Winning the Google Open Source Lottery

I don't know about you, but I frequently get mails announcing that I was picked as the lucky winner of a lottery, compensation program or simply as "business associate". Obvious Spam of course, that never happens in reality. Just like my personal "favorite" at the moment: Mails notifying me of inheritance from a previously (more or less) unknown relative. Its just that this is what has happend basically a few weeks ago in reality to me (over the phone through) – and I am still dealing with the bureaucracy required of teaching everyone that I had absolutely no contact in the last two decades with the person for which I am supposed to be one of the legal successors now, regardless of how close the family relation is on paper… but that might be the topic of another day.

On the 1st March a mail titled "Google Open Source Peer Bonus Program" looked at first as if it would fall into this lottery spam class. It didn't exactly help that the mail was multipart HTML and text, but the text really only the text, not mentioning the embedded links used in the HTML part. It even included a prominent and obvious red flag: "Please fill out the form". 20% Bayes score didn't come from nothing. Still, for better or worse the words "Open Source" made it unlikely to be spam similar to how the word PGP indicates authenticity. So it happened, another spam message became true for me. I wonder which one will be next…

You have probably figured out by now that I didn't know that program before. Kinda embarrassing for a previous Google Summer of Code student (GSoC is run by the same office), but the idea behind it is simple: Google employees can nominate contributors to open source stuff for a small monetary "thank you!" gift card. Earlier this week winners for this round were announced – 52 contributors including yours truly. You might be surprised, but the rational given behind my name is APT (I got a private mail with the full rational from my "patron", just in case you wonder if at least I would know more).

It is funny how a guy who was taken aback by the prospect of needing a package manager like YaST to use Linux contributed just months later the first patch to apt and has roughly 8 years later amassed more than 2400 commits. It's birthday season in my family with e.g. mine just a few days ago, so its seems natural that apt has its own birthday today just as if it would be part of my family: 19th years this little bundle of bugs joy is now! In more sober moments I wonder sometimes how apt and I would have turned out if we hadn't meet. Would apt have met someone else? Would I? Given that I am still the newest team member and only recently joined Debian as DD at all…

APT has some strange ways of showing that it loves you: It e.g. helps users compose mails which end in a dilemma to give a recent example. Perhaps you need to be a special kind of crazy1 to consider this good, but as I see it apt has a big enough userbase that regardless of what your patch is doing, someone will like it. That drastically increases the chances that someone will also like it enough to say so in public – offsetting complains from all those who don't like the (effects of the) patch which are omnipresent. And twice in a blue moon some of those will even step forward and thank you explicitly. Not that it would be necessary, but it is nice anyhow. So, thanks for the love supercow, Google & apt users! 🙂︎

Or in other words: APT might very well be one of the most friendly (package manager related) project to contribute to as the language-specific managers have smaller userbases and hence a smaller chance of having someone liking your work (in public)… so contribute a patch or two and be loved, too! 💖︎

Disclaimer: I get no bonus for posting this nor are any other strings attached. Birthdays are just a good time to reflect. In terms of what I do with my new found riches (in case I really receive them – I haven't yet so that could still be an elaborate scam…): APT is a very humble program, but even it is thinking about moving away from a dev-box with less than 4 GB of RAM and no SSD, so it is happily accepting the gift and expects me to upgrade sooner now. What kind of precedence this sets for the two decades milestone next year? If APT isn't obsolete by then… We will see.

  1. which even ended up topping Hacker News around New Year's Eve… who would have thought that apt and reproducibility bugs are top news ;) 

Hello world!

The Internet is strange. It is full of websites and some even include lists. Lists full of talks for example like this one:

This APT has Super Cow Powers

DebConf15 talk on 2015-08-18 at 18:00 until 19:00 in Heidelberg/Germany:
Package management is a solved problem. Everyone knows how it works, nothing ever changes and there are enormous teams maintaining the tools involved which many people use and complain about everyday. In short: Fun is to be had elsewhere - or is it?
Confessions of an apt developer about the past, present and future of APT, the super cow powers in it and why you might want to care.

Don't worry, this post is really a Déjà-vu. In fact, it's even the fourth incarnation so by now it is a tradition – and traditions are good to reinstantiate old things like this blog¹. [Good boy, is it really four years later already… lets see if I can drop a few lines a bit more often here again now.]

This time around its the fault of "the stranger" through, as he proposed this himself (based on the fact that Michael did it last year, so its only fair if I do it now…).

This is the second Debconf for me now, after DebConf13 in Swiss, so I kinda know the drill now and it isn't a far away travel, but I am still near heart attack scared of what is ahead as this will be my first public talk in front of a big audience and as its gone be recorded I will be able to watch my mistakes on stage for all of eternity. 😉︎

Double exciting even as I signed up for DebCamp as well, so my DebConf experience will actually start tomorrow already. Tomorrow. weeeehh! See you there I hope. 😃︎

¹ Not actually this blog. The domain is new (more like 2 years old already, but I took my time to use it for what I wanted it for – to word it positively), but takes over the content of my old blog on Wordpress. This page is built with ikiwiki btw – much better. 🙂︎

Update: LWN covered the talk in an article and the video team provides a recording of my talk.

Hello world!

The Internet is strange. It is full of websites and some even include lists. Lists full of videos for example like this one:

Don't worry, this post is really a Déjà-vu. In fact, it's even the third incarnation

This stranger gets quite a bit of publicity it seems…

I mean, you are coming back from an exhausting offline week with 11 of "your kids" (>= 15 years; + 2 more "caregiver") involving walking 140 km in week and now that you can't move anyway anymore you want to relax a bit and watch the recordings (thanks video team btw!) of DebConf11 and you start with the loveliest sounding one - at least if you were GSoC 2010 student implementing Multiarch in APT - Multiarch in Debian: 6 months (or 6 years) on expecting a nice talk, some progress report, maybe some answers for questions and all that stuff and out of a sudden Steve drops your name…… three times in a single talk!

I am evaluating now solutions to the problem of becoming popular, so prepare to be impeached for mentioning my name in any kind of media in the future. I'm Batman! Shhh!. Every time such things happen it's harder for me to keep my beloved 'IANAD{D,M}' badge… how do you think my 'I am not responsible for this' claim will work without it…

More seriously through, I will go now and hunt down all my old school teachers and all the other people who where unable to pronounce my name after what felt like a trillion times of 'it's easy, just say "Day-vid Kahl-nisch-kies"'-remarks and show them a video of a non-native German speaker who is able to do it (mostly) correctly without this hint and straight from his memory!

But in the end, I am the last one who is able to complain about names as I have an inborn brain-defect which renders me unable to remember any name longer than a split-second… 😉︎

P.S. from 2015: This post was never published. It was only written and saved to a draft folder to be reviewed after I had a bit of time to recover… but I never went back to publish it, so now 4 years later…

Merry package management days!

There are times that everyone seems to be interested in package management and usually we call this time "Christmas". A single person gets the job of sending every child in the world more or less at the same time one or more presents - that sounds completely impossible. You know, there are even pseudo scientific studies that Chris Kringle would melt instantly in the try to travel fast enough… Yet alone, the production of all these presents at a single place hidden from the rest of the world. But is it really unrealistic? Linux has a marketshare under 1% and is therefore perfectly hidden for the majority of people. Debian provides more than 30.000 packages - more than any single person will ever need and such a number is by far not easy. Many people are working on this, still, there is a single team responsible for the final shipment: The release team, unbelievable that this works out… the release team has only a single advantage: Debian has no predefined release day - Debian releases then ready. 🙂︎

Anyway I am losing track, I want to say something completely different: I am personally not a big fan of this kind of "package management". I mean, why do we need special days to exchange gifts? Don't get me wrong, I love these days with the family and friends, but I am very happy that my family erased this strange requirement to get something for everyone as this generates only stress and even a whole new market-segment after Christmas which is happily served by eBay and co… (given that they even show ads regarding this each year after Christmas).

So, in conclusion, have fun with your family! (And be sure to trust your package management, you know that there is only one ;))

P.S.: These days are the cause for my inactivity in any serious APT business but I will (hopefully) be back 2011, just in case you wonder…

Hello world!

The Internet is strange. It is full of websites and some even include lists. Lists full of questions for example like this one: website screenshot showing an excerpt of an interview with

Don't worry, this post is really a Déjà-vu. My (now well known) stranger from across the street was interviewed by Raphaël Hertzog and reacted in a for him very typical fashion:

Would you accept to be interviewed?

My very first reaction was: Are you sure you wrote to the right person? Obviously, its unlikely that you mean somebody else with that name… But still: Interviewing me?

This internet thingy is really strange. Good that I am away now for the weekend with "my" kids (without internet of course), so I can relax a bit and be shocked again next week… "great" (at the time you read this, the interview or both, I am already away, so I can't link to it now, will include a link later)

But let me answer the question you very likely have on your lips: No, i am not sunburnt. The picture shows me in Italy (you might remember: ROMA 2010) so it could be cause of exposure to sun, but in reality the picture is very blue-tinted because of a bus-window between me and the camera (You don't trust me?), so this complexion is gimp'ed. As you can see, I am not a pro… but the other picture options would be even worse.

Its interesting, I was told already months ago that it was hard to find in the massive ROMA collection a picture depicting me. That caused a serious headache for my fellows trying to create a presentation with entertaining pictures to show at a revival without showing someone too often -- or too few in my case. I laughed after I was told it was so hard. You know, this horrible evil laugh nobody wants to listen to… And now I was hit by the very same problem… self-owned.

picture of me sleeping on a long train ride The only other option (expect of groupphotos maybe) can be seen on the left. If we would ask my kids, they would say that this picture shows all I did on the seventeen hours travel - and that's properly the truth. 🙂︎ Still, not very useful from an interview point of view.

So on the weekend now one of my goals will be to get some usable pictures. Who knows then the next website on the internet wants to show a picture of me together with my name…

But one interview is enough for now. It's not that it is bad to be interviewed, Raphael did a great job after all as I am not an easy client, but talking isn't one of my hobbies, even if its written talk (which isn't in conflict with writing a lot as you can see and as my kids can tell you).

So, and now enough of boring chit-chat. If you have additional questions, just ask.

Nothing to see here. Move along!

Ah, no, it's not that bad. It's just that nothing too exiting happened the last week(s). Okay, GSoC ended, I got my shirt, semester started, I created a new gpg key, my university annoyed me to death with the introduction of TuCaN('t), a great UDS happened, lots of talking, the DPL signed my new key while Michael can't, people nag me even harder to become DM eventually, I have still not started a key-transition, fixed a bunch of bugs, reading over the list of open bugs to close a few, started to work on some very funky very secret features in a not-yet pushed apt-next branch, my university annoyed me even more, exercises I have to do (but don't want) accumulate, working in various degrees on some young-group leader tasks, emails floating in and being answered maybe and all that stuff…

So, I am not death (jeppy!) just currently not motivated to write anything on my digital toilet walls - but if you want to change it, feel free to flattr me! (SCNR - but reading these kind of threads can be really interesting - and no, I don't have a flattr account, but I am not on the planet either :))

Anyway, you now know that everything is fine with and for me (mostly) , so no need to stand around here! Move along and fix a bug (or two) - or find another useful thing to do - instead! I guess we will read us soon again. 🙂︎

Week 15: live on a razor-edge

In Germany we have an idiom: "Gestern standen wir am Abgrund, heute sind wir einen Schritt weiter" (Yesterday we lived on a razor-edge, today we made a step forward). Another one is: "Lache und sei froh, es könnte schlimmer sein. Und ich lachte und war froh, und es kam schlimmer." (Laugh and smile, as it could be worse. And I laughed and smiled and it got worse.) Just to name a few: I still have a bit of a cold, my travel on Monday back home from university was delayed 2 hours and my first draft of this blogpost was eaten on Monday by wordpress site… A few other annoyances are solved by now, so its getting a bit better, for example: I am back on the gsoc-student-list after I was dropped approximately in early august for unknown reasons.

On the coding front, I fixed a few bugs, including serious or dumb or both, but nothing really noteworthy, even if some reporters have a different view obviously. They even asked for publishing the bug details on the frontpage as a big announcement…

In general I need to confess, I am a bit demotivated currently. I need to do a lot of (boring and dumb) university stuff including studying for an exam and finishing of bachelor project stuff (writing insane documentation mostly). This leads to something I haven't experienced much until now: I really care for weekends. Normally, I don't have a special favor for weekends as I don't dislike the weekdays in-between, but now… I currently have each weekend a nice action plan completely different to the weekday. On Friday I played a bit chaperon on a 18th birthday party in our fresh and cleaned up basement - its strange how different you can behave if you are "just" four or more years older. 😉︎ And its not just me, a fellow ROMA attendee invited all others to their new home. She is the same age as me (just half a year older or so) and ahmm, a bit shocked what was required to make a clean sweep after the evening…

Before that I was riding my bike a bit on Sunday or in other words Erbach to Marienthal and back which are around 25km in total. I guess I should have done it with a bit more preparation as my bike wasn't the best after being mothballed for more than a year, but okay, it was planed differently anyway.

So, as you can see, no really interesting stuff, especially not gsoc related in any way, so I really should come up with an interesting new schedule and title master plan. Lets see what happens after the last exam next week…

Week 11: Roma 2010

As said, last week I was away with "my kids" - 21 + three more advisor + myself. Long travel - ~15 hours - in a special train for all 1000 participations from the diocese Limburg, to finally meet ~55.000 people on the Saint Peter's Square. A cool week full of program and fun but also quite demanding…

I am feeling like my backpack sticker below right now fighting against an enormous backlog, watching some debconf material and trying to speed up again on APT bugfixing. See you hopefully refreshed next week 🙂︎

My GSoC sticker with washed out letters after a demanding week of ROMA

(the sticker looked new at the time I left the house on the 1. Aug…)

Hello world!

The Internet is strange. It is full of websites and some even include lists. Lists full of names for example like this one:

Excerpt from the list of accepted student proposals for GSoC 2010 with
my name included

And my name is included. My name included on such a long list. My name included on the (long) list of accepted students for GSoC 2010.

I have looked for a while now at that list on my laptop screen. I see my name. I have read my name. Others have told me that my name is written there.

I know that I should be happy now. I am chosen! Just, it doesn't feel like this. It is more like as I read that an unknown stranger from across the street was accepted. Good for him, but it doesn't touch me much, as I am not him…

I was in the same situation a week ago. I had posted a little introduction to soc-coordination and was a few hours later a bit shocked by the responses this email generated and instantly thought: "Do they really mean me?"

And while thinking about it I am lately in this situation quite often. The first time was definitely at the time Michael has spotted my apt branch on launchpad. A short while after that my name was the first time included in the apt changelog. After a few more contributions an invitation to the UDS-L and the upcoming UDS-M followed. And now the whole "Google Summer of Code"-thing…

I hope for this stranger that he hasn't opened Pandora's box by applying for an APT project at Debian as APT needs a lot of love in general and he received quite a bit of premature praise already so he will have a hard time to fulfill all expectations in the upcoming weeks… I at least wish him good luck!

I guess I will need a few hours days to realize that the stranger from across the street is actually me, so try to be kind to me in the next days and help me as much as you can with my first task: "Community bounding" 🙂︎

( I will follow-up with a better introduction of me and my proposal - I just needed to write this down before… )

Me, myself and I

My name is David Kalnischkies - working under the nick DonKult - I am a computer science student at the technical university of Darmstadt (Hesse, Germany, Europe, Earth), I am a aptosid (previously called sidux) and/or Debian unstable user since 2008 now and I am an APT Contributor.

This blog is an ongoing experiment and started as my try to document my experience while participating in the Google Summer of Code. Now, I will proceed mostly in talking about my beloved package manager. 🙂︎

If you want to contact me you can find me on the IRC nets freenode and oftc. Further more I am enlisted at various debian mailinglists included the holy list (obviously). You can also contact me privately by email to kalnischkies@ or and you can even encrypt all these messages with my (by now not very well signed hint hint) gpg-key with the wonderful fingerprint

pub   4096R/76B9B739 2010-10-07
  Key fingerprint = 1E09 B66D ED7B 5875 B552  B142 E197 0126 76B9 B739
uid                  David Kalnischkies (DonKult) <>
uid                  David Kalnischkies <>
uid                  David Kalnischkies <>
uid                  David Kalnischkies <>
sub   4096R/0E5AD339 2010-10-07

(and for reference my old one)

pub   2048R/5915EF26 2009-05-15
  Key fingerprint = 9E68 4915 17ED B9FA E1C2  32C3 FC05 8468 5915 EF26
uid                  David Kalnischkies (DonKult) <>
uid                  David Kalnischkies (DonKult) <>
sub   2048R/7CD5A942 2009-05-15
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