Monthly Archives: March 2007

Reportbug-NG, Now With Fancy Colors

After a few hours of hacking I got #416132 closed and am proud to say that we finally have fancy colors enabled in Reportbug-NG.

I’m also very proud to say that yesterday — exactly 3 weeks after I wrote the first line of R-NG — R-NG received it’s 100th popcon submission! Thanks to all of you who tested and reported bugs and wishes.

Some of the next goals I’ve currently in mind are

  • Porting R-NG from qt3 to qt4
  • Include some advanced BTS-features for developers like tagging, reassigning, merging, etc.

Dear SoC enthusiasts,

please stop writing mails asking me whether I’d like to mentor your yet-another-reportbug-alternative project.

It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea of rewriting reportbug(-ng) for gtk or as a webapp — really. I just don’t see why your project needs to be part of SoC.

I know working for/with google is kinda sexy nowadays and as a student you can even get some money — but be honest: what was Debian’s benefit of last year’s SoC projects? My question which of last year’s projects failed and which succeeded is still unanswered. So no, I’m not yet jumping on this bandwagon everybody seems to be so exited about.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate google or the SoC, I’m just not convinced of the success of our last year’s projects, plus I don’t think we need such an event to write useful tools for Debian.

NP: The Beatles — Happiness Is a Warm Gun

Dear Lazyweb,

Icedove, Iceape, Evolution, Sylpheed, Sylpheed-Claws and Mutt.

Is your favorite mail client missing? Does your mail client accept URLs in mailto-format? If yes, please drop me a note containing the name of your mail client, if it needs a terminal (like mutt) and an example call which starts the client with address, subject an body already filled in.


  • Icedove (needs no terminal)
    icedove ""
  • Sylpheed (needs no terminal)
    sylpheed --compose ""

I’ll use this data to include more clients in Reportbug-NG. Please double-check if your mail client really supports mailto-URLs with subject and body. KMail for instance accepts such a parameter but silently drops subject and body.

Reportbug-NG at Alioth

Yesterday I mentioned a small project of mine called reportbug-ng. The feedback so far was very positive. Looks like quite a few people out there would like to see a desktop version of reportbug.

Since I’ve already received a few patches via email, I decided to move the project to alioth so contributers can easily keep track of the changes.

So here it is: the official homepage and teh almighty SVN repository.

Comments and contributions are very welcome! (Hint, hint: The source-tree also contains a TODO list. Once all the points under “urgend” are processed, I’ll consider uploading it to Debian.)

A Screencast is Worth a Thousand Pictures

It’s still in a very early stage (I’ve started coding it yesterday), but it’s basic functionality is already there: You can query the BTS, filter the list of bugreports in realtime by typing something and view the full bugreports in HTML. You can even provide additional information for existing bugs or create new bugreports. It currently only supports icedove and mutt as mailclient but adding other clients is very easy.

This tool is not designed to replace reportbug, it rather aims for the newbie users feeling uncomfortable typing their mails in vi and would rather have something to point and click. Maybe I can merge the code with reportbug, but after a quick look at it’s code it seems that this will not be as easy as I thought in the beginning.

The code is available here. You’ll need python-qt3 to run it.

Update: The screencast was created with byzanz via
$ byzanz-record -c -l -d 45 reportbug-ng.gif
Hint: Best to switch the desktop resolution to something like 800×600 before recording — resizing the gif afterwards is very expensive (cpu- and memory wise).

Etch Won’t Ship WordPress

So the security team decided to kick WordPress from Etch since they assume it won’t be sanely maintainable over the course of 30-36 months. This practice surprises me a bit, especially since upstream plans to support the 2.0.x series until 2010 and the package is currently very well maintained by Kai Hendry.

So what’s the problem? Is it manpower? I guess not, since Kai even offered to provide security updated packages when they become available, which was rejected with a friendly “EOD for me.“.

Anyway, since my blog will become unsupported soon, I need to switch to something else. So dear lazyweb, what is the next best alternative to WP available in Etch? I need good comment spam protection and an option to import my old wordpress entries.

Pimp My Boot Process (III)

Short version:

$ sudo aptitude install desktop-base splashy splashy-themes
$ sudo splashy_config --set-theme debian-moreblue
$ sudo vim /boot/grub/menu.lst

timeout 3
# defoptions=quiet splash

$ sudo update-grub

Long version:

A few weeks ago I tried to improve the visual appearance of my boot process using usplash and a matching grub splash theme.

It took me quite a while to create my first very own usplash theme and it was a rather complicated affair (Thanks to Petter Reinholdtsen for his patch which lead to my first working prototype). Since creating usplash themes is rather tricky and not really suitable for the average user I decided to switch to splashy. Splashy has many advantages above usplash like a very easy way to create themes, support of high resolution images and many themes already available in Debian.

So here is my current solution for a nice bootup:

First I installed desktop-base in order to get the nice moreblue KDM theme:

$ sudo aptitude install desktop-base

Then I installed splashy and splashy-themes in order to get a theme matching KDM’s moreblue theme:

$ sudo aptitude install splashy splashy-themes
$ sudo splashy_config --set-theme debian-moreblue

Since grub has only rudimentary support for theming, I decided to remove the boot menu completely. Most of the time I’ll boot the first kernel in the list anyway and you still have $timeout seconds to press Escape in order to bring the menu back.

$ sudo vim /boot/grub/menu.lst

timeout 3
# defoptions=quiet splash

$ sudo update-grub

The result looks quite cool and gives my boot process a polished an clean look. It’s still not perfect since splashy’s theme does not match exactly KDM’s theme and KDM flicks in an other wallpaper before it starts and after the login, but it’s good enough for now.

Decoupling Presentation from Logic

Reading Sam’s platform, I applaud his plans to sex up our web appearance which is IMHO overdue.

While redesigning our website shouldn’t be much of a technical problem, redesigning our BTS could become one:

I noticed that reportbug and bts are basically querying the BTS via HTTP as a user would, grepping the source of the html-reply for the information they need afterwards. While this works pretty good in most situations it has the major drawback that those tools unnecessarily depend on the presentation of the BTS, making it harder to redesign it.

A possible and easy to implement solution would be to allow a special parameter in the URL-request which triggers an answer in a machine readable format (like flatfile or XML) rather than a human readable. This would also have the additional benefit of saving bandwidth and computation power.