Petter Reinholdtsen

Entries from July 2010.

Circular package dependencies harms apt recovery
27th July 2010

I discovered this while doing automated testing of upgrades from Debian Lenny to Squeeze. A few packages in Debian still got circular dependencies, and it is often claimed that apt and aptitude should be able to handle this just fine, but some times these dependency loops causes apt to fail.

An example is from todays upgrade of KDE using aptitude. In it, a bug in kdebase-workspace-data causes perl-modules to fail to upgrade. The cause is simple. If a package fail to unpack, then only part of packages with the circular dependency might end up being unpacked when unpacking aborts, and the ones already unpacked will fail to configure in the recovery phase because its dependencies are unavailable.

In this log, the problem manifest itself with this error:

dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of perl-modules:
 perl-modules depends on perl (>= 5.10.1-1); however:
  Version of perl on system is 5.10.0-19lenny2.
dpkg: error processing perl-modules (--configure):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured

The perl/perl-modules circular dependency is already reported as a bug, and will hopefully be solved as soon as possible, but it is not the only one, and each one of these loops in the dependency tree can cause similar failures. Of course, they only occur when there are bugs in other packages causing the unpacking to fail, but it is rather nasty when the failure of one package causes the problem to become worse because of dependency loops.

Thanks to the tireless effort by Bill Allombert, the number of circular dependencies left in Debian is dropping, and perhaps it will reach zero one day. :)

Todays testing also exposed a bug in update-notifier and different behaviour between apt-get and aptitude, the latter possibly caused by some circular dependency. Reported both to BTS to try to get someone to look at it.

Tags: debian, english, nuug.
First Debian Edu test release (alpha0) based on Squeeze is released
27th July 2010

I just posted this announcement culminating several months of work with the next Debian Edu release. Not nearly done, but one major step completed.

This is the first test release based on Squeeze. The focus of this release is to test the user application selection. To have a look, install the standalone profile and let the developers know if the set of installed packages i.e. applications should be modified. If some user application is missing, or if there are some applications that no longer make sense to be included in Debian Edu, please let us know. Also, if a useful application is missing the translation for your language of choice, please let us know too.

In addition, feedback and help to polish the desktop (menus, artwork, starters, etc.) is appreciated. We would like to ship a nice and handy KDE4 desktop targeted for schools out of the box.

The other profiles should be installable, but there is a lot more work left to be done before they are ready, so do not expect to much.

Changes compared to the lenny based version

  • Everything from Debian Squeeze
    • Desktop environment KDE 4.4 => the new KDE desktop in combination with some new artwork
    • Web browser Iceweasel 3.5
    • 3.2
    • Educational toolbox GCompris 9.3
    • Music creator Rosegarden 10.04.2
    • Image editor Gimp 2.6.10
    • Virtual universe Celestia 1.6.0
    • Virtual stargazer Stellarium 0.10.4
    • 3D modeler Blender 2.49.2 (new application)
    • Video editor Kdenlive 0.7.7 (new application)
  • Now using Kerberos for password checking (migration not finished). Enabled for:
    • PAM
    • LDAP
    • IMAP
    • SMTP (sender verification)
  • New experimental roaming workstation profile for laptops.
  • Show welcome page to users when they first log in. The URL is fetched from LDAP.
  • New LXDE desktop option, in addition to KDE (default) and Gnome.
  • General cleanup (not finished)

The following features are not working as they should

  • No web based administration tool for creating users and groups. The scripts ldap-createuser-krb and ldap-add-user-to-group can be used for testing.
  • DVD installs are missing debian-installer images for the PXE boot, and do not set up the PXE menu on eth0 because of this. LTSP clients should still boot from eth1 on thin client servers.
  • The restructured KDE menu is not implemented.
  • The LDAP server setup need to be reviewed for security.
  • The LDAP directory structure need to be reworked.
  • Different sets of packages are installed when using the DVD and the netinst CD. More packages are installed using the netinst CD.
  • The jackd package fail to install. This is believed to be caused by some ongoing transition, and hopefully should be solved soon. The jackd1 package can be installed manually for those that need it.
  • Some packages lack translations. See for updated status, and help out with translations.

To download this multiarch netinstall release you can use

To download this multiarch dvd release you can use

There is no source DVD available yet. It will be prepared when we get closer to the final release.

The MD5SUM of these images are

  • 3dbf45d59f42a53518b6e3c9ec3b5eb6 debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-CD.iso
  • 22f2cbfce281d1c6e478be452638675d debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-DVD.iso

The SHA1SUM of these images are

  • c53d1b69b40cf37cd27aefaf33f6f6a3821bedf0 debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-CD.iso
  • 2ec29d7db676d59d32197b05c277ffe16348376c debian-edu-6.0.0+edua0-DVD.iso

How to report bugs:

Please direct replies to

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug.
One step closer to single signon in Debian Edu
25th July 2010

The last few months me and the other Debian Edu developers have been working hard to get the Debian/Squeeze based version of Debian Edu/Skolelinux into shape. This future version will use Kerberos for authentication, and services are slowly migrated to single signon, getting rid of password questions one at the time.

It will also feature a roaming workstation profile with local home directory, for laptops that are only some times on the Skolelinux network, and for this profile a shortcut is created in Gnome and KDE to gain access to the users home directory on the file server. This shortcut uses SMB at the moment, and yesterday I had time to test if SMB mounting had started working in KDE after we added the cifs-utils package. I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked.

Thanks to the recent changes to our samba configuration to get it to use Kerberos for authentication, there were no question about user password when mounting the SMB volume. A simple click on the shortcut in the KDE menu, and a window with the home directory popped up. :)

One step closer to a single signon solution out of the box in Debian Edu. We already had PAM, LDAP, IMAP and SMTP in place, and now also Samba. Next step is Cups and hopefully also NFS.

We had planned a alpha0 release of Debian Edu for today, but thanks to the autobuilder administrators for some architectures being slow to sign packages, we are still missing the fixed LTSP package we need for the release. It was uploaded three days ago with urgency=high, and if it had entered testing yesterday we would have been able to test it in time for a alpha0 release today. As the binaries for ia64 and powerpc still not uploaded to the Debian archive, we need to delay the alpha release another day.

If you want to help out with implementing Kerberos for Debian Edu, please contact us on

Tags: debian edu, english, nuug, sikkerhet.
Digitale restriksjonsmekanismer fikk meg til å slutte å kjøpe musikk
22nd July 2010

For mange år siden slutte jeg å kjøpe musikk-CDer. Årsaken var at musikkbransjen var godt i gang med å selge platene sine med DRM som gjorde at jeg ikke fikk spilt av musikken jeg kjøpte på utstyret jeg hadde tilgjengelig, dvs. min datamaskin. Det var umulig å se på en plate om den var ødelagt eller ikke, og jeg hadde jo allerede en anseelig samling med plater, så jeg bestemme meg for å slutte å gi penger til en bransje som åpenbart ikke respekterte meg.

Jeg har mange titalls dager med musikk på CD i dag. Det meste er lagt i et stort arkiv som kan spilles av fra husets datamaskiner (har ikke rukket rippe alt). Jeg ser dermed ikke behovet for å skaffe mer musikk. De fleste av mine favoritter er i hus, og jeg er dermed godt fornøyd.

Hvis musikkbransjen ønsker mine penger, så må de demonstrere at de setter pris på meg som kunde, og ikke skremme meg bort med DRM og antydninger om at kundene er kriminelle.

Filmbransjen er like ille, men mens musikk gjerne varer lenge, er filmer mer ferskvare. Har dermed ikke helt sluttet å kjøpe filmer, men holder meg til DVD-filmer som kan spilles av på mine Linuxbokser. Kommer neppe til å ta i bruk Blueray, og ei heller de nye DRM-greiene «Ultraviolet» som be annonsert her om dagen.

Tags: fildeling, norsk, nuug, opphavsrett, personvern.
OpenStreetmap one step closer to having routing on its front page
18th July 2010

Thanks to todays opengeodata blog entry, I just discovered that the site have gotten support for calculating routes. The support is still experimental and only available from the development server, until more experience is gathered on the user interface and any scalability issues.

Earlier, the routing I knew about using the data was provided by Cloudmade, but having it on the main page is required to make everyone aware of the issue. I've had people reject as a viable alternative for them because the front page lacked routing support, and I hope their needs will be catered for when routing show up on the front page.

Tags: english, kart, web.
What are they searching for - PowerDNS and ISC DHCP in LDAP
17th July 2010

This is a followup on my previous work on merging all the computer related LDAP objects in Debian Edu.

As a step to try to see if it possible to merge the DNS and DHCP LDAP objects, I have had a look at how the packages pdns-backend-ldap and dhcp3-server-ldap in Debian use the LDAP server. The two implementations are quite different in how they use LDAP.

To get this information, I started slapd with debugging enabled and dumped the debug output to a file to get the LDAP searches performed on a Debian Edu main-server. Here is a summary.


Clues on how to set up PowerDNS to use a LDAP backend is available on the web.

PowerDNS have two modes of operation using LDAP as its backend. One "strict" mode where the forward and reverse DNS lookups are done using the same LDAP objects, and a "tree" mode where the forward and reverse entries are in two different subtrees in LDAP with a structure based on the DNS names, as in tjener.intern and

In tree mode, the server is set up to use a LDAP subtree as its base, and uses a "base" scoped search for the DNS name by adding "dc=tjener,dc=intern," to the base with a filter for "(associateddomain=tjener.intern)" for the forward entry and "dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa," with a filter for "(" for the reverse entry. For forward entries, it is looking for attributes named dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, afsdbrecord, keyrecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord, kxrecord, certrecord, dsrecord, sshfprecord, ipseckeyrecord, rrsigrecord, nsecrecord, dnskeyrecord, dhcidrecord, spfrecord and modifytimestamp. For reverse entries it is looking for the attributes dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord and modifytimestamp. The equivalent ldapsearch commands could look like this:

ldapsearch -h ldap \
  -b dc=tjener,dc=intern,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no \
  -s base -x '(associateddomain=tjener.intern)' dNSTTL aRecord nSRecord \
  cNAMERecord sOARecord pTRRecord hInfoRecord mXRecord tXTRecord \
  rPRecord aFSDBRecord KeyRecord aAAARecord lOCRecord sRVRecord \
  nAPTRRecord kXRecord certRecord dSRecord sSHFPRecord iPSecKeyRecord \
  rRSIGRecord nSECRecord dNSKeyRecord dHCIDRecord sPFRecord modifyTimestamp

ldapsearch -h ldap \
  -b dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no \
  -s base -x '('
  dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord soarecord ptrrecord \
  hinforecord mxrecord txtrecord rprecord aaaarecord locrecord \
  srvrecord naptrrecord modifytimestamp

In Debian Edu/Lenny, the PowerDNS tree mode is used with ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no as the base, and these are two example LDAP objects used there. In addition to these objects, the parent objects all th way up to ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no also exist.

dn: dc=tjener,dc=intern,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectclass: top
objectclass: dnsdomain
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
dc: tjener
associateddomain: tjener.intern

dn: dc=2,dc=2,dc=0,dc=10,dc=in-addr,dc=arpa,ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
objectclass: top
objectclass: dnsdomain2
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
dc: 2
ptrrecord: tjener.intern

In strict mode, the server behaves differently. When looking for forward DNS entries, it is doing a "subtree" scoped search with the same base as in the tree mode for a object with filter "(associateddomain=tjener.intern)" and requests the attributes dnsttl, arecord, nsrecord, cnamerecord, soarecord, ptrrecord, hinforecord, mxrecord, txtrecord, rprecord, aaaarecord, locrecord, srvrecord, naptrrecord and modifytimestamp. For reverse entires it also do a subtree scoped search but this time the filter is "(arecord=" and the requested attributes are associateddomain, dnsttl and modifytimestamp. In short, in strict mode the objects with ptrrecord go away, and the arecord attribute in the forward object is used instead.

The forward and reverse searches can be simulated using ldapsearch like this:

ldapsearch -h ldap -b ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no -s sub -x \
  '(associateddomain=tjener.intern)' dNSTTL aRecord nSRecord \
  cNAMERecord sOARecord pTRRecord hInfoRecord mXRecord tXTRecord \
  rPRecord aFSDBRecord KeyRecord aAAARecord lOCRecord sRVRecord \
  nAPTRRecord kXRecord certRecord dSRecord sSHFPRecord iPSecKeyRecord \
  rRSIGRecord nSECRecord dNSKeyRecord dHCIDRecord sPFRecord modifyTimestamp

ldapsearch -h ldap -b ou=hosts,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no -s sub -x \
  '(arecord=' associateddomain dnsttl modifytimestamp

In addition to the forward and reverse searches , there is also a search for SOA records, which behave similar to the forward and reverse lookups.

A thing to note with the PowerDNS behaviour is that it do not specify any objectclass names, and instead look for the attributes it need to generate a DNS reply. This make it able to work with any objectclass that provide the needed attributes.

The attributes are normally provided in the cosine (RFC 1274) and dnsdomain2 schemas. The latter is used for reverse entries like ptrrecord and recent DNS additions like aaaarecord and srvrecord.

In Debian Edu, we have created DNS objects using the object classes dcobject (for dc), dnsdomain or dnsdomain2 (structural, for the DNS attributes) and domainrelatedobject (for associatedDomain). The use of structural object classes make it impossible to combine these classes with the object classes used by DHCP.

There are other schemas that could be used too, for example the dnszone structural object class used by Gosa and bind-sdb for the DNS attributes combined with the domainrelatedobject object class, but in this case some unused attributes would have to be included as well (zonename and relativedomainname).

My proposal for Debian Edu would be to switch PowerDNS to strict mode and not use any of the existing objectclasses (dnsdomain, dnsdomain2 and dnszone) when one want to combine the DNS information with DHCP information, and instead create a auxiliary object class defined something like this (using the attributes defined for dnsdomain and dnsdomain2 or dnszone):

objectclass ( some-oid NAME 'dnsDomainAux'
    SUP top
    MAY ( ARecord $ MDRecord $ MXRecord $ NSRecord $ SOARecord $ CNAMERecord $
          DNSTTL $ DNSClass $ PTRRecord $ HINFORecord $ MINFORecord $
          TXTRecord $ SIGRecord $ KEYRecord $ AAAARecord $ LOCRecord $
          NXTRecord $ SRVRecord $ NAPTRRecord $ KXRecord $ CERTRecord $
          A6Record $ DNAMERecord

This will allow any object to become a DNS entry when combined with the domainrelatedobject object class, and allow any entity to include all the attributes PowerDNS wants. I've sent an email to the PowerDNS developers asking for their view on this schema and if they are interested in providing such schema with PowerDNS, and I hope my message will be accepted into their mailing list soon.

ISC dhcp

The DHCP server searches for specific objectclass and requests all the object attributes, and then uses the attributes it want. This make it harder to figure out exactly what attributes are used, but thanks to the working example in Debian Edu I can at least get an idea what is needed without having to read the source code.

In the DHCP server configuration, the LDAP base to use and the search filter to use to locate the correct dhcpServer entity is stored. These are the relevant entries from /etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf:

ldap-base-dn "dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no";
ldap-dhcp-server-cn "dhcp";

The DHCP server uses this information to nest all the DHCP configuration it need. The cn "dhcp" is located using the given LDAP base and the filter "(&(objectClass=dhcpServer)(cn=dhcp))". The search result is this entry:

dn: cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: dhcp
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpServer
dhcpServiceDN: cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no

The content of the dhcpServiceDN attribute is next used to locate the subtree with DHCP configuration. The DHCP configuration subtree base is located using a base scope search with base "cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no" and filter "(&(objectClass=dhcpService)(|(dhcpPrimaryDN=cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no)(dhcpSecondaryDN=cn=dhcp,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no)))". The search result is this entry:

dn: cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: DHCP Config
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpService
objectClass: dhcpOptions
dhcpPrimaryDN: cn=dhcp, dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
dhcpStatements: ddns-update-style none
dhcpStatements: authoritative
dhcpOption: smtp-server code 69 = array of ip-address
dhcpOption: www-server code 72 = array of ip-address
dhcpOption: wpad-url code 252 = text

Next, the entire subtree is processed, one level at the time. When all the DHCP configuration is loaded, it is ready to receive requests. The subtree in Debian Edu contain objects with object classes top/dhcpService/dhcpOptions, top/dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions, top/dhcpSubnet, top/dhcpGroup and top/dhcpHost. These provide options and information about netmasks, dynamic range etc. Leaving out the details here because it is not relevant for the focus of my investigation, which is to see if it is possible to merge dns and dhcp related computer objects.

When a DHCP request come in, LDAP is searched for the MAC address of the client (00:00:00:00:00:00 in this example), using a subtree scoped search with "cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no" as the base and "(&(objectClass=dhcpHost)(dhcpHWAddress=ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00))" as the filter. This is what a host object look like:

dn: cn=hostname,cn=group1,cn=THINCLIENTS,cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
cn: hostname
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpHost
dhcpHWAddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
dhcpStatements: fixed-address hostname

There is less flexiblity in the way LDAP searches are done here. The object classes need to have fixed names, and the configuration need to be stored in a fairly specific LDAP structure. On the positive side, the invidiual dhcpHost entires can be anywhere without the DN pointed to by the dhcpServer entries. The latter should make it possible to group all host entries in a subtree next to the configuration entries, and this subtree can also be shared with the DNS server if the schema proposed above is combined with the dhcpHost structural object class.


The PowerDNS implementation seem to be very flexible when it come to which LDAP schemas to use. While its "tree" mode is rigid when it come to the the LDAP structure, the "strict" mode is very flexible, allowing DNS objects to be stored anywhere under the base cn specified in the configuration.

The DHCP implementation on the other hand is very inflexible, both regarding which LDAP schemas to use and which LDAP structure to use. I guess one could implement ones own schema, as long as the objectclasses and attributes have the names used, but this do not really help when the DHCP subtree need to have a fairly fixed structure.

Based on the observed behaviour, I suspect a LDAP structure like this might work for Debian Edu:

  cn=machine-info (dhcpService) - dhcpServiceDN points here
    cn=dhcp (dhcpServer)
    cn=dhcp-internal (dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions)
      cn= (dhcpSubnet)
        cn=group1 (dhcpGroup/dhcpOptions)
    cn=dhcp-thinclients (dhcpSharedNetwork/dhcpOptions)
      cn= (dhcpSubnet)
        cn=group1 (dhcpGroup/dhcpOptions)
    ou=machines - PowerDNS base points here
      cn=hostname (dhcpHost/domainrelatedobject/dnsDomainAux)

This is not tested yet. If the DHCP server require the dhcpHost entries to be in the dhcpGroup subtrees, the entries can be stored there instead of a common machines subtree, and the PowerDNS base would have to be moved one level up to the machine-info subtree.

The combined object under the machines subtree would look something like this:

dn: dc=hostname,ou=machines,cn=machine-info,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
dc: hostname
objectClass: top
objectClass: dhcpHost
objectclass: domainrelatedobject
objectclass: dnsDomainAux
associateddomain: hostname.intern
dhcpHWAddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
dhcpStatements: fixed-address hostname.intern

One could even add the LTSP configuration associated with a given machine, as long as the required attributes are available in a auxiliary object class.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Combining PowerDNS and ISC DHCP LDAP objects
14th July 2010

For a while now, I have wanted to find a way to change the DNS and DHCP services in Debian Edu to use the same LDAP objects for a given computer, to avoid the possibility of having a inconsistent state for a computer in LDAP (as in DHCP but no DNS entry or the other way around) and make it easier to add computers to LDAP.

I've looked at how powerdns and dhcpd is using LDAP, and using this information finally found a solution that seem to work.

The old setup required three LDAP objects for a given computer. One forward DNS entry, one reverse DNS entry and one DHCP entry. If we switch powerdns to use its strict LDAP method (ldap-method=strict in pdns-debian-edu.conf), the forward and reverse DNS entries are merged into one while making it impossible to transfer the reverse map to a slave DNS server.

If we also replace the object class used to get the DNS related attributes to one allowing these attributes to be combined with the dhcphost object class, we can merge the DNS and DHCP entries into one. I've written such object class in the dnsdomainaux.schema file (need proper OIDs, but that is a minor issue), and tested the setup. It seem to work.

With this test setup in place, we can get away with one LDAP object for both DNS and DHCP, and even the LTSP configuration I suggested in an earlier email. The combined LDAP object will look something like this:

  dn: cn=hostname,cn=group1,cn=THINCLIENTS,cn=DHCP Config,dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
  cn: hostname
  objectClass: dhcphost
  objectclass: domainrelatedobject
  objectclass: dnsdomainaux
  associateddomain: hostname.intern
  dhcphwaddress: ethernet 00:00:00:00:00:00
  dhcpstatements: fixed-address hostname
  ldapconfigsound: Y

The DNS server uses the associateddomain and arecord entries, while the DHCP server uses the dhcphwaddress and dhcpstatements entries before asking DNS to resolve the fixed-adddress. LTSP will use dhcphwaddress or associateddomain and the ldapconfig* attributes.

I am not yet sure if I can get the DHCP server to look for its dhcphost in a different location, to allow us to put the objects outside the "DHCP Config" subtree, but hope to figure out a way to do that. If I can't figure out a way to do that, we can still get rid of the hosts subtree and move all its content into the DHCP Config tree (which probably should be renamed to be more related to the new content. I suspect cn=dnsdhcp,ou=services or something like that might be a good place to put it.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
Idea for storing LTSP configuration in LDAP
11th July 2010

Vagrant mentioned on IRC today that ltsp_config now support sourcing files from /usr/share/ltsp/ltsp_config.d/ on the thin clients, and that this can be used to fetch configuration from LDAP if Debian Edu choose to store configuration there.

Armed with this information, I got inspired and wrote a test module to get configuration from LDAP. The idea is to look up the MAC address of the client in LDAP, and look for attributes on the form ltspconfigsetting=value, and use this to export SETTING=value to the LTSP clients.

The goal is to be able to store the LTSP configuration attributes in a "computer" LDAP object used by both DNS and DHCP, and thus allowing us to store all information about a computer in one place.

This is a untested draft implementation, and I welcome feedback on this approach. A real LDAP schema for the ltspClientAux objectclass need to be written. Comments, suggestions, etc?

# Store in /opt/ltsp/$arch/usr/share/ltsp/ltsp_config.d/ldap-config
# Fetch LTSP client settings from LDAP based on MAC address
# Uses ethernet address as stored in the dhcpHost objectclass using
# the dhcpHWAddress attribute or ethernet address stored in the
# ieee802Device objectclass with the macAddress attribute.
# This module is written to be schema agnostic, and only depend on the
# existence of attribute names.
# The LTSP configuration variables are saved directly using a
# ltspConfig prefix and uppercasing the rest of the attribute name.
# To set the SERVER variable, set the ltspConfigServer attribute.
# Some LDAP schema should be created with all the relevant
# configuration settings.  Something like this should work:
# objectclass ( NAME 'ltspClientAux'
#     SUP top
#     MAY ( ltspConfigServer $ ltsConfigSound $ ... )

if [ "$LDAPSERVER" ] ; then
    LDAPBASE=$(debian-edu-ldapserver -b)
    for MAC in $(LANG=C ifconfig |grep -i hwaddr| awk '{print $5}'|sort -u) ; do
	filter="(|(dhcpHWAddress=ethernet $MAC)(macAddress=$MAC))"
	ldapsearch -h "$LDAPSERVER" -b "$LDAPBASE" -v -x "$filter" | \
	    grep '^ltspConfig' | while read attr value ; do
	    # Remove prefix and convert to upper case
	    attr=$(echo $attr | sed 's/^ltspConfig//i' | tr a-z A-Z)
	    # bass value on to clients
	    eval "$attr=$value; export $attr"

I'm not sure this shell construction will work, because I suspect the while block might end up in a subshell causing the variables set there to not show up in ltsp-config, but if that is the case I am sure the code can be restructured to make sure the variables are passed on. I expect that can be solved with some testing. :)

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on

Update 2010-07-17: I am aware of another effort to store LTSP configuration in LDAP that was created around year 2000 by PC Xperience, Inc., 2000. I found its files on a personal home page over at

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
jXplorer, a very nice LDAP GUI
9th July 2010

Since my last post about available LDAP tools in Debian, I was told about a LDAP GUI that is even better than luma. The java application jXplorer is claimed to be capable of moving LDAP objects and subtrees using drag-and-drop, and can authenticate using Kerberos. I have only tested the Kerberos authentication, but do not have a LDAP setup allowing me to rewrite LDAP with my test user yet. It is available in Debian testing and unstable at the moment. The only problem I have with it is how it handle errors. If something go wrong, its non-intuitive behaviour require me to go through some query work list and remove the failing query. Nothing big, but very annoying.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.
MS Word krøller det til for politiet?
8th July 2010

De siste dagene har Aftenposten fortalt hvordan politet har brukt skriveverktøy som ikke håndterer arabisk tekst og tekst som skal skrives fra høyre mot venstre når de har laget løpeseddel for å be om informasjon fra publikum. Resultatet har vært en uleselig arabisk-bit på løpeseddelen. Feilen har oppstått når teksten har blitt "kopiert inn i programvare som ikke har støtte for språk som skrives fra høyre mot venstre", og jeg er ganske sikker på at det er snakk om Microsoft Office i dette tilfellet. Er det slik at MS Office i norsk språkdrakt ikke har støtte for tekst som skal skrives fra høyre mot venstre? Jeg tror alle utgaver av har slik støtte, og det er jo ikke veldig vanskelig å la slik støtte finnes i alle utgaver av et program hvis støtten først er utviklet. Aftenpostens melding får meg til å undre om problemet ville vært unngått hvis politiet brukte i stedet for MS Office.

Mon tro om det er flere eksempler på at MS Office har ødelagt for offentlig myndighet?

Tags: norsk.
Lenny->Squeeze upgrades, apt vs aptitude with the Gnome desktop
3rd July 2010

Here is a short update on my my Debian Lenny->Squeeze upgrade testing. Here is a summary of the difference for Gnome when it is upgraded by apt-get and aptitude. I'm not reporting the status for KDE, because the upgrade crashes when aptitude try because of missing conflicts (#584861 and #585716).

At the end of the upgrade test script, dpkg -l is executed to get a complete list of the installed packages. Based on this I see these differences when I did a test run today. As usual, I do not really know what the correct set of packages would be, but thought it best to publish the difference.

Installed using apt-get, missing with aptitude

at-spi cpp-4.3 finger gnome-spell gstreamer0.10-gnomevfs libatspi1.0-0 libcupsys2 libeel2-data libgail-common libgdl-1-common libgnomeprint2.2-data libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgnomevfs2-bin libgtksourceview-common libpt-1.10.10-plugins-alsa libpt-1.10.10-plugins-v4l libservlet2.4-java libxalan2-java libxerces2-java openssl-blacklist p7zip python-4suite-xml python-eggtrayicon python-gtkhtml2 python-gtkmozembed svgalibg1 xserver-xephyr zip

Installed using apt-get, removed with aptitude

bluez-utils dhcdbd djvulibre-desktop epiphany-gecko gnome-app-install gnome-mount gnome-vfs-obexftp gnome-volume-manager libao2 libavahi-compat-libdnssd1 libavahi-core5 libbind9-50 libbluetooth2 libcamel1.2-11 libcdio7 libcucul0 libcurl3 libdirectfb-1.0-0 libdvdread3 libedata-cal1.2-6 libedataserver1.2-9 libeel2-2.20 libepc-1.0-1 libepc-ui-1.0-1 libexchange-storage1.2-3 libfaad0 libgd2-noxpm libgda3-3 libgda3-common libggz2 libggzcore9 libggzmod4 libgksu1.2-0 libgksuui1.0-1 libgmyth0 libgnome-desktop-2 libgnome-pilot2 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgpod3 libgraphviz4 libgtkhtml2-0 libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgucharmap6 libhesiod0 libicu38 libisccc50 libisccfg50 libiw29 libkpathsea4 libltdl3 liblwres50 libmagick++10 libmagick10 libmalaga7 libmtp7 libmysqlclient15off libnautilus-burn4 libneon27 libnm-glib0 libnm-util0 libopal-2.2 libosp5 libparted1.8-10 libpisock9 libpisync1 libpoppler-glib3 libpoppler3 libpt-1.10.10 libraw1394-8 libsensors3 libsmbios2 libsoup2.2-8 libssh2-1 libsuitesparse-3.1.0 libswfdec-0.6-90 libtalloc1 libtotem-plparser10 libtrackerclient0 libvoikko1 libxalan2-java-gcj libxerces2-java-gcj libxklavier12 libxtrap6 libxxf86misc1 libzephyr3 mysql-common swfdec-gnome totem-gstreamer wodim

Installed using aptitude, missing with apt-get

gnome gnome-desktop-environment hamster-applet python-gnomeapplet python-gnomekeyring python-wnck rhythmbox-plugins xorg xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-input-evdev xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse xserver-xorg-input-synaptics xserver-xorg-video-all xserver-xorg-video-apm xserver-xorg-video-ark xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-chips xserver-xorg-video-cirrus xserver-xorg-video-dummy xserver-xorg-video-fbdev xserver-xorg-video-glint xserver-xorg-video-i128 xserver-xorg-video-i740 xserver-xorg-video-mach64 xserver-xorg-video-mga xserver-xorg-video-neomagic xserver-xorg-video-nouveau xserver-xorg-video-nv xserver-xorg-video-r128 xserver-xorg-video-radeon xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd xserver-xorg-video-rendition xserver-xorg-video-s3 xserver-xorg-video-s3virge xserver-xorg-video-savage xserver-xorg-video-siliconmotion xserver-xorg-video-sis xserver-xorg-video-sisusb xserver-xorg-video-tdfx xserver-xorg-video-tga xserver-xorg-video-trident xserver-xorg-video-tseng xserver-xorg-video-vesa xserver-xorg-video-vmware xserver-xorg-video-voodoo

Installed using aptitude, removed with apt-get

deskbar-applet xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-input-wacom xserver-xorg-video-intel xserver-xorg-video-openchrome

I was told on IRC that the xorg-xserver package was changed in git today to try to get apt-get to not remove xorg completely. No idea when it hits Squeeze, but when it does I hope it will reduce the difference somewhat.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english.
Caching password, user and group on a roaming Debian laptop
1st July 2010

For a laptop, centralized user directories and password checking is a bit troubling. Laptops are typically used also when not connected to the network, and it is vital for a user to be able to log in or unlock the screen saver also when a central server is unavailable. This is possible by caching passwords and directory information (user and group attributes) locally, and the packages to do so are available in Debian. Here follow two recipes to set this up in Debian/Squeeze. It is also possible to set up in Debian/Lenny, but require more manual setup there because pam-auth-update is missing in Lenny.

LDAP/Kerberos + nscd + libpam-ccreds + libpam-mklocaluser/pam_mkhomedir

This is the traditional method with a twist. The password caching is provided by libpam-ccreds (version 10-4 or later is needed on Squeeze), and the directory caching is done by nscd. The directory lookup and password checking is done using LDAP. If one want to use Kerberos for password checking the libpam-ldapd package can be replaced with libpam-krb5 or libpam-heimdal. If one is happy having a local home directory with the path listed in LDAP, one can use the pam_mkhomedir module from pam-modules to make this happen instead of using libpam-mklocaluser. A setup for pam-auth-update to enable pam_mkhomedir will have to be written until a fix for bug #568577 is in the archive. Because I believe it is a bad idea to have local home directories using misleading paths like /site/server/partition/, I prefer to create a local user with the home directory in /home/. This is done using the libpam-mklocaluser package.

These packages need to be installed and configured

libnss-ldapd libpam-ldapd nscd libpam-ccreds libpam-mklocaluser

The ldapd packages will ask for LDAP connection information, and one have to fill in the values that fits ones own site. Make sure the PAM part uses encrypted connections, to make sure the password is not sent in clear text to the LDAP server. I've been unable to get TLS certificate checking for a self signed certificate working, which make LDAP authentication unsafe for Debian Edu (nslcd is not checking if it is talking to the correct LDAP server), and very much welcome feedback on how to get this working.

Because nscd do not have a default configuration fit for offline caching until bug #485282 is fixed, this configuration should be used instead of the one currently in /etc/nscd.conf. The changes are in the fields reload-count and positive-time-to-live, and is based on the instructions I found in the LDAP for Mobile Laptops instructions by Flyn Computing.

	debug-level		0
	reload-count		unlimited
	paranoia		no

	enable-cache		passwd		yes
	positive-time-to-live	passwd		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	passwd		20
	suggested-size		passwd		211
	check-files		passwd		yes
	persistent		passwd		yes
	shared			passwd		yes
	max-db-size		passwd		33554432
	auto-propagate		passwd		yes

	enable-cache		group		yes
	positive-time-to-live	group		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	group		20
	suggested-size		group		211
	check-files		group		yes
	persistent		group		yes
	shared			group		yes
	max-db-size		group		33554432
	auto-propagate		group		yes

	enable-cache		hosts		no
	positive-time-to-live	hosts		2592000
	negative-time-to-live	hosts		20
	suggested-size		hosts		211
	check-files		hosts		yes
	persistent		hosts		yes
	shared			hosts		yes
	max-db-size		hosts		33554432

	enable-cache		services	yes
	positive-time-to-live	services	2592000
	negative-time-to-live	services	20
	suggested-size		services	211
	check-files		services	yes
	persistent		services	yes
	shared			services	yes
	max-db-size		services	33554432

While we wait for a mechanism to update /etc/nsswitch.conf automatically like the one provided in bug #496915, the file content need to be manually replaced to ensure LDAP is used as the directory service on the machine. /etc/nsswitch.conf should normally look like this:

passwd:         files ldap
group:          files ldap
shadow:         files ldap
hosts:          files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns4
networks:       files
protocols:      files
services:       files
ethers:         files
rpc:            files
netgroup:       files ldap

The important parts are that ldap is listed last for passwd, group, shadow and netgroup.

With these changes in place, any user in LDAP will be able to log in locally on the machine using for example kdm, get a local home directory created and have the password as well as user and group attributes cached.

LDAP/Kerberos + nss-updatedb + libpam-ccreds + libpam-mklocaluser/pam_mkhomedir

Because nscd have had its share of problems, and seem to have problems doing proper caching, I've seen suggestions and recipes to use nss-updatedb to copy parts of the LDAP database locally when the LDAP database is available. I have not tested such setup, because I discovered sssd.

LDAP/Kerberos + sssd + libpam-mklocaluser

A more flexible and robust setup than the nscd combination mentioned earlier that has shown up recently, is the sssd package from Redhat. It is part of the FreeIPA project to provide a Active Directory like directory service for Linux machines. The sssd system combines the caching of passwords and user information into one package, and remove the need for nscd and libpam-ccreds. It support LDAP and Kerberos, but not NIS. Version 1.2 do not support netgroups, but it is said that it will support this in version 1.5 expected to show up later in 2010. Because the sssd package was missing in Debian, I ended up co-maintaining it with Werner, and version 1.2 is now in testing.

These packages need to be installed and configured to get the roaming setup I want

libpam-sss libnss-sss libpam-mklocaluser
The complete setup of sssd is done by editing/creating /etc/sssd/sssd.conf.
config_file_version = 2
reconnection_retries = 3
sbus_timeout = 30
services = nss, pam
domains = INTERN

filter_groups = root
filter_users = root
reconnection_retries = 3

reconnection_retries = 3

enumerate = false
cache_credentials = true

id_provider = ldap
auth_provider = ldap
chpass_provider = ldap

ldap_uri = ldap://ldap
ldap_search_base = dc=skole,dc=skolelinux,dc=no
ldap_tls_reqcert = never
ldap_tls_cacert = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

I got the same problem here with certificate checking. Had to set "ldap_tls_reqcert = never" to get it working.

With the libnss-sss package in testing at the moment, the nsswitch.conf file is update automatically, so there is no need to modify it manually.

If you want to help out with implementing this for Debian Edu, please contact us on

Tags: debian edu, english, ldap, nuug.

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