Debian Weekly News - January 18th, 2005

Welcome to this year's 3rd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Roger So sent a reminder for the Call for Papers for the Asia Debian Mini-Conf taking place at the end of February in Beijing, China. Jeroen van Wolffelaar compiled a list of packages in contrib which should be forced into the testing stage of contrib. Ankit Malik listed ten ways to pay back to the Free Software community.

Final DebConf 4 Report. Pablo Lorenzzoni announced the final report about the Debian Conference held last year in Porto Alegre. The report is more a spreadsheet and lists 163 people who have attended this conference representing many teams inside the Debian project. Several sponsors have made this event possible and the organisers even document things that can be improved next time.

Development on dpkg. Scott James Remnant announced the experimental branch of dpkg. This branch is intended to see fairly rapid releases incorporating both bug fixes and new development/features. It may be slightly more unstable than you may be used to. Development plans are documented in the dpkg wiki.

New Policy for Debian Consultants. Tobias Toedter proposed a new policy regarding the addition of entries to the Debian consultants list. The consultants team didn't reach consensus on which part of the address is mandatory. Additionally, a discussion came up why Debian is now requiring the consultant to link to the Debian website as well.

Call for Papers for Mini-DebConf. Jonathan Oxer called for speakers for the upcoming Debian Miniconf taking place before the Linux Conference Australia. Presentation topics have to be directly related to Debian and be intended for a technical audience. Presentation slots are 1 hour long with 45 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for questions and 5 minutes for speaker changeover. The format is pretty casual and relaxed though so anything can happen on the day.

Keeping old Library Versions intact. Thomas Bushnell wondered how to keep an older library intact but also providing a newer version. Santiago Vila proposed to upload the old version with a higher version number than the current and the new version with a new binary name and an adjusted library soname. When both libraries are compatible, the old -dev package is not required anymore and the library should go into section oldlibs.

Different Architectures Binary Packages. Norbert Preining wondered if there is support for placing binaries of different architectures and operating systems in the same Debian package. Steve Langasek explained that the proposed location of architecture specific files would even be a violation of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS).

Disabling Daemon Services. Erik Schanze wondered how to disable the start of daemons so that this setting will be kept upon upgrades. Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña referred to the Securing Debian Manual where it is explained that you need to leave one link intact.

Editing History? Frank Küster wondered if it would be acceptable to add information about closed bugs to older changelog entries. Jeroen van Wolffelaar considered it fine to correct and improve older items. He added that Branden Robinson improves the changelog file in order to be able to correctly lookup when a certain bug was fixed.

Essential Packages for Building Packages. Scott James Remnant wondered if debhelper is or rather should be declared build-essential since 92 % of all source packages declare a build-dependency on it. This could remove a large chunk of versioned dependencies on one hand, but on the other hand new versioned dependencies against build-essential would be introduced when newer versions of debhelper are required for building.

Turck-MMCache undistributable? Elizabeth Fong sought advice since Andres Salomon reported Turck-MMCache as undistributable. The software has been abandoned upstream with an unresponsive developer, but forked. However, its license (GPL) is not compatible with the license of PHP4 which it needs to be linked against. In combination this means that Debian cannot distribute binary packages of Turck-MMCache.

License of graphviz. Somebody wondered why graphviz was in non-free when the license on its homepage was considered free by the FSF and debian-legal. Marco d'Itri pointed out that the software has recently been relicensed. Andrew Suffield added that the new upstream version may go into main.

Debian From Scratch. Bruce Byfield wrote an introduction to Debian from scratch (DFS). It comprises of a bootable CD and the programs to generate it. By default only core packages are installed. DFS supports most major file systems, RAID, and LVM2, and includes several partition editors which make it a useful rescue CD.

Properly Crafting the debian/copyright File. Jochen Voss wondered how to properly write the debian/copyright file. Henning Makholm explained that all authors who claim copyright in a source file should be credited in the Debian copyright file, together with the exact statement of license they issued. He added some compression practices to improve the readability of that file.

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. 10 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 255 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.

Want to continue reading DWN? Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers who watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter weekly in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Martin 'Joey' Schulze.