Debian Weekly News - January 17th, 2001

Welcome to Debian Weekly News, a newsletter for the Debian community.

Today, the first Debian IA-64 system booted. Bdale Garbee and Randolph Chung have been quietly working on a port of Debian to the IA-64 (also known as "Itanium") for several weeks. They starting by building a chrooted Debian system inside a Turbolinux installation, and working from there to today's accomplishment: a native Debian system booting on IA-64. "Package uploads should begin within the next week." Over 600 .debs have been built, and if they can get a version of the boot-floppies working with IA-64, the new architecture could be suitable for release with woody. Of course, IA-64 systems are not available for sale yet, and general lack of root access to IA-64 machines (plus NDA issues) hobbled earlier porting efforts; this port really took off when Bdale, a veteran Debian porter, received a loaner IA-64 machine. Bdale is "*not* able to provide logins for everyone on this machine". For more information on the IA-64 port, see its web page.

Is it finally time to move cryptographic software from non-US into the main archive? Wichert Akkerman proposed that it is time to do just that. The crypto situation is still rather murky. The regulations require that the software not be consciously exported to one of seven blacklisted countries. What lengths we would have to go to to not run afoul of that requirement is a question that can only really be answered by a lawyer; however, no lawyers have yet stepped forward to offer the Debian project a clear interpretation of the law. Other sites and distributions, such as, and Red Hat, seem to have decided that it's safe to include crypto in their archive with only minimal precautions like this welcome message. There were no real objections to Wichert's proposal, just a fair amount of uncertainty and confusion, and the proposal is well on its way to becoming part of policy.

61 long-orphaned packages are scheduled to be removed from Debian in three weeks time, in the theory that if no one is interested enough to maintain them, and nothing in Debian depends on them, they are not worth keeping in the distribution. Scan the list and make sure you care about nothing therein..

The suidmanager package has been superseded by dpkg's new dpkg-statoverride program. A transition plan has been developed. This message explains how to update packages that use suidmanager to make use of statoverride.

Many stories of Debian users were posted to a thread on debian-user entitled "Why choose Debian?" There is nothing really new here -- we know that many people start with more well-known linux distributions, and once they are comfortable and experienced with linux, gravitate toward Debian. The nice thing about this thread is the stories: dozens of accounts of people's introduction to linux, their experiences, and how they eventually stumbled upon Debian. These stories are sure to resonate with your own experiences, and are pleasant reading for a lazy afternoon.

This week's security fixes included a temporary file vulnerability in mgetty, and a reappearance of a glibc bug that allowed normal users to view files like /etc/shadow. This latter bug only affected testing and unstable, so no formal advisory will be posted.

No week would be complete without a flamewar, and we had a great one this week. It's another new-maintainer flamewar, centered around a perceived slowness of the Debian Account Manager's approval of new applicants, but it veered far and wide, encompassing a variety of complaints about the new maintainer process. Debian Weekly News will not attempt to summarize it.

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

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