Debian Weekly News - April 27th, 2004
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the
Debian community. In light of recent events Nathanael Nerode is working hard
on splitting binary firmware blobs out of the Linux kernel so they can be
loaded via the
request_firmware command which would resolve
incompatibilities with the Linux license. Steve Kowalik announced a
new major release of linda, a
policy checker, that adds full support for internationalisation.
Report from the Linux User & Developer Expo. Vincent Sanders reported about the Debian project attendance at the Linux User & Developer Expo in the London Olympia hall. Debian presented a very professional appearance to the public. Less common Debian CDs could be cut to order as Steve McIntyre had production facilities at the booth.
Progeny Debian 2.0. Ladislav Bodnar looked at the alpha release of Progeny Debian 2.0 (ISO Images). This is the first example of Progeny's componentised GNU/Linux idea previously mentioned in DWN. Each component, for example XFree86 or GNOME 2.4, is in its own apt repository. This is intended make it easier to upgrade individual components.
Kernel Security Support for Sarge. Martin Schulze described the issues raised by the frequent need for kernel security updates in the stable Debian release. The sheer number of packages and releases to support places an unbearable burden on the security team. Thus the number of packages in sarge needs to be reduced before the release. A particular problem is posed by the dependence of some architectures on the 2.2 kernel line which the security team will probably not be able to support for sarge.
Request for Help by the Installer Team. Joey Hess called for help with the next debian-installer beta release by processing installation reports. He reported that there are more than 480 uncategorised installation reports for which nobody had found time yet. We could have lots of serious problems we don't know about.
Purge of Firmware to recommence. Herbert Xu reported that he will recommence the removal of non-free firmware blobs from the kernel where no acceptable solution using user-space firmware loaders has been provided. This is in accordance with the release manager's decision to treat violations of the GNU General Public License as serious.
Collection of DFSG-compliant Licenses. Joachim Breitner announced that he has started to collect licenses that are compliant with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). He also lists those that are not compliant, though. Frank Lichtenheld confirmed that he is working with Andreas Barth to create such a directory on the Debian website.
Survey on Debian Usage. Enrico Zini announced an exploratory survey of Debian usage. The goal of this survey is to understand the purposes for which the Debian operating system is being used and the ways in which people use Debian to achieve these purposes.
Squeak License. Roland Stigge restarted the discussion about whether the Squeak license is DFSG compliant or at least suitable for non-free. Lex Spoon asserted that Apple has abandoned Squeak and will not be changing the license in the foreseeable future so the issues will probably remain.
ReiserFS 4 License. Sami Liedes wondered if
the license for
reiser4progs (GPL and clarifications) renders
this package non-free. The license also tries to declare plugins and a
clustering file system built to work on top of this file system as derivative
works, which Sami denies. People seem to agree that the current license
renders reiser4 non-free or even non-distributable at all.
Editorial Amendments to the Social Contract passed. Manoj Srivastava announced that the general resolution covering editorial amendments to the social contract has passed with a 4:1 majority (3:1 required). From 213 valid votes 174 were in favour of these changes while 39 people voted for further discussion.
Sarge Release Status. Anthony Towns reported that he cannot justify the policy decisions to exempt documentation, firmware, or content any longer, as the social contract has been amended to cover all these areas and not only software. Hence, these blobs need to be removed from sarge before it can be released. This will make a release impossible for this year, though.
Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have any of these packages installed.
- xchat -- Arbitrary code execution.
- ident2 -- Buffer overflow.
- Linux 2.4.16 (arm) -- Local root exploit.
New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.
- atanks -- Tank-battling game.
- binclock -- Binary clock for console with color support.
- buildtool -- Portable build infrastructure.
- cenon -- Vector graphics tool for GNUstep.
- disktype -- Detection of content format of a disk or disk image.
- esmtp-run -- User configurable relay-only MTA.
- fbpager -- Pager application for the Fluxbox window manager.
- fontforge -- Font Editor for PS, TrueType and OpenType fonts.
- gosa -- Web Based LDAP Administration Program.
- kid3 -- KDE ID3 tag editor.
- lessdisks -- Flexible diskless (x)terminal system - server base files.
- linuxvnc -- VNC server to monitor a tty.
- mailping -- Monitor email service availability and functioning.
- menu-xdg -- Freedesktop.org menu compliant window manager scripts.
- mp3gain -- Lossless mp3 normalizer with statistical analysis.
- mywiki -- Personal Wiki on GNUstep or Cocoa environment.
- openswan -- IPSEC utilities for Openswan.
- perlpanel -- Lean menu and launcher panel written in Perl and Gtk2.
- php-date -- PHP PEAR module for Date and Time Zone Classes.
- price -- Image filtering and manipulation using GNUstep.
- skribe -- Document production system.
- srs -- Command-line Sender Rewriting Scheme client.
- svk -- Distributed Version Control System.
- whatsnewfm -- Utility to filter the daily newsletter from freshmeat.net.
- whitespace -- Programming language where only whitespace counts.
- x11vnc -- VNC server which uses your current X11 session.
- yarssr -- RSS reader for the notification area.
- zoidberg -- Modular Perl shell.
Orphaned Packages. 21 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 169 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.
- vcheck -- Utility to check and download the most recent program version. (Bug#245101)
- xfce4-artwork -- Additional artwork for the XFce4 Desktop Environment. (Bug#244558) (Bug#245126)
- xfce4-battery-plugin -- Battery monitor plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244559) (Bug#245114)
- xfce4-clipman-plugin -- Clipboard history plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244560) (Bug#245115)
- xfce4-datetime-plugin -- Date and time plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244561) (Bug#245116)
- xfce4-diskperf-plugin -- Disk performance display plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244562) (Bug#245117)
- xfce4-minicmd-plugin -- Mini-command line plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244565) (Bug#245118)
- xfce4-netload-plugin -- Network load monitor plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244566) (Bug#245121)
- xfce4-notes-plugin -- Sticky notes plugin for the XFce4 desktop. (Bug#244567) (Bug#245122)
- xfce4-showdesktop-plugin -- A show desktop button for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244568) (Bug#245123)
- xfce4-systemload-plugin -- System load monitor plugin for the XFce4 panel. (Bug#244569) (Bug#245124)
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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Andre Lehovich, Thomas Viehmann and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.