Debian Weekly News - November 19th, 2002
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Debian Weekly News
Debian Weekly News - November 19th, 2002
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for
the Debian community. If you don't know yet what to give for
Christmas, check out this Debian art collection. There's more good
news, since Drew Scott Daniels reported that the LZW patent runs
out in the U.S. on December 20th, 2002. LZW is used as compression
method in several data formats, such as TIFF.
Draft W3C Patent Policy. Attorney Larry Rosen reports that the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) needs feedback on their
last-call draft of a new patent policy. The good news is that this
latest draft calls for all W3C specifications to be freely
implementable. Larry says "The community now needs to be heard
supporting this policy so that it is not undone during the public
input and W3C Advisory Council phase." Comments are being accepted
until December 31st, 2002, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Packages Removed by Release Manager. In accordance with the
announcement last month, Anthony Towns reported, that about
thirty packages that were removed from the distribution. However, at
least three more packages were removed from the non-US
distribution as well. Anthony states that these packages may be
reuploaded and will be considered new packages with the usual
processing. Please make sure that any known bugs are actually fixed
before you do so, though.
Prerelease of Openoffice.org available. Chris Halls announced a
new set of prerelease packages for the OpenOffice.org (OOo)
application suite. If no problems are found these packages are
supposed to be uploaded to unstable soon. Additionally, upstream
asked for help with a new initiative to make OOo a well behaved
citizen on ones harddisk by using the systems native installer to
become the default way to install, modify, or uninstall it. Naturally,
Debian packages are already listed as being supported by the next
Voting Amendments. The current constitution has some ambiguities
and different people have different ideas about what the constitution
says should be done if Debian ever has a ballot where some of the
choices require amending the constitution and others don't. Also, some
of these interpretations could give disappointing results for
elections with big ballots with popular choices. Several people are
working on a revised voting procedure which doesn't have these
ambiguities, and which disregards as few votes as possible even for
elections with big ballots and lots of popular choices.
Update on Statistics about Debian on the Desktop. An ongoing
survey on Desktoplinux.com asks which GNU/Linux distribution users
prefer for desktop computing. Last month, Debian was placed fourth
at 8.9 %. This time, with 14.1 % of the vote, Debian has stormed ahead
of Red Hat and SuSE to be second only to Mandrake. Around 1300 more
votes were registered since October, totally over 6200 responses.
Alignment with the Linux Standard Base. Steve Greenland raised
some concerns over how run-parts from the debianutils package
should handle file names. Run-parts is used to execute a number of
scripts or programs found in one directory (for example, scripts in
/etc/cron.daily). The "run-parts" program requires these script
filenames to consist entirely of letters, digits, underscores or
hyphens. Any filenames containing a period are ignored, so scripts
like "script.dpkg-new" are passed over. A bug was filed suggesting
that the period be allowed in filenames, for example "script.sh" and
it was pointed out that the Linux Standard Base requires the
period to be allowed. Rather than make sudden changes to run-parts,
Steve thought it would be a good idea to find a standard way for all
programs of this nature to behave within Debian.
MAME to become licensed under the GPL? It was reported that the
developers of the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) have indicated
that they consider releasing future versions under the GNU
General Public License (GPL). MAME's current license contains
certain restrictions that render it non-free according to the
Debian Free Software Guidelines. MAME adopting the GPL would be a
positive addition to Free Software, although most of the game ROMs
that MAME uses remain very non-free.
Help with Signed Packages. Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña asked
for help with integrating signature checks in the Debian user
infrastructure. Ian Jackson raised additional concerns about
tainted systems and having the need for a Certification Authority.
However, Javier still depends on per-package signatures and Anthony
Towns explains with details why this is not the way for Debian to
Getting rid of undocumented Manpages. Manoj Srivastava reports
that there is a proposal under consideration for changing the
undocumented(7) manpage. The proposal states more explicitely that the
lack of a manpage is a bug and should be reported to the Bug Tracking
URLs in the Package Description. David Goodenough (as an example for
others) asked whether upstream URLs could be added to the package
description on our packages pages. Raphaël Hertzog noted that
it's already documented in the best packaging practice to add an
upstream URL to the description. Joey Hess, however, complained
that the Description field is not intended to be a random
dumping-ground for any information that cannot fit into some other
field. Branden Robinson finally added that the policy already
mandates upstream URLs, but in the copyright file.
Phoenix Prerelease Packages. Eric Dorland announced prerelease
packages for the Phoenix web-browser, which is a redesign of the
Mozilla browser component, similar to Galeon. There are no source
packages yet, because Eric hasn't come up with a good way to package
the source, and he doesn't want to package unnecessary components,
since it's really rather large.
Debian Accessibility Project. Mario Lang summarized the current
state of issues regarding accessibility in Debian, and also tried to
give a bit of overview of tasks which are necessary to ensure that
Debian is accessible to people with disabilities. It includes
references to software that is already part of Debian, and tries to
summarize the situation as well as provide a list of tasks for people
interested in helping.
Knoppix-Med. By virtue of the large success of Knoppix people from
the Debian-Med subproject started a Knoppix-Med effort to
include several pieces of medical software in it. The document
that describes how to remaster Knoppix to include GNUmed and other
medical software, is finally online.
Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update
your systems if you have any of these packages installed.
* Apache-Perl -- Several vulnerabilities.
* BIND -- Several vulnerabilities.
* Courier Sqwebmail -- Local information exposure.
* Nullmailer -- Local denial of service.
* mhonarc -- Cross site scripting.
New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the
unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.
* blosxom -- A lightweight yet feature-packed weblog.
* brickos -- Alternative OS for LEGO Mindstorms. supports devel.
* regexxer -- A visual search and replace tool.
* screader -- Screen reader using software or hardware speech
* skyutils2 -- Many useful functions for the web like smssend.
* smb-nat -- Netbios Auditing Tool.
* xml-to-sexp -- Program to convert XML to into Lisp S-Exp.
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