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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: November 14th, 2005

Content:

1.  Gentoo news

Switched to stage3 as the default installation method

During the last week the Gentoo Documentation Project changed the Gentoo Handbook in a way, that the installation of a stage3 will be default. Prior to this change the Release Engineering team asked for the change, as the number of users increased, who messed up their base-system due to unrecommended changes during a stage1 or stage2 install or not following the handbook completely.

The advised method now is to do a stage3 installation and optionally recompile the system after the installation. That will create an optimized system as well. How to proceed a real stage1 or stage2 installation is still described in the FAQ.

For further reading you can have a look at the full discussion about the change on the gentoo-doc mailing list, see the real changes in our viewcvs or read bug #105809.

2.  User stories

Interview with Douglas Robertson from Zymeta Corporation


Figure 2.1: The Zymeta Video Jukebox in action

Fig. 1: Zymeta Video   Jukebox

A few words about you. Who are you, where do you work?

My name is Douglas Robertson and I'm the Director of Technology at Zymeta Entertainment.

What is your "product"?

Zymeta is an entertainment systems company. We have developed an on demand touch screen media delivery platform for public venues complete with a backend system for updating and managing the platform. And we can manage the platform as a whole or make changes for a single location. Our first very successful product is a music video entertainment system called the "Video Jukebox" which is typically installed in pubs and bars. The venues patrons are able to choose their music selections using a touchscreen and then watch the music videos on the bars televisions and advertisers can pin point their promotions to specific locations or groups of locations. The service is completely licensed by the music industry. It's flashy, it's interactive and it's built on top of Gentoo Linux.

If anyone wants to see the jukebox in action, our corporate video also has a lot of cool shots.

How does Gentoo fit in there? Why did you decide to use it?

As far as technology is concerned, Zymeta is a Gentoo-driven company. The development team all run Gentoo on their desktops, our servers are all running Gentoo and, most importantly, our jukeboxes all run Gentoo. I brought Gentoo into Zymeta and mandated it be the distro used; trying to support multiple distributions is too much hassle. I chose Gentoo because of it's flexibility; it's a source-based distro with a great packaging system and a great user-base.

We update the jukebox client software over the Internet but we haven't been updating the Operating System on the jukeboxes. We haven't updated the OS because Gentoo has been so stable and as such there's been no real need to change anything. We looked at setting up our own portage tree but decided that the best route to any major updates would be to build a new tarball of the OS and use that to update the jukeboxes. In the future we may look at doing minor updates of individual packages using a portage tree. This would allow us to keep the jukeboxes up to date in case of any security flaws found.

That said, we recently upgraded the software so that it works flawlessly on the 2.6 kernel and I have spent the last two days setting up a CD that boots the jukebox, mounts the hard drive and then updates the OS files. The Gentoo community was very helpful with this, and as I mentioned, there is a tonne of documentation, which make it simple for me to modify the Gentoo 2005.1 LiveCD so that it is Zymeta branded and does the required updating.

What did Gentoo replace?

Prior to Gentoo, Zymeta was running Red Hat for servers and Debian on the jukeboxes.

Any experiences with other distributions? How do they compare?

I initially tried Gentoo in 2003 at my previous job because a co-worker decided to try it and then complained about how much trouble it was to set up and how it took him two days to get it working. To prove him wrong I tried it and had a working Gentoo, complete with KDE, on my Dell laptop within the day. It was love at first sight with Gentoo so I never went back to my old Red Hat install.

A lot of people had issues with Red Hat's RPM system, but I loved it. At least until I started needing the latest packages of various things (such as PostgreSQL and some networking tools) and the RPM wouldn't work because it was built on a different version of Red Hat. Or it would require updating three other packages, which in turn had their own dependencies. Gentoo's package system is the real shining star as far as I'm concerned, and while updates take longer since packages are compiled, it's well worth it.

What are the big advantages? Where does it shine?

Gentoo offers flexibility. Don't need IPv6 support is your packages? Just change your USE flags. No ebuild for a package you need? Just create your own ebuild and add it into your Portage overlay. How sweet is that for flexibility?

What do you see as problematic? Where could things be improved?

My only complaint is that sometimes it takes a long time to stabilize packages. I like that the maintainers ensure that packages compile and work properly before marking a package as stable, especially given that we run Gentoo on production/enterprise systems, but sometimes it seems to take a bit too long. But we get around that using Portage's flexibility (ie. USE flags and Portage overlays).

There are many projects like the installer, Gentoo/Alt (BSD,...). What do you think of this expansion into new fields? How about different architectures?

I think that the more people using Gentoo the better. Part of the reason I'm excited about this interview is that I want to help spread the word that Gentoo can be used in any environment, whether it's on a desktop or on an enterprise server running a mission-critical database. Stability is key in most environments but I don't think that you necessarily need to use six month old packages to get that stability.

How do you see the community? What is the general perception of Gentoo in your company?

I love the Gentoo community. There's a lot of support available and tonnes of documentation. And because at this stage it seems like the majority of Gentoo users have a fairly technical background, there's a different feel to the Gentoo forums as compared to say the old Red Hat forums.

As for Zymeta, everyone in the company knows Zymeta's product is built on top of Gentoo. And since our switch to Gentoo, the stability of our product has increased. Part of that is due to Gentoo and part of that is due to an updated kernel. But the end result is that the Zymeta team and our customers associate Gentoo with stability.

How can you be contacted? And what can we expect in the near future?

If anyone wants to talk to me about deploying Gentoo in the enterprise, they can contact me at dr@zymeta.com. Also, I believe that Gentoo developer Corey Shields wants to create a Gentoo case study out of Zymeta so people should look soon for that.

Oh, and there's a Gentoo easter egg in an upcoming version of the Zymeta Jukebox client so if anyone wants to know how to do that, they can email me about that too.

Thanks for the interview!

3.  Heard in the community

gentoo-dev

GLEP 43: GLEP file hosting

Ciaran McCreesh publicized a new GLEP this week to allow (future) GLEPs to have attached code in a subdirectory instead of inlined or placed externally. This should allow for better GLEP readability and easier maintenance.

Creation and handling of virtual/tar

Diego 'Flameeyes' Pettenò tells us about the creation of virtual/tar which at the moment can be satisfied by GNU tar and bsdtar. Creating this virtual will mostly help Gentoo/Alt at the moment.

4.  Gentoo international

Germany: LWE and DevCon in the Frankfurt/Main area

This week the area around Frankfurt/Main will be the events-location for Gentoo. First there is the Linux World Conference & Expo in Hall 4 of Frankfurt's Fairground. From Tuesday, November 15, until Thurdsday, November 17, you have the ability to meet Gentoo Developers at their booth in the .org-Pavilion (G06). A little highlight will be the lecture about Gentoo at Wednesday evening.

Right after the three days on the Fairground, Gentoo Weekly Newsletter Editor Ulrich Plate invited to the European Gentoo developer meeting at his residence Kransberg Castle, 40km north of Frankfurt. More than 20 developers and some users declared their attendance. Some lectures and workshops round up by nice catering and a get-together will fill the day.

If you are interested in attending the conference, please use the online registration form.

5.  Gentoo developer moves

Moves

The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:

  • Jesper Brodersen (broeman) - Danish translations
  • Arne Mejholm (aaby) - Danish translations

Adds

The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:

  • Michael Schönbeck (thoand) - video disc recorder

Changes

The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:

  • None this week

6.  Gentoo Security

PHP: Multiple vulnerabilities

PHP suffers from multiple issues, resulting in security functions bypass, local Denial of service, cross-site scripting or PHP variables overwrite.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Lynx: Arbitrary command execution

Lynx is vulnerable to an issue which allows the remote execution of arbitrary commands.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

RAR: Format string and buffer overflow vulnerabilities

RAR contains a format string error and a buffer overflow vulnerability that may be used to execute arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

linux-ftpd-ssl: Remote buffer overflow

A buffer overflow vulnerability has been found, allowing a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code with escalated privileges on the local system.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

7.  Bugzilla

Statistics

The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 06 November 2005 and 13 November 2005, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 711 new bugs during this period
  • 315 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 31 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 8960 currently open bugs: 107 are labeled 'blocker', 195 are labeled 'critical', and 558 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:

8.  GWN feedback

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

9.  GWN subscription information

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10.  Other languages

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter is also available in the following languages:



Print

Page updated November 14, 2005

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 14 November 2005.

Ulrich Plate
Editor

Patrick Lauer
Author

Lars Weiler
Author

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