Debian Contributions: /usr-merge updates, Salsa CI progress, DebConf23 lead-up, and more!

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/usr-merge work, by Helmut Grohne, et al.

Given that we now have consensus on moving forward by moving aliased files from / to /usr, we will also run into the problems that the file move moratorium was meant to prevent. The way forward is detecting them early and applying workarounds on a per-package basis. Said detection is now automated using the Debian Usr Merge Analysis Tool. As problems are reported to the bug tracking system, they are connected to the reports if properly usertagged. Bugs and patches for problem categories DEP17-P2 and DEP17-P6 have been filed.

After consensus has been reached on the bootstrapping matters, debootstrap has been changed to swap the initial unpack and merging to avoid unpack errors due to pre-existing links. This is a precondition for having base-files install the aliasing symbolic links eventually.

It was identified that the root filesystem used by the Debian installer is still unmerged and a change has been proposed.

debhelper was changed to recognize systemd units installed to /usr.

A discussion with the CTTE and release team on repealing the moratorium has been initiated.

Salsa CI work, by Santiago Ruano Rincón

August was a busy month in the Salsa CI world. Santiago reviewed and merged a bunch of MRs that have improved the project in different aspects:

The aptly job got two MRs from Philip Hands. With the first one, the aptly now can export a couple of variables in a dotenv file, and with the second, it can include packages from multiple artifact directories. These MRs bring the base to improve how to test reverse dependencies with Salsa CI. Santiago is working on documenting this.

As a result of the mass bug filing done in August, Salsa CI now includes a job to test how a package builds twice in a row. Thanks to the MRs of Sebastiaan Couwenberg and Johannes Schauer Marin Rodrigues.

Last but not least, Santiago helped Johannes Schauer Marin Rodrigues to complete the support for arm64-only pipelines.

DebConf23 lead-up, by Stefano Rivera

Stefano wears a few hats in the DebConf organization and in the lead up to the conference in mid-September, they’ve all been quite busy.

As one of the treasurers of DebConf 23, there has been a final budget update, and quite a few payments to coordinate from Debian’s Trusted Organizations. We try to close the books from the previous conference at the next one, so a push was made to get DebConf 22 account statements out of TOs and record them in the conference ledger.

As a website developer, we had a number of registration-related tasks, emailing attendees and trying to estimate numbers for food and accommodation.

As a conference committee member, the job was mostly taking calls and helping the local team to make decisions on urgent issues. For example, getting conference visas issued to attendees required getting political approval from the Indian government. We only discovered the full process for this too late to clear some complex cases, so this required some hard calls on skipping some countries from the application list, allowing everyone else to get visas in time. Unfortunate, but necessary.

Miscellaneous contributions

  • Raphaël Hertzog updated gnome-shell-extension-hamster to a new upstream git snapshot that is compatible with GNOME Shell 44 that was recently uploaded to Debian unstable/testing. This extension makes it easy to start/stop tracking time with Hamster Time Tracker. Very handy for consultants like us who are billing their work per hour.
  • Raphaël also updated zim to the latest upstream release (0.74.2). This is a “desktop wiki” that can be very useful as a note-taking tool to build your own personal knowledge base or even to manage your personal todo lists.
  • Utkarsh reviewed and sponsored some uploads from
  • Utkarsh helped the local team and the bursary team with some more DebConf activities and helped finalize the data.
  • Thorsten tried to update package hplip. Unfortunately upstream added some new compressed files that need to appear uncompressed in the package. Even though this sounded like an easy task, which seemed to be already implemented in the current debian/rules, the new type of files broke this implementation and made the package no longer buildable. The problem has been solved and the upload will happen soon.
  • Helmut sent 7 patches for cross build failures. Since dpkg-buildflags now defaults to issue arm64-specific compiler flags, more care is needed to distinguish between build architecture flags and host architecture flags than previously.
  • Stefano pushed the final bit of the tox 4 transition over the line in Debian, allowing dh-python and tox 4 to migrate to testing. We got caught up in a few unusual bugs in tox and the way we run it in Debian package building (which had to change with tox 4). This resulted in a couple of patches upstream.
  • Stefano visited Haifa, Israel, to see the proposed DebConf 24 venue and meet with the local team. While the venue isn’t committed yet, we have high hopes for it.

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