Mailing List Archive

Gentoo Weekly Newsletter 29 December 2004
Gentoo Weekly Newsletter
This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 29 December 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[1]
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[2] (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

2. Gentoo Linux major events of 2004


* Introduction
* Daniel Robbins resigns as Chief Architect
* Gentoo requests NFP status
* Portage updates
* Deprecation of xfree86 in favor of xorg
* Gentoo named a finalist for the LWE product excellence awards
* Public Release of the Catalyst tool
* Release of Tenshi
* Gentoo/PPC and the PegasosPPC


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

Daniel Robbins resigns as Chief Architect

Gentoo's founder and Chief Architect, Daniel Robbins, retired[3] 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[4] were
culminated in early June[5], 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[6]. 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[7]. 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[8] that devrel had released of an updated and
expanded Gentoo Developer Handbook[9] 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[10] (xfree) to that provided by X.Org[11] (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[12].

Gentoo named a finalist for the LWE product excellence awards

In January, we reported[13] 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[14] 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

Release of Tenshi

In June, we announced[15] the release of Tenshi[16] (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[17], Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.[18] (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[19] that The Luxembourg-based
company Genesi S.à.r.l.[20] had started shipping PegasosPPCs with Gentoo

3. GWN Staff Profiles


* Editor
* Authors
* German Translation Team
* Italian Translation Team
* Polish Translation Team
* Turkish Translation Team


Figure 3.1: Ulrich Plate

Ulrich Plate[21] 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 3.1: AJ Armstrong

AJ Armstrong[22] 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

Figure 3.2: Brian Downey

Brian Downey[23] 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 3.3: Patrick Lauer

Patrick Lauer[24] 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 3.1: Marc Herren

Marc Herren aka dj-submerge[25] 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 3.2: Tobias Scherbaum

Tobias Scherbaum[26] 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[27]. Sometimes he
also contributes some "Tips & Tricks" to the GWN.

Figure 3.3: Matthias F. Brandstetter

Matthias F. Brandstetter[28] 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 3.4: Tobias Hansen

Tobias Hansen[29], 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[30] 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 Luisser[31]is 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 3.5: Martin Ebner

Martin Ebner[32]is 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 3.6: Tobias Matzat

Tobias Matzat[33]is 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 3.7: Thomas Raschbacher

Austrian Thomas Raschbacher[34] 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 3.8: Daniel Gerholdt

Daniel Gerholdt[35], 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 3.1: 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 3.2: 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 3.3: 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[36], a web site with news for the Italian
community, and the new wiki[37]

Polish Translation Team

Figure 3.1: Kuba Bożanowski

Kuba 'fixxxer' Bożanowski[38] 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 3.2: Jakub Dziwisz

Jakub Dziwisz[39] 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,[40]. He has used Gentoo
as his default OS since 2002, and since May he has helped to translate the
GWN into Polish.

Karol Góralski[41] lives in Radom, Poland, and works as system
administrator. He maintains the[42] server, providing many
services for Polish Gentoo users. He has been involved in translation of
the GWN for several months.

Łukasz Strzygowski[43] 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.
43. lucass@gentoo.or

Turkish Translation Team

Figure 3.1: Bahadır Kandemir

Bahadır Kandemir[44] 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 3.2: Erkan Kaplan

Erkan Kaplan[45] 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[46] 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
* The SQL module, which is now based on the Interview model/view
* The network module, with better support for UDP and synchronous
* The style API, which is now decoupled from the widgets, meaning that
you can draw any user interface element on any device (widget, pixmap,
* 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

More details can be found here[47].

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[48]

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[49]

phpMyAdmin: Multiple vulnerabilities

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

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement[50]

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[51]

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[52]

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[53]

Zwiki: XSS vulnerability

Zwiki is vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks.

For more information, please see the GLSA Announcement[54]

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:

* Acovea analysis results against real world programs[55]


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!

* Gentoo's Portage vs. Redhat's up2date[56]

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.

* ALSA and my own kernel[57]

7. Gentoo in the press

Linux Weekly News (23 December 2004)

In its yearly distro roundup[58], 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[59] fame wrote an
article[60] 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

8. Bugzilla 2004


* Statistics
* Closed Bug Ranking


The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ([61]) 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:

* AMD64 Porting Team[62], with 1534 closed bugs[63]
* Gentoo Games[64], with 915 closed bugs[65]
* Gentoo KDE team[66], with 780 closed bugs[67]
* Gentoo's Team for Core System packages[68], with 759 closed bugs[69]
* Jeremy Huddleston[70], with 679 closed bugs[71]
* Gentoo Linux Gnome Desktop Team[72], with 664 closed bugs[73]
* Java Team[74], with 647 closed bugs[75]
* Portage Team[76], with 559 closed bugs[77]
* PPC64 Architecture Team[78], with 515 closed bugs[79]
* Mike Frysinger[80], with 442 closed bugs[81]
* Gentoo Security[82], with 396 closed bugs[83]
* Net-Mail Packages[84], with 381 closed bugs[85]
* Media-Video herd[86], with 358 closed bugs[87]
* Sven Vermeulen[88], with 349 closed bugs[89]
* PPC Porters[90], with 314 closed bugs[91]
* Gentoo X-windows Packagers[92], with 298 closed bugs[93]
* Mozilla Gentoo Team[94], with 281 closed bugs[95]
* x86 Kernel Team[96], with 279 closed bugs[97]
* Mirror Admins[98], with 239 closed bugs[99]
* Perl Devs[100], with 234 closed bugs[101]
* GCC Porting Team[102], with 229 closed bugs[103]
* Gentoo Science Related Packages[104], with 225 closed bugs[105]
* Gentoo Python Team[106], with 221 closed bugs[107]
* Gentoo Sound Team[108], with 218 closed bugs[109]
* Text-Markup Team[110], with 202 closed bugs[111]

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

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

10. Contribute to GWN

Interested in contributing to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter? Send us an

11. GWN feedback

Please send us your feedback[113] and help make the GWN better.

12. GWN subscription information

To subscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank email to

To unsubscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank email to from the email address you are
subscribed under.

13. Other languages

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter is also available in the following languages:

* Danish[114]
* Dutch[115]
* English[116]
* German[117]
* French[118]
* Japanese[119]
* Italian[120]
* Polish[121]
* Portuguese (Brazil)[122]
* Portuguese (Portugal)[123]
* Russian[124]
* Spanish[125]
* Turkish[126]

Ulrich Plate <> - Editor
AJ Armstrong <> - Author
Brian Downey <> - Author
Patrick Lauer <> - Author

-- mailing list