Debian Project News - August 18th, 2008
Debian Project News
Debian Project News - August 18th, 2008
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:
* Debian turns 15
* 8th annual Debian Conference finished
* Freespire 5 to be based on Debian
* ... and much more.
Debian turns 15
On 16 August 1993 Ian Murdock announced a new Linux distribution
named "Debian". 15 years later the project started by him is the
biggest Linux distribution worldwide, offering more than 20 000
software packages maintained by over 1'000 volunteers, supporting more
hardware architectures than any other Linux distribution, and providing
a base for more than twenty active derivatives, like Knoppix,
Skolelinux or Ubuntu.
Users, journalists, and Debian Developers congratulated,
sometimes just happy, sometimes thoughtfully, and celebrated
the birthday of the Debian project worldwide with parties and
single day conferences (sometimes even with live streams of the
sessions). Even a virtual birthday party was held in Second live (a
virtual world powered by Debian) where musicians Blue4u Nowicka and
Jaggpro McCann gave concerts as an opener to the virtual party. In
Argentina Steve McIntyre, current Debian Project Leader, opened the 8th
Debian Conference with a talk describing the current state of the
Debian project and the long way it has come until today. His talk is
already available as a downloadable video.
The Debian project would like to thank its users and developers for the
confidence placed in our distribution over the last 15 years and is
looking forward to the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny"
and many happy returns.
Freespire 5 to be based on Debian
Recently acquired by the Xandrox Corporation, the upcoming release of
Freespire will be based on the Debian GNU/Linux "Lenny" release. The
current release of Freespire (2.0.8) is still based on Ubuntu 7.10
(Gutsy Gibbon). "A combined Xandros/Linspire development effort will
return Freespire to its Debian GNU/Linux roots and put it in sync with
Xandros Desktop Pro," said Andreas Typaldos, Xandros CEO. Freespire
5 is slated to be released in the fourth quarter of 2008.
8th annual Debian Conference finished
The 8th annual Debian Conference, allowing Users and Developers to
come together, learn new techniques and discuss further development has
finished yesterday on the 17th August 2008. Some results of the
discussions which took place there are mentioned in this issue. Videos
of the conference sessions are available (or will be soon) at the
meetings archive. The video team asks for feedback. It is also
possible to give feedback to speakers and topics. Since most
attendees are still on their way home, the next issue of the Debian
Project News will have a deeper coverage of the Debian Conference and
the associated Debian Day at Buenos Aires.
Debian on the OpenMoko FreeRunner
Joachim Breitner announces the start of an official Debian port to
the OpenMoko FreeRunner, a smartphone that was designed and developed
in a free and open manner. This enables Debian users to use the
distribution of their choice even on their telephone. Installation
instructions can be found on the Debian wiki.
Bits from the X Strike Force
Julien Cristau reports on the newest developments within the X
Strike Force. The X Strike Force is happy to announce that the
configuration of the Xorg server has been considerably simplified and
it is now also possible to configure video output at runtime.
Furthermore new drivers have been packaged, namely the nouveau
driver, a reverse-engineering effort for nVidia cards and
openchrome, which will support via chipsets instead of the
unmaintained via driver. The nouveau driver does not yet have
release-quality but the X Strike Force asks for testing of the
experimental build. xorg-server 1.5 and mesa 7.1 are also currently in
experimental and are scheduled to advance to sid after the Lenny
release. At around the same time, the team plans to enable hotplugging
of input devices, and their configuration through hal. The X Strike
Force concludes their report with a call for maintainers (DDs and
non-DDs). People interested in joining the team can contact them on
#debian-x on irc.debian.org, or on email@example.com.
Request for adoption: The Debian Jr. project
Ben Armstrong is looking for someone to take over the Debian
Jr. project, since he is currently too involved with other
Debian-internal projects and can no longer spend the necessary time on
it. He recommends several measures to move the project forward and
hopes to find a new leader for the project who will tackle these and
other tasks and carry on his work on a child-friendly custom Debian
Upcoming changes to supported architectures
One of the problems discussed during this year's Debian Conference was
ftp-master.debian.org, the main host for the Debian archive, running
into resource constraints. Joerg Jaspert announced the results:
Hardware architectures, which have failed to be included in 2
successive official releases, will be moved to an other host (e.g.
debian-ports.org). The main purpose is to free space for
architectures that are in a better shape and therefore have higher
chances of being in an release.
The current candidates for removal are m68k, hurd-i386 and arm
(which will be replaced by armel anyway), while kfreebsd-i386 and
kfreebsd-amd64 as well as other architectures could now be added to
the official Debian archive machines. Of course removed architectures
can be re-added to the main archive, when they have proven to be fit
Dropping packages in main building packages in contrib
Joerg Jaspert wondered if it is a necessary feature, that source
packages of a specific component (main, contrib or non-free) may create
binary packages within an other component. Some source packages in
Debian main use that feature to create binary packages in contrib.
Dropping this feature would ease a re-design of the central project
database. When asked for the benefits of dropping this feature, Stefano
Zacchiroli explained further that the database should reflect the
structure of the project, especially since only the component main is
an official part of Debian. Blurring the difference might confuse our
users and is "weird at best".
Bits from the GNU/kFreeBSD porters
Aurelien Jarno gave a status report about the kFreeBSD port.
Overall it is in very good shape. Currently i386 and AMD64 based
architectures are supported. It has a complete toolchain (including
java) and more than 85% of all packages are built. He asked for help to
qualify as a releasable architecture, since a port of the
debian-installer is currently missing.
FAI developer workshop at the Linuxhotel in Essen/Germany
At the weekend from 8th until 10th of August, the FAI (Fully Automatic
Installation - an installation and update-management framework for
Debian and other distributions) developer team met at the Linuxhotel in
Essen, Germany, to make FAI fit for the Lenny release. In a productive
as well as fun meeting, seven people got a lot of things done, but most
importantly, they did a lot of testing of the current FAI functionality
in the Lenny context.
Important bugs were found and solved and future development has been
discussed, e.g. integrating tests for classes as well as software
regressions, how to deal with copyright issues and how contributors
should be mentioned in the Debian copyright files. Further issues that
were tackled during the meeting were how more developers could be
attracted to add their code into FAI, how to make it available for
testing by users, and how to get external patches into mainline FAI -
which is currently only written to by the main developer. An first
documentation of the meeting's outcome can be found in the faiwiki.
The meeting was sponsored by the Linuxhotel Essen, the Linux
Information Systems AG and LT-ec.
Debian Lenny to Support Low-Power NAS Systems
Martin Michlmayr updated kernels for MIPS and ARM for kernel
version 2.6.26. These kernel updates bring major improvements to the
ARM architecture support, which helps running Debian on low-power NAS
devices like the QNAP TS-409. With 2.6.26 coming closer to lenny,
lenny is coming closer to run on these devices.
Future of snapshot.debian.net
Since snapshot.debian.net - a service storing all versions of all
Debian packages ever uploaded to the archive including useful symlinks
e.g. for browsing to specific days - has problems from time to time
keeping up its disc space, Eddy Petrisor wondered, if a
distributed, user supported structure for storing this huge amount of
data would be a good idea. Andrew Pollock answered that Debian
could spend some of its fund for this service. Cyril Brulebois
added that it has been announced that snapshot.debian.net
should be made an official service provided by Debian, making it easier
to spend funds on it.
Artwork and Desktop themes for Debian "Lenny"
Valessio Brito announced that the work for artwork and themes for
the upcoming stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0" Lenny has been
started during DebCamp the hacking session before the annual Debian
Conference. In the meantime and updated version of the
desktop-base package has been uploaded including a new default
theme as well as a second one.
CD/DVD Image Downloads - A Reminder / rsync on ftp.debian.org
Josip Rodin noted that there seems to be a rush of CD/DVD image
hoarding happening. Particularly, it seems that many people are not
only downloading the first image, but the additional images (CDs 2-20+)
as well. The full set of images is published so that they can be
downloaded by those who do not have regular access to a reliable
internet connection. However, for those who do have solid Internet
connections, it is more efficient to retrieve packages directly from
In related news Josip Rodin noted that the rsync service on
ftp.debian.org has been deprecated since 2001 and has now been disabled
completely. Everyone who has used that mirror to synchronise his own
mirror using rsync should switch to an other mirror. A complete list of
Debian mirrors is available at http://www.debian.org/mirror/list.
Bits from the DPN editors
The editors of the Debian Project News sent a first status report
on the start-up period of the DPN. After a rough start a workflow has
now been established which overall works but still has some issues,
including the often missing time for native speakers to proofread the
drafts and for translators to prepare versions of the project news in
their own language, to be sent out simultaneously with the original
news. But most importantly more people are needed to contribute to the
Debian Project News by writing small texts on the noteworthy news
collected at each issue's development page.
Lucas Nussbaum wondered if the technical solution of freezing the
propagation of packages from the unstable development branch to the
to-be-released-soon testing branch is adequate. Since the requirement
of non-disruptive changes are more a social problem, it shouldn't be
solved by strict technical measures and manual approval of exceptions.
Joey Schulze announced the 2008 M68k Linux Porter Meeting, which
will take place from August 29th to 31st at the University of Kiel,
Lucas Nussbaum asked for final reviews for the Debian Enhancement
Proposal 1, which tries to improve the way how to deal with "non
maintainer uploads" (NMUs).
Sandro Tosi noticed that the #debian-devel@OFTC channel topic is
often used to give status messages in the case of severe or exceptional
situations (outages, downtimes, etc). In order to stay informed even if
not connected to oftc he recommends subscribing to the Debian Wiki
page that mirrors that channel's topic.
Neil Williams summarized the usage of PO for anything for
maintaining translations of various documents, including manpages.
Nicolas Francois announced that the services hosted on
i18n.debian.net (for example the web frontend to the Debian Package
Description Translation Project) is now available via SSL, too.
Stefano Zacchiroli reported several improvements he did for the
package tracking system. He fixed several bugs and feature request
including tighter integration with lintian, a tool for checking
Debian packages for common errors, and mentors.debian.net, a
service used by package maintainers searching for Debian Developers to
"sponsor" their upload to the Debian archive.
Lucas Nussbaum blogged about an important usecase for the Ultimate
Debian Database, a Google Summer of Code project integrating several
information sources within Debian: recently removals of important
packages from the testing Distribution have caused some discussion.
Tracking these important packages will be easier through this database.
Debian Project at FrOSCon 2008
>From Saturday the 23rd of August 2008 to Sunday the 24th of August
2008, the Debian Project will participate with a booth at Free and Open
Source Software Conference 2008 in St. Augustin, Germany. Please see
the respective events page for further details.
Important Debian Security Advisories
Debian's Security Team hasn't released any important advisories since
the last issue.
If you would like to be kept up to date about the security advisories
released by the Debian Security Team, please subscribe to the
mailing list for security announcements.
New and noteworthy packages
The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive
recently (among others):
* autorun4linuxcd -- Menu for Debian Live under Windows
* bluemindo -- really simple but powerful audio player
* cdebconf-gtk-terminal -- cdebconf gtk plugin dislaying a
* daptup -- reporter of changes in list of available packages
* etherpuppet -- create a virtual interface from a remote
* freealchemist -- simpler figure block game
* guake -- A drop-down terminal for GNOME Desktop Environment
* ink-generator -- Inkscape extension to automatically generate
files from a template
* jaranalyzer -- Dependency management utility for jar files
* uboot-envtools -- read/modify the environment for the
* xorriso -- command line iso9660+RR manipulation tool
Currently 468 packages are orphaned and 120 packages are up for
adoption. Please take a look at the recent reports to see if
there are packages you are interested in or view the complete list of
packages which need your help.
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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Martin Michlmayr,
Joachim Breitner, Rainer Dorsch, Henning Sprang, Jeff Richards,
Alexander Reichle-Schmehl and Meike Reichle.