Debian Project News 2008/07
on 21.07.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news
aria2: high speed command line download utility
on 16.07.2008, 05:00
in packages-news
DebConf 8 website: a call for help
on 11.07.2008, 04:15
in debconf-news
Debian Project News 2008/06
on 07.07.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news
aiccu: add IPv6 connectivity to your machine
on 06.07.2008, 04:00
in packages-news on rinetd
on 02.07.2008, 23:28
in packages-news

Debian Project News 2008/07

published on Mon Jul 21 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue:

Updates to the Lenny release process

Luk Claes sent a release update regarding the upcoming stable release Debian 5.0 Lenny. An important part is that starting with next week, the transition of packages from the unstable to the testing branch will be frozen to concentrate on fixing the remaining bugs. He further reports on the various release goals; he considers them in good shape, but is a bit worried about the architecture qualification pages on, which still lack a lot of information. Porters should provide status information on these pages, so it's easier for the release team to keep themselves informed about the status of different hardware architectures.

Debian-installer to support loading of external firmware

Joey Hess announced a new feature of the Debian installer: On demand loading of firmware. Since some drivers need to load such binary blobs to the device before they can operate but the firmware is often non-free according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines, some devices could only be operated after Debian has been successfully installed and network access has been configured by adding Debian's non-free section to the package sources. Which would fail, if the network driver itself needed to load firmware to operate.

Best practice for debug packages

Theodore Tso wondered about best practice for debug packages, which contain additional data to ease debugging of programs and libraries. Mike Hommey answered that debug files should be installed at the path of the non-debug files, preceded by /usr/lib/debug/ and (depending on the size of the debug data) split off in a separate package. Joerg Jaspert added that the priority of such debug packages should be extra and that they should be in the same section as the parent package.

DebConf 8 website call for help

Martin Ferrari called for help for the website of the upcoming Debian Conference. A lot of information needed by travelers is missing. He sees identifying missing data as the most important task, since it's difficult to guess what foreigners might need to know when you're a local.

Debian release versioning

Martin Krafft proposed changing the way Debian versions its releases. He proposed increasing the first number with each release and the second one with every point release/r-release of the stable branch only including fixed packages, while new releases of the stable release adding new features (like the upcoming Etch and a half) should get a five as second number to show the half update. Lars Wirzenius reminded people that Debian introduced the current versioning scheme because CD vendors feared old boxes would stay on the shelves after a point release. Others preferred a classic two dot versioning scheme, where the first number gets increased with every new major release, the third one with bug fix releases and the second one with releases adding new features.

Package management unsafe? - No

A recently published study which described several attack vectors against Linux systems using their package management has recently caused some discussion. While the study was generally judged to be oversensationalized attention-grabbing the consensus was that one weak point does remain: a potential attacker could manipulate the domain name system and redirect, source of security updates for Debian, to an outdated copy of that server. Plans are being drafted to add a signed time stamp to prevent this kind of attack.

Other news

Steve McIntyre sent bits from the . Besides mentioning several personnel changes already reported in past issues of the Debian Project News, he also announced his intention to improve cooperation between Debian and its derivatives. He has already contacted several derivatives, namely Linspire, Xandros and Ubuntu.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team released, among others, advisories for the packages bind9, bind8, glibc (a DNS vulnerability), poppler, Iceweasel, MySQL, Gaim and ruby1.8. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Work-needing packages

Currently 486 packages are orphaned and 123 packages are up for adoption. Please take a look at the recent reports to see if there are packages you are interested in or view the complete archive of packages requesting help.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers who watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see our HOWTO contribute page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

aria2: high speed command line download utility

published on Wed Jul 16 05:00:32 2008 in packages-news

Bonus article this week, submitted by Anthony Bryan and Tatsuhiro Tsujikawa.

If you’re a frequent downloader and comfortable on the command line, then you need to try out aria2. aria2 is a cross platform download utility, similar to graphical download managers except that it uses less system resources.

aria2 has a number of invaluable features such as download resuming, BitTorrent and Metalink support, segmented downloading, downloading a single file from one or multiple servers (including integrated BitTorrent and HTTP/FTP transfers), downloading many files at the same time, automatic error recovery/repair (BitTorrent and Metalink downloads only), etc.

aria2 is a command line application, but don’t let that scare you off. You can use aria2fe, a graphical front end, if that makes you more comfortable.

Keep in mind that aria2 is more for heavy downloading, and if you want a webspider then wget would be a better choice.

How to use it

The easiest way to invoke aria2 is by typing aria2c URL/fileName

$ aria2c http://host/image.iso

The URL can be either a regular URL to a file, a URL to a .torrent file, or a URL to a .metalink file. For BitTorrent and Metalink downloads, there are extra options available such as throttling upload speed, only downloading selected files, changing listening ports, and seed time and ratio. To pause a download, press Ctrl-C. You can resume the transfer by running aria2c with the same argument in the same directory.

Downloading identical files from multiple sources

aria2 supports multiple URLs for the same file. You can specify them on the command line (space separated) and aria2 will download from multiple URLs at the same time.

$ aria2c http://host/image.iso http://mirror/image.iso

This command will split the download between multiple servers. aria2 can even download the same file from BitTorrent and FTP/HTTP at the same time, while the data downloaded from FTP/HTTP is uploaded to the BitTorrent swarm.

Repairing damaged downloads

aria2 can repair downloads with errors by using the information in .torrent or .metalink files.

$ aria2c -M test.metalink --check-integrity=true

The -M option specifies a local file called test.metalink to get the information to repair the download.

Parameterized URLs

You can specify set of parts. The following command will download part of the same file from 3 servers, don’t forget to escape the parameter to avoid shell expansion.

$ aria2c -P 'http://{host1,host2,host3}/file.iso'

You can specify numeric sequence using []. This command will download image000.png through image100.png from the same server.

$ aria2c -Z -P 'http://host/image[000-100].png'

The -Z option is required if the all URIs don’t point to the same file, such as the above example.

Other options

aria2 has a lot more options, you can for instance use:

  • -T filename.torrent to specify a local .torrent file.
  • -M filename.metalink to specify a local .metalink file.
  • -i textfile will download all the URLs listed in a textfile.
  • -s for example -s2 will download a file using 2 connections.
  • -j for example -j5 will download 5 files concurrently.

aria2 has many other options. To read the man page, type:

$ man aria2c


aria2 is available on most Linux distributions. Official Debian and Ubuntu package are available:

  • Debian: stable, testing and unstable
  • Ubuntu: feisty, gutsy, and hardy.

Community & developers

aria2 is actively maintained and developed by Tatsuhiro Tsujikawa. Bug reports, feature requests, and forums are found on SourceForge.


email-reminder: Never forget a birthday or an anniversary again!

published on Sun Jul 13 05:00:15 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by François Marier. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

Email-Reminder is a simple tool to define events for which you want to receive a reminder by email. These reminders (sent out daily by a small cronjob) can be either on the day of the event and/or a few days beforehand.

Events can be:

  • birthdays
  • anniversaries
  • weekly, monthly and yearly events

Sample Reminders

Here is an example of what you get in your inbox for an upcoming birthday:

From: Email-Reminder
Date: Tue, 12 May 2007 04:00:22 -0400 (EDT)
To: Francois Marier <>
Subject: Trent Reznor’s birthday

Hi Francois,

I just want to remind you that Trent Reznor is
turning 42 in 5 days.

You can reach Trent Reznor at

Have a good day!

Sent by Email-Reminder

And here is one on the day of an anniversary:

From: Email-Reminder
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1996 04:00:11 -0400 (EDT)
To: Francois Marier <>
Subject: 15th anniversary of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

Hi Francois,

I just want to remind you that the 15th anniversary
(Crystal) of Prince Charles and Lady Diana is today.

Have a good day!

Sent by Email-Reminder

Event Definition

Events for each user are defined in an XML file (~/email-reminders) in that user’s home directory, click here to see a sample file. You don’t actually have to define each event by hand in the XML file though. Email-Reminder comes with a simple GTK user interface:

email-reminder GUI 1 email-reminder GUI 2


Email-Reminder has been in Debian since Sarge and in Ubuntu since Dapper. It is licensed under the GPL.

More Information

You can find out more about Email-Reminder by visiting its homepage and subscribing to its news feed.

If you want to get involved, see the roadmap and feel free to contribute some patches!

DebConf 8 website: a call for help

published on Fri Jul 11 04:15:00 2008 in debconf-news

DebConf 8 is approaching and our website is clearly not what we’d like it to be. It turns out that compiling all the useful stuff that travellers might need is not easy, so we kindly ask you —dear lazyweb—, to lend us a hand.

The most important thing we need, is to recognise missing data. When you’re a local, is difficult to know what foreigners might need to know. So, even if you don’t know the country, your different point of view could help.

The second thing is to actually get articles written, some stuff ought to be written by locals, but the majority can be researched from the web (as we already did!). Proof-reading and checking translation is also appreciated.

Send us your patches, comments and suggestions to the website queue at the RT system, or contact Tincho@OFTC. Don’t sweat over formatting: plain text is OK, if you want to provide markup, please use very spartan XHTML Strict.

Debian Project News 2008/06

published on Mon Jul 7 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 6th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue:

Debian Day 2008 around the Globe

16 August 2008 will mark the 15th birthday of the Debian project since its first announcement by founder Ian Murdock on comp.os.linux.development on 16 August 1993. A coordination page for local Debian User Groups organizing and announcing birthday events is already available at the Debian Wiki.

DPL-initiated teams survey finished

Debian Project Leader Steve McIntyre has published the summary of the results of his teams survey. The survey yielded 116 replies, which covered a total of 77 teams. The overall result of the survey is that the vast majority of the respondents are very happy working within their respective teams, and most think that their teams are working well. Concerning negative aspects of their team work the respondents mainly named personal lack of time, the need for more team members, and a lack of communication between teams.

Bits from the Testing Security Team

Nico Golde sent bits from the testing security team. He summarized the security status of the current testing branch Lenny as very good and also added that even if it may appear to be so, the testing security team does not support the unstable branch Sid. He also invited volunteers to join the team, especially to offer support for Lenny's kernel packages which are currently unsupported.

New members for two core teams

Christoph Berg announced that Wouter Verhelst and Michael Koch have been added to the New Maintainer Front Desk, while Joerg Jaspert announced that Mark Hymers has been added as new FTP Assistant.

Desktop environments and menu policy

Daniel Dickinson initiated a discussion about the behavior of the three major desktop environments (KDE, GNOME and Xfce) regarding their application menu. They, as well as other desktop environments, use .desktop files supplied by applications to create their menu, while the Debian policy only requires .menu files to be supplied by Debian packages. While some people judged the .menu files to be obsoleted by .desktop files, Bernhard Link and others pointed out some disadvantages. In the end Russ Allbery proposed to start by extending the existing standard for desktop files to fit Debian's needs before changing the policy.

Call for talks: DebianDay Argentinia

The organizers of this year's DebianDay, a general information event taking place during the annual Debian Conference, are still searching for talks. This year's DebianDay will take place on 18 August 2008 in Buenos Aires. Attendees of this year's Debian Conference, who'll be staying in Argentina a few more days after the conference, are invited to give a talk on Debian related topics: e.g., Debian in Latin America, Internationalization in Debian, How to help Debian, Debian Live, Making a Debian derivative distribution, Packaging for Debian or other general Debian topics.

Ideas for improved diversions and alternatives handling

Goswin von Brederlow proposed some changes regarding the Debian package management system's handling of diversions and alternatives. Steve Langasek found some flaws in the initial proposal, which proposed adding new control files to the packages. However, the general consensus seems to be that declaring diversions explicitly is superior to the current approach of handling diversions as alternatives in the maintainer scripts of packages.

dpkg triggers and user experience

Franklin Piat voiced his concern that users might take the recent introduction of dpkg triggers (which are a mechanism for registering required actions such as man page database updates) as something negative. User's might just notice that something called triggers is now additionally called after packages have already been installed, without noticing that the triggers do actually save computing time during a package's installation. Charles Plessy argued that the problem might be solved by changing the text displayed to the user to something more transparent.

Meike Reichle and Alexander Schmehl married

After getting to know each other three years ago through their Debian work Debian Developers Meike Reichle and Alexander Schmehl were married on Saturday, 28 June 2008, at Lake Constance in Germany. This marks the first time two Debian Developers were joined in marriage. Several other DDs, one of whom served as the groom's best man, were present to celebrate with Meike's and Alexander's friends and families. As a wedding gift they presented a cookbook including the favourite recipes of many members of the Debian community. Version 1.1 of the book is already in the works, hopefully with a clarified license and maybe also incorporating changes required by FTBFS bugs if any are filed by the newlyweds in time. The Debian project's congratulations go out to the happy couple, and we hope this may be the start of a very joyful time in both their lives.

Other news

The 9th issue of the miscellaneous news for developers has been released and covers the following topics: advice on quilt usage and compatibility with new source format; update-grub's switch to using UUIDs by default; the wxwidgets2.8 upload to unstable; and volunteers needed to handle the updating of the release notes.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team released among others advisories for the packages dbus, wordpress and pcre3. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Work-needing packages

Currently 497 packages are orphaned and 110 packages are up for adoption. Please take a look at the recent reports if there are packages you are interested in or view the complete archive of packages requesting help.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers who watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see our HOWTO contribute page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at

aiccu: add IPv6 connectivity to your machine

published on Sun Jul 6 04:00:39 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Caspar Clemens Mierau. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

It’s time: no reason should prevent you from adding IPv6 connectivity to your machine. Of course it’s still an issue, as most ISPs don’t provide native IPv6. So in most cases the easiest way for you is to set up a tunnel to an IPv6 broker. There are currently several free brokers. I’ll show a simple way of getting IPv6 connectivity with the aiccu and SixXS.

Apply for an account

First you have to apply for an account on SixXS. Please note: as a kind of ISP, Sixxs really need valid information from you. You may give them a link to your Xing or LinkedIn profile.

Your application will be checked and (probably) approved. Wait for the mail. After that go to the SixXS website, request a new tunnel, and pick an entry point near you. This step also needs to be approved. Wait for the mail (it takes up to a day).

Set up aiccu

Now let’s get it running. Install the package aiccu (apt-get install aiccu). During installation you will be asked, which broker you are using. SixXS is already preconfigured, so choose it and input your account information. If everything is fine, aiccu will check SixXS and ask for your tunnel information.

Open a terminal and run ifconfig sixxs—it should show a new network interface with an IPv6 address. Now let’s check IPv6. Open Firefox and go to If the turtle logo is moving, your are using IPv6, if it does not, you don’t.

The SixXS credit system

You should understand the SixXS credit system. It’s used to limit users in repeating bad actions and to make sure they maintain their tunnels. For example if a static tunnel is down it will cost you some credits, thus you better keep it up. One could see the credit system as a bank, you got a credit limit and you can’t go over it and buy everything you want, but when you earn credits because your tunnel is up you can do a lot with it.

Security issues

Note that all your IPv6 traffic will be directed through the broker, so you have to take care of the security.

IPv6 content

Check for interesting IPv6 content: high traffic news servers, the IPv6 freenode server and so on. Always keep in mind, that not every application is ready for IPv6 and many applications need to be configured for IPv6. With Debian/Ubuntu you should be able to use at least Firefox, Thunderbird, Pan, and Irssi.

aiccu is available in Debian since Etch, and in Ubuntu since Feisty

Happy networking! on rinetd

published on Wed Jul 2 23:28:37 2008 in packages-news

Unusual non-article ahead: has a nice article about rinetd entitled “Easily forwarding arbitrary TCP connections with rinetd”, go and check it, it is an interesting package I didn’t know about!