Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 9 October 2006
X.Org 7.1 to enter stable for amd64 and x86
The Gentoo X11 team plans to stabilize
X.Org 7.1 for x86 and amd64 on or after Thursday, 12 October. The lack of binary
driver support previously held up this release, but Nvidia and ATI released
compatible versions that are now marked stable on both architectures.
This release features the addition of accelerated indirect GLX (AIGLX),
which allows for eye candy such as the Compiz window/compositing manager, as
well as running 3D accelerated display walls with Xdmx. X.Org 7.1 also
integrates the kdrive (TinyX) servers for embedded systems into the
xorg-server package with the kdrive USE flag. The kdrive integration
additionally provides Xephyr, an enhanced Xnest-like client. Numerous
video drivers also received significant updates.
Being able to tune CFLAGS is part of the user control and extreme
configurability that are hallmarks of the Gentoo
experience. Being in control brings both benefits and problems. CFLAGS
tuning is not an exception.
Using anything beyond -O2 -fomit-frame-pointer -march/-mcpu/-mtune in
CFLAGS or CXXFLAGS (and -mieee, -mabi etc. on selected archs that tell
you to do this), and using anything at all in LDFLAGS or ASFLAGS, is usually
not worth the trouble for most users. There's usually very little benefit, if
any, high risks, and large amounts of time spent on frustrating tuning that
could be enjoyed doing far more interesting things.
The recent upgrade to GCC 4.1 for stable x86 and amd64 users changed the CFLAGS
landscape. Users that spent some time tuning their CFLAGS with GCC 3.4 might
find that an upgrade to GCC 4.1 leaves them with an unstable system.
Examples of this are:
- nss_ldap stopped working with -ffast-math (-ffast-math
is often misused and must be considered a dangerous flag)
-fvisibility-inlines-hidden still breaks some code
-ftree-loop-linear now breaks in GCC 4.1 (at least with
-ftree-vectorize is known to be broken in GCC 4.1 (at least
for x86 and ppc, there are fewer problems reported by amd64 users, but no
-fforce-addr and -fweb break regularly on x86 with
video libraries or graphic processing apps which use hand-optimized assembly
(-fweb may be safe on amd64 but like above no guarantees)
There are known-to-be-broken flags for all GCC versions that you want
to check for too:
-frename-registers (may be safe on amd64, at your own risks)
-msse, -mmmx, and -m3dnow (no need for them on amd64,
they are wrapped up by -march=k8/nocona/... and safely used there)
Users with unsupported CFLAGS might want to return to safe CFLAGS (see
warning above) if recent updates caused them stability problems. On the
other hand, more adventurous users might want to experiment with CFLAGS
that didn't work properly with GCC 3.4.6... As always, the user is in
control (and the gun pointed to their feet is in his/her hand).
- The GCC man page contains warnings for some unsafe optimization
options. You should read it carefully when you experiment with CFLAGS or
upgrade GCC on a CFLAGS-customized Gentoo.
- Some options that are unsafe in the system-wide CFLAGS might be
added automatically in some ebuilds if the developer deems them safe
(by redefining CFLAGS or using append-flags from the flag-o-matic eclass).
For example -ffast-math is added by the xmame/xmess ebuilds on
most architectures even though you should not put it in your CFLAGS.
- You might get an idea of the stability issues of a specific
optimization option by running: find /usr/portage -name '*.ebuild' |
xargs grep -- '-your-risky-optimization-option'. It takes quite
some time, but might be enlightening: look for the
Developer of the week
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
- Daniel Ostrow, dostrow
Figure 2.1: Daniel Ostrow
Developer Daniel Ostrow, also known as dostrow, was born and raised in Michigan.
Though he claims to be a New Yorker, at least in spirit -- spending 16 years there could do that -- he currently resides just outside San Francisco, CA.
Daniel lives alone, though he plans to get a cat once he's settled. When living
with his family back in NY, Daniel lived with three cats, some fish, a turtle,
and a nine foot snake.
Dostrow learned pretty early on that college wasn't for him, though he did work
for a while towards a degree in Interdisciplinary Marine Psych/Bio, specializing
in marine mammals, quite the far cry from the computer geek he admits to having
always been. Daniel says that in due time, he will eventually get around to a
degree in something or other.
Daniel works for a Human Resources web service company, Workstream, which
provides both on premise and hosted solutions for the entire HR life cycle,
from recruitment to termination. While he was hired because of his affiliation
with Gentoo, he is, alas, not paid to work on Gentoo. His job title is that of
Senior Systems Engineer. Daniel sums up his job as being loaned to other
departments to make the impossible, possible. While this sounds a bit
unsettling, he enjoys always being kept on his toes and the fact that he is
never working on one thing long enough to get bored with it. Workstream is a
CentOS/Solaris/Windows shop, but Daniel managed to squeeze in Gentoo on a server
that needed a custom patched kernel and his own local workstation.
Being an active Gentoo developer is a skill that Daniel describes as being
invaluable in the work place. He is able to apply the same skills required to be
a good developer (being an effective administrator, a logical thinker, and a
tinkerer at heart) easily to most any IT job.
When not working, dostrow indulges in his animation obsession, basically vegging
out in front of the TV. He partakes in the pretty standard activities, going to
the San Francisco clubs and bars or taking in a movie. He loves Star Wars (lots
and lots) and dance music. His favorite DJ is currently Armin Van Buuren, though
Tiësto, Paul Van Dyk, and Ferry Corsten are all at the top of his list. He likes
techno so much that Daniel makes it to the Ultra Music Festival in Florida every
year. Oh yeah, did we mention that Daniel loves Star Wars? If that wasn't
enough, he also admits to a hobby of archery. The neatest place that dostrow
has traveled to? Definitely his month-long trip to eastern Asia where he had
the opportunity to hit up Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Taiwan.
Dostrow started his *nix experience using NetBSD and went through a phase of
trying multiple Linux distributions. He found his way to Gentoo in the 1.4_rc1
days, but found that a number of frustrating 'linuxisms' confounded him, so he
moved on to other distributions. He found his way back to Gentoo after having
familiarized himself with Linux. He attributes his early successes to the
assistance of the Gentoo community (and gives shouts to Pylon and pvdabeel for
their early help in getting his first PPC up and running). Dostrow continued to
hang out in #gentoo-ppc, submitting patches and writing new ebuilds for
out of date packages. He was quickly recruited by pvdabeel in May of 2004. His
primary roles are with PPC64 and XFCE. He absolutely loves XFCE, having recently
acquired the hardware to maintain it on every supported architecture.
Daniel boasts quite the home computer collection, consisting of an x86 Dell
laptop and desktop, two AMD64 systems and an AMD64 Acer Ferrari, an Alpha, an
HPPA, an ARM, two PPC's, two PPC64's, a few Sparcs, a MIPS box, and an IA64. Not
too surprising, the first application dostrow launches is XFCE, followed by
urxvt, gaim, xchat, and evolution.
Heard in the community
Goodbye my Gentoo servers, I hardly knew you
Forums user kashani writes about his experiences with using Gentoo Linux as a
replacement for CentOS at http://jumpcut.com/ prior to being bought
by Yahoo! two weeks ago. The post starts with talking about how the conversion
was begun with the support servers, then the development servers, followed soon
by staging and production.
OT: Sansa e260 MicroSD
Devon Miller owns a SanDisk Sans E260, a flash-based MP3 player with a
slot for additional SD card storage. Devon was able to mount the flash
drive but not the SD card. Steve McGrath (who'd had a similar problem
with a 5-in-1 card reader) advised Devon to recompile his kernel with
the option "Probe all LUNs on each SCSI device" selected under Device
Drivers->SCSI device support. Devon reported problem solved.
Allow a user to restart net.wlan0
In order to deal with intermittent NIC failures on his son's machine,
Mark Knecht needed to allow a non-root user to run the command
/etc/init.d/wlan0 restart. Mark Shields and Devon Miller advised him
to use visudo to add "username ALL=(ALL)
NOPASSWD: /etc/init.d/net.wlan0" to the /etc/sudoers file. Ian
Buchanan's suggested alternative was "username ALL=(ALL)
NOPASSWD: /etc/init.d/net.wlan0 restart" which would allow only the
restarting of the service.
Nick Rout and Alexander Skwar pointed out that the Atheros card might
work better with the madwifi-ng driver in lieu of the ndiswrapper-ed
Windows driver which Knecht had been using.
Gentoo in the press
NewsForge (6 Oct 2006)
Benetech CTO, Dr. Patrick Ball talks about open source software and Gentoo in
Ball's personal desktop is a Gentoo Linux box. "I've used Gentoo for
years, because it was a lot of fun and it taught me a lot about how to
administer a machine," he says, noting its unique
choose-and-compile-everything philosophy. But he also says that you're
not caught out on a limb when you use it -- the people who use and
support and develop it are there to help you.
"The community is really strong and they're responsive at different
levels," he says. "Other [free software communities] are responsive
maybe at the newbie level or way out at the expert level, whereas Gentoo
is there across all levels -- they don't flame you with Eric Raymond's
URL and tell you to get lost."
While Benetech had previously chosen Red Hat and Gentoo for its
desktops, today they're all running Ubuntu. Ball cited Ubuntu's ease of
setup and installation as the reason for the switch. "If you have to
roll out 10 or 15 machines, Gentoo's [inconvenient]. Most of our
machines are Kubuntu, but there are a couple of GNOME people in our
Linux Magazin (Nov 2006)
Germany's Linux Magazin has published an article about
http://overlays.gentoo.org and layman in the November edition
of their print magazine. The article, entitled "Community-basiertes
Qualitätsmanagement" (Community-based Quality Management), talks about how
Gentoo demonstrates how a strong interaction with the community breaks with
traditional quality assurance procedures and still produces a stable result.
German-speaking members of the community should pick up the November edition of
the magazine for the article, as it is not available online.
Gentoo developer moves
The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:
- Tim Yamin (plasmaroo)
- Gregorio Guidi (greg_g)
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:
- Alon Bar-Lev (alonbl) crypto team
- Jeffrey Gardner (je_fro) sci-* team
- Timothy Redaelli (drizzt) Gentoo/FreeBSD
The following developers recently changed roles within the
Mozilla Thunderbird: Multiple vulnerabilities
The Mozilla Foundation has reported multiple security vulnerabilities
related to Mozilla Thunderbird.
For more information, please see the
Adobe Flash Player: Arbitrary code execution
Multiple input validation errors have been identified that allow arbitrary
code execution on a user's system via the handling of malicious Flash
For more information, please see the
ncompress: Buffer Underflow
A buffer underflow vulnerability has been reported in ncompress allowing
for the execution of arbitrary code.
For more information, please see the
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) to record and track
bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the
development team. Between 01 October 2006
and 08 October 2006, activity on the site has resulted in:
- 748 new bugs during this period
- 584 bugs closed or resolved during this period
- 34 previously closed bugs were reopened this period
- 213 closed as NEEDINFO/WONTFIX/CANTFIX/INVALID/UPSTREAM during this period
- 166 bugs marked as duplicates during this period
Of the 11080 currently open bugs: 33 are labeled 'blocker', 121 are labeled
'critical', and 505 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
Upcoming package removals
Starting this week, the GWN is debuting a section listing the packages that have
been announced for removal from the tree. This list is compiled manually, at
present, and may not be entirely inclusive. The goal of this section is to help
inform the community on packages that will be removed from the tree, allowing
them to migrate to new packages, or even volunteer to help with the package and
keep it alive. The GWN staff hopes to make this a recurring section in the GWN
and wishes to make this an automated report in the future. The package removals
come from many locations, including the Treecleaners and various developers.
Please send us your feedback and help make the GWN
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