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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 16 July 2007


1.  Gentoo News

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 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 #185823.

2.  Gentoo International

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

Fig. 1: Marcus D. Hanwell

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

Fig. 2: Tobias Scherbaum

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.

3.  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 for." (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). (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 the LiveDVD. (8 May, 2007) 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.

4.  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 installed:

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 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.

5.  Gentoo developer moves


The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:

  • Joshua Baergen (joshuabaergen)


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:

  • none this week


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:

  • none this week

6.  Gentoo security

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 GLSA Announcement

7.  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.


Package: Removal date: Contact:
net-firewall/firestarter 10 Jul 2007 Michael Sterrett
app-emacs/ilisp-cvs 12 Jul 2007 Christian Faulhammer
app-emacs/ilisp 12 Jul 2007 Christian Faulhammer
app-arch/bsdtar 13 Jul 2007 Diego Pettenò
sys-apps/pam_mount 13 Jul 2007 Hanno Boeck


Package: Addition date: Contact:
dev-haskell/x11 09 Jul 2007 Duncan Coutts
dev-haskell/opengl 09 Jul 2007 Duncan Coutts
dev-haskell/openal 09 Jul 2007 Duncan Coutts
dev-haskell/glut 09 Jul 2007 Duncan Coutts
dev-haskell/alut 09 Jul 2007 Duncan Coutts
app-admin/eselect-news 09 Jul 2007 Piotr Jaroszyński
dev-python/storm 10 Jul 2007 Tiziano Müller
media-plugins/vdr-lcdproc 10 Jul 2007 Matthias Schwarzott
x11-misc/transset-df 11 Jul 2007 Christoph Mende
net-wireless/iwl3945-ucode 11 Jul 2007 Saleem Abdulrasool
net-wireless/iwl4965-ucode 11 Jul 2007 Saleem Abdulrasool
net-wireless/iwlwifi 11 Jul 2007 Saleem Abdulrasool
dev-java/tapestry 11 Jul 2007 Alistair Bush
dev-python/kaa-base 11 Jul 2007 Robert Buchholz
dev-python/kaa-imlib2 11 Jul 2007 Robert Buchholz
dev-python/kaa-metadata 11 Jul 2007 Robert Buchholz
sys-auth/pam_chroot 12 Jul 2007 Ali Polatel
app-emacs/ngnus 12 Jul 2007 Ulrich Müller
sys-libs/libhx 13 Jul 2007 Hanno Boeck
sys-libs/libhugetlbfs 13 Jul 2007 Mike Frysinger
app-arch/libarchive 13 Jul 2007 Diego Pettenò
sys-auth/pam_mount 13 Jul 2007 Hanno Boeck
net-libs/xyssl 13 Jul 2007 Lars Weiler
media-sound/gimmix 13 Jul 2007 Christoph Mende
games-board/chessdb 13 Jul 2007 Alfredo Tupone
dev-ruby/twitter 14 Jul 2007 Joshua Nichols
x11-apps/xbacklight 14 Jul 2007 Donnie Berkholz
dev-python/hachoir-core 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier
dev-python/hachoir-parser 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier
dev-python/hachoir-regex 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier
app-misc/hachoir-metadata 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier
app-misc/hachoir-urwid 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier
app-misc/hachoir-subfile 14 Jul 2007 Cédric Krier

Last Rites:

Note: 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 tree.

8.  Bugzilla



The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( 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 period are:

9.  GWN feedback

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 better.

10.  GWN subscription information

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11.  Other languages

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Page updated July 16, 2007

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 16 July 2007.

Chris Gianelloni

Chrissy Fullam
Assistant Editor

Davide Italiano

Sascha Nitsch

John Alberts

Josh Saddler

Peter Weller

Wernfried Haas

Mart Raudsepp

Donnie Berkholz

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