Debian Weekly News - June 3rd, 2003

Welcome to this year's 22nd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Petter Reinholdtsen announced a new Skolelinux CD image a while ago that fixes many bugs and uses the debian-installer already. Mario Lang urgently needs help fixing bugs in the speakup kernel packages, otherwise the package has to be abandoned.

Discussion about Debian on the Mac. This Slashdot posting complains about the difficulty of installing Debian on an iBook and says: "Knoppix has certainly made it easier to put Debian on x86 machines, but does such a thing exist for Macs?" In the discussion, some readers argued that installing Debian is not that difficult (possibly even easier on a Mac) and that package management is more important, given that you only want to install once. Others mentioned Gentoo's live CD for PowerPC.

New Mailing Lists for Debian. Anand Kumria announced five new mailing lists hosted at The debian-multimedia list was already covered in our last issue. The debian-x86-64 list aims at people porting Debian to AMD's new 64-bit architecture. The debian-ukrainian list provides a forum for Ukrainian users. Finally, debian-l10n-polish and debian-l10n-turkish intend to help translate Debian into Polish and Turkish.

Flaming with Jamie Zawinski. LiveJournal contains a report by Jamie Zawinski, the author of the xscreensaver program, in which he complains about Branden Robinson being a "gigantic flaming dick". However, it is not clear to us why Jamie considered the answer to be a flame. Branden was demonstratively objective in his reply. Jamie was confused by a string in the changelog of an unofficial Debian package of XFree86, that he found on the Internet, which contained the name of his program.

Debian Menu System Development. Bill Allombert announced that the menu system is actively maintained again. Bill and Morten Brix Pedersen fixed more than 80 bugs in the package and created a project in Alioth. The package also supports internationalisation. He also mentions that icons are not required anymore to only use 24 colors documented in the menu package.

Quantian Scientific Computing Environment. Dirk Eddelbüttel announced Quantian, a re-mastered version of Knoppix. Quantian differs from Knoppix by adding a set of programs of interest to applied or theoretical workers in quantitative or data-driven fields. It still retains all of Knoppix' impressive features in terms of automatic configuration of virtually all available hardware features. If there is sufficient interest, this project may become a Debian subproject.

Improved Indian Support for Debian. Jaldhar Vyas wondered if there is any interest in a sub-project for increasing the support for Indian languages within Debian. Both GNOME and KDE contain viable support already. His goals would be to package Indian support software or write it as necessary, help with i18n and l10n for existing software and advocate the use of Debian in the Indian community.

Distributing Sound Files. Roberto Gordo Saez wondered if he is permitted to use the sounds of a package that is distributed considerably free in a different project. After looking at the chromium game he found out that it contains third party sound files, which may originally be distributed under a different license.

Knoppix CD for Machine Clusters. Slashdot reported about an effort by Wim Vandersmissen who created ClusterKnoppix. He added support for openMosix to a regular Knoppix image. The new CD features the openMosix terminal server, openMosix autodiscovery, and clustermanagement tools such as openMosix userland.

Debian on Power4 Highend Server. Florian Weps reported about the opportunity he had to test an IBM p630 for a few weeks. After the AIX tests were finished, he and his colleagues decided to install Debian GNU/Linux on one partition of this machine. They benefitted a lot from the howto by Rolf Brudeseth covering the Debian network installation on IBM RS/6000 machines.

Conferences in Austria and Brazil. The Debian project announced that it has been invited to participate in two conferences that are taking place from June 5th to 7th. At the LinuxWochen in Vienna, Austria, Debian will be present with a booth staffed by Gerfried Fuchs who will also give a talk about Debian and organize a keysigning party. At the International Free Software Convention in Porto Alegre, Brazil, almost all Brazilian Debian Developers will meet while Bdale Garbee and Wichert Akkerman will give talks.

Debian featured in HP Whitepaper. In a whitepaper from HP that covers Open Source for web services development Debian is prominently mentioned. The document emphasises its vendor-neutralness, the strict open-source-only policy, its vigorous quality program, that avoids the types of issues that have recently plagued certain commercial distributions, and more. Finally, Debian has a very easy to use interface for installing and updating software packages.

Managing Package Source with Subversion? Marcelo Magellon wondered if and how to maintain the source of Debian packages with Subversion. Most notably, he's interested in a way to convert an existing CVS repository to Subversion. Joey Hess answered that he uses a set of handmade scripts for maintenance and reported about his experiences with Subversion.

Compiling 64bit Sparc Kernel. Martin Pitt would like to compile a late 2.5 kernel for sparc64 which runs a 64bit kernel but a 32bit userland. Therefore he needs a cross-compiler and egcs64 seems to old for him. Ben Collins explained that it will build the kernel, and after a bug is fixed the kernel will even run. He also mentioned that gcc-3.3 will compile 64bit kernels, but they do not boot.

New Tags for the Bug Tracking System. Colin Watson announced two new tags for the Bug Tracking System. The tag lfs refers to bugs about large file support and ipv6 refer to bugs with support for IPv6. Guido Günther added that if these things get tags it would make a lot of sense to add architecture tags as well in order to classify problems on certain architectures. James Troup objected, though.

Invariant Sections in Documentation. Richard Stallman started a discussion that again covers problems inherited by the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) if a document includes invariant sections which renders the document non-free according to Debian's interpretation. It seems that the GFDL is a dangerous license which does not always imply free documentation.

Embedded Debian Package Management. Bruno Randolf would like to use the Debian package management system for an embedded distribution on a MIPS platform. Therefore he has investigated several projects and found out that there seems to be quite a lot approaches and ideas, but only little coordination. Wookey also mentioned the mini policy for cross-compiling related packages.

GNU Emacs Manual considered non-free. Jérôme Marant reported that the GNU Emacs Manual will have to be moved to non-free, due to invariant sections and the use of the GNU FDL. Invariant sections don't allow modifications which are required by the Debian Free Software Guidelines. This is very unfortunate, especially since it affects documentation from the Free Software Foundation. 1.1beta Debian Packages. The Debian team proudly announced the availability of preliminary packages of 1.1 beta. They are downloadable from the debian-openoffice mirrors, in section 'unstable'. These packages are not yet polished with all features from the 1.0.x packages, but the majority of the functionality is in place.

Software Patents Meetings. Wookey forwarded an announcement for a public meeting taking place on June 5th in Cambridge. There is another meeting set up in Strasbourg by the FFII on June 7th where developers will be able to talk to politicians. The EU software and gene patent debates have shown a frightening willingness of Europe's legislators to ignore all informed discussions, including EU-sponsored studies, and to restrict the creative freedom of its citizens without a twinkling of the eye.

Debian Day at LinuxTag 2003. There will be a one day conference dedicated to Debian people at this years' LinuxTag in Karlsruhe, targeting advanced users and developers. It will take place on Friday, July 11th, and last for the entire day. The project is still looking for speakers and topics. If you would like to give a talk at this Debian conference, please get in touch with Martin Schulze immediately.

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. 6 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 189 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. We still need more volunteer writers who investigate the Debian community and report about events in the community. 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 Matt Black, Dan Hunt, Florian M. Weps, Daniel K. Gebhart and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.