Debian Weekly News - July 16th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. This issue is a bit shorter (in text) than usually because Joey organised LinuxTag and hence didn't have time to produce DWN during the event. According to Heise (German only) the salary management system for the Japanese government will be redesigned with GNU/Linux.

Talks during Debian Conference. Andreas Schuldei announced the schedule for talks during this year's DebConf. Among other talks Jonas Öberg will talk about legal aspects of Free Software, Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña will speak about security and internationalisation efforts, Branden Robinson will demonstrate how to manage Debian packages using Subversion.

Saving an old Laptop with Knoppix. Peter Johansson wrote on Newsforge that he had to reinstall his laptop due to a filesystem breakdown. He decided to copy the Knoppix CD-ROM with its compressed filesystem onto the hard disk. The kernel and initrd files have to be copied from the boot.img file afterwards for use with lilo or grub. This way, even machines with tight disk space can use fully fledged systems.

The Organizational Model for Open Source. Harvard Business School professor Siobhán O'Mahony discusses her research on foundations formed around the projects: Debian, GNOME and Apache. She says that hackers who contribute to the open source community are often intrinsically motivated. It is important to realize, however, that hackers are a diverse group. It is not safe to generalize about all of the values that hackers share, but they tend to agree on at least one thing: Respect must be earned and cannot be derived from position.

Report from Linuxwochen Vienna. Gerfried Fuchs submitted the report about the Debian presence at this years' event in Vienna. The first day was used for setting up the booth while talks aimed at business people mostly. He was also interviewed by Radio Orange where he could talk about Linuxwochen and Debian.

BSD Glibc in Alioth. Robert Millan announced the start of the glibc-bsd project for maintenance of Glibc-based BSD ports of Debian. There is a mailing list for general port discussion, and for discussing maintenance of the base component packages of FreeBSD.

Decision on Software Patents in Europe. The European Parliament has postponed the vote on the software patent directive back to the original date of 1st of September. Members of Parliament from all parties had complained that it was impossible to react adequately within a timeframe of 10 days. Many software professionals have been contacting their Members of Parliament in recent days and told them how software patents would hurt them.

Debian in German Government IT guidelines. The KBSt, a consulting agency for IT within the German government includes Debian in their small roundup of GNU/Linux distributions in their recently published migration guidelines (large PDF file in German). Aside from mentioning that Debian is a volunteer effort, it lists the freeness of Debian, the bug tracking and handling, the high quality, the long release cycles, and the package system. It says: "Debian is one of the most stable and bug free distributions. Long release cycles are characteristic to Debian, which entails the high quality of the distribution."

Status of the G++ 3.2 Transition. Matthew Wilcox reported about the status of the G++ 3.2 transition. He thinks that technically these problems are to be considered release-critical. A list of packages need to be recompiled with GCC 3.3.

EICAR Installer for Debian. Marc Haber reported that the installer package for anti-virus test file from the European Institute for Computer Anti-Virus Research (EICAR) was rejected. A native package is not possible due to a missing license, and an installer package for only a few kilobytes is not appreciated either.

Logging of Package Installations. Joey Hess posted an idea of logging package installations so displayed messages won't get lost in the void. So the basic idea is that instead of using echo for these messages, we provide some interface for them. Instead of adding log support to dpkg he opted for a more flexible dpkg-log program.

Packages still using dh_undocumented. Goswin Brederlow reported that 469 packages are still using dh_undocumented and asks for people to check their packages. Joey Hess explained that he expects that the list will be down to 50 in one year at which time bug reports should be opened.

Managing the resolv.conf File. Thomas Hood announced resolvconf, a proposed standard framework for updating the system's information about currently available nameservers. Most importantly, it manages /etc/resolv.conf, but it does a bit more than that.

Using apt-get with rsync. Egmont Koblinger reported about his success of using apt-get together with rsync. He used a patch for apt-get by Sviatoslav Sviridoff. Goswin Brederlow added that rsync uses too much resources on the server side and a widespread use of rsync for apt-get would choke the rsync mirrors and do more harm than good.

Bug Squashing Party at Debcamp. David Martinez Moreno announced that there is a bug squashing party during debcamp in Oslo. Attending people are trying to fix as many bugs as possible. Coordination is done on channel #debcamp on freenode.

Default MTA for Sarge? Joey Hess started a discussion about which mail-transport-agent (MTA) should be the default for the next Debian release. His options include to replace exim with exim4 and install no MTA per default. Sean Perry added that enough of a GNU/Linux system assume that an MTA is present that not installing any would be wrong.

Summary of RFC Problems. Martin Quinson tried to summarise the flamewar we just had about the RFC licensing. The issue here is that the RFC license is clearly non free. For some people, that's a reason to throw this out of main, for some other, RFCs can stay in main for several reasons.

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. 47 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 227 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 Viehmann and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.