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Bits from the Debian GNU/Hurd porters


it has been more than three years since the last "Bits from the Debian
GNU/Hurd porters"[1], high time for an update on the port.

 * Snapshot releases

Three new snapshot releases have been done by Philip Charles, K14, K15
(which was only done as an updated mini CD-ISO, not a full snapshot),
and K16.  K16 has been released[2] on December 18th, 2007 featuring four
CDs or two DVDs.  Additionally, it also features a ready-to-go
qemu-image[3] for the first time.  K16 was also the first snapshot which
included TLS (Thread Local Storage), a requirement for modern glibcs.
New ported packages include Qt3, Qt4, SDL and Emacs22.

 * Base and toolchain status

Currently, most base packages are current, with the notable exception of
util-linux, which has been a big problem over the last years.  However,
Samuel Thibault got all outstanding issues of util-linux applied
upstream so the version in experimental is mostly working.  The
toolchain is in pretty good shape as well since TLS support got
implemented; we are using the current glibc, binutils and gcc Debian
packages unmodified.

 * Xen support

Besides qemu, which can be very slow to run, a Xen DomU port for GNU
Mach has been made available by Samuel Thibault.  It requires a non-PAE
hypervisor and some minor manual tweaking, but is otherwise quite
functional and stable already, see its wiki page[4] for further
information.  This will make people running the Hurd less dependent on
specific hardware, as a lot of newer computers do not work with the
underlying GNU Mach kernel anymore.

 * Autobuilder availability and archive coverage improved

The percentage of packages built for Debian GNU/Hurd has improved from
40% to now nearly 60%[5] since the last Bits from the porters.  Further,
the backlog of outdated packages has been greatly reduced.  This is due
to the addition of two[6][7] Xen autobuilders earlier this year, which
made the hurd-i386 autobuilders far more robust and fault-tolerant as
they not need local admin attention anymore in case of problems with the
GNU/Hurd guests.

The remaining 40% of packages are either waiting for other packages to
become available (see [8] for a (big) graph of those relationships) or
are failing for some reason[9]; a complete list of build failures can be
found at [10].

 * Developer machine

We are currently working on getting a general DD-accessible porter box
setup.  In the meantime, interested people can contact
hurd-shell-account@gnu.org to get an account on one of the publically
accessible (Debian) GNU/Hurd developer machines.  For further details,
see [11].

 * Summer of Code 2008

This year, the GNU Hurd participated as its own organization at Google's
Summer of Code, thanks to the coordination done by Olaf Buddenhagen[12].
All of the 5 projects were carried out quite successfully.  The most
practically relevant project for Debian GNU/Hurd was the implementation
of a procfs translator[13] by Madhusudan C.S., which provides a
traditional Unix-style /proc file system and the subsequent porting of
the procps package, so utilities like pgrep etc. will be available after
lenny, and procps Build-Depends no longer need to be special-cased on

Other GSoC projects were lisp bindings by Flavio Cruz, better system
debugging and tracing by Andrei Barbu, namespace-based translator
selection by Sergiu Ivanov and network virtualization by Zheng Da.  More
information on the details and outcome of those projects can be found on
the wiki[14].

 * Still no debian-installer

Unfortunately, the Debian GNU/Hurd port still lacks d-i support.  On the
other hand, debootstrap now mostly works, even to cross-debootstrap a
hurd-i386 installation from GNU/Linux, if one works around bug #498731.
A relatively easy solution could be to use the GNU/Linux d-i to
cross-install and setup a Debian GNU/Hurd system.  People who have
experience in d-i and possibly Debian GNU/Hurd are more than welcome to
contact us at debian-hurd@lists.debian.org.

for the Debian GNU/Hurd porters,

Michael Banck

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2005/07/msg00006.html
[2] http://kerneltrap.org/node/15770
[3] http://ftp.debian-ports.org/debian-cd/K16/debian-hurd-k16-qemu.img.tar.gz
[4] http://www.bddebian.com/~wiki/microkernel/mach/gnumach/ports/xen/
[5] http://buildd.debian-ports.org/stats/
[6] http://buildd.net/cgi/hostpackages.cgi?unstable_arch=hurd-i386&searchtype=bach
[7] http://buildd.net/cgi/hostpackages.cgi?unstable_arch=hurd-i386&searchtype=mozart
[8] http://dept-info.labri.fr/~thibault/tmp/graph-radial.pdf
[9] http://www.bddebian.com/~wiki/unsorted/PortingIssues/
[10] http://unstable.buildd.net/buildd/hurd-i386_Failed.html
[11] http://www.bddebian.com/~wiki/public_hurd_boxen/
[12] http://code.google.com/soc/2008/hurd/about.html
[13] http://packages.qa.debian.org/h/hurd/news/20080903T160206Z.html
[14] http://www.bddebian.com/~wiki/community/gsoc/

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