Debian Weekly News - October 19th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 41st issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Raphaƫl Hertzog has written the first French book about Debian to honour the growing French speaking Debian community with a sample chapter online. Joey Hess has contacted submitters of older installation reports to retry and received a lot of promising responses. Carla Schroder reported about using Knoppix for system recovery.

Debian GIS Sub-Project started. Francesco Lovergine announced the launch of DebianGis as new Debian sub-project. The goal is to create a custom Debian distribution oriented to serious Geographical Information Systems (GIS) users and applications. Coordination currently takes place on Alioth.

Academic Free License. Carlos Laviola noted that the FIGlet developers are considering to change the license of the entire distribution from the Artistic License to the Academic Free License 2.1 and wondered if it was DFSG-free. Andrew Suffield asserted it was clearly non-free, including a number of problematic clauses. MJ Ray observed that a clause requiring a reasonable effort to obtain the express assent of recipients to the terms of the license might be a practical problem for debian mirrors, regardless of the DFSG.

Debian in New York City. Benjamin Mako Hill announced he has created a new email list for Debian developers in the New York City area. The list will be used to schedule social get-togethers and key-signing parties. Other cities with similar groups are listed in the unofficial Debian wiki.

Debian Project at Conferences. The Debian project announced that it will participate in seven events in several cities in Europe. Last weekend a mini conference took place in Italy. This week Debian is present at the systems exhibition in Munich, Germany. Next weekend the project will participate in Berlinux in Berlin, Germany and in OS 04 in Graz, Austria. Several Debian related talks and workshops will be held during these events.

Ubuntu Development Model. Michael Banck took a look at how Ubuntu Linux works. He observed that apparently they managed to pull off with a tiny workforce what Debian was not able to do with a thousand volunteers and listed key development areas. Michael pondered whether all of their work will flow back upstream, whether they will branch off unstable again and whether the employees will find time to work on their non-packaging related tasks for Debian.

Generic XTerm Move? Martin Krafft is quite annoyed at times by software that has xterm hard-coded and proposed to move to an alternatives-based approach. Peter Eisentraut however reported that he has written scripts that explicitly call xterm because other terminal emulator programs under X couldn't handle certain programs. Frank Lichtenheld suggested to file bug reports on packages that don't use x-terminal-emulator instead.

ppp/ip-up versus network/if-up. A discussion arose about the use of ppp/ip-up versus network/if-up, since both intend to run scripts whenever an interface comes up. Marco d'Itri suggested historical reasons and reported about programs that may have only an interest in PPP interfaces. Thomas Hood reported that the experimental ifupdown facility does not currently rerun "up" scripts if pppd reconnects which means that it cannot replace the PPP mechanism.

Packaging of Driver without Firmware. Aurelien Jarno wondered if a driver package could go into main if the binary-only firmware blob would not be included. Marco d'Itri explained that if driver can be compiled and successfully executed without the firmware, it should go in main because it's Free Software. The hardware device may not perform useful work until its firmware has been loaded, though, but Debian distributes the driver and not the device.

Dealing with Trademarks. Problems with Abiword and a discussion with their developers inspired Branden Robinson to post a summary about Debian's concerns over trademark licensing. He concluded that the biggest question for Debian is whether the default protections that attach to trademarks, even when unregistered and unmentioned, infringe upon the freedoms the DFSG purports to defend.

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, Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.