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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 12 December 2005


1.  Gentoo news

Qt4 on its way into Portage

Qt4 is starting to be marked unstable on various architectures, which means that some people will start installing it on their systems. KDE still uses Qt3, and due to SLOTting users will have both installed on their system and it shouldn't be an issue. After installing Qt4, if users note problems with installing ebuilds that may need Qt3 but instead find Qt4, please file a bug report and assign it to to get it fixed. The same goes for users who know of packages that use Qt4, please assign your bugs to, too, so we can start getting some Qt4-related ebuilds into the tree.

Alpha project status update

The Gentoo Alpha project released a new status update covering the state of core system packages, mainly the kernel, gcc, and the C libraries. Experimental ports under way include Java, modular X and SELinux, and the future has the creation of an Alpha arch-tester team on the agenda, a decision taken against the backdrop of very good experiences the AMD64 team had with their architecture testers.

GWN editorial guidelines and release process

Answering popular demand, a new GWN guide lists editorial guidelines, best practices and many technical details of the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter production. Mainly intended for use of current and future Gentoo Weekly Newsletter staff, it explains the scope and structure of the GWN's individual chapters and how the GuideXML variant used in producing the GWN works. It will serve as a tool for training new contributors to prepare their articles using its XML syntax. As a reference to everyone interested in joining the GWN team, it's being released in the hope that many new authors find their way to contributing to Gentoo's weekly news source. If you find the guide useful and would like to be part of the team, please contact us via the alias with a short description of your areas of expertise or which sections you would like to write for.

Gentoo Forums statistics graphs

Gentoo developer Damien Krotkine has collated statistical data from the Gentoo Forums to produce some interesting graphs. The graphs show the cumulative totals of users, topics and posts on the forums as well as stats for each day since the forums were created.

Figure 1.1: Gentoo Forum statistics visualized: user growth

Fig. 1: Stats

The data is gathered using a shell script and perl to extract the information from the Forums' statistics page, run from a daily cronjob. Older data was gathered by Forums administrator Tom Knight using some customized SQL queries. All the data is then passed through gnuplot to produce the graphs. Despite the recent downturn, the Forums remain one of the most important Linux resources on the Internet.

2.  Future zone

New virtual package style increases Portage flexibility

With GLEP 37, virtuals are actual packages (located in the virtual/ category) instead of being mentioned in the 'virtuals' file in profiles/. This gives us more flexibility regarding their syntax. For example we can now specify an order of preference for virtual providers instead of just a single default versus everything else.

The first adopter of GLEP 37 is the X team, with virtual/x11. Although there were some temporary issues with switching to the new virtual type, everything's resolved and seems to work quite well. This lets us only allow xorg-x11-6.8.x to fulfill virtual/x11 and force modular X users to have completely specified dependencies.

Modular X users will want to add a line to /etc/portage/profile/virtuals until contributors port all the packages on their systems to modular X:

Code Listing 2.1: Insert line for modular X

virtual/x11	x11-base/xorg-x11

Note: If you'd like to help with the porting efforts, see the modular X porting HOWTO. But first, you'll need to convert your system to modular X. Please file bugs only to the package maintainers with patches for modular X dependencies, not to

3.  Heard in the community


Modular X update

Donnie Berkholz gives a small update on the progress with the new modular Xorg ebuilds. What's missing now is mostly a change in the dependencies of packages - the simple DEPEND on xorg-x11 doesn't work anymore with the modular ebuilds. Modular X users will want to add a line to /etc/portage/profile/virtuals until contributors port all the packages on their systems to modular X as seen in the "Future zone" article above.

Programs in need of new maintainers

As developers retire from Gentoo and priorities shift every now and then, a package loses its maintainer, which becomes a problem when new bugs or security-related problems are reported. This week saw an unusual amount of packages in need of a new maintainer:

[GLEP] Manifest2 format

Marius Mauch presents GLEP 44: "This GLEP proposes a new format for the Portage Manifest and digest file system by unifying both filetypes into one to improve functional and non-functional aspects of the Portage Tree." In short this will offer an improved format for verifying all files in the Portage Tree, including multiple hash formats. The new format will be incompatible to older portage versions, so that a migration path needs to be worked out to avoid breaking updates.


Gentoo OpenSolaris

On 4 November 2005 "Venky" informed the Gentoo/ALT community that he has begun work on Gentoo OpenSolaris. To get him started the excellent porting guide written by Gentoo developer Diego Pettenò proved to be a valuable resource.


In a recent discussion on the gentoo-alt mailing list, Flameeyes explained the two basic types of Gentoo/ALT projects: on the one hand there are prefixed projects like Gentoo for Mac OS X and Gentoo/OpenBSD, where it's impossible or unwise to mess with the provided userland, whereas on the other hand there are non-prefixed ports like Gentoo/FreeBSD and Gentoo/NetBSD. After this Diego goes on to tell us a little more about the various ports and their specific needs, before explaining the GNU tools Portage currently depends on. The rest of the thread saw the usual lively discussion on the merits and feasability of these two approaches, which as always lead to a rather heated, yet quite informative debate.


Gentoo-server project status and proposal

Ricardo Loureiro, known as RoadRunner in the Gentoo Forums where he moderates the Portuguese section, triggered a discussion of his new project to ease network administration and management. The thread also contains helpful links on past code and methods:


64-bit transition thread

This thread looks at some of the basic questions regarding the advantages of a 64-bit system over a 32-bit one. More concisely there are details on getting various 32-bit apps usable on a 64-bit system. Check the recommended document addressing a majority of these questions, too:

4.  Gentoo international

Germany: Gentoo Summer Camp 2006

Figure 4.1: Gentoo Summer Camp 2006

Fig. 1: GSC

The second Gentoo Summer Camp 2006 in Germany is planned for 26 and 27 August 2006, probably to be held somewhere on the German North Sea coast, with the exact venue to be decided upon soon. Organizer Slick, one of the German Gentoo Forum moderators, expects between 30 and 40 campers to participate in the event, with at least a few of them arriving a week early to spend an entire Gentoo vacation at the site. Themed T-shirts and windbreakers featuring the GSC logo will be made available soon, along with a registration site for early bookers. Participation will set you back 10 Euros per night and person, including cold beverages and roasted marshmallows. For a glimpse of what the first summer camp looked like, check the photo collection (in file review.tar.bz2).

5.  Gentoo in the press (6 December 2005)

Right on time before people have done all their Christmas shopping, Gentoo developer Kristopher Kersey (Augustus) has published the third and last part of his series on the "Ultimate Linux Workstation" that he designed using all the latest and greatest parts to be found in the wild. He's spent his money reasonably well on a dual Opteron 2.8GHz system with plenty of RAM, fast disks, water-cooling and high-performance graphics to impress in the benchmarking he includes in his article. Needless to say, Augustus went for Gentoo Linux as the operating system for his ultimate workstation (and the alternative "budget system"). Well, what else would you want under the tree...

Netcraft (5 December 2005)

Gentoo has passed the mark of 100,000 servers worldwide visibly running Gentoo Linux, according to the December survey at Netcraft. With Gentoo's success and the even steeper raise in Debian-driven systems, non-commercial Linuces including CentOS and Fedora are growing faster than their commercial counterparts. (December 2005)

Unlike all other maps of Gentoo users that have been established so far, this new one over at Frappr (short for "Friends Mapper") isn't regionally limited. Wherever on the planet you happen to live, you can pin your location onto a global map that already carries hundreds of other Gentoo users. Lacking particularly in the Asian and African department so far, it's certainly fun to add yourself to the growing number of pins -- and even more fun to find others using this tool.

6.  Gentoo developer moves


The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:

  • None this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:

  • Sandro Bonazzola (Sanchan) - Embedded
  • Joshua Jackson (tsunam) - x86


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:

  • None this week

7.  Gentoo Security

Perl: Format string errors can lead to code execution

A fix is available for Perl to mitigate the effects of format string programming errors, that could otherwise be exploited to execute arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

QDBM, ImageMagick, GDAL: RUNPATH issues

Multiple packages suffer from RUNPATH issues that may allow users in the "portage" group to escalate privileges.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

phpMyAdmin: Multiple vulnerabilities

Multiple flaws in phpMyAdmin may lead to several XSS issues and local and remote file inclusion vulnerabilities.

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 04 December 2005 and 11 December 2005, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 740 new bugs during this period
  • 373 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 29 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 9124 currently open bugs: 96 are labeled 'blocker', 195 are labeled 'critical', and 542 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

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11.  Other languages

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Page updated December 12, 2005

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 12 December 2005.

Ulrich Plate

Donnie Berkholz

Tom Knight

Michael Kohl

Patrick Lauer

Caleb Tennis

Chris White

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