As you've probably seen, the testing suite finally got a new upstream kernel version (Linux 2.6.38) and is currently synchronised with unstable. I'm just about to upload a new version of linux-2.6 based on upstream stable update 18.104.22.168.
Linux 2.6.39 is well on its way to release, so 2.6.39-rc4 should soon be in experimental. The Debian source package will add support for the new armhf (ARM with hardware floating-point) architecture.
The linux-base package, introduced to handle transitions and other support functions for 'image' packages, is now built from a separate source package. It won't be changed very often, so you will no longer need to upgrade linux-base every time you upgrade an 'image' package. (This doesn't apply within 'squeeze', but I may have a way to work around that.)
The firmware-linux-free package, containing a few firmware and configuration blobs from Linux that are DFSG-compliant, is also now built from a separate source package. These blobs have not changed for a very long time, so again you will no longer be recommended to upgrade this package every time you upgrade an 'image' package. Secondly, this allows us to remove the entire 'firmware' directory from the upstream source rather than carefully removing and patching to leave just the DFSG-compliant bits.
The '2.4 GHz' and '5 GHz' ISM bands used for wifi are not defined identically around the world. The exact frequency ranges and maximum permitted power levels vary between countries. Radio equipment manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure their equipment operates within these regulations. Since it is expensive to implement such regulations in hardware (including many different variants for different regions), these restrictions are usually implemented in the driver using a country code retrieved from the hardware's EEPROM or flash. So this is now our responsibility.
We need to be able to look up regulations by country codes, and we also need to support the case where a device sold in one country is used in another country with tighter regulations. For some time, the wifi configuration library (cfg80211) included regulatory information for a small number of countries and regions. However, the default since Linux 2.6.34 has been to build-in only the 'world' domain (intersection of all the restrictions) and to request information from user-space. In Debian, we didn't have anything to provide this information, so for example channels 12-13 became unavailable for users in Europe.
The regulatory information should be provided by the Central
Regulatory Domain Agent (CRDA) from a current database. These are
now packaged as
respectively. Drivers that do not use cfg80211 (mostly those from
the 'staging' area) will not be affected, and may or may not
implement correct regulations.
When you travel to another country or use an imported wifi device
with an incorrect country code (I hear 'CN' is common), you can
iw reg set to ensure that your wifi devices operate
within the regulations of the country you are in. Set
REGDOMAIN variable in
/etc/default/crda to make this persistent. These will
be intersected with the regulations specified by the