Debian Weekly News - October 11th, 2000

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

Making bugs more manageable. Adam Heath and Anthony Towns have been working on the bug tracking system recently, and have implemented an important new feature. Bug reports can now have "tags" associated with them, to allow the bugs to be categorized in various ways that should be useful for developers who are trying to deal with large volumes of bug reports. Some of the tags that can be used include "patch", "wontfix", "moreinfo", "unreproducible", and "stable". It should be interesting to see in the next few weeks how these tags effect the use of the BTS.

Several bugs in the bug tracking system itself have popped up recently, including duplicated bug reports, and some bug reports that were not sent to the maintainer (maintainers should check their bug list page on the BTS web site). Adam Heath posted a summary of the status of these problems. He also talked about upcoming development ideas for the BTS, and noted that "Yes, Debbugs activity is picking up again. This is good."

Vladimir Vukicevic has managed to squeeze Debian onto Compaq's IPaq handheld, and has written a HOWTO describing the process. Aside from some missing information in section 1.2.2, it looks fairly painless. It does require a compact flash card be used with the IPaq for the root filesystem.

Will a lack of security support for Debian 2.1 harm Debian's future growth? A few weeks ago the security team announced that they are phasing out security support of Debian 2.1. This was discussed in a recent Linux Weekly News, which explored the possibility that commercial third parties such as Stormix and Corel could take over such security support, but concluded that "the commercial distributors are not filling in the Debian support gap." They also predict that there is an audience for such fixes, and state that Debian "is going to have to address the concerns that audience has. One important component of that is to provide timely updates for current and past releases. Currently, this need is not being met, and that will affect Debian's future growth."" In the meantime, few people asked the security team to continue to support Debian 2.1, and a security hole in boa that exposes the contents of local files has been fixed -- but only in Debian 2.2 and unstable. (Also, the security team has announced that esound is not vulnerable to a recently reported /tmp file race condition -- it was fixed back in February.)

Should locale data be split out of large packages in some way? This question first came up when KDE was added to Debian last month. KDE includes nearly 50 kde-i18n-* packages, one for each support language. Now glibc's maintainer is confronting the same problem: He'd like to let people avoid downloading and installing 20 megabytes of locale data that is currently contained in the locales and i18ndata packages if they are only going to use one language. The obvious solution is to split the packages as was done with KDE, but there are already complaints about KDE's many i18n packages; splitting each major package into 50 packages will not scale -- it will make the package lists even more unwieldy to download and read through. Some ideas are to dpkg support some form of subpackages, or let dpkg be told never install files into certain directories, so even if all the locale data has to be downloaded, one can choose to only install part of it. Neither idea is perfect, and there is no resolution on this question yet.

Voting has begun on whether to remove non-free from the Debian archive. This decision will be made in two stages: The first ballot will determine which of two proposals is finally voted on. Or, if you prefer, you can debate the finer points of Debian constitutional procedure, and argue about whether this ballot should be retracted entirely. Most of us would rather be coding, so Debian Weekly News will not go into any more detail on this issue until it is resolved.

Andover News profiles Ian Murdock, father of Debian and also now of a baby girl (congrats, Ian and Deb!). The article provides some insights into Ian, and also some good quotes about Debian, such as: "It's critical mass. I was Debian and eventually it grew beyond that and other people became involved and at some point, I'm not sure when, it took upon a life of its own. Like a living organism it's got it's own survival instinct.".

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