Debian Weekly News - May 14th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 19th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Debian users in Virginia, USA, may get in conflict with the law by only installing a regular Debian package, since it may be a delict to own tools like bulkmail or smartlist which can be used to deliver mass email or modify regular mail headers.

Update for DebConf 3 in Oslo. Tollef Fog Heen sent an update for DebConf 3, which will take place in Oslo, Norway, from July 18th to 20th, with DebCamp preceding it from July 12th to 17th. DebCamp will be a work camp where urgent things like debian-installer or big mean bugs will be worked on. Depending on the weather, the evenings will be spent with barbecue, mosquitos and other fun things. HP and Lindows thankfully sponsor this event. Interested people should register online.

Font Uglification after Upgrade. Andreas Tille noticed rather ugly fonts in status bars, menus and most importantly in Emacs, which makes it nearly unusable. Ian Wienand reported that the offending package seems to be gsfonts-x11 and after its removal his fonts looked as before. Branden Robinson explained that the new Type1 Helvetica font distributed with XFree86 looks ugly. Removing it or moving it at the end of the font list solves the problem.

Additional Calendar Files. There has been a discussion if Debian should include a calendar file (with bsdmainutils or not) that would contain Debian specific dates, such as release dates and days of death of fellow developer. Three more public calendar files could be used by anybody interested in using calendar with some recent dates. Bob Proulx suggested to use a separate package with a cronjob to inform users which is subject of disagreement.

GNU GPL and OPL. Tatsuya Kinoshita (木下 達也) wondered if the Open Publication License (OPL) is compatible with the GNU GPL. He quoted a paragraph from the OPL that seems to be incompatible with the GPL. He would also like to see the Debian web pages be dual-licensed under both the OPL and the GNU GPL instead of only under the OPL as it is currently.

Splitting off Documentation. Andreas Tille wondered if it is documented when documentation should be split off of a package. Oliver Elphick explained that the point of splitting out a documentation package is to reduce download time for people who want to install a package without its documentation. This has to be balanced against the load on the archive of having extra packages.

New Translation Effort in Poland. Bartosz Fenski announced (in Polish only) a new translation effort called Polish Debian Documentation Project (PDDP). There are no Debian developers in PDDP yet, but this is likely to change. The main goal of this group is to translate Debian documentation into Polish as well as to help translating DWN. Currently, they are translating the Debian Reference.

Confirmed Tag for the BTS. Anthony Towns announced that there is now a "confirmed" tag for maintainers to use with the bug tracking system (BTS). The tag should be used to indicate that those bugs have been looked at, understood, and basically agreed with, but haven't yet been fixed. Bugs marked "unreproducible" or "moreinfo" generally can't be "confirmed". Bugs marked "help" could be depending on what sort of help is required. The BTS search form can be used to list a package's confirmed or un-confirmed bugs as well as the various other tags.

Explaining why a Package is not in Testing. Björn Stenberg wrote a script that parses update_excuses.html and update_output.txt and tries to give human-readable answers to questions in the form "Why is package X not in testing yet?" The script takes a package name and outputs the reasons why the package is not in testing yet. For example, it explains that libbonoboui is waiting for gnome-vfs2, which in turn is waiting for fam, etc.

Status of Sarge Release Issues. Drew Scott Daniels posted an updated list of sarge release issues. This is a list of things to be done before sarge can be released, with status information and an estimated priority (of 1-3). Some of the issues listed include problems in testing, the XFree86 status, porting of debian-installer, the possibility of using Linux Kernel 2.6 in sarge, and the status of Java.

License problems with DBD::mysql? A bug report from Steve Langasek started a discussion on whether Debian may distribute a GPL-incompatible script which uses a free interpreter and free libraries. Because the new libmysqlclient12 package is licensed under the GPL, any GPL-incompatible application which depend on libdbd-mysql-perl (DBD::mysql) would be in violation of the libmysqlclient12 license.

Using the GNU FDL against itself. Peter Galbraith suggested to add an invariant section to the Emacs info files that explains why documentation authors should not use the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). Brian M. Carlson added that Debian can't legally distribute such an info document. Because the GNU FDL is incompatible with the GPL, it is prohibited to even create an info document from GNU FDL'd texinfo source.

GNU Emacs containing non-free Components? Jérôme Marant wondered if two essays that are distributed with GNU Emacs, use a non-free license. Both are distributed differently on the FSF web pages, though. Some people say that these files are manifest documents and not regular documentation, hence, the are permitted to be non-modifiable.

Discovering the used Character Encoding. Bob Hilliard wondered whether it is possible to determine what character encoding is used in a document without manually scanning the entire file. Martin von Loewis explained that this can't be done automatically. If one knows what text to expect, one can try a number of encodings, and see which of the encodings gives the characters one expects. As a manual procedure, this is best done with the help of /usr/share/i18n/charmaps.

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. 29 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 190 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 Bartosz Zapalowski, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.