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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: February 3rd, 2003


1.  Gentoo News


KDE 3.1 Released

On Tuesday, KDE 3.1 was released to the Linux community, with Gentoo ebuilds available the same day. This new release contains many new features and security enhancements. While there have been some reports of troubles, the upgrade process seems to be going fairly smoothly for most users. The largest complaint so far has been the amount of time necessary to compile the new version of KDE, with many users reporting significant increases from KDE 3.0 compile times.

Mirror Slowdowns

One of the side affects of the KDE 3.1 release has been the significant slowdowns of the distfile mirrors for most Gentoo users. Additionally, due to the increasing popularity of Gentoo, ibiblio (the main mirror provider of Gentoo Linux distfiles) has been forced to divert much of the Gentoo traffic onto a secondary 'relief' server. While this has helped to distribute the load somewhat, the sheer number of Gentoo-releated requests coming is maxing out the capacity of the server and causing http requests to be queued. This can cause slowdowns and timeouts during emerges and has also caused some problems on the web site since many images are sourced from ibiblio.

Work is being done to transfer web site images to another location which should alleviate many of the broken images people have been seeing on of late. As for the overall mirror slowness, users are encouraged to find and use a mirror closest to them and be patient as the KDE 3.1 tidal wave subsides.

Gentoo server migrations

One of the main Gentoo Linux servers is being retired and, as such, some Gentoo services are being distributed to alternate servers. has already been migrated over to the same server that hosts Other services will be migrated as well over the next few days. During this process, users may notice some glitches as the DNS changes work their way around the net.

2.  Gentoo Security


New Security Bug Reports

The following security-related bug reports were submitted to the bugzilla database this week:

3.  Featured Developer of the Week

Mark Guertin

Figure 3.1: Mark Guertin

Fig. 1: Mark Guertin aka Gerk

This week's featured developer, Mark Guertin, is the senior development manager for Gentoo PPC. He's in charge of coordinating the PPC development team and keeping things together, as well as doing plenty of bug wrangling and testing of PPC packages in an effort to get the best QA possible for the PPC arch. Mark began using Gentoo when he heard that there was an unofficial port to PPC. Jumping in two feet first, it wasn't long before he started the #gentoo-ppc channel, built a site providing Gentoo PPC binaries, and ended up becoming a developer. Alongside five x86 machines running everything from Gentoo to Windows XP, Mark is running seven PPC boxen (mostly Gentoo except a few holdouts on a version of Slackware he ported to PPC long ago), including some arcane dual, and even quad-processor boxen, but his PPC mania doesn't end there: Mark has recently made some changes to yabootconfig, an automatic configurator for the Yaboot boot manager for PPC, allowing it to autodetect and setup even triple-boot with Mac OS 9, OS X, and Linux, and has also been, for several years, hosting and maintaining the build machines for, a site that builds binary kernels from several PPC trees, tailoring some for specific hardware configurations, using an automated kernel build system (gkb - the GNU kernel builder, written by a friend of his). Mark also wrote Xeasyconf, an automatic configurator for X in PPC written specifically for Gentoo PPC but usable with other distros too. One of his favorite applications at the moment is kio-fish, a flexible kio-slave that, given shell access and some standard UNIX commands, allows you to access a remote filesystem as if it were local.

A resident of Toronto, ON in Canada, Mark works as an IT manager and database programmer for a graphics printing/design house during the day, and as the lead developer of Cartwise, a highly successful B2B e-commerce suite. When he's not hacking away at something, Mark has a 100% digital computerized home recording studio with which he enjoys writing, performing, producing, and engineering music. You can hear some of Mark's music here.

4.  Heard In The Community

Web Forums

Gentoo Artwork, Anyone? - Post Your Requests...

It started rather innocuosly, with a single guy called port001 just wanting to try out a few visual effects. Then he got ahead of himself and offered everyone the possibility to request an icon for their favourite application. Within a week, the designer posse has grown to eight Gentooists with a predilection for pretty knobs, and between them they've already created one of the biggest collections of buttons for window managers around. And just in case your software isn't represented yet, you can request it at the same thread, or just grab the Photoshop or Gimp template and do it yourself. And why stop when it's beginning to make sense: Congratulations to the creation of the Gentoo Environment Agency:

Tricky Laptops

When it comes to mobile computing, Windows users are to be envied. Not only do they get their portable computers with an operating system preinstalled, no: the laptop manufacturers also do everything in their might to make the hardware actually comply with said operating system. Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Linux users have to post caveats and warnings all over the place to prevent worse things from happening during their installation attempts. Latest example documented in the forums: power management in the 1.4 LiveCD kernel that does very bad things to HP Omnibooks...

Some DIY Ebuild Scripting

On mailing lists and newsgroups, it's rare to find people who answer to threads that went silent months ago. But in the forums, occasionally a threads just needs to mature for a few months, and then suddenly someone will pick it up, post a few additions and make it all the more useful. Here's a perl script for building packages you can grab and install on a less powerful machine or replicate across your network:

Forum Now Hosting Bugs

rac posted an announcement that sent shivers down the spines of a few people who thought that phpBB had finally revealed some terminal flaws. Fear nothing, it's just that is now being hosted on the same machine as the forums. This looks like the perfect occasion to remind people to search for prior occurrences of their own problem. And best try searching both the forums and the particularly fine assortment of bugs in Gentoo at the sister-site. Unless you don't mind becoming a target of the dreaded "Spot the dup" thread, that is:


Mirror, Mirror on the wall...

... who's the fastest one of them all? With the onset of KDE 3.1 final,'s pipes appeared clogged with Gentoo users scrambling to grab the latest sources. Two threads were spawned on gentoo-user complaining of decreased download speeds and requesting alternatives. Adam Mercer noted the existence of GENTOO_MIRRORS variable in /etc/make.conf along with the page to aid you in selecting a preferred mirror, and avoiding the 'flakiness' of

There's more than one kind of Java

Tom Eastman wrote that he has exclusively used Sun's JDK for all things Java. After becoming a Gentoo'er, he didn't miss the fact that his system relies on Blackdown's JDK by default. This of course raised the interesting question, which is better? Ben Ricker's response pointed us in the direction of good benchmarks located at In short, it depends on what Java is being used for and that all the JVMs will suffice for 'general desktop' usage.


Portage irk

Emiel Kollof writes: "Why is it, when I unmask a package (with a higher version number than the "official one") by using ACCEPT_KEYWORDS, portage downgrades it on the next emerge -u world to a lower version? This is very irritating behaviour. Can it be turned off or disabled somehow?". Caleb answered with a solution and J Robert Ray pointed to a patch in bugzilla to add just that functionality.

Follow-up: Methods for managing etc files

Jeff Kowing says: "Having seen my name mentioned in the bright lights of GWN[...] I was inspired to add an auto update feature to etc-update. It works by saving md5sums before you do a big emerge. After a big emerge, it uses those md5sums to determine which config files you have personally modified. Those you have never modified will be auto updated." See Bugzilla Bug 14666.

Portage Database Management

Ingo Krabbe wonders if there are any plans to have Portage use a database in order to improve speed.

5.  Gentoo International

Unofficial European Gentoo Websites (cont'd)

Ever since Enrico Morelli started Gentoo's Italian web outpost on 1 May 2002, he is getting help from two friends. The three of them maintain the one European Gentoo website the GWN managed to overlook last week: A system administrator by day, Enrico has put Gentoo on every single piece of hardware he could lay hands on at work. Not that anybody in his department at the University of Florence would have been surprised about that, since he also was the person to introduce Linux in the Magnetic Resonance Center in the first place, some ten years ago. Now everything and the kitchen sink have Gentoo installed on them, including the institute's mail server, several workstations and an entire Mosix-cluster. The server still has its three admins, and it appears they're in contact with more volunteers, but sadly, the server suffers from slow connections and rigid conditions for Internet provisioning at its present location. If anyone knows where to host cheaply in Italy, has a spare server that could accomodate a PHP-driven forum or a mailing list, or maybe would like to help the Italian Gentoo community via contributions to their excellent documentation and security alert website, contact

6.  Portage Watch

The following stable packages were added to portage this week

Note: Because of the pending release of 1.4_final, the Portage tree is currently frozen. As such, no new stable packages were introduced to Portage this week

Updates to notable packages

  • sys-kernel/* - development-sources-2.5.59-r3.ebuild; development-sources-2.5.59-r4.ebuild; development-sources-2.5.59-r5.ebuild; development-sources-2.5.59-r6.ebuild; gs-sources-2.4.21_pre3-r3.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r41.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r42.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r43.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r44.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r45.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r46.ebuild; usermode-sources-2.4.19-r47.ebuild; wolk-sources-4.0_pre9.ebuild;
  • dev-db/mysql - mysql-3.23.55.ebuild;

New USE variables

  • ethereal - Adds support for ethereal wiretap log support in kismet
  • usb - Adds USB support to applications that have optional USB support (e.g. cups)

7.  Bugzilla



The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. In the last 7 days, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 287 new or re-opened bugs this week
  • 1590 total bugs currently marked 'new'
  • 568 total bugs curently assigned to developers
  • 52 bugs that were previously closed have been reopened.
There are currently 2210 bugs open in bugzilla. Of these: 43 are labelled 'blocker', 80 are labelled 'critical', and 151 are labelled 'major'.

Closed Bug Rankings

The developers and teams who have closed the most bugs this week are:

New Bug Rankings

The developers and teams who have been assigned the most new bugs this week are:

8.  Tips and Tricks

Setting Your Terminal Title

Since most Gentoo users frequently use terminals (xterm, Eterm, etc.), this week's tip shows how to make them more useful by adding information to the title. We can add the username, hostname, and working directory into the terminal title, making it easier to see where a terminal is, especially if it is minimized. Instead of having to open up the full terminal window, a quick glance at the taskbar is all that's necessary.

If you use Bash, add the following to your ~/.bashrc file.

Code Listing 1.1: ~/.bashrc

SHORT_HOST=`hostname -s`

if [ "$SHELL" = '/bin/bash' ] || [ "$SHELL" = '/bin/sh' ]
    case $TERM in
        PROMPT_COMMAND='echo -ne "\033]0;${USER}@${SHORT_HOST}: ${PWD}\007"'

If you use Zsh, add the following to your ~/.zshrc file. Zsh users can see the current directory if at a prompt, or any commands if a program is running.

Code Listing 1.1: ~/.zshrc

if [ "$SHELL" = '/bin/zsh' ]
    case $TERM in
            precmd() { print -Pn "\e]0;%n@%m - %~\a" }
            preexec () { print -Pn "\e]0;%n@%m - $1\a" }

The idea for this weeks tip came from the Gentoo Forums. This functionality has also made its way into /etc/skel/.bashrc, so many user accounts may have this information in their .bashrc files already.

9.  Moves, Adds and Changes


The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:

  • none this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo team:

  • Peter Johanson (latexer) -- Wireless and laptops
  • Jason Shoemaker (kutsuya) -- Python


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project.

  • Tobias Eichert (viz) -- audio/sound related stuff

10.  Contribute to GWN

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11.  GWN Feedback

Please send us your feedback and help make GWN better.

12.  Other Languages

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter is also available in the following languages:


Page updated 3rd Feb 2003

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of February 3rd, 2003.

Kurt Lieber

AJ Armstrong

Brice Burgess

Yuji Carlos Kosugi

Rafael Cordones Marcos

David Narayan

Ulrich Plate

Peter Sharp

Mathy Vanvoorden
Dutch Translation

Tom Van Laerhoven
Dutch Translation

Roel Adriaans
Dutch Translation

Nicolas Ledez
French Translation

Guillaume Plessis
French Translation

Eric St-Georges
French Translation

John Berry
French Translation

Martin Prieto
French Translation

Michael Kohl
German Translation

Steffen Lassahn
German Translation

Matthias F. Brandstetter
German Translation

Thomas Raschbacher
German Translation

Marco Mascherpa
Italian Translation

Claudio Merloni
Italian Translation

Daniel Ketel
Japanese Translation

Yoshiaki Hagihara
Japanese Translation

Andy Hunne
Japanese Translation

Yuji Carlos Kosugi
Japanese Translation

Yasunori Fukudome
Japanese Translation

Ventura Barbeiro
Portuguese (Brazil) Translation

Bruno Ferreira
Portuguese (Portugal) Translation

Gustavo Felisberto
Portuguese (Portugal) Translation

Ricardo Jorge Louro
Portuguese (Portugal) Translation

Spanish Translation

Rafael Cordones Marcos
Spanish Translation

Julio Castillo
Spanish Translation

Sergio Gómez
Spanish Translation

Pablo Pita Leira
Spanish Translation

Carlos Castillo
Spanish Translation

Spanish Translation

Jaime Freire
Spanish Translation

Lucas Sallovitz
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