Quick news: dpkg, collab-maint, alioth and the future

Dpkg got rid of Perl

Let’s start with the interesting part and the great news: dpkg 1.15.8 (to be uploaded soon) will no longer need perl! After my changes to rewrite update-alternatives in C, Guillem recently pushed the rewrite of dpkg-divert/mksplit in C. Please test it out (binary package for i386 or .dsc).

This is rather exciting news for those who would like to use dpkg in embedded contexts. And it’s great to see this completed in time for Squeeze. In Squeeze+1, we might go one step further and merge cdebconf, the C replacement for debconf.

I got rid of some recurring administrative tasks

I have been administrating the Alioth server since its inception (see the announce I sent in 2003) but I’m no longer enjoying the day-to-day administrative work that it represents. That’s why I just retired from the team. We recently recruited Tollef Fog Heen so the number of admins is still the same (that said, Alioth could benefit from some more help, if you’re a DD and interested, drop a mail to admin@alioth.debian.org or come to #alioth).

Same goes for the collab-maint project. I have dealt with hundreds of requests to add new contributors to the project since it’s the central repository where all Debian developers have write access and where they put the VCS for their packages that do not belong to a more specialized team. The new administrator that will approve the requests is Xavier Oswald and he’s doing the work under the umbrella of the New Maintainer’s Front Desk.

The future

I will continue to spend the same amount of time on Debian, the time freed will quickly be reallocated to other Debian and free software related projects. In fact, I even anticipated a bit by launching Flattr FOSS last week but that’s a relatively simple project. 🙂

The other projects that will never all fit in the freed time: I want to spend more time working on dpkg. I do plan to blog more often too, but I’m sure you’ll notice that yourself soon. I would like to see my Debian book translated into English (another post coming on the topic sometimes soon). In my dreams, I could even start yet another software project, I have some ideas that I really would like to see implemented but I don’t see how that could fit in this year’s planning… unless I can convince someone else to implement them! Maybe I should blog about them.


  1. says

    Yes, maybe this is an advantage (?) in some embedded systems… because in others…:


    If it have not Perl, it is not unix like. I could prefer to got rid of the the backward incompatible language ™ Python flood we are getting in general.

    Maybe that Google and other big companies like Canonical are pushing hard, for the all is an object (java 2.0) they need, but hey, they are companies.

    I see Linux as an unix like OS, and in that land, all is a FILE.

    Why could Apache, OpenVPN, or OpenSSH as a few examples need Python? what I can see as plain user: because of Canonical maintainer script (totally unrelated with the packaged software) called about ssl checking an old vulnerability… reaching my $debian.

    perl -nle ‘print if m/(#!|Author)/’ /usr/bin/openssl-vulnkey

    “I’m going to install ssh… wtf?… Python?”
    “I’m going to install apache to support https… wtf?… Python?”
    “I’m going to install openvpn in my fw… wtf?… Python?”

    Really, much more annoying that seeing dpkg depend on Perl since I can remember.

    Now, said that, any improvement to dpkg is really very much appreciated. And of course, as sysadmin for me getting rid of dependencies is a very good improvement at any point of a system. A lot of thanks 🙂

  2. Andy Cater says

    Can I offer help in the translation / editing / proof reading of your book in English? I write French badly now, speak French tolerably and read / understand it fairly well. [I can cope with Debian lists in French, for example, with no problem]. I’m a native (British) English speaker who loves languages – I’ve also been involved in Debian for a while 🙂

  3. says

    @Andy, thanks for the offer, I followed up by mail.

    @poisonbit, the perl bits in dpkg regularly caused troubles during major perl upgrades… so yes, it’s also a win in reliability.