Daniel’s weekly report

December 3, 2021

Happened this week

I started off the week with a bang. The primary server I take care of (owned and run by Haxx), which hosts the curl website origin, many mailing lists and a range of other services needed an upgrade. It runs Debian and we took the plunge and upgraded it to Debian 11. Just like that, on a Monday.

This lax attitude of mine to a system upgrade, of course immediately hit me in the face when it dawned upon me that in Debian 11 they no longer ship Python 2 and as direct side-effect of this: mailman 2 is no longer provided as a package, I believe because it is still only supported with Python 2. Our mailing list server on lists.haxx.se run sixteen public mailing lists and a few private ones, and in this single careless upgrade they were all suddenly out of order.

Debian 11 instead provides mailman 3. This is not just a typical upgrade from version 2 but is rather a fairly big and different take on mailing lists. Documentation might even make you believe that you can more or less automatically convert from a mailman 2 instance to a mailman 3 instance so I figured that is what I needed to do as well to stay with the times. I subsequently installed mailman3 and started configuring the machine to instead offer the lists to the world using this version, ran conversion scripts, modified server configs and configured the new services. I struggled with this during the rest of the Monday until late in the evening. By midnight I stopped and went to bed.

Very annoyed over my troubles and over a (django) web server that runs and logs an error by dumping an entire python stack trace in the log file saying “can’t find the database” but leaving out the only really interesting and important tidbit in that error: the file name of the database, I spent Tuesday on casually trying more things to get mailman3 up while other work needed some attention and I started to reconsider my options and how I should proceed to get the lists back up.

Late Tuesday afternoon I decided to backpedal to at least get something up and working again sooner rather than later and the mailman3 config really made me lose my temper I felt as if I was going nowhere with it. I instead built Python2, mailman2 and pip (for python2) etc from source.

Wednesday morning I restored the mailman2 configs for the web-server, fixed postfix to again work with it and tweaked my docker configs to use the new paths on my machine, tested the new config a tittle and then… at 10:03:03 Wednesday morning I could finally send a mail to the curl-library informing everyone about the 46 hour glitch we just experienced. The lists were back up. On mailman2. I learned something. I think.

Sticking to mailman2 might not be a solid long-term solution but at least things are now working again and I have time and opportunity to consider my future options in a more relaxed and planned-ahead way.

  • I was contacted by a potential customer asking about the feasability of porting libcurl to offer FTP and SFTP powers on 16 bit CPU with 16K RAM… libcurl is not currently ported to 16 bit, and getting a general purpose FTP client into 16K is probably hard. Getting SFTP into the mix as well I deem is completely impossible.

  • Found myself listed as the 5th most followed GitHub user in Sweden

  • Talked open source supply chain security and sustainability with a journalist. How come something that is made by a small distributed team with very little funding can end up getting used by virtually everything and everyone?

  • Attended the 2021 Polhem Prize award ceremony, looking like this. Conversations with various (mostly engineers) at this event combined with the above mentioned discussion lies behind this week’s blogpost of mine.

Blog posts

Coming up

  • the curl feature freeze starts on Wednesday
  • fix more tests to work with hyper


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