I have been occasionally working on some Debian-related tasks.


One of those was to get chrony is a slightly better shape, by using, at least, a patch system (indeed, I "modernized" its packaging with the format "3.0 (quilt)"), put it in a git repository and would like to receive some comments on what I have so far.

The bug Debian bug #694690 contains a very brief description of my intentions and of the problems that I see in the current package. IMVHO, it is a very nice NTP client and server and it could even be used as the default for Debian, once it gets in shape. There is at least another high-profile distribution, namely Fedora, that switched to chrony as its default NTP software. We can certainly take a look at what they are doing and join forces here.


Another package where I spent some time was with mongodb: MongoDB is a tricky package that is only built for 2 arches: amd64 and i386. The version in unstable for i386 was 2.0.x (roughly the same as for wheezy), which the version in unstable for amd64 was 2.4.1, which has many features that 2.0 lacks.

The packaging of it is a bit tricky, since the source tree has bazillion embedded/convenience libraries (e.g., Google's v8, Mozilla's spidermonkey, BOOST, Google's Snappy, PCRE 3 etc.). Up to version 2.4.1-2, it used all these convenience copies, which is of course, a problem for a distribution like Debian.

I changed part of the build process to use the libraries that we already have in Debian and, as Antonin Kral uploaded this newer version, unsurprisingly the binary packages are smaller (especially if you take into account that a handful of the libraries may already be installed on the system).

A few hours later, Antonin uploaded a new upstream version, which means that we now have better MongoDB packages to play with. I am, in fact, really playing with MongoDB as my first NoSQL database, since 10gen is giving an introductory course on how it works and my motivation was to get what we have in Debian in shape for the course.

You can say that I am a firm believer of the "eat your own dogfood" principle.

Regarding MongoDB only being built for i386 and amd64, the BTS has a patch to enable building for kFreeBSD, but the patch is for the 2.0 series and the code has changed so drastically in relation to the 2.4 series that there is no hope of it applying. It would be super nice to have MongoDB working on kFreeBSD and on HURD also, though.


There is a very nice command line program called nocache that was packaged by Dmitry Smirnov (and just approved by the FTP masters!) whose packaging I briefly reviewed per Dmitry's request and this is an amazing utility whose purpose is to bypass/minimize file system caching for a program.

This is especially useful when you are making backups (reading lots of files that would, otherwise, fill the filesystem cache, even if they are not used frequently) or if you are just streaming one file (possibly larger than the system's RAM) to another computer and you have no need to use the file immediately after that.

It performs its job by using the LD_PRELOAD mechanism and using posix_fadvise's flag POSIX_FADV_DONTNEED for the files that will be touched.

Post note

Oh, just one aside: for the readers of Debian Planet and other aggregation services which are not Debian Developers/Maintainers, I contributed to these packages without being the maintainer of them, just scratching some itches and contributing back what I produced.

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