Arch Linux Newsletter

September, 2008

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Welcome to another issue of the Arch Linux Newsletter. Another month passes by, and we are excited with the current events in Arch Linux. The package manager loved by many, pacman, was upgraded to version 3.2.0 followed shortly by a 3.2.1 bug fix version. Pacman is rapidly evolving and maturing, and developer interest is growing as they continue to strive to bring us the best of the best when it come to package management.

In the community projects area I would like to highlight the release of yaourt 0.9.1. Yaourt is a terrific tool to make AUR package handling easier and more straightforward. We know Arch takes pride of its community projects, for they improve the usability of Arch Linux in many ways.

Without further ado, Archers, I present to you a great Arch Linux Newsletter. Enjoy!

Eduardo "kensai" Romero

Table Of Contents

Arch Linux Front Page News

Eclipse 3.4

Packages for eclipse 3.4-3 and eclipse-cdt 5.0.0-2 will appear shortly in extra. We've switched to using the binary distributions for optimal stability and compatibility.

Read the Rest

(Posted by: Paul Mattal)

Pacman 3.2.0 release

Pacman 3.2.0 has been released to [core]. As usual, please report any issues or regressions to the bug tracker located at after searching to see if your bug already exists. The changes in this release are detailed in the NEWS file located in GIT, which can be accessed here. Noticeable changes in this release include much-reduced memory usage and the dropping of pacman.static. The following issues are known and will be fixed in the next maintenance release:

Read the Rest

(Posted by: Dan McGee)

Follow the frog - Arch at FrOSCon 2008

We'll be attending FrOSCon again this year. This Free and Open Source Software Conference takes place in Sankt Augustin near Bonn/Germany on August 23rd and 24th.

Read the Rest

(Posted by: Pierre Schmitz)

Arch Linux in the Media

10 Best-designed Linux Distribution Websites

"Most Linux Distribution websites have been redesigned to sport a Web 2.0 look. To give credit to their talented web designers/developers, I’ll pick 10 Linux Distribution websites that I think stand out from the rest. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so you don’t have to agree with me. Anyway, you can always comment later on and share your views."

Read the Rest

Review: FaunOS 0.5.4

"FaunOS is a light weight Linux distribution based on Arch Linux that is designed specifically for use on USB pen drives. It offers the user a complete KDE desktop experience without being too heavy or too light. But can a distribution such as FaunOS truly be user friendly, light weight and still complete? Yes it can. Let me show you how."

Read the Rest

General Linux News

Visions of a Microsoft-Free World

"Is free software taking over the world one town at a time? Residents of Felton, Calif., recently pledged to go proprietary-free for at least a week. Plans for similar events are reportedly under way in town in Oregon and New Mexico, as well as 100 towns in Italy.

Read the Rest

Torvalds: Fed up with the 'security circus'

"Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, says he's fed up with what he sees as a "security circus" surrounding software vulnerabilities and how they're hyped by security people.
Torvalds explained his position in an e-mail exchange with Network World this week. He also expanded on critical comments he made last month that caused a stir in the IT industry."

Read the Rest

Interesting Improvements In GNOME 2.24

"Earlier this year prior to the release of GNOME 2.22 we had shared eight interesting improvements in GNOME 2.22. Some of these improvements included Epiphany with the WebKit back-end (if built with the proper argument), Evince Document Viewing improvements, Cheese web-camera software, Mousetweaks, the Vinagre VNC client, and Totem enhancements. Now with the official GNOME 2.24 release due out next month, this time around we're sharing a few of the interesting highlights for this GNOME update."

Read the Rest

Tux3 Hierarchical Structure

"'It is about time to take a step back and describe what I have been implementing," began Daniel Phillips, referring to his new Tux3 filesystem. He provided a simple ASCII diagram that detailed the filesystem's hierarchical structure, describing each of the elements. About one he noted, "the volume table is a new addition not central to the goals of Tux3, but a nice feature to have given that it comes nearly for free. One Tux3 volume can have an arbitrary number of separate filesystems tucked inside it, indexed by a simple integer parameter at mount time. People say they like this idea and it imposes no significant complexity, so it goes in.'"

Read the Rest

Arch Linux Schwag Report

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips


Between July 15, 2008 and August 15, 2008, we sold total of 33 products on the Arch Linux Schwag shop hosted by Zazzle. Our total royalties and referrals came to $49.51. The initial flood of interest in schwag has tapered off, but there is still plenty of support coming in each month.

Interest in Schwag has leveled out and Branko is busy this month, so there are no new products. I'll try to add some for next month. Zazzle recently came out with custom shoes and today I received an e-mail advertising custom skateboards!

Arch Linux Case Badges

In the last newsletter, I promised that there would be information on how to purchase Arch Linux Case Badges by this month. And so there is. The demand for badges greatly exceeded expectations and we quickly ran out of the silver badges we had ordered! A new order is on its way and we will hopefully be shipping again by the time you read this. The first batch of badges netted about $60 above our initial investment.

To order badges, please visit, kindly hosted by Simo Leone ('neotuli'). We have two types of badges available, white and silver. The start at $2.25 per badge, but there are great discounts on mass orders. Because the badges are small, shipping is very reasonable, even to international destinations.

So now you can proudly display your love of Arch directly on the machine that runs it! Order yours today!

I'd like to thank Simo for being an all round great guy and taking care of the shipping and delivery on these items. Great work Simo!

Contributed Article

Contributed by: Allan McRae (Arch Linux Developer)

How to Deal with Missing Libraries

One of the caveats of rolling release distributions is that whenever a library has an soname bump, all the packages which link to it require a rebuild. For distributions with a fixed release schedule, this is hidden from the user as the library version will not change between releases.

When a library with an soname is updated in Arch, it is first put into [testing] and all packages in [core] and [extra] that link to it are also updated. When all rebuilds are thought to be complete, packages are moved from [testing] to the main repos. At that stage you may notice messages like:

filezilla: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open
shared object file: No such file or directory

This is particularly common with packages in [community] which are not rebuilt in testing and therefore have to catch up with the main repos after the library rebuild is pushed out of testing.

How to properly deal with this problem (using the above example):

DO NOT CREATE SYMLINKS to the old library version as an attempt to fix the problem. The best results you can expect from this "quick fix" is that it will not work. At worst, it may appear to fix your problem but create other subtle incompatibilities, often causing crashes in your programs that will be very difficult to diagnose. Always remember that library sonames are different for a reason.

Featured Interview

Allan McRae

Allan McRae is one of the new additions to the Arch Linux development team. He is in charge of breaking stuff, everytime something goes wrong in the Arch Linux development process there is a saying: "Allan broke it". And to tell you the truth everyone believes it and starts sending hate mail to Allan's inbox. By the way, the address is allan {at} archlinux . org. ;-)

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

    I stumbled across Arch when I was looking for a better package managment system for a Linux From Scratch build I was using. Someone suggested pacman was an interesting choice so I installed Arch to test it out. Arch had everything that I was trying to do (up-to-date packages, a fairly minimal install, optimization) but with a great package management system and no need to compile everything, so I switched and have not looked back.

  2. Can you describe your work on Arch Linux?

    My main role is to keep an eye on Kensai and make sure he does not break anything. It is a little known fact that he spreads the "Allan broke it" meme to cover his mistakes. (I realize that it is probably not wise to make jokes at the editor's expense but I could not resist...)

    Other than that, I don't have a really defined role as a developer in terms of maintaining a particular group of packages (in fact, I maintain a relatively small number of packages in the main repos). I like doing a bit of coding so I have taken over the maintenance of the ABS scripts and make some contributions towards the pacman codebase, in particular makepkg. I also spend time doing Forum Moderator and Trusted User stuff.

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


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

    I think Judd said it best with "[Arch Linux] is what you make it". To me that means that we should provide the perfect base and the tools for people to build on it. Everything else is just the icing.

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

    There is always the responsibility not to break peoples systems (too badly...) but everything I do for Arch is because I want to and I enjoy doing it. If I did not enjoy working on Arch, then I would not do it.

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

    As far as linux related software goes, I am interested to see how the performance of ext4 compares to XFS and reiser4 which as far as I am concerned have reasonably similar features. I am also looking forward to the next major XFCE release scheduled in the next couple of months (mousepad with tabs!). Technology I am looking forward to in the general world include hover cars and teleportation.

  7. Are you addicted to tacos?

    While I enjoy the occasional taco, my current (food based) addiction is spicy chicken wings.

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

    What do you mean? An American or European car?


Section I: Roman Kyrylych & Grigorios Bouzakis, Talk About Arch Linux Bugs.

  1. How are we managing bugs right now on Arch Linux? Is it an efficient method?


    The number of open reports is more or less constant during the last 2 years. Compared to other distros that have this number consistently growing (e.g. Gentoo had 12000 open reports last time I checked) - this is a great success of the idea to have a dedicated bughunter (now two!). Obviously there is a room for improvements (especially on my side :-P). Grigorios did a great job when I was inactive, and now that I'm back I suspect 2 people will do more damage. >:-} In addition, now that I'm getting notifications about every event that happens in the bugtracker, it saves me time from checking for new reports and subscribing to them manually (the downside is that I had to briefly read about 1300 threads in my gmail box after the period of inactivity :-P).

  2. Where do you think Arch Linux could improve in the subject of bug reports and actually fixing those reports?


    The problem is that there always are many more bugs than active developers, and because we (developers) cannot spend too much time finding the root of a bug and inventing a working solution - we tend to go for easy and critical bugs first, leaving complex reports (especially feature requests) "for later", when we'll have more time, and this "later" can happen months after bug was reported. So if a user has an ability to solve the bug and propose a working solution - this can greatly decrease the time it takes to release a fixed package.

    On my side - I've resigned from the TU position, and we have new devs and TUs, so I want to fully dedicate my time to bugfixing, especially when it comes to the installer, initscripts and related issues, at least until the number of open reports falls below 400.

  3. Is there anything we need to emphasize to Arch users about submitting bugs?


    It would be great if _all_ users read the "Reporting Bug Guidelines".


    Users NEED to read before submitting bugs. Especially the sections about upstream bug reports. Many users just report bugs on the Archlinux bug tracker and then try to search the application's one. That should be done the other way around. First search, then report & discuss with upstream. Afterwards if the bug is related to Archlinux packaging, open a well documented report on our bug tracker. I know its easier to report all bugs in a single bug tracking system, but its wrong and often futile. Those bugs should be discussed with people who develop the applications. Note that most of those bugs never get solved until there is a new version of the package.

  4. Are we going to have a Bug Squashing day? If Yes, When would it be expected?


    I have plans for it to happen, and some ideas on how to improve its effectiveness, but this wasn't discussed with other devs yet.


    I dont recall how often Bug Squashing days were organised in the past, but I don't intend to organise one at least until September, until when my plans are pretty much standard. IMO Bug Squashing days are difficult to be much of a success because in many cases they need the people who reported them as well as many of the developers available.

  5. Are you bug hunters of the Arch Linux community just as good with real life bug hunting?


    When QA guy on my current project reports some issue - I usually respond "it's a known bug". :-P And one of my job proposals I've got before my current job was related to build management and bug tracking. Oh, and I ping our sysadmins often because of numerous bugs in Fedora 8 on my workstation (seriously, it was a surprise for me that a major distro can be that almost-Windoze-buggy).


    I am an ecologist. I dont kill bugs in real life. :-)

Section II: Arch Linux Development News

by: Ronald van Haren & Eduardo Romero

Community Highlights

Tips and Tricks

by: Ronald van Haren

Directory fun in bash

It has been a while since I wrote about some things you can do with your shell, so this month, lets see what else we can do to increase your shell productivity. In this section we will take a closer look at what you can do with the commands pwd, pushd, and dirs.

Lets start with something easy. We would like to print the current working directory to the screen. For this we can use the pwd utility. As there are no usefull options to pwd, just issue the folllowing at your prompt:


Now that we know how to print the current working directory to the screen, we can take a look at pushd and popd. Pushd allows us to save the current working directory to the top of a so-called directory stack and then changes to a new directory. Popd removes the top entry from the directory stack and changes to the new top directory, which, under most circumstances, is the previous working directory. To be complete, the options for both pushd and popd are given next:

pushd [dir | +N | -N] [-n]

Substituting a directory for dir in the above makes the current working directory the top of the stack and cds to the directory specified. The +N and -N options bring the Nth directory (counting from either left or right, starting at 0) to the top of the directory stack by rotating the stack. The -n option lets you only manipulate the directory stack without cd-ing into the directory specified (specify the directory after the -n option!).

popd [+N | -N] [-n]

With the +N and -N options we can remove the Nth directory of the directory stack (counting from either left or right). The -n options suppresses the normal change in directory so that only the stack is manipulated.

So let us look at the dirs utility now. Dirs displays the list of directories currently stored on the stack. As explained before, directories can be added to the list by the pushd command, and removed with the use of the popd command. With the different options which go with dirs we can either view a particular entry in the directory stack, or view the directory stack in particular ways (I leave these options for the reader). One option that may become usefull is the -c options, which clears the directory stack.

Before finishing this section we look at a really simple use case of the commands we have discussed (there is plenty of room left for you to exercise). Imagine you are working in a directory and need to take a quick look in another directory. Instead of using cd to go to the second directory, next time you use pushd:

pushd ${some directory}

Now you are done working in the second directory and would like to return to your previous directory. Simply type


and you are back where you started. That should have given you a feeling for what sort of things you can do with the commands discussed. Start playing and expand your knowledge!

Expand your Knowledge

Recovering Deleted Files By Inode Number In Linux And Unix

"It should be noted, at the outset, that this post is limited in its scope. We're going to be looking at one particular way in which you can recover an accidentally deleted file on Linux or Unix ( Tested on RHEL3 and Solaris 8 ). If you ever want to scour a hard drive that you need to get lots of information back from, then (assuming that you quarantined it immediately upon noticing this and haven't written to it since) you should check out The Coroner's Toolkit. Specifically, you'll want to look at the "ils" or "icat" programs, and most probably the "grave-robber" application to recover as much of everything as possible."

Read the Rest

From scripting to object-oriented Python programming

"Python has begun soaring in popularity in recent years, and part of the reason is that the language is very flexible, yet incredibly powerful. Python can be used for systems administration, Web development, GUI programming, scientific computing, and more. The main aim of this article is to introduce people who are used to scripting procedural code in Bash, PHP, or some other language, and to assist them in moving into object-oriented Python developing. This rising popularity of Python means that developers currently using other programming languages might be called upon to do some of their projects in Python, in addition to their favorite language."

Read the Rest

Set up your firewall with Firewall Builder

"Firewall Builder (fwbuilder) is a graphical application that can help you to configure IP traffic filtering. It can compile the filtering policy you define into many specifications, including iptables and various languages used by Cisco and Linksys routers. Separating the actual policy you define and the implementation in this way should let you change what hardware is running your firewall without having to redefine your policy for that platform."

Read the Rest

Networking 101: Understanding Layers

"Continuing our journey, it's time to take a trip up the OSI Reference Model, and learn what this mysterious thing is all about. The network stack is of great significance, but not so much that it's the first thing you should learn. We've waited to start the "layers" discussion for good reason: Many so-called networking classes will start by teaching you to memorize the name of every layer and every protocol contained within this model. Don't do that. Do realize that layers 5 and 6 can be completely ignored, though."

Read the Rest

10 quick tips to make Linux networking easier

"Networking is a must-have on all levels of computing. Be it home or corporate, networking is the one aspect of computing that is, without a shadow of a doubt, a deal breaker. And with some help, the Linux operating system can be the king of networking, in both ease of use and security. But that doesn’t mean the average (and sometimes even the above-average) user can’t use some help. These tips should help make Linux networking go a little more smoothly."

Read the Rest

The Humor Section

Section I: Random Humor

Section II: Bounced

Newsletter Author's Note: The following article is a satire and should be taken from a humorous point of view. The Arch Linux team has a lot of respect for the openSUSE team and all their efforts.

by Branko Vukelic

I'm sure you were quite surprised to see me getting bounced by Ubuntu last month. I know I was. However, we have a new contender this month, and I'm hoping the next post in that good bye thread is truly mine this time.

Now, I'd like to start by stating the obvious (again). Distros today do only one of the following three things:

From these premises, we can only conclude that all distros suck. However, there are always a few that still tickle our imagination. An obvious example is Gentoo. But for now, we'll review the openSUSE, which I will try to tame this month.


Now, some of the readers question the moral, cultural, and technical value of the 'Bounced' section. To prevent such unfounded attacks upon my person, and the integrity of our news crew, I will post the rules here. The rules are quite simple:

That's right. Very simple. Now, on to the fun stuff.

openSUSE: correct my capitaliZATION

If there is choice in the open-source world at all, it's all in the download section of openSUSE's website. The layered download-chooser thingy is quite impressive... to someone who knows a little about FTP and filenames. But hey, chameleons have two eyes that rotate independently. Does that make sense to you?

Ok, so, if you feel brave, you just have to answer three simple questions. The last one is "What is your quest." Make sure you say "To find the Holy Grail", and the bridgekeeper will allow you to download the iso.


Oh, I really don't want to talk about it. Nope.

When I install Arch, I usually do it over lunch. Why? Because I don't want to take a break to eat for 15 minutes. I want to feel both fed, and ready to poke around the system at the same time. Well, with openSUSE, no such luck. I was fed up. Oh, and do I have to mention it's all graphical? Yeah, yeah, point and click. Yuck.

There's one interesting thing, though. You get to agree to a license agreement. How about that? You don't see those too often these days. It reminded me of those days when I was just a poor high-school student pretending to agree to the Windows 95 EULA. :D

Another detail worth mentioning is when I tried to set a password 'test' for the user called 'test'. openSUSE complained so much that I felt like hitting it with a sledgehammer. He let me use it in the end, but you should have seen the look on his face, the lizzard was like: "damn newbie..." I hope no one seriously believes that's a 'security feature' or something, cause security is a state of mind... yada yada. Anyway, it should know the difference between a newbie, and a person doing the 'Bounced' on openSUSE, or it should simply keep it's mouth shut. You know how in Arch Linux... oh, but you know the story, so I'll just go on.

First steps

This time, I won't try to remove any software (like I did with Ubuntu), but will, instead, try to make the best of what's installed (and add a few more things I need, if necessary).

One thing these 'big players' are good at is giving average consumers a placebo.

A perfect example is KDE4, and you guessed right, openSUSE ships it. And it did that before Arch Linux. Can you believe it? Yeah, I saw it with my own eyes. But then again, they do it all the time. Arch ships it when it's ready, but still hot. Others try to ship a half-assed pre-alpha version, so that average non-discriminating user thinks he's on cutting edge. He's on edge, alright, but not the cutting edge. More like the 'edge of nervous breakdown when everything starts to gently fall apart'.

Well, regardless of my obvious bias, I decided to give openSUSE's KDE4 a nice test. I've been running KDE4 on Arch for a short while so it's not a completely uninformed review.

So, when you click that icon in the lower left corner, on that silver strip... uhm, I think it's called 'kickass' or something. Anyway, you click that (for those of you who are not familiar with the device called 'a mouse', you use the visual cue called the 'cursor' which reacts to the movement of the device itself, and you don't actually press the device against the screen... took me a while to remember how to use it), you get the menu. There you can find the something you need, and you click that, too. And it works. Okay. It passed the test.

Ok, I was just kidding. The thing is, most of it is much like Arch. The hard stuff is in the control panel. There, you have more icons than an average Orthodox church. Don't be alarmed when I say that it's how an openSUSE user is supposed to mess with his system. I hear "what do you mean by 'that'" from someone in the second row? 'That' is clicking the icons. (And I hear a definite "oooh" from the back.)

The whole concept of clicking icons translates to not using the editor all that much. Just like in Ubuntu, touching an editor in openSUSE is a hazard not many are willing to risk.

Signs of nostalgia

openSUSE really makes me nostalgic. It has an icon on the desktop called 'My Computer'. Oh, how it reminds me of the days when I thought all my stuff belonged to a Gnome that lived in my box and was appropriating it. Everything belonged to him. The documents, music, pictures, downloaded files. Whatever I looked at, he'd be like: "That's MY DOCUMENTS, buddy. Piss off!" I even bought a second hard drive, and labeled it "Foxbunny's Documents".

Sorry for that. I find those memories most traumatic. Better leave them alone.

So, this whole openSUSE thing kind of reminds me of the bad ol' days on Windows 95. But maybe that's a good thing. You start to think like a Windowsian again, waiting for that 'Are you sure?' line with anticipation, slowly consumed with clickism... in other words, becoming a true masochist. That's totally cool... if you are a masochist. But I'm not.

The Bounce

I didn't feel like (kids, tell your parents to leave the room before you scroll further down) slapping my back with a whip, wearing handcuffs, and being brutally abused by a woman in high-heels and black latex, so I decided I was bounced bad. I'm guessing the whole EULA and His Computer stuff was too much. And what's with that password hysteria?! I felt like a kid in 'Supernanny' being told that my behavior is 'unacceptable'.

The bounce factor? Whopping 9.7 out of 10. Yeah, I know. I'm antisocial.

And another little note. I really think there was no surprise in the infamous Novell-Microsoft deal. They both have a 'My Computer', so go figure.


Foxbunny is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with openSUSE and/or Novell. This article is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be read by people without any sense of humor, or taken as a guide to better life. The 'bounce factor' is a fictional mark, and has nothing to do with how good or bad a distro is. They all suck except Arch.

Proofreader's note: Lets not put Foxbunny on a trampoline. Apparently he can't bounce very effectively; he's using Ubuntu on his laptop these days...

Newsletter Author's note: hah...


And so closes yet another Arch Linux newsletter. We sincerely hope you enjoyed the newsletter this month as we enjoyed creating it for your reading pleasure. Please, contact us, with your opinions and/or suggestions for improvement. Also, we love user contributions, so feel free to submit your article for consideration.

The best to all of you, from the Arch Linux Newsletter Team (Dusty Phillips [dusty {at} archlinux . org], Ronald Van Haren [ronald {at} archlinux . org] and Eduardo Romero [eduardo {at} archlinux . org])