Debian Project News - May 2nd, 2011

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

The Debian Project mourns the loss of Adrian von Bidder

The Debian Project lost Adrian von Bidder, who was involved in Debian, represented the project at numerous events and was one of the founding members and current secretary of He also founded the NTP Pool (crowd-sourced time synchronisation), which our project has since fully adopted.

Upcoming changes for the Linux kernels on the i386 architecture

Ben Hutchings announced some upcoming changes for the Linux kernels in the i386 architecture (aka 32-bit PC). The most notable change with the 2.6.39 kernel packages will be the drop of the 686 flavour, even so it's the most widely used. Ben explains that only a very limited set of processors are not able to use the 686-bigmem flavour, which has less limitations and supports more that 4GB of RAM (on top of some other benefits). He also points out that these processors not supported by the 686-bigmem flavour seem to gain performance with the 486 flavour. Without the 686 flavour, the 686-bigmem will be renamed to 686-pae.

He also said, that the amd64 flavour will be dropped as soon as migration from a 32-bit userland with 64-bit kernel to a 64-bit userland with 64-bit kernel is implemented and has been tested.

Before that, Ben blogged about changes introduced with 2.6.38 kernels. One change is the introduction of a user space daemon providing the kernel with country specific regulations for wireless usage from a database.

Bits from the DPL

Ignoring the result of his reelection, Stefano Zacchiroli sent his last bits from the DPL, where he was glad to refer to the Debian Derivatives Exchange project recently launched and the high activity on the debian-devel and debian-project mailing lists. He enjoyed spreading the Debian verb in Bosnia, Taiwan and France; and is looking forward at the LinuxTag in Berlin, the Greek Free and Open Source Software Society conference and the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Stefano discussed the relationships with others: the GNOME Foundation invited Debian at the GNOME.Asia summit where Josselin Mouette attended on behalf of Debian, John Sullivan who become the new executive director at FSF, and Graziano Sorbaioli, the gNewSense community manager. He finally kept us posted about the upcoming DebConf preparation, sprints and other expenses.

After being reelected as Debian Project Leader, Stefano Zacchiroli sent his first bits from the DPL in this term: Thanks! I'm flattered by the support and trust in me you have shown. It's a honor to be confirmed as Debian Project Leader, as well as it's a honor to represent Debian before the Debian community and the world out there. I'll try very hard not to disappoint any of you. Stefano described what is the DPL role and how people can help and contact him.

Berkeley Database plans for the future

Ondřej Surý reported from the plans of the Berkeley DB maintainers to reduce the number of BDB versions shipped in stable releases. Debian 5 Lenny and Debian 6 Squeeze both contained three different versions which where needed to supported during the release as well as during upgrades, which was often quite difficult. In the future, each stable release should have only one version as default as well as the tools for the previous one to ensure smooth upgrades.

Mono 2.10.1 now in experimental

Mirco Bauer notified us about his recent upload of Mono 2.10.1 into Debian's experimental branch. The biggest change from a packaging point of view is making Mono even more modular with one library per package. This reduces the install size.

Report from FAI developer meeting

Michael Prokop blogged about the FAI developer meeting held last month in Cologne, Germany. The meeting was very fruitful: as Michael reported, during the two days were made 134 Subversion commits, regarding a new release candidate version, various website improvements, and the documentation. The team has also discussed about the release management (deciding to use 3.4.x version as long term stable release and 4.x as developer version) and has defined its future goals.

The popcon problem

Joey Hess wrote an interesting post about popcon where analyzes various issues regarding the use of the Debian Popularity Contest. First of all, noticed Joey, there's a measuring problem: popcon units are unknown and the only way to resolve this ambiguity is the use of ratios of values. Also, it is deceptive to compare popcon scores of packages with different functions and targets: in fact, some packages are installed by default on a wide range of machines, while others are more specific. At the end, Joey noticed that one of the most interesting aspect of Debian is that you can find in it even uncommon and specific — but not necessarily popular or widespread — software: so, every removal of a package for low popcon score runs the risk of silently degrading this overall value of Debian.

Further interviews

There has been a further People behind Debian interview with Meike Reichle, Press Officer and member of the Debian Women project.

Other news

Alexander Reichle-Schmehl noted that repository used to draft this newsletter has just seen it's 2000th commit.

Tom Marble noted that, according to popcon, openjdk-6-jre installations on Debian surpassed sun-java6-jre. Well done, OpenJDK Team!

Russel Coker blogged about valid policies for Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux).

After her recent People behind Debian interview, Press Officer Meike Reichle followed up in her blog about What it's like to do Debian Press Work.

Jan Hauke Rahm called for help for Debian's presence at the upcoming LinuxTag in Berlin.

Daniel Kahn Gillmor blogged about his experience with the new systemd packages available for Debian Sid and experimental. While he agrees that systemd seems to get some things right, he's a bit concerned about the Linux-centricism of systemd and the general bloat of it.

It seems that Mike Hommey is already working on iceweasel 5 packages.

Bastien Roucaries asked if Debian intends to do a consolidation of cryptographic libraries similar to Fedora. In the following discussion, it was agreed to be a good idea, but it should ensured that there were no regressions.

Christian Perrier activated the Uyghur language in Debian Installer, which is the language of Xinjiang or East Turkestan spoken by nearly nine millions people.

New Debian Contributors

16 people have started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Robin Sheat, Gabriel de Perthuis, Andriy Beregovenko, Koichi Akabe, Denis Roio, Arno Töll, Onur Aslan, Keith Lawson, Shravan Aras, Swapnil Kulkarni, Sana Khan, Bill Cox, Luciana Fujii Pontello, Geoffroy Youri Berret, Sebastian Bator, and Luboš Novák into our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): xmlsec1, request-tracker3.6 and request-tracker3.8, libmojolicious-perl, tinyproxy, doctrine, openjdk-6, asterisk, libmodplug, iceape, iceweasel, spip, and qemu-kvm. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Backports Team released an update announcement for the package: request-tracker3.8. Please read it 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

402 packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently. Among many others are:

Work-needing packages

Currently 312 packages are orphaned and 151 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 Justin B. Rye, Francesca Ciceri, Jeremiah C. Foster, David Prévot and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl.