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 'the Gentoo Foundation's charter has been revoked for several weeks, which means that as of this moment the Gentoo Foundation no longer exists.'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

    by Mantaar ( 1139339 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:08AM (#22012314) Homepage
    It's strange how people think Gentooers are into Gentoo for the '--fomg-optimize' thing...

    I had to leave Gentoo a few weeks ago because my Laptop couldn't take the massive compiles anymore - my desks are all FreeBSD btw. What I enjoyed about Gentoo was the ports-like package manager and the ability to carefully choose your dependencies via USE-flags. Here I am, back on Debian, and I think it's actually faster... but I don't really care about speed since I exclusively use XMonad and the console - no need for speed improvements on a 1.6 GHz machine with that.

    But what I hate is that I don't have overlays anymore. You could dynamically replace any part of your package repository with something you found on the net. Like the proaudio overlay. Or the Haskell overlay. With Debian, this is much harder, as you have to find someone on the Net that will offer his repo of binaries ... people are much less likely to offer that since writing an ebuild is easy, but compiling that stuff for different archs is actually not that easy.

    For example, I still didn't find any place that offers a .deb of the new Firefox Beta 3. Anyone willing to point me to one?

    The speed is only a minor advantage of Gentoo and manifests itself in the much shorter start up times and the ability to easily switch to baselayout2 or einit to even improve that one. But since the average uptime of my laptop is about 2-3 weeks, I don't really care if Debian takes 20 seconds longer to boot up.
  • by raptor386 ( 1212810 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:11AM (#22012330)
    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.
  • Re:Should we care? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mantaar ( 1139339 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:14AM (#22012354) Homepage
    No. I think diversity in Linux is a Good Thing. There are hundreds of distros out there and that's really good to see, because they're all competing with each other, sharing their work with each other, forking one another and then merging back... If a distro dies, ten new ones spawn. That's very good, it contributes to a diversity which makes the Linux community an interesting place to live in.

    And that 'but it confuses the newbies' argument just doesn't cut it anymore. For the complete boons, there's Ubuntu and probably SuSE. For everyone else, there's choice. I like choice. Right now I chose Debian, but that has changed in the past and will probably change in the future.

    ... as long as it's not RPM-based...
  • 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.
  • Re:good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:22AM (#22012380)

    I never liked the condescending attitude of those Gentoo users that think compiling everything was always so superior to Yum or apt-get.
    If you've ever had to hunt around for a package repository because your distribution does not provide, or no longer provides, updates for particular packages and you have no upgrade path - necessitating downloading the source and compiling yourself or completely upgrading your distribution to the latest and greatest - you'll know why the condescending attitude of binary repository developers that everything should be in a repository, and their derision of using source code as a solution, pisses a lot of people off. On top of this, try multiplying this up for different platforms,

    When you have experienced this, come back and comment.
  • by grahammm ( 9083 ) * <graham@gmurray.org.uk> 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?
  • Re:Should we care? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @05:29AM (#22012416) Homepage Journal
    The problem lies not with the number of distributions but with what the different distributions offer. Needs, and therefore "ideal" solutions, tend to be specialized. General-purpose distributions have to be generalized. This means that general-purpose distributions will meet most of most needs, but can never really be ideal for any of them.

    Gentoo's approach of configuring and compiling at point of install should - in theory - solve this problem. You can adjust what gets compiled with what options and can therefore tailor the solution exactly to what you need. This is great for some of the more complicated packages, where there are many optional components, some of which may be mutually exclusive. This is also great when you have packages that - if you compile in everything - the package become unwieldy and sluggish.

    In practice, the maze of options and the staggering number of potential compiler flags for tuning things -- it's simply too complicated for the majority of users and even for a very large number of software engineers. A better solution, in my opinion, is to have users describe a basic distribution and the platform on which it is to run, and then have a central cluster use herustics to grind out a way to achieve it.

    Personally, I'd do this by compiling a mini distro locally that used a very standard package manager and didn't invalidate assumptions by mainstream distributions also using that package manager. Then the user could use existing repositories to add the stuff that's not critical to them but they still want. Alternatively, the cluster could spit out all of the necessary scripts, databases and configuration files for a Gentoo-style distro to build that perfect foundation.

    However, ultimately, I do believe this to be the area virtually all distros get it wrong. The foundation components are the most critical, but they are also the least reusable. Correct that and you correct 99% of the (few) problems people have with Linux.

  • 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:good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grahammm ( 9083 ) * <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:28AM (#22012680)
    The alternative in that situation is to 'take the plunge' and upgrade all the dependent packages to the latest (presumably stable, as if you are running ~arch then they would likely not be behind) version in portage. As you are talking about production systems, it makes sense to have testing systems which are kept (reasonably) up-to-date so that you do not get (many) unpleasant surprises when updating the live production systems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:13AM (#22012922)
    He used to run Linux support for IBM. Still Google-able, his answers got me going at work. Smart dude.
  • Re:Same here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:06AM (#22013222)
    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...
  • 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.
  • Re:good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ttldkns ( 737309 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:10AM (#22013584) Homepage

    The sheer number of times that I've booted the machine after doing an 'emerge -u world' and gotten "this configuration file's syntax is depricated, please use this new syntax instead" messages has been infuriating. Routine upgrades aren't routine. You can spend hours picking through config files and manually inspecting the diffs between versions. You don't want Gentoo on your server unless you enjoy spending a day doing an upgrade.

    On my server most of the time i find that etc-update takes care of most of the config file updates. If you have config files you want to protect from minor updates use CONFIG_PROTECT in make.conf to protect specific files. Then the majority of config updates flagged with etc-update are ones which you don't need to read over like tweaks to init scripts or such like. I find my config updates are usually over in a few minutes.

    The thing i don't like about gentoo is that after a few years of repeatedly upgrading my system using emerge and building new kernels around new hardware and stuff i have started to feel really isolated from any sense of community or identity gentoo may have. I'm not the kinda guy who hangs out on IRC all the time but with other distros i've used in the past i've really had a sense of direction of where the distro is headed in the future and the grand goal of the project. Gentoo just seems to be like that lazy teenager whos just bumming away his life with no plans for the future.

    overall though i think its one of the best distros i've used from a low resources server perspective. It still works after 4 without having to scrap it and start again so i'm not going to switch no matter how lethargic its attitude may feel.
  • 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 gentoo.org 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).
  • Re:good! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by color ( 101577 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:33PM (#22015802) Homepage
    it is hard to switch back to a binary distro after gentoo, but the parent has a point in that gentoo gets harder and harder to manage. That's why I started looking for alternatives and found Gobolinux, a distro that makes it really easy for mantainers and admins. It is a fresh air in the unix world.
  • 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...

  • by dido ( 9125 ) <`dido' `at' `imperium.ph'> on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:22AM (#22023362)

    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 up with the RPM-based distros I had been stuck with until then. Never really got around to trying Debian, but I may soon make the switch, if these troubles really get out of hand.

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