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 …

/etc/init.d/saslauthd stop

Stop the SASL daemon and start it by hand:

saslauthd -d -a pam -r -c -m /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd

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:

/etc/init.d/saslauthd start

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Update: This howto is outdated.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.

aptitude update
aptitude full-upgrade

Then we have to install a few packages.

aptitude install git-core wget curl gcc checkinstall libxml2-dev libxslt-dev sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libc6-dev libssl-dev libmysql++-dev make build-essential zlib1g-dev libicu-dev redis-server sudo

Install Ruby

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

Install it with

bash -s stable < <(curl -s

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

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

rvm requirements
aptitude install build-essentials ...

Install ruby and make it the default.

rvm install 1.9.3
rvm --default use 1.9.3

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.

gem install bundler

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).

adduser \
  --system \
 --shell /bin/sh \
 --gecos 'Git Version Control' \
 --group \
 --disabled-password \
 --home /home/git \

Configure git for the new user.

sudo -u git -H git config --global "git@your-server.tld"
sudo -u git -H git config --global "Gitlab Admin"

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.

sudo -u git -H ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 2048

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

sudo -u git -H cp /home/git/.ssh/ /home/git/

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

aptitude install gitolite

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/
dpkg-reconfigure gitolite

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

sudo chmod -R g+rwX /home/git/repositories/
sudo chown -R git:git /home/git/repositories/

Gitolite should be ready now.

You can test it by cloning the admin repository:

sudo -u git -H git clone git@localhost:gitolite-admin /tmp/gitolite-admin
rm -rf /tmp/gitolite-admin

Install Gitlab

Install a few prerequisites.

aptitude install python-dev python-pip redis-server libicu-dev
sudo pip install pygments

Clone Gitlab

git clone git:// gitlab
cd 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.

echo "rvm use 1.9.3@gitlab --create" > .rvmrc

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

cd .. && cd gitlab

Check your current gemset with

rvm current

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.

bundle install --deployment

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.

bundle exec rake db:setup RAILS_ENV=production
bundle exec rake db:seed_fu RAILS_ENV=production

Install with Passenger + Apache


Install with Thin + Nginx




Backups with rsnapshot

Way back Elvis Stansvik showed how to do simple backups with rsnapshot. Well, I used this as a starting point to invest some time into developing a consistent backup solution across all of my machines … yay 😀

There are still some quirks I need to figure out … like having nested per directory excludes and smoothing out how differences between machines are configured … but hey, it works. 😉

The next thing is probably keeping certain things (shell configurations, projects, documents, etc.) in sync between machines … well, that’s another story …


I was using ZSH for quite a while now instead of Bash. But thanks to Ryan Bates’ screencast about Oh My ZSH I finally came around to properly configure it and use it to its full potential.

I immediately created my own theme and was able to extract custom plugins out of my previous configuration. One of them might even end up in a pull request. 🙂 I used the custom plugins mechanism to split up and spread my configurations across all of my machines. So now I have a consistent set of configurations and I can activate them individually according to each machine’s purpose (i.e. no need for KDE specific settings on a server 😉 ).

A nice productivity and consistency boost. 😀

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.