Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 13th Sep 2002 01:57 UTC
Gentoo I was reading the commenting section of our recent Gentoo Linux story about its 1.4-RC1 release. It seems that there is a chasm between Gentoo users, the users who are happy with it the way it is, and the users who can't stand its usage shortcomings. The first group are mostly developers, the second group seems to be only users. Linux always had such a "schism", but with (the source-based) Gentoo distribution it seems that this is even bigger. Here is a proposal to the Gentoo maintainers about a possible solution of how to change Gentoo's usagebility in order to satisfy all.
Order by: Score:
by Lee Nooks on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:12 UTC


gentoo vs. freebsd...
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:13 UTC

hi i'm a freebsd fanatic...and i was wondering if any freebsd types have tried gentoo out and what their feelings about it are...i would try it myself but i don't have a cd burner and i'm too cheap/lazy to install something that can't be done with a network card and a couple of floppies (damn i love freebsd)

how's portage compare to ports? how well organized is the filesystem? how stable is it compared to freebsd?
is it as easy to upgrade between releases?

thanks in advance


RE: gentoo vs. freebsd...
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:18 UTC

>how's portage compare to ports?

Similar. Someone could say that Portage has more options in it.

> how well organized is the filesystem?

It is a Linux... However, KDE lives on /usr/kde and Qt on /usr/qt...

> how stable is it compared to freebsd?

Gentoo won't take any awards for stability, as it is by nature, a bleeding edge distro. It always deals with the latest softaware and latest kernel and latest patches for it that often are not part of the stable kernel. However by doing so, you get more performance in most cases.

>is it as easy to upgrade between releases?

Yes. By doing an "emerge -u world". But it often breaks things in some packages or libs.

RE: Chasm?
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:20 UTC

It is a greek word. Deal with its real way of writing: "hasma". ;-)

breaks things?
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:27 UTC

how often does it break things?

is it usually fixable or do you have to reinstall from scratch most of the time when you break things?

RE: breaks things?
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:31 UTC

> is it usually fixable or do you have to reinstall from scratch most of the time when you break things?

It is usually fixable, yes. Sometimes you need to re-emerge some packages, some times you really need to dive-in in some more advanced usage to fix things by hand.

Only once I had to boot from its CD and chroot in order to fix something by hand in the system itself after updating world. The other cases had to do with breaking other packages.

Be nice!
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:38 UTC

Umm, I understand that these article is trying to be constructive and whatnot, but it has something of a degrading tone. Statements like "just a bunch of geeks and developers" are really a little bit rude to the group the statement refers to. It would be wise to remember that these geeks and developers are the ones writing all the cool software you get to use... I'm all for user input, but I am a little embarrassed for those who behave as if free developers owe the masses easy software. As for making it simpler, I say fine, as long as it doesn't take away power. Gentoo, so far, is a power user's desktop distro. There are distros for the masses (like RedHat and Mandrake) so I really don't see the need for another. And yes, there is a very real danger that making things easier will remove power. While I hate the notion that ease of ease == lack of power, sometimes this does happen. Case in point is GNOME-2.0, where the streamlining of the interface led to GNOME losing its famed configurability.

which is better...
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:39 UTC

which do you prefer for everyday workstation style use? like heavy duty programming and the like?

v missing the point..
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:41 UTC
RE: Be nice!
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:41 UTC

> Statements like "just a bunch of geeks and developers" are really a little bit rude

Hold on your horses right there Rayiner.
First of all, I am not english speaking, so what I am saying, can be easily misunderstood. It won't be the first time it happens.

Second, I AM PART of this bunch myself. Therefore, it was not meant as a rude statement. ;)

I am really trying to be constructive and show the "point of view of the user" to touch the Gentoo world and its developers.

RE: missing the point..
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:44 UTC

>The defining feature of gentoo is the source based approach.

I don't think I missed the point. Read the LAST paragraph of my article.

And you have been moderated down for being a complete ass and not discussful.

RE: missing the point
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:49 UTC

funny how constructive criticism is taken so well by some people in the open source community

no distro or os is perfect...they all need at least something fixed


by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:52 UTC

here's what i guess i'm curious it worth switching to Gentoo from FreeBSD or will i be disapointed by something?

has the beautiful simplicity and good design spoiled me for ever again loving a linux distro?


RE: okay...
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 02:55 UTC

I would say to definately try it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, well, go back to FreeBSD. Give it a try, keep your FreeBSD partition at the same time.
No one can tell you what is the thing YOU need. Only you can.

yeah...true dat
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:01 UTC

yeah good point...i'm afraid though that i'll go back to FreeBSD...hehe...i can't wait for 5.0 it's gonna be orgasmic....sorry that was offtopic

oh one last thing...
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:04 UTC

does Gentoo feel any faster than FreeBSD? FreeBSD is the second fastest OS i've ever used (DOS being the fastest)

RE: oh one last thing...
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:09 UTC

> does Gentoo feel any faster than FreeBSD?

I can't answer that, because my FreeBSD 4.6 was installed on a dual PIII 450 Mhz, while my Gentoo is installed on a dual Celeron 533 Mhz. Different machines...
Don't forget though that FreeBSD is compiled for the 386, while the default Gentoo is compiled for 686...

RE: missing the point..
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:12 UTC

"And you have been moderated down for being a complete ass and not discussful."

I dont think I was complete ass. I argued my side of the issue. Yes I might have used some harsher words than needed but I wasn't insulting or anything. And I believe I was discussful (not sure if this is a word but I get the point)

Since my comment got deleted, it is now here:

RE: missing the point..
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:14 UTC

Your comment WAS NOT DELETED. It is moderated down. You can find it in the moderated section of this story.

RE: missing the point..
by bytes256 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:14 UTC

actually you got modded down...are you a newbie here?
Eugenia almost never deletes posts

RE: missing the point
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:15 UTC

"funny how constructive criticism is taken so well by some people in the open source community"

I was merely pointing out why Eugenia's points were not valid. Good constructive criticism is fine, but you cant just accept anything.

As for me and my box...
by Anon E. Moose on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:17 UTC

After several years waffling between RedHat and SuSe, I found Gentoo to be a wonderful alternative; a real power user's distro. And it is the "freshly-compiled latest release" thing that drives me wild about it.

If Gentoo released binary version of their entire portage tree, it could be argued that the distro is no longer any different than the other offerings available. In that sense, users are just a served by redirecting them to RedHat's, SuSe's or Mandrake's web-pages if they want binary versions.

In order to provide binary packages, Gentoo must first go back on its stated mission, to provide "up-to-date packages that [can] be auto-built using the optimization settings and build-time functionality that [the user wants], rather than what some distro creator thought would be best for him."

Also, consider that development time must then go into graphical GUI installers and all that jazz. And, as anyone who installs and re-installs various distro's for fun knows, graphical GUI installers are hard to get right.

All in all, I'm glad Gentoo is the way it is. If I ever feel like downloading a binary distro for another comp, I am confident SuSe will have what I need. As for me and my box, we shall compile from source.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go emerge -u world

RE: missing the point
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:18 UTC

"Your comment WAS NOT DELETED. It is moderated down. You can find it in the moderated section of this story."

Oh, now I see it. Well I learn something new every day. I suppose this got implemented after the big spam attack?

RE: missing the point
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:19 UTC

> Good constructive criticism is fine, but you can't just accept anything

If what you are saying is that Gentoo should be get easier and better just because it is a source-based distro, then YOU are the one who is missing the point.

Do people read any more?
by Larry Nguyen on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:25 UTC

I don't know what you guys are crying about? Do you read why and how Gentoo was born? Here lemme give some help. Quote from Gentoo site

"Gentoo Linux is a versatile and fast, completely free Linux distribution for x86, PowerPC, Sparc and Sparc64 that's geared towards Linux power users."

Repeat after me. Gentoo is geard towards Linux power users. Do it again. Gentoo is geard towards Linux power users.

Gentoo is bleeding edge stuff. Broken things happen. As long as you don't use the package that they mask and RTFM or instructions on how to install packages, it should work fine. Well at least it works great for me since 1.0 release. There is time broken ebuilds exist but they always get fixed promply by developers.

Use etc-update or at least read the "emerge --hep config" if you don't want to mess with ._cfg???? files.

I've read future release of other distributions such as Mandrake or SuSE announcing latest Evolution 1.0.8, gcc-3.2, KDE-3.0.3, Gnome-2.0, etc. Thanks to Daniel and Gentoo team, I've been running these for months without any issues. And these are "future release" for other distributions. No, I don't bash other distributions since I currently use them all so don't get started with me. That's the fact.

RE: missing the point
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:25 UTC

"If what you are saying is that Gentoo should be get easier and better just because it is a source-based distro, then YOU are the one who is missing the point."

What? Thats not at all what I'm sayng. I am saying that ease of use is not what Gentoo is about and it shouldn't be about that. It is about power, speed, and flexibilty.

RE: Do people read any more?
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:29 UTC

"Gentoo is geard towards Linux power users."

Exactly. Finally someone who gets the point.

RE: Do people read any more?
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:33 UTC

> Linux power users

So what? Don't these people want something better?

Also, I recommend you read our interview with Daniel Robbins, who indeed acknowledges some of the problems we write in the article, and he WANTS to make Gentoo simpler. So, even if what you say about Gentoo being only for power users TODAY, this does not mean that Daniel wants Gentoo to be this way TOMORROW.

RE: Do people read any more?
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:51 UTC

" Also, I recommend you read our interview with Daniel Robbins, who indeed acknowledges some of the problems we write in the article, and he WANTS to make Gentoo simpler. So, even if what you say about Gentoo being only for power users TODAY, this does not mean that Daniel wants Gentoo to be this way TOMORROW."

Daniel talks about making a stable version for servers, not an easy version for normal users. Apparently there are some people working on an easier installer (would be nice) but thats it. Nothing about binary packages.

And daniel explicitly says: "It makes Gentoo Linux the ideal distribution for hobbyists who get lots of cool toys before everyone else" and mentions that it is not an OS for newbies.

I hammer on my Gentoo workstation...
by Sean Pecor on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:52 UTC

and it hasn't broken yet. I update world about twice a week, and haven't had a problem yet. Frankly, I dropped Redhat and Mandrake because I had WAY too many problems with dependencies, broken rpms, etc.

I have KDE, Gnome, and many ebuilds in my Gentoo "world" system. Compile time isn't an issue for me. I don't have cutting edge hardware, but my silicon isn't ancient either (1.8ghz, 512mb RIMM). I suppose if I had a sub 1gz machine and a slow file system I'd start to notice long compile times.... Sure, the base system takes a long time, and perhaps a binary base system could be made available... Or better yet, a sort of Gentoo p2p system that allows you to download a compiled ebuild from another user with the same silicon ;)

I'm guessing that Eugenia is experiencing so many problems, not because she "tries out lots of stuff", but that she inevitably removes stuff she doesn't like after trying it... Perhaps this is the cause of her problems? I've never removed anything I'v emerged, perhaps this is why things run so smoothly on my machine. If this is the case, then more important than binary builds would be regression testing Gentoo ebuilds by emerging and unmerging them in a variety of environments...

RE: Do people read any more?
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 03:54 UTC

"So what? Don't these people want something better?"

Sure they want something better, however for their specific needs there is nothing better. Easier is not always better.

(Sorry for the amount of posts. I almost never post here so I better make this time count ;)

hmm.. It's supposed to be a pain in the ass.
by Heru on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:07 UTC

Last I heard, Gentoo is designed for those people who want a bleeding edge compilation-centric distro.

It was never intended for ease of use or even normal Desktop use.

Perhaps someone will take the Gentoo distro and fork it into an easy to use distro that still uses the Pertage system for its updates, that way Gentoo purists and ease of use fans alike will get to try Gentoo.

So do not use Gentoo.
by bawb bitchen on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:10 UTC

Damn. Stop bitch and use SuSE or RedHat or any of the other disros out there. I use Gentoo because I can build everything from source for my system. This is not a problem for me becasue it is what a CHOOSE to do. If you do not CHOOSE to do this then use RedHat. I do not want the Gentoo developers to was anytime on any binaries. Gentoo is a SOURCE based disro. If you do not like it go somewhere else...

Let's not flame... jeez...
by Katsumi on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:44 UTC

Several IMOs....


Breakage of ebuilds is a problem. That was one of the biggest reasons why I got away from Gentoo. I currently use RedHat 7.3 stripped down, and GNOME compiled from sources. I guess I just couldn't deal with RedHat's unoptimized binaries, but I wasn't knowledgable enough to build things from scratch (at least, not past the docs of lfs). Gentoo with less breakage would definitely be better, but I believe the rise of Gentoo's popularity came from being a "Source-based distro." To make it a binary distro would be to become similar to Debian (as Rayner stated). I don't think Gentoo was centered around this idea, although I could be wrong.

bawb bitchen:
You're right, Eugenia could use other distros, but constructive criticism isn't exactly bad either. Just as you spew "Stop bitch(ing?)," you could do the same. Just as you say you "CHOOSE to do" about using Gentoo, you could "CHOOSE" to not read articles on this site if it isn't your taste. I don't necessarily agree with all things on this site, but there are many good constructive criticism--something definitely missing from your obnoxious post.

As for a gui for portage, it might be nice. However, who would the Gentoo team appease? There are many who use KDE, thus a qt/kde app would keeps them happy. Those who use GNOME would like it to be a GNOME app, and there may be those who are indifferent. I personally think an ncurses-based would be awesome (similar to make menuconfig for the linux kernel), but others will claim it's "old! crappy! etc"

Gentoo definitely isn't for a user like myself (although I'm compiling ebuilds on another machine just as I type this), but it's the best way to be on the bleeding edge software installs (at least, it's easier than finding the sources of all software you want installed, compiling the dependancies, etc. by hand)

Gentoo article
by Jay on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:44 UTC

People should read the article before posting - read it in its entirety. Eugenia said if it is not Gentoo's intent to do something like she outlined, that was okay with her. The question she is raising is whether or not Gentoo and its community want it to become simpler - or at least a distro that is simpler. Obviously, there are great merits to Gentoo and there is nothing wrong about asking and speculating about something like that. People are basically saying, "Leave it alone, we don't want Gentoo to change!". Well, I can understand that. But, is that how the "life" of any software goes? It is somewhat of a seeming paradox - Gentoo is cutting edge and people want it to stay that way, yet if it remains static in that sense will it ultimately fizzle out? I don't know, but it seems that the nature of software is to change. If Gentoo changes, how should it change? To me, that is the question.

by Russell Jackson on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:45 UTC

"So what? Don't these people want something better?"

I think "better" is a subjective term. What is better to one person may be worse to another. I for one think that Gentoo should remain source only. We don't need another binary distro. I agree that making things easier usually results in the loss of flexiblity and power. Things shouldn't always be dumbed down the the lowest common factor.

I have to agree with the devs
by garbageiscool2 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:48 UTC

Gentoo really is geared toward the people that can stand to wait for things to compile, the fact that all the newbies are trying it out is because they are seeing how it has the latest version of XYZ and they don't want to use something with the old version of XYZ. I like gentoo because i like the speed and i like the ease of COMPILING programs as compared to compiling them by hand. As far as a p2p gentoo package system I woult support this because i would much rather have packages downloaded that are made with the options that I want, and compiled for MY cpu as compared to some other distro where everything is compiled for what they hope youy will like or a cpu that linux originally ran on.

Re: Gentoo Article
by pherthyl on Fri 13th Sep 2002 04:56 UTC

"It is somewhat of a seeming paradox - Gentoo is cutting edge and people want it to stay that way, yet if it remains static in that sense will it ultimately fizzle out?"

What do you mean by "static in that sense"? Everything is static in some sense or another. Gentoo should change if those changes are true to its original goals (of course if the developers decide to change their goals thats fine too). Projects should and usually dont change in these fundemental ways that you are suggesting. For example MS Windows (home edition) is a desktop oriented OS and should not suddenly become an OS for car navigation systems just because of some vague notion that change is good.

It will not fizzle out as long as there are people that would like a source based distro.

reply to Jay
by jbolden1517 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 05:08 UTC

People are basically saying, "Leave it alone, we don't want Gentoo to change!". Well, I can understand that. But, is that how the "life" of any software goes? It is somewhat of a seeming paradox - Gentoo is cutting edge and people want it to stay that way, yet if it remains static in that sense will it ultimately fizzle out?

That's like saying beta testing will ultimately fizzle out. Now if by ultimately you mean sometime between now and the time the sun explodes then I'd agree. If you mean something reasonable like over the next 5 years I'm not so sure. Gentoo has come out of nowhere to become a distribution with a great deal of mind share very quickly. New distributions generally go through a long period of time where they are considered "promising" without actually having very many users. Gentoo got the flood of new users almost immediately because they managed to succeed in bringing a new level of power to the hands of Linux users. The "make configure" part of make is really important and rpm don't allow for that. OTOH "make configure" on thousands of pieces of software like a modern Linux distrabution is a pain in the neck. Gentoo has managed to automate it so that you can run "make configure" on those parts you care about; and get maybe 30% of the advantage of having run it everywhere.

BTW the pentium 4 because of not using instruction reording is likely to benefit far more than PII and PIII machines from source distributions. As PIVs become common I'm not sure Gentoo won't become much more popular.

To the gentoo ppl
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 05:51 UTC

QUIT shouting like bitches people.
This WAS constructive critisism. And you people, don't even want to hear about it!! This is laughable!

JUST BECAUSE someone critisizes your distro, EVEN if that was an editorial on how to SUGGEST something, you shoot it down!!! Speaking about software fanatics. I spit on your actions, for putting bits and bytes in front of your manners on how to discuss regarding how to EXTEND the thing you love.

You know what? This is why the Linux community has such a bad name. Because you don't freaking get it. You don't know how to discuss, you CAN'T ACCEPT different ideas. And then you are talking about innovation.

Give me a break...

That was a HONEST article I wrote there, and you shot it down and you cry foul like babies.

OSNews will ALWAYS be like that. I will ALWAYS RAISE the bar for quality for EVERYTHING I use. Be it, it was made to do it or not.

And look how this article was marked as. It was an editorial. This means PERSONAL OPINION.

And I even wrote at the end that if Gentoo was not meant for this, then FINE. It is just the portage dependancy solving that I would like to see to see on a USER FRIENDLY distro that uses it, with some tweaks of course.

Most of you people have no idea how to DISCUSS things and OPEN your mind and see things with a different eye FOR ONCE. Who cares if Gentoo is only for power users or not? I am a power user and I don't want it to be for power users! If Gentoo can SERVE BOTH the power users and the simple users, then it would be better for all. Serving the elitism, is just wrong. My opinion. If you don't agree, I don't give a flying monkey.

by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 05:55 UTC

I am not going to reply on any other comment over here, you can go and bitch (on a personal opinion, that you do not agree with) as MUCH AS YOU WANT.

Goodnight all. Time for bed. Love you all, kisses.

Re: oh one last thing...
by Anonymous on Fri 13th Sep 2002 06:06 UTC

Gentoo 1.4 was slower on machine (PIII at 700, with 256 megs of RAM) compared to FreeBSD 4.6 when I tried it a monthish ago with regards to just about everything but the filesystem and running java code.

However I'm not sure why (I would've assumed gentoo would've had faster code with the 3.x compiler) [it should've at least been somewhat similiar since I've recompiled most of 4.6 system]. Perhaps the low-latency patches or other such which could possible exert a negative impact on program performance was in the kernel?

Gentoo with binaries == Debian unstable ?
by jbmadsen on Fri 13th Sep 2002 07:43 UTC

It seems to me that what Eugenia wants, judging by the editorial, is exactly what Debian unstable provides. Dependency handling, GUI frontends to the package system, and very very few breakages that require anything but waiting for a new package the next day (I've personally been bit by a single thing in the 18 months I've used unstable).

Yes, some things are not in Debian, most notably XFree86 4.1/4.2 and KDE3. These things can easily be obtained from other repositories, though, so it is hardly a big problem.

The one big difference would be that Gentoo usually is optimized in the extreme whereas Debian is compiled to the lowest common denominator. I've run Gentoo for a month on my normal work machine and felt absolutely no speed increase from the optimizations. And I haven't been able to find any credible benchmarks that the optimizations give any benefit.

As for all the yelling, Eugenia, you're just as bad as everyone else. If people don't agree with you, you start screaming. Just like the rest of us. I dare say that your comment (I believe it is no 39) is the sort of stuff that looks really bad. Not people trying to fend for what they believe is the best for the particular distribution they like.

Nobody gains from shouting (well, maybe except from manufacturers of earplugs). We can't all agree on everything, and it would be nice if more people would realise that.

Not for users
by Pimp on Fri 13th Sep 2002 07:45 UTC


IMO distributions like Gentoo, Rock Linux or Linux From Scratch (hmm, well not really a distribution) are not targeted to second-case (point-and-klick-colorful-config-dialog) users.

So I can't understand your problems or the problems of those users. You should go with Mandrake, Heul-SuSe (hehe, German word game;), Red Hat or what ever.


Debian Unstable
by Harbinjer on Fri 13th Sep 2002 07:50 UTC

Isn't Eugenia's suggestion something like debian unstable? I mean they do keep it up to date very well dont' they? And when things break they are fixed quickly. I also believ that APT can get source and install from that, similar to portage(that might just be a rumor though). So is Debian unstable unsatisfying for Eugenia's requirements?

My $0.02 worth of input is a compromise, maybe trying to do a single i586(or i686) build of each app, and allowing people to download binaries, and then rebuild it themselves if they want it faster or better in some way. You might be able to keep most of the system fast with only compiling once a month or every two months.

The biggest question for the Gentoo developers is what the L33Tness bar is that they want to set for their users. This is my attempt at constructive conversation, so ignore me if you want, but please don't flame me.

RE: Debian Unstable
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 07:59 UTC

> So is Debian unstable unsatisfying for Eugenia's requirements?

Yes. For reasons different than Gentoo's.

> The biggest question for the Gentoo developers is what the L33Tness bar is that they want to set for their users. This is my attempt at constructive conversation, so ignore me if you want, but please don't flame me.

Well said.

Sourcebased Distros have a bright future
by G0tt on Fri 13th Sep 2002 08:46 UTC

With upcoming much more simple Sorcererbased Distros, which adhere to standards ( FHS, SystemV Boot etc. ). Gentoo will have some real competition. Long live Sourcemage and Lunar :-)

practical problems
by Ronald Sipkema on Fri 13th Sep 2002 09:50 UTC


though having a complete binary tree of Gentoo might be easy for some users I think it's not very practical for the Gentoo developers themselves. It would cost them a huge amount of server space; especially if you want support for many different processor types. Also when using precompiled binaries you can't use only what you need: i.e. USE settings need to be all set which will create even larger binaries.
Also the aforementioned beta testing seems unlikely to happen: As i understand the poeple at Gentoo have a lot of work to do and aren't as "financially powerful" as the big distributions. This would surely cost a lot of time (and money).
Maybe such a tree could be set up by users themselves, with Gentoo providing server space for a central repository of links. This would take some of the burden of compiling everything for every processor into packages off the Gentoo team; but again, users who submit packages would have to set their USE variable on the broadest possible value.

It is all theretically possible, but I guess for now Gentoo's strength comes at a price:

"overnight compiling" :-)

b.t.w. I am a Gentoo user myself and I think doing an update world during the night would be o.k. except for the fact that it never ran through; What I would like to see is indeed some more sophisticated ways to merge ebuilds; to skip some builds during an update world when the exit with an error and then just go on merging the reat as best as possible; Then create a log so I can see what worked and what didn't

Ronald Sipkema

Re: Debian Unstable
by ealm on Fri 13th Sep 2002 10:20 UTC

> So is Debian unstable unsatisfying for Eugenia's requirements?

Yes. For reasons different than Gentoo's.

Just out of curiousity, which are those reasons?

by Gumby on Fri 13th Sep 2002 10:20 UTC

I'm a super linux newbie all I ever tryed is mandrake 8.0 which I screwed up. does everyone think gentoo is what I should try next? maybe mandrake 9.0 is better now and I should try that again? Or what about red hat? I want to use xfs with 8.0 but I'm not sure I can get it to work if I can screw up mandrake ;)

Re: Harbinjer
by Katsumi on Fri 13th Sep 2002 10:24 UTC

A single i586(i686) build of each app is possible. That's exactly what binary distributions can do. (such as Mandrake). The users who preffer to have the power by compiling from source (I'm assuming) are those people who are not satisfied with the options with which the binaries are compiled.

Consider this for example:
I am using a binary distribution with KDE as default. My distro did not have Konqueror compiled with gecko engine. I want to recompile Konqueror, so I try to uninstall the Konqueror package, only to find out that 10 other RPMS (or maybe DEBS) require that I have Konqueror installed. Solution? I'd better Keep Konq w/o gecko chosen by my distro. OR, I could find a distro that has the binaries I'd like.

Then there are those people who are not happy with what any distros package. These are the people (I'd assume) who are willing to learn (I'm trying) to do everything from source, thus building EXACTLY what they want. These are probably the people who's like to use a Meta-distro like Gentoo, or do an LFS. It's not easy, I agree... I've failed LFS myself.

by TET on Fri 13th Sep 2002 10:42 UTC

I disagree totally, but I have no time for posting a long argument (Have to go in about 2 minutes). Gentoo is fine the way it is, and I will move to another system if I wake up tommorow and it's different ;) .

I have to agree
by Marvin on Fri 13th Sep 2002 11:03 UTC

with Eugenia... and also many of her critics.
Gentoo works very well for me, currently I wouldn't even think about using another distro (and before gentoo, I was trying out new distros every couple of weeks!). And I want it to stay the way it is, I want to have packages that have exactly the optional dependencies compiled in that I want.
That said, I always had the feeling that a new gentoo-based distro (remember: gentoo is a meta-distribution) with pre-compiled binaries (with the option of compiling yourself if you want to tweak USE settings for a specific package) and a portage gui that hides most of the complexity behind an "expert options" button would be a great competitor to debian-unstable, offering more flexibility (through the option of compiling some packages with your own USE settings) with the same level of ease-of-use. It still wouldn't be the distro for Joe Sixpack, but it would bring more users to gentoo...
Oh, and the idea of using a p2p system to distribute binary packages between users also sounds interesting.

The Power of Linux
by Darth Daver on Fri 13th Sep 2002 12:28 UTC

So far I am loving Gentoo pretty much the way it is, but I could recommend some ease of use features for Portage and there are occassional emerge problems. I just don't want them to gut the powerful stuff and dumb it down. As someone else said, there is already a Red Hat and a Mandrake (and a SuSE). Gentoo targets a different audience.

The great thing about Linux and Open Source is you can add a pretty, easy interface for some people while leaving the powerful CLI features in place. The other great thing is choice which is why there are multiple Portage GUIs. They may all have problems that need to be fixed, but what software doesn't have problems? Some people want only one way to do things and are confused by choices, but that is not the Linux way. If you think you can create a superior GUI for Portage, you should develop one, and I would be glad to help test it.

That's what nice stands for
by Anonymous on Fri 13th Sep 2002 12:57 UTC

> Purists will say that they just leave the compilation processes taking place overnight, but let's face it, this is hardly an elegant solution, it does not solve the problem, it just hides it (in the dark of the night).

Yes. That's what nice (man nice) stands for. And, like with other distributions, nobody forces you to upgrade every day. If I can do that in the background (nice) I don't care that i'm building anything.

Sorcerer Gnu Linux is comperable to Gentoo in that you install a base image, and then download and compile the components, in addition to re-compiling & optimizing your system for your specific hardware/needs.

The difference between Gentoo and SGL, in my opinion, is that SGL has an awsome menuing system that's totally built in bash. Whereas Gentoo requires you to manually do all of this configuration and such, SGL provides an easy-to-understand system of menus to handle all this work for you.

It's fast, it's easy, and it's consistently built me the best Linux installs ever (after & using trying SUSE, Redhat, Mandrake, and a few other odds and ends, it's the 1st and only Linux install that's allowed me to succesfully setup both monitors in my dual card system!).

I highly reccomend it!

As for why you may have not heard of it (you might have, but it fails to get the press attention that Gentoo does for soem reason), there were a couple of "bumps" early this year with the distribution that's resulted in a couple of forks of SGL (notably: Source Mage Linux, and Lunar Linux). I haven't tried either one, but both seem to be based off earlier versions of SGL.

Either way, SGL is alive and well (and it's web site should be upgraded to reflect this -I think it's look is half the reason SGL gets the critics fav awards, but not the press coverage), and warrants you checking it out.

By the time Gentoo gets on the bandwagon of making their install process a bit better, you could be happily developing, or surfing, or whatever.

by Anonymous on Fri 13th Sep 2002 13:38 UTC


I'm using gentoo for a few months now, and the experience has been great. However binary packages would be nice to have. Especially with regards to possible security problems in big packages like we've seen lately in glibc and xfree. Still I think integrating that feature in gentoo would just not be possible, esp. thinking about the USE settings, more support/bug headaches, server space etc. Maybe some p2p with pki solution (buzzword bingo:) would solve that last point, but that's just way to far off. Some other things that I would like much more is read only access to core-dev mailinglist (I wanna know what's going on !) and release management ala FreeBSD. Also good luck go drobbins on finding a new job ;)

Not Valid
by JP on Fri 13th Sep 2002 13:44 UTC

Gentoo is by definition a "developer's" distribution which Dan Robbins himselft stated. It's not supposed to be the easiest thing in the world to use. Taking away the compiling nature of it will defeat the purpose of being able to customize your ebuilds. Having several binaries of each build would be prohibitively time consuming for the package maintainers. While ebuild world can sometimes break things, fine me a distro where the package system never broke something. It happens. And as far as emerging world every few days - that's completely unnecessary. If a new version of your desktop comes out, do an emerge -p, see what you need, and go to it. After the install of the OS there aren't any long build times (except maybe kde or gnome) but they are few and far between. If you dont' want to edit ebuilds, use variables, and init scripts, then you're probably not a developer and shouldn't be using Gentoo to begin with. This call for "Gentoo for all users" is totally invalid. It's not meant for all users and all users shouldn't be using it. It's a developer distribution - and a great one at that. There are tons of other user-oriented distros out there that will work just famously for "users" who don't want to deal with Gentoo's long compile times.

emerge -u world
by line72 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 13:55 UTC

I do an emerge world probably 2-3 times a day. It keeps the compile times shorter (i only have to compile 2-3 packages at a time, not 50). I've never had a problem with breaking anything. If you see a package like glibc or something serious as an update, i usually wait a day or two. If it's still there, it's working fine. If it's not there, be glad you didnt' upgrade : ) Once you get the hang of the USE variables (which aren't hard at all) then it's easy to get nicely optimized systems.


Gentoo is for advanced users
by mike on Fri 13th Sep 2002 14:16 UTC

It says right on Gentoo's front page that it is for advanced users. If you can't compile or alter code, this is the wrong distribution for you. I personally think it is just fine the way it is. The compile time is a non issue for the very same reason stated in the article. You start the install of software before you go to bed and when you get up it is done. And since you don't have to baby sit it, there is really no problem. If you want binary packages, use a different distro. I've never used a front end for Portage and I think it is easy to use. There are plenty (beyond count) of distros intended for beginners with nice GUI installers and all that crap. So if you can't deal with Portage pick another distro.

I'm a user and I like Gentoo the way it is. I enjoy the fact it's all source. That's the point of the distrubtion from the way I understand it. Why does a distrubution have to be for all people?

Gentoo is fine the way it is, I can see adding scripts and streamlining some of the installation procedures, but all in all it's an interesting and fun distrubtion and if it's not for some folks who cares.

So add my vote to the ones tellin ya to move on and find another distro, Gentoo isn't for you, it's for me. ;)

reply to jbmadson
by jbolden1517 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 15:15 UTC

I've run Gentoo for a month on my normal work machine and felt absolutely no speed increase from the optimizations

Depends a great deal on what your normal work machine is, and also which distribution you are comparing too ( I assume Debian from you post). Relative to a 80386 build (like Debian) it won't make much difference for a PII or PIII. It makes a great deal of difference for a PI (but not Mandrake for example since they build to a PI). For a PIV it will make a difference. The speed bump for the PII was instruction reording on chip which allowed the chip to work almost as well with 80386 code as it does with optomized code. They got rid of that with PIV and further it uses entirely different optomizations than the PI.

by Sean Pecor on Fri 13th Sep 2002 15:24 UTC

Well, I'd have to say that Eugenia is in a troubling position here. One one hand, she has a platform for presenting her opinions and she uses that platform as best she can. One the other hand, her opinions (like any opinion presented in a public forum) draw immense criticism. Unfortunately she seems to intellectually unravel each time some of the more vocal troglodytes come forward.

Eugenia, my suggestion is that you take the comments for what they are: a gathering of many opinions - some of which are presented crudely. Try to stop taking negative comments so personally. By taking them so personally you appear to everyone as someone quick to anger and often your own comments are just as crude as those you complain about. You won't change many minds by acting like your opponents. If you take the high road each time, and address the constructive comments instead of the destructive ones then we'll all be better off.

Just my opinion....

about compiling and such
by slak_ on Fri 13th Sep 2002 15:45 UTC

I recently tried Gentoo and enjoyed the install it was very refreshing.

My happiness with Gentoo ended, however, when I tried to emerge gnome. After breaking the system twice (in both cases I had to reinstall) I finally had a working gnome desktop. I was disappointed to find none of my familiar programs. When you emerge gnome, you get exactly that and nothing more.

Now I wasn't expecting to get things that weren't a part of gnome, but I did expect to get more applets than I did.

I think this article has good points, including binaries would save people lots of time. And could be used to make a binary ISO for people who don't have access to a high speed connection.

I'm still using slackware as my main distro and will be for a long time. I have yet to find its equal in ease of installaion, use, and maintenance.

gnome2 is compatible with anything
by line72 on Fri 13th Sep 2002 15:56 UTC

gnome2 is still kind of bare. A lot of programs and applets have yet to be ported to gnome2. So any distro with gnome2 is going to be missing many of your favorite programs. But with gentoo, you can almost guarentee that the day a gnome2 compliant program is released, it'll be available for gentoo


Why do we owe you?
by Gentoo User on Fri 13th Sep 2002 17:44 UTC

I use gentoo on a daily basis and I love it. I am a linux developer who is trying to eliminate Windows from all of my computers by using an OS I love and can get to understand. It really irritates me when so may people think that developers owe users anything. Gentoo is a source based distrobution, if you don't want to build everything, use a binary distro! I think the Gentoo developers are being overly nice by providing the i686 binaries. Gentoo is not meant for use in situations where you need to keep every package up to date and if you find yourself doing an update world too often for you to handle, you probably shouldnt be using a bleeding edge distro like Gentoo. I am probably just ranting and making little sense now, but it pisses me off when people criticize projects like this. I dont want Gentoo to change how they do their releases, I love being able to get the latest (even if its not the greatest) packages as easily as typing "emerge xxx" and not having to wait for a bunch of people to test and approve the code. Blah.

Less Opinions, More News
by JP on Fri 13th Sep 2002 17:53 UTC

Eugenia, I have been a loyal reader of your site for some time now but I think you should take a minute and perhaps get down from your high horse. I understand this article is more of an opinion piece but I think you're taking this power a bit too far. You are calling for a bastardization of Gentoo and a fundamental change in the way it works just to satisfy users who, frankly, should be using a binary distribution. There are tons out there. Gentoo is the way it is on purpose. If there is a "chasm" between some users then the ones who don't like the way it is should stick to Red Hat or SuSE or whatever. Im not trying to sound like a snob but if you don't like the caveates that go along with using Gentoo then use something else.

by Lee Nooks on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:04 UTC

Hmm, not a typo, then.

I had little contact with Greek, but Portuguese borrowed many words from it (mainly through Latin).

Also, after learning to read Greek letters (alpha, beta, gamma etc.), many labels on European products start to make sense.


by Lee Nooks on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:24 UTC

Some people are just way too weird...

Sean >> I don't have cutting edge hardware, but my silicon isn't ancient either (1.8ghz, 512mb RIMM).

Modesty is a virtue.

by lannie on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:41 UTC

gentoo is cool and portage is fun ;) the only problem i have with gentoo is that unmerging meta-packages like kde is a pain... can't do "unmerge kde" to get rid of ALL of the kde desktop (kde-multimedia, kde-base and all that...) or the gnome desktop metapackge as well! ... but i guess thats me... i keep on switching from gnome2, kde3.1, e17 & fluxbox all the time because i just can't get comfortable with one desktop ! ... but thats the power of opensoruce i believe? choise is everything ;)

error with my previous post...
by lannie on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:43 UTC

er... emerge unmerge kde.. hehe sowwie got the command wrong ;)

Chacon a son gout
by Bill Sheehan on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:46 UTC

I'm a long-time Linux user. I started with Linux 1.0 in a Slackware release and have used most major distros since then. Lately I've been bothered by the feeling that I've lost touch with what's going on under the GUI - I'm just plugging in packages. I might as well be using Windows.

Lately I've been playing with Linux From Scratch, and I've just been reading up on Gentoo. LFS is lots of fun, but it's a long, long process. Gentoo looks like it will be fun too, and perhaps a little more polished.

Neither distro is for novices, nor should they be. People looking for a nice easy distribution will be very happy with the next version of RedHat(I'm running the ((Null)) beta on this laptop), or SuSE, or Mandrake. Those looking for more control, more hands-on, will enjoy Gentoo. Those looking for a challenging OS with minimal documentation will enjoy Lunar. Variety is the spice of life!

There's one more thing all this variety gives us: cross-pollination. Each release is taking a slightly different approach, uses slightly different tools, and addresses different needs. If there are five different GUIs for a single package, you can bet that within a release cycle or two, only one or two will still be standing, and it will work a heck of a lot better.

Linux is much too young to be homogenous. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

-- Bill

Just an idea
by Clyx on Fri 13th Sep 2002 19:46 UTC

I have tried Gentoo for a while and really liked it.
Before that I have used Red Hat for some years.

Portage (even though it sometimes fails) worked far better than up2date.
Also, how many fully understands the booting of a red hat system? In Gentoo, this may not be easy, but at least (I think) its clearer. But these are all opinions.


What I really think is interesting is that each Gentoo installation is a working (lets assume this) set of versions of units of software.
Anyone installing Gentoo as it is today will in the end perform some kind of simple integration. And most of us think its fun too.

These are the building blocks: The binaries, and the dependency map of which versions work with each other.
If they could be collected, they could for some kind of baseline for a binare distribution (for a non-integrator user).

Lets say I have a working set of software on my Gentoo installation for my AMD XP system.
I am so proud of my system that I want to type the command "publish" (or something).
Then the binares of my system, together with my portage settings (compiler flags ...) and all versions of my source code was package and sent (I have broadband) to some centralized server.
The server (a lisp machine :-)), analized my binaries and my versions, and merged it with other "published" installations that where similar.

You must admit that constructing this kind of server is challenging:-)

Now and then, the server could put together a binary distribution for different systems. This binary versions could be used by the not so computer interested persons

Of course, the integrators need to be nice persons, so that they don't publish crappy combinations.

Thats it folks. Flame away.

Take back what I said earlier
by Chris Parker on Fri 13th Sep 2002 21:41 UTC

I run Gentoo on my laptop and I thought of switching when RH 8 comes out, but Gentoo is a kick-ass distrobution.

The portage system is amazing, as is the selection of software. I also love the community - the amount of positive people willing to help with problems makes it all the more useful (which has probably alot to do with the install - only the most diehards are going to go through the process of compiling and configuring all of their software by hand).

on the right track!
by mabhatter on Fri 13th Sep 2002 21:43 UTC

I think Clyx is on the right track, only skip up loading the binaries and just up load your system config and modified ebuilds. This could go into a database that would also handle bug tracking. Together the two types of info would help newbies get a stable system in fewer tries.
Compiling from source is the future for Linux, it's too complicated and changing to do it any other way. The first group to actually make this type of idea work will have created something NO ONE has. This is where REAL INNOVATION needs to happen.
These are the issues to take Linux from hobby project to industrial streangth scarry OS!

by Andrew Shewmaker on Fri 13th Sep 2002 23:18 UTC

Clyx and mabhatter appear to understand the meta-distribution aspect of Gentoo like I do. I'm not saying it is the only way of perceiving it, but I think it is a powerful idea.

I think this is what is happening with Gentoo (I may be wrong):

Several tiers of devolopers are forming. The first tier develops Portage and base system ebuilds, the installer, and images. The next tier creates and updates ebuilds for everything under the sun. Another tier might publish configurations and/or binary distributions. I think that it is important that these tiers develop because it will distribute the work and keep the first tier developers from being burned out or distracted.

I'm excited to see what kind of distributions come out of Gentoo (I plan on creating one). Note that it is a general trend for Linux distributions to spawn subdistributions, but it seems to me that Gentoo will open this process up to more people.

note for eugenia
by doesnotmatter on Fri 13th Sep 2002 23:42 UTC


please mind your words. don't expect from people to listen to your (sometimes legitimate) critics if you sound so high-hat and offending to open source devs who spend most of their spare time improving software.

please remember that gentoo linux is neither be os nor windows nor mac os x nor nor redhat nor any other commercial os or distribution. as such, gentoo linux primarily lives from contributors, not users who call for bells & whistles features and are neither willing to contribute to code etc. nor to pay for services or a product. the latter sort of users are usually referred to as "lamers", "free surfers" and "leechers".

if all people shouting for improving things would at least give it one try to help improving things by active contribution of their own less people would shout for improving things.

RE: note for eugenia
by Eugenia on Fri 13th Sep 2002 23:48 UTC

> the latter sort of users are usually referred to as "lamers", "free surfers" and "leechers".

I am actually in the sort of users called "editors/reviewers". And these sort of users have high standards, it has nothing to do with "non respect to open source developers".

Deal with it.

gentoo is for power users
by Robert on Sat 14th Sep 2002 02:16 UTC

I've found gentoo to be the best distro I have ever used personally. It's an excellent production server platform with it's ability to add/delete apps and update the system OUTSIDE of a GUI. In fact I don't even install X on a server. I can't get away with that on most linux distro's without giving up the ability to update the system.

I wouldn't change a thing about gentoo personally. I don't mind the days of compiling. That's what gentoo is all about. It's a developer/power user distro.

This article seems to be evaluating it in the light of other distro's. Wrong! You can only compare gentoo to another source based distro to be fair.

Bottom line is gentoo is not for the faint of heart. I love it! I've learned more about the linux OS than I ever knew thanks to Gentoo and the fact that it does absolutely nothing for you in the setup. After stage 3 you still have to add things like cron, syslog, etc to the system manually. PERFECT! ;)


by damien on Sat 14th Sep 2002 02:32 UTC

This article is to computer journalism as toilet paper is to my a@#. I wonder why the author even bothered to write such trite, and now I am wondering why I am taking the time to write this comment.

It is clearly stated on the Gentoo site that the distro will appeal to LFS types or BSD users. For crying out loud, give it some time and it will inevitably cater to the 'greener' linux user, but I for one use it because, as with LFS, it doesn't hide so much of the detail of a linux system behind that "don't go beyond here if you don't want to learn how your system works" layer that is a valuable addition to systems like RedHat and Mandrake.

Missed the point...
by PSY on Sat 14th Sep 2002 03:08 UTC

Gentoo is not, nor has it ever been, about "easy" or "quick" Linux. It's a geek system for building a geek's OS! You "just want to use the OS"? Snag a copy of Redhat or Mandrake or SuSE and be done with it. I have used Gentoo for quite awhile now and I have had the occasion to break some library dependencies now and then but it is always fixable with very little hassle. Getting Gentoo up and running takes forever and a day but once you have a system customized to your liking why do you feel the need to update it? Outside of security fixes I keep my system at it's most stable when I don't go out and compile every new library that's out there every few days. Why do an "update world" if the system is running well? I almost never do that (and truth be told, the "update world" scripts could use some work). Gentoo is good for those who want to consider a Linux From Scratch system but find the process daunting.

If you don't feel the need to update to a new version of a package everytime a little change gets made Gentoo is fabulous once you get it setup. If you're looking for the quick and easy Linux distro there are already dozens of them out there, Gentoo doesn't need to be a "me too".

It's not about being an "advanced" user
by Heath on Sat 14th Sep 2002 03:36 UTC

I see a lot of comments here about how Gentoo is targeted at "advanced" or "power" users. That may be, but I think the criticism Eugenia makes here about compile times is a good one. It has nothing to do with the ability of the user, but rather with what they intend to do with the system. I write software for a living and I can't imagine using a source based distribution for that, just for the simple reasone that I can't sit around at work and twiddle my thumbs for 2 hours if I need to upgrade a compiler or something on my development machine. That's not to say there's anything inherently wrong with source-based distros, just that it's something more for tinkering and learning than for sitting down and getting work done. Which is fine if you understand that going in.

re: Robert
by bytes256 on Sat 14th Sep 2002 05:26 UTC

You're running gentoo on a production server? what kinda crack are you on...and what do you mean you can't update other distros using the command line? debian apt-get needs a gui? red hat rpm? slackware? or better yet FreeBSD...has some of the longest uptimes on the web

but to run a bleeding edge distro on a production server is downright lunacy IMHO


Gentoo definitely not for newbies
by Lars Janssen on Sat 14th Sep 2002 08:39 UTC

I suspect a lot of users - including relatively inexperienced ones - have been attracted by Gentoo's Portage system after having bad experiences with RPM-based distros.

Unfortunately, Gentoo is *not* especially easy to use. This isn't anyone's fault, but it's true. So users need to choose between easy to use distros (I've tended to get on well with Mandrake) or the more cutting edge stuff like Gentoo.

I'm sure the Gentoo developers would love to improve ease of use; I suspect over time they will do so to some extent, but it's probably not a priority and that's fair enough. Other distros can concentrate on that.

Much as I admire their efforts, I would recommend not using Gentoo unless you really do want to put a lot of time and effort into setting up your Linux box.

Simplicity vs. functionality, stability vs. bleeding edge
by Joakim on Sat 14th Sep 2002 08:42 UTC

change Portage to be as simple as "Install/Uninstall Packages" and "Update System" instead of all this jibberish and confusing UI, it would be best for the further acceptance of Gentoo by everyday users

Pleese don't make Gentoo simpler! If you're looking for a simple distro, look elsewhere. Simplicity will always, always has and always will, go down on functionality and configurability. I want control, thus, I use Gentoo.

However, on my personal experience with Gentoo since this April, there were more than 10 distinct cases where updating the system or libraries it broke other packages or even the system

For me this is a very strong issue however. I've experienced the same thing, and as I see it, it is not a problem of the system as a whole, but rather a problem of the ebuilds. Ok, it is really nice to have a bleeding distro, but this should'n need to imply lots of broken ebuilds. But I am sure that the Gentoo people (that's all of us) are working hard to improve this situation.

A replpy to -bytes256: Running Gentoo on a production server seems very sane to me. It doesn't say anywhere in Gentoo's anals that it shouldn't be useful in the real world. It doesn't need to be unstable, you can turn of the bleediness by choosing your emerges more carefully. It gives control! That's the beauty of it!

just my 2 euro-cent...

by ~Seedy~ on Sat 14th Sep 2002 08:44 UTC

The word exists in English too.. check OED. Perhaps it never made it across the pond before.. well done Eugenia for introducing a new word to the melée that is American English :-)

Gentoo is still young and improving
by mark on Sat 14th Sep 2002 11:13 UTC

I agree with Eugenia on some points. I think there are certainly areas where Gentoo can be made easier to use and still maintain its flexibillity and power. KPortagemaster is in my view a good start, it provides a QT based front end for Portage

I find ebuilds to be less problematic than they were. If you dont unmask and run untested packages problems are fairly minor. Its generally fairly simple to regress to an older version of a package if problems arise.

Binary packages for Gentoo are a good idea (of course Gentoos main strength is building from source,but having binaries doesnt prevent building from source its just another option), to support all the builds suggested is a big job though. I think this would best be done by another group, Gentoo provides great tools to build a Linux distro. I'm fairly suprised someone hasnt picked up on this and built a new Distro based on Gentoo. The new Distro builder could concentrate on improved usabillity and package selection issues without all the nuts and boults stuff which is already done by Gentoo.

The new Distro would run a little behind Gentoo only offering builds which had been proved problem free.

My understanding is that Gentoo developers are implementing more structure to improve the ebuild testing.

This Thread has generated some very strong responses but I believe it is possible to maintain the power of Gentoo and provide ease of use to. For example GUI based installers are being tested but you can still use the old method if you prefer.

by Sarah on Sat 14th Sep 2002 12:37 UTC

Man al this furor over what? A few opinions? Personally I don't agree with some of them others I do. It seems that Gentoo users though are a very fragile beast that can't take any criticism of their distro.

I tried gentoo for a few weeks on my box but ultimately dropped it. It was not too hard as i can read and am capable of searching the interent for answers. I stopped using it because it was not offering me anything substanial over my main distro at the time which was Libranet.

I had my Libranet tweaked pretty good and was running the unstable tree which at worst is only marginally behind on app versions, with exception of XFree, KDE and Gnome. But these are easily obtainable from the internet in easy .deb format.

Gentoo only offer a one speed up in one app and a slightly faster boot. On the other hand it was far more unstable than Libranet despite running applications that were know as stable and mostly bug free. In fact many of my more recent versioned apps were more stable than the older "stable" apps.

Portage while a very good tool has at least one fatal flaw in it. It breaks dependencies when removing applications (which i did not have happen to me but even the gentoo literature says it can do this). This fact alone makes portage inferior to apt and is something that should be fixed by incorporating better meta data or something.

Stuff did not take long to compile on my system but the overall stability and the long hours of work for little in return ultimately made me go back to Libranet. As well i was sick of alot of my desired apps not being available becasue they were masked. It is pretty simple in my mind, don't say something is available when it isn't. There were just too many nigglely little things that ruined my Gentoo experience.

I think it is a good distro and has a bright future but I won't be trying it again.I have since found a faster more stable 686 optimized Distro. Arch Linux is binary based but performs much better than Gentoo did for me and though not having a very large package selection yet does everything I want a power sytem to do.

Just my 2 cents folks

It's ok with me except ...
by Gene Imes on Sat 14th Sep 2002 13:39 UTC

I disagree with almost all of this article. I have been using Gentoo about the same amount of time and haven't broken any packages. I emerge -u world everyday.

The big problem that I have is the lack of programs available. For instance I installed wvdial for my 'on th road' work and I use gnome, gtk, etc. and the only gui interface for wvdial is qtwvdial so I have to install qt to get graphical access to wvdial.

Faxing is sorely lacking.

I have requested that an ebuild be made for a program and nothing happened (not entirely unreasonable thought, but instant gratification is always nice).

Gentoo has a great forum system but I get less than half of my questions answered satisfactorily. The forum searches are difficult to narrow.

However, I like gentoo, so far the best I have tried. I was Slackware diehard and have tried several distributions but so far Gentoo is the best I have tried.

I just want improvement in some areas, namely faxing and video production and I am sure there are several other areas that Gentoo users want improvement. I hope these improvements are forthcoming.

Problem with portage
by Francisco on Sat 14th Sep 2002 15:19 UTC

The main problem on Gentoo is that portage does not backtrack dependencies. Say you have xmms and it depends on vorbis. Vorbis gets a new release and you emerge it. Xmms should be asked to be rebuilt or risk being broken.

I have had lots of things broken on this example. I am currently having a big problem in gentoo is that "man" segfaults. (Well not really man but less, man calls less) and it fixes itself and breaks itself all over the time

couple of suggestions
by J on Sat 14th Sep 2002 18:03 UTC

I've been watching Gentoo for a while and the concept is really appealing. However the consistent main gripe seems to be over speed of compilation. I have a couple of suggestions to possibly help with this, these are:

1) Automatic uploading to central server of first successful build for given option set (this could potentially be by any user). Subsequent users of that option set have choice to build a fresh or pull the existing binaries from the server.

2) Some sort of Gentoo p2p (grid ?) compilation network possibly combined with 1.

Gentoo, FreeBSD?
by manny on Sat 14th Sep 2002 19:27 UTC

Here's what I've done..
*I had Linux Mandrake 8.1. Nice, but filled with "features" I never used.

*Tried Slackware, faster, I couldn't even get X windows to use the gint server for my card. I was stuck with frame buffer! It was just an overall pain to use.

*Tried FreeBSD. Liked it! And installed it on all three of my PCs getting rid of Mandrake and Slackware. But then I started to miss ALSA and USB seemed to be much slower than on Linux. My USB mouse was fine, but transferring files to/from my Rio600 took longer than it should.

*I found out about a ports-based Linux distro. So I tried Gentoo.I like everything except waiting hours to compile/install software. Especially programs like mozilla. Haven't tried rioutil because there's no port for it YET. I've only had it for a few weeks and haven't done any major updates. I hope gentoo begins to provide binary packages!

Re: To G0tt
by Anonymous on Sat 14th Sep 2002 22:11 UTC

--quoted by G0tt--
With upcoming much more simple Sorcererbased Distros, which adhere to standards ( FHS, SystemV Boot etc. ).
--/quoted by G0tt--

Actually, Gentoo Linux claimed it follows FHS, but really not. Let me show it to you.

From 4.1 (/usr purpose): ->
Large software packages must not use a direct subdirectory under the /usr hierarchy.

If you look at what the apache ebuild does (as one example), this isn't followed.

To pick on apache a bit more, I really dislike how /etc/apache symbolic links to /usr and /var. /etc should be for configuration, not for running apache out of (ServerRoot is set to /etc/apache).

From 4.9.1 (/usr/local purpose) ->
The /usr/local hierarchy is for use by the system administrator when installing software locally. It needs to be safe from being overwritten when the system software is updated. It may be used for programs and data that are shareable amongst a group of hosts, but not found in /usr.

Locally installed software must be placed within /usr/local rather than /usr unless it is being installed to replace or upgrade software in /usr.

Again, not followed, unless you're going to consider everything in emerge to be 'the system'. Also, the most of emerge are installed in the /usr instead /usr/local. The author of this Apache emerge needs to follow the FHS, so the rest authors. FreeBSD's ports are pretty required authors of Makefile to follow the hier(7). I know that the users can edit the emerge to change the path, but it doesn't matter. It should be standard and let the users to decide if they don't want to follow the standard, so edit the emerge by theirselves.

by Jeld on Sun 15th Sep 2002 00:35 UTC

QUOTE: Gentoo should only support i586, i686, PIII, Athlon, AthlonXP and Pentium4 architectures by utilizing the mcpu and march GCC flags. Users for the rest (and least used) CPU architectures (like K6, Athlon-MP, PPro, Cyrix etc) could have two options: either use the default i586 build which works on all modern CPUs, or simply resort in the traditional Portage method, the recompilation, if they want to squeeze every bit of performance out of their machines. UNQUOTE

So, basically people who complain about compile times ( people with older slower systems ) will have to compile where people with modern systems will not. Nice going there.

Anyway, if you would consider Red Hat 8 for your next distro, you probably should switch. Leave Gentoo for me and other geeks who like our distribution compiled from source, optimized and thoroughly tweaked.

P.S. I do not seem to recall the last time portage broke things for me and I do not see 'emerge kde' as difficult interface to use

The article makes some good points but I think that the tone is quite derogatory.

Ultimately however Gentoo is not a commercial enterprise and doesn't try to be everything to everyone. It has its strengths and weaknesses For some people Speed and Stabilty are far more important than being easy to learn... I find that I can do most of my non demanding tasks Email/web-browsing writing etc and compile at the same time without really noticing problems so the compilation is not really that much of an issue for me.

Sometimes particulary for a new program it can be as harmful to have too many users as it is to have too few.

If people want an easier to use distro with binaries available. Gentoo will only get better.

by Danni Coy on Sun 15th Sep 2002 08:34 UTC

Last sentence should read:

If gentoo does not meet your needs there are plenty of other options available... I know this sounds arrogant but that is not the intent its just that there are lots of binary based distros out there which are going to be better for users for a long time. Use gentoo if you really need want that extra power and are prepared to pay for it.

PS I really like the idea of a P2P system. I think it is the most sensible suggestion in this forum.

I disagree
by Rafael Griman on Sun 15th Sep 2002 17:06 UTC

Sorry, but I disagree completely with the author of this article. If peolpe want a packaged distro, then use a packaged distro, don't expect us to turnover to packaging systems just becaus users want that. SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, ... are GREAT Linux distros, with easy GUI frontends that let you work with packages.

I also think the author hasn't had much experience with Gentoo, or hasn't dived deep into the software it has since we've got KPortage (a GUI frontend to portage).

I sincerely HOPE Gentoo doesn't start precompiling packages. If you don't like tweaking your system, then DON'T do it, but let US do it. That's one of the ideas behind GPLed SW: you can do it yourself if you want. And WE WANT to.

I also think that Gentoo developers have MORE IMPORTANT things to do than precompiling SW packages.

I don't agree
by longInt on Sun 15th Sep 2002 17:53 UTC

I've dreamed of something like gentoo for years. It's the one and only linux-distro for any professional user (including administrators) at this time.

fbsd vs. gentoo
by kabau on Mon 16th Sep 2002 01:31 UTC

Well, I started with Gentoo last July, and had converted all my FBSD boxes to Gentoo. As much as I dislike Linux, I had gotten bitten by the inflexibility of FBSD ports. Namely, I couldn't easily update system software without either doing a make world, or going through /usr/src/sys and pulling out the bits I needed. Doing a make world on my server just makes me nervous. Gentoo gives me the ability to do it a piece at a time, and *everything* comes from Portage so everything can be managed by it.

I seriously find your article, pardon my french, "A LOAD OF HORSESHIT". If your going to write an article that is seriously supposed to analyze the shortcomings of a distro your first objective should be to find out the FACTS! Gentoo
is where it is today because of the compiling and the USE flags and bleeding edge packages. The installer and total control over the system is it's main advantage and the reason it has risen to the top 5 in distro's. If people wanted another REDHAT knockoff ( as if there aren't 500 of them ) people wouldn't use Gentoo. WAKE UP and go back to your silly,
unoptimized, bloated, pre-packaged, Non-controllable distro and STFU

by Brad Cowan on Mon 16th Sep 2002 06:41 UTC

Sorry for the cursing and general inappropriate language in the last post, as I was a little angered and bothered by your article, and posted in a heat of emotion.

All for the show
by abracadabrabas on Mon 16th Sep 2002 10:32 UTC

It's a pretty typical social developement. Gentoo is quite 'hip' in "Linux cycles" and has a geek factor.
So everyone wants to run it. But it's still a bit too complicated. So we simply request an easier Version and sacrifice quality for masscompliance - just to be able to run that gentoo thing and feel cool.

The optimization thing is largely overhyped. USE ist the big PRO about compiling from source. You want the inflexibility of binary software, but that felling of an "optimized" system, though you hardly would not recognize a difference. It's just for the personal show. For the ego. You don't want to compile, there are other out there, which are not worse - they just don't have that geek status. They are not part of that shiny, great, new community. That's what's all about.

Well, just use what's better for the job!
by Woollhara on Mon 16th Sep 2002 13:23 UTC

I love Gentoo for its flexibility and I use it at home because I've got time to set things up as I want. I use "emerge rsync" every couple of days and I frankly believe that the emerge interface is pretty simple. If most people would take the time to do "man emerge" that would help a lot ;)

I love Mandrake for the instant availability of loads of binary packages that allows me to setup a system in a record time. That's my choice at work.

Now I am not bitching at Mandrake for not providing a source base distro nor I am bitching at Gentoo for not taking the burden of providing binary packages for all architectures under the sun. That would seem to me highly unreasonable in both situation.

Gentoo developers don't owe anybody anything. They do their best with the amount of time they have and what they've achieved in less than a year is just great!

Unstable? Hard? Breaks?
by Paul S on Mon 16th Sep 2002 14:14 UTC

At this particular location I'm running currently 15 Gentoo 1.2 machines. Each of them with their own purpose, some identical in use.

At no given time have any of these systems (including 2 workstations) ever broke due to portage deps. The speed difference from the dist (they wear a padora) that was on these systems is unmatched. Only FreeBSD compared to the speed but I did no benchmarks.

What I'm getting at is, this is a nice dist for those who are willing to spend the time. I'm not sure what the expectations of the article's author was, but it clearly states that this is not your mom's Linux dist.

Maybe he should switch to Mandrake where he can wallow in RPM package dependancies and instead of waiting for builds, he can wait for his system to boot.

If you don't like it...
by Jacob Atzen on Mon 16th Sep 2002 17:16 UTC

Then why don't you stay away from it? Nobodys forcing you to use a source-almost-only distribution full og weird configuration stuff?

Go with RH og Mandrake instead?

Just my 2 cents.

Comments on the original editorial
by Grant Goodyear on Mon 16th Sep 2002 17:37 UTC

Let me begin my stating that I am a Gentoo Linux developer, so I am, unsurprisingly, somewhat biased in favor of the distribution. I have been using Gentoo Linux as my primary Linux distribution since early 2001.

After analyzing the comments of a recent Gentoo release note on, the author suggested that there is a schism between Gentoo developers and users. Taking a look at those comments myself, it looks to me like very few of the comments, pro or otherwise, are by developers, so I'm not sure that the author's claim is, in fact, justified.

That said, there are, indeed, a number of justifiable user complaints about Gentoo Linux. The biggest complaint, by far, is "emerge --update world (or emerge foo) broke my system!". Quality control, right now, is our number one issue. I believe that we have made vast strides over the last couple of months, but we still have a lot to do here. This area is one where, I'm afraid, Gentoo Linux is likely to always prove more troublesome than a distribution such as Red Hat. The reason is that the underlying raison d'etre of Gentoo Linux is flexibility for the users, which we have implemented through the use of "USE" flags in the ebuilds. For example, the "jed" editor can be built with or without X and gpm support, depending on what USE flags have been set. Such flexibility, though, means that quite literally every Gentoo Linux user could be running a different system!

Here's a quick numerical example of how quickly things can get out of hand: At the moment Gentoo Linux has about 3000 packages. Assume an average of three USE flags per package that can be set, or not set, and at least eight different architectures (i486, i586, i686, athlon, P4, ppc, sparc, sparc64), and suddenly instead of 3000 packages we really have (3000)(2^3=8)(8)=192000 different packages. Now imagine the number of possible permutations of those different packages, and the numbers become truly overwhelming.

The net result is that traditional distributions can control the numbers problem to some extent by having the distribution, instead of the user, decide on what functionality should be compiled into a package and for what architecture packages should be compiled. I would not recommend that Gentoo Linux, in its default state, be used as an enterprise desktop solution. On the other hand, it would be very easy for a company to create its own distribution based off of Gentoo Linux.

The above numbers illustrate how difficult it would be to have a binary package available for each architecture and each combination of USE flags. However, the upcoming 1.4 release will offer compiled stage2 (gcc, glibc, gettext, and binutils) and stage3 (the rest of a "core" Linux system) tarballs that have been compiled for a considerable variety of platforms with a reasonable default set of USE flags (see ). I believe that in the future we will probably make binary packages available in a similar fashion, but there are a number of details that would need to be worked out first.

The considerable flexibility permitted by Gentoo Linux thus comes at a noticeable price for the user, as Gentoo Linux has deliberately traded simplicity for flexibility. I will cheerfully agree that we still have quite a way to go in making Gentoo Linux both easier to use and more powerful, but I hope our dictum will always be "as simple as possible, but no simpler!" There are already many fine Linux distributions that offer a mostly "hassle-free", if inflexible, desktop solution; Gentoo Linux need not attempt to compete in this arena. Instead, Gentoo Linux shall, I trust, remain "a versatile and fast, completely free Linux distribution ... geared towards Linux power users."

Finally, let me add a minor comment about installation. The new "livecd" install cd for 1.4_rc1 makes installing Gentoo Linux a bit easier, and I'm sure that eventually we will have some sort of gui-based installer, but the "involved installation process" mentioned by the author will always be easily available for those who want (or need) to be able to tweak absolutely _everything_ involved in a Gentoo Linux install.

RE: I hammer on my Gentoo workstation...
by johnnyboy on Mon 16th Sep 2002 18:08 UTC

your right sean about removing packages you already merged.
Just last weekend I experienced my first broken ebuild.
I was trying to remove packages I already installed to save space.

I lost my sound on mylaptop. I was forced to remerge my alsa-driver to get it back. I heard that most of the time to fix something you just have to remerge some ebuilds.

Also, If I didn't make too many crazy configurations under /etc this wouldn't have happened.

Market Audience
by Gwurb on Mon 16th Sep 2002 19:54 UTC


Since OSNews is a website staying up to date with technological changes and economical change through-out Operating Systems, I can safely assume that things like "target market" is a pretty simple concept to discuss here?

Who is Gento's Target Market?
Is it those who ask and expect ""user-oriented"" installs?
I have yet to see an indication that Gento and Gento's dev team ever wanted to target that market.

Let's assume that Gento team decided to evaluate their options and see if they wish to appeal to other markets. What are the reasons to do so? What will give Gento the competitive advantage over other open source operating systems that already impliment packaging systems? Should Gento developers re-think of what Gento is about?

ok, lets take 1 step back. Did you consider Gento's target market auidence when you put together the editorial?

All i am intending to point out is that suggestions, assistance and changes to Gento can be very useful, yet are you really understanding that Gento is leaving RedHat's audience alone at this point in time?

If i mis-understood who Gento team target then please help me out and provide something of official nature (something from Gento team) describing who Gento aim to appeal to.

So to sum up: "What audience are Gento's target market?" Is ALL of the editorial accurate if that question is answered?

Looking forward to thoughtout comments ;)

why do we assume that every distro is supposed to appeal to everyone?

I started using Gentoo because it's portage system is similar to the *BSD ports system, and wine works. (could never get it fully functional under FreeBSD).

For me, the whole point of Gentoo is that you get to compile everything from scratch. If you don't want to, and are unwilling to read the simple documentation about the ebuild system and the USE variable, then you prolly shouldn't be using gentoo.

as far as stability goes, i've been running the pre-release gcc 3.2 system in both a production server and on my laptop for a month now, with no issues at all.

And yes, it's very much like FreeBSD, without the filesysttem disipline, although it's pretty good for a Linux. The basic difference is that _everything_ is in portage, as opposed to a seperate source tree.

So what is the concensus
by revrus on Tue 17th Sep 2002 04:35 UTC

As I understood the article she saw a need being presented by users and merely spelled it out she didn't say gentoo had to change just that there was a market there.
Yes it is for power users(?) still trying to figure out how you can use the system doing that many compiles.
But there are people out there who would like an off shoot of the project with the things she mentioned. Maybe some of the prgrammer types out the could get together and make thier own version just a bit behind the cutting edge but still more advanced then the other distros?
Course I'm not a cutting edge fanatic I still have 2.2 kernal on one machine.
Guess it boils down to Linux is supposed to be about choice and being able to pick and choose what you whant when you want it.

Quoted from's about gentoo section:

" Gentoo Linux is a versatile and fast, completely free Linux distribution for x86, PowerPC, Sparc and Sparc64 that's geared towards Linux power users. Unlike other distros, Gentoo Linux has an advanced package management system called Portage. Portage is a true ports system in the tradition of BSD ports, but is Python-based and sports a number of advanced features including dependencies, fine-grained package management, "fake" (OpenBSD-style) installs, path sandboxing, safe unmerging, system profiles, virtual packages, config file management, and more."

What point were you trying to make again?

Gentoo (in)stability...
by Anonymous on Thu 19th Sep 2002 04:58 UTC

The author mentions instability in his essay. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing where he is coming from. Does he refer to the fact that if you keep your system "up to the minute" current, sometimes e-builds break? Couldn't be. If the e-build breaks during build/install, you still have your old package readily available. As long as you can be content with a fairly tested RELEASE version, stability of portage isn't an issue.

Or does he refer to the overall stability of the system after everything is built/configured? Honestly, I have never had a stability problem with a linux-based system. Ever. The only things that ever crash on me are applications that I really don't depend on anyhow. I believe that linux systems get better with every passing day. It is a win-win situation really.


DOS Fast?
by Anonymous on Thu 19th Sep 2002 05:01 UTC

Wow, I'll just ignore the "free space" check upon first typing "dir". Not to mention the blistering speed of deleting several thousand files. Yeah, 16 bit systems rule! Who needs all those extra registers anyway?!

Gentoo Works for Me
by Chris Egan on Sun 22nd Sep 2002 20:52 UTC

I'm a recent Gentoo convert, having used Redhat almost exclusivly for 2 years now, I'm completeing the change over to Gentoo on all my systems.

Gentoo works for me, it's one of the good things about Linux that people are free to pick and choose in a far greater way than under other OSs. The portage system is a great deal better for my way of working than RPMs - but it's not for everybody, a good slice of bandwidth is handy for it, time is another factor...

Compile time on the whole is an issue, as is problems with some software/code and GCC (esp. with increased compiler optimisation), but Gentoo allows a person to hand craft their OS to their machine and requirements, like no other _I_ have used in recent times.

Every OS has there problems, Gentoo is no exception in this respect. I think Gentoo has a huge amount of potential, it is rare than anything impresses me, but Gentoo over the last few months has.