Ubuntu Traffic #11 -- 2004/11/05

Benj. Mako Hill mako at canonical.com
Fri Nov 12 23:47:19 CST 2004

                       Ubuntu Traffic #11 For 2004/11/05

                             By Benjamin Mako Hill

Table Of Contents

  • Standard Format
  • Text Format
  • XML Source
  • Introduction
  • Threads Covered

    1.  2004/10/25� -� 2004/10/31 (45 posts) Ubuntu Book
    2.  2004/10/29� -� 2004/11/01 (12 posts) Hoary Says: "Get Your UTF-8 On"
    3.  2004/10/29� -� 2004/11/05 (15 posts) Ubuntu Learns a Few More Languages
    4.  2004/10/30� -� 2004/11/02 (30 posts) Ubuntu Artwork Sites
    5.  2004/10/30� -� 2004/11/01 (45 posts) Hoary Woes
    6.  2004/11/01� -� 2004/11/03 (15 posts) Documentation Meeting
    7.  2004/11/01              (12 posts) Ubuntu Bug Reporting
    8.  2004/11/02� -� 2004/11/03 (4 posts)  Ubuntu Conference
    9.  2004/11/03� -� 2004/11/05 (17 posts) Separating Language Packs
    10. 2004/11/04              (1 post)   Hoary Status


Welcome to the eleventh edition of Ubuntu Traffic. This issue covers the week
of October 30 - November 05, 2004. Ubuntu Traffic summarizes the most important
mailing list and IRC discussions involving the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution.

You can sign up for any of the mailing lists summarized here at http://
lists.ubuntu.com. You can also join the IRC discussion summarized here in #
ubuntu and other channels on the Freenode network: irc.freenode.net. Please
join in and maybe you will be featured in the next traffic!

First, the following bits and pieces didn't get a full story but are worth

  • Alexander Poslavsky did some great work on a HOWTO for Synaptic. The
    document is up here: http://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/SynapticHowto Great
    Work Alexander! It's a work in progress but that means you can help make it
  • Jeff Waugh pointed out that Red Hat had GPLed some Indian fonts. We should
    be sure to include these in Hoary. The article is here: http://
  • Matt Zimmerman pointed out that OSS drivers have been blacklisted in
    hotplug for all of Ubuntu's existence and asked whether they could even be
    built or included at all. Herbert Xu pointed out that they are useful when
    ALSA fails and there is still a bug about a card where the ALSA driver
    fails but the OSS driver works.


1. Ubuntu Book
2004/10/25� -� 2004/10/31 (45 posts) Subject: "Ubuntu book"
People: John Hornbeck,� Sivan Green

The hot topic on the extremely active Ubuntu Documentation list over this week
and last was a long thread on the creation of a project to write an Ubuntu
Book. John Hornbeck kicked off the thread saying:

    OK, I am proposing this to the group. I am interested in writing a book
    about Ubuntu. I have talked to Mark Shuttleworth and have his blessing. My
    question to everyone is what type of book would be needed first off. We
    talked about a "Nutshell" book for O'Reilly, but I am thinking more of a
    book like the "Learning Redhat Linux" book. For those who don't know, I
    work part time as a Linux instructor for a Vocational school and that was
    the book I used mostly because it covered a lot of ground in a fairly small
    book. What are you opinions? If this is something that emerges I will want
    to fully work with everyone and keep contributing the things I learn back
    to the doc team. I do not plan to stop working on docs (someone I told
    already asked so I thought I would address that right now), but this is a
    doc that I think is really needed.

The list saw lost of suggestions out there on what to write it about and how to
ago about writing it. Brett Carrington suggested a "Learning Linux with Ubuntu?
" aimed towards new desktop users. Sivan Green pointed out: "I agree with you
very much. Moreover, doing so that way we could contribute back to our ROCK,
debian - something I wish to see in all our documentation efforts. This book
should just as well released under a license that would allow Debian to freely
use our works and nurture back the community."

Ben Edward said he liked "Red Hat Linux in Small Business" and would like to
see something like this. One of the more powerful memes throughout the thread
was about about both reusing existing documentation to build from and about
writing things in such a way that they could go back to the community.

The final set of issues brought up centered around process. There are still
lingering concerns about ReST, DocBook, or switching between the two. To top it
off, people want some sort of revision control on documents including those
that are being done in DocBook (which means no wiki). The answers aren't clear
yet but the group hashed out a number of their options on the list.


2. Hoary Says: "Get Your UTF-8 On"
2004/10/29� -� 2004/11/01 (12 posts) Subject: "UTF-8 in Hoary"
People: Jeff Waugh

Jeff Waugh come out to say:

    Good morning freedom lovers!

    First thing you should do when you upgrade to hoary is enable UTF-8 by
    default -> and only UTF-8! :-)

     1. sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
     2. Disable all of the ISO-8859-1 locales in the list
     3. Enable the appropriate UTF-8 locales for the languages you use
     4. Choose a UTF-8 locale as the default system locale

UTF-8 is an important feature goal for hoary and we need as much testing as
possible on this.


3. Ubuntu Learns a Few More Languages
2004/10/29� -� 2004/11/05 (15 posts) Subject: "italian-speaking Ubuntu GNU/Linux
mailing list"

By the prompting of users on ubuntu-users and ubuntu-devel, a few new lists
were born to facilitate discussion of Ubuntu in languages other than English.
This week we saw Davide Pesenti push for and set up an Italian version, Pedro
Faraco start discussion around a Portuguese list and Alexey Molchanov start a
Russian list.

Here are the relevant lists:


There are companion IRC channels with predictable names for each of these
projects on Freenode (irc.freenode.net); e.g., ubuntu-it. It's amazing to see
the number of lists and the number of languages growing so quickly.

While I cannot read the non-English language lists and summarize them for
Traffic (because I don't speak the languages), I'd welcome highlights for
inclusion into traffic. Just email me at mako at canonical.com (
mailto:mako at canonical.com) and I'll be happy to add your bit into the next


4. Ubuntu Artwork Sites
2004/10/30� -� 2004/11/02 (30 posts) Subject: "Art sites, Ubuntu exposure"
People: Mark Turner,� Jeff Waugh,� VolvoGuy

Ubunut-users saw a few threads on artwork including a thread started by Mark
Turner saying, "I'm working on www.ubuntu-look.org which will (hopefully) be a
repository for Ubuntu artwork, themes, GRUB splashes, and anything else Ubuntu
related, If anyone is int rested on working on the site or has any suggestions
please email me so we can all get a plan together."

Careful to say that it was not policy but just something he'd be thinking of,
Jeff Waugh posted a message to the sounder list talking about one compromise
that he'd be thinking of saying:

    So I was thinking about the somewhat suboptimal situation with the two
    artwork sites, and it reminded me of a thought I had a few weeks ago when I
    first saw artwork appearing on {gnome,kde}-look.org...

    Having Ubuntu-related artwork on those sites is an excellent form of
    exposure - grass-roots marketing, if you will - because people will see the
    artwork there and wonder what all this Ubuntu stuff is all about. Hopefully
    they'll like the artwork and the concepts behind it, and try Ubuntu out.

    Ubuntu-specific artwork sites would not have the same effect, because
    anyone going to them would either be interested in Ubuntu, or existing
    users. So even though it's a cool thing to do (and thanks to you guys for
    having the initiative to set them up!), perhaps we should wait a while and
    let these sites attract more users for us..?

    Ultimately, I think we do want to have more Ubuntu-specific sites out
    there, but perhaps we should try and figure out a way of working closely
    with some of the existing sites that get a lot of eyeballs. Hmm. Wonder if
    we can come up with something clever for this.

Jeff's perspective got a bit of positive feedback. Volvoguy liked the idea and
suggested that, "A solution that might kill two birds with one stone might be
to put your artwork on BOTH sites - the Ubuntu specific AND the Gnome/KDE
specific. That way existing Ubuntu users can easily find related artwork and
FUTURE Ubuntu users will see all the cool artwork on the other more generic

Jeff pointed out that this was still problematic because we can't expect
artists to upload to half a dozen sites. Maybe some kind of syndication system?


5. Hoary Woes
2004/10/30� -� 2004/11/01 (45 posts) Subject: "hoary woes"
People: Simon Burke,� Michael Vogt,� Matt Zimmerman

The list saw a number of threads this week on issues relating to people's
upgrade of hoary. As was mentioned when Hoary was announced, things may not and
will not go smoothly and things might break. Things certainly did in a few big

Two of most common problems were reported in a thread started by Simon Burke
who complained that:

     1. Synaptic crashes out whenever there are dependencies, the dialog
        appears but if you click on OK or cancel synaptic just closes. There's
        not output that i have found, so thats as detailed as i can be.
     2. Sound: For some reason esound works but nothing else. If i open up beep
        media player i have to use the esound output as both ALSA and OSS don't
        seem to acknowledge that there is a soundcard. Both give errors that it
        was unable to open the sound device.

In terms of the first issue, Michael Vogt announced that: "I build updated
packages at: http://people.debian.org/~mvo/synaptic/warty/0.55 Please test and
tell me if it works for you."

For the second issue, Matt Zimmerman suggested that: "Some application has the
sound device open, so no others can open it at the same time. This has always
been the case; you must use esound in order to share the sound card." In
another thread, Volvoguy pointed out that Inkscape was crashing. Sebastien
Bacher announced that he an uploaded a package that fixed the bug.


6. Documentation Meeting
2004/11/01� -� 2004/11/03 (15 posts) People: Enrico Zini

The documentation team held a meeting this week organized by Enrico Zini who
said, "There will be a Documentation Team Meeting on #ubuntu-devel on Thursday,
November 4. The time, after merging all the preferences given at http://
www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/DocumentationTeamMeeting, will be 13:00UTC."

The meeting agenda is at the above URL as well.

A few days later, Enrico posted a followup with a summary of the meeting
saying, "I've finally finished summarizing the meeting we had 2 days ago. You
can find it on the wiki at https://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/

Great work guys! Keep it up.


7. Ubuntu Bug Reporting
2004/11/01 (12 posts) Subject: "Universe bugs idea"
People: Jeff Waugh,� Matt Zimmerman

This is really a couple threads that I'm (probably unfairly) collapsing into
one. In any case, there was a deal of talk on bug reporting in Ubuntu on the
-devel list. Jeff Waugh said:

    So it has been generally agreed that having all of the universe packages in
    Bugzilla would be a bad idea, slowing the developers down a lot, and that
    we wanted to separate things out a bit - I just had an idea for doing so.

    The 'Ubuntu' product can == main, and we can add an 'Unsupported' or
    'Universe' product (though it would encompass multiverse too) for all the
    other packages.

    Nicely separated, and we can distinguish the Bugzilla mails either with the
    advanced email header stuff we hope to merge soon, or have a bugs list for
    each product.

Jeff Waugh then followed up his own mail to say that, "[Dave Miller from
Bugzilla] points out that this might get confusing, as components will end up
moving between the two. Though, I guess that'll end up being a problem with
pretty much every solution. Hrm."

In another thread, Matt Zimmerman talked about using report bug and the way we
are currently working by using reportbug in such a way that we don't end up
spamming Debian with bugs that are in Ubuntu -- although developer should
certainly forward fixes back up to Debian where appropriate. Matt said:

    As background, what we currently do is to modify reportbug to change the
    default /etc/reportbug.conf to include 'bts ubuntu'.

    Also, I noticed that Chris Lawrence, the author of reportbug, pro-actively
    merged (the non-configuration parts of) our branch of reportbug, which
    makes it easier for us to maintain it:

      □ Incorporate applicable changes in 2.62ubuntu1 to this tree.

        (Main advantage: --bts=ubuntu works now. If someone will kindly tell me
        an easy way to tell a Ubuntu system from a Debian one, I will
        incorporate code to eliminate the need for the forked package. Same
        goes for any other Debian fork, BTW...)

    Thanks for that, Chris. To answer your question, the canonical method to
    identify an Ubuntu system is to use "lsb_release -si" or otherwise parse /
    etc/lsb-release. I think it would be great if reportbug incorporated such a
    test and used it to set the default BTS. Matt Zimmerman evaluated a couple
    of methods thrown onto the list by Wichert Akkerman from Debian and others
    and explained the primary options we have in terms of reportbug as:

      □ Leave things as they are now. Ubuntu carries a tiny patch to reportbug
        which sets the default BTS to us. If the user (for example) pulls the
        Debian version of reportbug for some reason, the autodetection magic
        would still do the right thing as a fallback, given an intact lsb
      □ Drop the Ubuntu patch to reportbug, and rely on an autodetection
        mechanism in upstream reportbug. I'm not sure that this provides enough
        safety as specified; users can remove the lsb package, and Ubuntu
        derivatives will modify it. We should try to avoid falling back to
        Debian in those cases, and rather fall back to Ubuntu. Can we ever
        really be sure whether we are on an Ubuntu system, in a world where
        packages can be mixed between Debian-based distributions?
      □ Drop the Ubuntu patch to reportbug, and carry a tiny patch to dpkg
        instead, which changes the bug reporting address for the 'debian'
        origin, with the caveats described above. Reportbug can attempt to
        detect an Ubuntu system, but we would fall back to origin-based
        determination, with the caveats described above.

No real consensus seemed to come out of the conversation although the
conversation seemed to very positive for all parties involved. It's interesting
to these issues come up in the process of trying to collaborate with Debian.


8. Ubuntu Conference
2004/11/02� -� 2004/11/03 (4 posts) Subject: "Ubuntu Conference: December 5-18,
People: Benjamin Mako Hill

I (Benjamin Mako Hill) posted the following announcement about the upcoming
Ubuntu Conference in Mataro Spain:

    Canonical is pleased to announce that it will be organizing a two week-long
    conference and hack-session for Ubuntu in December. Here are the essential

      □ Where: Mataro, Spain (Near Barcelona)
      □ When: December 5 through December 18
      □ Who: Anyone interested or involved in Ubuntu

    The conference will be held at the Telecampus Mataró. Access to a network
    over wireless will be provided. Information on the space is here: http://

    If you intend to come for the full conference, plan to arrive into
    Barcelona on December 5 and out again on December 18th. People are welcome
    to come for just part.

    The conference is open to anyone but it will be of interest to those who
    have or are interested in or involved in Ubuntu. That said, we will need to
    have an idea of how many people are coming.

    Please keep tuned as I'll be posting additional details about the
    conference, options for accommodations and about how to let us know if
    you're planning on coming.

    If you have any questions, please contact me personally.

I followed up a couple days later with more information on the conference here:

    I have posted a load of additional information on the venue, travel, and
    accommodations on the new Ubuntu wiki here: https://www.ubuntulinux.org/

    If you would like to suggest a BOF or suggest some goals you can do that

      □ https://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/ConferenceBOFshttps://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/ConferenceGoals

    If you are planning on attending, you should sign up on the attendees page

      □ https://www.ubuntulinux.org/wiki/ConferenceAttendees

    This is on the new wiki. Like on the old wiki, you will need to create an
    account and log in first before you can edit the page. You will need to do
    this if you want to add your information if you are planning on attending
    for example.

I hope to see a number of you there!


9. Separating Language Packs
2004/11/03� -� 2004/11/05 (17 posts) Subject: "Thoughts about separating language
People: Martin Pitt,� Matt Zimmerman,� Scott James Remnant

As you may know, one of the goals of Hoary is to separate languages out into
separate packs to decrease the size taken up by translations and to pave the
way for unlimited amounts of translations -- one of Ubuntu's long terms goals.
Martin Pitt has been thinking about this and he posted his thoughts (in
wikiable form) to the list:


    The goal is to separate all translation and localization parts from all
    packages to "language packs". Per supported language we want to have one
    package which contains l10n stuff for all Ubuntu supported packages.

    In particular, the following package components are affected:

      □ translations using gettext
      □ translations and language elements that do not use gettext
      □ debconf translations

    (Details below.)

    Automatic Extraction

    There are two obvious points where an automatic extraction could be hooked
    in during package build:

     1. dh_builddeb
     2. dpkg-deb

    We currently have 1047 source packages, but as much as 265 do not use
    debhelper. Although a debhelper hook would be easier, it would miss about a
    quarter of our source packages, which is not acceptable.

    Therefore, dpkg-deb must be modified, preferably in a general way so that
    it could go to Debian, too. dpkg-dev should introduce a directory.


    All files in this directory are executed by dpkg-deb (with at least the
    build directory as parameter) right before actually assembling a .deb file.

    Then we can create a package ubuntu-langpacks (or so) which puts scripts in
    the hook directory that do the extraction. This approach does not clutter
    up dpkg itself and allows to write the scripts in arbitrary languages.

    The extraction package then needs to be installed at the buildds. The
    extracted l10n stuff would be copied to an accumulation directory. The
    language pack source package should automatically be able to build debs
    from this directory (i. e. it should be enough to put a debian/ directory
    into the accumulation directory and call dpkg-buildpackage).

    The last script in the hook directory can check if a regeneration of the
    language packs is necessary and trigger it if appropriate.

    gettext translations

    This part should be easy; it should be sufficient to move all files that a
    package wants to install under /usr/share/locales.

    Could be done with a simple shell script /etc/dpkg/dpkg-deb-hook.d/

    non-gettext translations

    Since this must be handled on a by-case basis, it might be impossible to
    catch each and every tiny bit. However, the two major cases are currently
    mozilla-firefox and openoffice.org. Both packages currently provide
    separate debs for languages, so the contents and maintainer scripts should
    just be merged into the appropriate language packs. A quick check showed
    that both should be possible fully automatically.

    debconf translations

    This is probably the most tricky part. All translations are stored in a
    single ".templates" file. It is possible to automatically extract them, but
    it is difficult to dynamically add them again at package installation. If
    we want to do this, we need a dpkg pre-installation hook.

    The question is whether it is really worth to separate debconf translations
    in the first place. During normal installation the user does not see any
    questions anyway, and I doubt that debconf translations account for a
    significant increase of package size.

Matt Zimmerman responded with a list of things to think about in terms of
automatic extraction:

    Some things to worry about regarding extraction and repackaging:

      □ What happens if the package is built with a stock build environment
        which does not perform the extraction? The package's files will overlap
        with the language pack.
      □ How can we ensure that the language packs are up to date at release
        time? We wouldn't want a security update to cause some language support
        to disappear, for a package which hadn't yet been built with the
        modified build environment

Scott James Remnant strongly disagreed with Martin's comment on modifying
dpkg-deb to introduce the new directory saying:

    I utterly disagree. I've rejected features like this for dpkg before, and
    will continue to do so. I don't believe package managers should be
    arbitrarily extendable like this, instead I believe they should be
    completely predictable.

    If you want certain files to not be placed in the package, you take them
    out (or don't put them in) in debian/rules. Either add a call to something
    that extracts the translations, or modify debhelper and friends to do the
    extraction for you.


10. Hoary Status
2004/11/04 (1 post) Subject: "Hoary status and plans"
People: Matt Zimmerman

Matt Zimmerman pointed an update on the Hoary Hedgehog status and the plan with
this announcement (quoted in full). This built off the meeting last week that I
summarized in the last traffic.:

    Kickoff meeting

    The kickoff meeting for Hoary development was held Monday 25 October 2004,
    at 16:00 UTC, in the #ubuntu-meeting channel on irc.freenode.net.

    Mako has prepared a summary of this marathon meeting here: http://

    And a transcript is available nearby: http://people.ubuntulinux.org/~mako/

    We discussed a wide variety of ideas for new features and bug fixes for the
    Hoary release.

    Merge status

    With Ubuntu having been frozen for some months, there were a great deal of
    changes in Debian that needed to be brought in. In many cases, we had
    customised the package for Ubuntu, and so a three-way merge was necessary.

    As discussed at the kickoff meeting, Scott James Remnant applied some
    automation to this problem, and bugs were filed for the merges which could
    not be automated. 166 bugs were filed, and only 13 now remain, so we are
    mostly caught up with the initial merge.

    There is still work to be done in order to keep up on an ongoing basis, and
    we'll discuss that more as time goes on. Scott is working on a system to
    automate the process of attempting merges and filing bugs where manual
    intervention is necessary.


    I've finished the initial process of documenting the goals for Hoary on the


    The summary of the kickoff meeting also provides a summary of them. Please
    review that page and ensure that the list is complete and correct. In cases
    where more detail is called for, I've created either a wiki page, or a
    broken link to one which should be created. If you're listed as responsible
    for a goal, please flesh out these pages with your plans and thoughts.

    There are many goals which are not yet assigned to anyone. If you're
    interested in working on any of them, follow up here with your ideas, or
    create a wiki page. If you aren't sure what a particular goal involves,
    read the kickoff meeting summary and transcript before asking questions.
    There is potential for a number of these to be funded on an individual
    basis according to the bounty process: http://www.ubuntulinux.org/community

    Early breakage

    Some of the changes that we'd like to make for Hoary have the potential to
    introduce instability, so we should make these changes early in the release
    cycle. The current list of such items is:

      □ Change the default locale to UTF-8 (Colin Watson)
      □ Change the default dpkg-reconfigure priority to medium (Colin Watson)
      □ Start GDM earlier in the boot sequence (Daniel Stone)
      □ Enable laptop suspend (Matthew Garrett, Herbert Xu)
      □ Load apm automatically (Thom May)
      □ Switch from fam to gamin (Jeff Waugh)
      □ Polypaudio (Jeff Waugh)
      □ Apt authentication (Matt Zimmerman)
      □ Migrate from XFree86 to X.org (Fabio Massimo Di Nitto, Daniel Stone)

    If your name is listed next to one of the above items, be sure that you
    know what needs to be done in order to effect the change, and carry out
    those actions as soon as possible so that we can spend more time fixing the
    resulting bugs.


    We have a few hundred bugs of severity 'normal' or higher. While bugs are
    not our highest priority during this stage of the release, we should be
    careful not to let them grow out of control. In particular, everyone should
    review their own bug list and check the status of existing bugs, close
    those which do not apply to Hoary, close bugs which are stalled and
    incomplete, and do general housekeeping.

    Changes to the Package Lists (Seeds)

    A number of seed changes have been proposed since Warty's package list was
    frozen. Since these need to be reviewed and discussed, I'll start a
    separate thread to discuss them.


    Current priorities for Hoary are:

     1. Finish the remaining merges
     2. Implement early breakage items
     3. Work on other Hoary goals
     4. Bug fixing and housekeeping







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