My Free Software Activities in January & February 2019



Hello all and welcome again to another of my monthly summary posts on my work in free software, with a focus on open engineering in Debian & Ubuntu.  I'm fortunate to have the February 12th Debian 10 soft freeze deadline to scapegoat for my missed January update, and thanks too to February for being short enough to postpone it further and combine the two updates.

I've decided to go with a bit of a dryer chronological approach to this update as there's lots to cover. Worth highlighting, however:


  • New Debian upload for a FreeCAD 0.18 pre-release
  • New Debian upload for OpenFOAM. An upstream switch from to and a different versioning scheme results in a massive version bump, 4.1 to 1812. That's over 1800 versions better. (Seriously though, it's about a 2 year bump in changes.)
  • New Debian uploads for mesh generation softwares Gmsh 4.1.3 and Netgen 6.2.1810 -- though Netgen might miss Debian 10? It's stuck in the NEW queue.
  • FreeCAD is participating in Google Summer of Code and I'm looking for a student to mentor



  • Jan 6: Updated the FreeCAD bug tracker to the latest version.
  • Jan 12: Completed transition of FreeCAD PPAs to new versions of Coin3D & its Python bindings package Pivy, which resolved a major breakage caused by me on Dec 29 but was a necessary precursor to a FreeCAD 0.18 release; I just didn't execute it as well as I should have
  • Jan 16: Upload of OpenFOAM 1812.
  • Jan 18: Discussed on GitHub with the upstream of OpenCAMLib about release plans now that it is Python 3 compatible
  • Jan 19: Contact via GitHub issue with libMesh upstream about Debian packaging, with enthusiastic response.
  • Jan 19: FreeCAD pull request to fix Start Workbench behavior in Debian/Ubuntu since we can't include binary .FCStd examples, even though they're glorified ZIPs, for Debian Free Software Guidelines reasons (or can we? please contact me if you know otherwise)
  • Jan 25-27: Hosted Austin Debian Bug Squashing Party. Unfortunately, it wasn't very successful in drawing in people besides those already interested in Debian at the host venue, the ATX Hackerspace. I didn't want to over-advertise it since the venue was limited in capacity, which in retrospect was a mistake. Oh well, there was also plenty to learn for the next one. The following bugs were closed: 918479, 888026, 884092, 886538, 882510, 899099, 920525, 919711.
  • Jan 26: Announced the experimental, an instance of FreeCAD's homepage designed to test possible improvements to be had by moving away from shared hosting
  • Jan 28: Contact via GitHub issue with sfepy upstream about it failing to build from source to try to get help on issue potentially preventing it from being included in Debian 10.


  • Feb 4: Sponsored uploads of FreeCAD 0.18 pre-release and Gmsh 4.1.3 into Unstable, thanks Anton Gladky.
  • Feb 4: Announced, an experimental instance of FreeCAD's bug tracker designed to test possible improvements to be had from moving away from shared hosting
  • Feb 5: Regained control of abandoned FreeCAD Snap, which was a pre-release of 0.17, by way of the uploader returning from MIA and adding me.
  • Feb 9: Merge PR for FreeCAD-Homepage repo to add Expires headers and unset ETags to try to get better performance
  • Feb 13: Confirmed sfepy upstream fix resolved the issue, but it came a day after the soft freeze preventing re-entry to Testing.
  • Feb 23: Upload of python-fluids 0.1.73, experiment with Salsa GitLab CI.
  • Feb 25: Google Summer of Code organizations announced. FreeCAD participating under umbrella organization OpenCAx led by BRL-CAD. I created a GitHub issue for the project I'd like to mentor. I'm looking for a student interested in improving the state of Debian & Ubuntu packaging for FreeCAD and its ecosystem of packages. Particularly -- not everyone's first encounter with FreeCAD is with the latest and greatest version. If someone installs an old version and has a bad experience with an easily fixable packaging bug, we should try to tackle that issue to not drive away people who are already interested, but get a bad impression.
  • Feb 25: Sponsored upload of Netgen to Unstable, thanks Anton Gladky. Netgen had to re-enter NEW because I made a mistake in the naming of the binary package, so I had to revise the package to make libnglib-6.2 (for the .1810 release) replace libnglib-6.2.1804.
  • Feb 25: Sponsored upload of pycollada which adds Python 3 support and a python3- package, so it has to pass through NEW again.
  • Feb 28: Upload of OpenCASCADE, revising the package to revert to the default 'opencascade' installation paths instead of 'occt' (a not-so-great packaging decision as OpenCASCADE was my 2nd ever Debian package)


Verbal support by way of my contact info below is greatly appreciated, but if you want to help support my free software & open engineering work financially, I've made it easy with several options:

Any level of support is appreciated!


You can follow me on Twitter @thekurtwk.

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