Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: 26 May 2008
This month in the GMN
Welcome to the May issue of the Gentoo monthly newsletter!
As usual, you can discuss any aspect of this issue of the GMN in the
forum thread. We look forward to hearing from you!
Gentoo Foundation reinstated
Thanks to the efforts of the Gentoo Trustees, the Gentoo
Foundation is once again a nonprofit
Council Meeting Summary
The Gentoo Council held
its monthly meeting on May 8, 2008. The items put up for discussion were:
Active-developer document: We reviewed it and made some suggestions
for improving both the document and the online developer list (adding
ChangeLog entries: Always required. If you aren't making them now, fix
your script to call echangelog.
Ignored arch-team bugs: What's the workflow for undermanned arch
teams? Can we improve it?
8-digit versions: Ask package maintainers with extremely long PVs
whether they were needed and test the impact of extending
versionator.eclass. Make decision once this data is available.
Enforced retirement: After 2.5 hours on the previous topics, people
had to go to sleep and jokey's computer
broke. Instead of waiting till the next regular meeting, because of its
urgency, we scheduled a special session next week at the same time. The
appeals will *not* be decided then -- it's about figuring out the validity
and the process.
New meeting process: 105 minutes were closed and 57 were open. It
might save some time if we always moderated, but it won't cut it in half.
Should we keep doing this, or modify it a little to have a moderated
#gentoo-council and open backchannel?
Some items were rolled over from the previous meeting:
Document of being an active developer: araujo made
http://dev.gentoo.org/~araujo/gcert1.pdf in Scribus. He'd like to
ask for approval of this design and discuss the script, in particular its
Slacker arches: No updates
LinuxTag Berlin: The
biggest European Linux event is on again. On the Berlin Fairgrounds, Gentoo
will be featured again. Join developers and users on the booth between
May 28 and 31, we hope it'll be as much fun as Chemnitz was!
Looking for a way to help out Gentoo without investing a lot of time? Join
us on June 07 for our monthly bugday, and help us squash some bugs.
Meeting: The Gentoo Council meets every month to discuss important
technical issues that affect Gentoo as a whole. This month's meeting is
scheduled to be held on June 12, and everyone is welcome to
participate - #gentoo-council on irc.freenode.net at 2000UTC.
Trustees Meeting: There will be a trustees meeting on June 22 -
#gentoo-trustees on irc.freenode.net at 1900 UTC. The agenda will be
posted in the channel's topic closer to the meeting time. All are welcome to
Heard in the Community
Interview: Google Summer of Code Student Eric Thibodeau
GSOC has started, and GMN editor Anant Narayanan has interviewed one of
Gentoo's students, Eric Thibodeau.
GMN: Give us a brief introduction of yourself. Where are you from? Where
and what do you study? What's your homepage or other means for fans to stalk
Eric: I am from Montréal, Québec (Canada) and have been studying at the
École de technologies supérieures (aka ETS) since 2000. I've completed a
bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering (Information Technology profile) and
was offered to continue on with a masters in parallel processing and
Multi-objective Genetic Algorithm profiling which I am hoping/have to finish
this summer ;). I've given BASH labs and classes at that same University on and
off depending on my time availability (now why am I giving a lab this summer is
beyond me ;) ).
I use my personal wiki (http://wiki.neuralbs.com) mostly as a sandbox
for jotting down stuff I do with Gentoo. I am not a big fan of personal web
pages since they are outdated by definition and would require too much of my
time. The best way to reach me is usually by poking at me on Freenode where I
lurk around and pester the really smart people from
GMN: Were you already involved with Gentoo and/or open source in general
before acceptance into SoC? If yes, briefly tell us how you got involved and why
you like writing open source code.
Eric: I've been mostly involved with Gentoo as a sysadmin, user and a
preacher (of some sorts). Due to my studies, my involvement usually revolved
around creating ebuilds for packages that were missing from the tree (ie:
OpenMPI which I was really glad a real dev took over ;) ), reporting bugs and
sharing my experience/expertise surrounding parallel processing, NFS booted
Gentoo SSI (Single System Image) and High Performance Computing.
GMN: How has your experience with the Gentoo community been so far?
Eric: I can't really give an assessment of the Gentoo "community" since
I've been using Gentoo since 2002 and might be biased by my first impression
which was 1) excellent documentation, 2) The "raison d'être" of open-source and
Linux: software compiled and optimized specifically for your hardware and
finally 3) A very active community where anyone can easily contribute (ebuilds
are just text files).
GMN: Please tell our readers a little about the project you're working
on, and why you think it will be helpful to Gentoo users. What was your
inspiration for starting the project? What do you expect to achieve with it?
Eric: I'll be working on building a Gentoo LiveCD/DVD with a twist: it
will be used to create a Beowulf computation cluster "on the fly". I picked this
project up after seeing a request for such a CD on the gentoo-science mailing
list (it was actually "if there is someone crazy enough out there").
What prompted me to take on the project is the fact that I have rebuilt a
cluster a few years back by creating my own Gentoo SSI and cluster head node.
The process was long, frustrating, half-documented and mostly not completed to
my satisfaction due to lack of tool integration and poor reproducibility of my
setup. My primary goal is to make clustering under Gentoo more accessible and
faster to deploy rather than learning every bits and pieces required to build
such an infrastructure.
GMN: What do you do when you're not coding? (hobbies, interests, favorite
T.V. shows etc.)
Eric: Apart from coming up with excuses to stay in front of the computer
to "chat with this otherwise never accessible godlike dev" on IRC, I enjoy
taking care of my nine month old daughter, watching off-beat movies with my
girlfriend. Although it's been a while since I've had a chance to do so, I
usually help out in designing some eccentric clothing
(http://www.mekkreations.com) which tend to reuse computer parts
(hard disks are so cool!)
GMN: Thanks for your time, and wish you all the best for the Summer!
Porthole 0.6.0 nearing release
Porthole is a gtk+ Portage
tree browser and front-end. It strives to put the most important and
useful information there for you to learn about a package before deciding to
upgrade or install it. It also provides the most commonly used emerge operations
with just a click or two. One of Porthole's greatest features is that information
is much quicker to find, especially if you do not know what you are looking for.
Porthole can search for (partial or complete) package names, as well as
searching package descriptions.
Porthole allows you to easily select and set USE flags, keywords, select
specific versions to emerge or unmerge, and toggle any of the emerge options off
or on. There is also a "Run Custom Command" option to send nearly any command to
Porthole's terminal. The terminal has configurable message filtering (since
before Portage implemented elog capabilities) and has a command queue that can
be paused and restarted.
New in porthole-0.6.0 is a saved description database that Porthole creates and
automatically updates when it sees that the Portage tree has been updated. This
provides for very fast description searches even on older slower hardware. The
results are browseable with just a mouse click.
Another new feature in porthole-0.6.0 is the ability to add "Sets" support to
existing Portage versions without waiting for portage-2.2 or switching to
pkgcore or paludis. Sets let you easily create your own package
groups such as a custom Gnome set, a server set, etc.
Porthole is available in several languages, and its developers are looking for
volunteers to update the translations and add new languages. They would also
like additional arch testing. Follow its development on Bugzilla and this forum
Project Sunrise: the Gentoo user overlay
We all know that the Portage tree is huge, but even with the size of Portage,
sometimes some package is missing: a plug-in for some specific mail client, or a
brand-new fork of a web server. In such cases, you'd usually file a bug at bugs.gentoo.org, but there's some chance
your ebuilds won't make it to the tree from there, at least not for awhile.
The trouble is "firstname.lastname@example.org" in the AssignedTo field, which
indicates that a Gentoo developer has yet to step up and maintain your package.
How about being your own maintainer of a package? Guess what: it's possible!
Thanks to Project
Sunrise, you can make your own ebuild and add it to a package overlay
maintained by users. After a review of your ebuild by Gentoo developers (which
usually takes at most two days), everyone will be able to easily install your
ebuild, as transparently as if it was in the Portage tree.
Interested? Check out http://overlays.gentoo.org/proj/sunrise or stop
by on IRC at #gentoo-sunrise on
irc.freenode.net. Happy ebuild crafting!
Interview with Donnie Berkholz
Gentoo developer Donnie Berkholz talked to David Abbott of LinuxCrazy. Download the podcast. A transcript is available
on the Gentoo
He described how he became a developer and his work on X, the council, and the
public relations team and the Summer of Code project he's mentoring for. Donnie
also recommended the best video cards to buy if you want to support open source.
He saw the Linux desktop's future as increasing integration and security. Here's
how Donnie described how Gentoo makes progress and where to go from here:
"The more time I spend in Gentoo, the more I realize that it's the
individual developers who really drive most of our innovations. They
don't happen because the council makes a decision. They happen because
the developer, or a few of them, think that it sounds like a cool idea,
and make it happen."
"Making Gentoo great is my biggest goal right now, and greatness is a
process. It's not a place. So you can't get somewhere and say you're
great. You always have to keep striving for it. For a while we've been
content to stick with the status quo instead of striving for greatness,
but we have to change that and to always improve Gentoo."
Decibel Audio Player: Joshua Saddler has been working
to bring Decibel, a clean,
userfriendly gtk+ audio player, to Gentoo. It's finally been added
to the tree, so try it
Microcode: Ryan Hill informs how one can load microcode updates for
Python: As Python is the base for our main package manager, Ali Polatel tells us about the current
state of Python.
Portage: Portage developer Zac Medico describes some new
features of Portage and documents the behavior of Portage in detail: dependency
resolution and automatic
unmerge on blocking
No Gentoo on virtual server? No problem!: Gunnar Wrobel has a
guide on how to install Gentoo on rented virtual
System tool: Luis Francisco Araujo announces the 0.20 version of his tool
a graphical frontend to Portage.
Replacing grep: Although it sounds weird, Tobias Klausmann
describes why there is a nice alternative
LZMA vs. bzip2: As more and more GNU tarballs are available as LZMA
compressed files, Tobias Klausmann does a quick comparison
of the standard compression tools.
Organising meetings on IRC: Donnie Berkholz has some experience
in organising IRC meetings as member of the Gentoo council. His experience
is worth sharing.
RDEPEND vs. DEPEND: Diego Elio Pettenò has written down a summary
of the differences between RDEPEND and DEPEND and why you should respect them.
Gentoo in the News
Gentoo received a favorable review
from Jones Productions, even beating Ubuntu 8.04. The author also praised the
The thing I love most about Gentoo is it gives the user the power to do anything
they want, and its just awesome to be able to use a Distro that you built
—From the review
Tips and Tricks
Command-line network monitoring
Have you ever wanted facilities like top, but for your computer's network? This
tip shows you what options you have in command-line network monitors.
The first is IPTraf:
Code Listing 4.1: Installing IPTraf
# emerge iptraf
Using it is easy:
Code Listing 4.2: Using IPTraf
It is a highly advanced ncurses interface. You can choose view your
network status from many angles: IP traffic by port and IP address, general
interface statistics such as number of packets passing through, speed and volume
of packets passing through, and much more.
Another network monitor is vnstat. This program is useful for historical
statistics. It keeps a database for your interfaces.
Code Listing 4.3: Installing vnstat
# emerge vnstat
It will need an hour to gather enough statistics. vnstat is installed
with a cron script (/etc/cron.hourly/vnstat) that updates
vnstat's database every hour. Once you have enough data in the database
you can get hourly, daily, and monthly data from vnstat. For example, to
see hourly statistics:
Code Listing 4.4: Viewing hourly statistics
$ vnstat -h
A third program is iftop. iftop does for networking what
top does for CPU usage. It shows you which connections have the most
traffic going in and out. Install iftop:
Code Listing 4.5: Installing iftop
# emerge iftop
Then run and use it just like top:
Code Listing 4.6: Running iftop
You can press ? to view options that you can use.
Gentoo developer moves
Gentoo is made up of 261 active developers, of which 43 are currently away.
Gentoo has recruited a total of 642 developers since its inception.
The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:
- Stephen Bennet (spb)
- Richard Brown (rbrown)
- Wulf C. Krueger (philantrop)
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:
- Jeremy Olexa (darkside) joined the Gentoo Prefix team
- Michael Hammer (mueli) joined the Kerberos team
- Markus Duft (mduft) joined the Gentoo Prefix team
- Chris Henhawke (bunder) joined the Forums staff
- Andrey Grozin (grozin) joined the Science team
- Serkan Kaba (serkan) joined the Java team
Panagiotis Christopoulos (pchrist) joined the Lisp and Scheme teams
The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:
- Yuri Vasilevski (yvasilev) joined the deb-tools herd
- Joshua Saddler (nightmorph) joined the GMN team
- Tobias Scherbaum (dertobi123) joined the bind herd
- Peter Volkov (pva) joined the app-dicts and sysadmin herds
- Tiziano Müller (dev-zero) joined the sysadmin herd
This section summarizes the current state of the Portage tree.
Figure 6.1: Package distribution by keyword
The following section lists packages that have either been moved or added to the
tree. The package removals come from many locations, including the Treecleaners and various developers.
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla
(bugs.gentoo.org) to record
and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions
with the development team. The following chart summarizes activity on
Bugzilla between 20 April 2008 and 20 May 2008.
Figure 7.1: Bug activity split-up
Of the 11141 currently open bugs: 16 are labeled blocker,
103 are labeled critical, and 374 are labeled major.
Closed bug ranking
The developers and teams who have closed the most bugs during this period are as follows.
||Gentoo's Team for Core System packages
||Gentoo Linux Gnome Desktop Team
||Perl Devs @ Gentoo
||Gentoo KDE team
||Gentoo Sound Team
||Python Gentoo Team
Figure 7.2: Bug closed rankings
Assigned bug ranking
The developers and teams who have been assigned the most bugs during this period are as follows.
||Default Assignee for New Packages
||Gentoo's Team for Core System packages
||Default Assignee for Orphaned Packages
||Gentoo Linux Gnome Desktop Team
||Gentoo KDE team
||Gentoo Release Team
Figure 7.3: Bugs assigned rankings
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