Debian Weekly News - December 7th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 48th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Frank Ronneburg has updated his book about Debian to cover the upcoming release of sarge and will present it on December 14th in Berlin, Germany. Europcar has switched 1,500 computers in branch offices to Debian based thin clients, and is now moving 3,500 more machines in headquarters to GNU/Linux.

Hot Babe and non-US? After Thibaut Varène declared his intention to package hot babe, a small application showing different pictures (of a drawn girl) depending on the CPU temperature, a discussion about which packages should be part of Debian started. The question came up how to handle packages that are against the law in some countries. Paul Hampson wondered if non-US should be reactivated for such packages.

Sarge Release Update. Andreas Barth sent in another status report about the sarge release progress. He reported that GNOME 2.8 was accepted while KDE 3.3 still has issues that need to be resolved before its addition can be discussed. The main blocker of the release is still missing infrastructure, though.

Package Lists via LDAP. Sean Finney stated he has worked on implementing an alternative package list structure using the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Applying search filters on timestamps would make package list updates a lot faster, but apt is currently designed with the assumption that it fetches the list of packages in the same manner that it fetches the packages themselves.

Does Sarge really matter? Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier wondered if it really matters whether or when Debian releases the sarge distribution as official release. He added that the official release date doesn't really mean anything, since sarge is already widely in use. He emphasises on one of the nice things about Free Software which is immediate availability. Andreas Barth responded.

Preseed URL via DHCP. Joey Hess noticed that the kernel boot parameter space is too limited on HPPA to provide a preseed URL for Debconf and debian-installer. Steve Langasek added that the DHCP server is able to distinguish between classes which would make it possible to overload a common option.

New Debian-Installer Branch. Joey Hess announced that he has created a special development branch for the debian-installer sarge will use. The main trunk is now open for post-sarge changes. This means that the installer for sarge is more or less frozen. Christian Perrier additionally urged developers to avoid string changes.

Alternatives for su-to-root? Grant Diffey proposed to use the alternatives mechanism for programs that provide su-to-root functionality. Nikita Youshchenko asserted that the programs he listed do different things. Wouter Verhelst even added that the fact that gksu is used from the menu system instead of gksudo, means that one cannot conveniently use sudo in graphical environments.

Finding an Improved Release Process. Lex Hider started a discussion on alternatives to the current Debian release process which lead to comments on what stable actually means, the size of Debian and the increasing complexity of the dependency tree. Joey Hess eventually created a wiki page for release proposals and current bottlenecks to be discussed.

Virtual Package Dependencies. Daniel Burrows reminded other developers of the proper way to add a dependency (or recommendation) to a purely virtual package. He emphasises that it should be an OR dependency with a real package proposed as well so that apt-get doesn't install an arbitrary package that fulfils this dependency which may result in a lot of packages that neither the user nor the maintainer intended to get installed.

Character Encoding in Control Files. Peter Samuelson noticed that most non-ASCII characters in the control file are UTF-8 encoded. However, some characters aren't but policy only talks about character encoding in the changelog files. Denis Barbier opted for manual fixes instead of simply passing the lines in question through iconv.

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. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 224 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 Adrian von Bidder, Alexander Schmehl, Martin Zobel-Helas, Ifor Gaukroger and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.