CentOS Pulse #0902 - 16 June 2009

This issue of CentOS Pulse looks at the Artwork SIG, desktop multimedia capabilities and interesting threads in the CentOS community. An overview of the important security updates and upcoming events are included as well.

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1. Foreword

Our first issue still feels fresh, as if it was yesterday, still today's another Tuesday with a second newsletter release to brighten your day.

It is a fact that throughout the Linux world, CentOS is known as the community Enterprise Linux: a free rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux with the community support and long-term (7 years!) of security updates. And while most of the CentOS users install CentOS on servers, only a subset of those users realize that CentOS is a perfect fit for the desktop.

Why ?

Because most desktop users rely on a stable and dependable environment and use a computer as a tool. And while technical computer users (like you ?) often want to see what the latest developments are in the Open Source world, non-technical end-users need a computer, and environment, that doesn't change too often. Or rather stays the same as long as possible. As a maintainer of such desktop systems, one does not want to inflict change on the end-user if there is no dire need. Unfortunately all bleeding-edge distributions by nature require change every 6 or 12 months which doesn't fit with what end-users really want or expect.

And while your editor considers himself to be quite technical, even he prefers a desktop that, once configured to work a certain way, continues to work reliably so he can focus on the important things in life: this newsletter.

Because of the importance of Linux on the desktop we will report on CentOS on the desktop in our future newsletters. Today we start by looking what is needed for activating multimedia capabilities on CentOS. We know many of you are also interested in enabling specific hardware on CentOS, but we reserved that topic for a future newsletter, just so that you stay focused :-)

I hope you enjoy what you read this time again,

DagWieers -- Editor ad interim

2. Announcements

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2.1. CentOS Pulse #0901 and centos-newsletter mailing list

We are not very keen on self-references (we hate infinite loops as much as the next guy) but we will do this only once, I promise ! On 2 June 2009 the first issue of the new CentOS Pulse newsletter initiative was made. For this reason a new mailing list was created to announce new newsletters to those who wish to be informed.

If you don't want to miss our future newsletter issues, you may want to subscribe to the centos-newsletter mailing list now, like the 700 subscribers that already did.

The official announcement is available at: http://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2009-June/015955.html and the newsletter already appeared on various Linux news sites on the Internet.

3. Featured Articles

This Newsletter section is the future location to provide the CentOS community with information about the CentOS project. We hope to provide you here with answers to questions related to projects, people and the future of CentOS. Please tell us what subjects and questions need clarification, so we can get the answers either in the form of an interview, or as an article.

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3.1. CentOS Artwork SIG

The Artwork SIG aims to make CentOS an attractive and visually unique Linux distribution. To achieve these goals several mockups for each CentOS release are created, followed by a selection and improvement process to offer a final, solid artwork release.

The Artwork SIG has it's own Trac Infrastructure on projects.centos.org, containing a wiki and subversion.

Due to this open organizational structure of the SIG, the complete development process is transparent and decision are taken in close communication with the core team and the community. The SIG plans a new design concept for every CentOS major version (on CentOS 5.x it's called TreeFlower). All changes within a minor version (e.g. 5.3) will be based on the associated major release.

The artwork is tested on different resolutions and brightness levels but also in monochrome to see if the artwork is contrasting enough for people with color-blindness. Each artwork is shown in the corresponding Theme section on the wiki.

Besides release artwork, a consistent "CentOS style" which can be used on the website, flyers, shirts, stickers and everything else is in development.

If you are a talented designer or just want to help translating slides, get in touch with one of the members and take a look at the Artwork HowTos.

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3.2. Enabling multimedia on CentOS

Popular media content nowadays is delivered in standard formats that are not free to implement, or when implemented in Open Source are "tainted" by the risk of being patent-encumbered. In some of those cases implementing a player of those formats requires a license from the patent-owner.

This is a real problem in certain areas of the world, but not everywhere. Now, vendors often use the lowest common denominator when implementing a solution they sell worldwide, and try to minimize the risk by doing so. Likely this is also a motivation for Red Hat to exclude DVD support, MP3 support and support for other media formats, but Red Hat's main concern is by providing support for these formats they actively help promote these closed and proprietary formats.

This is an honorable position and one that is hard to ignore. Now a lot of newly converted Linux users are in a position where they already have content that suddenly is not supported by their Linux distribution of choice. If your choice would be CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) you may be in this same situation and you are looking for a solution.

The most common solution for CentOS and RHEL is RPMForge and the CentOS wiki has plenty of information on how to enable functionality that is missing or disabled by default. Today we focus on setting up RPMforge and installing media codecs and viewers.

Configuring your CentOS to use RPMforge is explained in the Installing RPMforge wiki document. This document not only explains how to install RPMforge, but also explains how to protect ("prioritize") your system packages from not being replaced by packages from any extra repository. This is done by a plugin called "priorities".

Once RPMforge is enabled, you are ready to start installing the codecs and tools you need, and How to setup multimedia on CentOS-5 explains in great detail what packages are required for the broadest support possible. Then it's up to you to install one of the media-players you prefer:

Package

Description

vlc

VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

xine

Xine is a free multimedia player. It plays back CDs, DVDs, and VCDs. It also decodes multimedia files like AVI, MOV, WMV, and MP3 from local disk drives, and displays multimedia streamed over the Internet.

mplayer

MPlayer is a movie player which runs on many systems (see the documentation). It plays most MPEG/VOB, AVI, Ogg/OGM, VIVO, ASF/WMA/WMV, QT/MOV/MP4, RealMedia, Matroska, NUT, NuppelVideo, FLI, YUV4MPEG, FILM, RoQ, PVA files, supported by many native, XAnim, and Win32 DLL codecs. You can watch VideoCD, SVCD, DVD, 3ivx, DivX 3/4/5, WMV and even H.264 movies.

The default file browser nautilus also supports various codecs by use of the gstreamer infrastructure and will automatically create thumbnails for movies and pictures. Other tools can be installed using yum or apt.

If you have additional questions, improvements or feedback, feel free to let us know on one of the CentOS communication channels, see our Wiki documentation.

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Geerd-Dietger Hoffmann

4. Community Threads

This section of the Newsletter dives into interesting contributions inside the CentOS community. We make the distinction between contributed documentation on the Wiki, support-related contributions on the mailing lists and forums and development-related topics on centos-devel.

We need hints from the community to find these interesting threads as well as to contribute on reporting different viewpoints, summaries and insights.

4.1. What to do when your system is 0wned ?

User "Linux Advocate" reported in thread "Centos 5.3 -> Apache - Under Attack ? Oh hell...." that he suspected his system was under attack after he found many processes named "atack" running as apache on his machine. The immediate advice that followed was to take to machine off the net right away and wipe it. A lot of interesting takes of various people made this thread an interesting view on what is required when your system is taken over.

4.2. How can I view .docx files?

Compatibility with Windows is always an issue as seen in the thread OT: Viewer for .docx M$ WORD files?. Proposed solutions included running OpenOffice 3.1, Zoho Reader, unzipping the file and stripping out the XML which of course results in a loss of all formating, which was not perfect in any case.

4.3. 5.3 random reboots

A thread describing random reboots was started by "Peter Hopfgartner" Random server reboot after update to CentOS 5.3 when using XEN on a Dell Poweredge server. After some discussion it turned out that using the 5.2 kernel solved the issue and that further investigation was needed.

4.4. Programming language madness

"Rudi Ahlers" started a thread asking which programming language he should learn for server side programming. As you would expect everyone had their own opinion but strong points where made for PHP, Python, ruby and even C++.

4.5. Wiki mugshot proposal and new HomepageTemplate

Most activity on the Wiki was related to improving existing documentation, but one proposal to standardize mugshots on personal pages caused some activity on personal pages again. The new HomepageTemplate was designed so people could display their involvement in the project and the new Team page (which was under construction for some time but finally was linked from the About page).

The aim for the mugshots, standardized personal pages and the Team page is to identify contributors, improve the sense of community as well as have an easy way to credit people for their work. And being able to see how your CentOS colleagues look like is fun too !

Geerd-Dietger Hoffmann

5. Tip Of The Newsletter

This will be a section in which tips and useful programs will be introduced. If you have a good tip or know of a really good program that you want everyone to know about send us a mail.

This week we will introduce the package-cleanup tool that can be found in the yum-utils package. This tool was mentioned on the mailing list by "Frank Cox".

package-cleanup is a tool that, as the name states, removes locally installed packages (RPMs). Useful features include listing packages that are not installed from configured repositories, listing dependency problems and of course the option to remove unused old kernels that clutter up the grub prompt and are rarely used if the system works fine with the current kernel. It is worth reading the man page and seeing for yourself if it includes features you are interested in.

Geerd-Dietger Hoffmann

6. Jokes and Funny Stuff

6.1. Always end a loop

A programmer had been missing from work for over a week when finally someone noticed and called the cops.

They went round to his home and broke the door down. They found him dead in the still running shower with an empty bottle of shampoo next to his body. Apparently he'd been washing his hair.

The instructions on the bottle said:

Wet hair
Apply shampoo
Wait 2 minutes
Rinse
Repeat

source

6.2. "\0"

Two strings walk into a bar and sit down. The bartender says, “So what’ll it be?”

The first string says, “I think I’ll have a beer quag fulk boorg jdkCjfdLk jk3s d#f67howe%U r89nvy~~owmc63^Dz x.xvcu”

“Please excuse my friend,” the second string says, “He isn’t null-terminated.”

source

Karanbir Singh

7. CentOS Errata

This section highlights the most severe security updates for each supported CentOS release while providing a summary and short links to reference of the security issue. You can find an archive of security related updates at the centos-announce archive.

7.1. CentOS-3

7.2. CentOS-4

7.3. CentOS-5

Phil Schaffner

8. CentOS in the Spotlight

The following articles mention CentOS and are a good resource to understand how the media (and public) looks at CentOS.

Date

Publication

Title/Link

2009-06-12

Pocket Gamer

Reset Generation expanding onto new platforms

Geerd-Dietger Hoffmann

9. Upcoming Events

The CentOS Promo SIG organizes CentOS presence (booths, presentations) at various conferences and tradeshows. Here we highlight upcoming events. If you are interested to help out, join the Promo SIG.

The past two weeks two new events have been added: Open Expo Winterthur in Switzerland and cPanel Conference 2009 in Texas, US. In both cases it is the first time CentOS is represented at the event! There was also some more activity on the wiki pages for LinuxTag and FrOSCon

"RoDrigo Garcia S." invited CentOS people to the regional Free Software Meeting to be held in Santiago de Chile on October 7, 8 and 9. Next to being in a superb location (very close from the beach and mountain) it seems to be a very interesting event.

10. Contributing to this newsletter

We are always on the look-out for people that are interested to help report on CentOS community activity, maintain a section in the newsletter, write an article or hint us an interesting topic, thread, article or person to talk about. If you want to appear in the newsletter, you have to contribute positively to the CentOS community and hopefully get noticed by one of our reporters ;-)

We have a special page with more information about contributing !

Newsletter/0902 (last edited 2009-06-16 21:28:47 by DagWieers)