Debian Weekly News - August 22nd, 2000

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

A Release update: In the aftermath of the release, everything is mostly going well. has been running at full capacity since release -- if you have not yet upgraded, remember to use a mirror.

There were some problems with the CD images for 2.2. It took a while to get CD images mirrored to enough sites to meet demand. Then it was discovered that the SPARC and alpha CDs released with potato were not bootable, and there were some other minor problems with other images. These problems are due to both insufficient testing of the final CD images, and hardware problems with the CD image build machine. Fixed images are labelled as version 2.2rev0a.

Several articles have already appeared about Debian 2.2. Linux Weekly News wrote up an article about the press conference. LinuxPlanet posted a comprehensive and generally favourable review of Debian 2.2 that's full of good quotes, like "The project moves forward at a seemingly ponderous pace, but a little time spent reading through the myriad developer and user lists reveals a disarmingly feverish quest for perfection" and "installation has improved in some key areas since the Slink release of over a year ago, noticeably lowering the bar to entry. And ITworld ran a story on Debian. "Much attention has been paid to the commercialisation of Linux, but the spirit of open source that drives Linux may be best seen in efforts like the Debian development group, which is something of a labor of love for the programmers involved."

Security fixes: The version of xlockmore shipped with Debian 2.1 (slink) is vulnerable to a local exploit of the shadow group. In general, the versions in Debian 2.2 and unstable are not, but fixed packages have been provided for all three versions, just in case. An updated fix for a security hole in Zope was released -- the original fix "did not fully address the issue".

With the release out of the way, everyone was glad to get back to the important things, like inconclusive flamewars over obscure points of the FHS. This was mostly a rehashing of an old controversy about whether traceroute belongs in /usr/sbin or /usr/bin Some good points were made, but we continue to be as divided as ever on this issue.

A more interesting discussion concerned meta-packages. It would be nice to generalize the several methods we have of grouping packages now -- by priority, by section, in task packages -- and come up with one mechanism that can handle all three.

How would you like to have an up-to-date distribution like unstable, without the associated set of nasty new bugs every day? Anthony Towns has been working to make this a reality with his "testing" distribution, and now he's ready to roll it out into Debian proper. According to AJ, "the point of the 'testing' distribution: to contain a consistent set of the most recent 'believed-to-be-reliable' packages". "The point of packages in testing is not that they should be perfect or bug-free, just that they should be usable." This is accomplished by making testing lag behind unstable by a couple of weeks, watching what bugs are opened against new versions of packages in unstable, and allowing updated packages that do not introduce bad bugs to filter into testing. The result is that three distributions would always be available:

AJ thinks that this will also speed up the release process -- we can freeze testing rather than freezing unstable, and start preparing for a release with a distribution that is already mostly bug-free. He concludes that "it's coded. It works. It serves a useful purpose. I think we should use it."

The ftp-maintainers have been hard at work this week. Incoming has been empty for brief periods of time. 177 packages were added to Debian this week, including:

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