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Debian: Ben Hutchings, Chris Lamb, and the Freexian Team

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Debian
  • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, March 2021

    In March I was assigned 16 hours of work by Freexian's Debian LTS initiative and carried over 12.25 hours from earlier months. I worked 25.75 hours and will carry over the remainder.

    I eventually settled on an apparently working patch series to fix the futex security issue in Linux 4.9. This went through upstream stable review and was included in 4.9.260. I applied the same fixes to the Debian package, along with some other security and regression fixes. I uploaded it and issued DLA-2586-1.

  • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in March 2021

    One of the original promises of open source software is that distributed peer review and transparency of process results in enhanced end-user security. However, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free and open source software for malicious flaws, almost all software today is distributed as pre-compiled binaries. This allows nefarious third-parties to compromise systems by injecting malicious code into ostensibly secure software during the various compilation and distribution processes.

    The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

  • Challenging times for Freexian (2/4)

    Freexian’s “Debian LTS” service has so far been entirely successful, with a steady growth over the years. Thanks to this, and even if there are always new challenges, it is fair to say that the Debian LTS team has met its goal in the last few years.

    While this started from the desire to make LTS a reality, many sponsors are only looking for a way to give back to Debian through their company, and to make sure that Debian fits their needs.

    But if you look at the bigger picture outside of this small LTS area, you will easily find many issues that need to be addressed if we want Debian to meet the needs of corporate users. Those issues can have widely different types and complexity be. They can be as simple as missing the latest upstream version for an important package because the maintainer disappeared and nobody noticed before it was too late (i.e. the release was frozen); or a somewhat basic piece of software not yet packaged at all; or a release critical bug that was left unattended. On the other end of the spectrum, some corporate requirements will prove tougher to solve, for instance for large software suites that are complex to package, or could potentially have an impact elsewhere in Debian.

    [...]

    This major shift in our offering would also be an ideal opportunity to build a professional, free-software based infrastructure aimed at sustaining this business, making it easier to administer the various aspects of this work, and easily allowing many more sponsors to join (individuals included!).

    On a more pragmatic/operational note, this shift will bring a lot of challenges to the table, and those can hardly be handled with the current resources of Freexian: if we hope to properly implement this new strategy, we’ll need some additional help.

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