Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sigal packaging and CentOS

My home server was running CentOS 6, and this was getting a bit long in the tooth:

  • The libwww-perl version that ships in CentOS 6 does not handle HTTPS certificates in a secure way. This was only fixed in LWP version 6. There's almost no chance of LWP getting rebased, since that module is part of Perl core, and it's so late in the RHEL 6 lifecycle.
  • The Python version (2.6) is so old that many Python apps no longer support it. The one I was particularly interested in was Sigal to generate my own photo gallery for my family.

I tried using the Python 3.3 software collections, and this worked well to get Sigal running in a Python 3.3 virtualenv.

For Perl, I didn't want to deal with SCLs, because my application has a long dependency chain, and I would need to rebuild a lot of SCL-style RPMs to get my app to work. I could just use the "cpan" tool (similar to virtualenv/pip), but I wanted to avoid the security and stability issues associated with using an essentially random snapshot in time of modules that I grabbed from upstream. I like the fact that Bugzilla is a central place to track CVEs, and I like the waiting period in epel-testing and the possibility for community collaboration there, etc.

The idea of using multiple SCLs and lots of non-packaged upstream modules was what pushed me to just bite the bullet and update to CentOS 7. CentOS base + CentOS extras + EPEL 7 already had all the deps for Sigal, except python-pilkit. I buckled down and learned just enough Python packaging techniques in order to package python-pilkit and python-sigal. And the best part is that the packages actually work on my new EL7 system (knock on wood).

sigal bundles some Javascript bits, and I'm not sure about the JS guidelines for EPEL. But otherwise I think the packages are close to being ready to submit to Fedora.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


"What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent."

- C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Typepad Antispam

I've just set up Typepad's open-source Akismet backend, also known as "Serotype". This software internally uses Perlbal for communicating HTTP, Gearman to delegate instructions, and dspam for content-based spam filtering. Other software requirements are MySQL and memcached.

Documentation is pretty scarce; a README file is basically all you get. However, if you're familiar with Perl you should be good to go. I put the pieces together in a CentOS 5 VM. Many of the required Perl modules were already in EPEL, but I did have to get some things directly from CPAN.

Here are my initial thoughts:
  • Thank you TypePad for making this open source, and releasing it to the world!
  • Most of Typepad's software is in Perl, and they are the creators of Perlbal/Gearman, so no surprise that this software is based on that as well. Since it uses Gearman, this Serotype server should be able to scale massively.
  • Once I installed all the required Perl modules, the software essentially worked "out of the box". I did need to adjust the Gearman client timeout to fifteen seconds. I traced this delay to the yuidd daemon. I'm not sure why it can take up to ten seconds to give me a UID.
  • The handling of API keys is very loose; the web service accepts API key by default. However, only keys that are "blessed" are able to actually train the database.
  • I wish there were an easier way to "prepopulate" the database with spam.
Web forms are the spammers' new battlefields. Good thing the Akismet API even exists.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Life After Graduation

Wedding in IL

Honeymoon in VA

Beach Trip with Dreyers in NC

Birthday in Littleton CO

Skillet concert in VA... in the rain

New nephew

Saturday, May 30, 2009 redesign

Laura and I spent the past three days re-designing her website, adding a blog, re-vamping the gallery... it was hectic but fun!

6 days and counting till I'm married :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Last View from Moody

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at MBI, and I won't forget the many memories from the school or the city.