Debian Weekly News - October 15th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 40th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. This week we are pleased to include items by Matt Black and Andre Lehovich. Additionally, a new web-based Debian forum has been discovered. Looking at security, NewsFactor is running an article comparing the security of GNU/Linux and other systems.

Debian and Freedom CPU. Russell Coker contacted the Freedom CPU project (F-CPU) to find out what can be added to Debian to make it a better platform for F-CPU development work. This is a CPU developed with the techniques of Free Software and released under a free license. If you are interested in what the F-CPU project is and want to know more, please read this interview with Rudolf Usselman about OpenCores.

Trailing Space in the Shebang Line. Joel Baker, who works on the NetBSD port of Debian, discovered that several debian/rules files have a trailing space in the shebang line (the #! line). While this has no effect on GNU/Linux, it does cause breakage on NetBSD, due to differences in the script handlers. He wonders if anything would break if the trailing space would be removed.

Human Rights requires Free Software. Andy Oram reports on O'Reilly Network on a practitioner's view of the critical role Free Software plays in the work of human rights activists around the globe. This call for Free Software was made in a speech on October 5th by Dr. Patrick Ball, the deputy director of the Science and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Patrick appeals to Free Software developers to make the software just as easy to use as commercial software and his organization already pays people to develop Free Software.

Sendmail also Trojaned. Last week CERT/CC reported that some copies of the source code for the Sendmail package have been modified by an intruder to contain a Trojan horse. Debian's Sendmail maintainer Richard Nelson reported that Debian is not vulnerable. In particular, Richard verifies the MD5sums and gpg signature of Sendmail packages. The vendor statement from the Debian Security Team was also added to the CERT advisory.

Apsfilter License Update. Osamu Aoki (青木 修) reported that following private discussion, apsfilter author Andreas Klemm has decided to make changes "to accommodate better DFSG compatibility." This will clear up some confusion about the license request regarding postcards.

Sarge CDs available for Testing. Santiago Garcia Mantinan announced that the first official Sarge (aka testing) CD images are now available. The jigdo images can be downloaded from here. Whilst the images are not currently bootable, Raphaël Hertzog is working on this, so stay tuned.

Continuing the Python Transition. In order to get new and updated Python packages installed in testing, Matthias Klose announced that he plans to file bug reports on uninstallable Python packages. Due to these the new Python doesn't make it into the testing distribution. An updated list of problematic packages is maintained by Josselin Mouette.

Policy for Ispell Directories. Agustín Martín Domingo announced that the new policy on dictionaries will start on Monday 14th. This includes full debconf support and support for popup-menus in all Emacs flavours. Mutt support has also been added, which relies on an ispell-wrapper script, which can also be used in standalone situations.

Extending Copyright Periods. On Wednesday 9 October the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Eldred vs. Ashcroft. Eldred, together with his attorney Lawrence Lessig, is attempting to have the 1998 law retroactively extending copyright in the United States overturned. Although the case does not immediately impact the Debian Project, it does affect many of our friends such as Project Gutenberg. Eben Moglen, general counsel for the Free Software Foundation, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Free Software community.

Capitalizing short Package Description? There has been a discussion whether the one-line description of a package should have a capital first letter or not. This short description is listed by apt-cache search and in the new or noteworthy packages listing of DWN. Some people disagree loudly. However, the developers reference includes For consistency and for an aesthetic concern, you should capitalize the first letter of the description. Martin Wheeler, who has spent the last 40 years lecturing on and practising the use of the English language, would like to ask that this be respected by all writers contributing to the Debian Project.

Debian Jabber Server? Adam Byrtek asked if we should consider installing a Jabber server on one of our machines? However, Sean Perry pointed out that we already use IRC and mailing lists for Debian work and asks why we need another option and Erich Schubert wondered why not use existing Jabber servers. Additionally, more people tried to coin potential uses for an own Jabber server.

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

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

Orphaned Packages. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 132 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.

Want to continue reading DWN? Please help us create this newsletter. Currently, it's mostly a one-man show, which is anticipated to fail in the long term. We urgently need volunteer writers who prepare items. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

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