Introducing http://news.debian.net

In short: what is http://news.debian.net? It is an unofficial news website where you can read and submit news about what is going on in the Debian project.

I have always missed having something similar to “KDE Dot News” in Debian. I refer to KDE’s news place because it is the project I more closely follow after Debian, but there are similar news websites for other projects such as Ubuntu’s Fridge.
The Debian project has http://www.debian.org/News/ but this is just a HTML version of the announce mailing lists.

For a long time, debian-devel-announce and debian-announce were enough but they are reserved to the very important stuff (at least they are supposed to) that is mandatory for developers to know. With the project growing over the years, every day we generate interesting bits about our project that are nice to know, but it is not always so important that it justifies an email to announce. This information usually ends split between:

  • personal blogs aggregated onto Planet. (Not everybody follows Debian Planet.)
  • several Debian mailing lists. (No-one is able to follow all the mails in all the mailing lists.)
  • changelog files of packages. (Nobody reads debian-devel-changes to know about uploads of major new version of software.)
  • IRC. (Not everybody is in IRC, and even people are unlikely to read everything.)

Several solutions were tried to solve this problem:

  • Debian Weekly News and Debian Project News. These keep a format that require too much work to maintain and they are currently not being published (although there is some work going on to rectify this). In addition, as they take some time in being published they often carried news items that are more than one week old, and thus did not qualify as “news” anymore.
  • http://times.debian.net This was an very interesting step in the right direction IMHO, but it was 90% aggregated content from other sources and submitting contributions was not easy.
  • http://twitter.com/debian Great idea but microblogging has some limitations: maximum length of the messages, no comment system, only DDs with their key at hand can send messages, ugly short URLs, …
  • Developers news in debian-devel-announce. Similar to Debian Weekly News, to make it worthwhile, you have to wait until you can aggregate few news items together which can result in the oldest news is not being really “new” anymore.

Finally, you have other different websites that are merely content aggregation from several sources, such as http://www.debian-news.net/.

What I was missing is a place to that allow people submit content easily (email, quick web form, and if you are really interested, publishing rights!), with short news (several lines, but not long but not so short as Twitter) and links to the interesting stuff for the rest of the project.

Examples of content I would like to have in http://news.debian.net

  • Small updates about uploads of an important version of new software, for example: KDE 4.3 has been uploaded to unstable or you have Python 3000 in experimental if you want to play with it. Obviously, and upload of KDE 4.3.1 or Python 3.0.1 are not interesting news.
  • Summaries of Debian Meetings. From time to time Debian teams meet and take decisions, some send an email to debian-devel-announce, some don’t. In any case, it would be interesting for all the project to know about them and their most important results. And of course, thanks to the sponsors.
  • Also, having a place to to publish interesting stuff such as DebConf videos or schedules. Yes, there is a DebConf blog, but as personal anecdote, when I wanted to make the schedule public it did not look easy to me find out how to publish stuff there and I decide to write about it on my own blog instead…
  • News about Debian running in new and exotic hardware.
  • Very short articles about companies and institutions using Debian.
  • Links to the most interesting posts of Debian contributors in Planet about Debian infrastructure improvements. Or, if it is the case, to a mail in the web archives.
  • … I am sure there are more examples, but this is what I can think of now :)

I will keep publishing/linking to the interesting stuff I see on Planet and on mailing lists but I do not read everything. If you have any interesting news you want to publish, please submit it. In the future, it would be nice to reach approximately 50% selected content from other sources (eg. personal posts from Planet) and 50% generated content.

If you have any comments, want to be an editor or want to help with the site design/theme (it can be highly improved), please drop me an email.

18 thoughts on “Introducing http://news.debian.net

  1. ReedWood

    Hello Ana,

    great service. This seems exactly be the web side I always missed for debian. I have aggregated at once.

    Cheers, Wolfgang

  2. Troy Unrau

    From experience in helping manage the dot, we are blessed with a number of very dedicated editors. In particular, without someone around like JR, or Jos, news would simply dry up. In fact, we’re sorely missing Dannya right now, as the commit-digest was a heavy traffic attractor for the dot.

    Anyway, good luck, from a fellow editor on a different site :)

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  4. Christian Pfeiffer Jensen

    Hi Ana,

    good initiative and good luck with the site! As you mention, it fills a gap in the flow of news from the Debian world that few have the energy and overview to fill – I really hope you get it up and running over time (and perhaps gets more editors, as Troy mentions).

    I’ll certainly use it and link to the news items posted here.

    I even like the name – couldn’t have picked one better myself ;-) However, I’m a bit dissapointed that you chose not to link to the debian-news.net-site since you mentioned it, but I guess that’s a minor detail.

    Good luck
    Christian Jensen

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  9. Ian Zimmerman

    Ok, but why is web/RSS the only mode of reading? Can we really not have a good old mailing list?

    Interacting with a web page is still much more painful for me than interacting with any number of mail readers, and I’m afraid it will stay that way until I die.

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  11. kabniel

    RSS feeds doesnt seem to be updating, entries from 4th and 5th Aug arent in the feed as i write this.

    Looks promising though :)

  12. Ana

    @kabniel: oh, for surviving so many visits I set very strict caching rules. Everything is refreshed now, thank you!

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