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New Linux Distribution — Exherbo, Announced 322

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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  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:41PM (#23466142) Journal
    I'm actually very impressed by Gentoo's new init system (baselayout-2) which was released to ~x86 not too long ago. It's so fast I'm actually considering just disabling the splash image, and it's very simple to configure (and even works with the init replacement projects like init-ng & einit). At work I'm mostly stuck with Sun's SMF (Service Management Facility) and find it too complex and inflexible. I haven't tried Apple's one, but I'm all for diversity. At the very least both Gentoo and Sun (and I'd presume Apple) can work with the legacy scripts, so if you don't like the fancy new methods feel free to stick with the old.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:43PM (#23466170)
    Binary packages that Just Work(tm)

    Application packages that can be built from source and Just Work with the libraries that are installed (i.e. automatically "USE" what I have installed) instead of requiring me to install various databases and other random libraries for features I won't ever use.

    Debian and many others get the first part right. Gentoo could have gotten the second part right without too much pain, but then they went and created an arcane variable to make things hard.

    Bonus points if "exherbo-get upgrade" detects which source packages I've custom-built, and upgrades them with new custom-built source packages (optionally built in the background?), instead of ignoring updates (pinned in Debian), or overwriting them with whatever binary package (not pinned in Debian).
  • by Cillian ( 1003268 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:54PM (#23466324) Homepage
    The whole point in GPL style freedom is that people are free to write another linux distro, if they feel that way inclined, and free to duplicate effort. It is duplication of effort that produces multiple projects which do the same thing, which gives choice, which I believe to be a good thing. If it wasn't for duplication of effort, we wouldn't have GNOME, and KDE, and XFCE, and enlightenment. If you happened to not like the one window manager we did have, tough luck. We're not all part of some big company, so you can't just tell us to all follow what guidelines you want to. This distro really isn't designed to be the next big thing, or to help out the community. You talk about half assed half finished projects as though they are a bad thing. I find, what many people often consider to be an unfinished hack of a tool will do a particular job perfectly. Take this in contrast to something like openoffice, or firefox, which are often considered to be "finished", production, mature products, but are actually completely bloated and not that great at doing what they're supposed to. Really, it is this sort of niche itch scratching that has made linux and everything to do with it what it is. If you happen to want to devote yourself to helping other people, and the "community", then feel free to, but don't start trying to stop other people from coding something for themselves, or a small user group. Another hint: don't try to tell the mods how to think - if they mod down your post, don't whine about it, you deserved it.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:10PM (#23466562)
    I have to agree with you. Way back in the day I LOVED Slackware because I understood it's init system (it was just scripts. Worked great, and I constantly was praising it compared to the more traditional SysV systems.

    THEN, in college I took at Unix admin class. Having used Linux for many years, I knew a lot of what they went over already, but one thing they hit on there was the SysV init system. Once I had a human teacher actually explain the system to me and how it worked, I actually switched preferences. SysV is very quick and simple to manipulate once you get the hang of it.
  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:16PM (#23466656)
    No, Exherbare means "to weed" - Exherbo means I weed or I am weeding -- apparently also "I'm so high right now, i have no idea what making I apparently think that "Distribution" means "hoarding it all to myself, but gloating about it trying to make people jealous, but failing miserably.""
  • by pseudorand ( 603231 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:17PM (#23466672)
    I'll start by saying that I'm an unashamed Gentoo fanboy, so mod as appropriate, but Mr. Østergaard seems to have forgotten to mention what he dislikes about Gentoo in either his blog entry or on He says that Gentoo developers, users, Fanboys, and community are bad, but the most specific technical comment he made was a criticism that someone undertook "porting ebuilds to run on SunOS 2 ksh under Cygwin", which is apparently bad. He simply says of portage that it's "broken and unmaintainable", but he doesn't say why. He says Exherbo option handeling is "much improved" compared to Gentoo's USE flags, but again doesn't say what's wrong with USE flags. (I get around unintended consequences simply by enabling/disabling things on a package-by package basis, so if he's talking about that...).

    I've been using gentoo quite happily for almost 3 years now on various servers as well as desktops for multiple users (no, I don't `emerge world` nightly), so I'm quite interested in what's wrong with portage (It's a godsend from my perspective) and the rest of gentoo. Seriously, I'd really like to know what's going to bite me in the arse here. But alas, Mr. Østergaard criticisms of Gentoo were far to vague and his design goals for Exherbo were equally vague and silly. Maybe he, or someone other than than the Trolls, other distro fanboys, and non-techy former Gentoo users who got burnt and should never have used it in the first place can please point me in the direction of some unbias and fair evaluations of Gentoo's strengths and weaknesses.
  • by Nosklo ( 815041 ) <WPARHFOBFDOT@spamm o t e> on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:23PM (#23466758)
    Quote found in distro's bugzilla:

    < arkanoid> sometimes I wish I'd wake up and find all the stupid gentoo devs shouting 'april's fool! we're not really morons after all'
    They have 12 bugs [] now. At least their package format is cooler than gentoo's [].
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0xABADC0DA ( 867955 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:40PM (#23468306)

    Personally, I find this to be the most interesting and newsworthy item I've seen on Slashdot for some time -- but I'm a long-time Gentoo user with an interest in these sorts of things.
    I'm in the same boat, but really the only things as a gentoo user that I find to be problems are:

    1) Portage/ takes up 500mb and uses 125k files. That's a giant 'FU' to any filesystem.
    2) Updating the portage tree takes forever.
    3) Emerge takes forever to figure out what to do.

    The first two can be solved easily by using a .zip file to store the portage files, and python has built in support for zip. An uncompressed zip file can work better with xdelta/rsync than a bunch of tiny files, depending on how it is created/updated. Even a compressed one can work great with xdelta with a just little bit of ZIP magic when creating a new archive. This solves #1 and #2. FYI, tar.gz and most other modern archives cannot be used because they don't have an index and are not random access.

    #3 can mostly be achieved with some kind of database that stores the results from last time, instead of 'rescanning' the world every time emerge runs. Even if portage is too hairy to actually improve this, just having files come from a zip instead of being scattered all over will improve the performance a lot. Probably enough to make it 'ok' again.

    So as a user I don't think a new distro is actually needed, and gentoo could be 'fixed' with just a few changes.
  • Re:Cool.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrazedWalrus ( 901897 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:49PM (#23468400) Journal
    Please. It's a minor test distro that's for private use and is apparently not intended to go anywhere. The developers don't want attention, and actively discourage it on their site. If three friends and I decided to start a pet distro for our own purposes and that we never intended to make public, would you like to hear about it?

    Anyway, I wasn't "whining", as you assert. I was simply observing that there is an apparent disconnect between the contents of the site ("leave us alone") and a front page /. announcement. It has nothing to do with "cute and fluffy".

    I also find a certain degree of irony in the fact that you're trolling, yet advising others in your sig to ignore the trolls. Funny too, because I usually enjoy your posts. You're usually not the trolling type.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:44PM (#23469882)
    Ok, I've been wanting to say this for a while, so I'll go ahead and be an AC... :)

    Gentoo has struggled quite a bit with eliteist devs over the years. There have been major problems with users being skewered for filing bugs that were "stupid" in the eyes of some dev. People have complained, and a lot of current users are upset over these sorts of things.

    Over the last year, though, I've seen definite moves among the more seasoned devs to purge their ranks of the troublemakers. Some devs who were fairly strong contributors but also known for flame wars and eliteist attitudes towards users have been getting the boot. Most users don't notice, since they don't get involved at this level. These ex-devs of course tend to get upset, and other devs get upset over the disagreement of the prioritization of teamwork over technical contribution.

    On the other hand, those flame-wars also had a tendency to block technical progress due to over-polarization. When some guy who acts like a real jerk proposes a great idea, everybody boos it because it is coming from a jerk. Ironically, the booting of some of these devs has actually has enabled some of them to contribute more successfully via side-projects like paludis (the package manager in this new distro). I think this is because when you boot the most outrageous people on both sides of a flame war the more reasonable people in the middle can actually stop and listen to what both sides were saying more constructively.

    Gentoo still has lots of issues, but the recognition of the importance of actually being nice to everybody bodes well for some improvement.

System restarting, wait...