Debian Weekly News - May 17th, 2005

Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. A paper from the MIT talks about the development process of Free Software, which is the basis for an article on Groklaw that emphasises on the importance of Free Software due to its educational potential. Looking at the traffic on the debian-release list it becomes apparent that Debian sarge will be released soon.

Inconsistent Password Authentication. Shaul Karl wondered about the difference between a disabled login and a disabled password. Marc Haber explained how this works with ssh. Russ Allbery added some notes about the UsePam option. Brian May reported even more oddities.

Mixing GNU GPL and FDL Content. Gueven Bay wondered if he can mix content licensed under the GNU FDL and the GNU GPL. Anthony DeRobertis emphasised that both licenses are incompatible. One would have to get permission from the copyright holders to distribute their work under a different license.

Alioth on the Move. Wichert Akkerman announced that Alioth, Debian's GForge incarnation, will move to a new server. Now that the AMD64 archive has been moved to its own server, there will be sufficient disk space on the new Alioth host. After the move, source code and web pages will be on the same host again and password changes won't need a day to take effect.

Upgrade Tests. Steve Langasek called for upgrade testers. It is recommended to read the release notes before upgrading, and in particular Chapter 4, "Upgrades from previous releases". Andreas Barth has prepared an upgrade report template to help when reporting problems with the upgrades. If you do run into problems please fill it out, and email it to

Debian is different. Anthony Awtrey took a look at how the Debian distribution is developed. He noted that the build and distribution processes of commercial distributions are tightly locked up while the development in Debian is open and freely accessible. He mentioned that for some organisations it is vital that the processes is visible, available and extensible.

Automatic Package Testing. Lars Wirzenius wrote down his thoughts about automatic testing of Debian packages. These include testing of upstream functionality with unit tests and the like which should be added to the upstream source. Testing of Debian packaging functionality should be done in tools like linda and lintian. For installation and removal tests a new tool would be needed.

Call for a Free BIOS. Richard Stallman called for support and help freeing the computer BIOS. Formerly, it was impossible to replace and ran from read-only memory, but is stored in non-volatile writable memory these days. He asked to purchase CPU chips from manufacturers that support a free BIOS. In light of digital restriction management it becomes even more important to be able to trust the computer.

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.

Removed Packages. 6 packages have been removed from the Debian archive during the past week:

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