mytop: a top clone for MySQL
on 26.12.2007, 05:00
in packages-news
cpipe: Determine the throughput of a pipe
on 23.12.2007, 05:00
in packages-news
Debian Edu Skolelinux wins the Scandinavian Free Software Award
on 20.12.2007, 10:44
in success-stories
Liferea: an RSS reader for GNOME
on 19.12.2007, 05:00
in packages-news
HTTrack: Website crawler / copier
on 16.12.2007, 05:00
in packages-news
Debian Edu Skolelinux 3.0 Terra updated to 3.0r1
on 13.12.2007, 23:45
in release
gddrescue: a tool for recovering data from damaged media
on 12.12.2007, 14:51
in packages-news
DebConf7 Final Report
on 07.12.2007, 15:53
in debconf-news
VirtualBox: A virtual PC for you
on 05.12.2007, 05:00
in packages-news

mytop: a top clone for MySQL

published on Wed Dec 26 05:00:21 2007 in packages-news

Ever wondered “what the hell is that mysql server doing”? Search no longer, My top is the answer.

Mytop is a clone of top, a utility every sysadmin knows about, but instead of monitoring the system, it follows MySQL threads. In a nutshell, it’s a nifty command line tool that will connect to a MySql server and periodically run the SHOW PROCESSLIST and SHOW STATUS commands. It will then provide nice summaries of the results, and let the user apply various filters.

After the installation you can run mytop providing some parameters, for example: mytop -u root -p rootpass -d database, where database is the database you want to monitor, or you may create a .mytop file containing the configuration directives so you don’t have to type everything every time.


As you can see in the screen shot, the main screen can be divided in two parts. The upper part, the header, which you can remove pressing H, contains statistical informations on the server. On the the first line, you have the host name, the version and the uptime of the MySQL server (in days+hour:minutes:seconds format).The second line will show you the total number of queries the server has processed and the average number of query per second. The slow label marks the number of slow queries —remember you can log slow queries configuring your mysql server.

The third line contains now information: queries per second, slow queries and —if your MySQL version is recent— threads information. On the fourth line you can see the efficiency of the key buffer —that is, how often mysql will find keys in the buffer instead of reading from the disk— the average number of bytes that MySQL has sent and received and how many bytes it is sending and receiving now.

The second part of the screen will list the active threads. As you can see in the screen shot, the thread mytop is using will be listed too. The thread list will show you the user name, database and host name for each thread, which query each thread is running or its state. As the documentation states, it might be a good idea to run mytop in an xterm that is wider than the normal 80 columns if possible, so you can see the whole line.

While inside mytop, you can use h and d to filter for a particular host or database in the thread list, or u to filter on user name. The F key will reset all the filters.

A very useful command is the k command, able to kill a given thread, and you can use f to get more information about a running thread.

If you want to embed mytop in your script or webapp, you can use the -b switch to have mytop run in batch mode. In batch mode, mytop runs only once, does not clear the screen, and places no limit on the number of lines it will print; as the documentation says.

Mytop has been available both Debian and Ubuntu since a long time ago.

cpipe: Determine the throughput of a pipe

published on Sun Dec 23 05:00:35 2007 in packages-news

Article submitted by Todd Troxell. Please help DPOTD by submitting good articles about software you like!

A package I find useful is cpipe. It is simple tool you can use to determine the throughput of a pipe. Potential uses of cpipe might include determining the speed of:

  • backups that use tar and dd
  • your system’s pseudo-random number generator (see below)
  • an OpenSSH tunnel or OpenVPN between two systems on the Internet

For example, to determine the speed at which you can read from /dev/urandom and write to /dev/null, run:

$ cpipe -vt < /dev/urandom > /dev/null

This will produce output like the following:

thru:  56.045ms at    2.2MB/s (   1.3MB/s avg)    1.1MB
thru:  74.936ms at    1.7MB/s (   1.3MB/s avg)    1.2MB
thru:  21.748ms at    5.7MB/s (   1.4MB/s avg)    1.4MB
thru:  90.131ms at    1.4MB/s (   1.4MB/s avg)    1.5MB

You can also use it to measure read times, write times and to limit throughput:

$ cat /dev/zero | cpipe -s 100 -vt > /dev/null
thru: 1256.079ms at  101.9kB/s ( 101.9kB/s avg)  128.0kB
thru: 1259.942ms at  101.6kB/s ( 101.7kB/s avg)  256.0kB
thru: 1260.469ms at  101.5kB/s ( 101.7kB/s avg)  384.0kB

Cpipe’s upstream homepage is It is written by Harald Kirsch. It has been available in Debian since (at least) sarge, and Ubuntu since (at least) dapper.

Debian Edu Skolelinux wins the Scandinavian Free Software Award

contributed by andremachado, published on Thu Dec 20 10:44:36 2007 in success-stories

Debian Edu / Skolelinux wins the Scandinavian Free Software Award

The Free Software Foundation Europe announced that Debian-Edu / Skolelinux, an international project, is the winner of the first Free Software Scandinavian Award, during the Free Software Conference Scandinavia 2007, in Goteborg, Sweden, December 7th, 2007.

"Debian-Edu / Skolelinux captures a big part of the Free Software spirit: sharing and reusing.

By focusing on schools, Debian-Edu / Skolelinux makes sure students, who are tomorrow's computer users and decision makers, can grow up with the spirit of sharing, reusing and learning from family, friends and neighbours."

"Debian-Edu / Skolelinux has combined dedicated work and important contributions with technical excellence and political skills."

"The adoption of Debian-Edu / Skolelinux in many countries around the globe shows that the use of Free Software and open standards has spread in a very positive way."

"The next milestone will be the merging different school distributions based on Debian. Starting this year, Debian-Edu / Skolelinux will be deployed in the spanish region of Extremadura, replacing and building on top of the successful GNU / Linex project, which has, at the moment, more than 250.000 users and 80.000 workstations in use at schools in Extremadura."

"Both Debian-Edu / Skolelinux and the GNU / LinEx build upon Debian GNU / Linux and can enjoy the many benefits of building upon an easily extandable, well tested, and Free operating system."

More information about the Scandinavian Free Software award can be found at the FSFE announcement.

About Debian Edu / Skolelinux

Debian-Edu / Skolelinux is a Custom Debian Distribution (CDD) from the international Debian-Edu project team, wich forms a complete tailored software solution for the needs of any educational institution or school.

It is a ready-to-use computer operating system, allowing schools to forgo the need to piece together components.

You can read more about Debian-Edu / Skolelinux here.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is one of the free operating systems (GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd, GNU/NetBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD), developed by more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the Internet on the Debian Project.

Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature, and its open development model make it a first among GNU/Linux distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating system possible.

About GNU / Linex

The GNU / Linex is a Debian based GNU / Linux distribution produced by the Community of Extremadura (Spain). Well known in Linux circles in Spain, this veteran distribution has opened the Spanish public administration and schools to the Open Source / Free Software world.

About Free Software Foundation Europe

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit and (in some countries) charitable non-governmental organization dedicated to Free Software as in freedom.

Vision of Free Software

Access to software determines who may participate in a digital society. Therefore, the freedoms to use, copy, modify and redistribute software -- as described in the Free Software definition -- are necessary to allow equal participation in the information age.

The vision of Free Software is one of a stable basis for freedom in a digital world -- both in an economic and socio-ethical context. Free Software is one important cornerstone for freedom, democracy, Human rights and development in a digital society.

The FSFE is dedicated to supporting all aspects of Free Software in Europe. Creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE.

Liferea: an RSS reader for GNOME

published on Wed Dec 19 05:00:58 2007 in packages-news

Article submitted by Paul Gear. Please help DPOTD by submitting good articles about software you like!

I recently discovered Liferea, an RSS reader/aggregator that uses Mozilla’s xulrunner as its web browsing engine. Its interface resembles that of a mail client such as Mozilla Thunderbird (a.k.a. icedove), and it works in much the same way, marking items as read when you click on them. Here’s a screen shot of Liferea in action:


Useful features include:

  • Items in feeds may be flagged for later reference, and viewed in a separate “Flagged” folder
  • Custom folder hierarchies for organising feeds
  • “Heads-up display” on-screen notifications
  • Selectable web browser (either internal, or any of the GNOME options)

Installation is typically straightforward using the standard package management tools on Debian or Ubuntu. A GNOME menu item is automatically created, and I was immediately productive after finding the basic menu items. Each feed has a number of options available, and Liferea will intelligently choose an appropriate refresh interval for each feed, or use your default if you prefer that instead.

One feature that would be useful to add to Liferea (this review is based on version 1.0.27 from Debian etch) is emailing of links, but this is easily worked around by opening in an external browser, and using the email link option from there.

Despite discovering it largely by accident (I saw it in the user agent portion of my blog’s Apache log), Liferea has become a mainstay desktop application for me. If you don’t find Liferea appropriate for your needs, you might want to check Wikipedia’s list of feed aggregators for one more appropriate to your needs.

Liferea has been in Debian since at least sarge and Ubuntu since at least dapper (it was in the universe repository prior to feisty).

HTTrack: Website crawler / copier

published on Sun Dec 16 05:00:49 2007 in packages-news

Article submitted by Zhao Difei. We are running out of articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

HTTrack is a powerful tool that allows you to download / mirror a website to a local location.

Basically, HTTrack follows the links of the original website, recursively downloads them to the local directory while re-arranging the hyper-links structure so you can just simply open a downloaded HTML file and browse at the local machine. In contrast, the recursive mirror function of Wget will not rearrange the hyper-links on the web pages you downloaded, so they might still be pointing to remote locations.

HTTrack is a powerful tool but the syntax is very simple, let’s have a look at the basic usage:

$ httrack –help

HTTrack version 3.41-3 (compiled Jul 3 2007)
usage: httrack [-option] [+<URL_FILTER\>] [-<URL_FILTER>] [+<mime:MIME_FILTER>] [-<mime:MIME_FILTER>]

A simple example that copies the website to the local “httrack” directory:

$ mkdir httrack
$ cd httrack/
$ httrack
Mirror launched on Sun, 30 Sep 2007 18:05:40 by HTTrack Website Copier/ [XR&CO’2007]
mirroring with the wizard help..
* (17854 bytes) - OK

HTTrack can also apply download filters, you may have noticed the “*_FILTER” things from the httrack usage line above, the plus sign + means to download a specific patter, and the minus sign - means to avoid download. The following examples (mirroring slashdot) show a simple usage of filters, the first one will not download items from the site, and the second one will not download items which have a MIME image/jpeg type, please notice that you can still view the things you did not download if you have the Internet connection available, because HTTrack will arrange the hyperlinks for you:

$ httrack*
$ httrack -mime:image/jpeg

To download two sites that share lots of common links, you can do:

$ httrack

There are still many options and more advanced usages left, interested readers may always read the manual. HTTrack is available in Debian from oldstable Sarge to unstable Sid and for Ubuntu from Dapper to Gutsy.

World s first OLPC mass deployment uses Debian GNU Linux as its backend server

contributed by andremachado, published on Sat Dec 15 01:57:37 2007 in success-stories

Ivan Krstić, the director of security architecture of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC), was the one in charge of making fixes for things surely work at the world's first mass deployment of the OLPC at schools of Uruguay.

He reported that Debian was used at this deployment:

"IBM won the server bid, providing x3105-series tower servers. These are dual-core 1.8GHz Opteron 1210 machines with 2GB RAM and two 160GB SATA drives. Much to my joy, they are running Debian 4.0 “Etch”, and providing DHCP, Dansguardian-filtered web access, and various monitoring services."

The Debian Project is proud of participating at this historic moment with its GNU / Linux operational system port.

The inclusion of the impovered children into the digital era is aligned with the Debian Project ethos, Social Contract, and Debian Free Software Guidelines.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is one of the free operating systems (GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd, GNU/NetBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD), developed by more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the Internet at the Debian Project website.

Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature, and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating system possible.

Debian Edu Skolelinux 3.0 Terra updated to 3.0r1

contributed by andremachado, published on Thu Dec 13 23:45:36 2007 in release

The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project is proud to announce the 3.0r1 maintainance release!

The 3.0r1 point release of Debian Edu / Skolelinux is a maintenance update.

It's including more than 40 bug fixes and security updates that came to our attentention after the 3.0r0 release. It is based on Debian etch 4.0r1. A link to download locations is available at the end of this announcement.

The most notable change is the much improved documentation, especially the getting started and maintenance chapters are much more complete now and cover everything which needs to be done to get started.

The translation to German, Norwegian Bokmal and Italian (new) have been updated, the latter two even completed. Both HTML and PDF versions now include images, some localized, and provide internal document links.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) documentation in Norwegian is now also available in HTML. Important bugs has been fixed in the LDAP Web-based Administration Tool (lwat).

A load-balancing feature is included in the thin client system ( New improvements have been selectively introduced after considerable testing, with the emphasis on stability for centrally-operated installations.

This maintenance release shows that the Debian Edu / Skolelinux delivers updates and releases at a steady phase, confirming the international cooperation and a growing community.

Finally, to improve communication between Debian Edu / Skolelinux developers and users, the debian-edu-announce mailing list has been created. This is a low traffic list for announcements, such as new releases or package updates, only. Please visit that page to read the archive or to subscribe.

For a detailed list what's new in the 3.0r1 release please see our release notes.

More information about Debian Edu / Skolelinux visit its site.

Skolelinux Download and mirror list.

Complete list of improvements at the release notes.

Release manual for the Debian Edu / Skolelinux "Terra" 3.0r1 release.

Full press release with contact data at here.

gddrescue: a tool for recovering data from damaged media

published on Wed Dec 12 14:51:17 2007 in packages-news

Entry submitted by John Carlyle-Clarke. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute!

I wanted to recover data from a failing hard drive, and asked on IRC if any good tools existed for Ubuntu. Someone pointed me towards GNU ddrescue (named gddrescue in Debian and Ubuntu), which is designed for rescuing data from any file or block device.

Don’t confuse this with dd_rescue (package name ddrescue). GNU rescue is a better tool.

The GNU site describes GNU ddrescue as a data recovery tool, and lists these features:

  • It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, CD-ROM, etc) to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors.
  • It does not truncate the output file if not asked to, so every time you run it on the same output file, it tries to fill in the gaps.
  • It is designed to be fully automatic.
  • If you use the log file feature of GNU ddrescue, the data is rescued very efficiently (only the needed blocks are read). Also you can interrupt the rescue at any time and resume it later at the same point.
  • The log file is periodically saved to disc. So in case of a crash you can resume the rescue with little recopying.
  • If you have two or more damaged copies of a file, CD-ROM, etc, and run GNU ddrescue on all of them, one at a time, with the same output file, you will probably obtain a complete and error-free file. The probability of having damaged areas at the same places on different input files is very low. Using the log file, only the needed blocks are read from the second and successive copies.
  • The same log file can be used for multiple commands that copy different areas of the file, and for multiple recovery attempts over different subsets.

The algorithm of GNU ddrescue is as follows:

  1. Optionally read a log file describing the status of a multi-part or previously interrupted rescue.
  2. Read the non-damaged parts of the input file, skipping the damaged areas, until the requested size is reached, or until interrupted by the user.
  3. Try to read the damaged areas, splitting them into smaller pieces and reading the non-damaged pieces, until the hardware block size is reached, or until interrupted by the user.
  4. Try to read the damaged hardware blocks until the specified number of retries is reached, or until interrupted by the user.
  5. Optionally write a log file for later use.

To use it, you need to install gddrescue, but it is invoked as ddrescue. This is confusing, but it’s because dd_rescue had already taken the name.

The syntax is simple and the man and info documents are pretty good. Here is an example session with a data CD (no errors found).

$ ddrescue -v /dev/cdrom Recovered.iso ddrescue.log

About to copy 101763 kBytes from /dev/cdrom to Recovered.iso
    Starting positions: infile = 0 B,  outfile = 0 B
    Copy block size: 128 hard blocks
Hard block size: 512 bytes
Max_retries: 0    Split: yes    Truncate: no

Press Ctrl-C to interrupt
Initial status (read from logfile)
rescued:         0 B,  errsize:       0 B,  errors:       0
Current status
rescued:   101763 kB,  errsize:       0 B,  current rate:    3801 kB/s
   ipos:   101711 kB,   errors:       0,    average rate:    2702 kB/s
   opos:   101711 kB

Useful links:-

Related software:-

gddrescue is available in Debian since Etch, and in Ubuntu since Edgy. It was started by Antonio Diaz Diaz in 2004.

Ministry of Education from Brazil is buying 3000 Debian GNU Linux computers with four multimedia terminals.

contributed by andremachado, published on Sun Dec 9 17:17:36 2007 in success-stories

The Ministry of Education from Brazil is buying more 3000 Debian GNU / Linux computers , with four multimedia terminals and compatible printers for installing at 3000 rural schools, with 36 months contractual support. This next bidding adds up to the previous 90000 Debian GNU / Linux computers, network and printers.

At november 30th, 2007, the brazilian Ministry of Education used the government official virtual trading room site , ComprasNet, to call for offers from pre-qualified vendors.

The bidding 51/2007 process 23034.003003/2007-98 of FUNDO NACIONAL DE DESENVOLVIMENTO DA EDUCACAO - FNDE, MINISTERIO DA EDUCACAO, BRASIL, will require fully Debian 4.0 Etch compatible multimedia multiterminal CPUs fully demonstrated by tests with official Debian 4.0 installation disks (or the Ministry customized Debian available at its ) as the previous bidding 45/2007.

The four multimedia terminal solution will be installed at 3000 rural schools at various regions of Brasil.

The official site to obtain the 78 page detailed government edictal is ComprasNet.

You will need the "Cod UASG = 153173" and "publishing date = 8 November 2007" with the navigation at Acesso Livre > Aviso Licitacoes > Select "todas modalidades".

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is one of the four (GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd, GNU/NetBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD) free operating systems, developed by more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the Internet at the Debian Project website.

Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature, and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating system possible.

Clusterssh: control serveral ssh sessions via a single interface

published on Sun Dec 9 05:00:37 2007 in packages-news

Article submitted by Maurizio Pedraglio. We are running out of articles! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like!

Clusterssh is a graphical utility that allows you to open several ssh connections and execute commands simultaneously in all of them. I find it powerful in many cases, for example when I’ve to perform a dist-upgrade on many different servers.

It provides a small window to control the sessions, and one xterm window for each one of them. Here are some screen shots using it on Ubuntu and Gnome 2.20.

You can open a ssh session simply clicking on “Host” and then “Add Host”.


Type user@server in the “Add Host” window and a new shell will appear in a new window.

You’ll be able to open n different ssh session versus n hosts. You should focus the input box in the controlling window to send commands to all the shells at once.


If you want to execute a command only in a single host, simply focus the right shell. The other shells won’t receive anything, and the command will take effect only on the selected host.

If you want to detach a shell from the parallel command execution, simple uncheck it in the “Host” menu. In the case below commands will be executed on host and localhost1 but not on localhost


Others commands available: use “Toggle active state“ to uncheck all host; “Retile” allows you to reorganise windows in the desktop. Clusterssh can also be launched from the command line, just type in a shell:

cssh serverA serverB … serverN

Clusterssh has been available both in Debian and Ubuntu since a long time ago

DebConf7 Final Report

published on Fri Dec 7 15:53:00 2007 in debconf-news

After a lot of work, the DebConf7 Final Report has been released. The report is intended for a large audience, and includes impressions and facts from the conference. Whether you were there or not, we hope you will find the report an interesting read!

The report is available as a PDF.

Many thanks to those who assisted in the production of this report, and to all those who were there at DebConf7! See you in Argentina, August 2008!

VirtualBox: A virtual PC for you

published on Wed Dec 5 05:00:25 2007 in packages-news

Article submitted by Tomas Pospisek. Please help DPOTD by submitting good articles about software you like!

VirtualBox is a piece of software that uses virtualisation to simulate a PC. With it you can run Windows, Open BSD or even Linux from your Debian system. Since it also runs on Windows and Mac OS, you can use it to run Debian from that other non-free OS. Note however that it only works on x86 and x86_64 hosts.

You can use it if you want to test or have a look at a live CD distribution or to help the KDE project test the new KDE4 without messing up your current desktop.

You can do all this in a nice and hassle free GUI, driven by menus or application wizards. Here you can see the mentioned "KDE Four Live" CD booted up and ready within VirtualBox.

virtualbox-ose screenshot

VirtualBox requires to load its own set of kernel modules and won’t start without them. There is a package providing pre-built modules for the stock kernels in testing, you will need to manually install the correct version for your kernel. If those packages doesn’t suit you, you will need to compile them; the standard Debian way to do this would be:

$ sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose virtualbox-ose-sources module-assistant
$ sudo module-assistant prepare virtualbox-ose
$ sudo module-assistant auto-install virtualbox-ose
$ ls /usr/src/virtualbox-ose-modules-*
$ sudo dpkg -i /usr/src/virtualbox-ose-modules-*.deb

That last line will need to be re-written to pick the virtualbox-ose-modules package that corresponds to your kernel.

You’ll also need to add the users that should be allowed to run VirtualBox to the vboxusers group. I’m adding the current user here:

$ sudo adduser `whoami` vboxusers

Now you have to re-login so that your process context picks up the fact that you now belong to then vboxusers group. You can do that by "su"ing into yourself:

$ su `whoami` -

And here you go:

$ virtualbox

Note for those who like to know how it works: VirtualBox tries to run native code whenever possible, when it’s necessary it uses dynamic recompilation as QEMU does. It also moves guest code intended to run on ring 0 to ring 1, and because of this it doesn’t use the VMX features from the processor too much. See the technical documentation for details.

The virtualbox-ose package is available in Debian testing and unstable, and in Ubuntu since Gutsy (if you’re thinking of upgrading to testing, be sure you are aware of the implications, before doing so!). There’s also a backport to the currently stable Debian "etch" release.