Debian Weekly News - February 9th, 2005

Welcome to this year's 6th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Andreas Barth told us privately that the mipsel architecture is back in the list of supported architectures for testing. It's been reported that Bdale Garbee's young daughter Elizabeth, who has been a Debian user since she was nine, will deliver a talk about extending Tuxracer at the upcoming Linux conference Australia.

Debian Kernel IRC Meeting. Maximilian Attems announced an IRC meeting of Debian's kernel maintainers in order to decide the kernel versions for the sarge release. Dann Frazier added a table of available kernels. Steve Langasek provided a log of the discussion where the pros and cons of the 2.6.8 and 2.6.10 kernel trees were identified. 2.6.10 is not in a releasable condition for sparc currently, hence, the installer will stay with 2.6.8 for now.

Package Uploading without FTP. Since the compromise of Debian servers in 2003 normal developers don't have SSH access to ftpmaster. As a result, Bartosz Fenski wondered if there was a way to upload packages without using FTP. Andreas Barth suggested using the delayed queue on gluck which forwards packages every 15 minutes.

Report from Solutions Linux. Julian Blache submitted a report about the Debian booth at this year's Solutions Linux exhibition in Paris. Apparently this was the best booth they ever managed at this type of exhibition. Many visitors were interested in sarge release plans and in Babelbox, a demonstration machine that reinstalls itself automatically with a different language at each iteration.

Debian on the Mac Mini. William Sowerbutts reported that he has Debian running on his new Mac Mini, a PowerPC system in a small, quiet and attractive chassis. He has written up some notes on the installation process and explained partitioning. Basically, only a recent CD-R of the new installer and a weak lemon drink are all one needs.

Becoming a Debian Developer. Bruce Byfield explained how one becomes a Debian developer (DD). The process includes agreeing to the Social Contract, an identity check, and proving the candidate has the required technical skills. All candidates must be recommended by an advocate who is already a DD. In recent years the pass rate for those who complete the various hurdles has been almost 100 %, though the drop-out rate is high as well.

Software Vendors supporting Debian. Christian Perrier reported about a software vendor that approached Debian during the Solutions Linux exhibition due to the growing demand for supporting Debian. They didn't know how to support Debian and its kernels best. In France, some ministries are requiring contractors to support Debian. Joey Schulze explained that it's probably a good idea to follow Debian development by using an idle sid box.

A Peek into the NEW Queue. Al Stone wondered how to see what's in the NEW queue of the Debian archive. Jeroen van Wolffelaar pointed out the queue summary. Steve Langasek explained that increasing the rate at which new packages flow into unstable is not something that should be a priority when Debian is trying to fix release-critical bugs in preparation of a new release.

Valid and invalid Usernames. Marc Haber sought public opinion on usernames with dots and starting with digits. Alastair McKinstry added that POSIX already permitted dots in the username and Michelle Konzack revealed that chown from woody already supported this. Usernames starting with digits probably ask for trouble. A new adduser package has been uploaded to experimental to implement this.

Debug Packages in the Archive. Josselin Mouette noticed an increasing number of -dbg packages in the archive that are only useful for debugging. Joey Hess proposed to introduce a separate section in the archive or a separate archive dedicated to debug packages.

Naming wireless Interfaces. Wichert Akkerman brought up a discussion on naming wireless interfaces in Debian and Linux since some are called eth* while others are named wlan*. Christoph Hellwig asserted that all drivers in the mainline kernel use eth*. David Goodenough added that some drivers use other interface names and that wlan* is far from being the standard name.

Choice of Venue. Glenn McGrath wondered why a license which states the choice of venue is non-free. Steve Langasek explained that the problem with choice of venue clauses is that anyone who accepts the license must also accept the burden of defending themselves against charges of license violation in a court which is likely to have an implicit bias in favour of the copyright holder.

Debian Project Leader Elections. Manoj Srivastava announced the opening of the nomination period for this year's Debian Project Leader elections. Matthew Garrett and Andreas Schuldei have nominated themselves already. Further nominations will be accepted until February 28th, followed by the campaigning period until March 21st and the voting period until April 11th.

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 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 Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.