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Fedora Weekly News Issue 173

Welcome to Fedora Weekly News Issue 173 for the week ending April 26th, 2009.

This week's issue starts with a welcome double dose of FedoraPlanet coverage, providing news and views from around the Fedora community. Our Ambassadors beat shares the LinuxFest Northwest experience. Developments covers the controversy over "PulseAudio: A Hearty and Robust Exchange of Ideas" and in Translation word comes of Fedora 11 Release Notes proofreading readiness. Configuration conflagration of Wacom graphics tablets is revealed in the Art beat. The Fedora Weekly Webcomic divines an unbreakable future. We're brought up to date with SecurityAdvisories for Fedora 9 and 10, and the Virtualization beat completes the issue with updates on virtualization status in Fedora, with specifics on a new libvirt 0.6.3 release, a new libguestfs 1.0.10 release, and KVM migration support in Fedora 11, to name but a few!

If you are interested in contributing to Fedora Weekly News, please see our 'join' page[1]. We welcome reader feedback:

FWN Editorial Team: Pascal Calarco, Oisin Feeley, Huzaifa Sidhpurwala

Planet Fedora

In this section, we cover the highlights of Planet Fedora - an aggregation of blogs from Fedora contributors worldwide.

Contributing Writer: Adam Batkin

The Planet Fedora beat recently took a short vacation, but is back this week fully refreshed. This issue not only contains posts from the past week, but also a few highlights from the preceding two weeks when there was no coverage.


Eric Christensen announced[1] a new policy for deleting pages on the Fedora Project Wiki.

Martin Sourada chronicled[2] a few of the many features that can be expected with the upcoming Fedora 11 (Leonidas): Intel Kernel Mode Setting, faster boot times, better USB camera support, touchpad improvements (and a new tab within the Mouse Preferences applet), PackageKit interface updates, the use of Presto to shrink updates downloads (which could use some additional testing[3], for anyone interested) and more. And with the release of the Synaptics 1.1 driver, Peter Hutterer described[4] some of its new features, including additional details about multi-touch support.

Seth Vidal analyzed[5] the Source RPMS that make up various Fedora releases since F7 to find the average number of patches per RPM. Happily, the numbers have been slowly but steadily decreasing.

Silas Sewell demonstrated[6] funcshell a new project to build a shell interface around func with all of the features expected of a shell including tab completion, persistent history and integrated help.

Josh Boyer mused[7] over "The updates conundrum" and the often larger than expected number of updates in released Fedora versions. "When I see a package update submitted that just takes a package to the latest upstream release, I always question it in my head (and sometimes in the update). I realize that upstream releases often fix bugs that effect users, however the update should say that at a minimum and it generally doesn't. Many times there is an update like this that seems to just be 'because it's the newest!'"

Luis Villa questioned[8] whether it might make sense to have a full-time QA person for Xorg with costs shared across some of the many contributor organizations.

Marc Ferguson shared[9] an Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" parody in which Abbott attempts to purchase a computer from Costello.

Venkatesh Hariharan wrote[10] an article that appeared in Network Computing's India edition, titled "Reaping the benefits of open source".

Lubomir Rintel scripted[11] a set of bash functions to automatically label terminal windows (and tabs).

Matthew Daniels summarized[12] his experiences at POSSCON2009 (Palmetto Open Source Software Conference) in which a number of interesting and prominent people spoke including Red Hat's CIO, Lee Congdon, among others.

Amit Shah re-evaluated[13] the performance of a number of Linux filesystem and option combinations.


In this section, we cover Fedora Ambassadors Project.

Contributing Writer: Larry Cafiero

Fedora first at LinuxFest Northwest

Fedora was on hand for the LinuxFest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington, USA, on Saturday and Sunday, and Fedora was "first" insofar as it was the first booth for folks come to when they entered the hall at Bellingham Technical College.

Saturday was a busy day for Fedora at LinuxFest Northwest. Larry Cafiero gave a presentation before the Fedora Activity Day, which drew about 30 people. The FAD at LFNW revolved around three different projects: The 4th Grade Math Project for OLPC, an F11 bug fest, and general Fedora questions-and-answers. The flexibility of the event was its strength, and its weakness was the timing, so while it was overall a success, there were still a few bugs in the FAD system.

Karsten Wade gave his "Participate or Die" talk on Saturday afternoon -- a talk that is destined for a keynote at some fortunate Linux festival (Open Source World missed out by denying it, pity). On Sunday, Jesse Keating gave two presentations today -- sneak-peeking at F11 and Modular Infrastructure Design with Messaging (the official name) -- and sandwiched between them was Clint Savage's Fedora Remix gig.

A significant amount of buttons, media and stickers were given out, as well as some T-shirts for the Fedora faithful.

Got Ambassador News?

Any Ambassador news tips from around the Fedora community can be submitted to me by e-mailing lcafiero-AT-fedoraproject-DOT-org and I'd be glad to put it in this weekly report.


In this section the people, personalities and debates on the @fedora-devel mailing list are summarized.

Contributing Writer: Oisin Feeley

Fedora 10 Packages in dist-f11

Kalev Lember drew attention[1] to the issue of .fc10 packages ending up in rawhide by error during the freeze. Kalev worried that he had done something wrong to make the rawhide composes pull .fc10 rpms from the Fedora 10 stable-updates repository.

Josh Boyer thanked Kalev for identifying the issue and explained that it was an error due to koji tag inheritance. Jesse Keating added[2] that his efforts to ease tag requests had forgotten to take tag inheritance into account but that he would fix this shortly.

Bugzilla Passwords

Another thread about bugzilla (see also this FWN#173 "FOSS Needs a Central Bugtracker" and "Fedora Bugtracker Independent from Red Hat?") concerned[1] itself with the automated requirement to change to a new user password. Felix Miata was upset that he could not use previous passwords: "If you won't let me choose my password, I have no use for you. I have too many systems and web browsers to use and too many places that need passwords for any site to decide I can't use my choice of password [...] I've changed banks over lesser stupidities."

Matthias Saou and Ian Weller suggested[2] a dirty work-around. Konstantin Ryabitsev suggested[3] using supergenpass[4]. Basil Mohamed Gohar and Adam Williamson liked[5] the GNOME combination of Password Generator and Revelation.

After some questioning of the motivations and need for such password changes Jesse Keating rationalized[6] regular password changes a little sarcastically: "There is a theory that changing passwords on a regular bases lessens the risk of somebody's password being stolen and used nefariously. Depending on the account compromised the damage increases from nuisance to legally damaging[...]" and suggested that a more worthwhile discussion would be "[...] whether or not the pains we hit here are worth the pains we'd encounter by running our own instance of bugzilla."

This questioning started[7] to hone-in on the idea that the changes were done mainly to fulfil Red Hat business requirements and Adam Williamson reminded[8] the list that there was "[...] a plausible case that doesn't involve Red Hat data - not-yet-public security issues - was subsequently cited. Even if we split Fedora bugzilla from Red Hat bugzilla, it'll still contain sensitive data."

PulseAudio: A Hearty and Robust Exchange of Ideas

Executive summary: a long flamewar resulted in at least three things: 1)the original problem over how to individually control volumes on the "Master" and "PCM" channels was solved[1]; 2)a subsidiary problem of a graphical control allowing selection of the input device was rectified by re-packaging the old gnome-alsamixer[2]; 3)tension between the Desktop team, FESCo, the Board and everyone else was increased. Read on only if you must.

A long, multi-thread flamewar over the (dis)advantages of the new VolumeControl (more specifically gnome-volume-control) applet in Fedora 11 smoked and crackled. The gnome-volume-control applet provides a highly simplified interface to the PulseAudio[3] sound server, itself a source of contention for some time. The extent of this simplification contrasted to the old volume-control applets which talked directly to ALSA and exposed all the details of a card was emphasized[4][5] in screenshots of the "Alsa-Mixer-O-Doom" posted by Dave Jones and Will Woods. A bugzilla filed[6] by Adam Williamson explains that hiding the mixer channels makes it difficult to handle many scenarios which require the adjustment of specific mixer channels in order to achieve basic sound functionality.

Although there has been prolonged sniping at PulseAudio for some time this week's dispute seemed more unpleasant and prolonged than many. Its tangled, sprawling mess eventually drew in FESCo and flung its tendrils into issues of whether FESCo should dictate UI design and the possible reversion[7] of the entire "VolumeControl" feature[8][9], and whether FESCo had[10] jurisdiction over what went into the Desktop spin.

The first thread started[11][12] in Callum Lerwick's request for information on how to adjust volume informations on individual channels. He explained that he was hooking a second computer up to the "line-in" to share speakers and needed to adjust the PCM volume. Bastien Nocera thought[13] that Callum's use case was esoteric and would not be accomodated. He suggested using PulseAudio over the network instead. A later report by Joonas Sarajärvi suggested[14] this should be possible.

Things went downhill from then on when Callum asked[15] for "[...] an option to get the old damn panel applet back [or] at least a secret gconf key to do what I want?" and characterized the Volume Control applet as "immature". Bastien's response was[16] that the applet had been described for over a year on the wiki and he suggested the GConf was not of use because the volume control worked at the level of PulseAudio and not ALSA. Lennart Poettering also suggested[17] that using

alsamixer -c0

on the command-line would provide the level of control desired for those who wanted "pretty exotic feature[s and] weird stuff like [playing audio through line-in]." Many insults were exchanged[18]. Kevin Kofler helpfully responded[19] to Callum Lerwick's complaint that Pidgin alert sounds exploded his speakers with the suggestion that he edit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf to

flat-volumes = no

Following suggestions from Lennart and Kevin Kofler success was finally achieved[20][21] in loading the alsa-sink module so that the PCM volume could be controlled.

Elsewhere in this thread Lennart provided several high-level overviews of how sound should be handled on a desktop including obsoleting playing audio CDs via the classic "analog" path[22]

A question from Andreas Thiemann asked how it came about that while his sound volume was acceptable with the MS Windows software mixer set to 75% and the physical speaker volume set to 50% he needed to set all of the physical volume, gnome-volume-control and the PCM volume (via an ALSA mixer) to 100% to achieve similar volumes on GNU/Linux. Lennart explained[23] that this was due to insufficient information in the alsa mixer init database and that patches to this database from anyone needing to manually fix their settings would be very useful. Apparently "[...] unning alsamixer -c0 alsa will remember [the fixed settings] and hence [users] never get annoyed by [sound problems] anymore so they don't remember to post [these patches to the database.]" Lennart expanded[24][25] on how to generate such patches to alsa-utils' /lib/alsa/init/hda. Adam Williamson worried[26] that the roots of this specific problem lay elsewhere.

The aforementioned database suggested[27][28] to David Woodhouse a need for a way for users to manually tweak their sound settings for the inevitable cases in which the database lacked (or contained inaccurate) information on specific hardware. David also explained[29] that the new VolumeControl applet was not yet ready for prime-time in his opinion.

The thread was summarized[30] beautifully by Fernando Lopez-Lezcano as an infinite loop.

A second thread was started by Dimi Paun in which he bemoaned[31] some unspecific problems with sound in Fedora 11. This was met with mixed anecdotal statements confirming or denying the general assertion and a request for specific bugzilla entries.

A third thread was initiated[32] by Adam Williamson. He proposed "[...] in the spirit of light rather than heat [to] include by default an alternative GUI app which allows direct access to the mixer channels. This won't be an applet or anything else persistent, just an application that you can choose to run if you need that level of access[.]" It should be noted that this proposal addressed a different problem to the one expressed by Callum Lerwick (solved as noted above by poking around at ALSA), instead it addressed some of the other relatively frequent complaints.

By this time tempers were very frayed and although there was strong agreement that this temporary, stop-gap measure was a good compromise for Fedora 11 there were plenty of histrionics. Jesse Keating 's suggestion that the alternative GUI application contain "some text [...] that instructs people to file bugs [so] we can capture the use cases that the default mixer is missing and help the developers better target things" was dismissed[33] by Olivier Galibert Olivier asserted that Lennart would not fix such bugs: "You may not have noticed, but when people indicate a case that is seemingly not supported by PA[1], politely and everything, the answer by the main PA developer is either one or both of don't use PA then' or your use case is rare and uninteresting and won't be supported'." David Woodhouse reinforced[34] the point and argued that too many bugs were closed by PulseAudio developers as WONTFIX. Adam Williamson returned[35] to his central point which was that "[...] new g-v-c has no way to select the input device. If the default does not happen to be the one you actually want to record from, you're stuck. The rest of the cases discussed have really been either bugs or corner cases and I'm not too concerned about those, the bugs will be fixed and we shouldn't worry about corner cases too much. Input switching is the biggie, and it is not a legacy use case', it is half of the functionality of any sound adapter. Lennart has acknowledged this as a missing feature that will be added in the F12 timeframe, which is why I've already said that as long as that happens - and most of the the slider doesn't really control my volume' bugs are fixed - I'd be happy for the alternative mixer not to be installed by default from F12 on."

Lennart responded[36] to arguments from Kevin Kofler and David Woodhouse that the new gnome-volume-control was too simplified with an assertion that most current soundcards offloaded signal processing to CPUs with MMX and SSE extension. This, he argued, meant that "the only controls that are really necessary are NOT those which control signal processing but those which control routing."

Towards the end of all this FESCo held its weekly meeting and the IRC logs[37] contain a full record of what KevinFenzi's "FESCo Meeting Summary for 2009-04-24" handily summarizes as: "Long and contentious discussion about concerns with the VolumeControl feature. FESCo decided to get gnome-alsamixer packaged and added to the default desktop live/install spins to allow users whos use cases are not covered currently by VolumeControl to have a GUI way to adjust mixer settings. Hopefully this will be dropped/revisited in F12." David Woodhouse described[38] this as a compromise about which he had serious reservations.

Christopher Aillon expressed[39] unhappiness with post-freeze changes and cited the unhappy example of Codeina. Jesse Keating refuted[40] the comparison as "[...] a compromise for the sake of F11 was reached, one that doesn't require any changes to existing software, only the addition of one package. Comparing it to the Codina fiasco isn't exactly fair."

An insightful discussion about the relationship between the "desktop spin" and the "default spin" was conducted between Paul W. Frields[41], Toshio Kuratomi[42] and others. KevinFenzi and Adam Williamson did not[43] agree with Paul that the functionality provided by gnome-alsamixer was "bit-twiddling" and saw it instead as basic and frequently desired.

As of going to press personal abuse of Lennart Poettering continued unabated.


Re-starting udev

Following a security flaw in udev[1] for which patches were[2] quickly made available "Dennis J." asked[3]: "What is the proper procedure to update infrastructure components like udev or hal without rebooting the machine? udev for example doesn't have an init script." Dennis pointed out that with virtualization becoming more common reboots of host machines are something which it would be nice to avoid.

M.A. Young provided[4] the information that udevd is started from /etc/rc.d/rc.sysint and can be restarted with:


Fedora Bug-tracker Independent from Red Hat ?

Basil Mohamed Gohar asked[1] for constructive criticism of a proposal which would result in the Fedora Project community hosting its own bugzilla instance. Basil attempted to provide some guidelines for the discussion.

Although several participants admitted that it would be nice if bugzilla were faster Will Woods identified[2] resource constraints which rendered the discussion pointless: "This discussion is moot unless you can find someone with the manpower, hardware, bandwidth, and expertise to maintain such a bug tracker - 24/7/365 - for the entire Fedora community. So far we've identified *one* organization willing to do that - Red Hat's Bugzilla team. Unless you've got someone else who can commit to that, there's really nothing else to discuss."

A practical disadvantage pointed[3] out by Mike McGrath of implementing Basil's scheme was that currently users of Fedora, Red Hat and CentOS only need to go to a single place to file bugs.

Matēj Cepl ranted[4] a little when Basil approved of the "FOSS Needs a Central Bugtracker?" thread (see this same FWN#173). Matej quoted[5] Alan Cox's essay advising how to "Beware We should', extend a hand to How do I?'".

FOSS Needs a Central Bugtracker ?

Markg85 started[1] a longish thread in which he proposed to start a single FOSS bugtracker for "[the] top 10 major foss distributions for now i think[.]"

David Woodhouse thought[2] that OpenID might be simpler, but wondered what sort of bugs would be filed by people without the attention-span to register for an account with each bug tracker. Colin Walters also suggested[3] on focusing on less universal solutions and proposed "[...] more tractable, incremental problem to take on that would get us closer to what you want, consolidating project hosting would be a good start. For example, I'm very much against developers hosting projects on e.g. some old Trac instance on their personal vserver, for many reasons, among them that if at some later time they get bored or whatever, the server goes down and with it a lot of useful data."


This section covers the news surrounding the Fedora Translation (L10n) Project.

Contributing Writer: Runa Bhattacharjee

Fedora 11 Preview Release Notes Proof-reading

John J. McDonough announced[1] the availability of the built version of the Fedora 11 Preview Release Notes for proof-reading. These notes would be available until Fedora 11 GA.

Fedora 11 User Guide f11-tx Branch Available

The f11-tx branch of the Fedora 11 User Guide is now available at for translation submissions[1][2].

New Members in FLP

JoseRoberto (Brazilian Portuguese)[1], Pavel Lobach (Russian)[2], Sergey Danilov (Russian)[3], and Martin Zehetmayer (German)[4] joined the Fedora Localization Project this week.


In this section, we cover the Fedora Artwork Project.

Contributing Writer: Nicu Buculei

Cleaning the Queue

This week some fresh blood started to help in cleaning the requests queue[1] of the Art team, with Israel Rodríguez Alonso proposing[2] a design[3] for "4foundations Flags", Daniel Martinez Sarta trying[4] a T-shirt[5] and some other newcomers still trying to get heir feet wet.

Graphic Tablets

Israel Rodríguez Alonso's efforts[1] to configure a Wacom graphic tabled, solved with Martin Sourada advice[2] of using the pre-built binaries "why do you try to install the linuxwacom software (and from prebuilt binaries instead of recompiling them first) when there is linuxwacom package available" drove Paul W. Frields to ask[3] for a recommendation "I want to buy a drawing tablet, preferably something very well supported in Fedora and using USB. I'm assuming Wacom is the way to go, but I'm not sure which model to get, and I'm open minded as long as I know it's solid and works well with Fedora" and Máirín Duffy shared[4] her experience "I've always had luck with the Wacom graphire series. They're quite affordable, [...]. For years now they just work out-of-the-box, and if you want pressure-sensitivity, it's just a little more configuration".

Fedora Weekly Webcomic

This week something unbreakable is prophesied.[1]


Security Advisories

In this section, we cover Security Advisories from fedora-package-announce.

Contributing Writer: David Nalley

Fedora 10 Security Advisories

Fedora 9 Security Advisories


In this section, we cover discussion on the @et-mgmnt-tools-list, @fedora-xen-list, and @libvirt-list of Fedora virtualization technologies.

Contributing Writer: Dale Bewley

Fedora Virtualization List

This section contains the discussion happening on the fedora-virt list.

New Release libguestfs 1.0.10

Richard Jones announced[1] release 1.0.10 of Package-x-generic-16.pnglibguestfs[2].

Born only a couple of weeks ago(FWN#171[3]), libguestfs has progressed very far very fast. The package is currently being reviewed[4] for inclusion the Fedora repo.

"libguestfs is a library for accessing and modifying guest disk images. Amongst the things this is good for: making batch configuration changes to guests, getting disk used/free statistics (see also: Package-x-generic-16.pngvirt-df), migrating between virtualization systems (see also: virt-p2v), performing partial backups, performing partial guest clones, cloning guests and changing registry/UUID/hostname info, and much else besides."

Features in 1.0.10 include:

  • bindings for: C, C++, Perl, Python, OCaml, Ruby, Java and shell scripting
  • KVM support
  • QEMU binary is completely configurable at compile & runtime
  • ext4 support
  • support for uploading and downloading arbitrary-sized files
  • support for uploading and downloading tar and tar.gz content
  • support for querying size of block devices, setting r/o
  • support for reading ext2/3 superblocks
  • stat, lstat, statvfs commands
  • commands to mount filesystems read-only
  • run arbitrary commands from the guest
  • file(1) command
  • readline in guestfish with history and tab completion
  • guestfish 'edit' command
  • big documentation improvements, including more on the internals
  • pkgconfig file

Richard posted some example uses[5] of the libguestfs command line tool called guestfish.

Only libvirt Bug Fixes in updates-testing

Daniel Berrange described "introducing major new features into the stable release stream" as a problem[1] and switch to "a pretty strong bugfix only policy..." Mark McLoughlin announced[2] that this has now happened:

  • Package-x-generic-16.pnglibvirt 0.6.1 has been unpushed from F9 and F10 updates-testing
  • The latest version available in F9 and F10 updates is 0.5.1
  • We do not expect to push new versions to F9 and F10, only bug fix updates for 0.5.1

The rapid speed of Fedora releases every 6 months can not keep up with the lightning fast libvirt releases happening every month[3]. To gain access to the new features and technologies offered by these new releases, Mark offers "We are still planning on setting up a 'preview' repository where the latest versions of virt packages from rawhide will be available to Fedora stable release users".

In the meantime Daniel Veillard posts[4] a src rpm with each release[5] and "I also build binaries rpms for the flavour of the day I run on my workstation which is why you will find signed binaries too for F9 x86_64".

Fedora Virtualization Status Report

Mark McLoughlin provided[1] another excellent round up of the latest bugs and developments with virtualization in Fedora.

Fedora Xen List

This section contains the discussion happening on the fedora-xen list.

Dom0 Kernel Not Before 2.6.31

The upstream Xen dom0 work done by Jeremy Fitzhardinge was recently cleaned up and reorganized[1] into two branches:

Michael Young built[2] a new experimental dom0 kernel version 2.6.30- "based on the Fedora devel kernel branch and [the] xen-tip/next branch from the pvops kernel repository." An RPM of this kernel may be found in Michael's yum repo[3].

Michael also drew attention to the fact that "very few xen patches made it into 2.6.30, just bugfixes and tidy ups, so we are waiting at least until 2.6.31[4] for mainline dom0 support."

Libvirt List

This section contains the discussion happening on the libvir-list.

New Release libvirt 0.6.3

Daniel Veillard announced[1] a new Package-x-generic-16.pnglibvirt release, version 0.6.3.

"The main points are the VirtualBox driver and a number of bug fixes." Read the post for details of other changes.

New features:

  • VirtualBox driver support (Pritesh Kothari)
  • virt-xml-validate new command (Daniel Berrange)


  • add SCSI storage rescan (David Allan)
  • rootless LXC containers support improvements (Serge Hallyn)
  • getHostname support for LXC (Dan Smith)
  • cleanup and logging output of some domain functions (Guido Gunther)
  • drop pool lock when allocating volumes (Cole Robinson)
  • LXC handle kernel without CLONE_NEWUSER support (Serge Hallyn)
  • cpu pinning on defined Xen domains (Takahashi Tomohiro)
  • dynamic bridge names support (Soren Hansen)
  • LXC use of private /dev/pts when available (Daniel Berrange)
  • virNodeDeviceCreateXML and virNodeDeviceDestroy entry points (Dave Allan)

Daniel Veillard followed the announcement with a roadmap [2] suggesting "a new release around May 25, which would mean entering code feature freeze around May 18". Version 0.6.2 was released April 3rd (FWN#170[3]).

KVM Migration Support in F11

Abhishek Jha [1] "needed to know if libvirt supports migration via the QEMU/KVM driver. ( virDomainMigrate)".

Daniel Berrange answered[2] "Yes it is supported in KVM >= 79, or QEMU >= 0.10.0 and libvirt 0.6.0 IIRC." With the latest version of Package-x-generic-16.pnglibvirt available for Fedora 10 being 0.5.1, this means migration of KVM guests will not be supported in Fedora until F11 comes out next month.[3]

"ALso note that successful migration depends on the hardware config of your guest. In theory any config should work, but in practice there have been bugs in the device state save/restore process of various types of device. So test your particular VM config successfully migrates before relying on it in production."