Friday, December 26, 2008

Maintenance is over

As previously reported we had some hardware issues on our main server, despite our best effort the move was not as smooth as we would like.

The wiki, abs and www VMs were moved to a new disk, there was a problem with the mysql data synchronization and we were forced to revert the data to a backup from yesterday causing a minimal data loss (download stats & registered users for today).

We this recent repair operation together with some recent database optimization actions we expect to return to a stable state.

Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from GetDeb!

Enjoy the partying, stay safe, and have a happy year of 2009.

It promises to bring new many features to and a launch and redesign of If you'd like to help us out in accomplishing the enormous workload needed, or would like to help us package programs, feel free to get in touch with us!

If you'd like to help us out financially, you can do so by donating - even a small amount is appreciated.

Thanks for using one of the best services available for Ubuntu on updating the essential apps you need and obtaining new ones not yet available in official repositories :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hardware repair on the web server

we had an hw problem on the web server. It will be back online in a few hours.

Sorry for the inconvenient.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

GetDeb Supporter Services

The GetDeb Supporter Services will be a pilot service with the goal of providing better services for all users, but providing special access conditions to active supporters.
We require funding to expand our operations, so we'd like to appreciate our active supporters.

The benefits for all users will be:
- More and better software packages
- Better experience with major improvements in our site

The special conditions will be:
- Higher access priority for new releases - new releases will be exclusively available for Supporters during 3 days after it's release
- Increased bandwidth for downloads - Supporter releases will be provided by the master server
- Higher priority on packaging support requests

Supporter status will be granted to:
- Active developers/packagers/translators (2 months after their last contribution)
- Donators, using a 5 €/month rate
The status will be retroactively granted upon request.

With this support services the expectation is to increase interest by potential supporters and raise reasonable revenue, there are several projects like getdebi, playdeb and major website improvements that need further investment.

This will be a pilot service, it's continuity will be assessed with based on users/supporters feedback.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Performance and download problems

yesterday we have experienced some problems, the downloads were unavailable and the page could take long minutes to download.
Some time ago we did a server migration but we still had some services pointing to the old server which was disconnected yesterday. The configuration was changed and the site is fully operational now.
Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ready for Hardy+Intrepid

this week the home PC that was hosting the build and wiki services started experiencing CPU overheat, it was the right time to move it this services to our main server. This move will improve availability ans also decrease the noise at home :)
I have also improved some of the scripts for the packages uploading/publishing, we can now publish packages for both Intrepid and Hardy.
With all this infrastructure work I didn't had much time for packaging :(

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get Ready For Tomorrow

It is with great pleasure that we inform you that a new Ubuntu Linux version will be available tomorrow. Ubuntu 8.10 brings hardware support improvements, new features and problem fixes.
Please note that upgrading your system with getdeb packages installed is not supported by Ubuntu and is strongly discouraged by the GetDeb team.

In order to perform a smooth upgrade please make sure you remove all getdeb packages BEFORE starting the upgrade, you can use the following procedure:

If you need upgrade instructions read

After upgrading do not forget to change to the selected version: .

If you have decided to keep with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS please note that we have recently decided to keep limited support for this release for the next 6 months, this means we will still be publishing updates but with a lower priority.

We would also like to remember that if you would want to particpate in the GetDeb team you should take a loot at, any help is appreciated, developers, packagers, designers, testers, etc.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Intrepid packages building started

as planned we have started releasing packages for Intrepid, there is a lot of work to be done, we have more than 500 applications that need to be checked, a significant part will be skipped because they are already provided on the Intrepid repositories, you can check the working list .

Come on package builders, let's try to cover the list before the release day :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Playdeb updates

Playdeb has received two game updates recently - Wormux is now at version 0.8.2, and SecondLife at (our version works on both 32bit and 64bit architectures)

Additionally, numptyphysics was added - an amusing physics game made for the Maemo platform but also available on your desktop PC.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PlayDeb update problems

during the last days the PlayDeb users have experienced the error "Method gave invalid 400 URI Failure message" which was breaking the apt-get upgrade. The error started after a recent change on our archive server which made the mirror selection script unavailable.
Unfortunately this annoying error which prevents people from updating their software will happen whenever the mirror selection server becomes unavailable. Because APT does not support HTTP redirect requests (Bug #18645) the only way we had to implement a distribution over mirrors was using the APT mirror method (described here). Unfortunately this mirror method is not widely used and it has yet some problems that need to be addressed. On this error case, unlike the other APT errors which are safely ignored, the mirror method raises an internal APT error which stops the upgrade process.
The problem was already reported (Bug #278635) and we will be in contact with the Ubuntu Developers hoping to get a resolution as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Packages for Intrepid coming soon

a lot of people start asking when will there be packages available for Intrepid.
Last year we have defined a release support scheduled that we will be keeping for Intrepid, due to the our limited resources we only support the newest Ubuntu release.
The switch is made when the development release reaches the Release Candidate status, for Intrepid this is planned to happen at the end of this week.
Please note that once the switch happens we will no longer be publishing packages for Hardy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Web Server Changes

yesterday was moved to a new server on a new hosting. This change resulted on a major performance improvement. We are ready for Intrepid :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Playdeb updated

Playdeb has been updated today - we've finalized on a logo for it (thanks to meborc), and I've added the rest of the games available in the repository to the web page.

29 games were added to the web page. The list is as follows: irrlamb, ManiaDrive, Mupen64Plus, OpenArena, PainTown, PCSX2, PipeWalker, PokerTH, PyChess, "Really Rather Good Battles In Space", ri-li, ScummVM, Slime Volley, StepMania, Stormbaan Coureur, Tennix, The Bub's Brothers, "Too Hard For You", UFO Alien Invasion, Ultimate Stunts, Vertris, Warsow, Warzone2100, Widelands, Wormux, XQF, Xye, Yabause and Zevv Tetris.

That brings the total amount of games available on Playdeb to 66! You can browse though them all and install from here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Service Outage (and back again)

Sorry for being offline for so long. It wasn't a DDoS that we experienced, but rather the vmware machine crashed (again) and nobody was around to restart it for several hours.

Everything is back to normal now though, and we're investigating the issue. If you'd like to help us out, feel free to join #getdeb on

Monday, September 1, 2008

Playdeb Beta Launches!

The Playdeb Beta launches today!

Originally known as Playbuntu (renamed for trademark reasons), Playdeb is a repository for Ubuntu (and it's derivatives) that will provide all games available on and more in a repository format - allowing you to receive updates for your favourite game via the Update Manager tool.

Head over to the Playdeb website now and give this a test! The website isn't finalized yet, as we're testing a prototype, so expect changes in it soon.


GetDeb extends the existing software options for Ubuntu (and derived Linux distributions) by providing major updates and software not yet available on the official Ubuntu repositories. For more information about, please see here.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Call for Web Developers

I have recently worked to make the site code easier to install/configure.

A project was setup for the site bug reporting/features development:

The code is available from a bzr branch, you can check it with:
bzr branch lp:getdeb-web

The latest changes:
- Added a lighttpd conf module that provides all the configuration required to setup the site vhost
- Added a minimal sample data creation script
- Removed all the unnecessary files from the libs dir

This is the first time that the site development is generally open with all the required resources in place.
I hope that it get's some attention from web developers, there is a lot to improve and we have a great user base that will benefit from it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Playbuntu is now Playdeb; beta starts Sept. 1st

Update: Playdeb beta is out now.

I've got some good news and bad news today.

The bad news is that Playbuntu is now Playdeb, since Canonical enforced their trademark policy and didn't wish to give us permission nor support. So, apologies for the confusion, but please refer to Playbuntu as Playdeb from now on.

The good news is that a beta for the Playdeb repository will be starting on September 1st! Everyone will be welcome to participate in the beta, so you don't have to wait long until Playdeb is available.

Please keep in mind that Playdeb is not another version of Ubuntu, but an "add-on" (a repository of software that you add) to your existing Ubuntu installation.

Additionally, we are still looking for mirrors - the basic requirements are 20gb space, rsync client, and a web server. If you're interested in helping us out, please contact me at ( Thank you!


Digg this!

Monday, August 18, 2008

GetDeb server upgraded to Hardy

you may have noticed that our site has experienced some issues on the last months.
GetDeb main site is running from a vmware VM, and was using Ubuntu 7.04, this was the right time to do the upgrade. We hope the VM will be stable again, otherwise we will need to do some more analysis and research on the problem.
One of the major drawbacks of using VMware is the disk I/O performance hit, we have noticed a major performance impact on the site when rsync is running. In order to improve this we have moved the archive file system to the vmware host, accessing it via NFS. So far we got good results.
The move/upgrade took about one week because I have been busy, but the change was smooth, lighttpd/mysql/rsync/vsftp services are running just fine. A minor fix was required on the site code, the SQL for the downloads count was not returning the expected result with the new mysql server.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maintenance outage

Due to a problem on the main server we had to perform and emergency shutdown. We are working on the problem. I will update the blog as soon I get more news.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Update: Playbuntu is now Playdeb, beta starting Sept. 1st

Update: Playbuntu is now Playdeb, beta starting Sept. 1st, a leading provider of new and updated programs for Ubuntu is announcing the start of a gaming repository for Ubuntu. The repository (codenamed "Playbuntu") will provide all games available on in an easy to use repository format - enabling you to receive updates for your favourite game via the Update Manager tool. Additonally, if a game has several packages, installing them is quite easy as it'll be automatically handled.

While work on the repository is still just beginning, you can obtain new and updated games from here.

We do, however, need your help in making this a reality. If you're able to provide a mirror, or would like to help us package - contact us. Otherwise, please consider making a donation - the money will be spent in purchasing mirrors, so we have enough bandwidth and acceptable speeds for this.

Look forward to the launch of Playbuntu soon!


GetDeb extends the existing software options for Ubuntu (and derived) Linux distributions by providing major updates and software not yet available on the official Ubuntu repositories. For more information about, please see here.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Back from holidays

first I would like to apologize because I missed to write a blog entry last week warning about the holiday week. It was probably our longest time without new releases during this year so some people became concerned. There was a long release queue, with several packages from Christoph Korn, a recent team member doing a great work.
As announced the getdeb site source is available from , further development resources will be setup if we get enough people interested on the project from a web development perspective.
Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

GetDeb source code to be released under GPL

After about 2 years of web development I have decided to make the website source code available under GPL. Like I have stated on the past, is is not a general purpose engine, there will be a few people having any use for it. The major advantage should be the ability to have more people participating on the web development.
The code had no major changes on the last year, and we never had a security incident so I am pretty confident on it's reliability from a security perspective, anyway I hope to get "good guys" eyes on the source in the first place.
It will be natural to get some negative critics about the code structure (spaghetti alike), it really needs some proper reorganization.
The release day should be in a few days, I am still doing some changes to make it easier to install/configure, a subset of the current getdeb database will also be provided, so it can be used with sample data.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1325 releases and a bit of history

GetDeb will be 2 years old in a coupe of months so it's a good time to watch some numbers and write some of the history of this period.
We have published 1324 software releases in about 660 days, this makes an average of 1,8 releases/day which is quite impressive for such a small work team.
I have personally checked about 90% of this packages, installation and trivial runtime tests, there have been a few broken packages none of them with a critical impact.
Despite the initial concerns raised about the potential danger from installing packages directly from a web site (unknown at the time) there has been a massive adoption by Ubuntu user's, we are actually providing more than 5000 package downloads per day.
I am sure there is still a lot of people complaining about our delivery model, providing software installs without proper integrity and authority enforcement, windows alike. We understand those complains and that is something that we want to improve.
When you start a community project there are two approaches, either you do a lot of research, draft, design, presentations, etc and you wait to get enough feedback and interested people before starting the implementation or you start the project by your own, starting with very simple ideas and checking how the public reacts to them and developing those ideas according to the feedback. I have chosen the second approach.
I am sure that better planning an discussion can bring turn into better design and solid know-how, however it can also bring destructive criticism burning all your motivation, such motivation is the essential fuel for a not for profit project start.
The beginning was very hard. I had not much interest or knowledge about web development, something that I had to overcome. As an application developer the package building skills came naturally. I couldn't find much people to discuss with, most of the people working on the Ubuntu official packages were too busy and sometimes not available for something which was not part of their core work.
After a few months later a lot of people was blogging about GetDeb, it got the attention from a significant number of persons which joined the project, helped with the web development and packaging.
I was building all the packages on my own PC, this was a tedious task and I was lagging behind requests, implementing the automated building system was a must, and it has been working quite fine except when the apt-proxy get into an erroneous status and needs a restart.
The only process which is still dependent on me is the quality assurance and package publishing, this is something that should have a web interface so that more members with the proper authority could manage easily manager this processes, the review & publishing interface was not started but so far I have been able to handle the publishing on a timely manner so I don't feel see much urgency on it, except for the fact that I hate the fact of having a process which relays on a single person.
The major missed goal is really getdebi, an application that would allow install multi-packages applications with a single click and also provide authentication and integrity mechanisms to the installation process. Some time ago I wrote the initial lines of code, but since then I had no time to keep developing it and no one with the required skills picked it up.
Making a long story short, we have a small but great team, our work is recognized for the several comments and emails with "Thank you" and let's hope we can advance on the features that will improve our service.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Maybe getdeb for windows...

Despite my passion for Linux my paid work requires me for the full workday working on Windows, so yes I am also a frequent open source user for Windows.
A significant part of the applications currently published on getdeb also provide a version for Windows so I got this idea that it would make some sense to provide a getdeb alike site for distributing mostly open source (with some freeware following a common policy with getdeb).
This is still a very young idea and it will require some significant effort, it's implementation will depend on the community feedback.
From a quick brainstorm the following major tasks would be required.
The getdeb php/mysql engine would be used with the following changes:
- Create a windowish theme (I hope we can find a designer)
- Hide some getdeb specific fields
- Query mirror providers to get a new mirrors list

I would appreciate comments on this idea.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Improvements to the website comming soon

The following improvements were developed and should be applied into production soon:
changes/improvements will be applied:
* Source/Diff are no longer specific links and will point to the base directory instead
* Comments will now be version targeted instead of release target (right now 32 bits and 64 bits comments are not merged), with this change the existing comments will be removed
* Applications can be rated by registered users
* Missing hard coded strings are now translatable

This changes will required the translations to be updated, some people should expect to read some untranslated strings until the respective translator provides an update.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Building for Ubuntu Hardy

Ubuntu Hardy was released last week as planned, following our regular support policy we are now only building packages for Ubuntu Hardy.
There are a lot of packages that were available for Gutsy and that need to be rebuilt for Hardy, however we do not have any kind of automation for this task, it will be done mostly based on visual inspection and user requests. The repackage work may not be trivial, there are debhelper changes that affects some packages which will need to have their build rules adapted.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Some statistics

We are about to get into the 4rd release cycle (so far we have packaged for Dapper, Edgy, Gutsy), it is a good time to provide some statistics on database records.

500 applications
During Hardy's release we should check the applications list for applications which had no release on the past year, there is probably some repackaging effort required for some applications which already have build rules and should be trivial to update.

10115 registered users
We have a great user base we clearly lack user oriented features, the ability to vote applications is a long requested feature, release reviews could also be an important resource. Unfortunately there is no estimated time for implementation, life is busy.

12 mirrors, providing around 9 GB/day
There is an increasing concern with the files total size which is now exceeding the 10 GB, unfortunately the current files structure is not release based which makes it hard to do a release specific clean-up, this will be improved for Hardy releases, we should expect a major clean-up for Hardy+1. Related to the disk space concern is the ability to provide some of the huge game packages, right now the recommended approach is to use a meta-package that will install the data packages from one of the game official mirrors.

1176 application description translations
Despite the lack of improvements on the site internationalization support there has been a significant use of the applications translation feature.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

OT: I'm back

Nobody really noticed but I'm back up and running again with just a few minor problems. Last week Ubuntu decided not to do what it was supposed to do. GDM gave error messages as soon as it started, no I don't know which ones as the characters were just little boxes, it complained about being unable to convert UTF-8. I installed KDM and was able to start a Gnome session but then programs complained about the locales. Installing KDE didn't help and upgrading to Hardy didn't do much either, I got myself in quiet a mess :)
Eventually I decided it was time to wipe out the drive and reinstall Ubuntu from scratch. I was able to backup my work and settings on to another box I have at home. Going over what to backup took some time and in the end I did forget something and made one mistake. The mistake isn's a biggie, I thought I archived my Tomboy notes but the archive only had the Tomboy log so I lost all my notes (grr) the thing I forgot has more impact, I forgot to archive my Getdeb building directory, I don't have my work of programs I build for Getdeb or myself for that matter. I always kept the latest build I did, the archive file and the diff.gz file that way it could quickly rebuild a a new version when it came out. It's not a big deal, I can download them from the Getdeb website for the programs I build but I do miss the stuff I build for myself. Oh well, just have to start over again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

GetDebi development started

One of the common complains the annoying and non-intuitive support for multiple-packages software. This is unfortunately the best we can do with the gdebi application, Ubuntu's default graphical installer for .deb files.
There are some APT based options to overcome this, however there are some limitations on APT to be used with our particular case, unlike regular APT repositories we have very frequent updates, this would most likely drive us into synchronization and availability problems.
A short term solution was to implement a custom installer capable of downloading the required .deb files from a specification file that will be published on the site.
The installer name is GetDebi, a project was setup for it at launchpad and some initial code was already committed.
We should implement it as simpler as possible, using standard formats and tools. The publishing specification is the only custom format that we will need to develop.
The development language is Python with GTK for the GUI, let's hope to get skilled people interested to get all the required features to be ready for Hardy+1 .

Friday, February 15, 2008

Updates for LTS releases

A few persons have asked about our plans to keep updates for LTS releases during the LTS support time, this is probably a good subject to write about.
A few months ago we have decided to limit updates for the "current" released version, starting the move as soon a release reaches the Release Candidate stage.
This decision was taken based on the visitors statistical analysis, the majority of users upgrade as soon as possible, this together with the fact that we have resources shortage, providing packages for several releases multiplies the package building a testing effort.
This is the current status, however there are some team members interested in keeping LTS packages, in case we can improve our reviewing/publishing process to a fully automated system we are probably going to change our policy dependent on the team members willingness to support the older releases.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Automated Build System improvement

This task was on my to do list for a long time, one of the main limitations on the ABS was the inability to build packages which would depend on other new packages submitted to the ABS.
I have created a script with scans the post_build directory and generates a local repository, this repository is then used on the sbuild environments.
Now that the package building infrastructure covers most of it's requirements it is the time to focus on improving the publishing system. As it is now, the package publishing depends on manually inserting data into mysql tables, this process is too much human dependent (error prone and time consuming), most of the publishing data should be retrieved automatically from the package descriptions files.
Hopefully during the next months I will have sufficient time for the publishing improvements.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Package requests: Launchpad and Suggestion

I have been quiet for a while due to some other projects I am involved in. Today I started creating packages again and I checked the bugs list to see what I wanted to pick up.

Looking at the enormous list of requests I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least and here is it that I found Launchpad to be missing certain options.
In the overview I missed dates, when was the request placed, when was the last update, why can't I sort or filter by status. I know, launchpad isn't maintained by us, but still.

Another thing is that of all the requests I believe I know of only 2% what they are. And not so much precisely but what category it would be at the website, like Games, Audio etc. See the thing is I tend to build packages that I think are useful and packages I would use myself. I won't create packages for games for example, I don't play games on my Linux box, I rather play them on the wii or on my Windows box. So it would be helpful if I could see in a glance what the request is for. I think this could be something we could implement, we could use tags to link the request to a certain category on our website.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One step back, one step forward

yesterday I have decided to try some improvements on the wiki & build hosting server, since I had 1 spare 250GB SATA Disk from the old windows partition I was planning to integrate it with the existing system building a RAID 1. Because I am new to RAID with Linux and PC class systems I have decided to backup the hosted VMs just in case. Sade option, the RAID 1 build just presented be a frustrating "Mirroring failed" message during the build process.
Since I had to rebuild the disk, took the chance to improve performance by splitting file system over different disks to achieve parallel disk I/O.
After some long hours of lost time and frustration is all up and running again.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Site user's registration status

The user's registration option was implemented on April 2007, the purpose was:
  • usage measurement
  • global communications (using the registration email)
  • restrict release comments (to avoid spammers)
The only restriction for anonymous users is the inability to post comments, still we got 8580 user registrations (only accounting authenticated emails), from which 2568 have logged in on the last 3 months.
There are 795 release comments and we sent a few (maybe 3) global communication emails.
The user registration function is extremely poor, there is no profile page, neither a password reset/change option, this is something that definitively needs a big improvement.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wiki Rebuild (Again)

The DekiWiki on a VM which looked a promise for stability and easy of administration made me extremely frustrated yesterday.
After running the wikiupdate script and the debian vm apt-get upgrade, I just go into an half work system, any wiki edits would just return numeric errors, those keep you away from following up a resolution.
The solution was to find a new wiki engine, after some research I have selected MoinMoin. It was very easy to setup and run (it can run as a simple python app service). I just had some troubles customizing the ACLs to my needs.
I also took the change to do some wiki reorganization, it does look cleaner now.

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