Replacing man with info

GNU info is lightyears ahead of man in terms of features, with sub-pages, clickable links, topic-spanning search, clean html- and latex-export and efficient interactive navigation.

But man pages are still the de-facto standard for getting quick information on a GNU/Linux system.

This guide intends to help you change that for your system. It needs GNU texinfo >= 6.1.

Update: If you prefer vi-keys, adjust the function to call info --vi-keys instead of plain info. You could then call that function iv

Conveniently merge a NEWS file without conflicts

Writing a NEWS file (a list of changes per version, targeted at end-users) significantly reduces the effort for doing a release: To write your release notes, just copy the latest entries from the NEWS file into a message. It is one of the gems in the GNU coding standards: Simple yet extremely useful. (For a detailed realization, refer to the Perl Specification for CPAN Changes files.)

However when you’re developing features in parallel, for example by using a pull-request workflow and requiring contributors to update the NEWS file, you will often run into merge conflicts. Resolving these takes time, though the resolution is trivial: Just use the lines from both heads.

To resolve the problem, you can set your version tracking system to use union-merge for NEWS files.

How to run your own GNU Hurd (in 140 letters)

Don’t want to rely on other’s opinions about the Hurd? How to run your own GNU Hurd, in 140 letters:

wget; tar xf de*hu*gz; qemu-system-x86_64 -hda de*hu*g -m 1G

This is the GNU Hurd

BY-SA and GPL: creativecommons closed the chasm in the sharealike/copyleft community

This is the biggest news item for free culture and free software in the past 5 years: The creativecommons attribution sharealike license is now one-way compatible to the GPL — see the message from creativecommons and from the Free Software Foundation.

Some license compatibility legalese might sound small, but the impact of this is hard to overestimate.

Using Guile Scheme Wisp for low ceremony embedded languages

Programming languages allow expressing ideas in non-ambiguous ways. Let’s do a play.

say Yes, I do!
Yes, I do!

Exact Math to the rescue - with Guile Scheme

I needed to calculate the probability that for every freenet user there are at least 70 others in a distance of at most 0.01. That needs binomial coefficients with n and k on the order of 4000. My old Python script failed me with an OverflowError: integer division result too large for a float. So I turned to Guile Scheme and exact math.

Manipulation in Fremdbestimmter Kommunikation

Kommentar zum BeHaind Video Soziale Massenmanipulation - Politiker flippt aus - Sailor Moon

Ganz klar, es gibt Manipulation. Und die wird es immer geben, wenn die Kommunikation von anderen kontrolliert wird.

Ich verwende deswegen zusätzlich zu Twitter und G+ auch GNU social und Sone.

Schick mir eine verschlüsselte E-Mail

Eine verschlüsselte E-Mail zu schicken ist einfach. Hier will ich dir in 3 Schritten zeigen, wie du mich erreichen kannst. Ich zeige die Schritte für eine Reihe verschiedener Programme, sowohl für Windows als auch für OSX und GNU/Linux.

Das Programm dafür ist GnuPG: Frei lizensiert und der langjährige Standard für sichere Verschlüsselung von E-Mails.

Reproduzierbare Veröffentlichungen

Für verlässliche Wissenschaft sind reproduzierbare Veröffentlichungen essenziell - aber oft sind sie nicht gegeben12. Dieser 5-Minuten-Vortrag motiviert, wieso Reproduzierbarkeit so wichtig ist, und zeigt eine Lösung zum wirklich reproduzierbaren Veröffentlichen - die er auch selbst nutzt. Ich habe ihn in einem Seminar zum wissenschaftlichen Präsentieren gehalten.

Reproduzierbare Veröffentlichungen

PDF-version (for printing)

Release (to download)

orgmode-version (for editing)

repository (for forking)

Falscher Anreiz

  • Die Versuchung
    • „Haben Sie einmal ein Paper mit per Skript erstellten Grafiken veröffentlicht?“
    • „Haben Sie Skripte und Daten veröffentlicht?“
    • „Warum erfinden Sie die Daten nicht? Das wäre weniger Arbeit…“

    „Niemals! Das verbietet die wissenschaftliche Integrität!“

  • Doch es passiert - leider
    • Einstieg: „passte ich den Untersuchungsentwurf an“.
    • Dietrich Stapel: „Es war grau und es war üblich“.
    • Sturz: „erfindet die Daten“.
    • „Forscher gratulieren“.
    • „Drei [seiner] Doktoranden sind Ungereimtheiten […] aufgefallen“.

    [Quarks & Co., 2013-06-04]

  1. Gerade haben Biologen gezeigt3, dass die Verfügbarkeit der Rohdaten von alten Veröffentlichungen jedes Jahr um 17% fällt. Das heißt, schon nach 4 Jahren gibt es für die Hälfte der Veröffentlichungen keine Daten mehr. Die hier gezeigte Methode macht es sehr einfach sicherzustellen, dass alle für die Veröffentlichung notwendigen Daten mitveröffentlicht werden - und erzeugt automatisch eine Archivdatei dafür. 

  2. Leider ist die durch die politisch gesetzten Rahmenbedingungen erzwungene Konkurrenzsituation für reproduzierbare Veröffentlichungen hinderlich, denn wer seine Daten und Skripte veröffentlicht - eigentlich alle Programme, die er oder sie nutzte - verspielt die Möglichkeit, sich ein Monopol auf die Daten aufzubauen, das die nächsten Veröffentlichungen sichern könnte. Sobald die Daten draußen sind, können andere damit arbeiten - und nur die schnellsten können veröffentlichen (ja, das System ist dumm…). Zusätzlich stehen sauberer Veröffentlichung oft „IP“-Regeln entgegen - also der Wunsch der Uni, ihre Ergebnisse zu monopolisieren. Zum Glück gibt es mit Open Access inzwischen eine Bewegung gegen solche schädlichen Regelungen - aber der Kampf wird wohl noch lange andauern. Immerhin stehen hier Misstrauen, Gier und leider berechtigte Sorgen um die eigene Zukunft gegen wissenschaftliche Integrität. 

  3. The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age - Zeitungsartikel dazu: The Vast Majority of Raw Data From Old Scientific Studies May Now Be Missing

Installing GNU Guix 0.6, easily

Org-Source (for editing)

PDF (for printing)

“Got a power-outage while updating?
No problem: Everything still works”

GNU Guix is the new functional package manager from the GNU Project which complements the Nix-Store with a nice Guile Scheme based package definition format.

What sold it to me was “Got a power-outage while updating? No problem: Everything still works” from the Guix talk of Ludovico at the GNU Hacker Meeting 2013. My son once found the on-off-button of our power-connector while I was updating my Gentoo box. It took me 3 evenings to get it completely functional again. This would not have happened with Guix.

Update (2014-05-17): Thanks to zerwas from IRC @ freenode for the patch to guix 0.6 and nice cleanup!


Installation of GNU Guix is straightforward, except if you follow the docs, but it’s not as if we’re not used to that from other GNU utilities, which often terribly short-sell their quality with overly general documentation ☺

So I want to provide a short guide how to setup and run GNU Guix with ease. My system natively runs Gentoo, My system natively runs Gentoo, so some details might vary for you. If you use Gentoo, you can simply copy the commands here into the shell, but better copy them to a text-file first to ensure that I do not try to trick you into doing evil things with the root access you need.

In short: This guide provides the First Contact and Black Triangle for GNU Guix.

wisp: Whitespace to Lisp

» I love the syntax of Python, but crave the simplicity and power of Lisp.«

display "Hello World!" ↦ (display "Hello World!")
define : factorial n     (define (factorial n)            
    if : zero? n       ↦     (if (zero? n)                
       . 1                      1                      
       * n : factorial {n - 1}  (* n (factorial {n - 1}))))

Wisp basics

»ArneBab's alternate sexp syntax is best I've seen; pythonesque, hides parens but keeps power« — Christopher Webber in twitter, in and in his blog: Wisp: Lisp, minus the parentheses
☺ Yay! ☺

 ↓ skip updates ↓

Update (2016-07-12): wisp v0.9.1 released with a fix for multiline strings and many additional examples. For more info, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.11 or later and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.9.1.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.9.1/;
./configure; make check;
examples/newbase60.w 123
If it prints 23 (123 in NewBase60), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2016-01-30): I presented Wisp in the Guile devroom at FOSDEM. The reception was unexpectedly positive — given some of the backlash the readable project got I expected an exceptionally sceptical audience, but people rather asked about ways to put Wisp to good use, for example in templates, whether it works in the REPL (yes, it does) and whether it could help people start into Scheme. The atmosphere in the Guile devroom was very constructive and friendly during all talks, and I’m happy I could meet the Hackers there in person. I’m definitely taking good memories with me. Sadly the video did not make it, but the schedule-page includes the presentation (pdf, 10 slides) and its source (org).
Have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2016-01-04): Wisp is available in GNU Guix! Thanks to the package from Christopher Webber you can try Wisp easily on top of any distribution:
guix package -i guile guile-wisp
guile --language=wisp
This already gives you Wisp at the REPL (take care to follow all instructions for installing Guix on top of another distro, especially the locales).
Have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2015-10-01): wisp v0.9.0 released which no longer depends on Python for bootstrapping releases (but ./configure still asks for it — a fix for another day). And thanks to Christopher Webber there is now a patch to install wisp within GNU Guix. For more info, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.11 or later and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.9.0.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.9.0/;
./configure; make check;
examples/newbase60.w 123
If it prints 23 (123 in NewBase60), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2015-09-12): wisp v0.8.6 released with fixed macros in interpreted code, chunking by top-level forms, : . parsed as nothing, ending chunks with a trailing period, updated example evolve and added examples newbase60, cli, cholesky decomposition, closure and hoist in loop. For more info, see the NEWS file.To test it, install Guile 2.0.x or 2.2.x and Python 3 and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.8.6.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.6/;
./configure; make check;
examples/newbase60.w 123
If it prints 23 (123 in NewBase60), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax! And a happy time together for the ones who merge their paths today ☺
Update (2015-04-10): wisp v0.8.3 released with line information in backtraces. For more info, see the NEWS file.To test it, install Guile 2.0.x or 2.2.x and Python 3 and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.8.3.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.3/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w; echo
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2015-03-18): wisp v0.8.2 released with reader bugfixes, new examples and an updated draft for SRFI 119 (wisp). For more info, see the NEWS file.To test it, install Guile 2.0.x or 2.2.x and Python 3 and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.8.2.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.2/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w; echo
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2015-02-03): The wisp SRFI just got into draft state: SRFI-119 — on its way to an official Scheme Request For Implementation!
Update (2014-11-19): wisp v0.8.1 released with reader bugfixes. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and Python 3 and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.8.1.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.1/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w; echo
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2014-11-06): wisp v0.8.0 released! The new parser now passes the testsuite and wisp files can be executed directly. For more details, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.8.0.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.0/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w;
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
On a personal note: It’s mindboggling that I could get this far! This is actually a fully bootstrapped indentation sensitive programming language with all the power of Scheme underneath, and it’s a one-person when-my-wife-and-children-sleep sideproject. The extensibility of Guile is awesome!
Update (2014-10-17): wisp v0.6.6 has a new implementation of the parser which now uses the scheme read function. `wisp-scheme.w` parses directly to a scheme syntax-tree instead of a scheme file to be more suitable to an SRFI. For more details, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and bootstrap wisp:
tar xf wisp-0.6.6.tar.gz; cd wisp-0.6.6;
./configure; make;
guile -L . --language=wisp
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax at the REPL!
Caveat: It does not support the ' prefix yet (syntax point 4).
Update (2014-01-04): Resolved the name-clash together with Steve Purcell und Kris Jenkins: the javascript wisp-mode was renamed to wispjs-mode and wisp.el is called wisp-mode 0.1.5 again. It provides syntax highlighting for Emacs and minimal indentation support via tab. You can install it with `M-x package-install wisp-mode`
Update (2014-01-03): wisp-mode.el was renamed to wisp 0.1.4 to avoid a name clash with wisp-mode for the javascript-based wisp.
Update (2013-09-13): Wisp now has a REPL! Thanks go to GNU Guile and especially Mark Weaver, who guided me through the process (along with nalaginrut who answered my first clueless questions…).
To test the REPL, get the current code snapshot, unpack it, run ./, start guile with $ guile -L . (requires guile 2.x) and enter ,language wisp.
Example usage:
display "Hello World!\n"
then hit enter thrice.
Voilà, you have wisp at the REPL!
Caveeat: the wisp-parser is still experimental and contains known bugs. Use it for testing, but please do not rely on it for important stuff, yet.
Update (2013-09-10): wisp-guile.w can now parse itself! Bootstrapping: The magical feeling of seeing a language (dialect) grow up to live by itself: python3 wisp-guile.w > 1 && guile 1 wisp-guile.w > 2 && guile 2 wisp-guile.w > 3 && diff 2 3. Starting today, wisp is implemented in wisp.
Update (2013-08-08): Wisp 0.3.1 released (Changelog).

Going from a simple Makefile to Autotools

Table of Contents



I recently started looking into Autotools, to make it easier to run my code on multiple platforms.

Naturally you can use cmake or scons or waf or ninja or tup, all of which are interesting in there own respect. But none of them has seen the amount of testing which went into autotools, and none of them have the amount of tweaks needed to support about every system under the sun. And I recently found pyconfigure which allows using autotools with python and offers detection of library features.

Warning 2016: Contains some cargo-cult-programming — my current setup is cleaner thanks to using AC_CONFIG_LINKS in

Meine Neo-Tastatur - Mit GNU, Plussy und Infinite Hands

Dank dem GNU Head redrawn und habe ich eine Tastatur, die meine Begeisterung für freie Software zeigt: Mit GNU, Plussy und Infinite Hands. Außerdem enthält sie die für wissenschaftliches Schreiben praktischen mathematischen und griechischen Zeichen, die Neo bietet. Aber genug geschrieben: Geben wir der Tastatur das Rampenlicht, das sie verdient ;-)


Some technical advantages of the Hurd

→ An answer to just accept it, truth hurds, where Flameeyes told his reasons for not liking the Hurd and asked for technical advantages (and claimed, that the Hurd does not offer a concept which got incorporated into other free software, contributing to other projects). Note: These are the points I see. Very likely there are more technical advantages which I don’t see well enough to explain them.

The translator system in the Hurd is a simple concept which makes many tasks easy, which are complex with Linux (like init, network transparency, new filesystems, …). Additionally there are capabilities (give programs only the access they need - adjusted at runtime), subhurds and (academic) memory management.

Information for potential testers: The Hurd is already usable, but it is not yet in production state. It progressed a lot during the recent years, though. Have a look at the status report if you want to see if it’s already interesting for you. See running the Hurd for testing it yourself.

Table of Contents:

Influence on other systems: FUSE in Linux and limited translators in NetBSD

Firstoff: FUSE is essentially an implementation of parts of the translator system (which is the main building block of the Hurd) to Linux, and NetBSD recently got a port of the translators system of the Hurd. That’s the main contribution to other projects that I see.

translator-based filesystem

On the bare technical side, the translator-based filesystem stands out: The filesystem allows for making arbitrary programs responsible for displaying a given node (which can also be a directory tree) and to start these programs on demand. To make them persistent over reboots, you only need to add them to the filesystem node (for which you need the right to change that node). Also you can start translators on any node without having to change the node itself, but then they are not persistent and only affect your view of the filesystem without affecting other users. These translators are called active, and you don’t need write permissions on a node to add them.

A GNU Head, redrawn

For my new Neo-Keyboard I wanted the GNU head from GNU and the plussy from FSFE on the meta/super keys (those which often have a Fenster-Logo). Sadly the normal GNU head did not work very well with the Laser from Schubi, so I grabbed my tablet, fired up mypaint and created a new one, building on the old, but adding more contrast and stronger lines. I hope you like it!

A GNU head, redrawn

A GNU head, redrawn

No, it ain’t “forever” (GNU Hurd code_swarm from 1991 to 2010)

If the video doesn’t show, you can also download it as Ogg Theora & Vorbis “.ogv” or find it on youtube.


Emacs ist ein freies Textbearbeitungsprogramm, das sowohl in der Konsole als auch mit grafischer Oberfläche genutzt werden kann, weitreichende Anpassung via Lisp ermöglicht1 (lisp lernen) und am Anfang der freie Software Bewegung stand (info).

  1. Das beinhaltet Dinge wie ein Mailprogramm oder Webbrowser, transparentes bearbeiten von verschlüsselten Dateien (wie in meinem Tagebuch), Integration von Versionsverwaltungssystemen, Hervorhebung und Vervollständigung von Quellcode und vieles mehr; alles vom Benutzer aktivierbar (teils über die zahlreichen Erweiterungen im Emacs-Wiki), wenn er es braucht, und trotzdem relativ schlank (im Vergleich zu vielen heutigen Texteditoren), 

Emacs als Tagebuch

Ich verwende nun seit einiger Zeit Emacs als Tagebuchprogramm. Mit ihm komme ich zum ersten Mal wirklich zum schreiben.

Der Aufruf bei mir ist schlicht


Den Grund, dass es für mich mit Emacs funktioniert, sehe ich darin, dass er mir genau das bietet, was ich brauche – und dabei verdammt schnell ist. Was ich brauche:

  • Verschlüsselung ohne Aufwand (epa-file integriert transparentes GnuPG, also wirklich sichere Verschlüsselung).

  • Sofort schreiben können (ist direkt bei der Zeile, bei der ich aufgehört habe).

  • Schnell. Ich will nicht warten müssen, bevor ich tippen kann (geht über eine eigene Initfile, die Codevervollständigung und so rauslässt).

  • Datum zum Eintrag (geht dank miniscript über „M-x datum“).

  • (Auch) Auf der (Text-)Konsole. Wenn ich am Systembasteln bin, will ich trotzdem Schreiben können.

  • Optional Versionsverwaltung (nur für backups; wenn es ein Mercurial repository gibt, speichere ich einen Schnappschuss via C-x v v).

Fehlinfos zum Hurd

-> Geschrieben zu einem Artikel der Computerwoche.

Sehr geehrter Herr Hülsbömer,

Ihre Information zum GNU Hurd ist leider falsch, daher möchte ich sie bitten, sie zu berichtigen.

Der GNU Hurd funktioniert (wenn auch nicht perfekt) und ein GNU/Hurd System kann auf etwa 76% der in Debian vertretenen Pakete zurückgreifen, inklusive Xorg und GNUstep.

GNU Hurd

"Mit dem GNU Hurd können Nutzer alles in ihrem System ändern, das niemand anderen beeinträchtigt."

Und das ist eine Möglichkeit, Freiheit in einer Gemeinschaft zu definieren: "Mach was du willst, solange du damit niemand anderem schadest."

Im Gegensatz dazu benötigen die meisten aktuellen Systeme (GNU/Linux, MacOSX, Windows, ...) root Zugang um z.B. ein neues Dateisystem zu installieren.

A tale of foxes and freedom

Singing the songs of creation to shape a free world.

One day the silver kit asked the grey one:

“Who made the light, which brightens our singing place?”

The grey one looked at him lovingly and asked the kit to sit with him, for he would tell a story of old, a story from the days when the tribe was young.

“Once there was a time, when the world was light and happiness. During the day the sun shone on the savannah, and at night the moon cast the grass in a silver sheen.

Inhalt abgleichen
Willkommen im Weltenwald!

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