Goodbye cciss, welcome hpsa!

During the upgrade from Debian Squeeze to Debian Wheezy you will be warned about the move (on linux-base package) from the cciss driver to the new hpsa: “Some HP Smart Array controllers are now handled by the new ‘hpsa’ driver, rather than the ‘cciss’ driver”.
Welcome hpsa! cciss really sucks!!!

Recently there have been problems with a mysql server (Smart Array P410) which reported the following error messages:

INFO: task mysqld:8009 blocked for more than 120 seconds.
"echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/hung_task_timeout_secs" disables this message.

Sometimes the server became very unstable due to this kind of blocks (problem partially solved by moving to the deadline io scheduler).
The problem with mysql blocks was solved by a Debian upgrade (moving to hpsa).

If you use cciss on your servers upgrade to hpsa as soon as possible!
hpsa offers better performance and (good news) it’s stable! 😉

Debian on MacBook Pro Retina 15″

This is a fast&furious how-to about installing Debian on a MacBook Pro Retina 15″ bought on January, 2014¹.
Please note that this how-to may become outdated: last update happened on 16 April, 2014.
Please note that this how-to involves dangerous operations: if you choose to follow this how-to your car may burn, your cat may rape your sister and you may buy a windows phone… no warranty!

I choose to install Debian Jessie 8.0 because:

  • it offers better support to the MBP Retina recent hardware
  • it isn’t actually the stable release but it is pretty stable
  • Jessie will be freezed on November 5 (“Remember, remember, the fifth of November!”) and will become the next stable release in about a year (May 2015)

Installing Debian on MacBook Pro Retina:

  1. download the Debian Jessie testing image ( and create a bootable USB (dd if=debian-testing-amd64-DVD-1.iso of=/dev/sdX)
  2. boot your macbook pro holding down command+R
  3. use the disk utility, select the disk on the left panel (for example “251GB APPLE SSD”)
  4. on the partition scheme resize the “Macintosh HD” partition, drag the bottom right edge of the partition scheme up unless you have enought space for Debian (I’ve reserved only 50 GB to MacOSX because I really don’t use it), apply
  5. insert the Debian USB, reboot and hold down the options key (aka alt), remember to connect the LAN adapter before boot to Debian installer (hotplug wont work and wifi needs a non-free firmware), use tg3 as kernel module for ethernet adapter if requested
  6. select the EFI Boot relative to your Debian USB key and continue with the Debian installer (please note that I’ve selected XFCE on advanced options as Desktop Environment)
  7. when the installer arrives at the partitioning step select to proceed manually
  8. you can create the common partitions (boot, swap, root) but I suggest to setup an encrypted system²
  9. complete the install and reboot, you can’t boot Debian at this point, boot MacOS and go further…
  10. download the rEFInd USB bootable version ( and create a bootable USB
  11. insert the rEFInd USB, reboot and hold down the options key (aka alt)
  12. select the EFI Boot relative to your rEFInd USB key, rEFInd should permit to you to boot your Debian
  13. if you can boot your Debian by the rEFInd USB key just return to MacOS and install rEFInd permanently (it’s easy and a good tutorial is available on its website)

Complete the installation:

  1. update your apt sources.list to include the non-free packages
  2. install additional packages³: apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree broadcom-sta-dkms
  3. reboot to use wifi and lan adapter
  4. to avoid random controller freeze you need to set a particular kernel boot option, edit /etc/default/grub and add the option libata.force=noncq (es. GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet libata.force=noncq”) then reboot your system

Please note that the Intel video card works flawlessly, the Retina display is simply awasome but… but you need to adapt your desktop environment to use it on an high (very high) resolution (2880×1800), stay tuned, I will post about XFCE optimization for high DPI display as soon as I can! actually after some time spent to try to adapt XFCE on high resolution I’ve choose anyway to reduce the resolution to 1920×1200 mainly because most of the websites are not ready for high resolutions (low res design). This is not an XFCE fault, XFCE works well with high resolution4.

Please note that if you make use of kvm virtual machines you can be really disappointed about poor performance (install system base of Debian may take hours): don’t worry, you have to use the ext4 mount options nobarrier or barrier=0. If your vm is already installed simply update its /etc/fstab configuration. It’s a little more difficult to apply barrier=0 during installation:

  1. start Debian installer on the virtual machine and go further
  2. when the filesystem is ready (aka when the installation of base system starts) use CTRL+ALT+2 combo to move on the kvm console
  3. type sendkey ctrl-alt-f2 to move on another terminal of the vm
  4. use CTRL+ALT+F1 to comeback on the vm and press enter to start activate the command line
  5. execute the command mount -o remount,barrier=0 /target to disable the ext4 barrier feature
  6. use CTRL+ALT+F2 combo to return on the kvm console
  7. type sendkey ctrl-alt-f1 to return on the usual installation wizard of the vm
  8. use CTRL+ALT+F1 to comeback on the vm and complete the installation

If you want to use an external monitor no problem, just apply your custom setup with the xrandr command, for example:
xrandr --output DP1 --mode 1920x1080 --output eDP1 --mode 1920x1200 --below DP1
Run xrandr without arguments to list your screen(s), their names and their available modes.

Happy hacking!

2014-03-21 added libata.force=noncq custom kernel option
2014-03-21 added some info about my challenge to use XFCE on Retina
2014-03-21 added some note about problems about KVM virtual machines
2014-04-13 added some info about the use of an external monitor
2014-04-16 fixed some typos and fixed last update date

¹lspci of the MacBook Pro Retina 15″ used to produce this tutorial:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Crystal Well DRAM Controller (rev 08)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Crystal Well PCI Express x16 Controller (rev 08)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Crystal Well Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 08)
00:03.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Crystal Well HD Audio Controller (rev 08)
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI (rev 05)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset High Definition Audio Controller (rev 05)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #1 (rev d5)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #3 (rev d5)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #4 (rev d5)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #5 (rev d5)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM87 Express LPC Controller (rev 05)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 05)
02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4360 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 03)
03:00.0 Multimedia controller: Broadcom Corporation Device 1570
04:00.0 SATA controller: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd Apple PCIe SSD (rev 01)
05:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
06:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
06:03.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
06:04.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
06:05.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
06:06.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 156d
07:00.0 System peripheral: Intel Corporation Device 156c
08:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation DSL3510 Thunderbolt Controller [Cactus Ridge]
09:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation DSL3510 Thunderbolt Controller [Cactus Ridge]
0a:00.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM57762 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe

²create an encrypted system

  1. create a small ext4 boot partition (1G)
  2. create an encrypted partition in the remaining space
  3. create an LVM group in the encrypted partition
  4. create two logical LVM partitions: the swap partition (double the size of your RAM), the root ext4 partition

³firmware package includes tg3 and broadcom package build the wl module needed for the wifi card

4you need to properly set the XFCE dpi option and you need to rebuild the composer theme because it uses raw images to compose its windows (download source package xfwm4-themes, edit the theme makefile and do some imagemagick tricks, feel free to ask if you are interested)

Debian Wheezy 7.0 on HP255 laptop

Debian Wheezy 7.0 works flawlessly on the HP255 laptop.

Install Wheezy as usual then:

  1. add wheezy-backports to your APT sources, add this line
    deb wheezy-backports main
    to your /etc/apt/sources.list (or add a new file with the “.list” extension to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/), replace YOURMIRROR with your preferred mirror name (or with “ftp” to use the main mirror)
  2. resynchronize the package index files from their sources (you need to be root)
    # apt-get update
  3. install some updated firmwares from the backport mirror:
    # apt-get -t wheezy-backports install firmware-realtek firmware-ralink
  4. install linux-image from backports, please note that you may need to change the package name to fit the latest version available and your specific arch (take a look at your current kernel name with uname-r and find available backports with apt-cache -t wheezy-backports linux-image):
    # apt-get -t wheezy-backports install YOUR_LINUX_IMAGE_PACKAGE_NAME
    for example replace YOUR_LINUX_IMAGE_PACKAGE_NAME with linux-image-3.12-0.bpo.1-686-pae
  5. install pulseaudio if it is not already installed:
    # apt-get install pulseaudio

Ekiga registration error: Loop Detected

Today we cannot connect an Ekiga client to our Asterisk SIP server.
The error reported by Ekiga was “loop detected” (with a poor italian translation “rilevato ciclo”).
We found a solution by Asterisk CLI command “sip set debug on” and by inspecting the debugging log: Ekiga sends packets with a wrong address in class assigned to eth0 (without cable) by DHCP.
As reported by RFC is the “link local” block.
It was set aside for this special use in the Standards Track document, RFC 3927 and was further documented in the Best Current Practice RFC 5735. It is allocated for communication between hosts on a single link. Hosts obtain these addresses by auto-configuration, such as when a DHCP server cannot be found.
RFC specify that a router MUST NOT forward a packet with an IPv4 Link-Local source or destination address, and so Ekiga shouldn’t send a SIP packet with this kind of address.
Anyway, to resolve this problem, stop dhcp on a disconnected interface or remove this assigned address.

KVM virtualization with Debian GNU/Linux in 7 steps

1. Install required packages

# apt-get install bridge-utils kvm

2. Create an empty kvm virtual machine image:

# kvm-img create vm.qcow2 -f qcow2 20G

3. Prepare a bridge so you can attach to it the net interface of your vm.

3a. Setup your eth0 interface to capture all the traffic:

# ifconfig eth0 promisc up

3b. Create the bridge interface:

# brctl addbr br0

3c. Put your eth0 interface in the bridge (so it captures all the wire traffic and sends it to all the others interfaces in the bridge and vice-versa):

# brctl addif br0 eth0

4. Restore your network connection by the br0 interface (optional)

4a. Bring up your bridge interface and give to it an address (so you can use it as your ip address):

# ifconfig br0 <your_ip> <your_netmask> up

4b. Remember to restore your default gateway:

# ip route add default via <gateway_ip>

5. Start your virtual machine (-boot d to install Debian from the ~/iso/debian.iso image, optional)

# kvm -hda vm.qcow2 -cdrom ~/iso/debian.iso -boot d -net nic,vlan=0 -net tap,vlan=0,ifname=tapvm

6. Add tap interface of vm to your bridge

# brctl addif br0 tapvm

7. Enable forwarding and tell to iptables to allow tapvm traffic to flow through your pc

# sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
# iptables -A FORWARD -m physdev --physdev-out tapvm -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A FORWARD -m physdev --physdev-in tapvm -j ACCEPT

Debian Release Party!

Thank you Debian!
Welcome Wheezy!!! 😀

Thank you Debian!

Thank you Debian!

Thank you Debian!

Thank you Debian!

How-to Install Debian 6.0 (squeeze) Linux on HP 630 notebook model B815

Please note: this how-to is intended to be used with model B815 only.
There is another (old) version of HP630 that works well with default Debian 6.0 setup (it doesn’t need backports and video mode is configured correctly/automatically by Xorg).

HP 630 is another great notebook for business from HP with linux (or freedos) installed. Hp630 is not the best about performance but it’s fast with linux it’s ok with it’s easy and clean design. Its hardware is very good (almost everything is manufactured by Intel) and it’s cheap!

If you want Debian just install Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) with Desktop System, Notebook and Basic System files.

After installation run these commands from shell (as root):

cd ~
mv /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.original
touch /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb squeeze main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb-src squeeze main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb squeeze-updates main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb-src squeeze-updates main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb squeeze/updates main contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb-src squeeze/updates main contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
echo "deb squeeze-backports main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update
apt-get -t squeeze-backports install linux-image-3.2.0-0.bpo.1-amd64 libdrm-intel1 xserver-xorg-video-intel libegl1-mesa libegl1-mesa-drivers
apt-get install bluez-firmware firmware-linux firmware-atheros flashplugin-nonfree icedove ntp wireless-tools

Note that it needs backports repository and some updated packages to setup a correct video mode for its video chip (more info at

Now you have a perfect business laptop with browser (firefox/iceweasel), email client (thunderbird/icedove) and openoffice (and whatever you want to install).

All hardware now works very well without any problem.