Debian Project News - March 14th, 2011

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

The Debian project wins awards at CeBIT

The Debian project won the Linux New Media award in two categories at the recent CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany. Not only was Debian named as the Best Open Source Server Distribution for its pioneering work both in the technical field and in the definition of free software standards and processes, but it also won the prestigious award for Outstanding contribution to Open Source/Linux/Free Software, presented by Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, who donned a snazzy Debian tie just for the occasion.

The full text of his speech has been made available, including a short explanation of why this award is so important: the jury consists of over 300 FLOSS community members, developers, journalists, and companies, selected through secret ballot. The award is not awarded by a publisher, but by the representatives of the entire Free Software Community!

Debian named the most important GNU/Linux distribution

IT journalist Bruce Byfield published an article analyzing in detail the market share and influence of the Debian distribution. Gathering various data (e.g. the number of active Debian derivatives according to DistroWatch; 63% of these are directly or indirectly based upon Debian) he also lists various specialties of Debian and its derivatives. His conclusion: It's not quite true to say that, if you can think of a specialty, then there is at least one Debian or Ubuntu derivative is designed for it. However, it is not much of an exaggeration, either. This was also mentioned on Slashdot under the title Debian is the most important Linux.

Report from CeBIT 2011

Alexander Reichle-Schmehl sent a report of this year's CeBIT where he and other Debian Contributors has represented Debian joining the booth of Univention, a company which bases its product on Debian. In three days nearly two hundred people had visited the Debian booth, mostly asking how to help and join the Debian Project or asking more specific questions regarding, for example, Debian's stance on LibreOffice or the internal structure of the project and its governance. Many people also visited the booth simply to express their appreciation for the release of Squeeze, the new website layout, and the new spacefun theme. At the booth a Debian GNU/kFreeBSD box was also present, as a technological preview, which attracted some interest from visitors.
Alexander wants to thank our sponsors Univention and Deutsche Messe AG, as well as the Debian folks who help with the booth.

Bits from the Debian Project Leader

Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli sent an email describing the aftermath of the Squeeze release. One of the important points in his email is the discussions between Debian and the Free Software Foundation. The discussions touch on the different areas of focus of the two projects even though both projects are working to develop Free Software. Stefano also lists a number of interviews in various places regarding the Squeeze release. There are also some links in the email to talks given and clearly he's been quite busy.

Happy birthday, FSFE!

The Free Software Foundation Europe is celebrating its 10th birthday! Congratulations! To celebrate this important date, it is planned to highlight important events in FSFE's history.

Upcoming elections for the Debian Project Leader

Debian Project Secretary Kurt Roeckx published the time line for this year's Debian project leader elections. The Nomination period has already ended on Friday, March 11. The current Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli will again be a candidate. From Saturday, March 12 until April 1, candidates will campaign and discuss, followed by the actual voting period from Saturday, April 2, 2011 until Friday, April 15 2011.

Geographical mirror selection as default?

The topic of using some kind of GeoMirror for new installations has been brought up on the debian-boot mailing list, and later also on the general debian-devel list. Various pros and cons were exchanged including possible problems with DNSSEC and different approaches based upon apt-spy or netselect-apt, or DNS based approaches. APT developer Michael Vogt posted some hints that apt recently had a useful feature added for a similar purpose, allowing general deb mirrors:// lines to be specified as apt sources. Just the server side is missing, but that's already being worked on.

New version of Cupt coming up

Eugene Lyubimkin blogged about an upcoming release of Cupt, an alternative front-end for the dpkg package manager. The most notable feature: if there's no solution to satisfy the actions requested by a user, Cupt will not only show an error message, but also show why the dependencies couldn't be resolved.

Bits from ARM and embedded sprint

The ARM and embedded Debian teams had the opportunity to meet up at ARM offices in Cambridge for a Debian Sprint. There are lots of things happening on ARM and in embedded land. There is an ongoing effort to build a new Debian port (named armhf) which will provide a more efficient userland, suitable for modern ARM chips (v7), as found in recent netbooks, tablets, nettops, and smartphones.

There have also been great improvements in support for multiarch. This will make it possible to cross-install libraries from a foreign userland, and thus run things like i386 non-free Flash on amd64 systems. Cross-building support is also being integrated into Debian itself, so developers should soon be able to easily create applications on their desktops to run on their ARM devices running Debian.

Inspired by Eben Moglen's vision of a small, cheap, and simple computer that serves freedom in the home, the teams are building a Debian based platform for distributed applications which could help replace centralized services provided by the cloud. FreedomBox is about privacy, control, ease of use, and decentralization.

More graphs for the Debian Bug Tracking System

Mike Hommey added several new features to the graphs of Debian's Bug Tracking System. Besides having per package graphs, it's now also possible to have data for multiple packages consolidated into a single graph, or graphs per maintainer.

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 Stefano Zacchiroli, Debian Project Leader; with Jon Maddog Hall, about Project Cauã; and with Adnan Hodzic, about Debconf 2011 in Bosnia.

There has also been one further People behind Debian interview: with Christian Perrier, translation coordinator.

Other news

The 26th issue of the miscellaneous news for developers has been released and covers the following topics:

Yves-Alexis Perez gave an update on Xfce 4.8. The packages for the new upstream release of the desktop environment have been assembled in Debian's experimental branch and he's now synchronizing with the release team over when an upload to Debian's unstable branch will be possible.

Cyril Brulebois published the seventh issue of the Debian XSF News. He mentions various events concerning Debian's packages, and closes with an impressive statistic: the number of open bug reports for packages has dropped from 880 in November down to 540 now.

Holger Levsen, Moray Allan, and Gunnar Wolf have been delegated as DebConf Chairs. While the organization of the yearly Debian Conference remains unchanged, the three will now act as liaison between the Debian Project and the DebConf project.

FTP-Master Jörg Jaspert announced an upcoming meeting of the FTP-Team from the 21st to the 27th of March in the LinuxHotel in Essen, Germany. He also announced the current agenda for the meeting (ranging from internal stuff like buildd autosigning up to end-user-oriented services like

Tollef Fog Heen wondered if it would be useful to harmonize the naming of flags to enable and disable services via their configuration snippets in /etc/default. Others added in the thread that there could also be better (UI-)tools to do so, or to customize runlevels. It was also pointed out that the interface has been complicated by the introduction of insserv.

New Debian Contributors

1 applicant has been accepted as a Debian Developer, 5 applicants have been accepted as Debian Maintainers, and 4 people have started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Frédéric-Emmanuel Picca, Stephen Kitt, Higuchi Daisuke, Alberto Garcia, Sergey B Kirpichev, Roland Dreier, Miguel Colonn, Pietro Monteiro, Boris Dušek, and Mahyuddin Susanto into our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): samba, cups, pywebdav, pango1.0, dtc, iceape, subversion, logwatch, nbd, isc-dhcp, proftp-dfsg, iceweasel, icedove, webkit, chromium-browser, and wordpress. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Stable Release Team released advisories for these packages: clive and tzdata. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Volatile Team released update announcements for the packages: tzdata and clamav. 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 stable updates list or volatile list, for Lenny, the oldstable distribution) for announcements.

New and noteworthy packages

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

Work-needing packages

Currently 329 packages are orphaned and 144 packages are up for adoption: please visit the complete list of packages which need your help.

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