Debian Weekly News - October 26th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 42nd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Roger So called for papers for the first Asia Debian Mini-Conf, to be held in Beijing, China next February/March. Support for the new m32r processor architecture has been added to Linux 2.6.9 and the root filesystem is based on Debian.

Support for real i386 Machines. Frank Lichtenheld aggregated the opinion of the release team and reported that they have decided to keep -i386 kernels which will continue to run on real 80386 machines. The used patch, though, is said to contain security problems, which only exist on real 80386 machines.

Problematic Xchat Shareware Version. Giacomo Catenazzi noticed that the xchat website offers a shareware binary for a proprietary operating system. A fee must be paid to unlock the shareware version and the GPL licensed source code does not include this unlocking code. This may or may not pose problems for Debian.

Debian Project at Conferences. The Debian project announced that it will participate in several events in several cities in Europe. Debian will be present at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Frankfurt, at the Linux-Info-Tag in Dresden and at Practical Linux in Gießen, all taking place in Germany. Several Debian related talks and workshops will be held during these events.

Report from the Italian Mini-Conference. Marco d'Itri summarised the mini Debian conference held in Milano, Italy. They had interesting talks and discussions about the status of internationalisation in Debian, and user mode Linux. On the second day they had talks on how to use tla/arch to maintain large Free Software projects, debtags, the concept of custom Debian distributions, and work on a modular postfix policy daemon.

Overall Configuration Mechanism. Mark Roach wanted to know the proper way to configure several packages with sensible defaults for an authentication server. Enrico Zini pointed out that current trends are centred on debconf preseeding and on installing cfengine scripts. He also discussed diversions to replace configuration files of other packages.

Multinationalisation and Input Methods. Osamu Aoki reported about his successful effort to integrate multiple UTF-8 locales and input methods at the same time. With the script he provides, he has access to all locales on the system. It also features a customisable startup of X with hooks to run programs from ~/.xsession.d.

Common Database Policy. Sean Finney announced a first draft on a policy for database-driven applications in Debian. The best approach seems to be to provide debconf questions in a single run-time dependency package via the debconf REGISTER method, although it's probably not the best solution.

Including pre-compiled Object Files. Wesley W. Terpstra wondered if it would be acceptable to distribute pre-compiled i386 binaries that run two time faster compared with executables compiled with GCC. Andreas Barth stated that all binary packages uploaded into Debian should be the same as if autobuilt. Manoj Srivastava explained that users need to be able to debug the package, and can only do so when it is compiled with the same compiler they have, i.e. GCC.

Report from Austrian OS 04. Gerfried Fuchs wrote an event report where he ran a booth alone on his own while also giving a talk and listening to others. One talk was about grml, a stripped down variant of Knoppix for system administrators with zsh as default shell and some geek tools added. It will also provide good accessibility features.

Debian Stable updated. Joey Schulze announced that the Debian project has finally updated its stable distribution. Since the last time Debian stable was updated was in November 2003, a lot of security updates have accumulated. As a result of eleven months of updates, no less than 212 security updates are included in this update.

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. 1 package was orphaned this week and requires a new maintainer. This makes a total of 180 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 Matt Black and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.