[conspire] Hvilket språk foretrekker du?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 11 14:17:34 PDT 2004

OK, I'll explain the subject header in a moment.  This post is mainly an
excuse to let drop the other shoe concerning the news / mail gateway
breakage, back in April.

Many moons ago, Debian developer Joey Hess developed a nice little
system utility called Debconf, designed to address a common problem:
When you installed or upgraded packages on a Debian system, the
installation scripts asked you questions on the basis of which the
package(s) in question got appropriate configuration files constructed
and installed.  The problem was that your answers to that question
weren't being stored away for reuse later.  Thus, if a second package
needed the answer to the same question the first one asked you, it
blithely asked you the same question again.

So, Debconf was/is a then-new system utility that mediated between you
and package installation and _remembers_ answers you gave to
configuration questions.  When the same information is needed for a
second package, Debconf supplies it on your behalf, so you no longer
face the same, identical questions over and over.  Moreover, when you
later upgrade the same package, your answers from the previous time get
re-used.  Moreover, Debconf has a configurable "urgency level" (not the
exact term used, but close) setting, where if any particular question
from a package has been seemed sufficiently dire in its consequences, 
you get bugged about it each time it arises during package installation
/ upgrade, while any question less important than the threshold gets 
fed your prior default answer by Debconf.

So, around April, I happen to have mass-upgraded lots of packages on the
system, including Mailman.   The Debian packager for Mailman happened to
have made the decision that most sites won't want to enable news -> mail 
gateway service, and so a default answer of "no" was assumed for that
question -- _and_ the urgency level for that question was set below my 
default bug-me-if-at-least-this-important level.

In consequence, the cronjob that picks up new newsgroup articles and
feeds them to the mailing list got disabled in the newly installed copy
of /etc/cron.d/mailman, and so new newsgroup postings were ignored from
that time forward -- and I didn't notice the particulars of what

The correct way to fix such problems, once you become aware of them, is
to run (as the root user) "dpkg-reconfigure [packagename]".  This is the
command to re-run setup for the named package, _and_ it asks you _all_ 
of the configuration questions for that package, including the ones that
ordinarily would have been below the Debconf urgency threshold.

When I did "dpkg-reconfigure mailman", I was indeed asked, right away,
whether I wished to have the news -> mail gateway service enabled, with
a default answer of "no", which I changed to "yes".  The reason this is
the long-term-correct way to fix the problem is that "yes" has now been
memorised by Debconf as the default for that setting in the future, and
thus the gateway will not break during future upgrades, even though the
question will remain under my urgency threshold.  (Prior to a minute
ago, my "fix" had been to manually uncomment the gateway-service lines
in /etc/cron.d/mailman .  That's fine for the moment, but would have
gotten clobbered the next time a Mailman upgrade overwrote
/etc/cron.d/mailman, you see.)

Anyhow, one of the _other_ Mailman-configuration questions that had
previously been under my urgency threshold was (paraphrasing) "Would you
like to enable support for other languages?"  The installation default
had been English only, so I took the opportunity to enable support for 
a handful of others.  So, if you wish, you can now interact with
Mailman's Web interface (and other command mechanisms) in German,
French, Spanish, Italian, or Norwegian.

I don't speak a lot of Norwegian, but trying to navigate the pages in
the language was a bit of fun.  Feel free to confuse yourself.  ;->

(The subject header means "Which language do you prefer?" -- in Norsk.)

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