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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: June 6th, 2005

Content:

1.  Gentoo News

Python 2.4 to be unmasked

Bryan Østergaard (see below for his portrait) announces that python-2.4 will be unmasked on Wednesday, 8 June. It's been masked for a long time to allow for proper testing and bugfixing. The Python herd members are now confident that there are no major bugs left. Details of what's new in Python-2.4 can be found at the official Python website.

Please note that only ~arch users will be affected by the unmasking, and please remember to run the python-updater after updating Python to remerge all modules as neccessary.

Busybox glitch contained

As some of you may have noticed, the "rescue shell" was changed from sash to busybox a few days ago. This was motivated by the extra features and the extensibility of busybox, but on some systems it has lead to compile failures. Since busybox is now part of "system", it was emerged on every update, so all users were potentially affected.

After some debugging the problem was identified as a bug in the stable toolchain related to the nptl and nptlonly USE flags which had been overlooked during the original testing. It is triggered by busybox being built as a static binary - if it isn't, it can't be used for recovery. This has been fixed now as far as we can tell. Sorry for the inconvenience!

2.  Future zone

Gentoo for Zaurus


Figure 2.1: `emerge -B cpio` on a Sharp Zaurus

Fig. 1: Gentooforzaurus

The Gentoo for Zaurus project is a port of Gentoo Linux and Portage in particular to the Zaurus family of PDAs from Japanese manufacturer Sharp. It is based on Anton Maslovsky's "cacko ROM", a replacement image for Sharp's own Linux implementation shipping with the various Zauri. Cacko ROM tries to stay as close as possible to Sharp's original ROMs for maximum compatibility with the applications distributed by the manufacturer. Gentoo for Zaurus also makes use of the Emerde project, offering a Portage port for Slackware and other distributions.

Gentoo for Zaurus can be mounted over NFS so no changes to a current configuration are needed. It includes a native gcc environment for ARM, the zgcc-3.3.1 cross compiler for the main PC, and X11 for testing applications. Most importantly, Opensistemas has developed a tool called tbz2ipk that converts Gentoo binaries from .tbz2 files to the Itsy Package management system format (.ipk) widely used on the Zaurus and other handhelds running Linux. Packages that have been compiled on Gentoo can thus be used on both Qtopia-based implementations such as Cacko or even the original Sharp ROMS, or more losely related alternative distributions like OpenZaurus.

The project was started in December 2003. Gentoo was chosen due to its "compile all" nature (whcih helped a lot in porting), and because it seemed like the right thing to do. Since compiling needs lots of space an NFS mount of external disks is usually needed, but the new Zaurus SL-C3000 (with a 4GB disk) could theoretically do everything locally. However, because the Zaurus is comparatively slow (featuring ARM Xscale processors currently maxing out at 400Mhz) a distcc setup is preconfigured.

Opensistemas is providing hardware and people to support Gentoo/ARM as well as they can. They anticipate a release of Gentoo for Zaurus sometime around July if nothing goes terribly wrong. Among the new features will be a 2.6 kernel and a new glibc. Some additional documentation can be found at the OpenEmbedded website (the successor to the Openzaurus distribution). If all goes as planned most core packages should be working well near the end of the year, and maybe ARM will be a fully supported architecture in Gentoo again.

Note: The Spanish consultancy Opensistemas recently announced a move to open the source of all their developments, not just Gentoo for Zaurus. CRM software SIC and proprietary modules for content management systems like OpenCMS and Typo3 will be placed under the GNU Public License, reports Diario TI (in Spanish).

3.  Developer of the week

"What I love most about Gentoo: the flexibility of Portage and the great community" -- Bryan Østergaard


Figure 3.1: Bryan Østergaard aka kloeri

Fig. 1: kloeri

This week's featured dev is Bryan Østergaard, better known as kloeri. Bryan is the organizer of Gentoo's monthly bugfix rally, the Bugday, and the maintainer of its website. Bugdays are organized each first Saturday of a month, when users and developers gather in an IRC channel that has been set aside for this purpose (#gentoo-bugday on irc.freenode.net), and spend the day tackling whatever problems have accumulated over the month.

Bryan is also co-leader of the Gentoo/Alpha project, a member of the Python herd and the IA64 team that takes care of the Itanium architecture in Gentoo -- and he just got appointed to the role of Gentoo's Apache team leader. He manages to keep a healthy balance between maintaining ebuilds on his own, and enjoying lots of opportunities to meet new people on IRC during bugdays.

After finishing Advanced Computer Studies in 1999 kloeri has been self-employed, working mostly as a network and server administrator, but he also does security and development work when needed. Like most other featured devs before him, kloeri has not worked much on other OSS projects yet, but he enjoys improving Gentoo (and especially Gentoo/Alpha). At the moment he lives in Denmark's capital Copenhagen.

As expected he uses an Alphaserver 800, but also two x86 laptops. These predominantly run things like screen, irssi, vim, bash and Portage. When he does use X (which is not so often) enlightenment is his preferred WM, but "there's not that much that text mode can't do", says Bryan. In the rare instances when he's not connected to his computers he enjoys cycling and watching movies with friends. Hardly surprising, as his motto is borrowed from Douglas Adams: "You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

4.  Heard in the community

Web forums

Fresh stages for Cobalt Qube2/Raq2

Gentoo developer Stuart Longland is looking for "brave users" to give his shiny new packages for MIPS machines a try. If you own a Cobalt Qube2 or Raq2, here's where to put them to the test:

gentoo-dev

Calls for testers

Some packages are undergoing changes that might break things. To keep user frustration low the developers need some feedback on how the new packages behave - what better place to ask than on the developer mailinglist?

Package removals

Within a short timeframe a few warnings of removals of unmaintained and obsoleted packages happened:

More Spam! Now 30% less useful!

Following the search for Debian developers and other headhunter spam of the last weeks, this week gives us a wonderful example how spammers use more and more ressources to reach less people. Since Gentoo already has a forum one can only wonder what motivates people to ask people on a Gentoo list to join some obscure "Web Services Discussion Forum" ...

5.  Gentoo International

Japan: GentooJP Friday party fallout

One retired and three active Gentoo developers, namely Masatomo Nakano, Matsuu Takuto, Jason Stubbs and former dev Chris White joined more than twenty other Gentooists for (American) food and drinks in Tokyo's Ginza district last Friday. The party was a subset of an annual Japanese "Open Source Party" where more than a hundred open-source developers and users gathered -- with one out of four attending the larger event already being a Gentooist.

At the private Gentoo party, the fan talk couldn't come to a timely end, so the party was ported to a second venue ("nijikai") in a Japanese pub. With the highly international crowd around the table, conversation was equally fluent in Japanese and English, centering around individual Gentoo stories, Japanese culture and various other topics.

Next time you happen to be in Japan, please let the GentooJP people know in advance! The Japanese Gentooists are always looking for good excuses to stage a party... Subscribe to the (Japanese) gentoojp-misc@ml.gentoo.gr.jp mailing list, more information to be found at the GentooJP website.


Figure 5.1: GentooJP drinking party in Tokyo

Fig. 1: GentooJP nomikai

Note: Left to right: nakano (on visit from the UK), matsuu, mudrii (spearheading the Romanian gentoo.ro, but a local Tokyoite), Yoshiaki Hagihara (GentooJP and former GWN lead translator for Japanese), Chris White visiting from California, and jstubbs, Australian living in Japan.

Spain: "Massive Gentoo Install" in Lloret de Mar

70 kilometres up the coast from Barcelona one of Spain's largest LAN parties is going to open its gates for the first time on 23 to 26 June 2005. 3LP is the cyberhome to this event taking place in the town of Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava. About 400 visitors are expected to get hooked up on roughly 4000 metres of CAT 5 cable, to play games, of course, but also to participate in a net-installation fest of several Linux distributions, including a "massive" Gentoo stage3 install, according to the organizers. Applications for one of the remaining seats in the gym used for this event can be made via the 3LP website.

6.  Gentoo in the press

Newsforge (25 May 2005)

Jem Matzan summarizes advice for users to help them down the stony road of tech support at a hardware or software vendor's helpdesk, or "no-help desk", as he prefers to call it. Matzan offers tips on how to prevent help desks from weasling out of a "supported platform" issue, and he explicitly condones lying to the support person if it serves your cause: "If you're asked to restart for Windows changes to take effect, wait a reasonable amount of time before telling them that the system has rebooted successfully." He recommends camouflaging your real environment also in those rare cases when a company indeed supports Linux, as this is usually only valid for officially supported distributions: "The same technique applies: you are using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 (or whatever is supported), not 64-bit Gentoo Linux or OpenBSD 3.7. Do not attempt to reason with support personnel."

7.  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:

  • Colin Kingsley (tercel) - mirrorselect, miscellaneous ebuilds
  • Stuart Longland (redhatter) - MIPS
  • Kevin Quinn (kevquinn) - Hardened Gentoo

Changes

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

  • Bryan Østergaard (kloeri) - Apache lead
  • Aaron Walker (ka0ttic) - joined the recruiters

8.  Gentoo security

Binutils, elfutils: Buffer overflow

Various utilities from the GNU Binutils and elfutils packages are vulnerable to a heap based buffer overflow, potentially resulting in the execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

9.  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 29 May 2005 and 05 June 2005, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 729 new bugs during this period
  • 402 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 33 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 8477 currently open bugs: 88 are labeled 'blocker', 216 are labeled 'critical', and 610 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:

10.  GWN feedback

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

11.  GWN subscription information

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12.  Other languages

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Print

Page updated June 6, 2005

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 6 June 2005.

Ulrich Plate
Editor

Patrick Lauer
Author

Fernando Monero
Author

Tomoyuki Sakurai
Author

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