Debian Traffic #11 For 16 Nov 2000

Editor: Zack Brown

By Martin Michlmayr  and  Zack Brown

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Mailing List Stats For This Week

We looked at 570 posts in 1997K.

There were 219 different contributors. 105 posted more than once. 0 posted last week too.

The top posters of the week were:

1. New Debian Fork

31 Oct 2000 - 7 Nov 2000 (26 posts) Archive Link: "Progeny Linux Systems Announces Progeny Debian Beta One"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Jeff LicquiaEray OzkuralJoey HessEric Gillespie, Jr.G. Branden RobinsonRoland BauerschmidtBranden RobinsonJohn Goerzen

Jeff Licquia announced Progeny's own Debian fork:

Progeny Linux Systems is pleased to announce the availability of its first beta release of Progeny Debian.

This beta is being released as an upgrade to Debian 2.2 (potato). The next beta, due soon, will include CD images, Progeny's new installer, and support for upgrades from Debian 2.1 (slink).

Some of the features of this release:

In addition, we are now taking applications for participation in our formal beta program. We will be sending a complete boxed set of the second beta to a limited number of people for testing. To apply, go to

We encourage people to test this release and report bugs, so our final release can be as high-quality as possible. You can report bugs to us via the "bug" tool (which has been updated to send bugs to us), via E-mail at, or through our Web interface at

To upgrade to Progeny Debian from Debian 2.2:

  1. Add the following line to your /etc/apt/sources.list:

    deb progeny main contrib non-free

  2. Run the following commands in the order listed:

    1. apt-get update
    2. apt-get -f dist-upgrade
    3. apt-get install debconf
    4. apt-get install task-progeny-potato-upgrade

For more information, visit our Web site at, or E-mail us at

Roland Bauerschmidt asked if the new features would be included in the "real" Debian distribution, and Eray Ozkural replied positively:

Progeny should be able to answer that better, but Progeny does have a different attitude compared to other derivatives of Debian and I believe that they do intend to support the original distribution in every way possible.

At any rate, the licenses should be DFSG compliant since Bruce Perens and Ian Murdock are involved!

John Goerzen from Progeny, also replied to Roland, saying that it would really be at the discretion of the package maintainers. Elsewhere, Joey Hess reported that, regarding the Gnome front end to debconf, he'd been promised a patch a long time before and was still waiting. But he added, "To be fair, I have completly reorganized debconf in the meantime, so I guess I'm not making it easy for them.." Eric Gillespie, Jr. replied, "As soon as i have it all cleaned up and bug-free, you'll get the patch." G. Branden Robinson replied, "Bug free? Bwa ha ha ha."

2. Debian Gopher Server

2 Nov 2000 - 6 Nov 2000 (16 posts) Archive Link: "Proposal:"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: John GoerzenPeter Teichman

Jaldhar H. Vyas noticed that Debian included the 'gopher' daemon (and in category 'main', when it had used to be in 'non-free'), and recommended setting it up on a Debian server, for public use and access. As part of his argument, he mentioned that major web browsers on all platforms already supported the gopher protocol. But Peter Teichman pointed out that Mozilla was not one of the ones that supported it (and John Goerzen submitted a bug report to Mozilla). Christian Surchi felt this was the fault of the browser. He added that 'lynx' supported gopher, while 'links' did not. John also added that Konqueror had excellent support for gopher. He explained, "It presents it as it should -- as files and folders. Unfortunately, it has a bug wherein sometimes you have to hit reload a few times before it displays everything properly."

3. Using Debian Maintainership To Sell One's Own Software

3 Nov 2000 - 7 Nov 2000 (28 posts) Archive Link: "sharefont package license sucks, even for non-free"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Peter S GalbraithChristoph LameterMarcus Brinkmann

Peter S Galbraith noticed some odd text in the license of the 'sharefont' package. To begin with, it was shareware, which he had no objection to. It just meant that the package belonged in 'non-free', which was where it was. However, he then quoted the Debian maintainer (Christoph Lameter) as appending to the shareware license, the text, "If you actually pay money for one or more of the fonts in this package then I expect to be cut in. For the work of putting together this package I expect $10 or 10% of the fee paid to the authors of the fonts whichever is higher." Peter assessed:

I think it looks very bad to have a package on Debian servers that could profit its maintainer simply for packaging it. It's a contradiction in philosophy, especially coming from someone with a high profile like Christoph Lameter.

Should Debian resources be used to make a buck for maintainers?

Do we need policy against this sort of thing?

Some folks felt there should be a policy against it, and some folks suggested getting rid of 'non-free' altogether. But other folks pointed out that that was why it was called 'non-free'. The discussion went on for awhile with no real resolution. Elsewhere, Christoph (the developer in question) replied to the initial post:

Hehehe. It took such a long time for someone to notice.... I really need to update the address. No checks yet ;-)

If I have to suffer through packaging shareware and the shareware authors get $$$ from it then I naturally want to be cut in. If its free then I know what my work will be used in such a way as to be free too and then its ok also to be beer-free.

Some folks pointed out that there was no one forcing him to "suffer" through packaging anything at all, and elsewhere he gave some historical background, saying, "We all shoot for free software but at that time (1996!!!) there were barely any fonts available under Linux. The license is an upstream license since I am the creator of the sharefont package which is widely distributed apart from Debian. The license is not only for Debian. I made the package before I joined the Debian project." Peter felt that in 2000, it might be time for Christoph to reconsider the situation. Christoph also added, "The difference between no scalable fonts and some fonts was really motivating back then. In 2000 I would not do it. The individual font licenses are all screwed up too." Peter recommended removing the package from Debian entirely.

Elsewhere, Marcus Brinkmann pegged the situation, saying, "An author of shareware could join Debian and package it for Debian, and Debian would help distributing his for-profit ware all over the world." That seems to be the case, although an argument was made that this was fine, given the 'non-free' section.

4. Do Developers Run Unstable?

8 Nov 2000 - 12 Nov 2000 (13 posts) Archive Link: "Do developers tend to run unstable?"

Summary By Martin Michlmayr

People: Hwei Sheng TeohJoseph CarterMike ColemanMatt ZimmermanArthur KornJoey HessRichard Taylor

Richard Taylor asked if Debian developers were expected to run a full woody system for development. Hwei Sheng Teoh responded that "new package uploads are expected to be built under woody, or at least, built with current woody shared libraries (unless, of course, you're building a bugfix for a previous release)."

Joseph Carter ran woody but added that "I also have a potato chroot if I need it." Since the chroot solution was mentioned by several people without giving any specific information on how to set up such an environment, Mike Coleman asked, "Is this chroot trick documented somewhere?" Matt Zimmerman suggested to "search the list archives for 'chroot build depends' or some such." A search turned up a helpful mini tutorial ( posted by Joey Hess in December 1999. However, as of KC Debian press time this trick will only work for potato, since there is no base for woody yet.

In a another posting, Arthur Korn had some good advice for upgrading to woody: "dont upgrade all machines at once." He also noted in a funny yet intelligent way that "somebody has to run into the bugs, right? ;)"

5. Return Of FAQ-O-Matic

9 Nov 2000 (2 posts) Archive Link: "\Debian FAQ-o-matic restarted"

Summary By Zack Brown

People: Craig Small

Craig Small announed:

After a fair bit of work, the Debian FAQ-o-matic is back up at

I have plenty to do already so I'm looking for people to maintain various bits of the fom. If you would like to do so, email me at

6. The Responsibilities Of A Debian Maintainer

9 Nov 2000 (5 posts) Archive Link: "Becoming a package maintainer"

Summary By Martin Michlmayr

People: Richard TaylorSean PerrySean 'Shaleh' Perry

Richard Taylor intended to become a Debian developer and after reading the information about becoming a new maintainer ( he wanted "a more detailed summary of the responsibilities and tasks of a package maintainer."

Lintian developer Sean 'Shaleh' Perry presented a short but insightful list of tasks a Debian maintainer had to fulfill:

Richard followed up to ask a question which comes up frequently because it's central to the tasks of a Debian maintainer: "So it _is_ the direct responsibility of the package maintainer to fix reported bugs? Just curious but what tends to happen in cases where the maintainer cannot fix the bug?" Sean responded, "if you are unable to handle a bug, you may always ask for help. If nothing else, the upstream should be able to assist" and went on to say, "it is a developers responsibility to answer bug reports, even if it is to say "this will take time", or "I have to seek help"."

Sean concluded with some very good advice, saying that his "experience has been that many developers gain coding skills by helping to sort out bugs."

A very good starting point for this is the Bug Tracking System ( , which lists all bugs in Debian packages.







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.