Gramps – Python 3 encoding bug and 2 parallel release freezes

Gramps project

Gramps project

The Gramps project had recently received a lot of reports from users of the new Python 3 version of Gramps (4.1.1) that after they upgraded, Gramps did not function and there were lots of error messages. This was serious if they had not taken a backup before the upgrade, because the new database was not backwards compatible. This turned out to be because in the switch to Python 3, as part of the database upgrade some strings were being encoded in ASCII instead of Unicode. This was a problem for those non-English languages with special characters.

Nick produced a fix for this, and then Tim added a function that fixed the problem also for people that had already converted to 4.1.1 of Gramps. But this still left the problem that Debian and Ubuntu users were going very soon upgrade to 4.1.1 without the fix, and both Debian and Ubuntu are in freeze mode before they issue their next release.

With the help of Tim & Paul from the Gramps project, I was able to patch the version of Gramps (4.1.1) in Debian, and convince the Release Team to unblock the Debian freeze for this fix so that it would be part of the soon to be released Jessie. Then I also submitted a bug, and got this version of Gramps synced to Ubuntu Vivid (15.04).

So hopefully, things will go much smoother for Gramps users upgrading to the new Debian and Ubuntu in the next few months.

FSCONS, the Debian Freeze, and becoming a DM

Wow – it has been a while since my last post. I must have been busy! So here is a summary of what Debian work I have been doing over the last few weeks.

Adopting the abcmidi package had been on my to-do list for a long time. I had a little trouble fixing the upstream makefile so that the recommended hardening options could be enabled, but eventually I cracked it and did a request for sponsorship. After returning from a short holiday in Poland, I found that James Cowgill had done a pretty thorough review of the package, and that I had quite a few things to fix. He also pointed out that a new release had been made since I submitted the RFS. So the first step was to import the latest version, and then to produce the missing manual page for abcmatch.

Then I was distracted by the latest Gramps release (4.1.1) which fixed a few bugs, and that I wanted to get it into Jessie before the Freeze (which was only a 2 days away).  Thankfully IOhannes was ready and sponsored its upload in time.

The next day I found that Tobias Frost had spotted abcmidi, and kindly uploaded it (but missed Jame’s review). So then the rush was on to fix the other major problem with abcmidi, which was the failing clean target. I got myself in a bit of a muddle in the rush to fix it, but Tobias was helped out and we got there. So now I am the new maintainer for abcmidi!

Then I could breathe a sigh of relief, because Jessie was frozen, and only Release Critical bug fixes will be allowed in.

The next weekend I packed my bags (and my family) off to Göteborg, Sweden for FSCONS. This was my first Free Software conference, and I was a little nervous at first. After attending a few very interesting presentations, I went to the Debian DIY room and introduced myself to Per Andersson. Per has been doing an excellent job of trying to forge a Debian Community in the Nordic Region. On the Saturday evening, there was a Key Signing party and I collected many keys, including several Debian Developers like Per. This is a necessary part of becoming a Debian Maintainer. Per gave an excellent run down on the Debian Junior Blend. As my son uses Dou Dou Linux on his computer sometimes (which is a very similar concept – and based on Debian), I made a mental note to help out at sometime in the future. Unfortunately I had to leave before the end, but on the last day Per chaired a session on how to move forward with the Nordic Community idea. There were a lot of positive vibes about the idea, and I hope it takes off.

When I got home, I signed all the keys I had received and uploaded all the signatures sent to me over the next week or so. Once I had enough signatures, I was able to apply to be a Debian Maintainer. Andreas Tille and IOhannes Zmölnig supported the application with some very kind words, and eventually the application was approved. My key is now in the Debian Maintainers keyring, and I am officially a Debian Maintainer – yey!