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Must be the irony of life that I was about to give up the TclCurl Debian package some time ago, and now I'm using it again for some very old and horrible web scraping code.

The world moved on to https but the Tcl http package only supports unencrypted http. You can combine it with the tls package as explained in the Wiki, but that seems to be overly complicated compared to just loading the TclCurl binding and moving on with something like this:

package require TclCurl
# download to a variable
curl::transfer -url -bodyvar page
# or store it in a file
curl::transfer -url -file page.html

Now the remaining problem is that the code is unmaintained upstream and there is one codebase on bitbucket and one on github. While I fed patches to the bitbucket repo and thus based the Debian package on that repo, the github repo diverted in a different direction.

Posted Fri Feb 24 13:04:28 2017

After a few weeks of running Exodus on my moto g falcon, I've now done again the full wipe and moved on to LineageOS nightly from 20170213. Though that build is no longer online at the moment. It's running smooth so far for myself but there was an issue with the Google Play edition of the phone according to Reddit. Since I don't use gapps anyway I don't care.

The only issue I see so far is that I can not reach the flash menu in the camera app. It's hidden behind a grey bar. Not nice but not a show stopper for me either.

Posted Tue Feb 14 10:23:07 2017

For CentOS 4 to CentOS 6 we used pam_ldap to restrict host access to machines, based on groupOfUniqueNames listed in an openldap. With RHEL/CentOS 6 RedHat already deprecated pam_ldap and highly recommended to use sssd instead, and with RHEL/CentOS 7 they finally removed pam_ldap from the distribution.

Since pam_ldap supported groupOfUniqueNames to restrict logins a bigger collection of groupOfUniqueNames were created to restrict access to all kind of groups/projects and so on. But sssd is in general only able to filter based on an "ldap_access_filter" or use the host attribute via "ldap_user_authorized_host". That does not allow the use of "groupOfUniqueNames". So to allow a smoth migration I had to configure sssd in some way to still support groupOfUniqueNames. The configuration I ended up with looks like this:

autofs_provider = none 
ldap_schema = rfc2307bis
# to work properly we've to keep the search_base at the highest level
ldap_search_base = ou=foo,ou=people,o=myorg
ldap_default_bind_dn = cn=ro,ou=ldapaccounts,ou=foo,ou=people,o=myorg
ldap_default_authtok = foobar
id_provider = ldap
auth_provider = ldap
chpass_provider = none
ldap_uri = ldaps://ldapserver:636
ldap_id_use_start_tls = false
cache_credentials = false
ldap_tls_cacertdir = /etc/pki/tls/certs
ldap_tls_cacert = /etc/pki/tls/certs/ca-bundle.crt
ldap_tls_reqcert = allow
ldap_group_object_class = groupOfUniqueNames
ldap_group_member = uniqueMember
access_provider = simple
simple_allow_groups = fraappmgmtt

domains = hostacl
services = nss, pam
config_file_version = 2

Important side note: With current sssd versions you're more or less forced to use ldaps with a validating CA chain, though hostnames are not required to match the CN/SAN so far.

Relevant are:

  • set the ldap_schema to rfc2307bis to use a schema that knows about groupOfUniqueNames at all
  • set the ldap_group_object_class to groupOfUniqueNames
  • set the the ldap_group_member to uniqueMember
  • use the access_provider simple

In practise what we do is match the member of the groupOfUniqueNames to the sssd internal group representation.

The best explanation about the several possible object classes in LDAP for group representation I've found so far is unfortunately in a german blog post. Another explanation is in the LDAP wiki. In short: within a groupOfUniqueNames you'll find a full DN, while in a posixGroup you usually find login names. Different kind of object class requires a different handling.

Next step would be to move auth and nss functionality to sssd as well.

Posted Thu Feb 9 13:02:27 2017

Recently some of my coworkers and I experienced an issue with using the upper left touchpad button on our Dell Latitude E7470 and similar laptops (E5xxx from the current generation). Some time in January we could no longer hold down this button and select text with the touchpad. Using the left button below the touchpad still worked. This hit my coworker running Fedora and myself running Debian/stretch. So I first thought that it's likely a libinput issue (same version in Debian/stretch and Fedora and I recently pulled that in as an update), somehow blacklisting the upper left key because it's connected to the trackpoint. So I filled #99594 upstream. While this was not very helpful at first, and according to Peter very unlikely to be related to libinput, another coworker using Debian/jessie found this issue to hit him when he upgraded the backports kernel in use from 4.8 to 4.9. That finally led to the conclusion that it's a bug in the Linux alps driver, which is already fixed in 4.10 and probably 4.9.6.

Until the Debian kernel team pulls in a fresh 4.9 point release I'm using 4.10-rc6 from experimental. For Debian/jessie + backports kernel user it might be more convenient to just stay at 4.8 in case this issue annoys you.

Kudos to Peter, Benjamin, TW and WW for the help in locating the origin of this issue!

Lessons learned:

  • I should've started with the painful downgrade of xorg and libinput via snapshot.d.o before opening the bugreport.
  • A lot more of the touchpad related hardware support is nowadays in the kernel and not in the xorg layer. Either that was just my personal historic misunderstanding, or it was different 10 years ago.
  • There is an interesting set of slides from Benjamin related to debuging input device issues.
Posted Tue Feb 7 12:55:04 2017

From time to time I've to use chromium for creepy stuff like lifesize video conferencing with document sharing. The document sharing requires a chromium extension. Suddenly that stopped working today and I could not reinstall the extension. After trying a lot of stuff I had a look at the debian changelog and found out about:

chromium --enable-remote-extensions

See also #851927.

Posted Fri Feb 3 14:31:40 2017

While reading the Tails 2.10 changelog I stumbled upon the fact that Tails now supports exFAT. Since Tails is Debian based I just checked the image and indeed it contains the fuse-exfat package. Do I've to assume that I've now another set of crosshairs on my back just because it's one possible maintainer you could attack to place malicious code into Tails? I'm not sure, and I'm also not sure if it would change much. I've always assumed to be a target just because I'm contributing to Debian, and because I'm working in IT operations. But to be honest so far my contributions to Debian are not on crucial packages and unexpected strange looking NMUs would always raise alarm bells for everyone.

BTW the exfat fuse driver package builds reproducible. Maybe a good opportunity to thank the reproducible build team for this effort!

Posted Sat Jan 28 12:19:17 2017

I started to reactivate my old moto g falcon during the last days of CyanogenMod in December of 2016. First step was a recovery update to TWRP 3.0.2-2 so I was able to flash CM13/14 builds. While CM14 nightly builds did not boot at all the CM13 builds did, but up to the last build wifi connections to the internet did not work. I could actually register with my wifi (Archer C7 running OpenWRT) but all apps claim the internet connection check failed and I'm offline. So bummer, without wifi a smartphone is not much fun.

I was pretty sure that wifi worked when I last used that phone about 1.5 years ago with CM11/12, so I started to dive into the forums of xda-developers to look for alternatives. Here I found out about Exodus. I've a bit of trouble trusting stuff from xda-developer forums but what the hell, the phone is empty anyway so nothing to loose and I flashed the latest falcon build.

To flash it I had to clean the whole phone, format all partitions via TWRP and then sideloaded the zip image file via adb (adb from the Debian/stretch adb package works like a charm, thank you guys!). Booted and bäm wifi works again! Now Exodus is a really striped down mod, to do anything useful with it I had to activate the developer options and allow USB debugging. Afterwards I could install the f-droid and Opera apk via "adb install foo.apk".

Lineage OS

As I could derive from another thread on xda-developers Lineage OS has the falcon still on the shortlist for 14.x nightly builds. Maybe that will be an alternative again in the future. For now Exodus is a bit behind the curve (based on Android 6.0.1 from September 2016) but at least it's functional.

Update: First nightly builds arrived, I did not yet test them. Lineage OS falcon builds.

Posted Sat Jan 14 14:43:36 2017

Just a short PSA for those around working with F5 devices:

TMOS 11.6 introduced an experimental "mv" command in tmsh. In the last days we tried it for the first time on TMOS 12.1.1. It worked fine for a VirtualServer but a mv for a pool caused a sefault in tmm. We're currently working with the F5 support to sort it out, they think it's a known issue. Recommendation for now is to not use mv on pools. Just do it the old way, create a new pool, assign the new pool to the relevant VS and delete the old pool.

Possible bug ID at F5 is ID562808. Since I can not find it in the TMOS 12.2 release notes I expect that this issue also applies to TMOS 12.2, but I did not verify that.

Posted Wed Jan 11 18:36:53 2017

A friend of mine choose for $reasons to install the latest OpenSuSE 42.2 release as his new laptop operating system. It's been a while that I had contact with the SuSE Linux distribution. Must be around 12 years or so. The unsual part here is that I've to support a somewhat eccentric, but mostly ordinary user of computers. And to my surprise it's still hard to just plug in your existing stuff and expect it work. I've done so many dirty things to this installation in the last three days, my system egineering heart is bleeding.

printing with a Canon Pixma iP100 printer

This is a small portable Canon printer, about four years old. It provides a decent quality and its main strength is that it's small and really portable. Sadly the gutenprint driver just pushes through a blank page. No ink wasted on it at all. So the only reasonable other choice was a four year old binary rpm package provided by Canon. It has a file dependency on "" which is no longer available in recent GNU/Linux distributions. So I cheated and

- unpacked the tarball
- installed the rpm from the "packages" folder
zypper install cnijfilter-common-3.70-1.x86_64.rpm cnijfilter-ip100series-3.70-1.x86_64.rpm
... and choose to ignore the missing file dependency on
ln -s /usr/lib64/ /usr/lib64/
- re-ran the ./ which registered the printer with cups and does whatever else
  magic is included in 1906 lines of shell.

To my surprise this driver still works and provides the expected quality. Though it's just a question of time until this setup will break. Be it an incompatible ABI change in libtiff or another lib in use by those Canon provided tools.

QGIS and gdal with ECW support

While the printer stuff is a rather common use case, having a map viewer for map files in the ECW format is the eccentric part. I found some hints on stackoverflow and subsequently that a non-free library is required and a specific build of gdal. Then QGIS should be able to work with ECW files. Lucky us there is at least a OpenSuSE repository for gdal and QGIS. So I did the following:

zypper addrepo
zypper install qgis

Then I had to download the non-free ECW SDK from - you'll and up with a '.bin' installer file. The installation process left me with "ERDAS-ECW_JPEG_2000_SDK-5.3.0" folder in my $HOME. I moved that one to /opt. Next step is adding the library to the ldconfig search path.

echo "/opt/ERDAS-ECW_JPEG_2000_SDK-5.3.0/Desktop_Read-Only/lib/x64/release/" > /etc/; ldconfig

Now it was "just" about rebuild gdal with ECW support. So I downloaded the required source packages with "zypper source-install gdal", edited the spec somewhere in "/usr/src/" to make the following modifications


added to the "./configure" invocation. And somewhere at the top we had to relax the requirement that all installed files have to be referenced inside the package.

%define _unpackaged_files_terminate_build 0

As a last step I had to "rpmbuild -ba" the package and force the installation via zypper once more, because this time we have a file depedency on the libecw stuff and it's obviously not listed in the rpm database. Last but not least I tried to put the gdal build on hold with

zypper addlock gdal libgdal20

to ensure it's not removed on the next update.

Other non-free tools

Beside of those two issues I had to install a range of other non-free tools, but currently they work without further issues or modifications. One is Teamviewer (i686 multiarch rpm) and the other one is XnViewMP. XnView is also able to show ECW files, but only the smaller ones. It crashes on bigger ones but that's also the case on Windows. Then there is also (required by some Italian map related websites) the ugly Adobe Flash Plugin for Firefox, but that one is sadly still a widespread issue. We also tried to try out the nvidia graphic drivers but at the moment we could only get the build in Intel card to work. Usually the preferred solution from my point of view but sometimes we see rendering glitches and I'm not sure if it's the driver or something else.

my personal take away

I hate to admit it but it's nothing extraordinary that was requested here. But still it took me the better part of two evenings to figure everything out. And even now it's not properly integrated and doomed to fail any day due to various updates and changes in the surounding ecosystem. I've full sympathy for every average user that would give up after two hours of research and try&error on this journey.

For the printer drivers I'm happy to blame Canon. The printer situation as a whole improved from my point of view during the last decade, but it's still a pain in the ass with the very short shelf life you usually see with consumer models.

For the ECW case one could discuss if it would be legally possible and helpful to do ugly dlopen() stuff to dynamcially load the shared libs. But then again someone has to make his hands dirty during the build and discussions about the legal use of header files will be the next chapter (hello Oracle). It's just ugly. Actually I know too little about the world of image formats to judge if someone has a good reason to keep this format commercial or not. From my personal point of view it's not useful and maybe even morally wrong.

Technically one could argue if it would make sense to keep a local copy of the gdal build in "/opt" and start QGIS with a modified library path to prefer the private gdal build. Not sure if that is any better. On the other hand there are evolving mechanism like flatpack that would ease the handling of such situations. Buth then again we would be catering non-free software. It feels a lot like giving up.

While my private working environment is except for firmware blobs free, I now created for someone a real "FrankenSuSE" to satisfy his everyday needs. On the one hand we now have another mostly satisfied user of a mostly free operating system. On the other hand that was only possible by adding a vast amount of non-free software. For sure we did not win the war, I'm not even sure if we've won a single battle here. It's just frustrating to see what is required to get someone up and running. With my personal attitude towards open source software it even feels wrong to invest so much time into fiddling with non-free components.

What is still missing

We currently lack an image viewer that allows us to print only a selection of an image, which is useful to print parts of a map. That usually works with XnView on Windows but does not work with the Linux version at the moment. I also tried gwenview and geeqie and had the same issue. Not sure if it's maybe a bug in XnView or one of the Qt parts (gwenview is also Qt based). I did not research that yet.

Update: I spent quite some time looking into open bug reports for geeqie and gwenview. Seems the feature to print only a section of an image is something new. I've created #374299 (gwenview) and #457 (geeqie).

For XnView I expect it's a difference between XnViewMP (the portable version) and the Windows only XnView Classic. Needs to be clarified and it might be worth to try XnView Classic with wine. Maybe printing with wine via cups works, I found at least some results for it on the internet.

Posted Thu Dec 29 17:31:47 2016

No, not about the latest NOFX record, though it's a great one. Buy it. ;)

Took me a hell of a long time to get my head out of my arse and dive again into some Debian related work. Thanks to Nik for pushing me from time to time.

So I've taken the time to upload LyX 2.2.2 to unstable and it's now build with Qt5. Afterall the package is still missing a lot of love, but I hope we've once again something for the upcoming stable release, that is close to the latest upstream stable release. If you use LyX please give it a try.

For myself it's now the 6th year that I stopped using LyX after maintaining it for five years. And still I'm sponsoring the uploads and try to keep it at least functional. Strange how we sometimes take care of stuff even if we no longer have an active use for them.

Posted Thu Nov 24 21:07:10 2016