Debian Project News - February 9th, 2009

Welcome to this year's second issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community. Topics covered in this issue include:

Release update

Adeodato Simó, on behalf of the release team, sent a release update about the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny, which might be released during the weekend of 14 February 2009.

With the recent second release candidate of the debian-installer for Lenny, the archive has now gone into deep freeze, which means that only packages fixing release critical bugs will be allowed to enter Lenny. People wanting to help can fix these bugs, test the debian-installer, or help with the release notes.

Finally he mentioned that a Lenny-and-a-half release is also planned, which will add drivers needed for newer hardware.

Debian Summer of Code '08: where are they now?

Obey Arthur Liu gave a retrospective about this year's Google Summer of Code projects, where students were paid by Google to work on various programming tasks for free software projects. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 2.5 and Part 3.)

Debian had twelve projects granted, one of which was unfortunately abandoned for personal reasons. The other eleven projects all succeeded to some extent: some of them are already in use, while others need more development time before they can be fully used.

At FOSDEM, Arthur gave some suggestions on how to perform better in the 2009 Summer of Code and volunteered to help implement them.

Dedicating Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny to Thiemo ths Seufer

As already announced, the Debian Project has decided to dedicate its upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny to Thiemo Seufer, who died on December 26th, 2008 in a tragic car accident.

To this end, Christoph Berg called for GPG signatures of a particular text file, which will be placed on our mirrors in the directory docs/dedication along with all the signatures. Every Debian developer, maintainer, translator, or contributor in any other field is welcome to join us in signing this dedication.

Open Source study conducted by Heise Open

The German open source portal Heise Open conducted a survey on the use of open source software in German businesses. 1,312 companies participated: 30% were from companies with less than ten employees, 51% were small and medium-sized business and 19% had more than 500 employees.

Debian was ranked as the leading server distribution used by 47% of all companies and as the second most used distribution on the desktop with 29.9% (for companies with more than 500 employees the adoption rate was higher, at about 37%). The full survey (German language only) can be found here.

Bits from the DPL

Steve McIntyre published bits from the DPL. While some of the points in his report have already been covered in the previous edition of the Debian Project News (such as the outcome of the recent votes, and plans for Lenny), others have not, such as the appointment of two additional members to the Debian System Administrators group: Luca Filipozzi and Stephen Gran. He thanked James Troup for his long service in this team.

He also brought up the need for discussions in the community after Lenny has been released over issues such as constitutional clarifications and organizational changes. To help track these topics, Miriam Ruiz has created a wiki page.

Finally he mentioned the declassification of the archive of the debian-private list, which is used for internal discussion. Three years ago it was decided to declassify (at least some of) the contents of the debian-private mailing list, so volunteers are now needed to work on this.

Google portable devices running Debian

Several people have been working on a way to install Debian GNU/Linux on their T-Mobile G1 Android phones (See for example here, here or here). They have succeeded in running a full fledged Debian OS on their G1 Android cellphones, while retaining all the features which allow it to function as a cellphone such as receiving and making calls. This is achieved by creating a chroot environment which can invoked from a shell, thus making the whole range of Debian applications available to be run on that device.

Joey Hess, long term developer of the Debian installation system, analysed their installation system and came to the conclusion that — while working — it's not as technically elegant as he would wish it to be, since it mainly extracts an archive containing the chroot environment instead of calling debootstrap, which would be the correct way to set up a chroot. More generally speaking, he sees it as a pity that when people want to get Debian on a new device only about half of them seem to do it right, by modifying d-i and sending the modifications back to the installer team.

Best practice in team maintenance of packages

Gregor Herrmann summarized the results of a Birds of a Feather session during the last Debian Conference about best practice in team maintenance of packages. Topics included bringing members of different packaging teams together; getting an overview of different work flows, tools, and challenges; compiling generally useful 'models of good practice'; and defining possible areas for cooperation/tasks of mutual interest. A wiki page has been set up for the purpose of collecting tools relevant for packaging teams.

DDPortfolio service available

Jan Dittberner announced his DDPortfolio service. This service can create a page of useful links collecting together the other web based information services for a given Debian Maintainer or Developer.

Bits from the Policy Team, call for volunteers

Debian's policy team announced that version 3.8.1 of Debian's packaging Policy is in preparation and will be released very shortly after Lenny has been released. It includes 12 bug fixes and 7 normative changes (affecting the requirements set by Policy rather than the wording, presentation, or supporting documentation).

However, there is a general need for more people working on Policy, including simply participating in discussions on the mailing lists and evaluating proposals. There's also a need for experienced Debian developers who have the time and background required to be full Policy delegates as well as helping to convert Debian Policy from DebianDoc-SGML to DocBook and formalizing a new structure that would make it easier to extract bits of information from Policy requirements.

List statistics for Debian mailing lists

Andreas Tille created some statistics about Debian's mailing lists, their usage and their contributors. He tried to detect healthy projects as well as projects in need of help, such as Debian's maintainers, who have been looking for help for quite some time.

Debian Project at SCaLE 2009

From Friday 20th February 2009 to Sunday 22nd February 2009, the Debian Project will participate with a booth at the Seventh Annual Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles, USA. For further details, see the relevant events page.

Gareth J. Greenaway announced that Debian developers and users will get a 50% discount off the price of a full access pass to the show when using a special promotion code.

Other news

The thirteenth issue of the miscellaneous news for developers has been released and covers the following topics:

Jörg Jaspert announced the addition of Mike O'Connor to the archive team. He also added that this team is in need of fresh blood and mentioned some criteria that interested people should fulfil.

Bdale Garbee, a former DPL and current Project secretary and Technical Committee chairman, gave a detailed and very interesting interview for IT Wire, talking about things those outside the Debian Project are not usually aware of.

Enrico Zini, a Debian Developer, gave an interview to FSFE, talking about Debian, women in FLOSS and Debian, FLOSS at schools, and social groups, among other subjects.

Lars Steinke and Jeremy Malcolm each described how they became Debian Developers, their present involvement, how they are using Debian, and their interests outside the Debian Project.

J. A. Watson was pleasantly surprised by his experience installing Debian on Alpha machines. The obvious choice was Debian, as it is well known as a good server distribution, and they still have Alpha distributions and installation instructions. [..] Less than an hour, and it was up and running like a charm.

A long time outstanding serious bug concerning the licensing of several GLX related files shipped with the package xorg-server has finally been closed by Bdale Garbee now that the affected material has been re-licensed under a license considered free according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines, the SGI Free Software License B, version 2.0.

Jörg Jaspert announced the creation of a new archive signing key. The key will not be used yet, but was created to be shipped with Lenny and put in use either with the first point release for Lenny or on the first of July, when the old key expires.

The DebConf organizer team will soon decide where the eleventh annual Debian Conference will take place. Current candidates are Venezuela, Quito in Ecuador, and New York City or Boston in the USA.

Daniel Burrows continued creating diagrams explaining the work of APT, aptitude and similar tools. He has now created a diagram for the different status files used by APT.

Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez gave a report about the current state of KDE backports and plans for the future.

New Maintainers

Michael Hanke and Jan Hauke Rahm were added as Debian Maintainers.

Please welcome Michael Hanke and Jan Hauke Rahm in our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): openssl, ntp, bind9, xulrunner, amarok, iceweasel, git, shadow, typo3, rt2400, rt2500, rt2570 and moin. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Please note that these are a selection of the more important security advisories of the last two weeks. If you need to be kept up to date about security advisories released by the Debian Security Team, please subscribe to the security mailing list for announcements.

New and noteworthy packages

The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently (among others):

Debian Package of the Day featured the packages atop (an ASCII full-screen performance monitor), iftop (a tool for displaying bandwidth usage on an interface by host) and rtpg-www (a web front-end for rtorrent).

Work-needing packages

Currently 404 packages are orphaned and 113 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 Moritz Muehlenhoff, Andre Felipe Machado and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.