Enrico's blog

These are some notes about my redesign work in staticsite 2.x.

Maping constraints and invariants

I started keeping notes of constraints and invariants, and this helped a lot in keeping bounds on the cognitive efforts of design.

I particularly liked how mapping the set of constraints added during site generation has helped breaking down processing into a series of well defined steps. Code that handles each step now has a specific task, and can rely on clear assumptions.

Declarative page metadata

I designed page metadata as declarative fields added to the Page class.

I used typed descriptors for the fields, so that metadata fields can now have logic and validation, and are self-documenting!

This is the core of the Field implementation.

Lean core

I tried to implement as much as possible in feature plugins, leaving to the staticsite core only what is essential to create the structure for plugins to build on.

The core provides a tree structure, an abstract Page object that can render to a file and resolve references to other pages, a Site that holds settings and controls the various loading steps, and little else.

The only type of content supported by the core is static asset files: Markdown, RestructuredText, images, taxonomies, feeds, directory indices, and so on, are all provided via feature plugins.

Feature plugins

Feature plugins work by providing functions to be called at the various loading steps, and mixins to be added to site pages.

Mixins provided by feature plugins can add new declarative metadata fields, and extend Page methods: this ends up being very clean and powerful, and plays decently well with mypy's static type checking, too!

See for example the code of the alias feature, that allows a page to declare aliases that redirect to it, useful for example when moving content around.

It has a mixin (AliasPageMixin) that adds an aliases field that holds a list of page paths.

During the "generate" step, when autogenerated pages can be created, the aliases feature iterates through all pages that defined an aliases metadata, and generates the corresponding redirection pages.

Self-documenting code

Staticsite can list loaded features, features can list the page subclasses that they use, and pages can list metadata fields.

As a result, each feature, each type of page, and each field of each page can generate documentation about itself: the staticsite reference is autogenerated in that way, mostly from Feature, Page, and Field docstrings.

Understand the language, stay close to the language

Python has matured massively in the last years, and I like to stay on top of the language and standard library release notes for each release.

I like how what used to be dirty hacks have now found a clean way into the language:

  • what one would implement with metaclass magic one can now mostly do with descriptors, and get language support for it, including static type checking.
  • understanding the inheritance system and method resolution order allows to write type checkable mixins
  • runtime-accessible docstrings help a lot with autogenerating documentation
  • os.scandir and os functions that accept directory file descriptors make filesystem exploration pleasantly fast, for an interpreted language!

In theory I wanted to announce the release of staticsite 2.0, but then I found bugs that prevented me from writing this post, so I'm also releasing 2.1 2.2 2.3 :grin:

staticsite is the static site generator that I ended up writing after giving other generators a try.

I did a big round of cleanup of the code, which among other things allowed me to implement incremental builds.

It turned out that staticsite is fast enough that incremental builds are not really needed, however, a bug in caching rendered markdown made me forget about that. Now I fixed that bug, too, and I can choose between running staticsite fast, and ridiculously fast.

My favourite bit of this work is the internal cleanup: I found a way to simplify the core design massively, and now the core and plugin system is simple enough that I can explain it, and I'll probably write a blog post or two about it in the next days.

On top of that, staticsite is basically clean with mypy running in strict mode! Getting there was a great ride which prompted a lot of thinking about designing code properly, as mypy is pretty good at flagging clumsy hacks.

If you want to give it a try, check out the small tutorial A new blog in under one minute.

Python: typing.overload

typing.overload makes it easier to type functions with behaviour that depends on input types. Functions marked with @overload are ignored by Python and only used by the type checker:

@overload
def process(response: None) -> None:
    ...
@overload
def process(response: int) -> tuple[int, str]:
    ...
@overload
def process(response: bytes) -> str:
    ...
def process(response):
    # <actual implementation>

Python's multiprocessing and deadlocks

Python's multiprocessing is prone to deadlocks in a number of conditions. In my case, the running program was a standard single-process, non-threaded script, but it used complex native libraries which might have been the triggers for the deadlocks.

The suggested workaround is using set_start_method("spawn"), but when we tried it we hit serious performance penalties.

Lesson learnt: multiprocessing is good for prototypes, and may end up being too hacky for production.

In my case, I was already generating small python scripts corresponding to worker tasks, which were useful for reproducing and debugging Magics issues, so I switched to running those as the actual workers. In the future, this may come in handy for dispatching work to HPC nodes, too.

Here's a parallel execution scheduler based on asyncio that I wrote to run them, which may always come in handy on other projects.

Debian:

  • You can Build-Depend on debhelper-compat (=version) and get rid of debhelper as a build-dependency, and of debian/compat (details)
  • You can Build-Depend on dh-sequence-foo and get rid of the corresponding dh-foo build-dependency, and of the need to add --with foo in debian/rules (details)
  • You can (and should) get rid of dh-buildinfo, which is now handled automatically
  • In salsa.debian.org there is a default CI pipeline for Debian packages that works beautifully without needing to add any .gitlab-ci.yml to a repository
  • Add Testsuite: autopkgtest-pkg-python to debian/control, and you get a free autopkgtest that verifies that your packaged Python module can be imported. The default CI pipeline in salsa will automatically run the tests. (specification, details)

Python:

  • From Python 3.8, you can use = in format strings to make it easier to debug variables and expressions (details):
>>> name="test"
>>> print(f"{name=}")
name='test'
>>> print(f"{3*8=}")
3*8=24

Leaflet:

  • [abc].tile.openstreetmap.org links need to be replaced with tile.openstreetmap.org (details)

argparse subcommands are great, but they have a quirk in which options are only available right after the subcommand that define them.

So, if you for example add the --verbose / -v argument to your main parser, and you have subcommands, you need to give the -v option before the subcommand name. For example, given this script:

#!/usr/bin/python3
import argparse

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description="test")
parser.add_argument("-v", "--verbose", action="store_true")
subparsers = parser.add_subparsers(dest="handler", required=True)
subparsers.add_parser("test")

args = parser.parse_args()
print(args.verbose)

You get this behaviour:

$ ./mycmd test
False
$ ./mycmd -v test
True
$ ./mycmd test -v
usage: mycmd [-h] [-v] {test} ...
mycmd: error: unrecognized arguments: -v

This sometimes makes sense, and many other times it's really annoying, since the user has to remember at which level an option was defined.

Last night some pieces clicked in my head, and I created a not-too-dirty ArgumentParser subclass that adds a shared option to arguments, that propagates them to subparsers:

#!/usr/bin/python3
from hacks import argparse

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description="test")
parser.add_argument("-v", "--verbose", action="store_true", shared=True)
subparsers = parser.add_subparsers(dest="handler", required=True)
subparsers.add_parser("test")

args = parser.parse_args()
print(args.verbose)

And finally, -v can be given at all levels:

$ ./mycmd test
False
$ ./mycmd -v test
True
$ ./mycmd test -v
True

It even works recursively, forwarding arguments to sub-subparsers, but at the moment it can only do it for store_true and store kind of arguments.

Further reading

Talk notes

Intro

  • I'm not speaking for the whole of DAM
  • Motivation in part is personal frustration, and need to set boundaries and negotiate expectations

Debian Account Managers

  • history

Responsibility for official membership

  • approve account creation
  • manage the New Member Process and nm.debian.org
  • close MIA accounts
  • occasional emergency termination of accounts
  • handle Emeritus
  • with lots of help from FrontDesk and MIA teams (big shoutout)

What DAM is not

  • we are not mediators
  • we are not a community management team
  • a list or IRC moderation team
  • we are not responsible for vision or strategic choices about how people are expected to interact in Debian
  • We shouldn't try and solve things because they need solving

Unexpected responsibilities

  • Over time, the community has grown larger and more complex, in a larger and more complex online environment
  • Enforcing the Diversity Statement and the Code of Conduct
  • Emergency list moderation
    • we have ended up using DAM warnings to compensate for the lack of list moderation, at least twice
  • contributors.debian.org (mostly only because of me, but it would be good to have its own team)

DAM warnings

  • except for rare glaring cases, patterns of behaviour / intentions / taking feedback in, are more relevant than individual incidents
  • we do not set out to fix people. It is enough for us to get people to acknowledge a problem
    • if they can't acknowledge a problem they're probably out
    • once a problem is acknowledged, fixing it could be their implementation detail
    • then again it's not that easy to get a number of troublesome people to acknowledge problems, so we go back to the problem of deciding when enough is enough

DAM warnings?

  • I got to a point where I look at DAM warnings as potential signals that DAM has ended up with the ball that everyone else in Debian dropped.
  • DAM warning means we haven't gotten to a last resort situation yet, meaning that it probably shouldn't be DAM dealing with this at this point
  • Everyone in the project can write a person "do you realise there's an issue here? Can you do something to stop?", and give them a chance to reflect on issues or ignore them, and build their reputation accordingly.
  • People in Debian should not have to endure, completey powerless, as trolls drag painful list discussions indefinitely until all the trolled people run out of energy and leave. At the same time, people who abuse a list should expect to be suspended or banned from the list, not have their Debian membership put into question (unless it is a recurring pattern of behaviour).
  • The push to grow DAM warnings as a tool, is a sign of the rest of Debian passing on their responsibilities, and DAM picking them up.
  • Then in DAM we end up passing on things, too, because we also don't have the energy to face another intensive megametathread, and as we take actions for things that shouldn't quite be our responsibility, we face a higher level of controversy, and therefore demotivation.
  • Also, as we take actions for things that shouldn't be our responsibility, and work on a higher level of controversy, our legitimacy is undermined (and understandably so)
    • there's a pothole on my street that never gets filled, so at some point I go out and fill it. Then people thank me, people complain I shouldn't have, people complain I didn't fill it right, people appreciate the gesture and invite me to learn how to fix potholes better, people point me out to more potholes, and then complain that potholes don't get fixed properly on the whole street. I end up being the problem, instead of whoever had responsibility of the potholes but wasn't fixing them
  • The Community Team, the Diversity Team, and individual developers, have no energy or entitlement for explaining what a healthy community looks like, and DAM is left with that responsibility in the form of accountability for their actions: to issue, say, a DAM warning for bullying, we are expected to explain what is bullying, and how that kind of behaviour constitutes bullying, in a way that is understandable by the whole project.
  • Since there isn't consensus in the project about what bullying loos like, we end up having to define it in a warning, which again is a responsibility we shouldn't have, and we need to do it because we have an escalated situation at hand, but we can't do it right

House rules

Interpreting house rules

  • you can't encode common sense about people behaviour in written rules: no matter how hard you try, people will find ways to cheat that
  • so one can use rules as a guideline, and someone responsible for the bits that can't go into rules.
    • context matters, privilege/oppression matters, patterns matter, histor matters
  • example:
    • call a person out for breaking a rule
    • get DARVO in response
    • state that DARVO is not acceptable
    • get concern trolling against margninalised people and accuse them of DARVO if they complain
  • example: assume good intentions vs enabling
  • example: rule lawyering and Figure skating
  • this cannot be solved by GRs: I/we (DAM)/possibly also we (Debian) don't want to do GRs about evaluating people

Governance by bullying

  • How to DoS discussions in Debian
    • example: gender, minority groups, affirmative action, inclusion, anything about the community team itself, anything about the CoC, systemd, usrmerge, dam warnings, expulsions
      • think of a topic. Think about sending a mail to debian-project about it. If you instinctively shiver at the thought, this is probably happening
      • would you send a mail about that to -project / -devel?
      • can you think of other topics?
    • it is an effective way of governance as it excludes topics from public discussion
  • A small number of people abuse all this, intentionally or not, to effectively manipulate decision making in the project.
  • Instead of using the rules of the community to bring forth the issues one cares about, it costs less energy to make it unthinkable or unbearable to have a discussion on issues one doesn't want to progress. What one can't stop constructively, one can oppose destructively.
  • even regularly diverting the discussion away from the original point or concern is enough to derail it without people realising you're doing it
  • This is an effective strategy for a few reckless people to unilaterally direct change, in the current state of Debian, at the cost of the health and the future of the community as a whole.
  • There are now a number of important issues nobody has the energy to discuss, because experience says that energy requirements to bring them to the foreground and deal with the consequences are anticipated to be disproportionate.
  • This is grave, as we're talking about trolling and bullying as malicious power moves to work around the accepted decision making structures of our community.
  • Solving this is out of scope for this talk, but it is urgent nevertheless, and can't be solved by expecting DAM to fix it

How about the Community Team?

  • It is also a small group of people who cannot pick up the responsibility of doing what the community isn't doing for itself
  • I believe we need to recover the Community Team: it's been years that every time they write something in public, they get bullied by the same recurring small group of people (see governance by bullying above)

How about DAM?

  • I was just saying that we are not the emergency catch all
  • When the only enforcement you have is "nuclear escalation", there's nothing you can do until it's too late, and meanwhile lots of people suffer (this was written before Russia invaded Ukraine)
  • Also, when issues happen on public lists, the BTS, or on IRC, some of the perpetrators are also outside of the jurisdiction of DAM, which shows how DAM is not the tool for this

How about the DPL?

  • Talking about emergency catch alls, don't they have enough to do already?

Concentrating responsibility

  • Concentrating all responsibility on social issues on a single point creates a scapegoat: we're blamed for any conduct issue, and we're blamed for any action we take on conduct issues
    • also, when you are a small group you are personally identified with it. Taking action on a person may mean making a new enemy, and becoming a target for harassment, retaliation, or even just the general unwarranted hostility of someone who is left with an axe to grind
  • As long as responsibility is centralised, any action one takes as a response of one micro-aggression (or one micro-aggression too many) is an overreaction. Distributing that responsibility allows a finer granularity of actions to be taken
    • you don't call the police to tell someone they're being annoying at the pub: the people at the pub will tell you you're being annoying, and the police is called if you want to beat them up in response
  • We are also a community where we have no tool to give feedback to posts, so it still looks good to nitpick stupid details with smart-looking tranchant one-liners, or elaborate confrontational put-downs, and one doesn't get the feedback of "that did not help". Compare with discussing https://salsa.debian.org/debian/grow-your-ideas/ which does have this kind of feedback
    • the lack of moderation and enforcement makes the Debian community ideal for easy baiting, concern trolling, dog whistling, and related fun, and people not empowered can be so manipulated to troll those responsible
    • if you're fragile in Debian, people will play cat and mouse with you. It might be social awkwardness, or people taking themselves too serious, but it can easily become bullying, and with no feedback it's hard to tell and course correct
  • Since DAM and DPL are where the ball stops, everyone else in Debian can afford to let the ball drop.
  • More generally, if only one group is responsible, nobody else is

Empowering developers

  • Police alone does not make a community safe: a community makes a community safe.
  • DDs currently have no power to act besides complaining to DAM, or complaining to Community Team that then can only pass complaints on to DAM.
    • you could act directly, but currently nobody has your back if the (micro-)aggression then starts extending to you, too
  • From no power comes no responsibility. And yet, the safety of a community is sustainable only if it is the responsibility of every member of the community.
  • don't wait for DAM as the only group who can do something
  • people should be able to address issues in smaller groups, without escalation at project level
  • but people don't have the tools for that
  • I/we've shouldered this responsibility for far too long because nobody else was doing it, and it's time the whole Debian community gets its act together and picks up this responsibility as they should be. You don't get to not care just because there's a small number of people who is caring for you.

What needs to happen

  • distinguish DAM decisions from decisions that are more about vision and direction, and would require more representation
  • DAM warnings shouldn't belong in DAM
  • who is responsible for interpretation of the CoC?
  • deciding what to do about controversial people shouldn't belong in DAM
  • curation of the community shouldn't belong in DAM
  • can't do this via GRs, it's a mess to do a GR to decide how acceptable is a specific person's behaviour, and a lot of this requires more and more frequent micro-decisions than one'd do via GRs

Back in 2017 I did work to setup a cross-building toolchain for QT Creator, that takes advantage of Debian's packaging for all the dependency ecosystem.

It ended with cbqt which is a little script that sets up a chroot to hold cross-build-dependencies, to avoid conflicting with packages in the host system, and sets up a qmake alternative to make use of them.

Today I'm dusting off that work, to ensure it works on Debian bullseye.

Resetting QT Creator

To make things reproducible, I wanted to reset QT Creator's configuration.

Besides purging and reinstalling the package, one needs to manually remove:

  • ~/.config/QtProject
  • ~/.cache/QtProject/
  • /usr/share/qtcreator/QtProject which is where configuration is stored if you used sdktool to programmatically configure Qt Creator (see for example this post and see Debian bug #1012561.

Updating cbqt

Easy start, change the distribution for the chroot:

-DIST_CODENAME = "stretch"
+DIST_CODENAME = "bullseye"

Adding LIBDIR

Something else does not work:

Test$ qmake-armhf -makefile
Info: creating stash file …/Test/.qmake.stash
Test$ make
[...]
/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-g++ -Wl,-O1 -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/usr/lib/ -o Test main.o mainwindow.o moc_mainwindow.o   …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Widgets.so …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Gui.so …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Core.so -lGLESv2 -lpthread
/usr/lib/gcc-cross/arm-linux-gnueabihf/10/../../../../arm-linux-gnueabihf/bin/ld: cannot find -lGLESv2
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status
make: *** [Makefile:146: Test] Error 1

I figured that now I also need to set QMAKE_LIBDIR and not just QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR:

--- a/cbqt
+++ b/cbqt
@@ -241,18 +241,21 @@ include(../common/linux.conf)
 include(../common/gcc-base-unix.conf)
 include(../common/g++-unix.conf)

+QMAKE_LIBDIR += {chroot.abspath}/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
+QMAKE_LIBDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
+QMAKE_LIBDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/
 QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
 QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
 QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/

Now it links again:

Test$ qmake-armhf -makefile
Test$ make
/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-g++ -Wl,-O1 -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -Wl,-rpath-link,…/armhf/usr/lib/ -o Test main.o mainwindow.o moc_mainwindow.o   -L…/armhf/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -L…/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf -L…/armhf/usr/lib/ …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Widgets.so …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Gui.so …/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libQt5Core.so -lGLESv2 -lpthread

Making it work in Qt Creator

Time to try it in Qt Creator, and sadly it fails:

/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/mkspecs/features/toolchain.prf:76: Variable QMAKE_CXX.COMPILER_MACROS is not defined.

QMAKE_CXX.COMPILER_MACROS is not defined

I traced it to this bit in armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/mkspecs/features/toolchain.prf (nonrelevant bits deleted):

isEmpty($${target_prefix}.COMPILER_MACROS) {
    msvc {
        # …
    } else: gcc|ghs {
        vars = $$qtVariablesFromGCC($$QMAKE_CXX)
    }
    for (v, vars) {
        # …
        $${target_prefix}.COMPILER_MACROS += $$v
    }
    cache($${target_prefix}.COMPILER_MACROS, set stash)
} else {
    # …
}

It turns out that qmake is not able to realise that the compiler is gcc, so vars does not get set, nothing is set in COMPILER_MACROS, and qmake fails.

Reproducing it on the command line

When run manually, however, qmake-armhf worked, so it would be good to know how Qt Creator is actually running qmake. Since it frustratingly does not show what commands it runs, I'll have to strace it:

strace -e trace=execve --string-limit=123456 -o qtcreator.trace -f qtcreator

And there it is:

$ grep qmake- qtcreator.trace
1015841 execve("/usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf", ["/usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf", "-query"], 0x56096e923040 /* 54 vars */) = 0
1015865 execve("/usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf", ["/usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf", "…/Test/Test.pro", "-spec", "arm-linux-gnueabihf", "CONFIG+=debug", "CONFIG+=qml_debug"], 0x7f5cb4023e20 /* 55 vars */) = 0

I run the command manually and indeed I reproduce the problem:

$ /usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf Test.pro -spec arm-linux-gnueabihf CONFIG+=debug CONFIG+=qml_debug
…/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/mkspecs/features/toolchain.prf:76: Variable QMAKE_CXX.COMPILER_MACROS is not defined.

I try removing options until I find the one that breaks it and... now it's always broken! Even manually running qmake-armhf, like I did earlier, stopped working:

$ rm .qmake.stash
$ qmake-armhf -makefile
…/armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/mkspecs/features/toolchain.prf:76: Variable QMAKE_CXX.COMPILER_MACROS is not defined.

Debugging toolchain.prf

I tried purging and reinstalling qtcreator, and recreating the chroot, but qmake-armhf is staying broken. I'll let that be, and try to debug toolchain.prf.

By grepping gcc in the mkspecs directory, I managed to figure out that:

  • The } else: gcc|ghs { test is matching the value(s) of QMAKE_COMPILER
  • QMAKE_COMPILER can have multiple values, separated by space
  • If in armhf/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/mkspecs/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qmake.conf I set QMAKE_COMPILER = gcc arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc, then things work again.

Sadly, I failed to find reference documentation for QMAKE_COMPILER's syntax and behaviour. I also failed to find why qmake-armhf worked earlier, and I am also failing to restore the system to a situation where it works again. Maybe I dreamt that it worked? I had some manual change laying around from some previous fiddling with things?

Anyway at least now I have the fix:

--- a/cbqt
+++ b/cbqt
@@ -248,7 +248,7 @@ QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
 QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
 QMAKE_RPATHLINKDIR += {chroot.abspath}/usr/lib/

-QMAKE_COMPILER          = {chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc
+QMAKE_COMPILER          = gcc {chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc

 QMAKE_CC                = /usr/bin/{chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc

Fixing a compiler mismatch warning

In setting up the kit, Qt Creator also complained that the compiler from qmake did not match the one configured in the kit. That was easy to fix, by pointing at the host system cross-compiler in qmake.conf:

 QMAKE_COMPILER          = {chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc

-QMAKE_CC                = {chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc
+QMAKE_CC                = /usr/bin/{chroot.arch_triplet}-gcc

 QMAKE_LINK_C            = $$QMAKE_CC
 QMAKE_LINK_C_SHLIB      = $$QMAKE_CC

-QMAKE_CXX               = {chroot.arch_triplet}-g++
+QMAKE_CXX               = /usr/bin/{chroot.arch_triplet}-g++

 QMAKE_LINK              = $$QMAKE_CXX
 QMAKE_LINK_SHLIB        = $$QMAKE_CXX

Updated setup instructions

Create an armhf environment:

sudo cbqt ./armhf --create --verbose

Create a qmake wrapper that builds with this environment:

sudo ./cbqt ./armhf --qmake -o /usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf

Install the build-dependencies that you need:

# Note: :arch is added automatically to package names if no arch is explicitly specified
sudo ./cbqt ./armhf --install libqt5svg5-dev libmosquittopp-dev qtwebengine5-dev

Build with qmake

Use qmake-armhf instead of qmake and it works perfectly:

qmake-armhf -makefile
make

Set up Qt Creator

Configure a new Kit in Qt Creator:

  1. Tools/Options, then Kits, then Add
  2. Name: armhf (or anything you like)
  3. In the Qt Versions tab, click Add then set the path of the new Qt to /usr/local/bin/qmake-armhf. Click Apply.
  4. Back in the Kits, select the Qt version you just created in the Qt version field
  5. In Compilers, select the ARM versions of GCC. If they do not appear, install crossbuild-essential-armhf, then in the Compilers tab click Re-detect and then Apply to make them available for selection
  6. Dismiss the dialog with "OK": the new kit is ready

Now you can choose the default kit to build and run locally, and the armhf kit for remote cross-development.

I tried looking at sdktool to automate this step, and it requires a nontrivial amount of work to do it reliably, so these manual instructions will have to do.

Credits

This has been done as part of my work with Truelite.

This is a common logging pattern in Python, to have loggers related to module names:

import logging

log = logging.getLogger(__name__)


class Bill:
    def load_bill(self, filename: str):
        log.info("%s: loading file", filename)

I often however find myself wanting to have loggers related to something context-dependent, like the kind of file that is being processed. For example, I'd like to log loading of bill loading when done by the expenses module, and not when done by the printing module.

I came up with a little hack that keeps the same API as before, and allows to propagate a context dependent logger to the code called:

# Call this file log.py
from __future__ import annotations
import contextlib
import contextvars
import logging

_log: contextvars.ContextVar[logging.Logger] = contextvars.ContextVar('log', default=logging.getLogger())


@contextlib.contextmanager
def logger(name: str):
    """
    Set a default logger for the duration of this context manager
    """
    old = _log.set(logging.getLogger(name))
    try:
        yield
    finally:
        _log.reset(old)


def debug(*args, **kw):
    _log.get().debug(*args, **kw)


def info(*args, **kw):
    _log.get().info(*args, **kw)


def warning(*args, **kw):
    _log.get().warning(*args, **kw)


def error(*args, **kw):
    _log.get().error(*args, **kw)

And now I can do this:

from . import log

# …
    with log.logger("expenses"):
        bill = load_bill(filename)


# This code did not change!
class Bill:
    def load_bill(self, filename: str):
        log.info("%s: loading file", filename)

Anarcat's "procmail considered harmful" post convinced me to get my act together and finally migrate my venerable procmail based setup to sieve.

My setup was nontrivial, so I migrated with an intermediate step in which sieve scripts would by default pipe everything to procmail, which allowed me to slowly move rules from procmailrc to sieve until nothing remained in procmailrc.

Here's what I did.

Literature review

https://brokkr.net/2019/10/31/lets-do-dovecot-slowly-and-properly-part-3-lmtp/ has a guide quite aligned with current Debian, and could be a starting point to get an idea of the work to do.

https://wiki.dovecot.org/HowTo/PostfixDovecotLMTP is way more terse, but more aligned with my intentions. Reading the former helped me in understanding the latter.

https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc5228 has the full Sieve syntax.

https://doc.dovecot.org/configuration_manual/sieve/pigeonhole_sieve_interpreter/ has the list of Sieve features supported by Dovecot.

https://doc.dovecot.org/settings/pigeonhole/ has the reference on Dovecot's sieve implementation.

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/dovecot/pigeonhole/master/doc/rfc/spec-bosch-sieve-extprograms.txt is the hard to find full reference for the functions introduced by the extprograms plugin.

Debugging tools:

  • doveconf to dump dovecot's configuration to see if what it understands matches what I mean
  • sieve-test parses sieve scripts: sieve-test file.sieve /dev/null is a quick and dirty syntax check

Backup of all mails processed

One thing I did with procmail was to generate a monthly mailbox with all incoming email, with something like this:

BACKUP="/srv/backupts/test-`date +%Y-%m-d`.mbox"

:0c
$BACKUP

I did not find an obvious way in sieve to create montly mailboxes, so I redesigned that system using Postfix's always_bcc feature, piping everything to an archive user.

I'll then recreate the monthly archiving using a chewmail script that I can simply run via cron.

Configure dovecot

apt install dovecot-sieve dovecot-lmtpd

I added this to the local dovecot configuration:

service lmtp {
  unix_listener /var/spool/postfix/private/dovecot-lmtp {
    user = postfix
    group = postfix
    mode = 0666
  }
}

protocol lmtp {
  mail_plugins = $mail_plugins sieve
}

plugin {
  sieve = file:~/.sieve;active=~/.dovecot.sieve
}

This makes Dovecot ready to receive mail from Postfix via a lmtp unix socket created in Postfix's private chroot.

It also activates the sieve plugin, and uses ~/.sieve as a sieve script.

The script can be a file or a directory; if it is a directory, ~/.dovecot.sieve will be a symlink pointing to the .sieve file to run.

This is a feature I'm not yet using, but if one day I want to try enabling UIs to edit sieve scripts, that part is ready.

Delegate to procmail

To make sieve scripts that delegate to procmail, I enabled the sieve_extprograms plugin:

 plugin {
   sieve = file:~/.sieve;active=~/.dovecot.sieve
+  sieve_plugins = sieve_extprograms
+  sieve_extensions +vnd.dovecot.pipe
+  sieve_pipe_bin_dir = /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-pipe
+  sieve_trace_dir = ~/.sieve-trace
+  sieve_trace_level = matching
+  sieve_trace_debug = yes
 }

and then created a script for it:

mkdir -p /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-pipe/
(echo "#!/bin/sh'; echo "exec /usr/bin/procmail") > /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-pipe/procmail
chmod 0755 /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-pipe/procmail

And I can have a sieve script that delegates processing to procmail:

require "vnd.dovecot.pipe";

pipe "procmail";

Activate the postfix side

These changes switched local delivery over to Dovecot:

--- a/roles/mailserver/templates/dovecot.conf
+++ b/roles/mailserver/templates/dovecot.conf
@@ -25,6 +25,8 @@+auth_username_format = %Ln
+diff --git a/roles/mailserver/templates/main.cf b/roles/mailserver/templates/main.cf
index d2c515a..d35537c 100644
--- a/roles/mailserver/templates/main.cf
+++ b/roles/mailserver/templates/main.cf
@@ -64,8 +64,7 @@ virtual_alias_domains =-mailbox_command = procmail -a "$EXTENSION"
-mailbox_size_limit = 0
+mailbox_transport = lmtp:unix:private/dovecot-lmtp

Without auth_username_format = %Ln dovecot won't be able to understand usernames sent by postfix in my specific setup.

Moving rules over to sieve

This is mostly straightforward, with the luxury of being able to do it a bit at a time.

The last tricky bit was how to call spamc from sieve, as in some situations I reduce system load by running the spamfilter only on a prefiltered selection of incoming emails.

For this I enabled the filter directive in sieve:

 plugin {
   sieve = file:~/.sieve;active=~/.dovecot.sieve
   sieve_plugins = sieve_extprograms
-  sieve_extensions +vnd.dovecot.pipe
+  sieve_extensions +vnd.dovecot.pipe +vnd.dovecot.filter
   sieve_pipe_bin_dir = /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-pipe
+  sieve_filter_bin_dir = /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-filter
   sieve_trace_dir = ~/.sieve-trace
   sieve_trace_level = matching
   sieve_trace_debug = yes
 }

Then I created a filter script:

mkdir -p /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-filter/"
(echo "#!/bin/sh'; echo "exec /usr/bin/spamc") > /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-filter/spamc
chmod 0755 /usr/local/lib/dovecot/sieve-filter/spamc

And now what was previously:

:0 fw
| /usr/bin/spamc

:0
* ^X-Spam-Status: Yes
.spam/

Can become:

require "vnd.dovecot.filter";
require "fileinto";

filter "spamc";

if header :contains "x-spam-level" "**************" {
    discard;
} elsif header :matches "X-Spam-Status" "Yes,*" {
    fileinto "spam";
}

Updates

Ansgar mentioned that it's possible to replicate the monthly mailbox using the variables and date extensions, with a hacky trick from the extensions' RFC:

require "date"
require "variables"

if currentdate :matches "month" "*" { set "month" "${1}"; }
if currentdate :matches "year" "*" { set "year" "${1}"; }

fileinto :create "${month}-${year}";

Suppose you have a tool that archives images, or scientific data, and it has a test suite. It would be good to collect sample files for the test suite, but they are often so big one can't really bloat the repository with them.

But does the test suite need everything that is in those files? Not necesarily. For example, if one's testing code that reads EXIF metadata, one doesn't care about what is in the image.

That technique works extemely well. I can take GRIB files that are several megabytes in size, zero out their data payload, and get nice 1Kb samples for the test suite.

I've started to collect and organise the little hacks I use for this into a tool I called mktestsample:

$ mktestsample -v samples1/*
2021-11-23 20:16:32 INFO common samples1/cosmo_2d+0.grib: size went from 335168b to 120b
2021-11-23 20:16:32 INFO common samples1/grib2_ifs.arkimet: size went from 4993448b to 39393b
2021-11-23 20:16:32 INFO common samples1/polenta.jpg: size went from 3191475b to 94517b
2021-11-23 20:16:32 INFO common samples1/test-ifs.grib: size went from 1986469b to 4860b

Those are massive savings, but I'm not satisfied about those almost 94Kb of JPEG:

$ ls -la samples1/polenta.jpg
-rw-r--r-- 1 enrico enrico 94517 Nov 23 20:16 samples1/polenta.jpg
$ gzip samples1/polenta.jpg
$ ls -la samples1/polenta.jpg.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 enrico enrico 745 Nov 23 20:16 samples1/polenta.jpg.gz

I believe I did all I could: completely blank out image data, set quality to zero, maximize subsampling, and tweak quantization to throw everything away.

Still, the result is a 94Kb file that can be gzipped down to 745 bytes. Is there something I'm missing?

I suppose JPEG is better at storing an image than at storing the lack of an image. I cannot really complain :)

I can still commit compressed samples of large images to a git repository, taking very little data indeed. That's really nice!