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Debian Weekly News - November 14th, 2001

Debian Weekly News
Debian Weekly News - November 14th, 2001

Licensing Something Other Than Software. Sunnanvind brought up [1]an
old issue again. The discussion covers the question of whether the
[2]GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL) is compatible with the
DFSG and the philosophy of Free Software. The GNU FDL allows the
author to mark certain paragraphs as invariant which could render the
entire work non-free since it would fail the [3]Debian Free Software
Guidelines item 3. Strict interpretation of the DFSG would render many
GNU Manuals non-free, because they contain invariant sections like
"Funding Free Software".

Debian Menu Items. Karl M. Hegbloom [4]emphasized the need for
package maintainers to add an item for the Debian menu system for each
and every X GUI application. If programs aren't added to the menu
system, people often will not find the software at all. The menu
system is a great development since it keeps menu items in sync with
installed packages and most X11 window managers benefit from it.

Keywords For Debian Packages. Erich Schubert sent in a [5]proposal
for using additional keywords for all packages. The problem of
organizing and grouping Debian packages, now numbering in the
thousands, is no longer merely academic. With the current size of
Debian, only a few are able to keep track of all the software
available. Even though experts have tools such as apt-cache search at
their disposal, newer or less experienced users commonly use packaging
frontends which lack a proper search interface.

Very Old Intent to Package Requests. Taketoshi Sano analyzed the
[6]bug tracking system with regards to Work-Needing and Prospective
Packages (WNPP) and posted a [7]report. WNPP is split up into
[8]several pages on our web server for better readability. However,
the pages are still large and Taketoshi revealed an impressive number
of old requests. The problem remains: statistically, packages with ITP
requests older than six months tend to never be uploaded.

Sourceforge a non-free Demo-Site? Although not directly related to
Debian, many users and developers of Debian use the [9]SourceForge
facility for hosting the development of software projects. The
[10]Free Software Foundation Europe recently published a [11]news
article reviewing the past and current situation of [12]VA Linux
hosting and developing SourceForge. The article is worth reading.
Basically it says: SourceForge has been a great help for Free Software
devlopment, but it's time to "escape entrapment". A while ago, the GNU
project launched [13]Savannah, their own effort in providing
development resources to open-source authors, which uses a fork of the
Sourceforge code base.

ATLAS Enables Massive Speedups in Mathematical Software. Dirk
Eddelbuettel wrote a [14]report about great speed enhancements by
simply using the Automatically Tuned Linear Algebra Software (ATLAS)
on unstable and testing. With the current version of the glibc
library, ldconfig now loads the ATLAS optimised BLAS library without
any user intervention beyond installating the ATLAS and R or Octave
packages. Dirk demonstrated a very dramatic speed increases up to a
factor of ten for a sample matrix.

No mplayer Packages In Debian. In recent times a lot of people have
asked about mplayer packages. At the moment no packages for mplayer
can be included in Debian. Even though the package basically is
licensed under the GNU GPL it uses non-GPL code, which doesn't fit
together. Additionally it is [15]said to have patent issues which
prohibit its inclusion as well. In addition to these problems the
upstream developers do [16]not recommend nor welcome binary packages,
since the source uses processor optimizations defined at compile-time
which they feel is important. However, Christian Marillat is providing
[17]precompiled packages privately.

New Boot-Floppies 3.0.17. Adam Di Carlo told us that Boot-floppies
3.0.17 have just been [18]released. Packages of the i386 version are
in Incoming but should be available in the archive and for other
architectures over the new few days. Adam calls for help with (a)
identifying any remaining release critical (RC) bugs in boot-floppies,
and (b) help in fixing the RC bugs we know about. Those who are
interested should ask on [19]debian-boot@lists.debian.org.

Revealing The Secrets Of The Hurd. Neal Walfield, Debian and Hurd
developer, was recently [20]interviewed at Kerneltrap. Neal explains
the differences between classic Linux-like operating systems and the
Hurd, which tries to address certain design flaws of current operating
systems. With respect to usability, the Hurd works quite well as a
desktop system, however, Neal would not yet recommend it to anyone as
a server.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the
Debian archive since our last issue.
 * [21]cvsgraph -- Create a tree of revisions/branches from a CVS/RCS
 * [22]gnucap -- GNU Circuit Analysis package.
 * [23]nocc -- PHP web-based e-mail reader over POP3 or IMAP.
 * [24]nbtscan -- A program for scanning networks for NetBIOS name

Security Announcements. One security announcement reached us this
week. You know the drill, if you use any of the affected packages be
sure to update them.
 * [25]ssh-nonfree -- Remote root exploit.

Got News? Keep us informed! We don't want to miss it. Be sure to send
us feedback and tips about new or old packages so we have an
opportunity to report on it in a subsequent issue.

  1. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal-0111/msg00006.html
  2. http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html
  3. http://www.debian.org/social_contract
  4. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0111/msg00236.html
  5. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0111/msg00253.html
  6. http://bugs.debian.org/wnpp
  7. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0111/msg00329.html
  8. http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/
  9. http://www.sourceforge.net/
  10. http://www.fsfeurope.org/
  11. http://fsfeurope.org/news/article2001-10-20-01.en.html
  12. http://www.valinux.com/
  13. http://savannah.gnu.org/
  14. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0111/msg00823.html
  15. http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/unable-to-package
  16. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0111/msg00728.html
  17. http://marillat.free.fr/dists/unstable/main/binary-i386/index.html
  18. http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot-0111/msg00458.html
  19. http://lists.debian.org/
  20. http://kerneltrap.org/article.php?sid=375
  21. http://www.debian.org/Packages/unstable/devel/cvsgraph.html
  22. http://www.debian.org/Packages/unstable/electronics/gnucap.html
  23. http://www.debian.org/Packages/unstable/web/nocc.html
  24. http://www.debian.org/Packages/unstable/net/nbtscan.html
  25. http://www.debian.org/security/2001/dsa-086

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