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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 2nd Anniversary Issue - December 29, 2004


1.  Gentoo News

Second anniversary of the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter

The inaugural edition of the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter was published on 23 December 2002, a date conveniently placed at the end of the calendar year, henceforth to serve as a perfect excuse for reminiscing in major moments of the year gone by. This week's issue does contain some of the usual sections, but we've also made room for the traditional (meaning it's happened twice now, so it must be a tradition, right?) GWN staff and translator profiles. These are the people who have kept this publication alive for the past two years, and intend to keep delivering news and insights into the Gentoo machine in the future. We're on a steady publication schedule, some of the abandonned translations have been picking up again (notably the Turkish, Russian and French versions are now available once more!). A big round of applause to everyone working for the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter!

Now, sadly, and just like last year, we have been unable to round up everyone, what with Christmas always coming as a total surprise and all, but in return we promise yet another incomplete list of suspects, originally intended for publication this week, but postponed to the next GWN issue: Watch out for a look at some of the Gentoo Forum administration and moderator crews to satisfy your curiosity.

A word of gratitude to our 12,000 mail recipients and the unknown number of people flocking to our website each week to read the GWN: Thank you for your support, it's a pleasure working for you! Please keep us posted about any Gentoo-related events, press cuttings, activities of all kinds that you think would be worth covering in the GWN. If it's interesting to you, chances are others would love to hear about it, too.

Gentoo buildtime and statistics database client

After many months since the old Gentoo statistic database went away, basc, a new buildtime and statistics client, is now in Portage. basc updates information about a host running Gentoo Linux to a central server (in this example: RAM statistics). Among other information, the client collects the kernel's .config and the xorg.conf files, and the developers involved are currently evaluating whether it is possible to have it 'suggest' configurations to new users based on previous configuration file contributions.

2.  Gentoo Linux major events of 2004



2004 has been an exciting and challenging year for the Gentoo community. We've grown significantly, and few would argue that Gentoo is now the preeminent source distribution of Linux - some publications are even recognizing Gentoo as one of the major mainstream distros. From major upgrades to the core system, through significant changes in base packages and even how the Gentoo community is organized, there has never been any shortage of news for us here at the GWN to report on.

The sections below describe ten major events over the past year, with input from many Gentoo developers and selected by the GWN editor and writers.

Daniel Robbins resigns as Chief Architect

Gentoo's founder and Chief Architect, Daniel Robbins, retired at the end of April. This news came as something of a shock, but Daniel felt the need to move on to something new and focus on his family, as he stepped aside to permit the new board (see below) to take over the reins. He still contributes to the project, and has been sighted on the mailing lists and in IRC.

Gentoo requests NFP status

In an event somewhat intertwined with Daniel Robbins' retirement, his plans to transit Gentoo to a Not-For-Profit organization were culminated in early June, with the creation of the Gentoo Foundation, a Not-For-Profit corporation. This entrusted the copyrights to Gentoo technology, guidance of the project, and responsibility for administering the distro in the hands of a corporate entity with an elected board.

Portage Updates

October saw the culmination of much of the work begun as portage-ng ("next generation Portage") with the release of Portage 2.0.51. This release added several new features, including initial support for GPG package validation, FHS compliance, and significant performance improvements - not the least of which is the use of lockfiles for parallel fetching and merging. Of particular interest is the --newuse flag, which permits the re-emergence of affected packages after a USE flag change.

This culminated a long series of upgrades to portage that saw the shift from make.conf globals and command-line keywords to the use of configuration files in /etc/portage that permitted finer package-level control. In particular, the use of the package.keywords file now permits the use of per-package keywords.

LiveCD ISOs Available via BitTorrent

In August, the Gentoo 2004.2 LiveCD had a parallel release using BitTorrent. This allowed more efficient downloads of the large files using the popular P2P protocol. The experiment was a success, and it is expected that this option will remain available for future releases.

Release of the Gentoo Developer Handbook

In July, we reported that devrel had released of an updated and expanded Gentoo Developer Handbook that outlined not only the details of how to create and edit ebuilds, but the policies and infrastructure necessary to do so efficiently and as part of a team.

Deprecation of x11 in Favor of xorg

In September, the default X11 virtual was changed from the one provided by XFree86 (xfree) to that provided by X.Org (xorg-x11). This meant that, by default, the GUI installed on portage would be the version from X.Org. This move was prompted by some changes made to XFree86's license for the 4.4.0 release that raised some question as to whether it was compatible with GPL'd software that linked X11 libraries. As of 31 December 2004, XFree86 appears to be obsoleted and will be removed from the Portage tree, writes maintainer Donnie Berkholz.

Gentoo named a finalist for the LWE product excellence awards

In January, we reported that Gentoo had been named a finalist in the Linux World Expo Product Excellence Awards, in the category "best Open Source project". Gentoo was also nominated for the same award for the August LWE. Unfortunately, we lost to RealNetworks' Helix Player project and Firefox, respectively, but being named a finalist showed the recognition that Gentoo is getting in mainstream Linux circles.

Public Release of the Catalyst Tool

2004 saw substantial development on and a public release of the Catalyst tool, which is used to generate and build the stages, packages and LiveCDs. The tool permits users to create their own architecture-specific LiveCDs, for example to create their own custom install builds, or to create a bootable Linux CD with a specific set of tools.

Release of Tenshi

In June, we announced the release of Tenshi (formerly Wasabi), a log monitoring tool. Tenshi was developed for use on Gentoo infrastructure servers, but rapidly became robust enough for general release. Tenshi was one of the first software projects sponsored by Gentoo.

Gentoo/PPC and the PegasosPPC

Since October, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. (a Motorola company) donated 13 PegasosPPC desktops, equiped with 1 GHz G4 CPUs to Gentoo developers. This generous donation, to encourage development of FOSS Software on the platform, is an indication of the remarkable progress being made by the Gentoo PPC team in advancing Gentoo's support for that architecture. In November, we reported that The Luxembourg-based company Genesi S.à.r.l. had started shipping PegasosPPCs with Gentoo pre-installed.

3.  GWN Staff Profiles



Figure 3.1: Ulrich Plate

Fig. 1: Ulrich Plate

Ulrich Plate has been with the GWN ever since its inaugural issue two years ago, but only recently took over the role of its editor from Yuji Carlos Kosugi who left in September 2004 to concentrate on his studies. Ulrich makes no secret of significant deficits in mastering the technicalities of publishing a newsletter, but can fall back on his training as a journalist and PR specialist for IT companies going back 20 years to yield acceptable results, as far as presenting content is concerned. Each weekend the process of editing the GWN is under close surveillance by his family who try to make sure he doesn't spend too much time on it, with the actual publication on Monday morning 0:00 UTC providing little comfort - as a non-English speaker he's very much afraid of inadvertently saying "Belgium" some day.


Figure 3.2: AJ Armstrong

Fig. 2: AJ Armstrong

AJ Armstrong began working on the GWN when it first began in 2002. He recently returned to working on it from several months' hiatus that followed the birth of his first child. AJ teaches Computer Engineering Technology at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, including courses in Embedded Linux and Operating Systems theory. He also practices Karate and enjoys SCUBA diving, but most of his time is currently spent trying to figure out his son, who unfortunately arrived without any man pages.

Figure 3.3: Brian Downey

Fig. 3: >Brian Downey

Brian Downey began working on the community section of the GWN in September 2003. Other than breaking his Linux servers and Mac workstation computers, he spends his time with his wife Phaedrah and their cat Millie. This summer, he's planning on teaching an introductory Linux college course in between running a Linux consulting business and playing guitar and drums in his band.

Figure 3.4: Patrick Lauer

Fig. 4: Patrick Lauer

Patrick Lauer Patrick Lauer has been writing the summaries for the gentoo-dev mailing list, some Tips and Tricks and other miscellaneous bits of news since he joined the GWN team in September 2004. He is a student of Computer Science at the RWTH Aachen in Germany, with most of his spare time being wasted between IRC (where he is known as bonsaikitten) and the Gentoo mailing lists where he is rumored to be building up a somewhat trollish reputation. Patrick's focus in Gentoo is on hunting bugs, and he intends to get a fully automated compile farm in the near future. Apart from that he's a busy Gentoo evangelist and tries to convert everybody he knows to the one true Linux.

German Translation Team

German Translators

Figure 3.5: Marc Herren

Fig. 5: Marc Herren

Marc Herren aka dj-submerge is 27 years old and lives in Bern (Switzerland). He's using Linux since 1998 and Gentoo for about 3 years. Currently he's working as a project leader in a networking company mainly dealing with HP-UX and Linux. Besides computers he plays volleyball a lot and spins the turntables.

Figure 3.6: Tobias Scherbaum

Fig. 6: Tobias Scherbaum

Tobias Scherbaum is 23 years old and lives in Oberhausen (Germany). A Gentoo user for about two and a half years, he is responsible for German translations within the Gentoo Documentation Project. Sometimes he also contributes some "Tips & Tricks" to the GWN.

Figure 3.7: Matthias F. Brandstetter

Fig. 7: Matthias F. Brandstetter

Matthias F. Brandstetter is 21 and lives in Vienna (Austria). When he isn't translating the GWN into German, he is working as a freelancing Linux IT Consultant. In his spare time, Matthias likes to party with friends or read an interesting book.

Figure 3.8: Tobias Hansen

Fig. 8: Tobias Hansen

Tobias Hansen, 24 years old, lives in Frankfurt am Main. He works as a computer scientist for end-to-end performance and availability measurements, and has been using Gentoo since 2002.

Nadi Sarrar is 23 years old, lives in Berlin and is a Computer Science student at the Technical University of Berlin. A Gentoo Linux user since about 1.5 years, he enjoys making and listening to music besides functional programming.

Markus Luisseris 29 years old and works at the Institute of Chemical Engineering at the Vienna University of Technology, finishing his PhD thesis in the field of mechanical engineering. His job at the university carries the advantage of exclusively using Gentoo since more than two years. He spends his spare time mostly training Aikido.

Figure 3.9: Martin Ebner

Fig. 9: Martin Ebner

Martin Ebneris 29 years and lives in Salzburg, Austria. He is employed as a software developer in a company for access solutions - mainly in a Microsoft environment. As compensation he works with Linux for some years now at home. He is using Gentoo Linux since 1.5 years on his home server which is used as video server based on MythTV beside other typical server functions. Aside from computers he plays the trumpet and participates in folkloristic activities like the "Biergemeinschaft Gaisberg" (beer-community Gaisberg).

Figure 3.10: Tobias Matzat

Fig. 10: Tobias Matzat

Tobias Matzatis 24 years old, lives in Trier and studies computer science at the Trier University of Applied Sciences. He's been using Linux and Gentoo for several years now, playing basketball, reading a good book and listening to loud music in his spare time.

Figure 3.11: Thomas Raschbacher

Fig. 11: Thomas Raschbacher

Austrian Thomas Raschbacher aka LordVan is 22 years old and moved to the UK in October this year. He's using Linux since 1995 and Gentoo for about 3 years. Currently looking for a job in the UK, he is a Gentoo developer since December 2002. When he's not coding or translating the GWN he's usually listening to music, studying Japanese, reading Mangas or watching Animes.

Figure 3.12: Daniel Gerholdt

Fig. 12: Daniel Gerholdt

Daniel Gerholdt, also know as Sputnik1969 is 35 years old and lives in Germany's capital Berlin. He uses Linux since 1998 and discovered Gentoo in 2002. He is also looking for a new job, and has returned to studying at school whenever he's not mistreating his computer.

Italian Translation Team

Figure 3.13: Marco Mascherpa

Fig. 13: Marco Mascherpa

Marco Mascherpa is 25 and lives in Milan, Italy. This year, after completing his degree in Computer Engineering, he has started working for a small consulting company. His contributions to the Gentoo project began at the end of 2002, translating the GWN, now he leads the Italian translators team. He loves to travel with his beautiful girlfriend, Raffaella, and he spends his spare time watching movies and reading.

Figure 3.14: Stefano Rossi

Fig. 14: Stefano Rossi

Stefano Rossi is 25 years old, born and living in Rome, Italy. He has been on the Italian translation team for more than a year. He is studying Economics at the University Roma Tre. His favourite hobby is to follow the matches of AS Roma's soccer team everywhere in Italy, when possible.

Figure 3.15: Stefano Lucidi

Fig. 15: Stefano Lucidi

Stefano Lucidi 24 years old and lives in Rome, Italy. He works as an IT consultant and studies computer science at the same time. Stefano started using Gentoo 3 years ago because a friend talked him into it, and but it was love on first sight, eventually making him the founder and administrator of Gentoo-Italia, a web site with news for the Italian community, and the new wiki

Polish Translation Team

Figure 3.16: Kuba Bożanowski

Fig. 16: Kuba Bożanowski

Kuba 'fixxxer' Bożanowski is a 24 year old CS student, living in Opole, Poland (although that's probably going to change once he's done with his thesis). Apart from computers he loves riding his mountain bike and playing guitar in a heavy metal band. He also enjoys a good read and good food (We've heard that he makes a pretty good pizza).

Figure 3.17: Jakub Dziwisz

Fig. 17: Jakub Dziwisz

Jakub Dziwisz lives in Krakow, Poland. He studies Computer Science at AGH-University of Science and Technology. His main field of interest and subject of his Master's Thesis is Grid computing. Recently, he started a portal devoted to these issues, He has used Gentoo as his default OS since 2002, and since May he has helped to translate the GWN into Polish.

Karol Góralski lives in Radom, Poland, and works as system administrator. He maintains the server, providing many services for Polish Gentoo users. He has been involved in translation of the GWN for several months.

Łukasz Strzygowski is a 16 year old high school student, born and living in Kielce, Poland. He has used Gentoo for about two years. He is coordinator of Polish translation for the GWN, and was also involved in translation of the Gentoo Handbook. He was recently named a a member of the Gentoo development team and maintains some python-related packages. In his spare time he reads and learns programming.

Turkish Translation Team

Figure 3.18: Bahadır Kandemir

Fig. 18: Bahadır Kandemir

Bahadır Kandemir is a 22 year old Computer Engineering student, born and living in Turkey. On his last year in college, he started working on Gentoo Handbook translations. After seeing its customizability and performance, he switched to Gentoo Linux. Bahadır has been translating GWN to Turkish since October 2004. He also works part-time for an automotive factory as an Intranet Applications Developer, but unfortunately he works with non-Unix operating systems.

Figure 3.19: Erkan Kaplan

Fig. 19: Erkan Kaplan

Erkan Kaplan is a 34 year-old Management Economist, born in Turkey, living in Germany since 1992. He previously administrated Gentoo Handbook Turkish translations, and now he works on many translation projects including GWN, Gentoo Handbook and Mozilla. He has been a Linux addict since 1995, and a Gentoo Linux user since 2003. In his spare time, Erkan plays with his AS400 and analog electronic circuits. Now he's interested in Java, and will start studying "Software Programming with Java" at VW-Akademie in January.

4.  Future zone

Closing in on Qt 4.0

Qt 4.0 beta1 is now available in portage (hard masked, and still under development). The Trolls have been hard at work to provide this major upgrade to the already popular Qt3 based desktop. New features include:

  • Tulip, a new set of template container classes.
  • Interview, a model/view architecture for item views.
  • Arthur, the Qt 4 painting framework.
  • Scribe, the Unicode text renderer with a public API for performing low-level text layout.
  • Mainwindow, a modern action-based mainwindow, toolbar, menu, and docking architecture.

In addition, the following modules have been significantly improved since Qt 3:

  • A fully cross-platform accessibility module, with support for the emerging SP-API Unix standard in addition to Microsoft and Mac Accessibility.
  • The SQL module, which is now based on the Interview model/view framework.
  • The network module, with better support for UDP and synchronous sockets.
  • The style API, which is now decoupled from the widgets, meaning that you can draw any user interface element on any device (widget, pixmap, etc.).
  • Enhanced thread support, with signal-slot connections across threads and per-thread event loops.

The code is not production ready yet - there are still bugs to be worked out and ebuild installation issues to work through. However, software writers who are using the Qt3 library may be interested in upgrading to see what the latest offerings are, and begin looking at migrating their codebase. Upgrading to Qt4 should not interfere with an existing Qt3 installation.

More details can be found here.

5.  Gentoo security

kfax: Multiple overflows in the included TIFF library

kfax contains several buffer overflows potentially leading to execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

abcm2ps: Buffer overflow vulnerability

abcm2ps is vulnerable to a buffer overflow that could lead to remote execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

phpMyAdmin: Multiple vulnerabilities

phpMyAdmin contains multiple vulnerabilities which could lead to file disclosure or command execution.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

NASM: Buffer overflow vulnerability

NASM is vulnerable to a buffer overflow that allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code through the use of a malicious object file.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

MPlayer: Multiple overflows

Multiple overflow vulnerabilities have been found in MPlayer, potentially resulting in remote executing of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

mpg123: Playlist buffer overflow

mpg123 is vulnerable to a buffer overflow that allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code through the use of a malicious playlist.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Zwiki: XSS vulnerability

Zwiki is vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

6.  Heard in the community

Web forums

Overclockers: The day after...

What happens if you meticulously apply all tricks in the GCC book to your compilations, include all CFLAGS recommended by Acovea and known to man, and try to break all records of optimizations for packages in Gentoo? Exactly, you get to keep the pieces:


Package Manager Debate!

Emacs versus vim. Intel versus AMD. Now, portage versus RedHat's up2date. What are the fundamental differences, advantages, and disadvantages of up2date and Portage? The Gentoo community pipes up honest opinions and great information, as usual. Let the debate begin!

Building Custom Kernels and Portage

How does one build a custom kernel with specific options, outside of Portage but then at the same time notify the system that the said packages are already installed? In this thread, one user installs the ALSA sound system manually, and several other list memebers offer suggestions and guidance to get Portage to behave as requested.

7.  Gentoo in the press

Linux Weekly News (23 December 2004)

In its yearly distro roundup, the Linux Weekly News (to whom we owe much gratitude for redistributing the GWN to their own readers each week!) mentions Gentoo: "Following a dramatic growth in popularity during the previous two years, the source-based Gentoo Linux has now matured into a mainstream, yet unique distribution that appeals to many technical users. Its adoption might be slowing down, though - not because Gentoo's founder Daniel Robbins is no longer with the project, but rather because most binary distributions have improved their package management to the point that dependency issues are no longer as annoying as they used to be. Also, some users have found that maintaining and updating a Gentoo system is time-consuming and not entirely fool-proof. Still, Gentoo has emerged (pun intended) as one of the most prominent and innovative Linux community projects, with unparalleled documentation, active community involvement, and ongoing work on support for new hardware architectures."

Linux Weekly News (16 December 2004)

One week before, Ladislav Bodnar of Distrowatch fame wrote an article for the same Linux Weekly News about his experiences with installing and running Gentoo Linux on the AMD64 platform. Having done the same exercise with Debian and Fedora in earlier LWN issues, he admits to having "cursed profusely" everytime compile errors delayed a successful installation, but closes with the observation that "while the effort required to achieve that goal was far greater than with the other two distributions, there is little doubt that Gentoo Linux is an elegant operating system with powerful package management and truly superb documentation."

8.  Bugzilla 2004



The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. For 2004, between 1 January and 26 December, activity on the site resulted in:

  • 38691 new bugs this year
  • 22004 bugs closed or resolved this year
  • 263 previously closed bugs were reopened this year

Of the 7810 currently open bugs: 114 are labeled 'blocker', 229 are labeled 'critical', and 553 are labeled 'major'.

Closed Bug Rankings

The developers and teams who have closed the most bugs this year are:

9.  Moves, adds, and changes


The following developers recently left the Gentoo team:

  • None this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo Linux team:

  • Matthew Marlowe (MattM) - Apache
  • Ming Zhao (ming) - tcltk herd, Gnome, CJK
  • Marcus Hanwell (cryos) - Scientific herd, AMD64


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo Linux project:

  • Jochen Maes (SeJo) - Recruiters (additional role)

10.  Contribute to GWN

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11.  GWN feedback

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12.  GWN subscription information

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13.  Other languages

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Page updated 29 December 2004

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 29 December 2004.

Ulrich Plate

AJ Armstrong

Brian Downey

Patrick Lauer

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