Debian Project News – January 31st, 2011

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

* Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” to be released this weekend
* Join the DebConf team
* Bits from the Security Team
* Debunking myths about Debian’s firmware (non-)removal
* Updated Debian GNU/Linux: 5.0.8 released
* Debian Installer 6.0 RC2 released
* Cross-distro Application Installer
* On the maintainability of Ruby
* Bits from Debian GIS
* Debian Project at several conferences and trade fairs
* Further “This week in Debian” interviews
* … and much more.

Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” to be released this weekend

Release Manager Neil McGovern announced the target release date of
Debian 6.0 [1] “Squeeze” on the weekend of the 5th and 6th of
February. Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” will finally arrive as a stable
release! Final work towards this has begun including preparations
forrelease parties [2] all over the world!

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For those from the community who are waiting impatiently for the
release, [3] provides a countdown banner [4]. As the
release process takes time, members of the Debian Project will provide
live comments and interesting facts via Debian’s official
account [5].

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One interesting number has already been posted: in the two years of
development of Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” the Debian Project has closed
149,862 bugs [6]. Thank you everyone for this fantastic work!

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Join the DebConf team

DebConf [7] is a yearly conference for the Debian community. Like
everything else in Debian, DebConf is run completely by volunteers.
Organising a conference is a lot of work, as you might imagine, so it
is no surprise that the DebConf team is eager to have people help out.
As Richard Darst writes: “DebConf is a huge process [8], and there are
many things we could use help on. People come and go, and are usually
overworked after a year or two — so we would love new people to get
involved. If you have new ideas, we’d love to hear about them and we
can discuss if they’d work and how to make them happen. And by the way,
if you are looking for a good way to get involved with Debian and don’t
know where to start, this might be among the best options!”

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Bits from the Security Team

Thijs Kinkhorst sent some bits from the Debian Security Team [9]
reporting about the group’s meeting at the Linux Hotel [10] in Essen,
Germany. Among the things they discussed were various improvements to
the team work-flow, particularly regarding the release process of
Debian Security Advisories – redesigned from the ground up; a longer
security support for Debian stable – still a proposal – and backports
security support. The report also mentions various other interesting
topics such as “Beta testing” of security updates, a README.test file
to include into packages to explain how its functionality can be
tested, and the problem of some specific packages which are difficult
to handle because they include a lot of source packages. The mail ends
with a call for volunteers. More details can be read on the fullminutes
of the meeting [11].

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In related news, Simon Paillard from the Debian mirrors team reported
news for sponsors of Debian mirrors [12]. One interesting element was
his request for help to provide more official mirrors of the security
archive. He’s especially interested in new official mirrors in South
America, Asia, and Africa.

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Debunking myths about Debian’s firmware (non-)removal

Noticing that Debian’s recent announcement about releasing Debian 6.0
[13] “Squeeze” with a completely free Linux kernel seems to have been
widely misunderstood, Debian Developer Alexander Reichle-Schmehl
debunked some myths about the (non-)removal of firmware [14]. For
example, the claim that “Debian removed all firmware files from its
kernels” . The short answer to that claim is no. “Debian will be
uninstallable (sic) for many users” (short answer: there arenetinstall
[15] images and tarballs [16] for other installation media available);
“Ah, those Debian freedom zealots again…” (short answer: it’s not
only Debian).

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He also explained some of the reasons for the fuss about non-free
firmware files, and recommended that people who find it difficult to
find the non-free images should just remember two words: “wiki” and
“firmware” , as everything needed can be found on thefirmware page of
Debian’s wiki [17].

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Updated Debian GNU/Linux: 5.0.8 released

A new update for Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 [18] “Lenny” has been released.
This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable
release, along with a few adjustments to serious problems.

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Debian Installer 6.0 RC2 released

The second release candidate of the installer for Debian “Squeeze”
wasreleased on 22 January [19]. This release includes some fixes, such
as correct keyboard configuration for the graphical installer for
several languages.

The errata [20] collects some details and a full list of known issues.
You are encouraged to test the installer and report bugs. Install media
and further information are available on the Debian Installer page

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In related news, Matthew Palmer announced test images of the
debian-installer supporting IPv6 [22] (suitable for IPv6-only networks)
and test images supporting Wi-Fi Protected Access [23] (WPA). He calls
for testers for both images.

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Cross-distro Application Installer

Enrico Zini has published on his blog a report [24] of his
participation at the Cross-distro Meeting on Application Installer
[25]. The meeting, organised by Vincent Untz [26], was focused on
metadata (both from packages and users) and how to share them between
distributions or, at least, how to define some standards for this
metadata. Enrico has presented debtags [27] and apt-xapian-index [28],
two of the most powerful tools for handling package metadata in Debian.
As a result of the meeting, there is now a plan to match package names
across Linux distributions.

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It’s also nice to see how Debian’s services and projects like [29] (providing screenshots of applications to
users and package management frontends), the Debian Description
Translation Project [30] (DDTP for short; translating Debian package
descriptions into other languages), or debtags [31] (tagging Debian
packages for easier search) were welcomed and admired by other

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On the maintainability of Ruby

The maintainability of Ruby became again [32] topic of discussion,
after two of its long-time package maintainers decided to give up on
Ruby [33] and related packaging [34]. Lucas Nussbaum explained some of
the problems he sees, which make it difficult for distributions to
package Ruby and its libraries. Often problems seem to arise due to the
different needs of developers and administrators/distributors. The
topic was also discussed in an article on Linux Weekly News [35]. How
the situation will continue is not yet clear, but even so some progress
has been reported. Both maintainers have also said that they will be
open to handing over package maintenance of their Ruby related packages
to new volunteers.

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Bits from Debian GIS

The mailing list for general discussion of Geographic Information
System (GIS) issues in Debian was moved from Alioth to
[36]. As usual is also open for non-subscribers, has a
more generic name, and can hopefully attract more GIS users and
developers in Debian to discuss relevant issues.

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The Debian GIS Blend has defined a new task “SAR and Earth
Observation” on theirtasks page [37] which contains a list of not yet
official packages which are potential targets for inclusion into
Debian. Feel free to discuss this task or other ideas you might have
about the GIS relevant packages on the mailing list mentioned above.

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Please note that Debian GIS also maintains OpenStreetMap-related
packages, together with the Debian OpenStreetMap Team (pkg-osm on
Alioth [38]). Feel free to join!

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Debian Project at several conferences and trade fairs

The Debian project announced [39] that it will be present on several
upcoming events and trade fairs [40], including Cloud Expo Europe 2011
[41] in London, UK, FOSDEM [42] in Brussels, Belgium, SCaLE [43] in Los
Angeles, USA, CeBIT [44] in Hanover, Germany, and the Chemnitzer
Linux-Tage [45] in Chemnitz, Germany.

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Further “This week in Debian” interviews

Since the last issue of the Debian Project News, one new issue of the
[46] “This week in Debian” podcast has been published: an interview
with Jonas Smedegaard [47], discussing the Freedom Box.

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There has also been one further “People behind Debian” interview:
withMichael Vogt [48], synaptic and APT developer.

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Other news

Aurélien Jarno announced the new debian-ports archive signing key [49],
which will be used to sign the archive on unofficial ports.

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The Debian Administration [50] blog published a how-to about installing
an encrypted openvpn on [51] “Lenny” and one about creating dynamic
volumes with loop devices [52].

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Mike Hommey blogged about changes to the Debian Mozilla team APT
archive [53], where test versions of several Mozilla products (like
Firefox 3.6 and 4.0) are made available.

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Raphaël Hertzog noted that unlike other [54] distributions [55], Debian
is doing very well [56] “eating its own dog food” , meaning that its
infrastructure is running on its own distribution. He congratulated the
Debian Systems Administration team [57] for keeping more than 140
servers [58] running Debian.

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Cyril Brulebois published Debian XSF News [59] summarising many recent
events around packaging in Debian.

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Yves-Alexis Perez requested a crypto declaration file number from the
French authorities [60]. The number is 1101027 and he’s made scans of
the documents [61] available too.

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New Debian Contributors

3 applicants have been accepted [62] as Debian Developers, 1 applicant
has been accepted [63] as Debian Maintainer, and 3 people have started
maintaining packages [64] since the previous issue of the Debian
Project News. Please welcome Kamal Mostafa, Scott Howard, Kai
Wasserbäch, Vincent Legout, Christer Edwards, Rico Tzschichholz, and
Krzysztof Klimonda into our project!

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Release-critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release

According to the Bugs Search interface of the Ultimate Debian Database
[65], the upcoming release, Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” , is currently
affected by 8 release-critical bugs. Ignoring bugs which are easily
solved or on the way to being solved, roughly speaking, only about 5
release-critical bugs remain to be solved for the release to happen!

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There are also more detailed statistics [66] as well as some hints on
how to interpret [67] these numbers.

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Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian’s Security Team recently released advisories for these packages
(among others): wireshark [68], libsmi [69], mydms [70], pimd [71], tor
[72], dbus [73], request-tracker3.6 [74], [75], hplip
[76], linux-2.6 [77], exim4 [78] and freetype [79]. Please read them
carefully and take the proper measures.

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Debian’s Backports Team releases advisories for these packages:
egroupware (removal) [80], kvm (removal) [81], request-tracker3.8 [82]
and [83]. 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 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 [84] (and the separate backports
list [85] and volatile list [86]) for announcements.

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New and noteworthy packages

The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive
recently (among others [87]):

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* accountsservice — query and manipulate user account information [88]
* amqp-tools — command-line utilities for interacting with AMQP servers [89]
* clipit — lightweight GTK+ clipboard manager [90]
* d-itg — distributed Internet traffic generator [91]
* focuswriter — fullscreen, distraction-free writing program [92]
* ministat — simple tool for statistical comparison of data sets [93]
* nagios-plugin-check-multi — run Nagios checks as a group [94]
* rdfind — find duplicate files utility [95]
* xdeb — cross-build tool for Debian packages [96]

Please note that due to the freeze of the upcoming Debian 6.0 [97]
“Squeeze” acceptance of new packages has almost ceased.

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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 [98] to find out how to help.
We’re looking forward to receiving your mail at [99].

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by David Paleino,
Francesca Ciceri, Jeremiah C. Foster, David Prévot and Alexander
Reichle-Schmehl [100].

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