Debian Weekly News - July 22nd, 2003

Welcome to this year's 29th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Linus Torvalds is working on pre-releases of Linux 2.6, and Joseph Pranevich has published a guide to this new major release, Wonderful World of Linux 2.6. This could mean that sarge will be released with a 2.6 kernel included.

Creating Debian Packages. Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, a former DWN editor, published an article that describes the basics of creating Debian packages for distributing programs and source code. The article shows all the necessary components of a package and how to put them together to end up with a final product.

LinuxTag Success. This year's LinuxTag, which took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, was a great success. With more than 19,500 visitors, this year's LinuxTag has become the largest Linux event in the world. Amongst other things, the Debian developers in attendance got together for dinner with both the KDE people and the GNOME people.

ServerBeach runs Debian GNU/Linux Servers. ServerBeach announced the availability of their Starter Servers and Power Servers with Debian GNU/Linux preinstalled. Many customers want and appreciate the two driving forces behind Debian - technical excellence and commitment to Free Software, said Richard Yoo, Big Kahuna, ServerBeach.

Debian Free Software Guidelines FAQ. Barak Pearlmutter composed a draft Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) FAQ. It is meant as an introduction to issues discussed on the debian-legal mailing list, with some general background material to help bring new readers up to date. Suggestions and comments are welcome.

LGPL affecting Client Java Code? According to this article, Dave Turner of the FSF has decreed that the steps required to use an LGPL'd Java library will actually infect client code with substantial GNU-ness via Section 6 of the LGPL. (The "Lesser" GPL is supposed to protect only the Library, without infecting code using the library) This, as you might imagine, puts a few LGPL Java projects that previously thought they were embeddable without being viral in a bit of a bind. Various weblogs have further coverage.

Missing Timestamp Handling. Marcin Owsiany reported that when a source package is unpacked, all the files that have modifications in the diff.gz file are given somewhat "random" timestamps, because patch updates their timestamps as it processes the diff file. This causes problems for packages that rebuild their Makefiles on demand but don't build-depend on autotools.

Libpng Transition Status. Josselin Mouette reported that 84 binary packages remain that should be rebuilt before sarge releases. However, none is essential, but it insists that the more of those are rebuilt, the less issues we will have later when libpng changes its soname again. The list of packages is attached to Josselin's mail.

Debian Packages in a Chart. Bram Stolk announced that he has created a software map of Debian packages. The chart depicts all packages from testing/main with 5 or more dependencies. Instead of visualizing the dependencies directly, a classification has been made.

Working without a Release Roadmap? Adrian Bunk reported that the software in Debian 3.0 is currently roughly one and a half years old. He adds that one release a year is badly needed and that a big system like Debian doesn't become stable without a plan of how to achieve this. He is willing to help in QA and/or release management if this results in a new stable release within less than a year.

Unicode Character Database. Florian Weimer reported that many packages that include a copy of parts of the Unicode Character Database do not indicate the source and are thus violating its license. Thomas Bushnell added that the next release of GNU miscfiles will include a version which really is free.

Creating Manpages from GNU FDL Documentation. Hans Fugal wondered if he is permitted to create a manpage from documentation that is released under the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) and which requirements he has to meet. Walter Landry answered with a detailed ten-point list.

Improving CD Mirrors. Mattias Wadenstein summarised suggestions for the CD image server and mirrors. The plan is to provide both images and jigdo files of CDs as well as testing images. There was also a request for a contrib-directory for Knoppix or a few more Knoppix mirrors in US.

GNU/Linux as Commodity Software. Tim O'Reilly was interviewed about the keynote at his company's Open Source Convention he gave. During the interview he hints that Debian founder Ian Murdock and his company Progeny Linux Systems, Inc., have the right stuff for the future of computing. Instead of seeing GNU/Linux as a product, he sees GNU/Linux as a set of commodity software components he can put together for different purposes.

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. 9 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 204 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, Charles Miller, Dan Hunt and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.