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Re: Are we losing users to Gentoo?

On Wed, 20 Nov 2002 13:33:02 +0100
"Luca - De Whiskey's - De Vitis" <luca@linuxasylum.net> wrote:

> I propose someone (most suitable for a developer) to take a close look
> at Gentoo Linux to understand its concepts, its key points, what it does
> better: then he would kindly prepare a document showing simply the
> technical differences between Debian and Gentoo Linux.
> Having such a document, we would have some concrete issue to discuss on.
> Discussion on a vague `growth of Gentoo', does not make sense to me.
> Glenn, would you do this for us?

At the moment i can only comment on technical matters (i dont know their
social structure).

Ive read their portage manual(1) they have two things that impressed me,
USE settings and SLOTs
"In addition Portage supports the concept of SLOTs. In the development of
Gentoo Linux its developers often found that we needed to have multiple
versions of certain packages (such as libraries) installed to satisfy the
demands of other packages. The traditional approach to solving this
problem has been to treat different versions of the same package as
different packages with slightly different names."

In debian we do mangle package names a lot, sometimes appending library
version numbers to the name of the package, sometimes we append the
distribution name the package name, its a bit of a hack.

"Instead of the developers learning to treat certain versions as separate
packages, the developers taught Portage how to handle and maintain several
versions of the same package though the use of SLOTs."

It goes on to explain further with an example, basically they have an
extra field to differentiate between packages with the same name.

"The USE settings system is a flexible way to enable or disable various
features at package build-time on a global level and for individual

Gentoo can be compiled with different compile options, so for example in
debian lsh-client depends in pam which isnt available under the Hurd, so
GNU/hurd could have the USE setting for PAM disabled for all packages
built for it, when PAM was working it could be enabled and those packages

Obviously it would be rediculous to try and formally distribute binary
packages with many different compile options, but we could still add extra
features to our source packages and leave it upto our enlightened users
wether they use the generic binary distributed by debian or stray just a
little from the path and customise the binary for there situation (within
the limits as dictated by the packager).

We should be empowering our users to take as much advatage of the Free
software as they can handle.


1. http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/portage-manual.xml

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