Debian Weekly News - March 16th, 2004

Welcome to this year's eleventh issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Ludovic Brenta proposed a new task for Ada development for tasksel. Apparently, SPAM has closed a bug report again, so people should watch the bug reports they opened. Manoj Srivastava called for votes the general resolution to handle non-free and reported that 303 developer have already voted.

Debian and KDE used at 2300 m. KDE France reported about the use of Debian and KDE used in the highest Internet access center at 2300 m in the ski resort Val Thorens. Debian was chosen since it is well suited for installing customised systems. Generating and distributing system packages is very simple with apt-get and a custom repository, they reported.

New Proposal to distribute non-free. Ean Schuessler proposed to use certificate authorisation to protect users from non-free software from Debian servers but provide those certificates to other distributors for signing a contract that indemnifies Debian against damages.

Delays in the Init Scripts. Shaul Karl proposed to discourage the use of delay statements in the stop target of init scripts in order to save time when shutting down the machine. Miquel van Smoorenburg pointed out that not waiting for database servers to terminate properly could harm the database and destroy its data.

Running Debian from USB Flash? Jeff Johnston pondered running Debian GNU/Linux from a USB flash device since they don't have any moving parts. Those have up to 1 GB of capacity and therefore can well take an operating system. Steinar Gunderson, however, pointed out that flash devices usually have a more or less fixed number of writes before they start to break.

Problems with Subversion License. Warren Turkal noticed that subversion has some clauses in its license which seemed questionable to him. Andrew Suffield asserted that the license itself is free in the Debian sense but GPL-incompatible at the same time.

Debian Bugs via LDAP. Andreas Barth was working on the LDAP gateway to the Debian bug tracking system and recreated it. In order to provide an intuitive interface he has already created a preliminary schema which will probably use the Debian OID space in the future. Adam Heath is also working on a new and extensible index format which can be used by this gateway.

Installation reports needed. Joey Hess asked for people to report their experiences using the new debian-installer on the mips, powerpc, ia64, hppa, sparc, and s390 architectures. He asserted that he is close to releasing at least 6 architectures. He is also looking for someone who is prepared to debug base-installer to take a look at the i386 netboot issues.

Why supporting old Hardware? Konstantinos Margaritis asked if Debian should support all architectures in parallel or establish some kind of "speed lanes". Martin Michlmayr explained that Debian will support them as long as there is interest. Also, by auto building the entire archive on those platforms, Debian helps testing GCC, XFree86 and the kernel. This way, Debian has reported a lot of bugs (especially toolchain bugs), which leads to better free software.

Debian on Sun Starfire. Fabio Massimo Di Nitto reported that he was able to install Debian on a Sun Enterprise 10000 server via NFS-Root at Ericsson Telebit A/S. Such a Starfire machine contains up to 64 CPUs and can run several operating systems at the same time. This machine, however, only uses 4 CPUs with Linux together with 4 GB of RAM.

Debian at CeBIT 2004. The Debian project will be present at this years' CeBIT at the booth of LinuxLand (Hall 6, booth B52, subbooth 469), a German distributor of Debian GNU/Linux. Additionally, Michael Meskes will deliver a talk about the migration to Free Software. Hauke Goos-Habermann and Daniel Kasten will give a tutorial about setting up a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) system with Debian. Klaus Knopper will deliver a talk about Knoppix and Frank Ronneburg will give a talk about software management with Debian GNU/Linux.

Ordering Packages on Sarge CDs. Petter Reinholdtsen asked for participation in the popularity contest by installing the popularity-contest package and say yes to participate. Petter asserted that sarge will probably ship with 13 binary CDs filled up with about 13,500 packages and that the contest will be used as criteria to order the packages on the last eleven CDs.

Bug Squashing Party. Frank Lichtenheld announced a bug squashing party next weekend (March 19-21). Coordination will take place on the IRC channel #debian-bugs on He also felt that Debian is clearly making progress towards sarge (see the rc bug count graph and the progress on the debian-installer).

Debian-Installer Beta 3. Joey Hess announced the third beta release of the debian-installer with 6 architectures. This release features the new partitioner that supports automatic partitioning and LVM and uses grub as boot-loader on i386. PowerPC had to be dropped in the last minute due to non-working compilers, though. Debian needs test installations and reports sent to the debian-boot list.

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 Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.