I've had a few weeks with very little time spent on Debian. I did set aside some time to try to find and fix an RC bug, to help the release. Steven C commented to let me know about the UDD Developer's Dashboard which is a great way to find RC bugs relevant to a team. I sat down to try and fix #648272 in 'Abuse' but sadly I didn't manage, instead finding another possible RC bug #689457 on the way.

I was curious as to how long the version 1 web services API for musicbrainz will be kept around, in case there was a strong likelyhood it would be turned off during the lifetime of wheezy. If that were the case, then it might have been worth requesting freeze exceptions to patch the last few WS1 clients to use WS2 instead. However, the musicbrainz developers have no plans to turn off WS1 as long as there are people still using it. This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation for wheezy, but probably not strong enough grounds to persue it any further.

So last night was my first "Debian Day" in a while, and by chance I've had a number of enquiries for software and packages which I haven't touched in a while.

For the prboom package, we rebuild the upstream tarball to remove some material we don't have the right to distribute. The code that does the repackaging lives in a script called debian/fix_upstream.sh. Prboom upstream release very infrequently, so the script hasn't been run in a while. Fabian Greffrath noticed some bashisms which meant it would not work reliably with a non-bash /bin/sh. He also noticed that we couldn't build the binary lump data/prboom.wad using only free software since some changes that were made to freedoom. One possible fix was to expand the deutex package to recognise freedoom.wad, which I've now applied. Fabian has fixed the bashism issue, but I suspect a more robust solution long-term would be to always rebuild data/prboom.wad during package build, so that code gets exercised more often.

The prboom changes are in the Git repository but I haven't release them yet. I need to decide whether it's worth requesting a freeze exception for the orig tarball build issue. It's not an FTBFS but it's similar: you could not rebuild a binary distributed in the source tarball using software only in Debian, at least not without some workarounds.

We've had another request to package Prboom+. I've never been particularly interested in doing this myself, but it would probably be very little work, you could more-or-less take the prboom packaging as it stands. One thing I thought would be interesting to try would be to set up a git repository for the packaging and import the upstream Subversion repository in its entirety via git svn, rather than just import the released tarballs. Sadly their repository layout is not quite ideal for this.

game-data-packager continues to grow. Following hot on the heels of Hexen 2 support, Markus Koschany has written preliminary support for LGeneral, a game which has been in Debian, at least in part, on and off. Hopefully we'll have that merged soon, and finish of Hexen 2 support whilst we're at it. On that note, here's a lazyweb question: what's the most convenient way to determine the length (at microsecond resolution) of a PCM WAV file from the command-line?

Finally, we've been building Debian-based virtual machines at work, which meant dusting off some old preseed files and tweaking them to have unattended installs. This took a lot longer than I thought. It's certainly a lot more painful than kickstart and Redhat-based systems, and it's very unlikely that a preseed file that worked for one version of Debian would fully work for another. I'm not certain but I think even different releases of d-i targetting the same release "break" assumptions you might make, particularly about which questions you need to answer via the kernel command line, rather than in the preseed file. That's one thing we really need to sort. It's crazy having to specify keyboard layouts in the command line for VMs which won't ever have a keyboard. The disparity between what the user is asked, what value is written to the debconf database at that point in the install process, and what ends up in the debconf database at the end of the process is also a real pain: answering a question about keyboard layout sets half a dozen different debconf values in a cascade that is probably sensitive to other things like priority or whether d-i is in expert mode, too. So working backwards from the debconf database of an installed machine is an exercise in frustration, and figuring out which questions are asked prior to the preseed file being read for any given d-i or Debian release is a slow trial and error process.

I'm going to get in touch with the d-i folks and see what kind of continuous integration systems they have in place. It would be great to have commit-level notification that you've broken preseed builds. If not for the d-i folks, then certainly at work.