Debian Weekly News - December 14th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 49th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Bruce Byfield released a short introduction in apt-get on NewsForge. Again, developers were advised to close bugs automatically with a changelog entry only in connection with a proper description. Jason Boxman wrote a guideline for using Exim 4 and Courier IMAP on a Debian system.

Constructive Critique of Debian. In a guest editorial on DesktopLinux Binh Nguyen noted some key design attributes of Debian that make it one of the strongest and most versatile GNU/Linux distributions. He also observed certain weaknesses and argued that a few simple improvements and a more welcoming attitude to new users would significantly improve Debian. He concluded that Debian is a competent and robust distribution, but with a few critical flaws that have led to a perception of it being an elitist distribution.

Geek Feminists in Debian. Bruce Byfield reported about the Debian women sub-project and its beginnings. One of Debian women's main roles is to help women become Debian developers, partly by being supportive and encouraging, but also by demystifying the process. Debian women has created a friendly place for learning more about Debian and has drawn out many women to talk about their experiences and ambitions.

Multi-Head Computing.OPENSense Solutions announced the availability of Groovix, a Debian-based multi-user computer. Up to three sets of monitor, keyboard, mouse and speaker are attached to a single AMD Athlon based computer. The system consists of Debian GNU/Linux with KDE as desktop environment. The vendor stresses that they can't support other configurations, but, apt-get install gnome is not that hard to type.

Advertising on the Debian Website. Martin Michlmayr forwarded an inquiry to place advertising on the Debian website. Stephen Frost would welcome the potential revenue stream. However, several developers didn't like the idea and Alexander Schmehl even gave an example for content-driven advertising: if you search for the terms "Debian" and "Linux", you'll get an advertisement telling you the "true facts" about open source.

Support for SVG Icons. Jay Treacy wondered how SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) icons are supposed to be handled in the Debian system. Josselin Mouette explained that all of GTK+ already supports them and where they are usually put on the filesystem. Bill Allombert added that the menu manual only talks about XPM icons.

Ongoing dpkg Development. In a reply to an intent to package by Martin F. Krafft, Adam Heath revealed future plans for the dpkg-deb utility. In such a modular design editing Debian package without the need to install them would become an easy task. It would also support excluding entire directory hierarchies, such as /usr/share/doc.

GNU/Linux Core Consortium. Bruce Perens explained that the GNU/Linux Core Consortium (LCC) is what he originally proposed to do as the LSB and would like to have Debian's involvement. The main technical effect that he sees would be that the names of some dynamic libraries would change, which was not appreciated. The LCC aims to complement the LSB by agreeing on a single solutions for grey cases in the LSB.

GNOME Transition into Sarge finished. Jordi Mallach reported that gconf-editor was the last component of GNOME 2.8 that was pending to enter testing, which is done already. Earlier he reported that this has been the smoothest transition to testing since GNOME 2.0. Additionally, a new version of Evolution with all release-critical bugs fixed has been uploaded.

Supporting Free Java. Arnaud Vandyck asked other Java developer to test their programs with a free runtime and report the results. He started a page where he will document results of running projects with a free Java virtual machine. His own remarks contain experiences with a project that makes heavy use of threads.

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. 4 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 226 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 Matt Black, Adrian von Bidder and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.