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Gentoo in Crisis, Robbins Offers Solution 259

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 'the Gentoo Foundation's charter has been revoked for several weeks, which means that as of this moment the Gentoo Foundation no longer exists.'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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  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:41AM (#22012174) Homepage Journal
    The emerge of the upgraded management package failed? Did you remember to set the right USE flags?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Solra Bizna ( 716281 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:00AM (#22012556) Homepage Journal

      Why were you compiling with MAKEOPTS="-j32768"? What did you really expect to happen?


      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sinclair44 ( 728189 )
        -j32768 is indeed quite pointless. I don't specify that, just -fomit-instructions... my Gentoo install take up almost no disk space since I've turned it on! However, apparently it tends to mess up your bootloader; I've been unable to start Gentoo and simply haven't had the time yet to look into it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:42AM (#22012188)
    $ emerge leadership
    • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:26AM (#22012394)
      that he wants an answer in 7 days. There's no way that your $emerge leadership package will compile and install by then.
    • by Jessta ( 666101 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:43AM (#22012766) Homepage
      $sudo emerge -av leadership

      These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

      Calculating dependencies... done!
      [ebuild U ] vitural/leadership-3.0_rc2 [1.0_rc1] USE="developers minimal intelligent paludis -emerge -designers " 50 kB

      Total: 1 package (1 upgrade), Size of downloads: 50 kB

      Would you like to merge these packages? [Yes/No]
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Calculating dependencies... done!
        [ebuild U ] vitural/leadership-3.0_rc2 [1.0_rc1] USE="developers minimal intelligent paludis -emerge -designers " 50 kB

        You're touching one of the core problems there. Which needs the following solution:

        mkdir -p /etc/portage/profile && \
        touch /etc/portage/profile/use.mask && \
        echo paludis >>/etc/portage/profile/use.mask

        Honestly, when something is this controversial, like paludis is, it needs to either die for the greater good ("kill your babies" as t

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:48AM (#22012212) Journal
    Not too many folks could pen such an offer with out tossing in the phrase "tail between your legs" somewhere.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:37AM (#22012462)
      I was pretty impressed when he actually helped out a guy who had a colo at our datacenter. Nobody with any fame or cred, just some guy who was having gentoo problems that nobody in the community seemed able or interested in helping him out with. Most of us seem to get burned out of helping even relatives pretty early in the game, so doing support for people on the street out of the goodness of your heart is pretty amazing. Even if it is your distro.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He used to run Linux support for IBM. Still Google-able, his answers got me going at work. Smart dude.
  • What is the crisis? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kristoph ( 242780 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @04:48AM (#22012216)
    I RTFA but I have no idea what the problem actually is that he is going to solve. Could someone explain?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by raptor386 ( 1212810 )
      I believe the issue is that the legal entity no longer exists, so he's going to step up, renew the charter, and get Gentoo Foundation recognized as a legal non-profit organization again. Though I understand that this is the issue, I don't understand WHY it's an issue. Hopefully someone else can clarify further.
      • by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:31AM (#22012702) Homepage Journal
        Hopefully someone else can clarify further.

        The same blog can.

        "I am still upset that the Foundation has not been run properly over the last three years, and that many trustees apparently decided to take extended vacations from the project shortly after becoming a trustee, leaving the work to be done by very few - and often a single individual, which defeats the whole purpose of having multiple trustees to do the work rather than a single leader. I am also, like many of you, not happy at all with the way Gentoo has been going from a development and community perspective."

        You might also infer what was wrong by looking at what would be different.

      • by Curtman ( 556920 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:13AM (#22013602)

        Hopefully someone else can clarify further.

        There's at least one response on Planet Gentoo [] so far. Maybe it [] will help.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      It looks to be a bunch of internal politics. There's a lot of information that is missing, like why the charter was revoked. Another question is why this guy thinks that he's going to get this power if he's going to replace the people that need to approve him.

      The basic information is apparently on a mailing list, which I don't feel like reading.
    • by jmdc ( 1152611 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:14AM (#22012362)
      TFA refers to a previous blog entry, which mostly explains things. To summarize: the people who are supposed to be in charge have mostly resigned or are MIA. The remaining leadership isn't doing things like updating the website, etc - the weekly newsletter hasn't been published in months. The real crises is that they didn't file routine paperwork with the state, which puts the legal status of the gentoo foundation in jeopardy. No one explained why to the community, or said much of anything. So, he's going to get the legal matters cleared up and find new people to be in charge.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 )
        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?
      • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:22AM (#22014474) Homepage
        I think that one big problem is that much of the gentoo leadership is technical. If a debate opens up over how some aspect of the project is managed, the usual rallying cry to bring everybody together is for all the project leads to talk about what positive things are going on with various technical aspects of the distro.

        Now, that is very good in one sense - since we do need to remember the big picture. However, stuff like having a newsletter and all that isn't entirely unimportant. Not having a functional board of directors is a big problem. However, I've been reading the -dev group for months (and on and off for years) and I had just assumed (probably like many others) that this part of gentoo was just going along fine.

        To the 20-year-old coder who just wants to create some nifty installer or bootup routine having a board of directors may seem a bit silly. However, if some domain squatter grabs because it didn't get renewed and you can't sue for it back because you don't have any legal standing in any court worldwide then there is a problem. I think that gentoo just tends not to appeal to the sorts of people who like taking care of this stuff - largely because it emphasizes pragmatism and technical achievement - while other distros like debian have an appeal to the kinds of folks who love to read licenses since they make a big deal about that kind of stuff.

        I think that the criticality of this "crisis" is a bit overblown. Yes, its a problem and it really does need to be taken care of - expeditiously. However, the world isn't about to end. I'd probably call for rapid trustee elections to fill slots (I'm sure lots of people with half-decent qualifications would be willing to step up), and then have the trustees take action. Since legally gentoo is in quasi-existence it might be possible to not have as much process around all of that - since you can't violate bylaws that aren't binding and all that. But I'm not a lawyer (and the trustees would do well to talk to one).
        • 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 b
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dido ( 9125 )

          I think that gentoo just tends not to appeal to the sorts of people who like taking care of this stuff - largely because it emphasizes pragmatism and technical achievement - while other distros like debian have an appeal to the kinds of folks who love to read licenses since they make a big deal about that kind of stuff.

          So you're saying that Gentoo has more of the Linus Torvalds mindset, whereas Debian has more of the Richard Stallman mindset? Interesting point. I moved to Gentoo largely because I was fed

    • He's worried that the Gentoo product will move to a pay system, where you've GOT TO FREAKING PAY TO COMPILE SOFTWARE YOURSELF!!

      How could the product change, by losing its non-profit status, as the summary says? Does someone think I'd like to pay to do all the work on my machine? Just rename the project Ubuntu, that seems to be pretty popular.

      (All this is just a joke, god i need to refill my coffee)
      • by /ASCII ( 86998 )
        Not for profit does not imply charging money for the downloads, it refers to not turning the Gentoo foundation into a for profit company, like Mozilla, Red Hat and Ubuntu have all done (or rather, have always been). All those project still ship their software free of charge (and are even willing to pay the shipping costs to send you a CD in the case of Ubuntu), but they all have some form plan to turn a profit, like providing for-pay support or living of add revenues.
  • Trouble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frekko ( 749706 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:01AM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Frekko ( 749706 )
      Let me add a few more:
      6. You are forced to update VERY frequently. More than a month and you are CERTAIN to get issues while compiling.
      7. Actually getting a usable desktop (with udev, automounting etc.) working is a hell of a lot of work
      • 7. Actually getting a usable desktop (with udev, automounting etc.) working is a hell of a lot of work

        1. Download Sabayon.
        2. Boot from the LiveCD
        3. Run the installer if you like it.
        4. ???
        5. Profit
        • PLEASE don't recommend Sabayon for HDD installs. Sabayon is to Gentoo what Knoppix is to Debian. Sure, it works nicely as a live CD, but I hope you don't mind never upgrading if you do decide to install it. emerge -uav world on Sabayon tends to break the entire system.
    • Same here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theurge14 ( 820596 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:41AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zarhan ( 415465 )
        That's funny, I left FreeBSD for Gentoo for exactly the same reasons (this was around time of FreeBSD 5.0, so I probably had the worst possible FreeBSD experience). And Linux kernel had better hardware support, especially for laptops.

        With FreeBSD, packages tended to break with almost every upgrade. With Gentoo, they still break after every upgrade, but at least there is revdep-rebuild to fix things. Portupgrade -L didn't really work...
      • FreeBSD is not without problems, but I still don't see a replacement on the horizon any time soon.
        And FreeBSD does have a leadership.
        If the ports-system would work 105% on (Open)Solaris, I'd change ship for most bigger servers. As it stands, a lot of stuff that doesn't involve a complicated software-stack is going to make this switch in the mid term here. Provided, I can streamline the installation enough and we get the patching process under control.
        But anything with weird PHP dependencies (and that includ
    • Re:Trouble (Score:5, Informative)

      by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:43AM (#22012490) Homepage
      I don't use gentoo much anymore, but I did not too long ago.

      1. Package system becoming VERY VERY slow because of the amount db size.
      Robins claims there was also a bug in a recent portage version that slowed things down quite a bit.

      4. No automatic way to uninstall a package and have the system automatically remove the unused ones.

      $ emerge -C [packagename] && emerge --depclean
      or do you mean something else?

      5. Very very slow upgrade cycle for major packages (KDE is a good example)
      Do you mean slow time to see updated ebuilds or that it takes a long time to compile? 3.58 is in the repos & there is a 4.0 overlay. Think there are even cvs ebuilds floating around.
    • That's all true, but hardly severe except for the VERY VERY slow package system. What really kills me is that it's only slow because there are 200k files scattered everywhere. All it really needs is to put these in a .zip (yes, zip) file. An uncompressed zip can still be sent as a delta with rsync, even a compressed one can with a little work on the adding/removing/updating code. But most importantly it can be randomly accessed unlike a .tar.gz file, and it's easy to access in python.

      Just making this on
  • gentoo (Score:2, Informative)

    by johnm1019 ( 1070174 )
    I think gentoo has some incredible flexibility and it'd be a shame to see the project go by the wayside.
  • by alveraan ( 945484 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:06AM (#22012302)
    There's a sticky post in the gentoo forums dealing with this. So far Daniel got a pretty positive response and frankly... as a user that has seen gentoo slowly falling apart over the past few years, I'm glad he's motivated to bring it back on track: []
  • by dmneoblade ( 848781 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:14AM (#22012356)
    Gentoo was my way of learning a lot about linux sysadmining in a short time. In a couple weeks, I learned how to compile packages, manage partition issues, compile kernels, deal with numerous config files, and many other skills. I later switched to Ubuntu, but I still appreciate my time spent with gentoo as a great learning aid. Just enough help to make it not as hard as LFS, but hard enough to be challenging.
  • by Reverse Gear ( 891207 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:23AM (#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.
  • by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:29AM (#22012412)

    # emerge -C gentoo-leaderships
    # emerge -uDv gentoo-leaderships
    # echo "Deep Leadership Upgrade: Done."
    Here's to hoping that its "package" dependencies don't break.
  • by grahammm ( 9083 ) * <> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:29AM (#22012414)
    I have been a user of Gentoo for time and have never seen an explanation of why the foundation is needed or even what it does. Looking at the home page under 'About Gentoo', 'Philosophy' and 'Social Contract', I do not see a foundation mentioned at all. To quote from 'About gentoo'

    To advise on and help with Gentoo's global development, a 7-member council is elected on a yearly basis which decides on global issues, policies and advancements in the Gentoo project.
    . To my mind the council seems to be sufficient, so why the need for and fuss about a(n almost unmentioned) foundation?
    • by Rakishi ( 759894 )
      The foundation is from what I can tell the LEGAL entity behind gentoo so the domain belongs to the foundation, for example.
      • by nuzak ( 959558 )
        Debian seems to do fine with just one elected board. I dare say a lot better than Gentoo, in fact. Possibly because if someone doesn't do their job, they're out.

        And Robbins? Isn't he the same guy who returned to Gentoo like MacArthur to the Phillipines, only to leave one day later? I agree that the Gentoo board needs replacement too, but he ain't the guy for it either.
    • Legally, the foundation is a registered nonprofit, which allows them (through the arcane tax code of the United States) some benefit in dealing with donations. Tax receipts, I believe?
  • There is but one Linux. But there are multiple forms of packaging. Mandriva and Fedora/RedHat/CentOS can be lumped into the category of having dependancy resolution problems too rigid. Mandriva specifically suffers a loss of redundacy when a source of RPMs fail. Yum keeps mirror catalogs. urpmi from Mandriva has the added ability of using SSH and Kerberos to "Mass Deploy" applications, and can centralize with LDAP. No other package Manager can do that.

    But both urpmi and yum fail at handling source code pack
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rjames13 ( 1178191 )

      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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sydneyfong ( 410107 )
      [Disclaimer: I am only a casual tinker of debs, so my information may not be all that accurate.]

      When it comes to Debs, I have no idea how to build Debs. Ubuntu and Debian lack the SSH/Kerberos mass deply ability and are even HARDER to recompile than RPMs.

      The Debian way to "mass deploy" packages is probably using the apt-get system. You simply add your own package repository to your "sources list", and use apt-get to install/upgrade the packages. They do provide gpg signing, if you want security.

      Other posters have mentioned some possible ways of building from source. For me, at least if the source package is from Debian official, it's a matter of `apt-get source

    • To rebuild a Debian package from a source (as opposed to a binary) repository:
      apt-get source <pacakge-name>
      cd <pacakge-dir indicated in the output from apt-get source>
      dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

      Done. The process will spit out a deb you can install with dpkg. There are a few open source projects (mplayer, vlc, quakeforge) that add the debian directory in their mainline source. After extracting a source tarball from them, you can run this command in the root of their source tree and get .debs.
  • Gentoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:07AM (#22013566)
    I've was using Gentoo since pre version 1.0, I've submitted ebuilds that got accepted in portage and was a contributer at heart. I noticed a big change when Daniel Robbins stepped down, a big enough change to get me to drop the use of Gentoo.

    I would love to welcome Daniel Robbins back and and I wish there was a way to allow community vote.
  • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:29AM (#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.
    • by Tiger4 ( 840741 )
      "I've switched to Ubuntu, and haven't looked back since."

      That is EXACTLY how it should be. I love the cool techie DIY of computers too. But ultimately it is a tool that is supposed to do something besides occupy my time. It needs to move out of development and into operations and production. The users, the people that can benefit from computer technology, don't want to build a computer or the OS behind it or maintain any of it, they want a magic wand that solves some problem for them. The maintenance

    • 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.

      Funny, I underwent the same transformation. My solution, though, was to stick to packages listed in Stable instead of ~. The only times I've had problems with my computer in the past 6 months or so have been when I tried adding something cosmetic, like adding a bootsplash. I was able to avoid the problems many people faced when upgrading Gnome from 2.18 to 2.20 (or was it 2.16 to 2.18, whenever expat was changed) by following instructions.

      Oh yeah, I've also had problems with getting compiz and the last

    • by Sancho ( 17056 )
      I wish that I had the mod points for you. That sounds exactly like what I went through. In fact, I sometimes wonder what I might have made of myself if I'd spent all that Gentoo-tinker time in other ways.

      Gentoo could be really spiffy, but the execution just isn't there.

      I use FreeBSD for servers. It uses something similar to portage (I believe portage was even based upon it), and it's pretty damned stable and easy to administer. I do believe that they could learn something from the improvements that Gent
  • Great news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @02:25PM (#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.
  • by Brane2 ( 608748 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:42PM (#22020952)
    I'm long time gentoo user ( I've started around version 1.4) and am more or less stisfied with it. I mean, it definitely has its flaws, but I haven't been able to find substitution that could "scratch my itch".

    I have tried Ubuntu as everyone around me were advocating it, but found that while it has much prettier installer and things tend to work out of the box, deep down it's actually inferior to Gentoo.
    When things work smoothly in Ubuntu, everyone is quick to point out those maybe few minutes and a CLI command that Ubuntu has spared you, but no one mentions those cases when things don't work.

    Each distro has its framework which combines many pieces of open source mosaic, but things get interesting when some piece in mosaic develops a flaw that is not immediately obvious or it affects some portion of users. I don't care for a few seconds spared during installation nearly as much I care for infrastructure support in cases that don't work.

    WRT to Gentoo's imminent death:

    1. If its going to happen, it won't be soon.

    2. All problems of Gentoo can be traced to its origins. At the time, its creator found his pleasure in homebrew approach and wanted to have something that works in some way much rather than trying to get it right first time and also answer many organisational, commercial and law questions.

    So now we have Gentoo Organisation, Infrastructure and Distro in the state of Russian Orbital station MIR jsut before its death: there are many interleaving and intervening systems with many semi-documented patches and changes and whole shebang is far from original specs. I mean, evolution is a ni ce thing, but it has its limits. When it reaches its limits, maybe its time to use accumulated knowledge and experience to make something new...

    3. WRT to Drobbins, I don't know the guy personally and have nothing against him, but I'm not sure that having him back is a good idea.
    He had the chance but has proven unable to make Gentoo his life, so now he's coming back, faced with similar problems ( needing money for RL but being strawn between his hobby and bussiness) and unable to learn from his mistakes and use radically different solution this time.

    4. New Gentoo should start from scratch with its policy, organisation and web/distro infrastructure while good old Gentoo I is living on...

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.