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Operating Systems Software Linux

New Linux Distribution — Exherbo, Announced 322

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the too-many-already dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Former Gentoo developer Bryan Østergaard recently announced a new linux distribution aptly named Exherbo. The distribution, which has been underway for a couple of months and is based on ideas and experiences from his long work with Gentoo, features a new packaging format and several subprojects, such as a redesigned init system. Currently no installation medium is available but their package tree is public for the daring ones who want to play with the upcoming distribution. The developers strongly discourage any serious use though, as it's still highly experimental."
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New Linux Distribution — Exherbo, Announced

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  • Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:23PM (#23465856) Homepage Journal
    A new package format. Just what we need.
    Man I have to admit that after reading the site I really want noting to do with this distro. Why is it even on Slashdot? ... Oh well must be a slow day.
  • by naich (781425) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:24PM (#23465858) Homepage
    "aptly named Exherbo" I've read both FAs and I can't see why. Am I missing something obvious?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:24PM (#23465862)
    I'll probably get modded down by the groupthink mods around here (hint: metamods: moderate any downmods as unfair)...

    but really, is this what the Linux user community needs? Yet another Linux distro. Wow. And maybe we can add a new window manager and another variant of Firefox/IceWeasel/Netscape/etc.

    It's really a shame for F/OSS that, time and time again, there is such a huge duplication of effort and half-assed half-finished projects lying around in the junkyard of the Open Source cemetery.
  • Notability??!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:26PM (#23465898)

    There are tons of linux distributions that are "new" and more ambitious than this one. In fact, reading the project aims on the website gave me the impression that this is a highly specialized project by somebody who has an axe to grind with the gentoo community. With so many existing gentoo variants out there with larger scope and communities, I am having problems appreciating the notability of this article and why it's even on Slashdot. I normally expect tighter coverage of Linux topics than this.
  • by cblack (4342) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:26PM (#23465916) Homepage
    Sheesh, don't we have enough non-BSD non-SYSV unix init systems yet? Solaris has their own, Mac OS X has a different one, and I think I recall hearing some other distro changed theirs as well. This fragmentation is irritating for sysadmins and gains little. Have these people looked at the other systems out there (Sun's, Apple's, etc) and seen what needs of theirs are not met? Perhaps extending one of these would be worth considering...
    Altho honestly, I find SysV style init to work just fine.
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:27PM (#23465926) Homepage
    I'd like to see the rationale for creating yet another new packaging system. What's wrong with the current ways, and what will the new way fix?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:30PM (#23465984)
    They state clearly on their page [exherbo.org] that

    In Conclusion
    It's not that we hate you (unless we do). It's just that we have nothing to offer you, and you have nothing to offer us.
    They don't have a finished product. They don't even have a product yet. There is nothing to see, and they say it as well. Post this on slashdot when there is something to see. Then they will be happy about the traffic and the press, but now it's just a link to a page that says that maybe, one day, there will be yet another linux distro that wants to make everything better and nicer than the current Big Players(tm).
  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:31PM (#23466000) Journal
    Well, exherbo is latin for obvious so you are indeed missing the obvious :)
  • by hemna (205532) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:39PM (#23466118) Homepage
    yah I'm glad I'm not the only one that saw this part of the 'distro' and went...huh? Do we really need a new init system? Maybe if they described why they needed a new init system instead of just whining about Gentoo.
  • by domatic (1128127) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:43PM (#23466174)

    It's really a shame for F/OSS that, time and time again, there is such a huge duplication of effort and half-assed half-finished projects lying around in the junkyard of the Open Source cemetery.

    And once again someone falls prey to a common misconception: F/OSS is not a monolith. If these guys didn't have the option of having their own sandbox to play in then what makes you think they'd be compelled to play in someone else's? The way this will more than likely shakeout is that fifty or so people will use this for awhile. Maybe it'll be a bit more popular if the primary devs have more stature than I'm giving them credit for.

    These guys will get to have their fun and most everybody else will use an established distro. And that isn't to say good won't come of it. If they have good ideas, the bigger distros might adopt them. If they have REALLY good ideas they may supplant Gentoo among that crowd of people. Bugfixes may also go to upstream projects.

    I know this is weird idea to someone accustomed to being served what they think they want from proprietary software houses but this is nothing but an exercise of freedom. Others are free to use what they make or not. What would you propose? Some sort of law saying that henceforth no one may attempt to start a BSD or Linux distribution?

    The F/OSS world operates on a form of street-cred. These guys will either get it or not. It won't cause any sort of actual problem either way.
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:45PM (#23466198) Homepage
    It doesn't even sound like a distro yet. It sounds like someone got their ego dented and posted a list of things they would want to change about Gentoo, but hasn't gotten much beyond the "writing a list" stage.

    I predict this distro will quietly die as the developers get sick of reinventing the wheel. At best, it will be a very small niche distro.
  • by domatic (1128127) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:46PM (#23466224)
    Most of the minor distros are specialty items like Knoppix or toolkits like Trinity Rescue CD. Having more of such isn't going to hurt anything. Besides, projects like this are a good way of trying out radical ideas without breaking anything. And I suspect the answer to "not teaming up" is that it seems that many developers would rather be Chiefs than common braves.
  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:47PM (#23466236) Homepage

    I'll probably get modded down by the groupthink mods around here (hint: metamods: moderate any downmods as unfair).

    No. You're getting modded up due to the "there are too many Linux distros" groupthink (that you're completely participating in).

  • by jesdynf (42915) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:47PM (#23466240) Homepage
    It's worse than that. This isn't a distro, it's just a slap in the face to Gentoo -- and without any justification in the form of running code. They, in fact, are canvassing for your help to help cash the check their mouth wrote.

    Now, I can't tell you whether or not Gentoo merits a slap in the face, but whether or not they're right doesn't have anything to do with that they've done.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:52PM (#23466300) Journal
    I'll probably get modded down by the groupthink mods around here (hint: metamods: moderate any downmods as unfair)

    You're given certain comments to metamoderate, but in the event I metamod whatever mod you get (so far they haven't modded it) will determine how I metamoderate. You simply asked a question so I can't see why anyone would downmod. It is an honest question afaict.

    is this what the Linux user community needs?

    No, but it may be what the Linux developer community needs. There could be some really cool code coming out of this that may benefit the user community in the future, but right now it's for developers only. If your hobby is hacking new code, this might be for you.

    It's really a shame for F/OSS that, time and time again, there is such a huge duplication of effort and half-assed half-finished projects lying around in the junkyard of the Open Source cemetery.

    Um, ok maybe I can see why you might get downmodded. I see no "junkyard" nor "cemetary", what Linux projects have died recently? A halfassed half-finished project deserves to die, but that's part of the open source process. And there's a "huge duplication of effort" having Windows, Apple, Solaris, etc, compete; or Ford, Chevy, Toyota, K.I.A. etc. as well. The difference is that if Ford invents something, Chevy's not going to have it in their cars unless they can come up with the same functionality without infringing Ford's patent. If some cool new thing comes of this, you may well see it un Red Hat or Mandriva shortly. That's one of open source's strengths.

    I don't see "duplication of effort" as a weakness in either open source or closed.

    As to junkyards, you might want to read a couple of articles I wrote a few years ago when I was at K5, Useful Dead Technologies [kuro5hin.org] and the sequel Good Riddance to Bad Tech [kuro5hin.org].

    Necessiy isn't the mother of invention, it's the father. Hard work is the mother. Do people need more than one mother?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:58PM (#23466392)
    "That's what I dislike about the FOSS attitude. If we had one hundred developers working on one project rather than one hundred projects by one developer each, then we'd see much better quality software."

    Uhh no, we'd see one project doing one thing well, and 99 unresolved problems.
    Or maybe we'd see a hundred people yelling at each other (multiply by 2.5 and you have gentoo)
  • by MrMr (219533) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:59PM (#23466400)
    Most replacements for SysV init are based on lack of knowledge of SysV init combined with an attitude problem (that writing code is much easier than understanding code). I gues you're taliking about Upstart (which is now used by Fedora 9 and Ubuntu). Upstart is different, because it is based on a thourough lack of knowledge of SysV init, crond, atd, udev, acpid and apmd all conveniently bundled into one single product.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:04PM (#23466458)

    I'll probably get modded down by the groupthink mods around here (hint: metamods: moderate any downmods as unfair)...
    1. Make stupid comment completely influenced by groupthinking and redundant
    2. Add fake warning at the beginning of comment to stop people from modding you down, making then afraid of meta-mod, in fact people will mod you up just for this warning without reading the whole comment
    3. ???
    4. PROFIT!
  • by Lisandro (799651) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:04PM (#23466464)
    Do we need more of this elitistic bullshit?

    Exherbo is not, at the moment, a user-targeted distribution. It supports packages that the people involved find interesting or useful; it probably does not support your favourite desktop environment or applications. That kind of thing will come later there are plenty of other options for users who want a distribution that does everything badly rather than a few things well. ...

    It's not that we think that Gentoo is bad. It's just that we think we can do something that suits our needs better. We've tried, without success, to do this using Gentoo. Unfortunately, Gentoo has serious shortcomings in several areas that stopped this from being a viable long-term approach (...) Portage. (...) Gentoo management. (...) QA. (...) The users. (...) Lack of overall design and direction.

    Thank God there's much more to that distro you don't think is bad at all. ...

    - OK, I Want to Try Exherbo.
    - No you don't.
    - Yes I Do
    - OK, maybe you do, but we don't particularly want you to try it because we don't want to deal with you whining when you find that absolutely nothing works. (...) We don't provide packages for lots of things you consider critical. A lot of the packages we do provide don't work. A lot of the packages that worked five minutes ago all just broke because we just decided to redesign several large features. We don't provide support. We don't provide install media. We don't provide a usable init system.
    - But I'm a Developer, and I Want to Try Exherbo
    - Well, you know who to talk to if you need to be told where to find the shiny things. And no, we don't want to use Exherbo to implement your pet project. Especially not if it's a stupid pet project. Go and inflict it upon Gentoo, they think that porting ebuilds to run on SunOS 2 ksh under Cygwin is a great idea.

    Wow! It sounds great! Do i need a secret decoder ring to read the sourcecode?

    Seriously. I'm a Gentoo user and this sounded like a great thing to peek into - Gentoo is not without its share of things to fix/improve. But come on. What exactly are they announcing here? A distro tailored for a handful of users (which is nice) that we can't download, try or even ask about.

    In Conclusion: It's not that we hate you (unless we do). It's just that we have nothing to offer you, and you have nothing to offer us.

    Sounds like it's coming along great, eh? Do us a favor and make your work public when, you know, it is useable by the public. Or even watchable.
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by typhoonius (611834) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:04PM (#23466472) Homepage

    Don't forget "redesigned init system," for those times when you want an init replacement besides launchd, eINIT, initng, upstart, and Sun's SMF.

  • by mckorr (1274964) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:07PM (#23466510) Homepage
    By that reasoning all new ideas and development should stop immediately till we come up with one perfect distro. Why don't we just dump everything but Debian/Fedora/FreeBSD/whatever, for the good of the community of course! One distro to rule them all, etc. etc.

    The guy wants to experiment with a new init system and a new packaging system. He's put this out as a "distro" so that anyone else who wants to can help out, make suggestions, whatever.

    His work might end up "half-assed half-finished", or it might get incorporated into something larger which changes the way all the current big name distros work. If we are truly championing OSS, we should rather wish this guy well. He's doing exactly what everyone is always talking about, changing the source to suit himself and trying to learn how it is all put together.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:14PM (#23466616)
    oh, and do you have trouble with hobbyists making steam engines or kites or ships in a bottle? who the fuck are you to tell people how or with who they spend their spare time coding? anyone can fork their own distro or open source project, if you don't like it fuck off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:18PM (#23466676)
    Perhaps "aptly named Exherbo" because most people won't know what to make of it.

    Even on Slashdot. The thread's barely started and is already tagged "zzzz" and has people whining about Slow News Day, Yet Another Distro, and Yet Another Package Format. What is this, a /marketing/ bitch session? Slashdot is News for Nerds. The news is we've got a new distro, by Bryan Østergaard no less, and he's trying something new with it. What's more, it's in the very earliest stages so it's a great time to start watching how the project moves forward. And join in.

    If you don't think that's newsworthy then you're in the wrong place, and you want some commercial lifestyle promotion pap like Wired. Get thee hence.
  • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan.notroswell@com> on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:18PM (#23466684) Homepage Journal

    While some points made are valid (eg portage, along with most other package managers sucks, and Gentoo's management is inefficient) it seems like the distro is completely misguided.

    If anything, we need to be focusing on user-friendly *nixes, not developer torture - less still something more hellish than Gentoo. If someone desperately wants a system like this, they can read LFS. Or strip down a Gentoo install. That way, they're also more likely to get something that's more suited to their needs. And isn't written by someone who looks like they'd happily eat n00b stew for lunch.

  • Re:Cool.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:27PM (#23466814) Homepage Journal
    You know, RPM, deb, tgz, init, etc all had to start somewhere... if people didn't take working systems and replace/enhance them we would still be working off mainframes or worse.
  • Well, given Gentoo is usable and this is not, I disagree with their assessment.
    Are you certain about that statement? Have you even looked at the Portage code? Have you ever tried it?

    Sorry, but in my mind, Gentoo died about the time Daniel Robbins gave up on the thing. And I can't say I blame him, either. Gentoo has to be one of the most spectacular failures in Linus Distro history. Constant bickering so nothing ever gets done. Flames that make even ESR's diatribe about Fedora look tame.

    Gentoo was a good idea. Unfortunately, the man with the vision couldn't seem to keep it going in one direction.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:55PM (#23467158) Journal
    You might have get a few more polished products that way but you would get anything other then unimaginative copies of other software and obvious evolutionary improvements on it. FOSS already has this problem in spades. Why? because most people are volunteers to be happy they need to feel like they have some sort of input. The result is everything is design by committee and therefore "safe" choices are the only ones that ever get made. This is not a bad thing for a mature project but its not good for young ones working in spaces that offer real chance for innovation.

    The "managed" pure source based distribution is not a solved problem yet. Projects like this are good not because many people will use it, but because they won't. These guys get to go off and do there own thing which will be more likely to make them happy and productive then anything else. They won't really piss off any of the other people working on the Gentoo project because they are not directly working with them any more, and end users won't be subject to their untested whims. Mean while people will be watching. If, and it is a big if I admit, they put something things together that really work then the parent project will be free the cherry pick their good ideas and roll them back in. If they decide to use enough of them these guys may volunteer to rejoin the project as maintainers of their contributions.

    This fork and merge pattern is really the place where FOSS does produce innovative new ideas. Its the people who think like you that case all the YetAnotherXXXXX FOSS projects.
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:00PM (#23467242) Journal
    Maybe, but I didn't read it that way. I got more of a "This is our project, leave us alone. It doesn't interest you." That doesn't sound like much of a pitch to developers. The only allusion they made to allowing any outside influence was when they said they probably don't want what you have to offer.

    And no, we don't want to use Exherbo to implement your pet project. Especially not if it's a stupid pet project. Go and inflict it upon Gentoo, they think that porting ebuilds to run on SunOS 2 ksh under Cygwin is a great idea.

    The above paragraph does not apply if your pet project is something we find interesting.

    That last bit was the only "inviting" thing on the whole site, and it doesn't amount to much more than a "Try your luck, see if we think you're 1337 enough." Then again, the whole point was obviously to discourage most people. I guess it worked on me. Maybe some people are attracted by that attitude, but they're probably not the type of people you'd want to work with.
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:06PM (#23467328) Journal
    I don't see any harm. I was just wondering why they bothered announcing it on /. when it seems like they don't really want anyone to be interested in it. *shrug*

    In fact, I can readily see the utility of forking an existing distribution for use as a custom dev platform -- especially if they want to try something crazy and disruptive. Go for it, have fun, learn something, hopefully contribute what you learned back to mainstream distros. Maybe more people should do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:08PM (#23467364)
    USE flags, CFLAGS, SLOTs...
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:16PM (#23468060) Homepage
    It sounds like they're just trying to be cool. If they really didn't want to attract people, they shouldn't have gone to the trouble of putting up that webpage.
  • by pintpusher (854001) on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:22PM (#23468122) Journal

    If we had one hundred developers working on one project rather than one hundred projects by one developer each, then we'd see much better quality software.
    I disagree. What you get with 100 developers working on 100 projects is 100 developers working on projects that they are passionate about, really care about and are committed to. That yields much better code than 100 people working on a project that 1 developer cares about.

  • Re:Cool.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:33PM (#23468216) Homepage Journal

    I wonder why the hell this was even "announced" anyway. From the web site, it's incredibly obvious that this is a pet project by a few developers who just want to try some stuff out. Why is this on Slashdot? They don't want or need any outside involvement.

    So is this place news for nerds, or just for whiners?

    This is precisely the kind of news that belongs on Slashdot. Not a crosspost from the beeb or sci-am promoted to the front page solely to produce ad impressions for OSTG. Sorry if it's not cute and fluffy enough for you.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:36PM (#23468242) Homepage Journal
    Is there really something that great about any of the existing package formats? rpm has the stupid header and uses cpio which is even more stupid, I have nothing against .deb but apt I guess... Another distribution is always a good thing though; someone learns something, some new keen tools might be developed. It's not going to hurt anyone.
  • by avenj (673782) <avenj@@@tellink...net> on Monday May 19, 2008 @07:16PM (#23468676)
    And who do you think is responsible for most of the flames and poisoned dev environment over the past 4-5 years? Shockingly most of the same folks who are driving this new project...

    Personally, I think it's great. Hopefully it'll draw Ciaran's buds away from Gentoo and maybe eventually Gentoo will be fun again.

    But yes, losing Daniel was a tremendous loss.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday May 19, 2008 @08:34PM (#23469330)
    eg portage, along with most other package managers sucks, and Gentoo's management is inefficient

    Can you please explain the above statement because I fail to see what point you are making?

    If you go with a fixed Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora, then what you are getting is a whole heap of source code that has been compiled in a particular way by whomever releases the distro - in some ways you can compare it to the way Microsoft does it with their OSes in that you install the OS as binaries and just download binary updates as you need them. However, when a new version of the OS comes out, whilst you can do some degree of migration from old to new, you're still forced with basically wiping your machine to install the new version.

    The other way of looking at keeping a system updated is to just use "rolling" updates - in other words, rather than the distro creator doing all the source code compilation for you, you decide to pretty much do it yourself. So if you have the confidence to do that compilation against countless libraries yourself, then you go for something like Linux From Scratch - otherwise, if you want some "help" with that, then use Portage within Gentoo to give you that assistance.

    The point I'm trying to make is that the decision is yours to make, not the distro provider. If you can't handle Portage then don't use Gentoo, use a pre-compiled distro and get on with enjoying Linux that way - but don't make it a fault of the package manager just because you don't understand it.

    No software is perfect and, yes, as a long-standing Gentoo user, I sometimes find some of the bugs infuriating - just as I used to find the odd dependency issue in Red Hat or occasional system lock-ups in Windows infurtiating.

    But the fact of the matter is that I don't think I've ever come across a major problem in Gentoo that I've not been able to either resolve myself or get an answer to in the excellent Gentoo Forums & Wiki pages. And, yes, using the Gentoo "~x86" branch, I spend a lot of time having my machines compiling updates but I still use the machines while they're doing it, I enjoy running the "bleeding edge" software and for me it's a learning curve sorting out the occasional problem with it.

    You need to weigh the "pluses and minuses" and work out a balance before deciding on what distro to use. And if someone comes up with a new distro then, so what? Maybe you have no need for it but someone somewhere believes there is a need for it so let them get on with it.

    I personally don't like Ubuntu because I don't like installing binaries and have a real problem with using "sudo" for everything. But I accept it's a fine distro for lots of people, installs in half an hour as opposed to a day with Gentoo and has bought a lot of new people into using Linux so it's a great thing.

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. -- Isaac Asimov