Staff

  • Daniel Griffiths (Ghost1227) Contact - "Executive Editor"
  • Lucas Westermann - "Contributor"
  • Dusty Phillips - "Contributor"
  • Jared Henley - "Contributor"

Editors Desk

Another successful month, another issue of Arch Linux Magazine! Unfortunately time constraints kept this issue a little shorter than I would have liked, despite the incredible response from the community to my pleas last month. I would love to see similar response this and every other month. On the bright side, I got enough in the way of contributions this month to have a bit of extra content left over for future issues.

Enough about that... This month has been a great month for Arch, with the pending move of the new GNOME branch to [extra], the switch to .xz compression for all official repos, and a big update openssl (users of the [testing] repo probably shouldn't upgrade until the rebuilds are complete... lots of important packages depend on openssl... pacman for example).

For those of you who have been following the excapades on my personal homefront, life with an infant in the house is never easy. Between my son, Arch, and working two jobs I'm keeping busy (but don't worry, I'm not going to abandon my favorite community, you all mean too much to me). Before I let you all go read this months' issue, I want to throw out one more thank you to all the people who continue to contribute to ALM. If it wasn't for all of you, this would never be possible. For anyone who has or intends to contribute, please send me an email letting me know what you are interested in doing (writing, translating, graphics, etc), I'm trying to put together a list of our regulars for reference purposes.

I hope that all our readers enjoy this issue of Arch Linux Magazine, and I am looking forward to bringing you another great issue next month!

Daniel J Griffiths (Ghost1227) (On behalf of the Arch Linux Magazine Team)

Devland

  • For those of you who haven't noticed yet, official Arch packages (those downloaded from official repos) are now in .tar.xz format. This allows for much better compression, and as a result, faster downloads! (Read more)
  • This update doesn't directly affect the community as a whole, but it will have a pronounced effect on package quality in the long run. Packages maintainers are now parsed from the maintainer tag in the PKGBUILD, meaning that tracking down orphans is significantly easier! Why is this good? Easier to track down orphans means easier to find maintainers for orphans! (Read more)
  • Arch has lost a valuable asset! Longtime bug wrangler Gerardo Exequiel Pozzi (djgera) has resigned due to real life commitments. You're welcome back any time djgera! (Read more)
  • Chances are, you've already noticed, but in case any of you missed the update all comments on AUR were recently deleted. This was an unfortunate side effect of a much-requested update to the AUR website. Thanks to Loui's hard work, UTF8 encoding in comments now displays properly. Pre-existing comments will likely be restored as soon as they can be converted. (Read more)

Arch Linux Schwag Report

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips

The biggest news this month is that Arch Linux case badges are back in stock! The new stock has an updated laquered look to them, and look more professional than ever.

The badges were out of stock for months, and I ended up having a series of problems having them printed and shipped across the border. I apologize to everyone who had to wait up to three months for their order; I put badges available for preorder in early December and didn't ship until February. It wasn't my fault, strictly, but I shouldn't have put the preorder form up quite so early.

The Arch Linux laptop stickers have been selling incredibly well, I think I've already sold 3/4 of the stock I originally ordered. They're proving very popular and I'll try to keep a steady supply of them.

This month I would like to draw your attention to one of our earliest Arch Schwag offerings; Arch Linux Jewellery. The pendant/pin and ring are very elegant pieces that can prove your love of Arch with extreme style.

I didn't add any new products to the Zazzle Arch Linux shop since the last issue, mostly because nobody has sent me any suggestions. I will likely be going through existing offerings soon and removing items that are not selling well to make the store easier to browse. So make sure to get your novelty products before it's too late!

Community Contributions

  • Arch users DigitalKiwi and Ghost1227 have teamed up to bring you a revolutionary makepkg/libalpm wrapper. Unlike similar AUR helpers like yaourt, clyde doesn't wrap pacman but provides direct libalpm integration. This, combined with being written in Lua, allows for a massive spead increase over the alternatives! (Read more)
  • By now I'm sure everyone is familiar with the handful of screenshot information tools floating around the forums. However, Archer kittykatt has released another tool which just might have what it takes to beat out the competition. Why? Because unlike most of the alternatives, screenFetch is written in bash making it easily extensible by the average user! (Read more)
  • If you've been using Arch for a while, you've probably had to rebuild at least one package from ABS. Unfortunately, the process of finding the package in ABS, tweaking it to suit your needs, rebuilding and installing it can get quite tedious. Enter absent, an ABS handler written by JohannesSM64. Absent might be a simple script, but it shows a lot of promise! Check it out! (Read more)
  • Not a community contribution in the strictest sense, but definitely worth noting, long-time contributer Xyne has given his website a complete overhaul. Author of such gems as powerpill, mimeo, and obtheme, anyone who is using his repo [xyne-any] should read this thread and update accordingly. (Read more)
  • Another contribution from Peasantoid, FCM (File Change Monitor) is a simple application written in C that monitors file changes. Recently updated with an incorporation of inotify, FCM provides a simple, barebones solution to tracking changes in files of your choosing. (Read more)

Asus UL30A CULV Review

Contributed by Lucas Westermann

Not so long ago, I purchased myself a larger laptop after deciding that my netbook (a Samsung N110), while nice, wasn't quite suitable for my increased usage. After buying the netbook, my usage of portable devices increased considerably with work, articles, etc and my netbook just no longer was able to handle it, or was simply uncomfortable to type on for such extended periods of time. I decided on a nice 13.3" slim Asus UL30A CULV laptop with a reported "all-day" computing of 12 hours on a single charge. While I haven't experienced a 12 hour usage (unless I disable wireless, dim the screen, mute the speakers and so forth), I have steadily gotten 10 hours of life out of it in Windows, Arch Linux and Ubuntu. This is actually an increase of four hours over my netbook. I also get a fullsized keyboard and better graphics, making it much more suitable to my needs. For those interested in only my final opinion, see the conclusion for a quick sum-up.

My first impression was that the laptop looked a lot nicer than any that I owned before it (it's a silver brushed-metal on top, which makes it look and feel a bit sturdier than my netbook). While I can't say I have tested absolutely everything anyone would ever do on the laptop, I have tested all the things I usually do (web browsing, flash, openbox + xcompmgr, mpd, thunar/nautilus, and so forth) fairly extensively. The hardware in the laptop is recognized out-of-the-box by Arch Linux, allowing me to do an FTP installation over my WPA2-encrypted wireless network. The only issue I had (that I also had in Ubuntu when testing it) is that the webcam output is upside-down. This isn't really a problem for me, since I hardly use the webcam. If, however, you're one to use it a lot outside of cheese/photo purposes, you will need to find a different laptop, or find a solution that no one else seems to have found yet. Seeing as the webcam is only 0.3MP, I really doubt anyone was planning on using this laptop for heavy webcam usage in the first place, so it should be a non-issue for most. The Intel drivers work fine with the KMS and recognize the correct resolution.

As far as software goes, specifically window manager and compositing, everything works as you would expect. However, xcompmgr causes a strange refresh bug when using the one from extra. The problem is that during a refresh (often, but not always), there will be a large strip of static that shows up for a second or two, and then disappears. I haven't experienced the problem as much with xcompmgr-dana from AUR, but it does happen (most often when opening lots of new programs, or using a large number of transparent urxvt terminals). Also, I have had the occasional crash of compositing with xcompmgr-dana, which is solved by simply restarting it. One last thing to note (not sure if it's due to the laptop or configuration though) is that the new conky-lua won't display a cairo-created window properly. It showed up for me once, but ever since it's invisible. It also displays shadows under the window area, but that is probably the xcompmgr settings. Besides that, I haven't found any issues specific to my laptop when using auto-mounting in nautilus or thunar, firefox, flash, mpd, etc. There are a few issues I had that were caused by failing to add myself to the right group, but that was caused by doing too much at once. As for powersaving, I've found that my laptop offers me 10 hours of use easily under normal usage. "Normal" usage for me consists of the occasional flash video, lots of web browsing, chatting on Skype (no video calls), pidgin, IRC, ncmpcpp, and python and perl programming. However, if updating packages or doing something CPI-intensive, the battery life can dip below eight hours (as shown by the battery section of tint2). You probably won't do anything CPU-intensive for eight hours, but you never know. It can probably also be optimized by using extra rules in acpi's handler script, or using a stricter laptop-mode-tools configuration, but for me this is perfectly acceptable. If you're interested to know how well it works running full video on battery life, I have been able to get about 7.58 hours of video off it (mixture of flash video, .mkv videos and video podcasts). That should be plenty for most flights/road trips.

The other things people will generally be interested in are as follows:

  • Suspend/resume: works
  • Hibernate: untested
  • Wireless/ethernet: works
  • Bluetooth: works (using blueman)
  • Compiz: works
  • FN Keys: recognized and usable
  • Flash: works (HD+SD, HD is sluggish)
  • Microphone: untested

My overall opinion of this laptop is that it's a great buy if you plan on using a laptop on the go (and aren't picky about webcams). It is light, but still more powerful than a netbook, with a roomy keyboard. Also, you may need to spend some extra time fiddling with screen settings in order to avoid artifacts on refresh (although I didn't notice any problems with compiz). However, the problems I encountered are definitely not show-stoppers for most people and I would happily recommend this laptop (or any of its variants), without a seconds hesitation. If anyone has any specific questions regarding this laptop, email me at lswest34@gmail.com and I will do my best to answer any queries. Also, if you have any suggestions about the problems I mentioned above, email me an I will gladly try them out and write a how-to on them if they work. Please put "ALM" in the subject so I don't overlook the email!

ArchCon 2010

Contributed by: Dusty Phillips

For those that don't know, the first annual (well, it will be annual if it goes well!) Arch Linux Conference is currently being organized. We have several awesome speakers lined up, and the schedule is coming together nicely. This will be the first major gathering of Arch Linux user in North America, and the first time ever that Archers will be getting together independently of other Linux conferences. It is an historic event, don't miss it!

ArchCon 2010 will be hosted in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (because those of us organizing it are familiar with or live in the city). The conference will be held on July 22nd and 23rd, which is a Thursday and Friday. Semi-informal touristy/social events are being planned for the evenings and weekend. In addition, Deiter is coming all the way from Belgium and is planning on doing some touring in the area in the week preceding and/or following the conference. If you'd like to join him in a road trip, weigh in at the ArchCon Extra Activities Wiki.

For additional information and to view the list of available talks, check out the ArchCon 2010 blog. Then, once you're convinced you can't miss this epic Arch Linux event, head over to the registration site to register!

Desk Shots

Contributed by: Jared (Multixrulz)

Here is my current desk. It's a bit of a disaster, but somewhat better than when I had to work in a tent. You see, I'm travelling around Australia. Of course the computers had to come. The laptop is eight years old this May and runs Arch Linux, fully up to date. I find that incredible, since Windows XP was simply painful to use. My wife is using it to study a Masters and appreciates the fact that she hasn't had a meltdown due to software problems. It is rather pitiful to hear of the problems that classmates have though.

The desktop is housed in a box of my own design, so I can travel in the back of a ute over corrugated roads without getting trashed. At one point as we were leaving I was going to get a new laptop instead, but I couldn't find the features I wanted at a reasonable price, so along came the desktop. It does duty mostly for photographs (around 20,000 in 17 months of travel) and video, and you can see I'm capturing video when the photo was taken. It runs Arch Linux and has Windows XP for running the scanner (it had to be a Canon LiDE due to space constraints) and some PLC programming software.

Behind the PC is a scanner and an external hard drive that I use for backups. For offsite backup, I use a USB stick that stays in my wallet, and mail DVDs full of photos back to my parents. Finally, there's the 3G modem, which has kept us connected everywhere from the big cities to the outback in places you wouldn't even expect signal.

Closing

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 yourarticle for consideration.