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myak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Returning to Gentoo, what has changed? Reply with quote

/ A wall of text, it seems. tl;dr provided at the bottom /

So I was a devoted Gentoo user a couple years back, my guess is somewhere around 2006 but I don't remember exactly. I quit because my HDD crashed, I had no real backup of the OS and compiling everything on a Celeron overclocked to 700 MHz with 384 MB of RAM again made me want to kill myself. I really loved Gentoo for USE flags, bleeding-edge software available (unstable for life!), emerge, portage and, most of all, choice. But, back in the day, Gentoo was really quite popular and had a very big community behind it, a lot of developers, etc.

Right now, I no longer do anything that requires Windows. I have a PS3 for gaming and on rare occasions I need Windows, I can just use a VM. Most of the stuff I do, can be done better on a Linux box (pretty much only Android and web programming). Right now I still use Windows 7 mainly because no "easy" distro I try satisfies me (Ubuntu, Mint, openSUSE, Fedora). I miss Gentoo and want it back.

What's the state of the matter now with Gentoo? I know the community is much smaller. I'm not much of a community person anyway, more of a lurker and if I have a problem, I'll usually find an answer myself before I ask a question but I found those answers on wiki and forums. Wiki seems terribly outdated in some sections, the number of forums is still the same but the amount of users dropped significantly so most of those sub forums seem empty and dead. That doesn't really bother me that much. What I'm more worried about is the developer and pkg maintainer base. I want ebuilds (or are they called differently now?) and I want them fast. Stuff like that.

General question is - what has changed since 2005/2006? Both on technical and community grounds. Technically, do I need to learn everything from the start or will starting from stage1 be pretty much what it used to be? Community wise, how are things? Are you doing OK? Would you recommend going with Gentoo? Maybe something else that also gives a lot of control. Arch seems to be gaining a lot of momentum.

tl;dr I was a devoted Gentoo user, quit in 2005 or 2006. What has changed in terms of technical stuff and how is the community? Is Gentoo alive or is it pretty much done?

EDIT: By my post history, it seems I quit in 2005 or 2006 so I edited that.
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John R. Graham
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back. :)

The community is much smaller? I don't think so. The average number of commits to the Portage tree over the last 8 years is about 8,500 per month. This month so far there have been over 9,600. See the CIA Statistics. In my opinion, the forums are also vibrant and active.

Let me see. Major changes (others may think of things I've missed):
  • Portage has had a major overhaul, is much faster and the resolver solves lots of blocks on its own now. Arguments and competition of ideas have resulted in a formal spec for the tree and a competing package manager (named Paludis).
  • The Portage tree itself has evolved, and the language is able to express more complex dependecy and feature relationships.
  • The old init system has been replaced by a new one called openrc.
  • Overlays are taking over the world. There are many, many more packages available on Gentoo than are apparent in the official Portage tree. There's a formal overlay management package called layman that makes adding / deleting multiple overlays simple.
  • HAL is gone, replaced by policykit. X mostly works without an xorg.conf file now.
  • The most heavyweight DE out there (KDE) now has modular ebuilds so it can be pared down to a more reasonable, merely semi-humongous size.
What have I missed?

- John
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Last edited by John R. Graham on Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:21 pm; edited 4 times in total
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myak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John R. Graham wrote:
Welcome back. :)

Thanks!
John R. Graham wrote:
This month so far there have been over 9,600. See the CIA Statistics.

Very interesting. Last month there were only 7500 though, below average. And I wonder, is there any historical data? Either I'm blind and can't find it or it's not there. It'd be interesting to see how it changed over the years.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen nice graphs of the number of developers over time and commits per unit time, but I couldn't find them immediately either. Someone will point 'em out. My central thesis is that Gentoo is alive and well. Couple of times a year, there's a thread or a news article that states that Gentoo is dead or dying because event "X" has happened, yet here we are. :wink:

- John
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

myak,

The number of devs has remained fairly constant at arround 300. You will see sudden drops as inactive devs tend to be retired in batches but new devs join at a fairly constant rate.
Thats nothing to be alarmed at - its inactive devs that are retired.

I don't know how to judge the size of the community to say how its changing size but I'm interested in your source that suggests its shrinking.

There are now at least two gentoo wikis. An offcial one in the Gentoo namespace and another older one gentoo-wiki. The latter had one major accident and lost its entire content at one time. This was recoved from google caches all over the world and is still present as a 'snapshot' of that time. Be sure which wiki you are lookings at and if its gentoo-wiki, that you are not looking at the snapshot.

The number of forums has had no need to increase. That would fragment information and/or make a lot of work for forums mods reorganising existing threads to suit the new structure.

Whats changed ...
Stage1 is no longer a suppoerted install on the majority of arches. Start from stage3. That change aloge dropped the number of problems posted here. You can still do a stage1 if you want, the stages are still available but post in unsupported software if it breaks.

Portage has improved no end. Tools that used to be external are no longer required. If you like ~arch be sure to use portage-2.2-alpha.
Most of what you knew will stand you in good stead. devfs has gone and been replaced by udev.
hal has come and gone. Xorg no longer needs an xorg.conf provide you use and open source video driver and have a single display.
Gnome is at version 3, KDE at version 4.

Play with Gentoo again, in a VM if you like - I'me sure it will come flooding back.

Even since I can remember and I started with Gentoo mid 2002, the demise of Gentoo has been predicted 'real soon now'. While those predictions contine, so will Gentoo.
The community is what all users make it.

Oh and welcome back - we knew you would come, it was just a question of when.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, yes: devfs → udev. I knew I'd miss something obvious. :wink:

- John
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myak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for the detailed answer, NeddySeagoon!

For the shrinking of the community - I think I must have heard that somewhere and it just stuck to me. If it's not true then I'm more than happy!
Everything you wrote seems like good news. I think I had already been using udev before I quit so no big surprise here. One thing is bad news though:

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Stage1 is no longer a supported install on the majority of arches. Start from stage3.
I loved stage1. I don't think I ever installed starting with stage3. Oh well, here's some hours saved at least.

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Oh and welcome back - we knew you would come, it was just a question of when.
I think I knew it too. The mere thought of emerging gives me shivers of excitement now. The nerd in me is really as big as my girlfriend claims it is.

Code:
emerge -uD world
Yeah, it all comes back now. I don't even think I'll wait for my new SSD disk to come, I'll just start building the system on a spare 5400 rpm IDE disk that's somewhere around.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the reasons that the Stage1 install was deprecated and then dropped was the eventual realization that the Stage3 install resultant system is exactly the same as a Stage1 install if you just do
Code:
emerge -e system
emerge -e world
as soon as you have a freestanding bootable Gentoo. With the speed of modern systems, the redundant compiling of some components just isn't that onerous. Even if you don't do that, your system will gradually be optimized to your custom CFLAGS as updates naturally occur over time. The Stage1 install / bootstrapping process thus resulted in a more complex install and more support burden—and more potential users abandoning us in frustration—for zero effective difference.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John R. Graham wrote:
The Stage1 install / bootstrapping process thus resulted in a more complex install and more support burden—and more potential users abandoning us in frustration—for zero effective difference.

You're of course absolutely right, but one important thing is now gone. Bragging rights on "I had to compile my compiler in order to compile my entire system from scratch" ;)

Though I have to admit, I really somehow thought it helped me, the owner of an overclocked Celeron CPU, to spend hours handpicking CFLAGS for stage1. I wonder if maybe an hour of following compilation time was saved thanks to stage1 instead of stage3. Mind you, it really took days to compile everything on such a machine so maybe an hour was really saved.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Returning to Gentoo, what has changed? Reply with quote

myak wrote:
Returning to Gentoo, what has changed?
...I had no real backup of the OS

John R. Graham wrote:
What have I missed?

Last version of rsync is now 3.0.9 :wink:
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Returning to Gentoo, what has changed? Reply with quote

aCOSwt wrote:
Last version of rsync is now 3.0.9 :wink:

Haha, win! It's not due to lack of knowledge or software that I did not have an OS backup though, it was due to financial reasons. Back in college every penny counted (almost literally), I could not even afford storage to properly backup all my data, not to mention my OS. Fortunately those days are long gone :)
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

myak,

You can still do a stage1 if you wish. The scripts are still there, the stage1, 2 and 3 tarballs are still made as a part of the process of generating the stage3 tarballs and I'm pretty sure they are on the mirrors too.
If not, you can run catalyst for yourself and make your own stage1 to start from :)

The stage1 documentsion is no longer in the handbook but it is still on line.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear myak as a returning gentoo user this link may be of interest for you:

Gentoo: 10 years compiling codeswarm

:wink:
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