Debian Project News - January 14th, 2011

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

Squeeze Deep Freeze

Neil McGovern writes in an recent email: Following the plan outlined in the previous release update, we are now in deep freeze, which means that we'll only be migrating to testing packages that fix RC bugs. A deep freeze is one of the last phases before a release of Debian. There is lots of bug fixing and documentation still to do and you can help. Check out the New in Squeeze page for example; and if you find bugs in the installer help report and even fix them.

Debian Installer 6.0 RC1 release

The first release candidate of the installer for Debian Squeeze was released on January 12. Many fixes are included in this release of the installer, along with new improvements: better OS and partition detection, new supported hardware, etc.

The errata collects details and a full list of known issues. You are encouraged to test the installer and report bugs; media and further information are available on the Debian Installer pages.

Debian 6.0 Squeeze to be released with completely free Linux kernel

As the Debian project announced, the upcoming stable release Debian 6.0 Squeeze will be shipped with a completely free Linux kernel - thus achieving a long term goal which was already set for Debian 4.0 Etch and 5.0 Lenny. Thanks to the work of the Debian Kernel team and various upstream Linux developers, non-free firmware files have been split off; instead of being integral parts of the kernel, these files may now be shipped separately and loaded at runtime if needed. This provides a free system to those who wish to have one, while allowing those who need the non-free firmware files still to use them.

Steve McIntyre, lead of Debian's CD team, added that unofficial CD images have been created, containing non-free but distributable firmware files, while USB-installations have already supported loading additional firmware files for some time. More details can be found in the Debian wiki.

Debian Project leader Stefano Zacchiroli also blogged a bit about the background of the changes.

Machine-readable format for debian/copyright files

Lars Wirzenius announced that Debian Enhancement Proposal 5, specifying a machine-readable format for the copyright information of a Debian package, has reached candidate status, meaning that discussion about the format has been settled and no major changes are expected anymore: it is ready to be used.

Debian's policy mandates that Debian software packages must come with copyright information of the source code used, but no specific format is mandated. Most packages come with a freeform text file, making it hard to process this information automatically.

Bits from the Debian Project Leader

Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli sent new bits from the DPL. Besides mentioning various talks and interviews he gave, he announced a new contact point for participants at Debian events: An anti-harassment policy for Debian sprints (based upon a draft for such a policy for DebConf) is about to follow soon.

He also mentioned that he had approved two sprints, one for the Web Team (which has already been taken place) and one for the Security Team (which is forthcoming), as well as several cross-distribution collaboration activities, such as organizing a cross-distro face to face meeting to discuss the topic of integrating third party applications on top of FOSS distributions, à la Software Center/App Store.

Further documentation on Emdebian: components and filters

Continuing his intermittent series on Emdebian, Neil Williams described Emdebian's concepts of components and filters. As the package data files of Debian's main distribution have become too large to be sanely handled on embedded systems, Emdebian Grip therefore subdivides Debian's main repository to minimize cached data, so that systems not using any Java components (for instance) don't need to download and cache metadata for Java-related packages. Neil also explained in detail further filtering techniques used by Emdebian.

Two new Debian Women tutorials

The Debian Women project published two new tutorials. In the first tutorial Gerfried Fuchs gave an introduction to Debian's bug tracking system, including explanation of the different tags and usage of package version information by the bug tracking system.
In the second tutorial, Enrico Zini introduced the various information sources about Debian packages, ranging from data available through Debian's package repositories, over debtags and various package tracking tools to the package tracking system.

Further This week in Debian interviews

Since the last issue of the Debian Project News, five new issues of the This week in Debian podcast have been published: with Asheesh Laroia, member of the Debian Mentor Community; with Dave Yates, host of the Lotta Linux Links Podcast; with George Castro, discussing Ubuntu as a Debian derivative; with Jonathan Nadeau, about the latest Debian news, and the upcoming release of Squeeze; and with Rhonda, member of Debian's Webmaster Team, discussing the updated Debian Website, due for the release of Squeeze.

There have also been two new people behind Debian interviews: with Mehdi Dogguy, who became a member of Debian's Release team barely a year after first becoming a Debian Developer, and with David Kalnischkies, one of the developers of APT, Debian's package management system. In the spirit of these interviews, there has also been a reverse people behind Debian interview with Raphaël Hertzog.

Other news

Luca Capello announced that the annual general meeting of, the official representation of the Debian project in Switzerland and in the Principality of Liechtenstein, will take place on January 31 in Aareheim in the center of Bern.

Sjoerd Simons asked for help in PulseAudio Debian packaging.

Richard Darst reported about the successful first Debian-NYC Novice Night, which is a meeting for everyone who would like to install or configure Debian for their own needs. The next session will probably be in January or February; some planning hints are also in place.

Alexander Wirt reported on his blog that six new mailing lists are now available on

Kumar Appaiah noted that the Duck Duck Go search engine has set up some shortcuts (the so-called !bangs) for searching in various Debian sites: !dpkg goes to, !dpts goes to, and !dbugs goes to

Sandro Tosi mentioned on his blog that bts-link has a new home. Several weeks ago, in fact, bts-link was migrated from to

Christian Perrier noticed that German and French localization reached 100% for po-debconf. Russian, Swedish, Portuguese, and Czech localization may also be able to make it, while Spanish probably won't this time.

Stefano Zacchiroli collected various existing pieces of documentation in order to answer the question how to contribute to Debian?, and pointed to the official contribution page of the website, and its equivalent on the wiki and in the FAQ. He also highlighted less documented cultural aspects of Debian technical life such as coordination over IRC or interacting with package maintainers via the BTS.

Raphael Geissert announced the Debian Automated Code Analysis (DACA) project, which runs various source code quality tools over all Debian source packages available.

New Debian Contributors

5 applicants have been accepted as Debian Developers, 1 applicant has been accepted as Debian Maintainer, and 12 people have started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Didier Raboud, Benjamin Drung, Kåre Thor Olsen, Scott James Remnant, Jerome Marant, Gregor Jasny, Gildardo Adrian Maravilla Jacome, Cristian Henzel, Colin Darie, Anton Gladky, Lukas Gaertner, Yask Gupta, Michael Lustfield, Pjotr Prins, Monica Ramirez Arceda, Tim Weippert, Milan Kupcevic, and Sven Eckelmann into our project!

It is our special pleasure to welcome Kåre Thor Olsen, who is our first official non-packaging Debian Developer!

Release-Critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release

According to the Bugs Search interface of the Ultimate Debian Database, the upcoming release, Debian 6.0 Squeeze, is currently affected by 46 release-critical bugs. Ignoring bugs which are easily solved or on the way to being solved, roughly speaking, about 20 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): exim4; bind9; xulrunner; collectd; xpdf; tor; libxml2; wordpress; phpmyadmin; libapache2-mod-fcgid; openssl, nss, apache2, and lighttpd; dpkg; glibc (updated advisory); and mysql-dfsg-5.0. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Backports Team released advisories for these packages: tor, iceweasel, wordpress, exim4, and subversion. 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 and volatile 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.

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Francesca Ciceri, Jeremiah Foster, David Prévot and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.