20 Feb 2007 logic   » (Journeyer)


So, in my new role, I'll be responsible for the shared administration of a rather large Gentoo deployment. So, in the spirit of eating your own dogfood, I'm loading my new company-issued laptop with Gentoo Linux.

First impression: I feel like I'm back in 1994. Really. Oh, the package management is generally pretty cooked; in fact, I'm really quite impressed with how they're handling a generally nebulous thing (from-source package generation) in a pretty consistant manner. I'm trying to imagine building Fedora from source RPMs, and the idea gives me the willies; they have the build dependancies handled pretty well. No, my problem is the same problem I have with Debian: choice is good, but too much choice is a PITA. You can infer from this that I disagree with the Perl axiom of "more than one way to do it"; all that means is that the language (or in this case, distribution) maintainer didn't have the intestinal fortitude to make a decision, and left the problem of bikeshed arguments to the users. It's actually worse than that: on their own, a lot of the little variances don't matter, but get enough of them together, and you have a maintenance nightmare.

This problem is compounded by the community belief that customization at all levels (specifically at the buildchain level) is a good thing. At the end of the day, you have a distribution where you are truly on your own from a support perspective in many cases. Not a big deal for an operating system targetting hackers and tweakers (in fact, I'll probably have a ball with it on my laptop), but when I put my management hat on, the idea of using this in production frightens me; you're essentially locking yourself into using senior-level talent to manage your infrastructure, and hiring junior talent that can grow into the position starts becoming less and less attractive. Not bad for me, but bad for the bottom line.

I expect I'm expounding on arguments that have been had over and over in the Gentoo community over the years, so this is more of a first-impression kind of vent. I'll skip on discussing the apparent lack of development and "stable" tracks for general deployment, and a few other similar things I've noticed missing from the "process" around the distribution, because they're all fundamentally part of the same issue: the Gentoo community appears to strongly appeal to the hacker/tweaker, which defines the community's behavior from a packaging and ongoing maintenance perspective.

So, Slackware for smarter people. :-)

Syndicated 2005-12-15 10:11:00 from esm

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