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The Decline Of Gentoo Linux

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I recently began charting the freefall of the Gentoo Linux distribution. The project peaked in 2003 but has been in steady decline since Daniel Robbins got up from the captains chair. The release history on distrowatch gives a good 30-thousand foot view, showing that the 2008.0 release that recently shipped was the end of a 14 month dry spell since the previous release. In nearly the same time frame the tireless Ubuntu machine continued churning through its 6-month release cycle and shipped two major updates. Even Gentoo Is For Ricers, the preferred depot for anti-gentoo sentiment, has maintained a reverent silence on gentoos inability to get updates out the door.

Long quiet periods between releases have generally meant very little to gentoo users. Portage, gentoos package management system, has typically been kept on the leading edge of upstream projects; a style of packaging that has favored early adopters and is the hallmark of the distribution. Sad then that KDE 4.1 still hasn't made it into portage. This was released at the end of July but its admission to portage has been blocked by a lack of coordination and not a small amount of infighting, as evidenced by the combativeness in this bug report. At the time of this writing, the earliest that gentoo users are likely to see KDE 4.1 in portage will be with the 4.1.2 release in October.

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Gentoo's decline: missing leadership or rising Ubuntu

Matt Asay: According to Bellenger, the departure of Gentoo's project lead, Daniel Robbins, effectively killed the project. Despite Bellenger's thesis, it's not clear that Gentoo would have had much of a chance against Ubuntu, anyway, which has consumed much of the Linux desktop attention in the past few years, as a review of Google Trends suggests:

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re: Gentoo

I think that Gentoo's decline is just plain common sense.

It's ROI has faded to nearly zero. There is little to no speed advantage or stability or custom loadout made by Gentoo's custom compiling method that isn't already possible NOW with pretty much any of the modern distros.

As with most software problems, the huge (and rapid) increase in hardware performance makes last years software performance problems history - just throw newer hardware at it and voila, problem solved.

Some argue that Gentoo is the only way to learn Linux "from the inside out". Well it's ONE way, but certainly not the only way (and I would argue not even close to being the best way).

So the self inflicted pain of waiting hours / days / weeks for your custom Gentoo build has no great reward at the end of the tunnel.

So no big payoff means who has that type of time to waste?

Like buggy whips - they were important in their day, but it's time to gift them to the Smithsonian and MOVE ON.

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