• Eduardo Romero Contact - "Editor in Chief"
  • Dan Griffiths Contact - "Contributor, Proofreader"
  • Alex Minkiewicz Contact - "Contributor"
  • Sam Harada Contact - "Contributor"


And here we are again! Welcome! Another Arch Linux newsletter is born. This month I would like to thank Dusty Phillips and Ronald van Haren for the awesome work they did all along for the newsletter. Without them, the newsletter wouldn't have made it to its present state. For personal reasons, both of them have decided to move on. Thanks guys, you both have been a great inspiration to me all along, and I admire you for the great developers you are.

This issue is very special for me. It got me back to my roots, where I was doing all the work for the newsletter. I am passionate once more about my work, after almost forgetting what a fun task it is to be in charge of an official part of Arch Linux. The newsletter contributes in a special way to the Arch Linux ecosystem, informing the users in an official capacity on what is really happening in Arch Linux development.

This issue contains an interview with Andrea Scarpino, the KDE maintainer for the i686 architecture. Also, we are bringing all our kernel enthusiasts a tips and tricks section that should be of special interest. Finally, even though we went without a mention in the media this month, we provide an analysis as to why Arch Linux has been so prevalent in media coverage the last few months. And so, without further ado, the Newsletter Team proudly presents the July 2009 issue of the Arch Linux Newsletter. Please, enjoy!

Eduardo Romero "kensai" (On behalf of the Newsletter Team)

Arch Linux Front Page News


portmap replaced by rpcbind & important nfs-utils upgrade

Hi Arch community,
portmap is replaced by rpcbind in the [core] repository. It has more features, like ipv6 support and nfs4 support. Please change your /etc/rc.conf file accordingly.

Important nfs-utils upgrade:
- NFS4 support is now implemented
This is a rather important upgrade, you are going to have to change config files.
/etc/rc.conf daemons changes:
1) Change portmap to rpcbind
2) Change nfslock to nfs-common
3) Change nfsd to nfs-server

Extended configuration options for NFS (clients & server) are available in:
Please change them to your needs.


kernel 2.6.30 series moved to the [core] repository

Hi arch community,
The new 2.6.30 kernel series moved to the [core] repository

Upstream changes: here.

Arch Linux changes:
- removed the acpi-dsdt-initramfs.patch, there is no functional patch anymore available. If you need a custom dsdt, please compile it yourself into your custom kernel.
- removed snd-pcspkr module #14958
- added dccp #15071
- added SCHED_DEBUG=y
- changed to lzma kernel compression
- removed rt2500 module it is supported by in kernel drivers now


New module-init-tools changes modprobe configuration file location

The new module-init-tools 3.8 package changes the location of the configuration file: /etc/modprobe.conf is no longer read, instead /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf is used. Files in /etc/modprobe.d without a .conf suffix will be ignored in the future.

Please adjust your local configuration files after the update.


Update on Misuse of Arch Linux Logo

After publishing the article discussing a misuse of our old logo in the June Newsletter, I received an unexpected e-mail from the operator of the company in question. He has made a formal apology and has removed the logo from his website. We thank him for his compliance and wish him well in designing a new logo to represent his company.

Apparently he received several vulgar and threatening e-mails in response to this issue. I am very disappointed that this has occurred; The Arch Linux community prides itself on its friendliness, among other things, and individuals who identify themselves as members should be above this sort of behavior. I did not intend to motivate such actions, and I hope that those responsible will act more maturely in the future.

Arch Linux in the Media

Section by: Eduardo Romero

This month has gone by with no media reference to Arch Linux. In fact, this is strange, as it rarely happens. Arch Linux has had a boost in popularity that has been increasing month by month. Additionally, most of the reviews have been very positive about recommending Arch Linux to others. We take pride in that, and we try to make Arch Linux the best just for this purpose. We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy it in the way they want.

There have been a lot of factors contributing to the recent popularity of Arch Linux in the media. Although the newsletter has been around for a long time now, I relaunched it in October 2007. It has always been a good effort, but thanks to the awesome developers who helped me along the way and gave me motivation, we have made the newsletter an enjoyable and informative official Arch Linux project. This led to an increase in people reading about Arch Linux and its development, thus being interested in how we work and why we have such a passionate community.

Regardless of our personal opinions on other popular distributions, the birth of Ubuntu in October 2004 has helped the Linux community as a whole. The presence of such a user-friendly distribution has caused a chain reaction, bringing more people into the Linux fold. In time, some of the new Ubuntu users found that they needed more of a challenge and migrated to other, more challenging distributions. Thanks to a well placed section in the Ubuntu forums, some of these adventurers found their way to Arch.

Arch Linux in itself, being a top quality distribution, has been greatly applauded thanks to its rolling release approach and keep it simple philosophy. Since its beginnings, Arch Linux has maintained a belief that a distribution should not get in the way of its users. Unlike many distributions, we attempt to restrain from over-complicating the underlying OS by adding GUI applications to handle what can be handled through the command line. This, combined with a system that can be built to suit you specifically, are some of the factors that have made Arch Linux so popular in the last couple of months.


Section by: Eduardo Romero

Arch Linux Development News

  • Daniel Isenmann has taken upon himself the duty of maintaining the wicd package. As a result, he brought three new packages to extra in order to prepare wicd for the 1.6.0 release.
  • For those of us who are anxiously awaiting the release of the upcoming stable version of KDE, numbered 4.3, Andrea Scarpino has announced that the [kde-unstable] repository has been re-enabled. Something like the example below is what you will need to add to the top of your repositories in /etc/pacman.conf:
  • [kde-unstable]
    Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
  • Thomas Bächler has been hacking through mkinitcpio, fixing some bugs and instabilities. He reports on the changes.
  • Are you wondering what man-db is, why it runs a cron job daily, and why it produces a high system load when it does? Well, Thomas did as well.

Featured Interview - Andrea Scarpino

- Hi, Andrea, so good to have you for this interview. First, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit on how you came to become an Arch Linux developer?

Hi all, I am student at University of Bari (Italy). In fact, these days I am a bit inactive because I have exams to do. I have been using Linux since September 2005 and Arch Linux since June 2007, I tried more distros in this time: Mandriva, SuSE, Ubuntu, Slackware, Gentoo. So I tried Arch Linux and I find my peace of the senses. I became a Trusted User in March '08 (I must say thanks to Giovanni for this) and 9 months later Pierre was looking for help in KDE packaging, so here I am now.

- I take it you work on KDE packaging for the x86 architecture, can you tell us about your experience doing this job and why you choose KDE as your desktop environment?

I will be honest, KDE was not my first choice. When I first become a Dev I was a minimal user: awesome, ncmpc and weechat was enough. Even now, sometimes I prefer to use awesome on my laptop. But if you try KDE you may find it fast, comfortable and functional. Especially the last release, KDE 4.3, which is in [kde-unstable]. The KDE team did good work and Pierre did an awesome job with splitting packages.

- You also help James with netcfg, can you tell us a bit about that, and possibly mention some other contributions to Arch Linux?

I would like to give more help to James with netcfg, but unfortunately I can't at the moment. I have used netcfg ever since I started using Arch Linux and it is an awesome project. I sent some patches to AUR and I am currently working on two projects, PacBuilder and RepoMan, which some of you may know. I help on the BugTracker too.

- We would like to know if there is room for improvement in you area of work. If so, what are you planning to do?

First of all, I want to help Loui with AUR and if I have a little bit more free time I would like to contribute to pacman development.

- An interesting question comes to my mind. Is there any new technology, in general or for Linux, which you are looking forward to?

Hum...not really. I switched to ext4 only 6 days ago, but I like the development status of the Intel graphics driver and the recent improvements on the kernel.

- Andrea Scarpino, thanks for your time, as well as for your great work for Arch Linux. Is there anything else you want to tell the users?

Oh, I was waiting for the question about tacos!! KDE 4.3 rocks! Really, please try [kde-unstable] and report any problems. Have a good day and thanks to all. KISS.

Arch Linux Schwag Report

Section by: Eduardo Romero

Well, this is not normally my thing, but I will give the Arch Linux schwag report a shot. Thankfully, I have been updated by Dusty Phillips on the status of the stores run for Arch Linux funding.

Thanks to the community, the USB keys that we had left have been sold. This is in fact great news. They provide a great opportunity to spread the word about Arch Linux in a fashionable way.

Last month Dusty told us that the preorders for the Arch Linux branded laptop bags were not as good as expected. Still, the ones that were preordered have been ordered by Dusty and are ready to be shipped.

You can see the variety of Arch Linux laptop bags here. I have been checking them out and currently my favorite is this one. Still, there are a lot of great models to choose from, so go check them out!

I would also like to take the time to remind you that we have an awesome variety of merchandise at zazzle that is ever increasing and is doing quite well in sales. Also, remember the Arch Linux ring, pendant and ping, which are quite a fashionable way to show your support for Arch Linux. Thanks to all who have shown their continued support!

Community Highlights

Section by: Dan Griffiths

TU Corner

In Review

  • tntcoda announced the release of a Qt based Usenet client called Piven.
  • Allan released a nifty tool to help users find out just how much space an installed package really requires.
  • Xyne has suggested that there is something fishy about Arch Linux...

Center Stage

  • Despite his young age and the admittedly short period of time he has used Linux, one Archer has waded into the already crowded waters of language design. This might seem an unnecessary undertaking given the plethora of languages already available to the enterprising developer, but our intrepid Archer wasn't looking to change the current development standards. So why go through the hassle and headache of attempting to actually design and build a programming language? Because he could.

    After just a few short months with Linux, Peasantoid has already proven himself to be a competent Archer and skilled programmer. His current project, called punt, is a programming language written in pure C. While this fledgling language certainly isn't a danger to the big boys, punt's elegantly simple syntax is a welcome break from the clumsy design of the more mainstream languages. Built on the KISS philosophy (Keep It Simple, Stupid), punt is implimented through two components: an interpreter and a set of modules. This modular design keeps the codebase clean and concise as well as allowing users to streamline the system to their individual needs.

    So where does Peasantoid see punt going from here? While he doesn't expect punt to be a groundbreaking language by any means, he does believe it has the potential for widespread use in the future. Regardless of what the future holds, we wish Peasantoid and the punt development team the best of luck with their project. For more information on punt, check out its website or grab a copy of this month's Arch User Magazine for an exclusive interview with Peasantoid.

Tips and Tricks

Contributed by: Sam Harada

Building a kernel without initramfs

If you're an optimization freak, you've probably noticed how long it takes for your system to leave the "initial ramdisk" stage during bootup. Most, if not all distributions are initramfs-equipped by default. To get rid of this dependency, you will most likely need to compile your own kernel.

But first, some theory...

What is an initramfs, anyway?

An initramfs (or initial RAM filesystem), also known as initrd, is a temporary filesystem mounted by the kernel during the first stages of booting. It contains all the necessities to obtain access to the "real" filesystem (that is, the one on your hard drive). Note, however, that the process of mounting, utilizing, and unmounting the initramfs costs precious seconds. This time loss can easily be prevented by compiling all the necessary drivers directly into your kernel.

Compiling the kernel

I more or less followed the "kernel compilation from source" guide in the Arch Wiki the first time around, but a lot of it is unnecessary due to the fact that I compiled all the modules in. Here's a transcript of what I did (your mileage and/or needs may vary).

  • Download the kernel source from For version 2.6.x.x, use "v2.6" -- you get the idea.
  • Extract the tarball and cd to the newly created directory.
  • Make sure the source tree is in pristine condition.

    $ make mrproper

  • Configure the kernel. This process is too involved to go into here, but it is fairly intuitive.

    $ make menuconfig

    Note: 'menuconfig' is my personal preference. There are other front-ends available -- run `make help` for a complete list.

    When selecting options during the configuration process, make sure the checkbox is marked as '*' rather than 'M' if the option in question is an essential driver. 'M' means it will be compiled separately as modules, and you probably don't want that. Non-essential drivers (i.e. ones that would not be in an initramfs) can be left as 'M'.

    You may want to set a custom LOCALVERSION (in General setup > Local version) to differentiate the kernel from the standard one -- for example, '-rdless'.

    After you are done, save the configuration as .config.

  • Compile the kernel. this should be fairly simple.

    $ make bzImage

    This will generate a compressed kernel image, which takes up less space than a bare one (`make vmlinux`).

  • Compile and install any modules that were not marked as '*' during configuration.

    $ make modules && make modules_install

  • Copy the kernel image to an appropriate location and name. Mine is located at /boot/vmlinuz-rdless, but this is really just a personal preference.

    The kernel is located at arch/$ARCH/boot/bzImage ($ARCH being your architecture). Copy it to your boot partition as root.

    # cp arch/$ARCH/boot/bzImage /boot/vmlinuz-rdless

    Remember to replace $ARCH with your actual architecture.


You should now have a functioning, initramfs-less kernel! See your bootloader's documentation for information on how to actually set it up.

Expand your Knowledge

Section by: Eduardo Romero

Recover Deleted Linux Files With lsof

"A file in Linux is a pointer to an inode, which contains the file data (permissions, owner and where its actual content lives on the disk). Deleting the file removes the link, but not the inode itself - if another process has it open, the inode isn't released for writing until that process is done with it."

(Read the Rest)

Creating Queries in Base

"Queries are the database equivalent of filters in a spreadsheet. Just as a filter can limit and reorganize the information displayed in a spreadsheet, so a query limits and reorganizes the information in a database. Either can be an efficient way of finding the information you want, especially when you're dealing with thousands of records. Of course, in the hands of an expert, queries can be far more precise — and complicated — than a filter, but, if you are using Base, then the analogy generally holds true, although queries are slightly more complicated than filters to set up. When saved in Base for long term use, a query becomes a view."

(Read the Rest)

The Fun Section

Section by: Dan Griffiths & Eduardo Romero
  • An unsuspecting user recently left his computer logged in as root and left town! Check out a few suggestions as to what could be done about this monumental fail.
  • cactus reports of an unexpected sighting of the Arch Linux overlord.
  • And now, for the #archlinux fun:
Ingar> I take it you're all mostly in the lower 20's category of the
shrimants> 19 lol
Daenyth> 20 atm, 21 in a few months
Ingar> I'm 20 but in hex
mikegriffin> if a computer is to be used by me only, i use fluxbox. if it is
to have multiple users, it runs gnome
godling> so you hate other people?
grte> So, anyone know why kmix might only work for root, when the current
user is part of the audio group?
Daenyth> because kde is ktarded
s4msung> repo down?
Stythys> yeah
Stythys> someone decided to DDoS the server
Stythys> =/
s4msung> damn =\
s4msung> any mirrors active?
Stythys> not sure, check the list of mirrors on our wiki


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.