Debian Weekly News - February 10th, 2004

Welcome to this year's sixth issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Since supporting UTF-8 in Free Software takes quite some time, several people started the project UTF-8 for evangelisation and documentation of proper Unicode (and most specifically UTF-8) support in Free Software. The core of the Jabber protocol, the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, has been proposed as an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard.

LILO Support for Device Mapper. Andrés Roldán added preliminary support for device mapper block devices to lilo. The Linux kernel device mapper is the LVM (Linux Logical Volume Management) Team's implementation of a minimalistic kernel-space driver that handles volume management, while keeping knowledge of the underlying device layout in user-space.

Optimising your Filesystem. Roderick W. Smith discussed several filesystems for Linux and their special features like support for journals, reserved blocks, check intervals, block sizes, directory hashes and i-node options. He also mentions that on rare occasions, an ext3 journal may become so corrupted that it interferes with disk recovery operations. In such cases, one can convert the filesystem back into an ext2 filesystem using the debugfs tool.

KDE Support in UserLinux. Bruce Perens clarified that UserLinux will provide commercial support for KDE after some confusion. However, KDE is not the chosen GUI of the UserLinux project. Bruce also said that Qt doesn't fit their licensing policies because it's putting the GPL in a place where he would prefer to put the GNU Lesser General Public License so that proprietary development can take place without a commercial license.

Library depending on Data Files. Sebastian Ley was seeking advice on how to organise a library package that depends on data files. Originally, these data files would be placed in the same directory for all libraries, but that would circumvent parallel installation of different versions. Thomas Viehmann suggested to use version specific directories. Colin Watson also explained that several versions of the library should be installable to reduce upgrade problems.

GCC Transition Status. Nathanael Nerode noticed that the transition status is online again. It shows that there are only 46 source packages still compiled with g++ 2.95 without intentional exceptions like Qt2. All libraries have been converted. Matt Zimmerman supplied the list of packages still missing.

Aging of "experimental" Packages. Phil Edwards wondered if packages in the "experimental" distribution are properly aged, as described in the Developer's Reference manual. It says that the "experimental" packages are automatically removed once the package in unstable has a higher version number. James Troup explained that this is currently based on source packages with exactly the same name.

Voluntary Writers needed for the Hurd. Lucas Nussbaum complained that documentation for the Hurd is difficult to find and scattered all over the Internet. He also asserted that many parts of the system are not even documented and many howtos are broken. He offered to help reorganise the Hurd end-user documentation, to add links and to suppress redundancy between them.

XFree86 License Problems. The new license proposed by the XFree86 team is likely to be incompatible with GPL like Paul Cannon outlined if linking is considered to create derived works. Andrew Suffield explained that it is the licenses on GPLed works that would be violated, not the license on XFree86, so it's the interpretation of the authors of the GPLed works that counts.

Closure of main. Adam Majer asked how to interpret "must not require a package outside of main" from the policy manual. Joel Baker explained that it means that the dependencies of a package must be satisfiable in main alone. Hence, a single non-free package as alternative to free packages in main does not harm. Steve Langasek added that the same is required from "Recommends".

Hurd within Bochs. Lucas Nussbaum managed to create a Bochs image for Hurd. Bruno Bonfils' document about setting up GNU/Hurd and Bochs was helpful as well as the description about the same by Julien Puydt. Lucas concluded that these documents were helpful but not sufficient, though.

Debian-Installer Support for UTF-8. Nikolai Prokoschenko proposed to configure the second-stage installer to use UTF-8 since the first-stage installer already uses UTF-8. This would make UTF-8 de facto the default encoding. Alastair McKinstry explained that UTF-8 can also be a regression since one loses the ability to do compose characters (eg. accents).

Status of Debian/NetBSD. John Goerzen asked about the state of the NetBSD port. Matthew Garrett explained that there are two ports indeed: one uses the NetBSD base system while the other one favours the GNU C library. However, not many people are working on them. There has even been work on sparc and alpha ports, since NetBSD does support many more architectures and sub-architectures than Linux.

International Free Software Forum and Debian Conference. The Brazilian Projeto Software Livre called for papers for the 5th International Free Software Forum which will be held from June 3rd to 5th in Porto Alegre. The forum is purely academic and has well-defined topics. It takes place right after this years' Debian Conference which will be held in Porto Alegre from May 26th to June 2nd.

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.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Martin 'Joey' Schulze.