Debian Weekly News - December 2nd, 2003

Welcome to this year's 48th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Still not all services have been resurrected from the security breach the Debian project faced. Development is effectively stalled since November 21st, since both ftp-master and the CVS archive haven't been re-opened yet.

Fixing RC Bugs. David B. Harris proposed a mail template to encourage developers to fix release-critical (RC) bugs in their packages. It is intended to be sent to the maintainer for each of his source packages that contains critical problems.

Status of Mozilla. Eric Valette pointed out some problems he experienced with the Debian packages of Mozilla 1.5. He also noted that the default font size has been modified compared to upstream binary distribution which can make the appearance look rather ugly. A lot of bugs are also reported against this package and require skilled people to fix them. Any takers?

Glibc-based GNU/KNetBSD. Robert Millan announced that a Debian GNU/KNetBSD system (K for 'kernel of') based on the GNU libc is now available. He added that it was easy to port the base system, and key packages like XFree86 are also available. The system in its current state is usable for development.

Virtual Stallman not acting like the Real Stallman? Andrew Lau noticed that vrms lists packages which contain documents released under the GNU Free Documentation License and are hencely considered free by the real Richard Stallman (RMS). Colin Watson added that some of them use licenses that RMS would also disapprove of for documentation.

Debian Enterprise? Andres Salomon wondered how to improve the Debian distribution for Enterprise uses which require high availability (HA), updated packages etc. Other developers agreed that such a sub-project would be a benefit for Debian and its users. Andrew Cater added that a similar discussion happened on the Beowulf list before.

Requirement for new Packages? Andreas Tille suggested that all new packages which are supposed to build on all architectures should have to pass all architectures first before they will be added to the unstable distribution. Colin Watson explained that holding back PostgreSQL because of an incompatible Perl version was actually a good thing since Perl upstream would have not noticed the problems this early otherwise.

Debian Roadmap? The project was asked if there was a roadmap for the Debian distribution, so that certification can be organised accordingly. Ben Collins pointed out that Debian hardly has release goals and Jonathan Dowland added that a smaller group of loose-knit volunteers has managed to agree on a roadmap.

Improving Archive Verification. Marc Haber wanted to establish trust between our main archive and the end user. He suggested to sign the Release files for the stable distribution off-site, to keep the .changes files around with the binary packages, preferably in the archive, and to package scripts for verification.

Creating System User Accounts. Fabio Massimo Di Nitto and Peter Palfrader wondered what the best way would be to create a new system user upon installation of a package. The policy does not provide much details. Some packages automatically create new users and even purge them.

Copying an API legally? Uwe Steinmann wondered if he is allowed to take the description of an Application Program Interface (API) and implement his own library. He has access to the header files at least. Henning Makholm explained that if the header files contain only function prototypes, struct definitions and typedefs necessary to write the function prototypes, and constant definitions, you can freely copy those to your own header.

Automatic Fetching of external DTDs. Brian May noticed that the scrollkeeper cronjob tries to fetch a DTD for processing its configuration file via HTTP. However, this fails if the host is not connected to the Internet or has to use a proxy. Jochen Voss explained that this is caused by the docbook XML package which doesn't register its DTDs with the XML subsystem. It's a known problem that is being worked on.

The perfect Setup for an ISP. Falko Timme described all steps in detail that are required to setup a Debian based server which offers all services needed by ISPs and hosters. He uses Quota, Apache, Postfix, BIND, proftpd, qpopper and Webalizer.

Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have any of these packages installed.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Robert Millan and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.