Debian Project News - August 15th, 2011

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The Debian Project
Debian Project News
August 15th, 2011

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

* Debian named "Best Linux Distribution of 2011" and "Top Production Server Distro"
* Bits from the Release Team
* Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD
* FreedomBox activities at DebConf11
* New website for
* Debian s390x port
* Integrating Emdebian Grip into Debian
* Further interviews
* Other news
* New Debian Contributors
* Important Debian Security Advisories
* New and noteworthy packages
* Work-needing packages
* Want to continue reading DPN?

Debian named "Best Linux Distribution of 2011" and "Top Production Server Distro"

TuxRadar [1] recently compared the six most popular Linux distributions [2] in different categories. It's our pleasure to announce that Debian not only won the categories"Customization", "Community" and "Performance", but also won the overall prize of "best Linux distro of 2011"! We are especially pleased to have won in the "community" category, or to cite TuxRadar: "There's more to a Linux community than just numbers."

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Similarly, Debian was named the [3] "Top Production Server Distro" by Carla Schroder at [4]: "I've been spoiled by Debian, which never needs to be reinstalled but can be upgraded forever, [..] Debian supports more packages than any other distribution, so it's rare to not find whatever you want just an apt-get install away". Many thanks, Carla!

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Bits from the Release Team

Neil McGovern sent some Bits from the Release Team [5]. First of all, Neil explained that the "release goals" are areas of functionality which developers would like to see as an aim for the next release and should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely and not limited in effects to only one set of packages. In addition, each release goal must have an advocate for tracking progress. A list of current goals is available on therelated wiki page [6]. Another interesting topic discussed in the mail is the development of "CUT" (Constantly Usable Testing) and of a rolling version of Debian: the Release Team is skeptical on the creation of a new suite as the most efficient way to improve the release process. Anyway, certain aspects of the CUT/Rolling proposal are interesting, so the Release Team invites people who are interested to run the suite. Neil also talked about improvements to the "experimental" branch of Debian, in order to avoid the slowing down of new features in "unstable", as well as various other interesting topics such as the0-day NMU policy [7], architecture re-qualification [8] and the packages removal process. For a general overview of recent Release Team work, you can also watch the video recording of [9] "Bits from the Release Team", held during DebConf11.

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Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

Robert Milan blogged about recent improvements [10] in the port of Debian to the FreeBSD kernel. With the release of Debian 6.0 [11] "Squeeze" in February it was labeled as a "technology preview", suggesting some limitations. However, a lot of noteworthy improvements have been made since then, including support forthe graphical installer [12], FUSE [13], encrypted disk partitions, and wireless networking. It is also now possible to use Debian GNU/kFreeBSD in a chroot under FreeBSD [14].

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In related news, Robert also called for testers of the installation system's reworked ZFS support. [15]

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FreedomBox activities at DebConf11

Bdale Garbee blogged about some recent progress in the FreedomBox project [16]. During DebConf11 in Banja Luka, some FreedomBox developers worked together, fixing various problems: Bdale developed "freedom-maker", a lightweight toolset to build FreedomBox software images, which is now available on thegit repository of the project [17]. Jonas Smedegaard continued to work on an alternate packaging toolset, [18] "boxer". Thanks to Marvell, who provided the source code, Bdale packaged two userspace programs necessary for configuring and monitoring firmware provided for the uAP wireless chip used in the DreamPlug: they are now available in Debian as uaputl [19] and uapevent [20]. Still on the topic of DreamPlug, Clint Adams and Jason Cooper worked on adding support for the DreamPlug to upstream u-boot while Héctor Orón and Nick Bane analyzed the current state of patches from Marvell and Globalscale used to support the DreamPlug against both upstream and current Debian kernel sources. Mirsal Ennaime worked on the technology for package configuration (using debconf and Config::Model) and there were interesting discussions about identity and trust management, summarized on the related wiki page [21]. For more information about the FreedomBox project, please visit the official website [22] or watch the recording of Bdale's [23] "FreedomBox Progress Report", delivered at DebConf11.

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New website for

Asheesh Laroia announced that the new version of is finally available [24]. The new site [25] provides a lot of interesting features such as the ability to see package quality on the package page, and support for comments and mail notifications. The site runs with a more maintainable codebase than the old one, and is also characterized by a new layout, which is the same as the main Debian website. Asheesh wants to thank all the people who have worked during the last year to achieve this result: Jan Dittberner, Christoph Haas, Johnny Lamb, David Paleino, Andrey Rahmatullin, Kalle Söderman, Christine Spang, Arno Töll, Wolodja Wentland, Paul Wise and Serafeim Zanikolas.

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Debian s390x port

Aurelien Jarno blogged about the birth of a new Debian port: [26] "s390x", the 64-bit version of the [27] "s390" port. "The s390 port is actually 31-bit from the address point of view (one bit is reserved for address space extension from 24 to 31 bits), so each process is limited to 2 GB only", explains Aurelien. But, as nowadays there are applications which need more than 2 GB (especially on mainframes), the new "s390x" can be really useful. Aurelien had already done the bootstrap of the architecture, so now an autobuilder has been started and more than [28] "65%" of all packages have been built. The main issues are currently packages which fail to build from source due to linker [29], gcc-4.6 [30] and curl [31] changes. For more information you can take a look at the list of bugs blocking the s390x port [32].

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Integrating Emdebian Grip into Debian

Neil Williams sent an interesting mail regarding the possible integration of Emdebian Grip into Debian [33]. Emdebian [34] is an official sub-project of Debian for running Debian on embedded devices; the aim of the project is to provide minimized Debian packages with the same sort of consistency that Debian itself offers, to be installed on various types of devices. One of the Embedian flavours is Emdebian Grip [35], which can be described as a smaller Debian-compatible distro with optimized packages. During DebConf11, discussions took place in order to integrate Emdebian Grip directly into the main Debian archive and release process. The integration would involve parallel suites (unstable-grip, testing-grip, stable-grip, etc) with a restricted (and binary only) package set. There's also an interesting mail about Emdebian Grip policy [36]. For more information, please visit the detailed summary [37] of the discussion.

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Further interviews

There has been one "People behind Debian" interview: with Margarita Manterola, Debian Women member [38].

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Other news

Kenshi Muto announced an update of the backported debian-installer for Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 "Squeeze" [39]. Updated images are available on his images archive page [40]. These images contain kernel version 2.6.39 (bpo.2), updates disk controller drivers such as hpsa (by updating kernel-wedge) and updates firmware packages (such as bnx2x). Images are available both for "i386" and "amd64" architectures. Please note that these are unofficial images and you should use them only if you really need this.

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Dominique Dumont announced that Perl 6 (AKA [41] "rakudo") is now available in Debian unstable (and meanwhile has also been accepted in "testing"). Dominique started the effort of packagingPerl 6 for Debian [42] after listening to an inspiring talk delivered by Gabor Szabo at FOSDEM, titled [43] "Using Perl 6 today".

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Alexander Wirt announced that the following new mailing lists are now available:

* debian-user-slovenian [44]
"debian-user" in Slovenian;
* debian-sprints [45]
Discussion and coordination for sprints;
* debian-dug-by [46]
Discussion list for the Belarusian Debian Community;
* debian-experimental-changes [47]
Notices about uploaded packages for the experimental distribution,
from developers, buildds and "dak" (the Debian Archive Kit).

The results of SPI [48] elections have been declared: Jimmy Kaplowitz, Clint Adams and Robert Brockway were elected to the SPI board. SPI (Software in the Public Interest) is a non-profit organization founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software; for more information on what SPI is and what it does, you can watch the SPI BoF [49], held during the last DebConf.

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Ansgar Burchardt announced that the Debian archive now supports xz compression [50] for both source and binary packages. However, packages in the base system (i.e packages with "Priority: required") and their dependencies must use gzip as otherwise debootstrap will be unable to install a system.

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Jaldhar Harshad Vyas sent an update on the status of the Debian GNU/Minix port [51]. The main news is that dpkg has been successfully ported, while the initial bootstrapping is quite difficult due to circular dependencies; nonetheless Jaldhar said that a pre-alpha version will be distributed in a month.

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Aigars Mahinovs published an interesting picture [52], taken in Banja Luka at DebConf11, with people wearing official DebConf t-shirts from DebConf3 up to DebConf11.

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Thom Holwerda blogged about AmigaOne X1000 being shipped to beta testers [53], which will be delivered with a "Nemo" motherboard assembled by Varisys, a UK company. The good news for Debian users is that Varisys has Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" running on the "Nemo" board.

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New Debian Contributors

2 applicants have been accepted [54] as Debian Developers, 7 applicants have been accepted [55] as Debian Maintainer, and 34 people have started to maintain packages [56] since the previous issue of the Debian Project News. Please welcome Timo Lindfors, Cristian Greco, Sébastien Villemot, Ruben Molina, Philipp Kaluza, Steve Conklin, Allison Randal, Miguel Landaeta, John Paul Adrian Glaubit, Mario Limonciello, Thadeu Lima de Souza Cascardo, Jérôme Sonrier, Sebastian Krzyszkowiak, Dave Walker, Sebastian Tennant, Julien Vaubourg, Laszlo Kajan, Peter Bennett, Karol M. Langner, Zhi Li, Nick Bane, Stefan Denker, Matthias Klumpp, Olaf Dietsche, Wolodja Wentland, Andy Spencer, Intri Geri, Arno Onken, Harlan Lieberman-Berg, Florian Reitmeir, Ben Webb, George Gesslein II, Melvin Winstrøm-Møller, Pirmin Kalberer, Muneeb Shaikh, Godfrey Chung, Olivier Girondel, Martin Ueding, Werner Jaeger, Julia Palandri, Karolina Kalic, Enas Giovanni, and Michael Wild into our project!

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Important Debian Security Advisories

Debian's Security Team recently released advisories for these packages (among others): qemu-kvm [57], krb5-appl [58], opensaml2 [59], mapserver [60], phpmyadmin [61], libpng [62], libsndfile [63], typo3-src [64], samba [65], squirrelmail [66], isc-dhcp [67], libxfont [68], and freetype [69]. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

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Debian's Backports Team released advisories for these packages: libapache2-mod-authnz-external [70], xml-security-c [71], opensaml2 [72]. Please read them carefully and take the proper measures.

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Debian's Stable Release Team released an update announcement for the packages: clamav [73], clive [74]. Please read it carefully and take the proper measures.

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Debian's Volatile Team released an update announcement for the package: clamav [75]. Please read it 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 [76] (and the separate backports list [77], and stable updates list [78] or volatile list [79], for "Lenny", the oldstable distribution) for announcements.

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New and noteworthy packages

780 packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently. Among many others [80] are:

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* alice -- Web browser (WebKit or Gecko) based IRC client [81]
* collectl -- Utility to collect Linux performance data [82]
* getdata -- management of external databases [83]
* gnome-split -- GNOME Split - File splitter for GNOME desktop [84]
* grml-rescueboot -- Integrates ISO-booting into grub [85]
* gtimer -- GTK-based X11 task timer [86]
* jscribble -- graphical notepad for use with a pen tablet [87]
* kindleclip --User interface for managing Amazon Kindle's "My Clippings" file [88]
* lame -- MP3 encoding library (frontend) [89]
* landell -- audio and video streams manager [90]
* lightdm -- simple display manager [91]
* spacezero -- Real Time Strategy 2D space combat, multiplayer net game. [92]
* thunar-vcs-plugin -- VCS plugin for Thunar file manager [93]
* tty-clock -- simple terminal clock [94]
* wizznic -- Implementation of the arcade classic Puzznic [95]
* xul-ext-autofill-forms -- Iceweasel/Firefox add-on that enables you to fill out web forms faster [96]

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Work-needing packages

Currently 261 packages are orphaned [97] and 132 packages are up for adoption [98]: please visit the complete list of packages which need your help [99].

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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 [100] to find out how to help. We're looking forward to receiving your mail at [101].

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This issue of Debian Project News was edited by Francesca Ciceri, Jeremiah C. Foster, David Prévot, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl, Alexander Reshetov and Justin B Rye [102].

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