So, I’ve been quite busy recently.

I’ve made some decisions in my personal life that have resulted in a bit of a change of direction and focus for me. 

It’s been exciting, and has necessarily meant some changes. This has given me the opportunity to “sharpen my tools”, and so I’ve been getting around to playing with a bunch of technologies that have always been on my “weekend project” list, but they never made it up the priority list.

This isn’t directly related to the title of this article, but provides context. Since, as part of one of these projects, I found it necessary to populate a database with the contents of a bunch of rather unwieldy CSV files (within a docker container, so that their contents could be exposed by a NodeJS/Express REST API, but I digress).

It was while reading the various man pages, before launching in to writing a script, that I found this little gem. This meant I could do the import and provisioning of my docker instance straight from the /docker-entrypoint-initdb.d SQL scripts.

First, create your tables in the normal way, defining the data types that are represented in your CSV file. For example:

Into which, as you might expect, you’d want to import a long list of location coordinates from a CSV file structured as follows:

Now, in your SQL, execute the following query:

Which tells MariaDB to read each line from locations.csv into the locations table, skipping over the first line (which contains the header).

This little trick meant I was able to provision my api’s backend quickly and easily, without the need to hack together some arduous import script. 

Hope you find this useful too!

Today was a very frustrating day.

So, yesterday, I did a rollup of software on my main work machine. I performed an apt-get upgrade as I have done a thousand times before. Logged off, and went to bed.

This morning, when tried to log on, after I’d entered my details on the login screen, I was greeted by a blank screen for about 2 minutes, before being kicked back to the login screen.

Hmm..

This kind of thing had happened before, and in the past it was just a matter of installing the vendor NVidia drivers for my card. Sometime back in the day the distro provided nvidia drivers had stopped working, so using the vendor ones was the way to go (this has since changed).

No joy. So, I began diving in and pulling at the various ends in an attempt to unravel this knotted ball of string.

Watching the logs, I noticed that just before the login process got thrown back to lightdm, I got a bunch of…

…appearing in my syslog.

So, something was suddenly up with systemd, but I was nonthewiser.

My setup at home is that I have a server which has my home directory and users exported by NFS/NIS to various machines, so there was nothing actually on the work machine. Sod it I thought, nuke the site from orbit. So, I reinstalled, just in case I had bawked something up over the years.

The fresh install made me create a new user, fine. I installed all the graphics drivers, and was able to log in just fine. Great! So, installed the various bits of software, set up NIS/NFS, could log in on console… great! Logged in through gdm3… aaaand. Nothing. Same error. Switched to lightdm. Same thing.

But… the local user worked. Must be something in my user’s home dir, after all that. So, unmounted my home directory, and tried to log in as a fresh user… still no joy. But the local user could log in…

Hmmm….

Lightbulb!

As a hunch, I copied the user line from my server’s /etc/passwd into my local machine’s /etc/passwd… and bingo, I was able to log in.

So, what looks like has happened is that a recent change (within the last week or so) has broken NIS user support for systemd/dbus. So, when the window manager was trying to start the services it needed to run, it wasn’t able to, since the user it was attempting to use couldn’t be found. Lightdm/Pam still functioned with NIS, so my thinking is that there’s something about the environment that’s looking directly at /etc/passwd for something, or to validate uids.. I’m not an expert.

So, if any of you are in a similar situation, hopefully this blog post will stop you from losing an entire day of work!

My askubuntu ticket is over here, and I’ll keep updated should I find a better solution than this rather crufty hack.

This weekend I attended the first Oxford Indieweb camp, kindly organised by Garrett.

Day 1

Due to an early start, and not enough coffee, I had left my phone at home, and so couldn’t log into anything. Two factor auth on things is great, but I think I’ve just spotted a flaw.

Anyway.

I didn’t go with much of a plan, except to meet some techy folk. So that much I achieved.

I had some thoughts about maybe looking into federalisation – cross user login, friend/follow etc. But I also sensed this was going to likely be more than was achievable in the time I had.

During introductions, I mentioned to folk that I was a contributor to Known and gave the project a bit of a shill, since I figured it might be interesting to folk by way of giving them a head start on a few things. So, spent the day helping one of the attendees write their first plugin for it.

After a day of discussion and coding, we retired to a local pub for some more relaxed conversation.

Day 2

Rain stopped play, which was a shame. Many folk decided to stay home. Nevertheless, had a pleasant morning chat over coffee and bagel with Beverley, hiding from the rain.

After braving the shops, and meeting up with a catch up with other friends, I went home and started sketching out some federation / Vouch ideas I had after some interesting discussions.

Great weekend of techy fun, more again soon, please!