Debian Weekly News - June 27th, 2006

Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Alan Baghumian announced a new version of Parsix a special Debian-based live and installation CD with Persian support. Joey Schulze reported that an RSS feed for the weekly news is generated automatically, including translations for the current issue.

Debian Query Language. Berke Durak from the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control is seeking feedback and ideas for defining a query language that would be useful to maintainers, power-users and researchers. They have already developed a dependency checker based on Boolean form. Tools for handling the Debian meta data with its evolution in time are also being implemented.

Date of last Modification. Kai Hendry noted that policy's date field is poorly implemented on /var/lib/dpkg/available. Relying instead on the changelog date for package activity can sometimes be incorrect as some developers may not update the date on their final change accordingly. Joey Hess stepped in and recommended the use of dch -r to update the changelog timestamp when continuing work on packages.

Priorities of Alternatives. Wouter Verhelst wondered why package maintainers are allowed to choose the priority for alternatives. Naturally they are biased, as demonstrated with mcedit becoming the default for /usr/bin/editor. Using popularity contest instead would ensure that the applications which most people prefer would be the default.

Improving Debian's Publicity. Raphaël Hertzog announced the creation of the debian-publicity mailing list. It aims at helping the press team by preparing and suggesting announcements and reviving the press clipping section of the project's website. It can also be a place to help Debian developers in drafting announcements intended for the debian-news mailing list. This initiative is one of the conclusions of the Representing Debian meeting held at this year's Debian conference. Assistance by non-technical people would be greatly appreciated.

Tracking Critical Bugs. Andreas Barth announced some enhancements in his bts2ldap interface for tracking critical issues in Debian packages. The interface now takes into account the version of the package a bug appeared or was resolved in. Steinar H. Gunderson then made many suggestions to improve tracking the resolution state of bugs in the Debian Bug Tracking System, for example by making the official release-critical bug graph use the versioning information.

Separating shared Libraries and Executables. Goswin von Brederlow noted that policy demands that run-time support programs using a shared library must not be put in the shared library package. This would prevent the installation of more than one version of the shared library. Goswin added that it would also complicate a conversion to multiarch.

Debian in Cuba. David Moreno Garza reported that he has been invited to go to Cuba to support some of Cuban Free Software initiatives, which some of them are Debian-based. Walter Landry explained that it used to be illegal under US law to export crypto to any country, which has been relaxed though, but does not include Cuba. According to Walter, some types of communication are allowed, but some are not and even using the mailing list infrastructure may be a problem for Debian.

Automatic Loading of Kernel Modules. Jim Popovitch noticed that the default installation of Debian loads many more kernel modules than he needs and wondered how to prevent this. Robert Sanchez explained that the system probably has some auto-detection running which automatically load modules for the hardware they have discovered.

Stopping Daemons upon Removal. Michael Prokop wondered about maintainer scripts that fail when they can't stop the daemon process they try to. Henrique de Moraes Holschuh added that stop targets are to exit with a zero exit code 0 if the service is already stopped. Bert Schubert explained that the proper solution for chroot environments is to add a policy-rc.d script and gave an example.

Private List Messages sent to Google Mail. Ian Jackson noted that the current privacy and processing policies of Google Mail are not compatible with Debian's policy for its private list. In his opinion Google should not get a copy of debian-private, even if the only current output is aggregate keyword hit reports.

TrueCrypt Licensing. Karl Goetz wondered if the license of the popular multi-platform disc encryption software TrueCrypt is free enough to allow distributing it with Debian. Michael Poole answered that the license isn't free at all because there are a lot of unclear and imprecise paragraphs which makes it impossible to distribute TrueCrypt within Debian.

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 311 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. To find out which orphaned packages are installed on your system the wnpp-alert program from devscripts may be helpful.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Kai Hendry, Mohammed Adnène Trojette, Sebastian Feltel and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.