Debian Weekly News - January 2nd, 2001

Happy new year and welcome to Debian Weekly News. Debian Weekly News has now been summarizing the events of the Debian world for two full years. A timeline of the most important stories of 2000 is available as a special supplement to this issue.

Discussion volume has been light on the mailing lists over the holidays, with many developers on vacation. Lots of users were on vacation too, and some wanted to temporarily unsubscribe from debian-user to prevent email piling up while they were away. However, several of them were unable to unsubscribe. Brian Moore tracked down the problem to an invalid threshold that had been set in SmartList's configuration, and the problem was eventually corrected.

We're beginning to learn what life with the testing distribution will be like. Developers now need to keep track of what versions of their packages are in testing, as well as stable and unstable, and it's proving to be rather hard to figure out why an updated package is not being accepted into testing. This involves reading the "update excuses" file and trying to guess what it means. Anthony Towns has posted several explanations of various aspects of testing's workings (architecture details, versioned dependency details). Some packages, including the new versions of X and perl, are not in testing yet, and are "holding back the tide" of other packages that depend on them. On the other hand, glibc 2.2 has now entered testing.

The move from /usr/doc to /usr/share/doc is proving long and slow. Joey Hess calculated that unless 6 packages are converted every day from now until woody is frozen, the first stage of the transition will not be finished in time for woody, and the full transition would be pushed off into the far future. Though this did spur some uploads, nowhere near six packages a day are being converted. Ben Collins pointed out that an alternative is to "reevaluate this decision based on the fact that the bug in dpkg that forced this implementation (as opposed to a clean /usr/doc symlink to share/doc) has been gone for awhile now". He proposed a single transition script that would move the remaining contents of /usr/doc to /usr/share/doc and symlink the two directories. According to Ben, all of his systems have been set up this way "without any errors or missing files". Santiago Vila worries about "risking the integrity of the system by complex scripts"; in the meantime development of such a script is under way, though it is not clear if it will be used.

Wishlist features for dpkg turned out to be the topic of this thread, although it didn't start out that way. The features people would like to see added to some future version of dpkg include the ability to easily rollback upgrades, relocatable packages, installation of multiple versions of a package at one time, entirely eliminating maintainer scripts so installing a package does not run code as root, and many other difficult things. It's not just all daydreaming though -- dpkg may support binary database cache files as early as version 1.9.

Just in time for Christmas, three new security fixes were released: a temporary file attack against dialog, several vulnerabilities in stunnel, and two gnupg problems were all fixed on December 25th.

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