Debian Weekly News – November 14th, 2001

Debian Weekly News – November 14th, 2001

Licensing Something Other Than Software.
Sunnanvind brought up an old
again. The discussion covers the question of whether the
GNU Free
Documentation License
(GNU FDL) is compatible with the DFSG and
the philosophy of Free Software. The GNU FDL allows the author to
mark certain paragraphs as invariant which could render
the entire work non-free since it would fail the Debian Free Software
item 3. Strict interpretation of the DFSG would
render many GNU Manuals non-free, because they contain invariant
sections like “Funding Free Software”.

Debian Menu Items. Karl M. Hegbloom emphasized
the need for package maintainers to add an item for the Debian menu
system for each and every X GUI application. If programs aren’t
added to the menu system, people often will not find the software
at all. The menu system is a great development since it keeps menu
items in sync with installed packages and most X11 window managers
benefit from it.

Keywords For Debian Packages. Erich Schubert
sent in a proposal
for using additional keywords for all packages. The problem of
organizing and grouping Debian packages, now numbering in the
thousands, is no longer merely academic. With the current size of
Debian, only a few are able to keep track of all the software
available. Even though experts have tools such as apt-cache
at their disposal, newer or less experienced users
commonly use packaging frontends which lack a proper search

Very Old Intent to Package Requests. Taketoshi
Sano analyzed the bug
tracking system
with regards to Work-Needing and Prospective
Packages (WNPP) and posted a report.
WNPP is split up into several pages on our web
server for better readability. However, the pages are still large
and Taketoshi revealed an impressive number of old requests. The
problem remains: statistically, packages with ITP requests older
than six months tend to never be uploaded.

Sourceforge a non-free Demo-Site? Although not
directly related to Debian, many users and developers of Debian use
the SourceForge facility
for hosting the development of software projects. The Free Software Foundation Europe
recently published a news
reviewing the past and current situation of VA Linux hosting and developing
SourceForge. The article is worth reading. Basically it says:
SourceForge has been a great help for Free Software devlopment, but
it’s time to “escape entrapment”. A while ago, the GNU project
launched Savannah, their own
effort in providing development resources to authors of free
software, which uses a fork of the Sourceforge code base.

ATLAS Enables Massive Speedups in Mathematical
Dirk Eddelbuettel wrote a report
about great speed enhancements by simply using the Automatically
Tuned Linear Algebra Software (ATLAS) on unstable and testing. With
the current version of the glibc library, ldconfig now
loads the ATLAS optimised BLAS library without any user
intervention beyond installating the ATLAS and R or Octave
packages. Dirk demonstrated a very dramatic speed increase up to a
factor of ten for a sample matrix.

No mplayer Packages In Debian. In recent times
a lot of people have asked about mplayer packages. At the moment no
packages for mplayer can be included in Debian. Even though the
package basically is licensed under the GNU GPL it uses non-GPL
code, which doesn’t fit together. Additionally it is said to
have patent issues which prohibit its inclusion as well. In
addition to these problems the upstream developers do neither
recommend nor welcome
binary packages, since the source uses
processor optimizations defined at compile-time which they feel is
important. However, Christian Marillat is providing
precompiled packages

New Boot-Floppies 3.0.17. Adam Di Carlo told us
that Boot-floppies 3.0.17 have just been released.
Packages of the i386 version are in Incoming but should be
available in the archive and for other architectures over the new
few days. Adam calls for help with (a) identifying any remaining
release critical (RC) bugs in boot-floppies, and (b) help in fixing
the RC bugs we know about. Those who are interested should ask on

Revealing The Secrets Of The Hurd. Neal
Walfield, Debian and Hurd developer, was recently interviewed at
Kerneltrap. Neal explains the differences between classic
Linux-like operating systems and the Hurd, which tries to address
certain design flaws of current operating systems. With respect to
usability, the Hurd works quite well as a desktop system, however,
Neal would not yet recommend it to anyone as a server.

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following
packages were added to the Debian archive since our last issue.

  • cvsgraph
    — Create a tree of revisions/branches from a CVS/RCS file.
  • gnucap
    — GNU Circuit Analysis package.
  • nocc
    PHP web-based e-mail reader over POP3 or IMAP.
  • nbtscan
    — A program for scanning networks for NetBIOS name

Security Announcements. One security
announcement reached us this week. You know the drill, if you use
any of the affected packages be sure to update them.

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