Debian

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Thanks!

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 05/14/2006 - 12:25
Debcamp was really stressing - It seemed we would not be able to get things to work for Debconf. And it would suck. I was quite down when I last wrote a blog entry - Not in mine, but in Debconf's. Things looked quite hellish, and I was _very_ annoyed - Well, I must say: Thanks to you all for the support. Mooch's request has been honored extensively, and it does help. Really. Yesterday we had the Debian Day. About 50 Mexicans showed up, after we had to jump through some hoops with the Oaxtepec management people (thank you, thank you, you are great! Real dedication to your job, to make us feel welcome and important). The talks were interesting and well presented, and the people left happy - and some of them, left quite late. We had presence from at least one national newspaper (La Jornada and a magazine, Software Guru. Good. Then, during the night, we were flooded by arriving foreigners. Boy, the hacklab was packed! Good thing we now will have both hacklabs running. I have to thank most than to anybody else to my wife, Gaby a.k.a. Nadezhda - She has done all the ugly paperwork... Without her, we would all not be here. And later, I would probably be sitting in jail or something ;-) Seems that the bugs are ironed out. Now I'll try to attend the "Sun and Debian: can we be friends?" round table.
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Visas for Debconf - Sorrow for our government's great history and current blindness

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 05/03/2006 - 20:19
One of the most bitter and hardest tasks of running a large international conference such as Debconf 6 is the absurd process to ensure that every person interested in attending is able to do so. Before I start ranting, let me point you to a very well written text my father wrote about two years ago, out of a similar frustration after organizing the XXV International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics - On travelling to Scientific Meetings. Mexico is not a first world country, as you all know it (you didn't know? Well, please take note). Mexico is not a country that gets heavy migration - quite to the contrary, it is a country from where masses of people live in the United States (seven to ten million). We should not fear migrants staying at our country and stealing our precious job sources. The countries Mexico requests visa for are mostly those at or under our economic level (i.e. most of South America) or those with infrequent travellers coming (i.e. most of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa (of course, we have to make sure they don't suddenly become tourists and give us more money). Were it not for the "intelligent borders" the USA government is demanding on ours as a precondition to walk towards a migratory agreement that could in the future legalize at least part of the Mexicans that live in the USA, it would be impossible for me to understand why does a situation like what we have experienced happen. We started, yes, the visa request process a bit late, due to some organization problems which should remain internal to the local organizing committee - However, we requested the visas for 25 people coming from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Croacia, El Salvador, India, Perú and Russia with a process that started on March 25 - Well before May 5, where the first of them is scheduled to arrive. Of course, we knew the process would not be easy, but we were armed by the written assurement of a migration officer to my father assuring him the migration procedures would be vastly simplified during 2005. I will try to keep the story short. I cannot also speak the whole experience, as it was my wife together with the Nul-Unu people who had the burden of doing all this. Once you enter your request, it is impossible to track where it is - INM is a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. You cannot get any information by phone. When the papers were submitted, Nadezhda was told to come back in 10 days for getting the status update. Ten days later, she was told no information was yet available. Some days after that, she found the papers had been sent to Cuernavaca (Morelos state capital), where we should have presented them, because the conference is taking place in Oaxtepec, Morelos... No, they didn't pay attention to the fact that we repeated over and over that the organization running the conference, AMESOL, was based on Mexico City. Ok, no big deal - We went to Cuernavaca so that the AMESOL president was interviewed on what the conference is about and why should we let all that people in our country, and demanding from him to accept personally the responsability of making sure each of them leaves the country as promised. Not only that, we had to go again because not all of the requests were sent the same day, and they belonged to different batches. They also asked the Oaxtepec people if the list of people had a room booked - of course, the hotel crew knew the group was coming, but not the list of individuals! But no reply yet. The office in Cuernavaca said they would fax the results back to Mexico the next day. That next day took almost two weeks. With the results already in Mexico, and with the help of some insiders we came in contact with thanks to different coincidences (I'm not giving any names or functions here, hope you understand), we finally got notice last Friday (April 28) that most visas were approved, but a handful (Bosnia, Bangladesh and Colombia) were held for national security reasons. At long last, yesterday (May 2) we told most of the group was approved, and got the magic authorization number with which they could go get their visas. Not all of them yet... I really hope the authorization can come on time, and we can get the rest of them here. At least it helped a bit that we as a committee invited them - Otherwise, people from poorer countries would have to show bank account statements assuring they have had an average of US$2000 in their savings account for at least one year - Impossible even for most Mexicans. But the story, incredibly, does not end here. Why didn't I write about this before? Because I was just pissed off. Today, I am enraged. Not only you have to go through a stupidly long process to be awarded a visa. Once the visa is awarded, you have to pay its fees. The visa is expensive, more or less as expensive as the USA visa is for us - around US$40. But the visa is worth nothing without the FM3 migratory document - I knew the FM3 was used by foreigner residents. It's basically a complete passport. A stupid, unnecessarily long document, where your entries and exits are recorded, where you should note your work place, etc. - All fine for a long-term resident... But we are being awarded limited one entry tourist visas. Oh, and by the way: An FM3 costs around US$100... So for the poorer countries, after being mistreated, ignored and degraded, you have to pay US$140, probably one whole fucking month of your salary just to get the needed permits?! We complain a lot on how the USA government does not respect Mexicans. Just this Monday, May 1st, there was a massive migrant movement in the USA, seconded in Mexico via an (symbolic, yes, but nevertheless true) one day long economic boycott against USA companies. Mexicans speak of the rights of our migrants, of the abuse that the USA authorities make... But we are unable to treat others with dignity, to welcome them as our country did for many decades. This makes me very sad. And very angry. I should have been writing information for you all to have a good and easy time when coming to Mexico, but that will have to be a bit later - I cannot just stay and stand this situation.

On the current Oaxtepec weather

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 04/30/2006 - 21:29
Turns out my blog is becoming some sort of metereologic forecast for Oaxtepec... Would you say it's because Debconf is getting dangerously near? Replying to H01ger's question on IRC: It is raining. More than usual for this time of year. It's a good thing, though. Why? 10 days ago, I was bitterly complaining April was the hot season in Mexico. Rains usually start in mid- to late- May - But this year, they came a bit early, and this week we have had low to medium intensity rains almost every evening. Now, how is the rainy season in this part of Mexico? Unless it is extremely rainy (we get a couple of such days in August/September), most of the day will be sunny, and at around 16:00 it will start getting cloudy. Rain usually starts between 18:00 and 20:00. If everything's fine, then it will be gone by 22:00 - it might go on a bit longer, but usually it does not. So don't worry, a bit of rain will not spoil your sunny days in Oaxtepec. It will make the heath much more bearable. Or at least, I hope so ;-)
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Comas is moving

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/27/2006 - 13:09
Hi! This is Comas, the conference management system we all know and love! Perhaps you remember me from CONSOL 2004 and 2005, Debconf 5 and 6, CICOL, Seminario Globalización, Conocimiento y Desarrollo or other such great conferences! Well, it is a pleasure for me to announce I am moving. That's right - My developers have felt too constrained by CVS to keep being merry and productive, and decided to move away from it and to Subversion. If you are tracking my development history, you should have noticed a new file in my base CVS directory, called DONT_USE_THIS_REPOSITORY_ANYMORE. I will reproduce it here following Gunnar's wishes, and hoping it is useful to you.
PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY ANYMORE! Just in the meantime, while we migrate our current installations to point to the correct server, while our users take note, and while the kind GBorg admins lock down this project: PLEASE DON'T USE THIS REPOSITORY. WE HAVE MOVED. The Comas project will no longer be hosted at GBorg - We are moving to Debian's Alioth. Comas' webpage (although it is still ugly :) ) is still the same as always. The repository will no longer be handled through CVS - We switched to Subversion. Don't worry, the usage is basically the same. You can use anonymous access to get the Subversion tree. If you want to participate in the project, register at Alioth and ask us for commit access. You can also use the very nice SVN Web interface, which allows you to look at each of the files, view the changes, and even subscribe to the Comas RSS feeds! Development goes on. Stay tuned! Greetings, - Gunnar Wolf
Of course, as in any migration, there is still a lot of things to do. Mail the other contributors and interested people notifying them of the move. Migrate (and check the validity of) any tickets we have in the old site. Point all the places where there is Comas-related information to the new repository. Close the existing project page at GBorg. Sanely re-structure the repository in a more standard and functional way (and hope it does not break current installations ;-) ). Rework the documentation that has been neglected in the last months. Rework the bits of logic that never smelt very good but -as a dead rat- now positively stink. Fixe the things that will eventually stink as well... Anyway, I'm sure this will speed up my growth! I am very excited on which way my dear authors will continue to push me - I know I'm quite a lousy program for many things, and I know there is a lot for me to learn until I am a military-grade conference management system - But my many parents have written me with deep love, and I understand they had to write hastily parts of my code. I understand their mistakes, but I hope they make them go away soon.
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My view on DPLship

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 12:46
Several people's blogs have appeared recently in the planet with the different points of view on the different candidates and various rants regarding the DPL office - Well... This time I have not yet been able even to read the platforms of the different candidates (of course, I plan on doing it quite soon), but I follow the posts on the subject with interest. The most interesting post so far is Martin Michlmayr's - Of course, being an ex-DPL, there are important experiences he has that few people do. A couple of days ago I was talking with one of the candidates with whom I have talked and worked in the past. My main gripe with the whole process is that, although as a project we need a leader, an easily identifiable single contact person who knows the teams, knows the people and can speak on the project's behalf, I have not seen much being done by the past DPLs towards the inside of the project. Of course, it's easy to bitch around when I sit in the comfortable silent majority most of the time - Currently I am devoting quite less time and effort to Debian than what I should, although it is true that setting up Debconf6 in Oaxtepec takes a _lot_ of time and that it will facilitate much more interaction between Debian people (which is good for the project) than me working more and better on my packages and on doing interesting team work. Maybe something that would make me to vote for somebody, more than the most coherent and best written platforms, is for the candidate to admit the lack of importance of the role to most of the project - or to defend how to make it again a leadership position. Following Martin's post, maybe we do need a Bruce-like leader who tells us what to do and drives the project. Or maybe not, maybe we could do better with reducing the importance of the post towards the inside and emphasizing it's mostly a confidence vote for somebody to speak on behalf of us all. And even this would be difficult, as a sad flame in debian-private some months ago reminds us that nobody can speak on behalf os the whole project because somebody might be offended by the viewpoint taken by the official? I am no big believer in democracies. I do think that sticking to much to a democratic constitution (where democracies are very scarce in the Free Software world, where projects tend to have benevolent dictators grown by meritocracy instead of democratically elected) and allowing everybody to voice too much the same opinion in our regular flamewars has lead Debian to the communications swamp it is right now. We do have very effective small teams (quoting Andreas Schuldei' term for the phenomenon that seems to work best and appear naturally in our project), integration between teams is quite good... But having 1000+ people sitting in a big room and shouting at each other is plainly not fun. Maybe we should stop pretending that there is no cabal (forgod'ssake...) and admit that there is and it works, and we (the drones) implement Their decisions? Nah... That sounds it would only create more flamewars. But seriously: Towards the inside, do we need a leader? Have we ever used it?
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I just love this place...

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 02/26/2006 - 23:41
Today, Nadezhda and I went with [friend]jyr[/friend] and [friend]Tigre[/friend] to get some more details ready for Debconf 6 at Oaxtepec. Among lots of work, we met with [friend]Gnaro[/friend] to talk about connectivity issues. A nice, productive day all in all - If you care to check, I uploaded today's (raw, no descriptions yet) pictures together with today's information at the bottom of my Oaxtepec gallery - Yes, it's a whole bunch of photos, and my connection is quite mediocre (512/128 ADSL line), but there it is :) But the reason I am writing is that Nadezhda and I decided to drive back to Mexico down a smaller road that goes from Oaxtepec to Xochimilco, through Milpa Alta, in the high and rural area of Mexico's capital. We didn't know if this would end up being a good idea or a terrible one, as anything can happen in our rural roads. Being straight pragmatic, it was very good - We made a bit over 90 minutes end-to-end, and we saved around 130 pesos (10 euros) of toll roads. But the real win was to have some beautiful landscape session. Sadly, we are at the beginning of the fire season (read: the hot season, where a spark often arises in the tall grass and forest fires break. All of the Cuautla and Oaxtepec region, as well as all the way up Tlayacapan and until Tlalnepantla had thick smoke which took some of the beauty off the beautiful small ridge that finishes at the Tepozteco - here are some simple samples. After that, we crossed an area of fields of nopales - yes, you will get to taste them... But in my case, I enjoyed seeing some nopales fresh cut (first link), some others with the leaves ready to be harvested (second)... And just the shape of the mountains. And then, although somewhat clouded, our beautiful volcanos. I don't know what Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl have that they make me drool. Every time we have clear skies in the city, I look for them. They are probably the greatest symbol of all of Central Mexico - And although today they look sadly a bit greyish, I still had the change to see the glaciars that were lost due to the global warming in the last 10 years. And after some time travelling with my dear volcanos on the right, we reached one of my favorite spots on this planet. This little road is even better during May/June-October/November, during the rainy season, the way I had met it a very long time ago... The brownish colors are all green, as south of Mexico City towards Morelos, it is very fertile ground. Still, even after five hours of being home, I'm still wholly satisfied at the beauty I could half-look at while driving.
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For those getting tickets for Debconf

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2006 - 10:16
I'd love to joyfully join the hordes and post my ticket data here... As that would surely mean I don't have to worry about lots of stuff we are preparing right now ;-) Many people have blogged in planet.debian.org their travel details - This post is just to ask you: Please don't forget to update your personal information in our system, so we can work on the logistics on how to properly receive and arrange you. Your arrival/departure data is available to other registered Debconf attendees - If you want to change that, just activate the Keep travel data privateoption in your personal data page. This should be obvious by now, but anyway: This is just a public information announcement, not a proper blog posting. In fact, I will be retouching it and sending it to the proper mailing lists.
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On the OpenSolaris round table at Debconf

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/17/2006 - 10:19
Tolimar, liw: Just to give an extra bit of ease, I know Alvaro Lopez, one of the talk's proponents. I am to some extent an instigator for this talk - Alvaro is definitively a Free Software guy. I know him for several years already. He has been as careful as possible, and told me about his frustration when the whole Nexenta mess erupted. As far as I can say, the cooperation intentions are as serious as you can expect from such a beast as Sun is - I cannot judge more, and I won't say more in this regard. I just assure you that this talk will not be a presentation on why Solaris is better than Hurd or anything like that. I trust Alvaro (and, transitively, I should also trust Simon). I do hope we get something interesting out of this talk. [update] Alvaro has answered. I'm linking it here as he is not syndicated in Planet Debian.
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oa-(k)ste-PEC - oakstepéc (or the attack of the nested parenthesis)

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 12/14/2005 - 16:44
Yes, you can surely tell I am no guru when it comes to describing sounds - maybe that's because in Spanish every letter has one, or at most two, sounds? Anyway, Christian, that's the way to say it - The O sometimes sounds a little bit U-ish, in some places you could see this same sound (coming from Náhuatl, Mexico's main indigenous language) as huaks. The k (in the x) is usually pronounced, but quite soft - sometimes we just refer to the place as "Oastepec", and nobody gets hurt (or worse, sent to Oaxaca (Huajaka - yes, the X is the only letter whose sound truly changes (and that is because Spaniards used it as a wildcard for S, KS, SH, J - In fact, México is pronounced Méjico, but never (EVER) spelt that way besides what other Spanish speakers say. The original sound, though, was closer to Méshico))) And, yes, I am also one of many thousands of people longing to ride through the Copper Canyon. It's supposed to be really, really beautiful. Too bad Chihuahua is ~20 hours away from Mexico City :( And about Oaxtepec's location: It's 60km south of Mexico City, not of Downtown Mexico (that would still be out of the city, but not by that much). The best route is not straight, so from my house (in South-Western Mexico City, ~15m away from where the Cuernavaca highway begins) it's about 90 minutes. The highway is _very_ good and safe, don't worry. I do expect people coming by car from the USA. Here you have a good map of Morelos state. Oaxtepec is on the third column, second row, near Cuautla. Just for completeness sake, just North of Morelos you have Distrito Federal, where Mexico City (partly) lies. The airport, where most of you will arrive is again in the second row, third column (hmmm... A pattern starts to emerge! Lets see what that means...) - We are working so we don't have to explain to you all how to get from there to Oaxtepec, I hope we can provide buses covering the route, at least in the days with most arrivals.
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DebConf6 in May - Why?

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 12/13/2005 - 16:06
I see that plans start getting ready. Bubulle is coming, Wouter is not, and people will soon start getting their plans ready. I am quite excited about it! Of course, I need to devote more time to it, which is hard to me - but I will do it. Oaxtepec rules, you will _love_ the place. I went there again to spend a weekend with Nadezhda - Took some more photos, added them to the album. Debconf guys: Yes, I owe you a full report... It will come. Soon. Promise. Anyway... I'm excited. Debian friends, Mexican interested friends: What are you waiting for? Join us! Register! [update] Well, I published this entry, but then realized I wanted to answer to Wouter's question: Why in May? ;-) First of all, weather: The weather is plainly better in May. Somewhat warmer... The rainy season starts in May/June, but believe me, you don't want to have your laptop out during Morelos State's well known thunderstorms! Second, I fear of political instability. Next July we will be having our federal elections. We don't anticipate instability such as what we had in 1994 (which, please you all be quiet, didn't even mean violence in the streets), but still... It's better not to have Debconf too near the elections. Third, prices - Most places are noticeably more expensive during Summer. And, yes, I know some people will not be able to attend... I am sorry to learn you are one of them. Still, I'm sure some other people would not be able to make it in July.
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Meme time!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/12/2005 - 12:01
Following Tolimar, Kov, Noodles, Amaya, and the people who have fallen off the edge of the Planet:
  • Gunnar needs to stamp images with time when captured
  • Obviously gunnar needs a world map store and use the information he has gathered
  • Gunnar needs a box for his blocks
  • Gunnar needs to finish his clean-ups he planned or I guess already started.
  • Gunnar needs to develop more body rhythm to advance in this style.
  • Go rent "Scars Don't Sweat' because Gunnar needs the .003 cents he earns from each rental
  • Asther and Gunnar need a miracle! Asther needs her healing and Gunnar needs an additional measure of God’s strength and grace as he cares for Asther
  • Gunnar needs your help with Dwellingup data
Scary... Some of them even make sense!
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I like understanding why I am not a Gnome user

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/05/2005 - 12:02
Erich: Most Linux users expect me to run Gnome, KDE or -at the very geeky extreme- xfce. I hate them all - I hate xfce and KDE much more than I hate Gnome, yes, but I cannot live in a Gnome-based world. It is just not comfortable. It is not fun. Some months ago, I tried them all. One week with Gnome, one sour week with KDE, three very sour days with xfce. The world makes you feel you should be using an integrated feature-bloated desktop, and that good ol' beloved Windowmaker with {rxvt,emacs,firefox} is an anachronic no-go. I find it interesting to read other people explaining why they think as I do, and I also like reading the counter-arguments. Besides, if there happens to be an integrated desktop user who is dissatisfied with his current environment, why not tempt him to try something different (like my WMaker) or completely different (like their ion3)?
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Isn't it Galeon 1.2 which went off the path?

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 10/05/2005 - 11:13
Axel Beckert was ranting regarding how Galeon 1.3 sucks so badly he sticks to his Woody (Gnome 1.4 IIRC, Galeon 1.2) desktop. In one of the lines of his rebuttal/statement of what he wants from Galeon, he states:
I just strongly disagree with pure simplification being the right way in UI design.
This is the problem with Galeon: That it went far away from its original intention. Its original motto (which I discovered to be still in use) is The web. only the web... Well, I really enjoyed pre-1.2 versions of Galeon, but it just bloated, bloated, bloated until it was no longer usable for me. I too hate many aspects of Firefox, only it is the most usable browser I have seen... I still have to look at Kazehakase, but from the little that I can get from its page, it is not what I want. I want, just as you, something light, not over-featured, but tunable to my personal preferences. And while Firefox's configuration is closer to the extra wheels for a bycicle you complain about in Galeon, I have been able to tune it quite a lot via extensions.
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On usability and on what Debian is about

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 09/22/2005 - 21:11
Andres Salomon rants on the apparent lack of focus on usability we have in Debian, compared to Ubuntu. First of all, I think that directly relating the word usability with the concept desktop is a very big and common mistake. I know I am not in the 99% of the computer users - but usability for me almost always means the opposite: Interfaces that stay out of the way giving you easy access to whatever you need (and I do mean whatever - think a nice and cozy shell, think ol' beloved Emacs). Once again, I know I am not in the majority, I know that many people will prefer spiffyness (if such a word exists). And, of course, I know perfectly the shortcomings of my style for the non-techie user. However, back to my point: Debian does not target a specific set of users. Debian targets anything deemed interesting and worthy by its developers - even if its developers try to go in opposite directions. Partly because of that, Debian as such, will probably only be useful for some people... It took me quite a while to grasp what might be the meaning of our often quoted slogan, The universal Operating System - What does that mean? I have always spoken against the one-size-fits-all approach - And that's precisely why I chose and continue to choose Debian. And that's Free Software is all about. I think I only came to terms with this slogan (which I hated before) after understanding why were many people pushing for CDD (Custom Debian Distributions): Because our work must be staged to really be universal. Debian provides a great deal of the needed integration work. Debian provides a well-established base, very usable and very (some people would say, excessively) complete. Of course, for most users, it is way too much. I have (numerically) 6% of the available packages installed in my main system - I suppose the proportion would be closer to 30% if I used any other mainstream distribution. It's easy to cut from there, to throw away most of the packages you will not need for a particular user profile, and provide a better solution for them. And that's precisely what Ubuntu -and many, many other derivers- do. Yes, I also -as most DDs and Debian supporters I've talked to as well- have some doubts and viewpoint shifts regarding how is Ubuntu good or bad for Debian. There are many, many sensitive spots. That's not what I want to tackle here... Call it Ubuntu, Progeny, Linspire, Libranet, LinEx, GuadaLinex, or whatever you want - We work on giving them a good, solid foundation. They work on improving this foundation for the kind of users they need. And, of course, those users will be happier than having the generic thing. Well, too much typing already. That's that.
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Progress uploading my Debconf pictures

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 08/02/2005 - 12:41
I am over halfway of uploading the Debconf 5 pictures to my site - I have a couple dozen yet to check and upload, but at least the work is mostly done (this is, I have pictures up to the point I definitively left HUT, am basically missing the Debconf post-mortem dinner). Thanks again to everybody - this would not have been the same if any of you wasn't there!
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