Category: Open Source Infrastructure

  • When debugging kernel problems that aren’t obvious, it’s necessary to understand the history of changes to the source files. For example, a race condition that results in a lockdep warning might have tentacles into multiple code paths. This requires us to examine and understand not only the changes made, but also why they were made. Individual patch commit logs are the best source of the information on why a change was made. So how do we find this information? My goto tool set for such endeavors has been a combination of git gui and git log. Recently I started using cregit. I will go over these options in this blog. git log Running git log on a source file will show all the commits for that file, then you can find the corresponding code change by generating the patch. Using git log can be tedious, but useful for targeted commit […]

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  • The X.org Foundation is a non-profit governance entity charged with overseeing core components of the open source graphics community. X.org had been structured as a legal (non-profit) corporate entity registered in the state of Delaware for some years, which provided tax deduction on donations and other such benefits. Unfortunately, being a non-profit is not cheap and entails various administrative tasks – filing annual reports, maintaining a bank account, dealing with donations and expenses, and so on – so the overhead of being an independent non-profit was deemed not worth the benefits, and in 2016 the members voted to join Software in the Public Interest (SPI). Joining SPI made a lot of sense; primarily, it would relieve X.org of administrative burdens while preserving the benefits of non-profit status. The costs of being in SPI are offset by the savings of not having to pay the various fees required to upkeep the […]

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  • After my previous blog post, you should now be using SSH and Tor all the more often, but things are probably slow when you are trying to setup a secure connection with this method. This may well be due to your computer lacking a proper source of entropy to create secure cryptographic keys. You can check the entropy of your system with the following command.

    This will return a number, hopefully it’s above 3,000 because that’s what is likely needed to keep up with your needs. So what do you do if it’s not high enough? This article will cover two tips to improve your computer’s entropy. All examples in this guide are for Linux distributions that use systemd. rngd rngd is a tool designed to feed the system with more entropy from various sources. It is part of the rng-tools package. After installing it, the rngd service needs to […]

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  • A V4L2 staging driver for the Raspberry Pi (RPi) was recently merged into the Linux kernel 4.11. While this driver is currently under development, I wanted to test it and to provide help with V4L2-related issues. So, I took some time to build an upstream kernel for the Raspberry Pi 3 with V4L2 enabled. This isn’t a complex process, but it requires some tricks for it to work; this article describes the process. Prepare an Upstream Kernel The first step is to prepare an upstream kernel by cloning a git tree from the kernel repositories. Since the Broadcom 2835 camera driver (bcm2835-v4l2) is currently under staging, it’s best to clone the staging tree because it contains the staging/vc04_services directory with both ALSA and V4L2 drivers:

    There’s an extra patch that it is required for DT to work with the bcm2835-v4l2 driver:

    You need to apply this to the git tree, in order for the vciq […]

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  • January 24, 2017 - Cedric Bail

    Improving the Security of Your SSH Configuration

    Most developers make use of SSH servers on a regular basis and it’s quite common to be a bit lazy when it comes to the admin of some of them. However, this can create significant problems because SSH is usually served over a port that’s remotely accessible. I always spend time securing my own SSH servers according to some best practices, and you should review the steps in this article yourself.  This blog post will expand upon these best practices by offering some improvements. Setup SSH Server Configuration The first step is to make the SSH service accessible via only the local network and Tor. Tor brings a few benefits for an SSH server: Nobody knows where users are connecting to the SSH server from. Remote scans need to know the hidden service address Tor uses, which reduces the risk of automated scan attacks on known login/password and bugs in the ssh server. It’s always […]

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  • October 28, 2016 - Mauro Carvalho Chehab

    Improving Linux Kernel Development Process Documentation

    This article will cover how the Linux kernel community handled the conversion of documentation related to the kernel development process; it’s part of a series on improvements being made to Linux kernel documentation. Introduction It’s not an easy task to properly describe the Linux development process. The kernel community moves at a very fast pace and produces about 6 versions per year. Thousands of people, distributed worldwide, contribute to this collective work; the development process is a live being that constantly adjusts to what best fits the people involved in the process. Additionally, since kernel development is managed per subsystems, each maintainer has their own criteria for what works best for the subsystem they take care of. To address this, the documentation provides a common ground for understanding the best practices all kernel developers should follow. The Documentation/Development-Process Book There are several files inside the kernel that describes the development […]

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  • October 13, 2016 - Mauro Carvalho Chehab

    Finishing the Conversion of Linux Media Documentation to ReST

    This article is part of a series on improvements to Linux Kernel documentation; this article will describe the effort to convert the remaining Linux Media subsystem documentation. The Linux Media Subsystem Documentation Before Kernel 4.8, the Linux Media documentation was splt into the Linux Media Infrastructure userspace API (uAPI), which described the system calls and sysfs devices the media subsystem uses. The conversion of this book was already explained in a previous article from this series, the Media subsystem kernel internal API (kAPI), which described the functions and data structures a media driver should use to implement drivers, some text files describing how to use the kAPI, these are spread inside the Documentation/ directory at the Kernel tree, a set of files that document some V4L drivers under Documentation/video4linux, and a set of files that document some DVB drivers, under Documentation/dvb. Converting the kAPI Book The kAPI book is actually […]

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  • This article is a part of a series that covers improvements that are being made to the Linux Kernel documentation; this article will begin to explain how we handled the conversion of the Linux Media subsystem documentation. The Linux Media Subsystem The Linux Media subsystem is actually a set of subsystems; each subsystem has its own particularities: Video4Linux –  API and core provide functions for video stream capture and output. It also provides support for video codecs, analog TV, AM/FM radio receivers and transmitters and for software digital radio (SDR) receivers and transmitters. Linux DVB – provides support for digital TV. Despite its name, it supports worldwide standards, including DVB, ATSC, ISDB, and CDDB, as well remote controllers and infra-red devices. Media Controller – provides pipeline control and reconfiguration inside the hardware. HDMI CEC – provides support for the HDMI Consumers Electronic Control (CEC): a system to pass remote controller […]

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  • This article is the first in a series on improvements to Linux Kernel documentation. The Linux Kernel has one of the biggest communities in the open source world; the numbers are impressive: over 4,000 contributors per year, resulting in about 8 changes per hour. That results in 4,600 lines of code added every day and a major release every 9-10 weeks. With these impressive numbers, it’s impossible for a traditional printed book to follow the changes because by the time the book is finally written, reviewed and published, a lot of changes have already merged upstream. So, the best way to maintain updated documentation is to keep it close to the source code. This way, when some changes happen, the developer that wrote such changes can also update the corresponding documents. That works great in theory, but it is not as effective as one might think. The Old Methods of […]

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  • Consistency is everything. If launching open source projects is part of your job, it is incredibly helpful to have a clear, consistent, and repeatable process for open sourcing code and building a project. Why? There are a few reasons. For one, it increases your odds of success if you can identify the parts of the process that worked well before, and repeat them. Project launches are about people as much as technology. There are actions that attract others, and actions that drive others away; it’s beneficial to remember which is which. If you can’t convince others to join and use your project, you may as well just post the code and be done with it. Another major reason is time. I seriously doubt I’m alone in observing that the typical “We’re launching an OSS project next month! Um, where do we start?” emails usually come with little warning. Most of the time […]

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