Debian Weekly News - March 28th, 2000

Welcome to Debian Weekly News, a newsletter for the Debian developer community.

Election results: Wichert Akkerman was re-elected Debian project Leader. Congratulations to Wichert, and thanks to the other candidates who volunteered for the job.

Debian 2.1r5 has been released. Like the last couple of minor releases, it consists of security and Y2K updates.

We're now past the second bug horizon. 28 packages were not fixed in time, of those about 12 are too important to really be removed. Though it is clear that bug horizons do work to reduce the number of release critical bugs, they're not as effective at motivating people to fix bugs in very important packages.

Beware Debian's vast corporate might. This article talks about how ports of major distributions to the PowerPC may affect existing distributions there: "Linux PPC and Yellow Dog Linux are relatively new upstart companies when it comes to the Linux world, and they just do not have the corporate power and user base that both Debian and SuSE boast. Despite that small gaffe, it does raise some interesting questions.

Does the policy process need to be reformed? It certainly can have problems, as in the case of the /usr/share/doc issue last year, when things are added to policy without enough forethought. Ian Jackson believes that the policy process needs to be changed back to something like what it was 2 years ago, with a few people having absolute control over policy. Others disagree, and think that while adding a chairman to the process may be a good idea, the process should remain in the hands of the people on the debian-policy mailing list. This will be discussed further on IRC on the 29th.

A thread about default colors of programs like mutt, ls, and so on has raised some interesting issues. Anyone who is not a "bug-eyed alien" with ultraviolet vision has probably struggled to read dark blue text on a black background, or bright yellow text on a white background, before giving up and changing a program's colors to something more usable. Two things are keeping Debian from changing the colors by default: First, there's a lot of variation in personal preferences and setups; some use a black background, and some a white. It's difficult to come up with default colors that work well on both backgrounds. Second, large changes from upstream defaults are likely to annoy just as many people as they please. So while we can fix extremely bad default color choices, the rest will still have to be up to the individual user.

A new master archive server is in the works, thanks to an impressive hardware donation from Sun. The new server will eventually take over some of the duties of

The amount of spam to Debian lists, the bug tracking system, and individual developers has been on the rise lately. What can we do about it? Jason Gunthorpe looked at the effects of using 4 different RBLs. Most people agree that any additional spam-blocking should be carefully considered, to make sure we don't also block legitimate Debian users.

Confirmation: Transmeta's Mobile Linux is based on Debian, as was rumored earlier.

Every week Debian Weekly News reports on a very few of the more important and newsworthy happenings in Debian. But don't be fooled by the apparent slimness of these summaries. A lot is happening beneath the surface, as this letter points out:

I was recently auditing some data I had collected from the Debian project and came across the following statistic: Code changes are submitted to or accepted by the Debian project once every 13 seconds to 7 minutes (depending on time of day). In other words, in the time it takes to dial a 1-800 number, someone may have fixed a bug in or added a feature to Debian, sometimes before the first ring, and definitely before you finally get off the holding queue and talk to a real human being.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Joey Hess.