problems upgrading tetex-bin Sat, 30 Sep 2006

I went to update bluesock today and had wicked problems when it tried to upgrade tetex-bin to version 3.0-18. Every time it'd try to configure tetex-bin, it'd fail with this:

Setting up tetex-bin (3.0-18) ...
Running fmtutil-sys. This may take some time... Error: `etex -ini  
-jobname=jadetex -progname=jadetex &latex jadetex.ini' failed
Error: `pdfetex -ini  -jobname=pdfjadetex -progname=pdfjadetex &p
dflatex pdfjadetex.ini' failed

and lots of other output.

After futzing with things for a while I finally started skimming the Debian BTS and discovered bug 334613. Towards the bottom, Frank says that he can reproduce the bug by having jadetex installed before upgrading.

So I did an apt-get remove jadetex then an apt-get upgrade and tetex-bin installed fine as did everything else. Then I re-installed jadetex and docbook-utils and my system is happy again.

Figured I'd mention it in case anyone else had the same problem.

Update: I have multiple systems: one desktop (running Ubuntu Dapper), one laptop (running Ubuntu Edgy), and one server that I lease from ServerBeach (running Debian Sid). The jadetex problem I had was on the server running Debian Sid. I have no idea if the same problem occurs on my Ubuntu boxen. Figured I'd add that additional detail.

SPF and Exim in Debian Thu, 13 Jul 2006

Turns out the Debian packager doesn't enable SPF in the exim4-daemon-heavy package. But it took me a couple of hours to figure that out. I ended up implementing SPF using the libmail-spf-query-perl package by adding the following rule to my rcpt acl just before greylist stuff:

    message     = [SPF] $sender_host_address is not allowed to send mail \
                  from $sender_address_domain.
    log_message = SPF check failed.
    set acl_m9  = -ipv4=$sender_host_address \
                  -sender=$sender_address \
    set acl_m9  = ${run{/usr/bin/spfquery $acl_m9}}
    condition   = ${if eq {$runrc}{0}{true}{false}}

The exit codes for spfquery are in the spfquery file (it's a Perl script) and the code for "pass" is 0. So (in theory) this will accept any email that passes the SPF check. Any email that fails the SPF check will go through greylistd. I think that does what I want it to do.

Incidentally, I found the above code (though I inverted the check) here at The Linux Documentation Project.

My status with Debian Tue, 12 Oct 2004

I have Debian GNU/Linux happily running on my laptop, though my laptop is pretty pokey (it's an Inspiron 7000 that I bought in 1998).

My server at Serverbeach ( runs Debian and it was doing fine until the kernel switched the / mount to read-only and then died. Rebooting caused the server to fsck everything and I lost /var/lib and /var/cache... Then things got pretty interesting for a few hours. My friend gave me a tarball of his /var/lib (minus some random stuff) and from that and some useful files in /var/backup, I was able to bring most of the server back to life. Additionally, I found some of the files that were missing in lost+found. Tawdry things like mailing list archives dating back to 2000. Time to institute a more rigorous backup system that includes more data....

My dad loaned me one of his monster servers (see figure 1) because it was non-functional. My roommate pulled all the stuff out and put it back in again and now it works fine... Not clear what the actual issue was. Anyhow, once I get it booting, I'm going to slap Debian on that machine and start using it for development. Then I'll switch my pokey laptop to mirroring/backing-up

I've been really happy with Debian. As happy as I was with Gentoo, except I don't have to wait hours for X and various other large things to compile.

  ||__||   <---- server
  |    |
  |    |
  |____|   . <-- me

figure 1: an ascii picture of me standing next to the server

Debian command reference card Mon, 19 Apr 2004

This is a fantastic reference card for those of us who use Debian, but not so much that we've got all the commands ingrained in our heads until the end of time. Pretty fantastic piece of work. I wish I had one for vim.

03/14/2005 - I fixed the url to the reference card.

Debian cont... Thu, 25 Mar 2004

I'm on the UserLinux discussion list mostly because it's really interesting to watch a distribution get going and also because I'm hankering for a user-oriented distribution that I don't have to fiddle with that I can do regular non-fiddling things with.

Anyhow, caught this email, which is fascinating--I had no idea (apologies to Mr. Perens for quoting without permission and out of context but I figure it's in the public archives anyhow):

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 13:41:44 -0800
From: Bruce Perens <---------------->
Reply-To: ---------------------------
To: ---------------------------
Subject: [Discuss] Meaning of the Debian Swirl

Fabio asked what the Debian Swirl means.

It's "magic smoke". Electrical engineer lore is that when you burn out
an electronic component, you cause the "magic smoke" that makes it work
to be released. Once the magic smoke is gone, the component doesn't work
any longer. Debian is supposed to be the magic smoke that makes your
computer work.



That's cool--I had no idea.

Also, I burned a Knoppix cd, brought my old Dell Inspiron 7000 laptop with a DLink wireless card right up, and installed Debian by typing:


(or something very very similar) at the prompt and selecting debian-installation. It worked, it was trivial, and it was fantastic. My laptop was up and running in 30 minutes (from when I burned the cd to when the laptop had booted into Debian). Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Now I can _use_ it.

On my (n + 1)th installation attempt Sat, 20 Mar 2004

Every week or so, I have a 30 minute block of time where I decide I'm going to go tackle installing Debian on my Dell Inspiron 7000. It's good for me to keep trying this because it's incredibly humbling.

The machine has a CD-ROM drive, but it doesn't handle CD-RW discs (or at least it doesn't handle the ones I have). So every attempt I make, I create a coaster.

Going to try one more time. This time with a Knoppix cd. The biggest problem I'm having is getting the machine on the network. Once I get that done, then I'll be ok. But I can't seem to get the machine on the network with either my 3Com 10baseT pcmcia card or my SMC wireless pcmcia card.

One more time....

Debian (GNU/Linux) thoughts Sun, 09 Nov 2003

Debian (GNU/Linux) is very very slick. Very very slick. I'm vastly impressed at the time and effort that has gone into making Debian (GNU/Linux).

Debian vs. Redhat: Round 1: FIGHT! Sat, 08 Nov 2003

It took me 2 hours to install pure-ftpd on RedHat 7.1 (a couple of months ago). I ran into all kinds of RPM hell up the wazoo and then gave up and did a source install.

It took me 1 minute to install pure-ftpd on Debian 3.0 testing.

WINNER: DEBIAN! moving.... Sun, 02 Nov 2003 is (as of the time of this writing) a leased server hosted at and we've been there for a few years. They've been great and we've never had problems with them. Recently they informed us we needed to upgrade to RedHat 9.0 and it either involved a per-month rate increase or some finagling with the hardware and downtime. I decided this was as good a time as any to switch over to a different hosting service with Debian.

This will make the third Linux flavor that I'll have extensive administration experience with. The first two being RedHat (I've run many of the versions since 5.2) and Gentoo (which I've been running for a couple of years now). I ran Mandrake for a bit, but never really did anything with it. Same with Slackware. I toyed with Debian a couple of times, but never got past the installation.

It's all very exciting. Hopefully, everything will turn out just right.