Arch Linux Newsletter

July 01, 2008

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


Welcome to another issue of the Arch Linux Newsletter. This past month has been great for the open source world, we have seen many great application releases this month.

For example, Firefox 3.0, Wine 1.0, even Arch Linux 2008.06 are notable among other great software releases. I hope you are enjoying your Arch Linux system as much as I am. The open source world is always moving; we are still waiting for other wonderful releases like KDE 4.1, a highly anticipated release for those of you that like the K Desktop Environment.

Now, onto other things, we have seen the departure of our dear friend Eliott (I felt tempted to use his real name, but he wouldn't appreciate it). He has been so valuable to all of us, and his contribution to the community will greatly be missed, we hope the best for you Eliott. In his memory Dusty Phillips has contributed an article entitled "A Short History Of Tacos".

But is Arch Linux being left with fewer developers? No! We have three new developers on the team, and we want to give them a warm welcome: Francois, Allan, and Dusty. Its great to know we have more people to blame when something goes wrong! :-D In addition, the arch team is recruiting even more packagers.

Eduardo "kensai" Romero

Table Of Contents

Arch Linux Front Page News

Archlinux 2008.06 - "Overlord"

The 2008.06 images are out. This release introduces many changes.

(Posted by Simo Leone)

Job Opening

Hey kids,

The ArchLinux dev team is looking for a few package maintainers!

Basic Duties:


If you feel you meet our expectations and have the time and desire to be on the Arch team, please send an email to Aaron Griffin containing the following:

(Posted by Aaron Griffin)

Arch Linux in the Media

Arch Linux 2008.06: Overlord[, Reviewed]

"Arch is simple. It’s not easy at first, but it’s simple…and “simple” has the knack of becoming “easy” when you’re used to it. After the install, you end up with a system that has everything you want it to have, but nothing more. That means it’s light-weight, and fast, and unique, and very easy to maintain. After the initial hours of configuration, there’s not much left to be done. Upgrade the system every day. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. I know I will."

General Linux News

AMD Makes An Evolutionary Leap In Linux Support

"Less than a year ago we shared with you the revolutionary steps AMD was taking to deliver significant improvements to their once infamous proprietary Linux display driver and at the same time the work they were doing to foster the growth of an open-source driver for their latest graphics card families. These steps have certainly paid off for both AMD and the Linux community at large. AMD's proprietary driver is now on par with NVIDIA's Linux driver and there are two open-source ATI drivers picking up new features and improvements on an almost daily basis. AMD also continues to publish new programming guides and register information on a routine basis for their latest and greatest hardware. This has been truly phenomenal to see, but AMD has now evolved their Linux support by taking it a large step further. AMD is in the process of pushing new high-end features into their Linux driver -- such as Multi-GPU CrossFire support -- and with the ATI Radeon HD 4850 they have even begun showing off Tux, the Linux mascot, on their product packaging and providing Linux drivers on their product CDs!"

Red Hat Summit panel: Who 'won' OOXML battle?

"' ODF has clearly won,' said Stuart McKee, referring to Microsoft's recent announcement that it would begin natively supporting ODF in Office next year and join the technical committee overseeing the next version of the format."
"'We sell software for a living. The ability to implement ODF in the middle of our ship cycle was just not possible," he said. "We couldn't do that during the release of Office 2007. We're looking forward and committed to doing more than [ODF-to-OOXML] translators.'"

NVidia says no to request to release open source drivers, once again

"Nvidia reiterated that it won’t provide open source drivers for Linux because the company claims there is no need for it."

"Nvidia provides binary Linux drivers and has open sourced some drivers such as the nv X driver and other utilities that work with the proprietary driver, including the installer, config and settings.The company is a leading provider of graphics cards and software for the desktop and embraces a cross platform strategy."

Arch Linux Schwag Report

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips


Between May 15, 2008 and June 15, 2008, we sold an even 50 products on the Arch Linux Schwag shop hosted by Zazzle. Our total royalties and referrals came to $65.43 for this period, a new record high for a one month period. In total since March, we have accumulated over $200 in Schwag Royalties and Referals! Congratulations and thank you for supporting Arch Linux, the best of distros.

New Products

Since the last report, we have added two new products, both created by Serbian artist and all round great guy, Branko Vukelic (foxbunny). Branko has contributed so many products now that he now has his own product line. His delightful artwork has already proven to be quite popular. Thanks for contributing Branko!

Other Notes

Daniel Isenmann is investigating the viability of a European Arch Schwag shop. It looks like there is a lot of interest, so hopefully it will soon be possible to purchase Arch T-shirts on both sides of the Atlantic!

Several users have asked for the ability to purchase products via Paypal. We have no control over this, as all purchasing and shipping is handled by Zazzle. However, I have heard that they are "considering" allowing users to use Paypal as a Payment option. I suggest contacting them to let them know you support this policy.

Contributed Article

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips

A Short History of Tacos

I have friends who follow the Arch mailing lists more closely than I do. So it was through pyther that I discovered that cactus had left the development team. This left me feeling very sad, like a part of me was lost. These feelings are natural, I suppose, since Arch is part of me and cactus is part of Arch. Eli (Eliott for short!) has been a massive contributor to Arch for almost as long as I can remember. I believe we started with Arch around the same time. I've matured a lot more in that time than he has, but only because I had a lot further to go. Every step of the way, cactus has been an icon of netiquette for me.

I like to think I am pretty good at diffusing difficult situations on the bbs and at being open-minded and fair about different user's opinion (although you will find some entertaining and possibly somewhat disturbing counter-examples if you look at my earliest posts as a forum moderator). These are both skills I have worked hard to improve, and almost exclusively by following Eliott's superb example. I believe he is one of the most sensible and humble Archers the community has ever seen, second only, perhaps, to the founder himself: Judd Vinet (another of my favourite role models).

He is also one of the most skilled.

When I think of cactus' many accomplishments over the past four years, the one that stands out the most in my mind is how he single-handedly orchestrated and implemented our wiki migration. This was a major feat, not only of coding the migration scripts, but of coordinating a huge group of people he had no formal authority over to complete the migration. And when he ran out of helpers, he finished migrating an unbelievable number of pages on his own. This event was a perfect example of the well-known "patches welcome" philosophy. Eliott set up and tested MediaWiki AND the migration before approaching the Arch development team to request that his wiki system be used as the new official one. This happened after users had been complaining about the old phpwiki's organization for several months. Cactus doesn't complain. He implements. Let us all follow his example.

The second thing that crosses my mind in considering cactus is tacos. I still don't know how the guy magically knows whenever tacos are mentioned in a thread. I don't know if he secretly modded punbb to subscribe him to all threads that mention tacos, if he had a network of underground agents telling him when it was time to post in a thread that had gone tortilla-shaped, or if he just reads EVERY THREAD that passes through the forum. I may never know.

While Cactus' contributions will be sorely missed by the development team and community in general, I hope his presence will not be. Stick around, Eliott, your company will always be welcome. You may not be a developer, but you'll always be an Archer. Keep on keeping it simple, my friend.

Gaming Arena

by: Eduardo "kensai" Romero

Recording your 3D Games Made Easy

From the glc website: “glc is an ALSA & OpenGL capture tool for Linux. It consists of a generic video capture, playback and processing library and a set of tools built around that library. glc should be able to capture any application that uses ALSA for sound and OpenGL for drawing. It is still a relatively new project but already has a long list of features.”

The question now is: How do we install glc on our Arch Linux systems? It isn't available on any of the main repositories, but like many useful tools it is on AUR. This, my friends, is the perfect time to introduce you to the yaourt package.

yaourt is a wrapper for pacman that allows you to easily install packages from AUR. But be cautious, packages from AUR are user contributed, you have to make sure the package is from a user you trust and that you have examined the package yourself and trust the code it contains. Otherwise you may end up installing a package that seriously compromises your system.

For the installation of yaourt we need to add the [archlinuxfr] repository to the end of our pacman.conf file:

# nano -w /etc/pacman.conf
And add:
Server =

Now, after syncing our repositories (pacman -Sy) we should be able to install the yaourt package:

# pacman -Sy yaourt

We can now proceed with the installation of glc.

$ yaourt -S glc
or, if you like using the latest and greatest:
$ yaourt -S glc-git

Yaourt will automatically download the PKGBUILD from AUR, run makepkg, create the package, and install it for you. This is an interactive process; you will be prompted to review the PKGBUILD (to ensure it doesn't contain a shady download link or nefarious command like rm -rf / which will wipe out your entire hard drive), and your sudo password, among other confirmation dialogs.

Thanks kumyco for providing us with these high quality glc PKGBUILDs.

Here are some useful commands that will hopefully get us started with a basic knowledge of what glc does and how. We shall proceed by capturing a 3D application, in this case the Battle for Wesnoth game.

$ glc-capture -o /home/myusername/glc-videos -r 0.5 -s wesnoth

Let us parse the above command to see what all those options stand for. First, we have -o, which stands for output, it specifies the directory in which we want to save the .glc video we are about to capture. Then we have the -r 0.5 option, which resizes the video to half, for example glxgears being a 300x300 size window will be resized to 150x150 on the .glc video. This is very useful if the window size of the application is large. Otherwise we would end up with a very big .glc video file. I once had a video of less than three minutes that was almost a gigabyte in size!

And finally, the -s option tells the application to start recording as soon as Wesnoth is launched. If you don't want this, shift + F8 is the key combination to start and stop glc-capture recording capabilities. However, this won't work if the game has that exact key combination assigned to something else.

Now, we should have a video, let us play it.

$ glc-play filename.glc

Esc key stops playback, f toggles full screen and Right key seeks forward.

$ glc-play myvideo.glc -o - -a NUM | lame -hV2 – audio.mp3

This will separate the audio and make it into a .mp3 file. Then we can go about encoding the video and mix it with the audio file we just made ourselves.

$ glc-play myvideo.glc -o - -y NUM | mencoder -demuxer y4m - -nosound -ovc x264
-x264encopts qp=18:pass=1 -of avi -o video.avi

$ glc-play myvideo.glc -o - -y NUM | mencoder -demuxer y4m - -audiofile
audio.mp3 -oac copy -ovc x264 -x264encopts qp=18:pass=2 -of avi -o video.avi

If all went well, we should have the video.avi, with sound. I hope you enjoy your game capturing from now on, It is the better way to boast on your skills. :-D Soon, on my blog I will add a tip on how to convert .avi files to .flv files for easier and lighter youtube uploads of your videos. Watch for it, but don't hold your breath. :-D

Featured Interview

Thayer Williams

We are interviewing the graphics artist of the Arch Linux Team, the one who created our new and fresh Arch Linux logo, which you see every time you visit

  1. Why did you choose Arch Linux in the first place?

    Following several years and failed attempts at switching from Windows to Linux, I discovered the joy of Ubuntu and eventually jumped ship. At some point I realized I wasn't actually learning about Linux, or at least not in the way that I wanted to. There were other factors too, like waiting so long between major updates and the knowledge that it was optimized for i386 architecture.

    With these things in mind, I started looking at my options--and there weren't many. Ultimately, I think it was the philosophy behind Arch that won me over. The idea of having an up-to-date base installation, on top of which anything can be added, was just too good to be true. Combining that with ABS, vanilla configs, i686/x86_64 optimization, and a rolling release approach, I can't imagine ever wanting anything more.

  2. Can you describe your work on Arch Linux?

    Having designed the current Arch logo, I was brought on as a web/graphics designer. In this capacity, I work with the other developers to coordinate artwork and branding for the project as a whole--a task I am only now beginning due to work, school, and family.

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

    If there was more time in a day, I'd love to learn and do it all.

    I am continually amazed by the output of the Arch developers. From the lowly cron jobs and scripts that keep our servers running in tiptop shape, to the vast number of packages that are updated weekly, the Arch developers are dedicating a great deal of free time to the benefit of us all.

  4. What is your meaning for "The Arch Way"?

    I think my interpretation of the Arch Way is on par with most of the other developers. I believe Arch should provide a core package group, consisting mostly of vanilla (upstream) configuration files. I want the same default settings as the upstream developer intended, and I don't want to have to remove dozens of programs from my system that someone else thought I might like to use.

    Newcomers to Arch must expect to read and have a do-it-yourself approach to just about everything; anything less and they _will_ be disappointed.

  5. Do you feel working for Arch Linux is more fun than it is a responsibility?

    Compared to the other developers, I'm still wet behind the ears so it's definitely more fun than anything else. As with most things, moderation is the key. If I spent 25 hours every week just spitting out packages for the masses I'd reach my limit pretty quick. As it is, I'd like to devote even more time to making Arch better.

  6. Any future technology you are looking up to, in the Linux camp or the general world camp?

    It might be wishful thinking, but I'd like to see more standards implemented within the Linux system as a whole. For example, standardized paths to wallpapers, icons, and configuration files should be used and respected by all desktop environments, regardless of distribution.

    There are a lot of efforts being made in this department and though some benefits can already be seen, I think we have a long way to go.


Contributed by: Ronald van Haren

Forum Highlights

Mailing List Highlights

Expand your Knowledge

Ten fantastic keyboard shortcuts in

"A lot of software users I meet seem to feel they are not using their software as efficiently as they could. If that includes you, then listen up. Here is my list of the ten, lesser-known, Writer keyboard shortcuts that will help you improve your productivity."

Fight Phishing From The Unix Or Linux Command Line

"This weekend, we're going to look at a little something (actually a HUGE something) that we all seem to have to deal with now (through email, IM, etc). It's called phishing and, for lack of a better explanation, it's a fraudulent way for a malicious individual, or group, to get username and password information from you using deceptive practices (was that redundant? ;) It's most commonly used to get information regarding a person's online bank accounts, credit card/mortgage management information, etc. In other words, stuff that could really screw up their lives if someone else had it."

Backing up Large Files

"There are quite a few programs for backing up files, some with graphical interfaces, some with web interfaces and others which work from the command line. They are mostly designed to do scheduled backups to a server or hard disc but I wanted a straighforward way to make one-off backups of some large files to DVDs or a USB drive. I decided, therefore, to use a simple command line procedure to do most of the work. It takes only two commands to create the archive and three to restore the archive and check it for errors."

Tips and Tricks

Contributed by: Ronald van Haren

Permissions and Ownership

Every file and directory on a Linux system has associated permissions and ownership which tell the OS who and in which way the file or directory may be used. To get an overview of the permissions and ownership of files in a particular location, execute:

ls -l [FILE]

where you can substitute the file/directory name for [FILE]. Or leave it blank to get all files in the current working directory.

A typical output of such a command is:

-rw-r--r-- 1 newsletterauthor users 291 2008-06-25 20:24 tips

Lets first look at the left most combination of characters and hyphens. A total of 10 properties are presented here, which can be divided into four groups, namely:

[file type (1x)] [permissions user (3x)] [permissions group (3x)] [permission
world (3x)]

The file type has basically two possibilities, either directory [d] or file [-].

For the three groups of permissions, for each property there are four possibilities: read permission [r], write permission [w], execute permission [x], or not existing [-].

Whereas above permissions for files are pretty straightforward, for directories they may be a bit confusing for novice users. The 'read permission' allows you to view the content of a particular directory, the 'write permission' allows you to change files in that directory, and the 'execute permission', without over complicating things, allows you to enter the directory (ie: via cd or ls.

To summarize above, the permission part of the output of our example tells us that we are dealing with a file, root has read and write permissions, and both users and world have read permissions.

Now skip in the example output to the third and fourth field, reading newsletterauthor and users. These indicate the user and group ownership of the given file, respectively.

So let us see how we can change the permissions of a file. The basic command for this is:


I'll leave the options to the interested reader (man chmod will tell you what you want to know!). The permissions can be defined in a number of ways, where, when you got the hang to it, the octal numbering system is probably the easiest to use. To use the octal numbering system for setting file permissions, you can use the binary octal conversion scheme presented below:

Permissions (rwx) Binary Octal
--- 000 0
--x 001 1
-w- 010 2
-wx 011 3
r-- 100 4
r-x 101 5
rw- 110 6
rwx 111 7

So with this scheme in mind we can see that the permission of our test file is 644. Now you have all the basics at hand to make your data a little bit more secure! Permissions like 600 are really well suited for content you don't want people to access.

To finish this section, let me mention that you can also change the owner or group a file belongs to. This is really easy with an utility called chown:


For all details and options please see the manpage.

The Humor Section


We have come to the end of yet another Arch Linux newsletter. We sincerely hope you enjoyed it this month. We certainly 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 (Dusty Phillips, Ronald Van Haren and Eduardo Romero)