Debian Weekly News - November 12th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 44th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Starting with this issue, the people who thankfully contributed important items to DWN will be listed in the issue footer of the web version, which is a more logical place than the editorial. Some of our German readers may be interested in a pan labelled with a special Tux logo containing the unique number of the pan.

APT Development requires Help. Jason Gunthorpe, author of APT, asked for help since he is no longer able to spend enough time to effectively maintain and advance Debian's central package management system. The current CVS version fixes some of the open bugs but has some problems and needs testing and bugfixing.

Public Debian Machines for Software Authors. Hewlett-Packard recently expanded their Test Drive Program to support Debian GNU/Linux as well. This program is intended for users who want to sample the 32- and 64-bit servers running a variety of HP and third-party operating systems and applications. This looks like an excellent resource Debian can point upstream package authors to when they need access to a Debian system to resolve porting problems.

Debian is Distribution Number One. The Debian project was honored recently with the Linux New Media Award (German only). Whereas two years ago Debian was not even nominated, the jury of 35 well-known people from the Free Software community chose Debian as the winner of the category 'Linux distributions', and Debian-based Live CD Knoppix in second place. Other winners are (office packages), Mozilla (internet clients), GCC (development software), and Gentoo Linux (newcomer).

Using Knoppix to install Debian. Joe Barr took a closer look at Knoppix, which is a real Debian system. He tried to look at it as a GUI installer for Debian. He wondered what if Knoppix made the dreaded Debian install such a piece of cake that even a doddering old journalist could put it on his laptop? Knoppix indeed contains a script for installing the system on the hard-disk, which is under development and unreleased.

Release Critical List of Bugs. Anthony Towns announced that the list of release critical bugs is back online. This should help people who don't know how to help with development of the next release or speed up its development. However, working on the debian-installer is currently more important, since this area still requires a large amount of work.

GNU Hurd delayed. This article reports that the next release of GNU Hurd has been delayed beyond the end of the year. The current development version of the system does not yet support large disk partitions and high speed serial I/O, according to Richard Stallman.

Bugs celebrating their Birthday. Anthony Towns noted a couple of bugs who turned three, two or one on November 5th. He added that he could fairly easily automate this if people are interested in getting a daily list of old, old bugs to work on. The day on which the most bugs celebrate their birthday is 14th July, thanks mainly to LaMont Jones and PA-RISC, with a little over 100 bugs still open since that day in 2001.

Merging PAM with Red Hat Source. Fumitoshi UKAI (鵜飼文敏) asked whether pam_console from Red Hat's PAM source could be included in the Debian PAM package or packaged up separately. Daniel Jacobowitz however replied that it should never enter Debian, due to security implications. One problem was described by Wichert Akkerman about a year ago.

On releasing Sarge. Martin Krafft noted that January is coming up and we are on a biannual schedule and asked if can we release in January. This started another discussion on whether to resurrect boot-floppies or finish the debian-installer. Bernd Eckenfels complained about the number of lists that are difficult to follow and that decisions are not made transparently.

Non-free Packages and Testing. Ian Maclaine-cross complained that non-free packages don't migrate to non-free testing like free packages and testing, since they're not auto-built. However, the discussion quickly lead into an argument to dump non-free packages from the archives.

Alpha Release of the Debian-Installer. Tollef Fog Heen announced that as work continues on the debian-installer, he would like to prepare an alpha release. However, before this several crucial aspects of the installer need to be addressed, including better testing before releasing to users. After that, a debian-installer alpha release could appear in the "not-too-distant" future.

Eric Raymond reviews Halloween VII. Another Halloween document leaked to the public and Eric Raymond took the chance to review a copy of what purports to be an internal document that was presented at an internal "Linux Strategic Review" in Berlin during September 2002. Raymond comments on the memo and provides some tactical advice for Open Source advocates based on what has been learned from the memo.

Coda packages arrive in experimental distribution. Luca De Vitis announced that he has uploaded packages to support the Coda distributed file system to the experimental distribution. Coda is an advanced networked filesystem with its origin in the Andrew File System. It has many features that are very desirable for network filesystems.

Announcements for non-free Software? It happened that debianHELP announced a non-free software package that the producer happily distributes as packages for Debian 3.0 as well. Randy Edwards started a discussion about this since some users felt that should not announce non-free software. So he started a poll to find out what readers think about it. At last glance, voting on the poll was split evenly.

Debian Advocacy in Vietnam. Robert Lemmen wants to start a bit of a GNU/Linux advocacy campaign because open software is not really very popular in Vietnam, where he works. He would like to publish one series of GNU/Linux flyers targeted at anyone with a computer, and a Debian-specific flyer for people in the IT business and people who have already been exposed to Unix-like systems before. The event material already contains some work that could be used.

General Resolution to remove non-free Software. Pursuant to Appendix A of the Debian Constitution and the guidelines, John Goerzen offered a draft proposal as the beginning of a General Resolution process to decide this issue. According to the guidelines, all other discussion is to occur on the debian-devel mailing list. This issue originally surfaced in June 2000, but because of a then-absent project secretary, a binding vote was never held. The proposal this time is not the same, though.

New Debian-Reference Packages. Osamu Aoki (青木 修) reported that he updated the Debian Reference which now contains more than 200 pages and includes an entry for the Debian menu with its latest build. The Debian Reference is intended to provide a broad overview of the Debian system as a post-installation user's guide. It covers many aspects of system administration through shell-command examples. It has up-to-date French and Italian translations, and the Spanish translation is almost up-to-date.

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. 2 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 Tomas Pospisek, Thomas Bliesener, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.