Debian Weekly News - October 23rd, 2001

No Progeny Debian Anymore? In a recent announcement Progeny Linux Systems publicly stated that they ceased development on their Progeny Debian product. The primary motivation for this decision is Progeny's desire for proper convergence with Debian. It has been said that Progeny Debian was an amazing product, with a modern installer and hardware detection. It was a boxed product, meant as base for NOW (Network of Workstations), which was already buried earlier this year. For all users of Progeny Debian, a migration path to Debian Woody will be provided.

Updated Debian Installation Documents? The Debian Installation Manual has been translated into 11 languages. However, while documentation is a difficult issue for programmers, translation of documents is even more difficult. Many translations are not up-to-date anymore, and even the original may lack important information. If you would like to help, please check out the current version and provide patches to the debian-boot list.

Xmodmap On X Session Startup Deprecated. Branden Robinson informed us that the automatic usage of xmodmap on X session startup is now deprecated. The main reason for this is that unpredictable things can happen if both the system and the user are using Xmodmap files, and sometimes the user doesn't even have to have one for the keyboard to get screwed up by unintended side effects. Please read Branden's mail if you are running testing or unstable.

Small Problem with XFree86 4.1.0-7. Branden also told us about a problem with a very obvious effect in packages for XFree86 4.1.0-7. The bug consists of erroneous quoting of a shell variable in the file /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99xfree86-common_start. This problem was reported on the debian-devel and debian-x mailing lists shortly after 4.1.0-7 was released. There is no need to tell him nor to file more bugs. Latest News: Version 4.1.0-8 has already been uploaded.

Release Notes. The next version of Debian GNU/Linux will be 3.0 (sorry folks, but the Hurd doesn't seem to be ready for release yet). Rob Bradford is preparing Release Notes for Woody already. As you can see only the structure is in place, the purpose of this draft is to discuss exactly what we want to mention in the release notes. Any ideas for structure/content would be much appreciated. Joey Hess came up with an impressive list of news items for woody. Please provide ideas and content to Robster.

MPEG Player Running In A Text-Console. Uwe Herrman sent an Intent to Package (ITP) for an MPEG player which is running in a text-console. The program uses aalib for displaying the videos. A thread on the debian-devel mailing list started discussing the usefulness of such a program. However, usefulness of software is not a requirement for it to be packaged. There are certain reasons for people preferring this player in favour of one running under X: no working X, no desire switching to X, demoing on an exhibition etc. If it was really useless, it wouldn't be written.

Boot-Floppies 3.0.16. Adam Di Carlo sent in a note about preparation of new boot-floppies. Version 3.0.15 has some flaws which prevents building on the sparc architecture. New boot-floppies should be built upon a Linux kernel which has recent security issues fixed. Unfortunately, this implies the need for new pcmcia-modules-* packages as well. Even if modules should be binary-compatible between kernel-subreleases, packages dependencies prevent their installation.

Appointing the Debian Security Secretary. The Debian Security Team appointed Matt Zimmerman and Noah Meyerhans as Security Secretaries. They hope to be able to provide an even better service to the users in reacting to security problems. Adding more people to the team who will be able to check security problems and review code should improve Debian Security significantly.

Talking about Non-Free Software. Last week there was a report that RMS was asking that the GNOME Summary not include mentions of non-free software. Since DWN, like the GNOME Summary, reports on a project that is primarily devoted to Free Software, we thought we'd explain our policy in this area. Generally, we try to promote Free Software and non-free software doesn't get a lot of coverage in DWN. However, there are still some important non-free packages for Debian, and from time to time we'll have some coverage of them. That doesn't mean that we're promoting non-free software, simply that we have to recognize that we're not 100% of the way there yet and we'd be doing a disservice to our readers by pretending that non-free software simply doesn't exist. We also recognize that many Debian users are new to Linux, and may not understand or care about the political issues behind software licensing. We feel that our time is best spent clarifying those issues and trying to help users understand why the political issues behind software licensing are important, rather than just ignoring non-free software. While we respect all of the work that RMS has done, and it's a lot, we don't think that refusing to talk about non-free software is the answer.

Orphaned Packages List. Colin Watson opened the discussion of starting a mailing list for tracking orphaned packages to take some of the noise off of the Debian Quality Assurance mailing list.

NewbieDoc Report. It's been a little while since we had a report from the NewbieDoc folks, here's the latest from Will Trillich. With school in session, the NewbieDoc project has taken a back seat. Many members have their noses stuck into various textbooks in preparation for upcoming exams. But Jesse Goerz, NewbieDocMeister Extraordinaire, has been working hard to implement some internationalization layers. If your browser requests Español, you should see Español, right? Soon, we'll be able to say "NewbieDoc isn't just in English, not any more!" Go, Jesse, go!

New and Updated Packages. We've got one real big package for all you Emacs fans:

Security Announcements. There are several security announcements to pass on this week. You know the drill, if you use any of the affected packages be sure to update them.

Have a great week! That's all for this week. Be sure to send questions, comments or news tips to

The NewbieDoc Project needs your brain! NewbieDoc isn't the only Debian sub-project. We'd love to feature write-ups from other groups. Send those reports to!

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