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July 15th, 2007

git'ing it on

A hot topic this past DebConf7 was git. I've bought into the hype, so I decided to take the plunge and move my Subversion repositories to it. A lot of people seem to be willing to part with their history when making the move, but I'm some what irrationally attached to it.

Most of my Debian packages are in one big SVN repo, which used to be one big CVS repo (I used cvs2svn to move). So I decided to pull apart each source package into its own git repository. I started with git svn clone like so:

$ git svn clone -A authors --trunk=trunk/libclass-makemethods-perl \
  --branches=branches/libclass-makemethods-perl/upstream \
  --tags=tags/libclass-makemethods-perl --no-metadata \
  file:///home/svn/debian libclass-makemethods-perl

And this gives a git repo that can track an SVN repo. But I want to go all the way, no turning back. So I made a little script to clean up this repo called clean-git-svn:

#!/bin/sh -e

tags=`git branch -r | egrep 'tags/[^@]+$'`

echo "$tags" | perl -ne \
  'chomp($_); my $head = $_; s,\s+tags,debian,g; print "git tag $_ $head^\n"'
for i in $tags ; do echo "git branch -r -d $i"; done

upstream_tags=`git branch -r | egrep ' +[0-9][^@]+$'`

echo "$upstream_tags" | perl -ne \
  'chomp($_); s,\s+,,g; print "git tag upstream/$_ $_^\n"'
for i in $upstream_tags ; do echo "git branch -r -d $i"; done

echo "git branch upstream current"
echo "git branch -r -d current"
echo "git branch -r -d trunk"

This will output a bunch of git commands that will make this a more "gitified" repo. I make no guarantees this will work, you should probably hand check your history with gitk to make sure this won't screw anything up. If your the part you're converting also came up from CVS, you'll probably have a bit of a mess on your hands that will need more manual cleanup. gitk is really an amazing visualization tool and can help a lot here. Once you're satisfied just pipe it into /bin/sh. Since git svn mostly can't track where you merged in your SVN repo, make sure you merge the upstream branch into master as soon as you can. It will save you a lot of conflicts later, trust me.

One thing I miss from svn is svn export. Does an equivalent command exist in git? You would think there would be an option you could pass to git clone to do this but I can't seem to find anything.

June 29th, 2007


One thing I'm really missing is Montréal in the summer time. Particularly the Fantasia Festival, where I would usually take in twenty-odd movies over a couple of weeks and I've been going for years. It was great. New York doesn't seem to have anything that compares, except maybe The New York Asian Film Festival. But that seems quite a bit smaller and more focused. I'll still check out it out though.

It's been nearly 7 months since I've moved here and time has really flown. Work has consumed most of my life and it's been amazing, but I'm starting to feel like it's lacking in certain areas. I've barely seen most of Manhattan and it's really not that big. I need to make sure I get the balance right.

DebConf 7 was fantastic, doubly so since I got to share it. My BoF was not that popular (which is what I expected) but people were interested and audience participation was high, so I was pleased. I sort of divided my time between the conference and being a tourist, so I hope no one felt like I was ignoring them. Edinburgh was an amazing city, really very beautiful. It felt good to be connected with this place (my mother was born in Perth, not too far away). Simon, Martin and Kai, you guys rock!

Speaking of DebConf, I should have cornered Keith for some troubleshooting. I bought a spiffy new desktop recently with a 965G chipset and plugged in an SDVO card and tried to get dual monitor set up going. After much Googling I found that Xrandr is apparently the new cool way to configure this, but information is pretty scarce. I can't seem to get them to both work at the same time. There could be problems because they have different resolutions (one is a 22" wide screen and one is a regular 19"). The lack of information about this is slightly frustrating and tells me either no one is trying this or no one else is having problems. Neither is good :)

June 2nd, 2007

New Debian Slogan

"Hey, at least we don't have Emacs' release cycle"

May 31st, 2007

Abusing Lazyweb

Dear Lazyweb,

I have a growing frustration with my current home desktop machine, so I would like to get a new one. I'm perfectly willing to build it myself, and I would like it if possible to have one of those spiffy G965 Intel chipsets so I can finally have some free 3D graphics drivers. All the motherboards I have seen have only a VGA port, but apparently you can get an SDVO card to add a DVI interface. Does anyone know if you can drive two monitors with this setup? My googling didn't really clarify if this was possible. I want to have two displays, but I don't mind if one of them has to hook up to a VGA interface.

Beyond that, I'd like it to be quiet. Any tips on quiet power supplies, CPU and case fans?

May 29th, 2007

Two blog posts in one day!

Distributed revision control systems are all the rage these days and I think the time has come to adopt one. I've always thought they were a good idea, but Subversion worked well and suited my needs well enough. I was also somewhat put off by the number of choices and didn't want to switch to something that would turn out to be a dud. But now there seem to be two main contenders, Git and Mecurial. I think Linus' recent talk on git also helped rekindle my interest.

Despite Linus' protestations of greatness, I was thinking of using Mercurial since it seems to fit better with my Subversion centric view of the world and it appears that Mozilla is going to move to it from CVS. I already have a few CVS and Subversion repositories for various things and I would like to keep that history. So I fired up Tailor and started converting a mail archive I have in an svn repo. The repo is only 1.5G, but Tailor was slow. Surprisingly slow. It then failed right near the end of the conversion. I'm also not sure exactly how much history Tailor is preserving. Does it deal with things like file moves properly?

Disheartened, I took a look at git instead. It seemed to have a tool called git-svnimport that sounded very promising. I ran it against the same svn repo and it proceeded to consume all the memory on my system and cause it to thrash like mad. My machine became so unresponsive that I had to log in remotely to kill the import.

So in the end, dear lazyweb, what tools should one use to convert a Subversion repository to Mercurial and/or Git?

May 28th, 2007

The Ghost of Browser Past

Even though Iceweasel has been a reality since November, it seems that there is still some backlash about the rename. Thanks very much to Andrew for jumping to my defense (and also for organizing dinner the last time I was in Mountain View, it was a fun evening). Nothing he said was fundamentally incorrect, but it doesn't paint the full picture.

Once upon a time (somewhere around Firefox 0.9) we happily shipped the fox hugging the globe icon. Then it was pointed out the copyright license on that piece of artwork wasn't DFSG free (and probably wouldn't be free under any reasonable free software or even open content license), so we removed it and used the plain globe icon they shipped in the tarball instead. Eventually the Mozilla Foundation asked us to remove mozilla- from the package name (it was mozilla-firefox at the time) which we did, and the issue of the icon and trademark came up. After explaining why we couldn't ship the icon they gave us permission to continue to use the name. They said they would periodically check up to make sure we weren't shipping crap that would harm the brand. This seemed a fairly good compromise and we accepted.

This situation persisted for a year or so, in both Debian and Ubuntu, but then the Mozilla Corporation (who was now in possession of the trademarks) insisted we couldn't use the name without the non-free logo. They also wanted to approve any changes made before they were uploaded. They are certainly within their rights to do this, but to hear Mr. Fowler tell it we were on a crusade to purge the name from the distro. We were not, we were content with the status quo. I also must take exception with Mr. Fowler stating: "They've persisted, despite the best efforts of the Mozilla project team to engage with the Debian packagers to resolve the situation." I think from the discussion we were trying our best to reach some sort of compromise and the Mozilla side seemed firmly entrenched in their position, not offering us a lot of alternatives. The non-free nature of the logo and the unprecedented "control-freak" review process didn't leave us with a lot of alternatives.

Ubuntu does ship the officially branded version of the Firefox, but they have a weaker set of freedom guidelines than Debian. Whether you think that is good or bad is personal choice, but one of the reasons I like Debian so much is its commitment to free software, even if that means not everything is as easy or expedient as one would like.

With respect to the new name and icon, this is again a matter of personal taste. I do tend to think "Iceweasel" doesn't have that much sex appeal but it was a popular choice and had the benefit of having already been used to refer to a potential name fork of Firefox. And BTW this is really only a name fork, the amount of changes we've actually put in to the tree (beyond renaming ones) are minimal. In fact the last time it was checked, our patches were a strict subset of the patches Ubuntu uses in their Firefox package. So Iceweasel is in fact functionally identical to Firefox with what I like to think are some minor improvements from upstream.

As to your other points, I will admit to being poorly-socialized, but I think most who have met me wouldn't call me self-obsessed, egotistical or a moron.

I think Debian is developing a bit of a bias against it where we're assumed to be a bunch of crazy Free software nuts, and the presumption is anytime we act against the grain we're the ones being unreasonable despite any evidence to the contrary. I don't know how we can fight this perception, but I think we should.

May 1st, 2007

Joey, come to DebConf

Joey Hess writes that he may not attend DebConf this year because he canceled his talk and he believes this doesn't entitle him to sponsorship. I must beg to differ. Joey's contributions to Debian are numerous and ongoing, and his knowledge and general levelheadedness about Debian are legendary. I realize that in the post Dunc Tank era people are leery of creating the perception of rewarding someone monetarily, but with no disrespect intended just having him there to contribute and ask questions of would be more valuable than some of the talks (certainly more than the BoF I'm giving :P).

I have no idea if Joey's interpretation of the situation is correct, but if it is and his sponsorship will be cut I'd implore the DebConf sponsorship folks to reconsider.

April 16th, 2007

I upgraded my mailserver, etc box to etch. It was fairly painless, a few tweaks to do here and there. I'm looking forward to newer version of things like Spamassassin. I'm also booked for my trip to Edinburgh, I'm really looking forward to that, since I've never been there and it's where my mother was born (well not Edinburgh, but Scotland).

I was looking forward to going to the New York etch release party, but I had to come out to Mountain View earlier this week. Luckily I think I will get to attend a BAD meeting this week. Being part of Debian sure is cool these days.

April 4th, 2007


So I hauled my ass to the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Center a couple of weeks ago to get myself a Nintendo Wii. I can see what all the fuss is about, the controls are just so amazing, it's really a much more fun and comfortable experience. I've also spent way to much time playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I have lost much sleep because of that game. I also bowled a 245 in Wii Bowling, which is so much better than I would bowl in real bowling it's not funny.

I'm starting to get antsy for the release. I'm scared to touch my packages now, which is no fun. I also want the shiny new software that will pour into unstable after the release is done.

February 23rd, 2007

A View to a Mountain

I'm nearly done my second week of four here in Mountain View. I think I've already become a traitor to my Canadian heritage because I'm really enjoying the no snow and the no cold in February. Mountain View is a pretty little town, but not that exciting in and of itself. I'll have to try to make it up to San Francisco.

Working at Google is the interesting part about being here. This is probably the only place where you'll see a car with a "UID EQ 0" license plate. Between the T-Rex statue, crazy Nerf Dart wars, lots of talks, toilet seats with warmers and a cleaning water spray (which is growing on me) there's a lot going on. There's too much to learn and not enough hours in the day.
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