Debian Weekly News - January 7th, 2003

Welcome to this year's first issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Pretty much all of us are tired of the amount of spam received. Philip Jacob published a paper called The Spam Problem: Moving Beyond RBLs. He describes Realtime Blackhole Lists (RBLs) and lists specific problems with them. Next he gets into ideas for next generation antispam systems. There's also a Spam Conference at MIT on Jan 17th.

Improving the Visibility of Events. A call for more active participation and preparation for Events with Debian involvement was sent out. The Debian project maintains several web pages dedicated to the events Debian attends. These pages usually contain a small general paragraph describing the event and a longer paragraph about the Debian participation. There are summary reports available only for some events. Hopefully, more will be written for upcoming events. Additionally Peter Karlsson implemented ICS files (Internet Calendar entries) for all future events in 2003. Infodrom currently lists some of the major GNU/Linux events coming up this year.

RSS Feed of New Debian Packages Listing. Joe Nahmias informed us that Andrew Cosgriff created an RSS feed of new Debian packages, which is based on Randolph Chung's new packages from the last 7 days. By the way this is also the source for the New and Noteworthy Packages section in DWN.

New Debian Business Cards. Jean-Michel Kelbert informed us that he has placed a new flashy business card online. Martin Wuertele added an updated version of the traditional business card. The new versions were later added to the other business cards on the website.

Perl Package requires Python. Kenneth Pronovici maintains a package for Debian that builds a perl library. It sounds a little bit strange, but upstream added a new component that was written in Python rather than in Perl. Wouter Verhelst and Matt Zimmerman advised him to split the source package into several binary packages, to keep the Perl library and add a new Python package.

Debian Conference 3. Tollef Fog Heen announced that there will be a Debian conference in Europe, more precisely in Oslo, Norway. The University of Oslo has kindly offered to host it. A few days before the conference rooms and network connectivity will be available, so people will have time to sit around, discuss, hack, barbecue, go picnicking and have fun. If you are interested in talking at Debconf or have an idea for a talk which you'd like to hear, please drop Tollef a mail.

Egrep moved from /bin to /usr/bin. Jan Niehusmann questioned if the recent move of egrep from /bin to /usr/bin was a good idea. It causes problems for packages with hard-coded paths to egrep, such as logcheck. Hwei Sheng Teoh wondered whether he should file bugs against packages that have hard-coded the path or reverse the change. Matt Zimmerman thought bugs should be filed, but Adam Heath thought egrep should be moved back to /bin. Stephen Frost suggested the proper solution would be to make egrep, fgrep and grep all the same binary. This would solve the problem and satisfy any programs that need egrep or fgrep before /usr is mounted.

Setting up Debian Package Repositories. Aaron Isotton announced that he has written a Debian Repository Howto. The document explains what a Debian package repository is, how it is designed, how it can be set up and used.

DEC Word List removed from Aspell Dictionary. Kevin Atkinson announced that the DEC Word List has now been removed from the aspell English dictionary due to the questionable license and because removing it will not seriously decrease the quality. This addresses licensing issues concerning the word list that were discussed last year.

Debian Privacy Notice? Raphaƫl Hertzog wondered whether Debian should have a privacy notice displayed on the website. Currently, there is no statement assuring people that the mailing list subscriber databases are kept private and are not sold to marketers or anything like that. Santiago Vila considered this a good idea, but figured Debian should do more to fight spam on the lists as a more urgent task.

POSIX compliant su. Greg Stark noticed that setting the variable POSIXLY_CORRECT to 1 causes some programs and installation scripts to fail due to unexpectedly getting standards compliant behaviour instead of whatever the GNU programs usually do. This is mostly caused by su used in init scripts where start-stop-daemon should be used.

Moving Menu Files. Bill Allombert noted that the menu system requires menu files to be in /usr/lib/menu for historical reasons. However, for FHS (File Hierarchy Standard) compliance they should be moved to /usr/share/menu. He suggested to upload a new menu package that supports menu files in both directories. Richard Braakman added that menu files are rather small and they could be copied into both locations for a while.

Changelog files in UTF-8. Colin Walters proposed an addition to the policy saying that the entire changelog file must be encoded in the UTF-8 encoding from Unicode. Right now, people are putting whatever random characters they feel like in Debian changelogs. Radovan Garabik added that such a proposal has been made at least twice in the past and was seconded already.

User Configuration Files. Jamin Collins suggested to move user configuration files below ~/.etc so they don't clutter the home directory anymore. This was also discussed on the FHS list. Colin Watson explained that this would contradict with what the vast majority of the upstream software we package does, and what that same software will do if people compile it for themselves. Lars Wirzenius would rather use a time machine to fix this in the 1970s, since it's too late now.

LyX moved to main. LyX, an almost WYSIWYG-frontend for LaTeX that runs under the X Window System, has finally been uploaded into the main archive. This was only possible after the formerly non-free Xforms GUI toolkit changed its license to the GNU Lesser General Public License, its 1.0-final version got released and uploaded to main in mid-December.

C++ Transition to GCC 3.2 ready. Ryan Murray announced that the C++ transition plan for GCC 3.2 is ready to be implemented. Because GCC 3.2 changed the C++ ABI, you can't mix a C++ library compiled with GCC 3.2 and a C++ application compiled with an earlier version, or vice versa. We're going to rebuild all C++ packages with the gcc-3.2 ABI, except for libqt2, which will be staying with the ABI it currently has for compatibility with woody and third party binaries built with libqt2. libqt3 will use the new ABI.

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 163 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 Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.