Debian Weekly News – December 12th, 2000

Subject: Debian Weekly News – December 12th, 2000
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 01:33:10 -0800
From: Joey Hess joeyh@debian.org
To: debian-news@lists.debian.org

Debian Weekly News
Debian Weekly News - December 12th, 2000

Welcome to Debian Weekly News, a newsletter for the Debian community.

Debian 2.2r2 was [1]released last week. Of course it consists mostly
of security fixes and important bug fixes. The problems with r1 should
all be fixed in this release. CD images are still propagating to the

The main Debian archive was just moved into a package pool. There's
little to see yet, but packages will move into a "pool" directory when
new versions are uploaded. There has been some confusion about package
pools, and so here is a [2]short FAQ on the subject. In the
[3]announcement, James Troup cautions: "Despite the relative
catastrophe-free implementation on non-US, I suspect many more
problems will crop up in the main archive.".

Apt has been ported to rpm by Connectiva, who modified it so it can
handle rpm packages. A [4]freshmeat article goes into some depth
about the problems they faced and how they were handled. It's hard to
tell if a rpm-based system, even using apt, can be as cleanly
upgradable as a Debian system, but we'll probably find out soon.
Debian is losing the edge of being the only distribution with an
Advanced Package Tool, on the other hand, we are set to gain some new
security features, including mirror authentication, and package
authentication, which Connectiva has added to apt, and another apt
frontend which they are writing. One very interesting quote from the
article: "After full integration of the RPM patches into APT, it will
have the potential to become the standard package management frontend
for Linux"

Without much fanfare, Debian has grown from about 400 to 644
developers in the past year. Many of these developers, of course, are
inactive, and many others have just come through the new maintainer
process and are still learning. So it's not surprising that along with
the regular grumbling about the complexity of the new maintainer
process, there is plenty of sentiment among long-term developers that
the title "Debian Developer" should be reserved for members of an
elite group who are "committed, reliable, in agreement with Debian's
philosophy, and in it for the long haul". That last quote is from last
week's Linux Weekly News, which included an [5]excellent summary of
recent discussions concerning this topic.

A word of warning: If you're tracking unstable, beware the upgrade to
perl 5.6. Some large changes to the perl package (including no longer
managing update-alternatives via /usr/bin/perl, which may make it more
stable in the long run) have [6]broken many upgrades. Be prepared for
problems like /usr/bin/perl not existing at all, or debconf breaking
in mysterious ways if you upgrade this week.

Cleaning up woody's task packages was the subject of a [7]long
discussion. While potato only shipped with a few screenfuls of task
packages, the number of task packages in woody has exploded, and many
of them are of doubtful utility to a new user who is installing Debian
and wants to use it for a specific task. Task packages arn't scaling
as well as we had hoped, and there is a fair bit of confusion among
the developers about what exactly task packages should be used for.
One solution involves putting a definition of what constitutes a valid
task package into policy. Or we might have to do away with the task
system altogether and come up with some [8]alternate method that is
more flexible and less prone to abuse.

  1. http://www.debian.org/News/2000/20001205
  2. http://people.debian.org/~joeyh/poolfaq
  3. http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2000/40/mail#1
  4. http://freshmeat.net/news/2000/12/02/975819599.html
  5. http://www.lwn.net/2000/1207/dists.php3
  6. http://bugs.debian.org/perl-5.6
  7. http://lists.debian.org/debian-policy-0012/msg00123.html
  8. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-0012/msg00927.html

see shy jo

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