Debian Weekly News - March 23rd, 2004

Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. If you ever wanted to switch from Debian GNU/Linux to SuSE Linux, you should read this howto. This article will attempt to dispel some myths and clear a few things up for those interested in finding more information on GNU/Linux. While most people in the Free Software community already know this stuff, outsiders only know what they read in the news and hear from others.

FOSDEM Reports. Wookey and Stefan Gybas reported about the Embedded Debian and Debian Java projects that met with other people during the Free and Open Source Software Developers' Meeting in Brussels. Both groups gave a talk giving an overview and explaining the current status. The Embedded Debian project are significantly advancing their plans to make Debian a really useful distribution for small machines as well as large. Besides better collaboration with Gentoo and FreeBSD the Debian Java developers also had a lot of technical discussions.

Towards an MPlayer Resolution. Diego Biurrun posted an update on the work being done to resolve MPlayer's licensing difficulties. The main two concerns have been the lack of a LICENSE file and noncompliance with clause 2a of the GNU General Public License, which Diego has attempted to address through a LICENSE file and a Copyright file. Don Armstrong thought it would suffice for Debian's purposes, but suggested that the MPlayer team should indicate in the relevant files that they've been changed and who changed them.

Debian Project Leader Election. Manoj Srivastava called for votes for the Debian Project Leader Election 2004. Votes must be received by 23:59:59 UTC on April 10th, 2004. The voting period may have to be extended by roughly 15 hours because Manoj wasn't able to send out the call in time. The platforms of Martin Michlmayr, Gergely Nagy and Branden Robinson are online.

Re-affirming non-free Components. The vote on the General Resolution on the status of the non-free section is over. The presence of the non-free section was re-affirmed. 163 developers voted for its removal, whereas 260 developers voted for re-affirming support for non-free. 482 developers took part in this vote.

Regular Bug Squashing Parties and weak Freeze. Adrian Bunk proposed a weak freeze in the near future so that no new upstream versions may be added to the testing distribution. Additionally there should be regular bug squashing parties to help reduce the number of release-critical bugs.

Linux 2.6 on Debian 3.0. Adrian Bunk announced the availability of packages to run Linux kernel version 2.6 on Debian woody. They are taken from unstable and were recompiled on woody. Hence, they may not be as stable as the packages in woody. Although these packages should help with using kernel 2.6 on Debian 3.0, complete support for all kernel 2.6 features is not possible.

Report from the Bug Squashing Party. Frank Lichtenheld reported about the bug squashing Party last weekend. It was quite successful since the small group of participants produced a lot of fixed packages, patches and solutions. He also talked about the methods of co-ordination used and requested input from others on some topics for future bug squashing parties.

Kernel Packages Cleanup? Adrian Bunk released a proposal to clean up the kernel packages in unstable. Since supporting 2.2, 2.4 and 2.6 is insane he asked if any architectures still require 2.2 at all. He also proposed to remove various kernel-patch packages that add random features, which are present in newer kernels since they can't be supported in a stable Debian release.

Menu based Init Configuration. John Hasler announced that he has uploaded sysvconfig into experimental. This is a text-oriented menu-based utility for configuring init scripts. This package can render the system unbootable, though, and hence should be used only with care. John is interested in bug and success reports, of course.

OSCAR running on Debian. Members of the Open Cluster Group, an informal group of people dedicated to making cluster-computing practical ported OSCAR (Open Source Cluster Application Resource) on Debian IA-64. They introduced an abstraction layer so that both at the package level (rpm or dpkg) and at the distribution level (updaterpm, yum, urpmi and apt-get) OSCAR can run on systems that don't use rpm as a packaging tool using exactly the same code base.

Running Debian at 3.7 GHz. Alexander Schmehl reported about the fastest x86 system at this year's CeBIT. Its manufacturer H2O approached the Debian booth to find out whether GNU/Linux would run on that machine. The entire installation was done in less than 15 minutes with the slow 48x CD-ROM drive being a bottleneck. With Linux reporting 7372.9 Bogomips and glxgears reporting 4540.8 fps, that's quite a nice working environment.

Debian-Installer Usability Review. Marcus Thiesen reviewed the latest Beta 3 of the debian-installer in terms of usability from an average users perspective. The new debian installer is a good way to set up ones favourite distribution. Nonetheless he discovered a few usability gotchas.

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 Matt Black, Frank Lichtenheld and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.