Gentoo Releases 11.2 LiveDVD to Crickets
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Gentoo Releases 11.2 LiveDVD to Crickets
by Susan Linton - Aug. 09, 2011Comments (14)
Related Blog PostsInterview: Gentoo's Berkholz and Gaffney Look AheadA Distribution, an Audience, and the Passage of Time
Ah, Gentoo. Gentoo was once one of the most popular distributions going. But somewhere along the line it declined. It's become a fringe distro that even with dedicated developers and loyal users can't seem to get its mojo back. I used Gentoo for several years and perhaps the reasons I moved on might be the same others did as well.In 2002 Gentoo was sitting at number three on the Distrowatch Page Hit Ranking. It's been falling down that list every year since. This year it's at 18. Version 11.0 was released in March and I don't think anyone reviewed it. The Rolling Programmer tried, but "hit a brick wall." Regardless, I don't think it's not-so-ease-of-use that took Gentoo down. I lay the blame at Moore's Law.In 2002 and the surrounding years, compiling Gentoo from Stage One actually showed real benefits over the more generic-style binary distros that had to cater to a larger common denominator. Real performance increases were possible and definitely distinguishable in comparison. But as hardware became more and more powerful, these increases became less and less pronounced. Even when I moved on several years ago they were almost non-existent. So, now the main advantage of using Gentoo is probably either bragging rights or a learning experience. Another lesser reason for Gentoo's decline was the departure of Daniel Robbins. Like with Mandriva's loss of Gael Duval, it takes away some of a distro's momentum and identity to lose its founder. Imagine what Ubuntu might be like if Shuttleworth suddenly departed. Oh it'd still go on, but it wouldn't be the same. Can you imagine Linux without Torvalds? One other major stumbling block has been the absence of a hard drive installer on its DVDs. I think it would be beneficial for Gentoo to provide a binary installer in the ilk of Toorox or Sabayon. I know that's almost sacrilege to say, but I think it's the truth. Even with Stage Two and Three tarballs, it still takes a lot of work to get a Gentoo system up and running properly. It just became more trouble and too time consuming than it was worth to me. Which leads right into the fourth reason I think Gentoo has been in decline. Compiling each application is a time consuming process especially if you're upgrading something like KDE. It could take hours to compile all those KDE packages. I remember when Firefox and the kernel were long compiles too. (Gentoo did provide a few binary packages, but just a few.) Generally, folks just don't have the patience for that much anymore.So, Gentoo 11.2 LiveDVD was released this past Sunday and barely got any press. To me, a former Gentoo lover, this is sad. The improvements sound intriguing. The main change is Linux kernel 3.0. The number of distros moving to Linux 3.0 is starting to grow, but Gentoo is still probably the third or fourth so far. New desktops include KDE 4.7.0, GNOME 3.0.0, and Xfce 4.8. Some software updates are LibreOffice 3.3.3, Mozilla Firefox 5.0, Chromium 13.0, Opera 11.50, Amarok 2.4.3, and MPlayer2 2.0. The Live DVD actually comes with a lot of software, including Porthole and Zero Install for adding addtional applications. A link on the desktop will take users to the Install Handbook.I've said it before, if Gentoo would provide a binary installer like Toorox, more people would give it a shot. As it is, I think Toorox and Sabayon are tempting Gentoo users away. But for the patient or self-improvement types, Gentoo Linux can provide an experience unlike anything else.  One of the many rotating background images included on the DVD 
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14 Comments
 
by an anonymous user on Aug. 09, 2011I agree. I once tried Gentoo out, but could never get everything I wanted setup properly. I then moved on and installed Slackware 13.37 and life is grand. Gentoo still intrigues me, but with all the hassle of trying to get the system up and running, I'll stick with Slackware.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 09, 2011LOL The Rolling Programmer article is full of crap and the user attempting to install Gentoo is obviously a noob who can't debug for shit. You on the other hand want to use distrowatch as a way to compute the popularity of Gentoo when in FACT distrowatch is ignored by most of the Linux Experts, So go take that shit somewhere else.
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by nomasteryoda on Aug. 10, 2011Crickets? well maybe people are too busy to notice, but I for one am downloading ASAP.... I need to test some of the new i7 laptops and this is an excellent way to do this. Besides, Gentoo is a very cool distro!!
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by Homer on Aug. 10, 2011You're not making any sense.
You claim a Live DVD was not well received because ... it's based on a distro where you have to compile all the packages yourself.
But, erm, this is a Live DVD. You don't have to compile anything.
Then you point to someone having problems installing Gentoo, as a typical example of why it's not popular, but the person in question had problems because apparently he couldn't even follow simple instructions, instructions that are no more difficult than those for Ubuntu. No really, even my 8 year-old nephew could do it.
You also seem to have missed the main point of Gentoo, which is configurability, not optimised binaries. I use Gentoo because it allows me to specify the exact dependencies I want for each package, such as adding experimental features, or removing support for things I don't need. This allows me to have a GNU/Linux install that's exactly tailored to my needs, far more than is possible on any binary-based distro. Switching to binary packages would completely defeat the whole purpose of Gentoo, although some are available for larger packages like LibreOffice, for example.
The actual speed difference between a generic i386 package and an optimised package is only a couple of percent, so that was never any real advantage. Multiple cores, threading, SSE/MMX instructions, etc. provide real speed advantages, but not basic CPU optimisation.
And the time taken to compile is irrelevant too, since it happens in the background on a idle CPU and I/O priority, so I really don't need to care how long it takes.
The idea that "Gentoo is hard" is a myth. Once you get past the initial setup, and add the desired USE flags, the rest is pretty much automatic ... forever, since it's a rolling release.
Which brings me to my penultimate point. Did you ever consider that perhaps the reason there's no fanfare for this latest release is the fact that Gentoo users don't actually need to use "upgrade" discs, they just "emerge --update" forever?
It's just a Live DVD. They have their uses, of course, but it's not exactly the central purpose of Gentoo. However "popular" it is, or not, it has more than enough support to continue providing regular package updates, and that's good enough for me. What else matters?
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 15, 2011I agree with nearly everything Susan says. I used Gentoo on all our computers for many years, but the combination of increasingly negligible speed benefits and an increasingly directionless Gentoo community made it less and less worthwhile to put up with compile times and occasional breakage when distros like Slackware were almost as fast to run (and actually booted much faster for a while, with minimal edits to boot scripts) and much, much easier to install and maintain, with almost no breakage ever.
Gentoo's "portage" still makes it potentially an amazing distro, but its development community has zero vision and doesn't understand that there's more to a good distro than the packages. A great example was the distro's website: it wasn't updated at all for ages and nobody even cared. Developers actually seriously argued in the forums that it wasn't worth worrying about. Users argued that a project's *looking* like a silly mess translates into fewer users/testers and so worse software, but the developers just want to code and forget about PR (even the documentation, once so good that users of other distros referred to it, fell behind), so the distro has sunk into fringe/hobby status and there it will probably stay.
I agree that it's sad: it's still technically an outstanding distro, but it will probably continue to die a slow death over the next few years because the project is run so aimlessly. In fact the only thing I don't agree with is the claim that it offers a good learning experience and/or bragging rights: Linux From Scratch is much better if you really want to spend time understanding what's under the hood, and takes much, much more effort to produce a fully working modern desktop if that's what the "bragging rights" refers to! A Gentoo install doesn't teach users a heck of a lot: it just takes a heck of a long time.
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by mark on Aug. 16, 2011I think the question of whether a distro is dying or not, should not be based on its popularity on distrowatch, but should be based on the volume of its devoted users and the developers. The latter is more important, because if bugs keep creeping up or essential packages remain outdated, devoted users will get discouraged and turn away. I don't know if such metrics are available (developers in and out), not just for gentoo but for any distro.
The nature of Gentoo makes it also unpopular. The lack of installer doesn't help and also the fact that although you can have a base system within the hour running (not with the first attempt) it's far from a desktop system. This precludes the typical distro-reviewer to have a review done within a few hours and post it on his/her blog (and preferably the same day a new version of Ubuntu/Fedora/Suse comes out).
About the performance (and compiling) I haven't decided. I would like to see some tests and surely not how many seconds it takes to boot. Maybe, with newer hardware it may not be noticeable (which also makes compiling not such a big deal, especially if one sets a powerful rig doing the compiles and feeding those to less powerful machines). But except for number-crunching, let me ask this scenario, if someone can get 10% more performance because the distro is optimized for the atom processor, wouldn't he/she use the extra battery time on his/her netbook for finishing up some work. Can we get 2, 5 or 10% more? I don't know if there's a definite answer.
About learning with Gentoo: I started learning a lot when I started writing my own e-builds, that is an experience. LFS is a learning experience for the low level components, but after having done it two times I will not do it again and I will let portage take care of the details.
Overall, although the stated points in the article are fair (with smaller objections on definite answers or funtoo for DR followers), my biggest objection are the chosen criteria for a dying distro and the consequences that this statement may have on less informed or less aware readers.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 18, 2011With Gentoo I still run KDE 3.5 (I do not like the KDE 4 desktop) and I can have Okular-4.7, Kchmviewer-5, k3b-2 and other KDE4 applications without installing the combersome KDE 4 desktop.
What other distro can do that?
Bugs are reported and corrected litterally within hours.
I do not think Gentoo is dying.
It is a distro for people who know what they want.
Certainly not reviewer-friendly and most certainly not a "girlie" distro.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 21, 2011I like Gentoo. I think it really shines when you want a more minimalist desktop. The USE flags lets you pull in only what you really need, rather than like binary packages include everything or only the most popular options. (Either of these can be annoying because sometime I want a rar feature without everything binary being big.)
If you like to install every program under the sun, then yes the compile times will get annoying, otherwise just one or two hours a week if you keep just one of the basics around.
Also for performance,bootstrapping, march=native and -fomit-frame-pointer help. A custom kernel without the debugging features can help as well, and though you can get that with any distro, the Gentoo documentation does warn you when certain features need to be enabled or disabled for something to work.
I don't think Gentoo is dying so much as the demographic of the Linux user is shifting. More away from people who want to tinker and control their system to people who want to just to get to the endpoint as soon as possible.
A binary installer might be nice (I once saw a youtube vid of someone trying to install the LiveCD by dragging the cd icon onto the hard drive) but without understanding a bit about portage (emerge, dispatch-conf, revdep-rebuild) it's a bit difficult to administrate the system. Having a bit of a trial by fire makes those that come out the other end intact helps give users the tools to really make the system thiers.
Plus I think Arch has managed to appeal to a lot of the same potential userbase, while being somewhat simpler via pacman, but with it's own ports system for when you want to tweak.
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by an anonymous user on Aug. 21, 2011To end my though above. Gentoo isn't so much dying as many of the other Linux distros are growing at a faster pace. I mean then just did change their init system to they could get better integration with other kernels like BSD, Mach or Darwin. Gentoo is primarily Linux, but not exclusively so.
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by Hans on Aug. 25, 2011I have 17 OpenSuse Desktops and several MS$ Windows systems under my care. I have one in-house application that searches as TByte data set consisting of about 2 Million video clips, photos and documents in about 200 directories for identical files and flags these for deletion. The files are stored on a software RAID 5 array. The application is written in "C" and compiled with hardware on which it runs with -march=native -mtune=native -O3 compiler flags
The process takes about 8.5 hours when run on OpenSuse 11.4 (64 bit) or Gentoo (64 bit). After fully re-compiling the Gentoo installation with CFLAGS="-march=native -mtune=native -O3", the same application with the same data runs 2.5 hours to complete.
I wish Gentoo would use YAST as installer to download, install, configure and compile a new installation and updates. I could then upgrade the 17 OpenSuse boxes and the installed applications to Gentoo without spending says to get Gnome and Samba etc. to work.
Installing and configuring a PC with OpenSuse with Gnome, Libre Office, etc. takes about 10 minutes of my time at the keyboard.
Hans
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by jdhore on Aug. 25, 2011In my opinion, this articale was written by someone who used Gentoo as a ricer and that's not what Gentoo is about IMO.
Gentoo is not about minimal performance improvements. It's a nice bonus, but that's not what Gentoo is about.
Gentoo is about extreme customization. From the USE flags to being able to select exactly what versions of which packages you want and (if necessary) stay on a older version for years.
As far as compile-times being an issue...My desktop has 8 CPU cores and is EFFECTIVELY a Core i7 or high-end Core i5 and besides the time getting my USE flags just perfect, i'd say all the compiling to get me from starting the install to a full GNOME desktop was under 2 hours. I remember when with older Pentium 4's, this would take nearly 10 hours. IMO, compile-times aren't an issue anymore and will be even less of an issue in the future as CPU's are gaining more cores and getting faster, but application source code isn't getting much larger or much more complex.
As far as Gentoo either being for bragging rights or a learning experience, I completely disagree. For me, it's about choice. I had previously used ArchLinux and I was disappointed that you have one choice for packages and it was whatever choice the ArchLinux developers decided to give you. I switched to Gentoo because i wanted choice over what features i wanted in packages and what versions of packages I wanted. There were other reasons that facilitated my switch, yes, but i'll leave them out of here because i'd rather not stir up drama.
That's why no one is interested in the LiveDVD. Sure it's kind of cool, but it has no installer and even if you dd the image to your disk, you don't really get any of the benefits of Gentoo.
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by Magicman Kinlochleven on Jan. 06, 2012Gentoo I first tried in the 90s and loved it then but, it was a pig to install. Since then the live versions, especially the latest has no installer although, technically you can with a bit of work install the whole latest system to your hard drive, it is losing ground to the main players Like PCLinuxOS & Ubuntu
I think its time to put it out to grass those producing it don't seem to care what happens once released, so time to say goodbye sweetheart! Anyway, I use Ultimate Linux and this is a sensational release and fun to use .... try it and see!
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by ecclesjones on Jul. 22, 2012I tried Gentoo 2 years ago. I liked the concept of a bare-bones OS I could build from the ground up and eliminate software I don't need and won't ever use. I also liked the idea of not having to reinstall the OS every 6 months because it seems every time a new version of the OS came out it was more efficient to re-install the OS rather than update haphazardly the software. Almost always something broke with a new kernel or OS upgrade.
My first attempt to install Gentoo failed because when I compiled the kernel I forgot to include ext2 file system support. If I recall, when it came time to partition the drive, the /boot directory could not be created because it cannot be on an ext3 file system.
I recompiled the kernel but then forgot to include laptop/Synaptic mouse support . I found this out after compiling XFCE desktop. The mouse would not work no matter what I tried so I recompiled the kernel again, recompiled XFCE again and the mouse worked this time.
When I tried to compile a large program, Lyx I think it was, I had to start over again because I made the /var or /opt file system too small. The laptop kept running out of memory during the compile so i went back and instead of making /var and /usr and /opt separate mount points I made the whole disk as "/" which solved the compile memory issue.
After about 2 weeks I had things running but some software would not work properly because I was leaving out some USE flags. I continued on with a semi-sloppy but working Gentoo laptop and was reasonably pleased with myself but I felt that my efforts were incomplete and that I could do better.
Firefox came out with another update and I had to recompile. I think it took 2 or 4 hours for this to happen. Because recompiling hogged all the memory on my laptop I had to go do something else while it compiled.
The recompile did not work properly so I meddled in the config files, did one emerge too many and broke XFCE because I recompiled with a flag it needed but was not needed for a another software package. I think I did an emerge world which broke everything.
After this debacle and faced with the task of starting over from scratch I said to myself, "You know what? This is taking way too much time and effort to get something so simple as mouse support working. This recompiling thing is taking up way too much time and effort. I think I'll go back to a binary distribution. I am spending more time fixing Gentoo than I am using Gentoo, and frankly, I don't care to spend weeks or months tweaking and configuring until I get lucky and finally get it right."
I concluded that Gentoo is best used as a distribution for developers who want to compile kernels and study the hundreds of possible flags to have the software tailored to their specifications. For me, a binary with the whole kitchen sink of flags works in my case because I am of the mind it is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Gentoo did not seem to run any faster than Linux Mint which I had been using previously.
I am sure some will say I did not try hard enough, or read the documentation thoroughly enough, but I did read and reread the documentation and I did give it a good try. What destroyed me was getting the proper Use flags, and there are hundreds of them. Were I a developer and knowing all these Use flags would be beneficial then yes, I would have spent the time to learn them all, but since I am not a developer I do not want to spend any time learning which Use flags to use.
Gentoo was not the distribution for me because I simply do not have the time to spend recompiling and digging for documentation concerning which Use flag I should use. Gentoo is not bad, and there is nothing wrong with it. The issue is, I did not want to invest the time and energy learning the Gentoo Way of doing things because I felt such efforts were unnecessary when someone else has already spent the time to compile the kernel and binaries with the proper Use flags and such.
I am sure had I stuck with it for a year I would have become more proficient but this would have cost me weeks if not months recompiling and redoing everything and for what? Just to use a computer mainly for email and the internet. Here are some quotes I found that accurately describe my experiences with Gentoo.
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by ecclesjones on Jul. 22, 2012--Here are some quotes I found on the internet. Again, please note I am not bashing Gentoo. I am providing quotes from people who had a similar experience like me. More time and effort would have eliminated these issues. This is time and effort I did not want to expend. That is not Gentoo's fault!
My main beef comes from updating Gentoo It's not as easy as apt-get update. You'll actually have to recompile a lot of stuff every once and a while like X and other big software programs.
I’ve just done a rebuild of Gentoo, using a current Portage snapshot and the 2.6.28 kernel. It mostly worked … however, it’s still taken a week or so to get a useable system.
For someone who just has time to turn on his computer, spend 30 minutes browsing the internet/checking e-mail, and then go to work, Gentoo is not a viable option.
"A bit of effort" doesn't begin to describe Gentoo: you booted into a LiveCD, then used the command line to manually format the drive,
copy over the base system, and then build the kernel. Whereas many distros took a hour to install, Gentoo would take days.
There hasn't been a system update I've run in the last 6 months that didn't break two-thirds of my system. Instead of using my laptop,
I was in perpetual maintenance mode, always grasping for that "mostly functional but stable" straw.
As I waited and waited for programs to download, configure, compile, then install, I kept telling myself that with the speed gains I will get from having custom-compiled software, it will have all been worth it in the end. Then I just realized one day that the one second shaved off of load times and the unnoticeable speed gains in my software wasn't really worth the extra hours put into installing the software
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
It took me a week of compiling kernels, partitioning disks, unmasking portage packages, switching desktop environments, and 20 hour days
to get it installed, and even after that, there was a new problem to fix every week.
Now, just updating GNOME (without touching ACCEPT_KEYWORDS) becomes a hurdle course. Even explicitly just updating little parts
of the system sometimes update the whole dependency-palooza to the latest and gratest and break in the meantime 10 other packages
Source-based distros are only valuable if you require specific customisation of certain packages
Most of the people running gentoo just seem to be home users who think they're seeing a speed increase, but would probably get more work done if they didn't spend so much time compiling and tweaking
I was tired of the amount of work required to upgrade system things like the kernel, gcc, python, etc. That, and there were times when I needed software installed ASAP, and waiting for source to compile was frustrating.
Sometimes things even break silently, so you cannot even be sure when something broke.
Every time I would need a new feature I had to recompile php since I hadn’t included that specific use-flag
The time you save by not compiling would almost certainly be more than the time you save when the app runs faster.
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