Debian Weekly News - December 31st, 2002

Welcome to this year's 51st issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Many of you will probably be celebrating New Year's Eve, whilst doing so take a moment to reflect on the past year: What needs to be done in the Free Software community? Where would be able to participate actively?

51 Issues of DWN produced. You are currently reading the 51st issue, which means that this is also the 51st week of gathering information on interesting activities of the Debian Project, writing items, proofreading and translation. Even though the English version is prepared only by a small group of people including one main editor, many more people are involved before you can read the issue. Each issue is sent to proofreaders, and translators also improve it. Each issue is also translated into several other languages simultaneously.

Thanks to Contributors and Translators. A big thanks go to Andre Lehovich and Matt Black who have contributed several items as well as the many more people who contributed items less frequently. Many thanks to Rob Bradford, Andreas Schuldei and Thomas Bliesener who proofread the issues. Thanks also go to David Martínez Moreno, Frédéric Bothamy, Gustavo Noronha Silva, Ignacio García, Lukasz Jachowicz, Miquel Vidal, Nobuhiro IMAI (今井伸広), Oohara Yuuma (大原雄馬), Peter Karlsson, Pierre Machard and Thomas Bliesener who are translating all issues into Catalan, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

2002 GNU/Linux Timeline. End of the year is the time people take a rest and reflect on what has happened in the ending year. Our colleagues from Linux Weekly News prepared the 2002 GNU/Linux Timeline. Even though the economy was difficult worldwide, Free Software continues to develop and gain strength. The timeline is split up by months, as usual.

New Boot-Floppies for Woody. Eduard Bloch volunteered to coordinate the next release of Debian's boot-floppies. The next update to Debian 3.0 is planned for about two months after r1, so there are at least one and a half months left. The new boot-floppies will fix known outstanding problems in some architectures and include a more recent kernel.

Donations Sought. At the end of this year, several non-profit organizations that support Free Software are seeking donations. For US residents these donations are tax-deductible. Over two thirds of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) budget comes from individual donors. The FSF recently launched their associate membership program. The GNOME Foundation hopes to provide travel grants to some developers attending the annual GUADEC conference. Software in the Public Interest (SPI) accepts donations for the Debian project.

Automatically Testing Users Existence. Matt Hope noticed that a few packages check /etc/passwd to discover whether a user exists. He thought that this could be a problem in systems that use alternate authentication schemes such as NIS or LDAP. Matt Zimmerman advised him to file bug reports against those packages and ask their respective maintainers to use getent instead.

GTK+ 2.2 for Debian. Akira Tagoh (田郷明) reported that the GTK+ team has released version 2.2 of the Gimp Toolkit family libraries (GTK+). The libraries are compatible with version 2.0 but trigger a problem in libgnomeui. Hence GNOME 2 won't work with GTK 2.2 but GNOME 2.1 requires it. Therefore Akira intends to upload new packages to unstable interimly.

More Alpha and Sparc Users soon? Jaldhar Vyas informed us that Red Hat stopped official support for all its releases for the Alpha and Sparc architectures. Debian, however, still supports these architectures among others and users enjoy the vast breadth of Free Software, bug fixes, and timely security updates.

KDE 3.0.5a Packages for Woody. Ralf Nolden announced that he uploaded Debian packages for KDE 3.0.5a to the KDE masterserver. This upload includes the latest security updates for KDE. The archive can be accessed via apt-get from Packages for KDevelop 2.1.4 were also uploaded the next day.

Embedding Debian GNU/Linux in a 32 MB CompactFlash. Bao C. Ha describes the techniques he used to reduce a Debian installation to less than 32 MB. Bao started with debootstrap which created a 121 MB bootable Debian filesystem with VPN/firewall/router functionality. By removing documentation and compressing the root filesystem using the cloop kernel module, he was able to reduce the size to 27.6 MB. The resulting image is designed for the OpenBrick-E, a small hardware platform optimized for Open Source/Free Software solutions. However, the video card requires a non-free binary only XFree86 release.

Debian 3.0r1 Update CD Images. Steve McIntyre announced that he has created a set of update CD images that contain new and updated packages from 3.0r1. The images were originally made as two full CDs containing all 11 supported architectures, but upon feedback from Jason Andrade, Steve created separate CDs for each architecture. Although this will take up more disk space, it should be easier for users and also save bandwidth. The files will be downloadable from regular locations when the server is up again, which will take a couple of days.

Removing Detritus from /etc. Joey Hess investigated his /etc directory and noticed a lot of cruft left over by package removals that haven't cleaned up properly: dangling symlinks, abandoned directories and so on. He came up with the idea of a special Debian package that checks for any bits of detritus left over by other packages in its own postrm script, and cleans it up.

Rebuilding all Debian Packages. Junichi Uekawa (上川純一) reported about another pbuilder run. Trying to recompile all source packages took from December 9th to 24th on his machine. Only 529 packages failed to build from source, leaving over 6000 packages that built successfully. Gerhard Tonn also tried to recompile all C++ packages with GCC 3.2 prior to it being introduced as the standard compiler.

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. 12 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 165 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 Andre Lehovich, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.