Debian Project News - August 9th, 2010

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

The Debian project Release Team announces an official Freeze

On 6 August at DebConf10 in New York City, Adam D. Barratt and the rest of the Debian Release Team announced that Debian is being frozen in preparation for release. The tentative release goal is before the end of the year. As Adam D. Barratt said, a freeze is a horizontal transition and it means that one doesn't introduce new transitions, or upload packages to unstable which are not intended to be released in Squeeze. Also, if your package is involved in an ongoing transition, don't upload a new version until it migrates. You can check the transition tracker for more information.

Annual Debian Developer Conference 2010 ended

The 2010 annual Debian Developer Conference, DebConf10, which was held at Columbia University in New York City, ended last Saturday on 7 August, 2010. With over 300 Debian Developers, Maintainers, and Users from 40 countries attending, it was one of the most productive conferences ever. Attendees met other developers, worked on projects, toured New York City, and attended talks, thus forming strong community bonds throughout the week long event.

Holding DebConf in New York allowed organizers to include members of the wider Free Software and Free Culture community who gave talks and presentations. Eben Moglen, chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, gave a talk The Silver Lining in the Cloud (beta version of the recording) that inspired days of conversation and got many participants interested in the Freedom Box project. John Sullivan from the Free Software Foundation showed a film about patents, Patent Absurdity (beta version of the recording), and led a BOF detailing the many campaigns of the Free Software Foundation. We also enjoyed the award winning animated film released under a Creative Commons license Sita Sings the Blues. The filmmaker, Nina Paley, along with Karl Fogel from Questioncopyright, led a lively question and answer period after the film.

Many other interesting Debian-related talks and ad-hoc sessions took place, ranging from the latest developments in packaging up to collaboration with derivative distributions and projects like Constantly Usable Testing. Preceding the conference, a one week work camp took place, and thanks to the bug-squashing contest held during the past two weeks, almost 140 bugs were closed for the next release, and almost 80 for the current stable release!

Debian's current DPL, Stefano Zacchiroli, gave an inspirational talk (beta version of the recording), explaining why Debian is still relevant after 17 years but also making recommendations for attracting more users and developers, and for building stronger collaboration with derivatives. The Release Team delivered a quick but concise talk about their status and announced the immediate freeze of Squeeze.

For those who couldn't attend the conference, and would like to watch the talks, many sessions were streamed by the DebConf video team composed of over 40 volunteers. If you liked their work, please say thank you as this helps to keep them motivated.

A low quality beta version of the video recordings is already available.

The Debian Project, the attendees, and all who followed the streams would like to thank this year's sponsors and the organizers for making all that possible!

A free (as in speech) Debian book in the making

Debian Developers Raphaël Hertzog and Roland Mas have announced their intention to translate their French Debian book into English. Their best-seller covers a wide range of topics from the basics (introducing the community, dpkg, APT, debian-installer, etc.) to more advanced administration tasks (automated installation, virtualization with Xen, RAID/LVM, SELinux, etc.) as well as the most common services (mail, web, firewall, file server, LDAP, etc.). It will be based on the upcoming Debian Squeeze.

The resulting book will be published under a DFSG-compliant license (dual license: CC-BY-SA 3.0/GPL2+) provided that they manage to raise the money required to fund this work. At this point, they need your feedback to pick the most appropriate funding service: check their announcement and respond to the questionnaire that they have set up.

Second alpha version for Squeeze-based Debian Live images available

Daniel Baumann announced the availability of the second alpha version of Debian Squeeze-based live images, which can be used without being installed. Due to space limitations, dedicated USB-HDD images will most likely not be offered anymore, as the new ISO-hybrid images can be used on both optical media like DVDs and USB-sticks. It's also possible to use them via network boot. The images are available for the amd64, i386, and powerpc architectures and also contain an experimental installation system.

Net-installation CD images with firmware available

During the last few weeks, netinst CD images (containing the installation system and all packages for the base system, downloading everything else from the Internet) have been available which also contain the partly non-free firmware files needed (e.g.) for some network and WLAN controllers. Now that they have been tested, they have been moved to their final location and can be downloaded from the official download site for the i386, amd64, and powerpc architectures as well as one image to boot all three architectures.

Debian Edu/Skolelinux 6.0.0 alpha0 test release

DebianEdu, who adapt Debian for the special needs of schools and similar institutions, released their first test version based upon Debian Squeeze. Many applications have been updated and added, so testers are asked to take special care about the package selections: missing, unneeded, and untranslated applications should be reported back. Other newly introduced features are the integration of the LXDE desktop environment and a roaming workstation profile for laptops.

ZFS support in unstable on kFreeBSD ports

Thanks to Tuco Xyz, Petr Salinger and Aurelien Jarno, zfsutils are now packaged for Debian GNU/kFreeBSD and available in Sid, including the relevant libraries and a udeb package for the Debian Installer. Its availability also brought some kernel ZFS issues to light which have been fixed in the meantime. Now Debian GNU/kFreeBSD can fully support ZFS.

Debian-Accessibility is using Blends web sentinel

The Debian-Accessibility project is now using the web sentinel provided by the Debian Pure Blends effort to show their current work to users. Those who are interested might have a look at the

There is some ongoing discussion whether Blends metapackages make sense for the Debian-Accessibility project.

The definition for the packages which are shown on the pages above is available in the Subversion repository and the documentation of the format of the tasks files is available in the Debian Pure Blends documentation.

Debian GIS project will release Blends metapackages in Squeeze

The Debian GIS project has now released a set of metapackages built using Debian Pure Blends tools which are available in testing (and thus will be released in Squeeze). The web sentinel provides an overview of the available GIS and OSM packages in Debian. It would be great if some OpenStreetMap addicts would join this effort.

As above, the definition for the packages shown is available in the Subversion repository.

DebiChem project will release Blends metapackages in Squeeze

The DebiChem project has likewise released a set of metapackages for Squeeze built using Debian Pure Blends tools. See the overview of chemical application packages in Debian and task definition in the Subversion repository.

DebConf11 logo contest

While Annual Debian Developers Conference 2010 has just ended, preparations for the 2011 conference have already begun. One example is the DebConf11 logo contest collecting ideas and logos for the conference, which will take place in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When should services started by init.d scripts be operational?

Petter Reinholdtsen wondered whether a service started by an init.d script should already be operational when the script exits successfully. As the execution of these scripts is ordered based on their dependencies, it can lead to difficult to solve problems (see for example #585966 or #589915) when these scripts exit before their service is completely up and running. A depending service may be called while the service is still only starting up. Josselin Mouette noted that this would be the case for all init.d scripts using the start-stop-daemon with the --background option. Josef Spillner added that services should be able to handle it if services they depend on are temporarily unavailable, e.g. by trying to reconnect.

Different statistics about Debian

Anthony Towns published several statistics about Debian, including the average time needed to close bugs and the number of release-critical bugs. The graphs are rendered using JavaScript allowing different filters and zooming into the graphs.

Building all files from source

After several bugs had been filed against packages not building Flash files during their build process but shipping precompiled files, Charlie Smotherman wondered whether all files shipped in a Debian package really need to be built from source. Some of the reasons named were quality assurance, conforming with Debian Policy, and compliance with the Debian Free Software Guidelines: being able to modify files distributed by Debian is a core principle.

Other news

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

A list of the contents of all JAR files in Debian unstable is now generated daily. You can use zgrep to search package names, JAR filenames, or class names.

Martin Zobel-Helas announced the agenda for a meeting of Debian's System Administrators to take place on 3 September in Munich, Germany.

Russell Coker documented how to create a chroot environment using SELinux.

Petter Reinholdtsen wondered whether tools used to create users and their home directories should use a common framework (e.g. scripts in /etc/skel.d/) to automatically fill these directories with configuration files.

New Developers and Maintainers

Six applicants have been accepted as Debian Maintainers since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Michael Ziegler, Josué Miguel Abarca Samayoa, Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo, Tomasz Muras, Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, and Youhei SASAKI into our project!

Release-critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release

According to the unofficial release-critical bug counter, the upcoming release, Debian 6.0 Squeeze, is currently affected by 245 release-critical bugs. Ignoring bugs which are easily solved or on the way to being solved, roughly speaking, about 145 release-critical bugs remain to be solved for the release to happen.

There are also more detailed statistics as well as some hints on how to interpret these numbers.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): xulrunner, gnupg2, openldap, kvirc, mapserver, ghostscript, libmikmod, gmime2.2, moin, tiff, lftp, avahi, cabextract, wget, php5 and socat. 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 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):

Work-needing packages

Currently 597 packages are orphaned and 141 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 Raphaël Hertzog, Andreas Tille, Jeremiah C. Foster, Biella Coleman and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.