Sat, 01 Jul 2023

New Achievement Unlocked: Bugfix Patch into Stable Release Update

Last weekend was the bi-annual time to roll the main machine and server to the current Ubuntu release, now at 23.04. It must now have been fifteen or so years that I have used Ubuntu for my desktop / server (for “reasons” I may write about another time). And of course it all passed swimmingly as usual.

[ And a small aside, if I may. Among all these upgrades, one of my favourite piece of tech trivia that may well be too little known remains the dedication of the PostgreSQL maintainers installing the new version, now PostgreSQL 15, seamlessly in parallel with the existing one, in my case PostgreSQL 14, keeping both running (!!) on two neighbouring ports (!!) so that there is no service disruption. So at some point, maybe this weekend, I will run the provided script to dump-and-restore to trigger the database migration at my convenience. Happy PostgreSQL on Debian/Ubuntu user since the late 1990s. It. Just. Works. ]

[ Similarly, it is plainly amazeballs how apt orders and runs package updates to service to keep running for a maximum amount of time. This machine acts as e.g. a web server and it was up and running (as were other services) while thousands of package got updated/replaced. It is pretty amazing. Whereas on other platforms people still maintain the “do not ever update anything” we demonstrably offer the opposite here. Really not too shabby. ]

This time, I had one small hickup. Emacs, now at version 28 bringing loads of niceties along, would not load. And the error soon lead to a post on the magit list where its indefatigable author Jonas Bernoulli suggested a rebuild (and hence re-compilation of the elisp files). Which I did, and which allowed a start of VM inside Emacs. So I was happy. But it allowed it only once for each VM package reinstall. Not good, and I remained curious.

Some more digging lead to a breakthrough. A post and commit at the Fedora Project indicated that for just VM within Emacs, byte-compilation throws a spanner. Which one can work around by telling Emacs not to compile the files in the VM folder.

So I applied that patch to the VM package in a local build et voilà we have working VM. The world is clearly better when your email client of 25+ years just works. And feels snappier because everything under Emacs28 feels snappier! So I set this up properly and filed Debian Bug Report #1039105.

To which Ian Jackson, the maintainer, replied a few days later nodding that he could reproduce. And that he concurred with the bug report, and was planning to update throughout. And lo and behold this morning’s update reveals that this made into an update for the just-released Debian Bookworm.

So yay. In all these years of Debian maintainership (somewhere between twentyfive and thirty) this may be my first bug report with patch going straight into a stable release. But of course, true and full credit goes of course to Göran Uddeborg for putting it up first for Fedora. Lovely how Open Source can work together. We really should do more, not less, of that. But I digress…

Anyway, in sum: If you try to use VM under the lovely Emacs 28, there is a fix, and if you use it with Debian Bookworm the fix should hit your mirrors soons. Ditto, methinks, for the next Ubuntu release. If you use it under Ubuntu now, the package is (elisp) text-only and can be safely installed on a derivative (which we do not enjoy in general but which is fine here). So enjoy!

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

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