Debian Weekly News - September 2nd, 2003

Welcome to this year's 35th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. The discussion about legalizing software patents in Europe was held so controversial that the vote was postponed, as Ciaran O'Riordan from the FSF reported. At the 10th international conference of European Association for Japanese Studies in Warsaw Janusz Bień gave a talk on Debian GNU/Linux as a Japanese language teaching platform.

Opteron Support for Debian. The Debian project has received full access to a Dual Opteron machine for porting efforts. Mattias Wadenstein also maintains a similar machine and hands out accounts to interested developers. This port aims at supporting a mixed 32/64 bit userland, which requires significant changes in the Debian infrastructure that will most probably not happen in time for the release of sarge. The developer list has also been renamed to debian-amd64 to reflect the general architecture name.

Per-User Init System. Jerry Haltom wondered what others thought about a per-user init system that would be able to start user-based services upon system startup without handing out root access to the users. However, Colin Watson pointed out that this can already be achieved with an @reboot line in the normal crontab.

Binary Packages from multiple Sources. Glenn McGrath investigated lists of source and binary packages and discovered that, according to the .dsc files, several binary packages were provided by more than one source package. In his opinion a virtual package should be used when a binary package is provided by multiple source packages.

LWN Subscription for Debian Developers. Bdale Garbee reported about HP sponsoring LWN subscription for Debian developers since many people asked whether this offer still stands. If you are a Debian developer and want full access to, go to their website, create an account for yourself, then send a mail to containing your LWN account name and sign this mail with your key on the Debian keyring. Eventually, Bdale will process the request and send an acknowledgement.

Debian Archive Growth. Jason Andrade noticed that the Debian archive is about to hit the 100 GB mark on his mirror and wondered if there is any way to reduce the size of the archive over the next weeks before he can insert a new disk. Josip Rodin answered that about 7 GB will be freed when potato is moved to Marcelo Magallon added the size of all binary packages belonging to the given architecture in the specified suites.

Survey about the Freeness of the FDL. Branden Robinson posted the results of a survey to measure the level of consensus on whether the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) is considered a free license according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) or not. The majority of Debian developers and also the majority of non-developers don't regard the GNU FDL as a license that can easily satisfy the DFSG.

Installer Packages spread throughout "main" and "contrib". Tore Anderson wondered why installers of non-free software are located in supposedly free sections. He explained that one would not expect non-free software to be installed on the system, when using the contrib section. Mathieu Roy added that software in contrib that has only the purpose of installing non-free software in its postinst script is a good candidate for non-free itself.

Interview with Morphix Founder. Prakash Advani conducted an interview with Alex de Landgraaf, the founder and the lead maintainer of the Morphix project. He explained that Morphix, which is based on Knoppix, has a modular design to build a live CD, which would relieve all remasterers and let them work on the actual task at hand.

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. 1 package was orphaned this week and requires a new maintainer. This makes a total of 206 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 Filippo Giunchedi and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.