Debian Weekly News - November 18th, 2003

Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Daniel Silverstone announced a Debian Christmas or rather a Santa Claus meeting on December 6th in Cambridge. The World Wide Web Consortium has released the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) specification as a W3C recommendation, which has also become an international ISO standard.

Getting GNU/Linux on the Desktop. At the recent Desktop Linux Conference Bruce Perens suggested that in order to get GNU/Linux on to the enterprise desktop, the community should base their efforts on one single distribution, namely on Debian. Bruce went on to say that enterprises will be willing to pay companies to engineer versions of GNU/Linux to suit their needs, but that the base distribution should remain free.

Installing Debian on a Lindows MobilePC. Steve Hastings explained in Linux Journal how he got Debian GNU/Linux properly running on a Lindows MobilePC, which is a USB- and network-bootable notebook and comes with LindowsOS 3.0 pre-installed. Basically he inspected the list of installed packages and exchanged the packages.

Debian Package Caching. Jonathan Oxer wrote about caching Debian packages in order to save bandwidth when updating or installing multiple Debian machines. The apt-cacher utility was originally written by Nick Andrew to maintain two Debian systems over a slow modem connection. It runs as CGI program and only needs to be set up on one machine.

New Child: South African Impi Linux. The new Debian spin-off Impi Linux was announced recently. It is mainly based on Debian with components borrowed from Knoppix and is currently aimed at providing an office desktop, but there are plans to create a server version as well. By releasing a South African Linux operating system, the creators are demonstrating that Africans can be self determined in the digital world.

Cafepress Shops with Debian Merchandise. Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña noticed that several shops were set up at Cafepress that help selling Debian merchandise articles. He was worried to see so many shops related to Debian and wondered which of them really endorse the Debian project. Some say they do, but do they really provide back a percentage of their sales as some claim?

Debian Installer Review. Jonathan Oxer wrote an encouraging review about the beta version of the next generation Debian installer. This is how Debian is constructing the future of what is known to be its Achilles heel. The article explains why having a graphical installer is not a priority and reports how it now auto-detects hardware, and how the module selection stage has been streamlined. This was previously one of the more confusing parts of the installation for newbies.

Progress towards Debian 3.1. Adrian Bunk summarised some personal observations and opinions regarding the progress towards the next Debian release. His impression is that many Debian developers don't use Debian 3.0, and hence don't know how outdated it is. He reported that during the last few months, the number of release-critical bugs in packages in unstable was constantly at the 700 bugs mark and has come to the conclusion that one cannot freeze testing at any time.

Debian Installation over DSL? Goswin Brederlow and Marco d'Itri discussed whether it would be possible for the debian-installer to support a network installation over DSL. One problem is that USB modems require a lot of firmware packages and not all of them can be provided by Debian. They could be put on a business card sized CD, though. A configuration frontend would still be required. Any takers?

Does Debian promote non-free Software? Mathieu Roy noticed that upon installation of GIMP 1.2 a message is displayed suggesting the installation of gimp1.2-nonfree. Tollef Fog Heen explained that Suggests are technically ok but Recommends and Depends aren't. However, non-free software is still mentioned, which is one of Richard Stallman's complaints about Debian.

Debian Installer Template Polishing. Christian Perrier reported that the polishing of all user interaction screens by the Debian installer team is mostly finished. The purpose of this work is getting a simple setup process, even for Unix newcomers – a recent review mentioned the complexity of some screens and the use of too technical or too "internal" jargon. This work also includes full proofreading of original English screens as well as much work by all translation teams.

New major dpatch Version. Gergely Nagy announced a new major version of dpatch, patch maintenance system for Debian source packages, which was uploaded into experimental. The tool has been rewritten, but from the users perspective it should be fully backwards compatible. The new version is more flexible towards different trees and selectively applied patches.

SPI Board Elections Debate Transcript. A transcript of the debate between the candidates for the three vacant positions on the Board of Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI), which was held over Internet Relay Chat, is now available. The candidates answered several questions about their plans for the board and SPI's past and future. Voting runs through Thursday 20 November 2003 (i.e. ends midnight, Friday morning UTC) and is open to all contributing members, including those who join this week.

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. 2 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 Thomas Fogwill, Christian Perrier, Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.