Arch Linux Newsletter

Feb 25, 2008

Eduardo "kensai" Romero - "Newsletter Author" - Web Log


This is a special newsletter, we now have a group of dedicated contributors helping to get the job done. Although I enjoy making the newsletter, it has grown too big to maintain as easily as it was before. And in pursuit of bringing you the best in the newsletters land, I wanted to keep innovating and reaching to higher goals. The Arch Linux Newsletter has been through a lot of work. But just as Arch Linux isn't stale, the innovation that goes into Arch Linux as a whole inspires the innovation in this newsletter. I can honestly say, I am proud of what I'm authoring.

After shedding some tears with the above paragraph, I want to point out some interesting events: Pacman 3.1.2 has been released this past week to testing, so expect a migration to core soon. Also, we are expecting new installer images which are in fact are being worked on as I write. Well, hope you enjoy reading.

- Eduardo "kensai" Romero

Table Of Contents

Front Page News

Kernel in Core

After a testing phase kernel has been moved to Core where it replaces version

Some of the most visible changes for users include:
* more mac80211-based wireless drivers added
* tickless support for x86_64
* uvesafb; support for ATI Xpress 200M and Mac framebuffers
* ACPI usage in libata
* SATA port multipliers support
* NCQ support on MCP51/MCP55/MCP61 chipsets (add 'swncq=1' to the kernel boot commandline)
* SDIO support
* ability to use any kernel version to resume a hibernated system
* read-only --bind mounts
* tons of bugfixes and improvements

A detailed human-readable changelog is available at KernelNewbies Wiki.

Attention! The kernel26- package includes an important security fix (local user privilege escalation). Everyone is encouraged to upgrade, especially on a system with ssh accounts.

A History Lesson

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips

How did the AUR start?

When Arch first started, Arch only included those programs that he (the original he: Judd Vinet) personally wanted in the ideal distro. Other developers contributed packages that went into an [unofficial] repository that later became [extra]. As Arch gained popularity, many users started setting up personal repositories of their own. Jason Chu (Xentac) tried to organize these users into their own group of community Trusted Users. The TUs each had their own repository hosted on the Arch server and users could choose to add any one of these repositories to their pacman.conf, if they trusted the user in question and desired packages they maintained. There was also a [staging] repository which held packages that were meant to be approved for later inclusion into [extra].

Later the TUs were consolidated into their own autonomous group of users, the [staging] repository became the modern [community] repository, and the AUR was written to allow all users to submit PKGBUILD files. The TU role took on the added responsibility of monitoring submitted PKGBUILDs and marking them as safe in addition to maintaining those packages they are interested in.

General Linux News

11 Versions Of WINE Benchmarked

"Last December we had published benchmarks of seven versions of WINE, which covered up through the WINE 0.9.50 release. We had used two versions of Futuremark's 3DMark suite for testing, and with that we had found the performance to be stable in some cases while in later WINE releases we had found some performance losses. With the WINE project on a consistent two-week release cycle, we are looking at the WINE 3D performance and this time going back with the past eleven releases."

Google funds Wine to improve Photoshop use

"In an email to the Wine mailing list late last week, Google software engineer Dan Kegel described how Google has been contracting the CodeWeavers Wine team to improve support for PhotoshopCS on Linux and how Google employees are using their free time to fix Wine bugs."

Featured Interview

Travis Willard: "Cerebral"

Travis Willard, from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada is a package maintainer for Arch Linux. I have not had the pleasure of knowing Travis for long, but in the short time I have he has been of great support towards the Arch Linux Newsletter. It is a pleasure to have someone like him around.

  1. Why did you choose Arch in the first place - was it love at first sight? What made you say this is the OS for me?

    Ugh, this is going to be a bit of a story. Apologies for the length, dear reader - if you wanna skip the history lesson, let's just say "Love at first sight" and you can skip to the next question. ;)

    Arch is actually the first, and only, Linux distro I've used for my personal OS. Well, actually, I tried Fedora as my "true" first, but it lasted all of a two days before I went back to old comfy Windows.

    I was introduced to Arch by contrasutra, a friend of mine from when I visited the Aqua-Soft community - a group of people interested in making Windows look as much like the Mac interface as possible. I personally was only there for the dock apps, and lost interest in that after a bit. In any case, during my short stay in that community, I decided I wanted to try Linux at home. Contra suggested I try Arch, as it was 'cool' or something. I said OK, and he helped me through the first install and getting madwifi working (which was a pain with no official packages at the time).

    My first Arch install lasted maybe a month before I drifted back to Windows again - I was just too unfamiliar with things in Linux at that time, and found myself booting into Windows for lots of games anyway. The second Arch install that came a couple months later really stuck though - I was back on a school term, doing Unix programming, and having Linux at home really helped. By that point I was playing more console games than PC games as well, so I wasn't booting into Windows much anymore.

    After a bit, it just stuck. I was more comfortable in Linux than Windows - I felt the power of the command line and couldn't turn back. :D I've never tried another distro - Arch just fits my needs so amazingly well that I've never felt the need to look elsewhere.

  2. Can you describe your work on Arch Linux? What is it you do?

    Currently, my biggest responsibility is package maintenance. I have between 70 and 80 packages that I actively maintain at the moment, and while it doesn't take too much time to keep them up-to-date, every now and again they can pile up.

    Additionally, I've taken the 'abs' project under my belt, though I haven't done much work on that front yet. I intend to replace the current cvsup/csup-based implementation with a much cleaner rsync-based solution, which Eliott (I think?) has already done a significant chunk of work on - what I've got to do is just schedule some time and get it done. I'm so lazy.

  3. Is there anything you would like to change in your area of work for Arch Linux?

    Right now, I can't say there is. I'm pretty comfortable with what I'm doing for Arch at the moment.

  4. Do you feel work on Arch Linux is more as fun or as a responsibility?

    It's a little bit of both, to be honest.

    Lately it's been more responsibility than fun, since I get home from a 9-5 job sitting in front of the computer all day and all I really want to do is spend time with my wife and relax; maybe play my Wii a bit, you know? But there's always something to do for Arch, and I try to schedule some time every week to get some of my work out of the way, and I often feel guilty if I let stuff slide too far.
  5. Author's response: Yeah, I understand about the Wii, don't we all love it?

  6. What comes to your mind when you hear "The Arch Way"?

    Honestly, the first thing I think of is an architectural archway. Those are cool, especially from a mathematical standpoint.

    As for the Arch-Linux Way - I think it's what's made Arch as awesome as it is. We try our hardest to make things simple and vanilla, and (surprise surprise) it works great that way. I think it's the simplicity that allows Arch to be run by a handful of volunteers and succeed so well, and I'd be greatly opposed to any change in this. ;)

  7. Do you like tacos? Do you think Eliott can be easily bribed with a taco?

    I greatly enjoy tacos. My wife and I have weekly 'taco nights' where our dinner consists entirely of tacos. This week we're having two!

    As for Eliott, let's just say I oftentimes wonder if he does a BBS search for 'taco' daily, and checks out the new threads that contain the word. Can he be bribed? Let's just say I don't have to shovel my driveway for the next few weeks.

  8. Which is best, Final Fantasy on the NES or Playstation?

    Any game with the Red Mage wins - and besides, they've released most of the NES Final Fantasy games on Playstation now anyway. ;)

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

    I do think so, and will show my mathematical proof:

    1) Aaron is my overlord.
    2) 1 -> I must believe everything Aaron says.
    3) Aaron says he can lift a car over his head.
    4) 2,3 -> Aaron can lift a car over his head.

    Q. E. D.


Contributed by: Renato Leäo

Forum Highlights

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips

Mailing List Highlights

Contributed by: Renato Leäo

Expand your Knowledge

Design better Web pages with Firefox extensions

"If you've ever tried to create or edit a Web page, you know that getting the little details just right can sometimes take a long time. Here are a few Firefox extensions you can add to your toolbox that will help you measure images, align objects on your page, and capture colors quickly and easily."

Build a directory service for web-based services

"If you want to keep a directory of company employees, for example, you would use a directory service instead of storing that information directly in a database. A directory service is created in a directory server, which is built on top of the database."

Tips and Tricks

Contributed by: Ronald van Haren

Brace expansion in bash

The bash manual page describes brace expansion as 'a mechanism by which arbitrary strings may be generated'. This basically means that if you provide comma separated strings, bash expands these into seperate arguments.Here is a simple example how it works:

$ echo number{1,2,3}a
number1a number2a number3a
So how can this be usefull in everyday situations ? Imagine you need to backup a config file, before modifying the current one. In this case one could backup the file with
$ cp /etc/somedir/somefile.conf{,.bak}
This command is similar to
$ cp /etc/somedir/somefile.conf /etc/somedir/somefile.conf.bak
Imagine you have changed something in the original file and want so see what you changed,
$ diff /etc/somedir/somefile.conf{.bak,}
Notice the place of the comma, it has changed from the first place between the brackets to the last place between the brackets. This is because we want to see what has changed from somefile.conf with respect to somefile.conf.bak, and not the other way around.

Another thing about brace expansion you should know about is brace expansion for sequences. This works for both numbers and letters:
$ echo {A..D}
You can combine both above discussed uses, and nesting of course also works. More info can be found in the bash manual page.

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.

The Humor Section

MrElendig: WillySilly: what are you doing here on irc at 4 in the morning? :D
WillySilly: MrElendig: Its 7pm here :P
MrElendig: but your crazy american time don't count
WillySilly: MrElendig: screw you, you non-american commie bastard
WillySilly: lol


We have come to the end, but just for this week, we sincerely hope you enjoyed reading the newsletter. The Arch Linux Newsletter Team sincerely enjoyed making it for your reading pleasure. Please, feel free to contact us, and let us know of any opinions and/or suggestions for improvement. Also, we accept contributions, so feel free to contribute.

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