Debian Weekly News - January 9th, 2001

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Linux 2.4.0 is out, and Debian has suddenly received a lot of 2.4 compatibility testing. Unstable supports the new kernel without many difficulties. The main source of problems is devfs, and a number of bug reports have been filed on packages that need devfs support. Testing and stable don't quite support the new kernel yet.

The first Debian conference (a followup to last year's zeroth conference) is in the planning stage. More information about the conference is on its web page, and this mail from Thierry Laronde. It will be held from July 4th to 9th in Bordeaux, France.

Watch out for the Debian tar SNAFU. The -I switch in Debian's tar program makes it use bzip2 for compression. However, in unstable the -j switch should be used instead, and -I has an altogether different meaning. So a command such as "tar cIf ..." might compress the file with bzip2, or it might create an uncompressed archive with no error message, depending on the version of tar that is used. Tar's NEWS file explains why this change was made -- compatibility with Solaris' tar. A fix is planned: Tar's maintainer came up with a transition plan that will make tar output an error message when -I is used, and tar's author has accepted the plan.

Lilo is also rather broken in unstable this week. Lilo's new maintainer made some large changes to the way it is configured, unfortunately the result is that the new package replaces /etc/lilo.conf with an automatically generated and often broken file. The maintainer is working to fix the this and related problems, but new bug reports (and flames) keep rolling in, so it might be a while until he has all the kinks worked out.

What's appropriate content for Debian changelogs? Since bug reports can be automatically closed by changelog entries, there have been some clear instances of abuse of this feature, and other cases that are more borderline. One such case is using the changelog to close a bug report when no changes were actually made to the package, as was done in this glibc changelog. Whether that is ok is debatable, and it was. One thing the discussion made clear is that thanks to automated bug closing and apt-listchanges, an increasing number of people are reading Debian changelogs. Write them with that in mind.

Warning: source-only uploads no longer work now that Debian uses package pools. It might get fixed later but for now its broken, so "Ob!Nike: Just don't do it."

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