Public money? Public Code!

An open letter published today to the EU government says:

Why is software created using taxpayers’ money not released as Free Software?
We want legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well.

Code paid by the people should be available to the people!

See https://publiccode.eu/ for the campaign details.

This makes me think of starting an Israeli version…

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PHP 7.2 is coming… mcrypt extension isn’t

Early September, it’s about 3 months before PHP 7.2 is expected to be release (schedule here). One of the changes is the removal of the mcrypt extension after it was deprecated in PHP 7.1. The main problem with mcrypt extension is that it is based on libmcrypt that was abandoned by it’s upstream since 2007. That’s 10 years of keeping a library alive, moving the burden to distribution’s security teams. But this isn’t new, Remi already wrote about this two years ago: “About libmcrypt and php-mcrypt“.

But with removal of the extension from the PHP code base (about F**King time), it would force the recommendation was done “nicely” till now. And forcing people means some noise, although an alternative is PHP’s owns openssl extension. But as many migrations that require code change – it’s going slow.

The goal of this post is to reach to the PHP eco system and map the components (mostly frameworks and applications) to still require/recommend mcyrpt and to pressure them to fix it before PHP 72 is released. I’ll appreciate the readers’ help with this mapping in the comments.

For example, Laravel‘s release notes for 5.1:

In previous versions of Laravel, encryption was handled by the mcrypt PHP extension. However, beginning in Laravel 5.1, encryption is handled by the openssl extension, which is more actively maintained.

Or, on the other hand Joomla 3 requirements still mentions mcrypt.

mcrypt safe:

mcrypt dependant:

For those who really need mcrypt, it is part of PECL, PHP’s extensions repository. You’re welcome to compile it on your own risk.

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FOSScamp Syros 2017 – day 3

The 3rd day should have started with a Debian sprint and then a LibreOffice one, taking advantage I’m still attending, as that’s my last day. But plans don’t always work out and we started 2 hours later. When everybody arrive we got everyone together for a short daily meeting (scrum style). The people were divided to 3 teams for translating:  Debian Installer, LibreOffice and Gnome. For each team we did a short list of what left and with what to start. And in the end – how does what so there will be no toe stepping. I was really proud with this and felt it was time well spent.

The current translation percentage for Albanian in LibreOffice is 60%. So my recommendation to the team is translate master only and do not touch the help translation. My plans ahead would be to improve the translation as much as possible for LibreOffice 6.0 and near the branching point (Set to November 20th by the release schedule) decide if it’s doable for the 6.0 life time or to set the goal at 6.1. In the 2nd case, we might try to backport translation back to 6.0.

For the translation itself, I’ve mentioned to the team about KeyID language pack and referred them to the nightly builds. These tools should help with keeping the translation quality high.

For the Debian team, after deciding who works on what, I’ve asked Silva to do review for the others, as doing it myself started to take more and more of my time. It’s also good that the reviewer know the target language and not like me, can catch more the syntax only mistakes. Another point, as she’s available more easily to the team while I’m leaving soon, so I hope this role of reviewer will stay as part of the team.

With the time left I mostly worked on my own tasks, which were packaging the Albanian dictionary, resulting in https://packages.debian.org/sid/myspell-sq and making sure the dictionary is also part of LibreOffice resulting in https://gerrit.libreoffice.org/#/c/41906/ . When it is accepted, I want to upload it to the LibreOffice repository so all users can download and use the dictionary.

During the voyage home (ferry, bus, plain and train), I mailed Sergio Durigan Junior, my NM applicant, with a set of questions. My first action as an AM (:

Overall FOSScamp results for Albanian translation were very close to the goal I set (100%):

  • Albanian (sq) level1 – 99%
  • Albanian (sq) level2 – 25% (the rest is pending at #874497)
  • Albanian (sq) level3 – 100%

That’s the result of work by Silva Arapi, Eva Vranici, Redon Skikuli, Anisa Kuci and Nafie Shehu.

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FOSScamp Syros 2017 – day 2

The morning stated by taking the bus to Kini beach. After some to enjoy the water (which were still cold in the morning), we sat for talking about the local Debian community and how can we help it grow. The main topic was localization (l10n), but we soon started to check other options. I reminded them that l10n isn’t only translation and we also talked about dictionaries for spell checking, fonts and local software which might be relevant (e.g. hdate for the Jewish/Hebrew calendar or Jcal for the Jalali calendar). For example it seems that regular Latin fonts are missing two Albanian characters.

We also talked about how to use Open Labs to better work together with two hats – member of the local FOSS community and also as members of various open source projects (not forgetting open content / data ones projects as well). So people can cooperate both on the local level, the international level or to mix (using the other’s project international resources). In short: connections, connections, connections.

Another aspect I tried to push the guys toward is cooperating with local companies about open source, whether it’s the local market, the municipal and general government. Such cooperation can take many forms, sponsoring events / giving resources (computers, physical space or employee’s time) and of course creating more jobs for open source people, which in turn will support more people doing open source for longer period.

One of the guys thought  benefit the local community will benefit from a mirror server, but that also requires to see the network topology of Albania to make sure it makes sense to invest in one (resources and effort).

We continued to how it would be best to contribute to open source, mostly that Debian, although great isn’t always the best target, and they should always try to work with the relevant upstream. It’s better to translate gnome upstream then sending the Debian maintainer the translation to be included in the package. That shortcut can work if there’s something urgent like a really problematic typo or something what unless done before the release would require a long long wait (e.g. the next Debian release). I gave an example that for important RTL bugs in LibreOffice I’ve asked Rene Engelhard to include the patch instead of waiting for the next release and its inclusion in Debian.

When I started the conversation I mentioned that we have 33% females out of the 12 participants. And that’s considered good comparing to other computer/technical events, especially open source. To my surprise the guys told me that in the Open Labs hackerspace the situation is the opposite, they have more female members than male (14 female to 12 male). Also in their last OSCAL event they had 220 women and 100 men. I think there’s grounds to learn what happens there, as the gals do something damn right over there. Maybe Outreachy rules for Albania should be different (:

Later that day I did another session with Redon Skikuli to be more practical, so I started to search on an Albanian dictionary for spell checking, found an old one and asked Redon to check the current status with the guy. And also check info about such technical stuff with Social Sciences and Albanological Section of the Academy of Sciences of Albania, who is officially the regulator for Albanian.

In parallel I started to check how to include the dictionary in LibreOffice, and asked Rene Engelhard to enable Albanian language pack in Debian (as upstream already provide one). Checking the dictionaries I’ve took the opportunity to update the Hebrew. It took me a little longer as I needed to get rust off my LibreOffice repositories (dictionaries is a different repository) and also the gerrit setup. But in the end: https://gerrit.libreoffice.org/#/c/41864/

With the talks toady and the starting to combine both Debian and LibreOffice work today (although much of it was talking) – I felt like I’m the right person on the right place. I’m happy to be here and contribute to two projects in parallel (:

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FOSScamp Syros 2017 – day 1

During Debconf17 I was asked by Daniel Pocock if I can attend FOSScamp Syros to help with Debian’s l10n in the Balkans. I said I would be happy to, although my visit would be short (2.5 days) due to previous plans. The main idea of camp is to have FOSS people meet for about 1 week near a beach. So it’s sun, water and free software.  This year it takes place  in Syros, Greece.

After take the morning ferry, I met with the guys at noon. I didn’t know how would it be, as it’s my first time with this group/meeting, but they were very nice and welcoming. 10 minutes after my arrival I found myself setting with two of the female attendees starting to work on Albanian (sq) translation of Debian Installer.

It took my a few minutes to find my where to check out the current level1 files, as I thought they aren’t in SVN anymore, but ended up learning the PO files is the only part of the installer still on SVN. As the girls were quick with the assinged levle1 sublevels, I started to look for the level2 and level3 files, and it was annoying to have the POT files very accessible, but no links to the relevant git repositories. I do want to have all the relevant links in one central place, so people who want to help with translation could do that.

While some of the team member just used a text editor to edit the files, I suggested to them using either poedit or granslator, both I used a few years ago. Yaron Shahrabani also recommended virtaal to me, but after trying it for a while I didn’t like it (expect it’s great feature showing the diff with fuzzy messages). For the few people who also have Windows on their machine, both poedit and Virtaal have windows binaries for download. So you don’t have to have Linux in order to help with translations.

In parallel, I used the “free” time to work on the Hebrew translation for level1, as it’s been a while since either me or Omer Zak worked on it. Quite soon the guys started to send me the files for review, and I did find some errors using diff. Especially when not everyone use a PO editor. I also missed a few strings during the review, which got fixed later on by Christian Perrier. Team work indeed (:

I found it interesting to see the reactions and problems for the team to work with the PO files, and most projects now use some system (e.g. Pootle) for online web translation. Which saves some of the head ace, but also prevents from making some review and quality check before submitting the files. It’s a good idea to explore this option for Debian as well.

A tip for those who do want to work with PO files, either use git’s diff features or use colordiff to check your changes (notice less will require -R parameter to keep the color).

Although I met the guys only at noon, the day was very fruitful for Debian Installer l10n:

  • Albanian (sq) level1 – from 78% to 82% (Eva Vranici, Silva Arapi)
  • Albanian (sq) level2 – from 20% to 24% (Nafie Shehu)
  • Hebrew (he) level1 – from 96% to 97% (me)
  • Greek (el) level1 – from 96% to 97% (Sotirios Vrachas)

Some files are still work in progress and will be completed tomorrow. My goal is to have Albanian at 100% during the camp and ready for the next d-i alpha.

I must admit that I remember d-i to have many more strings as part of the 3 levels, especially levels 2+3 which were huge (e.g. the iso codes).

Except all the work and FOSS related conversations, I found a great group who welcomed me quickly, made me feel comfortable and taught me a thing or two about Greece and the Syros specifically.

TIP: try the dark chocolate with red hot chili pepper in the icecream shop.

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PDO_IBM: tracking changes publicly

As part of my work at Zend (now a RogueWave company), I maintain the various patch sets. One of those is the changes for PDO_IBM extension for PHP.

After some patch exchange I decided it’s would be easier to manage the whole process over a public git repository, and maybe gain some more review / feedback along the way. Info at https://github.com/kaplanlior/pecl-database-pdo_ibm/commits/zend-patches

Another aspect of this, is having IBMi specific patches from YIPS (young i professionals) at http://www.youngiprofessionals.com/wiki/index.php/XMLService/PHP, which itself are patches on top of vanilla releases. Info at https://github.com/kaplanlior/pecl-database-pdo_ibm/commits/zend-patches-for-yips

So keeping track over these changes as well is easier while using git’s ability to rebase efficiently, so when a new release is done, I can adapt my patches quite easily. Make sure the changes can be back and forward ported between vanilla and IBMi versions of the extension.

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Open source @ Midburn, the Israeli burning man

This year I decided to participate in Midburn, the Israeli version of burning man. Whiling thinking of doing something different from my usual habit, I found myself with volunteering in the midburn IT department and getting a task to make it an open source project. Back into my comfort zone, while trying to escape it.

I found a community of volunteers from the Israeli high tech scene who work together for building the infrastructure for Midburn. In many ways, it’s already an open source community by the way it works. One critical and formal fact was lacking, and that’s the license for the code. After some discussion we decided on using Apache License 2.0 and I started the process of changing the license, taking it seriously, making sure it goes “by the rules”.

Our code is available on GitHub at https://github.com/Midburn/. And while it still need to be more tidy, I prefer the release early and often approach. The main idea we want to bring to the Burn infrastructure is using Spark as a database and have already began talking with parallel teams of other burn events. I’ll follow up on our technological agenda / vision. In the mean while, you are more than welcome to comment on the code or join one of the teams (e.g. volunteers module to organize who does which shift during the event).

 

 

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