Debian Updates, Code Names, Back Ports, Screenshots, and Derived

Debian GNU/Linux

Things have been anything but quiet on the Debian front lately. Between updating 5.0, naming 7.0, and officially approving backports this has been a busy week for Debian. In other related news, a popular distribution has released a version based on Debian while a Website helps users decide if they like the looks of potential applications.

On Friday, September 3, Neil McGovern wrote to the Debian Development Announce mailing list to remind developers of freeze rules. Seems there were a few hundred threads asking for unblocks. So, Neil wrote to say only fixes for critical bugs, if any changes to release goals, translation updates, and documentation fixes were allowed. Tacked onto the bottom of the post was the quick message that the codename for the future version 7.0 was decided. In keeping with the Toy Story motif, the name chosen for 7.0 is "Wheezy." Wheezy made his debut in In Toy Story 2 as the rubber penguin squeaky toy with the red bow tie.

The next day, September 4, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl wrote in to announced Debian 5.0.6, the sixth update to the long running stable 5.0. This release was primarily to address some security issues and a few serious problems. Reichle-Schmehl stated this didn't constitute a new release and folks needn't throw out their 5.0 disks. Although new images were uploaded to mirrors, he urged users to update their installs via APT. Some updates include a fix for stack-based buffer overflow handling of git-core, several fixes and hardware updates to the kernel, a change in makepasswd to avoid generating predictable passwords, and 41 security updates to various packages. Full information can be reviewed at Debian.org.

Then on September 5, Debian announced that the backports service previously hosted at backports.org is now an official Debian service that can be found at backports.debian.org. Backports.org was orginially started by Debian Developer Norbert Tretkowsk and later on developers Alexander Wirt and Jörg Jaspert signed on to beef up support for more packages and more architectures. Backports provide more recent and updated packages from the Testing branch compiled for Stable. This allows users to pull in a more recent software such as the Iceweasel browser or the OpenOffice.org suite without giving up their Stable system. The archive currently has 528 packages backported for Lenny and support for Squeeze is already in place. Bug reports will go through official channels as well from now on.

For users who would like to know what an application will look like before they install it, there is a service at screenshots.debian.net. Most screenshots are uploaded by developers, but others can contribute as well. Visit screenshots.debian.net to peruse current screenshots or to sign up to upload.

Last, but certainly not least, the Linux Mint project announced their latest effort on September 7. They have released a version of Mint based on Debian Testing to offer users another choice in Linux distributions and to provide the advantages of a rolling-release system. In a rolling-release distribution, users more often update their systems periodically through package management rather than performing fresh installs every six months or so. For now it is only available in 32-bit with a GNOME desktop, but it is 100% compatible with Debian. So other desktops can be installed from Debian repositories. Also, if their track record is anything to go by, there'll be 64-bit KDE, Xfce, and other versions before long. Official word is that this is an experiment to gauge interest. So only time will tell if this version will become a mainstay in the Linux distribution line-up.

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