Debian Weekly News - April 20th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 16th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Distributing firmware blobs in the Linux kernel is still discussed controversially and probably will be for quite a while. Joshua Kwan reported about progress with the installer on the Sparc architecture. Manoj Srivastava also has called for votes on the general resolution to add editorial changes to the social contract a second time.

Java Plugins for Mozilla. Arnaud Vandyck explained that Debian does yet not have a free Java plugin for the Mozilla web browser. Michael Koch is working on a gcj web plugin for Mozilla that only works with Mozilla 1.7 and gcj 3.4. It will be uploaded to sid shortly after gcj 3.4 and Mozilla 1.7 are uploaded. Those who don't want to wait for these packages, can try konqueror, which uses a different approach.

Proprietary Firmwares not a Release Issue. Anthony Towns explained that the firmware issue consists of two different problems, firmware being non-free and a violation of the GNU GPL. While the first is not an issue for sarge the latter is. He also pointed out that the problem has been known about for nearly two years. Later he asserted that both are not considered release issues at the moment.

GNOME 2.6 for Debian unstable? Jordi Mallach wondered if GNOME 2.6 and GTK 2.4 should be uploaded into unstable and migrated into testing, even though the GNOME team did not plan this. He says that the packages in experimental have been tested sufficiently, built on not only one architecture and that the package splits have been performed on packages in unstable as well. However, the release manager raised some concerns.

GPL and Scripting Languages. Wolfgang Borgert wondered if it is possible to use modules written in scripting languages and released under the GNU General Public License in a proprietary application. Federico Di Gregorio believes that as long as one doesn't link directly with the GPL library and only use the Python interface one is safe. Andrew Suffield, however, asserted that the resulting proprietary work must function without using any GPL works.

Debian-Installer and Linux 2.6? Joey Hess wrote that the debian-installer with Linux 2.6 is so close he can already taste it. In fact, images can be built already with only one hacked udeb, and it boots up and works fine all the way to partitioning. The partitioner does not see IDE devices, though, but the kernel does, so it looks like only a bug in the partitioner.

Marking native Debian Packages. Bartosz Fenski noticed that several alleged native Debian packages are native only by accident and not on intention. Therefore he proposed to use a special file in the debian/ directory to prevent these accidents. Henning Makholm proposed dpkg-source -b to refuse to build a native source package if the version number contains a dash instead.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card. Wolfgang Borgert announced a Debian reference card he was working on. He asked interested people to check the card and report problems to him. The card contains information for people, who either are new to Debian or are new to any Unix-like system.

Open Software License. Free Ekanayaka wanted to know whether the Open Software License is compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. MJ Ray believes that it isn't because it terminates copyright permission for any software patent action, including ones unrelated to the covered software.

Unofficial Debian 3.0 DVD Images. Richard Atterer announced an untested DVD image with Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 that can be fetched via jigdo. He ran an older script that even produced an image, but he could not test it. Jan Houstek added that there are unofficial images by Jan Kesten.

Debian-Installer Documentation. Joey Hess asked translators of the new installation manual to make sure that the translation actually builds and is reasonably complete. Wolfgang Silbermayr wanted to work on the German translation but couldn't find the manual. Frans Pop explained that the coordinator for the manual is Miroslav Kure and that the manual itself is hosted on Alioth.

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. 11 orphaned packages were adopted this week, and we wish the new maintainers well. 11 packages were also orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 157 orphaned packages, the same number as a week ago. 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 Andre Lehovich, Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.