Debian Project News 2008/10
on 01.09.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news
DevTodo: a reminder/task program aimed at developers.
on 31.08.2008, 05:00
in packages-news
Debian Project News 2008/09
on 18.08.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news
DebConf Talk Feedback
on 15.08.2008, 22:23
in debconf-news
DebConf Gallery
on 14.08.2008, 14:21
in debconf-news
Debian Project News 2008/08
on 04.08.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news

Debian Project News 2008/10

published on Mon Sep 1 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 10th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:

Debian Live Lenny Beta1

The Debian Live team announced the first beta of Debian Lenny's Live images. This is the first official release of Debian Live CDs. The main features are, that these Live images are build 100% with packages in Debians main section and different flavours (GNOME, KDE and Xfce as well as a small image without graphical environment.

Debian Translations for French and German Reach 100%

Christian Perrier announced On August 22nd, both German and French languages reached 100% completeness for po-debconf translations in unstable. For German, this is the very first time this has happened and the German l10n (localization) team deserves congratulations for that achievement. Po-debconf translations enables native speakers use Debian in their own language and is an important aspect in working toward Debian's goal of being a universal operating system.

Policy for web apps session storage?

After several bugs regarding possible symlink attacks were reported, Olivier Berger wonders about a policy how web applications (or their framework) should handle storage of their session files. He noted that PHP already tries to prevent possible symlink attacks, by using /var/lib/php5 which is only readable by the root-user and automatically cleaned with a cronjob to prevent attacks by opening a lot of sessions. He especially wonders, if whether there's a similar approach for applications using perl and CGI::Session.

Usage of Package diffs?

Joerg Jasper asked, if the package diffs, a system to update the package list by downloading the differences between versions of that file, is used at all. Since he usually turns that feature of, which seems to him only slow apt down and wastes a lot of bandwidth of our mirror network.

people.debian.org to move to a new host and file transfer between Debian hosts

Peter Palfrader reported that people.debian.org, a service offering web space for Debian Developers, will be moved to new host in late September ans asks all Developers using that service to check if all needed packages are available on the new host.

Other news

Joerg Jaspert announced, that James Troup stepped down from his post as Debian Account Manager. We would like to thanks James for the hard work and dedication over many years.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): postfix, linux-2.6, libxml2 and tiff. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Work-needing packages

Currently 453 packages are orphaned and 110 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 list of packages which need your help.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers to watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at debian-publicity@lists.debian.org.

DevTodo: a reminder/task program aimed at developers.

published on Sun Aug 31 05:00:20 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Raman Pandarinathan.

DevTodo is a simple command-line-based package to keep todo lists. Lists are prioritized and hierarchical. Each task in the list has a priority (very high, low, medium etc.) and a given task can be linked to another todo database, making the list hierarchical. The lists are stored as an XML file (.todo) in the current directory, so if you manage multiple projects, you can have different todo lists and DevTodo will update the information based on your current working directory.

As the Todo list is stored in an XML file, you can use an XSLT template to export it to other formats. In Debian, you can find templates to export to HTML and PDF in /usr/share/devtodo.

Managing your todo lists

DevTodo in action

Basic commands are:

  • todo displays the list of tasks pending in the order of priority.
  • tda adds a task to the list. The optional argument -g links the task to another task (creates a subtask).
  • tdd marks a task as complete (done) with comments.
  • tde edit a task.
  • tdr removes a task completely.

With the use of some small shell scripts, when you cd into a directory with a .todo in it, DevTodo can display the Todo items for that directory. There are scripts for bash and tcsh in /usr/share/doc/devtodo/examples. To enable it under bash, add this to your .bashrc:

if [ -f /usr/share/doc/devtodo/examples/scripts.sh ]; then
  . /usr/share/doc/devtodo/examples/scripts.sh
fi

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
    • Simple command line interface.
    • Easy storage using XML.
    • Fast and elegant.
    • Oriented towards developers.
  • Cons
    • No GUI.
    • No recent development (last commit was at the end of 2007), upstream seems to be inactive.
    • No calendaring.

Availability

DevTodo is available in Debian since Sarge and in Ubuntu (universe) since Dapper.

EasyTag: a graphical interface to managing your music files’ tags

published on Mon Aug 25 02:31:07 2008 in packages-news

EasyTag is a graphical utility to edit the descriptive ID3 tags for your music files. One will think primarily of MP3 files, but it also does other formats, such as Ogg, FLAC, MP4/AAC, MusePack, Monkey’s Audio files and WavPack files (APE tag).

EasyTag main windowEasyTag’s screen real estate is divided into three windows. The left window shows you the directories of your file system. The middle window shows you the music files in your currently selected directory. The right window is further subdivided into top and bottom information boxes: the top shows you the technical information about the file (bit rate, frequency, mode, size, and time), and the bottom shows you the actual ID3 fields.

The ID3 fields are pretty complete as they let you fill in all the relevant info you could want to put in, e.g., title, artist, album, year, genre, personal comments. You can also attach a photo to the file.

Once you start up EasyTag, it will search your home directory for any and all music format files. This behavior is either helpful or annoying; if it’s the latter, you can simply stop the search and go to the directory of your choice. It will resume the search from there.

Tagging files

There are three ways to tag music files with EasyTag:

  • Manually.
  • Automatically with the “Fill Tag” scanner.
  • Automatically via CDDB, which is a database for software applications to look up audio CD information over the Internet.

Manual tagging is pretty much self-explanatory (and tedious.)

The mask editor dialogAutomatic Fill Tag relies on the filenames of your music files to automatically fill in the ID3 entries. EasyTag has a couple dozen formats that cover almost every imaginable case.

Automatic CDDB tagging only works if files are sorted per album and if the actual CDDB entry exists. You don’t actually have to have the CD on hand: you can search for the album ID through EasyTag. Once found, it will label the files for you.

All in all, a great way to manage and maintain information on your music files.

Availability

EasyTag is available in Debian since at least Sarge and in Ubuntu (universe) since Dapper.

Debian Project News 2008/09

published on Mon Aug 18 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:

Debian turns 15

On 16 August 1993 Ian Murdock announced a new Linux distribution named Debian. 15 years later the project started by him is the biggest Linux distribution worldwide, offering more than 20 000 software packages maintained by over 1'000 volunteers, supporting more hardware architectures than any other Linux distribution, and providing a base for more than twenty active derivatives, like Knoppix, Skolelinux or Ubuntu.

Freespire 5 to be based on Debian

Recently acquired by the Xandros Corporation, the upcoming release of Freespire will be based on the Debian GNU/Linux Lenny release. The current release of Freespire (2.0.8) is still based on Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon). A combined Xandros/Linspire development effort will return Freespire to its Debian GNU/Linux roots and put it in sync with Xandros Desktop Pro, said Andreas Typaldos, Xandros CEO. Freespire 5 is slated to be released in the fourth quarter of 2008.

8th annual Debian Conference finished

The 8th annual Debian Conference, allowing Users and Developers to come together, learn new techniques and discuss further development has finished yesterday on the 17th August 2008. Some results of the discussions which took place there are mentioned in this issue. Videos of the conference sessions are available (or will be soon) at the meetings archive. The video team asks for feedback. It is also possible to give feedback to speakers and topics. Since most attendees are still on their way home, the next issue of the Debian Project News will have a deeper coverage of the Debian Conference and the associated Debian Day at Buenos Aires.

Debian on the OpenMoko FreeRunner

Joachim Breitner announces the start of an official Debian port to the OpenMoko FreeRunner, a smartphone that was designed and developed in a free and open manner. This enables Debian users to use the distribution of their choice even on their telephone. Installation instructions can be found on the Debian wiki.

Bits from the X Strike Force

Julien Cristau reports on the newest developments within the X Strike Force. The X Strike Force is happy to announce that the configuration of the Xorg server has been considerably simplified and it is now also possible to configure video output at runtime. Furthermore new drivers have been packaged, namely the nouveau driver, a reverse-engineering effort for nVidia cards and openchrome, which will support via chipsets instead of the unmaintained via driver. The nouveau driver does not yet have release-quality but the X Strike Force asks for testing of the experimental build. xorg-server 1.5 and mesa 7.1 are also currently in experimental and are scheduled to advance to sid after the Lenny release. At around the same time, the team plans to enable hotplugging of input devices, and their configuration through hal. The X Strike Force concludes their report with a call for maintainers (DDs and non-DDs). People interested in joining the team can contact them on #debian-x on irc.debian.org, or on debian-x@lists.debian.org.

Request for adoption: The Debian Jr. project

Ben Armstrong is looking for someone to take over the Debian Jr. project, since he is currently too involved with other Debian-internal projects and can no longer spend the necessary time on it. He recommends several measures to move the project forward and hopes to find a new leader for the project who will tackle these and other tasks and carry on his work on a child-friendly custom Debian distribution.

Upcoming changes to supported architectures

One of the problems discussed during this year's Debian Conference was ftp-master.debian.org, the main host for the Debian archive, running into resource constraints. Joerg Jaspert announced the results: Hardware architectures, which have failed to be included in 2 successive official releases, will be moved to an other host (e.g. debian-ports.org). The main purpose is to free space for architectures that are in a better shape and therefore have higher chances of being in an release.

Dropping packages in main building packages in contrib

Joerg Jaspert wondered if it is a necessary feature, that source packages of a specific component (main, contrib or non-free) may create binary packages within an other component. Some source packages in Debian main use that feature to create binary packages in contrib. Dropping this feature would ease a re-design of the central project database. When asked for the benefits of dropping this feature, Stefano Zacchiroli explained further that the database should reflect the structure of the project, especially since only the component main is an official part of Debian. Blurring the difference might confuse our users and is weird at best.

Bits from the GNU/kFreeBSD porters

Aurelien Jarno gave a status report about the kFreeBSD port. Overall it is in very good shape. Currently i386 and AMD64 based architectures are supported. It has a complete toolchain (including java) and more than 85% of all packages are built. He asked for help to qualify as a releasable architecture, since a port of the debian-installer is currently missing.

FAI developer workshop at the Linuxhotel in Essen/Germany

At the weekend from 8th until 10th of August, the FAI (Fully Automatic Installation - an installation and update-management framework for Debian and other distributions) developer team met at the Linuxhotel in Essen, Germany, to make FAI fit for the Lenny release. In a productive as well as fun meeting, seven people got a lot of things done, but most importantly, they did a lot of testing of the current FAI functionality in the Lenny context.

Debian Lenny to Support Low-Power NAS Systems

Martin Michlmayr updated kernels for MIPS and ARM for kernel version 2.6.26. These kernel updates bring major improvements to the ARM architecture support, which helps running Debian on low-power NAS devices like the QNAP TS-409. With 2.6.26 coming closer to lenny, lenny is coming closer to run on these devices.

Future of snapshot.debian.net

Since snapshot.debian.net - a service storing all versions of all Debian packages ever uploaded to the archive including useful symlinks e.g. for browsing to specific days - has problems from time to time keeping up its disc space, Eddy Petrisor wondered, if a distributed, user supported structure for storing this huge amount of data would be a good idea. Andrew Pollock answered that Debian could spend some of its fund for this service. Cyril Brulebois added that it has been announced that snapshot.debian.net should be made an official service provided by Debian, making it easier to spend funds on it.

Artwork and Desktop themes for Debian Lenny

Valessio Brito announced that the work for artwork and themes for the upcoming stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0" Lenny has been started during DebCamp the hacking session before the annual Debian Conference. In the meantime and updated version of the desktop-base package has been uploaded including a new default theme as well as a second one.

CD/DVD Image Downloads - A Reminder / rsync on ftp.debian.org

Josip Rodin noted that there seems to be a rush of CD/DVD image hoarding happening. Particularly, it seems that many people are not only downloading the first image, but the additional images (CDs 2-20+) as well. The full set of images is published so that they can be downloaded by those who do not have regular access to a reliable internet connection. However, for those who do have solid Internet connections, it is more efficient to retrieve packages directly from the repositories.

Bits from the DPN editors

The editors of the Debian Project News sent a first status report on the start-up period of the DPN. After a rough start a workflow has now been established which overall works but still has some issues, including the often missing time for native speakers to proofread the drafts and for translators to prepare versions of the project news in their own language, to be sent out simultaneously with the original news. But most importantly more people are needed to contribute to the Debian Project News by writing small texts on the noteworthy news collected at each issue's development page.

Other news

Lucas Nussbaum wondered if the technical solution of freezing the propagation of packages from the unstable development branch to the to-be-released-soon testing branch is adequate. Since the requirement of non-disruptive changes are more a social problem, it shouldn't be solved by strict technical measures and manual approval of exceptions.

Debian Project at FrOSCon 2008

From Saturday the 23rd of August 2008 to Sunday the 24th of August 2008, the Debian Project will participate with a booth at Free and Open Source Software Conference 2008 in St. Augustin, Germany. Please see the respective events page for further details.

Important Debian Security Advisories

If you would like to be kept up to date about the security advisories released by the Debian Security Team, please subscribe to the mailing list for security announcements.

Work-needing packages

Currently 468 packages are orphaned and 120 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 list of packages which need your help.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers to watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at debian-publicity@lists.debian.org.

DebConf Talk Feedback

published on Fri Aug 15 22:23:00 2008 in debconf-news

Like last year, we have a feedback system available again. If you attended an event during DebConf and want to give feedback on it, including free-form text to the presenter, this is your chance!

As an attendee

To give feedback please look at the schedule and select the event you want to comment on. You will notice a box saying Did you attend this event? Give Feedback, follow its link and fill out the form.

As a speaker

If you want to see what feedback your event got, please log in to the submission system and select the event you want to know more about. You will see a tab named Feedback, behind which you can find all the newly-written love letters.

DebConf Gallery

published on Thu Aug 14 14:21:00 2008 in debconf-news

As in previous years we have a DebConf Gallery running.

We would like to encourage people who have taken pictures around DebCamp, DebConf and DebianDay to upload them to gallery.debconf.org.

The server is open for everyone but accounts need to be activated by admins to avoid spam. If you create an account and it isn’t confirmed within 2 hours, feel free to talk to one of the admins in person or on IRC.

Debian Project News 2008/08

published on Mon Aug 4 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:

"Lenny" frozen

Marc Brockschmidt, a Release Manager, announced that Lenny, the upcoming new stable release, has been frozen as planned. The automatic transition of new versions of packages from the development branch (sid or unstable) to the current testing branch (lenny) has been stopped and new versions of packages need manual approval. New versions which fix release critical bugs, other important bugs, add documentation, or include translation fixes can be approved by the release team upon request.

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 updated to include support for newer hardware

The Debian project released an updated version of its current stable release Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 etch called etch and a half. While this update mainly includes security fixes and fixes for severe bugs, the Debian project has for the first time also added support for newer hardware by adding new drivers with updated Linux kernel and X.org packages. The new drivers are optional and the old versions will still be supported.

Schedule for 8th annual Debian Conference announced

Jörg Jaspert announced the schedule the 8th annual Debian Conference which will be held from August 10th to August 16th, 2008 in Mar del Plata, Argentina. As usual the schedule should considered a "work in progress" as session slots will be filled during the conference with spontaneous sessions, including so called BoF ("Birds of a feather") sessions.

Debian Days around the world

Debian users around the world are preparing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Debian project on August 16th 2008. Currently Debian Days are planned in Nicaragua, Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria, Chile, Argentina and eight different locations in Brazil. Apart from general celebration, the Debian Days will feature install fests, talks, discussion panels, LAN parties, Debian merchandise, software demonstrations, advanced installation workshops, knowledge exchange, and much more.

Limited Xen support in Lenny

A recent discussion on the debian-devel list highlighted that due to the upstream delays in getting Xen support integrated into kernels beyond 2.6.18, Lenny will need to ship with limited Xen support. Pasi Kärkkäinen explained the situation and Bastian Blank wrote an article about the options the Debian Project has. His conclusion is to support a 2.6.18 kernel in Lenny, until lenny-and-a-half adds better Xen support. However, the release managers have not yet made a final decision.

Screenshots of GUI applications

Roberto Sanchez raised the topic of screenshots for GUI applications. Since it's often difficult to judge a package based only on the textual package description, he suggested being able to add screenshots of specific applications to Debian. This would allow package search and maintenance tools to show the user what can be expected from a specific package.

Bits from the Debian Eee PC team

Ben Armstrong reported on the current activities of the Debian Eee PC team: Debian's next release Lenny will work with all of the earliest models of the Eee PC and the Eee PC team hopes to soon realize its goal of a completely DFSG free system for the earliest models of the Eee Pc. Newer models are now able to install using the atl1e ethernet driver from eeepc.debian.net; support for wireless and other aspects of the new hardware will follow soon. The wireless custom Debian-installer is also making good progress. There are currently two Debian-live USB images available: a demo of the LXDE desktop (a lightweight desktop environment that is made with the Eee PC in mind) and a minimal console-only image for rescue/backup. The team is also always looking for new members to contribute to Debian's support for the Eee Pc.

SELinux and lenny

Russel Coker gave several updates on security enhanced Linux in the upcoming stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny.

adept package manager alpha release of version 3.0

Petr Rockai gave a report about his work on a rewritten version of adept, a package management tool for KDE. He points out that the new version of adept has improved upon the speed, reliability and user experience of previous versions. Notable among the new features he added are full text searching and handling of interactive installation prompts (for example, debconf prompts and dpkg prompts about changed configuration files).

Debian Project at FrOSCon 2008

From Saturday the 23rd of August 2008 to Sunday the 24th of August 2008, the Debian Project will participate with a booth at Free and Open Source Software Conference 2008 in St. Augustin, Germany. Please see the respective events page for further details.

Other news

Stefano Zacchiroli reminded package maintainers that the old pseudo-header for upstream Homepages in the package description has been replaced by a proper header which should now be used instead.

New and noteworthy packages

By popular request, DPN will once again feature a list of new and noteworthy packages that have recently been added to the unstable branch. The list will feature editorial picks from the official list of new packages and will be appended to each issue of Debian Project News.

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): libgd, iceweasel, xulrunner , clamav, python2.5, icedove and cupsys. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

Work-needing packages

Currently 461 packages are orphaned and 118 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 list of packages which need your help.

Want to continue reading DPN?

Please help us create this newsletter. We still need more volunteer writers to watch the Debian community and report about what is going on. Please see the contributing page to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at debian-publicity@lists.debian.org.