing copyright regulation and suggest some solutions. I read the book back then and was very moved by it. Reading the book inspired me and changed the way I looked on copyright law, and I would love it if more people would read it too.

Because of this, I decided in the summer of 2012 to translate it to Norwegian Bokmål and publish it for those of my friends and family that prefer to read books in Norwegian. I translated the book using docbook and a gettext PO file, and a byproduct of this process is a new edition of the English original. I've been in touch with the author during by work, and he said it was fine with him if I also published an English version. So I decided to do so. Today, I made this edition available for sale on Lulu.com, for those interested in a paper book. This is the cover:

The Norwegian Bokmål version will be available for purchase in a few days. I also plan to publish a French version in a few weeks or months, depending on the amount of people with knowledge of French to join the translation project. So far there is only one active person, but the French book is almost completely translated but need some proof reading.

The book is also available in PDF, ePub and MOBI formats from my github project page. Note the ePub and MOBI versions have some formatting problems I believe is due to bugs in the docbook tool dbtoepub (Debian BTS issues #795842 and #796871), but I have not taken the time to investigate. I recommend the PDF and ePub version for now, as they seem to show up fine in the viewers I have available.

After the translation to Norwegian Bokmål was complete, I was able to secure some sponsoring from the NUUG Foundation to print the book. This is the reason their logo is located on the back cover. I am very grateful for their contribution, and will use it to give a copy of the Norwegian edition to members of the Norwegian Parliament and other decision makers here in Norway.

Categories: Elsewhere

Enrico Zini: italian-fattura-elettronica-with-openssl

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 10:35
Italian Fattura Elettronica with OpenSSL

I have had some success signing an Italian fattura elettronica with OpenSSL.

I am amazed to realise that the software they gave me to do the job is of such bad quality that I felt like spending a few hours trying to do the same thing with OpenSSL instead.

Categories: Elsewhere

OSTraining: Use the Link Checker Module to Find Broken Links in Drupal

Planet Drupal - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 09:23

It's important to check links on your site to make sure they're working. Sometimes when URLs get updated, some links are forgotten. Manually checking a site for all links can be labor intensive and time consuming.

That's where Drupal's Link Checker module comes in. It's an excellent module that saves you a lot of time. This tutorial will help you to get started with it.

Categories: Elsewhere

Hideki Yamane: Are you still hungry?

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 08:18
Microsoft became Gold Sponsor of OpenBSD foundation, and LF became Platinum, for sustainable development of OpenSSH. However, Linux distribution leader Red Hat and Cloud giant AWS don't pay any money for it. Ansible doesn't work with ssh, it was acquired with huge money by Red Hat.
Why don't they donate to Core Infrastructure of their business? It's okay for its license, just Ethical thing. Not much for strategical benefit. But... you, leaders? I think you're enough to pay some money for it.
Categories: Elsewhere

Russ Allbery: Review: Watchtower

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 06:37

Review: Watchtower, by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Series: Chronicles of Tornor #1 Publisher: Berkley Copyright: February 1979 Printing: November 1982 ISBN: 0-425-06195-7 Format: Mass market Pages: 226

Ryke is a soldier in service to Athor, lord of Tornor Keep. Or, at least, he was. Shortly before the opening lines of this book, Tornor Keep was taken by a southerner named Col Istor, and Athor was killed. Ryke is about to change sides under duress: his service to Col as a watch commander is the price of keeping Errel, Athor's son, alive. Alive does not mean treated with dignity, however; Errel's new place is to become court jester for Col's small domain.

At the start of this book, I had no idea who Col Istor was or why he'd want to take over one of the border keeps that guard the country of Arun against its northern neighbor Anhard. At the end of this book, I still had little idea. Watchtower's relationship with world-building is not what you'd normally expect from a fantasy novel.

There are only a few locations in this novel, and they're described in close detail but without much historical or strategic context. The narrative, despite being third person, follows Ryke very closely, and Ryke is not interested in thinking much about the history of his world that he knows and the reader doesn't. Or he may not care. Ryke does not come across as a curious or thoughtful person. He's a soldier, he lives to serve his lord, and that service transfers from Athor to Errel and simply stays there, with little discussion or argument.

The opening section of this novel shows Ryke trying to take care of Errel while serving Col and listening to his plans to take over the rest of the northern keeps. I found it slow, claustrophobic, and not very interesting. It reads a bit like a day in the life in some grim medieval military, with little world-building or context. Watchtower is technically fantasy, but mostly because the geography and politics are imaginary. Magic is limited to a very tiny bit of (essentially) Tarot card reading and has little impact on the plot.

The story does get somewhat more interesting when two green clan messengers enter the story, and Ryke and Errel escape. Lynn introduces another community and another way of life into the story than the one Ryke is used to, one that seemed modeled after monastic orders (but with the religion toned down to nearly nonexistent). I think the intended conflict of the story is between those ways of life, their draws and implications, but even that conflict is never clearly stated. Ryke seems to move from one inevitability to another, and while he does question some of his previous views and seems to open his mind a bit, actual growth is limited in this story. I reached the end of the book feeling the world was largely unchanged from its start.

This story won the World Fantasy award for best novel in 1980. I have to admit I'm baffled, although partly that's because this is not really my thing. I prefer my fantasy to have more epic sweep and a lot more world-building. But perhaps the award was for the writing, which is evocative and fills the moments of the story with closely-observed detail. It has a distinctive, choppy feel, full of short declarative sentences:

The wind blew. Like some night creature caught in a trap, Col Istor's banner flapped on its pole. Ryke wondered where his wolfhound was. Sheltering, he hoped, in some warm and windless corner. He thrust his hands beneath his armpits to warm them. He entered the kitchen, nodding at the guard who stood there, and went toward the scullery. The kitchenboys huddled together in sleep like dogs in front of the oven. He stepped over their legs. The iron pots on the walls vibrated softly.

That's a paragraph chosen at random from the start of the book and should give you a good feel for the style.

I think I would have liked this novel better if it had followed anyone other than Ryke. Not only did I not care for him and his simplistic loyalties, he's the least interesting character in this story. Everyone else — Col, Errel, Sorren, Van, and others — is more complex and more thoughtful than he is, and I think many of them would have made a better protagonist. He spends much of the center part of the book being suspicious and closed and incurious, which means the reader can only guess at what's going on between the other characters.

I can't really recommend this book, but the writing is solid and it has some interesting properties for late 1970s fantasy, including both a frank look at the role of women in this society and same-sex relationships. If your taste in fantasy leans towards the gritty and realistic, you might like it more than I did. I may try the later books of the series in the hope that they have more interesting protagonists.

Followed by Dancers of Arun.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Categories: Elsewhere

Joey Hess: propelling disk images

Planet Debian - Fri, 23/10/2015 - 04:09

Following up on Then and Now ...

In quiet moments at ICFP last August, I finished teaching Propellor to generate disk images. With an emphasis on doing a whole lot with very little new code and extreme amount of code reuse.

For example, let's make a disk image with nethack on it. First, we need to define a chroot. Disk image creation reuses propellor's chroot support, described back in propelling containers. Any propellor properties can be assigned to the chroot, so it's easy to describe the system we want.

nethackChroot :: FilePath -> Chroot nethackChroot d = Chroot.debootstrapped (System (Debian Stable) "amd64") mempty d & Apt.installed ["linux-image-amd64"] & Apt.installed ["nethack-console"] & accountFor gamer & gamer `hasInsecurePassword` "hello" & gamer `hasLoginShell` "/usr/games/nethack" where gamer = User "gamer"

Now to make an image from that chroot, we just have to tell propellor where to put the image file, some partitioning information, and to make it boot using grub.

nethackImage :: RevertableProperty nethackImage = imageBuilt "/srv/images/nethack.img" nethackChroot MSDOS (grubBooted PC) [ partition EXT2 `mountedAt` "/boot" `setFlag` BootFlag , partition EXT4 `mountedAt` "/" `addFreeSpace` MegaBytes 100 , swapPartition (MegaBytes 256) ]

The disk image partitions default to being sized to fit exactly the files from the chroot that go into each partition, so, the disk image is as small as possible by default. There's a little DSL to configure the partitions. To give control over the partition size, it has some functions, like addFreeSpace and setSize. Other functions like setFlag and extended can further adjust the partitions. I think that worked out rather well; the partition specification is compact and avoids unecessary hardcoded sizes, while providing plenty of control.

By the end of ICFP, I had Propellor building complete disk images, but no boot loader installed on them.

Fast forward to today. After stuggling with some strange grub behavior, I found a working method to install grub onto a disk image.

The whole disk image feature weighs in at:

203 lines to interface with parted
88 lines to format and mount partitions
90 lines for the partition table specification DSL and partition sizing
196 lines to generate disk images
75 lines to install grub on a disk image
652 lines of code total

Which is about half the size of vmdebootstrap 1/4th the size of partman-base (probably 1/100th the size of total partman), and 1/13th the size of live-build. All of which do similar things, in ways that seem to me to be much less flexible than Propellor.

One thing I'm considering doing is extending this so Propellor can use qemu-user-static to create disk images for eg, arm. Add some u-boot setup, and this could create bootable images for arm boards. A library of configs for various arm boards could then be included in Propellor. This would be a lot easier than running the Debian Installer on an arm board.

Oh! I only just now realized that if you have a propellor host configured, like this example for my dialup gateway, leech --

leech = host "leech.kitenet.net" & os (System (Debian (Stable "jessie")) "armel") & Apt.installed ["linux-image-kirkwood", "ppp", "screen", "iftop"] & privContent "/etc/ppp/peers/provider" & privContent "/etc/ppp/pap-secrets" & Ppp.onBoot & hasPassword (User "root") & Ssh.installed

-- The host's properties can be extracted from it, using eg hostProperties leech and reused to create a disk image with the same properties as the host!

So, when my dialup gateway gets struck by lightning again, I could use this to build a disk image for its replacement:

import qualified Propellor.Property.Hardware.SheevaPlug as SheevaPlug laptop = host "darkstar.kitenet.net" & SheevaPlug.diskImage "/srv/images/leech.img" (MegaBytes 2000) (& propertyList "has all of leech's properties" (hostProperties leech))

This also means you can start with a manually built system, write down the properties it has, and iteratively run Propellor against it until you think you have a full specification of it, and then use that to generate a new, clean disk image. Nice way to transition from sysadmin days of yore to a clean declaratively specified system.

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