Debian Weekly News - January 4th, 2000

Welcome to Debian Weekly News, a newsletter for the Debian developer community.

Everyone's probably sick of Y2K by now, but a final wrap-up is in order. Debian survived with no major problems. Several more Y2K-related bugs were found in packages including ntpdate, sendfile, webalizer, birthday, cbb, pilot-manager, slrn, xinetd, http-analyze, and hyperlatex. These bugs are rapidly being fixed, and tend to be minor.

The closed new-maintainer queue has moved back into people's minds this week, with several threads starting on the subject, like this one started by a Debian contributor who has been forced to work through a sponsor. "the Debian Castle has been built and now all the builders are holed up inside with everyone else standing at the moat with the drawbridge up. Some brave folks put ladders up and scaled the walls [...] to get in and help continue the ongoing construction inside the Castle. Many of the inhabitants of the Castle are showing signs of denial, others are blaming the King, and still others are smuggling people in over the wall as fast as they can." Several people mentioned that new-maintainer might be reopened this month (after the freeze, presumably).

While adding new maintainers to Debian continues to be an unresolved issue, we are making progress towards finding inactive developers. In the past we have used developer "pings", but now Jason Gunthorpe has implemented a new method for tracking developer activity. He calls it "Echelon" and it monitors all Debian list traffic and keeps track of the last time a developer has been heard from. In 6 months or so we can start using this information to contact and deal with inactive maintainers and make sure that every package has an active person responsible for it.

Anyone who recently installed a fresh Debian system using the potato boot floppies has a severely broken system that is open to numerous exploits due to permissions problems. The boot-floppies team has fixed the problem, and it's likely very few people are affected, since few people have tried the potato boot floppies yet. Work on the boot floppies continues, on many fronts.

Should TeX and Emacs be removed from standard and put in optional? They are the largest packages present in the standard install, and they are singlehandedly responsible for doubling the size of a standard Debian install. Robert Woodcock raised the issue, arguing that these packages are not widely enough used to justify putting them in standard. Predictably, opinions on this vary. One of the more interesting messages steps back and looks at our whole section and priority system -- and finds it badly lacking.

New packages in Debian this week include the following and 20 more. Presumably these will be the among the last new packages added to Debian in a while, since a pre-freeze moratorium on new packages is now in effect.

Thanks to Randolph Chung for contributing.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Joey Hess.