Debian Weekly News - July 9th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Michael Golly informed us that you can finally order Woody on a DVD+R (for i386) at his online shop. From the ministry of truth: What if you were a package? Don't know? Find out yourself.

500 Users in German Debianforum. Sebastian Feltel told us that has added its 500th registered member. The forum has been running for about six months and aims at German speaking users. With threads like "how to install X", has turned into an important site for both the Debian beginner and the professional in German speaking countries.

RFC: LaTeX Public Project License. Claire Connelly reported that the LaTeX Project is in the process of considering changes to the LaTeX Project Public License. She tried to summarize some of the concerns that Debian people have expressed regarding the changes. Hence, Frank Mittelbach asked for reviews of the draft of version 1.3 of the LaTeX Public Project License rather than of the current version (1.2).

Managing a System's Configuration. Alex Borges asked the Debian community how they manage configuration since he recently arrived at the point where he requires revision control for his configuration. The answers were impressive and included prcs, comfortable rcs, Emacs, rcs with Makefile and an extended version using cvs.

Permissions on Multiuser Web Server. Jason Lim wondered how he is supposed to set up directories and permissions on a web server with user owned directories mentioned in the configuration of Apache. If such a directory gets removed, Apache won't start anymore. In return, Peter Palfrader provided a complex but working setup.

Lost Speed for LaTeX Startup? Rainer Dorsch reported that latex descended his entire home directory at startup. On large home directories and network mounted systems this can slow down its startup significantly. It turned out that this behaviour was triggered by a double slash in the search path for kpathsea, which refers to scanning the entire directory structure from that point. kpathsea is a library for path searching, which is mainly used for TeX and its utilities.

Development of Debian FreeBSD i386. Nathan Hawkins released his plans for porting the Debian system to FreeBSD on the i386 architecture. The midterm goals include to get a build system up, running a buildd (Debian's own automatic package builder) and to become a supported architecture in the Debian Archive. Interestingly, XFree86 is already running but needs patches to be cleaned up.

Experimental NetBSD Install Disks. Matthew Garrett announced highly experimental installation disks for Debian GNU/NetBSD. After booting they continue with a network installation of the Debian system. However, these disks are only useful for development and don't install an entire operating system. You should not use them on a system that contains important data which you haven't stored in a backup.

Woody Release Status. Anthony Towns sent in another status report in which he discusses the reasons that currently delay the Woody release. The security build infrastructure still has its flaws that need to be addressed. There is still a backlog of security related problems which need to be fixed before the release. Even with those problems, it looks like the release is close.

Wiki-based Documentation Project. Morten Hustveit brought up the idea of using a Wiki-based system where users can freely add and modify documentation about the Debian project. The purpose of any Wiki is to provide an easy medium to share information with anyone who wishes to learn. A Wiki system associated to the Debian project has already been set up and even contains a collaborative document for system administration. Alternatively, the Debian section of the SuperLinux Encyclopedia could be used.

Introducing NEWS.Debian. Joey Hess reported from a discussion they had during DebConf about the issue of overuse of debconf notes for warning the user of things like major changes on upgrades. One idea that came up is adding a NEWS.Debian file to supplement the README.Debian and changelog.Debian files. This would require tools like apt-listchanges to parse and display this file.

To su in X. Osamu Aoki (青木 修) is soliciting learned opinion and would like to know which recommendation he should give to the reader of the Debian Reference for running graphical programs as root while using X as user. The main question, however, is where to place legacy code to reduce typing. An unpackaged tool sux was mentioned as a possible solution, but since it's not yet available in Debian...

Rewriting MAKEDEV? Andres Salomon started to work on a replacement for the MAKEDEV script which does nasty things and has some flaws. Since it's located in the system binaries directory, it must not depend upon anything from /usr, so using a highlevel language isn't possible; this leaves shell and C.

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 82 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 notice everything, unfortunately. Of course, we are also thankful for completely written items from volunteer writers. Please see the contributing page. 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.