Debian Project News 2008/11
on 15.09.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news
mythtv: A personal TV recorder
on 14.09.2008, 10:40
in packages-news
mrxvt: Fast, light multitabbed terminal emulator
on 07.09.2008, 05:00
in packages-news
Debian Project News 2008/10
on 01.09.2008, 00:00
in weekly-news

ddclient: getting access to home servers despite having a dynamic IP

published on Sun Sep 28 05:00:13 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Toni Zimmer.

There will be a day when you need access to your Debian box from another place than home, for example to get files from your home server with scp or if you’re running a webserver, an irc proxy, a ftp server, a mail server…

Most likely your ISP gives you a dynamic IP address. This problem can be solved by getting a static DNS name, so you can connect to your home even if your IP keeps changing. First of all you have to create an account with your favourite dyndns provider. I use but there are others, such as, or You can use others if you know ddclient supports its protocol.

There you can specify the hostname (combined with a domain name) for your computer. You can enable mail routing if you want to setup a home mail server.

When you install ddclient you will be asked for the dyndns service provider where you created your account. After that you must enter the complete (or fully qualified) domain name of your computer (something like and your account name (including the password, which will be stored in plaintext in /etc/ddclient.conf!). Now you have to chose the interface that connects you to internet. ddclient will get your IP address from there, so you shouldn’t be behind a NAT. Afterwards you will be asked if you want to start ddclient when connecting with PPP and if you want ddclient to run on system startup or not (probably you will use the first or the second choice). If you choose to run ddclient on startup, you can enter a delay between address checks (default are five minutes, so every five minutes your system will tell your current IP address to your dyndns service provider).

Your settings are stored in /etc/ddclient.conf and look like this:

# Configuration file for ddclient generated by debconf
# /etc/ddclient.conf

use=if, if=eth0

If everything is okay, wait a couple of minutes for the DNS information to populate and then you will be able to do something like ssh or w3m

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

FlameRobin: A GUI to Administer Firebird/Interbase SQL servers

published on Sun Sep 21 05:00:00 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Anton Kavalenka.

Firebird SQL server is popular because it is free, open, lightweight and secure. Firebird is based on the Interbase SQL server, and can be accessed by the same client libraries.

FlameRobin FlameRobin is a X-platform GUI application that makes the life of Firebird/Interbase admins easier. It’s a very light-weight solution (implemented with wxWidgets) as opposed to Tora, which tries to be universal, but is very huge and takes a while to load. FlameRobin starts almost instantly, but being lightweight doesn’t mean to be poor in features. Some of them are:

  • Create and drop database entities like tables, views, procedures, indices, domains, constraints, triggers, generators, etc.
  • Powerful SQL Editor
  • Perform SQL queries and view results in Unicode-aware GUI. Queries can be built by drag-and-dropping table columns in the SQL editor.
  • Manage several server connections
  • Perform queries on system tables RDB$xxxx (system tables)
  • Manage database rights
  • Get the DDL as text for automated table creation.
  • Event monitoring. You can subscribe to one or multiple events and control when and how many of each event happened in the database.
  • Create all the TABLES, DOMAINS, CONSTRAINTS, USERS, TRIGGERS, PROCEDURES etc, needed for database functionality.
  • FlameRobin always displays the SQL statement it’s going to run, so you always know what is happening in your database and no under-the-hood mechanism obscures your actions.
  • Editable data grid, you can modify existing data inside the grid and also add and remove rows. Blob values can be updated from files.
  • FlameRobin can have multiple log files for a given database, one for each statement, making it easy to build update scripts for production databases.

Using Firebird and FlameRobin included in Debian it is possible to backup a database from Windows, restore it on Linux and take off SQL server load from workstation. This is the only way to move database between 32-bit and 64-bit architecture. It is a feature of Firebird (or maybe bug). On the same architectures database files can be simply copied.

SQL EditorThe SQL Editor has syntax highlighting and auto-completion. SQL statements can be entered, load, saved and executed. You can prepare a query and view the execution plan without executing it.


FlameRobin is available in Debian since Etch and in Ubuntu since feisty.

Debian Project News 2008/11

published on Mon Sep 15 00:00:00 2008 in weekly-news

Welcome to this year's 11th issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community.
Some of the topics covered in this issue include:

Release update

Luk Claes reported on the progress regarding the release of the new stable release Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny. While there are still a lot of release critical bugs to be fixed, Lenny is in good enough shape to call for upgrade tests and work on the release notes. Regarding the upgrade tests, he especially asks to test the Linux 2.6.26 kernel. Regarding the release notes, he asks that any issues that might be documented should be reported as bugs against the release-notes pseudo-package. Further discussion will happen on the debian-doc mailing list.

Should Security Enhanced Linux be standard?

Martin Michlmayr wondered if the packages needed for security enhanced Linux should still be priority standard or if they should be lowered to optional. Martin noticed, that the installation of these packages takes at least half an hour on popular devices like the Linksys NSLU2. Frans Pop noted that the packages where far from being usable without major tweaks, but were made standard to gain more testing by being installed but not activated by default. Russell Coker reported on the improvements during the last month. Several people argued, that SELinux should either not be installed by default or activated, maybe by offering an option or task during the installation.

Lenny Upgrade advisor

Franklin Piat started to write a script that warns users of potential problems when upgrading their system from Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 Etch to the upcoming version 5.0 Lenny. The intention of his script is to notice potential problems (for instance obsoleted or discontinued package) and point out relevant documentation and solutions. He asked for further ideas, comments and patches. Christian Perrier asked if the messages could be internationalized allowing them to be translated.

Status of translations in the debian-installer

When the development of the current Debian installation system reached a state where changing output strings was discouraged (string freeze), Christian Perrier started coordinated translation efforts and reported daily about the progress. In the two weeks between his first and his latest report, the number of translations ready for inclusion with the next Debian release has been trippeled.

Bits from the Debian GNU/Hurd porters

Michael Banck sent bits from the Debian GNU/Hurd porters. Since the last bits had been posted, a lot of development took place, including the release of several snapshot releases. Michael also reports, that the base packages and the basic toolchain are in pretty good shape and most toolchain packages from Debian's repository can be used without any changes. He also refers to the possibility of testing Debian GNU/Hurd using XEN and ongoing work to make a Debian GNU/Hurd box available to all Debian Developers. He closes with a call for help, since Debian GNU/Hurd still misses an installer.

FAI / Emdebian work session in Extremadura

Holger Levsen wrote a report on the recent work session in Extremadura, Spain. 18 Debian contributors met and worked to get the fully automated install (FAI) in shape for the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny and to work on the infrastructure for using Debian on embeded architectures. Beside that Holger reports, that 30GB of DebConf7 videos (as ntsc and pal mpeg1 file formats) where uploaded, so that DVDs can be created soon. He closed with thanks to Junta de Extremadura for sponsoring yet another successful work session.

Brazilian government-owned IT enterprise SERPRO selects Debian GNU/Linux for its servers and wishes to collaborate

The Servico Federal de Processamento de Dados (SERPRO), a US$ 1 billion annual revenue Brazilian government-owned IT enterprise, announced during the Debian Day Brasil 2008 in Porto Alegre that it has selected Debian GNU/Linux as the preferred distribution for its hundreds of GNU/Linux development and production servers.

Other news

The 10th issue of the miscellaneous news for developers has been released and covers the following topics:

New Developers

5 applicants have been accepted as Debian Developers since the prior issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Laurent Bigonville, Gregory Colpart, Timo Jyrinki, Adriaan Peeters and Soeren Sonnenburg in our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): freetype and linux-2.6.24. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

New and noteworthy packages

mythtv and mrxvt where presented by Debian Package of the Day.

Work-needing packages

Currently 452 packages are orphaned and 125 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

mythtv: A personal TV recorder

published on Sun Sep 14 10:40:11 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Karl Erlandson. Do you think there are better alternatives to the packages posted here? Help us! Submit good articles about software you like!

No one likes to sit at home and wait for their favorite show to come on anymore and many have turned to buying hardware to record them for later viewing. Popular solutions to this problem include the expensive and proprietary TiVo and cable/satellite boxes with built-in TV recorders.

MythTV aims to solve these problems without the need to rent a cable box ($15/month) or buy a TiVo (~$200). An older computer can be used and all that needs to be purchased is a simple TV card, which can be found for under $30 on eBay. An HDTV card will cost you more, and will also require a more recent computer. If your TV card doesn’t come with a remote control, a controller will have to be purchased separately.

As of last year, the TV guide info used for MythTV in North America is no longer free. Unfortunately, if you live in the USA or Canada, you now have to pay a subscription fee if you want to access the TV guide info, but the cost is negligible at $20/year and going down with every new subscriber. There is a free trial period available. If you live in another country, you may find TV listings for your country in XMLTV.


MythTV main menuWhat MythTV gives you that those other boxes don’t is freedom, it’s open source so you can do whatever you want with your machine. For example, you can set it to automatically skip commercials (a feature that surprisingly works!).

MythTV can be divided into two main programs, the Backend and the Frontend. The Backend refers to the program that actually records programs and must be installed on a computer that has a TV tuner. The Frontend program allows you to view content from the Backend. Importantly, the Frontend program can be installed on the Backend or as a stand-alone program on any computer. With a Frontend only install, you can watch what you’ve recorded in any room of your house. They will also have the ability to watch live TV (with options to pause, rewind, fast forward).

MythTV also offers many recording options with the ability to record a show daily, weekly, once, only in a certain timeslot, etc. Since it is open source, various improvements have been added. An interesting plugin was developed that overcomes the problem of recording sports when games go on longer than scheduled. This program actually checks the web to see if the game it is recording has gone into extra time and adjusts the recording time to end later.

Mythtv browsing through the video library

MythTV will organize your music and video libraries and allow all that downloaded content to be played on your home entertainment system. Album and DVD art can be automatically downloaded from IMDB. I have to say that the music system could use a lot of work.

MythTV web interfaceOther options include the ability to schedule your recordings over the internet, watch your shows over the internet, display weather alerts, and notify you of new emails on screen.


MythTV is not available as a Debian package due to licensing/legal issues, but it is on debian-multimedia. To enable this repository, add this to your /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb stable main 

(instead of stable, put “testing” or “unstable” if you use that flavors of Debian). Now run apt-get update. The MythTV wiki provides instructions to install it in Debian stable (Etch), Debian unstable (Sid) and Ubuntu. The Ubuntu community has its own set of installation instructions. I found the KnoppMythWiki very useful in setting up my machine. They also offer a MythTV distribution.

Brazilian government owned IT enterprise SERPRO selects Debian GNU/Linux for its servers and wishes to collaborate

contributed by andremachado, published on Mon Sep 8 15:04:38 2008 in success-stories

Brazilian government owned IT enterprise SERPRO selects Debian GNU/Linux for its servers and wishes to collaborate

The Servico Federal de Processamento de Dados (SERPRO), (a US$ 1 billion annual revenue Brazilian government owned IT enterprise), announced during the Debian Day Brasil 2008 Porto Alegre that it has selected Debian GNU/Linux as the preferred distribution for its hundreds of GNU/Linux development and production servers. Future SERPRO tenders and public hearings will include clauses requiring Debian GNU/Linux compatibility. Recent SERPRO tenders have already encouraged participation by small FLOSS regional companies, as well as Debian support services.

The SERPRO board decided that Debian GNU/Linux is more suitable for its new corporate goals. SERPRO has decided to increase supplier independence, flexibility, agility, and participation in technical solutions by direct interaction with the Debian Project community. This is the first time that a federal government institution of this size has reached out to the Debian Project community for a closer relationship. The Debian Project will keep its institutional partners collaboration channel available for other government agencies who want to consider a similar relationship.

During a discussion panel with the LUG Debian RS (mediated by the Associacao Software Livre at Debian Day Porto Alegre) SERPRO heard suggestions on how to encourage the participation of key employees, avoid internal forks of FLOSS projects, and modify its internal culture to relax tight project controls. These will increase collaboration with, and gain the respect of, the community for mutual benefit, improving communications, and so lead to better operational performance.

SERPRO has created a FLOSS Strategic Coordinator (CESOL), in part to assist co-operation between FLOSS communities and other federal government agencies, using the federal government committee for FLOSS implantation (CISL) website and meetings. SERPRO and other Brazilian government agencies have already started to release some code as free software.

SERPRO is evolving its internal culture to the values of FLOSS through the creation of a corporate internal Wiki, Gforge, introducing regional FLOSS committees, increasing management awareness at all levels, opening code, and supporting FLOSS events. Debian Day Brasil 2008 was supported by SERPRO and a number of other companies.


The Servico Federal de Processamento de Dados (SERPRO) is a US$ 1 billion annual revenue Brazilian government owned IT enterprise for other government agencies.

It has 43 years experience of development and production, 10,000+ employees, and manages a nationwide network infrastructure of tens of thousands machines, from handhelds to mainframes, clusters and grids, at or for many Brazilian government agencies.

About the Debian Project

Debian GNU/Linux is one of the free libre operating systems, with a broad list of officially maintained packages on 15 hardware platforms, from cell phones to mainframes, developed by more than two thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate on the Debian Project.

The Debian Project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to Free Libre Open Source Software, to the Debian Social Contract and the non-profit nature Debian Constitution, its open and meritocratic development model, its organization and social governance and its commitment to provide the best operating systems attainable, following a strict quality policy, working with an established QA Team and helpful users reporting bugs, suggestions, exchanging ideas, solutions, and registering experiences during its history.

One can help Debian Project joining it or even not being a programmer, or being a development and or service partner company or institution at the Debian Partner Program, or simply making various donations to the Debian Project.

Debian Project news, press releases and press coverage can be found from the official Debian wiki page. PR contact at debian-publicity list.

mrxvt: Fast, light multitabbed terminal emulator

published on Sun Sep 7 05:00:13 2008 in packages-news

Article submitted by Hugo Carrer.

As any other Debian user I love writing obscure commands on my terminal. I love too having so many open terminals that I have to come up with a special system to find the one where my favorite obscure command is running on.

To be able to enjoy this I need a very fast multitabbed terminal emulator: mrxvt.

Some of the things I like the most about mrxvt are for example,

  • It is very fast and light.
  • Fast pseudo-transparency.
  • Background with your favorite images.
  • Highly configurable keyboard shortcuts.
  • You can have the same command typed on every tab at the same time. This feature is disabled by default. you can enable it by editing /etc/mrxvt/mrxvtrc and uncommenting the ToggleBroadcast macro (around line 171). After that, Ctrl+Shift+d toggles input broadcasting to all tabs.
  • Automatic or “by-hand” tab labeling.
  • It is independent of your desktop (no KDE or GNOME needed).
  • Did I mention that is very fast and light?

After installing it would look something like this:

a just installed mrxvt

You can change this rather old fashioned look by copying the example config file from
And placing it in ~/.mrxvtrc

The file is full of comments helping you with the meaning of each option. Of course you can find all available options in the man page. Some useful shortcuts are Ctrl-shift-t to open a new tab and Ctrl-shift-m to show the menu.

So, after playing, trying and tweaking for a little while you can get a futuristic look for your terminals. Like this one of me sketching this article on an emacs session inside mrxvt (Note all those beautiful tabs up there)

mrxvt in action

Downsides? Well it depends on the kind of user,

  • No UTF-8 support.
  • It has no config menu.
  • You have to remember the shortcuts or read the config file every now and then.
  • And as with anything worth doing, to get things working the way you want to you’ll have to read through the man page and maybe scratch your head once or twice but it’ll work.

To sum up, it’s the perfect application to config during those boring rainy weekends and then show off to your friends at work.

mrxvt is available in Debian stable and in Ubuntu too.

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

Peter Palfrader reported that, 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