Debian Weekly News - August 14th, 2001

XFree86 4.1 hits unstable. XFree86 4.1.0-1 hit unstable last week, with an impressive 295 line long changelog, so we won't try to summarize everything here. It supports ATI PCI cards on SPARC and includes a VMWare driver. Unfortunately, DRI support (except 3Dfx) was out of sync with the kernel tree, which has been fixed in the latest revision of the Linux kernel. Last Friday, 4.1.0-2 entered the archives as well, which fixes even more bugs.

It's not just for Web serving any more! The Debian Multimedia Distribution was announced on the debian-news mailing list by Martin "Joey" Schulze. You can find the official DeMuDi Web page at

Here's my card... Jim Westveer was kind enough to share a script for creating Debian bootable business card images. About 50 MB fit on such a CDROM, so there is not much space so use. This script copies the Debian boot floppies onto the image, so that they can be used for an easy installation and rescue-system. Share and enjoy!

Debian on the cash desk? It's true. The German "Lebensmittelzeitung" has reported (German only) that Globus, a German supermarket chain, converted about 480 computers in their cash desk system to Debian GNU/Linux. The entire system is designed so that two cashiers can share one computer (a 486/25MHz is used most of the time). After positive experiences they now want to shift more functions to Linux, and also want to install an automatic installation feature in order to automatically push new functions or other updates to their cash desk systems on a nightly basis.

Multilingual Debian. Michael Bramer has announced the start of the Debian Description Translation Server, a project to translate all package descriptions into languages other than English. Currently German, French, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese are supported (others may follow on demand). The project was started 11 weeks ago with only German, and the other languages started 3-4 weeks ago. The German translation group has already translated 20% of all package descriptions from sid/main/binary-i386. The other language translations are in the beginning stages and need more help.

Debian for the professional desktop? The German site Pro-Linux has a report (German only) about a thin client Linux Desktop solution. Produced by Natural Computing GmbH the system consists of Debian GNU/Linux which is tailored in size and functionality in order to comply the requirements of an office desktop. They have also added additional software like StarOffice and other typical desktop applications. The natural.DESKTOP is designed to fit the needs of an office desktop system in a heterogeneous network for use in offices and governmental environments.

OpenOffice for Debian. Another effort was started to get OpenOffice packaged for Debian. Fetching a current source snapshot already eats up more than 400MB. Since it's a very large package more than one person should work on it. Jan-Hendrik Palic is currently trying to form a group of interested people so one day we can review a couple of openoffice*.deb files. It is said, though, that the build system for OpenOffice is a complete mess so there is a lot work to be done first.

S/390 update. Stefan Gybas has posted a status report about S/390 for woody. All required and important packages are built, tested on 5 different systems and even installed into the archive. Some packages like strace and gdb are currently missing, however, proper patches are available for both of them, so they should be included soon. Didn't you always want to run XFree86 on your S/390? There are even patches for XFree86 4.1 sent to the maintainer.

News about Woody's architectures. Alpha boot-floppies have made much progress the last few days. A major obstacle for actually uploading them is that the ash in the archive was severely broken, and the later one didn't build. This seems to be fixed now. Boot-floppies for mips and mipsel also need some more days of development and testing. However, it looks like the porters are ready for uploading them. However, documentation is a serious issue since it doesn't cover these architectures yet.

Installing Debian with only 4 MB RAM. Jens Scheidtmann has written a mini-HOWTO describing how one can install Debian GNU/Linux on a machine with only 4 MB of RAM. Older computers may not be suited for programming or playing games, but still fit the requirements for a lightwind text terminal. The bootstrapping process is a bit more complicated as a normal install of Debian, but it is still doable.

Want to translate? We're always looking for more volunteers to help translate DWN into more languages. If you're interested, drop us a line and we'll put you in the loop.

Help us out! If you have some news you'd like to see covered in DWN, don't wait until the issue comes out and complain that we missed it - send us an email with your news so we'll be sure to get it in the next issue. We try to keep up with all the happenings in the wide world of Debian, but it's not easy. Send your news, comments and nude photos to

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, Jean-Christophe Helary and Tollef Fog Heen.