Friday, 25 January 2008

Gentoo 2008.0

So it's no secret that I use Gentoo. If you've been following the rumours lately you would think that Gentoo is in strife. Daniel Robbins made lots of people believe that there were project, legal, developer, and direction issues. Most of his facts appear to be correct, however I cannot agree with his conclusions.

The State of New Mexico NFP status is not a big deal - sure it's a little embarrassing, but papers got lost, people got preoccupied, and now the papers have been re-filed[1]. Sure the council has had a few resignations, but a new council will be instated, followed by elections, followed by a better process for ensuring it doesn't happen again.

Sure there wasn't a release in 2007 - but there were various security concerns and a breakdown in communication. What you may not realise is that Gentoo doesn't need regular releases, because the entire system of packages goes through a constant upgrade cycle anyway. For example, when I used to install Redhat and then Fedora, major releases would usually introduce a new major Gnome or KDE version. Without the new release CD, you wouldn't be able to get a lot of new packages. Even with the new release CD, Fedora would often blow away my filesystem anyway. With Gentoo, KDE 4.0 is currently in the tree, and people are successfully installing and using it.

Nevertheless, a new release is on the way[2]. Pencilled in for final release in mid-march, there are a lot of new features and processes. Including linux kernel 2.6.24[3], if testing goes well. A new security discussion has been set up, so that Release Engineering knows what the issues are directly.

The final issue, IMHO is the communication between devs and users. They will never completely agree on everything, but that's a fundamental difference that shouldn't be changed. At the least there should be some communication - and the releng looks to be addressing that too. There is a new mailing lists to help new developers (gentoo-dev-help), a user survey planned, and a call for comment on the new release[4].

So Gentoo is not perfect, nor is any distribution. At least from what I've seen over the last few days is they continue to learn from mistakes, which means the will continue to improve and grow.

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