Aug 27, 2023


I took this week off, and just relaxed at home.


This week I read:

Roleplaying Games

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha

This week we played the Cattle Raid scenario from the GM screen pack. It took us about 2 hours and we got a lot of rules wrong, but we had a good time.

I expected the combat rules to trip us up, so I made sure to review those beforehand, but then we still made a mess of it. Still, the first combat was only against some hungry wild animals, so after downing one of the PCs the beasts didn’t stick around for the kill, they just went for the tasty undefended cattle.

There was a possibility of a second combat against some humans, which I think would have gone very poorly for the injured PCs, but the players managed to get out of that with some quick diplomacy.

I don’t think we’ll be playing a RuneQuest campaign any time soon, but I’m happy to have finally tried the system out.



Let’s start with the exciting news: I’ve decided to have a short holiday in Japan next year. Mid to late April is currently looking likely. I’ve got a few different groups of friends who are all going to be in Japan around then, some of whom I’ve not actually met in person before, so I’m hoping to be able to time a trip just right that’ll let me meet up with all of them.

I’ve got a rough budget worked out (annoyingly enough, I actually started saving for holidays abroad a few years ago, but then stopped since I never went on any: if I’d kept that up I would already have the money put aside!) and the beginnings of an itinerary. I’ll meet up with one group of friends in Tokyo, hang out with them for a while, then travel down on the shinkansen to Matsuyama to meet up with more friends. The details are still very much up in the air and will depend on exactly when my friends are going to be around and where they’ll be. But I’m thinking of going for two weeks and spending at least a few days each in Tokyo and Matsuyama, maybe stopping over in Osaka or Kyoto (which are between the two).

So this means I have a deadline for finally becoming competent with chopsticks.


I’ve been playing a lot of Aliens: Dark Descent. I mentioned this last week: it’s basically X-COM, just in the Alien universe. It’s pretty hard—or maybe I’m just bad—but I’ve played it most days and I’d quite like to complete it. The story is pretty generic, but I’m not really looking for originality in an Alien game.

And as I feared, it did cut into my reading time.

I’ve also been playing MahjongSoul a bit this week. It’s just a riichi mahjong mobile game, but it’s reasonably beginner-friendly and has a handy tutorial which goes through the basics. I’m trying to get good at spotting and achieving some of the simpler yaku, since the matches I’ve actually managed to win have more-or-less been complete luck.


I’ve also been fiddling around with some tech things this week (it’s amazing how much more energy I have to do that sort of thing after a few days off work). Most notably, I switched my NixOS machines over from using Docker for containers to Podman, which I accomplished with my NixOS container module that I’m now pretty happy with.

For example, here’s how I run Concourse:

nixfiles.oci-containers.pods.concourse = {
  containers = {
    web = {
      image = "concourse/concourse:7.8.2";
      cmd = [ "web" ];
      environment = {
        "CONCOURSE_POSTGRES_HOST" = if backend == "docker" then "concourse-db" else "localhost";
        "CONCOURSE_POSTGRES_USER" = "concourse";
        "CONCOURSE_POSTGRES_PASSWORD" = "concourse";
        "CONCOURSE_POSTGRES_DATABASE" = "concourse";
        "CONCOURSE_EXTERNAL_URL" = "https://cd.barrucadu.dev";
        "CONCOURSE_MAIN_TEAM_GITHUB_USER" = "barrucadu";
        "CONCOURSE_LOG_LEVEL" = "error";
        "CONCOURSE_GARDEN_LOG_LEVEL" = "error";
      environmentFiles = [ cfg.environmentFile ];
      dependsOn = [ "concourse-db" ];
      ports = [
        { host = 46498; inner = 8080; }
        { host = 45811; inner = 8088; }
      volumes = [{ name = "keys/web"; inner = "/concourse-keys"; }];

    worker = {
      image = "concourse/concourse:7.8.2";
      cmd = [ "worker" "--ephemeral" ];
      environment = {
        "CONCOURSE_TSA_HOST" = if backend == "docker" then "concourse-web:2222" else "localhost:2222";
        "CONCOURSE_WORK_DIR" = "/workdir";
      extraOptions = [ "--privileged" ];
      dependsOn = [ "concourse-web" ];
      volumes = [
        { name = "keys/worker"; inner = "/concourse-keys"; }
        { host = cfg.workerScratchDir; inner = "/workdir"; }

    db = {
      image = "postgres:13";
      environment = {
        "POSTGRES_DB" = "concourse";
        "POSTGRES_USER" = "concourse";
        "POSTGRES_PASSWORD" = "concourse";
      volumes = [{ name = "pgdata"; inner = "/var/lib/postgresql/data"; }];

This defines three containers in a pod called “concourse”. If run with Docker, this just puts all the containers on the same bridge network, whereas if run with Podman it creates a real pod. It generates four systemd units:

  • podman-concourse-db
  • podman-concourse-worker
  • podman-concourse-web
  • podman-pod-concourse

All the podman-concourse-* units depend on the podman-pod-concourse unit which creates the pod on start (and destroys it on shutdown)—if this were run under Docker it would instead generate a unit to create / destroy the bridge network. Additionally, the -worker unit depends on the -web unit, and the -web unit depends on the -db unit.

The pod unit is just a oneshot unit which looks like this (with paths omitted for brevity):

Description=Manage the concourse pod for podman

ExecStartPre=bash -c "podman pod rm --force --ignore concourse || true"
ExecStart=podman pod create -p -p concourse
ExecStop=podman pod rm concourse

As you can see, exposed ports are managed at the pod level despite being defined at the container level, this is so the same container definitions can be used to produce both Docker and Podman units, as Docker exposes the ports on the container. In fact, the only explicitly “if Docker do this” style logic is in the hostnames. But maybe there’s some way I can make the Docker-style hostnames resolve to localhost under Podman…

In addition to generating all the units and working with both Podman and Docker, my module also ensures that ports are exposed on (rather than the default of and that all volumes are bind-mounts to the host filesystem (since I’ve had issues with Docker deleting named volumes before). It’s just a nice little wrapper around good habits I’ve built up for running system services in containers.

One of the advantages of Podman over Docker is that you can run containers without needing root access. Right now these systemd-managed containers all run under the root user, but I’d like to change that next.