Debian Weekly News - October 15th, 2001

Misdirected German Translation. We are awfully sorry, but due to a mistake made by Joey the To: address was mistyped when he wanted to post the German translation of the last issue of Debian Weekly News to the German list. Unfortunately it has been distributed to the international list instead, causing some people to wonder what they're reading. Again, sorry for that.

Problems with Automake. A new version of automake has been entered the unstable archive. Unfortunately this version causes the build system to behave like one could expect from the name - it's unstable. Version 1.5 of automake is not backwards compatible to version 1.4, even though that was a goal. As a result of this a lot of packages cannot be compiled anymore, like all of KDE. A solution is due soon. Additionally, Neil Spring posted some statistics about building packages with automake 1.4 and 1.5.

Long Perl Module Naming. The current policy with regard to the naming scheme for Perl modules is quite clear: Foo::Bar becomes libfoo-bar-perl. This is fine for normal modules, however, there are also modules available that contain Business::OnlinePayment::BankOfAmerica, which in turn becomes libbusiness-onlinepayment-bankofamerica-perl as package name. This name is so long that it's a pain to type and dpkg -l wouldn't display it entirely. Joey Hess made a proposal to remove foolish consistency in Perl module names.

Debian Conference 2 in Bordeaux? The organisation of the Libre Software Meeting 2002 has begun, which will take place from July 9th to 13th, 2002. As in past years, it is possible to organise a Debian Conference at the same time but someone needs to lead the organisation of it. Last year Thierry Laronde was kind enough to work on it, but he can't organise another one this year. If you are interested please get in touch with

Compiling OpenOffice. Peter Novodvorsky (Петр Новодворский) posted a mini HOWTO describing how to get OpenOffice 638C compiled. You'll need a newer JDK from and older STLPort packages. Peter added a couple of helpful links and patches to the document.

Webalizer stopped Working? If you noticed that webalizer from stable does not create website statistics anymore, you may be trapped into this. Older versions of the Webalizer (version 1.30 through 2.00-12) generated timestamps in a fashion that, on most platforms, would overflow on October 5, 2001. The result is that statistics are generated up until midnight of October 4th, but not after. The current release of webalizer doesn't contain this bug. A patch against the version from stable is available, linked from the mail above, as well as a backport of the current version. The maintainer also prepares an upload of corrected packages for into stable.

Branden got Heartburn. In our last issue we reported about problems with SDL packages and Branden Robinsons attempt to fix them. This was suddenly interrupted by problems introduced by a new version of automake (see above). Finally Branden was able to fix the problems with the help of two colleagues from Progeny Linux Systems and uploaded NMU packages.

Java 2 Standard Edition for Debian? Blackdown Java 2 was recently uploaded targeted for non-free. James Troup, our fearless ftp-master would like some second opinions on the license. An interesting term reads "do not distribute additional software intended to replace any component(s) of the Software". Presumably things like kaffe, jikes and gcj constitute software intended to replace j2sdk, j2se, which makes it difficult not to breach the above rule. Stephen Zander pointed out that Blackdown has been given permission by Sun to alter the terms of the licence to allow the redistribution of Blackdown released binaries by Blackdown mirrors and Linux distributions, not just Debian, regardless of whatever else they may distribute. Finally, these packages may end up in non-free at least.

New Apache2 Packages Delayed. Daniel Stone announced that new Apache2 packages will hit the archive soon. However, apache2 is packaged in a different manner and uses a completely different directory layout (for details, check the link above). Too many people have raised concerns about these changes resulting in a delay uploading packages.

Free Truetype Fonts? Erich Schubert contacted an author of some freeware and asked him, if he could licence them under an open source licence. His reply didn't exactly show that he read the provided DFSG. While not being sure if the license would allow the inclusion in Debian/main a discussion started on licensing artwork contrary to software.

When Do Packages Get into Testing? A couple of requests showed us that many people still aren't sure when a package is intended to enter the testing distribution. Anthony Towns posted an explanation about packages and testing. The basic rule is that a package has to be tested for two weeks (without critical bugs and new uploads) and that all of its binary packages have been recompiled for all architectures that are scheduled for testing.

Splitting non-US in "crypto" And "patents"? Sunnanvind Briling Fenderson came up with an idea to split the non-US archive up into a "crypto" and a "patents" piece. Different countries have different laws. This could terminate all the "put crypto in main" talk because US based entities could distribute "crypto" and "main", while French (for example) could distribute "main" and "patents".

Amicus Brief for Matt Pavlovich's Court Case. Branden Robinson spoke with Allonn Levy on the phone a couple of weeks ago, and he asked us to draft an Amicus Brief ("friend of the court") document for submission to the California Supreme Court, who are currently deciding whether to hear Matt's appeal on jurisdictional grounds. Levy is Matt's attorney in the DVD CCA v. Bunner, et al. suit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has details.

Directions to Using Autoconf and Friends. Henrique de Moraes Holschuh released a document in which he describes how autoconf/automake is best used in Debian. The whole GNU autotools stuff is a hairy topic, but if we don't document how to best use them somewhere, it will only get worse.

Debian is very Popular! Several readers wrote in to say that Debian came in second in Linux Journal's Readers' Choice Awards. Debian is moving up, having placed fourth in the Awards last year.

Good News... The W3C received enough 11th-hour negative feedback to keep the odious proposed Patent Policy from sailing through. Daniel J. Weitzner announced how the Policy Working Group will proceed. The most notable change is the representation of the Free Software/Open Source community on the Working Group. Bruce Perens (who should need no introduction) and Eben Moglen (General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation) will be joining as "invited experts."

Turnabout is Fair Play. The folks at Linux Weekly News are always kind enough to post links to the latest DWN, and do a really fine job of reporting news from and about the Linux Community so we thought we'd give them a mention this week. Given recent cutbacks by Tucows, it looks like LWN might be in a bit of a pickle financially. They've set up a discussion list to help think up ways that LWN might continue. If you're just joining the discussion, please read the archives before throwing in your suggestions. Not only is LWN consistently excellent, the crew that puts it together are good people. We wish them luck.

New or noteworthy packages:

That's all folks! That's all we have for this week. Drop us a line at if you have any comments, questions or news tips.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.