Debian Project News - August 4th, 2008

Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:

"Lenny" frozen

Marc Brockschmidt, a Release Manager, announced that Lenny, the upcoming new stable release, has been frozen as planned. The automatic transition of new versions of packages from the development branch (sid or unstable) to the current testing branch (lenny) has been stopped and new versions of packages need manual approval. New versions which fix release critical bugs, other important bugs, add documentation, or include translation fixes can be approved by the release team upon request.

Lenny is still scheduled to be released in September 2008.

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 updated to include support for newer hardware

The Debian project released an updated version of its current stable release Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 etch called etch and a half. While this update mainly includes security fixes and fixes for severe bugs, the Debian project has for the first time also added support for newer hardware by adding new drivers with updated Linux kernel and packages. The new drivers are optional and the old versions will still be supported.

Detailed upgrade instructions are available in the respective announcement, the etch and a half release notes and the etch and a half installation guide.

Schedule for 8th annual Debian Conference announced

Jörg Jaspert announced the schedule the 8th annual Debian Conference which will be held from August 10th to August 16th, 2008 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. As usual the schedule should considered a "work in progress" as session slots will be filled during the conference with spontaneous sessions, including so called BoF ("Birds of a feather") sessions.

For those who can't attend the conference physically, the DebConf video team will try to stream all sessions, so interested people can point their media player (e.g. xine or totem) to and Users in North America, Europe and Australia should use, and, respectively, with the corresponding filename.

IRC channels which can be used to participate in discussion sessions will be announced separately; a schedule with times in UTC is in preparation. After DebConf8 the sessions will also be available as videos at, where you can also find older DebConf videos.

In related news, the organizers of the Debian Conference are soliciting location proposals for the 10th annual Debian Conference to be held in 2010. Groups interested in hosting the 10th DebConf conference should prepare their proposal according to this checklist and send it to

Debian Days around the world

Debian users around the world are preparing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Debian project on August 16th 2008. Currently Debian Days are planned in Nicaragua, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria, Chile, Argentina and eight different locations in Brazil. Apart from general celebration, the Debian Days will feature install fests, talks, discussion panels, LAN parties, Debian merchandise, software demonstrations, advanced installation workshops, knowledge exchange, and much more.

The Brazilian Portuguese event will be transmitted on-line by and torrents will be available after. Other Brazilian Debian User Groups interested in their own event transmissions may visit the event page for details.

Limited Xen support in Lenny

A recent discussion on the debian-devel list highlighted that due to the upstream delays in getting Xen support integrated into kernels beyond 2.6.18, Lenny will need to ship with limited Xen support. Pasi Kärkkäinen explained the situation and Bastian Blank wrote an article about the options the Debian Project has. His conclusion is to support a 2.6.18 kernel in Lenny, until lenny-and-a-half adds better Xen support. However, the release managers have not yet made a final decision.

Screenshots of GUI applications

Roberto Sanchez raised the topic of screenshots for GUI applications. Since it's often difficult to judge a package based only on the textual package description, he suggested being able to add screenshots of specific applications to Debian. This would allow package search and maintenance tools to show the user what can be expected from a specific package.

During the discussion Raphaël Hertzog remarked about a previous discussion during the 6th Debian Conference and Paul Wise added that the Debian Package Games Team already creates screenshots for their games which are available in the games-thumbnails package, and are used by goplay, a debtags-based browser for game-related packages. Jon Dowland pointed out that there may be possible legal issues, since screenshots could be seen as derivative works of the original application in some legislations.

Bits from the Debian Eee PC team

Ben Armstrong reported on the current activities of the Debian Eee PC team: Debian's next release Lenny will work with all of the earliest models of the Eee PC and the Eee PC team hopes to soon realize its goal of a completely DFSG free system for the earliest models of the Eee Pc. Newer models are now able to install using the atl1e ethernet driver from; support for wireless and other aspects of the new hardware will follow soon. The wireless custom Debian-installer is also making good progress. There are currently two Debian-live USB images available: a demo of the LXDE desktop (a lightweight desktop environment that is made with the Eee PC in mind) and a minimal console-only image for rescue/backup. The team is also always looking for new members to contribute to Debian's support for the Eee PC.

SELinux and lenny

Russel Coker gave several updates on security enhanced Linux in the upcoming stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny.

adept package manager alpha release of version 3.0

Petr Rockai gave a report about his work on a rewritten version of adept, a package management tool for KDE. He points out that the new version of adept has improved upon the speed, reliability and user experience of previous versions. Notable among the new features he added are full text searching and handling of interactive installation prompts (for example, debconf prompts and dpkg prompts about changed configuration files).

Debian Project at FrOSCon 2008

From Saturday the 23rd of August 2008 to Sunday the 24th of August 2008, the Debian Project will participate with a booth at Free and Open Source Software Conference 2008 in St. Augustin, Germany. Please see the respective events page for further details.

Other news

Stefano Zacchiroli reminded package maintainers that the old pseudo-header for upstream Homepages in the package description has been replaced by a proper header which should now be used instead.

Ian Jackson pointed out how to properly rename a package to ease the transition of other package's dependencies upon the renamed package.

Christian von Essen reported about his Google Summer of Code project the Ultimate Debian Database, which combines Debian information from various sources. He's also looking for example queries to allow for further testing of his database layout.

New and noteworthy packages

By popular request, DPN will once again feature a list of new and noteworthy packages that have recently been added to the unstable branch. The list will feature editorial picks from the official list of new packages and will be appended to each issue of Debian Project News.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): libgd, iceweasel, xulrunner , clamav, python2.5, icedove and cupsys. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Please note that those are only the most important security advisories of the last two weeks. If you would like to be kept up to date about the security advisories released by the Debian Security Team, please subscribe to the mailing list for security announcements.

Work-needing packages

Currently 461 packages are orphaned and 118 packages are up for adoption. Please take a look at the recent reports to see if there are packages you are interested in or view the complete list of packages which need your help.

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Don Armstrong, Andre Felipe Machado, Graham Cobb, Paul van der Vlis, Jörg Jaspert, Meike Reichle and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.