Debian Weekly News - January 23rd, 2002

Welcome to DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. After the last issue was released, several news services, such as Pro-Linux, BSD Today, Linux Today and Slashdot featured a story about the Debian (GNU/)NetBSD system. Hopefully it gets enough attention to help its development.

New Powermac Flavour for Boot-Floppies. Colin Walters recently completed work on a new-powermac flavour for woody boot-floppies, and the installer needs more testing. The old powermac flavour did not support newer hardware, so G4 Powerbook, iBook2, and iBook Dual USB were not supported properly by older 2.2 kernels, and a 2.4 kernel was needed. This will be released with 3.0.19, please give it a try and report problems to

Debian Mini Conference. There's going to be a Debian Mini Conference before the next in Brisbane, Australia, which takes place from February 6th to 9th. James Bromberger and others are organizing it, and speakers will include Anthony Towns, Russell Coker, Bdale Garbee, Brendan O'Dea, Jason Andrade and others. Anyone who is in the region is invited to come on down and share a beer etc.

New 2.4 Installation Flavour? Eduard Bloch discussed how the Debian boot-floppies could support a Linux kernel 2.4.x. His proposed solution includes a special kernel-image package for boot-floppies and a new flavour (in addition to plain, safe, idepci and compact). This will add more recent hardware to the list of supported hardware, while the existing flavours will continue to work.

Sponsoring non-free Packages? Jérôme Marant proposed that we don't sponsor people who want to upload non-free packages. His main concern is that people who are only trying to upload non-free packages into the Debian archive probably don't understand the Debian philosophy and dedication to Free Software. However, our social contract talks about support for our users who develop and run non-free software on Debian. Additionally, sponsors are free to decide who they sponsor and what they sponsor.

No Freeze Progress? Adrian Bunk is frustrated because he feels that there is no progress being made in the freeze of woody. Woody won't enter the next stage of the freeze until base and standard packages are in a releasable state. The current situation prohibits this: the number of release critical (RC) bugs in these packages is increasing.

The Release Manager, Anthony Towns, explains: The goal that was meant to have passed was "no outstanding RC bugs in base". However with things like outstanding glibc security bugs for about one month, along with some other RC issues that have been around, partially even with a patch sitting in the Bug Tracking System (BTS), he doesn't see much point worrying about all the other things that need to be done. Anthony adds the following request: Fix RC bugs promptly, and other bugs as soon as you can.

Internationalizing APT. Michael Piefel announced that he is working on an internationalized version of APT and related tools from the same package. Currently Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish are supported. If you want to help, please check out the status page. Michael has uploaded a preliminary package.

A New Release Scheme? Adrian Bunk proposed a different release scheme to the release manager, which he thinks will result in a release by June this year. Anthony Towns proposed to fix an RC bug with every post to the thread instead of eating up time and beating each other's arguments into the ground. Adam Heath added that the proposal doesn't solve the problems with base packages having unfixed RC bugs.

VAX Port of Debian? Greg Ingram has an old VAX machine running GNU/Linux and would like to start porting Debian to this architecture. The only answer to his request for instructions came from Marcus Brinkmann, who replied with a detailed list that starts with "Get rid of your job, your hobbies and all your friends". Coming from the person who started our Hurd port, this pessimistic opinion is definitely not encouraging. One thing is certain, Greg has a long way to go before he eventually succeeds.

Mixing Debian Releases the Easy Way. Robert McQueen sent us a note about mixing several different releases of Debian with the same configuration. You'll still be able to use the testing distribution for updates, but you are also able to install packages (and their dependencies) from the unstable distribution if you like to.

CD Image Mirrors. Josip Rodin posted the list of currently 66 sites that mirror Debian CD images, that are recorded in the central Debian mirror database. These sites distribute CD images through FTP, HTTP or rsync. Some more have been added since then. Several people are asking for images of 2.2r5, which were not yet added to the main CD page but are now.

Mobile Debian? Josh Hansen wondered if there is any current plan for a mobile edition of the Debian distribution, for use on handhelds like the iPAQ. Shaleh explained that Debian has been used as a basis for the iPaq's Linux distribution. However, it is not designed for handhelds so they changed a lot. Even use a different (but very very similar) packaging format. Additionally, there is the Intimate Project which is a fully blown Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution for the Compaq iPAQ, and the Familiar Project that works on creating the next generation of PDA OS, and that has just recently published the release candidate for v0.5.1.

Help with Packaging GRASS. A question came up asking about the status of packaging GRASS. Federico Di Gregorio replied that he has preliminary packages ready which are full of packaging errors and generate a single 25MB package. He asked for help with this effort; so if somebody wants to help, please contact Federico.

SPAM Causes Trouble on Debian Mailing Lists. The Debian project runs a lot of mailing lists. Many good discussions about installation problems, development related items, policy, documentation, and so on, are made there. These lists are distressed with a lot of SPAM mails (such as this one). While some people eventually unsubscribe from these lists, others suggest solutions for preventing these mails from being delivered: procmail rules, spamassassin, spamfilter etc. However, such rules need to be updated regularly and filtering out particular charsets could discourage developers in those countries from contributing to the project. Note from our listmasters: The lists are already using spamfilter, but unfortunately it doesn't prevent all spam mails.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following new or updated packages were added to the Debian archive recently.

Security Updates. You know the drill, please make sure that you update your systems if you have this package installed.

Orphaned Packages. 13 packages were orphaned this week. This makes it total 108 orphaned packages. Please see the WNPP pages for the full list.

Got news? Please inform us about everything that's going on in the Debian community. We are always looking for more interesting stories to add, especially new items by voluntary writers. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

Latest News: The Tunney Act. Jeremy White from the WINE project released a confession of shame, and a call to action. People who care about WINE, Free Software and Microsoft should read it and consider sending an email if they are a U.S. citizen.

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