February 27, 2021

Russ Allbery

DocKnot 4.01

DocKnot is my software documentation and release management tool. This release adds support for a global user configuration file separate from the metadata for any given project and adds support for signing generated distribution tarballs with GnuPG. Currently, the only configuration options for the global configuration file are to set the destination location of generated distributions and the PGP key to use when signing them.

This release also removes some now-unnecessary helper functions, fixes docknot --help, and cleans up some documentation bugs left over from the big changes in 4.00.

You can get the latest release from CPAN or from the DocKnot distribution page.

27 February, 2021 09:11PM

Russell Coker

Dima Kogan

horizonator: terrain renderer based on SRTM DEMs

Check this out:

example-interactive.png

I just resurrected and cleaned up an old tool I had lying around. It's now nice and usable by others. This tool loads terrain data, and renders it from the ground, simulating what a human or a camera would see. This is useful for armchair exploring or for identifying peaks. This was relatively novel when I wrote it >10 years ago, but there are a number of similar tools in existence now. This implementation is still useful in that it's freely licensed and contains APIs, so fancier processing can be performed on its output.

Sources and (barely-complete-enough) documentation live here:

https://github.com/dkogan/horizonator

27 February, 2021 08:14PM by Dima Kogan

Petter Reinholdtsen

Updated Valutakrambod, now also with information from NBX

I have neglected the Valutakrambod library for a while, but decided this weekend to give it a face lift. I fixed a few minor glitches in several of the service drivers, where the API had changed since I last looked at the code. I also added support for fetching the order book from the newcomer Norwegian Bitcoin Exchange.

I alsod decided to migrate the project from github to gitlab in the process. If you want a python library for talking to various currency exchanges, check out code for valutakrambod.

This is what the output from 'bin/btc-rates-curses -c' looked like a few minutes ago:

           Name Pair           Bid         Ask Spread Ftcd    Age   Freq
       Bitfinex BTCEUR  39229.0000  39246.0000   0.0%   44     44    nan
        Bitmynt BTCEUR  39071.0000  41048.9000   4.8%   43     74    nan
         Bitpay BTCEUR  39326.7000         nan   nan%   39    nan    nan
       Bitstamp BTCEUR  39398.7900  39417.3200   0.0%    0      0      1
           Bl3p BTCEUR  39158.7800  39581.9000   1.1%    0    nan      3
       Coinbase BTCEUR  39197.3100  39621.9300   1.1%   38    nan    nan
         Kraken+BTCEUR  39432.9000  39433.0000   0.0%    0      0      0
        Paymium BTCEUR  39437.2100  39499.9300   0.2%    0   2264    nan
        Bitmynt BTCNOK 409750.9600 420516.8500   2.6%   43     74    nan
         Bitpay BTCNOK 410332.4000         nan   nan%   39    nan    nan
       Coinbase BTCNOK 408675.7300 412813.7900   1.0%   38    nan    nan
        MiraiEx BTCNOK 412174.1800 418396.1500   1.5%   34    nan    nan
            NBX BTCNOK 405835.9000 408921.4300   0.8%   33    nan    nan
       Bitfinex BTCUSD  47341.0000  47355.0000   0.0%   44     53    nan
         Bitpay BTCUSD  47388.5100         nan   nan%   39    nan    nan
       Coinbase BTCUSD  47153.6500  47651.3700   1.0%   37    nan    nan
         Gemini BTCUSD  47416.0900  47439.0500   0.0%   36    336    nan
         Hitbtc BTCUSD  47429.9900  47386.7400  -0.1%    0      0      0
         Kraken+BTCUSD  47401.7000  47401.8000   0.0%    0      0      0
  Exchangerates EURNOK     10.4012     10.4012   0.0%   38  76236    nan
     Norgesbank EURNOK     10.4012     10.4012   0.0%   31  76236    nan
       Bitstamp EURUSD      1.2030      1.2045   0.1%    2      2      1
  Exchangerates EURUSD      1.2121      1.2121   0.0%   38  76236    nan
     Norgesbank USDNOK      8.5811      8.5811   0.0%   31  76236    nan

Yes, I notice the negative spread on Hitbtc. Either I fail to understand their Websocket API or they are sending bogus data. I've seen the same with Kraken, and suspect there is something wrong with the data they send.

As usual, if you use Bitcoin and want to show your support of my activities, please send Bitcoin donations to my address 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b.

27 February, 2021 12:30PM

Reproducible Builds (diffoscope)

diffoscope 168 released

The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 168. This version includes the following changes:

* Don't call difflib.Differ.compare with very large inputs; it is at least
  O(n^2) and makes diffoscope appear to hang.
  (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#240)
* Don't use "Inheriting PATH of X" in debug log message; use "PATH is X".
* Correct the capitalisation of jQuery.

You find out more by visiting the project homepage.

27 February, 2021 12:00AM

February 26, 2021

hackergotchi for Ritesh Raj Sarraf

Ritesh Raj Sarraf

Wayland KDE X11

KDE Impressions

These days, I often hear a lot about Wayland. And how much of effort is being put into it; not just by the Embedded world but also the usual Desktop systems, namely KDE and GNOME.

In recent past, I switched back to KDE and have been (very) happy about the switch. Even though the KDE 4 (and initial KDE 5) debacle had burnt many, coming back to a usable KDE desktop is always a delight. It makes me feel home with the elegance, while at the same time the flexibility, it provides. It feels so nice to draft this blog article from Kwrite + VI Input Mode

Thanks to the great work of the Debian KDE Team, but Norbert Preining in particular, who has helped bring very up-to-date KDE packages into Debian. Right now, I’m on a Plamsa 5.21.1 desktop, which is recent by all standards.

Wayland

Almost all the places in the Linux world these days are busy with integrating Wayland as the primary display service. Not sure what the current status on the GNOME side is but I definitely keep trying KDE + Wayland with every release.

I keep trying with every release because it still is not prime for daily use. And it makes me get back to X11, no matter how dated some may call. Fact is, X11 still shines to me as an end-user.

Glitches with Wayland still are (Based on this week’s test on Plasma 5.21.1):

  • Horrible performance compared to X11
  • Very crashy, especially when hotplugging secondary display. Plasma would just crash. X11 is very resilient to such things, part of the reason I can think is the age of the codebase.
  • Many many applications still need to be fixed for Wayland. Or Wayland needs to accomodate them in some way. XWayland does not really feel like the answer.

And while KDE keeps insisting users to switch to Wayland, as that’s where all the new enhancements and fixes are put in, someone like me still needs to stick to X11 for the time being. So to get my shiny new LG 27" 4K Monitor (3840x2160 60.00*+) to work without too much glitch, I had to live with an alias:

$ alias | grep xrandr
alias rrs_xrandr_lg='xrandr --output DP-1 --mode 3840x2160 --scale .75x.75'
18:31 ♒ ॐ ♅ ♄ ⛢     ☺ 😄  

Plasma 5.21

On the brighter side, the Plasma 5.21.1 release brings some nice enhancements in other areas.

  • I’m now able to make use of tighter integration with systemd/cgroups, with better organization and management of processes overall.
  • The new Plasma theme, Breeze Twilight, is a good blend of Light + Dark.

I also appreciate the work put in by Michail Vourlakos. The KDE project is lucky to have a developer/designer like him. His vision and work into the KDE desktop is well beyond a writing by me.

$ usystemctl status plasma-plasmashell.service 
● plasma-plasmashell.service - KDE Plasma Workspace
     Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/user/plasma-plasmashell.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Fri 2021-02-26 18:34:23 IST; 13s ago
   Main PID: 501806 (plasmashell)
      Tasks: 21 (limit: 18821)
     Memory: 759.8M
        CPU: 13.706s
     CGroup: /user.slice/user-1000.slice/user@1000.service/session.slice/plasma-plasmashell.service
             └─501806 /usr/bin/plasmashell --no-respawn
             
Feb 26 18:35:00 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:21 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:49 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
Feb 26 18:35:57 priyasi plasmashell[501806]: qml: recreating buttons
18:36 ♒ ॐ ♅ ♄ ⛢     ☺ 😄

OBS - Open Build Service

I should also thank the OpenSUSE folks for the OBS work. It has enabled the close equivalent (or better, in my experience) of PPAs for Debian. And that is what has enabled developers like Norbert to easily and quickly be able to deliver the entire KDE suite.

26 February, 2021 11:38AM by Ritesh Raj Sarraf (rrs@researchut.com)

February 24, 2021

hackergotchi for Rogério Brito

Rogério Brito

Alternatives to ikiwiki?

It's been quite a long time since I last posted anything on this blog and I can say that one of the reasons for that I don't feel comfortable using ikiwiki anymore. ☹

I am actively looking for alternatives to ikiwiki that allow me, mainly, to write blog posts with the following characteristics (not necessarily in order of importance):

  • Write in a lightweight markup language (e.g., markdown), with some features, like creating tables, having footnotes etc. I may be open to using something else (like restructured text or, perhaps, asciidoc, about which I know next to nothing), if necessary.
  • Store what I do in a git repository, to be future-proof.
  • Create a static site from a version of what I wrote in the lightweight markup language, which is especially useful for hosting the site with, say, GitHub pages, until I find where I can host my site. (My old email and account of more than 25 years is being closed and I will be "homeless", which is unfortunate).
  • Use mathematics, extensively, mostly copying and pasting from LaTeX documents.

    This, is one major pain point with ikiwiki. Apparently almost nobody cares about supporting MathJax/KaTex out-of-the-box. ☹ To add insult to injury, the templates are very general to the point of being very hard to read (read: feature bloat) and it doesn't help that my editor (emacs) doesn't know (at least in its current configuration) how to display its structure.

    I have tried to use hugo (which we happily have packaged in Debian), but configuring it is totally crazy: first, you have to decide on a theme and, then, (almost?) everything that you do is tied to that theme. This is (almost) the opposite to the philosophy of LaTeX: first, write your text and, only then, worry about the style/looks. Separation of content and form doesn't seem to be the priority, from a few days looking a it.1

    I have more to say about hugo and I failed, but I would still like to give it a try, if I don't find anything else that has the features that I'm looking for.
  • Enable syntax-highlighting for code samples. I like to post my discoveries regarding programs and programming languages and, of course, having readable code in my blog would be a very good thing.2
  • Be packaged in Debian. We all love the convenience that this brings, of course.

Connected to the fact that I only can have static sites (no CGI, no forms, nothing else), I am, at this time, using Disqus to host the comments of my blog. I am also thinking of alternatives to this, like sending people to Twitter (or mastodon or email) or some site similar to Disqus, but with more of a Free Software inclination.

Anyway, I am almost ready for any kind of transition, since I have already converted most posts (of course, not yet this one ☺) with some Python scripts to a format that I feel is a bit more format-agnostic than what ikiwiki uses.


  1. That's not to mention the myriad of hugo themes and theme authors that try to bribe you into using their hosted solutions (despite branding everything as "open source! OMG!"), like "wowchemy"—you will have a hard time untangling the instructions of their so bloated themes to be usable on your local computer; so much so to the point that you give up with their convoluted configuration (which, potentially, doesn't "transfer" to other themes, if you are worried about possibly changing themes in the future). ↩

  2. I like the style of fenced blocks that GitHub used, where you prefix the code with the name of the language to give a hint of how to highlight the code snipped. ↩

24 February, 2021 09:16PM

February 22, 2021

hackergotchi for Dirk Eddelbuettel

Dirk Eddelbuettel

pkgKitten 0.2.1: Now with roxygen2 support

kitten

A new release 0.2.1 of pkgKitten hit CRAN earlier today, and has been uploaded to Debian as well. pkgKitten makes it simple to create new R packages via a simple function invocation. A wrapper kitten.r exists in the littler package to make it even easier.

This release builds on the support for tinytest we added in release 0.2.0 by adding more optional support, this time for roxygen2. It also corrects a minor documentation snafu, and updates the CI use.

Changes in version 0.2.1 (2021-02-22)

  • A small documentation error was corrected (David Dalpiaz in #15).

  • A new option ‘bunny’ adds support for roxygen2.

  • Continuous integration now use run.sh from r-ci.

More details about the package are at the pkgKitten webpage, the pkgKitten docs site, and the pkgKitten GitHub repo.

Courtesy of my CRANberries site, there is also a diffstat report for this release.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

22 February, 2021 11:26PM

Dima Kogan

feedgnuplot: labelled bar charts and a guide

I just released feedgnuplot 1.57, which includes two new pieces that I've long thought about adding:

Labelled bar charts

I've thought about adding these for a while, but had no specific need for them. Finally, somebody asked for it, and I wrote the code. Now that I can, I will probably use these all the time. The new capability can override the usual numerical tic labels on the x axis, and instead use text from a column in the data stream.

The most obvious use case is labelled bar graphs:

echo "# label value
      aaa     2
      bbb     3
      ccc     5
      ddd     2" | \
feedgnuplot --vnl \
            --xticlabels \
            --with 'boxes fill solid border lt -1' \
            --ymin 0 --unset grid

xticlabels-basic.svg

But the usage is completely generic. All --xticlabels does, is to accept a data column as labels for the x-axis tics. Everything else that's supported by feedgnuplot and gnuplot works as before. For instance, I can give a domain, and use a style that takes y values and a color:

echo "# x label y color
        5 aaa   2 1
        6 bbb   3 2
       10 ccc   5 4
       11 ddd   2 1" | \
feedgnuplot --vnl --domain \
            --xticlabels \
            --tuplesizeall 3 \
            --with 'points pt 7 ps 2 palette' \
            --xmin 4 --xmax 12 \
            --ymin 0 --ymax 6 \
            --unset grid

xticlabels-points-palette.svg

And we can use gnuplot's support for clustered histograms:

echo "# x label a b
        5 aaa   2 1
        6 bbb   3 2
       10 ccc   5 4
       11 ddd   2 1" | \
vnl-filter -p label,a,b | \
feedgnuplot --vnl \
            --xticlabels \
            --set 'style data histogram' \
            --set 'style histogram cluster gap 2' \
            --set 'style fill solid border lt -1' \
            --autolegend \
            --ymin 0 --unset grid

xticlabels-clustered.svg

Or we can stack the bars on top of one another:

echo "# x label a b
        5 aaa   2 1
        6 bbb   3 2
       10 ccc   5 4
       11 ddd   2 1" | \
vnl-filter -p label,a,b | \
feedgnuplot --vnl \
            --xticlabels \
            --set 'style data histogram' \
            --set 'style histogram rowstacked' \
            --set 'boxwidth 0.8' \
            --set 'style fill solid border lt -1' \
            --autolegend \
            --ymin 0 --unset grid

xticlabels-stacked.svg

This is gnuplot's "row stacking". It also supports "column stacking", which effectively transposes the data, and it's not obvious to me that makes sense in the context of feedgnuplot. Similarly, it can label y and/or z axes; I can't think of a specific use case, so I don't have a realistic usage in mind, and I don't support that yet. If anybody can think of a use case, email me.

Notes and limitations:

  • Since with --domain you can pass in both an x value and a tic label, it is possible to give it conflicting tic labels for the same x value. gnuplot itself has this problem too, and it just takes the last label it has for a given x. This is probably good-enough.
  • feedgnuplot uses whitespace-separated columns with no escape mechanism, so the field labels cannot have whitespace in it. Fixing this is probably not worth the effort.
  • These tic labels do not count towards the tuplesize
  • I really need to add a similar feature to gnuplotlib. This will happen when I need it or when somebody asks for it, whichever comes first.

A feedgnuplot guide

This fills in a sorely needed missing part of the documentation: the main feedgnuplot website now has a page containing examples and corresponding graphical output. This serves as a tutorial and a gallery demonstrating some usages. It's somewhat incomplete, since it can't show streaming plots, or real-world interfacing with stuff that produces data: some of those usages remain the the README. It's a million times better than what I had before though, which was nothing.

Internally this is done just like the gnuplotlib guide: the thing is an org-mode document with org-babel snippets that are evaluated by emacs to make the images. There's some fancy emacs lisp to tie it all together. Works great!

22 February, 2021 06:12PM by Dima Kogan

hackergotchi for Charles Plessy

Charles Plessy

Containers

I was using a container for a bioinformatics tool released two weeks ago, but my shell script wrapping the tools could not run because the container was built around an old version of Debian (Jessie) that was released in 2015. I was asked to use a container for bioinformatics, based on conda, and found one that distributes coreutils, but it did not include a real version of sed. I try Debian's docker image. No luck; it does not contain ps, which my workflow manager needs. But fortunately I eventually figured out that Ubuntu's Docker image contains coreutils, sed and ps together! In the world of containers, this sounds like a little miracle.

22 February, 2021 04:11PM

John Goerzen

Recovering Our Lost Free Will Online: Tools and Techniques That Are Available Now

As I’ve been thinking and writing about privacy and decentralization lately, I had a conversation with a colleague this week, and he commented about how loss of privacy is related to loss of agency: that is, loss of our ability to make our own choices, pursue our own interests, and be master of our own attention.

In terms of telecommunications, we have never really been free, though in terms of Internet and its predecessors, there have been times where we had a lot more choice. Many are too young to remember this, and for others, that era is a distant memory.

The irony is that our present moment is one of enormous consolidation of power, and yet also one of a proliferation of technologies that let us wrest back some of that power. In this post, I hope to enlighten or remind us of some of the choices we have lost — and also talk about the ways in which we can choose to regain them, already, right now.

I will talk about the possibilities, the big dreams that are possible now, and then go into more detail about the solutions.

The Problems & Possibilities

The limitations of “online”

We make the assumption that we must be “online” to exchange data. This is reinforced by many “modern” protocols; Twitter clients, for instance, don’t tend to let you make posts by relaying them through disconnected devices.

What would it be like if you could fully participate in global communities without a constant Internet connection? If you could share photos with your friends, read the news, read your email, etc. even if you don’t have a connection at present? Even if the device you use to do that never has a connection, but can route messages via other devices that do?

Would it surprise you to learn that this was once the case? Back in the days of UUCP, much email and Usenet news — a global discussion forum that didn’t require an Internet connection — was relayed via occasional calls over phone lines. This technology remains with us, and has even improved.

Sadly, many modern protocols make no effort in this regard. Some email clients will let you compose messages offline to send when you get online later, but the assumption always is that you will be connected to an IP network again soon.

NNCP, on the other hand, lets you relay messages over TCP, a radio, a satellite, or a USB stick. Email and Usenet, since they were designed in an era where store-and-forward was valued, can actually still be used in an entirely “offline” fashion (without ever touching an IP-based network). All it takes is for someone to care to make it happen. You can even still do it over UUCP if you like.

The physical and data link layers

Many of us just accept that we communicate in a few ways: Wifi for short distances, and then cable modems or DSL for our local Internet connection, and then many people are fuzzy about what happens after that. Or, alternatively, we have 4G phones that are the local Internet connection, and the same “fuzzy” things happen after.

Think about this for a moment. Which of these do you control in any way? Sometimes just wifi, sometimes maybe you have choices of local Internet providers. After that, your traffic is handled by enormous infrastructure companies.

There is choice here.

People in ham radio have been communicating digitally over long distances without the support of the traditional Internet for decades, but the technology to do this is now more accessible to anyone. Long-distance radio has had tremendous innovation in the last decade; cheap radios can now communicate over several miles/km without any other infrastructure at all. We all carry around radios (Wifi and Bluetooth) in our pockets that don’t have to be used as mere access points to the Internet or as drivers of headphones, but can also form their own networks directly (Briar).

Meshtastic is an example; it’s an instant messenger that can form a mesh over many miles/km and requires no IP infrastructure at all. Briar is similar. XBee radios form a mesh in hardware, allowing peers to reach each other (also over many miles/km) with a serial or framed protocol.

Loss of peer-to-peer

Back in the late 90s, I worked at a university. I had a 386 on my desk for a workstation – not a powerful computer even then. But I put the boa webserver on it and could just serve pages on the Internet. I didn’t have to get permission. Didn’t have to pay a hosting provider. I could just DO it.

And of course that is because the university had no firewall and no NAT. Every PC at the university was a full participant on the Internet as much as the servers at Microsoft or DEC. All I needed was a DNS entry. I could run my own SMTP server if I wanted, run a web or Gopher server, and that was that.

There are many reasons why this changed. Nowadays most residential ISPs will block SMTP for their customers, and if they didn’t, others would; large email providers have decided not to federate with IPs in residential address spaces. Most people have difficulty even getting a static IP address in the first place. Many are behind firewalls, NATs, or both, meaning that incoming connections of any kind are problematic.

Do you see what that means? It has weakened the whole point of the Internet being a network of peers. While IP still acts that way, as a practical matter, there are clients that are prevented from being servers by administrative policy they have no control over.

Imagine if you, a person with an Internet connection to your laptop or phone, could just decide to host a website, or a forum on it. For moderate levels of load, they are certainly capable of this. The only thing in the way is the network management policies you can’t control.

Elaborate technologies exist to try to bridge this divide, and some, like Tor or cjdns, can work quite well. More on this below.

Expense of running something popular

Related to the loss of peer-to-peer infrastructure is the very high cost of hosting something popular. Do you want to share videos with lots of people? That almost certainly is going to require expensive equipment and bandwidth.

There is a reason that there are only a small handful of popular video streaming sites online. It requires a ton of money to host videos at scale.

What if it didn’t? What if you could achieve economies of scale so much that you, an individual, could compete with the likes of YouTube? You wouldn’t necessarily have to run ads to support the service. You wouldn’t have to have billions of dollars or billions of viewers just to make it work.

This technology exists right now. Of course many of you are aware of how Bittorrent leverages the swarm for files. But projects like IPFS, Dat, and Peertube have taken this many steps further to integrate it into a global ecosystem. And, at least in the case of Peertube, this is a thing that works right now in any browser already!

Application-level “walled gardens”

I was recently startled at how much excitement there was when Github introduced “dark mode”. Yes, Github now offers two colors on its interface. Already back in the 80s and 90s, many DOS programs had more options than that.

Git is a decentralized protocol, but Github has managed to make it centralized.

Email is a decentralized protocol — pick your own provider, and they all communicate — but Facebook and Twitter aren’t. You can’t just pick your provider for Facebook. It’s Facebook or nothing.

There is a profit motive in locking others out; these networks want to keep you using their platforms because their real customers are advertisers, and they want to keep showing you ads.

Is it possible to have a world where you get to pick your own app for sharing photos, and it works even if your parents use a different one? Yes, yes it is.

Mastodon and the Fediverse are fantastic examples for social media. Pixelfed is specifically designed for photos, Mastodon for short-form communication, there’s Pleroma for more long-form communication, and they all work together. You can use Mastodon to read Pleroma content or look at Pixelfed photos, and there are many (free) providers of each.

Freedom from manipulation

I recently wrote about the dangers of the attention economy, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. Fundamentally, you are not the customer of Facebook or Google; advertisers are. They optimize their site to keep you on it as much as possible so that they can show you as many ads as possible which makes them as much money as possible. Ads, of course, are fundamentally seeking to manipulate your behavior (“buy this product”).

By lowering the cost of running services, we can give a huge boost to hobbyists and nonprofits that want to do so without an ultimate profit motive. For-profit companies benefit also, with a dramatically reduced cost structure that frees them to pursue their mission instead of so many ads.

Freedom from snooping (privacy and anonymity)

These days, it’s not just government snooping that people think about. It’s data stolen by malware, spies at corporations (whether human or algorithmic), and even things like basic privacy of one’s own security footage. Here the picture is improving; encryption in transit, at least at a basic level, has become much more common with TLS being a standard these days. Sadly, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is not nearly as much, perhaps because corporations have a profit motive to have access to your plaintext and metadata.

Closely related to privacy is anonymity: that is, being able to do things in an anonymous fashion. The two are not necessarily equal: you could send an encrypted message but reveal who the correspondents are, as with email; or, you could send a plaintext message over a Tor exit node that hides who the correspondents are. It is sometimes difficult to achieve both.

Nevertheless, numerous answers exist here that tackle one or both problems, from the Signal messenger to Tor.

Solutions That Exist Today

Let’s dive in to some of the things that exist today.

One concept you’ll see in many of these is integrated encryption with public keys used for addressing. In other words, your public key is akin to an IP address (and in some cases, is literally your IP address.)

Data link and networking technologies (some including P2P)

  • Starting with the low-power and long-distance technologies, I’ve written quite a bit about LoRA, which are low-power long-distance radios. They can easily achieve several miles/km while still using much less than 1W of power. LoRA is a common building block of mesh off-the-grid messenger systems such as meshtastic, which forms an ad-hoc mesh of LoRA devices with days-long battery life and miles-long communication abilities. LoRA trades speed for bandwidth; in its longest-distance modes, it may operate at 300bps or less. That is not a typo. Some LoRAWAN devices have battery life measured in years (usually one-way sensors and such). Also, the Pine64 folks are working to integrate LoRA on nearly all their product line, which includes single-board computers, phones, and laptops.
  • Similar to LoRA is XBee SX from Digi. While not quite as long-distance as LoRA, it does still do quite a bit with low power and also goes many miles. XBee modules have automatic mesh routing in firmware, and can be used in either frame mode or “serial cable emulation” mode in which they act as if they’re a serial cable. Unlike plain LoRA, XBee radios do hardware retransmit. They also run faster, at up to about 150Kbps – though that is still a lot slower than wifi.
  • I’ve written about secure mesh messengers recently. One of them, Briar, particularly stands out in that it is able to form an ad-hoc mesh using phone’s Bluetooth radios. It can also route messages over the public Internet, which it does exclusively using Tor.
  • I’ve also written a lot about NNCP, the sort of modernized UUCP. NNCP is completely different than the others here in that it is a store-and-forward network – sort of a modern UUCP. NNCP has easy built-in support for routing packets using USB drives, clean serial interfaces, TCP, basically anything you can pipe to, even broadcast satellite and such. And you don’t even have to pick one; you can use all of the above: Internet when it’s available, USB sticks or portable hard drives when not, etc. It uses Tor-line onion routing with E2EE. You’re not going to run TCP over NNCP, but files (including videos), backups, email, even remote execution are all possible. It is the most “Unixy” of the modern delay-tolerant networks and makes an excellent choice for a number of use cases where store-and-forward and extreme flexibility in transportation make a lot of sense.
  • Moving now into the range of speeds and technologies we’re more used to, there is a lot of material out there on building mesh networks on Wifi or Wifi-adjacent technology. Amateur radio operators have been active in this area for years, and even if you aren’t a licensed ham and don’t necessarily flash amateur radio firmware onto your access points, a lot of the ideas and concepts they cover could be of interest. For instance, the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network covers both permanent and ad-hoc meshs, and this AREDN video covers device selection for AREDN — which also happens to be devices that would be useful for quite a few other mesh or long-distance point-to-point setups.
  • Once you have a physical link of some sort, cjdns and the Hyperboria network have the goals of literally replacing the Internet – but are fully functional immediately. cjdns assigns each node an IPv6 address based on its public key. The network uses DHT for routing between nodes. It can run directly atop Ethernet (and Wifi) as its own native protocol, without an IP stack underneath. It can also run as a layer atop the current Internet. And it can optionally be configured to let nodes find an exit node to reach the current public Internet, which they can do opportunistically if given permission. All traffic is E2EE. One can run an isolated network, or join the global Hyperboria network. The idea is that local meshes could be formed, and then geographically distant meshes can be linked together by simply using the current public Internet as a dumb transport. This, actually, strongly resembles the early days of Internet buildout under NSFNet. The Torento Mesh is a prominent user of cjdns, and they publish quite a bit of information online. cjdns as a standalone identity is in decline, but forms the basis of the pkt network, which is designed to foster an explosion in WISPs.
  • Similar in concept to cjdns is Yggdrasil, which uses a different routing algorithm. It is now more active than cjdns and has active participants and developers.
  • Althea is a startup in this space, hoping to encourage communities to build meshes whose purpose is to provide various routes to access to the traditional Internet, including digital currency micropayments. This story documents how one rural community is using it.
  • Tor is a somewhat interesting case. While it doesn’t provide kernel-level routing, it does provide a SOCKS5 proxy. Traditionally, Tor is used to achieve anonymity while browsing the public Internet via an exit node. However, you can stay entirely in-network by using onion services (basically ports that are open to Tor). All Tor traffic is onion-routed so that the originating IP cannot be discovered. Data within Tor is E2EE, though if you are using an exit node to the public Internet, that of course can’t apply there.
  • GNUnet is a large suite of tools for P2P communication. It includes file downloading, Tor-like IP over the network, a DNS replacement, and facilitates quite a few of the goals discussed here. (Added in a 2021-02-22 update)

P2P Infrastructure

While some of the technologies above, such as cjdns, explicitly facitilitate peer-to-peer communication, there are some other application-level technologies to look at.

  • IPFS has been having a lot of buzz lately, since the Brave browser integrated support. IPFS headlines as “powers the distributed web”, but it is actually more than that; various other apps layer atop it. The core idea is that content you request gets reshared by your node for some period of time, somewhat akin to Bittorrent. IPFS runs atop the regular Internet and is typically accessed through an app.
  • The Dat Protocol is somewhat similar in concept to IPFS, though the approach is somewhat different; it emphasizes efficient distribution of updates at the expense of requiring a git-like history.
  • IPFS itself is based on libp2p, which is designed to be a generic infrastructure for adding P2P capabilities to your own code. It is probably fair to say libp2p is still quite complex compared to ordinary TCP, and the language support is in its infancy, but nevertheless it is quite an exciting development to watch.
  • Of course almost all of us are familiar with Bittorrent, the software that first popularized the idea of a distributed mesh sharing knowledge about which chunks of a dataset they have in order to maximize the efficiency of distributing the whole thing. Bittorrent is still in wide use (and, despite its reputation, that wide use includes legitimate users such as archive.org and Debian).
  • I recently wrote about building a delay-tolerant offline-capable mesh with Syncthing. Syncthing, on its surface, is something like an open source Dropbox. But look into a bit and you realize it’s fully P2P, serverless, can support various network topologies including intermittent connectivity between network parts, and such. My article dives into that in more detail. If your needs are mostly related to files, Syncthing can make a fine mesh infrastructure that is auto-healing and is equally at home on the public Internet, a local wifi access point with no Internet at all, a private mesh like cjdns, etc.
  • Also showing some promise is Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB). Its most well-known application is a social network, but in my opinion some of the other applications atop SSB are more interesting. SSB is designed to be offline-friendly, can do things like automatically exchange data with peers on the same Wifi (eg, a coffee shop), etc., though it is an append-only log that can be unwieldy on mobile sometimes.

Instant Messengers and Chat

I won’t go into a lot of detail here since I recently wrote a roundup of secure mesh messengers and also a followup article about Signal and some hidden drawbacks of P2P. Please refer to those articles for some interesting things that are happening in this space.

Matrix is a distributed IM platform similar in concept to Slack or IRC, but globally distributed in a mesh. It supports optional E2EE.

Social Media

I wrote recently about how to join the Fediverse, which covered joining Mastodon, a federeated, decentralized social network. Mastodon is the largest of these, with several million users, and is something of a much nicer version of Twitter.

Mastodon is also part of what is known as the “Fediverse”, which are applications that are loosely joined together by their support of the ActivityPub protocol. Other popular Fediverse applications include Pixelfed (similar to Instagram) and Peertube for sharing video. Peertube is particularly interesting in that it supports Webtorrent for efficiently distributing popular videos. Webtorrent is akin to Bittorrent running efficiently inside your browser.

Concluding Remarks

Part of my goal with this is encouraging people to dream big, to ask questions like:

What could you do if offline were easy?

What is possible if you have freedom in the physical and data link layers? Dream big.

We’re so used to thinking that it’s quite difficult for two devices on the Internet to talk to each other. What would be possible if this were actually quite easy?

The assumption that costs rise dramatically as popularity increases is also baked into our thought processes. What if that weren’t the case — could you take on Youtube from your garage? Would lowering barriers to entry lower the ad economy and let nonprofits have more equal footing with large corporations?

We have so many walled gardens, from Github to Facebook, that we almost forget it doesn’t have to be that way.

So having asked these questions, my secondary point is to suggest that these aren’t pie-in-the-sky notions. These possibilites are with us right now.

You’ll notice from this list that virtually every one of these technologies is ad-free at its heart (though some would be capable of serving ads). They give you back your attention. Many preserve privacy, anonymity, or both. Many dramatically improve your freedom of association and communication. Technologies like IPFS and Bittorrent ease the burden of running something popular.

Some are quite easy to use (Mastodon or Peertube) while others are much more complex (libp2p or the lower-level mesh network systems).

Clearly there is still room for improvement in many areas.

But my fundamental point is this: good technology is here, right now. Technical people can vote with their feet and wallets and start using it. Early adopters will help guide the way for the next set of improvements. Join us!

22 February, 2021 04:13AM by John Goerzen

Russ Allbery

Review: Finder

Review: Finder, by Suzanne Palmer

Series: Finder Chronicles #1
Publisher: DAW Books
Copyright: 2019
ISBN: 0-7564-1511-X
Format: Kindle
Pages: 391

Fergus Ferguson is a repo man, or professional finder as he'd prefer. He locates things taken by people who don't own them and returns them to their owners. In this case, the thing in question is a sentient starship, and the person who stole it is Arum Gilger, a warlord in a wired-together agglomeration of space habitats and mined-out asteroids named Cernekan. Cernee, as the locals call it, is in the backwaters of human space near the Gap between the spiral arms of the galaxy.

One of Fergus's first encounters in Cernee is with an old lichen farmer named Mattie Vahn who happens to take the same cable car between stations that he does. Bad luck for Fergus, since that's also why Gilger's men first disable and then blow up the cable car, leaving Mattie dead and Fergus using the auto-return feature of Mattie's crates to escape to the Vahns' home station. The Vahns are not a power in Cernee, not exactly, but they do have some important alliances and provide an inroads for Fergus to get the lay of the land and map out a plan to recover the Venetia's Sword.

This is a great hook. I would happily read a whole series about an interstellar repo man, particularly one like Fergus who only works for the good guys and recovers things from petty warlords. Fergus is a thoughtful, creative loner whose style is improvised plans, unexpected tactics, and thinking on his feet rather than either bluster or force (although there is a fair bit of death in this book, some of which is gruesome). About two-thirds of the book is in roughly that expected shape. Fergus makes some local contacts, maps out the political terrain, and maneuvers himself towards his target through a well-crafted slum of wired-together habitats and working-class miners. Also, full points for the creative security system on the starship that tries to solve a nearly impossible problem (a backdoor supplementing pre-shared keys with a cultural authentication scheme that can't be vulnerable to brute force or database searches).

Halfway through, though, Palmer throws a curve ball at the reader that involves the unexplained alien presence that's been lurking around the system. That part of the plot shifts focus somewhat abruptly from the local power struggle Fergus has been navigating to something far more intrusive and personal. Fergus has to both reckon with a drastic change in his life and deal with memories of his early life on an Earth drowning in climate change, his abusive childhood, and his time spent in the Martian resistance.

This is also a fine topic for an SF novel, but I think Finder suffered a bit from falling between two stools. The fun competence drama of the lone repossession agent striking back against petty tyrants by taking away their toys is derailed by the sudden burst of introspection and emotional processing, but the processing is not deep or complex enough to carry the story on its own. Fergus had an awful and emotionally alienated childhood followed by some nasty trauma, to which he has responded by carefully never getting close to anyone so that he never hurts anyone who relies on him. And yet, he's a fundamentally decent person and makes friends despite himself, and from there you can probably write the rest of the arc yourself. There's nothing wrong with this as the emotional substrate of a book that's primarily focused on an action plot, but the screeching change of focus threw me off.

The good news is that the end of the book returns to the bits that I liked about the first half. The mixed news is that I thought the political situation in Cernee resolved much too easily and much too straightforwardly. I would have preferred the twisty alliances to stay twisty, rather than collapse messily into a far simpler moral duality. I will also speak on behalf of all the sentient starship lovers out there and complain that the Venetia's Sword was woefully underused. It had better show up in a future volume!

This unsteadiness and a few missed opportunities make Finder a good book rather than a great one, but I was still happily entertained and willing to write that off as first-novel unevenness. There are a lot of background elements left unresolved for a future volume, but Finder comes to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended if you're looking for an undemanding space action story with a quick pace and decent, if not very deep, characters.

Followed by Driving the Deep.

Rating: 7 out of 10

22 February, 2021 04:06AM

February 21, 2021

hackergotchi for Erich Schubert

Erich Schubert

My first Rust crate: faster kmedoids clustering

I have written my first Rust crate: kmedoids.

Python users can use the wrapper package kmedoids.

It implements k-medoids clustering, and includes our new FasterPAM algorithm that drastically reduces the computational overhead. As long as you can afford to compute the distance matrix of your data set, clustering it with k-medoids is now feasible even for large k. (If your data is continuous and you are interested in minimizing squared errors, k-means surely remains the better choice!)

My take on Rust so far:

  • Pedantic. Which is good if you want quality code. Which is bad if you want others to contribute.
  • Run time was very fast, I liked that. The pedanticness gives the compiler additional information to optimize better, of course.
  • Tooling is okay, but can be improved. Compilers give good error messages, but the color scheme assumes a black background terminal.
  • I’d prefer to have it properly integrated in my OS, rather than having yet-another-package-manager in the form of rustup. This is the road to madness that everything now brings its own package manager, this should be part of the operating system.
  • The python module generation with PyO3 is crazy shit, but cool to have.
  • I like the exception handling and optionals so far. And with Rust you know that it will be optimize out very well. With Java you know pretty well that it wont when you’d most need it…
  • It is a pity that there seems to be a secret Rust convention to never documentation internal functions or code, only APIs. Java overdid it the other direction with the convention of documenting stupid getters and setters, but there ought to be a middle ground.
  • They overdid it with making everything as few characters as possible. Code does not get better if its shorter. I have never been a fan of omitting “return” statements (just 6 chars)! But Rust is not the worst here because at least it has strong typing. Implicit returns are error-prone.
  • A simple for i in 0..n { already causes a clippy warning; the clippy rule clearly is overshooting its own description. It fails to detect if the index i is actually needed. So the alternative would be a for (i, item) in list.iter().enumerate() {. And apparently there is some weird reason why iterators are even faster than a range for loop?!?
  • My first interactions with the Rust community were not particularly welcoming.

Will I use it more?

I don’t know. Probably if I need extreme performance, but I likely would not want to do everything my self in a pedantic language. So community is key, and I do not see Rust shine there.

21 February, 2021 11:18PM by Erich Schubert

Enrico Zini

Dmitry Shachnev

ReText turns 10 years

Exactly ten years ago, in February 2011, the first commit in ReText git repository was made. It was just a single 364 lines Python file back then (now the project has more than 6000 lines of Python code).

Since 2011, the editor migrated from SourceForge to GitHub, gained a lot of new features, and — most importantly — now there is an active community around it, which includes both long-time contributors and newcomers who create their first issues or pull requests. I don’t always have enough time to reply to issues or implement new features myself, but the community members help me with this.

Earlier this month, I made a new release (7.2), which adds a side panel with directory tree (contributed by Xavier Gouchet), option to fully highlight wrapped lines (contributed by nihillum), ability to search in the preview mode and much more — see the release page on GitHub.

Side panel in ReText

Also a new version of PyMarkups module was released, which contains all the code for processing various markup languages. It now supports markdown-extensions.yaml files which allow specifying complex extensions options and adds initial support for MathJax 3.

Also check out the release notes for 7.1 which was not announced on this blog.

Future plans include making at least one more release this year, adding support for Qt 6. Qt 5 support will last for at least one more year.

21 February, 2021 06:30PM by Dmitry Shachnev

hackergotchi for Matthew Garrett

Matthew Garrett

Making hibernation work under Linux Lockdown

Linux draws a distinction between code running in kernel (kernel space) and applications running in userland (user space). This is enforced at the hardware level - in x86-speak[1], kernel space code runs in ring 0 and user space code runs in ring 3[2]. If you're running in ring 3 and you attempt to touch memory that's only accessible in ring 0, the hardware will raise a fault. No matter how privileged your ring 3 code, you don't get to touch ring 0.

Kind of. In theory. Traditionally this wasn't well enforced. At the most basic level, since root can load kernel modules, you could just build a kernel module that performed any kernel modifications you wanted and then have root load it. Technically user space code wasn't modifying kernel space code, but the difference was pretty semantic rather than useful. But it got worse - root could also map memory ranges belonging to PCI devices[3], and if the device could perform DMA you could just ask the device to overwrite bits of the kernel[4]. Or root could modify special CPU registers ("Model Specific Registers", or MSRs) that alter CPU behaviour via the /dev/msr interface, and compromise the kernel boundary that way.

It turns out that there were a number of ways root was effectively equivalent to ring 0, and the boundary was more about reliability (ie, a process running as root that ends up misbehaving should still only be able to crash itself rather than taking down the kernel with it) than security. After all, if you were root you could just replace the on-disk kernel with a backdoored one and reboot. Going deeper, you could replace the bootloader with one that automatically injected backdoors into a legitimate kernel image. We didn't have any way to prevent this sort of thing, so attempting to harden the root/kernel boundary wasn't especially interesting.

In 2012 Microsoft started requiring vendors ship systems with UEFI Secure Boot, a firmware feature that allowed[5] systems to refuse to boot anything without an appropriate signature. This not only enabled the creation of a system that drew a strong boundary between root and kernel, it arguably required one - what's the point of restricting what the firmware will stick in ring 0 if root can just throw more code in there afterwards? What ended up as the Lockdown Linux Security Module provides the tooling for this, blocking userspace interfaces that can be used to modify the kernel and enforcing that any modules have a trusted signature.

But that comes at something of a cost. Most of the features that Lockdown blocks are fairly niche, so the direct impact of having it enabled is small. Except that it also blocks hibernation[6], and it turns out some people were using that. The obvious question is "what does hibernation have to do with keeping root out of kernel space", and the answer is a little convoluted and is tied into how Linux implements hibernation. Basically, Linux saves system state into the swap partition and modifies the header to indicate that there's a hibernation image there instead of swap. On the next boot, the kernel sees the header indicating that it's a hibernation image, copies the contents of the swap partition back into RAM, and then jumps back into the old kernel code. What ensures that the hibernation image was actually written out by the kernel? Absolutely nothing, which means a motivated attacker with root access could turn off swap, write a hibernation image to the swap partition themselves, and then reboot. The kernel would happily resume into the attacker's image, giving the attacker control over what gets copied back into kernel space.

This is annoying, because normally when we think about attacks on swap we mitigate it by requiring an encrypted swap partition. But in this case, our attacker is root, and so already has access to the plaintext version of the swap partition. Disk encryption doesn't save us here. We need some way to verify that the hibernation image was written out by the kernel, not by root. And thankfully we have some tools for that.

Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) are cryptographic coprocessors[7] capable of doing things like generating encryption keys and then encrypting things with them. You can ask a TPM to encrypt something with a key that's tied to that specific TPM - the OS has no access to the decryption key, and nor does any other TPM. So we can have the kernel generate an encryption key, encrypt part of the hibernation image with it, and then have the TPM encrypt it. We store the encrypted copy of the key in the hibernation image as well. On resume, the kernel reads the encrypted copy of the key, passes it to the TPM, gets the decrypted copy back and is able to verify the hibernation image.

That's great! Except root can do exactly the same thing. This tells us the hibernation image was generated on this machine, but doesn't tell us that it was done by the kernel. We need some way to be able to differentiate between keys that were generated in kernel and ones that were generated in userland. TPMs have the concept of "localities" (effectively privilege levels) that would be perfect for this. Userland is only able to access locality 0, so the kernel could simply use locality 1 to encrypt the key. Unfortunately, despite trying pretty hard, I've been unable to get localities to work. The motherboard chipset on my test machines simply doesn't forward any accesses to the TPM unless they're for locality 0. I needed another approach.

TPMs have a set of Platform Configuration Registers (PCRs), intended for keeping a record of system state. The OS isn't able to modify the PCRs directly. Instead, the OS provides a cryptographic hash of some material to the TPM. The TPM takes the existing PCR value, appends the new hash to that, and then stores the hash of the combination in the PCR - a process called "extension". This means that the new value of the TPM depends not only on the value of the new data, it depends on the previous value of the PCR - and, in turn, that previous value depended on its previous value, and so on. The only way to get to a specific PCR value is to either (a) break the hash algorithm, or (b) perform exactly the same sequence of writes. On system reset the PCRs go back to a known value, and the entire process starts again.

Some PCRs are different. PCR 23, for example, can be reset back to its original value without resetting the system. We can make use of that. The first thing we need to do is to prevent userland from being able to reset or extend PCR 23 itself. All TPM accesses go through the kernel, so this is a simple matter of parsing the write before it's sent to the TPM and returning an error if it's a sensitive command that would touch PCR 23. We now know that any change in PCR 23's state will be restricted to the kernel.

When we encrypt material with the TPM, we can ask it to record the PCR state. This is given back to us as metadata accompanying the encrypted secret. Along with the metadata is an additional signature created by the TPM, which can be used to prove that the metadata is both legitimate and associated with this specific encrypted data. In our case, that means we know what the value of PCR 23 was when we encrypted the key. That means that if we simply extend PCR 23 with a known value in-kernel before encrypting our key, we can look at the value of PCR 23 in the metadata. If it matches, the key was encrypted by the kernel - userland can create its own key, but it has no way to extend PCR 23 to the appropriate value first. We now know that the key was generated by the kernel.

But what if the attacker is able to gain access to the encrypted key? Let's say a kernel bug is hit that prevents hibernation from resuming, and you boot back up without wiping the hibernation image. Root can then read the key from the partition, ask the TPM to decrypt it, and then use that to create a new hibernation image. We probably want to prevent that as well. Fortunately, when you ask the TPM to encrypt something, you can ask that the TPM only decrypt it if the PCRs have specific values. "Sealing" material to the TPM in this way allows you to block decryption if the system isn't in the desired state. So, we define a policy that says that PCR 23 must have the same value at resume as it did on hibernation. On resume, the kernel resets PCR 23, extends it to the same value it did during hibernation, and then attempts to decrypt the key. Afterwards, it resets PCR 23 back to the initial value. Even if an attacker gains access to the encrypted copy of the key, the TPM will refuse to decrypt it.

And that's what this patchset implements. There's one fairly significant flaw at the moment, which is simply that an attacker can just reboot into an older kernel that doesn't implement the PCR 23 blocking and set up state by hand. Fortunately, this can be avoided using another aspect of the boot process. When you boot something via UEFI Secure Boot, the signing key used to verify the booted code is measured into PCR 7 by the system firmware. In the Linux world, the Shim bootloader then measures any additional keys that are used. By either using a new key to tag kernels that have support for the PCR 23 restrictions, or by embedding some additional metadata in the kernel that indicates the presence of this feature and measuring that, we can have a PCR 7 value that verifies that the PCR 23 restrictions are present. We then seal the key to PCR 7 as well as PCR 23, and if an attacker boots into a kernel that doesn't have this feature the PCR 7 value will be different and the TPM will refuse to decrypt the secret.

While there's a whole bunch of complexity here, the process should be entirely transparent to the user. The current implementation requires a TPM 2, and I'm not certain whether TPM 1.2 provides all the features necessary to do this properly - if so, extending it shouldn't be hard, but also all systems shipped in the past few years should have a TPM 2, so that's going to depend on whether there's sufficient interest to justify the work. And we're also at the early days of review, so there's always the risk that I've missed something obvious and there are terrible holes in this. And, well, given that it took almost 8 years to get the Lockdown patchset into mainline, let's not assume that I'm good at landing security code.

[1] Other architectures use different terminology here, such as "supervisor" and "user" mode, but it's broadly equivalent
[2] In theory rings 1 and 2 would allow you to run drivers with privileges somewhere between full kernel access and userland applications, but in reality we just don't talk about them in polite company
[3] This is how graphics worked in Linux before kernel modesetting turned up. XFree86 would just map your GPU's registers into userland and poke them directly. This was not a huge win for stability
[4] IOMMUs can help you here, by restricting the memory PCI devices can DMA to or from. The kernel then gets to allocate ranges for device buffers and configure the IOMMU such that the device can't DMA to anything else. Except that region of memory may still contain sensitive material such as function pointers, and attacks like this can still cause you problems as a result.
[5] This describes why I'm using "allowed" rather than "required" here
[6] Saving the system state to disk and powering down the platform entirely - significantly slower than suspending the system while keeping state in RAM, but also resilient against the system losing power.
[7] With some handwaving around "coprocessor". TPMs can't be part of the OS or the system firmware, but they don't technically need to be an independent component. Intel have a TPM implementation that runs on the Management Engine, a separate processor built into the motherboard chipset. AMD have one that runs on the Platform Security Processor, a small ARM core built into their CPU. Various ARM implementations run a TPM in Trustzone, a special CPU mode that (in theory) is able to access resources that are entirely blocked off from anything running in the OS, kernel or otherwise.

comment count unavailable comments

21 February, 2021 08:37AM

Russ Allbery

Review: The Fated Sky

Review: The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Series: Lady Astronaut #2
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: August 2018
ISBN: 0-7653-9893-1
Format: Kindle
Pages: 380

The Fated Sky is a sequel to The Calculating Stars, but you could start with this book if you wanted to. It would be obvious you'd missed a previous book in the series, and some of the relationships would begin in medias res, but the story is sufficiently self-contained that one could puzzle through.

Mild spoilers follow for The Calculating Stars, although only to the extent of confirming that book didn't take an unexpected turn, and nothing that wouldn't already be spoiled if you had read the short story "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" that kicked this series off. (The short story takes place well after all of the books.) Also some minor spoilers for the first section of the book, since I have to talk about its outcome in broad strokes in order to describe the primary shape of the novel.

In the aftermath of worsening weather conditions caused by the Meteor, humans have established a permanent base on the Moon and are preparing a mission to Mars. Elma is not involved in the latter at the start of the book; she's working as a shuttle pilot on the Moon, rotating periodically back to Earth. But the political situation on Earth is becoming more tense as the refugee crisis escalates and the weather worsens, and the Mars mission is in danger of having its funding pulled in favor of other priorities. Elma's success in public outreach for the space program as the Lady Astronaut, enhanced by her navigation of a hostage situation when an Earth re-entry goes off course and is met by armed terrorists, may be the political edge supporters of the mission need.

The first part of this book is the hostage situation and other ground-side politics, but the meat of this story is the tense drama of experimental, pre-computer space flight. For those who aren't familiar with the previous book, this series is an alternate history in which a huge meteorite hit the Atlantic seaboard in 1952, potentially setting off runaway global warming and accelerating the space program by more than a decade. The Calculating Stars was primarily about the politics surrounding the space program. In The Fated Sky, we see far more of the technical details: the triumphs, the planning, and the accidents and other emergencies that each could be fatal in an experimental spaceship headed towards Mars. If what you were missing from the first book was more technological challenge and realistic detail, The Fated Sky delivers. It's edge-of-your-seat suspenseful and almost impossible to put down.

I have more complicated feelings about the secondary plot. In The Calculating Stars, the heart of the book was an incredibly well-told story of Elma learning to deal with her social anxiety. That's still a theme here but a lesser one; Elma has better coping mechanisms now. What The Fated Sky tackles instead is pervasive sexism and racism, and how Elma navigates that (not always well) as a white Jewish woman.

The centrality of sexism is about the same in both books. Elma's public outreach is tied closely to her gender and starts as a sort of publicity stunt. The space program remains incredibly sexist in The Fated Stars, something that Elma has to cope with but can't truly fix. If you found the sexism in the first book irritating, you're likely to feel the same about this installment.

Racism is more central this time, though. In The Calculating Stars, Elma was able to help make things somewhat better for Black colleagues. She has a much different experience in The Fated Stars: she ends up in a privileged position that hurts her non-white colleagues, including one of her best friends. The merits of taking a stand on principle are ambiguous, and she chooses not to. When she later tries to help Black astronauts, she does so in a way that's focused on her perceptions rather than theirs and is therefore more irritating than helpful. The opportunities she gets, in large part because she's seen as white, unfairly hurt other people, and she has to sit with that. It's a thoughtful and uncomfortable look at how difficult it is for a white person to live with discomfort they can't fix and to not make it worse by trying to wave it away or point out their own problems.

That was the positive side of this plot, although I'm still a bit wary and would like to read a review by a Black reviewer to see how well this plot works from their perspective. There are some other choices that I thought landed oddly. One is that the most racist crew member, the one who sparks the most direct conflict with the Black members of the international crew, is a white man from South Africa, which I thought let the United States off the hook too much and externalized the racism a bit too neatly. Another is that the three ships of the expedition are the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, and no one in the book comments on this. Given the thoughtful racial themes of the book, I can't imagine this is an accident, and it is in character for United States of this novel to pick those names, but it was an odd intrusion of an unremarked colonial symbol. This may be part of Kowal's attempt to show that Elma is embedded in a racist and sexist world, has limited room to maneuver, and can't solve most of the problems, which is certainly a theme of the series. But it left me unsettled on whether this book was up to fully handling the fraught themes Kowal is invoking.

The other part of the book I found a bit frustrating is that it never seriously engaged with the political argument against Mars colonization, instead treating most of the opponents of space travel as either deluded conspiracy believers or cynical villains. Science fiction is still arguing with William Proxmire even though he's been dead for fifteen years and out of office for thirty. The strong argument against a Mars colony in Elma's world is not funding priorities; it's that even if it's successful, only a tiny fraction of well-connected elites will escape the planet to Mars. This argument is made in the book and Elma dismisses it as a risk she's trying to prevent, but it is correct. There is no conceivable technological future that leads to evacuating the Earth to Mars, but The Fated Sky declines to grapple with the implications of that fact.

There's more that I haven't remarked on, including an ongoing excellent portrayal of the complicated and loving relationship between Elma and her husband, and a surprising development in her antagonistic semi-friendship with the sexist test pilot who becomes the mission captain. I liked how Kowal balanced technical problems with social problems on the long Mars flight; both are serious concerns and they interact with each other in complicated ways.

The details of the perils and joys of manned space flight are excellent, at least so far as I can tell without having done the research that Kowal did. If you want a fictionalized Apollo 13 with higher stakes and less ground support, look no further; this is engrossing stuff. The interpersonal politics and sociology were also fascinating and gripping, but unsettling, in both good ways and bad. I like the challenge that Kowal presents to a white reader, although I'm not sure she was completely in control of it.

Cautiously recommended, although be aware that you'll need to grapple with a sexist and racist society while reading it. Also a content note for somewhat graphic gastrointestinal problems.

Followed by The Relentless Moon.

Rating: 8 out of 10

21 February, 2021 04:43AM

February 20, 2021

hackergotchi for Louis-Philippe Véronneau

Louis-Philippe Véronneau

dput-ng or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hooks

As my contributions to Debian continue to grow in number, I find myself uploading to the archive more and more often.

Although I'm pretty happy with my current sbuild-based workflow, twice in the past few weeks I inadvertently made a binary upload instead of a source-only one.1

As it turns out, I am not the only DD who has had this problem before. As Nicolas Dandrimont kindly pointed to me, dput-ng supports pre and post upload hooks that can be used to lint your uploads. Even better, it also ships with a check-debs hook that lets you block binary uploads.

Pretty neat, right? In a perfect world, enabling the hook would only be a matter of adding it in the hook list of /etc/dput.d/metas/debian.json and using the following defaults:

"check-debs": {
    "enforce": "source",
    "skip": false
},

Sadly, bug #983160 currently makes this whole setup more complex than it should be and forces me to use two different dput-ng profiles pointing to two different files in /etc/dput.d/metas: a default source-only one (ftp-master) and a binary upload one (ftp-master-binary).

Otherwise, one could use a single profile that disallows binary uploads and when needed, override the hook using something like this:

$ dput --override "check-debs.enforce=debs" foo_1.0.0-1_amd64.changes

I did start debugging the --override issue in dput-ng, but I'm not sure I'll have time to submit a patch anytime soon. In the meantime, I'm happy to report I shouldn't be uploading the wrong .changes file by mistake again!


  1. Thanks to Holger Levsen and Adrian Bunk for catching those and notifying me. 

20 February, 2021 09:30PM by Louis-Philippe Véronneau

hackergotchi for Kentaro Hayashi

Kentaro Hayashi

Tokyo area Debian meeting Feb, 2021 was held on online

I gave a short presentation - WAF on Debian.

Especially, I talked about usage of ModSecurity-nginx.

slide.rabbit-shocker.org

20 February, 2021 02:12PM

February 19, 2021

hackergotchi for Jonathan Dowland

Jonathan Dowland

Wrist Watches

red strap

red strap

This is everything I have to say about watches (or time pieces, or chronometers, if you prefer: I don't).

I've always worn a watch, and still do; but I've never really understood the appeal of the kind of luxury watches you see advertise here there and everywhere, with their chunky cases, over-complicated faces and enormous price-tags. So the world of watch-appreciation was closed to me, until my 30th birthday (a while ago) when my wife bought me a Mondaine Evo "Big Date" quartz watch.

It's not an analogue watch nor an "heirloom timepiece", neither of which are properties that matter to me. The large face has almost nothing extraneous on it, although my model includes day-of-the-month. I like it very much.

And so I cracked open the door a little onto the world of watches and watch fashion and had a short spell of interest in some other styles, types, and the like. This drew to a close with buying a selection of cheap, coloured nylon fabric "nato"-style straps. Now whenever I feel the itch for a change, I just change the strap.

Smart Watches have never appealed to me. I can see some of their advantages, but the last thing I need is another gadget to regularly charge, or another avenue to check my email.

I appreciate that wearing a wrist watch at all is anachronistic (sorry), and I did wonder whether it's a habit I could get out of. A few weeks ago, during our endless Lockdown, my watch battery ran out, so I spent a couple of weeks un-learning my reliance on a wristwatch to orient myself. I've managed to get it replaced now (some watch repair places being considered Essential Services) and I'm comfortably back in my default mode of wearing and relying upon it.

19 February, 2021 04:50PM

hackergotchi for Steinar H. Gunderson

Steinar H. Gunderson

plocate LWN post

My debian-devel thread about getting plocate in standard didn't turn into anything in Debian, but evidently, it turned into an LWN post!

My favorite quote from the comments: “It's funny that some people argue that updatedb is too costly while others argue that "find /" (which costs hardly less) is fast enough.”

19 February, 2021 04:49PM

Reproducible Builds (diffoscope)

diffoscope 167 released

The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 167. This version includes the following changes:

* Temporary directory handling:
  - Ensure we cleanup our temporary directory by avoiding confusion between
    the TemporaryDirectory instance and the underlying directory.
    (Closes: #981123)
  - Use a potentially-useful suffix to our temporary directory based on the
    command-line passed to diffoscope.
  - Fix some tempfile/weakref interaction in Python 3.7 (ie. Debian buster).
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#239)
  - If our temporary directory does not exist anymore (eg. it has been
    cleaned up in tests, signal handling or reference counting),  make sure
    we recreate it.

* Bug fixes:
  - Don't rely on magic.Magic(...) to have an identical API between file's
    magic.py and PyPI's "python-magic" library.
    (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#238)
  - Don't rely on dumpimage returning an appropriate exit code; check that
    the file actually exists after we call it.

* Codebase changes:
  - Set a default Config.extended_filesystem_attributes.
  - Drop unused Config.acl and Config.xattr attributes.
  - Tidy imports in diffoscope/comparators/fit.py.

* Tests:
  - Add u-boot-tools to test dependencies so that salsa.debian.org pipelines
    actually test the new FIT comparator.
  - Strip newlines when determining Black version to avoid "requires black
    >= 20.8b1 (18.9b0\n detected)" in test output (NB. embedded newline).
  - Gnumeric is back in testing so re-add to test dependencies.
  - Use assert_diff (over get_data, etc.) in the FIT and APK comparators.
  - Mark test_apk.py::test_android_manifest as being allowed to fail for now.
  - Fix the FIT tests in buster and unstable.

You find out more by visiting the project homepage.

19 February, 2021 12:00AM

February 18, 2021

hackergotchi for Dirk Eddelbuettel

Dirk Eddelbuettel

td 0.0.2 on CRAN: Updated and Expanded

The still very recent td package for accessing the twelvedata API for financial data has been updated and is now at version 0.0.2.

The time_series access point is now vectorised: supply a vector of symbols, and you receive list of data.frame (or xts) objects. See this tweet teasing out the earliest support for this new featire, and showing a quick four-securities plot. We also added simpler accessors get_quote() and get_price() rounding out the basic API support.

One first bug report alerting us to the fact that our use of RcppSimdJson requires an additional sanitizing of the temporary filename if used on Windows. We will fix that properly soon in new release 0.1.5 of that package; in the meantime you can get hot-fix binary 0.1.4.1 for Windows via install.packages("RcppSimdJson", repos="https://ghrr.github.io/drat") from the ghrr drat.

The NEWS entry follows.

Changes in version 0.0.2 (2021-02-18)

  • The time_series is now vectorised and can return a list of return objects when given a vector of symbols

  • The use of tools::R_user_dir() is now conditional on having R 4.0.0 or later, older versions can use env.var for api key

  • New helper function store_key to save api key.

  • New simple accessors get_quote and get_price

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is a comparison to the previous release. For questions or comments use the issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

18 February, 2021 11:23PM

Julian Andres Klode

APT 2.2 released

APT 2.2.0 marks the freeze of the 2.1 development series and the start of the 2.2 stable series.

Let’s have a look at what changed compared to 2.2. Many of you who run Debian testing or unstable, or Ubuntu groovy or hirsute will already have seen most of those changes.

New features

  • Various patterns related to dependencies, such as ?depends are now available (2.1.16)
  • The Protected field is now supported. It replaces the previous Important field and is like Essential, but only for installed packages (some minor more differences maybe in terms of ordering the installs).
  • The update command has gained an --error-on=any option that makes it error out on any failure, not just what it considers persistent ons.
  • The rred method can now be used as a standalone program to merge pdiff files
  • APT now implements phased updates. Phasing is used in Ubuntu to slow down and control the roll out of updates in the -updates pocket, but has previously only been available to desktop users using update-manager.

Other behavioral changes

  • The kernel autoremoval helper code has been rewritten from shell in C++ and now runs at run-time, rather than at kernel install time, in order to correctly protect the kernel that is running now, rather than the kernel that was running when we were installing the newest one.

    It also now protects only up to 3 kernels, instead of up to 4, as was originally intended, and was the case before 1.1 series. This avoids /boot partitions from running out of space, especially on Ubuntu which has boot partitions sized for the original spec.

Performance improvements

  • The cache is now hashed using XXH3 instead of Adler32 (or CRC32c on SSE4.2 platforms)
  • The hash table size has been increased

Bug fixes

  • * wildcards work normally again (since 2.1.0)
  • The cache file now includes all translation files in /var/lib/apt/lists, so multi-user systems with different locales correctly show translated descriptions now.
  • URLs are no longer dequoted on redirects only to be requoted again, fixing some redirects where servers did not expect different quoting.
  • Immediate configuration is now best-effort, and failure is no longer fatal.
  • various changes to solver marking leading to different/better results in some cases (since 2.1.0)
  • The lower level I/O bits of the HTTP method have been rewritten to hopefully improve stability
  • The HTTP method no longer infinitely retries downloads on some connection errors
  • The pkgnames command no longer accidentally includes source packages
  • Various fixes from fuzzing efforts by David

Security fixes

  • Out-of-bound reads in ar and tar implementations (CVE-2020-3810, 2.1.2)
  • Integer overflows in ar and tar (CVE-2020-27350, 2.1.13)

(all of which have been backported to all stable series, back all the way to 1.0.9.8.* series in jessie eLTS)

Incompatibilities

  • N/A - there were no breaking changes in apt 2.2 that we are aware of.

Deprecations

  • apt-key(1) is scheduled to be removed for Q2/2022, and several new warnings have been added.

    apt-key was made obsolete in version 0.7.25.1, released in January 2010, by /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d becoming a supported place to drop additional keyring files, and was since then only intended for deleting keys in the legacy trusted.gpg keyring.

    Please manage files in trusted.gpg.d yourself; or place them in a different location such as /etc/apt/keyrings (or make up your own, there’s no standard location) or /usr/share/keyrings, and use signed-by in the sources.list.d files.

    The legacy trusted.gpg keyring still works, but will also stop working eventually. Please make sure you have all your keys in trusted.gpg.d. Warnings might be added in the upcoming months when a signature could not be verified using just trusted.gpg.d.

    Future versions of APT might switch away from GPG.

  • As a reminder, regular expressions and wildcards other than * inside package names are deprecated (since 2.0). They are not available anymore in apt(8), and will be removed for safety reasons in apt-get in a later release.

18 February, 2021 08:09PM

hackergotchi for Jonathan McDowell

Jonathan McDowell

Hacking and Bricking the EE Opsrey 2 Mini

I’ve mentioned in the past my twisted EE network setup from when I moved in to my current house. The 4GEE WiFi Mini (also known as the EE Osprey 2 Mini or the EE40VB, and actually a rebadged Alcatel Y853VB) has been sitting unused since then, so I figured I’d see about trying to get a shell on it.

TL;DR: Of course it’s running Linux, there’s a couple of test points internally which bring out the serial console, but after finding those and logging in I discovered it’s running ADB on port 5555 quite happily available without authentication both via wifi and the USB port. So if you have physical or local network access, instant root shell. Well done, folks. And then I bricked it before I could do anything more interesting.

There’s a lack of information about this device out there - most of the links I can find are around removing the SIM lock - so I thought I’d document the pieces I found just in case anyone else is trying to figure it out. It’s based around a Qualcomm MDM9607 SoC, paired with 64M RAM and 256M NAND flash. Wifi is via an RTL8192ES. Kernel is 3.18.20. Busybox is v1.23.1. It’s running dnsmasq but I didn’t grab the version. Of course there’s no source or offer of source provided.

Taking it apart is fairly easy. There’s a single screw to remove, just beside the SIM slot. The coloured rim can then be carefully pried away from the back, revealing the battery. There are then 4 screws in the corners which need removed in order to be able to lift out the actual PCB and gain access to the serial console test points.

EE40VB PCB serial console test points

My mistake was going poking around trying to figure out where the updates are downloaded from - I know I’m running a slightly older release than what’s current, and the device can do an automatic download + update. Top tip; don’t run Jrdrecovery. It’ll error on finding /cache/update.zip and wipe the main partition anyway. That’ll leave you in a boot loop where the device boots the recovery partition which tries to install /cache/update.zip which of course still doesn’t exist.

So. Where next? First, I need to get the device into a state where I can actually do something other than watch it boot into recovery, fail to flash and reboot. Best guess at present is to try and get it to enter the Qualcomm EDL (Emergency Download) mode. That might be possible with a custom USB cable that grounds D+ on boot. Alternatively I need to probe some of the other test points on the PCB and see if grounding any of those helps enter EDL mode. I then need a suitable “firehose” OEM-signed programmer image. And then I need to actually get hold of a proper EE40VB firmware image, either via one of the OTA update files or possibly via an Alcatel ADSU image (though no idea how to get hold of one, other than by posting to a random GSM device forum and hoping for the kindness of strangers). More updates if/when I make progress…

Qualcomm bootloader log
Format: Log Type - Time(microsec) - Message - Optional Info
Log Type: B - Since Boot(Power On Reset),  D - Delta,  S - Statistic
S - QC_IMAGE_VERSION_STRING=BOOT.BF.3.1.2-00053
S - IMAGE_VARIANT_STRING=LAATANAZA
S - OEM_IMAGE_VERSION_STRING=linux3
S - Boot Config, 0x000002e1
B -    105194 - SBL1, Start
D -     61885 - QSEE Image Loaded, Delta - (451964 Bytes)
D -     30286 - RPM Image Loaded, Delta - (151152 Bytes)
B -    459330 - Roger:boot_jrd_oem_main
B -    461526 - Welcome to key_check_poweron!!!
B -    466436 - REG0x00, rc=47
B -    469120 - REG0x01, rc=1f
B -    472018 - REG0x02, rc=1c
B -    474885 - REG0x03, rc=47
B -    477782 - REG0x04, rc=b2
B -    480558 - REG0x05, rc=
B -    483272 - REG0x06, rc=9e
B -    486139 - REG0x07, rc=
B -    488854 - REG0x08, rc=a4
B -    491721 - REG0x09, rc=80
B -    494130 - bq24295_probe: vflt/vsys/vprechg=0mV/0mV/0mV, tprechg/tfastchg=0Min/0Min, [0C, 0C]
B -    511546 - come to calculate vol and temperature!!
B -    511637 - ##############battery_core_convert_vntc: NTC_voltage=1785690
B -    517280 - battery_core_convert_vntc: <-44C, 1785690uV>, present=0
B -    529358 - bq24295_set_current_limit: setting=0mA, mode=-1, input/fastchg/prechg/termchg=-1mA/0mA/0mA/0mA
B -    534360 - bq24295_set_charge_current, rc=0,reg_val=0,i=0
B -    539636 - bq24295_enable_charge: setting=0, chg_enable=-1, otg_enable=0
B -    546072 - bq24295_enable_charging: enable_charging=0
B -    552172 - bq24295_set_current_limit: setting=0mA, mode=-1, input/fastchg/prechg/termchg=-1mA/0mA/0mA/0mA
B -    561566 - bq24295_set_charge_current, rc=0,reg_val=0,i=0
B -    567056 - bq24295_enable_charge: setting=0, chg_enable=0, otg_enable=0
B -    579286 - come to calculate vol and temperature!!
B -    579378 - ##############battery_core_convert_vntc: NTC_voltage=1785777
B -    585539 - battery_core_convert_vntc: <-44C, 1785777uV>, present=0
B -    597617 - charge_main: battery is plugout!!
B -    597678 - Welcome to pca955x_probe!!!
B -    601063 - pca955x_probe: PCA955X probed successfully!
D -     27511 - APPSBL Image Loaded, Delta - (179348 Bytes)
B -    633271 - QSEE Execution, Start
D -       213 - QSEE Execution, Delta
B -    638944 - >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Start writting JRD RECOVERY BOOT
B -    650107 - >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Start writting  RECOVERY BOOT
B -    653218 - >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>read_buf[0] == 0
B -    659044 - SBL1, End
D -    556137 - SBL1, Delta
S - Throughput, 2000 KB/s  (782884 Bytes,  278155 us)
S - DDR Frequency, 240 MHz
littlekernel aboot log
Android Bootloader - UART_DM Initialized!!!
[0] welcome to lk

[0] SCM call: 0x2000601 failed with :fffffffc
[0] Failed to initialize SCM
[10] platform_init()
[10] target_init()
[10] smem ptable found: ver: 4 len: 17
[10] ERROR: No devinfo partition found
[10] Neither 'config' nor 'frp' partition found
[30] voltage of NTC  is 1789872!
[30] voltage of BAT  is 3179553!
[30] usb present is 1!
[30] Loading (boot) image (4171776): start
[530] Loading (boot) image (4171776): done
[540] DTB Total entry: 25, DTB version: 3
[540] Using DTB entry 0x00000129/00010000/0x00000008/0 for device 0x00000129/00010000/0x00010008/0
[560] JRD_CHG_OFF_FEATURE!
[560] come to jrd_target_pause_for_battery_charge!
[570] power_on_status.hard_reset = 0x0
[570] power_on_status.smpl = 0x0
[570] power_on_status.rtc = 0x0
[580] power_on_status.dc_chg = 0x0
[580] power_on_status.usb_chg = 0x0
[580] power_on_status.pon1 = 0x1
[590] power_on_status.cblpwr = 0x0
[590] power_on_status.kpdpwr = 0x0
[590] power_on_status.bugflag = 0x0
[590] cmdline: noinitrd  rw console=ttyHSL0,115200,n8 androidboot.hardware=qcom ehci-hcd.park=3 msm_rtb.filter=0x37 lpm_levels.sleep_disabled=1  earlycon=msm_hsl_uart,0x78b3000  androidboot.serialno=7e6ba58c androidboot.baseband=msm rootfstype=ubifs rootflags=b
[620] Updating device tree: start
[720] Updating device tree: done
[720] booting linux @ 0x80008000, ramdisk @ 0x80008000 (0), tags/device tree @ 0x81e00000
Linux kernel console boot log
[    0.000000] Booting Linux on physical CPU 0x0
[    0.000000] Linux version 3.18.20 (linux3@linux3) (gcc version 4.9.2 (GCC) ) #1 PREEMPT Thu Aug 10 11:57:07 CST 2017
[    0.000000] CPU: ARMv7 Processor [410fc075] revision 5 (ARMv7), cr=10c53c7d
[    0.000000] CPU: PIPT / VIPT nonaliasing data cache, VIPT aliasing instruction cache
[    0.000000] Machine model: Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. MDM 9607 MTP
[    0.000000] Early serial console at I/O port 0x0 (options '')
[    0.000000] bootconsole [uart0] enabled
[    0.000000] Reserved memory: reserved region for node 'modem_adsp_region@0': base 0x82a00000, size 56 MiB
[    0.000000] Reserved memory: reserved region for node 'external_image_region@0': base 0x87c00000, size 4 MiB
[    0.000000] Removed memory: created DMA memory pool at 0x82a00000, size 56 MiB
[    0.000000] Reserved memory: initialized node modem_adsp_region@0, compatible id removed-dma-pool
[    0.000000] Removed memory: created DMA memory pool at 0x87c00000, size 4 MiB
[    0.000000] Reserved memory: initialized node external_image_region@0, compatible id removed-dma-pool
[    0.000000] cma: Reserved 4 MiB at 0x87800000
[    0.000000] Memory policy: Data cache writeback
[    0.000000] CPU: All CPU(s) started in SVC mode.
[    0.000000] Built 1 zonelists in Zone order, mobility grouping on.  Total pages: 17152
[    0.000000] Kernel command line: noinitrd  rw console=ttyHSL0,115200,n8 androidboot.hardware=qcom ehci-hcd.park=3 msm_rtb.filter=0x37 lpm_levels.sleep_disabled=1  earlycon=msm_hsl_uart,0x78b3000  androidboot.serialno=7e6ba58c androidboot.baseband=msm rootfstype=ubifs rootflags=bulk_read root=ubi0:rootfs ubi.mtd=16
[    0.000000] PID hash table entries: 512 (order: -1, 2048 bytes)
[    0.000000] Dentry cache hash table entries: 16384 (order: 4, 65536 bytes)
[    0.000000] Inode-cache hash table entries: 8192 (order: 3, 32768 bytes)
[    0.000000] Memory: 54792K/69632K available (5830K kernel code, 399K rwdata, 2228K rodata, 276K init, 830K bss, 14840K reserved)
[    0.000000] Virtual kernel memory layout:
[    0.000000]     vector  : 0xffff0000 - 0xffff1000   (   4 kB)
[    0.000000]     fixmap  : 0xffc00000 - 0xfff00000   (3072 kB)
[    0.000000]     vmalloc : 0xc8800000 - 0xff000000   ( 872 MB)
[    0.000000]     lowmem  : 0xc0000000 - 0xc8000000   ( 128 MB)
[    0.000000]     modules : 0xbf000000 - 0xc0000000   (  16 MB)
[    0.000000]       .text : 0xc0008000 - 0xc07e6c38   (8060 kB)
[    0.000000]       .init : 0xc07e7000 - 0xc082c000   ( 276 kB)
[    0.000000]       .data : 0xc082c000 - 0xc088fdc0   ( 400 kB)
[    0.000000]        .bss : 0xc088fe84 - 0xc095f798   ( 831 kB)
[    0.000000] SLUB: HWalign=64, Order=0-3, MinObjects=0, CPUs=1, Nodes=1
[    0.000000] Preemptible hierarchical RCU implementation.
[    0.000000] NR_IRQS:16 nr_irqs:16 16
[    0.000000] GIC CPU mask not found - kernel will fail to boot.
[    0.000000] GIC CPU mask not found - kernel will fail to boot.
[    0.000000] mpm_init_irq_domain(): Cannot find irq controller for qcom,gpio-parent
[    0.000000] MPM 1 irq mapping errored -517
[    0.000000] Architected mmio timer(s) running at 19.20MHz (virt).
[    0.000011] sched_clock: 56 bits at 19MHz, resolution 52ns, wraps every 3579139424256ns
[    0.007975] Switching to timer-based delay loop, resolution 52ns
[    0.013969] Switched to clocksource arch_mem_counter
[    0.019687] Console: colour dummy device 80x30
[    0.023344] Calibrating delay loop (skipped), value calculated using timer frequency.. 38.40 BogoMIPS (lpj=192000)
[    0.033666] pid_max: default: 32768 minimum: 301
[    0.038411] Mount-cache hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    0.044902] Mountpoint-cache hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    0.052445] CPU: Testing write buffer coherency: ok
[    0.057057] Setting up static identity map for 0x8058aac8 - 0x8058ab20
[    0.064242]
[    0.064242] **********************************************************
[    0.071251] **   NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE   **
[    0.077817] **                                                      **
[    0.084302] ** trace_printk() being used. Allocating extra memory.  **
[    0.090781] **                                                      **
[    0.097320] ** This means that this is a DEBUG kernel and it is     **
[    0.103802] ** unsafe for produciton use.                           **
[    0.110339] **                                                      **
[    0.116850] ** If you see this message and you are not debugging    **
[    0.123333] ** the kernel, report this immediately to your vendor!  **
[    0.129870] **                                                      **
[    0.136380] **   NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE   **
[    0.142865] **********************************************************
[    0.150225] MSM Memory Dump base table set up
[    0.153739] MSM Memory Dump apps data table set up
[    0.168125] VFP support v0.3: implementor 41 architecture 2 part 30 variant 7 rev 5
[    0.176332] pinctrl core: initialized pinctrl subsystem
[    0.180930] regulator-dummy: no parameters
[    0.215338] NET: Registered protocol family 16
[    0.220475] DMA: preallocated 256 KiB pool for atomic coherent allocations
[    0.284034] cpuidle: using governor ladder
[    0.314026] cpuidle: using governor menu
[    0.344024] cpuidle: using governor qcom
[    0.355452] msm_watchdog b017000.qcom,wdt: wdog absent resource not present
[    0.361656] msm_watchdog b017000.qcom,wdt: MSM Watchdog Initialized
[    0.371373] irq: no irq domain found for /soc/pinctrl@1000000 !
[    0.381268] spmi_pmic_arb 200f000.qcom,spmi: PMIC Arb Version-2 0x20010000
[    0.389733] platform 4080000.qcom,mss: assigned reserved memory node modem_adsp_region@0
[    0.397409] mem_acc_corner: 0 <--> 0 mV
[    0.401937] hw-breakpoint: found 5 (+1 reserved) breakpoint and 4 watchpoint registers.
[    0.408966] hw-breakpoint: maximum watchpoint size is 8 bytes.
[    0.416287] __of_mpm_init(): MPM driver mapping exists
[    0.420940] msm_rpm_glink_dt_parse: qcom,rpm-glink compatible not matches
[    0.427235] msm_rpm_dev_probe: APSS-RPM communication over SMD
[    0.432977] smd_open() before smd_init()
[    0.437544] msm_mpm_dev_probe(): Cannot get clk resource for XO: -517
[    0.445730] smd_channel_probe_now: allocation table not initialized
[    0.453100] mdm9607_s1: 1050 <--> 1350 mV at 1225 mV normal idle
[    0.458566] spm_regulator_probe: name=mdm9607_s1, range=LV, voltage=1225000 uV, mode=AUTO, step rate=4800 uV/us
[    0.468817] cpr_efuse_init: apc_corner: efuse_addr = 0x000a4000 (len=0x1000)
[    0.475353] cpr_read_fuse_revision: apc_corner: fuse revision = 2
[    0.481345] cpr_parse_speed_bin_fuse: apc_corner: [row: 37]: 0x79e8bd327e6ba58c, speed_bits = 4
[    0.490124] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: pvs voltage: [1050000 1100000 1275000] uV
[    0.497342] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: ceiling voltage: [1050000 1225000 1350000] uV
[    0.504979] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: floor voltage: [1050000 1050000 1150000] uV
[    0.513125] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.518335] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.524478] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.531111] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.536788] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.542886] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.549618] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.555202] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.561374] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.570613] msm-thermal soc:qcom,msm-thermal: msm_thermal:Failed reading node=/soc/qcom,msm-thermal, key=qcom,core-limit-temp. err=-22. KTM continues
[    0.583049] msm-thermal soc:qcom,msm-thermal: probe_therm_reset:Failed reading node=/soc/qcom,msm-thermal, key=qcom,therm-reset-temp err=-22. KTM continues
[    0.596926] msm_thermal:msm_thermal_dev_probe Failed reading node=/soc/qcom,msm-thermal, key=qcom,online-hotplug-core. err:-517
[    0.609370] sps:sps is ready.
[    0.613137] msm_rpm_glink_dt_parse: qcom,rpm-glink compatible not matches
[    0.619020] msm_rpm_dev_probe: APSS-RPM communication over SMD
[    0.625773] mdm9607_s2: 750 <--> 1275 mV at 750 mV normal idle
[    0.631584] mdm9607_s3_level: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.637085] mdm9607_s3_level_ao: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.643092] mdm9607_s3_floor_level: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.649512] mdm9607_s3_level_so: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.655750] mdm9607_s4: 1800 <--> 1950 mV at 1800 mV normal idle
[    0.661791] mdm9607_l1: 1250 mV normal idle
[    0.666090] mdm9607_l2: 1800 mV normal idle
[    0.670276] mdm9607_l3: 1800 mV normal idle
[    0.674541] mdm9607_l4: 3075 mV normal idle
[    0.678743] mdm9607_l5: 1700 <--> 3050 mV at 1700 mV normal idle
[    0.684904] mdm9607_l6: 1700 <--> 3050 mV at 1700 mV normal idle
[    0.690892] mdm9607_l7: 1700 <--> 1900 mV at 1700 mV normal idle
[    0.697036] mdm9607_l8: 1800 mV normal idle
[    0.701238] mdm9607_l9: 1200 <--> 1250 mV at 1200 mV normal idle
[    0.707367] mdm9607_l10: 1050 mV normal idle
[    0.711662] mdm9607_l11: 1800 mV normal idle
[    0.716089] mdm9607_l12_level: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.721717] mdm9607_l12_level_ao: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.727946] mdm9607_l12_level_so: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.734099] mdm9607_l12_floor_lebel: 0 <--> 0 mV at 0 mV normal idle
[    0.740706] mdm9607_l13: 1800 <--> 2850 mV at 2850 mV normal idle
[    0.746883] mdm9607_l14: 2650 <--> 3000 mV at 2650 mV normal idle
[    0.752515] msm_mpm_dev_probe(): Cannot get clk resource for XO: -517
[    0.759036] cpr_efuse_init: apc_corner: efuse_addr = 0x000a4000 (len=0x1000)
[    0.765807] cpr_read_fuse_revision: apc_corner: fuse revision = 2
[    0.771809] cpr_parse_speed_bin_fuse: apc_corner: [row: 37]: 0x79e8bd327e6ba58c, speed_bits = 4
[    0.780586] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: pvs voltage: [1050000 1100000 1275000] uV
[    0.787808] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: ceiling voltage: [1050000 1225000 1350000] uV
[    0.795443] cpr_pvs_init: apc_corner: floor voltage: [1050000 1050000 1150000] uV
[    0.803094] cpr_init_cpr_parameters: apc_corner: up threshold = 2, down threshold = 3
[    0.810752] cpr_init_cpr_parameters: apc_corner: CPR is enabled by default.
[    0.817687] cpr_init_cpr_efuse: apc_corner: [row:65] = 0x15000277277383
[    0.824272] cpr_init_cpr_efuse: apc_corner: CPR disable fuse = 0
[    0.830225] cpr_init_cpr_efuse: apc_corner: Corner[1]: ro_sel = 0, target quot = 631
[    0.837976] cpr_init_cpr_efuse: apc_corner: Corner[2]: ro_sel = 0, target quot = 631
[    0.845703] cpr_init_cpr_efuse: apc_corner: Corner[3]: ro_sel = 0, target quot = 899
[    0.853592] cpr_config: apc_corner: Timer count: 0x17700 (for 5000 us)
[    0.860426] apc_corner: 0 <--> 0 mV
[    0.864044] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.869261] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.875492] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.882225] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.887775] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.893941] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.900719] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    0.906256] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: error on clk_get(core_clk):-517
[    0.912430] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: error probe() failed with err:-517
[    0.919472] msm-thermal soc:qcom,msm-thermal: msm_thermal:Failed reading node=/soc/qcom,msm-thermal, key=qcom,core-limit-temp. err=-22. KTM continues
[    0.932372] msm-thermal soc:qcom,msm-thermal: probe_therm_reset:Failed reading node=/soc/qcom,msm-thermal,
key=qcom,therm-reset-temp err=-22. KTM continues
[    0.946361] msm_thermal:get_kernel_cluster_info CPU0 topology not initialized.
[    0.953824] cpu cpu0: dev_pm_opp_get_opp_count: device OPP not found (-19)
[    0.960300] msm_thermal:get_cpu_freq_plan_len Error reading CPU0 freq table len. error:-19
[    0.968533] msm_thermal:vdd_restriction_reg_init Defer vdd rstr freq init.
[    0.975846] cpu cpu0: dev_pm_opp_get_opp_count: device OPP not found (-19)
[    0.982219] msm_thermal:get_cpu_freq_plan_len Error reading CPU0 freq table len. error:-19
[    0.991378] cpu cpu0: dev_pm_opp_get_opp_count: device OPP not found (-19)
[    0.997544] msm_thermal:get_cpu_freq_plan_len Error reading CPU0 freq table len. error:-19
[    1.013642] qcom,gcc-mdm9607 1800000.qcom,gcc: Registered GCC clocks
[    1.019451] clock-a7 b010008.qcom,clock-a7: Speed bin: 4 PVS Version: 0
[    1.025693] a7ssmux: set OPP pair(400000000 Hz: 1 uV) on cpu0
[    1.031314] a7ssmux: set OPP pair(1305600000 Hz: 7 uV) on cpu0
[    1.038805] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    1.043587] AXI: msm_bus_scale_register_client(): msm_bus_scale_register_client: Bus driver not ready.
[    1.052935] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0 (not a problem)
[    1.062006] irq: no irq domain found for /soc/wcd9xxx-irq !
[    1.069884] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    1.074814] AXI: msm_bus_scale_register_client(): msm_bus_scale_register_client: Bus driver not ready.
[    1.083716] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0 (not a problem)
[    1.093850] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    1.098889] AXI: msm_bus_scale_register_client(): msm_bus_scale_register_client: Bus driver not ready.
[    1.107779] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0 (not a problem)
[    1.167871] KPI: Bootloader start count = 24097
[    1.171364] KPI: Bootloader end count = 48481
[    1.175855] KPI: Bootloader display count = 3884474147
[    1.180825] KPI: Bootloader load kernel count = 16420
[    1.185905] KPI: Kernel MPM timestamp = 105728
[    1.190286] KPI: Kernel MPM Clock frequency = 32768
[    1.195209] socinfo_print: v0.10, id=297, ver=1.0, raw_id=72, raw_ver=0, hw_plat=8, hw_plat_ver=65536
[    1.195209]  accessory_chip=0, hw_plat_subtype=0, pmic_model=65539, pmic_die_revision=131074 foundry_id=0 serial_number=2120983948
[    1.216731] sdcard_ext_vreg: no parameters
[    1.220555] rome_vreg: no parameters
[    1.224133] emac_lan_vreg: no parameters
[    1.228177] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbfs
[    1.233156] usbcore: registered new interface driver hub
[    1.238578] usbcore: registered new device driver usb
[    1.244507] cpufreq: driver msm up and running
[    1.248425] ION heap system created
[    1.251895] msm_bus_fabric_init_driver
[    1.262563] qcom,qpnp-power-on qpnp-power-on-c7303800: PMIC@SID0 Power-on reason: Triggered from PON1 (secondary PMIC) and 'cold' boot
[    1.273747] qcom,qpnp-power-on qpnp-power-on-c7303800: PMIC@SID0: Power-off reason: Triggered from UVLO (Under Voltage Lock Out)
[    1.285430] input: qpnp_pon as /devices/virtual/input/input0
[    1.291246] PMIC@SID0: PM8019 v2.2 options: 3, 2, 2, 2
[    1.296706] Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Initialized.
[    1.302493] Add group failed
[    1.305291] cfg80211: Calling CRDA to update world regulatory domain
[    1.311216] cfg80211: World regulatory domain updated:
[    1.317109] Switched to clocksource arch_mem_counter
[    1.334091] cfg80211:  DFS Master region: unset
[    1.337418] cfg80211:   (start_freq - end_freq @ bandwidth), (max_antenna_gain, max_eirp), (dfs_cac_time)
[    1.354087] cfg80211:   (2402000 KHz - 2472000 KHz @ 40000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.361055] cfg80211:   (2457000 KHz - 2482000 KHz @ 40000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.370545] NET: Registered protocol family 2
[    1.374082] cfg80211:   (2474000 KHz - 2494000 KHz @ 20000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.381851] cfg80211:   (5170000 KHz - 5250000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.389876] cfg80211:   (5250000 KHz - 5330000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.397857] cfg80211:   (5490000 KHz - 5710000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.405841] cfg80211:   (5735000 KHz - 5835000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.413795] cfg80211:   (57240000 KHz - 63720000 KHz @ 2160000 KHz), (N/A, 0 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.422355] TCP established hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.428921] TCP bind hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.435192] TCP: Hash tables configured (established 1024 bind 1024)
[    1.441528] TCP: reno registered
[    1.444738] UDP hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.450521] UDP-Lite hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.456950] NET: Registered protocol family 1
[    1.462779] futex hash table entries: 256 (order: -1, 3072 bytes)
[    1.474555] msgmni has been set to 115
[    1.478551] Block layer SCSI generic (bsg) driver version 0.4 loaded (major 251)
[    1.485041] io scheduler noop registered
[    1.488818] io scheduler deadline registered
[    1.493200] io scheduler cfq registered (default)
[    1.502142] msm_rpm_log_probe: OK
[    1.506717] msm_serial_hs module loaded
[    1.509803] msm_serial_hsl_probe: detected port #0 (ttyHSL0)
[    1.515324] AXI: get_pdata(): Error: Client name not found
[    1.520626] AXI: msm_bus_cl_get_pdata(): client has to provide missing entry for successful registration
[    1.530171] msm_serial_hsl_probe: Bus scaling is disabled                      [    1.074814] AXI: msm_bus_scale_register_client(): msm_bus_scale_register_client: Bus driver not ready.
[    1.083716] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0 (not a problem)
[    1.093850] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: probing driver i2c-msm-v2
[    1.098889] AXI: msm_bus_scale_register_client(): msm_bus_scale_register_client: Bus driver not ready.
[    1.107779] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0 (not a problem)
[    1.167871] KPI: Bootloader start count = 24097
[    1.171364] KPI: Bootloader end count = 48481
[    1.175855] KPI: Bootloader display count = 3884474147
[    1.180825] KPI: Bootloader load kernel count = 16420
[    1.185905] KPI: Kernel MPM timestamp = 105728
[    1.190286] KPI: Kernel MPM Clock frequency = 32768
[    1.195209] socinfo_print: v0.10, id=297, ver=1.0, raw_id=72, raw_ver=0, hw_plat=8, hw_plat_ver=65536
[    1.195209]  accessory_chip=0, hw_plat_subtype=0, pmic_model=65539, pmic_die_revision=131074 foundry_id=0 serial_number=2120983948
[    1.216731] sdcard_ext_vreg: no parameters
[    1.220555] rome_vreg: no parameters
[    1.224133] emac_lan_vreg: no parameters
[    1.228177] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbfs
[    1.233156] usbcore: registered new interface driver hub
[    1.238578] usbcore: registered new device driver usb
[    1.244507] cpufreq: driver msm up and running
[    1.248425] ION heap system created
[    1.251895] msm_bus_fabric_init_driver
[    1.262563] qcom,qpnp-power-on qpnp-power-on-c7303800: PMIC@SID0 Power-on reason: Triggered from PON1 (secondary PMIC) and 'cold' boot
[    1.273747] qcom,qpnp-power-on qpnp-power-on-c7303800: PMIC@SID0: Power-off reason: Triggered from UVLO (Under Voltage Lock Out)
[    1.285430] input: qpnp_pon as /devices/virtual/input/input0
[    1.291246] PMIC@SID0: PM8019 v2.2 options: 3, 2, 2, 2
[    1.296706] Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Initialized.
[    1.302493] Add group failed
[    1.305291] cfg80211: Calling CRDA to update world regulatory domain
[    1.311216] cfg80211: World regulatory domain updated:
[    1.317109] Switched to clocksource arch_mem_counter
[    1.334091] cfg80211:  DFS Master region: unset
[    1.337418] cfg80211:   (start_freq - end_freq @ bandwidth), (max_antenna_gain, max_eirp), (dfs_cac_time)
[    1.354087] cfg80211:   (2402000 KHz - 2472000 KHz @ 40000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.361055] cfg80211:   (2457000 KHz - 2482000 KHz @ 40000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.370545] NET: Registered protocol family 2
[    1.374082] cfg80211:   (2474000 KHz - 2494000 KHz @ 20000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.381851] cfg80211:   (5170000 KHz - 5250000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.389876] cfg80211:   (5250000 KHz - 5330000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.397857] cfg80211:   (5490000 KHz - 5710000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.405841] cfg80211:   (5735000 KHz - 5835000 KHz @ 80000 KHz), (N/A, 2000 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.413795] cfg80211:   (57240000 KHz - 63720000 KHz @ 2160000 KHz), (N/A, 0 mBm), (N/A)
[    1.422355] TCP established hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.428921] TCP bind hash table entries: 1024 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.435192] TCP: Hash tables configured (established 1024 bind 1024)
[    1.441528] TCP: reno registered
[    1.444738] UDP hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.450521] UDP-Lite hash table entries: 256 (order: 0, 4096 bytes)
[    1.456950] NET: Registered protocol family 1
[    1.462779] futex hash table entries: 256 (order: -1, 3072 bytes)
[    1.474555] msgmni has been set to 115
[    1.478551] Block layer SCSI generic (bsg) driver version 0.4 loaded (major 251)
[    1.485041] io scheduler noop registered
[    1.488818] io scheduler deadline registered
[    1.493200] io scheduler cfq registered (default)
[    1.502142] msm_rpm_log_probe: OK
[    1.506717] msm_serial_hs module loaded
[    1.509803] msm_serial_hsl_probe: detected port #0 (ttyHSL0)
[    1.515324] AXI: get_pdata(): Error: Client name not found
[    1.520626] AXI: msm_bus_cl_get_pdata(): client has to provide missing entry for successful registration
[    1.530171] msm_serial_hsl_probe: Bus scaling is disabled
[    1.535696] 78b3000.serial: ttyHSL0 at MMIO 0x78b3000 (irq = 153, base_baud = 460800�[    1.544155] msm_hsl_console_setup: console setup on port #0
[    1.548727] console [ttyHSL0] enabled
[    1.548727] console [ttyHSL0] enabled
[    1.556014] bootconsole [uart0] disabled
[    1.556014] bootconsole [uart0] disabled
[    1.564212] msm_serial_hsl_init: driver initialized
[    1.578450] brd: module loaded
[    1.582920] loop: module loaded
[    1.589183] sps: BAM device 0x07984000 is not registered yet.
[    1.594234] sps:BAM 0x07984000 is registered.
[    1.598072] msm_nand_bam_init: msm_nand_bam_init: BAM device registered: bam_handle 0xc69f6400
[    1.607103] sps:BAM 0x07984000 (va:0xc89a0000) enabled: ver:0x18, number of pipes:7
[    1.616588] msm_nand_parse_smem_ptable: Parsing partition table info from SMEM
[    1.622805] msm_nand_parse_smem_ptable: SMEM partition table found: ver: 4 len: 17
[    1.630391] msm_nand_version_check: nand_major:1, nand_minor:5, qpic_major:1, qpic_minor:5
[    1.638642] msm_nand_scan: NAND Id: 0x1590aa98 Buswidth: 8Bits Density: 256 MByte
[    1.646069] msm_nand_scan: pagesize: 2048 Erasesize: 131072 oobsize: 128 (in Bytes)
[    1.653676] msm_nand_scan: BCH ECC: 8 Bit
[    1.657710] msm_nand_scan: CFG0: 0x290408c0,           CFG1: 0x0804715c
[    1.657710]             RAWCFG0: 0x2b8400c0,        RAWCFG1: 0x0005055d
[    1.657710]           ECCBUFCFG: 0x00000203,      ECCBCHCFG: 0x42040d10
[    1.657710]           RAWECCCFG: 0x42000d11, BAD BLOCK BYTE: 0x000001c5
[    1.684101] Creating 17 MTD partitions on "7980000.nand":
[    1.689447] 0x000000000000-0x000000140000 : "sbl"
[    1.694867] 0x000000140000-0x000000280000 : "mibib"
[    1.699560] 0x000000280000-0x000000e80000 : "efs2"
[    1.704408] 0x000000e80000-0x000000f40000 : "tz"
[    1.708934] 0x000000f40000-0x000000fa0000 : "rpm"
[    1.713625] 0x000000fa0000-0x000001000000 : "aboot"
[    1.718582] 0x000001000000-0x0000017e0000 : "boot"
[    1.723281] 0x0000017e0000-0x000002820000 : "scrub"
[    1.728174] 0x000002820000-0x000005020000 : "modem"
[    1.732968] 0x000005020000-0x000005420000 : "rfbackup"
[    1.738156] 0x000005420000-0x000005820000 : "oem"
[    1.742770] 0x000005820000-0x000005f00000 : "recovery"
[    1.747972] 0x000005f00000-0x000009100000 : "cache"
[    1.752787] 0x000009100000-0x000009a40000 : "recoveryfs"
[    1.758389] 0x000009a40000-0x00000aa40000 : "cdrom"
[    1.762967] 0x00000aa40000-0x00000ba40000 : "jrdresource"
[    1.768407] 0x00000ba40000-0x000010000000 : "system"
[    1.773239] msm_nand_probe: NANDc phys addr 0x7980000, BAM phys addr 0x7984000, BAM IRQ 164
[    1.781074] msm_nand_probe: Allocated DMA buffer at virt_addr 0xc7840000, phys_addr 0x87840000
[    1.791872] PPP generic driver version 2.4.2
[    1.801126] cnss_sdio 87a00000.qcom,cnss-sdio: CNSS SDIO Driver registered
[    1.807554] msm_otg 78d9000.usb: msm_otg probe
[    1.813333] msm_otg 78d9000.usb: OTG regs = c88f8000
[    1.820702] gbridge_init: gbridge_init successs.
[    1.826344] msm_otg 78d9000.usb: phy_reset: success
[    1.830294] qcom,qpnp-rtc qpnp-rtc-c7307000: rtc core: registered qpnp_rtc as rtc0
[    1.838474] i2c /dev entries driver
[    1.842459] unable to find DT imem DLOAD mode node
[    1.846588] unable to find DT imem EDLOAD mode node
[    1.851332] unable to find DT imem dload-type node
[    1.856921] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295 probe enter
[    1.861161] qcom,iterm-ma = 128
[    1.864476] bq24295_otg_vreg: no parameters
[    1.868502] charger_core_register: Charger Core Version 5.0.0(Built at 20151202-21:36)!
[    1.877007] i2c-msm-v2 78b8000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0x3 (ok)
[    1.885559] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_bhot_mode 3
[    1.890150] bq24295-charger 4-006b: power_good is 1,vbus_stat is 2
[    1.896588] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_thermal_threshold 100
[    1.902952] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_sys_min 3700
[    1.908639] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_max_target_voltage 4150
[    1.915223] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_recharge_threshold 300
[    1.922119] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_terminal_current_limit iterm_disabled=0, iterm_ma=128
[    1.930917] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_precharge_current_limit bdi->prech_cur=128
[    1.940038] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_safty_timer 0
[    1.945088] bq24295-charger 4-006b: bq24295_set_input_voltage_limit 4520
[    1.972949] sdhci: Secure Digital Host Controller Interface driver
[    1.978151] sdhci: Copyright(c) Pierre Ossman
[    1.982441] sdhci-pltfm: SDHCI platform and OF driver helper
[    1.989092] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: sdhci_msm_probe: ICE device is not enabled
[    1.995473] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: No vreg data found for vdd
[    2.001530] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: sdhci_msm_pm_qos_parse_irq: error -22 reading irq cpu
[    2.009809] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: sdhci_msm_pm_qos_parse: PM QoS voting for IRQ will be disabled
[    2.018600] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: sdhci_msm_pm_qos_parse: PM QoS voting for cpu group will be disabled
[    2.030541] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: sdhci_msm_probe: sdiowakeup_irq = 353
[    2.036867] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: No vmmc regulator found
[    2.042027] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: No vqmmc regulator found
[    2.048266] mmc0: SDHCI controller on 7824900.sdhci [7824900.sdhci] using 32-bit ADMA in legacy mode
[    2.080401] Welcome to pca955x_probe!!
[    2.084362] leds-pca955x 3-0020: leds-pca955x: Using pca9555 16-bit LED driver at slave address 0x20
[    2.095400] sdhci_msm 7824900.sdhci: card claims to support voltages below defined range
[    2.103125] i2c-msm-v2 78b7000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0x5 (ok)
[    2.114183] msm_otg 78d9000.usb: Avail curr from USB = 1500
[    2.120251] come to USB_SDP_CHARGER!
[    2.123215] Welcome to sn3199_probe!
[    2.126718] leds-sn3199 5-0064: leds-sn3199: Using sn3199 9-bit LED driver at slave address 0x64
[    2.136511] sn3199->led_en_gpio=21
[    2.139143] i2c-msm-v2 78b9000.i2c: msm_bus_scale_register_client(mstr-id:86):0x6 (ok)
[    2.150207] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid
[    2.154864] usbhid: USB HID core driver
[    2.159825] sps:BAM 0x078c4000 is registered.
[    2.163573] bimc-bwmon 408000.qcom,cpu-bwmon: BW HWmon governor registered.
[    2.171080] devfreq soc:qcom,cpubw: Couldn't update frequency transition information.
[    2.178513] coresight-fuse a601c.fuse: QPDI fuse not specified
[    2.184242] coresight-fuse a601c.fuse: Fuse initialized
[    2.192407] coresight-csr 6001000.csr: CSR initialized
[    2.197263] coresight-tmc 6026000.tmc: Byte Counter feature enabled
[    2.203204] sps:BAM 0x06084000 is registered.
[    2.207301] coresight-tmc 6026000.tmc: TMC initialized
[    2.212681] coresight-tmc 6025000.tmc: TMC initialized
[    2.220071] nidnt boot config: 0
[    2.224563] mmc0: new ultra high speed SDR50 SDIO card at address 0001
[    2.231120] coresight-tpiu 6020000.tpiu: NIDnT on SDCARD only mode
[    2.236440] coresight-tpiu 6020000.tpiu: TPIU initialized
[    2.242808] coresight-replicator 6024000.replicator: REPLICATOR initialized
[    2.249372] coresight-stm 6002000.stm: STM initialized
[    2.255034] coresight-hwevent 606c000.hwevent: Hardware Event driver initialized
[    2.262312] Netfilter messages via NETLINK v0.30.
[    2.266306] nf_conntrack version 0.5.0 (920 buckets, 3680 max)
[    2.272312] ctnetlink v0.93: registering with nfnetlink.
[    2.277565] ip_set: protocol 6
[    2.280568] ip_tables: (C) 2000-2006 Netfilter Core Team
[    2.285723] arp_tables: (C) 2002 David S. Miller
[    2.290146] TCP: cubic registered
[    2.293915] NET: Registered protocol family 10
[    2.298740] ip6_tables: (C) 2000-2006 Netfilter Core Team
[    2.303407] sit: IPv6 over IPv4 tunneling driver
[    2.308481] NET: Registered protocol family 17
[    2.312340] bridge: automatic filtering via arp/ip/ip6tables has been deprecated. Update your scripts to load br_netfilter if you need this.
[    2.325094] Bridge firewalling registered
[    2.328930] Ebtables v2.0 registered
[    2.333260] NET: Registered protocol family 27
[    2.341362] battery_core_register: Battery Core Version 5.0.0(Built at 20151202-21:36)!
[    2.348466] pmu_battery_probe: vbat_channel=21, tbat_channel=17
[    2.420236] ubi0: attaching mtd16
[    2.723941] ubi0: scanning is finished
[    2.732997] ubi0: attached mtd16 (name "system", size 69 MiB)
[    2.737783] ubi0: PEB size: 131072 bytes (128 KiB), LEB size: 126976 bytes
[    2.744601] ubi0: min./max. I/O unit sizes: 2048/2048, sub-page size 2048
[    2.751333] ubi0: VID header offset: 2048 (aligned 2048), data offset: 4096
[    2.758540] ubi0: good PEBs: 556, bad PEBs: 2, corrupted PEBs: 0
[    2.764305] ubi0: user volume: 3, internal volumes: 1, max. volumes count: 128
[    2.771476] ubi0: max/mean erase counter: 192/64, WL threshold: 4096, image sequence number: 35657280
[    2.780708] ubi0: available PEBs: 0, total reserved PEBs: 556, PEBs reserved for bad PEB handling: 38
[    2.789921] ubi0: background thread "ubi_bgt0d" started, PID 96
[    2.796395] android_bind cdev: 0xC6583E80, name: ci13xxx_msm
[    2.801508] file system registered
[    2.804974] mbim_init: initialize 1 instances
[    2.809228] mbim_init: Initialized 1 ports
[    2.815074] rndis_qc_init: initialize rndis QC instance
[    2.819713] jrd device_desc.bcdDevice: [0x0242]
[    2.823779] android_bind scheduled usb start work: name: ci13xxx_msm
[    2.830230] android_usb gadget: android_usb ready
[    2.834845] msm_hsusb msm_hsusb: [ci13xxx_start] hw_ep_max = 32
[    2.840741] msm_hsusb msm_hsusb: CI13XXX_CONTROLLER_RESET_EVENT received
[    2.847433] msm_hsusb msm_hsusb: CI13XXX_CONTROLLER_UDC_STARTED_EVENT received
[    2.855851] input: gpio-keys as /devices/soc:gpio_keys/input/input1
[    2.861452] qcom,qpnp-rtc qpnp-rtc-c7307000: setting system clock to 1970-01-01 06:36:41 UTC (23801)
[    2.870315] open file error /usb_conf/usb_config.ini
[    2.876412] jrd_usb_start_work open file erro /usb_conf/usb_config.ini, retry_count:0
[    2.884324] parse_legacy_cluster_params(): Ignoring cluster params
[    2.889468] ------------[ cut here ]------------
[    2.894186] WARNING: CPU: 0 PID: 1 at /home/linux3/jrd/yanping.an/ee40/0810/MDM9607.LE.1.0-00130/apps_proc/oe-core/build/tmp-glibc/work-shared/mdm9607/kernel-source/drivers/cpuidle/lpm-levels-of.c:739 parse_cluster+0xb50/0xcb4()
[    2.914366] Modules linked in:
[    2.917339] CPU: 0 PID: 1 Comm: swapper Not tainted 3.18.20 #1
[    2.923171] [<c00132ac>] (unwind_backtrace) from [<c0011460>] (show_stack+0x10/0x14)
[    2.931092] [<c0011460>] (show_stack) from [<c001c6ac>] (warn_slowpath_common+0x68/0x88)
[    2.939175] [<c001c6ac>] (warn_slowpath_common) from [<c001c75c>] (warn_slowpath_null+0x18/0x20)
[    2.947895] [<c001c75c>] (warn_slowpath_null) from [<c034e180>] (parse_cluster+0xb50/0xcb4)
[    2.956189] [<c034e180>] (parse_cluster) from [<c034b6b4>] (lpm_probe+0xc/0x1d4)
[    2.963527] [<c034b6b4>] (lpm_probe) from [<c024857c>] (platform_drv_probe+0x30/0x7c)
[    2.971380] [<c024857c>] (platform_drv_probe) from [<c0246d54>] (driver_probe_device+0xb8/0x1e8)
[    2.980118] [<c0246d54>] (driver_probe_device) from [<c0246f30>] (__driver_attach+0x68/0x8c)
[    2.988467] [<c0246f30>] (__driver_attach) from [<c02455d0>] (bus_for_each_dev+0x6c/0x90)
[    2.996626] [<c02455d0>] (bus_for_each_dev) from [<c02465a4>] (bus_add_driver+0xe0/0x1c8)
[    3.004786] [<c02465a4>] (bus_add_driver) from [<c02477bc>] (driver_register+0x9c/0xe0)
[    3.012739] [<c02477bc>] (driver_register) from [<c080c3d8>] (lpm_levels_module_init+0x14/0x38)
[    3.021459] [<c080c3d8>] (lpm_levels_module_init) from [<c0008980>] (do_one_initcall+0xf8/0x1a0)
[    3.030217] [<c0008980>] (do_one_initcall) from [<c07e7d4c>] (kernel_init_freeable+0xf0/0x1b0)
[    3.038818] [<c07e7d4c>] (kernel_init_freeable) from [<c0582d48>] (kernel_init+0x8/0xe4)
[    3.046888] [<c0582d48>] (kernel_init) from [<c000dda0>] (ret_from_fork+0x14/0x34)
[    3.054432] ---[ end trace e9ec50b1ec4c8f73 ]---
[    3.059012] ------------[ cut here ]------------
[    3.063604] WARNING: CPU: 0 PID: 1 at /home/linux3/jrd/yanping.an/ee40/0810/MDM9607.LE.1.0-00130/apps_proc/oe-core/build/tmp-glibc/work-shared/mdm9607/kernel-source/drivers/cpuidle/lpm-levels-of.c:739 parse_cluster+0xb50/0xcb4()
[    3.083858] Modules linked in:
[    3.086870] CPU: 0 PID: 1 Comm: swapper Tainted: G        W      3.18.20 #1
[    3.093814] [<c00132ac>] (unwind_backtrace) from [<c0011460>] (show_stack+0x10/0x14)
[    3.101575] [<c0011460>] (show_stack) from [<c001c6ac>] (warn_slowpath_common+0x68/0x88)
[    3.109641] [<c001c6ac>] (warn_slowpath_common) from [<c001c75c>] (warn_slowpath_null+0x18/0x20)
[    3.118412] [<c001c75c>] (warn_slowpath_null) from [<c034e180>] (parse_cluster+0xb50/0xcb4)
[    3.126745] [<c034e180>] (parse_cluster) from [<c034b6b4>] (lpm_probe+0xc/0x1d4)
[    3.134126] [<c034b6b4>] (lpm_probe) from [<c024857c>] (platform_drv_probe+0x30/0x7c)
[    3.141906] [<c024857c>] (platform_drv_probe) from [<c0246d54>] (driver_probe_device+0xb8/0x1e8)
[    3.150702] [<c0246d54>] (driver_probe_device) from [<c0246f30>] (__driver_attach+0x68/0x8c)
[    3.159120] [<c0246f30>] (__driver_attach) from [<c02455d0>] (bus_for_each_dev+0x6c/0x90)
[    3.167285] [<c02455d0>] (bus_for_each_dev) from [<c02465a4>] (bus_add_driver+0xe0/0x1c8)
[    3.175444] [<c02465a4>] (bus_add_driver) from [<c02477bc>] (driver_register+0x9c/0xe0)
[    3.183398] [<c02477bc>] (driver_register) from [<c080c3d8>] (lpm_levels_module_init+0x14/0x38)
[    3.192107] [<c080c3d8>] (lpm_levels_module_init) from [<c0008980>] (do_one_initcall+0xf8/0x1a0)
[    3.200877] [<c0008980>] (do_one_initcall) from [<c07e7d4c>] (kernel_init_freeable+0xf0/0x1b0)
[    3.209475] [<c07e7d4c>] (kernel_init_freeable) from [<c0582d48>] (kernel_init+0x8/0xe4)
[    3.217542] [<c0582d48>] (kernel_init) from [<c000dda0>] (ret_from_fork+0x14/0x34)
[    3.225090] ---[ end trace e9ec50b1ec4c8f74 ]---
[    3.229667] /soc/qcom,lpm-levels/qcom,pm-cluster@0: No CPU phandle, assuming single cluster
[    3.239954] qcom,cc-debug-mdm9607 1800000.qcom,debug: Registered Debug Mux successfully
[    3.247619] emac_lan_vreg: disabling
[    3.250507] mem_acc_corner: disabling
[    3.254196] clock_late_init: Removing enables held for handed-off clocks
[    3.262690] ALSA device list:
[    3.264732]   No soundcard�[    3.274083] UBIFS (ubi0:0): background thread "ubifs_bgt0_0" started, PID 102
[    3.305224] UBIFS (ubi0:0): recovery needed
[    3.466156] UBIFS (ubi0:0): recovery completed
[    3.469627] UBIFS (ubi0:0): UBIFS: mounted UBI device 0, volume 0, name "rootfs"
[    3.476987] UBIFS (ubi0:0): LEB size: 126976 bytes (124 KiB), min./max. I/O unit sizes: 2048 bytes/2048 bytes
[    3.486876] UBIFS (ubi0:0): FS size: 45838336 bytes (43 MiB, 361 LEBs), journal size 9023488 bytes (8 MiB, 72 LEBs)
[    3.497417] UBIFS (ubi0:0): reserved for root: 0 bytes (0 KiB)
[    3.503078] UBIFS (ubi0:0): media format: w4/r0 (latest is w4/r0), UUID 4DBB2F12-34EB-43B6-839B-3BA930765BAE, small LPT model
[    3.515582] VFS: Mounted root (ubifs filesystem) on device 0:12.
[    3.520940] Freeing unused kernel memory: 276K (c07e7000 - c082c000)
INIT: version 2.88 booting

18 February, 2021 06:44PM

Russ Allbery

Review: Solutions and Other Problems

Review: Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

Publisher: Gallery Books
Copyright: September 2020
ISBN: 1-9821-5694-5
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 519

Solutions and Other Problems is the long-awaited second volume of Allie Brosh's work, after the amazing Hyperbole and a Half. The first collection was a mix of original material and pieces that first appeared on her blog. This is all new work, although one of the chapters is now on her blog as a teaser.

As with all of Brosh's previous work, Solutions and Other Problems is mostly drawings (in her highly original, deceptively simple style) with a bit of prose in between. It's a similar mix of childhood stories, off-beat interpretations of day-to-day life, and deeper and more personal topics. But this is not the same type of book as Hyperbole and a Half, in a way that is hard to capture in a review.

When this book was postponed and then temporarily withdrawn, I suspected that something had happened to Brosh. I was hoping that it was just the chaos of her first book publication, but, sadly, no. We find out about some of what happened in Solutions and Other Problems, in varying amounts of detail, and it's heart-wrenching. That by itself gives the book a more somber tone.

But, beyond that, I think Solutions and Other Problems represents a shift in mood and intention. The closest I can come to it is to say that Hyperbole and a Half felt like Brosh using her own experiences as a way to tell funny stories, and this book feels like Brosh using funny stories to talk about her experiences. There are still childhood hijinks and animal stories mixed in, but even those felt more earnest, more sad, and less assured or conclusive. This is in no way a flaw, to be clear; just be aware that if you were expecting more work exactly like Hyperbole and a Half, this volume is more challenging and a bit more unsettling.

This does not mean Brosh's trademark humor is gone. Chapter seventeen, "Loving-Kindness Exercise," is one of the funniest things I've ever read. "Neighbor Kid" captures my typical experience of interacting with children remarkably well. And there are, of course, more stories about not-very-bright pets, including a memorable chapter ("The Kangaroo Pig Gets Drunk") on just how baffling our lives must be to the animals around us. But this book is more serious, even when there's humor and absurdity layered on top, and anxiety felt like a constant companion.

As with her previous book, many of the chapters are stories from Brosh's childhood. I have to admit this is not my favorite part of Brosh's work, and the stories in this book in particular felt a bit less funny and somewhat more uncomfortable and unsettling. This may be a very individual reaction; you can judge your own in advance by reading "Richard," the second chapter of the book, which Brosh posted to her blog. I think it's roughly typical of the childhood stories here.

The capstone of Hyperbole and a Half was Brosh's fantastic two-part piece on depression, which succeeded in being hilarious and deeply insightful at the same time. I think the capstone of Solutions and Other Problems is the last chapter, "Friend," which is about being friends with yourself. For me, it was a good encapsulation of both the merits of this book and the difference in tone. It's less able to find obvious humor in a psychological struggle, but it's just as empathetic and insightful. The ending is more ambiguous and more conditional; the tone is more wistful. It felt more personal and more raw, and therefore a bit less generalized. Her piece on depression made me want to share it with everyone I knew; this piece made me want to give Brosh a virtual hug and tell her I'm glad she's alive and exists in the world. That about sums up my reaction to this book.

I bought Solutions and Other Problems in hardcover because I think this sort of graphic work benefits from high-quality printing, and I was very happy with that decision. Gallery Books used heavy, glossy paper and very clear printing. More of the text is outside of the graphic panels than I remember from the previous book. I appreciated that; I thought it made the stories much easier to read. My one quibble is that Brosh does use fairly small lettering in some of the panels and the color choices and the scrawl she uses for stylistic reasons sometimes made that text difficult for me to read. In those few places, I would have appreciated the magnifying capabilities of reading on a tablet.

I don't think this is as good as Hyperbole and a Half, but it is still very good and very worth reading. It's harder reading, though, and you'll need to brace yourself more than you did before. If you're new to Brosh, start with Hyperbole and a Half, or with the blog, but if you liked those, read this too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

18 February, 2021 05:19AM

hackergotchi for Dirk Eddelbuettel

Dirk Eddelbuettel

dang 0.0.13: New intradayMarketMonitor

sp500 intraday monitor

A new release of the dang package got to CRAN earlier today, a few months since the last relase. The dang package regroups a few functions of mine that had no other home as for example lsos() from a StackOverflow question from 2009 (!!) is one, this overbought/oversold price band plotter from an older blog post is another.

This release adds one function I tweeted about one month ago. It takes a function Josh Ulrich originally tweeted about in November with a reference to this gist. I refactored this into a proper functions and polished a few edges: the data now properly rolls off after a fixed delay (of two days), should work with other symbols (though we both focused on ^GSPC as a free (!!) real-time SP500 index (albeit only during trading hours), properly gaps between trading days and more. You can simply invoke it via

dang::intradayMarketMonitor()

and a chart just like the one here will grow (though there is no “state”: if you stop it, or reboot, or … the plot starts from scratch).

The short NEWS entry follows.

Changes in version 0.0.13 (2021-02-17)

  • New function intradayMarketMonitor based on an earlier gist-posted snippet by Josh Ulrich.

  • The CI setup was generalized as a test for 'r-ci' and is used essentially unchanged with three different providers.

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is a comparison to the previous release. For questions or comments use the issue tracker off the GitHub repo.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

18 February, 2021 01:42AM

February 17, 2021

hackergotchi for Norbert Preining

Norbert Preining

Debian KDE/Plasma Status 2021-02-18

Lots of time has passed since the last status update, and Debian is going into pre-release freeze, so let us report a bit about the most recent changes: Debian/bullseye will have Plasma 5.20.5, Frameworks 5.78, Apps 20.12. Debian/experimental already carries Plasma 5.21 and Frameworks 5.79, and that is also the level at the OSC builds.

Debian Bullseye

We are in soft freeze now, and only targeted fixes are allowed, but Bullseye is carrying a good mixture consisting of the KDE Frameworks 5.78, including several backports of fixes from 5.79 to get smooth operation. Plasma 5.20.5, again with several cherry picks for bugs will be in Bullseye, too. The KDE/Apps are mostly at 20.12 level, and the KDE PIM group packages (akonadi, kmail, etc) are at 20.08.

Debian experimental

In the last days I have uploaded frameworks 5.79 and Plasma 5.21 to Debian/experimental. For Plasma there is still some NEW processing to be done, but in due time the packages will be available and installable from experimental.

OBS packages

The OBS packages as usual follow the latest release, and currently ship KDE Frameworks 5.79, KDE Apps 20.12.2, and Plasma 5.21.0. The package sources are as usual (note the different path for the Plasma packages and the App packages, containing the release version!), for Debian/unstable:

deb https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/npreining:/debian-kde:/frameworks/Debian_Unstable/ ./
deb https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/npreining:/debian-kde:/plasma521/Debian_Unstable/ ./
deb https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/npreining:/debian-kde:/apps2012/Debian_Unstable/ ./
deb https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/npreining:/debian-kde:/other/Debian_Unstable/ ./

and the same with Testing instead of Unstable for Debian/testing.

Digikam beta

There is also a separate repository for the upcoming digikam release:

deb https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/npreining:/debian-kde:/digikam-beta/Debian_Unstable/ ./

just in case you want to test the rc release of digikam 7.2.0.

17 February, 2021 09:08PM by Norbert Preining

hackergotchi for Martin-&#201;ric Racine

Martin-Éric Racine

OpenWRT: WRT54GL: Backfire: IPv6 issues

While having a Debian boxen as a router feels nice, I kept on longing for something smaller and quieter. I then remembered that I still had my old WRT54GL somewhere. After upgrading the OpenWRT firmware to the latest supported version for that hardware (Backfire 10.03.1, r29592), I installed radvd and wide-dhcpv6-client. Configuring radvd to deliver consistent results was easy enough.

The issue I keep on experiencing is the external interface (wan) dropping the IPv6 address it received from the ISP via router advertisement, which in turn kills the default IPv6 route to the outside world. Logging in via SSH and manually running "rdisc6 eth0.1" restores the IPv6 gateway. I just honestly wished I didn't have to do this every time I need to reboot the router.

Does this issue sound familiar to anyone? What was the solution?

PS: No, I won't just go and ditch this WRT54GL just because new toys exist on the market. This is obviously a software issue, so I need a software solution.

PPS: IPv6 pretty much works out of the box on the Debian boxen I had been using as my router. I previously wrote about this on my blog. Basically, it's unlikely to be an ISP issue.

17 February, 2021 06:09PM by Martin-Éric (noreply@blogger.com)

hackergotchi for Louis-Philippe Véronneau

Louis-Philippe Véronneau

What are the incentive structures of Free Software?

When I started my Master's degree in January 2018, I was confident I would be done in a year and half. After all, I only had one year of classes and I figured 6 months to write a thesis would be plenty.

Three years later, I'm finally done: the final version of my thesis was accepted on January 22nd 2021.

My thesis, entitled What are the incentive structures of Free Software? An economic analysis of Free Software's specific development model, can be found here 1. If you care about such things, both the data and the final document can be built from source with the code in this git repository.

Results and analysis

My thesis is divided in four main sections:

  1. an introduction to FOSS
  2. a chapter discussing the incentive structures of Free Software (and arguing the so called “Tragedy of the Commons” isn't inevitable)
  3. a chapter trying to use empirical data to validate the theories presented in the previous chapter
  4. an annex on the various FOSS business models

If you're reading this blog post, chances are you'll find both section 1 and 4 a tad boring, as you might already be familiar with these concepts.

Incentives

So, why do people contribute to Free Software? Unsurprisingly, it's complicated. Many economists have studied this topic, but for some reason, most research happened in the early 2000s.

Although papers don't all agree with each other and most importantly, about the variables' importance, the main incentives2 can be summarized by:

  • expectation of monetary gain
  • writing FOSS as a hobby (that includes “scratching your own itch”)
  • liking the FOSS community and feeling a sense of belonging
  • altruism (writing FOSS for Good™)

Giving weights to these variables is not an easy thing: the FOSS ecosystem is highly heterogeneous and thus, people tend to write FOSS for different reasons. Moreover, incentives tend to shift with time as the ecosystem does. People writing Free Software in the 1990s probably did it for different reasons than people in 2021.

These four variables can also be divided in two general categories: extrinsic and intrinsic incentives. Monetary gain expectancy is an extrinsic incentive (its value is delayed and mediated), whereas the three other ones are intrinsic (they have an immediate value by themselves).

Empirical analysis

Theory is nice, but it's even better when you can back it up with data. Sadly, most of the papers on the economic incentives of FOSS are either purely theoretical, or use sample sizes so small they could as well be.

Using the data from the StackOverflow 2018 survey, I thus tried to see if I could somehow confirm my previous assumptions.

With 129 questions and more than 100 000 respondents (which after statistical processing yields between 28 000 and 39 000 observations per variable of interest), the StackOverflow 2018 survey is a very large dataset compared to what economists are used to work with.

Sadly, it wasn't entirely enough to come up with hard answers. There is a strong and significant correlation between writing Free Software and having a higher salary, but endogeneity problems3 made it hard to give a reliable estimate of how much money this would represent. Same goes for writing code has a hobby: it seems there is a strong and significant correlation, but the exact numbers I came up with cannot really be trusted.

The results on community as an incentive to writing FOSS were the ones that surprised me the most. Although I expected the relation to be quite strong, the coefficients predicted were in fact quite small. I theorise this is partly due to only 8% of the respondents declaring they didn't feel like they belonged in the IT community. With such a high level of adherence, the margin for improvement has to be smaller.

As for altruism, I wasn't able get any meaningful results. In my opinion this is mostly due to the fact there was no explicit survey question on this topic and I tried to make up for it by cobbling data together.

Kinda anti-climatic, isn't it? I would've loved to come up with decisive conclusions on this topic, but if there's one thing I learned while writing this thesis, it is I don't know much after all.


  1. Note that the thesis is written in French. 

  2. Of course, life is complex and so are people's motivations. One could come up with dozen more reasons why people contribute to Free Software. The "fun" of theoretical modelisation is trying to make complex things somewhat simpler. 

  3. I'll spare you the details, but this means there is no way to know if this correlation is the result of a causal link between the two variables. There are ways to deal with this problem (using an instrumental variables model is a very popular one), but again, the survey didn't provide the proper instruments to do so. For example, it could very well be the correlation is due to omitted variables. If you are interested in this topic (and can read French), I talk about this issue in section 3.2.8. 

17 February, 2021 05:00AM by Louis-Philippe Véronneau

February 16, 2021

Vincent Fourmond

QSoas tips and tricks: permanently storing meta-data

It is one thing to acquire and process data, but the data themselves are most often useless without the context, the conditions in which the experiments were made. These additional informations can be called meta-data. In a previous post, we have already described how one can set meta-data to data that are already loaded, and how one can make use of them.

QSoas is already able to figure out some meta-data in the case of electrochemical data, most notably in the case of files acquired by GPES, ECLab or CHI potentiostats. However, only a small number of constructors are supported as of now[1], and there are a number of experimental details that the software is never going to be able to figure out for you, such as the pH, the sample, what you were doing...

The new version of QSoas provides a means to permanently store meta-data for experimental data files:
QSoas> record-meta pH 7 file.dat
This command uses record-meta to permanently store the information pH = 7 for the file file.dat. Any time QSoas loads the file again, either today or in one year, the meta-data will contain the value 7 for the field pH. Behind the scenes, QSoas creates a single small file, file.dat.qsm, in which the meta-data are stored (in the form of a JSON dictionnary).

You can set the same meta-data to many files in one go, using wildcards (see load for more information). For instance, to set the pH=7 meta-data to all the .dat files in the current directory, you can use:
QSoas> record-meta pH 7 *.dat
You can only set one meta-data for each call to record-meta, but you can use it as many times as you like.

Finally, you can use the /for-which option to load or browse to select only the files which have the meta you need:
QSoas> browse /for-which=$meta.pH<=7
This command browses the files in the current directory, showing only the ones that have a pH meta-data which is 7 or below.

[1] I'm always ready to implement the parsing of other file formats that could be useful for you. If you need parsing of special files, please contact me, sending the given files and the meta-data you'd expect to find in those.

About QSoas

QSoas is a powerful open source data analysis program that focuses on flexibility and powerful fitting capacities. It is released under the GNU General Public License. It is described in Fourmond, Anal. Chem., 2016, 88 (10), pp 5050–5052. Current version is 3.0. You can download its source code there (or clone from the GitHub repository) and compile it yourself, or buy precompiled versions for MacOS and Windows there.

16 February, 2021 10:51AM by Vincent Fourmond (noreply@blogger.com)

hackergotchi for Michael Prokop

Michael Prokop

How to properly use 3rd party Debian repository signing keys with apt

(Blogging this, since this is a recurring anti-pattern I noticed at several customers and often comes up during deployments of 3rd party repositories.)

Update on 2021-02-19: clarified, that Signed-By requires apt >= 1.1, thanks Vincent Bernat

Many upstream projects provide Debian repository instructions like this:

curl -fsSL https://example.com/stable/debian.gpg | sudo apt-key add -

Do not follow this, for different reasons, including:

  1. You do not see what you get before adding the GPG key to your global apt trust store
  2. You can’t easily script this via your preferred configuration management (the apt-key manpage clearly discourages programmatic usage)
  3. The signing key is considered valid for all your enabled Debian repositories (instead of only a specific one)
  4. You need GnuPG (either gnupg2 or gnupg1) on your system for usage with apt-key

There’s a much better approach to this: download the GPG key, make sure it’s in the appropriate format, then use it via `deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/…]` in your apt’s sources list configuration. Note and FTR: the Signed-By feature is available starting with apt 1.1 (so apt in Debian jessie/8 and older does not support it).

TL;DR:

  • Install GPG keys in ascii-armored / old public key block format as /usr/share/keyrings/example.asc and use `deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/example.asc] https://example.com/…` in apt’s sources.list configuration
  • Install GPG keys in binary OpenPGP format as /usr/share/keyrings/example.gpg and use `deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/example.gpg] https://example.com/…` in apt’s sources.list configuration

As an example, let’s demonstrate this with the Tailscale Debian repository for buster.
Downloading the GPG file will give you an ascii-armored GPG file:

% curl -fsSL -o buster.gpg https://pkgs.tailscale.com/stable/debian/buster.gpg
% gpg --keyid-format long buster.gpg 
gpg: WARNING: no command supplied.  Trying to guess what you mean ...
pub   rsa4096/458CA832957F5868 2020-02-25 [SC]
      2596A99EAAB33821893C0A79458CA832957F5868
uid                           Tailscale Inc. (Package repository signing key) <info@tailscale.com>
sub   rsa4096/B1547A3DDAAF03C6 2020-02-25 [E]
% file buster.gpg
buster.gpg: PGP public key block Public-Key (old)

If you have apt version >= 1.4 available (Debian >=stretch/9 and Ubuntu >=bionic/18.04), you can use this file directly as follows:

% sudo mv buster.gpg /usr/share/keyrings/tailscale.asc
% cat /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tailscale.list
deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tailscale.asc] https://pkgs.tailscale.com/stable/debian buster main
% sudo apt update
[...]

And you’re done!

Iff your apt version really is older than 1.4, you need to convert the ascii-armored GPG file into a GPG key public ring file (AKA binary OpenPGP format), either by just dearmor-ing it (if you don’t care about checking ID + fingerprint):

% gpg --dearmor < buster.gpg > tailscale.gpg

or if you prefer to go via GPG, you can also use a temporary GPG home directory (if you don’t care about going through your personal GPG setup):

% mkdir --mode=700 /tmp/gpg-tmpdir
% gpg --homedir /tmp/gpg-tmpdir --import ./buster.gpg
gpg: keybox '/tmp/gpg-tmpdir/pubring.kbx' created
gpg: /tmp/gpg-tmpdir/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key 458CA832957F5868: public key "Tailscale Inc. (Package repository signing key) <info@tailscale.com>" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1
% gpg --homedir /tmp/gpg-tmpdir --output tailscale.gpg  --export-options=export-minimal --export 0x458CA832957F5868
% rm -rf /tmp/gpg-tmpdir

The resulting GPG key public ring file should look like that:

% file tailscale.gpg 
tailscale.gpg: PGP/GPG key public ring (v4) created Tue Feb 25 04:51:20 2020 RSA (Encrypt or Sign) 4096 bits MPI=0xc00399b10bc12858...
% gpg tailscale.gpg 
gpg: WARNING: no command supplied.  Trying to guess what you mean ...
pub   rsa4096/458CA832957F5868 2020-02-25 [SC]
      2596A99EAAB33821893C0A79458CA832957F5868
uid                           Tailscale Inc. (Package repository signing key) <info@tailscale.com>
sub   rsa4096/B1547A3DDAAF03C6 2020-02-25 [E]

Then you can use this GPG file on your system as follows:

% sudo mv tailscale.gpg /usr/share/keyrings/tailscale.gpg
% cat /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tailscale.list
deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/tailscale.gpg] https://pkgs.tailscale.com/stable/debian buster main
% sudo apt update
[...]

Such a setup ensures:

  1. You can verify the GPG key file (ID + fingerprint)
  2. You can easily ship files via /usr/share/keyrings/ and refer to it in your deployment scripts, configuration management,… (and can also easily update or get rid of them again!)
  3. The GPG key is valid only for the repositories with the corresponding `[signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/…]` entry
  4. You don’t need to install GnuPG (neither gnupg2 nor gnupg1) on the system which is using the 3rd party Debian repository

Thanks: Guillem Jover for reviewing an early draft of this blog article.

16 February, 2021 09:19AM by mika

February 15, 2021

hackergotchi for Rapha&#235;l Hertzog

Raphaël Hertzog

Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2020

A Debian LTS logo Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian’s Debian LTS offering.

Debian project funding

In January, we put aside 2175 EUR to fund Debian projects. As part of this Carles Pina i Estany started to work on better no-dsa support for the PTS which recently resulted in two merge requests which will hopefully be deployed soon.

We’re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article.

Debian LTS contributors

In January, 13 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available:

  • Abhijith PA did 9.0h (out of 14h assigned and 7h from December), thus carrying over 12h to February.
  • Adrian Bunk did 14h (out of 26h assigned), thus carrying over 12h to February, which he then gave back.
  • Ben Hutchings did 0.25h (out of 7h assigned and 8.5h from December), thus carrying over 15.25h to February.
  • Brian May did 10h (out of 10h assigned).
  • Chris Lamb did 18h (out of 18h assigned).
  • Emilio Pozuelo Monfort did not report back about their work so we assume they did nothing (out of 26h assigned plus 9.5h from December), thus is carrying over 35.5h for February.
  • Holger Levsen did 6.5h coordinating/managing the LTS team..
  • Markus Koschany did 36.75h (out of 26h assigned and 10.75h from December).
  • Ola Lundqvist did 2.5h (out of 10.5h assigned and 11.5h from December) and gave back 9.5 hours, thus carrying over 10h to February.
  • Roberto C. Sánchez did 6h (out of 26h assigned), thus carrying over 20h to February, which he then gave back.
  • Sylvain Beucler did 26h (out of 26h assigned).
  • Thorsten Alteholz did 26h (out of 26h assigned).
  • Utkarsh Gupta did 26h (out of 26h assigned).

Evolution of the situation

In January we released 28 DLAs and held our first LTS team meeting for 2021 on IRC, with the next public IRC meeting coming up at the end of March. During that meeting Utkarsh shared that after he rolled out the python-certbot update (on December 8th 2020) the maintainer told him: “I just checked with Let’s Encrypt, and the stats show that you just saved 142,500 people from having their certificates start failing next month. I didn’t know LTS was still that used!”

Finally, we would like to welcome sipgate GmbH as a new silver sponsor. Also remember that we are constantly looking for new contributors. Please contact Holger if you are interested.

The security tracker currently lists 43 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 23 packages needing an update.

Thanks to our sponsors

Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

15 February, 2021 08:37PM by Raphaël Hertzog

hackergotchi for Axel Beckert

Axel Beckert

Starting a GNU Screen session via SSH's ~/.ssh/config

This is more or less a followup to this blog posting of mine about AutoSSH and GNU Screen from nearly ten years ago — which by the way is still valid and still the way, I use SSH and GNU Screen.

Recently a friend asked me how to automatically start or reconnect to a GNU Screen session directly via OpenSSH’s configuration file. Here’s how to do it:

Add an entry to ~/.ssh/config similar to this one:

Host screen_on_server
    Hostname server.example.org
    RequestTTY yes
    RemoteCommand screen -RD

and then just call ssh screen_on_server and you’ll get connected to an existing screen session if present, otherwise you’ll a new new one.

Should work with tmux, too, but might need commandlien different options.

15 February, 2021 04:50AM by Axel Beckert (abe+blog@deuxchevaux.org)

Russ Allbery

Review: Spheres of Influence

Review: Spheres of Influence, by Ryk E. Spoor

Series: Arenaverse #2
Publisher: Baen
Copyright: November 2013
ISBN: 1-4516-3937-6
Format: Kindle
Pages: 576

Spheres of Influence is a direct sequel to Grand Central Arena, which introduces the world background and is also a much better book. There is a detailed recap of the previous volume (thank you!) and a summary of things that happened between the volumes (that was odd), so it's easy to refresh your memory, but there's no point in reading this book if you've not read the first one.

In this series, Spoor is explicitly writing a throw-back space adventure inspired by E.E. "Doc" Smith and similar SF from the 1920s to the 1950s. Grand Central Arena was the discovery and exploration story, which in my opinion is where that literary tradition is at its strongest. Spheres of Influence veers into a different and less appealing part of that tradition: the moment when the intrepid space explorer is challenged by the ignorant Powers That Be at home, who don't understand the importance of anything that's happening.

Captain Ariane Austin and her crew made a stunning debut into the Arena, successfully navigated its politics (mostly via sheer audacity and luck), and achieved a tentatively strong position for humanity. However, humanity had never intended them to play that role. There isn't much government in Spoor's (almost entirely unexplained) anarcho-libertarian future, but there is enough for political maneuvering and the appointment of a more official ambassador to the Arena who isn't Ariane. But the Arena has its own rules that care nothing about human politics, which gives Ariane substantial leverage to try to prevent Earth politicians from making a mess of things.

This plot could be worse. Unlike his source material, Spoor is not entirely invested in authoritarian politics, and the plot resolution is a bit friendlier to government oversight than one might expect. (It's disturbing, though, that this oversight seems to consist mostly of the military, and it's not clear how those people are selected.) But the tradition of investing vast powers in single people of great moral character is one of the less defensible tropes of early American SF, and Spoor chooses to embrace it to an unfortunate degree. Clearing out all the bureaucratic second-guessing to let the honorable person who has stumbled across vast power make all the decisions is a type of simplistic politics with a long, bad history in US fiction. The author can make it look like a good idea by yanking hard on the scales; Ariane makes all the right decisions because she's the heroine and therefore of course she does. I was unsettled, in this year of 2021, by the book's apparent message that her major failing is her unwillingness to consolidate her power.

This isn't the only problem I had with this book. Before we get to the political maneuvering, the plot takes a substantial digression into the Hyperion Project.

The Hyperion Project showed up in the first book as part of the backstory of one of the characters. I'll omit the details to avoid spoilers, but in the story it functioned as an excuse to model a character directly on E.E. "Doc" Smith characters. The details never seemed that interesting, but as background it was easy to read past, and the character in question was still moderately enjoyable.

Unfortunately, the author was more invested in this bit of background than I was. Spheres of Influence introduces four more characters from the same project, including Wu Kong, a cliched mash-up of numerous different Monkey King stories who becomes a major viewpoint character. (The decision to focus on a westernized, exoticized version of a Chinese character didn't seem that wise to me.) One problem is that Spoor clearly thinks Wu Kong is a more interesting character than I do, but my biggest complaint is that introducing these new characters was both unnecessary and pulled the story away from the pieces I was interested in. I want to read more about the Arena and its politics, alien technology, and awesome vistas, not about some significantly less interesting historical human project devoted to bringing fictional characters to life.

And that's the third problem with this book: not enough happens. Grand Central Arena had a good half-dozen significant plot developments set among some great sense-of-wonder exploration and alien first contact. There are only two major plot events in Spheres of Influence, both are dragged out with unnecessary description and posturing, and neither show us much that's exciting or new. The exploration of the Arena grinds nearly to a halt, postponing the one offered bit of deep exploration for the third book. There are some satisfying twists and turns in the bits of plot we do get, but nothing that justifies nearly 600 pages.

This is not a very good book, and huge step down from the first book of the series. In its defense, it still offers the sort of optimistic (and, to be honest, simplistic) adventure that I was looking for after reading a book full of depressing politics. It's hard not to enjoy the protagonists taking audacious risks, revealing hidden talents, and winning surprising victories. But I wanted the version with more exploration, more new sights, less authoritarian and militaristic politics, and less insertion of fictional characters.

Also, yes, we know that one of the characters is an E.E. "Doc" Smith character. Please give the cliched Smith dialogue tics a rest. All of the "check to nine decimal places" phrases are hard enough to handle in Smith's short and fast-moving books. They're agonizing in a slow-moving book three times as long.

Not recommended, although I'm still invested enough in the setting that I'll probably read the third book when I'm feeling in the mood for some feel-good adventure. It appears to have the plot developments I was hoping would be in this one.

Followed by Challenges of the Deeps.

Rating: 5 out of 10

15 February, 2021 04:35AM

February 14, 2021

Enrico Zini

hackergotchi for Chris Lamb

Chris Lamb

The Silence of the Lambs: 30 Years On

No doubt it was someone's idea of a joke to release Silence of the Lambs on Valentine's Day, thirty years ago today. Although it references Valentines at one point and hints at a deeper relationship between Starling and Lecter, it was clearly too tempting to jeopardise so many date nights. After all, how many couples were going to enjoy their ribeyes medium-rare after watching this?

Given the muted success of Manhunter (1986), Silence of the Lambs was our first real introduction to Dr. Lecter. Indeed, many of the best scenes in this film are introductions: Starling's first encounter with Lecter is probably the best introduction in the whole of cinema, but our preceding introduction to the asylum's factotum carries a lot of cultural weight too, if only because the camera's measured pan around the environment before alighting on Barney has been emulated by so many first-person video games since.

We first see Buffalo Bill at the thirty-two minute mark. (Or, more tellingly, he sees us.) Delaying the viewer's introduction to the film's villain is the mark of a secure and confident screenplay, even if it was popularised by the budget-restricted Jaws (1975) which hides the eponymous shark for one hour and 21 minutes.

It is no mistake that the first thing we see of Starling do is, quite literally, pull herself up out of the unknown. With all of the focus on the Starling—Lecter repartee, the viewer's first introduction to Starling is as underappreciated as she herself is to the FBI. Indeed, even before Starling tells Lecter her innermost dreams, we learn almost everything we need to about Starling in the first few minutes: we see her training on an obstacle course in the forest, the unused rope telling us that she is here entirely voluntarily. And we can surely guess why; the passing grade for a woman in the FBI is to top of the class, and Starling's not going to let an early February in Virginia get in the way of that.

We need to wait a full three minutes before we get our first line of dialogue, and in just eight words ("Crawford wants to see you in his office...") we get our confirmation about the FBI too. With no other information other than he can send a messenger out into the cold, we can intuit that Crawford tends to get what Crawford wants. It's just plain "Crawford" too; everyone knows his actual title, his power, "his" office.

The opening minutes also introduce us to the film's use of visual hierarchy. Our Hermes towers above Starling throughout the brief exchange (she must push herself even to stay within the camera's frame). Later, Starling always descends to meet her demons: to the asylum's basement to visit Lecter and down the stairs to meet Buffalo Bill. Conversely, she feels safe enough to reveal her innermost self to Lecter on the fifth floor of the courthouse. (Bong Joon-ho's Parasite (2019) uses elevation in an analogous way, although a little more subtly.)

The messenger turns to watch Starling run off to Crawford. Are his eyes involuntarily following the movement or he is impressed by Starling's gumption? Or, almost two decades after John Berger's male gaze, is he simply checking her out? The film, thankfully, leaves it to us.

Crawford is our next real introduction, and our glimpse into the film's sympathetic treatment of law enforcement. Note that the first thing that the head of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit does is to lie to Starling about the reason to interview Lecter, despite it being coded as justified within the film's logic. We learn in the book that even Barney deceives Starling, recording her conversations with Lecter and selling her out to the press. (Buffalo Bill always lies to Starling, of course, but I think we can forgive him for that.) Crawford's quasi-compliment of "You grilled me pretty hard on the Bureau's civil rights record in the Hoover years..." then encourages the viewer to conclude that the FBI's has been a paragon of virtue since 1972... All this (as well as her stellar academic record, Crawford's wielding of Starling's fragile femininity at the funeral home and the cool reception she receives from a power-suited Senator Ruth Martin), Starling must be constantly asking herself what it must take for anyone to take her seriously. Indeed, it would be unsurprising if she takes unnecessary risks to make that happen.

The cold open of Hannibal (2001) makes for a worthy comparison. The audience remembers they loved the dialogue between Starling and Lecter, so it is clumsily mentioned. We remember Barney too, so he is shoehorned in as well. Lacking the confidence to introduce new signifiers to its universe, Red Dragon (2002) aside, the hollow, 'clip show' feel of Hannibal is a taste of the zero-calorie sequels to come in the next two decades.

The film is not perfect, and likely never was. Much has been written on the fairly transparent transphobia in Buffalo Bill's desire to wear a suit made out of women's skin, but the film then doubles down on its unflattering portrayal by trying to have it both ways. Starling tells the camera that "there's no correlation between transsexualism and violence," and Lecter (the film's psychoanalytic authority, remember) assures us that Buffalo Bill is "not a real transsexual" anyway. Yet despite those caveats, we are continually shown a TERFy cartoon of a man in a wig tucking his "precious" between his legs and an absurdly phallic gun. And, just we didn't quite get the message, a decent collection of Nazi memorabilia.

The film's director repeated the novel's contention that Buffalo Bill is not actually transgender, but someone so damaged that they are seeking some kind of transformation. This, for a brief moment, almost sounds true, and the film's deranged depiction of what it might be like to be transgender combined with its ambivalence feels distinctly disingenuous to me, especially given that — on an audience and Oscar-adjusted basis — Silence of the Lambs may very well be the most transphobic film to come out of Hollywood. Still, I remain torn on the death of the author, especially when I discover that Jonathan Demme went on to direct Philadelphia (1993), likely the most positive film about homophobia and HIV.


§


Nevertheless, as an adaption of Thomas Harris' original novel, the movie is almost flawless. The screenplay excises red herrings and tuns down the volume on some secondary characters. Crucially for the format, it amplifies Lecter's genius by not revealing that he knew everything all along and cuts Buffalo Bill's origin story for good measure too — good horror, after all, does not achieve its effect on the screen, but in the mind of the viewer. The added benefit of removing material from the original means that the film has time to slowly ratchet up the tension, and can remain patient and respectful of the viewer's intelligence throughout: it is, you could almost say, "Ready when you are, Sgt. Pembury". Otherwise, the film does not deviate too far from the original, taking the most liberty when it interleaves two narratives for the famous 'two doorbells' feint.

Dr. Lecter's upright stance when we meet him reminds me of the third act of Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), another picture freighted with meaningful stairs. Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) began the now-shopworn trope of concealing a weapon in a flower box.

Two other points of deviation from the novel might be worthy of mention. In the book, a great deal is made of Dr. Lecter's penchant for Bach's Goldberg Variations, inducing a cultural resonance with other cinematic villains who have a taste for high art. It is also stressed in the book that it is the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould's recording too, although this is likely an attempt by Harris to demonstrate his own refined sensibilities — Lecter would surely have prefered a more historically-informed performance on the harpsichord. Yet it is glaringly obvious that it isn't Gould playing in the film at all; Gould's hypercanonical 1955 recording is faster and focused, whilst his 1981 release is much slower and contemplative. No doubt tedious issues around rights prevented the use of either recording, but I like to imagine that Gould himself nixed the idea.

The second change revolves around the film's most iconic quote. Deep underground, Dr. Lecter tries to spook Starling:

A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

The novel has this as "some fava beans and a big Amarone". No doubt the movie-going audience could not be trusted to know what an Amarone was, just as they were not to capable of recognising a philosopher. Nevertheless, substituting Chianti works better here as it cleverly foreshadows Tuscany (we discover that Lecter is living in Florence in the sequel), and it avoids the un-Lecterian tautology of 'big' — Amarone's, I am reliably informed, are big-bodied wines. Like Buffalo Bill's victims.

Yet that's not all. "The audience", according to TV Tropes:

... believe Lecter is merely confessing to one of his crimes. What most people would not know is that a common treatment for Lecter's "brand of crazy" is to use drugs of a class known as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). There are several things one must not eat when taking MAOIs, as they can case fatally low blood pressure, and as a physician and psychiatrist himself, Dr. Lecter would be well aware of this. These things include liver, fava beans, and red wine. In short, Lecter was telling Clarice that he was off his medication.

I could write more, but as they say, I'm having an old friend for dinner. The starling may be a common bird, but The Silence of the Lambs is that extremely rara avis indeed — the film that's better than the book. Ta ta...

14 February, 2021 06:19PM

hackergotchi for Steinar H. Gunderson

Steinar H. Gunderson

plocate 1.1.4 released

I made a minor release of plocate; as usual, https://plocate.sesse.net/ has the tarballs and such. The changelog reads:

plocate 1.1.4, February 14th, 2021

  - updatedb now uses ~15% less CPU time.

  - Installs a file CACHEDIR.tag into /var/lib/plocate, to mark the directory
    as autogenerated. Suggested by Marco d'Itri.

  - Manpage fixes; patch by Jakub Wilk.

The CPU time is, as usual, nothing really clever, but just a bunch of 1% optimizations. The plocate database is 0.1% larger or so, but it shouldn't really be noticed. There isn't io_uring support for updatedb yet, simply because I haven't bothered (it runs from cron/systemd anyway).

Also, upgrading libzstd from stable to unstable will make updatedb a few percent faster yet :-)

14 February, 2021 03:18PM

hackergotchi for Bits from Debian

Bits from Debian

I love Free Software Day 2021: Show your love for Free Software

ILoveFS banner

On this day February 14th, Debian joins the Free Software Foundation Europe in celebration of "I Love Free Software" day. This day takes the time to appreciate and applaud all those who contribute to the many areas of Free Software.

Debian sends all of our love and a giant “Thank you” to the upstream and downstream creators and maintainers, hosting providers, partners, and of course all of the Debian Developers and Contributors.

Thank you for all that you do in making Debian truly the Universal Operating System and for keeping and making Free Software Free!

Send some love and show some appreciation for Free Software by spreading the message and appreciation around the world, if you share in social media the hashtag used is: #ilovefs.

14 February, 2021 10:01AM by Donald Norwood

hackergotchi for Steinar H. Gunderson

Steinar H. Gunderson

Idle language musings

PHP makes the easy things easy, and in the process makes the wrong things easy and the right things hard.

C makes the easy things hard, the hard things possible, and in the process makes the wrong things just as easy as the right things.

Rust makes everything hard, but the wrong things even harder.

14 February, 2021 09:17AM

François Marier

Creating a Kodia media PC using a Raspberry Pi 4

Here's how I set up a media PC using Kodi (formerly XMBC) and a Raspberry Pi 4.

Hardware

The hardware is fairly straightforward, but here's what I ended up getting:

You'll probably want to add a remote control to that setup. I used an old Streamzap I had lying around.

Installing the OS on the SD-card

Plug the SD card into a computer using a USB adapter.

Download the imager and use it to install Raspbian on the SDcard.

Then you can simply plug the SD card into the Pi and boot.

System configuration

Using sudo raspi-config, I changed the following:

  • Set hostname (System Options)
  • Wait for network at boot (System Options): needed for NFS
  • Disable screen blanking (Display Options)
  • Enable ssh (Interface Options)
  • Configure locale, timezone and keyboard (Localisation Options)
  • Set WiFi country (Localisation Options)

Then I enabled automatic updates:

apt install unattended-upgrades anacron

echo 'Unattended-Upgrade::Origins-Pattern {
        "origin=Debian,codename=${distro_codename},label=Debian";
        "origin=Debian,codename=${distro_codename},label=Debian-Security";
        "origin=Raspbian,codename=${distro_codename},label=Raspbian";
        "origin=Raspberry Pi Foundation,codename=${distro_codename},label=Raspberry Pi Foundation";
};' | sudo tee /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/51unattended-upgrades-raspbian

Headless setup

Should you need to do the setup without a monitor, you can enable ssh by inserting the SD card into a computer and then creating an empty file called ssh in the boot partition.

Plug it into your router and boot it up. Check the IP that it received by looking at the active DHCP leases in your router's admin panel.

Then login:

ssh -o PreferredAuthentications=password -o PubkeyAuthentication=no pi@192.168.1.xxx

using the default password of raspberry.

Hardening

In order to secure the Pi, I followed most of the steps I usually take when setting up a new Linux server.

I created a new user account for admin and ssh access:

adduser francois
addgroup sshuser
adduser francois sshuser
adduser francois sudo

and changed the pi user password to a random one:

pwgen -sy 32
sudo passwd pi

before removing its admin permissions:

deluser pi adm
deluser pi sudo
deluser pi dialout
deluser pi cdrom
deluser pi lpadmin

Finally, I enabled the Uncomplicated Firewall by installing its package:

apt install ufw

and only allowing ssh connections.

After starting ufw using systemctl start ufw.service, you can check that it's configured as expected using ufw status. It should display the following:

Status: active

To                         Action      From
--                         ------      ----
22/tcp                     ALLOW       Anywhere
22/tcp (v6)                ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)

Installing Kodi

Kodi is very straightforward to install since it's now part of the Raspbian repositories:

apt install kodi

To make it start at boot/login, while still being able to exit and use other apps if needed:

cp /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/
echo "@kodi" >> ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart

Network File System

In order to avoid having to have all media storage connected directly to the Pi via USB, I setup an NFS share over my local network.

First, give static IP allocations to the server and the Pi in your DHCP server, then add it to the /etc/hosts file on your NFS server:

192.168.1.3    pi

Install the NFS server package:

apt instal nfs-kernel-server

Setup the directories to share in /etc/exports:

/pub/movies    pi(ro,insecure,all_squash,subtree_check)
/pub/tv_shows  pi(ro,insecure,all_squash,subtree_check)

Open the right ports on your firewall by putting this in /etc/network/iptables.up.rules:

-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.3 -p udp -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p tcp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p udp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p udp --dport 123 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p tcp --dport 600:1124 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p udp --dport 600:1124 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p tcp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -s 192.168.1.0/24 -p udp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT

Finally, apply all of these changes:

iptables-apply
systemctl restart nfs-kernel-server.service

On the Pi, put the server's static IP in /etc/hosts:

192.168.1.2    fileserver

and this in /etc/fstab:

fileserver:/data/movies  /kodi/movies  nfs  ro,bg,hard,noatime,async,nolock  0  0
fileserver:/data/tv      /kodi/tv      nfs  ro,bg,hard,noatime,async,nolock  0  0

Then create the mount points and mount everything:

mkdir -p /kodi/movies
mkdir /kodi/tv
mount /kodi/movies
mount /kodi/tv

14 February, 2021 03:25AM

February 13, 2021

hackergotchi for Dirk Eddelbuettel

Dirk Eddelbuettel

RcppFastFloat 0.0.2: New Function

The second release of RcppFastFloat is now on CRAN. The package wraps fastfloat, another nice library by Daniel Lemire who showed in a recent arXiv paper that one can convert character representations of ‘numbers’ into floating point at rates at or exceeding one gigabyte per second.

Thanks to Brendan, this release adds a helper function as.double2() modeled after the base R function but using, of course, the features from fast_float in RcppFastFloat.

Release notes follow.

Changes in version 0.0.2 (2021-02-13)

  • New function as.double2() demonstrating fast_float (Brendan in #1)

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is also a diffstat report for this release.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

13 February, 2021 09:53PM

Molly de Blanc

Proprietary (definition) – 02

I’ve had some good conversations about this attempt to define proprietary software. In many of these conversations, people focused on explicitly what I’m trying to not do (i.e. define “proprietary” by saying it’s not FOSS). Some people helped me clarify that I’m looking to do really, which is have a pithy way to explain proprietary to people who are never going to look at source code or pay someone to write new code for them. How do you explain to people who don’t care about technical matters nor have the language to discuss them? How do you talk about licenses to people who may not have the language for it? (In a past life I explained Creative Commons licenses to academics and educators.)

Talking about licensing seemed very important to people, as licenses are what define freedoms, restrictions, and restrictions that protect freedoms. With these points in mind, I present the following:

Proprietary software is software that comes with restrictions that retain control of how software can be used, shared, and changed through the use of copyright and licensing.

I worry that this is “too technical” and then I worry that I’m worrying too much about that. In this I added a truncated version of a common explanation of the Four Freedoms (typically use, study, modify, share). This is in part because I believe “study” is included in “modify.”

I included “copyright and licensing” in hopes that a reader would understand at least one of them. I also wanted to take into account that communities may have other policies (e.g. community guidelines) that might in some way restrict how software is used, shared, and changed. I don’t like “retain control” as a phrase, but it was suggested to me (thanks! If you want credit, just ping me). I think it’s pretty clear about the intention and consequence of proprietary licensing.

A potential criticism I see is that it’s not clear enough that you must be able to do all three (use, share, and change) in order for software to be FOSS and that restrictions on any of them renders software proprietary.

13 February, 2021 04:35PM by mollydb

February 12, 2021

hackergotchi for Dirk Eddelbuettel

Dirk Eddelbuettel

RcppSimdJson 0.1.4 on CRAN: New Improvements

Brendan and I are happy to share that a new RcppSimdJson release 0.1.4 arrived on CRAN earlier today. RcppSimdJson wraps the fantastic and genuinely impressive simdjson library by Daniel Lemire and collaborators. Via very clever algorithmic engineering to obtain largely branch-free code, coupled with modern C++ and newer compiler instructions, it results in parsing gigabytes of JSON parsed per second which is quite mindboggling. The best-case performance is ‘faster than CPU speed’ as use of parallel SIMD instructions and careful branch avoidance can lead to less than one cpu cycle per byte parsed; see the video of the talk by Daniel Lemire at QCon (also voted best talk).

This version brings a new option to always return list types, tweaks to setting option in the the request and other small improvements. The NEWS entry follows.

Changes in version 0.1.4 (2021-02-12)

  • Support additional headers in fload (Dirk in #60).

  • Enable continuous integration via GitHub Actions using run.sh from r-ci repo (Dirk in #61, #62).

  • Add option to always return list to fparse()/fload() (Brendan in #65 closing #64).

Courtesy of my CRANberries, there is also a diffstat report for this release.

For questions, suggestions, or issues please use the issue tracker at the GitHub repo.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

12 February, 2021 10:13PM

Sylvain Beucler

Godot GDScript REPL

When experimenting with Godot and its GDScript language, I realized that I missed a good old REPL (Read-Eval-Print Loop) to familiarize myself with the language and API.

This is now possible with this new Godot Editor plugin :)

Try it at:
https://godotengine.org/asset-library/asset/857

12 February, 2021 09:33AM

February 11, 2021

hackergotchi for Julien Danjou

Julien Danjou

Debugging C code on macOS

Debugging C code on macOS

I started to write C 25 years ago now, with many different tools over the year. As many open source developers, I spent most of my life working with the GNU tools out there.

As I've been using an Apple computer over the last years, I had to adapt to this environment and learn the tricks of the trade. Here are some of my notes so a search engine can index them — and I'll be able to find them later.

Debugger: lldb

I was used to `gdb` for most of years doing C. I never managed to install gdb correctly on macOS as it needs certificates, authorization, you name it, to work properly.

macOS provides a native debugger named lldb, which really looks like gdb to me — it runs in a terminal with a prompt.

I had to learn the few commands I mostly use, which are:

  • lldb -- myprogram -options to run the program with options
  • r to run the program
  • bt or bt N to get a backtrace of the latest N frames
  • f N to select frame N
  • p V to print some variable value or memory address

Those commands cover 99% of my use case with a debugger when writing C, so once I lost my old gdb habits, I was good to go.

Debugging Memory Overflows

On GNU/Linux

One of my favorite tools when writing C has always been Electric Fence (and DUMA more recently). It's a library that overrides the standard memory manipulation function (e.g., malloc) and instantly makes the program crash when an out of memory error is produced, rather than corrupting the heap.

Heap corruption issues are hard to debug without such tools as they can happen at any time and stay unnoticed for a while, crashing your program in a totally different location later.

There's no need to compile your program with those libraries. By using the dynamic loader, you can preload them and overload the standard C library functions.

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libefence.so.0.0 my-program
Run my-program with Eletric Fence loaded on GNU/Linux

My gdb configuration has been sprinkle with my friends efence and duma, and I would activate them from gdb easily with this configuration in ~/.gdbinit:

define efence
        set environment EF_PROTECT_BELOW 0
        set environment EF_ALLOW_MALLOC_0 1
        set environment LD_PRELOAD /usr/lib/libefence.so.0.0
        echo Enabled Electric Fence\n
end
document efence
Enable memory allocation debugging through Electric Fence (efence(3)).
        See also nofence and underfence.
end


define underfence
        set environment EF_PROTECT_BELOW 1
        set environment EF_ALLOW_MALLOC_0 1
        set environment LD_PRELOAD /usr/lib/libefence.so.0.0
        echo Enabled Electric Fence for underflow detection\n
end
document underfence
Enable memory allocation debugging for underflows through Electric Fence
(efence(3)).
        See also nofence and efence.
end

define nofence
        unset environment LD_PRELOAD
        echo Disabled Electric Fence\n
end
document nofence
Disable memory allocation debugging through Electric Fence (efence(3)).
end

define duma
        set environment DUMA_PROTECT_BELOW 0
        set environment DYMA_ALLOW_MALLOC_0 1
        set environment LD_PRELOAD /usr/lib/libduma.so
        echo Enabled DUMA\n
end
document duma
Enable memory allocation debugging through DUMA (duma(3)).
        See also noduma and underduma.
end

On macOS

I've been looking for equivalent features in macOS, and after many hours of research, I found out that this feature is shipped natively with libgmalloc. It works in the same way, and its features are documented by Apple.

My ~/.lldbinit  file now contains the following:

command alias gm _regexp-env DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES=/usr/lib/libgmalloc.dylib

This command alias allows enabling gmalloc by just typing gm at the lldb prompt and then run the program again to see if it crashes with gmalloc enabled.

Debugging CPython

It's not a mystery that I spend a lot of time writing Python code — that's the main reason I've been doing C lately.

When playing with CPython, it can be useful to, e.g., dump the content of PyObject structs on the heap or get the Python backtrace.

I've been using cpython-lldb for this with great success. It adds a few bells and whistles when debugging CPython or extensions inside lldb. For example, the alias py-bt is handy to get the Python traceback of your calls rather than a bunch of cryptic C frames.

Now, you should be ready to debug your nasty issues and memory problems on macOS efficiently!

11 February, 2021 10:34AM by Julien Danjou

February 10, 2021

hackergotchi for Bastian Venthur

Bastian Venthur

Installing Debian on a Thinkpad T14s

Recently, I got a new work laptop. I opted for Lenovo's Thinkpad T14s that comes with AMD's Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U Processor. Once everything is installed, it works like a charm: all hardware is supported and works out of the box with Debian. However, the tricky part is actually installing Debian onto that machine: The laptop lacks a standard Ethernet port and comes with Intel's Wi-Fi 6 AX200 module. So if you don't happen to have a docking station or an Ethernet adapter available during install, you'll have to install everything over WiFi. The WiFi module, however requires non-free firmware and this is where the fun starts.

First, I downloaded an official netinst image and copied it onto a USB drive. Halfway through the installation, it complained that firmware for the WiFi module was missing, and I was stuck as I couldn't continue the installation without network access.

Ok, then -- missing non-free firmware it is. The wiki suggests using an unofficial image instead, as it supposedly contains "all non-free firmware packages directly".

So I tried an unofficial netinst image with non-free firmware. That also did not work, with the same error as above: the required firmware was missing. I checked the image later and actually couldn't find the non-free firmware either. Hum.

In the end, I had to prepare a second USB drive with the firmware downloaded from here. I unpacked the firmware into /firmware on the second USB. The installer checks at some point during the installation for firmware installed on other removable media and (hopefully) finds it. In my case it did, and I finally could install everything.

I'm quite happy with the laptop, but I have to admit how incredibly difficult it still is to install Debian on recent hardware. As a Debian Developer, I do understand Debian's position on non-free firmware, on the other hand however, a less technical person would probably have given up at some point and just installed some other Operating System.

10 February, 2021 08:00PM by Bastian Venthur

February 09, 2021

hackergotchi for Gunnar Wolf

Gunnar Wolf

And now, Bullseye images are also built for the RPi

Public service announcement

In case you want to run our latest release (still cooking, of course) in your Raspberries — I have enabled builds for both Debian 10 (Stable, Buster) and Debian 11 (Testing, Bullseye). Go grab it!

Oh… Yes, we are currently failing the builds of ARM64 (RPi3 and RPi4) ☹ Something due to python3-minimal unwilling to get installed right. But that should be fixed soon! Can you help us? Take a look at the [build log for RPi3, Bullseye](https://raspi.debian.net/daily/raspi_3_bullseye.log), or just focus on the step where it breaks It seems to have been fixed, woohoo!:

Setting up python3-minimal (3.9.1-1) ...

2021-02-09 08:56:38 DEBUG STDERR: E: Can not write log (Is /dev/pts mounted?) - posix_openpt (19: No such device)
Segmentation fault
dpkg: error processing package python3-minimal (--configure):
 installed python3-minimal package post-installation script subprocess returned error exit status 139
Errors were encountered while processing:
 python3-minimal
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Anyway, as you can see, the eight built images work fine and are tested, at least, for basic support!

09 February, 2021 05:00PM

Molly de Blanc

Proprietary (definition)

I recently had the occasion to try and find a definition of “proprietary” in terms of software that is not on Wikipedia. Most of the discussion on the issue I found was focused on what free and open source software is, and that anything that isn’t FOSS is proprietary. I don’t think the debate is as simple as this, especially if you want to get into conversations about nuance around things like Open Core.

The problem with defining proprietary software by what it isn’t, or at least that it isn’t FOSS, means that we cannot concisely communicate what makes something proprietary. Instead, we leave it up to the people we’re trying to communicate with to dig through a history of rhetoric, copyright law, and licensing in order to understand what it actually means for something to be FOSS, and what it means for something to be anything else. It is also just less satisfying, in my opinion, to define something by what it lacks rather than by what it is.

I’ll start by proposing the following definition:

Proprietary software is software that comes with restrictions on what users can do with the software and the source code that constitutes said software.

I think the most controversial part of this sentence is the wording “software that comes with restrictions.” In earlier attempts of this I wrote “software that restricts.” This sort of active wording, which I used for years in my capacity at work, is misleading. In the case of proprietary software, it is the licensing and laws around it that restrict what you can do. For software to restrict you, it must be that the way the software is being implemented or used restricts you.

To be clear, this is my first proposal. I look forward to discussing this further!

09 February, 2021 02:08PM by mollydb

hackergotchi for Kees Cook

Kees Cook

security things in Linux v5.8

Previously: v5.7

Linux v5.8 was released in August, 2020. Here’s my summary of various security things that caught my attention:

arm64 Branch Target Identification
Dave Martin added support for ARMv8.5’s Branch Target Instructions (BTI), which are enabled in userspace at execve() time, and all the time in the kernel (which required manually marking up a lot of non-C code, like assembly and JIT code).

With this in place, Jump-Oriented Programming (JOP, where code gadgets are chained together with jumps and calls) is no longer available to the attacker. An attacker’s code must make direct function calls. This basically reduces the “usable” code available to an attacker from every word in the kernel text to only function entries (or jump targets). This is a “low granularity” forward-edge Control Flow Integrity (CFI) feature, which is important (since it greatly reduces the potential targets that can be used in an attack) and cheap (implemented in hardware). It’s a good first step to strong CFI, but (as we’ve seen with things like CFG) it isn’t usually strong enough to stop a motivated attacker. “High granularity” CFI (which uses a more specific branch-target characteristic, like function prototypes, to track expected call sites) is not yet a hardware supported feature, but the software version will be coming in the future by way of Clang’s CFI implementation.

arm64 Shadow Call Stack
Sami Tolvanen landed the kernel implementation of Clang’s Shadow Call Stack (SCS), which protects the kernel against Return-Oriented Programming (ROP) attacks (where code gadgets are chained together with returns). This backward-edge CFI protection is implemented by keeping a second dedicated stack pointer register (x18) and keeping a copy of the return addresses stored in a separate “shadow stack”. In this way, manipulating the regular stack’s return addresses will have no effect. (And since a copy of the return address continues to live in the regular stack, no changes are needed for back trace dumps, etc.)

It’s worth noting that unlike BTI (which is hardware based), this is a software defense that relies on the location of the Shadow Stack (i.e. the value of x18) staying secret, since the memory could be written to directly. Intel’s hardware ROP defense (CET) uses a hardware shadow stack that isn’t directly writable. ARM’s hardware defense against ROP is PAC (which is actually designed as an arbitrary CFI defense — it can be used for forward-edge too), but that depends on having ARMv8.3 hardware. The expectation is that SCS will be used until PAC is available.

Kernel Concurrency Sanitizer infrastructure added
Marco Elver landed support for the Kernel Concurrency Sanitizer, which is a new debugging infrastructure to find data races in the kernel, via CONFIG_KCSAN. This immediately found real bugs, with some fixes having already landed too. For more details, see the KCSAN documentation.

new capabilities
Alexey Budankov added CAP_PERFMON, which is designed to allow access to perf(). The idea is that this capability gives a process access to only read aspects of the running kernel and system. No longer will access be needed through the much more powerful abilities of CAP_SYS_ADMIN, which has many ways to change kernel internals. This allows for a split between controls over the confidentiality (read access via CAP_PERFMON) of the kernel vs control over integrity (write access via CAP_SYS_ADMIN).

Alexei Starovoitov added CAP_BPF, which is designed to separate BPF access from the all-powerful CAP_SYS_ADMIN. It is designed to be used in combination with CAP_PERFMON for tracing-like activities and CAP_NET_ADMIN for networking-related activities. For things that could change kernel integrity (i.e. write access), CAP_SYS_ADMIN is still required.

network random number generator improvements
Willy Tarreau made the network code’s random number generator less predictable. This will further frustrate any attacker’s attempts to recover the state of the RNG externally, which might lead to the ability to hijack network sessions (by correctly guessing packet states).

fix various kernel address exposures to non-CAP_SYSLOG
I fixed several situations where kernel addresses were still being exposed to unprivileged (i.e. non-CAP_SYSLOG) users, though usually only through odd corner cases. After refactoring how capabilities were being checked for files in /sys and /proc, the kernel modules sections, kprobes, and BPF exposures got fixed. (Though in doing so, I briefly made things much worse before getting it properly fixed. Yikes!)

RISCV W^X detection
Following up on his recent work to enable strict kernel memory protections on RISCV, Zong Li has now added support for CONFIG_DEBUG_WX as seen for other architectures. Any writable and executable memory regions in the kernel (which are lovely targets for attackers) will be loudly noted at boot so they can get corrected.

execve() refactoring continues
Eric W. Biederman continued working on execve() refactoring, including getting rid of the frequently problematic recursion used to locate binary handlers. I used the opportunity to dust off some old binfmt_script regression tests and get them into the kernel selftests.

multiple /proc instances
Alexey Gladkov modernized /proc internals and provided a way to have multiple /proc instances mounted in the same PID namespace. This allows for having multiple views of /proc, with different features enabled. (Including the newly added hidepid=4 and subset=pid mount options.)

set_fs() removal continues
Christoph Hellwig, with Eric W. Biederman, Arnd Bergmann, and others, have been diligently working to entirely remove the kernel’s set_fs() interface, which has long been a source of security flaws due to weird confusions about which address space the kernel thought it should be accessing. Beyond things like the lower-level per-architecture signal handling code, this has needed to touch various parts of the ELF loader, and networking code too.

READ_IMPLIES_EXEC is no more for native 64-bit
The READ_IMPLIES_EXEC flag was a work-around for dealing with the addition of non-executable (NX) memory when x86_64 was introduced. It was designed as a way to mark a memory region as “well, since we don’t know if this memory region was expected to be executable, we must assume that if we need to read it, we need to be allowed to execute it too”. It was designed mostly for stack memory (where trampoline code might live), but it would carry over into all mmap() allocations, which would mean sometimes exposing a large attack surface to an attacker looking to find executable memory. While normally this didn’t cause problems on modern systems that correctly marked their ELF sections as NX, there were still some awkward corner-cases. I fixed this by splitting READ_IMPLIES_EXEC from the ELF PT_GNU_STACK marking on x86 and arm/arm64, and declaring that a native 64-bit process would never gain READ_IMPLIES_EXEC on x86_64 and arm64, which matches the behavior of other native 64-bit architectures that correctly didn’t ever implement READ_IMPLIES_EXEC in the first place.

array index bounds checking continues
As part of the ongoing work to use modern flexible arrays in the kernel, Gustavo A. R. Silva added the flex_array_size() helper (as a cousin to struct_size()). The zero/one-member into flex array conversions continue with over a hundred commits as we slowly get closer to being able to build with -Warray-bounds.

scnprintf() replacement continues
Chen Zhou joined Takashi Iwai in continuing to replace potentially unsafe uses of sprintf() with scnprintf(). Fixing all of these will make sure the kernel avoids nasty buffer concatenation surprises.

That’s it for now! Let me know if there is anything else you think I should mention here. Next up: Linux v5.9.

© 2021, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.
CC BY-SA 4.0

09 February, 2021 12:47AM by kees

February 07, 2021

Enrico Zini

hackergotchi for Chris Lamb

Chris Lamb

Favourite books of 2020

I won't reveal precisely how many books I read in 2020, but it was definitely an improvement on 74 in 2019, 53 in 2018 and 50 in 2017. But not only did I read more in a quantitative sense, the quality seemed higher as well. There were certainly fewer disappointments: given its cultural resonance, I was nonplussed by Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and whilst Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun was a little thin (again, given the obvious influence of the Bond franchise) the booked lacked 'thinness' in a way that made it interesting to critique. The weakest novel I read this year was probably J. M. Berger's Optimal, but even this hybrid of Ready Player One late-period Black Mirror wasn't that cringeworthy, all things considered. Alas, graphic novels continue to not quite be my thing, I'm afraid.

I perhaps experienced more disappointments in the non-fiction section. Paul Bloom's Against Empathy was frustrating, particularly in that it expended unnecessary energy battling its misleading title and accepted terminology, and it could so easily have been an 20-minute video essay instead). (Elsewhere in the social sciences, David and Goliath will likely be the last Malcolm Gladwell book I voluntarily read.) After so many positive citations, I was also more than a little underwhelmed by Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, and after Ryan Holiday's many engaging reboots of Stoic philosophy, his Conspiracy (on Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan taking on Gawker) was slightly wide of the mark for me.

Anyway, here follows a selection of my favourites from 2020, in no particular order:


§


Fiction

Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies & The Mirror and the Light

Hilary Mantel

During the early weeks of 2020, I re-read the first two parts of Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy in time for the March release of The Mirror and the Light. I had actually spent the last few years eagerly following any news of the final instalment, feigning outrage whenever Mantel appeared to be spending time on other projects.

Wolf Hall turned out to be an even better book than I remembered, and when The Mirror and the Light finally landed at midnight on 5th March, I began in earnest the next morning. Note that date carefully; this was early 2020, and the book swiftly became something of a heavy-handed allegory about the world at the time. That is to say — and without claiming that I am Monsieur Cromuel in any meaningful sense — it was an uneasy experience to be reading about a man whose confident grasp on his world, friends and life was slipping beyond his control, and at least in Cromwell's case, was heading inexorably towards its denouement.

The final instalment in Mantel's trilogy is not perfect, and despite my love of her writing I would concur with the judges who decided against awarding her a third Booker Prize. For instance, there is something of the longueur that readers dislike in the second novel, although this might not be entirely Mantel's fault — after all, the rise of the "ugly" Anne of Cleves and laborious trade negotiations for an uninspiring mineral (this is no Herbertian 'spice') will never match the court intrigues of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and that man for all seasons, Thomas More. Still, I am already looking forward to returning to the verbal sparring between King Henry and Cromwell when I read the entire trilogy once again, tentatively planned for 2022.


§


The Fault in Our Stars

John Green

I came across John Green's The Fault in Our Stars via a fantastic video by Lindsay Ellis discussing Roland Barthes famous 1967 essay on authorial intent. However, I might have eventually come across The Fault in Our Stars regardless, not because of Green's status as an internet celebrity of sorts but because I'm a complete sucker for this kind of emotionally-manipulative bildungsroman, likely due to reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials a few too many times in my teens.

Although its title is taken from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, The Fault in Our Stars is actually more Romeo & Juliet. Hazel, a 16-year-old cancer patient falls in love with Gus, an equally ill teen from her cancer support group. Hazel and Gus share the same acerbic (and distinctly unteenage) wit and a love of books, centred around Hazel's obsession of An Imperial Affliction, a novel by the meta-fictional author Peter Van Houten. Through a kind of American version of Jim'll Fix It, Gus and Hazel go and visit Van Houten in Amsterdam.

I'm afraid it's even cheesier than I'm describing it. Yet just as there is a time and a place for Michelin stars and Haribo Starmix, there's surely a place for this kind of well-constructed but altogether maudlin literature. One test for emotionally manipulative works like this is how well it can mask its internal contradictions — while Green's story focuses on the universalities of love, fate and the shortness of life (as do almost all of his works, it seems), The Fault in Our Stars manages to hide, for example, that this is an exceedingly favourable treatment of terminal illness that is only possible for the better off. The 2014 film adaptation does somewhat worse in peddling this fantasy (and has a much weaker treatment of the relationship between the teens' parents too, an underappreciated subtlety of the book).

The novel, however, is pretty slick stuff, and it is difficult to fault it for what it is. For some comparison, I later read Green's Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns which, as I mention, tug at many of the same strings, but they don't come together nearly as well as The Fault in Our Stars. James Joyce claimed that "sentimentality is unearned emotion", and in this respect, The Fault in Our Stars really does earn it.


§


The Plague

Albert Camus

P. D. James' The Children of Men, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon ... dystopian fiction was already a theme of my reading in 2020, so given world events it was an inevitability that I would end up with Camus's novel about a plague that swept through the Algerian city of Oran.

Is The Plague an allegory about the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two? Where are all the female characters? Where are the Arab ones? Since its original publication in 1947, there's been so much written about The Plague that it's hard to say anything new today. Nevertheless, I was taken aback by how well it captured so much of the nuance of 2020. Whilst we were saying just how 'unprecedented' these times were, it was eerie how a novel written in the 1940s could accurately how many of us were feeling well over seventy years on later: the attitudes of the people; the confident declarations from the institutions; the misaligned conversations that led to accidental misunderstandings. The disconnected lovers.

The only thing that perhaps did not work for me in The Plague was the 'character' of the church. Although I could appreciate most of the allusion and metaphor, it was difficult for me to relate to the significance of Father Paneloux, particularly regarding his change of view on the doctrinal implications of the virus, and — spoiler alert — that he finally died of a "doubtful case" of the disease, beyond the idea that Paneloux's beliefs are in themselves "doubtful". Answers on a postcard, perhaps.

The Plague even seemed to predict how we, at least speaking of the UK, would react when the waves of the virus waxed and waned as well:

The disease stiffened and carried off three or four patients who were expected to recover. These were the unfortunates of the plague, those whom it killed when hope was high

It somehow captured the nostalgic yearning for high-definition videos of cities and public transport; one character even visits the completely deserted railway station in Oman simply to read the timetables on the wall.


§


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John le Carré

There's absolutely none of the Mad Men glamour of James Bond in John le Carré's icy world of Cold War spies:

Small, podgy, and at best middle-aged, Smiley was by appearance one of London's meek who do not inherit the earth. His legs were short, his gait anything but agile, his dress costly, ill-fitting, and extremely wet.

Almost a direct rebuttal to Ian Fleming's 007, Tinker, Tailor has broken-down cars, bad clothes, women with their own internal and external lives (!), pathetically primitive gadgets, and (contra Mad Men) hangovers that significantly longer than ten minutes. In fact, the main aspect that the mostly excellent 2011 film adaption doesn't really capture is the smoggy and run-down nature of 1970s London — this is not your proto-Cool Britannia of Austin Powers or GTA:1969, the city is truly 'gritty' in the sense there is a thin film of dirt and grime on every surface imaginable.

Another angle that the film cannot capture well is just how purposefully the novel does not mention the United States. Despite the US obviously being the dominant power, the British vacillate between pretending it doesn't exist or implying its irrelevance to the matter at hand. This is no mistake on Le Carré's part, as careful readers are rewarded by finding this denial of US hegemony in metaphor throughout --pace Ian Fleming, there is no obvious Felix Leiter to loudly throw money at the problem or a Sheriff Pepper to serve as cartoon racist for the Brits to feel superior about. By contrast, I recall that a clever allusion to "dusty teabags" is subtly mirrored a few paragraphs later with a reference to the installation of a coffee machine in the office, likely symbolic of the omnipresent and unavoidable influence of America. (The officer class convince themselves that coffee is a European import.) Indeed, Le Carré communicates a feeling of being surrounded on all sides by the peeling wallpaper of Empire.

Oftentimes, the writing style matches the graceless and inelegance of the world it depicts. The sentences are dense and you find your brain performing a fair amount of mid-flight sentence reconstruction, reparsing clauses, commas and conjunctions to interpret Le Carré's intended meaning. In fact, in his eulogy-cum-analysis of Le Carré's writing style, William Boyd, himself a ventrioquilist of Ian Fleming, named this intentional technique 'staccato'. Like the musical term, I suspect the effect of this literary staccato is as much about the impact it makes on a sentence as the imperceptible space it generates after it.

Lastly, the large cast in this sprawling novel is completely believable, all the way from the Russian spymaster Karla to minor schoolboy Roach — the latter possibly a stand-in for Le Carré himself. I got through the 500-odd pages in just a few days, somehow managing to hold the almost-absurdly complicated plot in my head. This is one of those classic books of the genre that made me wonder why I had not got around to it before.


§


The Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead

According to the judges who awarded it the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Nickel Boys is "a devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida" that serves as a "powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption". But whilst there is plenty of this perseverance and dignity on display, I found little redemption in this deeply cynical novel.

It could almost be read as a follow-up book to Whitehead's popular The Underground Railroad, which itself won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017. Indeed, each book focuses on a young protagonist who might be euphemistically referred to as 'downtrodden'. But The Nickel Boys is not only far darker in tone, it feels much closer and more connected to us today. Perhaps this is unsurprising, given that it is based on the story of the Dozier School in northern Florida which operated for over a century before its long history of institutional abuse and racism was exposed a 2012 investigation. Nevertheless, if you liked the social commentary in The Underground Railroad, then there is much more of that in The Nickel Boys:

Perhaps his life might have veered elsewhere if the US government had opened the country to colored advancement like they opened the army. But it was one thing to allow someone to kill for you and another to let him live next door.

Sardonic aperçus of this kind are pretty relentless throughout the book, but it never tips its hand too far into on nihilism, especially when some of the visual metaphors are often first-rate: "An American flag sighed on a pole" is one I can easily recall from memory. In general though, The Nickel Boys is not only more world-weary in tenor than his previous novel, the United States it describes seems almost too beaten down to have the energy conjure up the Swiftian magical realism that prevented The Underground Railroad from being overly lachrymose. Indeed, even we Whitehead transports us a present-day New York City, we can't indulge in another kind of fantasy, the one where America has solved its problems:

The Daily News review described the [Manhattan restaurant] as nouveau Southern, "down-home plates with a twist." What was the twist — that it was soul food made by white people?

It might be overly reductionist to connect Whitehead's tonal downshift with the racial justice movements of the past few years, but whatever the reason, we've ended up with a hard-hitting, crushing and frankly excellent book.


§


True Grit & No Country for Old Men

Charles Portis & Cormac McCarthy

It's one of the most tedious cliches to claim the book is better than the film, but these two books are of such high quality that even the Coen Brothers at their best cannot transcend them. I'm grouping these books together here though, not because their respective adaptations will exemplify some of the best cinema of the 21st century, but because of their superb treatment of language.

Take the use of dialogue. Cormac McCarthy famously does not use any punctuation — "I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that's it" — but the conversations in No Country for Old Men together feel familiar and commonplace, despite being relayed through this unconventional technique. In lesser hands, McCarthy's written-out Texan drawl would be the novelistic equivalent of white rap or Jar Jar Binks, but not only is the effect entirely gripping, it helps you to believe you are physically present in the many intimate and domestic conversations that hold this book together. Perhaps the cinematic familiarity helps, as you can almost hear Tommy Lee Jones' voice as Sheriff Bell from the opening page to the last.

Charles Portis' True Grit excels in its dialogue too, but in this book it is not so much in how it flows (although that is delightful in its own way) but in how forthright and sardonic Maddie Ross is:

"Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young, and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt."

"One would be as unpleasant as the other."

Perhaps this should be unsurprising. Maddie, a fourteen-year-old girl from Yell County, Arkansas, can barely fire her father's heavy pistol, so she can only has words to wield as her weapon. Anyway, it's not just me who treasures this book. In her encomium that presages most modern editions, Donna Tartt of The Secret History fame traces the novels origins through Huckleberry Finn, praising its elegance and economy: "The plot of True Grit is uncomplicated and as pure in its way as one of the Canterbury Tales". I've read any Chaucer, but I am inclined to agree.

Tartt also recalls that True Grit vanished almost entirely from the public eye after the release of John Wayne's flimsy cinematic vehicle in 1969 — this earlier film was, Tartt believes, "good enough, but doesn't do the book justice". As it happens, reading a book with its big screen adaptation as a chaser has been a minor theme of my 2020, including P. D. James' The Children of Men, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy and even a staged production of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol streamed from The Old Vic. For an autodidact with no academic background in literature or cinema, I've been finding this an effective and enjoyable means of getting closer to these fine books and films — it is precisely where they deviate (or perhaps where they are deficient) that offers a means by which one can see how they were constructed. I've also found that adaptations can also tell you a lot about the culture in which they were made: take the 'straightwashing' in the film version of Strangers on a Train (1951) compared to the original novel, for example. It is certainly true that adaptions rarely (as Tartt put it) "do the book justice", but she might be also right to alight on a legal metaphor, for as the saying goes, to judge a movie in comparison to the book is to do both a disservice.


§


The Glass Hotel

Emily St. John Mandel

In The Glass Hotel, Mandel somehow pulls off the impossible; writing a loose roman-à-clef on Bernie Madoff, a Ponzi scheme and the ephemeral nature of finance capital that is tranquil and shimmeringly beautiful. Indeed, don't get the wrong idea about the subject matter; this is no over over-caffeinated The Big Short, as The Glass Hotel is less about a Madoff or coked-up financebros but the fragile unreality of the late 2010s, a time which was, as we indeed discovered in 2020, one event away from almost shattering completely.

Mandel's prose has that translucent, phantom quality to it where the chapters slip through your fingers when you try to grasp at them, and the plot is like a ghost ship that that slips silently, like the Mary Celeste, onto the Canadian water next to which the eponymous 'Glass Hotel' resides. Indeed, not unlike The Overlook Hotel, the novel so overflows with symbolism so that even the title needs to evoke the idea of impermanence — permanently living in a hotel might serve as a house, but it won't provide a home. It's risky to generalise about such things post-2016, but the whole story sits in that the infinitesimally small distance between perception and reality, a self-constructed culture that is not so much 'post truth' but between them.

There's something to consider in almost every character too. Take the stand-in for Bernie Madoff: no caricature of Wall Street out of a 1920s political cartoon or Brechtian satire, Jonathan Alkaitis has none of the oleaginous sleaze of a Dominic Strauss-Kahn, the cold sociopathy of a Marcus Halberstam nor the well-exercised sinuses of, say, Jordan Belford. Alkaitis is — dare I say it? — eminently likeable, and the book is all the better for it. Even the C-level characters have something to say: Enrico, trivially escaping from the regulators (who are pathetically late to the fraud without Mandel ever telling us explicitly), is daydreaming about the girlfriend he abandoned in New York: "He wished he'd realised he loved her before he left". What was in his previous life that prevented him from doing so? Perhaps he was never in love at all, or is love itself just as transient as the imaginary money in all those bank accounts? Maybe he fell in love just as he crossed safely into Mexico? When, precisely, do we fall in love anyway?

I went on to read Mandel's Last Night in Montreal, an early work where you can feel her reaching for that other-worldly quality that she so masterfully achieves in The Glass Hotel. Her fêted Station Eleven is on my must-read list for 2021. "What is truth?" asked Pontius Pilate. Not even Mandel cannot give us the answer, but this will certainly do for now.


§


Running the Light

Sam Tallent

Although it trades in all of the clichés and stereotypes of the stand-up comedian (the triumvirate of drink, drugs and divorce), Sam Tallent's debut novel depicts an extremely convincing fictional account of a touring road comic.

The comedian Doug Stanhope (who himself released a fairly decent No Encore for the Donkey memoir in 2020) hyped Sam's book relentlessly on his podcast during lockdown... and justifiably so. I ripped through Running the Light in a few short hours, the only disappointment being that I can't seem to find videos online of Sam that come anywhere close to match up to his writing style. If you liked the rollercoaster energy of Paul Beatty's The Sellout, the cynicism of George Carlin and the car-crash invertibility of final season Breaking Bad, check this great book out.


§


Non-fiction

Inside Story

Martin Amis

This was my first introduction to Martin Amis's work after hearing that his "novelised autobiography" contained a fair amount about Christopher Hitchens, an author with whom I had a one of those rather clichéd parasocial relationship with in the early days of YouTube. (Hey, it could have been much worse.) Amis calls his book a "novelised autobiography", and just as much has been made of its quasi-fictional nature as the many diversions into didactic writing advice that betwixt each chapter: "Not content with being a novel, this book also wants to tell you how to write novels", complained Tim Adams in The Guardian.

I suspect that reviewers who grew up with Martin since his debut book in 1973 rolled their eyes at yet another demonstration of his manifest cleverness, but as my first exposure to Amis's gift of observation, I confess that I was thought it was actually kinda clever. Try, for example, "it remains a maddening truth that both sexual success and sexual failure are steeply self-perpetuating" or "a hospital gym is a contradiction – like a young Conservative", etc. Then again, perhaps I was experiencing a form of nostalgia for a pre-Gamergate YouTube, when everything in the world was a lot simpler... or at least things could be solved by articulate gentlemen who honed their art of rhetoric at the Oxford Union.

I went on to read Martin's first novel, The Rachel Papers (is it 'arrogance' if you are, indeed, that confident?), as well as his 1997 Night Train. I plan to read more of him in the future.


§


The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters: Volume 1 & Volume 2 & Volume 3 & Volume 4

George Orwell

These deceptively bulky four volumes contain all of George Orwell's essays, reviews and correspondence, from his teenage letters sent to local newspapers to notes to his literary executor on his deathbed in 1950. Reading this was part of a larger, multi-year project of mine to cover the entirety of his output.

By including this here, however, I'm not recommending that you read everything that came out of Orwell's typewriter. The letters to friends and publishers will only be interesting to biographers or hardcore fans (although I would recommend Dorian Lynskey's The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell's 1984 first). Furthermore, many of his book reviews will be of little interest today. Still, some insights can be gleaned; if there is any inconsistency in this huge corpus is that his best work is almost 'too' good and too impactful, making his merely-average writing appear like hackwork. There are some gems that don't make the usual essay collections too, and some of Orwell's most astute social commentary came out of series of articles he wrote for the left-leaning newspaper Tribune, related in many ways to the US Jacobin. You can also see some of his most famous ideas start to take shape years — if not decades — before they appear in his novels in these prototype blog posts.

I also read Dennis Glover's novelised account of the writing of Nineteen-Eighty Four called The Last Man in Europe, and I plan to re-read some of Orwell's earlier novels during 2021 too, including A Clergyman's Daughter and his 'antebellum' Coming Up for Air that he wrote just before the Second World War; his most under-rated novel in my estimation. As it happens, and with the exception of the US and Spain, copyright in the works published in his lifetime ends on 1st January 2021. Make of that what you will.


§


Capitalist Realism & Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class

Mark Fisher & Owen Jones

These two books are not natural companions to one another and there is likely much that Jones and Fisher would vehemently disagree on, but I am pairing these books together here because they represent the best of the 'political' books I read in 2020.

Mark Fisher was a dedicated leftist whose first book, Capitalist Realism, marked an important contribution to political philosophy in the UK. However, since his suicide in early 2017, the currency of his writing has markedly risen, and Fisher is now frequently referenced due to his belief that the prevalence of mental health conditions in modern life is a side-effect of various material conditions, rather than a natural or unalterable fact "like weather". (Of course, our 'weather' is being increasingly determined by a combination of politics, economics and petrochemistry than pure randomness.) Still, Fisher wrote on all manner of topics, from the 2012 London Olympics and "weird and eerie" electronic music that yearns for a lost future that will never arrive, possibly prefiguring or influencing the Fallout video game series.

Saying that, I suspect Fisher will resonate better with a UK audience more than one across the Atlantic, not necessarily because he was minded to write about the parochial politics and culture of Britain, but because his writing often carries some exasperation at the suppression of class in favour of identity-oriented politics, a viewpoint not entirely prevalent in the United States outside of, say, Touré F. Reed or the late Michael Brooks. (Indeed, Fisher is likely best known in the US as the author of his controversial 2013 essay, Exiting the Vampire Castle, but that does not figure greatly in this book). Regardless, Capitalist Realism is an insightful, damning and deeply unoptimistic book, best enjoyed in the warm sunshine — I found it an ironic compliment that I had quoted so many paragraphs that my Kindle's copy protection routines prevented me from clipping any further.

Owen Jones needs no introduction to anyone who regularly reads a British newspaper, especially since 2015 where he unofficially served as a proxy and punching bag for expressing frustrations with the then-Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. However, as the subtitle of Jones' 2012 book suggests, Chavs attempts to reveal the "demonisation of the working class" in post-financial crisis Britain. Indeed, the timing of the book is central to Jones' analysis, specifically that the stereotype of the "chav" is used by government and the media as a convenient figleaf to avoid meaningful engagement with economic and social problems on an austerity ridden island. (I'm not quite sure what the US equivalent to 'chav' might be. Perhaps Florida Man without the implications of mental health.)

Anyway, Jones certainly has a point. From Vicky Pollard to the attacks on Jade Goody, there is an ignorance and prejudice at the heart of the 'chav' backlash, and that would be bad enough even if it was not being co-opted or criminalised for ideological ends.

Elsewhere in political science, I also caught Michael Brooks' Against the Web and David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs, although they are not quite methodical enough to recommend here. However, Graeber's award-winning Debt: The First 5000 Years will be read in 2021. Matt Taibbi's Hate Inc: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another is worth a brief mention here though, but its sprawling nature felt very much like I was reading a set of Substack articles loosely edited together. And, indeed, I was.


§


The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing

Ewan Clayton

A recommendation from a dear friend, Ewan Clayton's The Golden Thread is a journey through the long history of the writing from the Dawn of Man to present day. Whether you are a linguist, a graphic designer, a visual artist, a typographer, an archaeologist or 'just' a reader, there is probably something in here for you. I was already dipping my quill into calligraphy this year so I suspect I would have liked this book in any case, but highlights would definitely include the changing role of writing due to the influence of textual forms in the workplace as well as digression on ergonomic desks employed by monks and scribes in the Middle Ages.

A lot of books by otherwise-sensible authors overstretch themselves when they write about computers or other technology from the Information Age, at best resulting in bizarre non-sequiturs and dangerously Panglossian viewpoints at worst. But Clayton surprised me by writing extremely cogently and accurate on the role of text in this new and unpredictable era. After finishing it I realised why — for a number of years, Clayton was a consultant for the legendary Xerox PARC where he worked in a group focusing on documents and contemporary communications whilst his colleagues were busy inventing the graphical user interface, laser printing, text editors and the computer mouse.


§


New Dark Age & Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life

James Bridle & Adam Greenfield

I struggled to describe these two books to friends, so I doubt I will suddenly do a better job here. Allow me to quote from Will Self's review of James Bridle's New Dark Age in the Guardian:

We're accustomed to worrying about AI systems being built that will either "go rogue" and attack us, or succeed us in a bizarre evolution of, um, evolution – what we didn't reckon on is the sheer inscrutability of these manufactured minds. And minds is not a misnomer. How else should we think about the neural network Google has built so its translator can model the interrelation of all words in all languages, in a kind of three-dimensional "semantic space"?

New Dark Age also turns its attention to the weird, algorithmically-derived products offered for sale on Amazon as well as the disturbing and abusive videos that are automatically uploaded by bots to YouTube. It should, by rights, be a mess of disparate ideas and concerns, but Bridle has a flair for introducing topics which reveals he comes to computer science from another discipline altogether; indeed, on a four-part series he made for Radio 4, he's primarily referred to as "an artist".

Whilst New Dark Age has rather abstract section topics, Adam Greenfield's Radical Technologies is a rather different book altogether. Each chapter dissects one of the so-called 'radical' technologies that condition the choices available to us, asking how do they work, what challenges do they present to us and who ultimately benefits from their adoption. Greenfield takes his scalpel to smartphones, machine learning, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, etc., and I don't think it would be unfair to say that starts and ends with a cynical point of view. He is no reactionary Luddite, though, and this is both informed and extremely well-explained, and it also lacks the lazy, affected and Private Eye-like cynicism of, say, Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

The books aren't a natural pair, for Bridle's writing contains quite a bit of air in places, ironically mimics the very 'clouds' he inveighs against. Greenfield's book, by contrast, as little air and much lower pH value. Still, it was more than refreshing to read two technology books that do not limit themselves to platitudinal booleans, be those dangerously naive (e.g. Kevin Kelly's The Inevitable) or relentlessly nihilistic (Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism). Sure, they are both anti-technology screeds, but they tend to make arguments about systems of power rather than specific companies and avoid being too anti-'Big Tech' through a narrower, Silicon Valley obsessed lens — for that (dipping into some other 2020 reading of mine) I might suggest Wendy Liu's Abolish Silicon Valley or Scott Galloway's The Four.

Still, both books are superlatively written. In fact, Adam Greenfield has some of the best non-fiction writing around, both in terms of how he can explain complicated concepts (particularly the smart contract mechanism of the Ethereum cryptocurrency) as well as in the extremely finely-crafted sentences — I often felt that the writing style almost had no need to be that poetic, and I particularly enjoyed his fictional scenarios at the end of the book.


§


The Algebra of Happiness & Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

Scott Galloway & Nir Eyal

A cocktail of insight, informality and abrasiveness makes NYU Professor Scott Galloway uncannily appealing to guys around my age. Although Galloway definitely has his own wisdom and experience, similar to Joe Rogan I suspect that a crucial part of Galloway's appeal is that you feel you are learning right alongside him. Thankfully, 'Prof G' is far less — err — problematic than Rogan (Galloway is more of a well-meaning, spirited centrist), although he, too, has some pretty awful takes at time. This is a shame, because removed from the whirlwind of social media he can be really quite considered, such as in this long-form interview with Stephanie Ruhle.

In fact, it is this kind of sentiment that he captured in his 2019 Algebra of Happiness. When I look over my highlighted sections, it's clear that it's rather schmaltzy out of context ("Things you hate become just inconveniences in the presence of people you love..."), but his one-two punch of cynicism and saccharine ("Ask somebody who purchased a home in 2007 if their 'American Dream' came true...") is weirdly effective, especially when he uses his own family experiences as part of his story:

A better proxy for your life isn't your first home, but your last. Where you draw your last breath is more meaningful, as it's a reflection of your success and, more important, the number of people who care about your well-being. Your first house signals the meaningful—your future and possibility. Your last home signals the profound—the people who love you. Where you die, and who is around you at the end, is a strong signal of your success or failure in life.

Nir Eyal's Indistractable, however, is a totally different kind of 'self-help' book. The important background story is that Eyal was the author of the widely-read Hooked which turned into a secular Bible of so-called 'addictive design'. (If you've ever been cornered by a techbro wielding a Wikipedia-thin knowledge of B. F. Skinner's behaviourist psychology and how it can get you to click 'Like' more often, it ultimately came from Hooked.) However, Eyal's latest effort is actually an extended mea culpa for his previous sin and he offers both high and low-level palliative advice on how to avoid falling for the tricks he so studiously espoused before. I suppose we should be thankful to capitalism for selling both cause and cure.

Speaking of markets, there appears to be a growing appetite for books in this 'anti-distraction' category, and whilst I cannot claim to have done an exhausting study of this nascent field, Indistractable argues its points well without relying on accurate-but-dry "studies show..." or, worse, Gladwellian gotchas. My main criticism, however, would be that Eyal doesn't acknowledge the limits of a self-help approach to this problem; it seems that many of the issues he outlines are an inescapable part of the alienation in modern Western society, and the only way one can really avoid distraction is to move up the income ladder or move out to a 500-acre ranch.

07 February, 2021 04:13PM

hackergotchi for Norbert Preining

Norbert Preining

New job: Fujitsu Research Labs

I am excited to announce that I have joined Fujitsu Research Labs with beginning of February.

My job will comprise, besides other things, research and development in machine learning, open source strategies, development of and representation of Fujitsu in the scikit-learn consortium. We are doing a lot of topological data analysis, so if you are interested in these kinds of topics, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am still settling into a completely new world of “big and Japanese company” with lots of on-boarding seminars, applications, paper work, meetings, but I am looking forward to start the actual work as soon as possible.

As a long long time Linux user, I am a bit in trouble now, since everything in Fujitsu requires Windows it seems. I will try hard to improve this situation – including my dream of having Fujitsu machines with pre-installed Debian on it 😉

07 February, 2021 08:37AM by Norbert Preining

February 06, 2021

Andrew Cater

Debian 10.8 release process - We're almost there - Signing and pushing about to happen

 Steve is about to sign the release and to begin the push across to the mirrors.

Although it sometimes seems like an age, this will be approximately 8 hours rather than 15 hours -  a 50% improvement in release timetable means that the behind the scenes work has been well worth while.

We always find tweaks, improvements, things we forgot and genuine bugs. Once again: We've found that live images can be significantly memory intensive on older hardware or machines with limited memory. 

The boot process for any live CD image expands a squashfs so that the image runs entirely in memory. This is particularly noticeable on the 32 bit i386 images. These really require a minimum of 2GB of memory if you are using the heavier weight desktop images like KDE or Gnome: much less and they will either be unreasonably slow or just fail to work.

There is also now a note on the download pages warning on this.

Thanks once again to maswan early on and Sledge, RattusRattus, Isy, Schweer, linux-fan and sqr{not} for helping out in testing images. I'm listening in to an impromptu chat explaining the behind the scenes steps to run to actually sign and push the final images so we're a short while away from publishing to the principal CD image machine. At the same time, the torrent seeders will be started and the scripts will push to update the mirrors. And so to the next time :)

Handy tip For people running mirrors of debian-cd: If you're low on disk space, perhaps you could remove the 10.7 images by hand before running your next sync scripts to allow space for 10.8 to move in: any ftpsync or rsync process might only remove the old images after copying in the new ones. It's only about 220GB - but you don't want that to be an instantaneous 440GB.

06 February, 2021 08:04PM by Andrew Cater (noreply@blogger.com)

Debian 10.8 release process - And there are always small bugs which catch you out :)

 This is going very well - we've finished many of the tests. A few oversights - a few changes as we've realised we've missed a couple of things: it's always the same, small bugs catch you out as you spot them and Sledge is fixing as we go. A couple of bandwidth glitches for me but nothing special.

Thanks also to Linux-fan and Sqrt{not} who have turned up to help and each taken a couple of tests. Any contribution is a help because it means we get things done faster and, crucially, we get different hardware and another pair of eyes working with us. We'd hoped that we'd be mostly done by 1700 - we didn't specify which time zone.

The release announcement for the point release as a whole has gone out: with luck, we should have all the media released by later tonight so 20210206 which will be faster than before.

06 February, 2021 05:37PM by Andrew Cater (noreply@blogger.com)

Debian 10.8 release process - Yay, it's a lot faster

Thanks to the changes behind the scenes, images are now being produced significantly faster than they were: the embarrassingly parallel speed up has worked, though at slight cost to the predictability of when we get each architecture produced for us to test.

Thanks, as ever, to Sledge, RattusRattus and Isy over in Cambridge and to schweer who painstakingly tests all the debian-edu releases.

83 out of 94 steps done and it's only 13:50 GMT - less popular architectures are coming on apace. There's still a lot of testing to do: we will never be able to test s390x for example. Other architectures - including mips* - we have no machines, we're building as best efforts and we can't guarantee how well they will work for anyone.

Anybody installing the less popular architectures please let us know that you've installed them and how you get on. We'd like to see a positive report as well as bugs: we don't see much feedback at all to know how useful they are: evidence of installs on any architecture is always helpful to us.

06 February, 2021 01:57PM by Andrew Cater (noreply@blogger.com)

And here we go: Debian 10.8 images release testing process is under way

 As is traditional, every three months or so: another Debian point release is being prepared today. This one is 10.8. As ever, not a huge amount of change if you've been updating your Debian machines regularly. CD/DVD/BluRay and other media files are all being produced today.

 Images are gradually being built and rsync'ed: tests are under way and the ususal suspects are taking part. A couple of issues: thanks very much indeed to maswan for chasing up early problems with petersson. 

Some script changes behind the scenes over the last month or so should mean that the images are built significantly more in parallel and this may mean we finish the release process much more quickly today.

 

06 February, 2021 01:40PM by Andrew Cater (noreply@blogger.com)

February 05, 2021

Thorsten Alteholz

My Debian Activities in January 2021

FTP master

This month I could increase my activities in NEW again and accepted 132 packages. Unfortunately I also had to reject 12 packages. The overall number of packages that got accepted was 374.

Debian LTS

This was my seventy-ninth month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian.

This month my all in all workload has been 26h. During that time I did LTS and normal security uploads of:

  • [DSA 4823-1] influxdb security update for one CVE
  • [DLA 2536-1] libsdl2 security update for nine CVEs

With the buster upload of highlight.js I could finish to fix CVE-2020-26237 in all releases.

I also tried to fix one or the other CVE for golang packages, to be exact: golang-github-russellhaering-goxmldsig, golang-github-tidwall-match, golang-github-tidwall-gjson and golang-github-antchfx-xmlquery. The version in unstable is easily done by uploading a new upstream version after checking with ratt that all reverse-build-dependencies are still working. The next step will be to really upload all reverse-build-dependencies that need a new build. As the number of reverse-build-dependencies might be rather large, this needs to be done automatically somehow. The problem I am struggling with at the moment are packages that need to be rebuilt but the version in git already increased …

Another problem with golang packages are packages that are referenced by a Built-Using: line, but whose sources are not yet available on security-master. If this happens, the uploaded package will be automatically rejected. Unfortunately the rejection-email only contains the first missing package. So in order to reduce the hassle with such uploads, please send me the Built-Using:-line before the upload and I will import everything. In December/January this affected the uploads of influxdb and snapd.

Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties.

Debian ELTS

This month was the thirty-first ELTS month.

During my allocated time I uploaded:

  • ELA-351-1 for sudo
  • ELA-352-1 for dbus
  • ELA-353-1 for libsdl2

Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties.

Other stuff

This month I uploaded new upstream versions of:

I improved packaging of:

The golang packages here are basically ones with a missing source upload. For whatever reason maintainers tend to forget about this …

05 February, 2021 09:34PM by alteholz

February 04, 2021

hackergotchi for Ulrike Uhlig

Ulrike Uhlig

On anger, misunderstandings, and hearing with different ears

Anger

Anger is a feeling that is mostly taboo in our society. People tend to think that anger and rage are the same thing and reject anger. We are taught to suppress it. But: “The suppression of anger can cause a lot of trouble, giving rise to virulent progeny such as malice, passive aggression, hostility, rage, sabotage, hate, blame, guilt, controlling behavior, shame, self-blame, and self-destruction.” (Quoted from: Anne Katherine, “Where to draw the line”).

When we talk about anger, we need to distinguish between acting out anger, and feeling anger. In general, when you hear me talking about anger, I’m talking about the feeling named anger in English.

Anger is a normal feeling with a super power: it gives us the energy to change a situation that we consider to be unsustainable. We can express the feeling of anger verbally by saying for example: “That thing makes me really angry”, “I can’t talk right now, I am very angry about what I just heard”.

Let’s also note that there may be other feelings lying below anger, such as sadness, frustration, grief, fear, etc.

Mixing emotions

This is a page from the wonderful “Making Comics” by Scott McCloud. (Yes, emotions are complex! See some more of Scott McCloud’s pages about emotion in comics)

Bottling up feelings

Most of the time, people don’t get angry suddenly, even though it might seem like that from the outside. Instead, they’ve been bottling up feelings for a while, and at some point, a small trigger is enough to make the bottle overflow. The reasons for bottling up feelings can be as diverse as people:

  • Low self-esteem: not thinking one has the right and the capacity to express unpleasant feelings
  • Not knowing how to express unpleasant feelings. For example not having learnt to say: “I am not comfortable, I’ll leave now, I’ll get back to you once I know what’s going on / if this is about me / if I feel like it.”
  • Not trusting one’s own feelings, specifically common in people who have been victims of gaslighting
  • Repressing emotions, specifically anger, sometimes to the point of not being able to feel one’s own feelings anymore
  • Not being able to express disagreement and instead applying the fawn response: trying to please the other in order to avoid further conflict. See: Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn
  • Not being able to express boundaries: “stop”, “this is enough”, “I don’t accept this”, etc.
  • Not being in a situation or a space in which feelings can be expressed freely, for example a workplace or a hierarchical situation where this might be disadvantageous

These are just some examples I can come up with in 3 minutes, the list is non exhaustive.

When someone’s bottle overflows, their peers can be confused and not know how to react to what they perceive as a sudden outburst — while what they are seeing might just be the other person’s first time tentative of saying “no” or “stop”. Oftentimes, the responsibility for the situation is then put on the shoulders of the person who supposedly “exploded”: they have been behaving differently than usual or not within the expectations, right?

Well, it’s not that simple. Conflicts are relational. The other party might have ignored signs, requests, feelings, and needs of the angry person for a while. Maybe the relationship has been deteriorating since some time? Maybe there was a power imbalance, that has never been revisited, updated, questioned? Or maybe their bottle is being filled by something else in their life and getting too small to contain all the drops of suppressed emotions. People change, and relationships change. We cannot assume that because a person has accepted something for months or years, that they always will. I think that anger can be a sign of such change or need thereof.

A message has four sides… and that creates misunderstandings

Friedemann Schulz von Thun has created a theory, the four-sides model, that establishes four facets of a message:

  • Fact: What is the message about?
  • Self-disclosure: What does the speaker reveal about herself (with or without intention)?
  • Relation: What is the speaker’s relationship towards the receiver of the message?
  • Appeal: What does the speaker want to obtain?

Let me adapt Schulz von Thun’s example to a situation that happened to me once: I came to a friend’s house and I smelled some unknown thing when I entered the apartment. I asked: “what’s that smell?” I actually never bake, so I don’t know anything about whatever it is people put into cakes. I wanted to say: I don’t know what that smell is, tell me what it is? She replied: “You never like anything I do, my furniture gets criticized, my cake’s not right, and you criticize me all the time.” We ended up in such a big misunderstanding that I left her house 5 minutes after I arrived.

With Schulz von Thun’s model we can understand what happened here:

The speaker’s question “What’s that smell in the kitchen?” has four sides:

  1. Factual: There is a smell.
  2. Self-disclosure: I don’t know what it is.
  3. Relational: You know what it is.
  4. Appeal: Tell me what it is!

The receiver can hear the question with 4 different ears:

  1. Factual part: There is a smell.
  2. Self-disclosure: I don’t like the smell.
  3. Relationship: You’re not good at baking cake.
  4. Appeal: Don’t bake cake anymore.

At this point, the receiver will probably reply: “Bake the cake yourself next time!”

Behind the message

Sometimes, we hear more strongly with one ear than with the other ears. For example, some people hear more on the relational side and they will always hear “You’re not good at …”. Other people hear more on the appeal side and will always try to guess into a message what the other person wants or expects of them.

Form and contents of a message

Getting back to anger, I think that it’s often not the contents — i.e. the factual facet — of a message that triggers our bottle to overflow, but the (perceived) intention of the speaker, i.e. the appeal facet.

For example, a speaker might have an intention to silence us by using gaslighting, or tone policing. Or a speaker wants to explicitly hurt us because that’s how they learnt to deal with their own feelings of hurt.

The actual relation between speaker and receiver also seems to play a role in how anger can get triggered, when we hear with the relational ear. There are many nonverbal underlying layers to our communication:

  • The position of both speaker and receiver to each other: are they equals or is there any kind of power imbalance between them? A power imbalance can be a (perceived) dependency: For example, one person in a friendship has a kid and the other one regularly helps them so that the parent has some time to advance their work or career: this can create a feeling of not being good enough by oneself and having to rely on others. Or there is indeed a dependency in which the speaker is a team lead and the receiver a subordinate.
  • The needs of each person: a need to solve problems quickly for one person might conflict with the need to be involved in decision making of the other person. (See Taibi Kahler’s drivers)
  • The inner beliefs of each person: in childhood we might have constructed the inner belief: “You’re okay, I’m not okay”, or “Nobody cares about what I want”, or “I have to be nice (friendly, hardworking, strong, etc.) all the time otherwise nobody loves me” - as some examples.

So, suppose person A offers to help person B, and what person B hears instead is their overprotective mother instead of their friend. Person A might be surprised to see B overreact or disappear for a while to get back their feelings of autonomy and integrity as an adult.

Or person C expresses she’d “like to handle problem X like this” while person D might well not hear this as a proposal to handle a problem, but as a decision made without involving her. Which might propel D back to her childhood in which she could also not take decisions autonomously. Then D might react like she would react as a child, slamming a door, shout, run away, freeze, or fawn.

Communication is complex!

So, whenever we hear a message, not only do we hear the message with four ears, but also, we hear it with our position, our needs, and our inner beliefs. And sometimes, our bottle is already full, and then it overflows.

At that point, I find it important that both sides reflect on the situation and stay in contact. Using empathy and compassion, we can try to better understand what’s going on, where we might have hurt the other person, for example, or what was being misunderstood. Did we hear only one side of the message? Do our respective strategies conflict with each other?

If we cannot hear each other anymore or always hear only one side of the message, we can try to do a mediation. Obviously, if at that point one side does not actually want to solve the problem, or thinks it’s not their problem, then there’s not much we can do, and mediation would not help.

The examples above might sound familiar to you. I chose them because I’ve seen them happen around me often, and I understand them as shared patterns. While all beings on this planets are unique, we share a common humanity, for example through such patterns and common experiences.

04 February, 2021 11:00PM by Ulrike Uhlig

John Goerzen

A Simple, Delay-Tolerant, Offline-Capable Mesh Network with Syncthing (+ optional NNCP)

A little while back, I spent a week in a remote area. It had no Internet and no cell phone coverage. Sometimes, I would drive in to town where there was a signal to get messages, upload photos, and so forth. I had to take several devices with me: my phone, my wife’s, maybe a laptop or a tablet too. It seemed there should have been a better way. And there is.

I’ll use this example to talk about a mesh network, but it could just as well apply to people wanting to communicate on a 12-hour flight that has no in-flight wifi, or spacecraft with an intermittent connection, or a person traveling.

Syncthing makes a wonderful solution for things like these. Here are some interesting things about Syncthing:

  • You can think of Syncthing as a serverless, peer-to-peer, open source alternative to Dropbox. Machines sync directly with each other without a server, though you can add a server if you want.
  • It can operate completely without Internet access or any central server, though if Internet access is available, it can readily be used.
  • Syncthing devices connected to the same LAN or Wifi will detect each other’s presence and automatically communicate.
  • Syncthing is capable of handling a constantly-changing topology. It can also, for instance, handle two disconnected clusters of nodes with one node that “travels” between them — perhaps just a phone.
  • Syncthing scales from everything from a phone to thousands of nodes.
  • Syncthing normally performs syncs in every direction, but can also do single-direction syncs
  • An individual Syncthing node can register its interest or disinterest in certain files or directories based on filename patterns

Syncthing works by having you define devices and folders. You can choose which devices to share folders with. A shared folder has an ID that is unique across Sycnthing. You can share a folder from device A to device B, and then device B can share it with device C, even if A and C don’t know about each other or have no way to communicate. More commonly, though, all the devices would know about each other and will opportunistically communicate the best way they can.

Syncthing uses something akin to a Bittorrent protocol. Say you’re syncing videos from your phone, and they’re going to 3 machines. It doesn’t mean that Syncthing has to send it three times from the phone. Syncthing will send each block, most likely, just once; the other nodes in the swarm will register the block availability from the first other node to get it and will exchange blocks with themselves.

Syncthing will typically look for devices on the local LAN. Failing that, it will use an introduction server to see if it can reach them directly using P2P. Failing that, perhaps due to restrictive firewalls or NAT, communication can be relayed through volunteer-run Syncthing servers on the Internet. All Syncthing communications are cryptographically encrypted and verified. You can also configure Syncthing arbitrarily; for instance, to run over ssh or Tor tunnels.

So, let’s look at how Syncthing might help with the example I laid out up front.

All the devices at the remote location could communicate with each other. The Android app is quite capable of syncing photos and videos using Syncthing, for instance. Then one device could be taken to the Internet location and it would transmit data on behalf of all the others – perhaps back to a computer at your home, or to a server somewhere. Perhaps a script running on the remote server would then move files out of the syncthing synced folder into permanent storage elsewhere, triggering a deletion to be sent to the phone to free up storage. When the phone gets back to the other devices, the deletion can be propagated to them to free up storage there too.

Or maybe you have a computer out in a shed or somewhere without Internet access that you go to periodically, and need to get files to it. Again, your phone could be a carrier.

Taking it a step further

If you envision a file as a packet, you could, conceivably, do something like tunnel TCP/IP over Syncthing, assuming generous-enough timeouts. It can truly handle communication.

But you don’t need TCP/IP for this. Consider some other things you could do:

  • Drop a script in a special directory that gets picked up by a remote server and run
  • Drop emails in a special directory that get transmitted and then deleted by a remote system when they’re seen
  • Drop files (eg, photos or videos) in a directory that a remote system will copy or move out of there
  • Drop messages (perhaps gpg-encrypted) — which could be text files — for someone to see and process.
  • Drop NNTP bundles for group communication

You can start to see how there are a lot of possibilities here that extend beyond just file synchronization, though they are built upon a file synchronization tool.

Enter NNCP

Let’s look at a tool that’s especially suited for this: NNCP, which I’ve been writing about a lot lately.

NNCP is designed to handle file exchange and remote execution with remote computers in an asynchronous, store-and-forward manner. NNCP packets are themselves encrypted and authenticated. NNCP traditionally is source-routed (that is, you configure it so that machine A reaches machine D by relaying through B and C), and the packets are onion-routed. NNCP packets can be exchanged by a TCP call, a tar-like stream, copying files to something like a USB stick and physically transporting it to the remote, etc.

This works really well and I’ve been using it myself. But it gets complicated if the network topology isn’t fixed; it is difficult to reroute packets due to the onion routing, for instance. There are various workarounds that could be used — but why not just use Syncthing as a transport in those cases?

nncp-xfer is the command that exchanges packets by writing them to, and reading them from, a directory. It is what you’d use to exchange packets on a USB stick. And what you’d use to exchange packets via Syncthing. It writes packets in a RECIPIENT/SENDER/PACKET directory structure, so it is perfectly fine to have multiple systems exchanging packets in a single Syncthing synced folder tree. This structure also allows leaf nodes to only carry the particular packets they’re interested in. The packets are all encrypted, so they can be freely synced wherever.

Since Syncthing opportunistically syncs a shared folder with any device the folder is shared with, a phone could very easily be the NNCP transport, even if it has no idea what NNCP is. It could carry NNCP packets back and forth between sites, or to the Internet, or whatever.

NNCP supports file transmission, file request, and remote execution, all subject to controls, of course. It is easy to integrate with Exim or Postfix to use as a mail transport, Git transport, and so forth. I use it for backups. It would be quite easy to have it send those backups (encrypted zfs send) via nncp-xfer to Syncthing instead of the usual method, and then if I’ve shared the Syncthing folder with my phone, all I need to do is bring the phone into Internet range and they get sent. nncp-xfer will normally remove the packets out of the xfer directory as it ingests them, so the space will only be consumed on the phone (and laptop) until we know the packets made it to their destination.

Pretty slick, eh?

04 February, 2021 01:52AM by John Goerzen