Debian Weekly News - September 7th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 35th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. We've been informed about a Debian translation party taking place on September 11th, in a place close to Milan (Italy). Lars Wirzenius has recently updated the Debian lessons document that covers project management. The Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association revealed that they use Debian for its fast setup process.

Sparc Upgrade Trouble. Joshua Kwan noticed that currently one can't run dist-upgrade from woody to sarge on sparc without upgrading the kernel since glibc complains and refuses to install. However, to upgrade the kernel, one first has to get the new glibc. Steve Langasek has asked him to build transitional kernels which are also needed for true i386 machines.

Testing Migration uncovered. Andreas Barth explained some bits of the testing migration scripts that are of interest for Debian package maintainers. In particular he explained what "outdated on ..." means and how packages in testing affect the migration of more recent versions. Manual hinting is also required for packages with circular dependencies.

Configuration of Authentication Methods. Fabio Tranchitella reported that he and Giuseppe Sacco are writing two small utilities to update the pam modules configuration and to manage /etc/nsswitch.conf. Their target is the automatic configuration of pam modules and the NSS service for LDAP, NIS+ and other network environments.

Supporting system-wide Environment Variables. Sami Dalouche wondered if Debian provides a similar mechanism to Gentoo's env-update. Daniel Burrows pointed out that the Debian Policy Manual says that a program must not depend on environment variables to get reasonable defaults since not all shells support system-wide configuration files where they could be set.

Removing non-free RFC files. Anibal Monsalve Salazar wondered if he needs to remove RFC files from the .orig.tar.gz archive as well, since their license don't comply to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Stephen Frost added that he should ask upstream to remove the files instead and Peter Eisentraut asserted that upstream may consider the removal as action to diminish the overall value of their package.

Unofficial buildd Network shut down. Goswin von Brederlow stated that the unofficial buildd network he is involved with has been shut down. As reason he reports about concerns which have been raised about developers signing uploads built on systems that don't belong to the developer or weren't accepted for the official buildd network. Ingo J├╝rgensmann added that this network has helped maintainers in getting their packages into sarge and helped in speeding up the tiff3g transition.

Unbuildable Packages in Sarge. Bastian Blank reported about 250 packages that currently don't build in a pure sarge environment. He used a temporary i386 buildd network. Only some build failures are the result of build dependencies that cannot be satisfied in sarge.

Serialising Cron Scripts. Abdullah Ramazanoglu proposed to serialise daily, weekly and monthly cron scripts so that they don't ever run in parallel. His solution includes two daily scripts which are run as the last ones from the daily run and which decide whether to start the weekly or monthly batch of scripts. He later noticed that fcron is already doing so.

Debian rejects Sender ID. The Debian project announced that it cannot implement or deploy Sender ID under the current license terms. Debian would even be forced to remove Sender ID support from software packaged in Debian that does support Sender ID upstream according to the terms of the social contract. This statement strengthened the position of the Apache Software Foundation.

Knoppix Variations on DVD. The October edition of the German Linux Magazin is a ten-year-anniversary edition and features a DVD with eight different live CDs: Knoppix, Gnoppix, Knoppix STD, Kanotix, ZOneCD, Insert, GNUstep Live CD, Lampixx. Knoppix and its variants are based on Debian. The international edition seems to contain seven of the eight live CDs.

Interview with FAI Author. In an interview (German only), Thomas Lange talked about the features of the newest release of the Fully Automatic Installation (FAI) for Debian. New features are support for the upcoming sarge release, booting with either 2.4 or 2.6 kernels, and use of libdiscover2 for hardware recognition. The most important feature of FAI is however the good customisability, making it possible to use it in lots of different environments.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Debian Packages introduced last Week. Every day, a different Debian package is featured from the testing distribution. If you know about an obscure package you think others should also know about, send it to Andrew Sweger. Debian package a day introduced the following packages last week.

Orphaned Packages. 1 package was orphaned this week and requires a new maintainer. This makes a total of 176 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 Tilman Koschnick, Bastian Kleineidam and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.