Debian Project News - August 15th, 2011

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

Debian named Best Linux Distribution of 2011 and Top Production Server Distro

TuxRadar recently compared the six most popular Linux distributions in different categories. It's our pleasure to announce that Debian not only won the categories Customization, Community and Performance, but also won the overall prize of best Linux distro of 2011! We are especially pleased to have won in the community category, or to cite TuxRadar: There's more to a Linux community than just numbers.

Similarly, Debian was named the Top Production Server Distro by Carla Schroder at I've been spoiled by Debian, which never needs to be reinstalled but can be upgraded forever, [..] Debian supports more packages than any other distribution, so it's rare to not find whatever you want just an apt-get install away. Many thanks, Carla!

Bits from the Release Team

Neil McGovern sent some Bits from the Release Team. First of all, Neil explained that the release goals are areas of functionality which developers would like to see as an aim for the next release and should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely and not limited in effects to only one set of packages. In addition, each release goal must have an advocate for tracking progress. A list of current goals is available on the related wiki page. Another interesting topic discussed in the mail is the development of CUT (Constantly Usable Testing) and of a rolling version of Debian: the Release Team is skeptical on the creation of a new suite as the most efficient way to improve the release process. Anyway, certain aspects of the CUT/Rolling proposal are interesting, so the Release Team invites people who are interested to run the suite. Neil also talked about improvements to the experimental branch of Debian, in order to avoid the slowing down of new features in unstable, as well as various other interesting topics such as the 0-day NMU policy, architecture re-qualification and the packages removal process. For a general overview of recent Release Team work, you can also watch the video recording of Bits from the Release Team, held during DebConf11.

Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

Robert Milan blogged about recent improvements in the port of Debian to the FreeBSD kernel. With the release of Debian 6.0 Squeeze in February it was labeled as a technology preview, suggesting some limitations. However, a lot of noteworthy improvements have been made since then, including support for the graphical installer, FUSE, encrypted disk partitions, and wireless networking. It is also now possible to use Debian GNU/kFreeBSD in a chroot under FreeBSD.

In related news, Robert also called for testers of the installation system's reworked ZFS support.

FreedomBox activities at DebConf11

Bdale Garbee blogged about some recent progress in the FreedomBox project. During DebConf11 in Banja Luka, some FreedomBox developers worked together, fixing various problems: Bdale developed freedom-maker, a lightweight toolset to build FreedomBox software images, which is now available on the git repository of the project. Jonas Smedegaard continued to work on an alternate packaging toolset, boxer. Thanks to Marvell, who provided the source code, Bdale packaged two userspace programs necessary for configuring and monitoring firmware provided for the uAP wireless chip used in the DreamPlug: they are now available in Debian as uaputl and uapevent. Still on the topic of DreamPlug, Clint Adams and Jason Cooper worked on adding support for the DreamPlug to upstream u-boot while Héctor Orón and Nick Bane analyzed the current state of patches from Marvell and Globalscale used to support the DreamPlug against both upstream and current Debian kernel sources. Mirsal Ennaime worked on the technology for package configuration (using debconf and Config::Model) and there were interesting discussions about identity and trust management, summarized on the related wiki page. For more information about the FreedomBox project, please visit the official website or watch the recording of Bdale's FreedomBox Progress Report, delivered at DebConf11.

New website for

Asheesh Laroia announced that the new version of is finally available. The new site provides a lot of interesting features such as the ability to see package quality on the package page, and support for comments and mail notifications. The site runs with a more maintainable codebase than the old one, and is also characterized by a new layout, which is the same as the main Debian website. Asheesh wants to thank all the people who have worked during the last year to achieve this result: Jan Dittberner, Christoph Haas, Johnny Lamb, David Paleino, Andrey Rahmatullin, Kalle Söderman, Christine Spang, Arno Töll, Wolodja Wentland, Paul Wise and Serafeim Zanikolas.

Debian s390x port

Aurelien Jarno blogged about the birth of a new Debian port: s390x, the 64-bit version of the s390 port. The s390 port is actually 31-bit from the address point of view (one bit is reserved for address space extension from 24 to 31 bits), so each process is limited to 2 GB only, explains Aurelien. But, as nowadays there are applications which need more than 2 GB (especially on mainframes), the new s390x can be really useful. Aurelien had already done the bootstrap of the architecture, so now an autobuilder has been started and more than 65% of all packages have been built. The main issues are currently packages which fail to build from source due to linker, gcc-4.6 and curl changes. For more information you can take a look at the list of bugs blocking the s390x port.

Integrating Emdebian Grip into Debian

Neil Williams sent an interesting mail regarding the possible integration of Emdebian Grip into Debian. Emdebian is an official sub-project of Debian for running Debian on embedded devices; the aim of the project is to provide minimized Debian packages with the same sort of consistency that Debian itself offers, to be installed on various types of devices. One of the Embedian flavours is Emdebian Grip, which can be described as a smaller Debian-compatible distro with optimized packages. During DebConf11, discussions took place in order to integrate Emdebian Grip directly into the main Debian archive and release process. The integration would involve parallel suites (unstable-grip, testing-grip, stable-grip, etc) with a restricted (and binary only) package set. There's also an interesting mail about Emdebian Grip policy. For more information, please visit the detailed summary of the discussion.

Further interviews

There has been one People behind Debian interview: with Margarita Manterola, Debian Women member .

Other news

Kenshi Muto announced an update of the backported debian-installer for Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 "Squeeze". Updated images are available on his images archive page. These images contain kernel version 2.6.39 (bpo.2), updates disk controller drivers such as hpsa (by updating kernel-wedge) and updates firmware packages (such as bnx2x). Images are available both for i386 and amd64 architectures. Please note that these are unofficial images and you should use them only if you really need this.

Dominique Dumont announced that Perl 6 (AKA rakudo) is now available in Debian unstable (and meanwhile has also been accepted in testing). Dominique started the effort of packaging Perl 6 for Debian after listening to an inspiring talk delivered by Gabor Szabo at FOSDEM, titled Using Perl 6 today.

Alexander Wirt announced that the following new mailing lists are now available:

The results of SPI elections have been declared: Jimmy Kaplowitz, Clint Adams and Robert Brockway were elected to the SPI board. SPI (Software in the Public Interest) is a non-profit organization founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software; for more information on what SPI is and what it does, you can watch the SPI BoF, held during the last DebConf.

Ansgar Burchardt announced that the Debian archive now supports xz compression for both source and binary packages. However, packages in the base system (i.e packages with Priority: required) and their dependencies must use gzip as otherwise debootstrap will be unable to install a system.

Jaldhar Harshad Vyas sent an update on the status of the Debian GNU/Minix port. The main news is that dpkg has been successfully ported, while the initial bootstrapping is quite difficult due to circular dependencies; nonetheless Jaldhar said that a pre-alpha version will be distributed in a month.

Aigars Mahinovs published an interesting picture, taken in Banja Luka at DebConf11, with people wearing official DebConf t-shirts from DebConf3 up to DebConf11.

Thom Holwerda blogged about AmigaOne X1000 being shipped to beta testers, which will be delivered with a Nemo motherboard assembled by Varisys, a UK company. The good news for Debian users is that Varisys has Debian 6.0 Squeeze running on the Nemo board.

New Debian Contributors

2 applicants have been accepted as Debian Developers, 7 applicants have been accepted as Debian Maintainer, and 34 people have started to maintain packages since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Timo Lindfors, Cristian Greco, Sébastien Villemot, Ruben Molina, Philipp Kaluza, Steve Conklin, Allison Randal, Miguel Landaeta, John Paul Adrian Glaubit, Mario Limonciello, Thadeu Lima de Souza Cascardo, Jérôme Sonrier, Sebastian Krzyszkowiak, Dave Walker, Sebastian Tennant, Julien Vaubourg, Laszlo Kajan, Peter Bennett, Karol M. Langner, Zhi Li, Nick Bane, Stefan Denker, Matthias Klumpp, Olaf Dietsche, Wolodja Wentland, Andy Spencer, Intri Geri, Arno Onken, Harlan Lieberman-Berg, Florian Reitmeir, Ben Webb, George Gesslein II, Melvin Winstrøm-Møller, Pirmin Kalberer, Muneeb Shaikh, Godfrey Chung, Olivier Girondel, Martin Ueding, Werner Jaeger, Julia Palandri, Karolina Kalic, Enas Giovanni, and Michael Wild into our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): qemu-kvm, krb5-appl, opensaml2, mapserver, phpmyadmin, libpng, libsndfile, typo3-src, samba, squirrelmail, isc-dhcp, libxfont, and freetype. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Backports Team released advisories for these packages: libapache2-mod-authnz-external, xml-security-c, opensaml2. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Stable Release Team released an update announcement for the packages: clamav, clive. Please read it carefully and take the proper measures.

Debian's Volatile Team released an update announcement for the package: clamav. 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

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

Work-needing packages

Currently 261 packages are orphaned and 132 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 Francesca Ciceri, Jeremiah C. Foster, David Prévot, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, Alexander Reshetov and Justin B Rye.