Debian Project News - April 21st, 2008

Welcome to the first issue of the Debian Project News, the newsletter for the Debian community! From now on we'll keep you informed about recent events and interesting developments in and around the Debian Community on a biweekly basis. But we could still need some help, so feel free to take a look at our wiki.

New Debian Project Leader elected
After 12 years of working on Debian as a developer Steve McIntyre was elected as the new Debian project leader. Within short hours of taking the job Steve had his first interview with iTWire about his plans during his term. The interview highlights Steve's hopes to improve communication between the core teams, get Lenny out in the second half of 2008 and encourage greater participation in the project.

When asked how Steve will know if he has done a good job this year he replied, I'll know I've done a good job if Debian is in a better shape: More efficient, more people having fun, more people working on the core tasks that are needed. I want to see Lenny released inside our target window. Beyond that, I'll just have to trust the judgement—my own and those of my peers. I know that's a little wishy-washy, but it's not like I can point to objective numbers like sales figures here... :-)

Surveying the Debian community
In the spirit of the bits from mails sent by various officers and groups within Debian, Paul Wise prepares a bits from the users of Debian mail, in which he tries to summarize feedback he got and gets from various users of the Debian operating system and will send it to the development community around Debian. Users are asked to send him via email what they are using Debian for, what gripes they see and similar.

To get a full picture Paul is searching for volunteers who would like to translate and forward his request to our non-English speaking mailing lists and send answers translated back to him.

Release Update
Martin Zobel-Helas, a member of the release team, sent an update about the next Debian release. While there are still too many release critical bugs open there has been great progress during the last bug squashing parties (BSP). So the current BSP marathon will go on.

Martin also added some bits from different package teams and reports, that GNOME 2.22 is on its way to the next stable release codenamed Lenny while the KDE team stopped efforts on KDE 4.0.x and is instead focusing on KDE 4.1 to be ready for Lenny.

Debian to participate again in Google's Summer of Code
Erich Schubert reports, that Debian will again participate in Google's Summer of Code campaign allowing students to do paid work for free software projects during the summer.

Debian got 13 slots granted, and he's sure that Debian will be able to fill these slots easily with very good applications working on a variety of topics.

Scientific study about Debian Project governance and social organization
How did a big non-commercial, non-paying community evolve into one that produces some of the most respectable Operating Systems and application packages available?

Two academic management researchers, Siobhán O'Mahony and Fabrizio Ferraro, performed a detailed scientific study about Debian Project governance and social organization from the management perspective.

Debian makes progress regarding reliability
According to a recently published study by the Institute for Advanced Professional Studies Yankee group Debian made great improvements regarding reliability compared to the last study from 2006. The average downtime of a Debian server has fallen by 41% while 24% of the respondents reported to have at least one Debian server in their network compared to 15% who had it installed in the 2006 timeframe.

Call for contributions on Debian development infrastructure
For the upcoming Libre Software Meeting to be held in early July in France Olivier Berger is calling for contributions about Debian development infrastructure for a session about communautary development.

Debian feature requests wanted
For the upcoming Hackcontest in Switzerland Martin Krafft is looking for more Debian related feature requests. During the contest it's the task of random teams to implement these features. Of course they'll need to be working with the projects to accomplish their task, and so even if a team should not win, Debian would profit.

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ to be improved with Lenny
Jost van Baal reported about his ongoing efforts to improve the official Debian GNU/Linux FAQ. Since the versions shipped with Sarge and even Etch weren't in a good shape (and partly outdated) he added new services and tools and rewrote some parts of the FAQ. The updated FAQ will feature several translations and will be shipped in a separate debian-faq package instead of being part of the doc-debian package.

Debian Lenny to be shipped with qmail and djbdns in main
In the past Debian users who favoured using the popular software from Dan J. Bernstein (like qmail or djbdns) needed to use packages shipping only the source and compile these programmes themselves or use packages provided by external services. This was due to a restrictive license used by him to distribute his software. However, since Bernstein decided to change the licence terms for his software, qmail and djbdns may be distributed in Debian main and already efforts are going on to provide packages with the next stable release.

Planet Debian as mailing list?
Jörg Jaspert wondered, if Planet Debian, a service collecting Weblogs of Debian Developers and contributors on one place, should be available as a mailing list, too. Some people don't like the mixed private and technical content available there, and having it as a mailing list might be easier to sort interesting posts out.

Joey Schulze added, that he already provided an unarchived mailing list collecting posts on Planet Debian.

Co-operative Breathes New Life into Old Machines with Debian
Bristol Wireless is a co-operative set up to develop a free-to-access broadband intranet using radio, with the emphasis on supplying ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) that are relevant, permanent and affordable to communities that find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. The group is working together with Voscur and Byteback Computing to provide access to computers built on Debian to the people of Bristol. Byteback provides the wiped machines to Bristol Wireless; we install Debian Linux on them and use the machines in our grant-funded projects in deprived inner city areas.

Other News

Christian Perrier noticed that in the last batch of people becoming official Debian Developers, 10% are female. He hopes that the Debian Women Project, which tries to encourage women to become more involved with Debian, will keep the pace.

Russell Coker bloged several times about the status of Security Enhanced Linux (SE Linux) support in Debian. He concludes that it isn't in bad shape, but has still room for improvements.

After it has been often seemed that the ftp master team as well as the Debian Account Managers (DAM) will to not be able to handle the workload, Jörg Jaspert, who has already served as ftp assistant and secondary DAM has been delegated to a full ftp master and DAM by the former Debian Project Leader Sam Hocevar.

Bjoern Boschman reports about a meeting taking place in the Linuxhotel in Essen / Germany focusing on the 25th to 27th of April about Groupware solution in Debian / not yet in Debian.

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Paul Wise, Jeff Richards, Andre Felipe Machado, Bjoern Boschman, Russell Coker and Alexander Schmehl.