Debian Weekly News - December 24th, 2002

Welcome to this year's 50th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. If you are living in Australia and want to know more about IPv6, you may be interested in an IPv6 Mini-Conf prior to the Linux Conference Australia. Unfortunately, it takes place at the same time as the Debian Mini-Conf. The German debianforum also has had its first anniversary. We wish everybody who celebrates Christmas a Merry Christmas and enjoyable holidays.

Mono for Debian? The most recent Mono Weekly News reported that Alp Toker released Platano, the very first Mono based media player. Mono is the free implementation of the .NET framework. He also packaged GNOME# capable packages and created an archive for both sid and woody for easy use via apt-get.

Debian Documentation in GFDD. Gaetano Paolone announced the 'stable' launch of the GNUtemberg! Free Documentation Database (GFDD). The GFDD is a free database for free documentation, providing services such as indexing, translation management, information on official publishing, document ratings, statistics and search. The database currently contains 18 English documents and 4 Italian documents that cover the Debian system.

SSH for Hurd. Philip Charles discovered that Hurd does not provide /dev/urandom. Unfortunately, ssh requires its randomness for key creation. Because of this, the newest Hurd CD contains an ssh package but doesn't install it by default. Simon Law pointed out that a random translator can be attached to the device.

Debian GNU/Linux for Tech Writers. In the article Painless Linux, which is aimed at technical writers, Bruce Byfield explains GNU/Linux and the benefits of using it. Several applications are listed that technical people would probably like to use. Debian GNU/Linux is among the distributions he proposes.

Colin Walters talks about the Desktop. featured an interview with Colin Walters, who founded the Debian on the Desktop subproject in October. Colin explains the philosophy behind the project, talks about the new debian-installer and says why he thinks that parts of the Debian infrastructure should move towards XML.

Updated Statistics about Debian on the Desktop. On the same subject, DWN has been regularly reporting details of an ongoing survey about which GNU/Linux distribution users prefer for desktop computing. We are pleased to announce that Debian is now placed first with 22 % of the vote, marginally ahead of Mandrake (21.7 %). Around 2700 more votes were registered since November, totalling over 8900 responses.

IEEE Introduction to Debian GNU/Linux. The Consultants Network of the San Diego section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) announced that they will be hosting a one-evening introduction to Debian GNU/Linux. The goal is to help attendees understand the installation process and basic administration. The session will be held on Monday January 13th at the Sizzler in San Diego. The speaker will be Alex Perry, a system administrator and senior member of the IEEE and the Consultants Network in San Diego.

Building Small CD Images. Santiago Garcia Mantinan advised that he has developed a patch for debian-cd to enable building small CD images. The patch allows images to be produced with just the debian-installer and documentation (45MB) or in addition the necessary files for a minimal install (83MB). Santiago wondered which of these two images should be built officially. Tollef Fog Heen thought both could be built but Jason Andrade pointed out that too many different CD images makes life difficult for mirrors and also confuse beginners.

Complete Network Installation. Cassandra Lynette Brockett advised that she is modifying one of the root.bin files from woody to allow complete network booting and installation without the need for a disk or CD in the target machine. She has already got this working on the i386 architecture and is continuing to work on documentation. However, after little response from the mailing list, she wonders if anybody is interested.

Cooperation with Debian based Distributions? Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña wondered if GNU/Linux distributions which are based on Debian were being as cooperative as they could be. While distributions like Progeny contribute back into the Debian core, work from other distributions tends not to be integrated into Debian. Javi is trying to work with Linex (Spanish only) to contribute improvements back to Debian but wonders how other Debian based distributions can be encouraged to be more cooperative.

Search Engine Back Online. Craig Small announced that the Debian web search engine is back online. Dual byte languages have some support, but still don't work as well as they should and translators should check whether their translations are up-to-date. Nevertheless, Craig believes that a pretty-good search engine is better than none.

Library Versioning. Rob Browning wondered which version the soname of a library should contain if the same source is used as before but linked against a new major version of another library. If the soname version is incremented the library may be incompatible with other vendors' libraries. But if not, it will render packages unusable that depend on it and weren't rebuilt. Junichi Uekawa (上川純一) explains his soname management and adds that unstable will be broken unless a coordinated upload with rebuild packages of all packages that depend on this library is performed. Later Rob added his proposed approach.

Watching Debian in GNOME Panel. Daniel Burrows announced a preview version of apt-watch, a panel applet for GNOME 2 that checks for upgrades. He won't be able to work on it for a while but concluded with a list of unfinished parts. Emile van Bergen added that icons should not be flashing since that would add too much pressure to update the system and distract people from other work, however, that may be a good idea for systems running stable.

Default Wallpaper. Stefan Schwandter wondered how to set a default background image for most desktop environments and window-managers. Colin Walters replied that this requires GNOME 2.2 at least and he has already spent time on implementing this in the desktop-base package.

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. 21 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 156 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 Andrew Shugg, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.