Debian Weekly News - April 3rd, 2002

Welcome to this year's fourteenth issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Since Monday was April 1st, here's Debian's this year's April fools prank, which was a lot funnier than last year's joke. By the way, here are the pranks from linux-kernel, Slashdot and Dutch Qt bigots. CPAN announced their shift towards Java and turned green/white on black.

Debian's Problems, Debian's Future. Eduard Bloch sent a report listing some of Debian's problems. Eduard believes that it is time to point out some bad trends in Debian, which have to be terminated, or otherwise the whole system is going to collapse, sooner or later. Some people have agreed to postpone such discussions after the Woody release, though.

Debian Apache 2.0.34. Thom May announced the availability of Debian packages for Apache 2.0.32, which are already superseded by packages for version 2.0.34. Since this is Apache2 they are not yet included in the Debian archive. You are, however, free to fetch packages from Thom's web page. Please don't use the Bug Tracking System but send comments to instead.

LDAP Backend for Debconf. Matthew Palmer made an initial release of debconf-ldap, an LDAP backend for debconf. It allows you to store cluster-wide configuration in a central repository, and even store machine-specific configuration in a separate repository. You can download Matthew's packages from here. He's looking for comments, please send them to

Debian Jr. Quick Guide. Derek Neighbors and Ben Armstrong wrote the Debian Jr. Quick Guide which aims at those who would like to guide children using Debian Jr., particularly those who are new to it and are planning to install it. Parts of the document are useful for the system administrator as well. Please send comments to Ben Armstrong.

Academic Papers in Debian. C.M. Connelly did some research on packages containing academic papers as part of their documentation. Her feeling is that the historical and frozen documents describing some early state or underlayment of the software, and not day-to-day documentation, shouldn't be worried about. She raises the question if the inclusion in the source package is sufficient to assume that its distribution is legal under the terms of the copyright of the entire package.

Debian to Join OASIS. Mark Johnson initiated an effort for the Debian Project to join OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). Quickly he was able to raise enough funds to make Debian join the group as the first GNU/Linux distribution. OASIS is an international consortium that creates interoperable industry specifications based on public standards such as XML, SGML and DocBook, which are integrable parts of the Debian SGML infrastructure.

Dropping non-free SSH. Aaron Ucko believes that there is no good reason anymore to keep ssh-nonfree around. For a while the advantage over OpenSSH was support for Kerberos, which is already included in OpenSSH as well. Since nobody objected, Aaron later released a transition proposal to implement a smooth transition for our users.

teTeX License Survey. C.M. Connelly has been checking the licenses of about three hundred documentation files included with Debian's teTeX packages to verify that these files may be distributed with Debian. She found that about thirty files either cannot be distributed at all or are not free. In many cases, the documentation files did not contain specific licensing information, so the licensing information for the entire package or font distribution applies to the documentation as well. Upstream was informed so these issues may be resolved sooner or later.

Update on the Project Leader Election. It is amusing that the voting system is rewritten during the vote, but things seem to work out well. Manoj Srivastava reports that the scripts that are required to process the vote are mostly done, and that automated acks and naks are sent out. He also released a statement that covers accountability of the secret ballot. Each voter will receive a secret token, which was introduced by Anthony Towns. With this method the secret ballot can be verified from public ballot results. Here are stats.

Compiler Cache for Buildds? Paul Russell wondered if it would be a good idea to install Andrew Tridgell's Compiler Cache on the buildd machines. In theory this sounds like a good idea, however the cache would have to be several Gigabytes large, since there are 5,000 source packages. Even if the binary package is only a few MB's large, glibc source takes about 600 MB and XFree86 even takes 1.6 GB. A cache should at least cover these large and timeconsuming packages, which have to be rebuilt every once in a while.

New Installer for Debian? The Linux User Magazine from Germany started an effort to create a new installer for Debian. They believe that the current installer is the most complicated one among all GNU/Linux distributions but that the packaging system rocks. Hence, they would like to create an easy installation system targeting at newbie users. Interested parties should send feedback and check the new installer which has been postponed until Woody is released.

New Stable Revision Released. Joey finally released another revision (r6) of Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 (codename `potato'). This revision adds no less than 23 more security updates to the stable distribution of Debian, covering packages like analog, glibc, gnujsp, gzip, listar, mod_ssl, ncurses, php, sudo, uucp and xchat. A few important corrections were added as well, which cover packages like dump, man2html, nfs, samba and squid. See the preparation page for details.

Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have this packages installed.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Orphaned Packages. 6 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 115 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.

Got News? Please inform us about everything that is happening in the Debian community. We are always looking for any interesting stories to add, especially new items by volunteer writers, and topics we tend to miss. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Yooseong Yang and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.