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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: May 9th, 2005

Content:

1.  Gentoo News

Recruiting printing experts

The printing herd is looking for help with some of their packages, particularly to close some of the more than a hundred bugs that have accumulated because the team is severely understaffed. People with considerable experience in both Gentoo and applications or utilities like CUPS, Ghostscript, gimp-print, xpdf, acroread and more, are vigorously encouraged to approach Heinrich Wendel directly, or contact the Gentoo developer relations with a short self-introduction including a few words on your experiences in the field.

News from the Forums

Staff shuffle at the Forums again. Administrator Christian Hartmann is back in play after a timeout of several weeks. During his absence, fellow admin Tom Knight has updated the forum software to the latest phpBB version 2.0.15, and made some useful changes to the search function. The collection of these and other announcements can always be found in the News & Announcements forum.

2.  Developer of the week

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry." -- Danny van Dyk (kugelfang)


Figure 2.1: Danny van Dyk aka kugelfang

Fig. 1: kugelfang

This weeks featured develeoper is Danny van Dyk, the Operational Lead (with Mike Doty) and Gentoo/AMD64 Release Coordinator, as well as a member of the Gentoo Scientific Project. "My work as operational lead developer for Gentoo/AMD64 mainly requires me to be update on the things the other devs do, coordinate their work, and apart from that I try to fix as many open bugs as possible, which is how I was recruited onto the team in the first place."

Gentoo is Danny's first OSS project, and he takes quite some pride in the work he has done for Gentoo Linux on AMD64. He is a student of physics at the University of Dortmund and spends a lot of his time on Gentoo. When he isn't busy studying himself he works as a tutor and helps other students with trivial things such as mathematics, physics and programming languages, although he is for hire at the moment since his tutor job has ended.

He was appointed as release coordinator for AMD64 quite recently. Jason Huebel had him step in to make the 2005.0 release media (LiveCDs, stages, package-CD). His computers all have greek letters as host names to make them more interesting, and his collection of machine covers most of x86, ppc and amd64. His most important tool seems to be a HP LaserJet 4+, while on the software side he shows how open-minded he can be by using KDE along with Mozilla Thunderbird and XMMS, showing off the friendly coexistence of things Qt and Gtk.

Even more amazingly he plays the flute and loves to cook, especially new and untested meals that show what real hackers can do in real life. To any females in the appropriate age range in Witten (where Danny lives:) He is single, and has an impressive set of skills. Danny's motto is borrowed from Robert Oppenheimer, and there's more to it than just the headline above: "There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any questions, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors."

3.  Heard in the community

Web forums

Sudden strictness catching users unaware

FEATURES="strict" was enabled several weeks ago, but the number of people who've been confused by new error messages and outright installation errors hasn't declined. Maybe that's because there was no "official" announcement of the change? This thread has been made sticky to allow for quick referral of people with the same errors:

Next generationinitreplacement

Yet another community project originating from the apocryphic sidelines of the greater Gentoo realm has attracted not only hundreds of replies to the original thread in the Forums, it's already carried on Freshmeat and getting some media coverage. Swedish forum user Jimmy Wennlund has devised this "replacement for the old and in many ways deprecated sysvinit" that just made it into the official Portage tree last weekend:

Inofficial install media released

Together with a small team of contributors, Bob Predaina (a forum regular and author of a popular howto on installing Gentoo with an underlying NPTL structure) has released a series of bootable CDs containing stage 3 tarballs made to work as if you were installing from stage 1. The name of the project takes some getting used to, though:

gentoo-dev

Splitting up dev-perl (phase one of a million)

Michael Cummings brings good news from the perl camp: "This weekend I intend to start splitting dev-perl into sub categories, starting with perl-core. If anyone doesn't think there are enough packages in the current dev-perl, resync your tree because it's been years since the last time you did :) perl-core will contain ebuilds for those modules that are also distributed with the core installs of perl (though versions and patches may vary from the version you have installed). Anyone wishing to provide input on this multi-phased migration can always post on bug 75435 "

Certified Gentoo?

An interested Gentooist who works with IBM hardware asks what can be done to get Gentoo IBM-certified. Other Gentooists join in with their questions how to get Gentoo certified for other commercial software. It seems that IBM will only certify distributions that have a commercial backend (because of Service Level Agreements etc.), but it is always good to see people trying to take Gentoo to the next level.

Portage as a secondary package manager

Since Portage can do software management quite well, why not use it on other distros for your own customizations? A similar thought must have motivated this GLEP draft that wants to enhance portage to be able to install and manage software in arbitrary locations, and also as a secondary package manager when rpm just isn't good enough.

4.  Gentoo International

Belgium: Gentoo website brought online

Last Sunday, Gentoo developer Jochen Maes has set up a server that hosts Gentoo's regional Belgian web presence. As many of the other country-specific Gentoo community sites, this one also has a number of features besides syndicalised content from the official Gentoo website, including a user forum, photo gallery and other community functions. The site is so new that it doesn't even have a logo of its own yet, hence a call for contributions to a logo contest held until the end of the month. A special section in the forum has been set aside for this purpose, check the site for instructions.

Canada: Elementary school Gentoo LTSP installation

Cory Oldford is the vice-president of Prairie Linux User Group and manager for a remarkable community project in Winnipeg. His group was approached some time ago to switch a lab at a local private elementary school to Gentoo Linux. The lab consisted of about 30 workstations ranging from a P75 with 16MB RAM to a handful of PIII 667mhz with 128MB RAM. The machines were constantly plagued with issues caused by hardware failures and outdated operating systems and software.

It was originally thought the PIIIs wouldn't be able to handle the workload, and that administering several LTSP servers would be too cumbersome. The solution devised by the HC-Linux team (as in "Holy Cross", the name of the school) was an openMosix-enabled LTSP, Gentoo Linux server. After the server's filesystem was built, however, the administrator at the school scraped up much more suitable server hardware, an AMD Sempron 2500 with 1.2GB of RAM.

openMosix worked great for a time, says Cory, but in the class room environment it turned into a liability, because students would insist on powering off the machines. Currently openMosix is disabled, but could be fired up anytime simply by starting the service. The diskless clients don't share their own load, so they just wait for openMosix on the server to farm out processes anyway.

LTSP functioned as expected after a few network issues were resolved, but the desired desktop environment presented a challenge at first: The memory requirements of up to 30 instances of KDE and Konqueror caused the server to start swapping under load. With only one slow 40GB IDE drive, the performance of the server went down dramatically when 30 students were working in the lab. Switching to icewm and a simplified (kludged) ROX-Filer resolved this. The switch to a less voracious desktop environment also left enough RAM to precache the major applications and related libraries on a RAM disk for a greater performance boost.

The HC-Linux PLUGgers get called in for minor issues from time to time, but the server has been running reliably for months now. Cory is grateful for the support he received from the community: "Thanks to Michael Imhof and the rest of the cluster team, and to all the other Gentoo developers for their hard work."


Figure 4.1: Gentoo on historic hardware - Pentium 75MHz with 16MB RAM

Fig. 1: PentiumI

Note: Photo courtesy of Cory Oldford

5.  Gentoo in the press

Coyotegulch (2 May 2005)

Last week Scott Robert Ladd, the author of a tool for compiler analysis called Acovea, conducted a benchmarking test to compare the performance of both compilation and compilate using the GNU C compiler (gcc) version 3.4.3, and the new 4.0 that Was released just two weeks ago. "No matter which compiler options I choose, someone is likely to send me e-mail telling me I got it all wrong," says the author of the review, fully aware of the pitfalls of benchmarking, and he also refrains from comparing gcc with Intel's or other commercial C compilers. The platforms he uses for the benchmark test are an AMD64 Dual Opteron and a plain x86 Pentium 4 host -- both running Gentoo Linux, which he's unlikely to recompile with 4.0 right away: "Version 4.0.0 is laying a foundation for the future, and should be seen as a technological step forward with new internal architectures and the addition of Fortran 95. If you compile a great deal of C++, you'll want to investigate GCC 4.0," says Scott Ladd. If that's not the case, looks like the 3.4 series is still the way to go.

Desktoplinux (8 May 2005)

The survey results of Desktoplinux' annual reader poll show a remarkable decline in the number of respondents, an inexplicable disappearance of about two thirds of the Debian user community, and a comfortable growth of Gentoo to about twice the market share of 2003, up at 10 percent of all desktop Linux installations chez Desktoplinux readers. There is, however, room for belief that there may be a fairly large portion of market reality not covered by this particular research.

6.  Moves, adds, and changes

Moves

The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:

  • None this week

Adds

The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:

  • Duncan Coutts (dcoutts) - Haskell

Changes

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

  • Tobias Scherbaum (dertobi123) - joined the PPC team
  • Bryan Ostergaard (kloeri) - new Alpha architecture co-lead

7.  Gentoo security

Oops!: Remote code execution

The Oops! proxy server contains a remotely exploitable format string vulnerability, which could potentially lead to the execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Ethereal: Numerous vulnerabilities

Ethereal is vulnerable to numerous vulnerabilities potentially resulting in the execution of arbitrary code or abnormal termination.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

GnuTLS: Denial of Service vulnerability

The GnuTLS library is vulnerable to Denial of Service attacks.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

gzip: Multiple vulnerabilities

gzip contains multiple vulnerabilities potentially allowing an attacker to execute arbitrary commands.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

TCPDump: Decoding routines Denial of Service vulnerability

A flaw in the decoding of network packets renders TCPDump vulnerable to a remote Denial of Service attack.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

8.  Bugzilla

Summary

Statistics

The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 01 May 2005 and 08 May 2005, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 833 new bugs during this period
  • 433 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 27 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 8576 currently open bugs: 95 are labeled 'blocker', 219 are labeled 'critical', and 629 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.  GWN feedback

Please send us your feedback and help make the GWN better.

10.  GWN subscription information

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11.  Other languages

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Print

Page updated May 9, 2005

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 9 May 2005.

Ulrich Plate
Editor

Patrick Lauer
Author

Cory Oldford
Author

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