Arch Linux Newsletter

Feb 11, 2008
Eduardo "kensai" Romero "Newsletter Author"


Welcome to another Arch Linux newsletter. There have been many updates in the past weeks, but one package that may have caught your attention, especially if you are using testing, is the 2.6.24 Linux Kernel, customized with the new Arch Linux logo. In my opinion, it adds to the boot sequence that refreshing new look we have been experiencing in the Arch Linux main site and forums. Hopefully, soon after this kernel version leaves testing, new installer images will be released.

Now, some sad news, Jason Chu is not able to write Devland anymore, because of time constraints. He has been struggling with time since the beginning, but always kept on writing Devland for your reading pleasure. Jason, the best for you, the doors are open when you have time again.

- Eduardo "kensai" Romero

Table Of Contents

Front Page News

No Front Page News this Week

Abandoned! Advertise here! :P

Arch in the Media

Arch Linux - Is this really a geek's distro?

"Arch Linux, which was inspired by the CRUX is an i686 optimized lightweight distribution with a great package management tool. Arch releases usually contain a core cd image (~160 MB) that has a core system without any graphical servers and an FTP install image (~30 MB) with which you can install the entire OS from an FTP server."

Arch: Pros Only, But Not Bad

"Arch Linux is one of the few distributions to be optimized for an i686 processor- in other words, it's really fast without having to compile anything. It uses a custom package manager called Pacman (which, surprisingly enough, doesn't seem to spark any legal controversy), which works similarly to Apt in that it has dependency tracking and relies on repositories. Arch's philosophy is to start with a base system and install all the graphical components manually via Pacman."

General Linux News

Eight Interesting Improvements In GNOME 2.22

"Back in November we started sharing some of the exciting features planned for the GNOME 2.22 and 2.24 releases, and now that the first GNOME 2.22.0 Beta release is planned for later this week, we have taken another look at the packages set for inclusion and the changes that have actually been made. While nothing groundbreaking will be introduced in GNOME 2.22 (compared to KDE 4.0 at least), this desktop environment does have some moderate changes worth noting."

ext4 merge plans for 2.6.25

"The following patches have been in the -mm tree for a while, and I plan to push them to Linus when the 2.6.25 merge window opens. With this patch series, it is expected that ext4 format should be settling down. We still have delayed allocation and online defrag which aren't quite ready to merge, but those shouldn't affect the on-disk format."

Yahoo! and the future of the Internet

Not directly related to Linux, but an interesting read: "Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets."

Featured Interview

Eliott: "Cactus".

Eliott, Arch Linux developer who works on the backend infrastructure. He is considered by most to be an even-tempered man, some of us go as far as to say, he is one of the most even-tempered persons we've met. Can this temperment be unbalanced? Well, try and take a taco out of his hand, I think he will react as aggressively as he can be. Well, enough talking, straight to the interview.

  1. Was Arch Linux a logical choice for you as your preferred Operating System?

    It was an eventual choice. I suppose there is a certain kind of logic to gradual progress and experimentation.

    I used many distributions before arriving in the land of Judd and beholding the Arch that he wrought. I still have occasion to use other distributions for various sundry reasons, both professionally and privately. Arch hits a "sweet spot" for me though.
  2. What is your work on Arch Linux? Can you briefly describe it?

    I deal mostly with the Arch project's infrastructure. Things like rsync, web interfaces, server updates, back-end code, system management, etc. It isn't sexy work. When you do it right, nobody notices. There is alot of hanging out in dark corners and poking at things.

  3. Is there something in your area of work that needs to be fixed or you plan to fix in the near future?

    In the near term there are a few things that need updating on the main arch site, and the AUR of course needs more work. Infrastructure is a moving target. There is a list of core services Arch provides that need to be usable, but there are always feature requests and potential improvements in the pipe.

  4. Is working for Arch Linux more as fun or as a responsibility?

    The Internet is serious business!

    Most of the time it is a mixture of both. I tend to look at things as more of a responsibility, but I still try to have fun while doing it.

  5. Do you have any specific definition for "The Arch Way", that doesn't involve tacos?

    Without tacos.... hmmm....lets see...

    The "The Arch Way" for me has always been very closely related philosophically to the "Zen of Python"[1]. Coming from an infrastructure and software development standpoint, the principle of simplicity is deeply ingrained. Simple is scalable and maintainable.

    I once commented to Aaron that I thought of Arch as a "meta-distribution". I thought of it as providing a core foundation for people to have their own Arch derivatives, or to easily change the way certain packages are built for their own needs. I still feel this way. Whenever I think of a user installing a package from the AUR, I think of the ease with which they can do this. I think this ties into the meta nature of Arch. This is an artifact of making "simple" choices.

    More specifically, I think Arch strives to be a Linux distribution that is focused on a philosophy of solutions that are as simple as possible, but no simpler, while remaining as up to date as (realistically) possible.

    Another key component to "The Arch Way" is expecting a certain level of competence from the user base. This *really* frees up development to focus on progress, instead of having to expend energy on hand holding. This doesn't mean you can disregard usability, but the "core market" target user isn't assumed to be a ninny requiring GUI tools for everything under the sun. Competence is liberating.

    To me, all of the the things I listed are components of "The Arch Way". It would have been easier to describe it *with* tacos though. ;)

  6. How many times a month do you eat tacos? Do you really like them? How much?

    Do you happen to have any tacos on you?
    I mean...I could sure use a taco right about now.
  7. What is your opinion on Microsoft all of a sudden being so "open source friendly"? What is your opinion on Sun buying MySql?

    Microsoft who?
    A bit more seriously (but not much), to a large extent I could really care less what Microsoft does. They don't have any technology that I find very interesting right now.

    As to Sun buying MySql-AB, I wish them the best of luck.

  8. Do you think Aaron Griffin can actually lift a car over his head?

    Are you implying that he can't?!
    If you cover him in gravy, I bet he could do it.



Community Highlights

Expand your Knowledge

Using mouse gestures across Linux

"My first brush with mouse gestures on the Opera browser was an accident, but the ability to quickly move backward or forward in the browser history, open new windows, close tabs, and more without using the menus or moving the mouse toward the navigation toolbar won me over immediately. Nowadays, this feature is available in Firefox and Konqueror too, and you can even configure mouse gestures for GNOME and KDE desktop environments."

"Mouse gestures, in essence, are similar to keyboard shortcuts. With mouse gestures, you can assign regular tasks to drawn mouse patterns. For example, clicking and dragging the mouse to the left can move you to the page you were previously browsing."

Linux Optimize Directories ( File Access Time ) in ext3 Filesystem

"Use e2fsck command. The -D option causes e2fsck to try to optimize all directories, either by reindexing them if the filesystem supports directory indexing, or by sorting and compressing directories for smaller directories, or for filesystems using traditional linear directories. It improves performance by using hashed binary trees."

A Call for Improvement

This time featuring a wiki section, the Hardware Compatibility List. This wiki section is meant to be used by the Arch Linux community to record the compatibility of various hardware and full systems with Arch Linux. Here, you can share your experience concerning any hardware you have used with Arch Linux, especially if you have had issues at first but overcame them in the long run. This allows other Arch Linux users to take benefit from the information. Just take some time and add to the corresponding section for all the hardware you use with Arch Linux. You can simply write a brief description on how they work or how you made it work.

Tips and Tricks

Have you said yes enough already? Well, then "yes" might be for you:

# yes | pacman -Syu
# yes | pacman -S packagename
# yes | pacman -Scc

Disclaimer: I'm not responsible if any Tips and Tricks ever published in the Arch Linux Newsletter destroys your house or family, eats your pet or does any other unintended nasty thing.

Proofreader's response: What about the intended nasty things?

The Humor Section

CF: !quote userek
phrik: CF: 'userek' i've heard microsoft is going to aquire ubuntu and remane it to windows homeless edition
bruenig: pacman has devs?
cactus: yes. but you have to install them first
bruenig: hmm
bruenig: what the hell is cactus talking about
cactus: even i have no idea
cactus: <.<
cactus: >.>
Navi: Humor is nonexistent in ArchLinux
louipc: the internet is serious business


We have come to the end, but just for this week, I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading the newsletter. I sincerely enjoyed making it for your reading pleasure. Please, feel free to contact me, and let me know of any opinions and/or suggestions for improvement.

The best for all of you, from the Arch Linux Team