Tag Archives: Debian

Dear Lazyweb: Does this software exist?

I’ve been wondering if the following kind of testing management software exists (preferably free software, of course).

It would allow one to specify a number of test cases. For each, one should be able to describe preconditions, testing instructions and expected outcome. Also, file attachments should be supported in case a test case needs a particular data set.

It would publish a web site describing each test case.

A tester (who in the free software world could be anyone) would take a test case, follow the instructions given and observe whatever outcome occurs. The tester would then file a test report with this software, either a terse success report or a more verbose failure report.

The software should maintain testing statistics so that testers could easily choose test cases that have a dearth of reports.

As a bonus, it would be nice if the software could submit a failure report as a bug report .

(Note that this would be useful for handling the sort of tests that cannot be automated. There are many good ways already to run automated test suites.)

dctrl-tools translations

dctrl-tools 1.14 (targeting squeeze) has the following incomplete translations (as of right now in git):

ca: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.
cs: 108 translated messages, 1 fuzzy translation, 2 untranslated messages.
de: 111 translated messages.
en_GB: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.
es: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.
fi: 111 translated messages.
fr: 108 translated messages, 1 fuzzy translation, 2 untranslated messages.
it: 65 translated messages, 8 fuzzy translations, 38 untranslated messages.
ja: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.
pl: 49 translated messages, 2 fuzzy translations, 60 untranslated messages.
pt_BR: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.
ru: 108 translated messages, 1 fuzzy translation, 2 untranslated messages.
sv: 84 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 23 untranslated messages.
vi: 89 translated messages, 4 fuzzy translations, 18 untranslated messages.

I have put the relevant pot and po files up. This is not an archival URI, but I’ll keep it available long enough for this.

Submissions through the BTS are accepted, as usual.

Debian developers and others with collab-maint access may, if they wish, push their updates directly to the Git repository. Please use the maint-2.14 branch and please read the README.

I will NOT be gathering translations from Rosetta.

All contributors and committers are asked to declare whether they can affirm the Developer’s Certificate of Origin. The commit tag Signed-off-by is, by convention, interpreted as an affirmation of that document by the person identified on that tag line.

New Netnews (Usenet) RFCs

The RFC editor has finally released

  • K. Murchison, Ed., C. Lindsey, D. Kohn: Netnews Article Format. RFC 5536, November 2009.
  • R. Allbery, Ed., C. Lindsey: Netnews Architecture and Protocols. RFC 5537, November 2009.

They obsolete the venerable RFC 1036 (Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages) from December 1987.

The new RFCs are the work of the IETF working group USEFOR, chartered November 1997 and concluded March 2009. I’ve heard it was not quite the longest lived IETF working group ever. (I personally missed the group by a couple of months, since I started following Netnews and NNTP standardization in April, due to Alue.)

Both RFCs are on the Standards Track, currenlty as Proposed Standards. In my opinion, they are a huge improvement over both RFC 1036 and son-of-1036 (which will probably be published as a Historic RFC real soon now).

Socialized vaccination – a narrative

Such was the scene I arrived at on Wednesday last week at the municipal health center at Kyllö, Jyväskylä, Finland. A queue extended a hundred meters beyond the door. It was not hard to guess what it was about, as it had been announced that the pandemic influenza A/H1N1 vaccine would be administered there to people in specific risk groups from 10 am to 3:30 pm.

I should explain here the Finnish health care setup. There are three parallel systems – a comprehensive public health care system maintained by the municipalities to standards set by the state, a network of private for-profit health care providers, and a national foundation dedicated to university student health care. Employers are required by law to provide a minimal level of health care to their employees, and most of them also provide, free of charge to the employees, access to near-comprehensive general-practice-level care; most employers buy this service from the for-profit providers. The public system suffers from resource starvation at the general-practice level but provides excellent care in the central hospitals that handle the difficult cases.

Anyway, the H1N1 vaccine is only available through the public system and through the foundation – free of charge if you qualify for the vaccine, and no amount of money buys it for you in this country if you don’t. Thus, I and many others, normally cared by the employee services, found ourselves queuing up at a public health care institute. And clearly, the public health care system was overwhelmed on that first day.

When I entered the queue, its tail was a traffic hazard. Fortunately, the queue moved faster than new people arrived thereafter, and the hazard ended. The queue moved surprisingly fast – it took me one hour to advance the 100 meters to the door. Even so, this was a failure in the system – there is no good reason to have people with underlying illnesses (and we all had them, to qualify for the vaccine) stand around in freezing cold weather for an hour!

Once, a nurse came and asked us if any of us was 63 years old or older. Apparently no-one was, since no-one was asked to leave (they will be vaccinated later). Later, another nurse asked everyone in the queue outside to show their KELA cards – KELA is the national health insurance system, and its card carries information about extra coverage one qualifies for due to underlying illnesses.

Eventually, I reached the door. Two guards stopped anyone who tried to enter directly, sidestepping the queue, and let in only those who had legitimate business other than vaccination. The main hall was full of people, and I quickly realized that the queue took a full circle inside the hall to reach the multiplexing point. It took me another hour to slowly advance my way though the hall. At the multiplexing point, I was asked to wait a bit, and then I was assigned a vaccination room and a waiting number.

Some twenty minutes later I was called in. The vaccination room I was assigned to was a nurse’s office. Two nurses were there, one who would administer the vaccine, and another at the computer, to keep a record. I gave them my KELA card, and shed my coat and my outer shirt, and bared my left shoulder. I was quickly given the pandemic vaccine; there was no question I was qualified for it, not with my obesity being obvious.

Then they asked what my diagnosis was. “Prmarily I’m here because of my obesity,” I said. “But I also have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.”

“That’s not what your KELA card says,” accused the nurse at the computer.

“The diagnosis is so new,” I countered. “There has been no time to do the paperwork for KELA.” (And indeed, I later learned, it would come up in my next checkup in the spring.)

They stared at each other.

“I can show you my prescriptions,” I said, making no move for them.


I stared back.

“Do you want the seasonal vaccine or not?” asked the nurse with the injectors.

I lauged briefly. “I might as well.” It had, honestly, never crossed my mind that I might qualify.

She injected me on my right shoulder. “You should stay in out there for ten minutes.”

I picked up my clothes and found the cafeteria with coffee and pastry.

Then the real fun started. Next day, I woke with horrible upper back pain. The thermometer showed mild fever; but since i didn’t have any respiratory symptoms, I decided to go to work. In the evening, turning in bed was excruciatingly painful. It took days for the pain to subside.

I left the building three hours after I arrived at the end of the queue. What? You think that’s excessive? So do I and many others; queuing feels so Soviet Union! But honestly, while it did take time, it worked. I am vaccinated; are you?

Alue status report

In May, I posted about the discussion forum software I am writing, Alue. Since then –

What works:

  • The NNTP interface is essentially complete.
  • There is a rudimentary reading and posting HTTPS interface .
  • Users are able to self-register, manage their own accounts and reset lost passwords using an email challenge system.

What is broken:

  • NNTP control messages.
  • MIME message display in HTTPS (including character set conversions)
  • Web design. Although – all HTML is template-generated, so it’s more a problem with the test installation than with the actual software.

What is missing:

  • HTTPS-based administration
  • Moderation
  • Spam control
  • Email distribution of messages
  • Posting by email
  • Packaging (including proper installation and upgrade procedures)

And it would probably use a proper security review of the code.

If you are interested, go check out the test installation. The code and the test installation templates are available through Git. If you are really brave (and are a skilled system administrator), you might try creating your own installation – if you do, let me know.

This is Alue

I have made a couple of references in my blog to the new software suite I am writing, which I am calling Alue. It is time to explain what it is all about.

Alue will be a discussion forum system providing a web-based forum interface, a NNTP (Netnews) interface and an email interface, all with equal status. What will be unusual compared to most of the competition is that all these interfaces will be coequal views to the same abstract discussion, instead of being primarily one of these things and providing the others as bolted-on gateways. (I am aware of at least one other such system, but it is proprietary and thus not useful to my needs. Besides, I get to learn all kinds of fun things while doing this.)

I have, over several years, come across many times the need for such systems and never found a good, free implementation. I am now building this software for the use of one new discussion site that is being formed (which is graciously willing to serve as my guinea pig), but I hope it will eventually be of use to many other places as well.

I now have the first increment ready for beta testing. Note that this is not even close to being what I described above; it is merely a start. It currently provides a fully functional NNTP interface to a rudimentary (unreliable and unscalable) discussion database.

The NNTP server implements most of RFC 3977 (the base NNTP spec – IHAVE, MODE-READER, NEWNEWS and HDR are missing), all of RFC 4642 (STARTTLS) and a part of RFC 4643 (AUTHINFO USER – the SASL part is missing). The article database is intended to support – with certain deliberate omissions – the upcoming Netnews standards (USEFOR and USEPRO), but currently omits most of the mandatory checks.

There is a test installation at verbosify.org (port 119), which allows anonymous reading but requires identification and authentication for posting. I am currently handing out accounts only by invitation.

Code can be browsed in a Gitweb; git clone requests should be directed to git://git.verbosify.org/git/alue.git/.

There are some tweaks to be done to the NNTP frontend, but after that I expect to be rewriting the message filing system to be at least reliable if not scalable. After that, it is time for a web interface.