Sun, Jun 18, 2017

Packaging MediaWiki extensions

As part of the work for the openSUSE wiki upgrade and move, I had to package a bunch of MediaWiki extensions. We'll use the MediaWiki 1.27.x LTS release, which means the extensions need to work with this version.

When it comes to packaging, there are three categories of extensions:

The Good

These extensions are hosted on, and you can easily download a tarball matching your MediaWiki version using the "Download snapshot" link on the extension page.

Packaging these extensions is easy - just unpack the tarball and copy/package everything to the extension directory.

These extensions are standardized enough to use a spec file template - usually I only had to adjust the extension name, tarball name and version. Speaking of the version - most extensions don't have explicit version numbers, so I decided to use the tarball date instead.

An example for this category is Auth_remoteuser (extension page, package) which we use to keep the "nice" wiki login form.

The Bad

These extensions are hosted on GitHub and typically only have a "master" branch. They usually still work with MediaWiki 1.27.x, but there's a small risk that they require features added in newer MediaWiki versions, and this risk will grow over time.

On the packaging side, they are as easy as the "good" extensions.

An example is the ParamProcessor extension (extension page, package) which is needed by the Maps extension

The Ugly

These extensions can be hosted on or GitHub, so there are "god ugly" and "bad ugly" extensions ;-) The thing that makes packaging really ugly is that they don't include all the code they need. Instead, you have to download the missing parts with composer.

composer works fine in a "real" system, but makes packaging hard. Running it from the spec will obviously fail because OBS doesn't allow network connections while building a package (and even if it's annoying in this case, not having network access during build is a good thing[tm]).

My solution is a little script that unpacks the extension tarball and runs "composer install --no-dev" inside the extension directory. The most important part is the "--no-dev" parameter because that avoids lots of superfluous things. Afterwards, I build a tarball from the "vendor" directory and add it to the package.

Yeah, I know that's not nice - guess why I named this section "The Ugly" ;-)

One of the packages that need a "composer install" run is the GitHub extension (extension page, package including script to run composer).

Luckily, "ugly" only applies to packaging. The extensions and their maintainers are for sure not ugly - for example, the maintainer of the GitHub extension was very fast in fixing a bug :-)

Thu, Apr 06, 2017

Canonical gibt Unity 8 auf und setzt auf IoT und Cloud

Kein Aprilscherz: Canonical gibt Unity 8 auf und wechselt für Ubuntu 18.04 LTS zurück auf Gnome.

Fokus auf IoT und Cloud

In einem Blog Post hat Mark Shuttleworth, Gründer von Canonical, geschrieben:

I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.


Ich schreibe um euch wissen zu lassen, dass wir unsere Beteiligung an Unity8, der Smartp...

Tue, Feb 21, 2017

Downtime Erklärung und wie man das Problem löst

Back to business... mit einer kurzen Erklärung der Downtime und wie die Probleme gelöst wurden.

Hallo, liebe Leser!

Dies ist mein erster Post 2017 und daher lasst uns mit einem sehr verspäteten 'Frohes neues Jahr!' und den besten Wünschen für 2017 beginnen

Aber kommen wir direkt zum Geschäft zurück:


Einigen wird es nicht entgangen sein, dass der Blog und die Webseite von crowbyte eine weile offline war. Zunächst einmal entschuldige ich mich für alle eventuell aufgetretenen Un...

Wed, Feb 08, 2017

PostfixAdmin 3.0.2

I just released PostfixAdmin 3.0.2.

This release fixes a security bug - admins could delete protected aliases like abuse@ (CVE-2017-5930). Besides that, some non-security bugs were fixed. Read the official announcement for details.

Packages for openSUSE Tumbleweed and updates for Leap are already on their way to the official repos :-)

Tue, Jan 31, 2017

AppArmor - or: Working for the enemy?

Some weeks ago, someone asked on the opensuse-wiki mailinglist if it's acceptable to move documentation (in this case about Icecream) from the openSUSE wiki to the upstream repo on github. One of the arguments was:

I think I should store anything I do for the openSUSE project somewhere in the domain, not in a or domain or a or domain.

While this sounds like a valid argument and for sure shows good intentions, I wrote a longish reply:

You are overlooking an important point here - collaboration.

It doesn't make sense to think of "we" vs. "them" when it comes to other distributions or upstream projects. It's quite the opposite - everybody can save time by working together with other distributions, upstream projects etc. We have more important things to do than re-inventing the wheel just because we need a green one.

As an example: You might know that I maintain AppArmor in openSUSE and also contribute upstream (OMG, the upstream mailinglist is, not at a "neutral" domain!)

Some not-so-known details:

  • I implemented support for new AppArmor rule types (dbus, signal etc.) in aa-logprof, but those are not yet supported in the upstream kernel (and also not in openSUSE) - so currently only Ubuntu users benefit from that
  • I always send patches upstream so that everybody can benefit (no, saying "use openSUSE, it's fixed there" is not a good idea ;-)
  • In 2015, I visited DebConf (I'd guess I was the only one there who had never used Debian before) and even gave a talk.
  • I closely follow AppArmor-related bugreports in Debian and Ubuntu, and help them to get things fixed - even if it's distro-specific

So, tell me - am I working for the enemy? ;-)


BTW: This isn't a one way road. Quite some AppArmor contributions done by Ubuntu (some other upstream developers work for Canonical) and Debian contributors end up in openSUSE ;-)

Needless to say that AppArmor is just an example. What I said is basically valid for every package, project, whatever. Either you collaborate (and everybody wins), or you "cook your own soup" and never find out that someone else has a receipe for a much more tasty soup ;-)


Since I talked a lot about AppArmor in the above text, let's see what's new there.

You might have noticed that there were some AppArmor releases recently:

  • AppArmor 2.9.4 (with several bugfixes and profile updates) was already released as an update for openSUSE 13.2 shortly before it went out of support.
  • AppArmor 2.10.2 (also with several bugfixes and profile updates) is already available in Tumbleweed, and updates for Leap 42.1 and 42.2 are under review
  • AppArmor 2.11 (with lots of improvements and new features - for example, I rewrote the handling of file rules in aa-logprof etc.) is on its way to Tumbleweed (SR 453537), but it seems splitting off libapparmor into its own spec file (to fix a build loop) triggered a bug in the factory-auto review bot. Given my talent to find bugs, I'm not even surprised ;-)

The rewrite of the file rule handling resulted in a nice series of 42 patches which replace 1600 lines of code using a deeply nested array with 1200 lines with the more readable and easier maintainable FileRule and FileRuleset classes (a total of 530 lines) and functions using these classes. Even with 400 lines less code, I added some small features (for example, rules with leading permissions like "r /etc/fstab," are now supported) and fixed some bugs along the way.

The old code to handle file rules had very few unittests, which made this rewrite (and especially avoiding breakage and regressions) quite challenging. On the positive side, my patch series added full test coverage for the FileRule and FileRuleset classes, and also added unittests for most of the functions using FileRule and FileRuleset. (Unfortunately full test coverage isn't always easy, especially for the interactive parts of aa-logprof.) Those unittests add about 1400 lines of code, but as long as such additions happen in the tests directory, I'm more than happy about them ;-)

Oh, and the final challenge hit the other AppArmor developers. AppArmor has the policy that all patches have to be reviewed, and reviewing the whole patch series (which summed up to +2600 -1628 lines) took some time ;-)


That all said, let's not forget to answer where the documentation should live:

To come back to the origin of this discussion: I don't care too much where the Icecream developers host their documentation as long as

  • it is complete and up to date (having it at the developers' favorite place makes this more likely)
  • it can be easily found (also not a problem, it's linked from the wiki, and your favorite search engine will also find it)

I see the main purpose of the openSUSE wiki to provide openSUSE-specific information.

Information about upstream projects (even if a project is done by openSUSE) is "nice to have", but it's also ok if it lives upstream. It's better have one good upstream documentation than pages at 5 distro wikis that are all incomplete and out of date ;-)


BTW: The question "Am I working for the enemy?" was mostly meant as a rhetoric question - but if you want to answer nevertheless, please add a comment ;-)

Sat, Dec 31, 2016

Another openSUSE Board candidate ;-)

I was nominated to run for the openSUSE Board, and finally decided to run ;-)


I use openSUSE since years (actually it was still „SuSE Linux“ with lowercase „u“ back then), started annoying people in bugzilla, err, started betatesting in the 9.2 beta phase. Since then, I reported more than 1200 bugs. Later, OBS ruined my bugzilla statistics by introducing the option to send a SR ;-)

More recently, I helped in fighting the wiki spam, which also means I‘m admin on the english wiki since then, and had some fun[tm] with the current server admin. I‘m one of the founding members of the Heroes team (thanks to Sarah for getting the right people together at oSC16!) Currently, I work on the base server setup (using salt) for our new infrastructure and updating the wiki to an up-to-date MediaWiki version.

You can find me on several mailinglists and on IRC, and of course I still scare people in bugzilla. I‘m also a regular visitor and speaker at the openSUSE Conference, and visit other conferences as time permits.

Besides openSUSE, I work on AppArmor and PostfixAdmin – both upstream and as packager. Also, I‘m admin on several webservers (all running with Leap).

My day job has nothing to do with computers. I produce something you can drink that is named after a software we ship in openSUSE ;-)

Oh, and I collect funny quotes from various mailinglists, IRC, bugzilla etc. that then end up as random signatures under my mails, so be careful what you write ;-)


Issues I can see

  • You probably know „DRY“, so – see the next paragraph



  • speed! We have too many issues hanging around for too long, and that‘s annoying for people who suffer from them. Especially small things should (and can!) be solved quickly.

  • clear responsibilities! Part of the speed problem is that it‘s sometimes hard to find out who can fix something, and hunting down people takes time.

  • don‘t talk (too much) – do it! Sometimes we need to discuss things, but often just doing them works best. Obviously I can‘t do everything alone, so I want to encourage people to help whereever they can. „I don‘t have knownledge how to do this“ doesn‘t count – for example, updating a wiki page or reporting a bug isn‘t hard ;-) and typically people really start to report bugs once they understand that this gives them the right to complain (quoting Pascal Bleser: „Always file a bug: if it‘s not in Bugzilla, then it‘s not there“)

  • longer days! Maybe I should move to Bajor – I heard they have 26 hour days there, which would solve some of my time problems ;-))


Why you should vote for me?

  • I tend to kick people to ensure they work faster and fix things. This is your chance to kick me!

  • Help me to find out if I can get the thing in the (non-random) signature of this blog post done!


Things I‘ll never do:

  • use a stable release on my main computer – Tumbleweed is just too good ;-)

  • open a bugreport if fxing it and sending a SR is faster

  • be too serious – hey, our motto is „Have a lot of fun...“ ;-)

  • drink beer ;-) (sorry, not even openSUSE beer)


Contact Details:


I wish all candidates good luck, hope that we‘ll see lots of voters – and wish everybody all the best for 2017!


PS: Non-random signature (yes, I know it's unusual for a blog post to have a signature at all, so this will stay a rare exception) – and while I have serious doubts about the second paragraph, I‘m very sure about the first ;-)

If you run for the Board this year and get elected, I can see my sanity would be doomed
But in a good way ;)
[Richard Brown]

Mon, Dec 19, 2016

openSUSE Leap 42.2 auf antiker Hardware

Bei uns ist immer noch ein, inzwischen vermutlich als antik geltender, ASUS-Laptop mit einem Core2 Duo und 3 GiB RAM im Einsatz, bisher mit openSUSE 13.1. Angesichts dessen Supportendes, war aber ein update nötig. Und da auch das damals vorinstallierte Windows Vista sein Lebensende erreicht hatte, und seit mehreren Jahren nicht mehr genutzt war, führte ich eine Neuinstallation mit openSUSE Leap 42.2 durch. Wie bei jeder Rechnerneuinstallation stolperte ich dabei über ein paar Eigenarten, aber insgesamt läuft das System wunderbar.

Insgesamt fühlt sich das System flotter an als vorher. Der Hauptgrund dafür ist wohl, dass das System recht sparsam mit dem Hauptspeicher umgeht. So nutzt es wenn man die üblichen Anwendungen, wie KMail und ownCloud, im Hintegrund hat und dann noch DM Fotowelt, ein mittelgroßes Open-Office-Dokument mit Fotos und Firefox mit einer zweistelligen Anzahl Tabs offen hat nur run 2 GiB seines Hauptspeichers. So kommt das System dann trotz vollverschüsselter Festplatte und ohne SSD auf nutzbare Geschwindigkeit.

Ein Wermutstropfen ist, dass ich die in KDE eingebaute Volltextsuche abschalten musste. Obwohl das System bei Installation und während des Zurückkopierens aller Dateien auch über Nacht stabil lief, war damit Schluss sobald die Volltextsuche anfing die Dateien zu indizieren. Nach fünf bis zehn Minuten war der Rechner komplett eingefroren. Auch ein SSH auf den Rechner war nicht mehr möglich.

Ein weiterer interessanter Bug ist, dass die Plugins von Parley nicht funktionieren. Diese haben in der Shebang kf5kross als Interpreter angegeben, allerdings wird dieses nicht installiert.

Mon, Dec 05, 2016

Ein Jobangebot für Linux-Enthusiasten

Da es für meine geneigte Leserschaft (auch die in den Planeten von OSBN und vielleicht interessant ist oder jemand jemanden kennt: Mein Arbeitgeber sucht derzeit Mitarbeiter für Kundenbetreuung, Support & Service im Bereich Linux.

Zur Verstärkung unseres Teams in Königsbrunn suchen wir Sie.

Wir freuen uns auf Sie als:

Mitarbeiter (m|w) Kundenbetreuung, Support & Service

Ihre Aufgaben in unserem Haus umfassen:

  • Durchführen von Hardwaretestes
  • Technische Beratung und Unterstützung von Kaufinteressenten telefonisch als auch in schriftlicher Form, vorwiegend per E-Mail
  • Technische Hilfestellung bei Fragen zu Betriebssystemen der Linuxfamilie, insbesondere Ubuntu
  • Prüfung von Kundengeräte auf Hard- oder Softwarefehler sowie deren Beseitigung

Mehr Infos gibt es im Firmenblog. Für Rückfragen stehe ich natürlich auch gerne zur Verfügung.

Thu, Nov 17, 2016

Details zu Migration und Zukunftsplänen

In meinem letzten Post versprach ich mehr Details über die Migration der webseite und des Blogs, sowie mehr zu meinen Plänen für die Zukunft, zu verraten und halte mit diesem Post nun mein Versprechen.


Nach über einem halben Jahr der Abwesenheit, hatte ich die Zeit und Gelegenheit die Richtung der Webseite und des Blogs noch einmal grundlegend zu überdenken.

Bisher nutzte ich Nikola als Seitengenerator für den Blog und die Webseiten. Dies war eine wohl übe...

Tue, Oct 25, 2016

Die neue Webseite ist online

Ich bin stolz hiermit die neue Webseite von anzukündigen.

Über ein halbes Jahr ist seit meinem letzten Post im Blog von vergangen und ich bin glücklich ein Lebenszeichen von und mir gleichermaßen zu geben.

Eine Menge ist passiert in eine solch langen Zeit.

Also lasst mich die wichtigsten Eckpunkte seit meiner letzten Aktivität kurz zusammenfassen:

  • aufgrund einer neuen Anstellung in Hamburg bin ich von Berlin nach Schleswig-Holstein gezogen
  • crowby...