Debian Weekly News - November 26th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Is Free Software suited for governmental use? Can it replace the systems currently used? To examine this, Japan will study the possibility of using open-source software such as Linux at the government level.

Debian User World Map. Gürkan Sengün started to create a world map of Debian users, similar to the one of Debian developers. Within only two days he received about 150 coordinates and there should be about 1000 by the release of DWN. The world map is available in three sizes, 768x384, 2000x1000 and 4000x1000. If you want to be added, please send in your coordinates to

Debian Server burnt down. Wichert Akkerman reported that a fire started in the computing facilities of Twente University. According to the fire department, everything in the building and the entire building was burnt to the ground. The Debian server "satie" that served as security and non-US archive was hosted there. Two days later, the Security Team reported that the security service was successfully reinstalled on another server. The nm and qa hosts had their home on satie as well and were also reinstalled on klecker. It has finally been confirmed that the fire was a result of arson.

Debian losing Users to Gentoo? Andrew Lau was disturbed by the raising interest in Gentoo Linux and asked what Debian could learn from Gentoo. Branden Robinson pointed out that Debian already has learnt from it and mentioned apt-src. Roberto Suarez Soto, however, added that several users do not only consider technical issues when choosing their operating system.

Debian-Installer Status Update. Tollef Fog Heen provided an update on the new installer for sarge. Michael Cardenas also announced a new homepage for it. The x86 and S/390 ports are progressing nicely as is i18n. Work has started on the IA64 port, while the Alpha-Axp and PowerPC ports are stalled. A lot of work still needs to be done to get a beta version out by New Year's Eve. If you'd like to help please see the getting started notes and the todo list.

Debian at LWE in Frankfurt. Michael Banck wrote a report about the Debian presence at Linux World Expo and Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, back in October 2002. The Debian project got a sponsored booth in the .org pavilion at the opposite site to the entrance. Debian people from Germany managed to use a video projector for real-time demonstrations at the booth.

Applications and Nominations for the SPI Board. Bdale Garbee advised that Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI) would like to expand its board of directors. SPI is a non-profit organization which was founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software. It provides a legal and financial existence for Debian and other projects. SPI Vice-President Martin "Joey" Schulze is seeking applications and nominations for Board membership and a special "Assistant" position who would help in maintaining the Corporation, running meetings and so on. On Sunday, though, he stepped down.

Ceasing Dependencies to xlib6g*. Daniel Schepler announced that he would like to file bugs against any source or binary package which still depends on the obsolete xlib6g* packages. These bugs will be of normal severity for now, but will be raised to serious severity (for source packages) or grave severity (for binary packages) once Branden Robinson pulls the trigger to finally remove the xlib6g* packages.

APT Manual Pages. Susan Kleinmann described how aspects of the current (0.5.4) apt_preferences manual page are difficult to understand. Susan provided a commentary on the first paragraph of the manual page to show how the documentation could be improved. She pointed out that since APT is so central to the effective use of Debian, the APT related manual pages should be easy to understand. Susan would like to submit a revision of the APT preferences man page but is hoping those with more familiarity with its workings could help out.

Synchronizing apt-get update and dselect update. A bug report against APT was opened, suggesting that the 'apt-get update' command should also update the dselect database (if it exists). This would avoid the need for a separate 'update' run under dselect. Joey Hess thought the best implementation would be a Post-Update hook in apt.conf, which would probably also have other uses.

License change for Defsystem3. Earlier this year, Kevin Rosenberg announced his intention to package defsystem3 separately from the Common Lisp Controller package. This brought to light some aspects of the defsystem3 license that breached the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). After discussion with the authors of defsystem3, Kevin has advised that the license will be amended. Branden Robinson agreed that the new license complies with the DFSG.

Interview with Klaus Knopper. Ladislav Bodnar interviewed Klaus Knopper about his Knoppix bootable-CD project. Klaus suggests using a Knoppix CD to test for hardware compatibility the next time you go shopping for a computer and explains how hardware detection is implemented in Knoppix. Some user groups and institutions have created language-specific editions (Japanese, Spanish) or are simply using the hardware detection as a platform for their own projects.

Dependency on new GNU LibC. Mike Fedyk wondered why new packages in sid depend on the new libc6 from unstable. He noted that to install an updated package from unstable a new libc6 package crept in. Jason Gunthorpe investigated the current situation and found out packages depend on several different versions of libc6. Adam Heath added that the glibc maintainers routinely pull code from CVS.

Release Files in Package Repositories. Karl Hegbloom requested that custom package repositories include a Release file, especially if they are located on This would enable the users to make use of APT preferences to pin certain packages to certain versions.

Linux Kernel Licenses. Giacomo Catenazzi did a complete check of Linux kernel licenses. He put the result up in a FAQ like document and found a total of 18 different licenses (including "none"). Most of them are free and compliant with both the DFSG and the GNU General Public License.

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 unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Orphaned Packages. 4 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 135 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.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Thomas Bliesener, Andre Lehovich, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.