Debian Weekly News - October 1st, 2002

Welcome to this year's 38th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community, which includes items by Ludovic Rousseau and Andrew Pollock this time. After over four years (1757 days) of computation effort and millions of CPU-hours of work, has brute forced the key to RSA Security's 64 bit encryption challenge, winning a US$ 10,000 prize.

High-profile Uses of Debian. Colin Walters announced that he is gathering information about high-profile usage of Debian. Good examples include deployment as a standard workstation at a university or college, as a server for well known web sites such as Sourceforge and, or in a high-reliability/availability context (such as a life support system in a hospital).

Support for Smart Cards. Ludovic Rousseau packaged most of the MuscleCard utilities provided by Muscle (Movement for the Use of Smart Card in a Linux Environment). This includes high-level abstraction libraries as libcflexplugin for a Schlumberger Cryptoflex card and libmcardplugin for the generic JavaCard card. On top of these libmusclepkcs11 provides a PKCS#11 API (Application Program Interface).

Using Smart Cards. The API mentioned above is used by Mozilla to delegate cryptographic functions to a cryptographic token (like a smart card). So your authentication and signing key used by Mozilla will never leave your smart card and will not be stored on the computer (RSA key pairs are generated onboard the smart card). Additionally xcardii provides a graphical user interface and muscletools a commandline frontend to manage your smart card.

Using CVS for Manpage Translations. Julien Louis wondered how to coordinate the translation of Debian specific manpages. This effort could be maintained through CVS, sorted by language and section. Denis Barbier adds that the cvs directory already exists and that we could use similar tools to those that are used for maintaining translations of the website.

Debiandoc versus Docbook. Susan Kleinman believed that it would be a good idea to revise the policy stating that all Debian documentation should be written in Debiandoc. Susan proposed that Debian adopts an XML-based language. The following discussion lists several pros and cons against this proposal.

Is Debian Losing Influence? A comment on Debian Planet discussed the little attention Debian has received from GNU/Linux websites following the release of woody two months ago in comparison to other distributions. There are very few online reviews of Debian 3.0, compared to Red Hat 7.3, for example, which has had four reviews since its release around five months ago. Should the Debian community be concerned about the lack of popular interest in its distribution?

Bootable ISO-Image for SGI Indy. Florian Lohoff announced the first ISO image for Debian/mips which is bootable on SGI I2 and SGI Indy machines. All you need to do is enter the PROM and click on Software installation from local CD-ROM. Then follow the usual steps to install Debian on the machine. This was developed during this year's developers meeting.

Debian at Spanish National Hackmeeting. Eric Van Buggenhaut reported that the Spanish National Hackmeeting will be held in Madrid this year, on October 4th - 6th. This show is the largest annual concentration of geeks and Free Software in Spain. Several Debian developers will be present and run a Debian booth to demonstrate the benefits of our favourite system to the public.

Enabling Daemons. Noah Meyerhans noted that Debian currently doesn't support situations when a daemon package is installed and the daemon isn't started upon startup. Noah wondered why Debian doesn't support the BSDish /etc/rc.conf system which contains a variable for each daemon.

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

Orphaned Packages. 19 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 139 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.

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