Debian Weekly News - September 10th, 2001

Jigsaw Download. Richard Atterer announced the availability of Jigsaw Download 0.5.2 (or jigdo for short), a tool to help distribute large filesystem images like CD ISOs or DVD UDF files. Jigdo consists of a program to prepare the image file for download and a download tool to grab the files. At this time the download tool has not been implemented. Jigdo is a proposed replacement for the pseudo image kit. Richard is also looking for help with Jigdo, so if anyone has some free time on their hands this might be a fun project to sink your teeth into.

Kerberos Integration Mailing List. Sam Hartman is setting up a mailing list for integrating Kerberos support into Debian. Currently the list is not through Debian servers, you can find the archives and signup for the list at

Adopt a Package! There are a lot of orphaned (102) and up-for-adoption (35) packages out there. Some of the packages include kicq, knews, mcvert (Mac to Unix file converter) and several others. This week's list of packages is found here.

Translating Debian packages' descriptions. Michael Bramer has posted a new proposal to support multilingual package descriptions. In the meantime the Debian Description Translation Server has started sending out automatic notification mails whenever a new translation has been entered or modified. This caused some people feel offended. Adam Heath, as an example, wrote about this: "As an automated mail, to which I have not request, I consider this spam." It has not yet been decided how such translated descriptions should be handled, so these mails are just notifications which will hit developers who don't want to fiddle with it - and who may be confused by such mails.

Custom Debian Archives. Many people discovered the need for their own Debian archive in addition to the ones at as provided by the project. People who need updates to potato for corporate environments or who are not yet registered Debian developers often create an archive of their own. Oohara Yuuma (大原雄馬) has announced a small HOWTO that describes the way how to upload custom Debian packages on a web server so that they can be downloaded with apt-get by others.

Switching to UTF-8. Radovan Garabik has written a HOWTO that contains a step by step introduction to switching a Debian system to use UTF-8 encoding. Even though it is supposed to be well-documented how to switch to UTF-8 encoding, there are many pitfalls and gotchas. Often one has to locate the relevant information somewhere on the net. This HOWTO intends to fill that gap.

Debian mirrors on the 6Bone. Heikki Vatiainen has posted a report about Debian on IPv6-enabled hosts. Since there are two sites that are currently working and others are (re)joining 6Bone in the future, the question is how to add these hosts to the list of official Debian mirror servers. APT is fully IPv6 enabled and has been for a long time, so interested people can use these servers without a hassle if DNS is set up properly. There seem to have some confusion whether to use AAAA or A6 records for IPv6 hosts. Debian uses AAAA and has added their IPv6-enabled hosts to the domain.

Bugs in standard packages. Martin Michlmayr has announced the availability of It displays all bugs in packages of priority `standard'. "Standard" for the purpose of the freeze also includes all packages included in tasks, that's roughly this list. Since these are important packages, NMUs should not be released. Instead, patches or valuable comments should be sent to the Bugtracking System.

The Layne Incident The Debian-Security list was plagued for quite a while with a rather unintelligent individual who insisted on abusing the list with strings of obscenities rather than unsubscribing himself. (How he got subscribed in the first place is a matter of conjecture...) Wade Richards seems to have hit upon an extremely elegant and apparently effective solution to the problem. Since this sort of thing happens every now and again, folks who spend a lot of time on mailing lists may want to read Wade's solution.

Pentium Optimized Debian. Risko Gergely wrote in and asked us to announce that an effort to recompile Debian Potato with Pentium optimization is underway and now apt-gettable. You can find more info about these packages and apt lines at

Importance of packages. Junichi Uekawa has announced a script that will calculate how many packages depend on a package. It investigates both regular Depends as well as Build-Depends. The script has, however, issues with loops in the dependency tree, it will report funky numbers of packages in such a case.

Explicit Congestion Notification. After an update from a vanilla 2.2.x kernel to a 2.4 some sites will effectively disappear from the internet. Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) allows routers to notify clients about network congestion, resulting in fewer dropped packets and increased network performance. Note that, on the Internet, there are many broken firewalls which refuse connections from ECN-enabled machines, and it may be a while before these firewalls are fixed. Until then, to access a site behind such a firewall (some of which are major sites) you will have to disable this option. A discussion and another have been started which targets to a smooth upgrade of a Debian system, when a new ECN-enabled 2.4.x kernel is used. The current problem with Debian provided kernel images seems that ECN is enabled in the default 2.4.x kernel which is not disabled later (/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_ecn).

Backup Package Maintenance. During the base freeze preparations in the last few weeks, a problem Debian has always had became apparent again. Since Debian is a distributed, volunteer run project it is difficult to tell whether a maintainer is doing Debian work at the moment or not. In the freeze, it is often crucial to get a bug fixed within a very short period of time. If the maintainer doesn't respond to e-mail immediately, you can either wait or make an NMU. Martin Michlmayr has posted a proposal about a better use of multiple maintainers by using a backup maintainer or two listed in the Uploaders field.

Adduser rewrite? Roland Bauerschmidt released his plans of rewriting adduser from scratch in Python. Adduser is in base and part of the boot-floppies bootstrap process. Rewriting it in Python would add another set of dependencies which would bloat the base system even more. Quoting Randolph Chung: "Creating more dependencies is a Bad Thing(tm)."

Separate mailing list for users running testing? Discussions on debian-user show that many people are already running testing/unstable and have to ask back which distribution one is running who has experienced problems with a certain part of the system. The question came up whether debian-testing is a place for users or developers to discuss issues. Dwarf clarified this: "This list was created for the testing group started during the release of 1.3. Most of the members at that time were Debian users, and not developers. The whole point was to get users involved in testing. Developers said they were already testing on their own."

New Packages. This a short list of a few of the new and noteworthy packages for Debian this week. Note that this is by no means an all-inclusive list or in any way a snub against any packages not mentioned. Any maintainer who releases a package that they'd like to call attention to should send us a note.

Recent Security Advisories. There's only one security advisory this week, in the telnet daemon in the netkit-telnet-ssl_0.16.3-1 package found in stable. Anyone using this package will want to upgrade netkit-telnet-ssl. The original advisory is here.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.