Lars Wirzenius: July, 2005


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Personal life: Data retention directive petition

Signed a petition against the EU data retention directive.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Personal life: [VAC]

I will now have a two week vacation. That means I will be less than 14 hours a day on IRC, or reading e-mail. In fact, I've directed all Debian list mail to a particular folder so that I can read it all after my vacation.

My financial situation doesn't allow me to travel anywhere, so any burglars reading this can just stop rubbing their hands together. I'll be home as usual, just doing something else than sitting in front of the computer all the time.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Random thought: Key signing parties

While at Debconf5, I watched about 180 people do a key signing party. It took about two and half hours. I think that's crazy. It's too many people and too long a time for everyone to be alert and properly check everyone else's identification papers and other things. Also, it takes way too long.

I'm thinking that a faster system that didn't try to make everyone sign everyone else's key. Instead, put everyone into a square matrix and then have everyone in the same row check each other's fingerprints and IDs, and then likewise for each row. This way, everyone in the entire group has at most a two step path to everyone else, which should be a pretty good web of trust. Since the length of a row or column is the square root of the number of participants, you only need to check twice the square root of people. For 180 people, that's 26 to 28 people. Much much faster.

Obviously, you don't need to move people physically into a matrix. You can just give people a piece of paper giving their row letter and column number and have everyone in the first column or row gather their row or column around them.

I think this would work. I don't know if anyone's actually done it already, and probably about a zillion people will now jump at the opportunity to mail me about all the flaws in this scheme.

Debian: Debconf5

A belated summary of Debconf5. Fun. Tiresome. Crazy noisy people. Sleeping at home is good. Should've talked more with people, hacked less. Hacking at home is good, hacking at hacklab ineffective. Everyone, including me, should've showered more, since it was so hot.

Took a few photos just to satisfy myself once again that I suck at event photography.

Debian: Debian-Women having an impact?

I confess having impersonated a woman recently. For a while, I used a female nickname on the #debian IRC channel to see what it is like to enter the Debian (user) community as a woman. I was happily surprised. Despite a number of visits and being active on the channel, I got not a single private message, and all talk on the channel quite ignored the fact my assumed gender. I expected at least a couple of guys to try to make a pass. Either everyone realized what I was doing or else the situation has changed. Debian IRC channels haven't always been friendly to women. I'm going to be arrogantly optimistic and assume the latter.

I suspect that the Debian-Women project is at least partly behind this change. I hope the trend continues.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Debian: Piuparts is in!

piuparts is now in the archive. It even has a bug (and a stupid one at that, I should've had better quality control; I'll do an upload in the near future to fix this).

I have made some changes the past few days, and been running piuparts on parts of the archive (well, as much as my server at home can manage). Lots of packages fail, but mostly they fail because of their dependencies. For example, fontconfig and libfontconfig1 depend on each other, and (sometimes) removing them causes problems and leaves behind some cruft. Lots of packages depend, possibly indirectly, on fontconfig. Ignoring such problems makes the statistics much better. In fact, it would seem that most packages work well, as far as piuparts testing is concerned.

There has been some talk of using piuparts in a centralized fashion to check all packages in the archive, and all new versions. This will probably take a while to become usable, though. I would like to see package maintainers use piuparts on their own packages (just like they use lintian and linda).

I would also like to see about making piuparts use user mode Linux or xen or qemu or some other virtualization system to reduce the chance that packages wreak havoc on the host system. However, it seems to now work well enough for most packages.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Random hacks: mini-fortune

I'm slowly collecting a fortune cookie file of my own. It is quite small, and I don't feel like setting up an index file with strfile, so I wrote a trivial mini-fortune file instead. It turned out to be quite simple:


import fileinput, random

def process_cookie(cookie, chosen, cookies):
    cookies += 1
    if random.randint(1, cookies) == 1:
        chosen = cookie
    return chosen, cookies

chosen = ""
cookies = 0
cookie = ""
for line in fileinput.input():
    if line == "%%\n" or (chosen and fileinput.isfirstline()):
        chosen, cookies = process_cookie(cookie, chosen, cookies)
        cookie = ""
        cookie += line
if cookie:
    chosen, cookies = process_cookie(cookie, chosen, cookies)
print chosen,

The algorithm is explained here: Perl Cookbook: Picking a Random Line from a File. It reads through the entire file, but since all the machines I expect to run this on are relatively fast, even a few hundred kilobytes of fortune cookies (and that's a lot of them) isn't significantly slow.