Debian Weekly News - July 29th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 30th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. The Open Group has contracted Bruce Perens to develop an Open Source Strategy for them to prevent a name change. Our former editor, Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, reviewed the CheckInstall tool, which automatically creates packages after compiling from source. Besides Debian packages it can create packages in RPM and Slackware formats. The OpenGroup has published a detailed list of the conflicts between the Linux Standards Base and Posix.

LGPL affecting Client Java Code? In our last issue we reported that an article said that Dave Turner of the FSF has allegedly 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. David Turner clarified the issue and repeats that your program, which links against the library, does not need to be licensed under the GNU LGPL.

Debian as musical Instrument. James Patten and Ben Recht developed a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music. One can pull sounds from a giant set of samples, cut between drum loops to create new beats, and apply digital processing all at the same time on the same table. Knoppix is used as operating system.

Debian Installer Bootcamp. Petter Reinholdtsen suggested to hold a debian-installer work camp in two or three months time. If there is sufficient interest a low-cost meeting will be held, probably in Europe, to push installer development forward. Currently two locations are being discussed, in Einschlingen and in Oldenburg, both located in Germany.

Debian Birthday Parties in the UK and Germany. The Debian project will celebrate its 10th birthday on August 16th at several locations worldwide. Robert McQueen announced that the British party will take place at Steve McIntyre's house in Cambridge. Also announced is the German party which will take place in a sports club in Wallenrod, Hessen. Interested people should register for those parties so enough barbecue sauce can be acquired.

Joe Barr discovers the Fink Project. For connecting an eMac with a GNU/Linux box, additional software had to be installed. He discovered that the members of the Fink Project are doing two things to bring open source/Free Software to OS X. They port existing Unix software to OS X and they use package management tools from Debian to make those ports easy to get, optionally compile, and install.

Knoppix for PowerPC Machines. Experimental support for PowerPC machines was added to Knoppix during LinuxTag. Last week Heise reported about a 500 MB large ISO image which is publicly available. Hardware detection needs to be improved and the image does not yet contain all of the software from the original Knoppix.

Report from DebConf in Oslo. Andreas Schuldei sent a report stating that this year's Debian Conference was attended by 140 people, the preceding Debian Camp was attended by 90 people, mostly developers. The event was sponsored by HP, NUUG Foundation, Lindows, Trolltech, O'Reilly, Linpro (with Dell) and the University of Oslo. During debcamp over 200 bugs in the future debian-installer got fixed.

ReiserFS Support for the Debian-Installer. Martin Michlmayr discussed integrating proper reiserfs support into debian-installer with Hans Reiser. Hans is very interested in seeing this happen, and offered technical assistance if any is needed. Alastair McKinstry explained that this requires a reiserfs kernel module in its own udeb and a reiserfsprogs udeb that provides /sbin/mkfs.reiserfs. These steps should be the same for adding support for other file systems, such as XFS.

Debian MPlayer Packages. Andrea Mennucc explained why there are still no mplayer packages in Debian. He missed some responses from the FTP people. Ola Lundqvist added that he understood that if debian-legal considers the current packages fine with the Debian Free Software Guidelines they should be accepted by the FTP people. Hence, another discussion was started on that list.

Per-user temporary Directories. Martin Pool is worried about temporary file vulnerabilities that aren't fixed yet. He notes that there is already the PAM module libpam-tmpdir which automatically sets this up on login by creating a per-user directory under /tmp and pointing TMPDIR at it. Despite the scary low version number of 0.04 it seems to work reliably and presumably any bugs could be fixed.

Backporting Security Patches. Luca De Vitis started a discussion on why Debian rather back-ports security fixes instead of releasing a new version. This is already answered in the security FAQ and in the Developer's Reference. Matt Zimmerman explained that security advisories and the associated packages should fix security vulnerabilities and nothing else.

Removing orphaned Packages. Matthew Palmer compiled a list of packages that should probably be removed from the distribution. He is looking for some feedback from others with probably more experience. He only investigated the oldest packages on the list of improperly orphaned packages and only considered packages with outstanding bugs and no history of interest from anyone in adopting it.

Coreutils with ACL Support. Michael Stone is contemplating to upload a version of coreutils that will have support for file ACLs. Doing this would promote libacl1 and libattr1 to base. Thus, he is soliciting input about whether this is something people would like to see. Another possibility would be an optional coreutils-acl package.

Debian and Unicode Support. Sergey Spiridonov wondered whether Debian aims to produce a system that properly supports unicode encoding. This is not an official release goal but it is a worthwhile goal nevertheless. Adrian von Bidder explained that submitting a patch will in most cases help more in getting support fixed or added than a higher severity.

Custom Debian Distributions. Petter Reinholdtsen reported about a discussion during debcamp in Oslo. All the groups and projects that are creating Debian-based distributions should join together to find common solutions to the common problems. He added the problems and solutions they are using for SkoleLinux as a basis for further discussions.

QA Group best Practice. Matthew Palmer started with a list of best practice rules for quality assurance (QA) uploads since he was unable to locate them in the Developer's Reference. These include version numbering, the maintainer field and monitoring bugs from the package in question. at Debcamp and Debconf. Chris Halls reported on the (OOo) team's experience at Debcamp and debconf. A lot of work was done on OOo, including new packages to replace 1.1 and 1.0.3, a new myspell dictionary layout and a new crashreporter. Once the last tasks have been done, the 1.1rc packages will be uploaded to unstable as to replace the existing and openoffice.org1.1 packages. Help with testing upgrading and downgrading in all possible combinations of the packages would be appreciated.

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. 6 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 185 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 Andre Lehovich, Dan Hunt, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.