Debian Weekly News - January 28th, 2003
Debian Weekly News
Debian Weekly News - January 28th, 2003
Welcome to this year's fourth issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for
the Debian community. Netcraft recently added Debian to the list of
operating system vendors. The security team finally got everything
together and was able to release a whole bunch of advisories for the
version of KDE in woody. Only one package could not be compiled on two
Working New Network Installation Floppy. Matt Kraai announced that
he successfully used a custom-built debian-installer net installation
floppy to install sarge (testing). Matt found that he had to use
custom ethdetect, netcfg-dhcp and netcfg-static packages, and the
"edit sources list by hand" option to work around a base-config
bug. He would appreciate if people could test the image and report
Bug Page for the Debian-Installer. Matt Kraai wondered if there
was a nice page listing bugs in the debian installer, similar to the
base system bugs page. Colin Watson promptly prepared one. The
page lists bugs in packages the debian-installer depends on. Petter
Reinholdtsen was more interested in the packages which are
maintained by the installer people and is already using this
Cross Compiler for x86-64 Hardware. Arnd Bergmann has packaged a
cross compiler for building binaries for AMD's x86-64
architecture. He and several others are starting preliminary work
on an x86-64 port of Debian using the Bochs hardware emulator.
Debian Project Leader Elections. Manoj Srivastava informed us
about the upcoming election for the next Debian Project Leader. The
Nomination period for this year starts today, 2003/01/24, and shall
end on 2003/02/14 0:0:0 UTC. Voting shall start on March 7th
(2003/03/07 0:0:0 UTC), and shall end on 2003/03/28 0:0:0 UTC.
Prospective leaders should be familiar with the constitution and Manoj
intends to collect platform statements from the candidates and publish
them at a known location at the end of the nomination period and the
beginning of the campaign.
News from the PTS. Raphaël Hertzog sent in a report about the
Package Tracking System (PTS). Together with Michael Bramer, who
maintains the Debian Description Translation Project (DDTP) he
combined the two systems. New links point to pages where you can see
all available translations for the package. From there you can easily
request a translation that you want to contribute.
Debian-Edu Subproject needs new Leader. Raphaël Hertzog reported
that the Debian-Edu subproject is essentially stalled. He admits that
this is his fault because he wasn't able to invest enough time into
it. That's why he is now looking for a volunteer who would like to
take over and lead this subproject. Additionally, the current edition
of the monthly TUX&GNU@school column, concerning free educational
software, has a section about Debian and schools.
Surge of Interest in Debian. DesktopLinux.com talked to Bdale
Garbee, Project Leader for Debian, who talked about his impressions
during a year in which Debian saw commercial products based on it
reach the market. Bdale says that the recent surge of interest in
Debian has to do with the completely non-commercial nature of Debian,
and the value of community. Among major GNU/Linux distributions,
Debian is the closest to a pure expression of the ideals and processes
that make GNU/Linux special.
Debian losing Quality? Erik Steffl noticed that Debian unstable
contains many broken packages at the moment. He's been using unstable
for few years and didn't encounter problems generally. However,
currently we face a Perl and Python transition which were fine, and an
ongoing Glibc, GCC, Gnome and libpng transition while the KDE
transition is still outstanding.
Official Sarge Net-Installation CD Images. Santiago Garcia Mantinan
announced that network-installation CD images for testing (sarge)
will be created weekly for i386 hardware. There are two images: a
smaller image (41MB) that requires network access and a larger
image (83MB) that contains a complete basic installation. Theses
images should be used to test the new installation process and
generate feedback reports.
Scope Creep in DDP Policy. Adam DiCarlo suggested that the
Debian Documentation Project (DDP) Policy which is currently under
discussion is too broad in scope and will never be implemented.
For example, the policy considers a Debian Manual to be any piece of
documentation created to address the needs of Debian users. Adam
thinks this is too broad and may be a reason for the DDP Policy being
stalled. He proposes that the DDP limit itself to Debian documentation
managed by the DDP itself.
Debian GNU/Linux is the "Best Budget Choice". The Swedish computer
magazine Mikrodatorn has a comparison between different GNU/Linux
distributions as server operating systems in their issue 1/2003.
Debian was pitted against Mandrake, Red Hat, Slackware and Suse and
received the award "best budget choice" with the motivation
"Debian has as good a choice of software as Suse, but is somewhat more
complicated to manage. However, the price is very attractive. The
system can be downloaded without charge and otherwise cost 279 Swedish
kronor (30 euro)."
Report from the LWCE. Last week the Debian project attended the
Linuxworld Conference & Expo (LWCE) in New York. According to
LinuxToday this conference was quite different from earlier
Linuxworlds. For example, Microsoft won an Open Source award. Clint
Adams from Debian also noted that lots of software vendors were
dropping by, saying they want to 'partner' with us. They're asking
about Debian's 'business model.' What they don't understand is that
Debian doesn't have a business model.
Open Source Games and Cheating. Joachim Breitner noted that games
awake computer interest and skills in young kids. Debian needs them as
volunteers. However, if Debian can't offer popular games (i.e. online
multiplayer games) because they are closed source, a lot of teenagers
will use commercial Distributions and won't learn about Free Software
and Debian. There is evidence on why it doesn't matter whether
network games are closed source or not to prevent cheating.
Pentium Pro Optimisation? Adam Majer announced that he has started
another pbuilder run for the sid distribution. However, this time
packages are compiled with pentium-pro optimizations. The resulting
packages can be used for benchmarks to find out in how much speed
improvements these optimizations result. Andrew Suffield pointed
out that GCC support for i386 subarchs is generally very poor and
has been wrong on numerous occasions.
Myths about APT Pinning. Since some people seem to think APT pinning
can solve all problems with outdated packages in stable Adrian Bunk
explained why this is wrong. Mixing stable and unstable is a bad
idea because nearly every installation of a package from unstable
pulls a new libc6 and it's also possible that it pulls a new Perl and
Python. These in turn pull in more packages from unstable and one gets
a potentially buggy mixture, with broken security support.
Illegal Packages in Debian? After a lengthy discussion an MPlayer
core developer posted a list of files that he believes are
included illegally in Debian. They are all part of the libxine1
package. The libraries implement certain audio or video decoders whose
use may be legally problematic. Similar problems already keep mplayer
outside of Debian.
OSD and DFSG Convergence. Russell Nelson contacted Debian to
explore convergence between the Open Source Definition (OSD), and
the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). The Open Source
Initiative (OSI) is interested in mending differences in the
community, so that we can stand together. Even though the OSD was
originally the DFSG, it was changed in the meantime and OSI even
approved a license that requires click-wrap. However, this places
a restriction on modification, failing DFSG paragraph 3.
Sponsored People. Martin Michlmayr announced that there are
currently 191 sponsored prospective new maintainers, who already
maintain software within Debian. However, he wouldn't be surprised if
several of these people were already inactive. Discovering inactive
sponsored people is one thing he will investigate next, in order to
orphan unmaintained packages.
Debian at FOSDEM and Solutions Linux. The Debian project announced
that members of the project will represent Debian at Solutions
Linux 2003 / Linux Expo France in Paris, France on February 4th to 6th
and at the Free and Open Source Software Developers' Meeting
(FOSDEM) in Brussels, Belgium on February 8th to 9th. At FOSDEM
Raphaël Hertzog will talk about Debian-Edu and Martin Michlmayr will
give a talk about adapting Debian to embedded use.
Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update
your systems if you have any of these packages installed.
* kdeadmin -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdegraphics -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdelibs -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdenetwork -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdepim -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdesdk -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdegames -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdeutils -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdebase -- Several vulnerabilities.
* kdemultimedia -- Several vulnerabilities.
* noffle -- Buffer overflows.
* dhcp3 -- Potential network flood.
New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the
unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.
* amrita -- HTML/XML template library for Ruby.
* aswiki -- WikiWikiWeb clone (Wiki Engine) written in Ruby.
* bittorrent -- Scatter-gather network file transfer.
* cdargs -- Bookmarks and browsing for the cd command.
* dasher -- Graphical predictive text input system.
* fig2sty -- LaTeX layout generator based on XFig.
* fonttools -- Converts OpenType and TrueType fonts to and from
* foobillard -- 3D billiards game using OpenGL.
* mdbtools -- MS Access database (MDB) tools.
* myphpmoney -- Finance manager written in PHP.
* ppmd -- Fast compression program with good compression ratio.
* resample -- Resamples a sound file using a FIR filter.
* smartmontools -- Control and monitor storage systems using
* stellarium -- Real-time photo-realistic sky generator.
* systeminstaller -- Creates Linux distribution images from a
set of packages.
* zssh -- Interactive file transfers over ssh.
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