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Kleinere Neuigkeiten rund um Planet Symlink //at 00:41 //by abe

Aus der raus-und-rein Abteilung

Mal eine kleine Zusammenfassung der letzten Änderungen auf Planet Symlink:

Tobias “tuxedo” Klauser hat vor längerer Zeit mal ein Update der Planet-Software gemacht, was einige Probleme, vor allem mit Blogs in UTF-8 behoben hat.

Allerdings hat der Planet momentan (seither? schon immer?) den Bug, dass in der Sitebar die Links zu den Feeds zurück zum Planet zeigen. Werden wir uns noch näher anschauen und dann flicken. Update 00:37 Uhr: Tobias hat’s recht schnell gefunden und geflickt. URI ist nunmal ungleich URL, insbesondere in Variablennamen. :-)

Eventuell werden sich Tobias oder ich auch mal Planet Venus als mehr oder weniger kompatible Alternative zu Planet Planet anschauen. Mal sehen…

Dann gab’s eine ganze Ladung Abgänge und Neuzugänge, die noch nicht erwähnt wurden:

Abschusskandidaten. Auch die gibt es. Beim Hinzufügen von Blogs sehe ich immer, welche Blogs Fehler schmeissen. Einige davon sehen momentan nach permanenten Problemen aus. Die fliegen dann vermutlich demnächst irgendwann raus, falls es keine Änderung gibt…

  • Nameserver der Domain nicht erreichbar. Zitat aus #lugs: “Den qolume gibts eh nicht mehr.”
  • Nameserver der Domain werden nicht gefunden, weder im DNS noch im Whois. Wusste gar nicht, dass sowas geht.

Problem ist einfach, dass man diese Leute ohne DNS auch schlecht kontaktieren kann oder auf deren Webseiten nach neuen URLs für Feeds suchen…


I finally ordered //at 05:13 //by abe

from the who-needs-fitness-centers dept.

After a three and a half week test drive during my last year’s summer holidays and much consideration about the configuration, I finally ordered a Brompton folding bike at Velofix.

Since the apple green was much nicer in the catalogue than in real life, I decided that I need a bike in colours that clearly mark it as my bike: Orange frame and black front and rear swinging fork. ;-)

It will have 6 gears (a 3-gear internal hub and a 2-gear dérailleur, both at the rear axle), a lowered transmission ratio for hilly Zurich and sprints in the city, a SON axle dynamo, Kevlar reinforced, reflecting tyres, and a bicycle luggage rack which also serves as kick stand when (partially) folded.

Options I thought about but then dismissed for miscellaneous reasons: Schlumpf MountainDrive (can’t say if will be really worthwile) and Rohloff Speedhub (not available although I already saw a Brompton with a red Speedhub — funnily just in front of the place I live, and probably also more expensive than I remembered).

First two weeks with the Brompton //at 05:12 //by abe

from the new-habits dept.

It’s here! In contrary to the estimated delivery time of about ten weeks, my Brompton arrived at Velofix at Saturday the 16th of February after only three weeks. The orange color is much nicer than the apple green I initially favourited from what I saw in the catalouge and the axle dynamo also proved to be a good idea, so I’m really happy about my choice.

I used the Brompton to go to work everyday the last two weeks, even when it’s snowing like today:

Snowy Brompton Snowy Brompton Folded Snowy Brompton

Although I’m starting slowly and taking the bus (hey, it’s a folding bike! :-) for the steepest parts (either from Am Börtli to Waidbadstrasse or Gsteigstrasse)… I even managed to fold the bike although I saw the bus already coming around the corner when I still was in the saddle. That was the day I was at work in less then 10 minutes — Perfect timing. :-)

Since the local Höngg bus (route 38) only makes it’s round every 30 minutes, with the bike I’m now much more flexible and don’t have to hurry in the morning to catch the bus. (OTOH I had to notice that “being more flexible” doesn’t mean “having more time”… :-)

I also use it on the campus for visits in other buildings. Although there are mostly stairs between the different levels of the campus, it’s no problem with the Brompton since it’s easy to carry, even if not folded. It’s much more comfortable than daduke’s little kickboard scooter whose hard wheels don’t feel healthy for bones and especially knees on ETH Hönggerberg’s paths made out of washed-out concrete. Air tyres and rear suspension are much better… :-)

Regarding the choice of gears: The MountainDrive would surely be helpful in hilly Zürich, especially since my fitness isn’t the best one at the moment, but 6 gears are ok, too, and will be even more ok as soon as my fitness gets better. The slower transmission wasn’t a bad choice either, although a wider transmission range would have been better.


The days of my last running Woody are numbered… //at 21:29 //by abe

from the times-are-changing dept.

As many of the Planet Debian readers know, I bemoan Galeon 1.2 and therefore Woody. For a long time I haven’t found an appropriate browser replacement for Galeon 1.2 in Sarge, so I never switched my home workstation called “gsa” (Pentium II, 400 MHz, 572 MB RAM) to Sarge, since Woody was rockstable and just worked.

Though, after a few Galeon 1.3/2.0 rants, someone pointed me to Kazehakase, which indeed is a fine Galeon 1.2 replacement. But I noticed that Kazehakase in Sarge was in an early stage and the Kazehakase from testing (now Etch) were already much more matured.

So in comparison to Sarge with Etch I won’t have the problem of not having a mature and sage web browser in main. And due to security support for Woody ceased a few months ago and Etch is now declared stable, it’s time to reinstall my last Woody box with Etch.

For that, a repartioning of it’s two hard disks (8 GB and 40 GB) sounds like a good idea and so I had look, what’s on all those partitions where I once had a shot on quite a few Linux distributions and other unix-like operating systems. (Although I was already a big fan of Debian at that time, I wanted to look over my own nose and ordered a few CDs of free operating system at

So here’s what I found, never really used and will throw away quite soon:

That should give enough space for an Etch installation without touching the Woody installation first. Thanks to Venty, I’ve got a DVD drive for that box, so I can install from DVD.

And for toying around with all those other neat and free operating systems nowadays, I’ve got my MicroClient Jr. named “c2”.


Axel’s Cruftiness Theorem //at 19:37 //by abe

from the my-systems-are-all-uncrufty dept.

Theorem: If aptitude is used, set to automatically remove unneeded packages and every not willingly installed package is marked auto, the system’s cruftiness is always 0.


Is ikiwiki a Website Meta Language killer? //at 03:03 //by abe

from the there-was-nothing-better-—-until-now dept.

On this year’s Chemitzer Linux-Tage (CLT, engl. “Chemnitz Linux Days’) I attended a few talks of which especially formorer’s ikiwiki talk was very interesting.

I attended his talk since I found out that ikiwiki is command line wiki compiler in contrary to the thousands of solely web based wikis out there. As a big fan of statically generated content this idea sounded very interesting to me.

But just having a short look at ikiwiki’s web page didn’t help to get started and it seemed as if I had not the right idea of how ikiwiki works to get started. So formorer’s talk seemed to be a good possibility to get an idea of how ikiwiki works without much effort.

During the talk I noticed that ikiwiki can many things I do with the Website Meta Language (WML), but can do some more things WML can’t do out of the box:

  1. It’s not only a framework to generate web pages, it’s more like a content management system (CMS).
  2. Versioning is intergal part of ikiwiki without reinventing the wheel: It works out of the box with — beyond others — Subversion, Git and Mercurical (Hg).

And when formorer showed that even Tobi Oetiker uses ikiwiki, I noticed that ikiwiki probably could be a WML killer, since I knew Tobi as a WML fan. And ikiwiki looks very appealing for the WML fan inside me, too…

OTOH: Intergrating WML as a backend to ikiwiki could be an interesting idea, though.

Hearing what kind of input files ikiwiki can process, I also got the idea of using hnb (Hierachical Notebook) files as input for ikiwiki. hnb files are already XML and so a conversion to XHTML shouldn’t be that hard.

But when searching the web for “ikiwiki hnb” I found the blog postings of a few people switching away from hnb, e.g. to vimoutliner. Since I’m an Emacs addict and don’t like vim very much (if I use a vi, I use nvi or elvis), I searched for “emacs hnb” and indeed found someone who switched from hnb to org-mode – of which I never heard before. Unfortunately org-mode doesn’t seem to be in Debian (Update 00:23: Yeah, yeah, I now know it’s included in emacs22, but emacs22 hasn’t made it into kfreebsd-i386 yet, so I didn’t notice. See the comments. :-) but I’ll play around with it a little bit. Unfortunately a first test wasn’t that promising. But we’ll see.

Now playing: Men at Work — Down Under


XTaran, übernehmen Sie //at 23:04 //by abe

Aus der Stöckchen Abteilung

Von Priska kam da grade ein Stöckchen geflogen und da ich grade am Mittagfuttern bin, solche Fragekataloge eh meist recht amüsant finde, kann ich da auch grade mal übernehmen. :-)

1. Greife das Buch, welches Dir am nächsten ist, schlage Seite 18 auf und zitiere Zeile 4:
Hmmm, schwierig. So direkt auf dem Büro-Schreibtisch liegt kein Buch mehr. Im Schubladencontainer liegt noch ein “Anwender-Handbuch Compaq LTE 386s/20 Personal Computer” für einen entsprechenden Laptop, den mein Chef mal bei mir entsorgt hat. Dient darin momentan noch primär als Briefbeschwerer, damit die Schublade zugeht. Ein Seite “1-18” gibt es nicht, also nehmen wir “2-18”. Zeile 4 ist eine Überschrift: “Anwendungsprogramme”. Die vierte Fließtextzeile lautet: “[Ein typisches Beispiel] für diesen Programmtyp ist eine Tabellenkalkulation (englisch: Spreadsheet). Mit einer [Tabellenkalkulation können z.B. …]”.
2. Strecke Deinen linken Arm so weit wie möglich aus. Was findest Du?
Meine Schreibtischlampe, das Telefon und den linken Brüllwürfel.
3. Was hast Du als letztes im Fernsehen gesehen?
Bei meinen Eltern in Schwarzenberg einen Biathlon bei der Winterolympiade. Und ja, ich habe ihn live gesehen. *grins*
4. Mit Ausnahme des Computers, was kannst Du gerade hören?
Meine Kollegen, wie sie grade über irgendwelche Modem-Konfigurationen diskutieren.
5. Wann hast Du den letzten Schritt nach draussen getan?
Als ich vor ca. einer Stunde zum Essen holen gefahren bin.
6. Was hast Du gerade getan, bevor Du diesen Fragebogen begonnen hast?
Mein Mittagessen angefangen.
7. Was hast Du gerade an?
Blaue Jeans, Wanderstiefel, ein weißes Orga-T-Shirt von einem Ententreffen der Einkorn Wildenten. Das übliche halt.
8. Hast Du letzte Nacht geträumt?
Nein, tief und fest geschlafen.
9. Wann hast Du zum letztenmal gelacht?
Als ich heute morgen verstanden habe, daß den Tippfehler in einer Symlink-Submission zuerst mal komplett falsch interpoliert hatte.
10. Was befindet sich an den Wänden des Raumes, in dem Du Dich gerade befindest?
In meinem Sichtbereich nix, weiter drüben hängt ein Conrad-Wandkalender.
11. Hast Du kürzlich etwas sonderbares gesehen?
Beim Essen holen im McDoof einen Kindergeburtstag, auf dem die Hälfte der Jungs eine mit Gel erstellte, irokesenähnliche, rote Frisur hatte.
12. Was hälst Du von diesem Quiz?
Hmmm, mal was anderes, da es sehr viel unvorhersehbares einfließen läßt.
13. Was war der letzte Film, den Du gesehen hast?
Montag abend: “V wie Vendetta”.
14. Was würdest Du kaufen, wenn Du plötzlich Multimillionär wärst?
Hmmm, schwierige Frage. Vermutlich noch ein paar alte Autos mehr und den Platz zum Abstellen derselbigen, einen Bauernhof mit großer Scheune und guter Netzanbindung zum Beispiel. ;-) Und dann wahrscheinlich noch irgendwelche politisch korrekten Sachen oder Mitgliedschaften.
15. Sag mir etwas über Dich, was ich noch nicht wusste.
Ich konnte nicht umhin, irgendwann Pringles-Dosen anfangen zu sammeln.
16. Wenn Du eine Sache auf der Welt ändern könntest, was wäre das?
Sämtliche Großmächte in lauter kleine, harmlose Staaten zerfallen lassen.
17. Tanzt Du gerne?
Im Allgemeinen nicht.
18. George Bush
Miserable Failure und Brezeln.
19. Stell Dir vor, Dein erstes Kind wäre ein Mädchen. Wie würdest Du es nennen?
Wahrscheinlich irgendeinen in Norddeutschland, Skandinavien oder der Schweiz typischen Vornamen. Den Namen einer guten Bekannten finde ich recht nett: Mömke — Allerdings haben den IIRC sich die Eltern selbst ausgedacht in Anlehnung an irgendeinen nordischen Jungennamen, den ich wieder vergessen habe. Halt bloß nix typisch Deutsches oder total Exotisches. (Einer der Mechaniker in meiner Lieblingwerkstatt heißt Tai mit Vornamen. Die Mutter ist Asien-Fan. Das wäre nach meinem Geschmack wieder etwas zu exotisch.)
20. Und einen Jungen?
Für den gilt das gleiche. Also keinen Jungen namens SuSI —äh— Susi.
21. Würdest Du es in Erwägung ziehen, auszuwandern?
Ich bin grade dabei. Naja, falls 30km hinter die Grenze ziehen als Auswandern gilt. ;-) Aber auch sonst: Ich war mal kurz davor, nach Oslo zu ziehen. Dänemark ist auch recht nett, Neuseeland ebenfalls reizvoll. Andererseits: Irgendwo hinzuziehen, wo ich niemanden kenn, keine Freunde habe, das wäre vermutlich nicht so mein Ding. (Und ja, selbst in Oslo hatte ich damals Freunde.)
22. Was würdest Du Gott sagen, wenn Du das Himmelstor erreichst?
“Oh, Dich gibt’s doch?”
23. Zwei Leute, die das hier auch beantworten sollen.
Dieter Schlabonski, nachdem er ja nun auch ein Blog hat *evilgrin* und, hmmm, Eric.

Achja, ich hab diesen Blog-Eintrag in Etappen geschrieben. Also nicht über den Zusammenhang zwischen Posting-Uhrzeit und daß ich grade zu Mittag futtere wundern. ;-)

Now playing: Eläkeläiset — Humpaton joulu

Following Bleeding Edge Software and still using Debian Stable //at 23:04 //by abe

from the opposites-attract dept.

Many Linux fans know that Debian Stable usually already lost the “b” when it’s being released. ;-) What seems not so well known (especially not by some DesktopBSD Marketing guy at last year’s :-) is that there is really a lot of people who really like this “stale” software collection — because it’s rock solid — especially compared to the ports in FreeBSD or DesktopBSD *evilgrin* which unnecessarily follow every new feature upstream introduces. This is really annoying in a server environment where you want as less changes as possible when updates are necessary due to security issues. My personal favourites here are Samba and CUPS. *grmpf*

Although I belong to those people who run Debian Stable even on brand-new hardware, I sometimes have to use the newest beta or alpha versions of some software to get it even only running. And doing so is fun but feels strange somehow, though. Currently I follow the pre-releases of three software makers quite close, due to a new laptop:

At the beginning of last semester I bought a brand-new Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2,2 GHz Intel Core2 Duo T7500, 4 GB RAM, 160 GB HD, 1440x900 14” Widescreen) without preinstalled operating system (possible thanks to the ETHZ Neptun Project) and installed — of course — 64-bit Debian Stable on it.

While the Debian Installer from Etch worked fine even on such new hardware, not all features worked out of the box because some components were just too new.

So the first thing I did was installing 2.6.22 from, quickly moving farther to vanilla 2.6.23. Nearly everything I needed worked except the wireless network card. It needs the iwlwifi driver which is officially in the Linux kernel starting at the upcoming 2.6.24 (said to be released during the next few days). So I run 2.6.24 pre-releases on the laptop since the first release candidate, always eagerly waiting for either the next RC or the final release. (And 2.6.24 looks impressively stable to me — even since the early release candidates. :-)

I even got the fingerprint reader working for login and sudo (but not xscreensaver) using libthinkfinger backported to Etch from Debian Experimental. I’m just not sure if this is a good idea since the back of the screen already has enough of my fingerprints on it. ;-)

The next software of which I’m currently running an alpha version is 64-bit Opera 9.50 (aka Kestrel, available at because no earlier Opera version is available for 64-bit Linuxes. Here I had different experiences: The builds from October and November were already quite stable, but since December it crashes usually several times a day.

At work I also run the 64-bit Opera on my workstation, but stalled updating it when I noticed that it became so unstable. So my Opera at work has currently an uptime of nearly four weeks — and would have probably more if I hadn’t rebooted my workstation in Mid-December.

Somehow this hunting for new versions and eagerly waiting for every new (pre-)release makes me really fidgety sometimes. And my understanding for people doing this for there whole userland or even operating system has grown, but I still prefer to have stale but stable software on all my productive machines, even on my laptop — just with some few and handpicked excpetions.

The third but less thrilling thing I’m following are nVidia drivers for X. Since the free nv driver of doesn’t support (and not only just doesn’t know) my graphics card yet and nouveau isn’t ready yet, I run the binary only and closed source driver from nVidia, waiting for that one release which supports Xen since I really would like to run a Xen guest with Debian Unstable for testing purposes and package building on my laptop. Until then I have to content myself with the much more unwieldy QEMU respectively KVM.

Anyway, I’m very happy with the T61 and Debian Stable and can easily connive at the few not (yet) perfect issues like missing Xen support by nVidia, broken ad-hoc mode in the wireless card, no internal card-reader (as announced in the Neptun specifications) and no native serial port.

Some useful links regarding the subject of this post:

Now playing: Jean Michel Jarre — Rendez-vous à Paris

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the Network Security Group (NSG) of the Central IT Services (Informatikdienste) at ETH Zurich.

Links to internal pages are orange, links to related pages are blue, links to external resources are green and links to Wikipedia articles, Internet Movie Database (IMDb) entries or similar resources are bordeaux. Times are CET respective CEST (which means GMT +0100 respective +0200).

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Just read

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

Currently Reading

  • Douglas R. Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach
  • Neil Gaiman: Keine Panik (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Neil Stephenson: Cryptonomicon (borrowed from Ermel)

Always a good snack

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