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Thursday·15·November·2012

Tools to handle archives conveniently //at 01:42 //by abe

from the DWIM dept.

TL;DR: There’s a summary at the end of the article.

Today I wanted to see why a dependency in a .deb-package from an external APT repository changed so that it became uninstallable. While dpkg-deb --info foobar.deb easily shows the control information, the changelog is in the filesystem part of the package.

I could extract that one dpkg-deb, too, but I’d have to extract either to some temporary directory or pipe it into tar which then can extract a single file from the archive and sent it to STDOUT:

dpkg-deb --fsys-tarfile foobar.deb | tar xOf - ./usr/share/doc/foobar/changelog.Debian.gz | zless

But that’s tedious to type. The following command is clearly less to type and way easier to remember:

acat foobar.deb ./usr/share/doc/foobar/changelog.Debian.gz | zless

acat stands for “archive cat” is part of the atool suite of commands:

als
lists files in an archive.
$ als foobar.tgz
drwxr-xr-x abe/abe           0 2012-11-15 00:19 foobar/
-rw-r--r-- abe/abe          13 2012-11-15 00:20 foobar/bar
-rw-r--r-- abe/abe          13 2012-11-15 00:20 foobar/foo
acat
extracts files in an archive to standard out.
$ acat foobar.tgz foobar/foo foobar/bar
foobar/bar
bar contents
foobar/foo
foo contents
adiff
generates a diff between two archives using diff(1).
$ als quux.zip
Archive:  quux.zip
  Length      Date    Time    Name
---------  ---------- -----   ----
        0  2012-11-15 00:23   quux/
       16  2012-11-15 00:22   quux/foo
       13  2012-11-15 00:20   quux/bar
---------                     -------
       29                     3 files
$ adiff foobar.tgz quux.zip
diff -ru Unpack-3594/foobar/foo Unpack-7862/quux/foo
--- Unpack-3594/foobar/foo      2012-11-15 00:20:46.000000000 +0100
+++ Unpack-7862/quux/foo        2012-11-15 00:22:56.000000000 +0100
@@ -1 +1 @@
-foo contents
+foobar contents
arepack
repacks archives to a different format. It does this by first extracting all files of the old archive into a temporary directory, then packing all files extracted to that directory to the new archive. Use the --each (-e) option in combination with --format (-F) to repack multiple archives using a single invocation of atool. Note that arepack will not remove the old archive.
$ arepack foobar.tgz foobar.txz
foobar.tgz: extracted to `Unpack-7121/foobar'
foobar.txz: grew 36 bytes
apack
creates archives (or compresses files). If no file arguments are specified, filenames to add are read from standard in.
aunpack
extracts files from an archive. Often one wants to extract all files in an archive to a single subdirectory. However, some archives contain multiple files in their root directories. The aunpack program overcomes this problem by first extracting files to a unique (temporary) directory, and then moving its contents back if possible. This also prevents local files from being overwritten by mistake.

(atool subcommand descriptions from the atool man page which is licensed under GPLv3+. Examples by me.)

I though miss the existence of an agrep subcommand. Guess why?

atool supports a wealth of archive types: tar (gzip-, bzip-, bzip2-, compress-/Z-, lzip-, lzop-, xz-, and 7zip-compressed), zip, jar/war, rar, lha/lzh, 7zip, alzip/alz, ace, ar, arj, arc, rpm, deb, cab, gzip, bzip, bzip2, compress/Z, lzip, lzop, xz, rzip, lrzip and cpio. (Not all subcommands support all archive types.)

Similar Utilities

There are some utilities which cover parts of what atool does, too:

Tools from the mtools package

Yes, they come from the “handle MS-DOS floppy disks tool” package, don’t ask me why. :-)

uz
gunzips and extracts a gzip‘d tar‘d archives
Advantage over aunpack: Less to type. :-)
Disadvantage compared to aunpack: Supports only one archive format.
lz
gunzips and shows a listing of a gzip‘d tar‘d archive
Advantage over als: One character less to type. :-)
Disadvantage compared to als: Supports only one archive format.

unp

unp extracts one or more files given as arguments on the command line.

$ unp -s
Known archive formats and tools:
7z:           p7zip or p7zip-full
ace:          unace
ar,deb:       binutils
arj:          arj
bz2:          bzip2
cab:          cabextract
chm:          libchm-bin or archmage
cpio,afio:    cpio or afio
dat:          tnef
dms:          xdms
exe:          maybe orange or unzip or unrar or unarj or lha 
gz:           gzip
hqx:          macutils
lha,lzh:      lha
lz:           lzip
lzma:         xz-utils or lzma
lzo:          lzop
lzx:          unlzx
mbox:         formail and mpack
pmd:          ppmd
rar:          rar or unrar or unrar-free
rpm:          rpm2cpio and cpio
sea,sea.bin:  macutils
shar:         sharutils
tar:          tar
tar.bz2,tbz2: tar with bzip2
tar.lzip:     tar with lzip
tar.lzop,tzo: tar with lzop
tar.xz,txz:   tar with xz-utils
tar.z:        tar with compress
tgz,tar.gz:   tar with gzip
uu:           sharutils
xz:           xz-utils
zip,cbz,cbr,jar,war,ear,xpi,adf: unzip
zoo:          zoo

So it’s very similar to aunpack, just a shorter command and it supports some more exotic archive formats which atool doesn’t support.

Also part of the unp package is ucat which does more or less the same as acat, just with unp as backend.

dtrx

From the man page of dtrx:

In addition to providing one command to extract many different archive types, dtrx also aids the user by extracting contents consistently. By default, everything will be written to a dedicated directory that’s named after the archive. dtrx will also change the permissions to ensure that the owner can read and write all those files.

Supported archive formats: tar, zip (including self-extracting .exe files), cpio, rpm, deb, gem, 7z, cab, rar, and InstallShield. It can also decompress files compressed with gzip, bzip2, lzma, or compress.

dtrx -l lists the contents of an archive, i.e. works like als or lz.

dtrx has two features not present in the other tools mentioned so far:

  • It can extract metadata instead of the normal contents from .deb and .gem files.
  • It can extract archives recursively, i.e. can extract archives inside of archives.

Unfortunately you can’t mix those two features. But you can use the following tool for that purpose:

deepfind

deepfind is a command from the package strigi-utils and recursively lists files in archives, including archives in archives. I’ve already written a detailed blog-posting about deepfind and its friend deepgrep.

tardiff

tardiff was written to check what changed in source code tarballs from one release to another. By default it just lists the differences in the file lists, not in the files’ contents and hence works different than adiff.

Summary

atool and friends are probably the first choice when it comes to DWIM archive handling, also because they have an easy to remember subcommand scheme.

uz and lz and the shortest way to extract or list the contents of a .tar.gz file. But nothing more. And you have to install mtools even if you don’t have a floppy drive.

unp comes in handy for exotic archive formats atool doesn’t support. And it’s way easier to remember and type than aunpack.

dtrx is neat if you want to extract archives in archives or if you want to extract metadata from some package files with just a few keystrokes.

For listing all files in recursive archives, use deepfind.

Thursday·30·August·2012

Finding similar but not identical files //at 17:10 //by abe

from the whitespace-change dept.

There are quite some tools to find duplicate files in Debian (Ua is not even packaged for Debian!!!1!eleven! SCNRvia Chrütertee) and depending on the task I use either hardlink (see this blog posting), fdupes (if I need output with all identical files on one line; see example below), or duff (if it has to be performant).

But for code deduplication in historically grown code you sometimes need a tool which does not only find identical files, but also those which just differ in a few blanks or blank lines.

I found two tools in Debian which can give you some kind of percentage of similarity: simhash (which is btw. orphaned; upstream homepage) and similarity-tester (upstream homepage).

simhash has the shorter name and hecne sounds more usable on the command-line. But it seems only be able to compare two files at once and also only after first computing and writing down its similarity hash to a file. Not really usable for those one-liner cases on the command-line.

similarity-tester has the longer name (and one which made me suspect that it may be a GUI tool), but provides what I was looking for:

$ find . -type f | sim_text -ipTt 75

This lists all files in the current directory which have at 75% (“-t 75”) in common with another file in the list of files. The option “-i” causes sim_text to read the files to compare from standard input; “-p” causes sim_text to just output the similarity percentage; and “-T” suppresses the per-file list of found tokens.

I used similarity-tester’s “sim_text” tool to compare natural langauge as most of the files, I had to test, are shell scripts. But similarity-tester also provides tools to test the similarity of code in specific programming languages, namely C, Java, Pascal, Modula-2, Lisp and Miranda.

Example output from the xen-tools project (after I already did a lot of code deduplication):

./intrepid/30-disable-gettys consists for 100 % of ./edgy/30-disable-gettys material
./edgy/30-disable-gettys consists for 100 % of ./intrepid/30-disable-gettys material
./common/90-make-fstab-rpm consists for 98 % of ./centos-5/90-make-fstab material
./centos-5/90-make-fstab consists for 98 % of ./common/90-make-fstab-rpm material
./gentoo/55-create-dev consists for 91 % of ./dapper/55-create-dev material
./dapper/55-create-dev consists for 90 % of ./gentoo/55-create-dev material
./gentoo/55-create-dev consists for 88 % of ./common/55-create-dev material
./common/90-make-fstab-deb consists for 87 % of ./common/90-make-fstab-rpm material
./common/90-make-fstab-rpm consists for 85 % of ./common/90-make-fstab-deb material
./common/30-disable-gettys consists for 81 % of ./karmic/30-disable-gettys material
./intrepid/80-install-kernel consists for 78 % of ./edgy/80-install-kernel material
./edgy/30-disable-gettys consists for 76 % of ./karmic/30-disable-gettys material
./karmic/30-disable-gettys consists for 76 % of ./edgy/30-disable-gettys material
./common/50-setup-hostname-rpm consists for 76 % of ./gentoo/50-setup-hostname material

Depending on the length of possible filenames and amount of files this can be made more readable using the column utility from the bsdmainutils package and reversed by using tac from the coreutils package:

$ find . -type f | sim_text -ipTt 75 | tac | column -t
./common/50-setup-hostname-rpm  consists  for  76   %  of  ./gentoo/50-setup-hostname    material
./karmic/30-disable-gettys      consists  for  76   %  of  ./edgy/30-disable-gettys      material
./edgy/30-disable-gettys        consists  for  76   %  of  ./karmic/30-disable-gettys    material
./intrepid/80-install-kernel    consists  for  78   %  of  ./edgy/80-install-kernel      material
./common/30-disable-gettys      consists  for  81   %  of  ./karmic/30-disable-gettys    material
./common/90-make-fstab-rpm      consists  for  85   %  of  ./common/90-make-fstab-deb    material
./common/90-make-fstab-deb      consists  for  87   %  of  ./common/90-make-fstab-rpm    material
./gentoo/55-create-dev          consists  for  88   %  of  ./common/55-create-dev        material
./dapper/55-create-dev          consists  for  90   %  of  ./gentoo/55-create-dev        material
./gentoo/55-create-dev          consists  for  91   %  of  ./dapper/55-create-dev        material
./centos-5/90-make-fstab        consists  for  98   %  of  ./common/90-make-fstab-rpm    material
./common/90-make-fstab-rpm      consists  for  98   %  of  ./centos-5/90-make-fstab      material
./edgy/30-disable-gettys        consists  for  100  %  of  ./intrepid/30-disable-gettys  material
./intrepid/30-disable-gettys    consists  for  100  %  of  ./edgy/30-disable-gettys      material

Compared to that, fdupes only finds the two 100% identical files:

$ fdupes -r1 . 
./intrepid/30-disable-gettys ./edgy/30-disable-gettys 

But fdupes helped me already a lot to find the first bunch of identical files in xen-tools. :-)

Tuesday·05·June·2012

Automatically hardlinking duplicate files under /usr/share/doc with APT //at 20:43 //by abe

from the no-space-left-on-device dept.

On my everyday netbook (a very reliable first generation ASUS EeePC 701 4G) the disk (4 GB as the product name suggests :-) is nearly always close to full.

TL;DWTR? Jump directly to the HowTo. :-)

So I came up with a few techniques to save some more disk space. Installing localepurge was one of the earliest. Another one was to implement aptitude filters to do interactively what deborphan does non-interactively. Yet another one is to use du and friends a lot – ncdu is definitely my favourite du-like tool in the meantime.

Using du and friends I often noticed how much disk space /usr/share/doc takes up. But since I value the contents of /usr/share/doc a lot, I condemn how Nokia solved that on the N900: They let APT delete all files and directories under /usr/share/doc (including the copyright files!) via some package named docpurge. I also dislike Ubuntu’s “solution” to truncate the shipped changelog files (you can still get the remainder of the files on the web somewhere) as they’re an important source of information for me.

So when aptitude showed me that some package suddenly wanted to use up quite some more disk space, I noticed that the new package version included the upstream changelog twice. So I started searching for duplicate files under /usr/share/doc.

There are quite some tools to find duplicate files in Debian. hardlink seemed most appropriate for this case.

First I just looked for duplicate files per package, which even on that less than four gigabytes installation on my EeePC found nine packages which shipped at least one file twice.

As recommended I rather opted for an according Lintian check (see bugs. Niels Thykier kindly implemented such a check in Lintian and its findings are as reported as tags “duplicate-changelog-files” (Severity: normal, from Lintian 2.5.2 on) and “duplicate-files” (Severity: minor, experimental, from Lintian 2.5.0 on).

Nevertheless, some source packages generate several binary packages and all of them (of course) ship the same, in some cases quite large (Debian) changelog file. So I found myself running hardlink /usr/share/doc now and then to gain some more free disk space. But as I run Sid and package upgrades happen more than daily, I came to the conclusion that I should run this command more or less after each aptitude run, i.e. automatically.

Having taken localepurge’s APT hook as example, I added the following content as /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/98-hardlink-doc to my system:

// Hardlink identical docs, changelogs, copyrights, examples, etc

DPkg
{
Post-Invoke {"if [ -x /usr/bin/hardlink ]; then /usr/bin/hardlink -t /usr/share/doc; else exit 0; fi";};
};

So now installing a package which contains duplicate files looks like this:

~ # aptitude install perl-tk
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  perl-tk 
0 packages upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 2,522 kB of archives. After unpacking 6,783 kB will be used.
Get: 1 http://ftp.ch.debian.org/debian/ sid/main perl-tk i386 1:804.029-1.2 [2,522 kB]
Fetched 2,522 kB in 1s (1,287 kB/s)  
Selecting previously unselected package perl-tk.
(Reading database ... 121849 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking perl-tk (from .../perl-tk_1%3a804.029-1.2_i386.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up perl-tk (1:804.029-1.2) ...
Mode:     real
Files:    15423
Linked:   3 files
Compared: 14724 files
Saved:    7.29 KiB
Duration: 4.03 seconds
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/locale: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/man: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/gnome/help: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/omf: 0 KiB

Total disk space freed by localepurge: 0 KiB

Sure, that wasn’t the most space saving example, but on some installations I saved around 100 MB of disk space that way – and I still haven’t found a case where this caused unwanted damage. (Use of this advice on your own risk, though. Pointers to potential problems welcome. :-)

Saturday·05·May·2012

unburden-home-dir uploaded to Sid //at 02:54 //by abe

from the Good-for-NFS-as-well-as-SSDs dept.

Most popular web browsers cause quite a lot of I/O on a user’s home directory and their cache’s also take up quite some disk space – with Google’s Chrome/Chromium you can’t even configure how much disk space should be used for the cache.

This causes unnecessary network traffic and no more makes sense if the home directory itself comes over the network, e.g. via NFS or Samba. And on laptops it spins up the disks and unnecessarily costs battery power and therefore lowers the potential battery life.

Such caches also costs scarce disk space on SSDs or flash cards as common in laptops, netbooks and other mobile devices, and often get backed up without any real use.

To take some of this burden off our NFS servers at work I started to develop an Xsession.d hook which moves off such caches to the local disk and puts in symbolic links instead into the user’s home directory when the user locally logs in.

This hook quickly became a standalone Perl script named unburden-home-dir and the Xsession.d hook just a wrapper around it. Due to some unsolved issues I didn’t feel it’s good enough for Debian Unstable, so I uploaded it just to Debian Experimental back then.

Pietro Abate’s recent blog posting about unburden-home-dir on Planet Debian gave me the right kick to make another try to solve the remaining issues.

And the mental distance gained over the time indeed helped and I could fix the remaining issues. So I added some polish to the package and uploaded it to Debian Unstable.

If you used the previous version from experimental, you have to take care of a few things:

  • Previously some configuration files sported unburden_home_dir as base name while others used unburden-home-dir as base name as that’s also the package name. Now all configuration files use the package name, i.e. unburden-home-dir as base name.
  • “Conffiles” under /etc/ should be renamed by dpkg automatically, but per-user configuration files ($HOME/.unburden_home_dir and $HOME/.unburden_home_dir_list) must be manually renamed to $HOME/.unburden-home-dir and $HOME/.unburden-home-dir.list.
  • By adding UNBURDEN_HOME=yes to $HOME/.unburden-home-dir every user can decide himself if he wants the Xsession.d hook to be used when he logs in under X. On managed workstations with many users this eases testing of unburden-home-dir with just a few users a lot.

You can follow the development of unburden-home-dir also on GitHub and on Gitorious as well as on Ohloh.

Enjoy!

Wednesday·21·March·2012

aptitude-gtk will likely vanish //at 01:06 //by abe

from the didn't-learn-to-fly dept.

As Christian already wrote, there’s an Aptitude revival ongoing. We already saw this young team releasing aptitude 0.6.5 about 6 weeks ago, more commits have been made, and now we’re heading towards an 0.6.6 release quickly.

But this revival mostly covers the well-known and loved curses interface (TUI) of aptitude and not the seldomly installed GTK interface, which unfortunately never really took off:

While aptitude itself (i.e. the curses and commandline interface) is installed on nearly 99% of all Debian installations which take part in Debian’s “Popularity Contest” statistics, aptitude-gtk is only installed on 0.42% of all these installations.

One reason is likely that aptitude-gtk still hasn’t all the neat features of the curses interface. And another reason is probably that it’s still quite buggy.

Since nobody from the current Aptitude Team has the experience, leisure or time to resurrect (or even complete) aptitude-gtk, the plan is to stop building aptitude-gtk from the aptitude source package soon, i.e. to remove it from Debian for now.

Like the even less finished Qt interface of aptitude, its code will stay in the VCS, but will be unmaintained unless someone steps up to continue aptitude-gtk (or aptitude-qt, or both), maybe even as its own source package.

So if you like aptitude-gtk so much that you’re still using it and want to continue using it, please think about contributing by joining the Aptitude Team and getting aptitude’s GUI interface(s) back in shape.

Another option would be to find a mentor so that resurrecting (one of) aptitude’s GUI interfaces could become (again) a potential project at Debian’s participation at Google’s Summer of Code.

Please direct any questions about aptitude-gtk or aptitude-qt to the Aptitude Development Mailing List. Or even better, join the discussion in this thread.

Wednesday·14·March·2012

SSH Multiplexer: parallel-ssh //at 03:10 //by abe

from the one-long-line-but-one-line dept.

There are many SSH multiplexers in Debian and most of them have one or two features which make them unique and especially useful for that one use case. I use some of them regularily (I even maintain the Debian package of one of them, namely pconsole :-) and I’ll present then and when one of them here.

For non-interactive purposes I really like parallel-ssh aka pssh. It takes a file of hostnames and a bunch of common ssh parameters as parameters, executes the given command in parallel in up to 32 threads (by default, adjustable with -p) and waits by default for 60 seconds (adjustable with -t). For example to restart hobbit-client on all hosts in kiva.txt, the following command is suitable:

$ parallel-ssh -h kiva.txt -l root /etc/init.d/hobbit-client restart
[1] 19:56:03 [FAILURE] kiva6 Exited with error code 127
[2] 19:56:04 [SUCCESS] kiva
[3] 19:56:04 [SUCCESS] kiva4
[4] 19:56:04 [SUCCESS] kiva2
[5] 19:56:04 [SUCCESS] kiva5
[6] 19:56:04 [SUCCESS] kiva3
[7] 19:57:03 [FAILURE] kiva1 Timed out, Killed by signal 9

(Coloured “Screenshots” done with ANSI HTML Adapter from the package aha.)

You easily see on which hosts the command failed and partially also why: On kiva6 hobbit-client is not installed and therefore the init.d script is not present. kiva1 is currently offline so the ssh connection timed out.

If you want to see the output of the commands, you have a two choices. Which one to choose depends on the expected amount of output:

If you don’t expect a lot of output, the -i (or --inline) option for inline aggregated output is probably the right choice:

$ parallel-ssh -h kiva.txt -l root -t 10 -i uptime
[1] 20:30:20 [SUCCESS] kiva
 20:30:20 up 7 days,  5:51,  0 users,  load average: 0.12, 0.08, 0.06
[2] 20:30:20 [SUCCESS] kiva2
 20:30:20 up 7 days,  5:50,  0 users,  load average: 0.19, 0.08, 0.02
[3] 20:30:20 [SUCCESS] kiva3
 20:30:20 up 7 days,  5:49,  0 users,  load average: 0.10, 0.06, 0.06
[4] 20:30:20 [SUCCESS] kiva4
 20:30:20 up 7 days,  5:49,  0 users,  load average: 0.25, 0.17, 0.14
[5] 20:30:20 [SUCCESS] kiva6
 20:30:20 up 7 days,  5:49, 10 users,  load average: 0.16, 0.08, 0.02
[6] 20:30:21 [SUCCESS] kiva5
 20:30:21 up 7 days,  5:49,  0 users,  load average: 3.11, 3.36, 3.06
[7] 20:30:29 [FAILURE] kiva1 Timed out, Killed by signal 9

If you expect a lot of output you can give directories with the -o (or --outdir) and -e (or --errdir) option:

$ parallel-ssh -h kiva.txt -l root -t 20 -o kiva-output lsb_release -a
[1] 20:36:51 [SUCCESS] kiva
[2] 20:36:51 [SUCCESS] kiva2
[3] 20:36:51 [SUCCESS] kiva3
[4] 20:36:51 [SUCCESS] kiva4
[5] 20:36:53 [SUCCESS] kiva6
[6] 20:36:54 [SUCCESS] kiva5
[7] 20:37:10 [FAILURE] kiva1 Timed out, Killed by signal 9
$ ls -l kiva-output
total 24
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe  98 Aug 28 20:36 kiva
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe   0 Aug 28 20:36 kiva1
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe  98 Aug 28 20:36 kiva2
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe  98 Aug 28 20:36 kiva3
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe  98 Aug 28 20:36 kiva4
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe 102 Aug 28 20:36 kiva5
-rw-r--r-- 1 abe abe 100 Aug 28 20:36 kiva6
$ cat kiva-output/kiva5
Distributor ID:	Debian
Description:	Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.2 (squeeze)
Release:	6.0.2
Codename:	squeeze

The only annoying thing IMHO is that the host list needs to be in a file. With zsh, bash and the original ksh (but neither tcsh, pdksh nor mksh), you can circumvent this restriction with one of the following command lines:

$ parallel-ssh -h <(printf "host1\nhost2\nhost3\n…") -l root uptime
[…]
$ parallel-ssh -h <(echo host1 host2 host3 … | xargs -n1) -l root uptime
[…]

And in zsh there’s an even easier way to type this:

$ parallel-ssh -h <(print -l host1 host2 host3 …) -l root uptime
[…]

In addition to parallel-ssh the pssh package also contains some more ssh based tools:

  • parallel-scp and parallel-rsync for parallel copying files onto a set of hosts.
  • parallel-slurp for fetching files in parallel from a list of hosts.
  • parallel-nuke to kill a bunch of processes in parallel on a set of machines.

I though think that parallel-ssh is by far the most useful tool from the pssh package. (Probably no wonder as it’s the most generic one. :-)

Monday·20·February·2012

Git Snapshot of GNU Screen in Debian Experimental //at 01:09 //by abe

from the resurrection dept.

I just uploaded a snapshot of GNU Screen to Debian Experimental. The package (4.1.0~20110819git450e8f3-1) is based on upstream’s HEAD whose most recent commit currently dates to the 19th of August 2011.

While the upload fixes tons of bugs which accumulated over the past two years in Debian’s, Ubuntu’s and upstream’s bug tracker, I don’t yet regard it as suitable for the next stable release (and hence for Debian Unstable) since there’s one not so nice issue about it:

  • #644788: screen 4.1.0 can’t attach to a running/detached screen 4.0.3 session

Nevertheless it fixes a lot of open issues (of which the oldest is a wishlist bug report dating back to 1998 :-) and I didn’t want to withhold it from the rest of the Debian community so I uploaded it to Debian Experimental.

Issues closed in Debian Experimental

  • #25096: digraph table should be run-time configurable
  • #152961: lacks tsl/fsl/dsl caps
  • #176626: mini-curses type of interface for screen -r w/ multiple screens? (Fixed by suggesting iselect, screenie or byobu)
  • #223320: does not switch mouse mode
  • #344759: mishandles xterm control string to set window title
  • #353090: please enable the built-in telnet
  • #361274: cannot reattach to sessionname if there is another session with similar sessionname
  • #450421: please raise MAXWIN to at least 100 (merged with #499273)
  • #461107: Requires test -t 0 even when opening a new window on existing screen
  • #481411: window created with ‘-d -m’ silently ignores ‘-X exec’
  • #488619: Session name string escape
  • #496750: screen -d -m and -D -m segfault if setenv given with no value in a configuration file
  • #532240: screen with caption SEGVs when resized to 1 line tall
  • #541793: “C-a h” (mis)documented twice
  • #558724: breaks altscreen
  • #560231: Please remove restriction on user/login name length
  • #578729: outputs spaces when refreshing/attaching a window with “defbce on”
  • #591624: segfault when running “screen -d -m” with “layout save default” in .screenrc
  • #603009: Updating the screen Uploaders list
  • #612990: /etc/init.d/screen-cleanup: should check for existence of screen binary
  • #621704: Fix slow scrolling in vertical splits
  • #630535: manpage typo
  • #641867: version bump (this bug report sparked the upload :-)

Update: Issues also closed in Debian Experimental, but not (yet) mentioned in the Debian changelog

  • #238535: screen lock can no more be bypassed by reattaching.
  • #446082: Shows cursor in front of the selected window in “windowlist -b”.
  • #522689: Passes signals to programs running inside screen on kfreebsd.
  • #526002: Adds focus left/right commands.
  • #611453: Documents vertical split in man-page.
  • #621804 and #630976: Allows longer $TERM than 20 characters

Issues which will be closed in Ubuntu

  • #183849: update to git version of screen
  • #315237: crashes with certain options and terminal sizes
  • #582153: doesn’t accept login names longer than 20 chars
  • #588846: slow when using vertical split
  • #702094: Copying and pasting from mutt includes many trailing spaces
  • #786292: segfaults if using layout saving with “-D -m”
  • #788670: segfault in screen/byobu in natty

Please test the version from Experimental

If you are affected by one of the issues mentioned above, please try the version from Debian Experimental and check if they’re resolved for you, too.

Thanks to all who contributed!

A lot of the fixes have been made or applied upstream by Sadrul Habib Chowdhury who also industriously tagged Debian bug reports as “fixed-upstream”. Thanks!

Thanks also to Brian P Kroth who gave the initial spark to this upload by packaging Fedora 15’s git snapshot for Debian and filing bug although the upload is based on the current HEAD version of GNU Screen as this fixes some more important issues than the snapshot Fedora 15 includes. That way also two patches from Fedora/RedHat’s screen package are included in this upload.

(Co-) Maintainer wanted!

Oh, and if you care about the state of GNU Screen in Debian, I’d really appreciate if you’d join in and contribute to our collab-maint git repository – there are still a lot of issues unresolved and I know that I won’t be able to fix all of them myself. And since Hessophanes unfortunately currently has not enough time for the package, we definitely need more people maintaining this package.

P.S.

Yes, I know about tmux and tried to get some of my setups working with it, too. But I still prefer screen over tmux. :-)

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Debian GNU/Linux is my favourite Linux distribution, being stable, flexible, consistent and having a great community. Although I'm not the biggest bug report writer, I try to contribute by staffing the Debian booth at events, carrying the necessary hardware there or even organising the whole booth.


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  • Bastian Sick: Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod (Teile 1-3)
  • Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Good Omens (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Neil Gaiman: Keine Panik (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Neil Stephenson: Cryptonomicon (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Wolfgang Stoffels: Lokomotivbau und Dampftechnik (borrowed from Ermel)
  • Beverly Cole: Trains — The Early Years (getty images)

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