Debian Weekly News - December 3rd, 2002

Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. During the second Bug Squashing Party for sarge last weekend, several release critical bugs were fixed. If you want to replace another piece of proprietary software in your computer, have a look at LinuxBIOS. Thomas Bushnell pointed out that Matt Pavlovich ruled in the case of Pavlovich vs. DVD-CCA.

Coordinated Translation of Debconf Templates. Michael Bramer announced that the Debian Description Translation Project (DDTP) now supports coordination and translation of debconf templates as well. Here is a list of all packages for which DDTP contains translated debconf templates that are not yet in the original package. Another page contains links to debconf templates of a particular package for all languages.

Debian as a Social Group. Andreas Schuldei set the structure of the Debian project in relation to examples he gathered from reading books about group development. He emphasises that Debian seems to have elected mostly technical people as their leader and how work in Debian is split among a large number of people and some groups for key tasks.

New Version of the GFDL released. The Free Software Foundation has published a new revision of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). Branden Robinson reviewed the changes and pointed out that the GFDL would not be DFSG compliant if Invariant Sections or Cover Texts are claimed, just as before. Walter Landry added that the History, Acknowledgement and Dedication Sections or "opaque" formats could be problematic as well. In Walters opinion the clause that forbids technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or copying renders the license non-free.

Improving Access to Debian CD Images. Richard Atterer wrote that too few of the mirror sites carry the Debian 3.0 CD images and that many only offer jigdo files or images for 2.2r6. He proposed that Debian offer rsync (and maybe HTTP) access to the CD images again, starting with the first update of 3.0. However, since the release of Debian 3.0, jigdo is the preferred way to access CD images. Joey Hess wrote a script that produces a list of mirrors and a table that displays which of them are down or broken, have jigdo files, and current iso images. He wondered why has not been redirected to one of the mirrors that already have everything.

KDE3 and Debian. The Debian project is waiting for the transition to GCC 3.2 to be complete before KDE3 packages enter the official Debian archives. Michael Meskes wondered why this decision was made. He also considers the explanation "we have no KDE3 since we are still using GCC 2.95" bogus since there doesn't seem to be a technical reason to bind one to another. Colin Watson pointed out that all KDE library file sonames have to be changed when switching to GCC 3.2 and KDE developers wish to avoid that disruption. Eduard Bloch found this unconvincing and believes the existing KDE3 packages could go into the sid (unstable) archive now.

Fixing dependencies of lib*-java packages. Stephen Zander advised that he will be filing bugs against Java packages that only depend on java-common. These lib*-java packages should depend on either java1-runtime or java2-runtime as the case may be. Stephen intends to file 'important' severity bugs as these packages currently have incomplete dependency information.

New Unofficial APT Repository List. DebianPlanet announced that is up and running. It carries a list of unofficial APT repositories and allows users to submit new repositories in addition to the old and unmaintained list. The site indicates which repositories have been tested and proved working. The list currently includes sources.list lines for fetching the latest KDE packages for sid, Joey Hess' bleeding edge packages, Glark packages and various others.

Changes to DebianHelp. In the first part of several planned changes, DebianHelp has implemented a series of forums. This replaces the old format where all questions were posted to a single page. DebianHelp also plans to develop and include reviews of Debian-specific mini-HOWTOs, FAQs and little README-type tidbits.

Non-EU archive for Debian? Nathanael Nerode suggested that it might be useful for Debian to create and maintain a non-EU archive. One reason for this is the European 'Database Directive' which provides legal protection on things such as wordlists. Brian Nelson wondered if this was a good idea. He pointed out that the non-US archive contained packages that could not be exported from the US but were legal to use everywhere, at least for private use. On the other hand, the contents of a non-EU archive would not be legal to use in many parts of Europe.

New Build System for Debian. Colin Walters didn't want to wait for the dpkg maintainers to review the dpkg-source v2 code and decided to address the excessive complexity and redundancy in debian/rules. He was strongly influenced by Christoph Lameter's u-os package manager source format and the basic idea is to make simple things simple, and hard things possible. The code for the new format is online already.

PostgreSQL 7.3 for Debian. Oliver Elphick announced new packages for the PostgreSQL 7.3 database engine that were uploaded into experimental. Numerous changes include support for the SQL 92 Schema specification and enhanced dependency tracking for complex databases as well as several performance enhancements.

Alioth for Debian. Roland Mas asked developers to pick a name for a SourceForge site for Debian. It will consist of a slightly patched version of the 2.6 branch of the Debian sourceforge package, with a few scripts to help integration with existing infrastructure. The final name seems to be alioth which is the capital system of the Alliance of Independent Systems in the First Encounters video games.

SCSI versus IDE Drives. Scott St. John asked whether SCSI drives are still superior to IDE drives as fast as they are today. Emilio Brambilla pointed out that IDE drives lack good command queuing and Donovan Baarda noted that IDE operations ate more CPU cycles than SCSI operations. However, some new IDE drives support command queuing as well.

Translating POD files. Martin Quinson announced a new tool po-pod, a new member of the po-for-anything (po4a) family. The goal of po-pod is to allow translators to work only with well known po files when translating pod documentation. The goal of po4a is to ease translations (and more interestingly, the maintenance of translations) by using gettext tools on areas where they were not yet expected.

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. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 125 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, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.