Debian Weekly News - November 7th, 2000

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XFree86 4.0.1 has entered unstable. The new version of X took significant effort to package -- Branden Robinson worked on it nearly full time for "about 4 months", reorganizing the entire set of packages, waiting for security holes to be fixed, and producing some 50 test releases to work out all the kinks. The result is a surprisingly polished upgrade (by unstable's standards anyway -- many problems are still being encountered).

A slightly less polished upgrade involving perl 5.6 and dpkg 1.7.0 has also hit unstable. A bug in the update-alternatives provided by the new version of dpkg broke perl for a while, and though the problem is at least partly resolved by now, many smaller problems are still being dealt with. Unstable seems likely to live up to its name for the next week or two.

The new version of dpkg has several new features, including support for marking the origin of a package for use by third party .deb creators like HelixCode that should allow bugs to be directed to the right place, a "statoverride" mechanism that allows overriding the permissions of any file on the system across upgrades, an improved dpkg-shlibdeps, and a new /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg config file.

Progeny has announced a public beta test of Progeny Debian, "an open source, commercial version of Debian". According to the press release, "Progeny Debian features a new installer, as well as new tools for administration, configuration and package management" An announcement posted to debian-devel provides more details: They have modified several Debian packages to add Gnome interfaces, so their package management is done via "gtasksel", a modified tasksel, and package configuration makes heavy use of Debconf with a Gnome frontend. Other features include hardware autodetection and GRUB. Progeny was asked if their enhancements will be contributed back to Debian, and responded "Yes, at the discretion of the Debian maintainers of the relevant packages." Progeny Debian is based on unstable, and "has been tested thoroughly by Progeny's developers" -- as such, once it comes out of beta, it might serve as a useful upgrade for those who need unstable's features but cannot deal with daily upgrades and breakage. (See also: an article on Debian Planet about Debian and commercial variants.)

The first in a series of weekly debian-installer status reports was released, detailing what progress is being made on the new Debian installer, and listing the many parts that have yet to be written.

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