Debian Project News - September 21st, 2010

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

Linux Mint Debian Edition

Linux Mint, a Linux distribution whose purpose is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use, has released an edition based on Debian. This new Linux Mint distribution will track Debian testing, as a more reliable upstream base. Linux Mint appears to be a popular Linux distribution ranking highly at as well as other non-scientific measures. Certainly they received a large number of comments to their blog post regarding their new distribution. Anecdotal evidence seems to point to this Debian-based edition as a popular move.

The addition of Linux Mint to the Debian derivatives family is a welcome one, and should the Linux Mint developers wish to be in contact with Debian it has been suggested that they will be warmly welcomed at the Debian Derivatives Front Desk.

Grave software bugs

Andreas Tille began a short discussion regarding bugs which are not grave software bugs per se, but could cause grave harm to life or property under certain conditions. As an example, the bug in question involved improper data handling that could lead to a medical patient being prescribed medicine which could lead to a possibly fatal reaction. Responses from developers indicated that despite such bugs not being explicitly mentioned in the bug guidelines, they should already fall under release-critical severity and thus should have freeze exceptions and possible Debian Security Advisories if needed. The fix for the bug in question was approved for testing within the day.

This week in Debian interviews Stefano Zacchiroli

Jonathan Nadeau published the first issue of the This week in Debian podcast! The podcast is available in Ogg Vorbis format as well as MP3. In this issue he interviewed Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli about Debian influence in the Linux universe and its link with upstream and derivative developers. Stefano also spoke about the Debian Project and its organisation, and more specifically the Debian Project Leader tasks.

Congratulations, Jonathan, and thanks for your work! We are looking forward to hearing new issues of your podcast!

etch-backports gone

Alexander Wirt announced that the backports for Debian Etch have finally been removed from the servers. Over the lifetime of etch-backports there accumulated a total of 508 different backports, resulting in more than 2250 binary packages for all Debian architectures offered to users. Altogether the available backports and their source occupied 13Gb of disk space on the mirrors. The backports team would like to thank every contributor and mirror administrator for their work and their help which made this possible.

Release-critical bugs in stable release

Gerfried Fuchs noticed that recently the number of release-critical bugs in the stable release Debian 5.0 Lenny has dropped below the 900 mark, and thanks all who helped keeping that number down. It should be noted that the high number of open release-critical bugs for the stable release contains a fair amount of false positives (e.g. serious fails to build from source bugs with newer compiler versions that aren't shipped in the stable release). Previously Gerfried blogged about usage of the Bug Tracking System. If you would like to join the efforts of keeping the bug tracking system clean, please read this post and contact Gerfried should any questions arise.

Debian Women Mentoring rebooting

Helen Faulkner noted that the Debian Women mentoring project has been restarted. People interested in being a mentor or getting a mentor should contact the coordinators.

Mythbusting Ruby packaging

After hearing some myths about how Ruby is packaged in Debian, Lucas Nussbaum wrote about some of the Ruby myths in his blog. It ranges from general version culture and API stability, over the necessity of package splits, performance issues and porting issues up to communication with the upstream developers and motivation issues. He also noted that due to these problems it's difficult to find new people to join the Ruby packaging teams, and that they are quite understaffed.

In response to this initial post, some people volunteered to help on Ruby's packaging, so Lucas updated the corresponding wiki page for guidance.

Debian to welcome non-packaging contributors

In coordination with Debian's Account Managers, Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli proposed a general resolution to welcome non-packaging contributors as full project members. While the Debian Account Managers already are empowered to do so, and while it is already possible to become an official Debian Developer without doing packaging work, this procedure has rarely been used. So Stefano wants to make a clear sign from the entire project that Debian does welcome and honour non-packaging contributions. This goal has already been achieved partly, as Stefano's proposal got a lot of support in quite a short time-frame. However, the naming of non-packaging contributors as well as possible upload rights are under discussion.

Other news

Stephan Gran posted some notes from the meeting of Debian System Administrators in early September in Munich. Besides some internal discussion (e.g. monitoring and configuration management), this also led to a procedure for the handling of guest accounts on machines.

Joerg Jaspert posted a policy for how Debian Developers can get their account names changed.

Robert Millan announced the availability of the graphical installer for Debian GNU/kFreeBSD.

Raphaël Hertzog wondered whether the Debian project shouldn't have an official page on some non-free web service. Stefano Zacchiroli disagreed on the grounds that it would not be possible to use a proprietary service without endorsing it.

Christian Perrier addressed his thanks to the release team and encouraged every developer, whether their package is unblocked or not, to send private thank you messages to any Release Team member for their amazing work.

Miriam Ruiz is grateful towards the release team who agreed to unblock Gnash 0.8.8 in Debian Squeeze, which is by far a better option than the buggy 0.8.7. Among the improvements in the version that will be shipped in the next Debian stable release, lots of online video will now be working, it can switch at runtime between the Cairo, OpenGL, and AGG renderers, and it can use hardware acceleration.

Luca Falavigna thanked everyone (especially Moritz Muehlenhoff) taking the trouble to file removal bugs on the pseudo-package, in order to clean up unused and buggy packages from the archive in order to prepare the upcoming Debian Squeeze release.

FTP Master Joerg Jaspert, in a short minute from the FTP Team meeting being held this weekend, welcomed Torsten Werner as new FTP Master.
Good luck and congratulations to him!

Christian Perrier is pleased to announce that the upload of Samba 3.5.4 to Sid has been authorised by the release team. He therefore asked for users and system administrators to test the new packages and report bugs in order to make this version a quality one to be provided in Squeeze.

Lucas Nussbaum added a bugs search interface to the Ultimate Debian Database.
It thus may replace the unofficial release-critical bugs tracker, while providing many more features.

A new version of klibc has been released. This newer klibc release fixes ipconfig, which is responsible for netbooting, a method that is quite often found in larger cluster environments or bigger Debian deployments. ipconfig saw several fixes in order to procure more reliable netboot.

New Debian Contributors

1 applicant has been accepted as a Debian Developer and 1 person started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Luke Faraone and Andreas Beckmann 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 317 release-critical bugs. Ignoring bugs which are easily solved or on the way to being solved, roughly speaking, about 126 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, couchdbr, phpmyadmin (updated), cvsnt, samba, linux-2.6, squid3, bzip2, and drupal6. 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):

Please note that due to the freeze of the upcoming Debian 6.0 Squeeze acceptance of new packages has almost ceased.

Work-needing packages

Currently 492 packages are orphaned and 129 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 Richard Darst, David Prévot, Jeremiah C. Foster and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.