Better living through software

Ben Hutchings's diary of life and technology

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Fri, 07 Aug 2015

Debian LTS work, July 2015

This was my eighth month working on Debian LTS. I was assigned 14.75 hours of work by Freexian's Debian LTS initiative.


I didn't upload any new version of the kernel this month, but I did send all the recent security fixes to Willy Tarreau who maintains the 2.6.32.y branch at I also spent more time working on a fix for bug #770492 aka CVE-2015-1350, which is not yet fixed upstream. I now have a candidate patch for 2.6.32.y/squeeze, and automated tests covering many of the affected filesystems.

Front desk

The LTS 'front desk' role is now assigned on a rota, and I was my first turn in the third week of July. I investigated which new CVEs affected LTS-supported packages in squeeze, recorded this in the secure-testing repository, and mailed the package maintainers to give them a chance to handle the updates.


Groovy had a single issue (CVE-2015-3253) with a simple fix that I could apply to the version in squeeze. Unfortunately the previous version in squeeze had not been properly updated during the squeeze release cycle and could no longer be built from source. I eventually worked out what the build-dependencies should be, uploaded the fix and issued DLA-274-1.


Ruby 1.9.1 also had a single issue (CVE-2014-6438), though the fixes were more complicated and hard to find. (The original bug report for this is still not public in the upstream bug tracker.) I also had to find an earlier upstream change that they depended on. As I've mentioned before, Ruby has an extensive test suite so I could be quite confident in my backported changes. I uploaded and issued DLA-275-1.


The GNU library for Internationalized Domain Names, libidn, required applications to pass only valid UTF-8 strings as domain names. The Jabber instant messaging server turned out not to be validating untrusted domain names, leading to a security issue there (CVE-2015-2059). As there are likely to be other applications with similar bugs, this was resolved by adding UTF-8 validation to libidn.

The fix for this involved importing additional functions from the GNU portability library, gnulib, and there my difficulties began. Confusingly, libidn has two separate sets of functions imported from gnulib, and due to interdependencies it turned out that I would have to update both of these wholesale rather than just importing the new functions that were wanted. This resulted in a 35,000 line patch. Following that I needed to autoreconf the package (and debug that process when it failed), ending up with another 26,000 line patch. Finally, it turned out that the new gnulib code needed gperf to build a header file for Solaris (when building for Linux? huh?). I ended up adding that with another patch instead.

libidn has a decent test suite, so I could at least be confident in the result of my changes. I uploaded and issued DLA-277-1.

Dear upstream developers, please use sane libraries instead of gnulib.

posted at: 13:52 | path: / | permanent link to this entry