Debian Project News - October 18th, 2010

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

State of Debian 6.0 Squeeze

After the release team recently met in Paris they published meeting minutes and gave a release update. Aside from updating the documentation for point releases and deciding about the future of the volatile archive, a major topic was the progress of the upcoming release of Debian 6.0 Squeeze. They called for content for the Release Notes, which should document all potential problems during an upgrade. They also noted that all transitions have been done, and named the current blockers of the release: a bug in udev which might cause problems during upgrades (a patch has been proposed in the meantime); a problem in the preinstallation script of dash (a patch has been proposed and is currently being investigated); the need for debian-installer to reach its final release; the lack of proper documentation in the Release Notes for Squeeze installs and upgrades; and finally the requirement for the security archive to support the new source format 3.0.

All in all the release team hopes to have these blockers sorted out by the end of October, which would allow a release before Christmas. The release team also points out that the help of everyone is needed to get this accomplished, be it by squashing the remaining bugs, providing facilities for real life bug squashing parties, writing the Release Notes, or supporting translations.

Some real life bug squashing parties have already been announced for Paris and Bern.

New question and answer service at

With the help of the Shapado Project, members of the Debian project started a new user oriented service at It lets users ask specific questions and find answers, while also providing rating systems and badges for users. It allows Debian Developers and other contributors to easily stay in touch with the community.

Updated DebianEdu released

The DebianEdu Project has released an updated version of its Debian Pure Blend targeting schools and similar environments. This update includes an updated installer to support new hardware as well as various bug fixes and documentation improvements. Other notable changes are improvements of site summary where several Nagios checks have been added to monitor system health as well as a fix for shutdown-at-night.

New sloppy backports suite for stable Debian Lenny

Gerfried Fuchs from Debian's backports team announced a new suite on backports for Debian Lenny: lenny-backports-sloppy. Its usage is similar to the regular backports suite, but there's a major difference in the contents of the suites: while users of the normal backports suite can expect to update without major problems to the next Debian stable release (as it only contains backports of the next following distribution), users of the newly created backports-sloppy suite may need to take special precautions, as the backports of the sloppy suite are not restricted to coming from the next distribution, but may come from the second-next. The new suite thus may also contain newer packages (e.g. during the freeze already from the unstable branch). It therefore allows users to easily access newer versions of packages; but users can not just upgrade to the following stable release. They will at least need to upgrade to using the backports suite for the next release.

General resolution about Debian project membership

After Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli proposed a general resolution about non-packaging Debian project members, this resolution is currently being voted on. If it passes it would invite Debian's Account Managers to establish procedures to evaluate and accept non-packaging contributors to the project including full voting rights. Non-packaging contributors include for example documentation writers and translators.

In related news, Enrico Zini from the New Maintainer Front Desk sent a bits from mail. He welcomed Xavier Oswald as full member of the Front Desk and noted that applicants to become Debian Developers will need stronger GPG keys from now on. Following the recent bits from the keyring maintainers, the use of 1024 bit DSA keys is discouraged.

Hybrid installer image for optical and USB devices

Joey Hess blogged about a hybrid debian-installer for USB and optical discs. While it has been possible to boot debian-installer from USB sticks for quite some time, the procedure to make such a bootable USB stick has been quite difficult. The new hybrid ISO image can be burned to CDs as well as simply copied raw (with cat) to USB devices. It is also very easy to add additional firmware. Joey also mentions that due to problems with the jigdo templates, currently only a minimal hybrid image is created, but he points out that it is very easy to make the existing ISO images suitable for USB sticks by using the isohybrid command from the syslinux package.

About the non-news of package removals in Debian's testing branch

Is it newsworthy if packages, even popular ones like the Chromium web browser, get removed or added to Debian's testing branch? Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli doesn't think so and points out that Chromium is a good example for the non-newsworthiness of these things. It had been removed from Debian's testing branch, causing a media fuss and some criticism, as it appeared that Chromium would not be part of the next stable release. However, as the release critical bugs have been fixed, the package was allowed back again. Which is - according to Stefano - actually not newsworthy either.

Following Debian Mailing lists via micro-blogging services

Valessio Brito announced the beta version of a new service allowing users of micro-blogging services to follow the topics of various Debian mailing lists. It is possible to search for particular tags, bugs, meetings, or specific work.

Four days promise for Debian Mentees

The current approach of mentoring new package maintainers who can't upload packages themselves is far from perfect as it doesn't ensure mentees get feedback. Asheesh Laroia and Niels Thykier tried to come up with a solution. As a first step they started a campaign promising to ensure that all mails on the debian-mentors list get an answer within four days. The second step is a rewrite of the service allowing mentees to upload packages to a central location. debexpo will not only allow mentees to upload their packages and run some limited tests, but will also allow mentors and other people to check and comment on the packages. However, some help is still needed before the new service can go online.

Who's using Debian?

Are you interested to know why other people use Debian? No problem! Debian maintains a list of Debian users ranging from governmental or educational institutions up to dozens of companies, of which surprisingly not all are IT related. Fernando C. Estrada summarised some of the entries and their reasons. You can send us new submissions via e-mail.

Why do people contribute to Debian?

Why do people contribute to Debian? Long-term Debian Developer Raphaël Hertzog tried to answer that often asked question by summarising what motivates him personally in his contributions to Debian: technical excellence, inspiring goals, high impact work, working with great people, and recognition of work.

Further This week in Debian interviews

Since the last issue of the Debian Project News, three new issues of the This week in Debian podcast have been published: with Ben Hutchings, member of Debian's kernel maintenance team; with Margarita Manterola about the Debian Women Project; and with Neil McGovern, member of Debian's release team.

Other news

Arnt Ove Gregersen created a female version of the DebianEdu/Skolelinux mascot.

The 600,000th bug has been reported to the Debian bug tracking system. The results for the bet on the date of this bug have been published and a bet on the submission date of Debian's 700,000th bug has been opened.

The Debian Project has been invited to the Society for Neuroscience meeting 2010 in San Diego and will be present with a booth there.

Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli appointed an additional Debian Auditor: Martin Michlmayr joins Luk Claes. Stefano also gave his monthly DPL report where he summarised his recent activities. He listed a number of interesting interviews and talks he gave, what money has been spent on, and his communication with other teams inside Debian.

Robert Millan reported on his personal blog about ZFS integration into the Debian Installer for kFreeBSD. Aside from a patch for GNU Parted, all other patches needed for a ZFS root filesystem have been accepted and made it into Debian Squeeze. Robert also made available a slightly modified version of the Debian Installer Image for downloading.

New Debian Contributors

5 applicants have been accepted as Debian Developers and 7 applicants have been accepted as Debian Maintainers, while 13 people started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Salvatore Bonaccorso, Jeffrey Ratcliffe, Deepak Tripathi, Michael Schutte, Ansgar Burchardt, Federico Ceratto, Tanguy Ortolo, Jonathan Yu, Mats Erik Andersson, Ryan Kavanagh, Stefan Bauer, Stuart Prescott, Andreas Noteng, Gustavo Panizzo, Julien Jehannet, Kevin Roy, Marek Brudka, Richard Holland, David Hannequin, John Feuerstein, Hans-Christoph Steiner, James Goppert, John Stumpo, Nicolas Bonnefon and Mònica Ramírez Arceda into our project!

Release-critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release

According to the bug-tracking web interface of the Ultimate Debian Database, the upcoming release, Debian 6.0 Squeeze, is currently affected by 327 release-critical bugs. Ignoring bugs which are easily solved or on the way to being solved, roughly speaking, about 130 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): freetype, apr-util, subversion, moodle (updated advisory), poppler, postgresql-8.3, Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Backports Team released advisories for these packages: subversion, postgresql-8.4, dovecot, 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 (and the separate backports 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.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers to watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

To receive this newsletter in your mailbox, subscribe to the debian-news mailing list.

Back issues of this newsletter are available.

This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Martin Zobel-Helas and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.