Debian Weekly News - January 20th, 2004

Welcome to this year's third issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Looks like we are popular among Slashdot readers as well, since we were quoted by the word recently. Another news site, Symlink, recently noticed that the most important contract is Debian's social contract. Domenico Andreoli also noticed another Free Software developer survey.

Moving Java Packages from contrib to main. Arnaud Vandyck started to investigate whether Java-using packages in Debian's contrib archive can move into main by using kaffe or gcj instead of a non-free Java environment. His progress notes suggest that a few packages can indeed be used with free Java environments.

Outdated Web Site Translations. Peter Karlsson has been working on identifying outdated web site translations. He prepared a report which lists, for each language, all documents not updated for two weeks. Once normal CVS operations are restored, Peter's intention is to start removing all translation pages that have not been updated six months after the original document has changed. Keeping outdated translations on-line only confuses readers rather than helping them.

Debian Developer wins Sun Award. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Matthew Palmer, a Debian developer, has won the 2004 national Regional Delegates Program Award at Australia's national Linux conference. Matthew was given the award for development and management of eight software packages for the Debian project. Sun Microsystems also said that he had made a significant contribution to the NSW ComputerBank project, an initiative to supply free GNU/Linux systems to low-income individuals, community groups and disadvantaged schools.

Debian-Installer Beta 2. Joey Hess announced the second beta release of the Debian sarge installer for the i386, PowerPC, and IA-64 architectures. Besides the addition of the IA-64 architecture, new features in this release include an improved and streamlined installation process, support for installation from USB mass storage (USB keychain, etc.) and support for systems with only 32 MB of memory on the i386 architecture. The installer is also translated completely or nearly completely into 16 languages.

Debian used for Data Mining in Business. Rodney Gedda reported in Computerworld about the use of Debian by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia. Principal computer scientist for enterprise data mining, Dr. Graham Williams, stated that CSIRO uses a number of toolkits including R, GNOME, and Python scripting, running on the Debian GNU/Linux operating system. "The Department of Health and Ageing has a 200 CPU cluster running Debian GNU/Linux", Williams said. "Debian is a stable server operating system that is easy to maintain and we also use it on desktops."

Remote Debian Installation over Red Hat. Emma Jane Hogbin proclaimed the success of her remote Debian installation on the Debian user list. This method does not use debootstrap, and is documented in two files, which describe the installation and the post-installation configuration. Emma Jane acknowledged the helpful mails and original HOWTOs of Karsten Self and Erik Jacobson and described her notes as a bit rough, but most people will find them well documented.

Bug Tracking System moved to new Machine. Colin Watson announced that the bug tracking system (BTS) has been moved to a dual hyperthreaded Xeon hosted at Oregon State University, with lots of disk space and bandwidth. The reason for this move is that master (the old host) has been getting rather low on disk space lately, it's difficult to add more to that particular machine, and it became obvious that trying to run the lists web archives and BTS on the same machine is an increasingly painful proposition.

New Approach to coordinate Translations. Tim Dijkstra explained how the Dutch and French translation teams coordinate translations through their mailing lists. They use pseudo-urls in the subject line of the mail for this, much like the wnpp does. A script is generating this status page from their mails. Tim wants to extend this system, so that other translation teams could benefit from it as well.

Debian at LinuxWorld Expo New York. The LinuxWorld Expo & Conference will once again take place in New York City from Jan 21st to 23rd, 2004, at the Jacob Javits Center. The Debian project will be in booth #2 in the .Org pavilion. Visitors can get their GnuPG key signed, make a donation to the Debian project by buying a t-shirt or just to say hello. If you don't have an entrance pass you can print one out and register at the show for free access to the expo.

Dependency on Ext2 Checker? Donggyoo Lee wanted to clean up his system and remove Ext2/3 utilities which are essential. Thus, he proposed that util-linux includes /sbin/fsck and suggests packages providing this program for other filesystems. Theodore Ts'o, though, hasn't implemented this since this would only save a few hundred kilobytes. Adrian Bunk also added that one must not remove essential packages.

Top 5 missing Things in Debian. Dan Shearer asked about technologies or significant packages which should be in Debian but are not. Quickly, mplayer was named, Mono, which is in progress already, threaded boot scripts, and good Java support, including a free Java plugin for web browsers.

Dropping Support for old libtool? Scott James Remnant pondered removing libtool 1.4 since it is no longer maintained upstream and superseded by libtool 1.5. The old version is only required by using Autoconf 2.13, which is also no longer maintained upstream, and only 10 Debian packages include a build dependency on it.

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.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Andre Lehovich, Matt Black, Dan Hunt, Tobias Toedter, Jaldhar Vyas and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.