Debian Weekly News - July 1st, 2003

Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. The South Australian government discusses a bill that requires government departments to use Free Software where practicable. British scientists found out that debugging in open source projects is always faster than in closed source projects. Eben Moglen, legal advisor of the Free Software Foundation released a paper in which he tries to correct confusing use of the term "Linux".

Abuse of Changelog Entries. Gerfried Fuchs explained in detail how changelog entries should not be abused by package maintainers and how bugs should be closed instead. The general rule is that if there has been no change made to close a bug, you should not close it with a changelog entry. If a new upstream version fixes some bugs, details should be written as well.

Improving the Debian Reference. Maximilian Attems sought people to help improve the small section about Perl in the Debian Reference by Osamu Aoki (青木 修) and others, that covers many aspects of system administration through the shell command examples. He admitted that the Bash section is quite impressive. Links to free documentation about Perl should be added at least.

Debian on a Dell Inspiron 8000. Nori Heikkinen announced a howto document that describes in detail how to install Debian on a Dell Inspiron 8000 notebook. This includes configuration for the video card, an external mouse and hints on rescuing the system from the boot CD. She would appreciate any comments, suggestions and improvements people have about it.

Getting to know Debian. SitePoint has an article called Getting to Know Debian. It begins with an explanation of Debian GNU/Linux and how to obtain an installation CD. It then moves on to describe booting and setting up the system, setting up accounts, and upgrading the system with apt-get. The article is suitable for beginners and includes a succinct description of Debian's philosophy, advantages and installation.

Debian Powers 1st wireless DVD-quality Video. PRISMIQ announced the release of 802.11a/g Wi-Fi support for its MediaPlayer set-top box, which connects to a TV or stereo system and communicates with a PC. PRISMIQ says the 54 Mbps 802.11g bandwidth will carry high quality video from a PC to a TV, making MediaPlayer "the first consumer set-top box to enable DVD-quality video over 802.11g wireless." The MediaPlayer is powered by Debian GNU/Linux, which was chosen for its "quality and features" and was ported in-house by Brad LaRonde.

Debian on Ultra 10/Distribution Server. Guillaume Tamboise wrote a document on configuring Debian 3.0 as a distribution server on a Sun Ultra 10. The document was written for a SANS Institute security certification (SANS GCUX). It is more Sparc 64 specific than Sun Ultra 10 specific, but most of it applies to Debian in general. It includes chapters on risk assessment, a step by step setup guide, and ongoing maintenance.

Verifying Packages with APT. Isaac Jones announced APT Secure, which is the working name of a project to add to APT the ability to verify the authenticity of Debian packages. It accomplishes this via a chain of trust which is initiated by the package maintainers and ends on the installing machine. Isaac asked people to help test and audit the patch to APT, and eventually to participate in the policy discussion about the patch.

Libtool requires Updating. Scott James Remnant announced that many Debian packages need to be updated to use the latest version of libtool (1.4.3-10). This is because older versions use the file utility and a regular expression to determine if something is a shared library, but the format of the file output line for MIPS shared libraries has changed. Newer versions of libtool use a better checking method, however many source packages have not been updated and Scott may need to file his first mass bug report.

Debian and the Rise of Linux. Slashdot hosted a discussion about an article contributed by Jonathan Oxer in this month's LinMagAu that asks a question about how the rise of Linux will impact Debian and what that could mean. It says that by mid 2004 at the latest Linux will be a serious contender on the average desktop and that Linux will begin to take a serious chunk of the market.

Perl Packages in Sarge uninstallable. Mark Hedges indirectly reported that several Perl packages in sarge are not installable anymore, since they indirectly depend on perlapi-5.6.1 which is not available anymore. Adam Heath pointed out that those packages need to be updated for the recent version of Perl and there was enough time for this already.

Introduction to Debian. SitePoint has an article by Jono Bacon that introduces Debian and contains guidelines on installing it. This could be useful for managers, new users and other people that may be interested in using Debian. It says that in addition to the long term benefits, there are also a number of distinct technical advantages to using Debian, the first of which is its wide availability.

More on European Software Patents. An article at ZDNet UK says that the EU bureaucrats aren't even considering the numerous anti-software patenting opinions out there. According to a well-connected lobbyist group, they have determined there will be patents, and the only question is what kind.

Debian-Installer on PowerPC. Gaudenz Steinlin wrote a little howto that contains tips and tricks for using debian-installer on a PowerPC machine. He includes links to missing packages and describes in how to boot a NewWorld PowerPC system over the network and install Debian on it.

GNU Versions of Programs. Dan Jacobson wanted to install only the GNU versions of programs, such as gawk instead of mawk, and asked if there is a single command to install them all. Sam Hocevar proposed a command line that finds all GNU versions available. Roland Mas suggested to maintain a new task task-gnu-only.

Identifying transitional Packages. Bernd Eckenfels noticed a few transitional and dummy packages on his system, but no common way to identify them. Aaron Ucko pointed to deborphan --guess-dummy --guess-only that tries to find dummy packages.

Incorporating a temporary fork of Date::Manip? Kenneth Pronovici wondered how he is supposed to handle a temporary fork of Date::Manip by the upstream developer of one of his packages, since the new version is somewhat required by the package. Options include adding the fixes to the Debian package as well, creating a new package that would include the fork and ignoring the fork.

Is PHPNuke free or not? Several new discussions talked about whether license problems in PHPNuke are real and rendering the package non-free. A notice tries to make users believe that the package is still free, but Steve Langasek concluded that the license addition indeed renders the package non-free. The maintainer agreed that he would upload the package to non-free, which didn't happen yet.

Debian Beowulf Resources. Adam Powell announced that he put a couple of entries into the Debian Wiki related to Beowulf. He has moved all of the content from his old "Debian Beowulf Howtos" to this site for better visibility and long-term maintenance.

New Skolelinux CD image. Petter Reinholdtsen announced that he had created new Skolelinux CD image, prerelease 39. LVM is now fully supported by autopartkit and is used on the system partitions. Several other improvements are included, but there are still a couple of problems included that require fixing.

Custom Compilation on a Laptop? Johannes Graumann wondered if custom compiling of packages would be better suited for machines with limited resources like a laptop. Russell Coker explained that the resources to compile a package are vastly greater than those required to just install a binary Debian package.

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. 4 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 190 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.