Debian Weekly News - May 18th, 2004

Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DWN, the weekly newsletter for the Debian community. In an interview Miguel de Icaza said that Debian's community commitment is fantastic, but it is a very hard platform to support for an independent software vendor. Philip Charles also announced new K6 mini iso images.

Two Debian Developers died. Debian mourns the loss of two project members. Manuel Estrada Sainz (ranty) and Andrés García (ErConde) were killed in a tragic car accident while returning from the Free Software conference held in Valencia, Spain. The Debian Project honors their good work and strong dedication to Debian and Free Software. The contributions of both Manuel and Andrés will not be forgotten, and other developers will continue their work.

Status of Java to main Effort. Arnaud Vandyck reported on the progress of moving packages that use Java but can be run without the aid of non-free software from contrib to main. A number of packages have been moved to main and new releases of GNU Classpath, SableVM, and Kaffe promise further steps ahead. Two of the major issues currently being looked at are making gjdoc a proper javadoc replacement and building ant with Free Software only. People wanting to help can start by inspecting packages labeled as unknown on the Java to main wiki.

Debian powers Binoculars. The world's largest selection of binoculars is powered by Debian GNU/Linux as Jon Thralow reported. The site uses a technology they call dynamically generated HTML. The pages are regenerated every five minutes and pushed to the web server as static pages. This looks similar to the technique used for the Debian website itself with regeneration just more frequently.

Status of GNOME 2.6 for unstable. Sebastien Bacher sent in another status report covering GNOME 2.6 in Debian. The reason is to ask the release team for advice regarding the transition to unstable, given the progress the packages have made in the last few weeks. The packages have been tested by many users without any major issues reported. In response Anthony Towns told him that many architectures are still missing and that GNOME is ready when everything has been uploaded to experimental and only the version number needs to be bumped up for unstable.

Should Sun use Debian GNU/Linux? David Edmondson argued that Sun should base their GNU/Linux efforts on Debian. A key advantage of Debian is the breadth and depth of applications just an apt-get away. Glynn Foster agreed with him and noted that for the most part Debian 'Just Works'.

Supporting more Features. Eric Dorland wondered how Debian should handle requests to activate compile-time controlled features. He asked to enable deactivated features or split out packages with these features enabled, but the maintainers were concerned by feature-creep and having to maintain more packages than needed. Matthew Palmer suggested to either create new binary packages, to add the features into the existing packages or to make it very easy for the user to rebuild the package to support the optional feature.

Removing System Accounts. Stephen Gran wondered how system accounts should be treated upon removal if they were created upon package installation. Wouter Verhelst explained that it may be a good idea to leave the system user since arbitrary files could still be owned by it.

Right of Publicity. Branden Robinson explained why he is annoyed by no-advertising clauses in several licenses. In the United States, there are several legal remedies available to people whose names or likenesses are misappropriated for advertising or promotional purposes. In order to prevent similar misuse no special clause is needed. Branden seeks information on how this is handled in other countries in order discourage no-advertising clauses more actively.

IBM Public License. Frank Lichtenheld stomped over the IBM Public License again and wondered if it is suited for Debian. MJ Ray and Walter Landry raised some concerns. However, this license is already used for postfix as Steven Augart pointed out.

Sendmail Open Source License. Richard Nelson reported that a new license for sendmail is discussed and the authors are seeking feedback. In particular they want to know whether the new license is as acceptable as the sendmail 8 license. Henning Makholm and Nathanael Nerode asserted that a license is non-free if one is forced to go to San Francisco to defend ones innocence.

Concerned about new GPL Version. Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho is concerned about the Free Software Foundation (FSF) developing the next generation GNU General Public License (GPL). One of the rumours about potential changes involve a requirement to post sources of GPL'd software that is used to power a website, which would probably fail the Debian Free Software Guidelines. He also wondered whether differences about the GNU Free Documentation License are symptoms of a deeper difference of opinion between Debian and FSF.

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

New or Noteworthy Packages. The following packages were added to the unstable Debian archive recently or contain important updates.

Debian Packages introduced last Week. Every day, a different Debian package is featured from the testing distribution. If you know about an obscure package you think others should also know about, send it to Andrew Sweger. Debian package a day introduced the following packages last week.

Orphaned Packages. 2 packages were orphaned this week and require a new maintainer. This makes a total of 159 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 Thomas Viehmann, Andre Lehovich and Martin 'Joey' Schulze.