Debian Weekly News - May 16th, 2006

Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. In an interview, Anthony Towns stated that the immediate plan is to organise the ideas he had during project leader campaigning and that the people who volunteered to help don't go away without some good ideas about extra things they can do.

Web-Interface for Preseeding. A new website developed by open source enthusiasts based on code released by Hewlett Packard allows users to point and click through a few simple screens to generate a small (less than 30 MB) installation image. When booted, it will install an operating system via the network according to the user's specifications. Debian, Ubuntu and KUbuntu are all supported on x86 and x86_64 platforms, as well as several other distributions.

Multiarch Status Update. Matt Taggart pointed out a report by Canonical Ltd. and HP which investigates potential implementation strategies of multiarch in Debian. Scott James Remnant prepared a specification for the changes needed in dpkg. Multiarch will allow Debian many improvements like a better support for systems that can run multiple binary targets, like i386 on amd64, or i386 on ia64.

Incremental Package Information Updates. Bartosz Fenski reported that the new version 0.6.44 of apt has been uploaded to the unstable distribution which supports incremental updates of the packages database. With this version of apt the amount of data that has to be downloaded has drastically decreased from four or five megabytes down to a few hundred kilobytes by every run of "apt-get update".

Project Leader Assistant Bits. Steve McIntyre reported about the issues he has been working on after the election. This includes Debian's participation in Google's Summer of Code, for which Debian has received about 80 applications. He also mentioned the pushed move of to OFTC and that a new graphical installer is coming along rapidly.

Testing-Security Archive moved. Neil McGovern announced that the testing-security archive has been moved to Users should adjust their sources.list lines if they run testing and want to use this archive. The testing-security team will release advisories before fixed packages have built for all supported architectures. Missing builds will become available as they complete.

Moving to GCC 4.1? Martin Michlmayr reported that the release team would consider GCC 4.1 for the etch release if most of the release critical bugs that are currently open due to a stricter compiler were fixed. GCC 4.1 is considered superior to 4.0, in general and particularly on HPPA and m68k. Therefore he started to coordinate non-maintainer uploads of the remaining buggy packages and will rebuild the entire archive on several architectures.

License Problems with teTeX. Frank Küster reported that he has found a considerable number of files with unclear licenses in the teTeX distribution, shared among teTeX and TeXlive. The problems will most probably not be resolved before the release of etch. Steve Langasek acknowledged to give the unchecked parts of the package the benefit of the doubt and keep them in the distribution.

Switching to GCJ 4.1. Michael Koch announced that the Debian Java Team plans to switch the default version of gcj/gij to point to the version 4.1. Most packages should only require a simple rebuild. Packages building a native JNI library will need some manual action, though.

Packaging non-free Documentation. Jérôme Marant wondered how maintainers deal with original source packages that contain documentation released under the GNU FDL when they would like to package the documentation for non-free. Manoj Srivastava reported that he has created two distinct source packages containing either the code or the non-free documentation. The non-free source package needs to be renamed.

Maintaining patch-based Source Packages. Joey Schulze asked maintainers of patch-based build systems to use a sane name for patches so that new ones can easily be added at the end of the pile especially when they are applied in lexicographic and not sorted by an index file. This will help prevent kludges when preparing security updates.

Seventh annual Debian Conference. The Debian Project is currently holding its annual Conference at Oaxtepec, Mexico. About 400 developers, translators and people interested in the project have been participating in more than 50 talks and BoFs. You may follow the Conference in the organising team's blog. Live streams of the talks and the hacklab are also available. In addition to that Alexander Schmehl announced the creation of two IRC channels so the audience can ask questions about the talks.

Security Updates. You know the drill. Please make sure that you update your systems if you have any of these packages installed.

Orphaned Packages. 4 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 302 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.

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This issue of Debian Weekly News was edited by Paul Telford, Mohammed Adnène Trojette, Sebastian Feltel, Thomas Bliesener and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.