Debian Weekly News - March 11th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 10th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. It seems to have been a big week in Linux kernel development. Recent work promises to make exciting improvements for desktop users. Meanwhile, has recently released a new range of low cost Debian fun stuff, including t-shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts and suitcases.

Call for Votes in the DPL Election. The Debian Project Secretary posted the first call for votes this year's Election of the Debian Project Leader (DPL). Last year's voting engine, which is relatively well tested, will be used again. The order of candidates names on the voting form was randomly selected and voters may indicate their preference for each candidate. Votes must be GnuPG (or PGP) signed and received by 23:59:59 UTC on March 29th, 2003. Up to the minute voting statistics are available.

Using translated debconf Templates. Michael Bramer informed us about the possibility to use of translated debconf templates that the Debian Description Translation Project maintains. Several languages are supported and progress can be watched at the progress graph. Michael summarized the discussion.

Testing GCC 3.3. Matthias Klose called for testing of the upcoming GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 3.3 with real-world applications. Before this version is released, it has to meet several criteria. Packages should be recompiled with gcc-snapshot from unstable.

Release Schedule for Sarge? Anthony Towns talks about issues that Debian will be facing soon, now that glibc from unstable migrated into testing. He wonders whether debian-installer is in an acceptable state, and if not, what is necessary to get it (or something else) suitable for release, and how long will that take? Anthony is also looking for volunteers to help with Release Manager work.

Qmail on Debian. Vincent Hillier has written an article that details the use of qmail on Debian systems. The document explains the deployment of the Qmail mail server in numerous situations. No previous knowledge of Qmail is necessary, as the paper describes every step from installation to running POP and DNS on the same machine.

Compiling the Linux Kernel on Debian. Clinton De Young, author of The Very Verbose Debian 3.0 Installation Walkthrough, has now written The Very Verbose Guide to Updating and Compiling Your Debian Kernel. This article guides even novice users through the steps of downloading, configuring, compiling and installing the Linux kernel. It includes a discussion of things such as sound support, ext3 journaling and CD burning.

Installing Debian on a Compaq Proliant. DebianHelp carries an article that discusses the installation of Debian 3.0 (woody) on a Compaq Proliant ML370 G3 with dual Intel Xeon 2.8 GHz processors and 2 GB of RAM. It explains which drivers are required and how to ensure that all hardware is recognized and operating properly.

Accessibility Features in Debian. A user on DebianHelp explained that he is paralyzed and uses the accessibility features of a proprietary operating system, including sticky keys and mouse keys to manage the modifying keystrokes and using the number-pad as a mouse control. He wondered what accessibility features Debian provides. Readers pointed out the Linux Accessibility Howto and the accessibility features of GNOME and KDE3.

Debian on a Low Cost Lindows/Microtel Box. Paul M. Foster explained how he converted a low cost Lindows computer from Wal-Mart into a proper Debian system. Paul first wiped Lindows from the hard drive and then installed Debian 3.0 (woody). However, after experiencing several hardware incompatibility issues, he upgraded to testing (sarge) to solve his problems.

Graphing Private Woody Archives. Brian May created a Perl script that compares the sources file from a Debian archive and a private archive. The script outputs a list of nodes for producing a vcg graph that shows build dependencies for the private archive. The graph shows which packages are out of date in a private archive and the order in which they should be rebuilt. For example, the graph might show that while acl is out of date, attr should probably be rebuilt first because acl depends on attr.

Bringing LZW Code back into Debian. Drew Scott Daniels wondered about the best way to approach the pending expiry of patent protection on the LZW algorithm. He would like to find out which packages had, have, or could benefit from using LZW code. He proposes to do a mass bug filing to encourage the use of LZW code, particularly against packages that have purposely removed LZW code.

Hardware Detection Packages in Debian. Rick Moen, Dave Bechtel and Heather Stern of the Linux Gazette Answer Gang recently discussed hardware detection packages in Debian. They answered questions about kudzu and discussed Debian's numerous packages for hardware recognition. Rick has integrated the hardware recognition information into his Debian tips page.

Dependencies in the Debian Archive. Osamu Aoki (青木 修) thought that one measure of the importance of a Debian package is the number of other packages that depend on it. His research showed that 88% of packages had dependencies with less than 6 other packages. Fabio Massimo Di Nitto pointed out that the statistics overlook Essential status packages and Anthony Towns noted that some packages are less depended upon, but equally important because they provide the same function, such as a mail-transport-agent.

Using Udebs for more than Installation. Branden Robinson asked about using udebs for more than the installer, for example in resource constrained environments. Glenn McGrath explained that from a file format viewpoint udebs are the same as debs, except udebs can be smaller because they don't have to include everything required by Debian package policy. One should think of udebs as dynamically loadable installer modules, not as true Debian packages.

Debian based GNU/Linux for PlayStation 2. xRhino has released BlackRhino for the Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2). BlackRhino is a Debian based GNU/Linux operating system. It contains over 1,200 software packages to aid in using and creating programs for the PS2 and requires Sony's PS2 Linux Kit, which sells for $US199.

New Experimental PPP Package. Russell Coker announced that he has made available a new experimental PPP package. among other things, it includes Brian May's dialer script. Russell is currently not in a position to test the package and would appreciate any testing assistance. In the next day or two, Russell intends to put another test release online with pppoa support and then by the end of the week he may have an upload with pppoa and many of the other things people are clamoring for.

New OpenLDAP 2.1 Preview. Torsten Landschoff announced that the first trial package of a ready-to-install OpenLDAP 2.1 is now available. A lot of work remains before an unstable upload, for example upgrades do not work and reconfiguration depends on removing the old directory first. However, installing seems to work and a new directory can be created using a very simple configuration script. Torsten would appreciate testing and feedback, including wanted features in the final maintainer scripts.

Licensing Clarification on GnuMICR Font. Eric Sandeen noticed that there was some confusion over the licensing of his GnuMICR font package. He has now clarified in the documentation that the package is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Branden Robinson pointed out that there was some vagueness in the documentation that seemed to suggest restrictions beyond the GPL. He thought it best to simply indicate which files are the 'source' code and which are the 'executable form' of the fonts.

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 176 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 Matt Black, Andre Lehovich, Manolo Romero and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.