my blog

Friday 12 October 2012

cups-pk-helper & desktop-file-utils releases

In the last two weeks, I took some time to review patches submitted for cups-pk-helper and desktop-file-utils, and worked a bit on the code. This means new releases, which keeps me on track for the "two releases a year" schedule followed for those software :-)

cups-pk-helper 0.2.3 0.2.4

It is recommended to update to the 0.2.3 version of cups-pk-helper, due to a security flaw in the old code (CVE-2012-4510). I found it while fixing a compiler warning about a return value being ignored; re-reading that old code, I realized that it was, hrm, not really solid, that it was not checking permissions, and that it could actually be abused to overwrite any file (among other issues)... Thankfully, this can only be exploited if the user explicitly approves the action since it's protected with polkit authentication (using the admin password). So this is not as severe as it could have been. I want to thank Sebastian Krahmer from the SUSE Security Team, who was really helpful in reviewing my iterative fixes.

The other changes are build-time compatibility with cups 1.6, some additional paranoid processing of the input we get via dbus, and updated translations (thanks to transifex).

Update: the 0.2.3 tarball had a small bug when detecting the cups version, try 0.2.4 instead ;-)

desktop-file-utils 0.21

The 0.21 release of desktop-file-utils is mainly about an update of the validator to deal with several recent (and not so recent) changes in the XDG Menu specification: a main category is not required anymore (although still recommended if one main category makes sense for the application), Science is now a main category, and new categories have been registered (including the Spirituality one, that has been discussed years ago).

The validator now also correctly handles the new values for the AutostartCondition field used by GNOME 3, and features some experimental hints in the output for .desktop files that could possibly be improved. Those hints are experimental since I'm unsure if they will really help, or just annoy people (note that they can be ignored with the --no-hints option). At the moment, they only deal with categories, but I guess it shouldn't be hard to find more hints to add (such as hey, you're missing an icon!).

Of course, while working on desktop-file-utils, I took a look at some patches and issues that were recently discussed on the xdg mailing list, and pushed some changes to the menu specification. I'm a bit sad about the fact that nearly nobody is actively working on most specs (blaming myself too, since I look at patches/issues only a few times a year) and that feedback about the proposed changes is rare (these days, I'd say getting two or more people to approve a change is an exception). It'd be great to have a few people step up and bring new energy to this effort!

Monday 3 September 2012

SUSE Cloud 1.0

SUSE Cloud

The last few weeks were a bit crazy, but there was a good reason for this: the team I've joined a couple of months ago has been focusing on polishing SUSE Cloud for its first stable release. We had some long working days, but we did it: SUSE Cloud 1.0 went out last week! There's been some positive noise in the online media, which is always good to see :-)

With this first milestone now reached, I've looked back a bit at the switch to my new position. It was a bit of a slow start because of hardware failures (try getting a full development and testing environment for some cloud stuff on one laptop with 2GB of RAM; possible, but painful) and because there was a lot to learn; it was actually quite frustrating to feel useless for so long.

However, it seems I found the highway after coming back from GUADEC and everything is going very smoothly now. Of course, doing something completely different was a bit of a challenge for me, and I didn't know how I'd react to playing nearly full-time with OpenStack and Crowbar (a tool created by Dell to ease OpenStack deployments that we adopted). It turns out I'm enjoying it! On top of that, the SUSE Cloud team is really great, with a good mix of fun and work. The only missing bit is that we haven't properly celebrated the SUSE Cloud release with ice cream — I'll have to get this fixed ;-)

Friday 17 August 2012

Month of birthdays

August is a busy month for birthdays!

This all starts with openSUSE, on August 9th. Seven years ago, the development of SUSE Linux opened up and openSUSE was born. The openSUSE project is actually pretty young, compared to the other projects delivering distributions. But it has 20-years old roots... I joined the project in February 2008, and I've seen the community grow and become more and more involved and, more importantly to me, in charge.

openSUSE is seven years old!

On August 15th, we celebrate the birthday of the GNOME project. Miguel announced the GNU Network Object Model Environment Desktop project fifteen years ago. I'm happy the letters in GNOME don't stand for anything anymore ;-) It's been a long ride, with the great GNOME 1.0 release in 1999 (let's be honest, it was crappy by today's standards — I tried GNOME back then, and quickly gave up), the GNOME 2.0 release in 2002 (I joined the project around that time, I still remember the excitement in the community) and the recent GNOME 3.0 release in 2011 (I can't believe I wrote the 3.0 plan more than three years ago already...). Even though I'm less involved nowadays, GNOME is my family.

GNOME is fifteen years old!

And finally, on August 16th, Debian reaches a new milestone. In 1993, the imminent release of the first version was announced, which makes the project nineteen years old now. I've always loved Debian, and I've long wondered whether I should become a Debian Developer, but I never made the jump as I chose to focus on upstream activities instead for my free time. And then I joined openSUSE. But it's never too late, so who knows, maybe one day...

Debian is nineteen years old!

I use what those three projects deliver daily, literally. Many thanks to everyone who made and still make this possible!

Wednesday 25 July 2012

GUADEC, here I come

I'm leaving for the airport in a few minutes: GUADEC is my next stop!

Like a few other people, I'll land just before midnight, and hopefully there'll still be people hanging around in the lobby with the pre-registration event. Will be good to see old friends and discuss crazy things :-)

I am attending GUADEC

Thursday 19 July 2012

Moving on to something completely different

Last month, I got a new job! After three years in the openSUSE Boosters team, I joined the SUSE Cloud team. I'm now working on OpenStack and on SUSE Cloud itself. Quite a big change!

I had planned a long time ago that the release of GNOME 3.0 would be a good time for me to look at what's next. When it went out, I actually took a few months to cool down a bit (it was pretty much needed), and also have some good fun with openSUSE. But after a while, this desire of trying something new came back: I had been working on the desktop for nearly ten years, and on a distribution for four years. Those were exciting years, but at the end, it started to feel like, you know, work. I wanted to stay involved in GNOME, in the free desktop in general, in openSUSE, in cross-distro collaboration: this is not just work and this should not be just work. I didn't want to slowly move to doing stuff while not caring anymore. This is how I found out that I needed to go back to the early days and contribute in my free time again :-)

There was still the question of, well, work. I started looking around, and I had some good discussions with several people about what to do next (thanks to everyone who took some time for this!). i must admit I changed my mind several times. I was not necessarily looking for a developer position (quite the contrary, actually), as I knew that for me to be motivated for a new project as a developer, the project had to be one that I could care about, one that has a free software community around it and one that would get me out of my comfort zone (so not on the desktop nor on a distro) — yeah, not easy :-) But at some point, SUSE had this cool developer position related to OpenStack. Good timing. (Btw, we're still hiring!)

It's been great so far; of course, you need to ignore the buzz words ;-) I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, I got served: new project, new community, new code, etc. It didn't help that the hard disk in my laptop decided it was the perfect moment to die, and that Lenovo took weeks to send me a replacement disk (finally got it yesterday). But now I'm all set, so let's have fun!

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by Vincent