xf86-video-geode 2.11.4 - the GX2 edition - almost done

Over the last few days, several improvements in the documentation and some fixes for GX2 issues were committed to the Geode X.org driver, in addition to routine cleanups in the standard includes and build macros. Integration of GX1 support still hasn't started.

We're especially interested in getting feedback from GX2 users as to whether this release restores basic operation for them or not. We published test packages for Ubuntu/Jaunty at:


If we haven't heard anything by Friday, we'll release this as xf86-video-geode 2.11.4 as-is.


RFA: ispell-et, myspell-lv, rus-ispell

As of today, I've decided to Request For Adoption three of the packages I maintain:

  • ispell-et (source for: iestonian, myspell-et, aspell-et) - Estonian spell checking tools,
  • myspell-lv (source for myspell-lv, aspell-lv) - Latvian spell checking tools and
  • rus-ispell (source for irussian, myspell-ru, aspell-ru) - Russian spell checking tools.

In principle, both the Latvian and Russian dictionary packages have a second maintainer, but I've been the only one performing the uploads for a long time which, in absence of any response on their part, suggests that the other maintainers also lack the time to actively maintain these dictionaries.

I'm not worried about the future of the Russian dictionary package, since the number of Debian and Ubuntu users in Russia is huge and constantly increasing. Someone is definitely gonna adopt it and give it all the love and care it deserves.

The Estonian dictionary package has seen a steady increase in the number of users but I never managed to attract a second maintainer for it. Thus, if nobody ever gets around adopting it, it just could be the end of spell checking support for Estonian in Debian and Ubuntu.

As for the Latvian dictionary package, both the low number of users and the unavailability of the other maintainer suggests that it could also be the end of spell checking support for Latvian in Debian and Ubuntu.

Here's to hope that someone reading this will pick up maintenance of these dictionary packages and help provide Debian and Ubuntu users with spell checking aids for Estonian, Latvian and Russian for years to come.


Don't try this at home, kids!

Probably the most deceptively efficient bug finding tool I've come across in a long time:

sudo apt-get --reinstall --ignore-missing install $(dpkg --get-selections | cut -f 1)

That apparently innocent APT recipe has been found to reveal tons of packaging mistakes, such as dependency cycles and broken maintainer scripts, even in packages as essential as bash and libc6. On systems where insserv is installed, even uglier dependency cycles, this time between init scripts, appear in important packages such as ifupdown and netbase.

Warning: usage of this deceptively simple command line recipe can become addictive and result in mass filing of bugs, especially against packages in development releases such as Debian/Squeeze and Ubuntu/Karmic. The author of this blog article makes no guarantee about how bad of a karma someone might accumulate as a result. You have been warned.


Nordic expats living in Finland wanted for survey

I'm interested in meeting with Nordic expats (Danemark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) living in Finland, to hear their experiences of settling down in this country, on two particular topics:

  • How accessible is getting service in Swedish, in general?
  • Did you experience any difficulty in settling down here?

I'm especially interested in hearing stories from academicians and professionals. The material will be used in my report to two organizations where I'm involved, one Swedish-Finn think tank and one national panel on immigration, both of whom are interested in hearing about the experiences of Nordic expats living in Finland.

As I'm aware that many Free Software developers from other Nordic countries relocated to Finland to work at Nokia or at local technology startups, I figured that blogging this request would bring me the widest possible audience for this survey.

Interested expats should contact me via e-mail with a brief description of their story. Later on, we'll probably gather up somewhere and compare views, before I produce my report. Thanks in advance to everyone who agrees to participate in this survey and to those who courteously passed this request forward to friends or relatives fitting the description!


partial answer to "unexplainable WiFi connection drops"

Previously, I blogged about some unexplainable WiFi connection drops I have been experiencing since a few days. Many thinks to everyone who replied by expressing their ire against Network-Manager. Unfortunately, it seems that the fault might indeed be on the WRT54GL's OpenWRT setup:

See, I have this old ThinkPad that I keep for Debian development purposes and that one runs whatever is on Debian/Testing, connecting to my LAN, using either an RTL8139-based Ethernet or an ATH5K-based WiFi adapter, plugged into the Cardbus slot; these days, more often the Atheros.

Now, this morning, I noticed that my Geode desktop stopped being able to ping both the Dell and the ThinkPad at the same time. Bingo! Now, the question is, how do I track the source of the problem, on this WRT54GL running White Russian?


Lauching Debian-installer from a chroot on a USB stick?

Dear Lazy Deb,

I was wondering if it's possible to launch debian-installer from a USB stick, either by bootstrapping the netinstall ISO image from command line or by launching d-i as as a collection of binaries installed in a USB chroot that already has a basic Debian distribution installed? While launching debootstrap itself from the USB stick would be possible, I'd miss all the d-i magic to partition the laptop's own hard-disk and detect its hardware at installation time, which is why I explicitly need a way to launch a full d-i from USB. NOTE: no, the laptop's BIOS doesn't support booting via USB, otherwise this would have been already attempted.

Illogical logistics industry

Today, I was checking for prices to ship a parcel abroad and found the most appalling situation ever: the logistics industry has gone mad. Trying different courier services' online price quotation service, I found that:

  • UPS has an online presence that works reliably, as it always had. Their prices are not cheap, but one can at least get a quote after just a few clicks.
  • DHL has an online express service called Ship Now ... which simply doesn't work. After inputing the origin address and moving over to the destination address field, one is left with a "busy" mouse pointer that never returns to allow someone to input the damn address. Repeated attempts at reloading the page did not succeed at improving the situation.
  • FedEx has a Flash-based splash screen, meant for selecting the country of origin, that keeps on cycling during loading and never completes. Their "if you're having troubles viewing this page, click here" link at the bottom of the page simply calls a Javascript bit that... reloads the page. Erm... Right.

The result: two companies that lost potential business over a rather huge and costly parcel, simply because their websites prevents me from getting something as basic as a price quote. It really makes someone wonder, how the hell does that industry keeps itself afloat when they make their services so challenging to even access?


unexplainable WiFi connection drops on Dell D430

Dear Lazyweb,

Since a few days, my Dell D430 running Ubuntu Jaunty has started to experience random WiFi connection drops. After a few hours of normal operation, even though the Network Manager applet indicates that the connection is still with me and with a strong signal, doing a ping to my WRT54GL running OpenWRT 0.9 (White Russian) replies with "Destination Unreachable".

My D430 comes with the following WiFi adapter:

0c:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 4965 AG or AGN [Kedron] Network Connection (rev 61)

Does this situation sound familiar to anyone? If yes, how did you resolve it?