Free Software, Free Society!
Thoughts of the FSFE Community (English)

Sunday, 17 November 2019

New challenges for Free Software business models

This year the FSFE community meeting was combined with the “South Tyrol Free Software Conference” (SFScon) in Bolzano. For me this was a special event because the first international FSFE community meeting ever happened as well at the SFScon in 2006. Back then I met many people from FSFE in person for the first time. For me this was the starting point for getting more and more involved in the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

19.12 releases branches created

The branch naming has changed to try to accommodate for the stopping of the "KDE Applications" brand, it's now called

Make sure you commit anything you want to end up in the 19.12 releases to them

We're already past the dependency freeze.

The Freeze and Beta is this Thursday 14 of November.

More interesting dates
November 28, 2019: KDE Applications 19.12 RC (19.11.90) Tagging and Release
December 5, 2019: KDE Applications 19.12 Tagging
December 12, 2019: KDE Applications 19.12 Release


P.S: Yes, this release unfortunately falls in the middle of the debranding of "KDE Applications" and there's still a few things called "KDE Applications" here and there

[*] There's a small issue with kwave we're working on figuring it out

Thursday, 07 November 2019

You can use a C++11 range for loop over a static array

void DeviceListing::populateListing(const show showStatus)
const Solid::DeviceInterface::Type needHardware[] = {


for (unsigned int i = 0; i < (sizeof(needHardware)/sizeof(Solid::DeviceInterface::Type)); i++) {
QTreeWidgetItem *tmpDevice = createListItems(needHardware[i]);
deviceMap[needHardware[i]] = static_cast(tmpDevice);

if ((tmpDevice->childCount() > 0) || (showStatus == ALL)) {

in C++11 you can rewrite it in the much easier to read

void DeviceListing::populateListing(const show showStatus)
const Solid::DeviceInterface::Type needHardware[] = {


for (const Solid::DeviceInterface::Type nh : needHardware) {
QTreeWidgetItem *tmpDevice = createListItems(nh);
deviceMap[nh] = static_cast(tmpDevice);

if ((tmpDevice->childCount() > 0) || (showStatus == ALL)) {

Sunday, 03 November 2019

On “Clean Architecture”

I recently did what I rarely do: buy and read an educational book. Shocking, I know, but I can assure you that I’m fine đŸ˜‰

The book I ordered is Clean Architecture – A Craftsman’s Guide to Software Structure and Design by Robert C. Martin. As the title suggests it is about software architecture.

I’ve barely read half of the book, but I’ve already learned a ton! I find it curious that as a halfway decent programmer, I often more or less know what Martin is talking about when he is describing a certain architectural pattern, but I often didn’t know said pattern had a name, or what consequences using said pattern really implied. It is really refreshing to see the bigger picture and having all the pros and cons of certain design decisions layed out in an overview.

One important point the book is trying to put across is how important it is to distinguish between important things like business rule, and not so important things as details. Let me try to give you an example.

Lets say I want to build a reactive Android XMPP chat application using Smack (foreshadowing? đŸ˜‰ ). Lets identify the details. Surely Smack is a detail. Even though I’d be using Smack for some of the core functionalities of the app, I could just as well chose another XMPP library like babbler to get the job done. But there are even more details, Android for example.

In fact, when you strip out all the details, you are left with reactive chat application. Even XMPP is a detail! A chat application doesn’t care, what protocol you use to send and receive messages, heck it doesn’t even care if it is run on Android or on any other device (that can run java).

I’m still not quite sure, if the keyword reactive is a detail, as I’d say it is a more a programming paradigm. Details are things that can easily be switched out and/or extended and I don’t think you can easily replace a programming paradigm.

The book does a great job of identifying and describing simple rules that, when applied to a project lead to a cleaner, more structured architecture. All in all it teaches how important software architecture in general is.

There is however one drawback with the book. It constantly wants to make you want to jump straight into your next big project with lots of features, so it is hard to keep reading while all that excited ;P

If you are a software developer – no matter whether you work on small hobby projects or big enterprise products, whether or not you pursue to become a Software Architect – I can only recommend reading this book!

One more thought: If you want to support a free software project, maybe donating books like this is a way to contribute?

Happy Hacking!

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Akademy Guest Post: Some thoughts regarding discussion culture

First of all I want to say thanks for hosting me on your blog and letting me write this guest post!

I am Florian MĂźller from Germany, working as a Sysadmin at a small tech collective. I have been a KDE user for years, but I am quite new to the KDE community. This years Akademy was my first and I am looking forward to dive in deeper and contribute more to KDE.

I had a really good time at Akademy in Milano, got to know so many cool people and learned a lot about the KDE community and KDE in general. Thanks a lot to everyone organizing this unique event! I am sure it won't be the last time I'll attend Akademy.

I want to share some things I noticed about discussion culture, please feel free to criticize/discuss/comment, so maybe we can work out some guidelines for that in the future.
First of all some words about discussion culture in general. Because all people are different, we need technics to allow everyone to participate in group discussions. When people are not that confident in general, they tend to not raise their voices in bigger groups, also if they have opponent opinions to the main stream. So in order to have a greater culmination of creativity and ideas, we need to create an atmosphere to make it easier for everyone to participate.

One thing would be the setup of the room the discussion will be held in. Do you want to have a central speaker in the front leading the discussion or do you want to setup the chairs and tables in a circle so everyone is on the same level. Sometimes there are mostly lecture halls available, so time to plan in advance and ask for a different room has to be taken in accountance. The advantage of a circle is that everybody is able to see everyone else. We can also think about forming smaller discussion groups when possible and a topic can be split up into smaller parts.

Another point you can think about is how you organize the turn keeping. One could appoint a person who only deals with turn keeping. We could alternate the job of turn keeping from one discussion to the next. At the beginning of the discussion we should make it transparent on how turn keeping will work. For example we could have a rule that people who want to say something the first time, move to the top of the speakers list to make sure that rare voices will be heard. We could also have a speakers list alternated by gender. There could be a maximum time for speakers so that single people don’t dominate the whole discussion by simply talking others out.

There are many other aspect we can think about when we want to make group discussions more inclusive. With this post, I just wanted to get the discussion started, so we can improve on that in the future.

Here are some links to continue reading:

You can reach me directly at

Sunday, 27 October 2019

My participation in the FSFE 2019 GA meeting in Essen

View on the Ruhr at the venue. Thankful to be among the guests that the FSFE GA invited to join their meeting, I went on 11 October 2019 to the Linuxhotel “Villa Vogelsang” in Essen. Unfortunately it was not possible to buy a separate ticket for the S-bahn on the website of Deutsche Bahn, so …

Saturday, 26 October 2019

LibreDNS has a new AdBlock endpoint

LibreDNS has a new endpoint

This new endpoint is unique cause it blocks by default Ads & Trackers !



We are currently using Steven Black’s hosts file.


noticeable & mentionable

LibreDNS DOES NOT keep any logs and we are using OpenNIC as TLD Tier1 root NS


Here are my settings


ads doh

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The 3rd FSFE System Hackers hackathon

On 10 and 11 October, the FSFE System Hackers met in person to tackle problems and new features regarding the servers and services the FSFE is running. The team consists of dedicated volunteers who ensure that the community and staff can work effectively. The recent meeting built on the great work of the past 2 years which have been shaped by large personal and technical changes.

The System Hackers are responsible for the maintenance and development of a large number of services. From the website’s deployment to the mail servers and blogs, from Git to internal services like DNS and monitoring, all these services, virtual machines and physical servers are handled by this friendly group that is always looking forward to welcoming new members.

Overview of the FSFE's services and servers

Overview of the FSFE's services and servers

So in October, six of us met in Cologne. Fittingly, according to a saying in this region, if you do something for the third time, it’s already tradition. So we accomplished this after successful meetings in Berlin (April 2018) and Vienna (March 2019). And although it took place on workdays, it’s been the meeting with the highest participation so far!

Getting. Things. Done!

After the first and second meeting were mostly about getting an overview of historically grown and sparsely documented infrastructure and bringing it into a stable state, we were able to deal with a few more general topics this time. At the same time, we exchanged our knowledge with newly joined team members. Please find the areas we worked on below:

  • Florian migrated the FSFE Blogs to a new server and thereby also updated the underlying Wordpress to the latest version. This has been a major blocker for several other tasks and our largest security risk. There are still a few things left to do, e.g. creating a theme in line with the FSFE design and some announcement to the community. However, the most complicated part is done!
  • Altogether, we upgraded a lot of machines to Debian 10, just after we lifted most servers to Debian 9 in March. Some are still missing, but since the migration is rather painless, we can do that during the next months.
  • We confirmed that the new decentralised backup system setup by myself and based on Borg works fine. This gives us more confidence in our infrastructure.
  • Thanks to Florian and Albert, we finally got rid of the last 2 services that were not using Let’s Encrypt’s self-renewing certificates.
  • Vincent and Francesco took care of finishing the migration of all our Docker containers to use the Docker-in-Docker deployment instead of the hacky Ansible playbooks we used initially. This has a few security advantages and enables the next developments for a more resilient Docker infrastructure.
  • At the moment, all our Docker containers run on one single virtual machine. Although this runs on a Proxmox/Ceph cluster, it’s obviously a single point of failure. However, for a distribution on multiple servers we lack the hardware resources. Nonetheless, we already have concrete plans how to make the Docker setup more resilient as soon as we have more hardware available. Vincent documented this on a wiki page.
  • On the human side, we made sure that all of us know what’s on the plate for the next weeks and months. We have quite a few open issues collected in our Kanban board, and we quickly went through all of them to sketch the possible next steps and distribute responsibilities.

Started projects in the making

Two days are quite some time and we worked hard to use them as effectively as possible, so some tasks have been started but could not be completed – partly because we just did no have enough time, partly because they require more coordination and in-depth discussion:

  • As follow-up on a few unpleasant surprises with Mailman’s default values, we figured that it is important to have an automatic overview of the most sensible settings of the 127 (!) mailing lists we host. Vincent started to work on a way to extract this information in a human- and machine-readable format and merge/compare it with the more verbose documentation on the mailing lists we have internally.
  • Francesco tackled a different weak point we have: monitoring. We lack a tool that informs us immediately about problems in our infrastructure, e.g. defunct core services, full disk drives or expired certificates. Since this is not trivial at all, it requires some more time.
  • Thomas, maintainer of the FSFE wiki, researched on a way to better organise and distribute the SSH accesses in our team. Right now, we have no comfortable way to add or remove SSH keys on our more than 20 machines. His idea is to use an Ansible playbook to manage these, and thereby also create a shared Ansible inventory which can be used as a submodule for the other playbooks we use in the team so we don’t have to maintain all of them individually if a machine is added, changed or removed.
  • One of the most ancient physical machines we still run is hosting the SVN service which is only used by one service now: DNS. We started to work on migrating that over to Git and simultaneously improving the error-checking of the DNS configuration. Albert and I will continue with that gradually.
  • Not on the system hackers meeting itself but two days later, BjĂśrn, Albert and I worked on getting a Nextcloud instance running. Caused by our rather special LDAP setup, we had to debug a lot of strange behaviour but finally figured everything out. Now, the last missing blocker is some user/permission setting within our LDAP. As soon as this is finished, we can shut down one more historically grown, customised-hacked and user-unfriendly service.

Overall, the perspective for the System Hackers is better than ever. We are a growing team carried by motivated and skilled volunteers with a shared vision of how the systems should develop. At the same time, we have a lot of public and internal documentation available to make it easy for new people to join us.

I would like to thank Albert, Florian, Francesco, Thomas and Vincent for their participation in this meeting, and them and all other System Hackers for their dedication to keep the FSFE running!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

self-hosted Dns Over Https service

LibreOps & LibreDNS

LibreOps announced a new public service: LibreDNS, a new DoH/DoT (DNS over Https/DNS over TLS) free public service for people that want to bypass DNS restrictions and/or want to use TLS in their DNS queries. Firefox has already collaborated with Cloudflare for this case but I believe we can do better than using a centralized public service of a profit-company.

Personal Notes

So here are my personal notes for using LibreDNS in firefox


Open Preferences/Options
firefox options

Enable DoH
firefox doh

TRR mode 2

Now the tricky part.

TRR mode is 2 when you enable DoH. What does this mean?

2 is when firefox is trying to use DoH but if it fails (or timeout) then firefox will go back to ask your operating system’s DNS.

DoH is a URL, so the first time firefox needs to resolve and it will ask your operating system for that.

host file

There is way to exclude from DoH , and use your /etc/hosts file instead your local DNS and enable TRR mode to 3, which means you will ONLY use DoH service for DNS queries.

# grep /etc/hosts

TRR mode 3

and in



DNS Leak

Try DNS Leak Test to verify that your local ISP is NOT your firefox DNS


Thunderbird also supports DoH and here are my settings


PS: Do not forget, this is NOT a global change, just your firefox will ask libredns for any dns query.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Spotify is Defective by Design

I never used Spotify, since it contains DRM. Instead I still buy DRM-free CDs.
Most of my audio collection is stored in free formats such as FLAC and Ogg Vorbis,
or Red Book in the case of CDs, everything can be played by free players such as
VLC or mpd.

Spotify, which uses a central server, also spies on the listener. Everytime you
listen a song, Spotify knows which song you have listened and when and where.
By contrast free embedded operating systems such as Rockbox do not phone home.
CDs can be baught anonymously and ripped using free software, there is no need
for an internet commection.

Defective by Design recommends the book “Spotify Teardown” which I haven’t read
yet. The book is an innovative investigation of the inner workings of Spotify that
traces the transformation of audio files into streamed experience.

Tuesday, 08 October 2019

2 years since Catalan Independence Referendum, an update

Note 1: This is not KDE or Free Software related, if you're not interested, stop reading, no one is forcing you to read
Note 2: Yes, this is still going to Planet KDE, KDE friends and colleagues ask me about it almost every time we met, so there's definitely interest
Note 3: You're more than welcome to comment, but remember this blog is my house, so don't complain when i don't tolerate stuff i wouldn't tolerate at my home

You may remember Catalonia held an Independence referendum 2 years ago, lots of things have happened since then, I'm going to try to summarize, if you're interested in my initial reaction read my blog from that very same day.

On October 27 2017, following the referendum results, the Parliament of Catalonia declared Independence by a majority of 70 out of 135 MPs. That was mostly ignored by every single country in the world. A few hours later the Spanish government used bigger-army-diplomacy (AKA article 155 of Spanish Constitution) to decide that the Parliament of Catalonia would be suspended and new elections would happen in Catalonia on December 21.

On November 2nd 2017, a judge put most of the Catalan government in jail with the charges of "you've been terribly bad".

They still remain in jail awaiting for trial results (trial finished a few months ago).

Notable exceptions of government officials not in jail are president Carles Puigdemont and Ministers Clara PonsatĂ­ and Toni ComĂ­n, that exiled themselves to other European countries. Spain has tried several times to get European countries to extradite them to Spain because "they've been terribly bad", but that has failed every single time, so they ended up revoking the extradition requests.

Elections happened on December 21 2017, and to shocking surprise of no one, almost virtually the same results happened if you count the pro-independence vs anti-independence blocks.

Since then the Catalan pro-independence government has been basically very low-key in their actions.

Meanwhile, Spain had a its own elections in April this year. They did this nice thing of letting the jailed (but still not sentenced to anything, so innocent) Catalan politicians run, and several of them won Congress seats. Then they said "oh but you know, you're a very dangerous person, so we're not going to let you attend Congress sessions". Not that it matters now, since Spain is unable to govern itself and is having it's 4th election in 4 years this November.

We also had elections in the European Union, and you know what? The same happened! They let catalan-jailed politicians run but then they decided they would not let them take the seats. Actually, this time is even worse since Carles Puigdemont and Toni ComĂ­n, that are living in Brussels without any extradition petition (i.e. they're basically free citizens of Europe), have also been rejected from taking their seats for some esoteric reason.

As a "fun fact", in late 2018 some Spanish regions had elections. Andalucia was one of them and the current government is a coalition of PP+C+VOX, i.e. right wing conservatives, right wing liberals and ultra right wing nut-jobs. One of their first decisions was to put away 100000 euros for grants to teach Spanish to Spanish born people (not for helping immigrants, they're right wing crazies after all) living in Catalonia that don't know how speak Spanish. I'm 99.99% sure the number of people that matches that description is very close to 0 people. You heard well, the poorest region of Spain decided to subsidize the 4th richest region for something that is virtually useless. Thanks!

Much less "fun fact", last week Monday, the Spanish police decided to detain 9 pro-independence people (later to be 7 since 2 were let go) with terrorism charges. The investigation is on-going and technically it should be secret, but we've seen pictures all over the news of what the cops say to be material to make bombs, and all i can see is a pressure cooking pot and some fireworks used typically for Ball de diables.

I don't want to 100% rule out this people having actual plans to do something nasty, but Spanish police/judges/state history of just fabricating charges against people they don't like is so long (An anarchist recently spent *18* months in jail awaiting trial for tweeting stuff "Goku lives, the fight continues" to be then just found innocent after trial) that i would not be surprised either if this is just Spain doing bigger-army-diplomacy again.

TL;DR: Everything is fucked up and I can't really see a way out at this point.

Monday, 07 October 2019

Linux App Summit 2019 schedule is out!

We published the Linux App Summit 2019 schedule last week.

We have a bunch of interesting talks (sadly we had to leave almost 40 almost as interesting talks out, we had lots of awesome submissions!) ranging from flatpak and snaps to how product management is good for Free Software projects with some thought provoking talks thrown in to make us think what's the future of our platform.

I am going and you should totally come too!

The attendance is free but please register at

Better Work Together

Do you want to work on stuff that matters? Since 2010 a group of people in Wellington, New Zealand have been organizing themselves to do just that. Now you can read how they did it!

Their organization is called Enspiral and stories about their amazing journey so far has been documented in the cleverly titled book “Better Work Together“. I have been following Enspiral for years and pretty much devoured the book. It was such a joy to read the personal stories and I am inspired to explore “reinventing Enspiral” (as they call it) here in The Netherlands.

Please go read the book! For free! It is shared under a Creative Commons license, so here is a link to a free and gratis download of the book Better Work Together. Of course, do give some of your money to support the authors if you like what you read.

However, you are probaly super-busy and do not have time to read all the books in the world. So, to help you a bit there the rest of this post is “Better Work Together in Quotes”: a selection of the quotes that resonated a lot with me and that give you an idea of what Enspiral and the book are all about.

If these quotes resonate with you as well, I recommend you to pick up the book and invite you to contact me to see if we can exchange ideas or even join forces to jointly work (more) on stuff that truly matters to us!

Here come the quotes, boldface added to the ones that especially stand out to me:

“Solidarity is not the result of world-changingly good ideas, it is the cause.”

“The work itself – the process of collaboration – ends up as important as whatever product or service is being delivered.”

“If you are sincere in your desire to make the world a better place then your personal success is our number one priority.”

“Thank you for your attention”

– As a species we have never been so powerful.
– With this power we’re changing things.
– We are reaching limits we haven’t encountered before.
– We have the potential (and the urgent need) to change everything.
– What do we do?
– Where do we start?

“Our attention is our power. It is the invisible, constant force that ultimately determines our individual and collective potential.”

“I don’t care what you work on, whether it’s climate change, global poverty, self management, social enterprise, planting trees, gender equality, decolonisation, or steady state economics. If your primary mission is to make the world a better place, your personal success is the reason Enspiral exists.”

“There is a trickle of human energy going into the most important issues of our times. Enspiral exists to help turn that trickle into a river.”

“We organise differently: No one should lead all the time and everyone should lead some of the time.”

“Get paid well to do work you love, with people
you love, while working on a systemic issue you care deeply about.”

“It isn’t easy, but it is possible.”

“The only way to understand Enspiral is to listen to many peo-
ple, which is why many of us are contributing to this book.”

“Either they were working full time on something that wasn’t aligned with their purpose or they were struggling financially as they put all their energy into volunteering.”

“It occurred to me that maybe the best way I could contribute was to help people who wanted to change the world get highly paid contract work.”

“A culture of experimentation”

Managing the cost of failure:
– Respect the status quo
– Copy patterns that work
– Start small
– Let things settle
– Deliver value early

“Distributing leadership”

“We got by, but we never managed to achieve abundance.”

“The dream lives on, continually emerging.”

“We discover the path by walking it together.”

“We tend to follow that paths we can see.”

“Enspiral is agnostic about individual purpose, supporting anyone to do meaningful work – or ‘stuff that matters’ – no matter how they define it. There is no adherence to dogma about specific ways to change the world, other than to help one another.”

“We value the person over the product, the flowering and unfolding of the person over profit. And we’ve created a place where these are not mutually exclusive.”

“Capitalism bombards us with messages of unworthiness and pejorative definitions of success and advertising manipulates our will. Even if we are aware of this, it’s not easy to articulate an alternative story.”

Saturday, 28 September 2019

CentOS 8 NetInstall

a few days ago CentOS-8 (1905) was released and you can find details here ReleaseNotes

Below is a visual guide on how to net-install centos8 1905

notes on a qemu-kvm



Select Language



I have marked the next screens. For netinstall you need to setup first network






Disable kdump


Add Repo


Server Installation





Begin Installation





Make this user administrator










CentOS-8 (1905)


Tag(s): centos8

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Using template file with terraform

When using tf most of times you need to reuse your Infrastructure as Code, and so your code should be written in such way. In my (very simple) use-case, I need to reuse user-data for cloud-init to setup different VMs but I do not want to rewrite basic/common things every time. Luckily, we can use the template_file.


In the below yaml file, you will see that we are using tf string-template to produce hostname with this variable:


here is the file:


disable_root: true
ssh_pwauth: no

  - name: ebal
      - gh:ebal
    shell: /bin/bash

# Set TimeZone
timezone: Europe/Athens

hostname: "${hostname}"

# Install packages
  - mlocate
  - figlet

# Update/Upgrade & Reboot if necessary
package_update: true
package_upgrade: true
package_reboot_if_required: true

# Remove cloud-init
  - figlet "${hostname}" > /etc/motd
  - updatedb


Let’s see our tf variables:

$ cat
variable "hcloud_token" {
    description = "Hetzner Access API token"
    default = ""
variable "gandi_api_token" {
    description = "Gandi API token"
    default = ""
variable "domain" {
    description = " The domain name "
    default = ""

Terraform Template

So we need to use user-data.yml as a template and replace hostname with var.domain

$ cat

Two simple steps:

  • First we read user-data.yml as template and replace hostname with var.domain
  • Then we render the template result to user_data as string
provider "hcloud" {
  token = "${var.hcloud_token}"

data "template_file" "userdata" {
  template = "${file("user-data.yml")}"
  vars = {
    hostname  = "${var.domain}"

resource "hcloud_server" "node1" {
  name = "node1"
  image = "ubuntu-18.04"
  server_type = "cx11"
  user_data = "${data.template_file.userdata.rendered}"
$ terraform version
Terraform v0.12.3

And that’s it !

Tag(s): terraform

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Akademy 2019

It's 10 days already since Akademy 2019 finished and I'm already missing it :/

Akademy is a week-long action-packed conference, talks, BoFs, daytrip, dinner with old and new friends, it's all a great combination and shows how amazing KDE (yes, the community, that's our name) is.

On the talks side i missed some that i wanted to attend because i had to extend my time at the registration booth helping fellow KDE people that had forgotten to register (yes, our setup could be a bit easier, doesn't help that you have to register for talks, for travel support and for the actual conference in three different places), but I am not complaining, you get to interact with lots of people in the registration desk, it's a good way to meet people you may not have met otherwise, so please make sure you volunteer next year ;)

One of the talks i want to highlight is Dan VrĂĄtil's talk about C++, I agree with him that we could do much better in making our APIs more expressive using the power of "modern" C++ (when do we stop it calling modern?). It's a pity that the slides are not up so you'll have to live with KĂŠvin Ottens sketch of it for now.

My talk was sadly not very well attended since i was sharing time with the more interesting talk by Marco and Bhushan about Plasma in embedded devices (i would have gone there if it wasn't because i had a talk) so if you're interested in fuzzing please read my slides and give me a shout if you want to volunteer to help us fuzz all the things!

On the BoFs side one of the hardest but most interesting we had was the one about KDE Applications (the N things we release monthly in one go) vs KDE applications (all applications made by us), and i think we may be on the right track there, there's a plan, needs finishing out, but I'm confident it may actually work :)

One of the things that shows how amazing this conference is and how many interesting things are happening is the fact that i made a small list of bugs i wanted to work on if i ever got bored of the talks or the BoFs, i don't think i even started on any of them ^_^

Akademy 2020

Akademy is a core event for KDE and we need to find people to help us organising it every year. If you think you can help, please have a look at the call for hosts document.


I would like to thank the UnixMiB friends for hosting us, i know it's lots of work and i hope you know we all very much appreciate the effort you put in.

I would like to thank the Akademy-team on KDE's side too, you are amazing and pull out great work year after year, keep it up!

I would like to thank the KDE e.V. for partially sponsoring my attendance to Akademy, please donate to KDE if you think the work done at Akademy is important.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Partition MisAlignment

this article also has an alternative title:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loved my Team

This is a story of troubleshooting cloud disk volumes (long post).

Cloud Disk Volume

Working with data disk volumes in the cloud have a few benefits. One of them is when the volume runs out of space, you can just increase it! No need of replacing the disk, no need of buying a new one, no need of transferring 1TB of data from one disk to another. It is a very simple matter.

Partitions Vs Disks

My personal opinion is not to use partitions. Cloud data disk on EVS (elastic volume service) or cloud volumes for short, they do not need a partition table. You can use the entire disk for data.

Use: /dev/vdb instead of /dev/vdb1


You have to choose your filesystem carefully. You can use XFS that supports Online resizing via xfs_growfs, but you can not shrunk them. But I understand that most of us are used to work with extended filesystem ext4 and to be honest I also feel more comfortable with ext4.

You can read the below extensive article in wikipedia Comparison of file systems for more info, and you can search online regarding performance between xfs and ext4. There are really close to each other nowadays.

Increase Disk

Today, working on a simple operational task (increase a cloud disk volume), I followed the official documentation. This is something that I have done in the past like a million times. To provide a proper documentation I will use redhat’s examples:

In a nutshell

  • Umount data disk
  • Increase disk volume within the cloud dashboard
  • Extend (change) the geometry
  • Check filesystem
  • Resize ext4 filesystem
  • Mount data disk


Let’s present the commands for reference:

# umount /dev/vdb1

[increase cloud disk volume]

# partprobe

# fdisk /dev/vdb
[delete partition]
[create partition]

# partprobe

# e2fsck /dev/vdb1
# e2fsck -f /dev/vdb1
# resize2fs /dev/vdb1
# mount /dev/vdb1

And here is fdisk in more detail:


# fdisk /dev/vdb

Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.27.1).
Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
Be careful before using the write command.

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0004e2c8

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux


Command (m for help): d
Selected partition 1
Partition 1 has been deleted.


Command (m for help): n
Partition type
   p   primary (0 primary, 0 extended, 4 free)
   e   extended (container for logical partitions)
Select (default p): p
Partition number (1-4, default 1):
First sector (2048-2936012799, default 2048):
Last sector, +sectors or +size{K,M,G,T,P} (2048-2936012799, default 2936012799):

Created a new partition 1 of type 'Linux' and of size 1.4 TiB.


Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0004e2c8

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1        2048 2936012799 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux


Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered.
Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

File system consistency check

An interesting error occurred, something that I had never seen before when using e2fsck

# e2fsck /dev/vdb1
e2fsck 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
ext2fs_open2: Bad magic number in super-block
e2fsck: Superblock invalid, trying backup blocks...
e2fsck: Bad magic number in super-block while trying to open /dev/vdb1

The superblock could not be read or does not describe a valid ext2/ext3/ext4
filesystem.  If the device is valid and it really contains an ext2/ext3/ext4
filesystem (and not swap or ufs or something else), then the superblock
is corrupt, and you might try running e2fsck with an alternate superblock:
    e2fsck -b 8193 <device>
    e2fsck -b 32768 <device>

Superblock invalid, trying backup blocks


I think I lost 1 TB of files!

At that point, I informed my team to raise awareness.


Yes I know, I was a bit sad at the moment. I’ve done this work a million times before, also the Impostor Syndrome kicked in!


I was lucky enough because I could create a snapshot, de-attach the disk from the VM, create a new disk from the snapshot and work on the new (test) disk to try recovering 1TB of lost files!

Make File System

mke2fs has a dry-run option that will show us the superblocks:

mke2fs 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
Creating filesystem with 367001344 4k blocks and 91750400 inodes
Filesystem UUID: f130f422-2ad7-4f36-a6cb-6984da34ead1
Superblock backups stored on blocks:
        32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632, 2654208,
        4096000, 7962624, 11239424, 20480000, 23887872, 71663616, 78675968,
        102400000, 214990848

Testing super blocks

so I created a small script to test every super block against /dev/vdb1

e2fsck  -b  32768      /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  98304      /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  163840     /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  229376     /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  294912     /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  819200     /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  884736     /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  1605632    /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  2654208    /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  4096000    /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  7962624    /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  11239424   /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  20480000   /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  23887872   /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  71663616   /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  78675968   /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  102400000  /dev/vdb1
e2fsck  -b  214990848  /dev/vdb1

Unfortunalyt none of the above commands worked!

last-ditch recovery method

There is a nuclear option DO NOT DO IT

mke2fs -S /dev/vdb1

Write superblock and group descriptors only. This is useful if all of the superblock and backup superblocks are corrupted, and a last-ditch recovery method is desired. It causes mke2fs to reinitialize the superblock and group descriptors, while not touching the inode table and the block and inode bitmaps.

Then e2fsck -y -f /dev/vdb1 moved 1TB of files under lost+found with their inode as the name of every file.

I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT DO IT !


So what is the issue?

See the difference of fdisk on 1TB and 1.4TB

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1        2048 2936012799 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux

The First sector is now at 2048 instead of 1.

Okay delete disk, create a new one from the snapshot and try again.

Fdisk Part Two

Now it is time to manually put the first sector on 1.

# fdisk /dev/vdb

Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.27.1).
Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
Be careful before using the write command.

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0004e2c8

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1        2048 2936012799 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux

Command (m for help): d
Selected partition 1
Partition 1 has been deleted.

Command (m for help): n
Partition type
   p   primary (0 primary, 0 extended, 4 free)
   e   extended (container for logical partitions)
Select (default p): p
Partition number (1-4, default 1): 1
First sector (2048-2936012799, default 2048): 1
Value out of range.

Value out of range.

damn it!


In our SRE team, we use something like a Bat-Signal to ask for All hands on a problem and that was what we were doing. A colleague made a point that fdisk is not the best tool for the job, but we should use sfdisk instead. I actually use sfdisk to create backups and restore partition tables but I was trying not to deviate from the documentation and I was not sure that everybody knew how to use sfdisk.

So another colleague suggested to use a similar 1TB disk from another VM.
I could hear the gears in my mind working…

sfdisk export partition table

sfdisk -d /dev/vdb > vdb.out

# fdisk -l /dev/vdb
Disk /dev/vdb: 1000 GiB, 1073741824000 bytes, 2097152000 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0009e732

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux

# sfdisk -d /dev/vdb > vdb.out

# cat vdb.out
label: dos
label-id: 0x0009e732
device: /dev/vdb
unit: sectors

/dev/vdb1 : start=           1, size=  2097151999, type=83

okay we have something here to work with, start sector is 1 and the geometry is 1TB for an ext file system. Identically to the initial partition table (before using fdisk).

sfdisk restore partition table

sfdisk /dev/vdb < vdb.out

# sfdisk /dev/vdb < vdb.out

Checking that no-one is using this disk right now ... OK

Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0004e2c8

Old situation:

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1        2048 2936012799 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux

>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Created a new DOS disklabel with disk identifier 0x0009e732.
Created a new partition 1 of type 'Linux' and of size 1000 GiB.
New situation:

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux

The partition table has been altered.
Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

# fdisk -l /dev/vdb
Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0009e732

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux

Filesystem Check ?

# e2fsck -f /dev/vdb1
e2fsck 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
SATADISK: 766227/65536000 files (1.9% non-contiguous), 200102796/262143999 blocks

f#ck YES

Mount ?

# mount /dev/vdb1 /mnt

# df -h /mnt
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/vdb1       985G  748G  187G  81% /mnt

f3ck Yeah !!

Extend geometry

It is time to extend the partition geometry to 1.4TB with sfdisk.
If you remember from the fdisk output

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux
/dev/vdb1        2048 2936012799 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux

We have 2936010752 sectors in total.
The End sector of 1.4T is 2936012799
Simple math problem: End Sector - Sectors = 2936012799 - 2936010752 = 2047

The previous fdisk command, had the Start Sector at 2048,
So 2048 - 2047 = 1 the preferable Start Sector!

New sfdisk

By editing the text vdb.out file to re-present our new situation:

# diff vdb.out vdb.out.14
< /dev/vdb1 : start=           1, size=  2097151999, type=83
> /dev/vdb1 : start=           1, size=  2936010752, type=83


Let’s put everything together

# sfdisk /dev/vdb < vdb.out.14
Checking that no-one is using this disk right now ... OK

Disk /dev/vdb: 1.4 TiB, 1503238553600 bytes, 2936012800 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x0009e732

Old situation:

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2097151999 2097151999 1000G 83 Linux

>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Script header accepted.
>>> Created a new DOS disklabel with disk identifier 0x0009e732.
Created a new partition 1 of type 'Linux' and of size 1.4 TiB.
New situation:

Device     Boot Start        End    Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/vdb1           1 2936010752 2936010752  1.4T 83 Linux

The partition table has been altered.
Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

# e2fsck /dev/vdb1
e2fsck 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
SATADISK: clean, 766227/65536000 files, 200102796/262143999 blocks

# e2fsck -f /dev/vdb1
e2fsck 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
SATADISK: 766227/65536000 files (1.9% non-contiguous), 200102796/262143999 blocks

# resize2fs /dev/vdb1
resize2fs 1.42.13 (17-May-2015)
Resizing the filesystem on /dev/vdb1 to 367001344 (4k) blocks.
The filesystem on /dev/vdb1 is now 367001344 (4k) blocks long.

# mount /dev/vdb1 /mnt

# df -h  /mnt
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/vdb1       1.4T  748G  561G  58%  /mnt


Partition Alignment

By the way, you can read this amazing article to fully understand why this happened:

Partition Alignment

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Thoughts on GNU and Richard Stallman

  • Rekado
  • 12:05, Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Richard Stallman has resigned as president and from the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation. I welcome this decision.

As a co-maintainer of GNU packages (including Guix, the Guix Workflow Language, the Guile Picture Language, etc), and as a contributor to various other GNU software, I would like to state that while I'm grateful for Richard Stallman's founding of the GNU project and his past contributions to GNU, it would be wrong to continue to remain silent on the negative effects his behaviour and words have had over the past years. His actions have hurt people and alienated them from the free software movement.

When I joined GNU I used to think of Richard as just a bit of a quirky person with odd habits, with a passion for nitpicking and clear language, but also with a vision of freeing people from oppression at the hands of a boring dystopia mediated by computers. Good intentions, however, aren't enough. Richard's actions over the past years sadly have been detrimental to achieving the vision that he outlined in the GNU Manifesto, to benefit all computer users.

GNU's not Unix, but Richard ain't GNU either (RAGE?). GNU is bigger than any one person, even its founder. I'm still convinced that GNU has an important role to play towards providing a harmonized, trustworthy, freedom-respecting operating system environment that benefits all computer users. I call upon other maintainers of GNU software to embrace the responsibilities that working on a social project such as GNU brings. The GNU Manifesto states that "GNU serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing". Let us do that by welcoming people of all backgrounds into GNU and by working hard to provide a healthy environment for fruitful collaboration.

Monday, 09 September 2019

Spoofing commits to repositories on GitHub

The following has already been reported to GitHub via HackerOne. Someone from GitHub has closed the report as “informative” but told me that it’s a known low-risk issue. As such, while they haven’t explicitly said so, I figure they don’t mind me blogging about it.

Check out this commit in torvalds’ linux.git on GitHub. In case this is fixed, here’s a screenshot of what I see when I look at this link:

GitHub page showing a commit in torvalds/linux with the commit message add super evil code

How did this get past review? It didn’t. You can spoof commits in any repo on GitHub due to the way they handle forks of repositories internally. Instead of copying repositories when forks occur, the objects in the git repository are shared and only the refs are stored per-repository. (GitHub tell me that private repositories are handled differently to avoid private objects leaking out this way. I didn’t verify this but I have no reason to suspect it is not true.)

To reproduce this:

  1. Fork a repository
  2. Push a commit to your fork
  3. Put your commit ref on the end of:[parent]/[repo]/commit/

That’s all there is to it. You can also add .diff or .patch to the end of the URL and those URLs work too, in the namespace of the parent.

The situation that worries me relates to distribution packaging. Debian has a policy that deltas to packages in the stable repository should be as small as possible, targetting fixes by backporting patches from newer releases.

If you get a bug report on your Debian package with a link to a commit on GitHub, you had better double check that this commit really did come from the upstream author and hasn’t been spoofed in this way. Even if it shows it was authored by the upstream’s GitHub account or email address, this still isn’t proof because this is easily spoofed in git too.

The best defence against being caught out by this is probably signed commits, but if the upstream is not doing that, you can clone the repository from GitHub and check to see that the commit is on a branch that exists in the upstream repository. If the commit is in another fork, the upstream repo won’t have a ref for a branch that contains that commit.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

FSFE booth on Veganmania Donauinsel 2019

Veganmania Donauinsel 2019
FSFE Information stall on Veganmania Donauinsel 2019

Once more free software activists from Vienna used the opportunity of the local vegan summer festival to inform about the possibility to increase our independence on computers and mobile devices. It was the second such event in Vienna this year. But unlike the first which was directly in the city center with loads of passers by this street festival took place in Viennas big recreation area on the island in the Danube river. It is rather close to the city center also and therefore many local people visit it in their spare time. The organisers estimated 9000 visitors per day.

The FSFE booth was manned there all the time from Saturday between 12:00 and 21:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00. It had a great spot far enough away from the stage with live music in order to allow undisturbed conversations and still close enough to the other 90 stalls with drinks, food, merchantise and a variety of stalls on other subjects like animal welfare, veganism sustainability, shelters and environmental protection.

Since it was an outdoor event on a meadow and because we don’t own a tent we couldn’t hang-up our posters. We just used our umbrella to not be exposed directly to the strong summer sun. And we had huge luck with the weather. Shortly after the festival was closed down on Saturday heavy rain started and it lasted until shortly before the event started again the next day.

Over the years we have collected a few regulars on our information stalls who normally drop by but again mostly totally new people frequented our FSFE information desk. Many of them had no prior knowledge what free software is about. Most of the time we were engaged in conversations with interested people and many explicitly thanked us for being there. We frequently explained why we man an FSFE information stall on a vegan summer festival: If you use the same ethical considerations that lead people to adopt a vegan life style in information technology you end up with free software.

A researcher explicitly came from an other county to the city because he wanted to visit our FSFE stall and talk to us about social implications of free software.

This weekend was an other very successful FSFE stall and we look forward to the next opportunity to man our information desk. We might even try to have stalls on other public events in the future which feature NGO information desks. At least if the fees are not unreasonably high.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Open Source is more than licenses

A few weeks ago I was honored to deliver the keynote of the Open Source Awards in Edinburgh. I decided to talk about a subject that I wanted to talk about for quite some time but never found the right opportunity for. There is no video recording of my talk but several people asked me for a summary. So I decided to use some spare time in a plane to summarize it in a blog post.

I started to use computers and write software in the early 80s when I was 10 years old. This was also the time when Richard Stallman wrote the 4 freedoms, started the GNU project, founded the FSF and created the GPL. His idea was that users and developers should be in control of the computer they own which requires Free Software. At the time the computing experience was only the personal computer in front of you and the hopefully Free and Open Source software running on it.

The equation was (Personal Hardware) + (Free Software) = (Digital Freedom)

In the meantime the IT world has changed and evolved a lot. Now we have ubiquitous internet access, computer in cars, TVs, watches and other IoT devices. We have the full mobile revolution. We have cloud computing where the data storage and compute are distributed over different data centers owned and controlled by different people and organizations all over the world. We have strong software patents, DRM, code signing and other crypto, software as a service, more closed hardware, social networking and the power of the network effect.

Overall the world has changed a lot since the 80s. Most of the Open Source and Free Software community still focuses mainly on software licenses. I’m asking myself if we are not missing the bigger picture by limiting the Free Software and Open Source movement to licensing questions only.

Richard Stallman wanted to be in control of his computer. Let’s go through some of the current big questions regarding control in IT and let’s see how we are doing:


Facebook is lately under a lot of attack for countless violations of user privacy, being involved in election meddling, triggering a genocide in Myanmar, threatening democracy and many other things. Let’s see if Free Software would solve this problem:

If Facebook would release all the code tomorrow as Free and Open Source software our community would be super happy. WE have won. But would it really solve any problems? I can’t run Facebook on my own computer because I don’t have a Facebook server cluster. And even if I could it would be very lonely there because I would be the only user. So Free Software is important and great but actually doesn’t give users and freedom or control in the Facebook case. More is needed than Free Software licenses.


I hear from a lot of people in the Free and Open Source community that Microsoft is good now. They changed under the latest CEO and are no longer the evil empire. They now ship a Linux kernel in Windows 10 and provide a lot of Free and Open Source tools in their Linux containers in the Azure Cloud. I think it’s definitely a nice step in the right direction but their Cloud solutions still have the strongest vendor lock-in, Windows 10 is not free in price nor gives you freedom. In fact they don’t have an Open Source business model anywhere. They just USE Linux and Open Source. So the fact that more software in the Microsoft ecosystem is now available under Free Software licenses doesn’t give any more freedom to the users.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is an important new technology that can be used for many thing from picture recognition to voice recognition to self driving cars. The interesting thing is that the hardware and the software alone are useless. What is also needed for a working machine learning system are the data to train the neural network. This training data is often the secret ingredient which is super valuable. So if Tesla would release all their software tomorrow as Free Software and you would buy a Tesla to have access to the hardware than you are still unable to study, build and improve the self driving car functionality. You would need the millions of hours of video recording and driver data to make your neural network useful. So Free software alone is not enough to give users control


There is a lot of discussions in the western world if 5G infrastructure can be trusted. Do we know if there are back doors in cell towers if they are bought from Huawei or other Chinese companies? The Free and Open Source community answers that the software should be licenses under a Free Software license and then all is good. But can we actually check if the software running on the infrastructure is the same we have as source code? For that we would need reproducible builds, access to all the code signing and encryption keys and the infrastructure should fetch new software updates from our update server and not the one provided by the manufacturer. So the software license is important but doesn’t give you the full control and freedom.


Android is a very popular mobile OS in the Free Software community. The reason is that it’s released under a Free Software license. I know a lot of Free Software activists who run a custom build of Android on their phone and only install Free Software from app stores like F-Droid. Unfortunately 99% of normal users out there don’t get these freedoms because their phones can’t be unlocked, or they lack the technical knowledge how to do it or they rely on software that is only available in the Google PlayStore. Users are trapped in the classic vendor lock-in. So the fact that the Android core is Free Software actually doesn’t give much freedom to 99% of all its users.

So what is the conclusion?

I think the Open Source and Free Software community who cares about the 4 freedoms of Stallman and being in control of their digital lives and user freedom has to expand their scope. Free Software licenses are needed but are by far not enough anymore to fight for user freedom and to guarantee users are in control of their digital life. The formula (Personal Hardware) + (Free Software) = (Digital Freedom) is not valid anymore. There are more ingredients needed. I hope that the Free Software community can and will reform itself to focus on more topics than licenses alone. The world needs people who fight for digital rights and user freedoms now more than ever.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Walkthrough Installation of WackoWiki v5.5.12

WackoWiki is the wiki of my choice and one of the first opensource project I’ve ever contributed, and I still use wackowiki for personal use.

A few days ago, wackowiki released version 5.5.12. In this blog post I will try to share my experience on installing wackowiki on a new ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Ansible Role

I’ve created an example ansible role for the wackowiki for the Requirements section: WackoWiki Ansible Role


Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS

apt -y install


We need to enable mod_reqwrite in apache2 but also to add the appropiate configuration in the default conf in VirtualHost

# a2enmod rewrite

# vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

<VirtualHost *:80>
    # enable.htaccess
    <Directory /var/www/html/>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted



GRANT  ALL PRIVILEGES ON wacko.* TO 'wacko'@'localhost';

# mysql < wacko.sql


curl -sLO
mv wacko.r5.5.12/wacko /var/www/html/wacko/
chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/wacko/

Web Installation











Post Install

Last, we need to remove write permission for the wackowiki configuration file and remove setup folder

root@ubuntu:~# chmod -w /var/www/html/wacko/config/config.php
root@ubuntu:~# mv /var/www/html/wacko/setup/ /var/www/html/._setup






Tag(s): wacko, wiki

Monday, 19 August 2019

Blocking untrusted USB devices


For fun and security (and a bit of paranoia), I thought I should whitelist my trusted USB devices and block everything else.


We have a couple of tools that can help us with that. USBGuard is the one I found to be the most configurable and well documented.

NOTICE: All commands here require certain privileges. To make commands easier to read, I omitted adding sudo in the beginning. But you probably need to.


USBGuard should already be packaged for your favorite Linux distribution.

One important thing to consider though is that on Debian (and derivatives) installing a package that comes with a systemd service file ends up being started and enabled by default. That means that if your input devices are USB-connected, you will find yourself locked out of your system. This may include even devices that are not physically plugged in a USB port (eg. your laptop built-in keyboard).

The upstream developer actually has a relevant warning:

WARNING: before you start using usbguard be sure to configure it first unless you know exactly what you are doing (all USB devices will get blocked).

But that didn't stop the Debian developers, who maintain that package, to allow USBGuard daemon to start with zero configuration đŸ¤ˇ


You can find more detailed guides on how to prevent this "feature", but for the scope of this post here is what I did.

Systemd comes with a mask feature, that will prevent a certain service from being started. So for instance, if you try this:

sudo systemctl mask nginx.service
sudo systemctl start nginx.service

You'll get this error:

Failed to start nginx.service: Unit nginx.service is masked.

In our case, we can't use the mask command because USBGuard is not installed yet. But what mask actually does is just create a symlink. So all we have to do is create it manually:

sudo ln -s /dev/null /etc/systemd/system/usbguard.service

And now we can safely install USBGuard:

sudo apt install usbguard


First thing to do is create an initial policy that whitelists all of our usb devices. Now it's a good time to plug-in devices that you tend to use often and you already trust. You can of course whitelist devices at any point.

usbguard generate-policy

The above command will display the list of your currently plugged devices with an allow keyword in the beginning. Let's save that to USBGuard's configuration file:

usbguard generate-policy > /etc/usbguard/rules.conf

Now it's safe to unmask, start and enable USBGuard daemon:

systemctl unmask usbguard.service
systemctl start usbguard.service
systemctl enable usbguard.service


To test this actually works try to plug a new device, not whitelisted yet. Let's a simple USB stick. Hopefully it will be blocked. To confirm that:

usbguard list-devices

This lists all your detected devices. The new device you just plugged-in should have a block keyword in the beginning. For a more filtered output:

usbguard list-devices | grep block

You should see something like this:

13: block id 0xxx:0xxx serial <...>

Allowing devices

Now let's say you actually want to unblock this device, because it came from a friend you trust. The command we run above also contained an ID number. The first thing on that line. We can use that and allow that device:

usbguard allow-device 13

Whitelisting devices

Using allow-device doesn't whitelist the device for ever. So let's say you bought a new external disk and you want to whitelist it. USBGuard has an append-rule command. You just need to paste the whole device line starting with an allow keyword.

Plug the device and see the USBGuard output:

usbguard list-devices | grep block

You should see something like this:

21: block id 0xxx:0xxx serial <...>

Copy the whole line starting from id and then use it but prefix it with an allow keyword (mind the single quotes used to wrap the entire rule):

usbguard append-rule 'allow id 0xxx:0xxx serial <...>'

Editing rules

At any point you can see the whitelisted devices:

usbguard list-rules

And you use the id number in the beginning of each line in order to interact with that specific rule. For example to remove a device:

usbguard remove-rule <id>

And remember, there is no such thing as absolute security. It all comes down to your Threat model.

Comments and reactions on Mastodon, Diaspora, Twitter and Lobsters.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Building Archlinux Packages in Gitlab

GitLab is my favorite online git hosting provider, and I really love the CI feature (that now most of the online project providers are also starting supporting it).

Archlinux uses git and you can find everything here: Arch Linux git repositories

There are almost 2500 packages there! There are 6500 in core/extra/community (primary repos) and almost 55k Packages in AUR, the Archlinux User Repository.

We are going to use git to retrieve our PKGBUILD from aur archlinux as an example.
The same can be done with one of the core packages by using the above git repo.

So here is a very simple .gitlab-ci.yml file that we can use to build an archlinux package in gitlab

image: archlinux/base:latest

    - export PKGNAME=tallow

  stage: build
    - "*.pkg.tar.xz"
    expire_in: 1 week
      # Create "Bob the Builder" !
    - groupadd bob && useradd -m -c "Bob the Builder" -g bob bob
      # Update archlinux and install git
    - pacman -Syy && pacman -Su --noconfirm --needed git base-devel
      # Git Clone package repository
    - git clone$PKGNAME.git
    - chown -R bob:bob $PKGNAME/
      # Read PKGBUILD
    - source $PKGNAME/PKGBUILD
      # Install Dependencies
    - pacman -Syu --noconfirm --needed --asdeps "${makedepends[@]}" "${depends[@]}"
      # Let Bob the Builder, build package
    - su - bob -s /bin/sh -c "cd $(pwd)/$PKGNAME/ && makepkg"
      # Get artifact
    - mv $PKGNAME/*.pkg.tar.xz ./

You can use this link to verify the above example: tallow at gitlab

But let me explain the steps:

  • First we create a user, Bob the Builder as in archlinux we can not use root to build a package for security reasons.
  • Then we update our container and install git and base-devel group. This group contains all relevant archlinux packages for building a new one.
  • After that, we git clone the package repo
  • Install any dependencies. This is a neat trick that I’ve found in archlinux forum using source command to create shell variables (arrays).
  • Now it is time for Bob to build the package !
  • and finally, we move the artifact in our local folder
Tag(s): archlinux, gitlab

Thursday, 15 August 2019

MinIO Intro Notes

MinIO is a high performance object storage server compatible with Amazon S3 APIs

In a previous article, I mentioned minio as an S3 gateway between my system and backblaze b2. I was impressed by minio. So in this blog post, I would like to investigate the primary use of minio as an S3 storage provider!

Install Minio

Minio, is also software written in Go. That means we can simple use the static binary executable in our machine.


The latest release of minio is here:

curl -sLO
chmod +x minio


./minio version

$ ./minio version

Version: 2019-08-01T22:18:54Z
Release-Tag: RELEASE.2019-08-01T22-18-54Z
Commit-ID: c5ac901e8dac48d45079095a6bab04674872b28b

Operating System

Although we can use the static binary from minio’s site, I would propose to install minio through your distribution’s package manager, in Arch Linux is:

$ sudo pacman -S minio

this method, will also provide you, with a simple systemd service unit and a configuration file.


# Local export path.
# Access Key of the server.
# MINIO_ACCESS_KEY=Server-Access-Key
# Secret key of the server.
# MINIO_SECRET_KEY=Server-Secret-Key
# Use if you want to run Minio on a custom port.
# MINIO_OPTS="--address :9199"


Or if you like docker, you can use docker!

docker pull minio/minio
docker run -p 9000:9000 minio/minio server /data


We can run minion as standalone

$ minio server /data

Create a test directory to use as storage:

$ mkdir -pv minio_data/
mkdir: created directory 'minio_data/'

$ /usr/bin/minio server ./minio_data/

┃ You are running an older version of MinIO released 1 week ago ┃
┃ Update: Run `minio update`                                    ┃

SecretKey: qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur 

Browser Access:        

Command-line Access:
   $ mc config host add myminio KYAS2LSSPXRZFH9P6RHS qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur

Object API (Amazon S3 compatible):

Update Minio

okay, our package is from one week ago, but that’s okay. We can overwrite our package build (although not
recommended) with this:

$ sudo curl -sLo /usr/bin/minio

again, NOT recommended.

Check version

minio version

Version: 2019-08-01T22:18:54Z
Release-Tag: RELEASE.2019-08-01T22-18-54Z
Commit-ID: c5ac901e8dac48d45079095a6bab04674872b28b

minio update

An alternative way, is to use the built-in update method:

$ sudo minio update

┃ You are running an older version of MinIO released 5 days ago    ┃
┃ Update: ┃

Update to RELEASE.2019-08-07T01-59-21Z ? [y/n]: y
MinIO updated to version RELEASE.2019-08-07T01-59-21Z successfully.

minio version

Version: 2019-08-07T01:59:21Z
Release-Tag: RELEASE.2019-08-07T01-59-21Z
Commit-ID: 930943f058f01f37cfbc2265d5f80ea7026ec55d

Run minio

run minion as standalone and localhost (not exposing our system to outside):

minio server --address ~/./minio_data/


$ minio server --address ~/./minio_data/

SecretKey: qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur 

Browser Access:

Command-line Access:
   $ mc config host add myminio KYAS2LSSPXRZFH9P6RHS qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur

Object API (Amazon S3 compatible):

Web Dashboard

minio comes with it’s own web dashboard!



New Bucket

Let’s create a new bucket for testing purposes:





Minio Client

minio comes with it’s own minio client or mc

Install minio client

Binary Download

curl -sLO

or better through your package manager:

sudo pacman -S minio-client

Access key / Secret Key

Now export our AK/SK in our enviroment


minio host

or you can configure the minio server as a host:

./mc config host add myminio KYAS2LSSPXRZFH9P6RHS qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur

I prefer this way, cause I dont have to export keys every time.

List buckets

$ mc ls myminio
[2019-08-05 20:44:42 EEST]      0B bucket0001/

$ mc ls myminio/bucket0001

List Policy

mc admin policy list myminio

$ mc admin policy list myminio


If we do not want to get random Credentials every time, we can define them in our environment:

export MINIO_ACCESS_KEY=admin
export MINIO_SECRET_KEY=password
minio server --address .minio_data{1...10}

with minio client:

$ mc config host add myminio admin password

mc: Configuration written to `/home/ebal/.mc/config.json`. Please update your access credentials.
mc: Successfully created `/home/ebal/.mc/share`.
mc: Initialized share uploads `/home/ebal/.mc/share/uploads.json` file.
mc: Initialized share downloads `/home/ebal/.mc/share/downloads.json` file.
Added `myminio` successfully.

mc admin config get myminio/ | jq .credential

$ mc admin config get myminio/ | jq .credential
  "accessKey": "8RMC49VEC1IHYS8FY29Q",
  "expiration": "1970-01-01T00:00:00Z",
  "secretKey": "AY+IjQZomX6ZClIBJrjgxRJ6ugu+Mpcx6rD+kr13",
  "status": "enabled"


Let’s configure s3cmd to use our minio data server:

$ sudo pacman -S s3cmd

Configure s3cmd

s3cmd --configure

$ s3cmd --configure

Enter new values or accept defaults in brackets with Enter.
Refer to user manual for detailed description of all options.

Access key and Secret key are your identifiers for Amazon S3. Leave them empty for using the env variables.
Secret Key: qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur
Default Region [US]: 

Use "" for S3 Endpoint and not modify it to the target Amazon S3.
S3 Endpoint []:
Use "%(bucket)" to the target Amazon S3. "%(bucket)s" and "%(location)s" vars can be used
if the target S3 system supports dns based buckets.
DNS-style bucket+hostname:port template for accessing a bucket [%(bucket)]: 

Encryption password is used to protect your files from reading
by unauthorized persons while in transfer to S3
Encryption password:
Path to GPG program [/usr/bin/gpg]: 
When using secure HTTPS protocol all communication with Amazon S3
servers is protected from 3rd party eavesdropping. This method is
slower than plain HTTP, and can only be proxied with Python 2.7 or newer
Use HTTPS protocol [Yes]: n
On some networks all internet access must go through a HTTP proxy.
Try setting it here if you can't connect to S3 directly
HTTP Proxy server name: 
New settings:
  Secret Key: qPZnIBJDe6GTRrUWcfdtKk7GPL4fGyqANDzJxkur
  Default Region: US
  S3 Endpoint:
  DNS-style bucket+hostname:port template for accessing a bucket: %(bucket)
  Encryption password:
  Path to GPG program: /usr/bin/gpg
  Use HTTPS protocol: False
  HTTP Proxy server name:
  HTTP Proxy server port: 0

Test access with supplied credentials? [Y/n] y
Please wait, attempting to list all buckets...
ERROR: Test failed: [Errno -2] Name or service not known

Retry configuration? [Y/n] n

Save settings? [y/N] y
Configuration saved to '/home/ebal/.s3cfg'

Test it

$ s3cmd ls
2019-08-05 17:44  s3://bucket0001


Let’s make a more complex example and test the distributed capabilities of minio

Create folders

mkdir -pv .minio_data{1..10}

$ mkdir -pv .minio_data{1..10}

mkdir: created directory '.minio_data1'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data2'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data3'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data4'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data5'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data6'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data7'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data8'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data9'
mkdir: created directory '.minio_data10'

Start Server

Be-aware you have to user 3 dots (…) to enable erasure-code distribution (see below).

and start minio server like this:

minio server --address .minio_data{1...10}

$ minio server --address .minio_data{1...10}

Waiting for all other servers to be online to format the disks.

Status:         10 Online, 0 Offline.
AccessKey: CDSBN216JQR5B3F3VG71
SecretKey: CE+ti7XuLBrV3uasxSjRyhAKX8oxtZYnnEwRU9ik 

Browser Access:

Command-line Access:
   $ mc config host add myminio CDSBN216JQR5B3F3VG71 CE+ti7XuLBrV3uasxSjRyhAKX8oxtZYnnEwRU9ik

Object API (Amazon S3 compatible):

configure mc

$ ./mc config host add myminio WWFUTUKB110NS1V70R27 73ecITehtG2rOF6F08rfRmbF+iqXjNr6qmgAvdb2
Added `myminio` successfully.

admin info

mc admin info myminio

$ mc admin info myminio
   Uptime: 3 minutes
  Version: 2019-08-07T01:59:21Z
  Storage: Used 25 KiB
   Drives: 10/10 OK


Create files

Creating random files

for i in $(seq 10000) ;do echo $RANDOM > file$i ; done

and by the way, we can use mc to list our local files also!

$ mc ls file* | head

[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      6B file1
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      5B file10
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      5B file100
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      6B file11
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      6B file12
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      6B file13
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      6B file14
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      5B file15
[2019-08-05 21:27:01 EEST]      5B file16

Create bucket

mc ls myminio

$ mc mb myminio/bucket0002
Bucket created successfully `myminio/bucket0002`.

$ mc ls myminio
[2019-08-05 21:41:35 EEST]      0B bucket0002/

Copy files

mc cp file* myminio/bucket0002/


be patient, even in a local filesystem, it will take a long time.


Erasure Code

copying from MinIO docs

you may lose up to half (N/2) of the total drives
MinIO shards the objects across N/2 data and N/2 parity drives

Here is the

$ du -sh .minio_data*

79M    .minio_data1
79M    .minio_data10
79M    .minio_data2
79M    .minio_data3
79M    .minio_data4
79M    .minio_data5
79M    .minio_data6
79M    .minio_data7
79M    .minio_data8
79M    .minio_data9

but what size did our files had?

$ du -sh files/
40M     files

Very insteresting.

$ tree .minio_data*

Here is shorter list, to get an idea how objects are structured: minio_data_tree.txt

$ mc ls myminio/bucket0002 | wc -l


Delete a folder

Let’s see how handles corrupted disks, but before that let’s keep a hash of our files:

md5sum file* > /tmp/files.before

now remove:

$ rm -rf .minio_data10 

$ ls -la
total 0
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal    226 Aug 15 20:25 .
drwx--x---+ 1 ebal ebal   3532 Aug 15 19:13 ..
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data1
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data2
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data3
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data4
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data5
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data6
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data7
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data8
drwxr-x---  1 ebal ebal     40 Aug 15 20:25 .minio_data9

Notice that folder: minio_data10 is not there.

mc admin info myminio/

$ mc admin info myminio/
   Uptime: 6 days
  Version: 2019-08-14T20:37:41Z
  Storage: Used 57 MiB
   Drives: 9/10 OK


This is the msg in minio server console:

Time: 20:23:50 EEST 08/15/2019
DeploymentID: 7852c1e1-146a-4ce9-8a05-50ad7b925fef
Error: unformatted disk found
       3: cmd/prepare-storage.go:40:cmd.glob..func15.1()
       2: cmd/xl-sets.go:212:cmd.(*xlSets).connectDisks()
       1: cmd/xl-sets.go:243:cmd.(*xlSets).monitorAndConnectEndpoints()

Error: unformatted disk found

We will see that minio will try to create the disk/volume/folder in our system:

$ du -sh .minio_data*
79M    .minio_data1
0       .minio_data10
79M    .minio_data2
79M    .minio_data3
79M    .minio_data4
79M    .minio_data5
79M    .minio_data6
79M    .minio_data7
79M    .minio_data8
79M    .minio_data9


Minio comes with a healing ability:

$ mc admin heal --recursive myminio/


$ du -sh .minio_data*

79M     .minio_data1
79M     .minio_data10
79M     .minio_data2
79M     .minio_data3
79M     .minio_data4
79M     .minio_data5
79M     .minio_data6
79M     .minio_data7
79M     .minio_data8
79M     .minio_data9
$ mc admin heal --recursive myminio/
 ◐  bucket0002/file9999
    10,000/10,000 objects; 55 KiB in 58m21s
    │ Green  │ 10,004 │ 100.0% ████████████ │
    │ Yellow │      0 │   0.0%              │
    │ Red    │      0 │   0.0%              │
    │ Grey   │      0 │   0.0%              │
Tag(s): minio, s3

Friday, 09 August 2019

Order your Akademy t-shirt *NOW*

If you want an Akademy 2019 t-shirt you have until Monday 12th Aug at 1100CEST (i.e. in 2 days and a bit) to order it.

Head over to and get yourself one of the exclusive t-shirts with Jen's awesome design :)

Sunday, 28 July 2019

My KDE Onboarding Sprint 2019 report

This week I took part on the KDE Onboarding Sprint 2019 (part of what's been known as Nuremberg Megasprint (i.e. KDEConnect+KWin+Onboarding) in, you guessed it, Nuremberg.

The goal of the sprint was "how do we make it easier for people to start contributing". We mostly focused on the "start contributing *code*" side, though we briefly touched artists and translators too.

This is *my* summary, a more official one will appear somewhere else, so don't get annoyed at me if the blog is a bit opinionated (though i'll try it not to)

The main issues we've identified when trying to contribute to KDE software is:
* Getting dependencies is [sometimes] hard
* Actually running the software is [sometimes] hard

Dependencies are hard

Say you want to build dolphin from the git master branch. For that (at the time of writing) you need KDE Frameworks 5.57, this means that if you run the latest Ubuntu or the latest OpenSUSE you can't build it because they ship older versions.

Our current answer for that is kdesrc-build but it's not the most easy to use script, and sometimes you may end up building QtWebEngine or QtWebKit, which as a newbie is something you most likely don't want to do.

Running is hard

Running the software you have just built (once you've passed the dependencies problem) is not trivial either.

Most of our software can't be run uninstalled (KDE Frameworks are a notable exception here, but newbies rarely start developing KDE Frameworks).

This means that you may try to run make install, which if you didn't pass -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX pointing somewhere in your home you'll probably have to run make install as root since it defaults to /usr/local (this will be fixed in next extra-cmake-modules release to point to a somewhat better prefix) that isn't that useful either since none of your software is looking for stuff in /usr/local. Newbies may be tempted to use -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr but that's *VERY* dangerous since it can easily mess up your own system.

For applications, our typical answer is use -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/home/something/else at cmake stage, run make install and then set the environment variables to pick up things from /home/something/else, a newbie will say "which variables" at this stage probably (and not newbies too, I don't think i remember them all). To help with that we generate a in the build dir and after the next extra-cmake-release we will tell the users that they need to run it for things to work.

But still that's quite convoluted and I know from experience answering people in IRC that lots of people get stuck there. It's also very IDE unfriendly since IDEs don't usually have the "install" concept, it's run & build for them.


We ended up focusing on two possible solutions:

* Conan: Conan "the C/C++ Package Manager for Developers" (or so they say) is something like pip in the python world but for C/C++. The idea is that by using Conan to get the dependencies we will solve most of the problems in that area. Whether it can help or not with the running side is still unclear, but some of our people involved in the Conan effort think they may either be able to come up with a solution or get the Conan devs to help us with it. Note Conan is not my speciality by far, so this may not be totally correct.

* Flatpak: Flatpak is "a next-generation technology for building and distributing desktop applications on Linux" (or so they say). The benefits of using flatpak are multiple, but focusing on onboarding are. "Getting dependencies is solved", dependencies are either part of the flatpatk SDK and you have them or the flatpak manifest for the application says how to get and build them and that will automagically work for you as it works for everyone else using the same manifest. "Running is solved" because when you build a flatpak it gets built into a self contained artifact so running it is just running it, no installing or environment variable fiddling is needed. We also have [preliminary] support in KDevelop (or you can use Gnome Builder if you want a more flatpak-centric experience for now). The main problem we have with flatpak at this point is that most of our apps are not totally flatpak-ready (e.g. Okular can't print). But that's something we need to fix anyway so it shouldn't be counted as a problem (IMHO).


*Personally* i think Flatpak is the way to go here, but that means that collectively we need to say "Let's do it", it's something we all have to take into account and thus we have to streamline the manifest handling/updating, focus on fixing the Flatpak related issues that our software may have, etc.


I would like to thank SUSE for hosting us in their offices and the KDE e.V. for sponsoring my attendance to the sprint, please donate to KDE if you think the work done at sprints is important.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

A Dead Simple VPN

DSVPN is designed to address the most common use case for using a VPN

Works with TCP, blocks IPv6 leaks, redirect-gateway out-of-the-box!


last updated: 20190810

  • iptables rules example added
  • change vpn.key to dsvpn.key
  • add base64 example for easy copy/transfer across machines




dsvpn binary

I keep a personal gitlab CI for dsvpn here: DSVPN


Notes on the latest ubuntu:18.04 docker image:

# git clone
Cloning into 'dsvpn'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 88, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (88/88), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (59/59), done.
remote: Total 478 (delta 47), reused 65 (delta 29), pack-reused 390
Receiving objects: 100% (478/478), 93.24 KiB | 593.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (311/311), done.

# cd dsvpn

# ls
LICENSE  Makefile  include  logo.png  src

# make
cc -march=native -Ofast -Wall -W -Wshadow -Wmissing-prototypes -Iinclude -o dsvpn src/dsvpn.c src/charm.c src/os.c
strip dsvpn

# ldd dsvpn (0x00007ffd409ba000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007fd78480b000)
/lib64/ (0x00007fd784e03000)

# ls -l dsvpn
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 26840 Jul 20 15:51 dsvpn

Just copy the dsvpn binary to your machines.


Symmetric Key

dsvpn uses symmetric-key cryptography, that means both machines uses the same encyrpted key.


dd if=/dev/urandom of=dsvpn.key count=1 bs=32

Copy the key to both machines using a secure media, like ssh.


An easy way is to convert key to base64

cat dsvpn.key | base64


on the other machine:

echo ZqMa31qBLrfjjNUfhGj8ADgzmo8+FqlyTNJPBzk/x4k= | base64 -d > dsvpn.key



It is very easy to run dsvpn in server mode:


dsvpn server dsvpn.key auto

Interface: [tun0]
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1
Listening to *:443

ip addr show tun0

4: tun0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 9000 qdisc fq_codel state UNKNOWN group default qlen 500
    inet peer scope global tun0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

I prefer to use CIDR in my VPNs, so in my VPN setup:

dsvpn server /root/dsvpn.key auto 443 auto

Using as the VPN Server IP.

systemd service unit - server

I’ve created a simple systemd script dsvpn_server.service

or you can copy it from here:


Description=Dead Simple VPN - Server

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/dsvpn server /root/dsvpn.key auto 443 auto


and then:

systemctl enable dsvpn.service
systemctl  start dsvpn.service


It is also easy to run dsvpn in client mode:


dsvpn client dsvpn.key

# dsvpn client dsvpn.key
Interface: [tun0]
Trying to reconnect
Connecting to
net.ipv4.tcp_congestion_control = bbr

ip addr show tun0

4: tun0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 9000 qdisc fq_codel state UNKNOWN group default qlen 500
    inet peer scope global tun0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

dsvpn works in redict-gateway mode,
so it will apply routing rules to pass all the network traffic through the VPN.

ip route list via dev tun0
default via dev eth0 proto static via dev eth0 via dev tun0 dev eth0 proto kernel scope link src  dev tun0 proto kernel scope link src

As I mentioned above, I prefer to use CIDR in my VPNs, so in my VPN client:

dsvpn client /root/dsvpn.key 443 auto

Using as the VPN Client IP.

ip addr show tun0

11: tun0: <POINTOPOINT,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 9000 qdisc fq_codel state UNKNOWN group default qlen 500
    inet peer scope global tun0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

systemd service unit - client

I’ve also created a simple systemd script for the client dsvpn_client.service

or you can copy it from here:


Description=Dead Simple VPN - Client

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/dsvpn client /root/dsvpn.key 443 auto


and then:

systemctl enable dsvpn.service
systemctl  start dsvpn.service

and here is an MTR from the client:



Enjoy !



It is important to protect your traffic from network leaks. That mean, sometimes, we do not want our network traffic to pass through our provider if the vpn server/client went down. To prevent any network leak, here is an example of iptables rules for a virtual machine:

# Empty iptables rule file

-A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m conntrack --ctstate INVALID -j DROP
-A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type 8 -m conntrack --ctstate NEW -j ACCEPT

# LibVirt
-A INPUT -i eth0 -s -j ACCEPT

# Reject incoming traffic

-A OUTPUT -p tcp -m tcp -o eth0 -d --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
# LibVirt
-A OUTPUT -o eth0 -d -j ACCEPT
# Allow tun
-A OUTPUT -o tun+ -j ACCEPT

# Reject outgoing traffic
-A OUTPUT -p tcp -j REJECT --reject-with tcp-reset
-A OUTPUT -p udp -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-port-unreachable


Here is the prefable output:



Tag(s): vpn, dsvpn

Friday, 19 July 2019

Popular licenses in OpenAPI

Today I was wondering what the most commonly used license that people use in OpenAPI, so I went and did a quick analysis.


The top 5 (with count and percentage; n=552):

License name count percentage
CC-BY-3.0 250 45,29%
Apache-2.01 218 39,49%
MIT 15 2,71%
“This page was built with the Swagger API.” 8 1,44%
“Open Government License – British Columbia” 6 1,09%

The striked-out entries are the ones that I would not really consider a proper license.

The license names inside quotation marks are the exact copy-paste from the field. The rest are de-duplicated into their SPDX identifiers.

After those top 5 the long end goes very quickly into only one license per listed API. Several of those seem very odd as well.


Note: Before you start complaining, I realise this is probably a very sub-optimal solution code-wise, but it worked for me. In my defence, I did open up my copy of the Sed & Awk Pocket Reference before my eyes went all glassy and I hacked up the following ugly method. Also note that the shell scripts are in Fish shell and may not work directly in a 100% POSIX shell.

First, I needed to get a data set to work on. Hat-tip to Mike Ralphson for pointing me to APIs Guru as a good resource. I analysed their APIs-guru/openapi-directory repository2, where in the APIs folder they keep a big collection of public APIs. Most of them following the OpenAPI (previously Swagger) specification.

git clone
cd openapi-directory/APIs

Next I needed to list all the licenses found there. For this I assumed the name: tag in YAML4 (the one including the name of the license) to be in the very next line after the license: tag3 – I relied on people writing OpenAPI files in the same order as it is laid out in the OpenAPI Specification. I stored the list of all licenses, sorted alphabetically in a separate api_licenses file:

grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 1 --no-filename | \
grep 'name:' | sort > api_licenses

Then I generated another file called api_licenses_unique that would include only all names of these licenses.

grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 1 --no-filename | \
grep 'name:' | sort | uniq > api_licenses_unique

Because I was too lazy to figure out how to do this properly5, I simply wrapped the same one-liner into a script to go through all the unique license names and count how many times they show up in the (non-duplicated) list of all licenses found.

for license in (grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 1 \
--no-filename | grep 'name' | sort | uniq)
                           grep "$license" api_licenses --count

In the end I copied the console output of this last command, opened api_licenses_unique, and pasted said output in the first column (by going into Block Selection Mode in Kate).

Clarification on what I consider “proper license” and re-count of Creative Commons licenses (12 July 2019 update)

I was asked what I considered as a “proper license” above, and specifically why I did not consider “Creative Commons” as such.

First, if the string did not even remotely look like a name of a license, I did not consider that as a proper license. This is the case e.g. with “This page was built with the Swagger API.”.

As for the string “Creative Commons”, it – at best – indicates a family o licenses, which span a vast spectrum from CC0-1.0 (basically public domain) on one end to CC-BY-NC-CA-4.0 (basically, you may copy this, but not change anything, nor get money out of it, and you must keep the same license) on the other. For reference, on the SPDX license list, you will find 32 Creative Commons licenses. And SPDX lists only the International and Universal versions of them7.

Admiteldy, – and this is a caveat in my initial method above – it may be that there is an actual license following the lines after the “Creative Commons” string … or, as it turned out to be true, that the initial 255 count of name: Creative Commons licenses included also valid CC license names such as name: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

So, obviously I made a boo-boo, and therefore went and dug deeper ;)

To do so, and after looking at the results a bit more, I noticed that the url: entries of the name: Creative Commons licenses seem to point to actual CC licenses, so I decided to rely on that. Luckily, this turned out to be true.

I broadened up the initial search to one extra line, to include the url: line, narrowed down the next search to name: Creative Commons, and in the end only to url:

grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 2 --no-filename | \
grep 'name: Creative Commons' -A 1 | grep 'url' | sort > api_licenses_cc

Next, I searched for the most common license – CC-BY-3.0:

grep --count '' api_licenses_cc

The result was 250, so for the remaining6 5 I just opened the api_licenses_cc file and counted them manually.

Using this method the list of all “Creative Commons” license turned out to be as follows:

  1. CC-BY-3.0 (250, of which one was specific to Australian jurisdiction)
  2. CC-BY-4.0 (3)
  3. CC-BY-NC-4.0 (1)
  4. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 (1)

In this light, I am amending the results above, and removing the bogus “Creative Commons” entry. Apart from removing the bogus entry, it does not change the ranking, nor the counts, of the top 5 licenses.

Further clean-up of Apache (17 July 2019 update)

Upon further inspection it looked odd that I was getting so many Apache-2.0 matches – if you added all the Apache-2.0 hits (initially 421) with all the CC-BY-3.0 hits (250), you already reached a higher number than all the occurrances of the license: field in all the files (552). Clearly something was off.

So I re-counted the Apache hits by limiting myself only to the url: field of the license:, instead of the name: and came to a half of the original number. Which brought it from first down to second place. Basically I applied the same method as above for counting Creative Commons licenses.

Better method (25 July 2019 update)

I just learnt from Jaka “Lynx” Kranjc of a better solution. Basically, I could cut down quite a bit by simply using uniq --count, which produces a unique list and prepends a column of how many times it found that occurance – super useful!

I will not edit my findings above again, but am mentioning the better method below, together with the attached results, so others can simply check.

grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 1 --no-filename | \
grep 'name:' |  uniq -c | sort > OpenAPI_grouped_by_license_name.txt

… produces OpenAPI_grouped_by_license_name.txt

grep 'license:' **/openapi.yaml **/swagger.yaml -A 2 --no-filename | \
grep 'url:' |  uniq -c | sort > OpenAPI_grouped_by_license_url.txt

… produces OpenAPI_grouped_by_license_url.txt

hook out → not proud of the method, but happy with having results

  1. This should come as no surprise, as Apache-2.0 is used as the official specification’s example

  2. At the time of this writing, that was commit 506133b

  3. I tried it also with 3 lines, and the few extra results that came up where mostly useless. 

  4. I did a quick check and the repository seems to include no OpenAPIs in JSON format. 

  5. I expected for license in api_licenses_unique to work, but it did not. 

  6. The result of wc -l api_licenses_cc was 255. 

  7. Prior to version 4.0 of Creative Commons licenses each CC license had several versions localised for specific jurisdictions. 

Thursday, 18 July 2019

slack-desktop and xdg-open

Notes from archlinux

xdg-open - opens a file or URL in the user’s preferred application

When you are trying to authenticate to a new workspace (with 2fa) using the slack-desktop, it will open your default browser and after the authentication your browser will re-direct you to the slack-desktop again using something like this


This is mime query !

$ xdg-mime query default x-scheme-handler/slack

$ locate slack.desktop
$ more /usr/share/applications/slack.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Slack Desktop
GenericName=Slack Client for Linux
Exec=/usr/bin/slack --disable-gpu %U

I had to change the Exec entry above to point to my slack-desktop binary

Tag(s): slack, xdg

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