Debian Weekly News - November 11th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. According to the latest data from Netcraft the number of websites running on the Apache web server has shown a significant gain over the last month and is now at 67.41 percent. James Maguire wanted to know if Java is dead and concluded that nothing could be further from the truth. Also, another update for the stable Debian release (codename woody) is being prepared.

Exec-Shield for Debian? Russell Coker looked at exec-shield which adds a certain amount of precaution similar to what PaX does, which is the most desirable feature in GRSecurity. Exec-shield also has support for 2.6 and looks like it will be a standard feature in Red Hat. Russell proposed to add exec-shield to the standard Debian kernel source. If adding exec-shield to the Debian kernel is not considered a good idea then he'll create a kernel-patch package for exec-shield.

Clarification of DFSG Clause 1. Roland Stigge proposed to alter the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) in order to add a little bit of clarification to clause one. This is a reminiscence of the discussion about the legal status of LaTeX2HTML. Henning Makholm added that this complies with the consensus on debian-legal.

Debian Jr. joins OSEF. Ben Armstrong announced that Debian Jr. joined the Open Source Education Foundation (OSEF). Ben is also a new board member of their newly expanded board. This will strengthen both Debian Jr. and OSEF. Both groups aim to improve the quality of Debian Jr. packages and they share the common goal to introduce children to Free Software.

Discussion about the Social Contract. Branden Robinson summarized part of the thread about his proposed amendment of the Social Contract. He stated that he would be willing to consider breaking up the proposal, and is seeking guidance from the Project Secretary. Anthony Towns stated that if he were to propose a rewrite of the Social Contract it would include points like building a free and superior operating system, supporting the community, being open and supporting all the software that Debian can.

SPI Board Vote begins. Wichert Akkerman announced that the voting period has begun to elect three new directors to the Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI) board of directors. The candidates are David Graham ("cdlu"), Ian Jackson, Jimmy Kaplowitz ("Hydroxide"), and Martin Schulze ("Joey"). All contributing members can cast their vote online until November 21st. People who become contributing members during this period are also eligible for voting. Newsflash: There will be a debate with all candidates on Monday, November 17th, at 17:00 UTC on Channel #SPI on

Package Version Numbering. Mark Johnson wondered how he is supposed to update the docbook-simple package from version 1.0cr2 to version 1.0. Neil Roeth suggested to use 1.0.0 as version string. Andreas Metzler explained that removing the old package from the archive and uploading a new one would not solve the problem, because anybody who has already installed the old version would not be upgraded automatically if the new upload had a lower version-number in dpkg's understanding.

New proposed Apache License. The Apache Software Foundation is considering the adoption of a new set of licenses for their open source projects. They have invited the public to review and comment on the proposed 2.0 license and related material. Brian Carlson has doubts that part of the new license are even legal, at least in the U.S.

Debian Installer Beta 1. Joey Hess announced the first beta release of debian-installer, the new installation system for sarge. This first beta is available for the i386 and powerpc architectures only. More architectures were said to follow in later betas. Please see the todo if you want to help out.

Debian-Installer Floppies with BRLTTY. Mario Lang announced a new floppy set based on the new Debian-Installer for Sarge with support for BRLTTY included. He has also installed a fresh system with them, so they appear to work. You need to pass a kernel option to lilo when the first floppy boots, to tell brltty what display you have, and where it is connected.

New Skolelinux CD Image. Petter Reinholdtsen announced the new Skolelinux CD image, prerelease 41. He included the changelog which notes several security and language updates besides updates in the Debian installer such as improved support for PCMCIA and USB as well as hardware detection.

Debian XML/SGML Policy Draft. Mark Johnson announced a policy draft for XML and SGML resources. At this point, only chapters 2 and 3 (covering directory layouts, etc.) are anywhere near being finished. Feedback should be sent to the debian-sgml list.

Collaborative XML/SGML Packaging Project. Mark Johnson invited all XML/SGML package maintainers to join a collaborative packaging and maintenance effort hosted on Alioth. Motivation is provided by the implementation of the OASIS XML Catalog specification and the proliferation of newly available XML resources. Another motivation is to eliminate the hassles of non-maintainer uploads.

Debian MiniConf3 in Adelaide. The Debian MiniConf will once again be held in conjunction with Linux Conference Australia in Adelaide. Registration for the conference also includes registration for the Debian MiniConf, and the organisers are currently calling for papers.

Filesystem Hierarchy Standard 2.3. Martin Michlmayr noted that FHS 2.3 will be released soon, but there is currently some controversy over /srv and /media. He thought it would be good if Debian had an opinion about this and encouraged people to look at and comment on the proposals.

Debian wins several Readers' Choice Awards. The Debian project announced that this year was quite successful and it has won several readers' choice awards from major GNU/Linux magazines. Debian has won in the category of "Favourite Distribution" of the Linux Journal 2003 Readers' Choice Awards, in the category "Best Enterprise Distribution" of Linux Enterprise Reader's Choice 2003 and in the category "Best Distribution" of the Linux New Media Award 2003.

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. 3 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 187 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 Drew Scott Daniels, Andre Lehovich, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.