Archive for: August, 2012

Using EnigMail with Thunderbird Icedove 10 from Debian Squeeze Backports

Aug 08 2012 Published by under howto

I keep Firefox I mean Iceweasel up to date in Debian Squeeze by tracking the squeeze-backports apt repository. However I recently realised I was not maintaining my Thunderbird I mean Icedove email client, which was stuck back at version 3.1.16 via the routine repository!

This was easily fixed by setting up apt.sources to track the trailing edge 10.x series, such that now:

However, I discovered Enigmail, which integrates OpenPGP into Thunderbird, was now broken. I was getting the following message:

Unable to locate GnuPG executable in the PATH

This was also visible in the Enigmail Addon Preferences dialog box. This error stubbornly refused to go away even if I entered the full path to /usr/bin/gpg – after a search and perusal of several forums and mailing lists it soon appeared this is an error which is infamous for having an elusive solution.

First realising I had Enigmail installed from Debian stable, I uninstalled via apt the enigmail package. This was after unsuccessfully attempting removal via the Addon manager, which failed no doubt because as a Debian package the addon was installed in a different location with different filesystem privileges.

However, subsequently installing Engimail via the Addon Manager download XPI also failed to resolve the problem.

Eventually I resolved the problem by making a local source build of Enigmail 1.4 from sources downloaded from Debian Wheezy (testing) Along the way I had to deal with some minor dependency issues: apt-get refused to pick out the correct version in some cases until manually overridden; I also had a long forgotten .mozconfig file in my home directory which conflicted the build script until I removed it.

Restart Icedove, and all is now good again.

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Scratch and itches

Aug 04 2012 Published by under realworld

Haven’t blogged for a while, what with kids soccer and scouts and work and kitchen renovations and not having done anything particularly noteworthy technically, and kids cooking and …

Somehow in-between I managed to get to the last four monthly ADL tech meetups, which proved a sanity-restoring interlude from the daily grind, and enjoyment of geek/tech conversations I otherwise have too infrequently at the moment.

Some noteworthy talks included:

  • a tutorial on multiplication using a Chinese abacus, or suànpán
  • a demo of XPRA (, a low latency, persistent, remote X desktop session manager, which I will definitely be able to use at work before too long,
  • an entertaining tour of modern tech-art and the really big roadtrip
  • CACert, a community-based SSL security certifcation organisation

Most recently, I downloaded Scratch (, a visual computer programming environment aimed at children. I installed it with my 11yo on his laptop. So far it has held his interest slightly more than Python did!

I had previously introduced him to Snake Wrangling for Kids, a childrens tutorial for Python programming. At first he thought Python was great but then a bit surprisingly for him, (for the time I think) bored of it. (Perhaps I made a mistake showing him how to produce the Fibonacci sequence with it, now he thinks it is just for math *facepalm*.) I suspect learning that lesson about not saving your work and experiencing a power failure may not have helped either.

His first go at Scratch produce a dancing cat and a trampolinist that kept ‘multiplying’ – he managed to animate it both increasing the number of dancers and shrinking their size using the visual programming method provided. He thought that was cool how he could control the scene. This probably ties in a bit more with his other “fun stuff” – making Lego Claymation-style movies and sound effects. I think he might get back to Python later.

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