Debian Weekly News - May 6th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 18th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. As a completion of the FLOSS survey last year the University of Stanford is carrying out FLOSS-US. Bruce Perens mentioned that he would like to see Debian-based efforts (such as Knoppix, Trusted Debian, Libranet and others) work more closely with Debian.

Experimental APT with DDTP Support. The DDTP team and the Debian-BR project announced the first public release of APT with support for translated package descriptions. This initial experimental release was based upon the CVS version of APT. Complete source and patches are also available.

Automatic Merging of Configuration Files. Jarno Elonen announced experimental support for merging configuration files in dpkg. When the installed configuration file differs from the file in the package dpkg will offer a merge option. This should help when the configuration file is upgraded and offers more options.

Dropping Support for i386? Nathanael Nerode investigated the i386 problem and discovered that to maintain binary compatibility with C++ packages from other distributions, Debian needs to use the i486 version of atomicity.h supplied by GCC. Dagfinn Ilmari Mannsåker wrote a small script that compares the speed of OpenSSL code for i386 versus i486 on a P-III Mobile.

Debian Package Tags. Enrico Zini announced Debian Package Tags which were created in cooperation with Erich Schubert. The tags (also known as keywords or categories) can be edited online. Tags can be thought as the evolution of the package sections historically used in Debian systems. Enrico sent in an update as well.

Apt-get with Support for Suggests and Recommends? Alexander Wirt announced a wrapper around apt-get that makes it possible to install all recommended and/or suggested packages for a given package. Graham Williams mentioned wajig which provides the same functionality. Rene Engelhard added that aptitude which also supports this interactively could probably also provide this functionality on the command line.

Debian-Lex in Interview. The Age, an Australian newspaper, published an interview with Jeremy Malcolm, who started the Debian-Lex subproject. Apart from the input by all the developers involved in its parent project, there are three qualified lawyers involved in the Debian-Lex project, giving a mix of expert legal and IT input into its development. Malcolm also talks about interoperability problems with many proprietary software packages designed for use in legal practice.

Improving Debian's Reliability. Rémi Perrot started a discussion on improving Debian's reliability. In his opinion the policy on improving the stable release is too restrictive and doesn't give the opportunity to improve Debian's quality outside of security fixes. He believes that as the release cycle is very long we have to accept fixes on all bugs in the stable release.

HP i2000 for Developer Use. James Troup announced that thanks to the continuing support of Hewlett-Packard, - the Debian ia64 build daemon - has recently been upgraded to an rx2600. As a result the old caballero, an i2000, is looking for a new home. The machine will be loaned to somebody helping with the debian-installer, the toolchain (gcc, binutils, glibc), the kernel or some other worthy cause. Interested developers should live in the UK (or possibly Europe) and will need to supply some proof of previous work or genuine potential for future work on a worthy cause.

Debate over Credits in Free Software. The long discussion on debian-devel, started by Hans Reiser (and reported by DWN) has moved to Newsforge. The discussion was regarding the stripping of output from ReiserFS tools which included some sponsorship credits. Hans Reiser subsequently posted an article about his position and why he believes that credits in Free Software should be better protected and enforced by license requirements. Responses to his view were mostly negative.

Software Patents Conference in Brussels. Jama Poulsen mentioned that the two-day interdisciplinary conference in Brussels on May 7th and 8th, will bring together programmers, engineers, entrepreneurs, law scholars, economists and politicians to explore the problems that the proposed patent law regulations will bring in relation to the European policy and its goals.

Debian Subversion Server. Wichert Akkerman introduced the Debian subversion server on Commit access is maintained through Alioth. If you want to maintain a subversion repository please register a project for it on Alioth. Once the project has been approved please submit a support request asking for a repository to be created. Adding someone to the Alioth project will automatically give him write access to the repository as well.

Debian Miniconf3 announced. The Debian Miniconf run in conjunction with Linux Conference Australia (LCA) is becoming quite a tradition, and with the schedule for LCA2004 now being finalised Jonathan Oxer announced that Debian Miniconf3 will take place on January 10th and 11th, 2004 in Adelaide, Australia. He also asked for anyone interested in presenting at the Miniconf to submit a proposal for a talk.

Sun Ultra 30 available for Developer. Nathan Norman announced that he's going to make his current desktop machine, a Sun Ultra 30, available to the Debian project if anyone can use it. Martin Michlmayr added that Debian will pay for shipping if somebody in the United States would like to use this machine for porting the debian-installer to the sparc architecture, something which Ben Collins has already done.

Packages scheduled for Removal. Petter Reinholdtsen was surprised to learn that some maintainers did not notice that their packages were scheduled for removal. Michael Banck noted that the BugScan mail is sent to the debian-devel-announce list, which is mandatory to read for all Debian developers, though.

Speaker for Conference in India sought. Martin Michlmayr seeks a speaker to talk about Debian at a conference in India. The conference will take place in Mumbai on June 12th and 13th and Debian has been invited to deliver a talk. Anybody interested in giving a talk about Debian in Mumbai should get in touch with Martin.

Debian at Conferences in Italy and Austria. The Debian project announced that it has been invited to participate in two conferences that are taking place during the next couple of days. At the in Padova, Italy, Debian will be present with a booth and several developers will help visitors install Free Software. At the IFIT in Innsbruck, Austria, the project will be present with a booth and several talks.

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. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 192 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, Frank Lichtenheld, Jonathan Oxer, Thomas Bliesener and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.