La Salle Debain

Open Source @ Consolidated Braincells Inc.

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About La Salle Debain

This is a weblog I'm keeping about my work on Debian and any other useful Debian related info I come across. It is not meant to compete with other news sources like Debian Weekly News or Debian Planet. Mostly it is just a way for me to classify and remember all the random bits of information that I have floating around me. I thought maybe by using a blog it could be of some use to others too. Btw. "I" refers to Jaldhar H. Vyas, Debian developer for over 8 years. If you want to know more about me, my home page is here.

The name? Debain is a very common misspelling of Debian and la salle de bains means bathroom in French.

If you have a comment to make on something you read here, feel free to write to me at

You can get an rss 0.91 feed of the blog here.

Friday, July 29 2011


NEW YORK, Jul 29, 2011


The crowd of thousands gathered here to attend PreventaConf 2011 were abuzz over the unveiling of the culmination of 3 years of aimless arsing aboutww^w concentrated development which has led to the porting of dpkg to the MINIX 3 operating system.

dselect on Minix

Women fainted, men wept openly, medical personnel were kept busy dealing with the many instances of heart seizure, multisensory hallucination and spontaneous combustion which accompanied this momentous event.

Much remains to be done.

Still this is a major milestone of which the Debian Minix developers are justifiably proud.

posted at: 16:47:44 | #

Monday, August 2 2010

PreventaCamp Days 3 and 4

I missed yesterdays report but there was not a lot to say anyway. I've made further progress on the DHCP problem in the sense that I can make it go away if I use NAT in VMWare instead of Bridged networking. Tried compiling gcc 4.4.4 and ran out of disk space.

I've been feeling guilty about not volunteering so that evening I assisted the organizers by eating some of their excess baked ziti. It's my civic duty.

Today (Sunday) was Debian day. I spent some time in the hacklab trying to compile gcc again. This time I ran out of inodes. I did manage to get to two of the presentations. One was about the GSoC projects various students are doing. Perhaps next year Debian Minix will be a subject for GSoC? The other one was by Andy Oram about FLOSS Manuals. They are doing important work in Free Software documentation and have developed some interesting tech towards that end. One is CSS3 print profile support. This will be a relief for anyone who has had to deal with the bletcherous XSL. Another is booki a platform for collaborative writing and editing. I shall be following the progress of this project as I hope to make a big contribution to Debian documentation soon. Andy works for O'Reilly and after the talk we had some informative discussion about the publishing world. This "hallway track" is the great thing about gatherings like Debconf.

posted at: 00:38:25 | #

Saturday, July 31 2010

PreventaCamp Day 2

The hacklab is so cold I'm going to lose some of my toes to frostbite.

Today I spent most of my time trying to track down the DHCP problem. Phil Kern suggested it might be due to the output of Columbias DHCP server which certainly sounds plausible but without tools such as strace I'm rather at a loss as to how to figure out what exactly is going on. If anyone would like to look at the source to the Minix DNS caching thingy which is where the hang actually occurs, I would appreciate it.

Other than that I also ported iconv, gettext, and grep.

posted at: 01:53:54 | #

Thursday, July 29 2010

PreventaCamp Day 1

Debian Minix MOTD banner

Actually I was at the venue on Tuesday for a little while but my name wasn't in the system either because I has given my name in Unicode or, more likely, I had forgotten to check the "reconfirm" box on the registration form. For some reason Columbia U's DHCP server makes Minix lock up on boot. Also I left my laptops AC adapter at home. Some kind souls lent me their European adapters but they didn't work. (I have a set of international converters. Also unfortunately at home.) So after about three hours, my battery ran out and I had to leave.

So we will pretend that never happened and instead call today day 1. (Wednesday I had some unexpected family stuff to attend to so that doesn't count either.)

Today I first concentrated on tracking down why the boot process was hanging. The culprit seems to be nonamed a daemon Minix runs to do DNS resolution/caching etc. I'm consulting with the Minix devs to see what can be done about this. I added the cool MOTD banner you see above (made by Osmo). And I ported some more GNU software to match the versions in Squeeze. Tomorrow, the biggies—gcc and perl, and seeing if I can get a dpkg binary that doesn't segfault.

posted at: 23:43:31 | #

Wednesday, August 13 2008

Highlights of PreventaConf 2008

Thousands of the worlds brightest, most handsome, and fragrant-smelling developers gathered in Bryant Square Park, New York City, for PreventaConf 2008


Project founder Jaldhar H. Vyas gave a stirring keynote covering such interesting and informative topics such as "Is Preventa just a big joke or are you really working on it?" The audience were shocked to learn that he actually is.


Attendees gather for lunch sponsored by Heinz baked beans. Lunch is marred slightly by rain pouring through the roof and an altercation which resulted in the forcible expulsion of a known Ralph Nader sympathizer and his Move On organizer "girlfriend."


Wonderful news! The government of Zimbabwe has offered to sponsor Preventa to the tune of ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS. The Preventa project will use that money to cover infrastructure costs and subsidize developer travel expenses. Thanks Zimbabwe!


And finally here is a scene from the lab where developers are busy trying make Preventa a reality. Look forward to some real news soon!

posted at: 17:39:06 | #

Sunday, January 1 2006

The Preventa Project FAQ

1. What is Preventa?
Preventa is a port of the Debian and GNU userland to the Minix 3 kernel and libc. Hence an alternate name is Debian GNU/Minix (but I won't use that unless it becomes an official Debian port. See below.)

2a. Why is it called Preventa?
It's a riff on the last attempt at porting Debian to a non-Linux kernel which was called Nexenta.

2b. Why is it called Preventa?
Because if it becomes an official Debian port, it is probable that the sheer number of release critical bugs caused will prevent Debian from ever releasing again.

3. Is this an official Debian port?
Currently Preventa has no official connection to the Debian project. In the future? Perhaps if there is some interest. I'm not persuing that angle right now.

4. Does Preventa suffer from licensing problems like Nexenta?
No, the Minix kernel and libc are BSD licensed.

5. So why are you doing this?
Like many people, I used Minix when I studied operating systems in college. I am interested in trying the new version but I am more comfortable with a GNUish environment rather than the BSDish one that Minix provides. This led me to wonder how hard it would be to port Debian and in general, how much work goes into a new Debian port. Maybe I might be able to write some articles about the experience. Other than that there is no practical reason really.

6. How can I help?
At the moment I am just doing this for my own edification so I'm not looking for help. This will undoubtedly change if I get stuck.

7. What does the port entail?
I will attempt to port dpkg, apt, and the Debian base system plus a few other odds and ends I feel I need. I will use the Minix kernel and libc (unless GNU libc turn out to be easy to port which I suspect it won't.) Basically Preventa will have the same kind of features as the official Minix3 distribution. If I have to patch anything I will offer it back to the Minix and/or Debian maintainers if they want it.

8. Where can I keep abreast of your progress?
I will blog about it. As soon as it is somewhat usable, I will release the results (including source of course) to the public for people to use as they wish.

9. what does ast and the Minix community think about this?
I haven't told them yet. I should do that soonish.

10a. Hi, I'm from OSNews and I don't like Preventas' green on black theme. And the file manager is totally unintuitive.
Uh, that's the command line. Minix doesn't support the X window system yet.

10b. Then I dub thee "not ready for the desktop."

posted at: 15:27:33 | #