Petter Reinholdtsen

Entries from August 2016.

First draft Norwegian Bokmål edition of The Debian Administrator's Handbook now public
30th August 2016

In April we started to work on a Norwegian Bokmål edition of the "open access" book on how to set up and administrate a Debian system. Today I am happy to report that the first draft is now publicly available. You can find it on get the Debian Administrator's Handbook page (under Other languages). The first eight chapters have a first draft translation, and we are working on proofreading the content. If you want to help out, please start contributing using the hosted weblate project page, and get in touch using the translators mailing list. Please also check out the instructions for contributors. A good way to contribute is to proofread the text and update weblate if you find errors.

Our goal is still to make the Norwegian book available on paper as well as electronic form.

Tags: debian, english.
Coz can help you find bottlenecks in multi-threaded software - nice free software
11th August 2016

This summer, I read a great article "coz: This Is the Profiler You're Looking For" in USENIX ;login: about how to profile multi-threaded programs. It presented a system for profiling software by running experiences in the running program, testing how run time performance is affected by "speeding up" parts of the code to various degrees compared to a normal run. It does this by slowing down parallel threads while the "faster up" code is running and measure how this affect processing time. The processing time is measured using probes inserted into the code, either using progress counters (COZ_PROGRESS) or as latency meters (COZ_BEGIN/COZ_END). It can also measure unmodified code by measuring complete the program runtime and running the program several times instead.

The project and presentation was so inspiring that I would like to get the system into Debian. I created a WNPP request for it and contacted upstream to try to make the system ready for Debian by sending patches. The build process need to be changed a bit to avoid running 'git clone' to get dependencies, and to include the JavaScript web page used to visualize the collected profiling information included in the source package. But I expect that should work out fairly soon.

The way the system work is fairly simple. To run an coz experiment on a binary with debug symbols available, start the program like this:

coz run --- program-to-run

This will create a text file profile.coz with the instrumentation information. To show what part of the code affect the performance most, use a web browser and either point it to or use the copy from git (in the gh-pages branch). Check out this web site to have a look at several example profiling runs and get an idea what the end result from the profile runs look like. To make the profiling more useful you include <coz.h> and insert the COZ_PROGRESS or COZ_BEGIN and COZ_END at appropriate places in the code, rebuild and run the profiler. This allow coz to do more targeted experiments.

A video published by ACM presenting the Coz profiler is available from Youtube. There is also a paper from the 25th Symposium on Operating Systems Principles available titled Coz: finding code that counts with causal profiling.

The source code for Coz is available from github. It will only build with clang because it uses a C++ feature missing in GCC, but I've submitted a patch to solve it and hope it will be included in the upstream source soon.

Please get in touch if you, like me, would like to see this piece of software in Debian. I would very much like some help with the packaging effort, as I lack the in depth knowledge on how to package C++ libraries.

Tags: debian, english, nice free software.
Sales number for the Free Culture translation, first half of 2016
5th August 2016

As my regular readers probably remember, the last year I published a French and Norwegian translation of the classic Free Culture book by the founder of the Creative Commons movement, Lawrence Lessig. A bit less known is the fact that due to the way I created the translations, using docbook and po4a, I also recreated the English original. And because I already had created a new the PDF edition, I published it too. The revenue from the books are sent to the Creative Commons Corporation. In other words, I do not earn any money from this project, I just earn the warm fuzzy feeling that the text is available for a wider audience and more people can learn why the Creative Commons is needed.

Today, just for fun, I had a look at the sales number over at, which take care of payment, printing and shipping. Much to my surprise, the English edition is selling better than both the French and Norwegian edition, despite the fact that it has been available in English since it was first published. In total, 24 paper books was sold for USD $19.99 between 2016-01-01 and 2016-07-31:

Title / languageQuantity
Culture Libre / French3
Fri kultur / Norwegian7
Free Culture / English14

The books are available both from and from large book stores like Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Most revenue, around $10 per book, is sent to the Creative Commons project when the book is sold directly by The other channels give less revenue. The summary from Lulu tell me 10 books was sold via the Amazon channel, 10 via Ingram (what is this?) and 4 directly by Lulu. And tells me that the revenue sent so far this year is USD $101.42. No idea what kind of sales numbers to expect, so I do not know if that is a good amount of sales for a 10 year old book or not. But it make me happy that the buyers find the book, and I hope they enjoy reading it as much as I did.

The ebook edition is available for free from Github.

If you would like to translate and publish the book in your native language, I would be happy to help make it happen. Please get in touch.

Tags: docbook, english, freeculture.
Vitenskapen tar som vanlig feil igjen - relativt feil
1st August 2016

For mange år siden leste jeg en klassisk tekst som gjorde såpass inntrykk på meg at jeg husker den fortsatt, flere år senere, og bruker argumentene fra den stadig vekk. Teksten var «The Relativity of Wrong» som Isaac Asimov publiserte i Skeptical Inquirer i 1989. Den gir litt perspektiv rundt formidlingen av vitenskapelige resultater. Jeg har hatt lyst til å kunne dele den også med folk som ikke behersker engelsk så godt, som barn og noen av mine eldre slektninger, og har savnet å ha den tilgjengelig på norsk. For to uker siden tok jeg meg sammen og kontaktet Asbjørn Dyrendal i foreningen Skepsis om de var interessert i å publisere en norsk utgave på bloggen sin, og da han var positiv tok jeg kontakt med Skeptical Inquirer og spurte om det var greit for dem. I løpet av noen dager fikk vi tilbakemelding fra Barry Karr hos The Skeptical Inquirer som hadde sjekket og fått OK fra Robyn Asimov som representerte arvingene i Asmiov-familien og gikk igang med oversettingen.

Resultatet, «Relativt feil», ble publisert på skepsis-bloggen for noen minutter siden. Jeg anbefaler deg på det varmeste å lese denne teksten og dele den med dine venner.

For å håndtere oversettelsen og sikre at original og oversettelse var i sync brukte vi git, po4a, GNU make og Transifex. Det hele fungerte utmerket og gjorde det enkelt å dele tekstene og jobbe sammen om finpuss på formuleringene. Hadde latt meg opprette nye prosjekter selv i stedet for å måtte kontakte administratoren der, så hadde jeg brukt weblate i stedet.

Tags: norsk, skepsis.
Techno TV broadcasting live across Norway and the Internet (#debconf16, #nuug) on @frikanalen
1st August 2016

Did you know there is a TV channel broadcasting talks from DebConf 16 across an entire country? Or that there is a TV channel broadcasting talks by or about Linus Torvalds, Tor, OpenID, Common Lisp, Civic Tech, EFF founder John Barlow, how to make 3D printer electronics and many more fascinating topics? It works using only free software (all of it available from Github), and is administrated using a web browser and a web API.

The TV channel is the Norwegian open channel Frikanalen, and I am involved via the NUUG member association in running and developing the software for the channel. The channel is organised as a member organisation where its members can upload and broadcast what they want (think of it as Youtube for national broadcasting television). Individuals can broadcast too. The time slots are handled on a first come, first serve basis. Because the channel have almost no viewers and very few active members, we can experiment with TV technology without too much flack when we make mistakes. And thanks to the few active members, most of the slots on the schedule are free. I see this as an opportunity to spread knowledge about technology and free software, and have a script I run regularly to fill up all the open slots the next few days with technology related video. The end result is a channel I like to describe as Techno TV - filled with interesting talks and presentations.

It is available on channel 50 on the Norwegian national digital TV network (RiksTV). It is also available as a multicast stream on Uninett. And finally, it is available as a WebM unicast stream from Frikanalen and NUUG. Check it out. :)

Tags: english, frikanalen, nuug, video.

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