Debian Weekly News - September 14th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 36th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Graham Williams has written a book entitled Debian GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide which is intended to deliver a fun and productive environment. It guides you through the many different regions of a GNU/Linux system with a focus on getting your desktop environment to do what you want it to do.

Preparation of Sarge CD and DVD Images. Steve McIntyre explained how dual layer DVD discs work and mentioned the types of CD and DVD he would like to see supported for the upcoming sarge release. This includes business card and network installation ISO images as well as full 13 or 15 CD image sets for each architecture. He also mentioned two 4.7 GB size DVD images and one 8.5 GB size double layer DVD image for each architecture. The latter should only be provided via jigdo, though.

Using Debian in commercial Environments. Somebody asked on Slashdot about experience shoe-horning Debian into a commercial scenario when the third-party vendor (IBM) doesn't officially support this distribution. He also mentioned about anecdotal evidence that most of such software can be persuaded to work on Debian as well.

GNOME 2.6 Transition complete. Jordi Mallach reported that the transition of GNOME 2.6 into sarge is finished. The last missing package from the GNOME meta package, Eye of GNOME has finally entered testing. The only missing package is gdm 2.6 which will allow GNOME users to shutdown the computer directly when they close their session. Web Forums in Beta. Jeroen van Wolffelaar announced that since many people like web-based forums for discussion and support, he would try providing a web forum for the Debian community. The web forums are still in beta, so any suggestions for improvements or problem reports should be sent to Of course, like all * sites, the forums are not an official Debian service, and it's been merged with Debianplaza.

Partman needs testing. Joey Hess pointed out that recent changes to partman have introduced a lot of bugs, including problems with reiserfs and xfs. He doesn't know at this point if the new partman is suitable to be in the next debian-installer release. To help fix the problem, he has called for volunteers to test partman in the daily builds to not only do automated partitioning tests, but manual partitioning to try all the strange combinations that are not often used and make sure it works at least as well as it did in rc1.

New legal Counsel for SPI. The Board of Directors of Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI), Debian's umbrella organisation, announced the appointment of new legal counsel after the former one, Chris Rourk, had resigned. The firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, represented by Greg Pomerantz, was willing to serve as SPI's pro bono legal counsel and was duly appointed as such by the board.

UserLinux releases first beta CD. Slashdot discussed the beta release of UserLinux, a new Debian-based distribution. Bruce Perens explained that UserLinux is closely based on Debian and aims to provide businesses with freely available, high quality GNU/Linux operating systems accompanied by certifications, service, and support options. Their i386 install CD is only 4.5 MB large, with the remainder downloaded directly from Debian mirrors and they want to do all of their Free Software development within Debian.

Testing Debian-Installer Improvements. Joey Hess reported about the techniques he uses for installer tests. The first and preferred method includes creating a new netboot image to boot a test-laptop. The second method refers to writing it on a USB stick to boot from. He also reported that he managed to pre-seed the debian-installer so that the first stage installer runs with only one single keystroke.

Using Auto* Tools for Building Packages? Jesus Gonzalez-Barahona wondered if he should run automake at build-time instead of just using configure provided by upstream. Andrew Suffield asserted that this would render the package unbuildable once automake changes. Marcelo Magallon added that automake versions are not compatible at source level and asked to keep the amount of included cruft as small as possible.

Patent Lawsuit Prohibition. Matthew Garrett had a look at licenses that are designed to discourage patent lawsuits. He noted that both Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative appear to consider those licenses free, but the compatibility with the Debian Free Software Guidelines seems to be unclear. If Debian decides to consider these (or some) licenses non-free, the project needs to make it clear precisely why it holds this opinion, and then set about trying to change other people's minds.

System Binaries linked against unreachable Libraries. Fabrice Lorrain noticed that several programs in /sbin are linked against libraries located in /usr/lib. These programs won't work unless /usr is mounted. Hence they should either be moved into /usr/sbin or the libraries need to be moved into /lib instead. Jeroen van Wolffelaar explained that lintian cannot warn about this currently.

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.

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.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Matt Black, Andre Lehovich, Christoph Berg and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.