Debian Weekly News - August 30th, 2005

Welcome to this year's 35th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Carla Schroder explained reasons to use Debian and gave an overview of several derived distributions. Sean Michael Kerner reported about Debian's debut in China with Sun Wah's enterprise Debian offering.

Rejections from NEW. Jörg Jaspert announced the requirements for packages to pass the NEW queue. Basically, all rules should be logical and obvious, but still broken packages get uploaded. The FAQ includes gross howlers and issues that contribute to a higher probability of a rejection.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Development Machine. Guillem Jover announced the availability of a network connected machine running the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port. All developers can be granted access to it. He also reported that 81.69 % of packages in main are available for the kfreebsd-i386 architecture.

Too many Transitions. Andreas Barth reported about the ongoing transition of packages: Glibc, C++ ABI, KDE, X.Org and GNOME. He asked developers not to rename any libraries or bump the soname before these transitions are finished, since that would have the potential to stall the process even more. Many packages are blocked from testing due to these transitions already.

Ranking Bug Reports. Paul Brossier proposed to add a feature to the bug tracking system to measure the number of users that are annoyed by each bug in order to get an impression of the importance of the particular bug. Stuart Yeates added that a good way to start could be a cross-reference to the popularity contest. Jon Dowland noted that bugs are already rated by severity.

Posix-compliant Scripts. Brian Carlson suggested that all maintainers test their packages with posh as standard shell. Steve Langasek asserted that the practical impact would be zero since the POSIX extensions mentioned are supported by the other shells, including busybox. Marco d'Itri added that posh does not even provide a size benefit.

Debian CD/DVD Contents. Jerome Warnier wondered if there was a way to determine on which official CD a particular package is distributed. Bartosz Fenski answered that currently this is only possible by looking at the jigdo files. Guilherme de S. Pastore pointed to an automatically generated list with the requested information.

New Upstream Versions. Nikita Youshchenko proposed to allow new upstream versions of Mozilla and friends to enter stable since it seems to be impossible to properly support them security-wise. Martin Pitt reported that he tried to backport fixes, but ended up with a broken browser, and hence had to give up.

New-Maintainer Process. Yaroslav Halchenko wondered if there is a sufficient quantity of application managers to cover all new applicants. Marc Brockschmidt negated that and explained that application managers need to invest some time on a regular basis and know a lot about Debian. Some of them also get bored by the repetition.

European Union Public License. Ales Cepek wondered about the freeness of the European Union Public License. Florian Weimer found several flaws that would make the license incompatible with the GNU General Public License. Nathanael Nerode also discovered several problems in the draft.

Debconf Dependency. Joey Hess announced that he will eventually file bug reports on packages that only depend on debconf and not on debconf-2.0 as well. The latter is needed so debconf can finally be replaced by cdebconf. debconf-2.0 was added to the Debian policy as a virtual package in 2002 and has been provided by debconf since 2003.

Reporting List Spam. Nico Golde asked if it is possible to report spam distributed via the lists not only via web interface but also via mail. Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña also wondered what happens after a mail is reported as spam. Frans Pop explained that currently data is only collected. The intention is to use the data both to improve filtering and clean the archives. The set of tools for that has yet to be developed though.

Converting Source Code. Svante Signell wondered how the copyright of a program is transferred when somebody manually converts or implements it into a different language. Arnoud Engelfriet stated that the converter only owns a copyright of the final work if the translation required creative work. Sean Kellogg, however, asserted that the converter would only hold a copyright on the expression that is the translation.

Ethical Moments in Debian. Biella Coleman announced the successful defence of her dissertation about ethics and politics of the Free Software movement and the availability of chapter six which covers the Debian project. In this chapter she explained the internal culture in the Debian project that she has investigated during several occasions. According to Wouter Verhelst she certainly has a far better view on the general picture than most developers can ever hope to have.

Non-free Build Scripts. Michael Ablassmeier reported about the di package whose upstream developers have decided to switch to iffe as a configure replacement. However, it is distributed under a allegedly non-free license. Bas Zoetekouw asserted that if a package requires non-free software to build, it cannot go into the main archive, regardless of the fact that the resulting binary does not depend on non-free packages.

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. 1 package was orphaned this week and requires a new maintainer. This makes a total of 187 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.

Removed Packages. 7 packages have been removed from the Debian archive during the past two weeks:

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.