Forgot your password?
Linux Software

Zynot Foundation Forks Gentoo 455

Posted by simoniker
from the awaiting-gentoo-sporking-eagerly dept.
deque_alpha writes "The Gentoo Linux distribution has been forked by a group of Gentoo developers and community members. This fork is being placed under the control of the non-profit Zynot Foundation, which will "hold the source code, trademarks, and any other intellectual property developed by and for its community." The goals of the fork include improving stability and cross-platform reliability to bring the Gentoo-developed technology to the enterprise and embedded arenas." Another reader points out Zack Welch's long article at on reasons for forking the Gentoo distribution.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Zynot Foundation Forks Gentoo

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Hardneded Gentoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KentoNET (465732) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:10AM (#6300481)
    floam, the hardened-gentoo project is still alive and has its own channel on freenode, #gentoo-hardened. It mainly consists of a kernel with only stable patches, IPSec, grsecurity or selinux (not both) and (if using IPSec) a profile to go with it. It's not a fork, just an enhancement upon Gentoo itself, hence the added profile and kernel sources. I've been using it on my router and it seems to be doing great, even with Gentoo's default SELinux policy.

    Also, try their demo machine here []. It's been mentioned as an article here before. It lets you log in as root and do almost nothing, which is pretty cool.
  • SERIOUS QUESTION (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:16AM (#6300498)
    This is a serious question.

    I want you to think about how much time has been spent and money and effort invested over the past (let's say) six years on the various Linux distributions. There are, what, half a dozen major ones, and maybe a dozen more niche or fringe ones?

    Now think about how much further along Linux would have been if that time, money, and effort had not been squandered on dead ends.

    Now think about how much time, money, and effort was spent on Gnome or KDE. Now think about how much further along Gnome or KDE could have been if nobody had wasted their time on the other one.

    Now think about Gecko. Gecko, as a browser technology, is essentially dead. KHTML, thanks to Apple, rules the day. How much further along would KHTML be if nobody had wasted their time on Gecko? Or, if you prefer, how much more viable and advanced would Gecko be if nobody had wasted their time on KHTML?

    Here we see what, to me, seems to be the ultimate failure of this thing you guys call "open source." What I'm referring to here is the development of large software projects by loose, unorganized confederations of hobbyists, students, and individuals; this is the phenomenon that has come to be known on Slashdot and in a few other places as "open source."

    The ultimate failure of "open source" is this: everybody wants to have it his own way. Consequently, we have ten individuals or groups working on their own variations on X, instead of cooperating on X itself.

    As a software engineering protocol, "open source" appears to be remarkably ineffective.

    How can this be?

  • Re:SERIOUS QUESTION (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:21AM (#6300519)
    Well, all things considered, Linux as a whole probably would have caught up to Microsoft in market share and functionality by now, if people worked together as you describe.

    Your point is a massive troll but well taken. I'm sure that 600,000 users are now going to tear you apart and say it isn't so, but the matter of fact is that 100 hobbyists split between 2 competing open source projects can't compete with 100 paid employees working on one closed source project.
  • -1, Flamebait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy@sto ... m minus caffeine> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:26AM (#6300531)
    It's nice to see my intuition confirmed. Gentoo is the only community-run project of which I am aware that mostly ignores the community. Go read the posts at'll see most of the developers (Especially Kurt Lieber) are arrogant and talk down to the users. You'll see many ignored ideas that make sense; it took about 6 months for anyone to pay attention to the scores of users who wanted updates from the developers, of this supposed "community" distribution and it took another couple of months before the Gentoo Newsletter was implemented...and it STILL doesn't really give people what they want, telling people the number of bugs found and squashed, rather than good info on what the bugs actually ARE.

    Did I mention how arrogant the developers are? People who don't want to install 1.4 until it is final are looked down upon and told "it's just the installer, it's good enough." Well then, why not call 1.4 RCx "1.4 final" then, if it is "good enough?" People who suggest that new features shouldn't be added to a release candidate build are ignored. And this is not the first developer that has cried foul of Daniel Robbins. I don't know him personally so I can't say with authority, but I smell a rat.

    The sad thing is, despite the horrendous developer beauracracy, it's still the best source-based distro out there. Hopefully this Zynot project will overtake it eventually. If there is more to it than spite towards DR, I think it will succeed.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:33AM (#6300549) Journal

    How can you write code, contribute it to a major GPL project, then not realize that your contribution is one of thousands, and that there is no major plan to reward individual contributors?

    When your 'contributions' include managing the entire ARM and Embedded projects, loaning 5 machines to the infrastructure, then practically thrown out of the loop once the founder figures out there could be good money involved.
  • Re:-1, Flamebait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KentoNET (465732) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:45AM (#6300576)
    You're right, some of the developers are very, very arrogant. Unfortunately, those few devs give a terrible reputation to the rest of the group, who are really a bunch of very nice people. If you frequented the IRC channel on freenode, you would know that. I've never seen someone like drobbins be so humble to his community. Development manager Seemant Kulleen is also very nice, and got the ball rolling on a revolutionary XFree ebuild with all kinds of patches included, even attempting to get GATOS in there for the countless ATI users. klieber and some others may not be as nice, but even those few guys are nowhere near as bad as the friendliest developers of other distributions.

    About the "installers", those versions are primarily intended for the LiveCD's, not actual installation procedures themselves. 1.4RCx, for instance, has many more features than the older 1.4RCy, including autodetection and setup of network devices and numerous other hardware, or whatever. That's what the version refers to, not the results of those CD's. The installation procedure has not changed since (before?) the 1.0 CD was released.
  • Re:SERIOUS QUESTION (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Strudelkugel (594414) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:02AM (#6300624)

    A good question, or several, actually. The problem with OpenSource, from a business point of view, is that it is almost impossible to make a big bet with it and gain from the insight that inspired the bet in the first place. Jobs and Wozniak bet on a friendly looking computer and a whimsical company image. Once established, no one could catch up to it for a long time. Gates bet on stripping out the windowing functions of OS/2, leaving the superiority of OS/2 behind in favor of lower cost. Similar big bets were made by Dell, Ellison and others. Now imagine an environment were their ideas were instantly distributed to everyone else, especially before they were completely evolved. I bet none of them would have market gained traction.

    As I have mentioned in other posts, there only three promising Linux markets: high end, which Red Hat will likely win, ultra low end, where Lindows is well positioned, and embedded (TiVo). Successful technology strategies have few peers...

  • All I can say is wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JonnyRo88 (639703) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:03AM (#6300627) Homepage Journal
    As to the "sweat equity" arguments I can only say that he submitted his code as a volunteer. If he was concerned about getting certian business considerations as a result of his work he should have taken it in writing.

    One thing I was not certian of; did he loan or donate those servers he mentioned. If he loaned them I could see it being the nice thing to do to return them if he no longer feels comfortable lending them out.

    We'll see how this all turns out a year or two from now. I doubt any useful information will come out of either side for a good couple of months. The sanatized reports are all we will get for a while, until later on enough secondary evidence tricles out for people to make their own decisions.
  • Re:Hear, hear! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gladbach (527602) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:06AM (#6300633)
    I'm pretty dubious both ways... for one thing, we've only heard his side of it, but on another thing, it sounds pretty shady for him to have contributed all that, then having DR cut him out of the loop, seemingly wanting to keep the future money prospects to himself.

    (why they couldnt have worked together, I have no idea. Could have been a nice contractual partnership)

    I love gentoo. I haven't installed another linux distro since the early betas. But when it comes to linux and politics, nothign would suprise me anymore. Certainly not when it comes to finding a buisness model to supporta GPL project.
  • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp.freeshell@org> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:12AM (#6300650) Homepage Journal
    You might be a troll, but you serve much better as a devil's advocate.
    I don't think you're looking at this quite right.

    The "failure" of open source is that everybody wants it their own way, perhaps, but you should look more seriously at what that means. They want any piece of software they want to work with whatever hardware they've got as well as possible. There really isn't anything wrong with that. Shouldn't this be the case?
    This has been a HUGE problem in the past.

    There was no way to make any piece of software work well without hurting some other piece. You want easy installation? Then you won't be able to optimize. You want to optimize? Then configuration will not be easy.

    The problem is not choice, it's flexibility. Autoconfig did a lot to ensure that flexibility, and this "fork" is another step in that direction. I put fork in quotation marks because it is quite likely that a lot of the material in the fork will go back to the original. At least, I really, really hope so. Otherwise, there are certainly going to be people switching back and forth between the two distros. Gentoo is designed with flexibility in mind, and it is becoming more flexible as time goes on, so this is quite feasible. Haven't you heard how much Gentoo steals from other distros?

    Here's a better question than yours.

    How much farther along would your distro be if all open source software was easily accessable to it? How much farther would it be if someone could create packages for your distro that come from a different distro, processor, or even kernel?

    That seemed to be ZWelch's concerns when I talked to him on #gentoo-embedded last.

    One final note: in case you're thinking that something like this is just another development thing, note that Zachary Welch was the lead embedded group developer. This is going to be a distro with advanced cross-compilation capabilities, an area which is rather undeveloped (anywhere in the open source world) at the moment.

  • by 73939133 (676561) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:39AM (#6300714)
    Open source is driven by market forces. If Gentoo makes sense, people will continue to use it. If this new effort makes sense, people will start using it. If either organization violates open source licenses, they can kiss their business model goodbye. It's no big deal.

    As for all the personal stuff, well, people need to think about ahead of time what they are investing their time in and what they are going to get out of it. In the business world, all you get is what is guaranteed to you contractually in writing (or by law). So, don't spend time developing open source software expecting that some profit or job will magically materialize. Either develop open source software under contract, or do it for fun or as a volunteer.
  • by Sevn (12012) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:42AM (#6300720) Homepage Journal
    I actually expected this. A project as brilliant as
    Gentoo was probably going to follow in the footsteps
    of FreeBSD. So now they have their Guido. Big
    surprise. It's kinda like how The Smashing Pumpkins
    did/do/whatever nothing but fight nonstop, but put
    out goodness. Same thing goes for The Pixies until
    they broke up in 91. You need those premadonna's
    though. They fire up everyone else enough by either
    inspiration or plain pissing them off to get to the
    really interesting aspects of people. People end up
    doing things that they never expected. Like say,
    donating 5 machines for the cause. You need people
    with these questionable methods and morals running
    the show. A blowjob in the oval office happens.
    Look how great openbsd is. I'm from the school of
    UNIX where Admins were Gods. You treated them like
    gold. Heads of other departments kissed your ass
    or you didn't do shit for them. Sometimes I really
    miss those days *sniff!*. You can argue til you
    are blue in the face that you can't run a business
    that way. Those fat smelly hippy geeks didn't
    deserve those huge salaries and aerialon chairs
    and insane levels of power, but is it really
    better now? Open Source projects are one of the
    last places someone that wants to get their
    power on can find refuge. It's one of the few
    places they can get the loyalty and admiration
    they feel they rightly deserve for being the
    type of God necessary to pull of the types of
    things necessary to make something as stunningly
    beautiful as Gentoo. Let them have their lame
    tantrums. Let them play God and cuss people out
    and ignore the lusers. As long as they keep doing
    the kinds of things that will allow them to get
    away with it. I, for one, miss the stuck up
    asshole admin/coder/developer. He was always
    a great friend as long as you were clueful and
    didn't ask stupid fucking questions you could find
    the answer too in 5 minutes on your own. If we
    didn't live in a culture the constantly rewarded
    mediocrity and scorned intelligence, they wouldn't
    act that way because they wouldn't have too.
  • by wiresquire (457486) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @03:56AM (#6300753) Journal
    OK, bye bye karma...

    This is a really great strategy. While the rest of the industry consolidates, we Linux'ers will start forking and flood the market with too much choice!

    Seriously though, this is my greatest concern about Linux. Are we just recreating unix wars? Already, there is *significant* variance amongst different linux distros, even ignoring forking those. Argue against this all you want. The fact of the matter is that anyone writing to Linux needs to do a lot of testing/QA to have any confidence that their software will work on distro X version Y. Unless like 99.9% of our community, you want to just throw some source up and hope that an *end user* can 'make' it.

    Major distros have a competitive reason for having other distros fork. Divide and conquer is a sound principle. The more distros there are, the more it forces you to pick the top X.

    Not to mention that Microsoft must love this kind of behaviour: "Man, here we were worrying about them, and they fscked themselves!".

    Personally, I think there may be some funky logic behind using some of the principles behind JCP. You specify a version of Linux* like J2EE that's made up of a particular version of common component technologies. 'Scuse my ignorance if United linux is doing/trying to do the same.

    Differentiation and innovation is cool, but it is happening at the very core of Linux* itself, forcing people who write software to make choices that are as good as proprietary (I write to distro X). Man, flame me and pick this apart all you want, but I'm *really* trying here.

    *Correct, I incorrectly use teminology to talk about not 'Linux the kernel' but 'Linux the kernel + other things'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @04:00AM (#6300758)
    I will not make any attempt to correct your account of events, even though they contain numerous gross exagerations, innaccuracies, massive "spin," and false insinuations that I am ripping people off, just in my initial scan of what you wrote. Littered with lies, and slanderous, certainly.

    What was that about not correcting his account?

    Because, frankly, life is too short for this kind
    of stuff. I don't want to waste it by launching personal attacks on people.


    I could easily "win" the argument by explaining in detail what really happened, sharing the real facts, details, situations, conversations and intentions, proving lies to be fabrications, assertions to be stories, and your supposed critical analysis to be fueled solely by irrational anger. But somehow I think that I'd end up "losing" by adopting your tactics. ...what was that you said about personal attacks again?

  • How goes Gentoo? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yaar (680953) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @04:15AM (#6300779)
    First, I think it best that we keep the hype beat back and focus on the facts-- namely that this is apparently a not-so-core contributor that has issues with Gentoo's direction and Gentoo's directors; the very same directors that managed to architect a distro that the principle plaintif is so very fond of. Second, persons that pick up gentoo because it's bleeding edge tech, implementing god knows what next ( hardened, ppc port that blows the dedicated ppc distros away, ... ), go on to complain that th e developers are not responsive to user requests. What I'm getting here is that these guys have a vision and that their implementing their vision as they best see fit. Personally, I amazed at what they've accomplished and I'd like that they keep on keeping on. For sometime now, my impression has been that Gentoo is building a solid base, something is that is fundimental if they're to go on to compete in the commercial, supported playground. If developers have their hands and heads full don't expect a quick response to feature requests. Finally, after (I guess) batting for Gentoo above, I think only those in comprising the core of the Gentoo development teams know what complaints have validity and what complaints do not, and I hope ,for the sake of gentoo, valid complaints are addressed. *$ sudo emerge aspell (sorry)*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @06:45AM (#6301120)
    Yay! at last!

    Funny to see this happen now, almost two years ago, even before Gentoo 1.0 was released, at the FOSDEM I meet with a bunch of hackers to drink some beer(Tea for me, thanks :)) the day before the conference started, among us were a very cool guy that used to be one of the main Gentoo developers, but had quit recently; and another hacker that was still trying to get some work done, but was growing tired of dealing with drobbins.

    After much ranting about the problems the project was suffering and drobbins complete incompetence, a fork was suggested by someone(can't recall who), a few names were discussed ("genthree" I think was one :)), and someone with a dedicated server for hosting was found...

    Sadly the idea never got anywhere, I guess mainly because everyone was too busy with other things, and I lost touch with all them(I was hopping to meet them again in FOSDEM this year, but work got in my way and I couldn't make it. :( )

    Still, after the meeting, it was clear that a good percentage of the Gentoo developers were really unhappy with the current leadership, and that it was just matter of time for something like this to happen.

    I really wish them good luck, and maybe I will look into switching to the new distro from Debian Sid(that so far has been "Good Enough"(tm), but could use some improvements) and I hope all the 31337 h4x0rs keep using Gentoo, and don't come to bother the nice people that is forking.

    It was sad to see some really good ideas and good quality work wasted because leadership sheer incompetence(anyone remembers drobbins rants about commercial distros "not contributing" "fixes" back to the mainline kernel? no that must have been embarrassing) and a user base that was mainly formed by clueless idiots that thought that Gentoo was the Mandrake of the 21th century("Hey dude, how cool I am! my box is so super-optimized! muhahaha...")

    To the fork: good luck! to drobbins: have fun crashing in hell!

    [posted anonymously to protect the identity of the confabulators ;)]


    P.S.: DISCLAIMERS: I'm a Debian (l)user, and ex-BSD-zealot(still have a few BSD boxes around), and over time I have got really tired of solving the problems of clueless Gentoo (l)users in IRC, not to mention listening to their stupid rants about how 'optimized' their distro is, while they can't even use vi to edit a fucking file.
  • Nothing new... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @07:07AM (#6301154)
    ... they are just imitating the forking daemons.

    AFAIK FreeBSD forked NetBSD which is geared towards embedded devices (and other obscure hardware ;-)

    This is just Gentoo doing the same with Zynot.

    Pass on,
    Nothing new beneath the sun.
  • by Mr.Ned (79679) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @07:18AM (#6301173)
    There's always been a resistance by some higher-ups in Gentoo to move away from Python to something like C/C++ for the portage system. Although Zynot will keep portage for now, one of it's stated goals is to reimpliment portage functionality in a lower-level language.

    Zach Welch, the founder, has done a lot of work with cross-compiling, so even though it might seem stupid to build something from a handheld, if you connected it up to your beefy desktop things would go quickly. I don't think anyone wants to do that, though, so as another reply has indicated, it's probably disk images.
  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @07:32AM (#6301213)

    This story is a cautionary tale for anyone looking to exploit commercial opportunities in open source: always remember that community is community, and business is business.

    The Zynot founder made a mistake: he expected the community leadership to support his efforts "to capitalize from my significant sweat equity contributions to the project". In the absence of a business contract, all open source contributions are volunteer work -- that's why they're called "communities" and not "start-ups" or "incubators". This holds true whether the contributor is a major organization (like IBM) or an individual volunteer.

    This is not to say that the Zynot founder is behaving badly by forking Gentoo. In fact, forking is the ultimate right granted by open source.

    In an ideal world, perhaps, there would have been a way for the Gentoo leadership and for the Zynot group to work off the same codebase in a symbiotic relationship. It appears that MySQL AB is able to acheive that to some degree. But, as the JBoss group split demonstrates, sometimes business interests do not fit well within a community framework.

    I suppose two lessons come from this:

    • The leadership of open source projects with significant commercial potential need to recognize this and have a model for how they are going to deal with it, such that their goals are met and as many goals of the community as possible are also met, as the community is what gives the project "legs"
    • Non-founders of open source projects need to recognize that social relationships are not a replacement for business relationships, so if you intend to commercialize open source, either establish the business relationships you need or be prepared to rely solely on the license if the social relationships prove insufficient
  • wait a sec (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SupahVee (146778) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @08:54AM (#6301619) Journal
    Isn't the very thing that he's complaining about, that the main Gentoo project was taking 'his stuff' and without compensating him for it, The very same thing that he has just done to Gentoo?
    i.e. Yes, he may have donated several machines to the project, and some specific coding related tot eh ARM branch, but what about the parts that really make gentoo what it is, like, say portage, the boatloads of prepatched kernels for things like grsecurity, selinux, vanilla, etc. I could check again, but I don't remember seeing his name anywhere.
    Seems to me it went like this:
    -drobbins- Wanna help?
    -zach- sure, but I want financial compensation for everything I do
    -drobbins- Well, this gentoo thing makes money, but let's face it, it's a linux distro, and it's not a whole lot of money.
    -zach- *GASP*! Fine, I'm taking all my stuff and forking your distro!

    Am I missing anything? (flame away)
  • Knee-jerk reactions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by srussell (39342) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @11:40AM (#6303223) Homepage Journal
    I read Zach's article, and was vaguely disturbed. I really like Gentoo, primarily because of the easy systems-administration, but also in large part because Gentoo penguins are cool.

    Anyway, by the end of the article, I had started wondering whether my "investment" in Gentoo was mislead; I contribute ebuilds, and not an insignificant amount of time submitting bug reports, and so on. What if the leaders of Gentoo were sitting in a dark, smoky room somewhere, secretly making hoards of cash off my labors and contributions?? Yegods! I could be being ripped off!

    After the initial wave of panic, I got to thinking about it: I don't really care what people are doing with Gentoo. I use Gentoo because I believe it is the best distribution; they keep my most important packages up-to-date, Gentoo is easy to administer, and they have at least the illusion of being an open community. Nothing they're doing is hurting me, I'm running Gentoo on three or four machines, and I don't pay anything to use it. In fact, I consider my contributions to the project to be my "payment". If "they" can figure out a way of making money off their efforts, and it doesn't impact my use of Gentoo, then more power to them.

    Now, if I were Zach, and I'd contributed that much time and effort, I'd probably be pissed too. At some level of contribution, you sort of expect to be included in the reaping of whatever nebulous profits are being gleaned. I think it is probable that Daniel, et al, are acting unethically -- being unwilling to acknowledge someone else's significant contributions is bad form (old chap) -- so at this point I wouldn't trust Daniel as far as I could throw him, but ultimately, it has little bearing on my use of Gentoo.

    Personally, I think commercial software is doomed; software engineering will still be profitable, but it'll be more as service/support/specialized solutions providers. That's not very germane to the discussion, except that in my hypothetical future, throwing away the talent of a willing, and proven, contributor is like throwing away money.

    I wish Zach luck.

  • Re:He's back! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dalcius (587481) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:17PM (#6303627)
    Dear Lord, was that a threat of force on Slashdot? A reply akin to Daniel's, even, how apropos.

    Robbins's post manages to be scathing, retortful, immature and yet hold no valuble information, all at the same time.

    In regards to "getting both sides of the story", I was in #gentoo on freenode until 4 AM last night talking with the folks there, including one Gentoo developer (still on the project) whom I happen to share a day job with. I'm quite familiar with an "insider's" point of view.

    Go back to your bridge.
  • by Ian Bicking (980) <> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:42PM (#6303852) Homepage
    It sounds like a pretty silly of Zynot to me. Porting code to lower-level languages is a big net loss in most cases, and I can certainly see why other developers wouldn't be excited about the idea. On desktop systems there would be zero gain, and the program would become calcified by the poor implementation language, and painful to maintain for the (usually volunteer) developers. Creating painful-to-maintain code is a deathwish for a free software project.

    But maybe that's just a sign that a fork is the proper response -- Zynot's embedded perspective just doesn't fit with Gentoo. It has requirements that just don't make sense for the rest of the community. It sounds like Zachary wanted to professionalize Gentoo, but that's just not interesting to a volunteer developer base.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren