Recently on debian-curiosa...

A recent debian-curiosa thread made my day:

# Subject: looking for someone?
# From: "Mitch"

Hi there locvely,
aThis kind aof opportucnity comes ones in a life. I don't want
to miss it. Do you? I am coming to your place in few days
and I thoughc may be we can meet each other. If cyou don't mind
I can send you my pcicturea. I am a girl.
You can bcorrespond with me using my email

# From: 'Mash
Sorry I prefer a women who isn't so keen on placing random letters
in her words. Apparently they are rubbish in bed.
I mean what the hell is a "pcicturea," something from the
Anne-summers Jurassic collection?


# From: Shawn McMahon
I prefer women who aren't named "Mitch".

OS Install Experiences - Part 1: Debian stable + unstable [Update]

Debian Open Use Logo

Note: This article is part of my OS Install Experiences series.

OK, so let's start with something simple: Debian. Simple in the sense that there probably won't be too many surprises for me as a Debian developer (or for most readers of Planet Debian). For other people this might be interesting, though, and some facts are probably interesting to one or the other experienced Debian user/developer, too...


A few words on the hardware I'll be installing all these OSes on. It's a cheapo (200 Euros) x86 PC (Intel Celeron, 2 GHz), 80 GB IDE hard drive, 256 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9200 SE graphics adapter, Realtek PCI ethernet controller, CDROM, USB, and all the other standard stuff. Nothing fancy, really.


  1. First, I downloaded a Debian sarge 3.1r2 CD image, burned it on a CD, and booted from that.
  2. An installer menu showed up, where you can press F3 for boot options. I chose "expert26", which will ask me more questions and give me a 2.6 Linux kernel instead of 2.4.
  3. The installer (newt-based, i.e. not graphical) will now start to boot a base Linux system.
  4. Now, you can choose your language (used in the installer), country, region, and keyboard layout.
  5. You'll be asked which additional kernel modules you want to load (default: all), and whether you want PCMCIA support. Also, you can choose which extra installer components should be loaded (LVM, PPP, serial, IrDA, ...).
  6. Your hardware can be automatically detected (my Realtek card was successfully detected, the "8139too" kernel module was then loaded).
  7. The network was successfully auto-configured via DHCP within seconds.
  8. Now you can choose a hostname and domain name for the box. I used "hydra" as hostname (guess why), and "local.domain" as domain name.


Now the funny part starts: partitioning the disk. As I will be installing >= 10 OSes, this needs a bit of consideration.

I have chosen to create a 10 GB (primary) partition for a Redmond OS I'll be installing later (for games, testing, proprietary software I'm forced to use, and similar things). This will be the first partition and I marked it bootable, as Windows might choke otherwise.

For the rest, I reserved 5 GB for each OS — that should do. So the next two (primary) partitions are 5 GB each. I'll leave these empty for now, as I might encounter obscure OSes which must be installed on primary partitions. Let's hope it won't be more than two ;-) As you can only have four primary partitions, I then had to create a logical partition, which will "contain" any further partitions.

The next three (secondary) partitions are 1 GB each, intended to be used as swap. One of those I marked as swap in order to use it for Debian. Other Linux installations will be able to reuse this one. The other two are reserved in case I encounter OSes which have another form of swap and cannot use Linux swap partitions...

The rest is easy: create twelve 5 GB partitions => lots of space for more OSes. Here's the resulting fdisk output:

Disk /dev/hda: 81.9 GB, 81964302336 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9964 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

      Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
   /dev/hda1   *           1        1216     9767488+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda2            1217        1824     4883760   83  Linux
   /dev/hda3            1825        2432     4883760   83  Linux
   /dev/hda4            2433        9964    60500790    5  Extended
   /dev/hda5            2433        2554      979933+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
   /dev/hda6            2555        2676      979933+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda7            2677        2798      979933+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda8            2799        3406     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda9            3407        4014     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda10           4015        4622     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda11           4623        5230     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda12           5231        5838     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda13           5839        6446     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda14           6447        7054     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda15           7055        7662     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda16           7663        8270     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda17           8271        8878     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda18           8879        9486     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda19           9487        9964     3839503+  83  Linux

Install, continued

  1. The Debian partitioning tool allowed me to do all of the above via a friendly menu. As it does not modify the partition table until you say "done", I could revert many changes, and play around with different layout ideas until I was satisfied.
  2. Next thing you can choose is the Kernel flavor (386, 686, smp).
  3. You may now configure and install GRUB, the bootloader. I installed it at "(hd0)", the master boot record of the hard disk.
  4. Soon the CD ejects, and you have to reboot.
  5. After a restart (which also shows whether GRUB works fine), you can now choose your timezone, and decide whether you want shadow passwords (say yes!).
  6. Now enter the root password, and decide whether you want to create an additional user account (say yes, and enter a different password here).
  7. You can now configure apt, e.g. tell it which sources you'd like to use (CDROM, FTP, HTTP, ...). You'll be asked whether you want to install software from Debian's "non-free" archive. After choosing a mirror (and proxy settings, if you like), you can (should!) also say yes to the question whether you want security updates...
  8. Finally, you may now choose "tasks" (desktop, web server, file server, ...) your machine should be able to perform; this will influence which packages will be installed. You may choose "manual package selection", of course, if you want more control. I used "desktop".
  9. That's about it. You'll see a few more application-specific questions (configuration of MTA, ssh, fonts, X11, gdm, and others), and after that you'll be left with a GNOME login window.


Continue reading here...

Update 2006-06-05: Added netstat output and the list of world-writable files.
Update 2006-06-02: Shortened the length of the article on my main webpage as well as the RSS feed. But you can always read the whole article here, of course.
Update 2006-05-19: Updated "why is Debian-exim capitalized?" info as per comments, thanks!

Stuff III

Debian packages release names - Reloaded [Update]

Upon popular request (my post was even featured on Debian Weekly News), I re-ran my previous query on the changelog files in Debian packages. This time, however, I didn't only retrieve 40 random package release names, but "all" of them, for unknown values of "all". I didn't analyze some of the files (missing permissions), and maybe I missed one or two because my query sucked, but I think I've got most of them.

I ran a slightly more complicated query than last time, using the data from gluck:/org/ I have not the slightest idea how old the files in that archive are, but there's ca. 10.000 packages in there — more than enough, if you ask me.

The results (78 KB) this time are in alphabetical order, and include the package names where the strings were found. There's a total of 1408 strings.

Here are 20 randomly chosen strings, for some more fun:

gdb: * The "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Release.
glibc: * The "Fuck Me Harder" release.
abiword: * The "Foolin' Myself" release.
opensc: * The "RTFM" release.
directory-administrator: * The "On Train" release
xchat: * The "Merry Christmas, mine beloved Xchat users!" release.
apache: * The "Yes, we know there is a new upstream release" upload.
mmm-mode: * The "But I'm Not Dead Yet!" Release
mozilla-firefox: * The "becoming more and more an iceweasel" release.
nano: * The "Marbella, ciudad hermanada con Benidorm" release.
thy: * The `Empty Spaces' release.
glibc: * The "Chainsaw Psycho" release.
sam: * The `Minime' release.
xchat: * The "Binary only" release.
tellico: * The "pbuider and buildds are not the same" package release
pingus: * The "All you pingus are belong to blendi" release
xchat: * The "Ok, wrong patch, excuse me guys :)" release.
cappuccino: * The "It's time for the upload" release
abiword: * The "Got A Good Thing Goin'" release.
firefox: * The "what he taketh, he giveth back" release.

I also created a small statistic this time. Here's the Top-20 packages (the ones with the most release names):

64 abiword
62 thy
41 xchat
35 glibc
31 shadow
31 abcde
28 menu
18 reportbug
18 firefox
17 fetchmail
15 ccze
14 tama
14 mozilla-firefox
12 nano
12 apache2
11 gaim
10 debconf
9 mailutils
9 lirc
9 geneweb

Feel free to grab the whole results file for more reading fun during boring hours of the day.
If you do any further processing or analysis of any kind with the data, please post a comment and let us all know ;-)

Update 2006-05-23: Enrico Zini has done some interesting things with the data...

Stuff II

Hm, this was a good day.

  • I have unsubscribed 10 mailing lists or so today. More time. Good feeling.
  • My btscanner package has entered Debian unstable today. btscanner is a Kismet-like tool "designed specifically to extract as much information as possible from a Bluetooth device without the requirement to pair. A detailed information screen extracts HCI and SDP information, and maintains an open connection to monitor the RSSI and link quality".
  • I have upgraded my DSL contract to another one which is almost as cheap as the previous one, but gives me ca. 700 K/s instead of 120 K/s. Good deal ;)
  • I have upgraded to Xorg 7.0 today, and nothing broke!!!1 Great stuff.
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