Debian Weekly News - October 28th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. The XPde team discussed the legal implications of emulating aspects of proprietary desktop environments. Andreas Steinel announced a set of pictures that he took at OpenSaar (info) and Linux-Kongress (info, report). Alongside, the Debian user group in Sao Paulo has been organising a Debian workshop.

SPI Board Election. Wichert Akkerman announced that Software in the Public Interest (SPI) is holding an election to fill three vacancies in its board of directors. SPI is a non-profit organisation which assists Debian and other Free Software projects in legal matters such as holding trademarks/copyrights or accepting donations. November 6th is the deadline to declare candidacy, voting will run from November 7th to 21st.

Constitutional Amendment of Section 4.1.5. Manoj Srivastava posted the second call for votes in the proposed constitutional amendment. All three proposals passed the quorum requirements within the first 72 hours of the polls being open. So far, there have been 124 valid votes, which is lower participation than this year's DPL vote (which in turn trailed last year's DPL vote). Romain Francoise also tracked down a major bug in the DEbian VOTE Engine (Devotee), which had caused some votes to be rejected.

Linux Brochure Project. Martin Michlmayr forwarded a mail from the Linux Brochure Project which documents key Linux information in standard-size brochures whose source is released under the GNU GPL. Currently there are two versions of the brochure: a "Linus" version, which features famous quotes from Linus and a VLUG version, which has been adapted as the Victoria Linux Users Group (VLUG) official brochure. Frank Lichtenheld adopted it to produce a Debian brochure that could use some help.

How to build Debian Packages. Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier explained how to build Debian packages. His article provides a well-structured discussion, ranging from what a package is to the final steps of building. He also includes links to other resources, including the Debian Policy Manual and the pkgwrite tool, which assists in making both Debian and RPM packages from a single specification file.

Installing Debian with Red Hat? Ian Murdock announced that Progeny has ported Red Hat's Anaconda installer to Debian and ceased work on PGI (Progeny Graphical Installer). They are also working with various parties to add RPM support into the mainline APT tree, to allow Debian- and RPM-based distributions to be managed using a single APT codebase, and possibly even to allow Debian and RPM packages to coexist side by side.

Debian in the World Solar Challenge. During the seventh World Solar Challenge the Western Australian Solar Team Sungroper is also competing for the Yahoo most unusual or remote Internet cafe. Onno Benschop runs his workstation (Debian testing) as the gateway and teams from around the globe flock to the satellite dish each night to send emails back home.

Bug Reports belong in the Debian BTS. Russell Coker noticed that a maintainer closed a bug he discovered with a note "submitting upstream bugs to Debian BTS only slows down the packaging work by requiring the maintainer to act as go between on the bug". However, Debian users should submit bugs to the Debian Bug Tracking System (BTS) from where the maintainer can forward the bugs upstream if it is an upstream bug. Consequently, Adrian Bunk reopened all such bug reports.

Making zopectl a Pre-Dependency of Zope. As per policy, Luca De Vitis asked for consensus to add a pre-dependency to zopectl for zope since zopectl is required to discover file locations when Zope is purged. Since the location of these files is configurable, it would be difficult to discover them without zopectl.

Supporting different Kernels and Configuration. Mattia Dongili wondered how he is supposed to provide a default configuration for cpufreqd which is a speedstep applet that monitors battery level, power state and running programs to adjust the cpu frequency. The kernel interface has changed between the 2.4 and 2.6 mainstream line. Wouter Verhelst suggested to calculate the speed based on the main processor speed.

Debian Bug-Squashing Party. Erik Rossen announced a Debian bug-squashing party on Sunday, November 9th 2003, in Ecublens, Switzerland. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, the Groupe romand des Utilisateurs de Linux et de Logiciels Libres will lock 10 to 40 volunteers in a large room and provide them with all of the computers, bandwidth, electricity, pizza, and beer that they need to work well.

Debian Installer Packages. Joey Hess wondered how the debian-installer is supposed to create binary packages once it is in a state where buildds can pick it up -- apart from regular .deb and .udeb files. The two choices seem to be to include all the boot images in a .deb file as Alastair's original build/debian does, or to create a tarball that will have to be processed manually by the FTP people and unpacked into a proper directory. The latter will be the method to be implemented.

Debian Installer with low Memory Consumption. Goswin von Brederlow noticed that the debian-installer currently needs a lot of RAM to install the udeb files on the CDROM. Large memory requirement would lock out several machines with only 16 MB or less of RAM. He proposed to use a huge initrd which is loopback mounted and an lvm snapshot device set over that with a ramdisk as copy-on-write storage.

New Glibc for Sid. Dan Jacobowitz announced that there's nothing left in the TODO file of glibc that he considers a showstopper. Hence, he proposed to freeze CVS on Tuesday, build and test 2.3.2.ds1-8 on as many architectures as possible, and upload it probably straight into unstable.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Orphaned Packages. 15 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 195 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, Matt Black, Onno Benschop and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.