Debian Weekly News - April 8th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 14th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Since the last issue was released on April 1st, some of you should've been more careful with its content. We knew very well that Gentoo's move to RPM and the additional IPv4 header were just pranks. However, we didn't want to leave you without our own April fools prank, courtesy of Thomas Bliesener and Andreas Schuldei. However, the new law in Germany was real.

SPI Resolutions about Donations. Bdale Garbee reported about the most recent board meeting of Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI). Donations prior to January 2002 for which not enough documentation exist anymore are considered to be earmarked for Debian by 95 %. Donations made later will be credited entirely to the projects for which they were earmarked.

Acquiring Government Support. In an article on NewsForge Alex Perry talks about his ideas about how Free Software developers can get more U.S. government contracts. His idea is to create very specialized CDs containing a base installation, an office suite and a full distribution, which would be sold at rather high prices but including support and training. This would compete better with proprietary vendors' offerings and would support Free Software projects if the contractor would be SPI for example.

Installing Debian Woody. Jonathan Oxer contributed an article to linmagau entitled "The Debian Universe". He admits that the current Debian installer is ugly but also notes that some people believe that a not so easy installer will keep horde of unwashed masses away from Debian who aren't worthy of such a fine OS! In the article Jonathan describes in detail how the installer works and how packages are installed.

Policy compliant init Scripts. Bill Allombert noticed that a lot of init.d scripts fail to implement policy properly. Bill wants all init.d script to behave the same and supposed to standardise on the LSB 1.3 which has an extended description of init.d scripts behaviour.

Debian Usability Research. After the enthusiasm gathered at the Linux Conference Australia, Enrico Zini announced the birth of a new Debian effort. The Debian Usability Research is a volunteer research effort focused on identifying and addressing Debian-specific usability issues, not necessarily tied to the desktop.

First Metadistros Coordination Meeting. Teófilo Ruiz Suárez announced the first project coordination meeting for Metadistros, which tries to simplify the process of building customized Debian-based distributions (whitepaper), for example live CDs. Hispalinux organises this meeting on April 14th and 15th at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, Spain.

Revised LaTeX Project Public License. Jeff Licquia posted a new working draft of the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL). After the debate that took place months ago, Jeff and several members of the LaTeX Project worked off and on towards solving the problems that had been raised before. This version, a near-total rewrite, is the result.

Security Administration with Debian GNU/Linux. José Salvador González Rivera wrote a paper on security administration with Debian GNU/Linux. José concentrates on specific issues and situations not considered frequently, such as the use of limits and files attributes. He hopes that the article can help people get a little bit more interest in GNU/Linux security, and specifically with Debian.

Apt-get for Users. Thomas Petazzoni wondered if it would be possible to enable normal users to install software in their home directories with apt-get on systems where only the administrator has root access. Chad Walstrom pointed out several problems with the idea, including binaries with hardcoded paths. Emile van Bergen thought these could be overcome, although Corrin Lakeland suggested that it might only be achieved by using apt-src instead of apt-get because so many packages need to be configured at compile time.

Installing WINE. The issue of installing wine was raised this week on the DebianHelp forums. A user discovered that apt-get install wine winesetuptk gave him an installation without the necessary wine.conf file and his attempts to run winesetup were unsuccessful. The problem stemmed from trying to run winesetup as root. After installing wine, winesetup should be run in normal user mode.

Debconf Template Translation Management. André Luís Lopes planned to provide patches for packages that aren't using po-debconf for managing debconf template translations yet. This, however, requires a build dependency against po-debconf. He wonders if a stronger dependency against debconf would be sufficient. André Luís also has the impression that changing packages to use po-debconf will actually make things worse for backporters who are trying to make packages build correctly on woody.

Familiar Packages for Debian? Russell Coker pondered packaging the Familiar distribution of Linux for Debian. It consists of a boot loader (non-linux binary), an image of the root file system (JFFS2 file system image) which is about 13 MB, a kernel patch for 2.4.19, gcc and binutils for cross-compiling ARM code on an i386 platform and finally a complete tool chain. This is a total of about 130 MB.

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. 27 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 203 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 and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.