Debian Weekly News 2006/35
on 30.08.2006, 13:31
in weekly-news
Debian Weekly News 2006/34
on 23.08.2006, 09:26
in weekly-news
Debian turns 13
on 16.08.2006, 09:58
in news
Debian welcomes HP's support
on 15.08.2006, 17:01
in news, success-stories
Debian Weekly News 2006/33
on 15.08.2006, 09:26
in weekly-news
Debian Installer etch beta 3 released
on 11.08.2006, 15:03
in news, release
New Release Update
on 08.08.2006, 22:10
in news, release
Debian Weekly News 2006/32
on 08.08.2006, 17:27
in weekly-news
Debian GNU/Linux adopted in the Extremadura
on 03.08.2006, 17:28
in news, success-stories
DebianTimes started
on 03.08.2006, 10:14
in admin

Debian Weekly News 2006/35

published on Wed Aug 30 13:31:37 2006 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 35th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Bug squashing parties have been announced for September 8th to 10th in Vienna and for September 15th to 17th in Jülich, Germany. OSDir has taken screenshots of the new graphical Debian installer. Petr Stehlik reported that the installation of sarge and etch worked flawlessly in the recently fixed version of ARAnyM, a 32bit Atari ST/TT/Falcon virtual machine.

General Resolution: Handling Firmware

Steve Langasek proposed a general resolution to establish how DFSG#2 should be understood to apply to firmware, especially when distributed with the Linux kernel. When accepted firmware will be considered as data without the requirement of matching source code. It would also clarify the situation for other works such as images, video, and fonts.

FrOSCon Report

Joey Schulze reported about the Debian presence at the first Free and Open Source Software Conference in Sankt Augustin, Germany. The Debian project successfully maintained a one-day conference and ran a booth in the exhibition area. This community event featured both official tracks and sub-conferences maintained by several projects. Alexander Wirt also managed to get some pretzels that looked like Debian swirls.

Event Coordination Meeting Report

Meike Reichle summarised the main results of the event coordination meeting. Several ideas were collected during the meeting how Debian booth participations and talks could be improved to make them more attractive to visitors. To help the booth organisers there are new FAQ and Howto Wiki pages.

Debian and Free Software in Cuba

David Moreno Garza wrote a report about his visit to Cuba as a representative of the Debian project. A workshop on package creation and maintenance and talks about Custom Debian Distributions, internationalisation and localisation were organised by David and Maykel Moya at the Mathematics and Computing Faculty in the University of Havana.

Translation of Package Descriptions

Martijn van Oosterhout announced that he wrote a system that can send and receive e-mails from the Debian Description Translation Project and provides a web frontend where translating actually takes place. The most important advantage over the pure e-mail interface is that this additional system provides a review mechanism for translations.

GIT Transition Plans

Ian Beckwith explained that /usr/bin/git will be maintained via alternatives. Both GNU Interactive Tools and Linus Torvald's source code management system git provide the same program name. The GNU interactive tools have been renamed into gitfm to resolve this conflict and in etch will contain a wrapper that is able to execute the other program.

Updates for Debian Sarge

Martin Zobel-Helas announced the preparations done for the next stable update. It will include an updated version of the Debian Installer to reflect the recent kernel changes introduced by the last round of kernel security updates. Most other packages are updated to incorporate the security corrections that have accumulated.

New Features in Etch

Alexander Schmehl started to collect new features that Debian will probably include in the upcoming etch release. Nathanael Nerode additionally noted that systems upgraded from sarge don't see the benefits of certain changes in the installer such as special tuning of the Ext2 filesystem.

Debian Weekly News 2006/34

published on Wed Aug 23 09:26:54 2006 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 34th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Jörg Jaspert announced that the backports archive also understands the tilde character in version strings and that packages are set to NotAutomatic so that they shouldn't be updated automatically anymore. HP recently announced that they support Debian Linux on its ProLiant, BladeSystem servers, and the new HP t5725 Thin Client server.

Event Coordination in the German-speaking Area

Meike Reichle announced a new Wiki page for coordinating public events in the German-speaking area such as fairs, exhibitions and conferences in which the Debian projects participates. This is one result of a meeting of Debian event organisers last weekend. Alexander Schmehl added that the events section on the Debian website will be overhauled in the near future.

WNPP Bug Report Page

Hendrik Sattler noticed that the page for Work-Needing and Prospective Packages (WNPP) in the bug tracking system causes problems with Konqueror and Firefox due to the sheer size of 3 MB. Ben Armstrong reminded the existence of light pages with direct links to the different WNPP packages sections.

Review of Debian Development Tools

As part of his research on Debian, Martin Krafft asked about the tools that have been successfully adopted or those that have been rejected by the developers. Michael Banck mentioned CDBS, Alioth and Debian's Subversion repository, but Debhelper, patch management systems and distributed version control systems have also been widely adopted. Debian Developers also appreciated devscripts and package checkers like lintian, linda and piuparts. A list of tools is available.

New Desktop Features

Gustavo Noronha Silva announced the upload of a new version of update-notifier. This tool, that was initially made by Ubuntu, puts a notification icon in the notification area and warns the user about updates being available. The version of the Debian package notifies about reboot requirements for critical packages only and informs about Debian CDs/DVDs inserted in the drive. Such features should contribute to make Debian a nicer desktop distribution.

Publicity for Debian Events

Joey Schulze asked to emphasise events a bit more again. He suggested also more talks and workshops with a Debian background and more promotion. This would generate more interest by users to meet Debian people at exhibitions and conferences and would give developers a better chance to talk to users in person. It would also be nice if a report would be written after the event.

Alioth Updates

Roland Mas reported that the Alioth host costa now supports both git and bzr for hosting source archives. He added an explanation how to use both systems to access the repositories. User replication has also been improved so that the downtime drops from 15 minutes to only a few seconds.

Etch Kernel Schedule Proposal

Frederik Schüler suggested to select 2.6.18, which is to be released within the next four weeks, as final kernel for etch and freeze it at the beginning of November. Frans Pop, however, would prefer the kernel to remain in unstable at least one month before it migrates into testing.

New Architectures for Packages

Ludovic Brenta wondered how to inform build daemon that a package should be built on another architecture than before. Luk Claes answered that the maintainers of Packages-arch-specific need to be contacted. Wouter Verhelst added an explanation why the wanna-build database doesn't use control files but archive index files.

Managing Packages with Subversion

Marcus Better recently started to use subversion to maintain his packages and wondered what the recommended repository layout would be. The point of having a common layout is that it would be possible to write support tools that make this layout less cumbersome to work with.

Creative Commons 3.0 Public Draft

Evan Prodromou reported on the public draft of the next version of Creative Commons licenses. The changes from the 2.x version are largely due to an effort to make the licenses compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). He wondered if the anti-DRM requirement in the license draft, without a parallel distribution proviso, make it incompatible with the DFSG?

Removed Packages

24 packages have been removed from the Debian archive during the past week:

Debian turns 13

published on Wed Aug 16 09:58:22 2006 in news

On August 16th, 1993 Ian Murdock announced a new type of distribution and listed the goals he wanted to achieve. 13 years later the Debian community will celebrate this birthday around the world,

A lot has happened since Ian's first mail: The project is headed up by its ninth leader, and more than a thousand developers are registered to work voluntarily on one of the largest distributions of Free Software."

Debian is currently busy with the preparations of the next stable release called "Etch", which is planned for December 4th. Recently the first packages have been put in bugfix-only mode for this release already, and a beta of the installer has been published.

Debian welcomes HP's support

published on Tue Aug 15 17:01:48 2006 in news, success-stories

HP announced that it has increased Linux distribution support options for customers and expanded its portfolio to include support for Debian GNU/Linux. The company also introduced integrated open source middleware offerings for its channel partners. The support is offered for a range of its BladeSystem server hardware as well as the new t5725 Thin Client hardware.

"With Debian, just like with Red Hat and Novell/SUSE, we'll be taking real calls from real customers to address their support needs", Jeffrey Wade, worldwide marketing manager of open source and Linux at HP told

Support for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution has been available from various vendors on a case per case basis for a number of years yet. "I find it really pleasing that companies are doing support for Debian not because we've negotiated with them, but because customers are asking for it." said Debian Project Leader Anthony Towns.

Debian Weekly News 2006/33

published on Tue Aug 15 09:26:54 2006 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 33rd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Debian turns 13 this week, so make sure you find a party nearby. With enough time compose a melody before the new release Julien Danjou published his etch song. David Sugar wondered if the Free Software community should learn to write more buggy code and invent reasons to reboot the system all the time after a change has been made in order to be more attractive for the desktop.

Distribution-wide Tracker Tool. Arnaud Fontaine reported about the status of Wotomae, the distribution-wide tracker tool. The DWTT is a tool to easily track changes affecting packages, like a library transition, a switch of the default Python version or a policy change. It is written during Google's Summer of Code. A demo website is also available with most of the features up for testing.

New Version Naming for Pre-Releases. Martin F. Krafft announced that the archive software finally supports the use of the tilde ('~') in version numbers. This special character is intended to be used to denote pre-releases of software. It is sorted before the zero-length string, so that version 1.0~rc4-1 will be superseded by the final version 1.0-1. The build daemon software can't cope with this new character yet, though.

Release Update: First Packages frozen. Andreas Barth announced that the essential toolchain has been frozen. He is also seeking input for the release notes and asks library maintainers to talk to the release team before uploading new packages that may require other packages to be rebuilt. They are still seeing many uncoordinated uploads to unstable.

Status of the Python Transition. Matthias Klose reported that the default version of Python will soon be changed to version 2.4. He reported that 90 % of the first batch of bug reports are solved and that another batch has been filed against all remaining packages that contain private Python modules, which mostly need to be byte-compiled again. The preliminary documentation explains the scripts running during this change.

Debian turns 13. On August 16th, 1993 Ian Murdock announced a new type of distribution and listed the goals he wanted to achieve. 13 years later the Debian community will celebrate this birthday around the world. A lot has happened since Ian's first mail: The project is lead by its ninth leader and more than a thousand developers are registered to work voluntarily on one of the largest distributions of Free Software.

Project Leader Report. Anthony Towns published a new report in which he resumes the past. Steve McIntyre has been added to the leader alias and helps managing the project. He reported about two women who became developers recently, thanked the organisers of this year's Debian conference, explained delays for the next stable update, and reported on a meeting with the Australian Attorney-General's department regarding the drafting of changes to the Australian copyright act.

Debian-Installer Etch Beta 3 Released. Frans Pop announced the release of the third beta release of the installer for Debian GNU/Linux etch. It is the first release to install the AMD64 architecture from official Debian mirrors and to use and install the 2.6.16 kernel. 2.6 is now the default kernel for the Sparc, MIPS, little endian MIPS and S/390 architectures. Installation CDs, other media and detailed errata are available. All changes are documented in the development version of the installation guide.

Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have any of these packages installed.

  • DSA 1146: krb5 — Privilege escalation.
  • DSA 1147: drupal — Cross-site scripting.
  • DSA 1148: gallery — Several vulnerabilities.
  • DSA 1149: ncompress — Potential code execution.
  • DSA 1150: shadow — Privilege escalation.
  • DSA 1151: heartbeat — Denial of service.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

  • biosquid — Utilities for biological sequence analysis.
  • cdrskin — Burns preformatted data to CD-R or CD-RW via libburn.
  • ceferino — Action game similar to Super Pang.
  • dmenu — Dynamic menu.
  • elfutils — Collection of utilities to handle ELF objects.
  • foff — X/GTK+ FTP client - Free Open FTP Face.
  • kerry — Beagle desktop search daemon frontend for KDE.
  • komparator — Directories comparator for KDE.
  • ksystemlog — System log viewer tool for KDE.
  • omins — Collection of LADSPA plugins aimed at modular synthesisers.
  • oxine — Xine OSD (on screen display) GUI.
  • pymsnt — MSN transport for Jabber.
  • rest2web — Web site builder using ReStructured Text as basic content format.
  • rocklight — Xmms visualisation plugin for Thinklights on IBM Thinkpads.
  • ser — Sip Express Router, very fast and configurable SIP proxy.
  • serendipity — Weblog manager with extensive theming and plugin support.
  • svn-autoreleasedeb — Automatically release/upload Debian packages from SVN.
  • ttf-sil-charis — Smart Unicode font family for Roman or Cyrillic-based writing systems.
  • ttf-sil-doulos — Smart Unicode font for Latin and Cyrillic scripts.
  • unsermake — Tool for generating Makefiles, a replacement for automake.
  • w3c-linkchecker — W3C Link Checker.

Orphaned Packages. 13 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 338 orphaned packages. Many thanks to the previous maintainers who contributed to the Free Software community. Please see the WNPP pages for the full list, and please add a note to the bug report and retitle it to ITA: if you plan to take over a package. To find out which orphaned packages are installed on your system the wnpp-alert program from devscripts may be helpful.

Removed Packages. 15 packages have been removed from the Debian archive during the past week:

  • libjpeg-mmx — Development files for the IJG JPEG library with MMX optimisation
    Bug#158474: Request of QA, RC-buggy, security-buggy, orphaned, upstream gone
  • uncc — C decompiler for i386
    Bug#314672: Request of QA, orphaned, unusable
  • acidlab — Analysis Console for Intrusion Databases
    Bug#319389: Request of maintainer, superseded by acidbase
  • xcircuit — Draw circuit schematics or almost anything
    Bug#323678: Request of QA, orphaned, RC-buggy
  • swt-pocketpc — Standard Widget Toolkit for PocketPC JAR library
    Bug#324778: Request of QA, orphaned, out of date, non-free, few users
  • nsmon — Intranet/Internet server checker
    Bug#327623: Request of QA, orphaned, no upstream, better alternatives
  • qglviewer — Qt/OpenGL-based viewing widget
    Bug#348793: Request of QA, orphaned, upstream gone, out of date
  • psys — P-system emulation libraries for Chipmunk tools [development]
    Bug#354496: Request of QA, orphaned, unused
  • zope-zshell — Command line interface to Zope
    Bug#361018: Request of QA, orphaned, not packaged for current Zope
  • eroaster — GNOME CD burning frontend
    Bug#364280: Request of QA, orphaned, RC-buggy
  • rfb — VNC Server for X11 - exports current display
    Bug#364347: Request of QA, orphaned, no upstream, alternatives available
  • ri — Emacs interface for ri1.6
    Bug#367006: Request of maintainer, ruby1.6 removal, RC-buggy
  • animal — AN IMAging Library written in C
    Bug#369209: Request of QA, obsolete, orphaned, alternatives exist
  • yank — Yet another note keeper
    Bug#374129: Request of QA, unmaintained, buggy, old, has replacements
  • ruby1.6 — Curses interface for Ruby 1.6.x
    Bug#378111: Request of maintainer, obsolete

Debian Installer etch beta 3 released

published on Fri Aug 11 15:03:50 2006 in news, release

The Debian Installer team is proud to announce the third beta release
of the installer for Debian GNU/Linux Etch.

Major new features introduced with this release:
  * Option to install using a graphical user interface on i386 and amd64.
    For powerpc this option is experimental.
  * Support for setting up encrypted partitions during installation.

  Both these features currently have some limitations. See the
  extended release announcement [1] for additional information!

Other improvements in the installer:
  * First release to install the AMD64 architecture from official Debian
  * The installer now has brltty support in regular images for i386,
    amd64 and powerpc which improves accessibility for visually
    handicapped people.
  * This new version of the installer uses and installs the 2.6.16
  * In addition to the architectures that already made the switch, 2.6
    is now the default kernel for sparc, mips, mipsel and S/390.
  * Improved installation from CD-ROM. Installation is again possible
    without also automatically including a network mirror as source.
  * Improved checks during mirror selection to determine if the mirror is
    valid for the architecture being installed.
  * For expert or preseeded installations it is now possible to set up
    the system with sudo instead of a root password.
  * Module parameters can be passed from the boot prompt using the format
    '<module name>.<parameter>=<value>'. Parameters passed this way will
    be retained for the installed system.
  * For some common boot options, a short form can now be used [2].
    Examples: 'fb=false' for 'debian-installer/framebuffer=false'
              'priority=medium' for 'debconf/priority=medium'
  * Usability improvements in LVM and software RAID setup [2].
  * Automatic partitioning using LVM can now be preseeded [2].
  * Architecture specific:
    * sparc: automatic detection of sbus devices
    * sparc: sofware RAID support
  * Added the following languages: Irish.
  * Additional languages supported only in the graphical installer:
    Bengali, Dzongkha, Georgian, Hindi, Khmer, Nepali, Punjabi (Gurmukhi),
    Tamil and Thai.

Known issues in this release (see the errata [3] for details):
  * Partition resizing using partman may result in data loss if the
    starting sector of the partition is not at the start of a cylinder.
    This has been observed in particular for NTFS partitions created
    during installation of Windows Vista Beta 2. Resizing of NTFS
    partitions created by earlier Windows versions should still work.
  * Installation from floppy disk for i386. Work on installation from
    floppy using 2.6 kernels is in progress.
  * Minimum USB stick capacity for hd-media installs is now 256 MB.
  * There are some usability issues for S/390 installs.
  * There are still various issues for some powerpc subarchitectures.

Our thanks to everybody who has contributed to this release. This time in 
particular to Bastian Blank for his work to switch S/390 to a 2.6 kernel.

Installation CDs, other media, detailed errata and everything else you'll 
need are available from our web site: 

For the Debian Installer team,
Frans Pop

[2] These changes are documented in the development version of the
    installation guide:

New Release Update

published on Tue Aug 8 22:10:30 2006 in news, release

Today, the Debian Project has entered the next stage of preparations for the next stable release Etch, "freezing" basic packages commonly used for building other software. "Frozen" packages cannot be updated without express approval by Debian's Release Managers and their current versions in Debian's "testing" suite will only be updated for bug fixes.

Additional packages will enter this state in the next days, including all of those that are part of the Debian base system. A new beta version of the Debian Installer, making use of these packages, will be released in the next few days. For i386 and amd64 this release of the installer will also include an option to install using a graphical user interface, which also makes it possible to support 9 new languages.

The Debian Release Team also reviewed the status of the goals set for "Etch", reporting about the completition of the new framework for Python software, the progress of IPv6 support and the almost complete SE Linux policy for the base system and commonly used server software. The full release update is available at

Debian Weekly News 2006/32

published on Tue Aug 8 17:27:22 2006 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 32nd issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. Enrico Zini noticed that the description for Pike packages contains a long explanation of Pike which produces erroneous search results, Helmut Wollmersdorfer added that PHP packages have similar issues. Erich Schubert called for artists to design artwork for the etch release that could be used as the desktop background.

New SPI Board Officers elected

David Graham, secretary of Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI), announced that during the board meeting on August 1st Bdale Garbee was elected as president, Michael Schultheiss as vice president, Neil McGovern as secretary and Josh Berkus as treasurer for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. The last three board members have beforehand been elected to the board by a total of 125 voters (33 % of all eligible voters).

Debian Architectures Statistics

Petter Reinholdtsen reported on the architecture distribution in Debian, as reported by the popularity contest. He noted that an increasing number of users are using the ARM port whereas the Alpha and Sparc ports are losing market share. Joey Hess suggested that the Linksys NSLU2 machines are a good reason for this increase in ARM users. The popularity contest package is also used to decide the number of the installation CD for a particular package.

New Information Media for Users

Wolfgang Lonien announced the creation of The Debian User, a website that will aggregate thoughts and comments of Debian users. The same day, Andreas Barth announced the launch of DebianTimes, which is intended to deliver news items to developers and interested Debian users. DebianTimes is available on the web and as an RSS feed.

Bits from the Stable Release Team

Andreas Barth announced that Dann Frazier became a member of the Stable Release Team to handle and improve kernel updates. A new webpage created by Martin Zobel-Helas is also available to track packages that are waiting to be accepted for proposed-updates.

Debian adopted in the Extremadura

The project announced that the local flavour of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 has been adopted by the local government of the autonomous region of Extremadura in Spain. All workers of the public administration will also use Open Document Formats for their office applications as well as PDF for document exchange. Future versions of additional software also need to be distributed under a free license.

Debian for the Uninitiated

Lars Wirzenius wondered how usable Debian with GNOME is for the uninitiated, or more specifically, for someone who has been using Windows for a number of years, and switches to Debian. The experiment will continue for a couple of months. The first use went pretty well, with only a couple of real problems which he outlined.

MiniDebconf Colombia

Santiago Ruano Rincón announced that there will be a Mini DebConf held at Popayan, Cauca on the 19th and 20th of August. There will be talks, a hacklab, a bugsquashing party and so on. The conference is organised through a Wiki page. All interested people are welcome to attend.

Hosting for Debian-related Mailing Lists

Pascal Hakim reported that he has set up which aims at providing space for Debian-related mailing lists and archives, including package lists, user groups lists and mailing lists for special events. The service could also act as a temporary server for testing new mailing lists before making them official on Pascal created a set of rules for using his service.

Removed Packages

8 packages have been removed from the Debian archive during the past week:

Debian GNU/Linux adopted in the Extremadura

published on Thu Aug 3 17:28:30 2006 in news, success-stories

The councillor for Infrastructure and Technological Development, Luis Millán Vázquez de Miguel, announced that within one year all the computers of the Junta of Extremadura (government of the autonomous region of Extremadura, Spain) will run Free Software office tools and gnuLinEx, the local flavour of Debian GNU/Linux 3.1, as mandatory operating system. It will be gradually introduced to all administrative organisations of the Junta of Extremadura.

From now on, all workers of the public administration will also use Open Document Formats (ISO/IEC DIS 26300) for their office applications as well as PDF/A (Portable Document Format, ISO 19005-1:2005) for document exchange, when guaranteed unalterable visualisation is required.

Vázquez de Miguel explained that at the end of the period all additional software must be distributed under a free license. "This is an important initiative that the Junta of Extremadura has been working on for a long time, accumulating experience and analysing the impact on our organisation so as to guarantee its success", the councillor declared. According to Vázquez de Miguel, Free Software also improves security, autonomy and rationalises public spending.

Using Open Document Formats will guarantee the conservation of all the administrative documents for longer periods of time. It will also improve the relationship with the general public since it's not obliged to acquire proprietary software to access official documents.

About Extremadura

Extremadura is an autonomous region in the West of Spain, with a population of about 1 million. It is well known due to its innovative efforts to bring the information society to all citizens, recognised with distinctions such as the 2004 European prize for regional innovation, granted by the European Commission.

About gnuLinEx

gnuLinEx is based on Debian GNU/Linux 3.1, with GNOME as the default desktop. In 2004, it was already deployed in all public schools in Extremadura, and was in use in other environments, such as community centres. gnuLinEx closely follows the development of Debian, with a special focus on translation into Spanish, and easy of use and maintenance.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system, developed by more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the Internet. Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature, and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating system possible.

DebianTimes started

published on Thu Aug 3 10:14:42 2006 in admin

DebianTimes has started now. Hurray.

DebianTimes (should) contain(s) the small items that we are happy to speak about, and users are happy to read about. For more information, please see