Debian Weekly News - June 18th, 2002

Welcome to this year's twentythird issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. We're sorry that you've had to survive two weeks without an issue of Debian Weekly News, but since Joey is the only main editor, and was unavailable for a while, it had to be postponed. From now on DWN will be released on Tuesday (probably a little bit earlier than today), so LWN will get a chance to refer to a current version in their weekly report.

New Security Build Infrastructure. Anthony Towns reported about how security updates will be handled in the future. The security archive will be converted to make use of katie, the general archive janitor, and packages will be rebuild by buildd's just as if they were normal packages. The mail contains detailed instructions.

Release Status Update. Anthony Towns sent an update for the Woody release. He emphasizes that we're not entirely done developing Woody. Anthony also encourages developers to poke around at Woody and fix the remaining severe problems. He asks if there are any major issues that desperately need to be addressed before we release?

Unofficial Woody MiniCD Images. Chris Lawrence reported that he updated the MiniCD images for alpha, i386, m68k, and PowerPC to the current state of Woody. The main change is the upgrade of dpkg and the addition of ipppd for the benefit of ISDN users. The images are small enough to burn to a 8 cm (3 inch) CD-R/RW, and contain enough packages to install a functional version of Debian Woody without going to the net.

Gibraltar Firewall. Joey reported about the Gibraltar project that aims to produce a Debian GNU/Linux-based router and firewall package, which will be bootable directly from a CD-ROM. Their lead developer, Rene Mayrhofer, is a Debian guy, and the source code for this project is available for download.

Debian in your Home Stereo Component? It's been said on that SONICblue's Rio Central is derived from that of the Rio (formerly empeg) car player, which was developed from an early version of the Debian/ARM port using a StrongARM SA1110 system-on-chip processor. Rio Central is a high-fidelity home stereo component that stores up to 650 CDs on its built-in hard drive. SONICblue describes the Rio Central as being "As simple to use as a CD player, but as smart as a PC".

Debian at Berliner Linux Infotage? In September another GNU/Linux show is arranged in Berlin, Germany. It is planned to have talks about GNU/Linux in governmental agencies, in the network and at the desktop scheduled during Berliner Linux Infotage. Interested people should check the Call for Papers (even though the submission period is over) and get in touch with the organisers.

Debian at 2003? James Bromberger informed us about 2003, which will take place at the University of Western Australia in Perth from January 22nd to 25th. The Call for Papers is still running, so you can submit abstracts for talks covering Debian. If you would like to run a BoF session instead, please also get in touch with the organisers. There is also a good chance that there will be another Debian mini-conf run on the 20th and 21st of January 2003.

Debian Developer Survey. Matt McClanahan asked for a minute of time from Debian package maintainers to help collecting some information. The survey is anonymous and basically asks demographic information that will be used in class to look for correlations. Matt plans to publish the results later.

Debian project at LinuxTag 2002. The Debian project participated in this year's LinuxTag show. We were lucky to maintain a large booth and used a beamer as eye catcher to attract visitors, which worked well. The booth staff gave away free Woody CDs, sold mugs and t-shirts and organized a one-day conference for Debian people. Jon Åslund released a diary together with some pictures. During the show, Joey was invited as Debian representative in an online discussion about the UnitedLinux effort.

Debian at Linux@work Roadshow. The Debian project has been invited to participate at this year's Linux@work shows. The show travels around and stops in important European cities. This exhibition and conference is dedicated entirely to business people who do or do not plan to use GNU/Linux. Some special solutions will be shown as well as general efforts. Alexander Schmehl wrote a report for the Frankfurt show, Wouter Verhelst wrote one for the Brussels event and Federico Di Gregorio sent in a report about the Milano show.

CPU optimized Debian builds? Every once in a while, the question pops up why Debian does not support pentium-optimised or athlon-optimised binaries for that particular processor. However, as Michael Stone points out nobody did some research to back up the idea of things running significantly faster. Daniel Burrows also noted that we don't provide an optimised glibc due to unforeseen bugs with its optimisation.

Best Packaging Practices, Act II. Raphaël Hertzog announced that he has an initial list of Best Packaging Practices, which he would like to document within the Developer's Reference. He created empty sections in the CVS version and is looking for volunteers to write the texts of those.

Whishlist for after Woody. Erich Schubert started a discussion about things that he (and others) would like to see supported by the next release, i.e. after Woody. The compiled list is stored here and contains quite a lot of items, such as package tags, support for UTF-8, a modified release proposal, the Hurd and IPv6 among others.

New Dictionaries Policy Proposal. Agustín Martín Domingo announced a proposal for the "Debian Spelling Dictionaries and Tools Policy", as well as the new dictionaries-common package, which will provide the infrastructure to implement it. This is an announcement for all interested users and developers. The proposed system deals with ispell dictionaries and wordlist packages. Comments should be sent to Agustín directly.

UKUUG Linux Developer Conference 2002. Robert McQueen informed us about the upcoming UKUUG Linux Developers' Conference 2002 which will take place in Bristol between Thursday the 4th and Sunday the 7th of July, and features a range of interesting talks from a big number of well-known free software and open source personalities. The Debian project will be present with a booth within the ".ORG" stand.

Uninstallable Packages in Woody. Santiago Vila reported about packages in the Woody distribution which are currently not installable due to one or another bug. It is, however, not unlikely that some of these problems were inherited from the Potato release long ago and haven't been fixed yet. For those, who would like to fix such problems, there are lists of unmet dependencies in Woody and Sid as well as Santiago's pages and the QA system.

Woody Release Announcement. Joey Hess sent in a last call for comments for the upcoming release announcement. If you feel that something is missing or a paragraph is misleading, please get in touch with Joey Hess directly.

The Automake Saga... Joseph Carter took the opportunity and released a detailed description of the current situation with regard to automake and autoconf. Because of incompatibilities in automake 1.5 the version for Woody has been reverted to version 1.4 so configure scripts for source packages in that distribution won't break. Joseph proposes to drop automake 1.5 in favour of version 1.6 since they are compatible at least.

Developer's Guide to Security Updates. Wichert Akkerman, member of the security team of Debian, released a document that describes how the new security infrastructure ought to work. If a maintainer needs to upload a security fix for a released distribution, the upload needs to be made to directly (and not to the main archive) or via the security team as before.

Debian on the Sharp Zaurus. Matt Zimmerman recently had the good fortune of having one of these delightful little toys come into his possession. Matt is interested in creating a full-featured Debian environment for the Zaurus, with all the trimmings (including package management with dpkg and apt). Philip Blundell pointed to the GPE effort which also uses Debian as base distribution apparently.

Design of an apt-src Program. Joey Hess started to design a tool that intends to eliminate the need for binary source packages (like tetex-src) and to support build dependencies for source packages. It will need something like a status file to list installed source trees together with their location and version. The tools should work for any user and not only the superuser.

SE Linux Play Machine. Russell Coker announced that he set up a machine running SE Linux (with security enhancements) and a known root password. SE Linux uses capabilities and special security levels. As a result, you can't damage the system as root. If you ever wanted to know how SE Linux feels, just try it out.

Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have any of these packages installed.

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

Orphaned Packages. Two packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 78 orphaned packages. Many thanks to the previous maintainers who contributed to the Free Software community. Please see the WNPP pages for the full list, and please add a note to the bug report and retitle it to ITA: if you plan to take over a package.

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

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 Yooseong Yang and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.