Debian Weekly News - March 18th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 11th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. For some time a French association (APRIL) and the Free Software Foundation France have been working on the idea to have Free Software classified as an intangible world cultural heritage term by the UNESCO.

Leader Election Debate. This year's election debate on IRC took place on March 7th with about 100 people attending. After the candidates clarified their position the debate ended with some humorous items. Martin Michlmayr would probably win if only the candidates could vote (and couldn't give their vote to themselves). This seems to demonstrate that Branden Robinson hasn't yet got his stated superpower of choice, perhaps Bdale Garbee's amateur satellite counteracts the effects. Moshe Zadka stated that he would like his term (if elected) to be remembered for establishing world-peace, although he thinks that would be as unlikely as the other candidates' goals. Meanwhile, Manoj sent the second call for votes.

Debian at the Conference. Chris Hall, Rene Engelhard, and Jan-Hendrik Palic will be representing Debian at the Conference at the University of Hamburg, Germany on March 20/21. Chris will give a talk that introduces the process of making Debian packages. It will give an overview of the existing techniques used to build and to integrate it into the operating system. Also, he will introduce some of the important tips, tricks, tools and resources for packagers.

Maintaining Fonts in Debian. Colin Walters talked about the Debian Font Manager (defoma) which was used to install fonts. However there is also fontconfig, which is a more generic way for applications to find and use fonts, which is used by several applications already. Emile van Bergen proposed a smooth two-way transition that preserves defoma but still moves towards fontconfig.

Status report for Debian-Installer GTK-Frontend. Sebastian Ley posted a status report about the GTK frontend of the debian-installer. Work has been done to provide the necessary libraries as udebs, although the frontend is still unusable. A lot of debugging needs to be done and the concept of how the GTK frontend will be integrated must be worked out and implemented. This screenshot is not exactly eye-candy but it shows that progress is being made. Help, comments and discussion would be welcome.

Making Mailing Lists available as Mailboxes. Josip Rodin wondered if Debian should publish the mbox files of the list archives on the website. This would reveal much more data for spammers to crawl through, which could be good or bad: all the message-IDs would make spam databases less useful, although it might cause people in Sender fields to be spammed. Santiago Vila thought it was a bad idea and suggested looking at the way the Geocrawler or Sourceforge lists are handled. Osamu Aoki (青木 修) thought it depended upon how publication was done and suggested that using gzip compression would be best.

Standardizing PAM Policies. Sebastian Rittau spoke about the lack of a PAM policy. In his opinion most packages use PAM for authentication in the wrong way. They all install a configuration file in the /etc/pam.d/ directory that look similar to each other. Steve Langasek prepared a patch that adds support for an inclusion mechanism.

LSB 1.3 Compliance? Gerhard Tonn ran the latest LSB test suite on woody for S/390. He used a modified glibc and pax as described by Anthony Towns. The results are very promising except that there are about 50 failures in the internationalization area which has been a part of the LSB since version 1.3. This is caused by the fact that not all the relevant patches are integrated into woody packages. The same is true for sid.

Potato Packages in Woody. Johann Glaser wondered why still so many packages in woody (and sarge and sid) are linked from potato. His concerns resulted from a broken mirror that does not contain potato anymore. Not all packages have been updated since the release of potato and hence are not using the pool structure yet. This will change when potato gets removed from the main archive.

Is PHPNuke Free Software? John Goerzen wondered if the important notice that has been added to the license of PHPNuke prohibits modifications and derived works. The author wants to have his copyright notice visible in the footer of all pages that are rendered by PHPNuke. Branden Robinson agreed and added that the addition to the license is more restrictive than the BSD advertising clause.

Overview about IPv6 in Debian. Fabio Massimo Di Nitto announced a comprehensive web page that contains information about IPv6 support in Debian packages. The idea emerged to classify packages according to different criteria. The statistics are generated dynamically.

New Accessibility Development. Mario Lang announced the recently created debian-accessibility list. The list will help coordinate finding, identifying, discussing and fixing accessibility related issues in the Debian Operating System. It might be related to the hearing impaired, to the sight impaired, or to people with physical disabilities which for instance, limit their typing capabilities and so on.

Is the LPPL a Free License? Martin Pitt is packaging latex-ucs and wondered if the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL) combined with additional permissions from the author satisfies the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Branden Robinson explained that no conclusion has been reached concerning this license. However, negotiations are ongoing between Debian and LaTeX Project Developers and Branden is confident that a mutually amicable arrangement will be reached.

Report about Debian at CeBIT exhibition. Alexander Schmehl wrote a report about the Debian booth at this year's CeBIT exhibition that was sponsored by LinuxLand. The booth was a big success and many visitors stopped by. Both, Alexander and Michael 'grisu' Bramer, who staffed the booth, seemed to enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate the Debian system during CeBIT. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the last day of CeBIT, so interested people could still stop by in hall 6 at booth A52 / 182.

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. 5 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 179 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.

Want to continue reading DWN? Please help us create this newsletter. Some people are submitting items already, but we are still in need of volunteer writers who prepare items. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Thomas Bliesener, Matt Black, Andreas Metzler and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.