Debian Weekly News - May 20th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. While Debian is still fighting with some GCC 3.2 gotchas, the compiler developers apparently released version 3.3 already. Libranet has released version 2.8. A warm fuzzy review of this release is here and yet another one here.

Debian Leader Delegations. Martin Michlmayr reported about work he did during the last few weeks. Manoj Srivastava will continue to act as project secretary and Matt Zimmerman has become a full member of the security team. If you are interested in helping out with security then just go ahead and help. Furthermore, Debian memberships in other organizations and representatives are now documented.

Report from Federico Di Gregorio wrote a report about the Debian presence at the conference that took place from 9th to 11th of May in Padova, Italy. More than 1000 workshops were held during this conference. Italian Debian people met a lot of other people interested in Free Software, installed Debian on some machines, signed GPG keys, participated and held workshops and showed to visitors a cluster of 4 Xbox machines running Debian.

Debian MIA Check. James Troup announced actions that will be taken to handle maintainers that are missing in action (MIA). On the 12th March he sent out a maintainer ping to 191 possibly inactive Debian developers. 34 mails even bounced, 28 maintainers replied asking to be retired, 10 replied that they were still active and 90 people didn't reply within the 2 month deadline. Some accounts will be disabled in the near future.

Handling Donations for Debian. Martin Michlmayr announced that Mako Hill will compile a list of donations to the Debian project that were collected outside of SPI and ffis, two non-profit organisations that partner with Debian. The people who are still holding Debian money (e.g., from previous trade shows) are asked to contact him.

Icon or no Icon in Menus? Somebody suggested to use a default icon for applications in window-manager menus when the application doesn't provide an icon. Lars Wirzenius argued against this idea, since the point of an icon is to be a visual symbol for the application and not a random graphic.

Some important orphaned Packages. Martin Michlmayr announced that he has orphaned several packages. Many of these packages have either outstanding release-critical bugs or have not been uploaded by the maintainer recently. He seeks for volunteers to fix those bugs and eventually adopt these packages.

Important Change in lm-sensors. David Maze reported that the binary interface in libsensors1 has changed between lm-sensors 2.6.5 and 2.7.0 without a corresponding change in the library's soname. The correct action would be a changed soname which has to be done upstream, who did not yet respond. It has been suggested that he changes the soname of the library within Debian in the meantime.

Translation Dispute about changed Layout. There is a dispute between the Apache maintainers and the French translation team. The cause is a changed format of the package description for the French translation which is not coherent with the original anymore. Matthias Urlichs added that in his opinion there is a perfectly valid reason to reformat the description since English text usually is shorter than the equivalent in other languages.

Security Support for testing. Chris Leishman wrote a text in which he describes why Debian should support security in testing as well. Matt Zimmerman explains that fixed packages will automatically migrate from unstable to testing. If unstable does not yet contain fixed packages it would be a waste of time preparing updates for both testing and unstable.

Going to DebConf 3. Joachim Breitner wondered if DebConf is worth attending even if one is not yet a registered developer. Andreas Tille explained that DebConf in Bordeaux was his most productive time to work for Debian. He adds that the fun thing is that there are a lot of competent people to ask for help solving problems.

Activating GNOME Font Settings. Sander Smeenk noticed that his font settings are stored but not activated when he restarts his X session. Ross Burton explained that the XSETTINGS database is not populated because Sander doesn't start GNOME via gnome-session. In such a case gnome-settings-daemon has to be executed from the startup script manually. Mateusz Papiernik explained how such settings are written into the configuration file.

Translation of Manual Pages. Denis Barbier noticed that there is currently no consensus whether translated manpages should be shipped along with original manpages or within manpages-xx packages. This leads to conflicts when a translation is first shipped by the latter, then incorporated into the former (e.g. when it becomes part of upstream tarball).

New-Maintainers' Package Repository. Daniel K. Gebhart announced the Debian Mentors Project which implements a package repository for people who have applied to become a Debian developer but are not yet accepted. Since only registered Debian developers are allowed to upload packages directly into the official Debian archive, prospective Developers are invited to use this service.

Splitting off non-free Documentation. Colin Watson announced that he finally split non-free components off of the doc-linux package. The new package doc-linux-nonfree is waiting for ftpmaster approval, and may take a little while since it has a monster copyright file. Currently, just under 10 % of the HOWTO and mini-HOWTO documents are in non-free.

Debian GNU/FreeBSD Milestone. Robert Millan announced that his GNU/FreeBSD chroot jail is finally self-hosting and that he was able to build working packages of glibc 2.3, GCC 3.2.3 and binutils inside the jail. The tarball has been uploaded, but he explicitly states that this tarball is useless for anything other than development or bug fixing.

DFSG Analysis of Default LDP License. Branden Robinson investigated the default license of the Linux Documentation Project (LDP) in detail. It is also the most popular license among LDP documents. He proposed to rewrite several sections though, but the license basically is compliant with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

New IPv6 Packages. Fabio Massimo Di Nitto announced a few changes that happened to the archive. Until now the policy was to keep all IPv6 packages aligned to the versions distributed in main. It is time to break this rule with two packages because we need to accelerate the testing process. The first package is ntp-unstable, a CVS snapshot of ntp that supports IPv6 with one exception. The second package is XFree86 4.3 from Daniel Stone which includes the IPv6 patch from

Constitutional Amendment. Manoj Srivastava posted this formal proposal to amend the Debian Constitution to introduce Condorcet/Clone Proof SSD vote tallying in elections and general resolutions. The proposed changes are a result of the hard work of an election methods committee. The proposal received the necessary seconds and the official discussion period ends on Friday May 30 23:59:59 UTC 2003.

Testing the new Voting Scripts. Manoj Srivastava is currently conducting a vote to test the new voting scripts. He is running this vote on his home machine, pending the resolution of the fact that devotee does not run on potato ( runs potato). This vote includes a good test of the super majority calculations, since two of the options require super majority. The test vote involves picking one of nine colors and as Manoj said: "May the best color win."

Support for the Ogg Media Type. Ray Dassen reported that the Ogg bitstream format has been designated an official MIME type in RFC 3534. It would be good to see Debian support this MIME type as much as possible. The Ogg bitstream format is the container format employed for the well-known Ogg Vorbis audio code. Ray added an incomplete list of packages that require modifications.

Debian Stance on the SCO Allegation. It was asked twice last week whether the allegations of SCO, formerly know as Caldera, a GNU/Linux-oriented business, affect the Debian project. Ray Dassen explained that the issue so far consists of allegations and rumors from a company that is far along the way to obsolescence. They have yet to produce anything that could be remotely considered evidence, while there have been concrete indications of SCO itself violating the GPL by the inclusion of GPLed filesystem code from the Linux kernel into its proprietary (Unixware?) kernel. A detailed analysis was released earlier by the Open Source Initiative.

Report from the IFIT Conference. A report about the Debian presence at the IFIT (Informationday Free Information Technology) that took place on 9th and 10th of May in Innsbruck, Austria, is online. The conference started with a panel discussion with politicians and continued with several workshops that gave a detailed view of many projects, including the Debian development model.

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 184 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 Dan Hunt, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.