July 15, 2004

Cliff's List Filter - July 7 - 12

Author: Ian Palmer

Plenty of diamonds in the rough were found while digging through the lists this week. Here is a sampling of some of those precious nuggets: a new version of the Linux Test Project; fixes for a kernel fchown() vulnerability; KDE 3.3 beta 1; Mozilla and FireFox in the press; and more various tips for Balsa, GnomeMeeting and a Mozilla-based browser near you. We're currently data-mining the Linux Kernel, GNOME, KDE, and Mozilla lists. If you have further suggestions for lists that we can sift through, please let us know.

Linux Kernel

  • There are currently a variety of ways in which the Linux Kernel can be configured: a command-line interactive Q&A session (make config), a text mode menu (make menuconfig), and an X11 based menu (make xconfig), to name a few. Now another method is being introduced that uses a web browser. The method that works best varies greatly from person to person, so the more ways kernel configuration options can be presented to the user, the better. If you prefer web interfaces to any of the above methods listed, maybe this project is worth looking into.
  • The July release of the Linux Test Project was announced on July 7.
  • A recent vulnerability in the Linux fchown() function was reported to the Linux Kernel list on July 8 (originally reported on July 2, see link). Patches have since made it into the 2.4 and 2.6 source trees, but they may not appear in a released kernel, yet. If you have yet to patch your systems, you can find patches for this vulnerability, here.
  • Those of you following SATA technologies may be interested in the status report on SATA in the Linux Kernel that Jeff Garzik posted on July 8.
  • Martins Krikis announced the release of the Intel Software RAID driver v0.1.4 for Linux 2.4 on July 8.
  • Ingo Molnar attempted to address the reports of high latencies in the 2.6 Kernel series with a patch-set that implements voluntary preemption in the kernel, for the BitKeeper trees. That patch turned out to be a bit buggy, so an improved patch for vanilla Linux 2.6.7 was released. While it is still a bit early to tell, some users are reporting a trend toward better latencies with these improvements. If you are using Linux for audio work that is highly sensitive to latencies, you may want to try looking at this patch and testing it against some of your common workloads to see if performance improves. Those of you interested in testing latencies may also find this testing suite and its accompanying patches useful. This particular thread also sparked a lot of discussion on the list, so you may find it informative to go through the entire thing.
  • Developers working on Embedded Linux systems may be interested in an idea on speeding up the boot process (please note there is another patch with a better implementation). The basic idea is that a timing value can be given at kernel compile or boot time so that the kernel doesn't have to waste cycles computing it, which can shave hundreds of milliseconds off of the boot time. While this may not seem important for desktop users, this can be critical for an embedded system.
  • Randy Dunlap announced the release of kexec 2.6.7-v2 and kexec-tools-1.95 on July 9.
  • Testers of the NX (No eXecute) additions, recently added to Linux (which were mentioned
    last month
    ), have recently reported some regressions in kernel performance due to the changes. This sparked a veritable storm of patches in an attempt to fix the problem. If you've been following the NX support and have yet to try these patches, your best bet is to read this thread and apply the fixes that have come across this week. Another update on the NX front: John Richard Moser compiled a list of applications that may break with NX support, which may also be critical information for those of you testing these features.
  • Linus released the first release candidate for Linux 2.6.8 on July 11.
  • And finally, on the Linux Kernel front, Nick Warne announced his entry into the 1000-days club. That's 2 years, 9 months and 27 days (give or take a few hours) without a power outage or a reboot. Congratulations, Nick!


  • Balsa users who are following the 2.1 series might be interested in this discussion on Balsa 2.1.91. There was one helpful tidbit from this discussion that should probably relayed here, and that is that Balsa 2.1.91 may have problems reading form IMAP servers in threaded mode. If you can't see your IMAP mail in this version of Balsa, try switching to the "flat index", instead.
  • Owners of the Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000 who are having problems getting it to work in GnomeMeeting might want to apply these additions to their USB configuration to see if that does the trick and gets them up and running.
  • Reports have been coming across the GNOME Nautilus list about Samba share browsing being exceptionally slow. If you are suffering this problem, there may be a potential solution for you. Try it out and let the Nautilus developers know if it works for you.
  • One of the more controversial aspects of the latest GNOME desktop has been the introduction of the Spatial-mode desktop (as opposed to the more traditional browser-mode desktop that everyone is used to). Jamie McCracken has attempted to unify both models into a kind of hybrid mode in an exceptionally large change to Nautilus. While these changes may not make it into Nautilus as a whole, those of you who have problems with Spatial mode may want to give his changes a try. Please note that a later version of his patch, with more added UI enhancements, can be found here.
  • New feathers in the GNOME software cap that were hatched this week:
    • Planner 0.12, a project management application for GNOME, was released on July 8.
    • regexxer v0.8 was released on July 9. Regexxer is a user-friendly search and replace tool for the desktop.
    • A new bug fix for GTK+, GTK v2.4.4 was released on July 10.
    • Ole Laursen announced the release of v1.1 of the Hardware Monitor applet for GNOME, also on July 10.
    • Last but not least, Glom v0.8.7 was released on July 12. Glom is a graphical database designer written for GNOME and PostgreSQL.



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