Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 16 July 2007
Welcome back from the GWN staff
Gentoo's GWN staff are pleased to be back after a short break. We would like to
thank everyone that continued to submit news and ideas to the GWN and to
everyone that offered to help. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way
of volunteer time, but we are back. There will be some changes done to how we
publish the GWN which should make it quicker for us to create, hopefully
allowing us to publish on schedule. Of course, this means this issue is a bit
longer than usual, as it includes more articles than usual due to the long time
since the last publishing.
For those of you wondering about the statistics from the missing GWN editions,
the GWN staff has filled in the statistics into the older GWN editions and
placed them online. They will not be sent out as emails simply due to the age
of the information making it not as important as fresh statistics. These older
editions of the GWN are linked on the main GWN page.
As always, the GWN is looking for submissions from the community. If you have
something Gentoo-related that you would like to share with the GWN readers,
send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add it to a future
edition of the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter.
Gentoo Council and Trustee nominations open
Nominations are being taken for the Gentoo
Council, the body which governs the direction of Gentoo's software
releases and repositories, and the Gentoo Foundation's Board of Trustees. The Gentoo Council is a technical
body of seven developers, elected by the developer community. The Council
members serve for one year and make decisions on the global direction of the
Gentoo distribution and policies, as well as an appeals board for disciplinary
actions. The Gentoo Foundation Board of Trustees is a legal body of five
developers, elected by the developer community. The Trustees serve for one
year and manage the non-profit Gentoo Foundation, which holds the intellectual
property for Gentoo. New nominees are given on the gentoo-dev mailing
list. The nominations are tracked at the Council
page for the Gentoo Council.
News about PAM and cracklib
Diego Pettenò announced on his blog his progress with
PAM. Some time ago, there was a discussion about moving
sys-apps/cracklib out of the system packages set as it was not a
necessary package. However sys-apps/cracklib is no longer in the system,
if you used PAM you couldn't remove it as sys-libs/pam
considered it as a necessary dependency. Diego has committed a revision bump for
sys-libs/pam in ~arch that makes cracklib optional, controlled by the
cracklib USE flag., but enabled by default.
More manpower needed for Gentoo Kernel security project
Daniel Drake is looking for people interested
in helping the Gentoo Kernel security project. He is seeking someone to develop
software to help the team track the security bugs and help communicate
that info to users who want to know when a new kernel fixes a security issue.
The basic role involves handling vulnerabilities (both minor and major) in the
kernel. The issues come in from databases, and you have to coordinate those
patches flowing into the portage tree.
If you think that you might be interested in helping out, contact Daniel Drake
at Daniel Drake.
GNOME 2.18.2 going stable
The Gentoo GNOME team is working
towards stabilization of GNOME 2.18.2 in the tree. This will be an upgrade
from the current stable GNOME 2.16 release. You can find out more about the
changes in this major GNOME upgrade on the GNOME 2.18 page. Please consult
the GNOME 2.18
Upgrade Guide before upgrading. If you wish to track the stabilization
efforts, you can follow bug
Gentoo and KDE at aKademy
Marcus D. Hanwell represented Gentoo's
KDE team at this year's aKademy,
the annual meeting for KDE users and developers. This year's event was held in
Glasgow, Scotland. Marcus spoke about Gentoo & KDE in the platforms track
where he addressed the current KDE 3.5 process, issues faced over the years,
interaction with both upstream and other distributions, and the road ahead to
KDE 4. If you want to know more about his talk, you can see the slides
and download a video.
Figure 2.1: Marcus giving a speech about KDE on Gentoo
Gentoo UK 2007 Conference
The Gentoo UK 2007
Conference was held at University College London on the 14th of July. As
you surely know it is the largest Gentoo-specific conference in the world.
One can find more details regarding the event at the conference's
home. There was also a social event the
night before at the
Marylebone Tup. Among the talks given at the event, Marcus D. Hanwell
gave a talk about KDE and scientific applications within Gentoo.
Gentoo at the Grazer Linuxtage
As in the previous years, Gentoo was present with a booth at the Grazer Linuxtage. Visitors had not only the
chance to talk to Tobias Scherbaum,
who had traveled to Graz from Germany, the locals Roger Miliker, Wernfried Haas, and forums Veteran
Peter Gantner (nephros), but they could also see some of the architectures
supported by Gentoo.
Figure 2.2: Tobias Scherbaum (dertobi123) and several machines running Gentoo
Besides the omnipresent x86 architecture, there were PPC and HP PA-RISC
machines at the booth running Gentoo Linux. There was even Doom running on the
HP machine, which was quite an eye catcher.
For the first time a speech about Gentoo was given by both Tobias and
Wernfried together, the slides (in German) can be found at
Pictures of the whole event can be found on the Grazer Linuxtage gallery.
Gentoo in the press
Linux Format (11 July, 2007)
In a full-page review of Gentoo Linux 2007.0 in the August 2007 issue of Linux
Format, the reviewer, Neil Bothwick, was so impressed with the new release that
he awarded the distribution 9 points out of ten.
From the article: "The upside is that you have great control over what is
installed. It is this control, rather than the ability to use insane compiler
flags which govern features are enabled in the software you install, and by
disabling features you don't need, you can save space, reduce dependencies,
shorten program load times and even lessen your susceptibility to security
holes. Building your own kernel is also made easy by the 'genkernel' tool used
by the installer, or you can use this to configure your kernel manually.
Portage contains almost 12,000 packages, so you won't be short of software."
The author concludes: "If you want more control over your system and are
prepared to make the extra effort, Gentoo could be just what you are looking
LWN.net (5 July, 2007)
In the July 5 edition of the Linux
Weekly News, Gentoo developer Donnie
Berkholz wrote an article entitled "Package management in Gentoo
Linux". The article compares the three currently available package
managers and includes a brief overview of their features, as well as mentioning
PMS (Package Manager Specification) and EAPI (Ebuild API).
Techgage.com (12 May, 2007)
Techgage did a nice little review of the Gentoo 2007.0 release. The review
points out some of the major changes and also lists a couple hangups with the
new installer. There's also a couple nice screenshots comparing the LiveCD to
LinuxDevices.com (8 May, 2007)
LinuxDevices.com was first to report about the Zonbu Zonbox, which is a
lower power alternative to standard PC hardware and runs Gentoo Linux. Here is
a taste of what they had to say.
"A Palo Alto, CA based start-up is readying a silent, low-cost,
Linux-based computing appliance said to burn an order of magnitude less
power than traditional PCs. The Zonbu Zonbox runs Gentoo Linux and two
dozen open source applications on a Via C7 processor clocked at 1.2GHz."
They also went on to note its power requirements versus a regular PC.
"It consumes 15 Watts (average), or 131 kW/year, generating about 97
pounds of CO2 emissions, according to Zonbu. ... A standard PC, in
comparison, consumes 175 Watts on average, or 1,533 kW/year."
Also, the New York Times picked up on the Zonbox and ran their own article
on the device.
Tips and Tricks
Estimate emerge time
You can analyze your system's emerge.log file to find out how long a
given package took to compile and also to estimate the time of future compile
jobs, or you can use genlop, which is designed for the job.
Code Listing 4.1: Example of how it works:
# genlop -nt kdelibs
Tue May 8 18:26:59 2007 >>> kde-base/kdelibs-3.5.6-r8
merge time: 38 minutes and 6 seconds.
This information can be used to estimate how long an update would take. The
tool can be used to calculate the emerge time for a variety of package sets,
like a world update, by calling it this way:
Code Listing 4.2: Example of emerging world:
# emerge -uDp world | genlop -p
These are the pretended packages: (this may take a while; wait...)
[ebuild U ] app-office/openoffice-2.2.1 [2.2.0]
[ebuild U ] media-libs/netpbm-10.39.0 [10.37.0]
Estimated update time: 5 hours, 50 minutes.
Now, what if you have a new package that you didn't have installed, such as you
want to install fluxbox on a machine that previously did not have X
Code Listing 4.3: Example of using on a new package:
# emerge -p fluxbox | genlop -p
[ebuild N ] x11-libs/libXmu-1.0.3 USE="-debug -ipv6"
[ebuild N ] x11-apps/xmessage-1.0.1 USE="-debug -xprnt"
!!! Error: couldn't get previous merge of xmessage; skipping...
!!! Error: couldn't get previous merge of fluxbox; skipping...
!!! Error: fluxbox never merged; estimated time unknown.
Genlop will only reference the packages it knows. If you use the -q option
(genlop version >= 0.30.7), an online database running on
gentoo.linuxhowtos.org is queried for compile times based on users with
an identical CPU to yours.
Code Listing 4.4: Above query results in:
# emerge -p fluxbox | genlop -p -q
These are the pretended packages: (this may take a while; wait...) ...
Estimated update time: 38 minutes.
The times are not 100% accurate; it does not respect USE flags or memory speed,
hard disk speed, or other factors. However, as the times get averaged over
different users, these factors become less important.
Gentoo developer moves
The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:
- Joshua Baergen (joshuabaergen)
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:
The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:
XnView: Stack-based buffer overflow
XnView is vulnerable to a stack-based buffer overflow and possible remote
code execution when handling XPM image files.
For more information, please see the
Gentoo package moves
This section lists packages that have either been moved or added to the tree
and packages that have had their "last rites" announcement given to be removed
in the future. The package removals come from many locations, including the Treecleaners and various developers. Most
packages which are listed under the Last Rites section are in need of some love
and care and can remain in the tree if proper maintainership is established.
Due to time constraints on the publishing of this version of the GWN, the
Last Rites section has been temporarily removed. This section will return once
it has become more automated, as it currently accounts for more than 80 percent
of the time required to publish an edition of the GWN. The GWN staff would like
to apologize for this inconvenience and remind everyone that this information
comes directly from the package.mask file in the profiles directory of
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla (bugs.gentoo.org) to record and track
bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the
development team. Between 08 July 2007
and 15 July 2007, activity on the site has resulted in:
- 533 new bugs during this period
- 349 bugs closed or resolved during this period
- 20 previously closed bugs were reopened this period
- 104 closed as NEEDINFO/WONTFIX/CANTFIX/INVALID/UPSTREAM during this period
- 82 bugs marked as duplicates during this period
Of the 9816 currently open bugs: 12 are labeled 'blocker', 109 are labeled
'critical', and 350 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
The GWN is staffed by volunteers and members of the community who submit ideas
and articles. If you are interested in writing for the GWN, have feedback on an
article that we have posted, or just have an idea or article that you would
like to submit to the GWN, please send us your feedback and help make the GWN
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