Debian Weekly News - December 10th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 48th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Some confusion was caused by a wildcard dns record in the domain. A sleep-deprived James Treacy proudly announced the birth of his two daughters, Jacqueline and Claire. People told him that he should get his life back in about 20 years.

Changing the Bug Submitter Address. Colin Watson announced that the bug tracking system supports a new command to change the bug submitter address. The old method, closing the bug and reopening it with a different submitter address, is now deprecated. Instead there is now a submitter command that can also use the address from the From: or Reply-To: header. The address previously recorded as the submitter will be notified of the change.

Additional TuxRacer Courses. Andreas Tille reported that he has uploaded Debian packages of additional TuxRacer courses. The packages do not yet meet the Debian quality requirements regarding the necessary documentation but they work. Unfortunately, the license for many of them is not clear and the author is not traced upstream.

Writing Packages Descriptions. Colin Walters reported that the package descriptions are a very important product of this project. They're going to be one of the first things people see when they use Debian, and their quality directly reflects on the quality of Debian. He finally sat down and committed his thoughts on description writing in a semi-coherent form.

Xconfigurator for Debian? Amir Bukhari reported that he intends to port Xconfigurator from Red Hat to Debian, if that will help Debian to provide an easier X configuration. However, the new Debian installation process will make heavy use of debconf. Plugging in a totally different kind of configuration tool might not be feasible. But without trying we can't know.

Scripts for Building CD Images. Martin Sjögren advised that he has made available the scripts he uses for building CD images based on the new debian-installer. Martin's README explains all the steps involved in putting together a small CD image. This should help testing the debian-installer, which still needs a lot of work.

Building CD Images without Contrib. Tollef Fog Heen wrote a patch against the debian-cd package to allow building a CD image without including the contrib archive. Raphaël Hertzog agreed that this was a good idea, as long as inclusion of contrib remained the default. At first he thought it might be an idea to remove contrib automatically if non-free was removed, however, it was pointed out that packages such as are in contrib but do not depend on non-free parts.

Create your first Debian Package. Clemens Lee announced that a new Mini-HOWTO entitled "How to Create Your First Debian Package". This document describes how to create a Debian package for installation on one's own computer, rather than for inclusion into the official Debian archives. The Debian New Maintainers' Guide describes the official process.

Enforcing Software Licenses. Lawrence Rosen, general counsel for the Open Source Initiative, wrote an article about the enforceability of software licenses. In particular, he discusses the issue of proving that somebody assented to be bound by the terms of a contract so that those terms will be enforced by a court. Authors who wish to be able to enforce license terms against users of their source code or compiled programs may find this interesting.

Scripts for Creating private Debian Package Pools. Brian May advised that he has prepared a set of scripts that can be used to facilitate the creation of a private Debian archive. The scripts allow one to create and maintain multiple distributions, architectures etc.

First Alpha Release of the debian-installer. Tollef Fog Heen announced the first alpha release for the new Debian installer. The release is only available for i386 and supports both net-based and CD-ROM-based installations. The installation currently only supports a line-based configuration since frontends using S-Lang or GTK are not yet ready. If you try the installer and discover problems, please file a bug against the pseudo-package "installation-reports" using this template.

KDE 3.1 delayed for Security. For those who waited for KDE 3.1, its release manager Dirk Mueller reported that it has been delayed until next year. The KDE team was informed about security problems and would rather audit their code than release a vulnerable version. We appreciate their effort.

FSF on W3C's proposed patent policy. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has examined the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) proposed patent policy and found it wanting. The proposed policy allows for a "field of use" restriction which is incompatible with the GNU General Public License. The comments archive shows few comments from Debian developers and users. W3C is accepting comments from the public until 31st December, 2002, at

First Update for Debian GNU/Linux 3.0. The first update for the current stable distribution, which was released in July, is still in preparation. The stable release manager sent an updated report about the current status of the preparations. The update will mostly consist of security updates but also include updates to packages that got lost during the freeze of woody and fix some broken packages.

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 unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Orphaned Packages. 3 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 130 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 Andrew Shugg, Matt Black, Tollef Fog Heen, Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.