Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Distributions page.
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Please note that security updates from the various distributions are covered in the security section.
News and EditorialsThe Debian new maintainer process. The Debian Project drew attention for some time by virtue of having shut down its new maintainer process entirely - it simply was not possible to become a Debian developer. The process was restarted with much fanfare last April; since then, there has been little discussion of the new maintainer process outside of the project's mailing lists. Not everybody is happy with the process, however, and the volume of the debate has been increasing recently.
The process itself is anything but straightforward. As can be seen on the New Maintainers Corner page, there are several steps which must be executed before an aspiring developer can join the Debian brotherhood:
The new maintainer statistics page shows how the process is working. Over 300 applicants are in the process currently, with (as of this writing) 54 waiting to have an AM assigned, 148 in the evaluation process, 42 waiting in the final approval process, and 54 "on hold" for some reason or another.
Getting through the process can take a very long time. The applicant in the processing stage for the longest time has been there for 250 days; the final approval candidate needing the most patience has been waiting for 171.
There has been some grumbling that the process takes such a long time, and requires so much of the applicants. The feeling among the established developers, however, seems to be that things are well as they are. The Debian Project needs developers who are committed, reliable, in agreement with Debian's philosophy, and in it for the long haul. The long process tests a lot of things, including the applicant's determination to join the project. Making the process easier will, it is said, just result in the admission of people who will not help Debian in the long term. There is also a quite frank desire among some to keep the number of developers to a minimum. More developers means more coordination problems and more time lost to administrative overhead.
The situation can probably be expected to remain much as it is, with lots of grumbling and little change. (See also: this note on how much harder things were in the early days of Debian, and this one from a current applicant who is satisfied with the process).
Should I stay or should I go? (ZDNet). Evan Leibovitch takes a critical look at Corel in this ZDNet opinion piece. "Corel also hasn't maintained its Linux very well. Its first release has been out for more than a year, and to date its Web site lists a total of just one security patch. While most other distribution vendors have been scrambling to ensure that they keep up with open source patches and updates, Corel users are left to fend for themselves."
BSD community learns to get along (Upside). Upside looks at the burgeoning BSD community and how it has learned to work together. "Officially, OS X would become the fifth official version of BSD, alongside FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and BSDi. The number of versions shows the fractured nature of the community, though there are now signs that the community is learning to work together. For example, organizers of the 1999 FreeBSDcon decide to change the event's name to BSDcon giving other BSD developers, and Apple representatives, a chance to participate."
iPAQ goes to Linux-land (Brighthand). Brighthand plays with PocketLinux on the iPAQ. "The Pocket Linux image we loaded was not really a shipping product but was created specifically to demonstrate the potential of Pocket Linux at the Comdex 2000 show. So there were a number of limitations to the image, including a lack of support for the hardware buttons, no screen brightness controls, and no file manager app. But it did have some interesting features, like themes and multimedia, and we were impressed by what we saw and are now anxious to see it used in a production implementation." There are a number of nice screenshots as well.
Connectiva News. Conectiva has released version 6.0 of their Linux distribution. This release includes an RPM-capable apt-get, KDE 2.0 and XFree86 4.0.1.
Debian News. Debian 2.2r2, an update to the "potato" release with a number of security and important bug fixes, was released this week.
Dr. Dobb's Journal is carrying a story on Debian Hurd, including how its microkernel architecture differs from Linux's monolithic kernel. "A microkernel is one in which only the minimum necessary functionality is implemented in the kernel. This would include process creation and deletion, scheduling, memory management, and interrupt handling. Anything else, such as network protocol stacks and interprocess communication primitives, should be handled outside of the kernel in user space. Communication between the kernel and these extra kernel OS facilities is done by clean interfaces, unlike in a monolithic kernel, where components can see and manipulate each other in any ad hoc way they choose."
An interesting note was posted to the Debian News mailing list this week. It seems that Debian is being used to manage the Microship, a networked pair of amphibian canoe-scale pedal/solar/sail micro-trimarans.
Debian will be running a booth at the PLUTO meeting in Terni, Italy. The meeting is happening on December 9 to 11; Debian leader Wichert Akkerman will be there and will give a talk on the Debian package management system on December 10.
Linux-Mandrake News. Cooker (the Linux-Mandrake development version) has moved to the 2.4 kernel. This move suggests, of course, that MandrakeSoft intends to base its next release on this kernel.
MandrakeSoft turned two recently, and the company celebrated by hauling everybody up to Normandy for a big party. Two sets of pictures from the event have been posted: this set covers the party itself, while the other is a set of pictures of MandrakeSoft employees. The latter page is a good way to put faces with the names of people at MandrakeSoft.
Spiro Linux. The word we have gotten from our readers appears to be true: the Spiro Linux distribution is no more. It is a hard time to be trying to make money off a new distribution.
SuSE News. SuSE has released a set of rpm for packages containing strong cryptography. Strong cryptography is not shipped with their international package, so these rpms were left out of the international CD-set for SuSE's S/390 distribution. OpenSSH, GNU privacy guard, SSL support, etc., is included.
Trustix News. Trustix Secure Linux 1.2 has been released. It contains many new packages, and bundles some nice stuff like FreeS/Wan and iproute. As they say: "We think it is pretty stable, and would love for you to agree with us." There is also a separate announcement in press-release format available.
BSD News. Another major distribution release hit the streets this week, this time of the BSD variety. OpenBSD 2.8 comes with OpenSSH and support for Apple iMac, G3, G4, and G4 Cube machines.
With all the BSD news we've seen today, you'd think it was BSD day around the planet. The latest news comes from BSDi, who have announced the release of BSD/OS 4.2.
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
December 7, 2000