Debian Weekly News - February 11, 2003
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Debian Weekly News
Debian Weekly News - February 11th, 2003
Welcome to this year's sixth issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for
the Debian community. A recent announcement on a GNOME list says
that GNOME and KDE are joining the Free Desktop Project to create
Human Interface Guidelines for both desktop environments.
Additionally, the Turbo Desktop Environment aimed at users with
older computers who still want to run a proper desktop. It is based on
KDE 1 and Debian. There is more good news on the desktop front as KDE
3.1 is being uploaded into Debian unstable.
Debian at the World Social Forum. Debian was represented at the
World Social Forum in Brazil by Debian-RS, a local Debian users
group. They were asked to build the computer network for the youth
camp during the event. They were also invited to give more than 10
workshops, with technical, political and social focus.
Debian and OASIS. Last April, Debian joined the Organization for
the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). Mark
Johnson, Debian's official representative to OASIS, asked for
feedback from any Debian Developers who have been involved in OASIS
Technical Committees. He would also like ideas on how he should seek
input from Developers before casting Debian's vote in OASIS decisions.
Debian joins Desktop Linux Consortium. The Debian project
announced that it is a founding member of the new Desktop
Linux Consortium (DLC). DLC is a vendor-neutral association, comprised
of both commercial companies and open source organizations that are
developing and shaping GNU/Linux desktop technologies. The non-profit
association will help shape the future of GNU/Linux on the desktop,
targeting the needs of corporate, institutional, and home users.
Debian powers Home Entertainment Gateway Device. A report on
LinuxDevices.com about the PRISMIQ MediaPlayer, a networked
entertainment gateway, says that it runs an embedded version of Debian
GNU/Linux. Priced at just $250, the gadget delivers audio and video
media files, obtained from either home PCs or the Internet, to TVs and
stereos. The device contains an embedded computer based on a
32-bit MIPS microprocessor with integrated MPEG decoder, along with
16 MB Flash and 64 MB SDRAM.
Selecting Tasks and Packages. Osamu Aoki reviewed the current
package installation system and concluded that there is dselect,
aptitude and apt-get to install single packages (out of a list of
roughly 8700) and tasksel that selects some out of thirty tasks. He
wondered whether there is any activity to address this gap. His
proposed solution uses additional attributes in the package
Compiling Debian packages with DJGPP. Jeremie Koenig plans to try
compiling some Debian packages for FreeDOS using DJGPP, a DOS port of
GCC, featuring a libc granting reasonable API compatibility with
programs originating from the Unix world. He admits that the
debian-djgpp idea sounds odd, but for old or embedded machines this
could open up a large quantity of software.
Freeze Plans? Barak Pearlmutter asked for a distribution freeze
soon. Anthony Towns explains that there are a bit over 1700 source
packages that are nominally ready for testing right now. They are
being held back by various libraries and such (glibc, Perl, Python,
C++, GTK, KDE, etc). That is about a quarter of Debian. For the past
five months or so, testing has been working "correctly" but only in so
far as unstable hasn't been. Testing has no value if Debian can't
provide functional software in unstable on a fairly regular basis.
Security for Testing. Anthony Towns revealed that the
infrastructure for adding security updates to the testing distribution
is in place, in fact even since the new security architecture came
into being. However, Matt Zimmerman pointed out that somebody
needs to review the packages and the process and clean up the mess if
maintainers upload broken packages.
Problems with Qt3 Packaging. Ralf Nolden reported about severe
problems in the way Qt3 is currently packaged. Several issues haven't
been dealt with and the maintainer still isn't listening. Ivan Moore
even regretted to having given away the package. Finally
cooperation with the maintainer was reached again and updated
packages are expected soon. This involves a number of changes and
the maintainer sent a status report.
Boot-Floppies Status Report. Eduard Bloch has been working on new
boot-floppies for the 3.0r2 update of woody (stable). He reported
that boot-floppies 3.0.24 are almost ready. Packages for most
architectures have been built and tested, although some issues remain
with the sparc, s390 and arm architectures.
Shared Libraries Policy. Marco d'Itri proposed two small changes
to policy regarding shared libraries and PIC code. First, compiling
with -fPIC is not enough to have PIC code, the object must not have a
TEXTREL section either. Second, libraries should be allowed to contain
short sections of non-PIC code on suitable architectures if this
allows a significant speed increase.
Mandrake Linux without MandrakeSoft? Some Mandrake volunteers and
developers are discussing the future of Mandrake Linux since Ben
Reser believes that the end of MandrakeSoft is inevitable.
They proposed to organise Mandrake Linux development as community
effort and investigated how the Debian project is organised, which
is why John Goerzen from Debian contributed to the discussion.
Gustavo Franco, for example, proposed Mandrake as a new project
inside Debian under the umbrella of Software in the Public Interest,
Inc. However, this idea was refused.
New APT prepared. Adam Heath announced that he has prepared
APT 0.5.4.9. The new version includes higher limits and finally
uses translatable strings. He also recompiled APT with g++ 3.2.
Because of this Adam likes to make certain this version works on all
architectures. He would also like translators to check out APT from
CVS, and send translated files to the deity list.
Additionally, Daniel Burrows prepared new packages for aptitude.
Investigating System Users. Colin Watson reports about a
problem with the three users sync, games and man. All of them
currently have their primary group set to 'users', which is currently
gid 100. The discussion got sidetracked into whether users should have
gid 100 at all. He also compared the situation to other Free Software
Debian Multimedia Project. Marco Trevisani reports that DeMuDi
has reached release 0.9 and he believes that it's time to start a
Debian-Multimedia project within Debian. He would like to start a
formal discussion and seek opinions from Debian maintainers,
especially those that would be directly involved. In order to help,
Ben Armstrong added a pointer to the subproject howto.
Hexdump, Hexcat and Hextype? Michael Piefel wondered why Debian
contains hexdump and hexcat, just before he learnt that
there is also hextype. Gerd Knorr added that hexdump is very
flexible, and Richard Braakman finally compared the speed
differences of all three.
Legal Analysis of Open Source Licenses. Jeremy Malcolm, Debian
Developer and IT Lawyer, presented a paper titled Problems in Open
Source Licensing at the recent Australian Linux Conference. The
paper analyzes some common Open Source licenses, such as the GNU
General Public License and the BSD License. Jeremy points out
some possible legal pitfalls regarding these licenses and suggests
strategies for overcoming them.
Compiling Debian with a non-GNU compiler? Bob McElrath inquired
about putting packages compiled with a non-free compiler such as HP's
ccc into the Debian archives. Non-free compilers sometimes produce
faster executables than gcc. However several posters noted with recent
versions of gcc 3.x the gap is smaller. Apart from the philosophical
problems with having software in Debian compiled with a non-free tool
chain, there are various legal and technical problems included, such
as licensing terms of non-free compilers sometimes prohibit
distribution of the resulting binaries and others.
Knoppix reviewed at IBM developerWorks. Cameron Laird published an
article about Knoppix, the singld CD GNU/Linux distribution based
on Debian. If you've ever needed a functional Linux setup that is
portable and runs the same way on any hardware, read his article.
Knoppix packages a specialized and highly useful GNU/Linux
distribution on a single, bootable CD-ROM.
Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update
your systems if you have any of these packages installed.
* w3mmee -- Cookie information leak.
New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the
unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.
* arj -- Archiver for .arj files.
* arts -- Analog Realtime Synthesizer (aRts) metapackage.
* bhl -- Emacs mode for converting brut text to HTML and LaTeX.
* djvuserve -- CGI program for unbundling DjVu files on the fly.
* dosemu-freedos -- FreeDOS package for DOSEMU.
* flashkard -- Flash card learning tool for KDE.
* hexcat -- HEX dumping utility.
* kalzium -- Chemistry teaching tool for KDE.
* karbon -- Vector graphics application for the KDE Office
* kdat -- KDE tape backup tool.
* kdeedu -- Educational applications from the official KDE
* kdetoys -- Toys from the official KDE release.
* kfax -- KDE G3/G4 Fax Viewer.
* ktip -- Kandalf's Useful Tips.
* netjuke -- Web-Based Audio Streaming Jukebox.
* quiteinsane -- A Qt based X11 frontend for SANE (Scanner
Access Now Easy).
* tads2 -- Text mode interpreter for TADS version 2 game files.
* tads3 -- Text mode interpreter for TADS game files.
* txt2man -- Converts flat ASCII text to man page format.
* which -- Shows the full path of (shell) commands.
Orphaned Packages. 6 packages were orphaned this week and require a
new maintainer. This makes a total of 159 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.
* defoma -- Debian Font Manager -- Automatic font configuration
* evas -- Enlightenment advanced canvas library.
* isync -- Synchronize a local maildir with a remote IMAP4
* picturebook -- Image and movie capture utility for the Sony
* reaim -- Enable AIM and MSN file transfer on Linux iptables
based NAT. (Bug#180095)
* spicctrl -- Sony Vaio controller program to set LCD backlight
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