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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: 20 March 2006


1.  Gentoo news

Gentoo x86 arch testers wanted

The x86 team has adopted the Arch Tester program and is looking for some ambitious members of the community to join the team and help out. If you would like to give back to Gentoo, but don't know how, then this may be a good way for you to start. You would be helping by testing applications to be marked stable and assisting in general x86-specific bugs. Please take a look at the x86 AT documentation, and if you have questions about anything, please either email Homer Parker or Mark Loeser.

New Athlon X2 for Gentoo developers

As part of Roger Williams University and the School of Business' continuing expansion into undergraduate and graduate research, access to a dual-core Athlon X2 is now being provided to faculty, staff and students of RWU -- and to Gentoo developers! The new host -- baptized "pearl" -- will facilitate Gentoo's official support for dual-core AMD64 systems in the future. Thanks to RWU for their generous support!

Figure 1.1: Athlon X2 4600+, 4GB RAM, 500GB storage, Gentoo Linux 2006.0

Fig. 1: x2

Countdown for Modular X

As reported in the GWN of 30 January, the X team is preparing to unmask 289 modular X packages. They will enter ~arch (testing) this week for most architectures, be sure to read the migration guide before upgrading to modular X!

2.  Heard in the community

Web forums

Gentoo girls wear, anyone?

A female Forums user, star.dancer, shows her disappointment in the total absence of Gentoo merchandise for women. Maybe it's the time to add women apparel and other schwag on the official Gentoo Store?

glibc 2.4 some more

Last week's GWN mentioned the ascension of glibc-2.4 into the Portage tree. As the number of users that emerge it grows, problems are increasing as well. Some users confess to have fallen into a real mess with glibc-2.4, the library and the nptl and nptlonly USE flags, while others using prelink on their respective systems had to prelink their whole system again:

Overlay for overlays?

Some users have been discussing alternatives for applications to find their way into Portage. One idea is to publish the most popular overlays on a website. What do you think?

3.  Gentoo international

Japan: OSC 2006 spring event report

Figure 3.1: CD cover for 2006.0 release at OSC

Fig. 1: CD

Note: Cover art for the CD hand-outs at the OSC booth can be downloaded from Tomoyuki Sakurai's webspace.

The media didn't last long: GentooJP had 150 CDs prepared as give-aways at the Tokyo Open-Source Conference last weekend, but they were "sold out" by the end of the first day. The Gentoo x86 and PPC boxes on display at the booth showed the first official release of the Gentoo installer, and KDE. Gentoo developers to visit or man the booth included Matsuu Takuto, Shigehiro Idani, Jason Stubbs and Mamoru Komachi, the latter just back from Europe where he went to the FOSDEM meeting in Brussels.

Figure 3.2: The Gentoo booth at OSC

Fig. 2: OSC

Note: Featuring developers matsuu (center) and idani (left), friends and visitors. This and more pictures are available at Kalin's website.

Twelve attendants participated in the "Gentoo ebuild Howto" session, an unexpectedly high turnout of people actually interested in writing and submitting ebuilds themselves. There's hope for some of them to eventually help with Gentoo development, especially in i18n and CJK.

The day ended as usual, with a nomikai (drinking bout) at an izakaya (pub). The next meeting to be held in the Tokyo area is scheduled for sometime in April, when German Gentoo developer Andres Loeh will be in town for a conference. If you are available around that time, join #gentoo-ja on or subscribe to the GentooJP mailing list for more information.

4.  Gentoo in the press

Distrowatch (13 March 2006)

Distrowatch has mentioned Kororaa -- a Gentoo-based binary distribution featuring a simplified installation process -- before, in November 2005. The GWN in turn featured the Kororaa project's latest release of an Xgl LiveCD just last week. Now the amazing 3D effects of the Xgl display server as you manipulate windows on your desktop have caught Ladislav Bodnar's attention too, who interviewed Chris Smart in his last edition. A similar interview and an article appeared in NewsForge a day later.

5.  Tips and tricks

Efficient file change notifications

Many applications rely on tracking filesystem changes internally, and until recently, the most popular library providing functionality like this was app-admin/fam. Packages which use FAM for file-monitoring include GNOME, KDE, PHP, various file managers, various mail clients and servers, and many more. FAM works by repeatedly polling directory contents and looking to see if things have changed. This is inefficient, but it did the job for a while.

More recently, ultra-efficient kernel-side support for monitoring file changes was merged into Linux 2.6. This functionality, called inotify, is on by default, and is probably already available on your system (assuming you are relatively up-to-date). app-admin/gamin is a direct replacement for FAM, even implementing an identical API. The biggest bonus about gamin is that where available, gamin monitors the filesystem using inotify, destroying the ugly overhead which FAM had.

Gamin will be the default for new Gentoo installs, but there is no automatic migration for existing users at this time. It is recommended that you make the switch manually:

Code Listing 5.1: Switching to gamin

# emerge -C app-admin/fam
# emerge --oneshot app-admin/gamin
It is not necessary to re-merge any software that is built on 
FAM, as gamin is literally a drop-in replacement.

Note: Gamin also supports plain old filesystem polling, and seems to do a better job than FAM did. Even if you do not have an inotify-enabled system, it is still recommended that you change.

Given that the overhead for monitoring filesystem events is now so low, it is also suggested that you enable file-monitoring support for applications which optionally support it. To do so, enable the "fam" USE flag:

Code Listing 5.2: Add 'fam' USE flag and rebuild world

# nano -w /etc/make.conf
Add "fam" to your USE variable and save the file
# emerge --newuse world

6.  Gentoo developer moves


The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:

  • None this week


The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:

  • Karol Pasternak (reb) - Gentoo OpenBSD


The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:

  • None this week

7.  Gentoo Security

Freeciv: Denial of Service

A memory allocation bug in Freeciv allows a remote attacker to perform a Denial of Service attack.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

zoo: Buffer overflow

A buffer overflow in zoo may be exploited to execute arbitrary when creating archives of specially crafted directories and files.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

PEAR-Auth: Potential authentication bypass

PEAR-Auth did not correctly verify data passed to the DB and LDAP containers, thus allowing to inject false credentials to bypass the authentication.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Heimdal: rshd privilege escalation

An error in the rshd daemon of Heimdal could allow authenticated users to elevate privileges.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Crypt::CBC: Insecure initialization vector

Crypt::CBC uses an insecure initialization vector, potentially resulting in a weaker encryption.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

Metamail: Buffer overflow

A buffer overflow in Metamail could possibly be exploited to execute arbitrary code.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement

8.  Bugzilla


The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ( to record and track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the development team. Between 12 March 2006 and 19 March 2006, activity on the site has resulted in:

  • 865 new bugs during this period
  • 417 bugs closed or resolved during this period
  • 20 previously closed bugs were reopened this period

Of the 9800 currently open bugs: 67 are labeled 'blocker', 151 are labeled 'critical', and 540 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

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Page updated March 20, 2006

Summary: This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 20 March 2006.

Ulrich Plate

Ioannis Aslanidis

Daniel Drake

Chris Gianelloni

Gerald J. Normandin Jr.

Tomoyuki Sakurai

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