Debian Weekly News - November 16th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Bruce Perens has written an article on software patents in standards and explains how they hinder software development. It seems that the memory consumption problem in SpamAssassin 3 is finally fixed, so the package may be able to migrate into sarge.

Release Status Update. Colin Watson sent in a new release status update in which he reported that two more people are helping with release management and that the toolchain has been finalised. However, several architectures still face upgrade problems with regards to the kernel and glibc. He also revealed that sarge will be released with KDE 3.2. The key blocker, though, the buildd network, hasn't been adjusted to testing-security yet.

GNOME 2.8 for Sarge? On behalf of the GNOME team Jordi Mallach wondered if he may upload GNOME 2.8 into unstable since it was released early in September already when sarge was said to be frozen really soon. Since it has received a lot of testing and many users are already using it through the experimental distribution, it seems to be suited for the new stable Debian release. The release team has since then approved the upload of GNOME 2.8.1 into unstable, which may migrate in parts or as a whole into sarge as well.

Digging into the Installer. Ingrid Marson interviewed David Pashley about the new Debian installer, which focuses on an easy installation. Even though the installer is still text-based some developers are working on a graphical interface. Anthony Awtrey added that the Installer supports automation by allowing to pre-seed a configuration with all the options managed by the Debian configuration system.

Large Opteron Cluster running Debian. Thomas Lange reported about the new AMD Opteron cluster Sarek at the UmeƄ University. It consists of 192 nodes (384 CPUs), was installed with FAI (Fully Automatic Installation) and runs the pure64 port of Debian GNU/Linux for amd64 with a 2.6 Linux kernel. This cluster was even listed at rank 165 on the top 500 list of June 2004 and at rank 220 in November.

YaST2 for Debian? Mario Fux was looking for somebody to port YaST2 to Debian. It's an overall configuration utility which seems to be missing in Debian. Jaldhar Vyas answered that he planned to check whether he can package YaST2 for Debian. He also mentioned a YaST2-frontend to debconf.

Help for Upstream Software Authors. Adrian von Bidder started to document hints for upstream authors which will make the work for package maintainers easier. The idea is not to duplicate the Debian policy, but to give upstream developers an idea how their software can be written to be easily packaged.

Mounting removable Media. Martin Pitt reported about the idea of upstream about automatic USB/FireWire device handling. Since he is not satisfied with this he has developed pmount, which can be executed by a normal user to mount removable media. He would like to propagate this approach to Debian.

PHP Accelerator undistributable? Andres Salomon noticed that turck-mmcache, a precompiler and cache to improve performance of PHP scripts, is covered under the GNU GPL but links against PHP4, whose license is incompatible with the GNU GPL. Since this renders the package undistributable by Debian, an interested user is seeking a license change.

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.

Debian Packages introduced last Week. Every day, a different Debian package is featured from the testing distribution. If you know about an obscure package you think others should also know about, send it to Andrew Sweger. Debian package a day introduced the following packages last week.

Orphaned Packages. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 221 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.

Want to continue reading DWN? Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers who watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

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