Petter Reinholdtsen

Buster update of Norwegian Bokmål edition of Debian Administrator's Handbook almost done
11th September 2020

Thanks to the good work of several volunteers, the updated edition of the Norwegian translation for "The Debian Administrator's Handbook" is now almost completed. After many months of proof reading, I consider the proof reading complete enough for us to move to the next step, and have asked for the print version to be prepared and sent of to the print on demand service While it is still not to late if you find any incorrect translations on the hosted Weblate service, but it will be soon. :) You can check out the Buster edition on the web until the print edition is ready.

The book will be for sale on and various web book stores, with links available from the web site for the book linked to above. I hope a lot of readers find it useful.

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

Tags: debian, debian-handbook, english.
Working on updated Norwegian Bokmål edition of Debian Administrator's Handbook
4th July 2020

Three years ago, the first Norwegian Bokmål edition of "The Debian Administrator's Handbook" was published. This was based on Debian Jessie. Now a new and updated version based on Buster is getting ready. Work on the updated Norwegian Bokmål edition has been going on for a few months now, and yesterday, we reached the first mile stone, with 100% of the texts being translated. A lot of proof reading remains, of course, but a major step towards a new edition has been taken.

The book is translated by volunteers, and we would love to get some help with the proof reading. The translation uses the hosted Weblate service, and we welcome everyone to have a look and submit improvements and suggestions. There is also a proof readers PDF available on request, get in touch if you want to help out that way.

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

Tags: debian, debian-handbook, english.
Secure Socket API - a simple and powerful approach for TLS support in software
6th June 2020

As a member of the Norwegian Unix User Group, I have the pleasure of receiving the USENIX magazine ;login: several times a year. I rarely have time to read all the articles, but try to at least skim through them all as there is a lot of nice knowledge passed on there. I even carry the latest issue with me most of the time to try to get through all the articles when I have a few spare minutes.

The other day I came across a nice article titled "The Secure Socket API: TLS as an Operating System Service" with a marvellous idea I hope can make it all the way into the POSIX standard. The idea is as simple as it is powerful. By introducing a new socket() option IPPROTO_TLS to use TLS, and a system wide service to handle setting up TLS connections, one both make it trivial to add TLS support to any program currently using the POSIX socket API, and gain system wide control over certificates, TLS versions and encryption systems used. Instead of doing this:

int socket = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, IPPROTO_TCP);

the program code would be doing this:

int socket = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, IPPROTO_TLS);

According to the ;login: article, converting a C program to use TLS would normally modify only 5-10 lines in the code, which is amazing when compared to using for example the OpenSSL API.

The project has set up the web site to spread the idea, and the code for a kernel module and the associated system daemon is available from two github repositories: ssa and ssa-daemon. Unfortunately there is no explicit license information with the code, so its copyright status is unclear. A request to solve this about it has been unsolved since 2018-08-17.

I love the idea of extending socket() to gain TLS support, and understand why it is an advantage to implement this as a kernel module and system wide service daemon, but can not help to think that it would be a lot easier to get projects to move to this way of setting up TLS if it was done with a user space approach where programs wanting to use this API approach could just link with a wrapper library.

I recommend you check out this simple and powerful approach to more secure network connections. :)

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

Tags: debian, english, sikkerhet, sysadmin.
Bompenge-Norge, med noen tall fra bompengekalkulator
1st June 2020

Det er tett med sensorstasjoner langs veinettet i Norge, som registrerer hvilke kjøretøy som passerer eller tar bilde av de som drar forbi. I følge Vegvesenets nasjonale veidatabank (NVDB), er det 353 bomstasjoner langs det norske veinettet. 21 i nordnorge, 48 i trøndelagsområdet, 13 på nordvestlandet, 91 i bergenstraktene og 180 på østlandsområdet. I tillegg finnes det et utall overvåkningskamera og noen titalls RFID-avlesere for bompengebrikker som samler inn informasjon om hvilke biler som befinner seg hvor i landet. For ikke å glemme alle mobilbasestasjoner som registrerer hvor brukere av mobilnettverket befinner seg. De er ikke tema i dag.

De som kjører mye har interesse av å vite hvor mye bompenger det vil koste å kjøre fra et sted til et annet, og dette behovet har aktørene bak Bompengekalkulatoren tatt sikte på å tilby i markedet. Fornuftig nok har de også en gratistjeneste, slik at de får frivillige til å gi innspill om feil i datagrunnlaget. Jeg ble nylig nysgjerring på hvor mye det til koste å kjøre på kryss og tvers i Norge, og valgte meg ut en teststrekning fra Oslo til Tromsø for å se hvilke beløp som gjelder.

Bompengekalkulatoren viser frem flere rutealternativer for et gitt reisesøk, og i dette tilfellet, for reise fra Oslo Sentralstasjon til Tromsø sentrum, viser den tre alternativ. Merk, disse tallene gjelder bensindrevet personbil. En kan velge takstkategori i webgrensesnittet. Det ene rutealternativet er E6 gjennom Norge, de to andre er E45 og E4 gjennom sverige. E45 er innlandsruten i Sverige, motorvei gjennom store skoger som i følge kalkulatoren skal ta 22 timer og 26 minutter med norsk bompengebeløp på 164 kroner. Jeg har mine tvil til om datasettet til Bompengekalkulatoren har svenske bomstasjoner, så ta dette beløpet med en klype salt. E4 er veien langs Bottenviken og mer befolket område, og skal ta 22 timer og 50 minutter til en norsk bompengebeløp på 71 kroner. Den norske ruten langs E6 skal derimot ta 23 timer og 16 minutter og beløpe seg til 664 kroner. Beløpene er uten autopass-brikke, slik at en slipper å få bilens posisjon registrert i alle bompengebrikkeavleserne som ikke også er bomstasjoner. For trailere er bompengekostnaden 2-3 ganger så høy som for personbil. I tillegg til pengebeløpet, som faktureres etterskuddsvis og de siste årene har blitt umulig å gjøre opp kontant på stedet, så kommer kostnaden med å få sine personopplysninger samlet inn, lagret og gjort tilgjengelig for fremmede på ubestemt tid. Jeg ser på den kostnaden som mye høyere en pengebeløpet som faktureres.

For en tilsvarende tur fra Oslo til Bergen, så forteller kalkulatoren at raskeste vei er riksvei 7 på 7 timer 4 minutter med bompengebeløp 409 kroner. Alternativene listet opp er E134 på 8 timer 37 minutter med bompengebeløp 318 kroner og fylkesivei 40 på 7 timer 30 minutter med beløp 331. Det kan kanskje være greit å sjekke ut før en setter seg i bilen hvor ens personopplysninger vil bli samlet inn og lagret 5 fem år, når en velger hvilken rute en går for.

Som vanlig, hvis du bruker Bitcoin og ønsker å vise din støtte til det jeg driver med, setter jeg pris på om du sender Bitcoin-donasjoner til min adresse 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b. Merk, betaling med bitcoin er ikke anonymt. :)

Tags: betalkontant, norsk, surveillance.
More reliable vlc bittorrent plugin in Debian (version 2.9)
24th May 2020

I am very happy to report that a more reliable VLC bittorrent plugin was just uploaded into debian. This fixes a couple of crash bugs in the plugin, hopefully making the VLC experience even better when streaming directly from a bittorrent source. The package is currently in Debian unstable, but should be available in Debian testing in two days. To test it, simply install it like this:

apt install vlc-plugin-bittorrent

After it is installed, you can try to use it to play a file downloaded live via bittorrent like this:


It also support magnet links and local .torrent files.

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

Tags: english, verkidetfri, video.
Debian Edu interview: Yvan Masson
12th May 2020

It has been way too long since my last interview, but as the Debian Edu / Skolelinux community is still active, and new people keep showing up on the IRC channel #debian-edu and the debian-edu mailing list, I decided to give it another go. I was hoping someone else might pick up the idea and run with it, but this has not happened as far as I can tell, so here we are… This time the announcement of a new free software tool to create a school year book triggered my interest, and I decided to learn more about its author.

Who are you, and how do you spend your days?

My name is Yvan MASSON, I live in France. I have my own one person business in computer services. The work consist of visiting my customers (person's home, local authority, small business) to give advise, install computers and software, fix issues, and provide computing usage training. I spend the rest of my time enjoying my family and promoting free software.

What is your approach for promoting free software?

When I think that free software could be suitable for someone, I explain what it is, with simple words, give a few known examples, and explain that while there is no fee it is a viable alternative in many situations. Most people are receptive when you explain how it is better (I simplify arguments here, I know that it is not so simple): Linux works on older hardware, there are no viruses, and the software can be audited to ensure user is not spied upon. I think the most important is to keep a clear but moderated speech: when you try to convince too much, people feel attacked and stop listening.

How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?

I can not remember how I first heard of Skolelinux / Debian Edu, but probably on As I have been working for a school, I have interest in this type of project.

The school I am involved in is a school for "children" between 14 and 18 years old. The French government has recommended free software since 2012, but they do not always use free software themselves. The school computers are still using the Windows operating system, but all of them have the classic set of free software: Firefox ESR, LibreOffice (with the excellent extension Grammalecte that indicates French grammatical errors), SumatraPDF, Audacity, 7zip, KeePass2, VLC, GIMP, Inkscape…

What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

It is free software! Built on Debian, I am sure that users are not spied upon, and that it can run on low end hardware. This last point is very important, because we really need to improve "green IT". I do not know enough about Skolelinux / Debian Edu to tell how it is better than another free software solution, but what I like is the "all in one" solution: everything has been thought of and prepared to ease installation and usage.

I like Free Software because I hate using something that I can not understand. I do not say that I can understand everything nor that I want to understand everything, but knowing that someone / some company intentionally prevents me from understanding how things work is really unacceptable to me.

Secondly, and more importantly, free software is a requirement to prevent abuses regarding human rights and environmental care. Humanity can not rely on tools that are in the hands of small group of people.

What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?

Again, I don't know this project enough. Maybe a dedicated website? Debian wiki works well for documentation, but is not very appealing to someone discovering the project. Also, as Skolelinux / Debian Edu uses OpenLDAP, it probably means that Windows workstations cannot use centralized authentication. Maybe the project could use Samba as an Active Directory domain controller instead, allowing Windows desktop usage when necessary.

(Editors note: In fact Windows workstations can use the centralized authentication in a Debian Edu setup, at least for some versions of Windows, but the fact that this is not well known can be seen as an indication of the need for better documentation and marketing. :)

Which free software do you use daily?

Nothing original: Debian testing/sid with Gnome desktop, Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice…

Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

Every effort to spread free software into schools is important, whatever it is. But I think, at least where I live, that IT professionals maintaining schools networks are still very "Microsoft centric". Schools will use any working solution, but they need people to install and maintain it. How to make these professionals sensitive about free software and train them with solutions like Debian Edu / Skolelinux is a really good question :-)

Tags: debian edu, english, intervju.
Jami as a Zoom client, a trick for password protected rooms...
8th May 2020

Half a year ago, I wrote about the Jami communication client, capable of peer-to-peer encrypted communication. It handle both messages, audio and video. It uses distributed hash tables instead of central infrastructure to connect its users to each other, which in my book is a plus. I mentioned briefly that it could also work as a SIP client, which came in handy when the higher educational sector in Norway started to promote Zoom as its video conferencing solution. I am reluctant to use the official Zoom client software, due to their copyright license clauses prohibiting users to reverse engineer (for example to check the security) and benchmark it, and thus prefer to connect to Zoom meetings with free software clients.

Jami worked OK as a SIP client to Zoom as long as there was no password set on the room. The Jami daemon leak memory like crazy (approximately 1 GiB a minute) when I am connected to the video conference, so I had to restart the client every 7-10 minutes, which is not a great. I tried to get other SIP Linux clients to work without success, so I decided I would have to live with this wart until someone managed to fix the leak in the dring code base. But another problem showed up once the rooms were password protected. I could not get my dial tone signaling through from Jami to Zoom, and dial tone signaling is used to enter the password when connecting to Zoom. I tried a lot of different permutations with my Jami and Asterisk setup to try to figure out why the signaling did not get through, only to finally discover that the fundamental problem seem to be that Zoom is simply not able to receive dial tone signaling when connecting via SIP. There seem to be nothing wrong with the Jami and Asterisk end, it is simply broken in the Zoom end. I got help from a very skilled VoIP engineer figuring out this last part. And being a very skilled engineer, he was also able to locate a solution for me. Or to be exact, a workaround that solve my initial problem of connecting to password protected Zoom rooms using Jami.

So, how do you do this, I am sure you are wondering by now. The trick is already documented from Zoom, and it is to modify the SIP address to include the room password. What is most surprising about this is that the automatically generated email from Zoom with instructions on how to connect via SIP do not mention this. The SIP address to use normally consist of the room ID (a number), an @ character and the IP address of the Zoom SIP gateway. But Zoom understand a lot more than just the room ID in front of the at sign. The format is "[Meeting ID].[Password].[Layout].[Host Key]", and you can hear see how you can both enter password, control the layout (full screen, active presence and gallery) and specify the host key to start the meeting. The full SIP address entered into Jami to provide the password will then look like this (all using made up numbers):


Now if only jami would reduce its memory usage, I could even recommend this setup to others. :)

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

Tags: debian, english, sikkerhet, surveillance.
GnuCOBOL, a free platform to learn and use COBOL - nice free software
29th April 2020

The curiosity got the better of me when Slashdot reported that New Jersey was desperately looking for COBOL programmers, and a few days later it was reported that IBM tried to locate COBOL programmers.

I thus decided to have a look at free software alternatives to learn COBOL, and had the pleasure to find GnuCOBOL was already in Debian. It used to be called Open Cobol, and is a "compiler" transforming COBOL code to C or C++ before giving it to GCC or Visual Studio to build binaries.

I managed to get in touch with upstream, and was impressed with the quick response, and also was happy to see a new Debian maintainer taking over when the original one recently asked to be replaced. A new Debian upload was done as recently as yesterday.

Using the Debian package, I was able to follow a simple COBOL introduction and make and run simple COBOL programs. It was fun to learn a new programming language. If you want to test for yourself, the GnuCOBOL Wikipedia page have a few simple examples to get you startet.

As I do not have much experience with COBOL, I do not know how standard compliant it is, but it claim to pass most tests from COBOL test suite, which sound good to me. It is nice to know it is possible to learn COBOL using software without any usage restrictions, and I am very happy such nice free software project as this is available. If you as me is curious about COBOL, check it out.

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

Tags: debian, english, nice free software.
Totalovervåkning av innbyggernes bevegelser - nei takk!
16th April 2020

Jeg er blitt spurt hva jeg synes om lansering av smittestopp-appen, overvåkningsløsningen lansert av Folkehelseinstituttet, Simula-senteret og Regjeringen i dag, fulgt av klare trusler fra regjeringen om konsekvenser hvis befolkningen ikke tar den i bruk. Rekker ikke skrive noe fyldig om temaet, men det er klart for meg at den utraderer retten til privatliv samt utgjør en personlig sikkerhetsrisiko for alle som tar den i bruk. Bare det er nok til at det fremstår som en svært dårlig ide å bli med på denne "dugnaden". Det finnes andre og bedre tilnærminger enn den valgt av FHI. Har de valgt sin tilnærming for å sikre seg nok et datasett i den fremtidige ehelse-portalen? Potensialet for misbruk av informasjon samlet inn av appen er for stort, effekten på neste krise for klar og gevinsten for liten.

For å si det med forhenværende leder i Datatilsynet, Georg Apenes, som skrev i en kronikk den gang Datatilsynet vernet privatsfæren at «SENTRALT I en liberal forestillingsverden finner vi aksept av borgerens rett til å kunne velge å være i fred; å være u-iakttatt, uregistrert og anonym». Det er ikke uten grunn han startet kronikken med «Personvern et fremmedord i enkelte av de statsorganene som samler inn, oppbevarer og bruker personopplysninger». Der har nok statsorganene bare blitt dårligere på 13 år.

Det er jo også verdt å merke seg at personvernrådet i EU (EDPB) mener smittestopp-appen opererer i strid med prinsippet om dataminimering. Også de ser at det finnes mye bedre måter å gjøre dette på.

Som vanlig, hvis du bruker Bitcoin og ønsker å vise din støtte til det jeg driver med, setter jeg pris på om du sender Bitcoin-donasjoner til min adresse 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b. Merk, betaling med bitcoin er ikke anonymt. :)

Tags: norsk, surveillance.
Ny URL til den frie norske stavekontrollen
21st March 2020

Det er lenge siden jeg har sett på den norske stavekontrollen, sist jeg skrev om temaet var i 2016, og i mellomtiden har nettstedet forsvunnet, og både git-depotet på Alioth og mailman-tjenesten som hadde epostlistene for oversettelser blitt lagt ned. Men bokmål og nynorsk trenger fortsatt stavekontroll, så etter et par purringer fra en som har lyst til å forbedre stavekontrollen har jeg endelig fått lagt ut ny offentlig kopi av git-depotet. Jeg valgte gitlab foran github.. Siste utgave av stavekontrollen kan hentes ned fra Ingen ny versjon i denne omgang altså, bare et nytt sted å samle forbedringer til den frie norske stavekontrollen. :)

Som vanlig, hvis du bruker Bitcoin og ønsker å vise din støtte til det jeg driver med, setter jeg pris på om du sender Bitcoin-donasjoner til min adresse 15oWEoG9dUPovwmUL9KWAnYRtNJEkP1u1b. Merk, betaling med bitcoin er ikke anonymt. :)

Tags: norsk, stavekontroll.

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