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Debian Labs

September 30, 2003

This article was contributed by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier.

Martin Michlmayr has floated the idea of allowing vendors and projects to carry a Debian brand to promote their efforts and the Debian Project.

Work based on the Debian Project has certainly found its way into plenty of third-party projects. The KNOPPIX project is based on Debian GNU/Linux, as well as Xandros,, and the Skolelinux distribution for schools. Many, but not all, of the organizations that work with Debian have also been good about folding code back into the Debian Project. It would certainly raise the visibility of the Debian Project if all of these projects carried a Debian brand. It may be no secret to KNOPPIX users that KNOPPIX is based on Debian GNU/Linux, but how many Lindows users are aware of the Debian connection?

The discussion came about because the Skolelinux project sought to call their non-profit foundation "Debian Foundation Norway." Michlmayr indicates that it would be a bad idea to let third-parties that are paying developers to use the Debian name itself:

However, I believe that "Debian" should not pay developers. By "Debian" I mean the project as a whole or any of its organizations (such as SPI). "Debian" paying developers might lead to many problems. The project paying some developers while others work on it in their spare time is not fair, and there is the big problem of selecting who to hire. This can cause great animosity and have bad effects on the motivation of developers.

No doubt some developers would chafe at the idea of other Debian developers being paid by the project for their efforts, while they're busy contributing for free. But few, if any, seem to mind when code makes its way back from projects that are utilizing work from the Debian Project, whether the developers working on said code are paid or volunteer. Michlmayr proposes that third parties be allowed to use a "Debian Labs" or similar brand to indicate that they're doing work related to Debian without being an official part of the Debian Project.

We could create a "Debian Labs" brand and publicize what it means for an organization to carry that name. Since we own the Debian trademark, we can control who is allowed to use the "Debian Labs" brand. We have to develop a set of guidelines for this. So in some sense Debian has some control over what those organizations do. On the other hand, they are largely autonomous of Debian and can do with their money whatever they want -- that way, "Debian" wouldn't need to decide who to hire, etc, and could avoid the problems described in the mail mentioned above.

Though the idea has been well received so far, Michlmayr says it still needs to be fleshed out. One major question is whether for-profit companies would be allowed to use the Debian Labs brand. Several users on the Debian mailing list were against allowing for-profit companies to use a Debian Labs brand or similar, while a few said they had no problem with the idea of a commercial entity using Debian Labs.

Another concern that was raised is to make sure that any agreement that would allow an outside organization to use a Debian brand could be terminated. It would be somewhat embarrassing, to say the least, to have a "SCO Debian Labs" brand still in widespread use at this point.

If the idea comes to fruition, a Debian trademarked brand will no doubt carry much more stringent guidelines than the Linux trademark, which is administered fairly liberally. If the Debian Project can come up with a workable agreement, it would no doubt be of benefit to the project and the projects and organizations using Debian in their work.

Comments (2 posted)

Distribution News

Slackware 9.1 released

It's official. Slackware Linux 9.1 has been released. "This is another great release, featuring GCC 3.2.3, GNOME 2.4.0, KDE 3.1.4, and Kernel 2.4.22."

Full Story (comments: 4)

More Slackware Linux

Since the 9.1 release a a few changes have rolled in to slackware-current, including an updated OpenSSL and Perl (for security reasons), plus Samba 3.0, Xfce 4.0 and SlackPKG 0.99.1.

Comments (none posted)

Red Hat/Fedora

The second Fedora Core (once known as Red Hat Linux) test release is now available. "Use of test releases in production environments could lead to disastrous results, such as spontaneous musical theatre from your engineers. Be afraid." If you are not sufficiently afraid, the announcement contains a list of mirror sites.

Linux Journal provides some thoughts on the Red Hat/Fedora merger. "The main reason for the Red Hat/Fedora merger is straight-forward: Red Hat is a for-profit company, not a charity. In short, Red Hat loses money on Red Hat Linux. Turning it over to Fedora will help keep the company profitable." interviews Jeremy Hogan, Manager of Community Relations at Red Hat.

LQ) Tell us a little about the just released Fedora project (How do you see it impacting RH, how does it compare to Cooker or even Debian, what went into it's release, etc).

JH) Fedora is what Red Hat Linux was. Kind of the People's Republic of Myanmar to Burma. It's a project with rolling releases, not a product with predictable release dates, support, services, etc.

Red Hat Linux bug fixes:

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SuSE Linux

SuSE has sent out a press release announcing that version 9.0 of the SuSE Linux distribution will be available "by October 24th." This release includes the inevitable new desktop, winmodem support, user-mode Linux, and a version of the (unreleased) 2.6 kernel along with a 2.4.21 kernel full of 2.6 backports.

SuSE has also announced the release schedule of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server would stretch from the current 12 months to an 18 - 24 month cycle. Vnunet covers the announcement. "The next major Linux Enterprise Server release will be in the second or third quarter of 2004 and will support the Linux 2.6 kernel. "[This release] will be a watershed in terms of scalability and will be easier for independent software vendors developing for both Red Hat and SuSE," said [SuSE VP David] Burger."

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End of life for Mandrake 8.2, SuSE 7.2

In nearly simultaneous announcements, MandrakeSoft and SuSe have announced the end of support for their older distributions. MandrakeSoft is no longer supporting Mandrake Linux 8.2 as of September 30. The oldest supported version of Mandrake Linux is now 9.0. SuSE has cut off SuSE Linux 7.2, but is still supporting 7.3.

Comments (9 posted)

Trustix Secure Linux

Earlier this week Trustix AS, parent company behind TSL, announced that the company was filing for bankruptcy, and as a result all sales and support of the Trustix Linux Solutions product line were suspended.

Then Erlend Midttun, founding father of TSL, and TSL developer Christian Toldnes announced the start of a new company, Tawie Technologies AS, to provide full support and services. Trustix Secure Linux has become Tawie Server Linux in the process.

TSL has bug fixes in swup and swupconf available for versions 1.5 and 2.0.

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Debian GNU/Linux

The September 23 edition of the Debian Weekly News looks at Gnoppix, changelog abuse, the new with iso images and an authoritative directory structure, and much more.

The September 30 edition of DWN is also available. This issue looks at the "Joey meets Joey" session at the Oldenburg Linux Developers conference; Lessons in Packaging Linux Applications; the newly formed Committee for FSF-Debian Discussion; Python Transition Problems; and much more.

Debian secretary Manoj Srivastava has announced a period of discussion on proposals to amend section 4.1.5 of the Debian constitution.

Comments (none posted)

Gentoo Weekly Newsletter -- Volume 2, Issue 35

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of September 29, 2003 is out. Topics include the next Gentoo BugDay and the featured sponsor of the week - Oregon State University.

Full Story (comments: none)

SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0

The embedded Linux companies seem to be having some sort of race to see who can deploy the (still unreleased) 2.6 kernel first. LynuxWorks announced a 2.6-based beta three weeks ago. Now SnapGear has sent out a press release proclaiming the availability of SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0, which, of course, includes a 2.6 kernel. The PR claims that the distribution is available for download now from, but it looks like it's not quite there as of this writing.

Comments (2 posted)

Minor distribution updates

ALT Linux

ALT Linux Compact 2.3 beta (20030926) has been released. Click below for details.

Full Story (comments: none)


ClusterKnoppix has released v3.2-2003-09-05-EN with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: This version syncs with the latest Knoppix release. It upgrades to kernel 2.4.22 and openmosix-1 release, upgrades to openmosix-user-0.3.4, upgrades to the latest openmosixview, adds libgtop2 libcommoncpp2-1.0- 0c102, adds chpox-0.5, adds Gomd CVS 20030917, and removes the default MFS/DFSA support because of a tmpfs bug."

Comments (none posted)

Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux has released v0.4.8 with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: Fabian Franz's 'toram' linuxrc routine was added, so the whole system can be put into RAM, which requires only 64M of RAM. The CD player plugin for XMMS was added. The ability to chose language specific keyboard layout was restored (e.g. 'lang=de'), and the default is US English. The Debian 'wireless-tools' package was added. A bug in Xpacman was fixed, and the keys to work with German, French, and English were re-mapped. Other small feature and usability enhancements were made."

Comments (none posted)


DietLinux has released v0.1.2 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: The Makefiles for downloading the dietlinux-files and build images were rewritten. It's now possible to build floppy images as well. Including your own files in the image has been made easier."

Comments (none posted)


dyne:bolic has released v1.0 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: Important milestones for the project have been reached since the last stable release: XBOX support, automatic clustering on the same LAN, a nested data storage mechanism, and improved speed and hardware support. Many new applications have been added in order to complete the desktop functionality and fulfill many different tasks and needs which became apparent after much testing of ergonomic and usability issues."

Comments (none posted)


GNOPPIX has released v0.5.4-1 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: This version adds a GNOPPIX installer, an icon for modem/DSL connections, support for NTFS volumes, a Persistent Home option, and English and US descriptions to Desktop icons. It fixes automounter close, moves to UTF-8 code, fixes changing of root and user passwords, updates the hw-database for autoconfig, backports 120 new packages, removes all non-free packages, updates to kernel 2.4.22-xfs, installs gnome-cups-manager, and include many bugfixes and updates."

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SmoothWall has released v2.0 beta 6 with major bugfixes. "Changes: The 2.4.22 kernel is now used and the core distribution was updated to updated Red Hat 8.0. The BeWAN PCI ADSL card is now supported, and ping and traceroute diagnostics were added to the Tools section. H.323, MMS (streaming), and Quake masquerade helper modules were included. Port forward ranges were implemented and the HTTPS admin port was changed from 445 to 441."

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Source Mage GNU/Linux

Source Mage GNU/Linux v0.7, code name "Flare" has been released. Click below for details.

Full Story (comments: none)


ThinStation has released v1.0.1. "Changes: This version now uses busybox 1.0pre2, and updates the scripts to work with it, fixes a bug in the xf-common script for the Xvesa server, fixes a bug in sound-nasd and sound-esd which caused boot to hang, and adds a colours fix for ICA."

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Warewulf has released v1.15 with major bugfixes. "Changes: The purpose of this release is to fix a typo/bug in the Warewulf library that caused most tools to error out."

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Distribution reviews

Source Mage and Onebase Linux (DistroWatch)

DistroWatch has a review of Source Mage, with a look at some other source based distributions. "As Source Mage proclaims in their "mission statement" their goal is to give total control back to system administrators. They are not kidding. It is very clear this system means business and is not intended for beginners. Onebase on the other hand aspires to being easy to install and use even for less experienced users, as well as being flexible and powerful, yet transparent. To this end it provides a tool, OLM, intended for both configuring and managing the system. I was very curious to see how it will achieve these somewhat conflicting goals."

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