This post was an April Fools' Day joke.

The space agencies running the International Space Station (ISS) reported that a laptop accidentally threw to space as waste in 2013 from the International State Station may have connected with a parallel Universe. This laptop was running Debian 6 and the ISS engineers managed to track its travel through the outer space. In early January, the laptop signal was lost but recovered back two weeks later in the same place. ISS engineers suspect that the laptop may had met and crossed a wormhole arriving a parallel Universe from where "somebody" sent it back later.

Eventually the laptop was recovered and in an first analysis the ISS engineers found that the laptop have a dual boot: a partition running the Debian installation made by them and a second partition running what seems to be a Debian fork or derivative totally unknown until now.

The engineers have been in contact with the Debian Project in the last weeks and a Debian group formed with delegates from different Debian teams have begun to study this new Debian derivative system. From the early results of this research, we can proudly say that somebody (or a group of beings) in a parallel universe understand Earth computers, and Debian, enough to:

  • Clone the existing Debian system in a new partition and provide a dual boot using Grub.
  • Change the desktop wallpaper from the previous Spacefun theme to one in rainbow colors.
  • Fork all the packages whose source code was present in the initial Debian system, patch multiple bugs in those packages and some patches more for some tricky security problems.
  • Add ten new language locales that do not correspond to any language spoken in Earth, with full translation for four of them.
  • A copy of the Debian website repository, migrated to the git version control system and perfectly running, has been found in the /home/earth0/Documents folder. This new repo includes code to show the Debian micronews in the home page and many other improvements, keeping the style of not needing JavaScript and providing a nice control of up-to-date/outdated translations, similar to the one existing in Debian.

The work towards knowing better this new Universe and find a way to communicate with them has just began; all the Debian users and contributors are invited to join the effort to study the operating system found. We want to prepare our Community and our Universe to live and work peacefully and respectfully with the parallel Universe communities, in the true spirit of Free Software.

In the following weeks a General Resolution will be proposed for updating our motto to "the multiversal operating system".

In Debian stretch, the upcoming new release, it is now possible to build Android apps using only packages from Debian. This will provide all of the tools needed to build an Android app targeting the "platform" android-23 using the SDK build-tools 24.0.0. Those two are the only versions of "platform" and "build-tools" currently in Debian, but it is possible to use the Google binaries by installing them into /usr/lib/android-sdk.

This doesn't cover yet all of the libraries that are used in the app, like the Android Support libraries, or all of the other myriad libraries that are usually fetched from jCenter or Maven Central. One big question for us is whether and how libraries should be included in Debian. All the Java libraries in Debian can be used in an Android app, but including something like Android Support in Debian would be strange since they are only useful in an Android app, never for a Debian app.

Building apps with these packages

Here are the steps for building Android apps using Debian's Android SDK on Stretch.

  1. sudo apt install android-sdk android-sdk-platform-23
  2. export ANDROID_HOME=/usr/lib/android-sdk
  3. In build.gradle, set compileSdkVersion to 23 and buildToolsVersion to 24.0.0
  4. run gradle build

The Gradle Android Plugin is also packaged. Using the Debian package instead of the one from online Maven repositories requires a little configuration before running gradle. In the buildscript block:

  • add maven { url 'file:///usr/share/maven-repo' } to repositories
  • use compile '' to load the plugin

Currently there is only the target platform of API Level 23 packaged, so only apps targeted at android-23 can be built with only Debian packages. There are plans to add more API platform packages via backports. Only build-tools 24.0.0 is available, so in order to use the SDK, build scripts need to be modified. Beware that the Lint in this version of Gradle Android Plugin is still problematic, so running the :lint tasks might not work. They can be turned off with lintOptions.abortOnError in build.gradle. Google binaries can be combined with the Debian packages, for example to use a different version of the platform or build-tools.

Why include the Android SDK in Debian?

While Android developers could develop and ship apps right now using these Debian packages, this is not very flexible since only build-tools-24.0.0 and android-23 platform are available. Currently, the Debian Android Tools Team is not aiming to cover the most common use cases. Those are pretty well covered by Google's binaries (except for the proprietary license on the Google binaries), and are probably the most work for the Android Tools Team to cover. The current focus is on use cases that are poorly covered by the Google binaries, for example, like where only specific parts of the whole SDK are used. Here are some examples:

  • tools for security researchers, forensics, reverse engineering, etc. which can then be included in live CDs and distros like Kali Linux
  • a hardened APK signing server using apksigner that uses a standard, audited, public configuration of all reproducibly built packages
  • Replicant is a 100% free software Android distribution, so of course they want to have a 100% free software SDK
  • high security apps need a build environment that matches their level of security, the Debian Android Tools packages are reproducibly built only from publicly available sources
  • support architectures besides i386 and amd64, for example, the Linaro LAVA setup for testing ARM devices of all kinds uses the adb packages on ARM servers to make their whole testing setup all ARM architecture
  • dead simple install with strong trust path with mirrors all over the world

In the long run, the Android Tools Team aims to cover more use cases well, and also building the Android NDK. This all will happen more quickly if there are more contributors on the Android Tools team! Android is the most popular mobile OS, and can be 100% free software like Debian. Debian and its derivatives are one of the most popular platforms for Android development. This is an important combination that should grow only more integrated.

Last but not least, the Android Tools Team wants feedback on how this should all work, for example, ideas for how to nicely integrate Debian's Java libraries into the Android gradle workflow. And ideally, the Android Support libraries would also be reproducibly built and packaged somewhere that enforces only free software. Come find us on IRC and/or email!

Outreachy logo

Better late than never, we'd like to welcome our three Outreachy interns for this round, lasting from the 6th of December 2016 to the 6th of March 2017.

Elizabeth Ferdman is working in the Clean Room for PGP and X.509 (PKI) Key Management.

Maria Glukhova is working in Reproducible builds for Debian and free software.

Urvika Gola is working in improving voice, video and chat communication with free software.

From the official website: Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

The Outreachy program is possible in Debian thanks to the effort of Debian developers and contributors that dedicate part of their free time to mentor students and outreach tasks, and the help of the Software Freedom Conservancy, who provides administrative support for Outreachy, as well as the continued support of Debian's donors, who provide funding for the internships.

Debian will also participate in the next round for Outreachy, during the summer of 2017. More details will follow in the next weeks.

Join us and help extend Debian! You can follow the work of the Outreachy interns reading their blogs (they are syndicated in Planet Debian), and chat with us in the #debian-outreach IRC channel and mailing list.

Congratulations, Elizabeth, Maria and Urvika!

The Debian Contributor Survey launched last week!

In order to better understand and document who contributes to Debian, we (Mathieu ONeil, Molly de Blanc, and Stefano Zacchiroli) have created this survey to capture the current state of participation in the Debian Project through the lense of common demographics. We hope a general survey will become an annual effort, and that each year there will also be a focus on a specific aspect of the project or community. The 2016 edition contains sections concerning work, employment, and labour issues in order to learn about who is getting paid to work on and with Debian, and how those relationships affect contributions.

We want to hear from as many Debian contributors as possible—whether you've submitted a bug report, attended a DebConf, reviewed translations, maintain packages, participated in Debian teams, or are a Debian Developer. Completing the survey should take 10-30 minutes, depending on your current involvement with the project and employment status.

In an effort to reflect our own ideals as well as those of the Debian project, we are using LimeSurvey, an entirely free software survey tool, in an instance of it hosted by the LimeSurvey developers.

Survey responses are anonymous, IP and HTTP information are not logged, and all questions are optional. As it is still likely possible to determine who a respondent is based on their answers, results will only be distributed in aggregate form, in a way that does not allow deanonymization. The results of the survey will be analyzed as part of ongoing research work by the organizers. A report discussing the results will be published under a DFSG-free license and distributed to the Debian community as soon as it's ready. The raw, disaggregated answers will not be distributed and will be kept under the responsibility of the organizers.

We hope you will fill out the Debian Contributor Survey. The deadline for participation is: 4 December 2016, at 23:59 UTC.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us via email at:

Following the success of the last round of Outreachy, we are glad to announce that Debian will take part in the program for the next round, with internships lasting from the 6th of December 2016 to the 6th of March 2017.

From the official website: Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

If you want to apply to an internship in Debian, you should take a look at the wiki page, and contact the mentors for the projects listed, or seek more information on the (public) debian-outreach mailing-list. You can also contact the Outreach Team directly. If you have a project idea and are willing to mentor an intern, you can submit a project idea on the Outreachy wiki page.

Here's a few words on what the interns for the last round achieved within Outreachy:

  • Tatiana Malygina worked on Continuous Integration for Bioinformatics applications; She has pushed more than a hundred commits to the Debian Med SVN repository over the last months, and has been sponsored for more than 20 package uploads.

  • Valerie Young worked on Reproducible Builds infrastructure, driving a complete overhaul of the database and software behind the website. Her blog contains regular updates throughout the program.

  • ceridwen worked on creating reprotest, an all-in-one tool allowing anyone to check whether a build is reproducible or not, replacing the string of ad-hoc scripts the reproducible builds team used so far. She posted regular updates on the Reproducible Builds team blog.

  • While Scarlett Clark did not complete the internship (as she found a full-time job by the mid-term evaluation!), she spent the four weeks she participated in the program providing patches for reproducible builds in Debian and KDE upstream.

Debian would not be able to participate in Outreachy without the help of the Software Freedom Conservancy, who provides administrative support for Outreachy, as well as the continued support of Debian's donors, who provide funding for the internships. If you want to donate, please get in touch with one of our trusted organizations.

Debian is looking forward to welcoming new interns for the next few months, come join us!

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