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Gentoo in Crisis, Robbins Offers Solution 259

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the back-in-the-saddle-again dept.
mrbadbar writes "Gentoo Linux founder Daniel Robbins says Gentoo's leadership is in crisis. 'the Gentoo Foundation's charter has been revoked for several weeks, which means that as of this moment the Gentoo Foundation no longer exists.' Robbins offers a solution: his return as President of the Gentoo Foundation. According to Robbins: 'If I return as President, I will preserve the not-for-profit aspect of Gentoo. Beyond this, you can expect everything to be very, very different than how things are today.'"
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Gentoo in Crisis, Robbins Offers Solution

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  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:48AM (#22012212) Journal
    Not too many folks could pen such an offer with out tossing in the phrase "tail between your legs" somewhere.
  • Trouble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frekko (749706) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:01AM (#22012282)
    I left gentoo some time ago due to severe problems. Let me sum up the most problematic ones: 1. Package system becoming VERY VERY slow because of the amount db size. 2. No sane way to upgrade properly without doing several rounds of breaking and fixing library dependencies 3. USE flags change all the time and often leave the apps crippled if you don't set it up "just" right (try PHP) 4. No automatic way to uninstall a package and have the system automatically remove the unused ones. 5. Very very slow upgrade cycle for major packages (KDE is a good example)
  • Re:Should we care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyago (784496) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:13AM (#22012350) Homepage
    Except that Gentoo happens to be one of the best. Maybe if one of the dozens of Red Hat clones using the same crappy RPM system died, nobody would miss it, but... Gentoo is too important. Even the non-Gentoo users I know rely on the Gentoo forums and wiki and documentation for help.
  • Re:good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syzler (748241) <davidNO@SPAMsyzdek.net> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:23AM (#22012384)
    Of course Gentoo or Slackware or the like will work fine, but in these days of fast processors and cheap memory, why not just use a Debian based Linux like Ubuntu WITH a GUI, and let some one else compile the thing.

    Slackware is package based, although I will admit that the packages do not perform checks for required packages. I only know one person that re-compiles Slackware by hand, but he is a bit eccentric. Most of us only compile packages when they are not included in the distro, when they are not compiled with the options we want, or when we re-compile the kernel.

      It seems odd to lump Slackware and Gentoo together since most of the people that I know who use Slackware are more server centric than desktop centric and prefer stable software that does not change. Most Gentoo users I know are desktop centric and want the latest greatest untested software. This is reflected in the different methodology of the two distros.

    I would also like to point out that Slackware has been around longer than Debian and Slackware produces stable releases faster than one every two to three years. Although Debian is a decent distro, there are other decent distros as well. I could argue that a Torx screw is better than a roofing nail, but it really depends on the job at hand.
  • by Reverse Gear (891207) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:23AM (#22012386) Homepage
    The reason for this offer from Daniel is imho not as important as it is that he is offering to step up back as the leader of this project and take his job down to part time so that he again can put some energy into the role as leader of Gentoo Linux.
    Gentoo badly needs some leadership right now, Daniel has done it well before and had Gentoo thriving while he still was at the helm, so let's get him back there and get this ship back on course.
    I really hope that the council will accept this offer for the best of Gentoo and not let their personal agendas stand in the way of the good of Gentoo ... though I fear that might happen once again.
  • Re:good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dice (109560) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:41AM (#22012480)
    Gentoo is subject to the same problem in reverse - except it's far more annoying and time consuming.

    This scenario has happened to me multiple times on production systems:

    Updates get pushed out, glsa-check notifies you of some critical patch to openssl or whatever, you go to do the upgrade only to discover that the new version has a .so rev bump. Now you need to use revdep-rebuild to track down every package that links against openssl (i.e. anything important) and recompile them. If any of these packages are more than a minor revision or two behind what's currently in portage the only way to rebuild them is to pull the ebuild from /var/db/pkg and copy it into the portage tree manually, then rebuild the digest and hope to god that portage can track down all of the source files or that they're still sitting in /usr/portage/distfiles. In the meantime you'd better hope that you're either on a dev box (luxury!) or nobody sneezes, since everything that needs the package that was so bumped is now running off cached filesystem data.

    It's a lot of fun.
  • Same here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theurge14 (820596) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:41AM (#22012482)
    I left Gentoo for FreeBSD due to these reasons and also due to waiting for certain packages for too long, then receiving buggy packages and finally, having the base config change several times in 6 months, mainly for apache2, php, etc. After spending a week with FreeBSD I don't think I'll be back to Gentoo for any reason.
  • Re:Should we care? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by muuh-gnu (894733) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:54AM (#22012532)
    > it seems obvious that there comes a point where diluting the development effort

    This nonsense argument about dilluting effort gets repeated over and over. How exactly is it "obvious" that if I do something the way I think is the best, and work independently of the few "majors", I am dilluting the work of somebody else? Its called competition, and, as I least heard about it, it promotes diversity and is rather healthy for a ecosystem of any kind. There is no reason why there shouldnt be extreme diversity in the software landscape. You and your likes seem to suffer from some kind of software xenophobia. How exactly does some obscure source based distro you never heard of, make _you_ counterproductive? Using your reasoning Linux and the BSDs shouldnt even exist because theyre dilluting somebody else's windows based "development efforts".
  • Re:Trouble (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:18AM (#22012636)

    But at least all the copy-pasting of commands from the Gentoo forums makes you feel like you're learning a lot about how Linux works, right? ;o)


    Ha! That's exactly what I thought when I first installed Gentoo from stage1. I was just following the howto, line for line. Great guide, but I can't really say I learned anything. If they're just going to provide step by step instructions to do everything anyway, why not just make the system easier to install/use in the first place?
  • Re:Trouble (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Teppic_52 (982950) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:01AM (#22012850)

    If they're just going to provide step by step instructions to do everything anyway, why not just make the system easier to install/use in the first place?

    You have clearly missed the point, it's not made to be 'difficult', that is just the way it is.
    Plenty of people find the annoying idiosyncrasies of Gentoo worth the effort, their reasoning for this is their own and probably unique. If you gain no benefit use something else, if it's too hard for you use something else.

    The only prerequisite for being able to install Gentoo instead of any other distro is the ability to read IMHO, and the 8 or so hours I spent 4 years ago installing my 1st system was well worth it as it's the same install I post from now.
  • by rjames13 (1178191) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:44AM (#22013094)

    Now, Slackware tends to be problematic, no package dependancy can result in chaos.

    Yes and us Slackware users divert that chaos through /dev/random increasing our cryptographic key generation abilities.

    Seriously I have used Slackware since before ver 3 and have never seen chaos from dependancy issues. You make it sound like it crashes computers at random. But as someone who actually knows how it works I can tell you this, all a unresolved dependancy issue does is stop a specific program from running until that dependancy is met. If foo needs bar then the system does not crash foo just complains and exits. This is Linux not Window95.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:14AM (#22013262)
    I was a long time Gentoo user who got fed up and move on. As a software developer myself I found it too laborious to figure out why the latest emerge brought my system down. QA was non-existent and especially so for x86_64 platforms.

    Gentoo overall is a decent idea for people who like configurability, but it's too fragile. For instance, I recall one update to the latest glibc which had some bugs in the portage script. Next thing you know nothing, and I mean nothing, works, since they all link against it. There is no "roll back" ability in gentoo, which honestly would be a good idea (and given they have installed files lists it's entirely possible).

    I switched to Ubuntu and haven't looked back. While it's less configurable than Gentoo it's more than good enough, and it "just works."

    In reality, Gentoo needs to improve the QA and safety (e.g. roll backs) facets more than their leadership.
  • Re:good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rbanffy (584143) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:01AM (#22013866) Homepage Journal
    "For a user new to Linux who wants to get a feel for the ins and outs and get used to the commandline really fast, gentoo is for them"

    That's a good way to ensure the newbie keeps badmouthing Linux, pointing out the chores required just to keep it working, in front of his fellow Windows users.

    A newbie needs a gentle introduction to Linux first. Ubuntu (disclaimer: I use it) is just fine - it's good enough, pretty and mostly works. In fact, many of my gurus prefer Ubuntu or Debian manly because it lets them focus on what they are doing when whatever they are doing is not maintaining their boxes. If the newbie then feels like he wants to go deeper, then, maybe, Gentoo would be interesting. Or perhaps, it would be educational, if not too scary, to build a Linux box from scratch.

    Gentoo is the best choice for the hackers who love to manage their computers.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:13AM (#22013944) Homepage Journal
    The problem with them being unresponsive and MIA is why I fear this offer will fail too -- he wants an answer within a week, but the procrastinators and AWOL people won't give him an answer within a week -- they haven't managed to answer anything else in a timely matter, so why would they suddenly do so now?
  • Re:good! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:22AM (#22013988)
    Yeah but you need to really think about how much time you spend maintaining it. Seriously think about it. Even if it hasn't cost you much time, it probably will at some point. This is what people tend to realize about Gentoo after using it for a while. It's fun to hack and at first but after you have spent enough time with it and used some of the alternatives you start to realize that it just isn't worth the trouble when you need to get real work done.
  • by Apreche (239272) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:29AM (#22014050) Homepage Journal
    In college I was big into Gentoo. It had it's problems, sure, but when you got it working, it was terrific. Then after the college days were over, and I started working, I had a lot less free time. I realized that with Gentoo I spend a lot more time working on the computer itself as opposed to using the computer to do other things. I've switched to Ubuntu, and haven't looked back since.
  • Re:good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by garutnivore (970623) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:22AM (#22014470)
    MyDixieWrecked, you present a reasonable picture of what Gentoo is good at. Thank you for that. The problem is that too many Gentoo advocates out there are asses about the choice they made. Here's an all too frequent scenario. You're discussing a problem in Ubuntu or Fedora, trying to help someone get the system running correctly. Then, a Gentoo advocate comes by, screams "Ubuntu (or Fedora) is teh suxx0rs! Gentoo, FTW" and then tries to convince every one and their pets with juvenile arguments that Gentoo is the best distribution out there, irrespective of what the end user's needs may be. (Yeah, I'll put my mother on Gentoo.)

    Most likely, such Gentoo advocates form a minority of Gentoo users but they form a vocal minority. The problem with such vocal minorities is that they often are so vocal that people start thinking that these minorities represent the view of the majority. I think a fair amount of the "hate people have for gentoo" comes from interaction with those jackasses.

    Someone might ask what about Fedora users acting like jackasses or Ubuntu users, or Slackware users. Well, those exist too but somehow Gentoo jackasses seem more frequent to me.
  • Re:good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:30AM (#22014554) Homepage Journal
    I've had to run revdep-rebuild once or twice; because of expat and one other package, but in the last 5 years, gentoo has changed their config syntax for networks and the way that pam works with ldap logins. I've had to do big jumps in kernel upgrades because of lack of support of features I use in iptables which caused me to have to upgrade to udev from devfs, and I've had several other weekend's worth jobs because of config file and package deprication.

    The reason that I say that Gentoo isn't ideal for production is because of these changes that are made. If you want to stay relatively up to date in your packages (for security reasons), it can be a pretty big pain to keep up with config changes. The measures that you can implement to protect your config files aren't always great since sometimes a minor upgrade will incorporate some new configuration option (I've seen this in apache, php and ldap on several occasions).

    Rolling your own enterprise-level server management application, I think, would be easiest on gentoo because so much of the system is exposed and it is so straight forward, but my point in my original post is that for production, you'd like a reasonably stable implementation of configuration and some way of keeping my old setup until I'm ready to do a full revamp of my machine.

    I didn't bash gentoo. I'm a gentoo user and I like it a lot... I just wouldn't use it for contract jobs or at my real job (sysadmin of around 130 machines); for that, I'd rather use CentOS.

    As an aside... although I do enjoy building my own kernel, it can be time consuming and doing large jumps (I've gone from 2.6.4 to 2.6.12 to 2.6.19) can be a real pain in the ass to remember to properly enable all options. I've got an issue right now where the current kernel will not boot my machine and after dozens of attempts, I haven't been able to solve it. I've got several unsolved posts in the gentoo forums about this... the downside is that I'm running gentoo on PPC hardware, so I don't have the largest pool of people to help troubleshoot.
  • by Endymion (12816) <slashdot,org&thoughtnoise,net> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:24PM (#22016470) Homepage Journal
    Your post reminds me of some of the (very) old slashdot stories asking the question of how non-technical/non-programmers can help the F/OSS movements. The response usually came in the for of "there's lots of stuff like documentation (real writing, not tech writing), art, etc, that are also needed."

    This was and is true, but I think another big category was forgotten: management. That for a good project to succeed, the techies should keep doing techie stuff, and be shielded from politics and dull aspects of business as much as possible.[*] This Gentoo problem is a prefect example of this. The techies don't want to do business, so that's an area that non-techie people could really help.

    I hope the pull through with this, regardless of the solution - I would hate to have to switch to another distro...

    [*] - See: Brokes and the MMM, where he talks about the "surgical team"
  • Great news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:25PM (#22016480) Homepage
    I've been using Gentoo on production servers (and my desktop) since the first year it was out. It used to be a very solid project. It still has much better documentation than, say, Ubuntu. Originally the speed of the custom-compiled stuff was important to me, because of lower-end hardware of the time I had in use - which it did well on (once compiled, of course). The other main virtue, compared to Red Hat or Debian or Slackware of the time, was that it was easier to keep an up-to-date server running without having to do a fresh OS install every year or two.

    But over the last year especially Gentoo has gone into steep decline. Upgrades of major stuff come with "upgrade guides" that leave out major things that commonly get broken. The Gentoo bugzilla is manned by kids who compete to close bugs while insulting the intelligence of anyone who'd dare file them. Older libraries which take little space and conflict with nothing are removed without choice or warning when newer packages are installed, and it's just tough if your production server has stuff installed doing useful work that depends on those libraries. Meanwhile the Ubuntu project has worked very hard to become the most-safely-upgradeable Linux (I'd imagine Red Hat must have improved too; but I hate rpms too much to want to try it again). And hardware is so fast now that for standard server stuff there's much less to gain from customized compilation.

    For those who say that Gentoo is fine if you just keep a spare system to test upgrades on first, that's bull. Stuff will break on nearly-identical servers that are just slightly different in their versions - that is, going from 1.17 to 1.19 on a app may break, while going from 1.17 to 1.18 to 1.19 works fine. And the breakage can show up tangentially, not just where you'd most expect it. So you'd have to keep a test server for each production server, and very carefully keep it just one step ahead in sync. Plus you'd need to keep it under some sort of dummy load, since some breakage only becomes apparent in production, not in idle use. The real solution there would be for Gentoo to start being responsive to its bugzilla reports again, immediately fixing any breakage caused by new packages so that instead of letting hundreds or thousands of people trip over the same stone, the paths are kept free and clear.

    If Robbins comes back, Gentoo could shine again. If he doesn't, it's about over.
  • Re:good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Penguin's Advocate (126803) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @02:43PM (#22017364)
    Amen to that! We run our servers on gentoo as well
  • Re:The solution: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:12PM (#22019448) Homepage Journal
    Moderation isn't enough. These jerks need to be flayed.
  • Re:The solution: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:44AM (#22022518) Homepage
    I don't really think it's racism. I mean, race has nothing to do with the topic at hand. My suspicion is that these sorts of trolls only use that word because it is the most taboo of all words. It's one of the only words that can really get a reaction out of people, that can end careers. It is a word so powerful, that if it is used while committing a crime, the crime becomes many times more serious. That word is used because we, as a society, give it a special power.
  • Re:Great news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by janiskracht (1218404) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:04AM (#22022672)
    > If Robbins comes back, Gentoo could shine again
    This is it exactly.. I've been running Gentoo for at least 6 years.. I'm afraid now to update the simplest packages because so many packages are generally broken.. My husband has abandoned gentoo at least a year ago, for his internationally marketed software on his development systems (he started using it shortly after I did..) I'm looking forward to Daniel Robbins being involved once again so that some sanity will return here... I love Gentoo. It's been said that one cannot run a project by committee... and I believe that is true unless you have ONE person who is willing to take care of details.. someone with a vision I think Daniel is it...
    Janis
    www.filegate.net

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich

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