3-years PhD position on Network Functions for privacy-preserving monitoring and policy-enforcing systems for post-growth Internet


This project is part of the MimPG project funded by INNOVIRIS (Brussels Region). The goal is to limit the network growth to meet carbon reduction targets. The usage might need to be limited at peak times to reduce the growth. The question is, therefore, what type of traffic should be prioritized for minimal impact on the users. The political side of the question will be addressed with panels of citizens. The applicant will work on monitoring and policy enforcement network functions that guarantee the privacy of the network users to both inform a regulatory body and create policies that cannot harm minorities by design.


Université catholique de Louvain

Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Electronics and Applied Mathematics (ICTEAM)


Networking, Systems, NFV, Privacy


The candidate must have obtained a Master’s degree in computer science before the start date.


October 1st, 2024


Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium


PhD funded for 3 years. A typical PhD in Belgium is 4 years. Hence, the applicant will apply for supplementary funds with the help of the PI.






The applicant will join the ENSG.

The objective of this project is to study opportunities for post-growth metropolitan internet access as a means to reduce the environmental impact of digital technologies. Inspired by Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics, post-growth industries strive to operate between the socio-economic floor corresponding to the satisfaction of the basic needs of all actors (individuals’ fundamental rights and social cohesion but also economic viability) and the ecological ceiling provided by planetary boundaries that restrict, e.g., greenhouse-gas emissions and the availability of raw materials.

ENSG is the leader of WP2, which comprises the integration of privacy-preserving techniques with a monitoring system (based on Retina). The monitor will allow for the observation of traffic, guaranteeing the privacy of the users. It will be the technical arm of WP1’s study, including the citizens of Brussels. For instance, a regulatory body might ask, “What is taking most of the Internet bandwidth?” with guarantees on the output of the program. When carbon engagement dictates limitations on bandwidth, a policy system will prioritize traffic according to WP1’s decisions, enforcing no rules harm minorities.


  • Successful student
  • Good in the Operating System, computer systems/architecture and networking courses
  • Knowledge of programming in Rust is a plus, else comfortable with low level languages like C
  • Autonomy, research-minded


Please send to tom.barbette@uclouvain.be:

(a) Curriculum vitae;

(b) Motivation letter;

(c) Transcript of grades for freshly graduated/graduating students

We will get back to you, the selection process includes in general a first informal meeting via Teams, and then an in-person interview (if possible).


ENGLISH: at least B1

French is not required but is a plus

Other positions

See the range of possibilities at the Efficiency of Networked Systems Group

Power consumption of Home Routers

I wanted to explore a bit about the power consumptions of CPEs in Belgian ISPs. This blogpost is not to be considered research-grade, it’s more a hobbyist’s peak into the power consumption of the equipment.

My main questions were: is there a significative power consumption difference between ISPs (inside consumer’s homes). And more importantly: is there a “hidden” cost behind some ISP. And finally, does the network usage impact the power consumption.

I switched ISPs 3 times in a row, and I give here a graph (taken from Home Assistant which is recording the measures from a TP-Link P110 plug) and a CSV file for the same period.


Before switching to Orange, I captured the consumption of Voo(Cable/Docsis) for a week. The amplifier and modem ensemble consumes around 20.2 watts (note the Y axis, this graph is actually a straight line).


I stayed at Orange (Cable/DOCSIS) for about 6 months. The consumption includes the mandatory amplifier and the modem in bridge mode. Note that the amplifier is the same as Voo. The Wi-Fi is deactivated. It seems some update from Orange impacted the consumption, which is now around 16.8 Watts. It is a 3 Watts improvement over Voo, which, for a year represents 26kWh, so roughly 10€ in electricity.

I have no explanation for the increase in power at the end of October (another update?). Similarly there are a few spikes in September, it could be false positives I would not make conclusions based on that. This is not related to the traffic pattern, because day-to-day it’s the same power consumption. I tried to launch a speedtest and observe the instantaneous consumption and I couldn’t spot any difference.

Proximus Fiber

I then switched to Fiber with Proximus, as soon as I could. The connection is much faster: 500Mbps symmetrical.

The equipment is divided in two part : the ONT which “converts” the fiber to Ethernet, and then the modem that includes a switch, WiFi and telephony.

You observe 3 steps here. At the beginning I had the Modem in router mode, with Wifi activated at 8.5Watts. That’s what most people would have.

Then, the second step at 7Watts is with the Modem in Bridge mode, without WiFi. In bridge mode the modem directly give a public IP address to a single equipment connected to it. Typical for people with their own routers.

But one can go further. What I have used since February is directly the ONT at a spectacular 2,75Watts. I don’t need the modem because I don’t have fixed telephony, and don’t use WiFi in my garage. I have my own access points and want my home router anyway to handle my own ICT (I have some websites handle at home, home automation, etc).


First, the network usage does not impact the device’s power consumption. It is not surprising. All those modems are gigabit-capable or even more. The Orange allowance of my subscription is 150 Mbps, Voo was around the same. Hence, the modem is residing in its idle zone. With Proximus the ONT “rises” to 3 Watts during a speedtest instead of 2,75. It’s marginal.

The second question was the hidden cost. Proximus Fiber equipment drives as low as 8,5 Watts. That’s a 8,3 Watt reduction from Orange. That’s 73 kWh/year, at the Belgian average of 0,35€/kWh it’s roughly 25€ per year It’s not nothing, but it’s not high compared to the price of the subscription itself. If you have no use for the modem, then you gain 14Watts or 123kWh/year. That’s a more consequent 43€ saved.

73kWh is also 2% of the power consumption of the average Belgian household. Again, not nothing, but probably not the most urgent thing to do for the planet. It’s already much more than stupid “advices” like unplugging transformers of charging a smartphone on solar panels.

1 to 2 year research engineer position on efficient privacy-preserving network analysis for cyber defense in space


This project is part of the novel CyberGalaxia project, part of CyberExcellence, and funded by the FEDER European fund.

This one to two-year contract (to be discussed) will take place at Galaxia, location of many companies active in cybersecurity and space, such as Rhea, Telespazio and, of course near the ESA and the Euro Space Center. The researcher will have the opportunity to train on two demonstrators, including a cyber range.

While this contract is limited and, therefore, too short to conduct a PhD, it is possible to look for further funding to conduct a PhD (typically four years in Belgium) with the ENSG. Applying as a post-doc is also possible. The salary will be matched with UCLouvain’s salary scale.


Université catholique de Louvain

Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Electronics and Applied Mathematics (ICTEAM)


Networking, Systems, NFV, CyberSecurity


The candidate must have obtained a Master’s degree in computer science before the start date (April 2024, can be adapted). If applying as a post-doc, the same rule applies to the doctoral dissertation.


ASAP, applications will be reviewed every two weeks until a candidate is found.


The applicant will share his or her time between Galaxia in Transinnes which is where the contact will be established, and a second office in Louvain-La-Neuve. The split of her/his time is to be discussed. Given that access to Galaxia is limited with public transport, the applicant should have their own car.


Research Engineer, 1 to 2 year position, full-time

Funded as part of the CyberGalaxia FEDER project.






The applicant will join the ENSG, but work partly at Galaxia in Transinnes with other members of CyberGalaxia.

The candidate will build a network audit system to allow auditors to run analyses on network traffic without violating user privacy or regulations such as the GDPR. To this end, the candidate will build a verifier that ensures that the private data of users analyzed by the audit system are aggregated in a sufficient manner before being exported to the listener. For instance, the program can scan each connection to check the recipient’s secure server name (TLS SNI) but can only output a proportion of users heading to the servers of this or that service provider. The system will be based on Retina, a system previously built in a consortium including the ENSG and Stanford ESRG.


  • Successful student
  • Good in the Operating System, computer systems/architecture and networking courses
  • Knowledge of programming in Rust is a plus, else comfortable with low level languages like C
  • Autonomy, research-minded


Please send to tom.barbette@uclouvain.be:

(a) Curriculum vitae;

(b) Motivation letter;

(c) Transcript of grades for freshly graduated/graduating students

We will get back to you, the selection process includes in general a first informal meeting via Teams, and then an in-person interview.


ENGLISH: at least B1

French is not required but is a plus

Other positions

See the range of possibilities at the Efficiency of Networked Systems Group

Remove the CPE with Proximus Fiber / Directly connect to the ONT

Removing the Internet Box

If you have your own router, there’s no reason to use Proximus’s CPE (the Internet Box, which was called BBox in the past). Indeed, the fiber comes with two devices: the ONT, which has a fiber “in” and an ethernet port “out” (trying to speak to a large audience here), and the router itself. The router takes care of WiFi and VoIP (fix phone).

Internet Box
The Internet Box

A lot of people had their modem in “bridge” mode already in the past, so they’d use their own router and WiFi access point. With fiber, using the bridge mode if you don’t have telephony doesn’t make any sense, you can just get rid of the Internet Box.

The ONT : GE1 can be used directly, without the Internet Box in between

It will be the subject of another post, but the gains are substantial in term of electricity consumption. The ONT only consumes around 2.5 Watts. The Internet Box consumes an additional 6.5 Watts that can be removed. So that’s 56kWh, or around 20euros of electricity per year. It also slows the down the latency by something around 1.5ms, which, knowing the latency with fiber is around 6.7ms without the box is quite consequent.

WAN Connectivity

The following explains how to get connectivity when directly connecting your router to the ONT. This tutorial assumes Ubuntu 22.04. I use ifupdown, like old people instead of the novel netplan, on 22.04 it must be installed:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install ifupdown net-tools

The traffic towards the internet must be tagged on the VLAN 20. IP address is given via DHCP. There is no more PPPoE.

My interface connected to the ONT is enx00e04c680a48


auto enx00e04c680a48
iface enx00e04c680a48 inet manual
	post-up /etc/network/enable_vlan.sh
iface enx00e04c680a48 inet6 manual

allow-hotplug internet0
iface internet0 inet dhcp
iface internet0 inet6 auto
        dhcp 1
        request_prefix 1
  	accept_ra 2


ip link add link enx00e04c680a48 name internet0 type vlan id 20
exit 0

The exit 0 part is an awful trick to avoid failing if the vlan is already created (for instance if you do sudo service networking restart).

That’s it. If you restart the networking service, you’ll get both an IPv4 address and an IPv6 /64 range. Interestingly, you get the /64 prefix through RA, but for your local network, you may use DHCPv6 to get a /56 range. It’s quite practical because you don’t have to subdivide the /56 range yourself.

internet0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
        inet 91.178.XX.XX netmask  broadcast
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:cd9e:7208:f4b:2751  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:2e0:4cff:fe68:a48  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:ff8d:359a:c3c6:86d3  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:f308:aacb:a438:6322  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:d800:106e:5a53:6d86  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 fe80::2e0:4cff:fe68:a48  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:8c4e:b44b:2fa8:ec27  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:fc26:be7c:b9fd:dc0  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        inet6 2a02:a03f:XXXX:XXXX:45b3:1bcb:7aef:5adf  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x0<global>
        ether 00:e0:4c:XX:XX:XX  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 27423813  bytes 32859906931 (32.8 GB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 21693717  bytes 7316444742 (7.3 GB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

LAN Connectivity

For IPv4, it’s just standard NAT. For IPv6 you must enable IPv6 prefix delegation.

First, enable IP forwarding. If you have a firewall, remember to allow the FORWARDING traffic.


#Uncomment the following lines

To enable the NAT, either you directly add an IPTables rules somewhere:

sudo iptables -A POSTROUTING -s -o internet0 -j MASQUERADE

Or, you add the following line for the UFW firewall, in /etc/ufw/before.rules:

-A POSTROUTING -s -o internet0 -j MASQUERADE

In both cases, change your local network range according to your setup.

IPv6 Prefix Delegation

You have to add the following script found at https://wiki.debian.org/IPv6PrefixDelegation in /etc/dhcp/dhclient-exit-hooks.d/prefix_delegation:

# This script assigns a delegated IPv6 prefix obtained via DHCPv6 to another interface
# Usage: This scrips is designed to be called from dhclient-script (isc-dhcp-client).
# LOCATION: /etc/dhcp/dhclient-exit-hooks.d/prefix_delegation


# Define the interface to which a delegated prefix will be assigned
# This must not be the same interface on which the prefix is learned!

# Provide a space separated list of services that need to be restarted or reloaded after a prefix change
# Services must be controllable via systemd's systemctl, the default action is restart
# Service names may be followed by a colon and action name, to override the default action
# Supported actions are: restart and reload
# Example: IA_PD_SERVICES="shorewall6:reload dnsmasq"

# Define the location of the ipv6calc executable, if installed
# If this is empty or no executable file, no EUI-64 based IPv6 address will be calculated for the interface set in IA_PD_IFACE; instead, a static interface identifier (::1) will be appended to the prefix
# Example: IA_PD_IPV6CALC="/usr/bin/ipv6calc"

# Set to yes to make logging more verbose


logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.info "DHCPv6-PD is running"

fn_calc_ip6addr() {
        [ -z "$1" ] && return
        local ia_pd_mac
        local ia_pd_addr
        [ -e "/sys/class/net/${IA_PD_IFACE}/address" ] && ia_pd_mac="$(cat /sys/class/net/${IA_PD_IFACE}/address)"
        if [ -n "$ia_pd_mac" ] && [ -n "$IA_PD_IPV6CALC" ] && [ -x "$IA_PD_IPV6CALC" ]; then
                [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ] && logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: Determined MAC address $ia_pd_mac for interface $IA_PD_IFACE."
                ia_pd_addr="$("$IA_PD_IPV6CALC" -I prefix+mac -A prefixmac2ipv6 -O ipv6addr "$1" "$ia_pd_mac")"
        if [ -z "$ia_pd_addr" ]; then
                [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ] && logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: Failed to calculate EUI-64 based IPv6 address, using static client suffix ::1 instead."
                echo "$1" | sed 's#::/#::1/#'
                echo "$ia_pd_addr"

fn_restart_services() {
        if [ -n "$IA_PD_SERVICES" ]; then
                local pair
                local action
                local daemon
                for pair in $IA_PD_SERVICES ; do
                        action="$(echo "$pair" | cut -d':' -f2)"
                        daemon="$(echo "$pair" | cut -d':' -f1)"
                        # Check if a valid action was provided or default to 'restart'
                        case $action in
                                reload) action="reload";;
                                *)      action="restart";;
                        # Check if daemon is active before trying to restart or reload it (avoids non-zero exit code)
                        if ! systemctl -q is-active "${daemon}.service" > /dev/null ; then
                                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.info "Info: $daemon is inactive. No $action required."
                        if systemctl -q "$action" "${daemon}.service" > /dev/null ; then
                                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.info "Info: Performed $action of $daemon due to change of IPv6 prefix."
                                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.err "Error: Failed to perform $action of $daemon after change of IPv6 prefix."
        elif [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: No list of services to restart or reload defined."

fn_remove_prefix() {
        [ -z "$1" ] && return
        [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ] && logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: Old prefix $1 expired."
        if [ "$(ip -6 addr show dev "$IA_PD_IFACE" scope global | wc -l)" -gt 0 ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.info "Info: Flushing global IPv6 addresses from interface $IA_PD_IFACE."
                if ! ip -6 addr flush dev "$IA_PD_IFACE" scope global ; then
                        logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.err "Error: Failed to flush global IPv6 addresses from interface $IA_PD_IFACE."
                # Restart services in case there is no new prefix to assign
                [ -z "$new_ip6_prefix" ] && fn_restart_services
        elif [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: No global IPv6 addresses assigned to interface $IA_PD_IFACE."

fn_assign_prefix() {
        [ -z "$1" ] && return
        local new_ia_pd_addr
        new_ia_pd_addr="$(fn_calc_ip6addr "$1")"
        if [ -z "$new_ia_pd_addr" ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.err "Error: Failed to calculate address for interface $IA_PD_IFACE and prefix $1"
        [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ] && logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: Received new prefix $1."
        # dhclient may return an old_ip6_prefix even after a reboot, so manually check if the address is already assigned to the interface
        if [ "$(ip -6 addr show dev "$IA_PD_IFACE" | grep -c "$new_ia_pd_addr")" -lt 1 ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.info "Info: Adding new address $new_ia_pd_addr to interface $IA_PD_IFACE."
                if ! ip -6 addr add "$new_ia_pd_addr" dev "$IA_PD_IFACE" ; then
                        logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.err "Error: Failed to add new address $new_ia_pd_addr to interface $IA_PD_IFACE."
        elif [ "$IA_PD_DEBUG" = "yes" ]; then
                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.debug "Debug: Address $new_ia_pd_addr already assigned to interface $IA_PD_IFACE."

# Only execute on specific occasions
case $reason in
                # Only execute if either an old or a new prefix is defined
                if [ -n "$old_ip6_prefix" ] || [ -n "$new_ip6_prefix" ]; then
                        # Check if interface is defined and exits
                        if [ -z "$IA_PD_IFACE" ] || [ ! -e "/sys/class/net/${IA_PD_IFACE}" ]; then
                                logger -t "dhcpv6-pd" -p daemon.err "Error: Interface ${IA_PD_IFACE:-<undefined>} not found. Cannot assign delegated prefix!"
                        	ls -al /sys/class/net/
                                # Remove old prefix if it differs from new prefix
                                [ -n "$old_ip6_prefix" ] && [ "$old_ip6_prefix" != "$new_ip6_prefix" ] && fn_remove_prefix "$old_ip6_prefix"
                                # Assign new prefix
                                [ -n "$new_ip6_prefix" ] && fn_assign_prefix "$new_ip6_prefix"

Don’t forget to change the few first configuration lines. My LAN network is “br0” because I use a bridge over multiple interfaces.

That script will get the DHCP-assigned range and add it to the LAN interface. We still need to enable RADVD to advertise the prefix on the lan:

sudo apt-get install radvd
sudo update-rc.d radvd enable


interface br0 # LAN interface
  AdvManagedFlag off; # no DHCPv6 server here.
  AdvOtherConfigFlag off; # not even for options.
  AdvSendAdvert on;
  AdvDefaultPreference high;
  AdvLinkMTU 1280;
  prefix ::/64
    AdvOnLink on;
    AdvAutonomous on;

And that’s all. Note we don’t need wide-dhcp-client anymore, which anyway has a blocking bug and seems to be unmaintained. dhclient is able to do everything we need, given the script for prefix delegation.

Exciting news: 2 grants accepted by FNRS

I’m happy to share the exciting news that my project for the Incentive Grant for Scientific research (MIS) from our national fund for 470K€ (one PhD, one post-doc and equipment) was accepted, while a PhD student of our team, Clément Delzotti got his 4-year PhD funded by FNRS FRIA too!

The MIS project “DHNET: The Disaggregated Host Networking paradigm to enable particle-to-particle streams” is a more fundamental project looking beyond the current design of the Internet, to enable more efficient communications. The Internet is built around the idea monolithic computers are communicating. Each computer gets an address, and communicate together as a whole. As physician refined the model of atoms in particles, the Internet needs to be redesigned to look inside computers. Components, particles, like GPU, CPU caches, TPUs, network interfaces need to communicate directly together as computers are not monolithic devices anymore, but an interconnect of many components and memory domains. Why would a transfer, say a picture generated by a cloud gaming GPU go through a CPU, a proxy, a load balancer while it could be sent through a direct path to the consumer’s screen? In practice we will use the newfound programmability of networks with programmable switches and SmartNICs to direct the data to the right particle.

The FRIA grant obtained by Clément Delzotti builds upon data acquired at the lab showing network I/O intensive application can sustain a good quality of service while achieving a 8X energy reduction by spreading differently the traffic on multiple cores and tuning frequency appropriately. The project aims at building an energy-aware data center load-balancer to reduce energy waste.

Therefore, expect a new PhD and post-doc position to open soon! The post-doc one is already open, just consider it can be extended 😉

Creating a VLAN in Netberg 710 P4 switch

The P4 switch has a “normal switch” mode that is using SONIC and comes with a P4 dataplane compiled and flashed, nothing to compile using Tofino or whatsoever.  This is useful when one of the switch is not used for an experiment and you want to simply wire machines virtually.

Creating a L2 bridge or a VLAN 

By default, the switch boots with all interface in Router mode. They have (random 10.0…) IPs. To use those interface as a switch, you must remove the IPs before adding them to a vlan or you will get the error “Ethernet0 is a router interface” 

$ show ip interfaces 

Interface    Master    IPv4 address/mask    Admin/Oper    BGP Neighbor    Neighbor IP 

———–  ——–  ——————-  ————  ————–  ————- 


Ethernet8              up/down       ARISTA03T2      10.0.0. 

Ethernet12             up/down       ARISTA04T2 


Remove all IPv4 IPs from the interface with, for instance… 

$ sudo config interface ip remove Ethernet0 

Then, disable IPv6 link-local addresses with : 

$ sudo config ipv6 disable link-local 

And for each interface : 

$ sudo config interface ipv6 disable use-link-local-only Ethernet0 

Then save the config and reboot as the IPv6 link local will stay 

$ sudo config save –y 

$ sudo reboot 

After a reboot, create the Vlan with : 

$ sudo config vlan add 10 

And add interfaces with : 

$ sudo config vlan member add -u 10 Ethernet0 

Personally, I saved and rebooted again afterward but it might have not be working beforehand due to an interface reset on the machines.

Looking for the right archive format with deduplication

I’m often copying my files to an external disk as a backup option. So far, nothing fancy.

However, I end up with many copies of more or less the same folders over time. And that takes a lot of space for nothing.

Incremental backups, that only add new files to an archive, might look as a solution for that, but over time the paths changes, the structure changes. So the deduplication would break.

One solution could be to format my disk with a system such as ZFS or BTRFS which have a deduplication built-in. However I can’t use my disk for quick operations/archiving on Windows, nor on Mac (easily at least).

So I want an archive format with:

  • Deduplication
  • Some compression (lot of source code files)

One might think, and I often came across that statement while searching on the web for a solution, that one shouldn’t worry about that as compression algorithm inheritely support deduplication. That is actually wrong, they’re not made to merge very large patterns. The following experiment shows it with file of random data (incompressible) :

-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 10M Apr 17 21:09 binA
-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 10M Apr 17 21:10 binACOPY
-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 10M Apr 17 21:09 binB
-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 256M Apr 17 21:19 binBIG
-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 256M Apr 17 21:19 binBIGCOPY
-rwxrwxrwx 1 tbarbette tbarbette 10M Apr 17 21:09 binC

Here’s the size for a few formats :

tar.gz553M19.48star -cpazf [archive] [file]
tar.xz553M303star -cpaJf [archive] [file]
zpaq287M18.7szpaq add [archive] [file]
wim287M4.4s7zz a [archive].wim [file]
.7z543M37s7zz a [archive].7z [file]
.7z (512M dictionnary)287M140s7zz a [archive].7z -m0=LZMA2:d512m [file]
.7z (1513M dictionnary)287M114s7zz a [archive].7z -m0=LZMA2:d1513m [file]

zpaq is the clear winner considering it can also compress at the same time, however it’s not very widespread, and has no good GUI available. I’m wondering about recovery in case of problems.

wim has no compression, so it will need to be encapsulated in something else. The problem is then to add some files. I have to uncompress the inner wim format first. The idea being to save the same computer again and again, one of those archives is 200G, so it means adding a single file would take a huge time. While zpaq can add one quite fast.

7zip with a dictionary large enough to hold big duplicates would seem to be a good compromise.

Any input?

Extracting list of awarded badges on Moodle

A nice feature of Moodle is badges. Badges can be given to students as rewards for good actions, and incite them to do better and follow activities.

However, as often in Moodle, the functionalities are quite limited. One missing feature is the ability to give a badge to a list of user from an external system, e.g. using a CSV file. You can select students one by one in a list, which is cumbersome. As most as possible, for mass awarding you should try to use some “scripting” : for instance awarding badges when users finish an activity, with a certain grate.

The more problematic one I did not forsee was the inability to export badges. I wanted to give a small bonus points for students who won some badges. I thought of two leads : the moodle backups where I could extract the badges from the XML, and create a LTI activity to “steal” the badges.

The Moodle backups, even if you click on “Badges”, actually do not include badges in the backup… In 4 months this is the 4th bug I hit… After 3 confirmed bug that got no activity, I don’t even report them anymore… The Moodle community is rather slow, and internal resources are limited. The LTI 1.2 activities as far as I can tell do not have access to badges so that was a no-go as well.

So the solution was to do some web scraping. After trying multiple chrome extensions (connecting to moodle through GET/POST request would be very complicated because of OAuth), I could finally do a correct extraction with this extension : https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/web-scraper-free-web-scra/jnhgnonknehpejjnehehllkliplmbmhn/related?hl=en

This extension supports following links, because there’s of course no web pages allowing to see all badges per students. You must “click” on the number of students for each badge, and then follow the pagination as there’s a limit of 50 students per pages.


Install the extension, go on the “Manage badges” pages on your Moodle course, and then press F12 to open chrome developer tools. Go to the new “Web Scraper” page and then “Create new sitemap” -> “Import sitemap”.

Here’s the “sitemap” defining how to follow links and scrape badge names, students that were awarded the badges, while supporting pagination.

Moodle 3.9:

{"_id":"moodle_badges","startUrl":["https://moodle.uclouvain.be/badges/index.php?type=2&id=XXXX"],"selectors":[{"id":"Awards","multiple":true,"parentSelectors":["_root"],"selector":".awards a","type":"SelectorLink"},{"id":"Element","multiple":true,"parentSelectors":["Pages"],"selector":"tbody tr","type":"SelectorElement"},{"id":"Name","multiple":false,"parentSelectors":["Element"],"regex":"","selector":".cell.c0 a","type":"SelectorText"},{"id":"Pages","paginationType":"clickMore","parentSelectors":["Awards","Pages"],"selector":"nav:first-of-type li a[aria-label=\"Next\"].page-link","type":"SelectorPagination"},{"id":"BadgeName","multiple":false,"parentSelectors":["Awards"],"regex":"","selector":"h1","type":"SelectorText"}]}

Moodle 4.x:

{"_id":"moodle_badges","startUrl":["https://moodle.uclouvain.be/badges/index.php?type=2&id=XXXX"],"selectors":[{"id":"Awards","multiple":true,"parentSelectors":["_root"],"selector":".awards a","type":"SelectorLink"},{"id":"Element","multiple":true,"parentSelectors":["Pages"],"selector":"tbody tr","type":"SelectorElement"},{"id":"Name","multiple":false,"parentSelectors":["Element"],"regex":"","selector":".cell.c0 a","type":"SelectorText"},{"id":"Pages","paginationType":"linkFromHref","parentSelectors":["Awards","Pages"],"selector":".mt-1:first li:last-child a","type":"SelectorPagination"},{"id":"BadgeName","multiple":false,"parentSelectors":["Awards"],"regex":"","selector":"h1","type":"SelectorText"}]}

Press Sitemap -> Scrape and voilà. After a while, you can download a CSV or an XLSX.

As a bonus, what I want is the number of badges per students, so here’s the formula to put on the student list where the Name and FirstName are separated columns:

=NB.SI(Badges!E:E;CONCAT([@Name];" ";[@FirstName]))

With mails on Moodle 4.1:

{"_id":"moodle_badges","startUrl":["https://moodle.uclouvain.be/badges/index.php?type=2&id=XXX"],"selectors":[{"id":"Awards","parentSelectors":["_root"],"type":"SelectorLink","selector":".awards a","multiple":true},{"id":"Element","parentSelectors":["Pages"],"type":"SelectorElement","selector":"tbody tr","multiple":true},{"id":"Name","parentSelectors":["Element"],"type":"SelectorLink","selector":".cell.c0 a","multiple":true,"linkType":"linkFromHref"},{"id":"Pages","parentSelectors":["Awards","Pages"],"paginationType":"linkFromHref","type":"SelectorPagination","selector":".mt-1:first li:last-child a"},{"id":"BadgeName","parentSelectors":["Awards"],"type":"SelectorText","selector":"h1","multiple":true,"regex":""},{"id":"Mail","parentSelectors":["Name"],"type":"SelectorText","selector":"dt:contains('Adresse de courriel') + dd a","multiple":true,"regex":""}]}

Leaving ownCloud for good

ownCloud was kind of abandonned after the fork to nextcloud. I wanted to stay true to my historic “own” cloud provider. But the lack of support for PHP 8.1 now that 7.X is EOL killed it for good.

Two messages for anyone that comes here through random search :

  • There is no way to migrate automatically to nextcloud anymore. Chances are you updated beyond ownCloud 10.5, and there’s no downgrade possible. So don’t try.
  • Long life nextCloud! I didn’t realise the many things I was missing with ownCloud… NextCloud has million more features. So leave ownCloud now and go to nextCloud.

A collection of Network Systems icons in SVG

You can use mine as you wish, I tried to find the original authors and the appropriate license whenever I could. Don’t hesitate to send me your own.

NAND SSD (inspired from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NAND-ssd.svg, CC )
RAM Module ( inspired from https://fr.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Fichier:Ram-module.svg CC)
CPU (absed on https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abstract_i7_CPU_icon.svg, CC)
DPI (unsure but I think it’s my own. Anyway it’s standard)
Fast (own)

GPU (own)
IPSEC (unsure)
Load Balancer (unsure)
Monitoring, monitor, measurements (unsure)

Mellanox NIC (not SVG, Mellanox)
100G NIC (inspired from the above, consider my own I guess)

Router (unsure, but this is quite sandard…)
VLAN (own)