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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 16 January 2006


1.  Gentoo news

New USE defaults in the making

For some packages portage has auto-use entries, which means that unless you explicitly override a USE flag it will be enabled after emerging a package and disabled after unmerging it. Example: after "emerge sqlite" the sqlite flag will show up as enabled in "emerge info" and "emerge -vp" of something that has sqlite in iuse unless you have "-sqlite" or "-*" in USE in make.conf. If you unmerge sqlite the USE flag will show up as disabled again (unless you have sqlite in USE in make.conf of course).

This has caused some annoyances as USE flags tend to "randomly" jump when a new package triggers auto-use (either because you emerged or unmerged it or because the package.use file in the tree was edited). Many bugs have been filed, the general consensus is to phase out auto-use.

The change will happen in one of the next Portage 2.1 releases - it is in the tree and marked ~ARCH on almost all arches. "Stable" users will stay unaffected for some time since Portage 2.0.x will not change its behaviour, but upgrades can and will change USE flags. If you just upgraded to a portage 2.1 release you will probably want to look at the "emerge -DuvpN world" output and add flags that you want to keep enabled to make.conf if they show up as "-foo*".

Baselayout changes

The Gentoo baselayout team is pleased to release baselayout-1.12.0_pre14 to the eagerly awaiting public. Here's a summary of the major changes since 1.11:

  • Network backgrounding support from wpa_supplicant, ifplugd and netplug with service dependency restart -- Typically ifplugd is used to monitor ethernet cable being in/out and start/stop the network service accordingly, along with the services depending on that network service. The problem was that when ifplugd re-started the network service it didn't restart the services it stopped! Now ifplugd and netplug support have been merged into baselayout, we have more direct control and can remember which services were stopped by the network service so we can re-start them. wpa_supplicant can now do this too.
  • Separate network configuration per interface -- Each interface is now able to have its own resolv.conf and default route. We also prioritize wired over wireless and merge resolv.confs together. This works great for roaming laptop users.
  • Interactive startup -- Do you have a service that causes serious issues when booting? You should not, but if you do then you can now choose to start, skip, continue or drop to shell for each service interactively. Using generic stty and shell calls we do this in a non-blocking way without the need for a daemon.
  • Parallel startup/shutdown improvements -- Parallel startup and shutdown didn't really do what it claimed to in previous releases, but now it's very parallel and much faster than before. Which leads us onto ....
  • Improved service dependency ordering (albeit slower) -- Thanks to parallel startup, we found that our service ordering was totally wrong. So we had to re-write it entirely. So far it's in its fourth re-write using a topological sort written in bash and has been doing a very good job for around three months now so we think we've finally cracked it.
  • Service daemon status checks -- Services that launch daemons via start-stop-daemon now ensure that they really start instead of start - become daemon - die due to invalid config fooling rc into thinking they have started. Also, if you check a service status we check if the daemon is still running or not. If not then we stop the service and dependencies. We also really stop the service, which fixes an issue where you start cups, re-emerge cups and then it cannot stop or restart.

Gentoo PPC meeting defines roadmap for 2006.0 and beyond

The PPC developers spent three hours on Sunday night to discuss what lies ahead of them. The 2006.0 release for PowerPCs will include generic stages 1, 2 and 3, specific stage3 tarballs for G3 and G4, both a minimal and a complete install CD, plus GRP packages on a separate CD image. All 2006.0 profiles, generic and optimized, will include NPTL support.

The PPC team will tackle some of the open bugs when another PPC bugday will focus the efforts of developers and users. If you'd like to participate in weeding out some of the undergrowth, tune into #gentoo-ppc on next Saturday, 21 January 14:00 UTC. Before starting a recruitment campaign for new develpers, the team is currently evaluating who among the 21 listed PPC devs is currently active or de-facto retired. Along with boosting the activity level within the team, they're also planning to enhance communication with other architectures and users by starting a mark-up of their blog posts and sending heads-up to the GWN team on a regular basis.

AMD 64 project update

Major highlights from the Gentoo Linux for AMD64 activities have been included in a status report published by the Gentoo AMD64 project last week. As the hardware has become more affordable, 2005 saw the user base grow a lot, and the number of developers didn't stand back: The AMD64 team started with nine developers at the beginning of 2005, and currently counts 32 active developers, plus 16 "arch testers", i.e. power users putting the development under close scrutiny and filing bug reports. The "arch testers" concept works so well that the idea has gained popularity with other architectures who are now considering setting up tester teams of their own. See the entire report for more accomplishments of the AMD64 team.

2.  Heard in the community

Web forums

New toolchain on SPARC

The Gentoo SPARC developers are getting ready for the 2006.0 release. Gustavo Zacarias has marked a new gcc (3.4.5) and glibc plus 2.6.11 kernel headers stable. The change will not affect those still using the old 2005.1 profile, but as this upgrade demands users to re-emerge their entire system, you may want to check the thread for useful information before you get bitten by anything that didn't go as planned:

3.  Gentoo international

USA: Gentoo classes at MIT

Gentoo developer Rajiv Manglani will again hold two evening seminars about Gentoo Linux for students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. The first one (tomorrow, Tuesday) will give an introduction to Gentoo, while the follow-up course on Thursday will provide a more detailled look at Portage and the creation of ebuilds. If you would like to attend one or both meetings, please contact today!

  • Introduction to Gentoo Linux: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 20:00-22:00, MIT Building 2, room 105
  • Advanced Gentoo Linux:Thursday, 19 January 2006, 20:00-22:00, same location

Note: Check the announcement at the MIT website for more details and instructions how to get to the venue on campus.

USA: Utah Gentoo user group

Steve Dibb is the founder of a group of Gentoo users in Utah. Located in West Jordan, he's recently set up a website that uses "a vanilla install of Geeklog" to provide state-wide support and articles about Gentoo (first entry is a review of Damien Krotkine's flagedit tool), and serves as a starting point for future activities like meetings and installfests. "Utah is actually a cool place for all the Linux support going around," says Steve, which orginally made him worry a bit: "I had sent out an e-mail a few months earlier to see if there was any interest, and to my surprise there was quite a positive response to the idea, despite that fact that there are already a lot of local Linux, Unix or other FOSS groups and mailing lists in the state." The one-month-old Gentoo Utah group now counts eleven members, all of whom use Gentoo in both production and private environments. On top of the website Steve is hosting a mailing list where "we don't get flamed for using Gentoo like we would on the other local mailing lists" and which benefits from being small and local: "The list gives us a chance to discuss Gentoo, without being flooded from a larger userbase."

4.  Gentoo in the press

Allround PC (9 January 2006, in German)

Building a home theater PC (HTPC) with Gentoo Linux is a typical example of the benefits obtained from setting up only a minimal installation. It's been done several times before, of course, but this step-by-step description of the process provides a concise overview of which hardware to use, where to configure which modules, how to integrate remote controls and more. As some of the elements used are not yet part of the official Portage tree, the article also points to the overlay that contains additional VDR plugins needed for the HTPC setup.

Distrowatch (9 January 2006)

Ladislav Bodnar from Distrowatch picked up a piece of Gentoo documentation, the new Gentoo Linux LiveUSB Howto that "has now become part of the project's official documentation," and which he finds "particularly useful for installing Gentoo Linux on a modern laptop with no CD-ROM drive." (11 January 2006)

An article about a Linux robot site that launched a user-controllable robot appeared on the pages of the embedded online magazine last week.

5.  Gentoo developer moves


The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:

  • None this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:

  • Martin Ehmsen (ehmsen) - TeX
  • Michal Kurgan (moloh) - Polish GWN lead translator


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:

  • None this week

6.  Gentoo Security

mod_auth_pgsql: Multiple format string vulnerabilities

Format string vulnerabilities in mod_auth_pgsql may lead to the execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

xine-lib, FFmpeg: Heap-based buffer overflow

xine-lib and FFmpeg are vulnerable to a buffer overflow that may be exploited by attackers to execute arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Blender: Heap-based buffer overflow

Blender is vulnerable to a buffer overflow that may be exploited by attackers to execute arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Wine: Windows Metafile SETABORTPROC vulnerability

There is a flaw in Wine in the handling of Windows Metafiles (WMF) files, which could possibly result in the execution of arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

7.  Bugzilla


The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 08 January 2006 and 15 January 2006, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 799 new bugs during this period
  • 447 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 37 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 9083 currently open bugs: 77 are labeled 'blocker', 176 are labeled 'critical', and 489 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:

8.  GWN feedback

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9.  GWN subscription information

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10.  Other languages

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Page updated January 16, 2006

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 16 January 2006.

Ulrich Plate

Roy Marples

Marien Zwart

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