We're just pining for the fjords

Story: Gentoo: "We're Not Dead"Total Replies: 17
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Oct 15, 2009
8:16 PM EDT
Tech journalism is often like other media. "If it bleeds it leads." The exaggerated reports of Gentoo's death are not at all surprising.

OTOH, when you have a couple of leadership changes, "infighting" between the developers, a lack of regular or timely releases, a failure to do legal paperwork on a timely basis, and a lack of regular communication with the user community it is only natural that people worry about the health of Gentoo. IMHO there was and, at least to some extent, still is good reason to worry.

It's good to see the current leadership acknowledging and owning the problems. That's an excellent first step. My attitude to Gentoo now is about the same as my attitude towards CentOS a few months back. I'm skeptical about the future. Show me that the problems have been solved and get it right over the next year or so and I'll feel better about Gentoo. Sure, if someone wants to tinker with Gentoo, fine, but I wouldn't use it for anything I need to depend on.

Did anyone else find the anniversary live DVD a bit strange? It had no installer which, at least for me, made it not terribly useful.

Oct 15, 2009
9:08 PM EDT
If you have to announce that you're not dead, chances are ... you're not doing too well.

Oct 15, 2009
9:42 PM EDT
Mark Twain was doing OK when he declared he could still VOOM without X million volts.

Oct 15, 2009
9:49 PM EDT
If you can attend your own funeral, that's another story.

Oct 15, 2009
10:22 PM EDT
Dan Fielding went to his own funeral.

Oct 16, 2009
4:11 AM EDT
Quoting:but I wouldn't use it for anything I need to depend on.

The Dutch #2 (in visits) website runs on it. They don't worry, I understand.

Quoting:a lack of regular or timely releases

How do you mean, Gentoo is probably the only distro with a weekly release! Or, put in another way, Gentoo doesn't need releases (it's only +90% of the other distro's / OSes that want you to think 'releases are necessary'), so why care?

Oct 16, 2009
9:05 AM EDT
Quoting:Gentoo is probably the only distro with a weekly release!
Followed by a day and a half of compiling and re-compiling...

Oct 16, 2009
10:52 AM EDT
How many times does it take to set this non-issue right? It's some of the BSDs and perhaps Slack* that's dead. The rest thrive while wobbling on the last legs.

MS rules ...

From your resident MS Shill / Astroturfer Extreme


* Watch out for the screaming ghosts, but pay them no heed.

PS Happy Halloween

Oct 16, 2009
1:28 PM EDT
Quoting:Followed by a day and a half of compiling and re-compiling...

1) Only if somebody decides to release a new version of KDE with minor updates and if you install full KDE (KDE-meta or sets),

2) Depends, I don't update every week but only every three months.

It took me about three days, and half of the time the system wasn't compiling due to blockers (but which idiot tries to compile Koffice unstable anyway?), me not having read what I should have read, me reading, and me doing what the reading suggested.

I should add when compiling about 500 packages once per 100 packages an error occurs. Most of the time because some freakin' packages like 'avahi' (which I don't want on my system in first place, but something obviously needs it) complain about dependencies missing, and most of the times those dependencies aren't needed anyway. That's because of the Debian-/RH based monoculture they expect everyone to have the same dependencies and they think it's OK to require them and bloat the system.

Now here's the catch:

Installing Kubuntu took more than three days on this system without CDROM, and then even X wouldn't boot, nor did KDE work - making it unusable as a desktop. It also froze my screen several times. Until now installing Kubuntu caused more headaches than updating Gentoo (the nasty update from 1.5 to 1.6 where Xorg breaks all existing drivers, and the change in qt-gui where 'to dbus or not to dbus' causes a chain-reaction of blockers).

But that's not half as frustrating as the requirement to have a CDROM drive almost hardcoded in *Ubuntu, and the freakin' installer asking you to provide a CDROM-device location when there is none. Loop-mounting (which is a bit harder in busybox than in bash) the iso to /mnt2 solved the issue, because the freakin' installer really believed /dev/loop0 was a CDROM-device and was finally happy. In Kubuntu, stuff like that shouldn't be necessary. Although I suppose.

And I haven't mentioned how Gentoo, Grub and Kubuntu couldn't agree about disk numbering (which is why my Kubuntu kernel tried to load Gentoo modules and started Gentoo init!). And how Kubuntu tried to destroy my GRUB-menu.lst, and after I refused to let it do so, it installed it's GRUB mbr to some place my mobo obviously can't find anyway. Or the mess that's the syslinux configuration in Kubuntu. All spread over multiple files, to alter some boot parameters you have to freakin' read all configuration files available).

But I'm still trying to install Kubuntu from USB anyway. Today is attempt 7 (ah, now I know why it's called Windows 7 I guess), using Daily Live Kubuntu and unetbootin.

OK, the rant is done. You can relax now. Peace to Ubuntu, something with Human Beings or so. But only as long as they have a CDROM-drive of course.

Yeah, Windows 7 is better than Gentoo and Ubuntu together, because at least there's no infighting amongst the devs. Those who don't agree with the local Pope are excommunicated anyway (Daniel Robbins anyone?). Oh, and of course their releases are never late and their products have good driver support. Also, the fact that Gentoo was late with their financial numbers doesn't have to mean anything. Both Gentoo and SCO submitted their financial reports to late. That proves Gentoo lives - just as healthy as SCO! SCO only lives by means of financial injections and doesn't deliver software, for Gentoo it's more the other way around.

Anyway, the most important thing - which I saved for last - is that like the article mentioned, I didn't notice any degradation in the quality of my Gentoo system. Even with all the management hassles in the project. That's quite an accomplishment IMHO.

Oct 16, 2009
1:41 PM EDT
Quoting:Did anyone else find the anniversary live DVD a bit strange? It had no installer which, at least for me, made it not terribly useful.

Gentoo's attempts to provide an installer have never been very fruitful I guess. Anyway, a LiveCD is normally meant to showcase software, not to install it. IIRC, the first liveCD's didn't offer the ability to install the system, because you'd have an 'install CD' for that purpose.

And as long as the LiveDVD contains a means of HTTP-downloading/reading, you can install Gentoo anyway by following the manual. Uncyclopedia has a really great article on it; serious (that's strange?) and the best 'summary' of installing Gentoo to be found on the web. Here it is:

Quoting:Installing Gentoo takes only four easily memorable commands:

1) fdisk /dev/hda && mkfs.xfs /dev/hda1 && mkswap /dev/hda2 && swapon /dev/hda2 && mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/gentoo/ && cd /mnt/gentoo/ && links http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/mirrors.xml && md5sum -c stage3-*.tar.bz2.DIGESTS && tar xvjpf stage3-*.tar.bz2 && links http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/mirrors.xml && md5sum -c portage-latest.tar.bz2.md5sum && tar xvjf /mnt/gentoo/portage-latest.tar.bz2 -C /mnt/gentoo/usr && nano -w /mnt/gentoo/etc/make.conf && mirrorselect -i -o >> /mnt/gentoo/etc/make.conf && mount -t proc none /mnt/gentoo/proc && mount -o bind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev && chroot /mnt/gentoo/ && env-update && source /etc/profile && emerge --sync && cd /etc && rm /etc/make.profile && ln -s ../usr/portage/profiles/default-linux/x86/desktop make.profile && cp /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Eastern /etc/localtime && cd /usr/portage && scripts/bootstrap.sh && emerge -e system && emerge vim && emerge gentoo-sources && cd /usr/src/linux && make menuconfig && make install modules_install && vim /etc/fstab && passwd && emerge grub vixiecron syslogng dhcpcd && cp /boot/grub/grub.conf.sample /boot/grub/grub.conf && vim /boot/grub/grub.conf && grep -v rootfs /proc/mounts > /etc/mtab && grub-install --no-floppy /dev/hda && init 6 && emerge gnome mozilla-firefox openoffice && emerge --sync && emerge portage openssh


Oct 16, 2009
6:09 PM EDT
To me the purpose of the Gentoo release CDs was to allow quick installation of a basic, working system from binaries so that you didn't have to compile absolutely everything just to get started and check out a fairly current version of the distro. When you don't have a recent base release you can't do that. A lot of rolling release binary distros still put out a new version now and again to give you a reasonable starting point. When I used Gentoo in 2004-05 that was what I saw the releases as being.

Hans, your descirption of 1 compile failure per 100 packages is a lot worse than I remember. Back when I used Gentoo doing an emerge to update or add things almost always seemed to just work. I've used Gentoo as an example of an "advanced" distro where automated dependency checking usually just works. I guess I can't do that anymore. Pity. It seems, from what you've posted here, that Gentoo has gone backwards in the last few years.

Quoting:That's because of the Debian-/RH based monoculture they expect everyone to have the same dependencies and they think it's OK to require them and bloat the system.

Huh? The fact that there are at least two main systems (Debian .deb and Red Hat .rpm) is, by definition, not a monoculture. Mono means one and only one. Considering that I use some Slackware derivatives and recent Pardus (which has a unique package format and package management system) I can say with confidence that there aren't just two choices, either.

The amount of bloat depends on the packager. If you're running a Slackware-based system with GSB you pretty much end up installing all of GNOME because of an insane amount of interlinking dependencies. Vector Linux ended up rebuilding every last GSB package and then packaging updated versions themselves to eliminate much of the bloat. Sadly, they couldn't eliminate what the GNOME developers mandate in their configure scripts and makefiles. Ditto KDE. Sometimes the blame really belongs upstream, not with Debian or Red Hat or any other distro.

Live CDs started out as you describe them. Today they are also a popular way to deliver an installable distro and provide maximum flexibility. If everyone from Ubuntu to Wolvix can do it then so can Gentoo.

Anyway, Hans, you've conviced me. You've convinced me that Gentoo, at least for now, is just not for me. I don't want days and days of compilation. I'll stick with binary distros for now and choose the ones that do a good job packaging things without excessive nonsense.

@Steven_Rosenberg: I agree with you about distros that have to announce that they aren't dead yet, hence my Monty Python reference :)

Oct 16, 2009
6:42 PM EDT
Its funny, I dont seem to have those same issues with Funtoo, and a large majority of Funtoo uses the Gentoo tree. I built KDE 4.3.2 last week with no build failures, although I did discover that there are atleast 2 meta's for it, one of which is horribly broken, switching to @sets pulled it off with no problems other than a few USE flag tweaks to 3 or 4 specific packages. I can't actually remember the last true build failure I had that switching to -j1 didnt fix.

As for Gentoo's installer problems, this is something I truly dont understand. Sabayon used Gentoo's own mastering tools until rather recently so the issue seems more that there is no one within Gentoo who has the motivation to do one properly. Seriously every package we release in Sabayon is built in a clean Gentoo environment so I know first hand the goal is not impossible.

Oct 16, 2009
6:59 PM EDT
I really wanted to like compiling packages, but I just can't stand it most of the time. Waiting many hours, sometimes a whole day, for packages to build and then having a single error scuttle the whole thing.

I just don't have the patience for it.

So as much as I bought into the idea that real geeks use the ports tree (BSD) or compile from source (Slackware and Gentoo), I'm way happier using precompiled binaries.

Oct 16, 2009
7:44 PM EDT
> I really wanted to like compiling packages

Why? I still don't understand the joy in compiling your own software. I can understand doing it if that's the only way to get what you need (and I even compile a few packages myself) but to me it's always been a necessary evil.

A lot of Slackware/Arch types compile everything and they end up with exactly the same package that they could have downloaded. A problem I had with Arch was that some of the developers blew up when they heard complaints that packages were outdated, because it's easy to build your own. I never got up the nerve to post in the Arch forums after watching devs shout down those who preferred to run a binary system. Who wants to build 25 packages yourself, then a new update comes in, and you have to rebuild 10 of them.

Oct 16, 2009
7:48 PM EDT
Quoting:Who wants to build 25 packages yourself, then a new update comes in, and you have to rebuild 10 of them.
Or, worse, while you're building them, you clobber some critical library or program for upacking and building (libffi, gcc, make, gzip, bzip2, tar, bash) and now you have no way to recover without a re-install.

I've been down that road once. No, thanks.

Oct 16, 2009
9:28 PM EDT
I'm with bigg on this one. He pretty much expressed my feelings exactly. Sometimes in a Slackware or Slackware-based environment I'll use a build script and compile if the only other way to get a package is a third party repo that I don't fully trust or that I fear will cause conflicts. Otherwise I do try to use the available packages. I also ended up contributing a lot of packages when I used Vector Linux heavily. I may get back to that; I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm obviously comfortable doing my own compiling from source. It's just too darned time consuming and it's easy to make mistakes that cost even more time. That's why I like a well-stocked repository.

I will say that Gentoo and Arch both were stable and reliable for me when I ran them. Once the compiling was done both are very decent distros. I really didn't run into the sort of problem gus3 describes. Maybe I was just lucky.

I've neer tried Funtoo or Sabayon so I can't comment on either. Sabayon 5.0 is on my list of things I should really take a look at.

Oct 16, 2009
9:57 PM EDT
I've never used Arch, but I've gotten more good information from the Arch forums than just about anywhere else over the past few months.

Oct 16, 2009
10:05 PM EDT
Quoting:Huh? The fact that there are at least two main systems (Debian .deb and Red Hat .rpm) is, by definition, not a monoculture.

I was afraid people would not understand. So let's try again: It's not the technology or standard used when packaging, but it's the culture among those who do the packaging and development.

It's a culture of assuming the distro - and not the user - is going to pull in all necessary bloat as developers require it, and assuming distro's will handle it. It's assuming all of the users of those distro's will be happy if their distro decided to include dependency X. No matter if it's *BSD, RedHat based or Debian Based; lots of developers of the monoculture assume the one collecting the packages will handle all the dependencies and mess. It's the monoculture of thinking this is not going to affect the end user because the distro will handle it.

That very same monoculture of making things so complex that only teams making their own distro can handle dependencies is the cause of 1 in 100 packages failing to compile. Because it's all too comprehensive for a single human to understand. Because some other developer just thought 'Debian / RedHat will take care of this if I require X, while it's only optional'. In my opinion you can't blame Gentoo for that, though they can fix it sometimes. It's the monoculture of not caring about one dependency more or less. Hell, lets just assume everyone who wants to install 1 single Gnome app has whole Gnome installed, and if not, well, whole Gnome is a dependency. I say so because I tried to make a Miro-package while I didn't have whole Gnome installed. What a mess.

Honestly, I can't blame people for creating that monoculture, because those ~20 big-distro teams (basically doing the same work, I still fail to see why) are about the only way to handle all the complexity. And the complexity was caused by end-users in first place, asking for more features. And - of course - the crowd then being angry when the KDE-team can't handle all the complexity in 3.5 and have to start all over with a new design for 4.0. The users say: "We didn't ask for KDE4! KDE3.5 was good!" Yeah, but 3.5 became so complex it was becoming impossible to add to it, and that was caused because the crowd asked to add the complexity. But they don't want to deal with the results.

And indeed, KDE 4.3.2 - all 200+ packages (except Avahi) compiled without a glitch.

It's not Gentoo which became worse, it's just all the increasing complexity and assumptions mentioned above making live worse when using Gentoo. Now I updated to Xorg 1.6, sometimes it just fully quits without any reason. But can I blame Gentoo for problems in Xorg? Can I blame Gentoo for switching to 1.6 (last month!) while other distro's are already using 1.7 for more than a month?

Quoting:To me the purpose of the Gentoo release CDs was to allow quick installation of a basic, working system from binaries so that you didn't have to compile absolutely everything just to get started and check out a fairly current version of the distro.

That must be long ago, since I use Gentoo (2003 I guess, not really sure) I have never been able to install a working system from binaries. And I did try and search the net for it (believe it's called GRP). But honestly, I fail to understand why nowadays on earth somebody who wants to install binaries would use Gentoo anyway? That contradicts, and there are so many better alternatives when it comes to installing binaries. AFAIK with Gentoo that just isn't possible anymore, apart from just copying the LiveCD. That works very well most of the times; and it's what I did on several occasions.

I have to add the last 5 years I never had to reinstall Gentoo because it was 'FUBAR', except for when I accidentally put of the power switch while portage was copying fresh compiled glibc files. But that situation would be the same for any Linux distro as long as the install system is not using some kind of journal - which no distro does AFAIK. Backups are the solution to that problem.

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