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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: July 28th, 2003


1.  Gentoo News


Radical changes to Perl module handling

A new version of perl that radically changes the way that modules are handled is now available in ~arch, and is slated to appear in the 1.4 release. Perl has a list of directories in which it looks for modules called @INC, and the standard ordering of @INC is rather inconvenient for distribution maintainers. It is impossible to override the functionality of modules that are included in the core distribution without overwriting the files. That is what Gentoo has done to date, but it has some unfortunate side-effects.

While one would expect that merging and unmerging a new version of ExtUtils-MakeMaker would return one's system to the state it was in before, it does not. Instead, ExtUtils::MakeMaker is completely wiped off the system, and the system becomes unable to install any more modules. In perl 5.8.0-r12 and beyond, @INC is augmented and reordered, so that versions of files in the core are actually near the bottom of the chain, and can be overridden easily in two well-defined ways: by the vendor directories and the site directories. Files in the site directories in turn can override those in the vendor directories.

After 5.8.0-r12 has been widely installed, we will change the perl-module eclass so that all ebuilds in dev-perl that use it will install their files into the vendor directory. Up to now, they use the site directory. The site directory is the perl equivalent of /usr/local in the current opinion of the Gentoo perl team, and we are going to give users complete control over what goes in there, so you will never have to worry about Gentoo ebuilds writing into your site directories any more, and you always have the last say about which version of a module is going to be used. Want to try a version from CPAN that's a little experimental? Go ahead, and then just delete it from the site directory, and you will have the version from the ebuild right there, without any need to reemerge it. No longer will depclean or unmerging perl modules disable critical perl functionality.

However, since current versions of some perl module ebuilds that are already installed on people's systems lay claim to critical files in the perl core, you need to get those off of your systems before emerging perl-5.8.0-r12. emerge will remind you of this by using blocking depends, so if you have the problematic versions of the packages installed, emerge -u world or emerge -u perl will abort with an error. Note that the version mentioned in the block is the safe version, because the block says it conflicts with anything prior to the safe version. Below is the list at this time of safe versions of the affected modules. Anything prior must be unmerged before emerging perl. Note that you do not necessarily need to remerge the safe version of these modules after installing perl 5.8.0-12, because the 5.8 core contains versions of these modules that are sufficiently recent for most uses.

  • ExtUtils-MakeMaker-6.05-r6
  • File-Spec-0.84-r1
  • Test-Simple-0.47-r1

First Gentoo BugDay on August 2

The Gentoo Linux development team is going to dedicate a day to QA on Saturday, 2 August 2003, the first Gentoo BugDay. Developers and users are encouraged to join #gentoo-bugs on to test and fix as many bugs as possible. We're hoping that by periodically setting aside time to fix bugs and by enlisting users' help we can take a chunk out of the bugs open on Bugzilla. So come and join the fun!

Gentoo Linux 1.4 for PowerPC now available for pre-order

Our new Gentoo Store is now now accepting pre-orders for Gentoo Linux 1.4 for PowerPC, PowerPC G3, PowerPC G4, and the KDE/GNOME PowerPC LiveCD, which now contains both desktop environments on one CD. Thanks to the Gentoo PowerPC team for their excellent work!

Indonesian documentation in need of translators

The Indonesian documentation team is in need of translators to translate the Gentoo Linux project's documentation. Candidates should have a solid understanding of both written Indonesian as well as written English. Interested parties should make a visit to #gentoo-id, the Indonesian community channel at, or drop a line to Erwin.

2.  Gentoo Security


GLSA: nfs-utils

Quote from advisory:

"Local or remote attacker which is capable to send RPC request to vulnerable mountd daemon could execute arbitrary code or cause denial of service."

  • Severity: High - Potential remote file overwriting or code execution.
  • Packages Affected: nfs-utils prior to nfs-utils-1.0.5
  • Rectification: Synchronize and emerge nfs-utils, emerge clean.
  • GLSA Announcement

GLSA: gnupg

gpg needs to be setuid to make use of protected memory space, however the setgid bit allowed gpg user to overwrite group root writable files and is therefor unnecessary.

  • Severity: High - Potential remote file overwriting.
  • Packages Affected: gnupg prior to gnupg-1.2.2-r1
  • Rectification: Synchronize and emerge gnupg, emerge clean.
  • GLSA Announcement

New Security Bug Reports

The following new security bugs were posted in the past week:

3.  User stories

User stories will be back next week with a story about how Gentoo Linux is being used at Digital Illusions CE (the company which makes Battlefield 1942). Remember to send us your bizarre, hilarious, or incredible Gentoo stories so they can be featured here!

4.  Featured Developer of the Week

Robert Coie

Figure 4.1: Robert Coie

Fig. 1: Robert Coie

Robert Coie (rac) will be familiar to many Gentoo users, as he is often present in both the forums and IRC helping with support and configuration questions. In addition to those efforts, Robert assists with the administration of the forums and on the maintenance of Perl and XEmacs packages in portage. Robert was also involved in the initial development of digital signature verification for portage.

Robert is an old-time Mac developer. He has contributed patches and bugfixes to the Macintosh port of Perl, and even developed some shrink-wrapped applications for the mac called "Highway" and "Construction" which produced mathematically-complex abstract artwork and animations. The applications were sufficiently popular amongst DJs in the Japanese club scene that Robert was featured as a televised guest on a Japanese culture program. Robert has also contributed to updating wireless LAN card drivers for the 2.2 kernel and the Linux-MIPS handheld project.

Choosing to name his computers after female espionage agents, Robert works on josie (Josephine Baker), an Athlon XP 2700+ and a Titanium Powerbook named noor (Princess Noor Inayat Khan). He works primarily in XEmacs and recently moved to the Mozilla Firebird browser. He uses Enlightenment for his WM and used to use the MULE extensions for Japanese support in text editing, which lead to his current use of the emacs-based Oort Gnus for mail.

Robert works for a Japanese system design and implementation firm, developing custom software and special-purpose Linux servers. He has been married for 7 years and currently lives in California, although his job requires a trip to Japan every few months.

Robert is also a musician, playing guitar on his black sunburst '89 USA Fender Strat or a cherry red Ovation 1867 acoustic/electric. He likes to cook and frequently tries his hand at making unique seasonal and environmentally friendly meals. He is eclectically rounded-out with skills in card-playing, rowing and hiking. It is reported that he owns a hairless cat. It is likely that this is a normal condition for the cat.

Robert spoke about Gentoo:"The highly motivated users that are willing to participate in improving the distribution, whether it be by filing bugs, testing packages, contributing ebuilds, or helping other users, are what gives Gentoo the strength it has."

5.  Heard in the Community

Web Forums

Gentoo Framebuffer, Bootsplash

Bootsplash has made its way to gentoo, allowing for high resolution consoles and attractive backgrounds to do your hacking in. These two forums focus on how to get bootsplash and framebuffer working in gentoo.

CFLAGS Optimizations

Optimizing your computer is one of the main reasons why gentoo users choose gentoo. This forum shares and discusses peoples experiences with different optimizations.

XD2 Port Project

A project to port Ximian's Desktop 2 to gentoo. It is a project to create ebuilds for the Ximian Gnome packages to allow Gentoo users a desktop environment that is polished and deviates as little from XD2 as possible.

Automounting Drives

Trying to get cdrom drives, floppy drives, and other devices to automatically mount in your Gentoo system. Look no further this forum discuss automounting and how to get automounting to work for you.


Many new technologies are quickly gaining popularity. One such advancement is the use of (re)writable DVD media. In the forums, a gentoo user has asked which program to use for burning DVDs, and the thread became a great informative point on DVD burning and linux. Ranging from "which media type should I use?" to the limitations of ISO9660, this is certainly a good read for anyone interested in the subject.


What is Azarah?

Just what was this phantom "Azarah Exp $" popping up in files on Robert Crawford's system? Curious, he quickly sent a post out. Come to find out, those comments were really records of the dev who last touched the files. However, Azarah also showed up as a storage device for Robert. Can Azarah really be a dev and a storage device? Click here to find out! In reality, the user's text editor created a new line, setting Azarah as the mountpoint.

X editors for programmers

Gentoo user Nathaniel McCallum posed a relatively simple question to the gentoo-user list this week: "Are there any good X text editors for programmers that don't use GTK or QT?". It spawned a pretty large discussion with good suggestions, as well as a few classic emacs / vi cheap shots thrown in for fun. Link here.

Gentoo Poll Number 2

Gentoo Dev fava (Fred Van Andel) decided to repost his poll. The Question: "Why did you choose Gentoo?" Please send all replies to According to Fred, response to this poll has been slow, so feedback is welcome! The original post can be found here.


Booting a gentoo install from floppies

Mike Frysinger posted a reqest for help about creating a set of floppies for booting, and installing, gentoo. Indubitably, Quite a few people had something to say about it!

Compile Progress

Rutger Lubbers suggested this idea about how progress is monitored in compiles (something all gentooists have to love!). Discussion centered around different dependencies this "time" calculation involves, and what units to use...

(crazy?) proposal to reduce load and disk on mirrors

As gentoo continues to bring new software to the user, the need for storage on the mirrors increases steadily. And even though mirroring the portage tree is a good solution for improving access to the software. It might not be the most effective way of storing heavy weight applications such as games.

Håvard Wall suggests the implementation of a point-to-point system that lets users share the larger files. That way there would almost certainly always be a copy of the software out there. However the scheme is not entirely problem free. Read the following discussion as it brings both pros and cons.

6.  Gentoo International

There is no Gentoo International news this week

7.  Portage Watch

The following stable packages were updated or added to portage in the last week

Total categories: 92 (6 categories added in the last two weeks)

Total packages: 5984 (1060 packages added in the last two weeks)

8.  Bugzilla



The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 18 July 2003 and 24 July 2003, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 450 new bugs during this period
  • 231 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 7 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 3405 currently open bugs: 75 are labeled 'blocker', 146 are labeled 'critical', and 285 are labeled 'major'.

Closed Bug Rankings

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

New Bug Rankings

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

9.  Tips and Tricks

All about:Mozilla

This week's tip shows you some useful tricks in Mozilla - specifically the about: address. To access these special pages in Mozilla (or any Mozilla based browser), just enter the URL into the location bar.

There are six main pages you can access to view some hidden options in Mozilla. These are:

  • about:
  • about:cache
  • about:config
  • about:credits
  • about:mozilla
  • about:plugins
  • The addresses about:, about:credits, and about:mozilla show you some information about the people behind Mozilla and contain links to Mozilla licensing information.

    The next address, about:cache, displays your cache information (both disk and memory). Entering this address should display something similar to the following:

    Code Listing 9.1: about:cache

    Memory cache device
    Number of entries: 	210
    Maximum storage size: 	4096 k
    Storage in use: 	3943 k
    Inactive Storage: 	2630 k
    List Cache Entries
    Disk cache device
    Number of entries: 	1468
    Maximum storage size: 	50000 k
    Storage in use: 	10180 k
    Cache Directory: 	/home/david/.galeon/mozilla/galeon/Cache
    List Cache Entries

    The next address, about:plugins, displays all the plugins available in Mozilla. This is a great way to see what you have installed and troubleshoot why a particular plugin may not be working.

    The last address, about:config, displays just about every single configuration option available to Mozilla. In most Mozilla-based browsers, you can modify these values directly from this page - saving quite a bit of typing and editing preference files.

    10.  Featured Quote/Signature of the Week

    This week we're featuring forum user senectus's sig: "Imagine a school with children that can read and write, but with teachers who cannot, and you have a metaphor of the Information Age in which we live." - Peter Cochrane.

    11.  Moves, Adds and Changes


    The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:

    • none this week


    The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:

    • Keith Wesolowski (wesolows) -- sparc, mips


    The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo Linux project.

    • none this week

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    Page updated 28 July 2003

    Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of July 28th, 2003.

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