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An overview over the Gentoo community

June 28, 2005

This article was contributed by Patrick Lauer

Gentoo is one of the newer distributions, but has shown an amazing growth in the last years. This growth has been partly because of the behind-the-scenes magic of portage (the package manager) and the simple yet effective configuration tools, but also because of the thriving community and the up-to-date documentation that makes using Gentoo very easy.

The Documentation

When I first installed Gentoo, the Installation Handbook was 9 pages of text that barely described how to get a base install working. If you tried to print the same document now, it'd be around 500 pages. Special chapters exist for different architectures ( x86, ppc, sparc, alpha, ...)

Dedicated documents describe how to setup a hardened (secure) Gentoo system, alternative installation paths , but also different window managers like KDE or fluxbox.

Since there are almost no special Gentoo tools, this documentation can even be applied to most other distributions without problems. And best of all, actively maintained translations for many languages exist!

The Gentoo Documentation Project, lead by Sven Vermeulen and Xavier Neys at the moment, tries to keep everything up to date, and as far as I can tell, they're doing a great job. Every now and then some new HOWTOs and tutorials are contributed by users and developers - if you have a problem, it usually can be fixed with the documentation.

The Forums

Although not liked by all, the forums are a great resource for solving all kinds of problems. At the moment the Gentoo forums are the largest and most active phpBB installation we're aware of. Many HOWTOs are drafted, discussed and improved here, some common problems are explained, and "Off the Wall" is a place for all discussions that are not directly Gentoo-related. Very often the forums succeed in giving you answers where the official documentation fails.

Bugzilla

While usually people think about Bugzilla as a tool for bug fixing only, it is used as a coordination tool in Gentoo. Any bugs, new ideas or improvements are managed as their own bug. This gives many of the features of mailing lists without causing as much traffic for the individuals involved.

Also all discussions and status changes are trackable as bug comments. Even meta-bugs that depend on other bugs are possible so that, for example, a meta-bug tracking all livecd-bugs can be created. This generic use has made our bugzilla installation very popular with about 96000 bugs total within a time frame of about 3 years.

Every first Saturday of the month a "Bugday" is held where developers and users (at least those that find the time) try to fix as many open bugs as possible. This event has been a lot of fun for all involved and is coordinated in IRC on #gentoo-bugs.

Mailing lists

For all announcements, problems and discussions that don't fit in bugzilla or IRC the mailing lists are used. Some of them (like gentoo-user) are mostly used for user problems, some of them (like releng) are mostly for internal coordination. Much can be learned from them, and archives exist so that older discussions are not lost.

IRC

This is the heartbeat of Gentoo. Within the Freenode IRC Network much interaction happens for all things Gentoo. Some channels like #gentoo have an average of almost 1000 users at all times, others like #gentoo-bugs are not as popular, but have someone with specialized knowledge available around the clock. A lot of diagnosing, bug fixing and general chatter make the Gentoo IRC channels very interesting, but sometimes also frustrating since they can be overcrowded and at times even a bit hostile. Since even the Gentoo developers are spread all across the globe the IRC channels almost never sleep.

Gentoo Weekly Newsletter

For those that want to get updates on Gentoo development but don't want to be online everyday we publish a weekly Newsletter. Since we have a rather small staff of volunteers it doesn't always get published on time, but we try to do our best, and the feedback from the community is almost always positive.

Sections like "developer of the week" show the people behind the names, "Future Zone" highlights projects in development. The GWN mailing list is by far the largest Gentoo mailing list, so we try to give our audience the best publication we can make.

Conclusion

The Gentoo community is quite large and vibrant. The communication happens through many different channels and is not always optimal, but if you need help or just want to chat with some random people, you'll find it.

For newcomers it might be a bit difficult to find the right communication channel, but after some time you'll find your way around all things Gentoo, and if you're not careful, you might get addicted to it and spend much more time than you intended with this great distribution and the usually nice people that help making it.

Comments (12 posted)

Distribution News

SUSE Linux 9.3 available for download - 8.2 support discontinued

With the release of the SUSE Linux 9.3 FTP edition this week, SUSE Security has announced that support for the SUSE Linux 8.2 version of our home user product will be discontinued as of July 14, 2005.

Full Story (comments: none)

Debian GNU/Linux

Branden Robinson has announced the members of the Package Policy Committee.
The Package Policy Committee shall have authority to:
* maintain one or more documents defining standards of Debian technical policy applicable to the content of software and other works distributed by the Debian Project as components of its products ("packages");
* define levels of conformance with the above standards they establish and document; and
* publish authoritative findings regarding the degree of conformance that packages exhibit with respect to the above standards.

All members of the Package Policy Committee are delegates of the Debian Project Leader.

Andreas Barth covers some release policy changes for etch. "One change was quite automatic with the so called "editorial changes" to the social contract - it is now required that all content in main and contrib is DFSG-free. This mail is not a call for mass bug filing..."

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Notice of changes to Ubuntu Bugzilla

Ubuntu has announced some changes to Bugzilla, restricting some fields to authorized personnel only, for more consistent bug handling. "This is also a step toward organizing Ubuntu Bug Days, where we invite the community to help us triage bugs in Bugzilla."

Full Story (comments: none)

Slackware book updated

Slackware Linux Essentials, the reference book for Slackware users, has been revised. You can read it online, or buy a copy at the Slackware store.

Comments (none posted)

Distribution Newsletters

Debian Weekly News

The Debian Weekly News for June 28, 2005 covers Woody bug reports, a new Debian book, the new package policy committee, Etch release policy, and several other topics.

Full Story (comments: none)

Fedora Weekly News Issue 2

The second Fedora Weekly News is out. This week's articles include Release Notes for FC4 Erratum, Status of Third Party Repositories for FC4, Is Livna Repository Ready for FC4?, Duplicate Grouplist in YUM for FC4, Yum Extender now in Extra, Setting up YUM for FC4, How To Install Java In FC4, Fedora Core 4 Reviews, and more.

Full Story (comments: none)

Gentoo Weekly Newsletter

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of June 27, 2005 is out. This edition covers Pieter van den Abeele's "Best of Show" award at Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando, Florida, Gentoo at the German LinuxTag 2005 in Karlsruhe, the availability of developer accounts on a donated AMD64 machine, and several other topics.

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DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 106

The DistroWatch Weekly for June 27, 2005 is out. "This year's Linux Tag is behind us, which means that the new KNOPPIX 4.0 Live DVD, the biggest collection of current open source software on a live DVD ever created, is available from your nearest torrent site; it should also be released to FTP mirrors shortly. In the meantime, a SUSE 9.3 installation DVD image is now making its way to many of the SUSE mirror servers worldwide - check your favourite one today or later in the week for a 4.2GB ISO file. Also in this issue: an interview with Ryan Quinn, the Project Manager of Symphony OS and an introduction to Xearth, Xplanet & KWorldClock."

Comments (none posted)

Minor distribution updates

Source Mage Sorcery 1.12.2 released

Sorcery, the package manager for Source Mage GNU/Linux has released a new version. This release includes new features: gpg checking api for spells and scribbler has been re-written and now handles grimoire libraries properly, and several other bug fixes. Click below for a look at the change log.

Full Story (comments: none)

Package updates

Fedora updates

Fedora Core 4 updates NetworkManager-0.4-18.FC4 (enhancements), gedit-2.10.2-4 (fixes a file name format string vulnerability), gnome-panell-2.10.1-10.1 (fix "panel doesn't notice new screen size" issue), libwpd-0.8.2-1.fc4 (better handling of broken wordperfect documents), openoffice.org-1.9.112-1.1.0.fc4 (fix a raft of i18n issues), selinux-policy-targeted-1.23.18-17 (bump for FC4).

Fedora Core 3 updates kernel-2.6.11-1.35_FC3 (security related fixes), gedit-2.8.1-2.fc3.1 (fixes a file name format string vulnerability), selinux-policy-targeted-1.17.30-3.13 (fix dhcpd ports, remove allow_ypbind from booleans), gzip-1.3.3-15.fc3 (CAN-2005-0758 zgrep problem with sed), openssh-3.9p1-8.0.2 (bug fix update), openssh-3.9p1-8.0.2 (corrected), selinux-policy-targeted-1.17.30-3.15 (fix /opt definition).

Comments (none posted)

Mandriva MDKA-2005:032

Mandriva updates the pam_ldap packages for ML 10.2 fixing a password change bug.

Full Story (comments: none)

Slackware changes

This week's Slackware updates include an upgrade to groff-1.19.1, upgrade to man-1.5p, some KOffice upgrades and more. Click below for a slice of the Slackware-current changelog.

Full Story (comments: none)

Trustix Secure Linux Bugfix Advisory #2005-0029

This TSL update covers bug fixes in clamav, hwdata, kernel, netatalk, ntp, openswan, postgresql and sqlgrey.

Full Story (comments: none)

Distribution reviews

Review: Freeduc, an educational live CD (NewsForge)

NewsForge reviews the educational Freeduc. "Freeduc 1.4 looks like a great tool for those contemplating home schooling, or who would like to give their students a good system without spending hundreds of dollars on software. I have given out Freeduc 1.4 to several friends who have school-aged children. Freeduc Primary, however, is still a little rough. Worse, I disagree with the assumption that younger students would not benefit from access to a good spreadsheet, desktop publisher, and other applications that Primary leaves out."

Comments (none posted)

My Workstation OS: Foresight Linux (NewsForge)

Here's a look at Foresight Linux, on NewsForge. "The Foresight Linux 0.8.1 distribution showcases some of the latest and greatest software from GNOME. Some of the more innovative things are included, like Beagle, F-spot, Howl, and the latest HAL -- all of this plus some clean default themes and artwork. After using Foresight for an week I decided to use it as my primary distro."

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Page editor: Rebecca Sobol
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