Arch Linux Newsletter

Sep 04, 2005
Jason Chu
Jens Persson
Aaron Griffin
Philip Dillon-Thiselton


Welcome to the Arch Linux Newsletter. This document attempts to give you an "at a glance" look at the world of Arch Linux. This last fortnight has generally been a bit quiet. The devs are all very busy with libtool slay and gcc4 so package releases have been thin on the ground. Also, judging by some of the stuff coming out of the community, it's been a pretty good end to the summer with only the most bored sharing their thoughts with the world. BUT DON'T BE PUT OFF! Summer is drawing to a close and there are many things too look forward to this Autumn, including rebuilding all your pkgs against gcc4 and with the .la files removed...but aside from that there should be some fun stuff too...wait, let me check out the back for "fun stuff"...

Table Of Contents

  1. Front Page News
  2. Devland
  3. Forum Highlights
  4. Mailing List Highlights
  5. AUR - Arch User Repository
  6. Package Highlights
  7. Interview
  8. FAQ
  9. ArchStats
  10. Seti@home
  11. folding@home
  12. Bugs
  13. Closing

Front Page News

  1. "Operation libtool-slay" in testing

    Today the start of "operation libtool-slay" will be made in testing. Operation libtool-slay means we get rid of most .la files in packages. Libtool archive files are pure evil on a system managed by a package manager. They pollute the linking process of other libraries and make version upgrades of single binaries a big hell. This has been observed with much small libraries with only a few dependencies, but it would hit bigger packages like gtk2 in the future. Since all major distributions are already removing these files whenever possible, now is the time to do it on archlinux too.

    What this means to you as end-user is that any library you have compiled yourself and contains .la files, has references to non-existing .la files which were previously included in official archlinux packages. On runtime, you will not notify anything at all of this operation. At compile time however, expect build errors about missing .la files. The bug isn't in the package that misses the .la file then, but in the package that references this .la file.

    During this operation many build errors will occur, that's why we do this operation in testing first. When we finish the operation, packages will be moved to current and extra and an announcement is made on the website.

    After this operation, there is still a possibility though that we missed libraries, please report bugs about what .la file was missing, what package you where compiling and what dependencies it has (including a full tree from the application up to the library with the missing .la file).


  1. Libtool slay, gcc 4, and openssl are all being worked on in testing. Libtool slay and gcc 4 will be included in 0.8, openssl soon later.
  2. We're looking for a tag name for 0.8, if you have a (good) suggestion, feel free to share. Right now the only suggestion has been 'omni'.
  3. Damir added the x264 lib to testing to support Apple's QuickTime Player 7 files. If you have any quicktime files that don't play, feel free to try out the x264 package.
  4. A new developer page is up now. Check out the frontpage link to see pictures of the devs (ok, only some pictures, the others will be up later).
  5. tpowa is on vacation till the 8th of september. If any of his packages need an update before then, please contact one of the other developers.

Forum Highlights

  1. jrbeire told us about a new Arch Mirror.
  2. laddiebuck got some problems with initscripts.
  3. fouinix has picked up the e17-cvs server.
  4. dyllan got some crashes in XFCE4' panel.
  5. Euphoric Nightmare is looking for a window manager that should make him more productive.
  6. jerrym wondered if anyone had tried DVR in Linux.
  7. Forum Updates: dibble has been appointed as the new forum techincal adviser with a mission to update the forums with some handy mods and a few tweaks. You can make requests for mods here and can see a demo forum running the mods here. Please sign up for the demo site so we have some material to work with, there's not much testing can be done without a user base and some posting. You can also expect some scheduled forum downtime in the next few weeks so please watch for announcements on the main page

Mailing List Highlights

  1. A thrilling discussion about how "Arch" should be....sorry, I zoned out there. Oh yeah, about how Arch should be pronounced. If you think you can bear the excitment click here. Wake up at the back!
  2. Plenty of talk about the upcoming gnome 2.12 packages.
  3. Domenico asked about using gamin instead of fam.
  4. Some good feedback on iphitus' new 2.6.13 version of the archck patchset, as mentioned last letter.

AUR - Arch User Repository

  1. It is great to see everyone using the AUR to share package builds but lets not forget about ABS! The Arch Build System (ABS) provides the very best way to build customized versions of applications included in the stock repos. You can read more about ABS here. Everyone submitting packages to the AUR should be familiar with how to use ABS to create packages! Concordantly updated PKGBUILDs for applications already in the official repos should not be added to the AUR.
  2. phrakture has sponsored snowman, voidnull and dejari as prospective TUs. dibble has also sponsored dma147. Discussion for all four applications will end on Thursday, 8th Sept with subsequent voting via the forum system.
  3. Version 1.2.5 has been released. It contains several new features including links to user profiles from the comments section, sort ascending/decending and auto-flaging of all TU pkgs as safe. TUs can now also adopt any pkg at any time, which can be handy for fixing up unmaintained pkgs. Voidnull has also provided an Italian translation, so many thanks to him. If you think you'd like to help translate the AUR into your first language please contact the TU team via the mailing list.
  4. The TU meeting on Saturday 27th August was a very informal affair. We discussed a new voting system for the AUR and it was generally decided that any changes would not be considered until version 2.0.
  5. If you are interested in becoming a TU we strongly advise you to join up to the mailing list so you can get to know the system and the other TUs, and we can get to know you too :)

Package Highlights


This is an interview with the great Arch developer Jan de Groot (JGC). As always we are very grateful to anyone that is participating in our interviews.

What's your duties here on Arch?

My duty is to keep gnome and its applications running. In the meanwhile I try to improve the overall distro, which results being package maintainer for other non-gnome packages, like xorg, mozilla-*, etc. Packages that get the most attention are gnome related packages though.

How's that 'libtool slay' going?

Operation libtool-slay is going as expected: most libs and programs are slayed now, but not all. We lost track of the progress a bit, but as long as pacman -Ql | grep '\.la$' shows up files on my system, we're not done yet.

Is there anything special that needs to be changed/fixed in Arch at the moment?

At this moment we're running operation libtool-slay, a compiler upgrade and a GNOME upgrade, which requires us to change many things at the same time. At this moment I'm starting to work on a system-wide menu structure which means all desktops that follow the XDG specs for menu layout will get the same menu structure. I haven't started with this yet, I'm only trying to get the other developers warm for this approach.

Is Gnome ever going to be 'stable' software?

As for the packaging, I think the next release we're setting up in testing now will have higher quality than the current 2.10 packages in extra. This is not completely gnome's fault, because gnome depends on other projects like mozilla, firefox, xorg, etc. As for a stable platform, I don't really trust GTK and Pango yet, because the new approach with cairo is very young. This will improve in newer releases, as we've seen with 2.8.1, 2.8.2 and 2.8.3 already. I don't think it will be as bad as the upgrade from GTK 2.2 to 2.4 when Gnome 2.6 was released though.

What do you think about the new Xorg release?

Xorg 6.9 comes with quite some new things, some of them are backported already to 6.8. I do like modularization, which is planned for 7.0, but after looking at 7.0RC, I think they did a bit too much of modularization: even the fonts are packaged piece by piece. I don't have plans ready for the upcoming release, so I really don't know what to think of this massive splitup. I've seen with gst-plugins what a splitup can do to the workload of a package maintainer, I am afraid this will also happen in the case of Xorg then.

Can you tell us a little about Cairo? What does it do?

Cairo is a library to make vector graphics. Why vector graphics: modern desktops are nothing more than a bunch of rectangles, circles, etc that can be drawn using a vector drawing API instead of a pixel drawing API. The advantage of this is that no matter how large you scale something, graphics will always look good.

This is a question that is asked a lot. When is Arch 0.8 going to be released? *ducks*

I don't know what Judd's plans are for 0.8, but I think Arch 0.8 could be released between the time gcc4 moves to current and Xorg 6.9/7.0 gets released officially. I don't think Xorg 6.9/7.0 will make it before the next release.

Are you involved in any other projects?

For some projects I develop patches, but most are arch-related. The last series of patches I contributed to other projects were a DoS fix for pdns ldap backend (ouch, our package is still affected) and the new hal backend for KDE, which does quite some workarounds for hal 0.5. This last one was required to get hal 0.5 into the distribution.

Editors note: You may publish this interview separately free of charge if you add a note that it was originally published in the Archlinux Newsletter.


Q: When will Arch 0.8 be released?

A: A 0.8 release is waiting on various things, not least of these is the finalization of the gcc4 migration and the libtool slay project. Also, we believe an new pacman release is also planned. More info in Devland.

Q: What is the difference between AUR, COMMUNITY, and UNSUPPORTED?

A: AUR(Arch User Repository) is the name of the whole new system which is maintained by the TUs(Trusted Users). It lets anybody that signs up to upload PKGBUILDs to UNSUPPORTED but only TUs have access to COMMUNITY which is a binary repo that you can use with Pacman.

Q: Why aren't all packages in UNSUPPORTED added to COMMUNITY?

A: There are several reasons for that. The most important is that the package hasn't got many votes. It's also important that you vote for packages that already are in COMMUNITY, otherwise they could be disowned by the TUs and moved to UNSUPPORTED. Other reasons could be that the package is unmaintained upstreams or got a license problem. Last but not least, no TU wants to do it.


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That's it for this time folks. If you have any opinions on the newsletter or have some things you wanna add, just send us a mail and we'll look into it.
Very best regards / Team Arch