Debian Weekly News - May 1st, 2002

Welcome to this year's eighteenth issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. It seems a week never goes by without a flamebait post to the developers' forum. This week's flamebaits include complaints about delayed archive maintenance, but, of course, lacks some substance. On a happier note, we're pleased to include items from Gustavo Noronha Silva and Thomas Bliesener in this week's issue.

International Free Software Forum in Porto Alegre. Ronaldo Lages recently announced the third International Free Software Forum, to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Many international organizations will be represented and people from all around the country are coming to take part in talks and workshops. The Debian Project will be represented by almost all of our Brazilian developers. They will promote a course about Debian's installation and use, and will also give a talk about Debian and Debian-BR.

LILO Boot Screen for Debian. Philipp Wolfer wondered why all the top commercial distributions come with graphical LILO boot screens and Debian doesn't. When he installed Woody a few months ago he noticed that its LILO package supported the graphical boot menu, but didn't offer any image for it. Therefore, Philipp created a boot screen image with the Debian logo, which you can download from here.

People with ATM Knowledge Required. Russell Coker recently announced his intention to orphan the atm-tools package, since he doesn't own any real ATM hardware, so maintaining and debugging the package is a bit difficult for him. Though Marc Haber stepped forward, he can't do much debugging either. A person with access to ATM hardware and a familiarity with its implementation details is needed to come forward and adopt the package.

Debian Developer Portal. Igor Genibel announced a developer portal that collects a large amount of information and links useful to the Debian developer. This includes bug reports, release critical bugs, lintian reports, buildd reports and a listing of all packages maintained by the developer in question. However, Raphaël Hertzog pointed out that Tollef Fog Heen and Rob Bradford are working towards site to perform much the same function.

Woody Release Announcement. Joey Hess started a discussion about the planned content of Debian's release announcement for Woody. He's collecting important facts that need to be mentioned besides the stock boring numbers such as this many new packages, that many updated packages, and so forth. Here's a preliminary version. Comments should be sent to the debian-devel list.

Woody Release Security Round-up. Matt Zimmerman has been tracking security issues that affect Debian Woody. He listed the security issues that he has tracked together with their current status. For each bug he attempted to verify that, in addition to being fixed in unstable, the fixed version has propagated to Woody. He furthermore requested that package maintainers indicate which version fixed the bug when closing a security related bug report. This information is very important for the security team and our users alike.

OpenSSL and Software Licensed Under GPL. There has been some confusion whether it is allowed to link software that is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL), with the OpenSSL library. The problematic item is the advertising clause, which both of the OpenSSL licenses contain. Their presence imposes an additional restriction on licenses, which is forbidden by clause six of the GNU GPL.

Debian in User-Agent Identifier. With the release of Mozilla 0.9.9-4 the Debian Mozilla package uses a customized User-Agent string, which indicates the distribution and Mozilla version. This is required by the current upstream policy on User-Agent strings, which seems to be a result of a bug report, which reveals that the Debian version contains many patches which make it a derived version.

Daily Debian DVD Images. Attila Nagy recently announced that he started producing daily DVD ISO (not UDF) snapshots for IA-32 Woody and Sid in jigdo format. To our knowledge, this makes Debian the first distribution ever that offers daily DVD snapshots.

Woody CD Images up for Testing. Phil Hands announced new preliminary jigdo files for Woody CD Images. Phil said that images for the Alpha and SPARC architectures are currently broken, but that should be fixed in time for release. Please test these images and report bugs to the debian-cd list.

SuperH Port Development Suspended. A while ago, Joey noticed not only that the debian-superh list was rather quiet, but that the package archive didn't contain any binary files for this architecture. The porters are probably trying to solve a problem concerning too many halfway-incompatible architectures. The porters are working towards cross compiling. Anthony Towns explained later that our SuperH port has never been an installable distribution.

Debian Best Packaging Practices. Raphaël Hertzog started to work on a document called "Best Packaging Practices" by merging that project with the updated Debian Developer's Reference. Adam Di Carlo will work on a new skeleton for the document, brainstorming for good ideas will follow, and finally contributors are needed to fill the structure with life.

The Most Suitable Distribution for Developers? There has been an interesting poll "What is the most suitable distribution for software developers?" (english translation) in Geekforum, a Korean instance of Slashdot. More than 50 % of the readers who voted preferred Debian GNU/Linux over other GNU/Linux distributions. The participants explained that this decision is due to Debian GNU/Linux providing multiple versions of essential development tools and enables the user to change between them, they have the flexibility they demand in a distribution.

No May Day Release. The much awaited release of Woody which was anticipated for May 1st will be postponed. Anthony Towns, the fearless release manager, submitted a new status report, stating that the only outstanding changes that need to be made are the standard security fixes that need to be made throughout the lifetime of stable anyway. His report contains a verbose description of these problems. There is also a poor sense of timing on behalf of a fair number of people, which slows things down.

Preparations for LinuxTag. Michael Bramer and Joey have begun preparations for the upcoming LinuxTag, which will take place in Germany at the beginning of next month. LinuxTag is the largest and most important Free Software exhibition and conference in Europe. A Debian Conference is planned during the show. People who would like to ensure that certain things get done, should speak up on the debian-events-eu list.

Bootable CDs for Mipsel. A while ago Phil Hands noticed that mipsel CDs are not bootable and Karsten Merker explained that we currently don't have a bootloader that can be compiled under Linux and is also able to boot a DECstation from an ISO9660 filesystem. However, later he announced that he had just managed to build an ISO-9660 CD that can boot a DECstation. In the meantime there has been further work on this topic, a patch against the current debian-cd package to allow the creation of bootable CDs for Debian/mipsel has been posted to the debian-cd list.

Bits from the DPL. Even though we unfortunately missed this in our last issue, Bdale Garbee thanked everyone who participated in the election process this year, the outgoing leader, Ben Collins, and the current secretary, Manoj Srivastava. He asked for full support for our release manager, Anthony Towns, as he leads us through the final preparations for our upcoming release of Debian 3.0 (Woody). This was the first of what he hopes will be a fairly regular series of messages from the new Debian Project Leader.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Number of Orphaned Packages Unchanged. It seems that no packages were orphaned this week that hadn't already been adopted as DWN went to press. Thus, we're currently at a total of 82 orphaned packages.

Seen something interesting? Please drop us a note whenever you see something noteworthy that you think is appropriate for inclusion in DWN. We don't see everything, unfortunately, and this month will be a busy one for us. Of course, we are also thankful for completely written items from volunteer writers. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Yooseong Yang and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.