Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: December 6, 2004
Gentoo Developer Meeting at 21C3, 27 to 29 December 2004
The 21st Chaos Communication
Congress (21C3) is a three-day conference on technology, society and
utopia. Traditionally held in the German capital of Berlin between Christmas
and New Year's Eve each year, the C3 offers lectures and workshops on
information technology, IT security, Internet, and cryptography, and offers a
generally critical and creative debate on technology and its effects on
Last year's 20C3 already had plenty of Gentoo developers and users attend
the conference, leading to the announcement of an official Gentoo Developer
Meeting to be held concurrently at this year's event. The Gentoo Dev Meeting
is scheduled for 28 December (the second day of the conference) at 18:00 hours,
the guestlist and the agenda are to be announced at the
21C3's public wiki for
Gentoo. It will serve many purposes, ranging from a simple get-together
for (mainly European) Gentoo developers, via exploring the possibilities for
closer co-operation, improved direct communication and more synergies in the
network, to improvements to the Gentoo project as a whole. We will define the
state of the European Gentoo developer network, and how we can improve
developer relations in that network, we will discuss ways to work together and
help each other with our efforts in maintaining and developing the Gentoo
distribution, now and in the future.
Besides the developer meeting, other Gentoo highlights at the 21c3 are
not to be missed, either, one being the Hardened Gentoo presentation of
Alexander Gabert on 28 December at 15:00,
an introduction to the hardened toolchain, the PaX kernel, strong DAC/MAC
control mechanisms and the project's thorough low-entry oriented user
documentation, all-in-all providing "full scale" protection for a wide range
of home to enterprise users. On the exhibition and activity floor of the
conference, the traditional "hackcenter",
a Gentoo table will be set up to meet, greet and play around with Gentoo Linux.
Getting to know each other, sharing experience and planning future
activities are important goals of this meeting, but we do count on its being
fun at the same time. Please contact Marc
Hildebrand if you like to attend or wish to add to the agenda.
New Gentoo Linux 2004.3-r1 release announced
Following quickly on the footsteps of the highly successful 2004.3 release,
the Release Engineering project has put out a maintenance release for some
architectures. Supplying a maintenance release was open to all architectures,
but only a few found it necessary to provide one. There are very few changes
in the release media, and this only fixes a few bugs which kept some people
from installing. The affected architectures and their respective changes are:
Alpha - New LiveCD with a correct aboot.conf,
stages and livecd moved to /releases
AMD64 - New LiveCD with corrected Speakup support, pnpbios is
turned off by default, and distfiles for dhcpcd, slocate,
usbutils, and pciutils added to the Universal CD
HPPA - This CD adds lvm2 support to the LiveCD
x86 - Additions identical as for AMD64, and the x86 PackageCD was
recompiled due to a missing glib dependency on kdegraphics
You can find the maintenance release media in the same location as the
2004.3 release media on your favorite Gentoo mirror.
UK Gentoo Developer Meeting Preannouncement
The UK-based Gentoo developers are pleased to announce that the Gentoo UK 2005 Conference will be held on Saturday 12th March 2005 at the University of Salford, with social events the night before and the night after. The theme for this year's Conference is "Success with Gentoo", and they will be running both a Speakers Programme and a Demonstration Programme. They're inviting developers and users alike who wish to take part in the programme to submit their proposals before 31st December 2004. For more details, see the Conference website
Gentoo on a 256MB USB stick: Flash Linux
Note: Topics for this section may occasionally include projects that are not
officially part of Gentoo, but affect it in one way or the other. This could be
development in the wild that is is bound to end up being a Gentoo project in
the future, or something that's inspired by and based on Gentoo, but heads off
in a different direction all by itself. One of the latter is the topic for this
FlashLinux is a
customized Linux variant designed to be run directly off a USB key or similar
forms of bootable flash memory. Gareth Bult and his helpers have based their
trimmed-to-fit binary distribution entirely on Gentoo Linux, with a special
focus on Gnome 2.8, and the aim to to produce something that would encourage
Windows users to give Linux a try. "The applications we included may not be a
programmer's dream, but we're hoping they're what the average user is looking
to get from a modern desktop system," says Gareth. Currently included are
Evolution, XChat, Firefox, and a Ximian build of OpenOffice, along with many more.
The choice of Gentoo as the base for Flash Linux seemed obvious, even if
generously overlooking the fact that its creator is a Gentoo user who has been
running his web servers on Gentoo Linux for the past twelve months. "I was
looking for something as nippy as possible, and the task was to fit a quart
into a pint pot," he explains - implicitly leaving little to no alternatives
to FlashLinux being based on Gentoo. Provided a (x86 or AMD64) computer's
BIOS allows for booting off a USB stick in the first place, the FlashLinux key
fires up a 2.6.7-gentoo-r14 kernel, autoconfig comes from the Knoppix
tools and provides hardware detection, and mkxf86config does the X
setup. There's a GRUB based choice of either LAN or dialup configurations, at
two different screen resolutions each.
Figure 2.1: Windows-swatting penguin splashscreen: FlashLinux USB key booting
"Everybody knows the LAN setup works perfectly in the Gentoo LiveCDs, but we
were surprised how well dialup is integrated, too," says Gareth Bult. While
comments he received from early adopters show mostly awe that this fits onto
a 256MB key - that even keeps 50MB of free space - the stick itself is where
the developers identify a decisive factor. According to them, the choice of
media is crucial for a usable configuration: "USB 1.0 keys only transfer data
at 1Mbps and are unusable when it comes to FlashLinux. But even USB 2.0 keys do
not really transfer data at 480Mbps, typical rates vary between 5 and 10Mbps."
But even the more expensive recommendations in USB memory sticks are typically
still within a 30 USD price range.
The FlashLinux creator has placed his work under the GPL, and hopes
for outside help from people interested in different aspects, like making the
USB sticks ADSL-ready, solving bootsplash issues with newer kernels, and other
contributions or ideas that are most welcome. The contact address is email@example.com.
Open DC Hub: Remote code execution
Open DC Hub contains a buffer overflow that can be exploited to allow
remote code execution.
For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement
Sun and Blackdown Java: Applet privilege escalation
The Java plug-in security in Sun and Blackdown Java environments can be
bypassed to access arbitrary packages, allowing untrusted Java applets to
perform unrestricted actions on the host system.
For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement
rssh, scponly: Unrestricted command execution
rssh and scponly do not filter command-line options that can be exploited
to execute any command, thereby allowing a remote user to completely bypass
the restricted shell.
For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement
Heard in the community
udev or devfs
Systems running a 2.6 kernel now have the option of installing udev. One user notices some of the online Gentoo documentation still advises devfs and asks for suggestions on configuring udev.
To opt or not to opt. That is the question!
A discussion regarding the location of the gentoo-rsync-mirror ebuild's install popped up this week. Why was it
in /opt? Shouldn't it be in /usr? A series of (opinioned) answers came in, including some brief history of where
/opt came from in the first place.
One of the Gentoo provisions is that users have full control over their system. Is this true? One lister posed this
question on the gentoo-user mailing list this week. It of course spawned a great discussion. The short of it is that
Gentoo is as configurable as you want it to be, as long as you learn the tools in Portage fully.
After upgrading Perl packages one user asks how to update all the Perl modules.
Best Digital Camera for Linux?
Nothing can be more frustrating than buying a shiny new computer toy, just to find out that it does not work with
your favorite Linux distribution. With Christmas right around the corner; the gifts for geeks shopping season is
ramping up into full gear. This thread has some tips for purchasing a digital camera that will work seamlessly with
Gentoo--or any Linux for that matter!
Italy: GentooDay report
"Macelli Comunali", the municipal slaughterhouse, sounds a bit
strange for a meeting in the framework of the Italian LinuxDay, but
the Gechi's contact in Prato, a nice little town near Florence,
assured penguins of the Gentoo variety wouldn't run any danger: It's
an old palace now, used as meeting spot and conference hall for many
activities of non-profit organizations.
The place was cold, but the Gechi effectively heated it with their
computers. Half an hour into the event, the distfiles and rsync mirror
for people was set up, and the LAN was fully working for present Gentoo
users to do a few happy emerges. Being curious about each other
characterized much of the atmosphere in the morning, since it was the
first meeting ever for many of the Gechis. While others continued to
trickle in, Giulio
Salani (zuglio) explained about his Vidalinux tests, and Matteo Pescarin (peach)
showed his wonderful posters.
In the afternoon Giacomo
Benvenuti (benve) did a ceremonial first download from the new
Gentoo mirror in Bologna, and some people created a distcc
LAN between their laptops.
Then it was time for the presentations, and the first was about Andrea
Perotti's (deadhead) "Success stories of Gentoo in commercial
companies". Unfortunately, Andrea had to fight the projector for an
hour, and could only begin after that, leaving no time for Giovanni
Ferri's (FonderiaDigitale)'s talk about the "Creation of a blackbox
for securing your network environment" that was also planned for the
afternoon slot. Giovanni's extraordinary presentation was finally held
later that night, but ordinary visitors had all left by then, he only
spoke to a nucleus of Gentoo activists, all well-fed with an intriguing
local delicacy known as an F2 sandwich.
Figure 5.1: Gechi activists at the former abattoir of Prato
Note: Left to right: Cazzantoio,
akiross, oRDeX, lavish,
randomaze, nemesix2001, .:deadhead:., and sitting in front holding the magic penguin that never falls from the table: genGNUbbo
Austria: New AGLUG website
The former Vienna Gentoo Linux Users Group has grown steadily over the year, and now broadened its focus to encompass an all-Austrian support group. A new website has been set up that carries many new services, including a brand new Austrian Gentoo user forum, and an RSS feed for local news. Stammtisch-type regular meetings are being organized every month, with the next one to take place on 16 December. Check the event calendar for details.
Germany: Nürnberg meeting report
Karl Hansl reports from the first meeting in Nürnberg last week: "Local Gentoo users met and discussed typical Linux topics, such as which motorcycle brand was faster, Kawasaki or Honda, and had some off-topic chats about programming, too. Current experience tells us that GUGN participants come from all ranges of society, self-employed, students, IT interns, and professional sysadmins. We'll definitely meet again, on 5 January 2005, and hope that others can join us then."
Gentoo in the press
Linux Devices (3 December 2004)
Linux Devices extensively covers the Gentoo Embedded project this week, in an article about the "New kid on the embedded Linux block". The author links to the Gentoo Embedded web page, has friendly words for all developers involved, and even extends an official welcome to Gentoo Linux in the name of the Embedded community!
ZDNet UK update (3 December 2004)
Based on additional information by Gentoo release engineering lead Chris Gianelloni, the ZDNet editors have updated the article on upcoming releases of Gentoo Linux initially published last week. Details of experimental features planned, like the installer project and the option of running Gentoo Linux completely off the LiveCD, have been sorted out and are most accurately reflected in the current version.
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) to record and track
bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 28 November 2004 and 05 December 2004, activity
on the site has resulted in:
- 717 new bugs during this period
- 458 bugs closed or resolved during this period
- 30 previously closed bugs were reopened this period
Of the 7619 currently open bugs: 130 are labeled 'blocker', 239 are labeled 'critical', and 560 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:
Tips and Tricks
Revival of the Compose Key a.k.a. Multi_Key
Many users are on a keyboard layout which does not allow to type other characters than those printed on the keys. There are some workarounds with so-called "deadkeys" so that you can type characters with accents, but that does not enable you to type all characters in your locale.
On many Unix-machines you can find a "Compose Key" on the attached keyboard. With that special key you can "compose" the desired
character. For instance, typing the sequence <compose> <">
<a> will result in the Umlaut ä. Or take <compose>
</> <o> for a danish ø. With X it is no problem to declare
any key as the Compose Key, or "Multi_Key" as it is called in the internal routines.
Just remember that a keyboard sends only keycodes, and that it is unimportant which
keycode represents a given character or special key.
To enable the Compose Key you have to alter your /etc/X11/xorg.conf. There are other ways, like using xmodmap, but the global configuration with the xorg.conf ensures that the Compose Key will be available to all users. I recommend the
right "Windows Key" (just one of the two on your keyboard enabled should be enough):
Code Listing 8.1: Enable the Compose Key in the xorg.conf
Option "XkbModel" "pc104"
Option "XkbLayout" "us"
After you restart X, you should be able to type the characters in the example
above. A complete list of available Compose Key characters with their
description can be found in the file /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/locale/<your_character_enocding>/Compose.
Moves, adds, and changes
The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:
- Joe McCann (joem) - Gnome development
- Michael Stewart (vericgar) - Apache
The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo Linux project:
Contribute to GWN
Interested in contributing to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter? Send us an email.
Please send us your feedback and help make the GWN better.
GWN subscription information
To subscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To unsubscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank email to email@example.com from the email address you are subscribed under.
The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter is also available in the following languages: