Debian Weekly News - November 5th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. This week we are pleased to include items by Matt Black and David Kimdon. A survey about trends in the information technology of the German computer magazine iX shows Debian as an outperformer among the GNU/Linux distributions with a growth from 6 % to 20 % compared with the last survey.

Debian Security Survey. A member of the security team sent a letter trying to gather information about what users and organisations think about and expect from the Debian Security Team. Since the security team naturally cannot support potato endlessly, security updates for potato will end some day. However, there are still organisations that cannot simply upgrade their potato environment to woody, hence, some negotiation is required.

Is Debian an Anarchist Organization? Jonathan Walther heard some people saying that the Debian project is a good example of anarchy in action. He wanted to know what to tell people who ask if Debian is anarchic? Sean Perry wondered how a group of people numbering around a thousand and at any one point in time having at least a hundred active members could claim to be anarchistic? He also points out that anarchy like dictatorship is an extreme and extremes do not work well with people. Russell Coker acknowledged that Debian has some anarchistic tendencies, though.

Installing and Configuring ALSA Sound Modules. Linux Orbit explains how to install and configure ALSA sound modules with Debian GNU/Linux. The HOWTO starts with compiling a custom kernel and modules and continues with a detailed explanation how to set up ALSA using the script provided by Debian so that modules are automatically loaded and unloaded, and your mixer levels are saved and restored on boot up.

Update for the Woody Distribution. More than three months after Debian 3.0 was released the stable release manager sent a status report about his preparations for an update of the stable distribution. The update will mostly consist of security updates but also include updates to packages that got lost during the freeze of woody.

Files in /usr/share must be World-Readable. Matthew Swift filed a general bug suggesting that all files in /usr/share ought to be world-readable since they are to be shared among different machines. He also pointed out that this is a requirement in the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard. For example, Matthew had found that certain files from several packages were not world-readable. Steve Greenland replied that the Debian policy already requires this.

TWAIN Image Acquisition for Debian. Bdale Garbee announced that he has received a request from the TWAIN Working Group for a contact to work with in Debian. They want to know how a new port of the TWAIN drivers to Unix and GNU/Linux could best be made available to Debian users. Bdale's personal needs are currently adequately met by the SANE driver and it's been a long time since he looked at anything TWAIN related, so he asks if anyone is interested?

Setting up a Debian Log Server. Vincent Hillier has written an article about how to deploy a remote logging server using Debian. The article is quite detailed with an emphasis on securing the server to ensure it is not compromised. The article targets newcomers to GNU/Linux, although experienced users should find it to be a good reference.

Setting up X-Terminals with Debian. Alan W. Irwin wrote instructions for setting up GNU/Linux-based X-Terminals with Debian. The goal is to run all your X clients (KDE, GNOME, OpenOffice, etc.) in a transparent manner on a powerful computer and simply use a slow computer (the X-Terminal) to display the results and control that display with keyboard and mouse. This setup is particularly useful for bringing an old PC back to useful life.

Licensing Issues with UnrealIRCd. Mika Fischer asked for advice on a new UnrealIRCd license clause that seemed to imply that the license could be modified retrospectively. Branden Robinson and others pointed out that this would violate the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). Branden was also concerned about the apparent requirement for a click-through license acceptance ceremony. Mika talked to the UnrealIRCd author, who amended the license to clarify that it was not meant to apply retrospectively. However, Branden feels that the requirement of a click-through license acceptance ceremony, if in fact it is a requirement, could be problematic.

Does the Source CD1 correspond to Binary CD1? The GNU General Public License requires somebody distributing binaries to also provide the source code or an offer (valid for three years) to provide that source code. Blars Blarson wondered whether the entire source code for woody's first binary CD could be found on the first source CD, or whether he would need to grab all the source CDs in order to distribute the first binary CD. Raphaƫl Hertzog advised that although source packages are generally added to CDs in a similar order as the binary packages, there are several reasons why the CDs will not exactly correspond. People who do not wish to redistribute the full set of Debian CDs could generate their own CD of matching source code if they wish to avoid collecting the entire set of source code CDs.

Low-cost Computing for Rural Spain. The Washington Post reports about a Debian-based distribution for the Extremadura, a rural region of western Spain. To eliminate some of the headaches, the Extremadura government paid a Spanish company to take one of the free versions of GNU/Linux and make it suitable for public distribution. It is great to see Debian's ease of customization and open structure put to such good use. With so many Debian-based distributions popping up perhaps we need a more organized way of pulling fixes and enhancements back into Debian.

Leaving the LZW Algorithm in Source Files? Chris Halls asked if he is allowed to leave a source file that implements a patented algorithm (LZW compression for GIFs) in the source tarball for The file is not built or distributed in the binary packages, though. Walter Landry claims that you are not allowed to distribute an implementation of a patent and Branden Robinson added that Debian should not be shipping anything in "main" that isn't DFSG-free.

Problems with Wordlist. Kevin Atkinson reported that due to the discussion of a possible problem with the license for aspell-en, the new version 0.50 may not get uploaded to Debian. One of the included wordlists comes from the DEC Systems Research Center which has a license that is not DFSG-compliant as written.

Re-Packaging GNOME 1. Josselin Mouette stated that he is willing to make it possible to install Gnome 1 on a Debian system, without conflicting with Gnome 2. He believes that the GNOME desktop version 2 lacks large parts of GNOME 1.4's functionality, and suffers from incompatibilities. Colin Walters pondered if it wouldn't be better to just work on adding back missing functionality.

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. 5 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 141 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.