Debian Weekly News - October 7th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 40th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. wrote an amusing article about a fictitious Barbie OS based on Debian. LinuxIT announced it would release its Linux Professional Institute Certification training manuals under a free license.

emDebian at UK Linux Expo. reports that Debian's Vincent Sanders will attend the upcoming Linux Expo UK to discuss ideas about emDebian at Debian's stand in the .Org Village. emDebian's aims are to improve Debian as a whole for embedded use and to provide a set of tools to generate embedded device images simply and quickly.'s annual Embedded Linux Market Survey showed Debian to be the third most popular GNU/Linux distribution for embedded development.

Debian Project at European Conferences. The Debian project announced that its members and affiliates will attend four exhibitions and conferences that cover Free Software and GNU/Linux in Europe. On October 7th and 8th Opensaar takes place in Saarbrücken, Germany, with a talk about mail services with Debian by Marko Jung. On October 8th and 9th Linux Expo UK will take place in Olympia, London, U.K. This is followed by Practical Linux in Gießen Germany on October 11th, where Alexander Schmehl will give a talk and a workshop about Debian. Finally from October 14th to 16th Linux Kongress will take place in Saarbrücken, Germany, where Thomas Lange will give a tutorial about building a beowulf cluster.

Summary of the Debian-Installer DebCamp. Joey Hess sent in a summary of the DebCamp. He reported that more than ten debian-installer developers met for four days in Oldenburg and worked quite successful on the new installer as the flood of CVS messages demonstrated. As a result PowerPC is perhaps better supported by debian-installer right now than is i386. Quite a lot of work was done on general user interface issues. Many issues have been resolved or worked on.

BrailleSpeak Debian Mini-Distribution. The BrailleSpeak project announced the release of their "BrlSpeak Debian-based Braille-Loopback Mini-Distribution". It provides a (temporary) solution for those who prefer installing a distribution on their FAT32 partition without having to repartition the hard disk. However, installation currently lacks speech support.

Installing different Sets of Debian Machines. Joseph Rawson announced paella, which is based on FAI and intends to support installing different suites of software simultaneously. To achieve this paella uses a PostgreSQL database to store most of the configuration.

Sarge Release Status. Scott James Remnant checked how much of Anthony Towns' release timetable has been met already. The debian-installer has been tested and proven to work on i386 and PowerPC already. Package removals also dropped the number of release critical bugs a lot. Scott resumed with the statement that we are roughly 14 days behind the schedule.

Free Debian Logo License? Simon Law sent in a proposal to change the Debian logo license which is currently not free according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Mako Hill added that there are a number of problems with Debian trademark policy. This was part of the rationale behind the creation of a trademark committee at SPI that is trying to draft some new legal policy recommendations.

Aptitude Annoyances and Improvements. Nathanael Nerode complained about several annoying things in aptitude. Daniel Burrows explained that he currently does not have enough time to get aptitude working the way he likes. He also called for codevelopers who submit patches for the issues he outlined.

Package Description Quality. Wolfgang Borgert noticed some package descriptions that were not quite helpful such as "Foo is a GTK+ application, that enables bar". He wondered where guidelines for good package descriptions are located. Mathieu Roy pointed out Colin Walters' guidelines.

License Requirements for DSP Binaries. Thomas Hood wondered about the mwavem package that includes binaries for the Mwave digital signal processor (DSP) chip found on some ThinkPad laptops. IBM distributes the driver in a tarball that says it is licensed under the GNU GPL. However no source is distributed. Glenn Maynard explained that the package cannot even be distributed in non-free if the source code is not available.

Embedded Debian Device won Prize. The German company Innominate has won the Wolfsburg AG Competence Prize, this year awarded for the IT category in the field of Network Embedded Systems. The awarded mGuard security appliance runs a hardened Linux kernel 2.4 based on Debian 3.0 that Innominate developed in-house.

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. 4 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 188 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.

Want to continue reading DWN? Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers who watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.