Fixing Borked UTF-8 Data in MySQL

While updating ownCloud to version 4 it reencoded my already UTF-8-encoded data and left me with borked strings.

I thought about trying to do a bunch of find and replace operations, but I knew this was error prone.

A little internet research produced a very simple simple solution for fixing double-encoded data in MySQL:

Just replace DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD and DB_NAME with the appropriate values and your good to go. 😀

Howto Renew Your SSL Certificates

So my IMAP server certificate expired today … so I needed to renew it. I use self-signed certificates for services I run myself.

First you need your config file. If you don’t have this you will be prompted to do so. (the Ubuntu Wiki has a nice introduction)

Then you generate the new certificate (expiring in 365 days) using the config file from above (imapd.cnf) and have it save it into imapd.pem.

Restart your service.

If you need to check the new key’s fingerprint you can get it with the following command.

Debugging SASL

If you are using Cyrus SASL with your Postfix you might feel the need to debug what SASL does in the background. But SASL does not log into /var/log/mail.*. 🙁

So after some research I fount a way …

Stop the SASL daemon and start it by hand:

Consult the MECHANISMS and OPTIONS settings in /etc/defaults/saslauthd for which options to use in your case.
But the most important option is -d. It will run the daemon in the foreground and make it more verbose.

Now it will show you everything it does. 😀

Don’t forget to start the actual daemon once you are done debugging:

How to to set up Gitlab on Debian

Update: This howto is outdated. GitLab has changed a lot since it was written and a lot of it is not applicable anymore (e.g. since GitLab 5.0 it doesn’t depend on Gitolite any more and only needs one system user to be setup). So you are probably better off using the official installation guide. 🙂

If you want to install Gitlab on Debian you can easily follow their installation steps for Ubuntu. But be careful there are a few gotchas nobody is talking about.

The following steps will assume you are root.


First make sure you have all the latest updates installed.

Then we have to install a few packages.

Install Ruby

If you have not installed ruby you might want to consider using RVM.

Install it with

It will be installed into /usr/local/rvm.

Ask it for the requirements for installing MRI and install them.

Install ruby and make it the default.

You should install a minimum set of gems. Add “passenger” if you are running Apache as your web server or “thin” if you are using Nginx.

Install Gitolite

First of all we want to create a dedicated user for Gitolite and Gitlab. This will also be the user the Rails processes will be running in (this is important later).

Configure git for the new user.

Generate the ssh key for the git user. It will be saved in /home/git/.ssh/id_rsa. We will run Gitlab as the git user so it will use this key to authenticate against Gitolite.

Copy the public part of the key for later use when we setup Gitolite.

After that we install Gitolite. In contrast to the Gitlab documentation I installed it from the Debian repositories.

It will not be fully installed as it will tell you something like:

No adminkey given – not initializing gitolite in /var/lib/gitolite.

So we do this by using dpkg-reconfigure and using our previously prepared account.
When prompted, answer as follows:

  • Gitolite user: git
  • repositories directory: /home/git
  • admin key: /home/git/

Now you should have Gitolite set up in the /home/git directory. But we will still have to tweak it a little.

Edit /home/git/.gitolite.rc and find the line that reads “REPO_UMASK = 0077;” and change it to “REPO_UMASK = 0007;” (i.e. three zeros).

You now need to change the directory privileges on the /repositories directory so Gitlab can use them

Gitolite should be ready now.

You can test it by cloning the admin repository:

Install Gitlab

Install a few prerequisites.

Clone Gitlab

We create a gemset for Gitlab to not pollute the global gemset. To automate this we will use a .rmvrc inside the Gitlab directory. RVM will make sure it will be loaded automatically whenever you enter the directory.

cd into directory to make rvm use the .rvmrc and accept with “y”.

Check your current gemset with

It should show something like “ruby-1.9.3-p0@gitlab”.

Now you might need to update Gitlab’s Gemfile (e.g. add the mysql2 gem for MySQL databases).

Now install the gems necessary for running Gitlab.

You may need to run “bundle install –no-deployment” to pick up changes to the Gemfile and rerun the previous command.

Edit config/gitlab.yml to configure Gitlab. If you have followed this howto you should only need to update the “email” section and the “host” option in the “git_host” section.

You might want to edit config/application.rb and update the time zone and locale configurations.

Edit config/database.yml and set up your database configuration.

Now set up and initialize your database.

Install with Passenger + Apache


Install with Thin + Nginx




Catching bugs in the cloud

I encountered am error when syncing my mobile phone’s address book with ownCloud:

PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined method OCContactsVCard::deleteFromDAVData() in /path_to_owncloud/apps/contacts/lib/connector_sabre.php on line 194″ while reading response header from upstream, client:, server: your-server.tld, request: “DELETE /owncloud/apps/contacts/carddav.php/addressbooks/user/default/number.vcf HTTP/1.1”

It turns out there is a slight misnomer in the code. It has been fixed in the development version, but the fix is not yet part of an official release.

I documented my findings on ownCloud’s issue tracker with step by step instructions on how to fix this until there is a fixed release available.

From Courier to Dovecot


I switched my IMAP server from Courier to Dovecot.


I was never really fond of Courier. It is a capable but cumbersome system.
Since “everybody” was talking about Dovecot and it was made the default IMAP server for various systems, I decided to try it myself.


Quite easy.

  • Install with Apt.
  • Create the database user for Dovecot.
  • Fiddle with the SQL configuration (don’t forget to uncomment the sql section in dovecot.conf).
  • Fiddle with the directory settings (it still does not take individual mail directories from the database).
  • Change my password in the database (very easy with dovecotpw).
  • Reindex my mails with Thunderbird.