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Debian Project News – February 2nd, 2009

Welcome to this year’s second issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community. Topics covered in this issue include:

* Release update
* Debian Summer of Code 08: Where are they now?
* Dedicating Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny” to Thiemo “ths” Seufer
* Open Source study conducted by Heise Open
* … and much more.

Release update

Adeodato Simó, on behalf of the release team, sent a release update [1]
about the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny”, which might
be released during the weekend of 14 February 2009.

1 :

With the recent second release candidate [2] of the debian-installer for
lenny, the archive has now gone into “deep freeze”, which means that only
packages fixing release critical bugs will be allowed to enter “Lenny”.
People wanting to help can fix these bugs, test the debian-installer, or
help with therelease notes [3].

2 :
3 :

Finally he mentioned that a “Lenny-and-a-half” release is also planned,
which will add drivers needed for newer hardware.

Debian Summer of Code ’08: where are they now?

Obey Arthur Liu gave a retrospective about this year’s Google Summer of
Code [4] projects, where students were paid by Google to work on various
programming tasks for free software projects. (See Part 1 [5], Part 2
[6], Part 2.5 [7] and Part 3 [8].)

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Debian had twelve projects [9] granted, one of which was unfortunately
abandoned for personal reasons. The other eleven projects all succeeded
to some extent: some of them are already in use, while others need more
development time before they can be fully used.

9 :

At FOSDEM [10], Arthur gave some suggestions [11] on how to perform
better in the 2009 Summer of Code and volunteered to help implement them.

10 :
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Dedicating Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny” o Thiemo “ths” Seufer

As already announced, the Debian Project has decided to dedicate its
upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny” to Thiemo Seufer, who
died on December 26th, 2008 in a tragic car accident.

To this end, Christoph Berg called [12] for GPG signatures of a
particular text file [13], which will be placed on our mirrors in the
directory docs/dedication along with all the signatures. Every Debian
developer, maintainer, translator, or contributor in any other field is
welcome to join us in signing this dedication.

12 :
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Open Source study conducted by Heise Open

The German open source portal Heise Open [14] conducted a survey on the
use of open source software in German businesses. 1,312 companies
participated: 30% were from companies with less than ten employees, 51%
were small and medium-sized business and 19% had more than 500 employees.

14 :

Debian was ranked as the leading server distribution used by 47% of all
companies and as the second most used distribution on the desktop with
29.9% (for companies with more than 500 employees the adoption rate was
higher, at about 37%). The full survey (German language only) can be
found here [15].

15 :–/artikel/126682

Bits from the DPL

Steve McIntyre published bits from the DPL [16]. While some of the points
in his report have already been covered in the previous edition of the
Debian Project News [17] (such as the outcome of the recent votes, and
plans for “Lenny”), others have not, such as the appointment of two
additional members to the Debian System Administrators group: Luca
Filipozzi and Stephen Gran. He thanked James Troup for his long service
in this team.

16 :
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He also brought up the need for discussions in the community after Lenny
has been released over issues such as constitutional clarifications and
organizational changes. To help track these topics, Miriam Ruiz has
created a wiki page [18].

18 :

Finally he mentioned the declassification of the archive of the
debian-private list, which is used for internal discussion. Three years
ago it was decided [19] to declassify (at least some of) the contents of
the debian-private mailing list, so volunteers are now needed to work on

19 :

Google portable devices running Debian

Several people have been working on a way to install Debian GNU/Linux on
their T-Mobile G1 Android phones (See for example here [20], here [21]
or here [22]). They have succeeded in running a full fledged Debian OS on
their G1 Android cellphones, while retaining all the features which allow
it to function as a cellphone such as receiving and making calls. This is
achieved by creating a chroot environment which can invoked from a shell,
thus making the whole range of Debian applications available to be run on
that device.

20 :
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22 :

Joey Hess, long term developer of the Debian installation system,
analysed [23] their installation system and came to the conclusion that –
while working – it’s not as technically elegant as he would wish it to
be, since it mainly extracts an archive containing the chroot environment
instead of calling debootstrap, which would be the correct way to set up
a chroot. More generally speaking, he sees it as a pity that when people
want to get Debian on a new device only about half of them seem to do it
right, by modifying d-i and sending the modifications back to the
installer team.

23 :

Best practice in team maintenance of packages

Gregor Herrmann summarized [24] the results of a Birds of a Feather
session during the last Debian Conference about best practice in team
maintenance of packages. Topics included bringing members of different
packaging teams together; getting an overview of different work flows,
tools, and challenges; compiling generally useful ‘models of good
practice'; and defining possible areas for cooperation/tasks of mutual
interest. A wiki page [25] has been set up for the purpose of collecting
tools relevant for packaging teams.

24 :
25 :

DDPortfolio service available

Jan Dittberner announced [26] his DDPortfolio [27] service. This service
can create a page of useful links collecting together the other web based
information services for a given Debian Maintainer or Developer.

26 :
27 :

Bits from the Policy Team, call for volunteers

Debian’s policy team announced [28] that version 3.8.1 of Debian’s
packaging Policy is in preparation and will be released very shortly
after Lenny has been released. It includes 12 bug fixes and 7 normative
changes (affecting the requirements set by Policy rather than the
wording, presentation, or supporting documentation).

28 :

However, there is a general need for more people working on Policy,
including simply participating in discussions on the mailing lists and
evaluating proposals. There’s also a need for experienced Debian
developers who have the time and background required to be full Policy
delegates as well as helping to convert Debian Policy from DebianDoc-SGML
to DocBook and formalizing a new structure that would make it easier to
extract bits of information from Policy requirements.

List statistics for Debian mailing lists

Andreas Tille created some [29] statistics about Debian’s mailing lists,
their usage and their contributors. He tried to detect “healthy” projects
as well as projects in need of help, such as Debian’s
maintainers, who have been looking for help for quite some time.

29 :

Debian Project at SCaLE 2009

From Friday 20th February 2009 to Sunday 22nd February 2009, the Debian
Project will participate with a booth at the Seventh Annual Southern
California Linux Expo in Los Angeles, USA. For further details, see the
relevant events page [30].

30 :

Gareth J. Greenaway announced [31] that Debian developers and users will
get a 50% discount off the price of a full access pass to the show when
using a special promotion code.

31 :

Other news

The thirteenth issue of the miscellaneous news for developers [32] has
been released and covers the following topics:
* Security support for new testing (“Squeeze”) delayed
* New whohas tool displays other distributions that have your package
* Documentation for python-apt
* sbuild and wanna-build status update
* Kernel pseudo-package removed

32 :

Jörg Jaspert announced [33] the addition of Mike O’Connor to the archive
team. He also added that this team is in need of fresh blood and
mentioned some criteria that interested people should fulfil.

33 :

Bdale Garbee, a former DPL and current Project secretary and Technical
Committee chairman, gave a detailed and very interesting interview [34]
for IT Wire, talking about things those outside the Debian Project are
not usually aware of.

34 :

Enrico Zini, a Debian Developer, gave an interview to FSFE [35], talking
about Debian, women in FLOSS and Debian, FLOSS at schools, and social
groups, among other subjects.

35 :

Lars Steinke [36] and Jeremy Malcolm [37] each described how they became
Debian Developers, their present involvement, how they are using Debian,
and their interests outside the Debian Project.

36 :
37 :

J. A. Watson was pleasantly surprised [38] by his experience installing
Debian on Alpha machines. “The obvious choice was Debian, as it is well
known as a good server distribution, and they still have Alpha
distributions and installation instructions. [..] Less than an hour, and
it was up and running like a charm.”

38 :

A long time outstanding serious bug [39] concerning the licensing of
several GLX related files shipped with the package xorg-server has
finally been closed by Bdale Garbee now that the affected material has
been re-licensed under a license considered free according to the Debian
Free Software Guidelines [40], the SGI Free Software License B, version

39 :
40 :

Jörg Jaspert announced [41] the creation of a new archive signing key.
The key will not be used yet, but was created to be shipped with Lenny
and put in use either with the first point release for Lenny or on the
first of July, when the old key expires.

41 :

The DebConf [42] organizer team will soon decide where the eleventh
annual Debian Conference will take place. Current candidates [43] are
Venezuela, Quito in Ecuador, and New York City or Boston in the USA.

42 :
43 :

Daniel Burrows continued [44] creating diagrams explaining the work of
APT, aptitude and similar tools. He has now created a diagram for the
different status files used by APT.

44 :

Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez gave a report [45] about the current state of
KDE backports and plans for the future.

45 :

New Maintainers

Michael Hanke and Jan Hauke Rahm were added [46] as Debian Maintainers.

46 :

Please welcome Michael Hanke and Jan Hauke Rahm in our project!

Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian’s Security Team recently released advisories for these packages
(among others): openssl [47], ntp [48] bind9 [49], xulrunner [50], amarok
[51], iceweasel [52], git [53], shadow [54], typo3 [55], rt2400 [56],
rt2500 [57], rt2570 [58] and moin [59]. Please read them carefully and
take the proper measures.

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Please note that these are a selection of the more important security
advisories of the last two weeks. If you need to be kept up to date about
security advisories released by the Debian Security Team, please
subscribe to the security mailing list [60] for announcements.

60 :

New and noteworthy packages

The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently
(among others [61]):

61 :

* hardlink — Hardlinks multiple copies of the same file [62]
* gksu-polkit — command line utility to run programs as root [63]
* google-gadgets-gst — GStreamer Module for Google Gadgets [64]
* google-gadgets-gtk — GTK+ Version of Google Gadgets [65]
* google-gadgets-qt — QT4 version of Google Gadgets [66]
* google-gadgets-xul — XULRunner module for Google Gadgets [67]
* gsmartcontrol — graphical user interface for smartctl [68]
* gtkperf — GTK+ performance benchmark [69]
* halevt — Generic handler for HAL events [70]
* iw — tool for configuring Linux wireless devices [71]
* jigzo — Photo puzzle game for children [72]
* linkchecker-gui — check websites and HTML documents for broken links (GUI
client) [73]
* maven-debian-helper — Helper tools for building Debian packages with Maven
* quassel-client — distributed IRC client using a central core component [75]
* r-cran-rjava — GNU R low-level interface to Java [76]
* sagemath — Mathematics software written in Python [77]
* snakefood — Python dependency grapher [78]
* sockstat — view detailed information about open connections [79]
* sup-mail — thread-centric mailer with tagging and fast search [80]
* ticgit — ticketing system built on Git [81]
* themonospot — application to scan video files [82]
* tuxcmd — twin-panel (commander-style) file manager using GTK+ 2 [83]

Debian Package of the Day featured the packages atop [84] (an ASCII
full-screen performance monitor), iftop [85] (a tool for displaying
bandwidth usage on an interface by host) and rtpg-www [86] (a web
front-end for rtorrent).

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Work-needing packages

Currently 404 packages are orphaned and 113 packages are up for adoption.
Please take a look at [87] the [88] recent [89] reports [90] to see if
there are packages you are interested in or view the complete list of
packages which need your help [91].

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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 [92] to find out how to help. We’re
looking forward to receiving your mail at [93].

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Moritz Muehlenhoff, Andre
Felipe Machado and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl [94].

94 :

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