Debian Weekly News - June 10th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 23rd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. There is a nice little quiz up at BBspot which correlates your personality with an operating system. Amazingly enough, Debian is one of the possible outcomes. Find out if you are a true Debian user!

Debian X Strike Force Subversion Repository. Branden Robinson announced that Debian's XFree86 packages are becoming team-maintained. In practice they have always been to some extent, thanks to contributions large and small from many people. As another improvement Branden has established a Subversion repository. With the Debian XFree86 packages under version control, he expects the quality and pace of the work to increase.

Freedesktop Menu System. Chris Cheney asked what was going to happen to plans for the Debian menu system to migrate to the desktop menu specification from Bill Allombert, the menu system maintainer, replied that he wasn't sure what the Debian menu system needed to do. Colin Walters explained that the Free Software world seems to have settled on the .desktop format as the standard for menus. The whole idea was to supplant the myriad of incompatible menu systems used by various distributors.

Status of Sarge Release Issues. Drew Scott Daniels posted another updated list of sarge release issues. This is a list of things to be done before sarge can be released, with status information and an estimated priority (of 1-3). Debian-Installer work and porting remain high on the list and the transition to GCC 3.3 needs attention. Other issues include problems in testing, the Linux kernel needs to be handled differently, the X Strike Force could use some help getting 4.3.0 ready, GNOME 2 should be in testing soon and libpng is in transition.

Version Control for Packages File. Glenn McGrath suggested putting the Packages file under some sort of version control in order to minimise bandwidth requirements. Most people agreed that this would be a positive move. Anthony Towns pointed out that apt-pupdate can do this, and Nicolas Kratz suggested trying apt-rsync.

Problems Linking to OpenSSL. As has been discussed at length, the OpenSSL license is incompatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL). This week, MySQL developers planned to allow MySQL to link with OpenSSL by offering a blanket exception covering combined work licensed under one or more OSI approved licenses. The developer of the gaim-encryption plugin found himself in a similar position, but plans to rewrite his code to cease dependence on OpenSSL.

ACPI Howto. Emma Jane Hogbin announced the second draft of her Advanced Configuration and Power Interface Howto. ACPI allows control of power management from within the operating system. The document summarises the process of installing and using ACPI on a Debian laptop with a patched 2.4.20 Linux kernel.

Debian's 10th Birthday. The word is out as Alexander Neumann noticed and Debian will turn 10 this August. Anniversary parties are planned on several places on this planet. Details are not yet available and there will probably be more parties organized, but preparations for events in Japan, Australia, Germany, Great Britain and the US were already started.

Recommendations for Knoppix DVD. Klaus Knopper announced that he is currently working on a DVD edition of Knoppix for LinuxTag 2003. He would like to know which software people would like to see on a full featured edition, which will probably contain Fabian Franz' new Knoppix installer as well. Additional software packages need to be free, stable and available in binary and source form.

Call For Votes: Voting Method GR. The Debian Project Secretary has posted a call for votes in a Voting Method General Resolution (GR). Developers are asked to vote on a General Resolution to amend the constitution to update the Voting Mechanism. Votes may either be cast in favour of the Clone Proof SSD Condorcet Amendment, or in favour of further discussion. Votes must be received by 23:59:59, Friday, June 20th, 2003.

Debian GNU/FreeBSD Self-Hosting. Robert Millan announced that he has managed to get GNU/FreeBSD installed self-hosting. The kernel runs init, which initialises swap and filesystems, and spawns 8 nice gettys. He has built a new base tarball (26.9 MB), with only the minimal utilities plus APT. He has also set up an APT repository for his GNU/FreeBSD packages, including the toolchain and XFree86.

Accessing CVS with Kerberos. Jennifer Vesperman, author of the book Essential CVS, wrote an article about using CVS with Kerberos 5 and GSSAPI (Generic Security Services API) on an unstable Debian system. The document explains how to compile cvs to use GSSAPI and demonstrates its use. Jennifer also explained several problems that are likely to occur and how to fix them.

Running Debian on an Acer Tablet PC. Dean Townsley managed to install Debian GNU/Linux on the Acer Travelmate C100 which is a tablet PC that can also act as normal notebook. Anyone who has setup a few systems and compiled their own kernel before should be able to install and set up Debian on such a machine. He described in detail how the system is booted from the network and how X needs to be configured in order to support the pen.

Debian on a Rocket. Andrew Greenberg and Brian O'Neel from the Portland State Aerospace Society built a 12 pound rocket which shall launch this September and will travel at three times the speed of sound to 55,000 feet. The team builds suborbital rockets that are smaller than commercial rockets, but larger and more powerful than hobby ones. In addition, the project relies on Free Software, such as Debian, and hardware, which can dramatically improve the performance of the rockets.

Packaging large I18n Files. Ben Burton would like to package internationalisation (i18n) files for koffice, but unfortunately this would add another 21 MB to the archive. He came up with three scenarios which all have drawbacks. Adding 37 different packages, one for each language, or adding one large package containing all languages, or adding these language files to the kde-i18n-lang packages. All three don't seem favourable.

Open Software License. Joey Hess dug out a new license which is used by elfutils, which is included in RPM 4.2. However, Walter Landry pointed out that this license is not compatible with the GNU GPL. Branden Robinson even considered the license to be not compliant with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

Status of UTF-8 Debian Changelogs. Jérôme Marant asked about the status of using UTF-8 in Debian changelog files, since he's seen some UTF-8-encoded debian/changelog files. However, he hasn't seen anything yet mentioning it is allowed in Debian Policy. Josip Rodin explained that the Debian policy does not need to precede the implementation.

DebConf Registration ends. Andreas Schuldei announced that due to logistical and organisational reasons they have to close the registration for DebConf 3 and DebCamp on June 16th. Accommodation in Oslo is available for free, in a gym hall in close proximity to the camp and conference location. People who would like to participate but weren't able to register in time are welcome as well, but they can't expect the same care from the organisers as the early birds.

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 186 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 Joe Nahmias, Colin Walters, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.