Debian Weekly News - December 17th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 49th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. David Graham, leader of the Open and Free Technology Community (OFTC) which hosts several IRC channels for Debian, talks about how OFTC manages itself.

Is the Debian Project unmanageable? Recent discussions about the voting system of Debian lead David Welton to ask whether the Debian project has reached a state where it is no longer manageable. Maybe Debian needs to recognize that the power is already in the hands of those who actually do things, and align the control structures accordingly.

Online Browsing of Changelog and Copyright Files. Noèl Köthe started to extract changelog and copyright files of Debian packages and placed them on a webserver. This is something that is currently missing from, however, it should be possible to use the lintian lab on gluck for this, now that lintian is running regularly, said Colin Watson.

Helping External .deb Producers. Aaron Isotton intends to work on a new document that explains how software producers can distribute their software directly in the .deb format. He is seeking input and suggestions for this document. Sean Perry, however, said that it does only make little sense for a third party to provide Debian packages since the LSB requires rpm support only.

New Glibc in Preparation. Jeff Bailey reported that he is about to finish a new set of glibc source, which should build fine on most architectures and is already tested on some. It should also fix several known problems in the current version. It will also conflict with older versions of some other packages that broke with the current glibc.

PornView's problematic Debut. PornView is an image viewer that was recently added to the Debian archive. Christian Surchi pointed out that certain images in PornView lacked copyright permissions and Jan Schumacher wondered whether the logo qualified as pornography. This problem was fixed, however, Oliver Bolzer pointed out the allegation (Japanese only) that PornView uses much source code from GImageView, but stripped the original copyright notices. Brian Nelson reported that this is already fixed upstream.

Debian-Installer with SE Linux Kernel. Brian May announced that he created a debian-installer disk with a kernel that has SE-Linux, EVMS, FreeS/WAN support, and ACL support. Whilst the image cannot yet be used to install Debian, Brian thought that it was a good demonstration of what is possible with the modular design of debian-installer.

APT Manual Pages. Earlier this year, Susan Kleinmann pointed out some deficiencies in the apt_preferences manual page. Thomas Hood sent an update advising that Susan has rewritten the entire manual page. Feedback and revisions are now being taken and a final product is expected soon.

Testing Packages for Unstable? Marek Habersack complained that too many developers are uploading packages to sid (unstable) without doing enough testing first. It seems to Marek that some packages are uploaded without even being installed on the developer's system first. Some people thought Marek was being too harsh, while others suggested improvements to the development system. Matt Zimmerman advised that he has the beginnings of a UML-based tool for automatic package testing, however he has limited time and his hands full with other projects.

Downgrading from Sarge to Woody. DebianPlanet carries an article about how to downgrade from a Debian sarge system (testing) to a woody system (stable). The writer explains that his second workstation has now become another server and needs the stability and security of Debian woody. The article describes the process of downgrading with several scripts and command snippets.

Why is not in Main? When John Goerzen read the last issue of DWN, he wondered why resides in contrib instead of main, since it was released under the GNU General Public License. Steve Langasek explained that the package currently depends on specific non-free Java implementations, but Guido Guenther mentioned that Red Hat builds with gcj only.

Private Katie Installation. Katie (or rather Debian Archive Katie) is the software that manages the Debian archive (for non-US, security and the main archive). Brian May reported that he got the katie system running and explained the steps and configuration issues he worked on. However, James Troup even actively discourages to use this suite.

Free Scripts with non-free Interpreters. Steve Langasek wondered how to treat scripts that were released under the GNU General Public License, but don't run on a sufficiently free interpreter. The Free Software Foundation states that there is no problem as long as the script is only interpreted but not linked to a non-free component.

Creating a GUI for Jigdo? Chris Severance noticed that Jigdo currently lacks a graphical user interface (GUI) and proposed how it should work. Richard Atterer already planned such a program but ran into trouble assigning time to it. His current favourite idea is that the Jigdo GUI application registers itself with the web browser. That way a popup window will open if one clicks on the first ".jigdo" link.

Adding ReiserFS Support to parted. Timshel Knoll is seeking advice on how to add support for ReiserFS to the disk partition and resizing program parted. The solution seems to be to dynamically load a particular version of the shared ReiserFS library.

Shipping XML/SGML Documentation with Source? Adam Di Carlo wondered whether it is good practice for SGML and XML documentation to be shipped with the corresponding source code? The consensus on the debian-doc list (with the exception of Colin Walters) was that XML/SGML source is in fact source and shouldn't be there bloating binary packages.

Proposed SPI By-Laws Amendment. Jimmy Kaplowitz proposed an amendment to the by-laws of SPI that will reduce the quorum for meetings to four people. Article five requires that 14 contributing members second this proposal in order for it to be considered. After this, the secretary has 30 days to put it to a vote of the contributing membership. Some people objected against this since a too small part of the board of directors could make decisions.

Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 Updated. Nearly five months after Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 was released, Debian finally updated the woody release. This revision adds 59 security updates to the stable release, that were formerly distributed through, and 33 important bugfixes to various packages. Details of this update are on the preparation page.

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.

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