Debian Weekly News - May 11th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 19th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. If you were a fan of the original PacMan game, you'll probably like the New York version of it as well. The FFII has learned that the EU Council of Ministers has decided to ignore the EU Parliament, and instead plan to establish a reckless "patent everything" approach to software and business models.

Debian OASIS Membership. Mark Johnson reported about Debian's membership in OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards. Debian is the only Free Software organization with any representation at this standards organization, and hence provides the only Free Software voice at OASIS. All Debian developers are welcome to join any OASIS Technical Committee in which they are interested and are encouraged to do so.

How much Documentation is there? In light of recent discussion of documentation quality, Karsten M. Self looked at the quantity of documentation included in Debian. A typical desktop installation includes about 1,600 manpages which correspond to over 27,000 printed pages, and the 60,000+ manpages in all of Debian unstable compare to over 261,000 pages printed, or 523 books' worth, or $ 9,152 in photocopy costs. That doesn't count READMEs, HOWTOs, RFCs, Linux Gazette, info pages, and other online documentation also available.

Debian-Installer Release Process Retrospective. Joey Hess reported about the last debian-installer beta release. This release had severe problems with regards to bug-fixing and testing. He drew several ideas to improve the work of the installer team. Among others these include speeding up their pulse and switching to testing-style udeb propagation. He would also like to see a remote test laboratory that could be used for tests of most architectures.

Serial ATA-RAID on Debian. Karl Schmidt explained in a howto that the last beta release of the debian-installer supports serial ATA (SATA), but going on to RAID is still a manual task. The basic idea was to install Debian on one drive, partition the second drive with just the same sizes, copying the Debian installation over from the first disk, then repartitioning it and attaching it to the degraded array.

Draft for Modification of the DFSG. Buddha Buck sent in a first draft proposal for modification of the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) to allow certain forms of documentation, fonts, and other matters that don't conform to the existing DFSG into Debian. Basically he proposed to mention documentation and other written materials, images, fonts, and sounds and deal with them explicitly.

Debian Trademarks. Ean Schuessler started a discussion on the usefulness of the Debian trademark since the legal counsel of SPI believes that Debian would be best served by abandoning its marks and purposefully making the term "Debian" generic. Enforcement is the only way that a trademark can truly be held. The owner must be the universal and final arbitrator of use and must show that use is carefully monitored and enforced. This, however, does involve a lot of money.

Debian Mini-Conference at LinuxTag. Alexander Schmehl is looking for proposed talks for the Debian Day which will be held on Thursday, June 24th, during LinuxTag in Karlsruhe, Germany. This is a one day conference dedicated to Debian people, targeting advanced users and developers. Some talks were proposed but don't have a speaker yet. Interested people should contact the debian-events-eu list.

Heise Portal running Debian. According to the German computer magazine c't, the popular German tech news portal is being run on a cluster of Debian 3.0 machines. They are using 23 rack-mounted Xeon-2-servers, 18 of them delivering HTML pages, five offering back-end services like MySQL databases and indexing, assisted by two Solaris machines for mail and backup. The site is fulfilling up to 92 million HTTP requests per day, the databases have to process up to two million request per hour, using a redundant load-balancing mechanism. Heise chose Debian because of the comfortable package management and update facilities.

Debian License Summaries. Frank Lichtenheld and Andreas Barth worked on a way to present the findings of debian-legal on the Debian website with regards to software licenses. Similar lists are maintained by the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. However, the Debian project uses different criteria to judge the categorisation of licenses, as shown in the list.

Preferred License for Forums Content. Sebastian Feltel wondered which license he should use or require for content in a web-based forum. He has used the GNU Free Documentation License before, but since it is considered non-free by the Debian project it is not suited.

Kernel Maintenance Group. Andres Salomon suggested to form an Alioth kernel packaging project to facilitate kernel maintenance in Debian. Francesco Lovergine noted that the first step in this direction, the creation of the debian-kernel mailing list, is done but apparently has missed its goal.

PNG Library Maintenance. Josselin Mouette suggested to adjust packages that link against a version of libpng. Several packages still don't use versioned symbols and only require a recompilation. Using versioned symbols is a precondition for a smooth transition for all packages still using libpng2 or libpng10. After that's done, they should be adjusted to build with libpng 1.2.x.

Bittorrents of current Debian Release. Mattias Wadenstein announced that bittorrents of the current release are available. This service is currently in beta stage, so please test it and tell him about any strange stuff. Joey Hess asked if torrents could be created for the weekly built full sarge iso images, since the next debian-installer beta release will include full iso images and not only netinstall images.

Debian with integrated XML Support. The Debian project announced that the upcoming stable Debian release (code-named sarge) will feature fully integrated XML support. Multiple toolchains for XSL(T) processing, a fully standards-compliant XML catalog system, and a Debian XML policy document for both Debian developers and users provide the backbone of a complete, out-of-the-box system for XML developers and authors.

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 162 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 Karsten M. Self, Michael Below and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.