Debian Contributions: Core python package, Redmine backports, and more!

Contributing to Debian is part of Freexian’s mission. This article covers the latest achievements of Freexian and their collaborators. All of this is made possible by organizations subscribing to our Long Term Support contracts and consulting services.

Core Python Packages, by Stefano Rivera

Just before the freeze, pip added support for PEP-668. This is a scheme devised by Debian with other distributions and the Python Packaging Authority, to allow distributors to mark Python installations as being managed by a distribution package manager. When this EXTERNALLY-MANAGED flag is present, installers like pip will refuse to install packages outside a virtual environment. This protects users from breaking unrelated software on their systems, when installing packages with pip or similar tools. Stefano quickly got this version of pip into the archive, marked Debian’s Python interpreters as EXTERNALLY-MANAGED, and worked with the upstream to add a mechanism to allow users to override the restriction. Debian bookworm will likely be the first distro release to implement this change.

The transition from Python 3.10 to 3.11 was one of the last to complete before the bookworm freeze (as 3.11 only released at the end of October 2022). Stefano helped port some Python packages to 3.11, in January, and also kicked off the final transition to remove Python 3.10 support.

Stefano did a big round of bug triage in the cPython interpreter (and related) packages, applying some provided patches, and fixing some long-standing minor bugs in the packaging.

To allow Debian packages to more accurately reflect upstream-specified dependencies that only apply under specific Python interpreter versions, in the future, Stefano added more metadata to the python3 binary package.

Python’s unittest runner would successfully exit with 0 passed tests, if it couldn’t find any tests. This means that configuration / layout changes can cause test failures to go unnoticed, because the tests aren’t being run any more in Debian packages. Stefano proposed a change to Python 3.12 to change this behavior and treat 0 tests as a kind of failure.

debvm, by Helmut Grohne

With support from Johannes Schauer Marin Rodrigues, and Jochen Sprickerhof, Helmut Grohne wrote debvm, a tool for quickly creating and running Debian virtual machine images for various architectures and Debian and Ubuntu releases. This is meant for development and testing purposes and has already identified a number of bugs in e.g. fakechroot (#1029490), Linux (#1029270), and runit (#1028181).

Rails 6 and Redmine 5 available in bullseye-backports, by Utkarsh Gupta

Bullseye users can now upgrade to the latest 6.1 branch of Rails, v6.1.7, and the latest Redmine version, v5.0.4. The Ruby team received numerous requests to backport the latest version of Rails and Redmine, especially since there was no redmine shipped in the bullseye release itself. So this is big news for all users as we’ve not only successfully backported both the packages, but also fixed all the CVEs and RC bugs in the process!

This work was sponsored by Entrouvert.

Patches metadata in the Package Tracker, by Raphaël Hertzog

Building on the great Ultimate Debian Database work of Lucas Nussbaum and on his suggestion, Raphaël enhanced the Debian Package Tracker to display action items when the patches metadata indicate that some patches were not forwarded upstream, or when the metadata were invalid. One can now also browse the patches metadata from the “Links” panel on the right.

Fixed kernel bug that broke debian-installer on computers with Mediatek wifi devices, by Helmut Grohne

As part of our regular work on Kali Linux for OffSec, they funded Helmut’s work to fix the MT7921e driver. When being loaded without firmware available, it would not register itself, but upon module release it would unregister itself causing a kernel oops. This was commonly observed in Kali Linux when reloading the module to add firmware. Helmut Grohne identified the cause and sent a patch, a different variant of which is now heading into Linux and available from Kali Linux.

Printing in Debian, by Thorsten Alteholz

There are about 40 packages in Debian that take care of sending output to printers, scan documents, or even send documents to fax machines. In the light of the upcoming/already ongoing freeze, these packages had to be updated to the latest version and bugs had to be fixed. Basically this applies to large packages like cups, cups-filters, hplip but also the smaller ones that shouldn’t be neglected. All in all Thorsten uploaded 13 packages with new upstream versions or improved packaging and could resolve 14 bugs. Further triaging led to 35 bugs that could be closed, either because they were already fixed and not closed in an earlier upload or they could not be reproduced with current software versions.

There is also work to do to prepare for the future. Historically, printing on Linux required finding a PPD file for your printer and finding some software that is able to render your documents with this PPD. These days, driverless printing is becoming more common and the use of PPD files has decreased.

In the upcoming version 3.0 of cups, PPD files are no longer supported and so called printer applications need to be used. In order not to lose the ability to print documents, this big transition needs to be carefully planned. This started in the beginning of 2023 and will hopefully be finished with the release of Debian Trixie. More information can be found in this Debian Printing Wiki article. In preparation for this transition Thorsten created three new packages.

Yade update, by Anton Gladky

Last month, Anton updated the yade package to the newest 2023.02a version, which includes new features.

Yade is a software package for discrete element method (DEM) simulations, which are widely used in scientific and engineering fields for the simulation of granular systems. Yade is an open-source project that is being used worldwide for different tasks, such as geomechanics, civil engineering, mining, and materials science.

The Yade package in Debian supports different precision levels for its simulations. This means that researchers and engineers can select the needed precision level without recompiling the package, saving time and effort.

Miscellaneous contributions

  • Helmut Grohne continues to improve cross building (mostly Qt) and architecture bootstrap (mostly loong64 and musl).

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