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Zork the Almighty
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:39 pm    Post subject: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Two words: maintenance and bloat. When I started using Gentoo a number of years ago, it was a small, lightweight distribution with a reputation for speed. Despite the fact that most software had to be compiled, you could build a very lean system simply by installing a handful of packages and tweaking the USE flags to leave other stuff out. It took 5 seconds to update the portage cache. Packages were frequently updated, but for the most part you could just install the new version overtop of the old one. My standard system consists of X, KDE, Mplayer, and a few other packages like ssh and gcc which every system should have.

Fast-forward to today, where the current fad seems to be "modular packages". Instead of 10 packages for KDE we have 200, and instead of 1 package for X we have 100, and something is updated every day. There are now so many possible configurations, depending on whether you last updated a day, a week, or a month ago, that it is pointless to try to test anything. The software is simply thrown onto the users, and whatever is broken is sorted out in the forums.

Add to that the developer's tendency to introduce deep structural changes to the system on a continuous basis. I don't mind that Gentoo in 2006 uses udev instead of devfs, and Xorg instead of the standard X11. Certainly we all have to make these changes. What I dislike is the fact that these types of changes are made every two or three months, and often before the new software is ready. Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable". What does that say ?

The bottom line is that I go out of town for one month, and when I return I spend one or two full days updating and repairing my system. It's not just compile time - I may as well reinstall. In fact, if you don't update you will be forced to reinstall because your configuration will quickly become unsupported, or updating it will break it beyond all repair.

There are so many packages now that it becomes impossible to strip out bloat. When one piece of software requires 100 packages, someone in that list will always want to install Gnome or Ruby or GTK+ or some other unnecessary dependency. Bloat is also added whenever the underlying system is changed, because new dependencies are added and old ones are not removed. I know there are tools for detecting this, but I also know that they don't often work. I'm pretty sure that if I reinstalled Gentoo right now I could build a lean and modular system, but a year later it would be spaghetti again.

The bottom line is that Gentoo reflects the state of Linux as a whole. It's like a house where every part, from the foundation to the roof, is constantly being worked on or replaced. This is good for house design, but it's not a place where anybody can live. Most distributions cherry pick the best versions of software for a "release", and then actually test the software (in a "beta" version) to see if it works. This way the users get the benefits of a fairly modern house, with only periodic interuptions instead of continuous construction. I don't think anything in Gentoo ever even gets to beta level anymore. The distribution as a whole certainly doesn't. The only people who can seem to maintain the system are its developers, and trying to "use" Gentoo is the craziest thing I have ever seen a large group of people do.

I miss the simplicity and speed of the old Gentoo. The distribution is now 10 times more complex, but it doesn't seem to deliver any benefits to its users.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i have to agree with some things. thanks for your points, i think ill keep an eye open for you described
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:53 pm    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Add to that the developer's tendency to introduce deep structural changes to the system on a continuous basis. I don't mind that Gentoo in 2006 uses udev instead of devfs, and Xorg instead of the standard X11. Certainly we all have to make these changes. What I dislike is the fact that these types of changes are made every two or three months, and often before the new software is ready. Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable". What does that say ?

Are you actually serious?
The change from devfs to udev wasn't exactly rushed - hell, devfs has been killed from the kernel now, so it's no longer an option. When XFree changed their license, it clashed with Gentoo's social contract (among others) so a migration to Xorg was sorta necessary - anyway, the first release of Xorg was nearly identical to XFree.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Instead of 10 packages for KDE we have 200, and instead of 1 package for X we have 100

You know the end result is the same as before, right? They're just installed in smaller chunks? If anything it's leaner and meaner this way...
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"O God of Earth and Altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die,
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride."
(G. K. Chesterton; English Hymnal)

so one more prophet of disaster - a real pandemonium in recent times (it seems it is contagious - so don't read :) )
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:29 pm    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable".

That's something I totally agree with -- I tried keeping my system as stable and basic as possible, but random breaks grew my file that holds unmaksed packages longer and longer for some reason...

I think overall you're a bit too brash, but yeah it does take crazy amount of time to mantain if your hardware setup is somewhat unusual (my case, hence I left waiting for better times to come to Gentoo).
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive been using gentoo for years, never had to install soemthing ~x86 unless it had soemthing to do with videodrivers and using the newest stable kernel,

2 days to update? it took me less than 2 days to emerge -e world...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blah
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything dies.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We need a dedicated subforum for "Gentoo sucks/I am Leaving Gentoo" and last but not least "I am back" Threads.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:05 am    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Lechium wrote:
Zork the Almighty wrote:
Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable".

That's something I totally agree with -- I tried keeping my system as stable and basic as possible, but random breaks grew my file that holds unmaksed packages longer and longer for some reason...

+1
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:32 am    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Lechium wrote:
Zork the Almighty wrote:
Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable".

That's something I totally agree with -- I tried keeping my system as stable and basic as possible, but random breaks grew my file that holds unmaksed packages longer and longer for some reason...


Yes, because unstable packages can require unstable packages. Why is that surprising?

I've had a stable box from Nov. '04 that, baring one incident where a stable package depended on an unstable, I did not have to keyword anything. That one incident could have been merely a bad time to sync, or the developer forgot. Either way, it was fixed next --sync, and in 2 years one incident isn't something to be upset about.

Quote:
Fast-forward to today, where the current fad seems to be "modular packages". Instead of 10 packages for KDE we have 200, and instead of 1 package for X we have 100, and something is updated every day.


The KDE4 build system is changing, and the monolithic builds are still around for your convenience. Xorg is now modular. Both cases, this was an upstream decision. Net result? Shortened build time once it's up and running. The packages that actually get updated during the point releases are rebuilt and the packages unchanged are left alone.

DevFS is dead and gone.

XFree86 ebuilds are available in CVS if you really want them. Update them before using.

Quote:
Add to that the developer's tendency to introduce deep structural changes to the system on a continuous basis.


Things that change drastically have advanced notice on the forums, and gentoo weekly news (and probably mailing lists). Along with the notice comes a guide in how to upgrade smoothly. Xorg modular has one. GCC upgrade has one. The new java system has one. The Apache shift around 2.0.50 had one. Most cases this is updating some config files and then waiting for them to build.

If this is an original install from years ago, I'm betting the filesystem is badly fragmented. That means portage will be impressively slow as its ~146k files are scattered all over the hard drive for each access. Look into the "shake" program in the documentation, tips, and tricks, or backup and reformat.

If you're happy with your system, then don't update. Just sync and run glsa-check and you should be set. Otherwise, don't upgrade blindly.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, a gentoo criticism post I actually agree with. You make a lot of good points and I don't think you're overstating them either. I haven't really thought of those things as problems so far, I guess I got so used to the gentoo way of doing things. But now, as Ubuntu Dapper has sailed up as a real option for me, I'm starting to reconsider gentoo for being so nitty gritty. I think it's a very useful project that will always be around for those who want it. It's also perfect for exotic platforms that don't have binary distros catering to them.

But for a run of the mill x86 desktop, which admittedly requires a lot of control (cause I'm a control freak :D), it may just not be necessary anymore. Which is credit to gentoo for pushing the limits and showing the FOSS world what can be done, others have followed. Above all, "unusual things" are almost always much easier to do in gentoo, because someone has always tried it or tried something in that vein.

Another thing is that with all kinds of different configurations, I guess gentoo does a lot of bug fixing for upstream as well, I've always imagined this being the case anyway.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The modular setup of KDE and Xorg is exactly what gentoo is about. Instead of having to install all hardware drivers for Xorg, in the modular system you only install the drivers you need. The same goes for KDE, with the modular system you only install the packages you acually need/want.

And unstable ~x86 packages are only needed when you want some cutting edge software, alien (from portage overlays) or videodrivers, otherwise my server runs without ~x86-packages. My workstation on the otherhand has a lot of ~x86 packages because of KDE 3.5.3 and Xorg 7.0, but this was a deliberate choice by myself.

Your story about udev is also wrong. The change from devfs to udev wasn't an idea from gentoo, but from the kernel development team. It has been availeble in the kernel for about 1 year now, and just recently it was descided to drop devfs support from the 2.6 kernel. Again it was you own choice to change to a kernel without devfs support, no-one made you do it. And it's the same with everything else in gentoo, you don't need to upgrade, you want to upgrade. The consequence is that sometimes you have to do some "repair" work, but again it's because you wanted it to be upgraded.

I have to admin that past dependencies stay on your system, bloating it...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ctrl+Alt+Del wrote:
We need a dedicated subforum for "Gentoo sucks/I am Leaving Gentoo" and last but not least "I am back" Threads.
LoL - that's the best comment :-)
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

antonlacon wrote:
Yes, because unstable packages can require unstable packages. Why is that surprising?
You've clearly misunderstood what it said and what he meant. Many ebuilds in stable (x86) are not properly made, so either one has to try to fix the ebuild by oneself, or try a newer unstable package which might work. It has nothing to do with unstable, it's just that stable isn't stable as one would want it to be.

While discussing the topic of Gentoo, I doubt Gentoo will ever die, unless something even more flexible while easily maintainable comes up. I love Gentoo because it given me power to choose my own level of security, packages and dependencies. I've thought about starting to use Arch Linux instead, but it doesn't have the security that I need, so it's not really my distribution of choice in the end.

Portage on the other hand needs to be improved a lot. For example, it needs to be able to handle dependencies in the correct order. Many times when I try to compile something, it manages to try to install a component before its dependencies have been installed - that's just wrong and needs to be fixed. I have high hopes for Paludis to bring forth the missing functionality in Portage, but perhaps the Portage developers manages to fix most serious problems in the future? :)
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm,
Quote:
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were you really gentoo'ing ? :)

/me is sick of these posts
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of what you said I disagree with...I hope you enjoy Ubuntu or whatever distribution you choose.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gentoo_lan wrote:
Most of what you said I disagree with

So do I. Gentoo runs as fast and smooth as it did the first time I installed it
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Modularity is only a problem when you end up actually needing 50 of the 100 packages to get relatively basic functionality out of an app or given set of apps other than that modularity is a very good thing.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shadow Skill wrote:
Modularity is only a problem when you end up actually needing 50 of the 100 packages to get relatively basic functionality out of an app or given set of apps other than that modularity is a very good thing.


Which is the case with modular KDE and Xorg. I bet there are not many people in the world who would
really think through whether when they can have libXt installed but libXtst skipped :)
Not to mention that there are no clean tools to uninstall full set of modular packages, which would be counted as a
major flaw for any distribution.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:25 pm    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

Zork the Almighty wrote:

The only people who can seem to maintain the system are its developers, and trying to "use" Gentoo is the craziest thing I have ever seen a large group of people do.


I try to avoid these ranting posts as much as possible, but every hundred or so I figure I might as well throw in my 2 cents for the google search bot to read and catalog.

I started using linux with gentoo, and slowly learned how to do things that actually reduce my day to day need to "check things" on my system...
I learned to cron: emerge sync, and a report to see if I need to upgrade anything (glsa)
I make sure to only put things in my world file I actually want to keep up to date...
As I install any security updates I have monday morning before work, I read the newsletter to see if there are any crazy upgrades (Xorg 7, gcc...)...

Now I maintain about 6 computers with about 1 hour a week. When I have some free time I help people on the forums with varius problems I have come across and solved. This is my way of giving back, as I am a poor grad student and the only thing I have to offer right now is time at night.

In response to Zork, I've had no problem learning gentoo, and if it wasn't for gentoo, I'll still be shelling out money to microsoft and _STILL_ have to deal with keeping a floppy drive around just so I can install sata drivers on boot up...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:19 pm    Post subject: Re: why Gentoo sucks, and why it will ultimately die Reply with quote

As we say in business, criticism only helps to make you better. But, I'm having a hard time understanding some of your stuff.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
It took 5 seconds to update the portage cache.


Which packages would you prefer weren't in portage? Name one and I bet a dozen people would complain that their favourite xxx was missing.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Fast-forward to today, where the current fad seems to be "modular packages". Instead of 10 packages for KDE we have 200, and instead of 1 package for X we have 100, and something is updated every day. There are now so many possible configurations, depending on whether you last updated a day, a week, or a month ago, that it is pointless to try to test anything.


Modularisation is exactly the thing that helps you to keep unwanted packages off your system. You're complaining about the very thing that helps to solve the very issue that you're complaining about. And as others have said, this choice has little to do with Gentoo.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
The software is simply thrown onto the users, and whatever is broken is sorted out in the forums.


We all do our best to help when things break, but I can't agree with that statement. In the past 2 years I've only had 1 show-stopping update, and that was sorted by emerge --sync, and emerge the offending package (udev if I remember correctly).

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Add to that the developer's tendency to introduce deep structural changes to the system on a continuous basis.


Would you prefer that Gentoo didn't progress, still used Kernel 2.2, TWM, devfs. You'd have a hard time finding many people to agree with you.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
What I dislike is the fact that these types of changes are made every two or three months, and often before the new software is ready. Sometimes the "solution" is to install a bunch of packages from ~x86, weeks before they are made "stable". What does that say ?


I take it you're talking about the switch to xorg 7.0. When I read the migration guide it did strike me as odd that I would have to umask some packages to update. I delayed a bit (about 3-4 weeks) to make the change, and when I did, there was nothing to unmask at all, and that's on AMD64.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
The bottom line is that I go out of town for one month, and when I return I spend one or two full days updating and repairing my system. It's not just compile time - I may as well reinstall. In fact, if you don't update you will be forced to reinstall because your configuration will quickly become unsupported, or updating it will break it beyond all repair.


Why update then if your system works OK. Pesonally I run emerge -u world weekly and emerge -uD world monthly, and have no problems. Takes <1hour per week, unless there's a big change like KDE, xorg or gcc.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
There are so many packages now that it becomes impossible to strip out bloat. When one piece of software requires 100 packages, someone in that list will always want to install Gnome or Ruby or GTK+ or some other unnecessary dependency. Bloat is also added whenever the underlying system is changed, because new dependencies are added and old ones are not removed. I know there are tools for detecting this, but I also know that they don't often work. I'm pretty sure that if I reinstalled Gentoo right now I could build a lean and modular system, but a year later it would be spaghetti again.


Sure, updating a system does leave stuff lying around, taking up disk space, but, unlike Windows, doesn't affect the speed of the system.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
Most distributions cherry pick the best versions of software for a "release", and then actually test the software (in a "beta" version) to see if it works. This way the users get the benefits of a fairly modern house, with only periodic interuptions instead of continuous construction.


Not having used any other distros for a long time, but doesn't that mean a full re-install every 6 months or so? How is that better than Gentoo? What if your favourite package has a major update just after your distro is released. You either have to wait for the next distro version or go through RPM hell.

Zork the Almighty wrote:
The only people who can seem to maintain the system are its developers, and trying to "use" Gentoo is the craziest thing I have ever seen a large group of people do.


Well I'm not a developer, have no coding experience and have no difficulty maintaining my two Gentoo PCs, one running x86 and the other AMD64
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:37 am    Post subject: Zork... quit being a dork! Reply with quote

Zork;

Grow up! If you don't like gentoo and you think it's too unstable, then shutup and go run debian. I'm sure fedora has fewer packages then gentoo as well. :P
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all of your replies. For the record, I have been using Gentoo as my main operating system since the beginning of 2003. It was actually the first distro I tried to install (back in 2002), and I made it all the way to a working X11 before deciding it was insane. I liked the concept though. Then I tried Mandrake, Redhat, and Debian, but they all installed too much crap or it was impossible to get certain functionality, and I came back to Gentoo. There are, in my opinion, five reasons to use Gentoo:
1) it is usually possible to get something to work
2) you are very likely to find help in the forums (see 1)
3) you have quite a bit of control over what is installed
4) it doesn't do too many weird things to config files
5) you can get very modern software

If you're interested in learning Linux and you want to try lots of software, Gentoo is a great distro. In fact, it is probably the best distro for that purpose. I have, however, gradually become more and more busy with work and I don't have time to tinker with my Linux system anymore. I've also seen most of the software that's out there and decided what I like.

In the last three months I have updated my machine three times, and every time something seriously broke (ie: it took more than 15 minutes of my time). In one instance the device files in /dev which were previously tarred and restored were no longer tarred and restored after an update, which broke X11's video and mouse config. The new Nvidia drivers also had some sort of crazy problem. I was forced to update the system because my profile (from 2005) would not be supported any longer, meaning I would not be able to update at all and I would have to reinstall.

My criticisms of udev, modular KDE and Xorg, etc, are not meant to say Gentoo should not make those changes. But some sort of announcement or schedule is needed for major updates. The update to udev, for example, took me completely by surprise. You can't always tell when an update is a major update that has the potential to break your system. On more than one occasion I thought "I'll just update this minor thing before I go to bed" and then BOOM! I was up all night trying to make sure the system would boot up in the morning when my wife needed to use it. The fact is, every time I update the system I have to set aside time because of the potential for major hassles. For modular KDE, I didn't even bother. All that trouble for what, KDE 3.5 ? It would have been better to save that change for KDE 4.0, which is guaranteed to be a massive problem anyway.

The change to modular Xorg at least coincides with a major version number, and ultimately, it makes sense, but I can't help thinking it would be less trouble to reinstall. Unfortunately my processor is a little slow these days, and although I use tmpfs for compiling (best tip ever!) it still takes 12-18 hours to get everything set up. BTW, another good trick I find is to stick the portage tree on /var on a separate partition. It avoids fragmentation, but also too many partitions. You can delete distfiles and even most of the ebuilds to gain free space on /var if you ever need it.

So basically, my only real gripe with Gentoo is that I'm getting really tired of things breaking. I don't mind if things break for major updates, even if it's multiple things at once. But it's really annoying to have it happen every month or so, when you least expect it. Maybe my system has just lasted longer than usual (I last reinstalled in late 2004) and nobody else is experiencing these problems, but if that's the case then it is a serious issue (and one of the reasons why I hate Windows).

In a larger context, I think the whole "package management" system that Linux uses is broken. I would prefer a distro that had Desktop and Server base installs, and otherwise statically compiled apps with few dependencies (only big things, like Gnome or KDE). With i686 builds and prelinking the speed difference is gone, and although it's interesting to construct a system with no bloat, you can't maintain it for reasons I posted earlier. I think Linux should try as much as possible to copy Mac OS X (before Apple wrecks it). It's far from perfect (don't look under the hood), but its approach to installing applications is correct.

Otherwise, FreeBSD offers a good model. Gentoo is very close to FreeBSD in many ways, however the difference is that FreeBSD has releases, and the fundamentals of the system don't change outside of those. You can upgrade things and they basically don't break. On the Linux side, Slackware is often compared to BSD, and it is the distro I will probably try next (when version 11 is released). I've used it before to breathe life into an old notebook computer, and although I find their defaults too conservative (2.4 kernel !?) you do at least get a stable, no-nonsense system. My only concern is that it will quickly get stale, at which point I will have to reinstall Gentoo :)

After all of my ranting (is anyone still reading?) I'm not so sure Gentoo should change. It's useful as it is, which is an exercise in frustration while trying to stay on or near the bleeding edge. It's a very good distro for trying new software, and for learning about Linux as a whole. Most of the credit for the latter belongs to these forums, and to the people who take the time to post and write documentation. Thank you.

As for Gentoo:
1) We need some indication of when a change is major. Certainly 30 blocked ebuilds highlighted in red seems to get the point across, but sometimes it's not obvious.
2) We need to combine major updates, to minimize or at least schedule the inconvenience to users. The quarterly profiles were a good idea, but they are actually not frequent enough. I suggest changing the stable branch once a month (patch Tuesday!) with the exception of security updates. Nobody can claim that's not bleeding edge, but at the same time it should reduce the burden on package maintainers and provide some sort of protection for users against broken updates. The testing branch could be frozen for 5 days before the switchover to allow people to upgrade earlier (at a slightly higher risk). People who don't have time for problems could upgrade later in the cycle. You could schedule your upgrades according to how much risk you want to take (nifty!). Gentoo is a large distro with a widely varying userbase. It could work.
3) We need to speed up portage, and fix the meta-packaging. I know people are working on this, but it's important.

What do you people think of point number 2 ?
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zork the Almighty wrote:

In the last three months I have updated my machine three times, and every time something seriously broke (ie: it took more than 15 minutes of my time). In one instance the device files in /dev which were previously tarred and restored were no longer tarred and restored after an update, which broke X11's video and mouse config. The new Nvidia drivers also had some sort of crazy problem. I was forced to update the system because my profile (from 2005) would not be supported any longer, meaning I would not be able to update at all and I would have to reinstall.


If you think 15 minutes is too much of your time for repairing minor breakages, you are just being difficult. No matter how 'busy' one claims to be, 15 minutes isn't a lot of time. Agreed, everyone would do well without the breakage occurring in the first place, but a system upgrade of that magnitude over the net is a difficult thing to achieve.

Zork the Almighty wrote:

My criticisms of udev, modular KDE and Xorg, etc, are not meant to say Gentoo should not make those changes. But some sort of announcement or schedule is needed for major updates. The update to udev, for example, took me completely by surprise. You can't always tell when an update is a major update that has the potential to break your system. On more than one occasion I thought "I'll just update this minor thing before I go to bed" and then BOOM! I was up all night trying to make sure the system would boot up in the morning when my wife needed to use it. The fact is, every time I update the system I have to set aside time because of the potential for major hassles. For modular KDE, I didn't even bother. All that trouble for what, KDE 3.5 ? It would have been better to save that change for KDE 4.0, which is guaranteed to be a massive problem anyway.


The udev update was a fundamental system change, and yes, should have been highlighted more prominently. I wasn't around back then and I don't know if a proper list of steps to attempt a safe upgrade, like gcc upgrades, was made available at the time.
But I haven't seen too many troubles with the update to KDE 3.5 after it was declared stable.

Zork the Almighty wrote:

The change to modular Xorg at least coincides with a major version number, and ultimately, it makes sense, but I can't help thinking it would be less trouble to reinstall. Unfortunately my processor is a little slow these days, and although I use tmpfs for compiling (best tip ever!) it still takes 12-18 hours to get everything set up. BTW, another good trick I find is to stick the portage tree on /var on a separate partition. It avoids fragmentation, but also too many partitions. You can delete distfiles and even most of the ebuilds to gain free space on /var if you ever need it.


But you know that from the time you install gentoo. It IS a source based disribution, hence the long compile times for a system wide upgrade. Also, if it is such a problem, you may consider cross compiling or just patching vulnerable programs rather than a full system update. Agreed, it would take a bit of work, but that is what you get with a source based distribution.

Zork the Almighty wrote:

So basically, my only real gripe with Gentoo is that I'm getting really tired of things breaking. I don't mind if things break for major updates, even if it's multiple things at once. But it's really annoying to have it happen every month or so, when you least expect it. Maybe my system has just lasted longer than usual (I last reinstalled in late 2004) and nobody else is experiencing these problems, but if that's the case then it is a serious issue (and one of the reasons why I hate Windows).


This is not just a problem with Gentoo. Lots of distros, even binary ones, experience breakage quite often while updating over the net. It is usually a consequence of most people having different configurations, and the update fails to consider all cases in which this could occur.
While you may have been unfortunate to encounter problems with every update, this isn't something that happens to everyone else. You may be just as unlucky trying any other distro.

Zork the Almighty wrote:

In a larger context, I think the whole "package management" system that Linux uses is broken. I would prefer a distro that had Desktop and Server base installs, and otherwise statically compiled apps with few dependencies (only big things, like Gnome or KDE). With i686 builds and prelinking the speed difference is gone, and although it's interesting to construct a system with no bloat, you can't maintain it for reasons I posted earlier. I think Linux should try as much as possible to copy Mac OS X (before Apple wrecks it). It's far from perfect (don't look under the hood), but its approach to installing applications is correct.


MacOSX is nothing brilliant. People do not experiment with it as much as they do with Linux. And most machines running OSX have a more or less similar system state while attempting an upgrade. So that approach works there.
Statically compiled apps offer no advantages and only add to cruft.

Zork the Almighty wrote:

Otherwise, FreeBSD offers a good model. Gentoo is very close to FreeBSD in many ways, however the difference is that FreeBSD has releases, and the fundamentals of the system don't change outside of those. You can upgrade things and they basically don't break. On the Linux side, Slackware is often compared to BSD, and it is the distro I will probably try next (when version 11 is released). I've used it before to breathe life into an old notebook computer, and although I find their defaults too conservative (2.4 kernel !?) you do at least get a stable, no-nonsense system. My only concern is that it will quickly get stale, at which point I will have to reinstall Gentoo :)


Heh. Now you really are joking. Try a system wide FreeBSD update sometime. For an OS that has the core system and the kernel so tightly tied together, it still throws up breakage problems. Although the updates do not come as thick and fast as with Gentoo, they are still not without their fair share of problems.

And Slackware? I agree, it is a spankingly lean and very good distro. But if you get tired dealing with Gentoo breakages, have fun trying to track individual package vulnerabilities and patching them by hand.
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