Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: May 12th, 2003
Gentoo Linux to make major announcement at E3
Gentoo Linux will be present at the upcoming Electronics Entertainment Exposition in Los Angeles. E3, as it is more commonly known as, focuses on items related to electronic entertainment, including game consoles, computer video games, entertainment and edutainment software and other entertainment-related technologies and industries. Considered as the premier event for its industry, E3 brings all of the major players together under one roof.
In addition to building brand awareness and educating people about the benefits of Gentoo Linux, Gentoo Technologies will be making a significant announcement on May 14th that will be covered in detail in next week's GWN.
Gentoo Technologies to partner with Super Computer, Inc. to bring Gentoo Linux to the Opteron and other enterprise platforms
We're pleased to announce that Super Computer, Inc. (SCI) will be helping
the Gentoo Linux development team to create a 64-bit version of Gentoo Linux
for the AMD Opteron processor. SCI will initiate this relationship by
providing the Gentoo Linux development team with a dual Opteron workstation
as well as any other assistance required to officially support for the AMD
In cooperation with RackSaver, SCI will arrange
for early access to future enterprise-class hardware. RackSaver has joined
SCI in its efforts to support the continued development of Gentoo Linux into
an enterprise-level operating system.
There were no GLSAs issued during the week prior to
this summary's compilation.
New Security Bug Reports
There were no new security bugs reported this week.
Starting with the current issue, the GWN will feature this brand-new section. Here you'll be given the chance to share your story with the Gentoo community!
So did you just switch an entire serverfarm to Gentoo? Have you convinced your grandma not to make steaks out of Larry the Cow? Or did you build a gigantic space station running Gentoo Linux, to take over the world? Tell us! Anything interesting, funny or plain unbelievable you discovered while installing, using or modifying Gentoo Linux is welcome! Just send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org and enjoy your 15 minutes of fame! ;)
Important: Due to the sheer volume of responses that we expect, please don't be offended if your submission doesn't make it into the GWN. There are thousands upon thousands of Gentoo users, but only one issue of the GWN each week.
Enough talking, let's get the ball rolling and take a look what our first featured user has to tell us:
Kai-Uwe Kriewald and rsync7.de.gentoo.org
Figure 3.1: Kai and his servers
Kai is currently 35 years old and living in Hannover, Germany. There he's working at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts where he and his 3 colleagues are trying to keep the University's IT infrastructure up and running. This is not always an easy job when you have to cope with about 6000 students, 100 workstations (Windows) and 15 servers (Novell/Windows/Linux). Despite his job his hobbies include everything regarding computers, as well as movies/going to the cinema, riding his bike and reading (especially dramas and Science Fiction).
Why Gentoo Linux?
Kai discovered Linux when the Kernel was still at version 0.9x and using it involved a lot of DIY. After a while he switched to SuSE Linux which he effectively run for several years. Like Larry the Cow he became frustrated with all the bloat and graphical wizards featured in most of the latest distros and started to look for an optimzed server OS which gives full control over every detail of the configuration to the admin. At the end of 2002 he finally discovered Gentoo Linux which seemed to fit his needs just perfect.
Running the mirrors
Actually Kai found out that he liked Gentoo so much, that he decided to set up a rsync (rsync7.de.gentoo.org) and distfiles mirror. He did this out of two reasons: first he wanted fast access to all the distfiles in the initial phase of trying out and setting up Gento Linux. On the other hand he says he wanted to support Gentoo Linux and give something back to the community which made and still makes this great distribution possible. This is an excellent example of how open source/free software should work!
Currently a Celeron 1.3GHz, with 256MB of RAM, a 100GB HDD and a 100MBit connections is used for mirroring. This is soon to be replaced by a P4 2.6GHz, with 1GB RAM, a 250GB HDD and a 1GBit connection. But Kai has bigger plans for the future: he wants to set up a High Availability cluster using two of the latter systems.
Conclusion and future prospects
Thanks to years of experience in running mirrors (in his "Windows days" Kai used to run the primary Tucows mirror for Germany), good advice by Kurt Lieber and the nice people on the mirror-admin mailing list, he dind't run into any major problems yet (except for using compressed rsync which he deactivated). The mirror is offering distfiles to the users in 3 different ways: rsync, WWW (Apache) and FTP (PureFTPd). All these packages are well tested and documented, so running them shouldn't give you too much headaches.
With ongoing hardware upgrades Kai and his team continue to replace SuSE installations with Gentoo Linux and plan to also use it as firewall,proxy, database and CMS server. Sadly they couldn't get Gentoo to run Informix 9.3 (Kai thinks this is due to too new libraries in Gentoo Linux), which is now run on SuSE 8.1.
If you have questions regarding setting up and running mirrors for Gentoo Linux you can contact Kai by mail.
Featured Developer of the Week
Figure 4.1: Jack Morgan
Jack Morgan is one of the Gentoo-SPARC project co-leads, and as such makes sure that releases get ready, new developers get recruited, bugs get fixed, ISOs get made, and more. A Gentoo-SPARC developer since July 2002, just after the SPARC port began, Jack has met about half of Gentoo's developers at Linux World Expo, FOSDEM, and in Oregon, where he lives, and his goal is to meet over 80%.
Jack's favorite applications include Mutt and exim, not to mention Tux Racer. He has a SPARCStation 5 on which to do testing, an Ultra 30, his main development box, as well as two Athlon XP boxen: a fileserver and a workstation; he uses SCSI disks whenever possible. He usually doesn't run XFree, but uses fluxbox when he does, as well as irssi, mutt, and many other console apps. Jack recently moved to Eugene, Oregon from Japan, where he lived for eight and a half years and met his wife. He spends most of his free time with his three kids, but also runs marathons and likes to play Japanese board games like Shogi and Go.
Heard In The Community
Alleviating the Pressure on rsync Servers
Last week's GWN reminded Gentooists that synching the portage tree should be reigned by sanity, as opposed to abusing the system by issuing an 'emerge rsync' every other hour or so. A few of the usual suspects in the Forums, always true to form, quickly picked this up and started offering their own clever solutions, including checks of the CVS changelogs and only synching if anything of interest to somebody's own configuration has been updated.
Lotus Domino in Gentoo
Running applications only available in binary form may be tricky in a source-based distribution. In a nice example of help yourself, help others, steveb has documented his init scripts to get a Lotus Domino server up and running:
Binary Packages in Gentoo, Portage in Other Distributions?
Source distribution evangelists are hardly ever tempted by pre-compiled applications, and even if they were, serving all USE flag permutations via the Gentoo Reference Platform just doesn't look feasible, does it now... Contrary to popular belief, there are rather nice binary package management systems out there, like Arch's Pacman or Crux' cvsup-based ports system, but would they make sense as tools in Gentoo? Have a look at the latest thread about binary vs. source distro virtues:
gentoo-user as a newsgroup
Let's face it, we can all use some extra time during the day. If you're like the many who suffer through several high traffic mailing lists per day, a little time organizing could save you hours! No, we're not going to sell you a pocket organizer or even encourage you to buy a rolodex. What's at hand here is a sound discussion on how to best sort through the gentoo-user list. Apparently, using gmane as a newsgroup reader and/or gnus to sort through threads is a popular solution. Martin Gramatke pointed out how to subscribe to the gentoo-user list as post only and use gmane to read the list.
It appears that some members of the gentoo-user community, namely Rev. Jeffrey Paul, question the use of rsync in Gentoo's package managment system. His complaint is simple; "rsync requires special server and client software, increases loads on the servers, and significantly limits the number of mirrors (by not being http/ftp compatible)." Others think a change to the system is not necessary at the moment, as Paul de Vrieze best describes. While others want to see rsync further tweaked ala Mandrake's Troels bandwith saving system. Whatever the case, this is an enlightening thread covering an interesting issue.
More Portage Sync Etiquette
Sticking to the topic of bandwith saving and rsync, Louis Candell began a long discussion on the proper methods of updating multiple Gentoo machines on a LAN. NFS (Network File System) was the agreed upon solution. Rex Young let us know that "It[NFS] just works, and it's just easy. If you export /usr/portage to all of the machines on the network, syncing from any one of them leaves all of them synced. It really saves bandwidth, and can be used to ease some of the administration on the machines." If you plan on implementing NFS to share a common /usr/portage tree, reading Marius Mauch's approach may help, and be sure all GIDs and UIDs match on all machines and that you read Lee Fickenscher's advice.
This week there is alot of renewed focus on the init system. Suggestions to add functionality or even entirely replace the current system based on shell scripts with one written entirely in Python.
New service dependency
The idea came up to add a means of communicating when a script has started successfully, in between init and the service scripts. So the service can rely on another being up and functional before starting up itself. Read about how this would work.
An interesting proposal was brought up about writing the Gentoo init scripts in Python. Read about the pros and cons
Also, Jeff Jeter has been working on adapting Portage to run on FreeBSD. Here is how far he is with his project. Interested people should contact Jeff with their feedback and input.
And finally, we are now well into the second release of XFree 4.3.0. Take a look at the latest discussion.
Regional German Gentoo User Meeting in Cologne, not Bonn!
Correcting the mistake made in last week's GWN, the meeting of Gentooists in and around Köln/Bonn will indeed take place this Wednesday, 14 May 2003, but Hellers Brauhaus is of course located on Roonstrasse in Köln, not Bonn as previously reported. Be there from 18:00, tell the others you're coming right here.
German Gentoo User Map
It's merely a fallout from a more ambitious project to get German Gentoo users to register for a future all-German meeting, but it's rather nice in itself: holds an interactive map where Gentooists in Germany can mark their current whereabouts based on GPS data.
The following packages were updated since the last issue:
We have started to use a different method to provide the information we present in this section so, please, report any errors or inconsistencies you may find. Thanks!!
Total number of categories available: 82
Total number of packages available: 4167
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) 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:
- 229 new bugs this week
- 423 bugs closed or resolved this week
- 5 previously closed bugs were reopened this week.
- 2523 total bugs currently marked 'new'
- 345 total bugs currently assigned to developers
There are currently 2914 bugs open in bugzilla. Of these: 48 are labeled 'blocker', 104 are labeled 'critical',
and 228 are labeled '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:
Tips and Tricks
Using Fluxbox Autogrouping
If you use the Fluxbox window manager, autogrouping and tabs allows you to
view programs as a grouped window instead of separate windows. This week's
tips demonstrates this feature using Eterm as an example.
First, you have to edit your ~/.fluxbox/init file. Make sure the group file is defined.
Code Listing 9.1: ~/.fluxbox/init
Make sure there are no tabs or extra spaces at the end of the line or it won't
The next file to edit is the ~/.fluxbox/groups file. This file
specifies program that automatically open inside a tabbed group. Simply add
one program per line.
Code Listing 9.2: ~/.fluxbox/groups
To find out the exact name of the command to put in the file, use the command
xprop | grep '^WM_CLASS' and paste the name into the file.
Now when you open Eterms, they will open as a group. If you want other programs
to do the same thing, just add them to your ~/.fluxbox/groups
Quote/Signature of the week
Starting this week, every issue of the GWN will feature a funny or interesting signature or quote seen in the Gentoo community (forums, IRC, mailing lists).
Gentoo Developer Sven Vermeulen uses the following signature for his mails:
"Thanks to DRM, you know that something has been built in environment of unspecified degree of security, from source you cannot check, written by programmers you don't know, released after passing QA of unknown quality and which is released under a license which disclaims any
Something we should all think about...
Moves, Adds and Changes
The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:
The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo Linux project.
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