Debian Traffic #10 For 9 Nov 2000

Editor: Zack Brown

By Steve Robbins  and  Zack Brown

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Mailing List Stats For This Week

We looked at 439 posts in 1532K.

There were 168 different contributors. 75 posted more than once. 0 posted last week too.

The top posters of the week were:

1. Planning New Package Organization System

12 Oct 2000 - 30 Oct 2000 (51 posts) Archive Link: "Misclassification of packages; "libs" and "doc" sections"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Eray OzkuralThomas BushnellStephen Zander

Thomas Hood suggested improving the organization of Debian packages by creating a hierarchical category structure. His idea was to include such information in the package description. Eray Ozkural liked the idea, but preferred a graph structure over a tree structure. He posted a sample:

       User_Interface     Internet         Sound   Compression
       /     |               |                 |  /
      /      |               |                 | /
     /       |             Sharing_Network    MP3
 Console     X_Win              \            /
            /  \                 \          /
           /    \                MP3_Sharing
         Gtk     Qt               /
         /        \              /
       Gnome      KDE           /
        |                      /
         \________________    /
                          \  /

He explained, "Note that this is not a tree :)" [...] "here gnome-napster is in categories Gnome and MP3_Sharing."

(At one point, Eray said he'd prefer the term 'Class' to 'Category', since category had a specific meaning in philosophy. Thomas Bushnell replied, "As Debian's resident professional philosopher, I hereby grant Debian a special one-time-only exception to the normal philosophical definition of "Category", and hereby permit Debian to call anything it wants a "Category"." Stephen Zander said, "as that was a Debian specific offer it would have to go into non-free and then we'd have another GR flamefest :)" )

Elsewhere though nearby, the conversation quickly degenerated into flames and killfile threats, to the tune of "my understanding of professional philosophy is bigger than yours".

2. Organizing A Debian Printer Database

27 Oct 2000 - 30 Oct 2000 (9 posts) Archive Link: "How can printing be simplified with Debian GNU/Linux?"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Carl B. ConstantineGrant TaylorJeff LicquiaArthur Korn

Raphael Bossek asked about the possibility of a printer database along the lines of Carl B. Constantine put in, "I know Corel has this and it's easy to use. Other distro's do too. I don't think it would be that difficult if one doesn't exist already." Erik Bernhardson suggested that Raphael code something up and get it into Debian by normal channels, but Arthur Korn pointed out that the '/etc/magicfilter/index.html' file already did what Raphael wanted. Raphael didn't agree, and again gave a pointer to the web site. At one point, Grant Taylor said:

Jeff Licquia (the CUPS package maintainer) and I had some discussions about how to do this a month or two ago. We sort of half mapped out a system which would support all Debian-provided spoolers in a fairly idiot proof way.

In 7.2, Mandrake shipped CUPS with a pre-extracted and massaged set of CUPS data from this database; the results are quite nifty. They included various GUI tools that have recently been extended to support all the option types found in the printer description files.

For Debian, the idea was to query, compute, and perhaps even store printer configuration information independantly from the spooler itself. This way, a user would get the same interface for configuring a printer with any spooler, and lots of work could be done once instead of three or four times over. The "query" step is made nearly trivial by building atop my database (which has pnp signatures, for example); the "compute" step would be similarly straightforward - it would be an automated version of the steps described in the three sibling "docs" pages on

As the icing on the cake, we could probably rig it so that, say, uninstalling CUPS and installing LPRng didn't destroy the system's printer configuration. (Think about it - that's actually a nontrivial thing, yet it falls cleanly out of what Jeff and I had in mind).

3. No KDE 2.0 For Potato

29 Oct 2000 - 31 Oct 2000 (4 posts) Archive Link: "KDE 2.0 - suitable for a point release of Potato ??"

Summary By Steve Robbins

People: Andrew M.A. CaterIvan E. Moore II

Andrew Cater wondered whether it would be possible " to release a point release of Potato to include KDE 2.0 debs, " now that the licence issue has been sorted out.

Ivan Moore (the KDE packager) pointed out:'s potato .deb's are compiled with GL support... potato doesn't have any GL support other then mesa and if KDE (and QT) compiles against mesa this kills all non-mesa users (especially nvidia users)...or we take out GL support....which isn't a big deal.

My honest view is that it's not ready to be put into potato officially...there are still a lot of bugs being worked out. In a few more weeks 2.0.1 will be released...I'd say wait until after that and let's see how KDE 2.0.1 works as a whole then.

4. Out Of Date Debian Banner Ad On The Net

31 Oct 2000 - 2 Nov 2000 (8 posts) Archive Link: "Debian banner"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Martin SchulzeWichert AkkermanJosip Rodin

Martin Schulze noticed that an out-of-date banner ad for Debian 2.1 was up on, and asked, "does anybody know who made it and can provide me with a version that says 2.2 instead of 2.1?" Egon Willighagen confirmed that there had definitely been a banner ad for 2.1 going around, after 2.2 had been released. Martin later identified the ad as being, and summed up various banner-ad links on At one point, Wichert Akkerman mentioned, "The OSDN sites still use an outdated banner; a new banner has been made ( but it doesn't seem to be in use yet :(" Josip Rodin replied, "I'll put that banner, and the image that's Debian's `community ad' at to, that should help."

5. Possible Debian Policy Conflict

1 Nov 2000 - 2 Nov 2000 (5 posts) Archive Link: "Policy conflict regarding templates as examples"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Sam HartmanSteve GreenlandThomas Bushnell

Sam Hartman reported a possible conflict with Debian policy:

I'm working on a package and I need to store a template configuration file that I will copy into /etc in my postinst if it doesn't already exist.

According to policy 4.7.3 ( (behavior of configuration files), it is reasonable to install such templates in /usr/share/doc/package/examples, if they also serve as reasonable example configuration files. However, according to 6.7 ( , no program should reference examples.

Should I interpret this as allowing my maintainer scripts to use the example files, but not the program during normal operation?

Steve Greenland replied, "As I recall, the intent" [of 6.7] "is that *once installed*, no program should *need* files from /usr/share/doc. I could have script that runs 'rm -rf /usr/share/doc' every day at 3am, and nothing should happen except perhaps the "help" function would fail." So according to Steve, it would be fine for 'postinst' to access such files. But he recommended asking on the debian-policy mailing list.

Thomas Bushnell also pointed out, "Note that 4.7.3 does not say to put the template in /usr/share/doc/package/examples; it says only to put it in /usr/share/doc, tho it does call them "examples" and thus causes the confusion." He also recommended asking on debian-policy.

6. What Will Woody Bring?

1 Nov 2000 (7 posts) Archive Link: "woody goals, freeze?"

Summary By Steve Robbins

People: Bas ZoetekouwBen CollinsJohn GaltJoseph CarterAnthony Towns

Bas Zoetekouw wondered, " are there any any specific release goals set for woody, or will we just go into freeze when we feel like it? "

Petr Cech though the release goals included a new GCC and glibc, to which Ben Collins added, " Might as well toss in kernel 2.4, since some of the new glibc features require it. " This did not sit well with John Galt, who said, " Waiting for a "cooked" 2.4 kernel might be unfeasable--Linus still isn't happy enough with it to make 2.4.0, then we'll need 11 or so minors before we call it cooked. Looks like 2001 will go by without a freeze... " Ben Collins wondered, " And you think gcc3 is even near this stage yet? :) " to which, Joseph Carter quipped, " Red Hat does. ;) " (Alluding to Redhat's recent decision to ship a pre-release compiler ( .)

Meanwhile, Anthony Towns pointed to his list of goals, ( posted last August when Potato was released. At the time, he thought Woody would freeze in mid-February.

7. SPARC Build Server And Cute SSH Hack

1 Nov 2000 (6 posts) Archive Link: "New SPARC Build server, open for general logins"

Summary By Steve Robbins

People: Ben Collins

Ben Collins announced a new SPARC machine for Debian developers. " It will be the new sparc build daemon. It is currently one of the Ultra30's donated by Sun (over a year ago), and is sitting right next to auric (ftp-master). The box is mainly for sparc building and porting. "

The machine had an interesting feature. He explained, " This machine has two chroots available; stable and unstable. To access them, login with one of those names prefixed to your username, seperated by a ':' (e.g joe:stable). Home directories are shared across the chroots via NFS. You can use the file /etc/debian_chroot_$dist to tell which chroot you are in. "

Petr Cech was suitably impressed, and wanted to know the details so as to replicate the setup. Ben promised to post a patch in the BTS against openssh.

8. Debian-Installer Progress

1 Nov 2000 (6 posts) Archive Link: "first weekly debian-installer status report"

Summary By Steve Robbins

People: Joey HessThomas Bushnell

Joey Hess posted the first weekly status report about the debian-installer project.

[ For those folks in debian-devel who don't know, the debian-installer project is an effort to write a new Debian installer, with a modular package-based design somewhat like Debian itself. Docs at ( ]

What's happened in the past week:

Joey included a long list of TODO items (see the original message ( for the complete list) and concluded with a call to arms:

How to help:

Subscribe to debian-boot, and mail the list to claim something. Show us some working code and you will get commit permissions and get your name on the above list.

Thomas Bushnell applauded: " Can I just say that you guys rock? "







Sharon And Joy

Kernel Traffic is grateful to be developed on a computer donated by Professor Greg Benson and Professor Allan Cruse in the Department of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. This is the same department that invented FlashMob Computing. Kernel Traffic is hosted by the generous folks at All pages on this site are copyright their original authors, and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2.0.