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19990312 Debian GNU/Hurd status

I figured a state-of-the-Hurd report would be in order, so here's one
from my perspective:

* Thomas and I will soon (i.e. before the year 2000) be releasing a
  joint Debian/GNU snapshot of the Hurd.  This will be the first time
  that the Debian package and the Hurd source snapshot will be totally
  in sync, and the Debian packaging rules will be part of the official
  Hurd distribution.

  The idea is that, in the future, whoever releases a Hurd source
  snapshot will upload corresponding binaries to Debian (and vice
  versa).  This'll eliminate version skew between bug reports filed
  against the Debian packages, and what's actually in the Hurd CVS.

* Mark Kettenis did some great investigative work, and uncovered the
  bug in the Hurd notification protocol that caused the proc port
  leak, ext2fs failing to cleanly unmount sometimes, and I'm sure
  other small problems.  He and Thomas came up with a solution,
  with a proc optimization from Roland that made their code simpler.

* devnull (Joel N. Weber) is working on memory-based virtual
  filesystems such as /proc and /tmp.  He has a library that
  implements some common code for these kinds of filesystems, but it
  isn't merged into CVS yet.

* Roland, as you know, fixed up the Linux swap signature handling, so
  the next Hurd will be safer than ever to use (there's now a
  servers.boot option that prevents you from clobbering your non-swap
  partitions: $(add-linux-paging-file)).

* OKUJI Yoshinori and I fixed GRUB so that it isn't limited to < 1024
  cylinders anymore, if your BIOS supports the MS/IBM INT 13
  extensions (modern bioses do).  This code will be in 0.5.91.

* Thomas is merging my Hurd texinfo docs into the official
  distribution, so there should be a mad rush to update and expand
  these as more people are exposed to them.

Now, here's what's on my agenda (my TODO list for GNU 0.3):

* After the Hurd packages, I need to compile and upload the latest
  glibc, because Marcus Brinkmann needs several patches that are in it
  to get sysvinit working on the Hurd.  This is harder for me than it
  sounds, because I've been unable to boot the Hurd with any glibc
  release since 2.0.112.

* I'm writing a GRUB manual in texinfo.  After the manual is mostly
  usable, I'll be fixing GRUB to understand Mach partition syntax (as
  well as the old syntax), and implement proper completion so that you
  don't have Roland's despised ``here is the only possibility, human,
  now I will sit here and laugh while you attempt to type it
  verbatim'' syndrome.

* The web pages need some serious work.  Matthias Pfisterer did a lot
  of the work by coming up with a new layout.  Steven L. Favor updated
  more of the info, too.  My biggest beef with the new pages is that
  they only look nice if your browser supports frames, which doesn't
  seem right to me.

  So, I've come up with a mostly-equivalent, but more portable layout
  that people seem to like: the beginnings of it are in

  My plan is to use M4 macros to simplify site maintainance without
  compromising its design.  The only complaint I've had is about the
  bright white background, which can be easily changed once the macros
  are used everywhere.  I hope to work on this on the weekend, but
  help would be appreciated (if you are interested, just e-mail me).

  My first attempt at all of this is in
  The idea is to improve HTML.m4 until it has all the magic to
  easily generate the layout I've done in hurd.html, then rename the
  relevant files to *.html.m4, and write a Makefile to generate the
  .html files.

* Roland, devnull, and I have done work with fun booting schemes
  (Hurds within a Hurd, Hurds running with their root filesystem in a
  file, Hurds running with their root filesystem as a subdirectory of
  another partition).  What remains is to document the most useful of
  these in the easy install guide.

  I expect that the most common way to install gnu-0.3 will be to
  create a subdir in an existing Linux partition, plop the Debian
  GNU/Hurd base set in there, use `e2os /dev/my-linux-partition hurd',
  and set your servers.boot to use your Linux swap and the correct
  subdir.  That's a no-partition install, and I want it to be
  well-documented sometime soon.

* The web pages need to tell people how to get Hurd, GNU Mach, and
  GRUB sources via anonymous CVS.

If you want to help with any of the above tasks, please do so!  Other
than that, there are miscellaneous other things that should be done,
but other people are taking care of them.

[BTW, could somebody who knows about Debian Weekly News please submit
this message to Joey Hess (I'm not sure of the procedure)?  It'd be
nice to get some mention in there again.]

 Gordon Matzigkeit <gord@fig.org>  //\ I'm a FIG (http://www.fig.org/)
Committed to freedom and diversity \// I use GNU (http://www.gnu.org/)

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