Debian Weekly News - August 2nd, 2005

Welcome to this year's 31st issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Geert Stappers noted that the twelfth birthday of the Debian project will take place this month. Simon Wright reported that the Debian swirl is shipped as standard brush in a proprietary commercial drawing program.

Reviewing Package Descriptions. Wolfgang Borgert asked whether it was appropriate for package descriptions to include technical and extraneous details. While both sides were argued for, Lars Wirzenius noted that many package descriptions contain other errors, and suggested that a group should wade through the descriptions and improve them. Clément Stenac followed up with a Wiki page documenting procedures and calling for volunteers.

Services back up! Ryan Murray announced that the temporary migration of two important Debian machines to HP has been completed successfully and their services have been restored. All hosting offers received will now be evaluated in order to decide on a more permanent home for the two machines. The ftp-master service has been moved to spohr and developers can upload packages again.

Popularity Contest. Petter Reinholdtsen asked users to participate in the popularity contest by installing the popularity-contest package and saying "yes" to participation. The results are used to produce Debian CDs and map the usage of packages and architecture distribution. Erik Schanze suggested that reports be zipped in order to ease the stress on low-bandwidth machines. Petter responded that reports sent using HTTP already implement this, and that e-mail compression is being worked on.

Debian Accessibility Call for Help. Mario Lang called for help with the maintenance of accessibility related packages in Debian. He is searching co-maintainers for the emacspeak and kernel-patch-speakup packages. He is also looking for developers to help with specific tasks like developing a framework for building drivers for proprietary software speech synthesisers, researching the status of gnopernicus with respect to Java based applications and, and providing an accessibility initrd for the Debian Installer CDs.

Next Generation Init Scripts. Henrique de Moraes Holschuh announced a new project on Alioth to foster the development, reference implementation and deployment of new init script engines. All maintainers of init script subsystem packages and init replacements are invited to participate as well as representatives from derivated distributions that have an interest on the topic. This project intends to continue the work started during DebConf2, and rehashed during DebConf5.

Full Debian ARM for under $200. Peter Korsgaard announced a howto about installing Debian on a Linksys NSLU2. The NSLU2 is a cheap consumer device containing a 266 MHz ARM processor, Ethernet, USB 2.0, 8 MB flash and 32 MB SDRAM. The installation includes adjusting the endianness of the machine and the kernel and using the Debian installer image for LART machines. Attaching a USB hard disk makes it a nice server.

Report Mail as Spam. From now on there is another possibility for the normal user to help the Debian project. A button has been added to all mail pages of the mailing list archive to report this mail as spam. Everybody who finds a spam message can click on the button to report it back to the listserver. This will help to improve the spam filter and to clean up the mailing lists from unwanted messages.

Alioth Documentation. Raphaël Hertzog started to write some documentation on Alioth since its users often ask for documentation and noticed the lack of it. Users are invited to contribute to this piece of documentation. He pointed to the source of the modified version of Gforge and invited people to contribute patches.

Linux Trademark Issues. Bruce Perens wrote that the UserLinux project has been approached by the Linux Mark Institute and that their license doesn't seem to be compatible with Debian. Stephen Frost, however, pondered whether Debian's use wouldn't fall under the descriptive use since it refers to Linux as the kernel. Bruce's main concern is that the license doesn't serve the community and its efforts but only commercial entities.

Patent Infringements. Daniel James reported that XMMS contains a library that implements a patent-encumbered algorithm that requires a license. Steve Langasek answered that Debian includes this library because its patents are not actively enforced.

Skills and Rights of a Debian Developer. Bartosz Fenski pondered whether Debian should split duties and rights instead of requiring every registered developer to be a package maintainer, especially if they only want to work on documentation and translations. Maybe a good approach would be to better integrate people who are not packaging software and hence don't require upload permission.

Debian at the ApacheCon Europe 2005. Meike Reichle wrote a report about the Debian presence at this year's ApacheCon Europe that was held in Stuttgart, Germany. She had also taken the liberty to reproduce the long lost Mike poster. Most attendees of this conference were professionals who have known Debian already but the need for sarge DVDs was still high.

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 153 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 Christine Spang, Adeodato Simó, Sebastian Feltel and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.