Gentoo Weekly Newsletter 9 October 2006

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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter 9 October 2006

Chris Gianelloni
Gentoo Weekly Newsletter
This is the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of 9 October 2006.
1. Gentoo news
X.Org 7.1 to enter stable for amd64 and x86
The Gentoo X11 team[1] plans to stabilize X.Org 7.1 for x86 and amd64 on
or after Thursday, 12 October. The lack of binary driver support
previously held up this release, but Nvidia and ATI released compatible
versions that are now marked stable on both architectures.

This release features the addition of accelerated indirect GLX (AIGLX),
which allows for eye candy such as the Compiz window/compositing manager,
as well as running 3D accelerated display walls with Xdmx. X.Org 7.1 also
integrates the kdrive (TinyX) servers for embedded systems into the
xorg-server package with the kdrive USE flag. The kdrive integration
additionally provides Xephyr, an enhanced Xnest-like client. Numerous
video drivers also received significant updates.
Being able to tune CFLAGS is part of the user control and extreme
configurability that are hallmarks of the Gentoo experience[2]. Being in
control brings both benefits and problems. CFLAGS tuning is not an

  Using anything beyond -O2 -fomit-frame-pointer -march/-mcpu/-mtune in
CFLAGS or CXXFLAGS (and -mieee, -mabi etc. on selected archs that tell you
to do this), and using anything at all in LDFLAGS or ASFLAGS, is usually
not worth the trouble for most users. There's usually very little benefit,
if any, high risks, and large amounts of time spent on frustrating tuning
that could be enjoyed doing far more interesting things.  
The recent upgrade to GCC 4.1 for stable x86 and amd64 users changed the
CFLAGS landscape. Users that spent some time tuning their CFLAGS with GCC
3.4 might find that an upgrade to GCC 4.1 leaves them with an unstable
Examples of this are:
 * nss_ldap stopped working with -ffast-math (-ffast-math is often misused
and must be considered a dangerous flag)
 * -fvisibility-inlines-hidden still breaks some code
 * -ftree-loop-linear now breaks in GCC 4.1 (at least with mesa)
 * -ftree-vectorize is known to be broken in GCC 4.1 (at least for x86 and
ppc, there are fewer problems reported by amd64 users, but no guarantees)
 * -fforce-addr and -fweb break regularly on x86 with video libraries or
graphic processing apps which use hand-optimized assembly (-fweb may be
safe on amd64 but like above no guarantees)
There are known-to-be-broken flags for all GCC versions that you want to
check for too:
 * -fvisibility=hidden
 * -frename-registers (may be safe on amd64, at your own risks)
 * -ftracer
 * -msse, -mmmx, and -m3dnow (no need for them on amd64, they are wrapped
up by -march=k8/nocona/... and safely used there)
 * -W
 * -mfpmath=sse,387
 * -malign-double
Users with unsupported CFLAGS might want to return to safe CFLAGS (see
warning above) if recent updates caused them stability problems. On the
other hand, more adventurous users might want to experiment with CFLAGS
that didn't work properly with GCC 3.4.6... As always, the user is in
control (and the gun pointed to their feet is in his/her hand).
Final notes:
 * The GCC man page contains warnings for some unsafe optimization
options. You should read it carefully when you experiment with CFLAGS or
upgrade GCC on a CFLAGS-customized Gentoo.
 * Some options that are unsafe in the system-wide CFLAGS might be added
automatically in some ebuilds if the developer deems them safe (by
redefining CFLAGS or using append-flags from the flag-o-matic eclass). For
example -ffast-math is added by the xmame/xmess ebuilds on most
architectures even though you should not put it in your CFLAGS.
 * You might get an idea of the stability issues of a specific
optimization option by running: find /usr/portage -name '*.ebuild' | xargs
grep -- '-your-risky-optimization-option'. It takes quite some time, but
might be enlightening: look for the 'filter-flags'.
2. Developer of the week
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." -
Daniel Ostrow, dostrow
Figure 2.1: Daniel Ostrow
Developer Daniel Ostrow, also known as dostrow, was born and raised in
Michigan. Though he claims to be a New Yorker, at least in spirit --
spending 16 years there could do that -- he currently resides just outside
San Francisco, CA. Daniel lives alone, though he plans to get a cat one
he's settled. When living with his family back in NY, Daniel lived with
three cats, some fish, a turtle, and a nine foot snake.
Dostrow learned pretty early on that college wasn't for him, though he did
work for a while towards a degree in Interdisciplinary Marine Psych/Bio,
specializing in marine mammals, quite the far cry from the computer geek
he admits to having always been. Daniel says that in due time, he will
eventually get around to a degree in something or other.
Daniel works for a Human Resources web service company, Workstream, which
provides both on premise and hosted solutions for the entire HR life
cycle, from recruitment to termination. While he was hired because of his
affiliation with Gentoo, he is, alas, not paid to work on Gentoo. His job
title is that of Senior Systems Engineer. Daniel sums up his job as being
loaned to other departments to make the impossible, possible. While this
sounds a bit unsettling, he enjoys always being kept on his toes and the
fact that he is never working on one thing long enough to get bored with
it. Workstream is a CentOS/Solaris/Windows shop, but Daniel managed to
squeeze in Gentoo on a server that needed a custom patched kernel and his
own local workstation.
Being an active Gentoo developer is a skill that Daniel describes as being
invaluable in the work place. He is able to apply the same skills required
to be a good developer (being an effective administrator, a logical
thinker, and a tinkerer at heart) easily to most any IT job.
When not working, dostrow indulges in his animation obsession, basically
vegging out in front of the TV. He partakes in the pretty standard
activities, going to the San Francisco clubs and bars or taking in a
movie. He loves Star Wars (lots and lots) and dance music. His favorite DJ
is currently Armin Van Buuren, though Tiësto, Paul Van Dyk, and Ferry
Corsten are all at the top of his list. He likes techno so much that
Daniel makes it to the Ultra Music Festival in Florida every year. Oh
yeah, did we mention that Daniel loves Star Wars? If that wasn't enough,
he also admits to a hobby of archery. The neatest place that dostrow has
traveled to? Definitely his month-long trip to eastern Asia where he had
the opportunity to hit up Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Taiwan.
Dostrow started his *nix experience using NetBSD and went through a phase
of trying multiple Linux distributions. He found his way to Gentoo in the
1.4_rc1 days, but found that a number of frustrating 'linuxisms'
confounded him, so he moved on to other distributions. He found his way
back to Gentoo after having familiarized himself with Linux. He attributes
his early successes to the assistance of the Gentoo community (and gives
shouts to Pylon and pvdabeel for their early help in getting his first PPC
up and running). Dostrow continued to hang out in #gentoo-ppc, submitting
patches and writing new ebuilds for out of date packages. He was quickly
recruited by pvdabeel in May of 2004. His primary roles are with PPC64 and
XFCE. He absolutely loves XFCE, having recently acquired the hardware to
maintain it on every supported architecture.
Daniel boasts quite the home computer collection, consisting of an x86
Dell laptop and desktop, two AMD64 systems and an AMD64 Acer Ferrari, an
Alpha, an HPPA, an ARM, two PPC's, two PPC64's, a few Sparcs, a MIPS box,
and an IA64. Not too surprising, the first application dostrow launches is
XFCE, followed by urxvt, gaim, xchat, and evolution.
3. Heard in the community
Goodbye my Gentoo servers, I hardly knew you
Forums user kashani writes about his experiences with using Gentoo Linux
as a replacement for CentOS at prior to being bought
by Yahoo! two weeks ago. The post starts with talking about how the
conversion was begun with the support servers, then the development
servers, followed soon by staging and production.
OT: Sansa e260 MicroSD
Devon Miller owns a SanDisk Sans E260, a flash-based MP3 player with a
slot for additional SD card storage. Devon was able to mount the flash
drive but not the SD card. Steve McGrath (who'd had a similar problem with
a 5-in-1 card reader) advised Devon to recompile his kernel with the
option "Probe all LUNs on each SCSI device" selected under Device
Drivers->SCSI device support. Devon reported problem solved.
Allow a user to restart net.wlan0
In order to deal with intermittent NIC failures on his son's machine, Mark
Knecht needed to allow a non-root user to run the command
/etc/init.d/wlan0 restart. Mark Shields and Devon Miller advised him to
use visudo to add "username ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /etc/init.d/net.wlan0" to
the /etc/sudoers file. Ian Buchanan's suggested alternative was "username
ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /etc/init.d/net.wlan0 restart" which would allow only
the restarting of the service.
Nick Rout and Alexander Skwar pointed out that the Atheros card might work
better with the madwifi-ng driver in lieu of the ndiswrapper-ed Windows
driver which Knecht had been using.
4. Gentoo in the press
NewsForge (6 Oct 2006)
Benetech CTO, Dr. Patrick Ball talks about open source software and Gentoo
in particular.
Ball's personal desktop is a Gentoo Linux box. "I've used Gentoo for
years, because it was a lot of fun and it taught me a lot about how to
administer a machine," he says, noting its unique
choose-and-compile-everything philosophy. But he also says that you're not
caught out on a limb when you use it -- the people who use and support and
develop it are there to help you.
"The community is really strong and they're responsive at different
levels," he says. "Other [free software communities] are responsive maybe
at the newbie level or way out at the expert level, whereas Gentoo is
there across all levels -- they don't flame you with Eric Raymond's URL
and tell you to get lost."
While Benetech had previously chosen Red Hat and Gentoo for its desktops,
today they're all running Ubuntu. Ball cited Ubuntu's ease of setup and
installation as the reason for the switch. "If you have to roll out 10 or
15 machines, Gentoo's [inconvenient]. Most of our machines are Kubuntu,
but there are a couple of GNOME people in our organization."
Linux Magazin (Nov 2006)
Germany's Linux Magazin has published an article about and layman in the November edition of their
print magazine. The article, entitled "Community-basiertes
Qualitätsmanagement" (Community-based Quality Management), talks about how
Gentoo demonstrates how a strong interaction with the community breaks
with traditional quality assurance procedures and still produces a stable
German-speaking members of the community should pick up the November
edition of the magazine for the article, as it is not available online.
5. Gentoo developer moves
The following developers recently left the Gentoo project:
 * Tim Yamin (plasmaroo)
 * Gregorio Guidi (greg_g)
The following developers recently joined the Gentoo project:
 * Alon Bar-Lev (alonbl) crypto team
 * Jeffrey Gardner (je_fro) sci-* team
 * Timothy Redaelli (drizzt) Gentoo/FreeBSD
The following developers recently changed roles within the Gentoo project:
 * none this week
6. Gentoo security
Mozilla Thunderbird: Multiple vulnerabilities
The Mozilla Foundation has reported multiple security vulnerabilities
related to Mozilla Thunderbird.
For more information, please see the  GLSA Announcement[3]

Adobe Flash Player: Arbitrary code execution
Multiple input validation errors have been identified that allow arbitrary
code execution on a user's system via the handling of malicious Flash
For more information, please see the  GLSA Announcement[4]

ncompress: Buffer Underflow
A buffer underflow vulnerability has been reported in ncompress allowing
for the execution of arbitrary code.
For more information, please see the  GLSA Announcement[5]

7. Bugzilla
 * Statistics
 * Closed bug ranking
 * New bug rankings
The Gentoo community uses Bugzilla ([6]) to record and
track bugs, notifications, suggestions and other interactions with the
development team. Between 01 October 2006 and 08 October 2006, activity on
the site has resulted in:

 * 748 new bugs during this period
 * 584 bugs closed or resolved during this period
 * 34 previously closed bugs were reopened this period
 * 166 bugs marked as duplicates during this period
Of the 11080 currently open bugs: 33 are labeled 'blocker', 121 are
labeled 'critical', and 505 are labeled 'major'.
Closed bug rankings
The developers and teams who have closed the most bugs during this period
 * Gentoo Games[7], with 43 closed bugs[8]  
 * Gentoo Sound Team[9], with 42 closed bugs[10]  
 * AMD64 Project[11], with 28 closed bugs[12]  
 * Gentoo's Team for Core System packages[13], with 24 closed bugs[14]  
 * Portage team[15], with 21 closed bugs[16]  
 * Xavier Neys[17], with 19 closed bugs[18]  
 * Default Assignee for Orphaned Packages[19], with 14 closed bugs[20]  
 * Gentoo Ruby Team[21], with 11 closed bugs[22]  
 7. [hidden email]
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New bug rankings
The developers and teams who have been assigned the most new bugs during
this period are:
 * Default Assignee for New Packages[23], with 29 new bugs[24]  
 * Nguyen Thai Ngoc Duy[25], with 20 new bugs[26]  
 * Default Assignee for Orphaned Packages[27], with 13 new bugs[28]  
 * Mozilla Gentoo Team[29], with 10 new bugs[30]  
 * Gentoo Sound Team[31], with 9 new bugs[32]  
 * Gentoo Games[33], with 8 new bugs[34]  
 * AMD64 Project[35], with 8 new bugs[36]  
 * Java team[37], with 7 new bugs[38]  
 23. [hidden email]
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 27. [hidden email]
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8. Upcoming package removals
Starting this week, the GWN is debuting a section listing the packages
that have been announced for removal from the tree. This list is compiled
manually, at present, and may not be entirely inclusive. The goal of this
section is to help inform the community on packages that will be removed
from the tree, allowing them to migrate to new packages, or even volunteer
to help with the package and keep it alive. The GWN staff hopes to make
this a recurring section in the GWN and wishes to make this an automated
report in the future. The package removals come from many locations,
including the Treecleaners[39] and various developers.

Last Rites:
 Package: Removal date: Contact:
app-emulation/vmware-workstation-3.2.1 27 Oct 06 Chris Gianelloni[40]
games-fps/quake3-truecombat 27 Oct 06 Chris Gianelloni[41]
net-mail/quotient 28 Oct 06 Christian Heim[42]  
media-radio/ax25-tools 29 Oct 06 Christian Heim[43]
x11-libs/buffy 29 Oct 06 Christian Heim[44]
net-im/gabber 01 Nov 06 Olivier Crête[45]  
net-im/jabbero 01 Nov 06 Olivier Crête[46]
media-sound/fobbit 03 Nov 06 Diego Pettenò[47]
sys-apps/sal-client 05 Nov 06 Christian Heim[48]  

 40. [hidden email]
 41. [hidden email]
 42. [hidden email]
 43. [hidden email]
 44. [hidden email]
 45. [hidden email]
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 47. [hidden email]
 48. [hidden email]
9. GWN feedback
Please send us your feedback[49] and help make the GWN better.

 40. [hidden email]
10. GWN subscription information
To subscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank e-mail to
[hidden email].
To unsubscribe to the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter, send a blank e-mail to
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11. Other languages
The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter is also available in the following languages:
 * Chinese (Simplified)[50]  
 * Danish[51]  
 * Dutch[52]  
 * English[53]  
 * German[54]  
 * Greek[55]  
 * French[56]  
 * Korean[57]  
 * Japanese[58]  
 * Italian[59]  
 * Polish[60]  
 * Portuguese (Brazil)[61]  
 * Portuguese (Portugal)[62]  
 * Russian[63]  
 * Slovak[64]  
 * Spanish[65]  

Ulrich Plate <[hidden email]> - Editor
Donnie Berkholz <[hidden email]> - Author
Chris Atkinson <[hidden email]> - Author
Lionel Bouton <[hidden email]> - Author
Chris Gianelloni <[hidden email]> - Author

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