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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: October 17th, 2005


1.  Gentoo news

New USE flag editor released

Damien Krotkine has added a new command line interface tool called flagedit to his growing collection of configuration editors. On top of everything profuse does with its choice of three GUIs, the new flag editor also edits /etc/portage/package.keywords, thus offering a simple way to add a platform not yet supported to a package you'd like to test:

Code Listing 1.1: Adding package.keywords

# flagedit net-im/amsn -- +~ppc +~x86

Besides keywords, flagedit lets you edit the USE flags of /etc/make.conf, as well as those in the /etc/portage/package.use file, either for a particular ebuild, or for the whole system. And of course, a backup of each modified file lets you roll back easily.

Subforums introduction at Gentoo Forums

Subforums are a feature that had been requested by users for quite a long time. While the general policy on the Gentoo Forums was to use vanilla phpBB, the administrators have recently adopted a more open attitude towards patches and modifications. The most recent consequence is the arrival of a subforums modification, mainly written by forums administrator Tom Knight. Before using it on the production system some testing was done on forum administrator Christian Hartmann's test server which is usually not available to the general public. The test server is still open and the forums team would greatly appreciate some more feedback and testing before using the subforums on the main server. Please see this thread for more information.

2.  Heard in the community

Web forums

MySQL 4.1 to be stabilized

The forum admins predict some fallout from the MySQL version 4.1 that's being moved up to the stable tree these days. As the upgrade has the potential for being a bumpy one, a sticky thread in the Forums tries to prevent users from falling prey to it:

OpenVPN and TAP

OpenVPN, a VPN application that offers remote access, site-to-site VPNs, WiFi security and other VPN accessories is made into a How-To for those who wish to use TAP instead of TUN by user cchee:


Handling multiple compatible tools

Sometimes there's more than one tool to do the job. For example, bsdtar and GNU tar are mostly compatible. Diego Pettenò asks if there is an easy way for the user to select between such tools.

End of lifecycle for unmaintained packages

The media-video ebuilds are getting cleaned up these days, and a few unmaintained applications will most likely be removed soon: avifile, vcr, zphoto, drip, divx4linux, and quicktime4linux

People needed for net-p2p

Developer Marcin Kryczek is on the lookout for new developers in the net-p2p herd, especially those with Java experience.

Portage: where forward?

Developers Jason Stubbs and Brian Harring talk about where they are up to with portage and what they feel the road ahead should be.

Vim 6.4 beta tester wanted

Ciaran McCreesh is looking for people to test out the new vim-6.4_beta:

3.  Gentoo international

USA: Professional support for Gentoo

Los-Angeles-based GenUX is in its final days of a trial offer for professional services to Gentoo users. From today until the end of the year, GenUX will be offering support incidents at 25 percent of their original charge, and the second hour of desktop support free for anyone who purchases professional services until the end of the year. CEO Joseph Cohen also announced that GenUX will be donating a portion of the funds collected from support to the Gentoo Foundation! The company already sponsors the project and has Gentoo developers Deedra Waters, Jeremy Huddleston and Homer Parker on their pay roll.

Switzerland: Installfest in Aargau featuring Gentoo

The LUG-AG in Aargau is organizing an installation party for interested users, this coming Friday, 21 October, at the premises of the Aargauischer Computer Club Brugg. The announcement speaks of Debian as the LUG-AG's usual Linux flavor of choice, but "if you want to do something different like installing Gentoo or FreeBSD", they're apparently friendly enough to allow for that, too. You may want to bring your own installation media, just to be on the safe side...

4.  Gentoo in the press

Newsforge (14 October 2005)

An article in Newsforge reports that a "New national center to assist governments with open-source applications" has been created at GOSCON 2005 in Portland, Oregon, hosted by Gentoo-supporter OSL. Like other prospective partners in the new venture called "National Center for Open Source Policy and Research" (NCOSPR), OSL's associate director Scott Kveton, too, is "not sure what they'll be doing" yet, but the same people now actively supporting Gentoo inside the OSL will be able to make the new center benefit from their experience with open-source development.

Hardware Upgrade (14 October 2005, in Italian)

"Build a home server with Gentoo" is the title of a tutorial by Andrea Raviola published on an Italian website dedicated to hardware for personal computing that's been around since 1997 already. The Gentoo installation goes on "a bit of recovered material", i.e. recombined scraps that end up making a rock-solid server for all-purpose use at home.

5.  Tips and tricks

Tune your filesystem

ext2/3 are the main filesystems for a large amount of users but what a lot of people don't know is that you can get almost Reiser4 speed out of it without any of the instability they'd associated with Reiser4. One of the great features of ext2/3 is the ability to tune it by adjusting various parameters. The one we are going to modify here is dir_index which essentially uses hashed b-trees to speed up lookups in large directories.

Let's take some precautions, first of all by finding out if some of those parameter are already enabled, by running

Code Listing 5.1: Check partition first

# tune2fs -l /dev/hdXX

(replacing XX with your drive and partition your ext2/3 filesystem resides in). If you don't see dir_index in the list then we can enable it, and just in case you do see dir_index in 'Filesystem features' then you have either enabled it already or it was automatically enabled for you.

You are going to need a Gentoo LiveCD because changing parameters on mounted filesystems can cause problems, so in the interest of safety we are booting off the CD. At the start phase the Gentoo install system is booted into what's called a "ramdisk" which is where the files needed are put into RAM to be used. mke2fs, tune2fs and other parts of the e2fsprogs package will be present at this stage.

Now let's turn on the feature with

Code Listing 5.2: Tune the filesystem

# tune2fs -O dir_index /dev/hdXX

Now run e2fsck with the -D option to have the directories optimized:

Code Listing 5.3: Filesystem check

# e2fsck -D /dev/hdXX

Do that on any ext2 or ext3 partition and then reboot. You should notice the difference straight away.

6.  Moves, adds, and changes


The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:

  • None this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:

  • None this week


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

  • None this week

7.  Gentoo Security

uw-imap: Remote buffer overflow

uw-imap is vulnerable to remote overflow of a buffer in the IMAP server leading to execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

OpenSSL: SSL 2.0 protocol rollback

When using a specific option, OpenSSL can be forced to fallback to the less secure SSL 2.0 protocol.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

KOffice, KWord: RTF import buffer overflow

KOffice and KWord are vulnerable to a buffer overflow in the RTF importer, potentially resulting in the execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

SPE: Insecure file permissions

SPE files are installed with world-writeable permissions, potentially leading to privilege escalation.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

8.  Bugzilla



The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 09 October 2005 and 16 October 2005, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 849 new bugs during this period
  • 431 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 17 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 8607 currently open bugs: 106 are labeled 'blocker', 183 are labeled 'critical', and 545 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:

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Page updated October 17, 2005

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 17 October 2005.

Ulrich Plate

Wernfried Haas

Patrick Lauer

David Nielsen

George Prowse

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