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New Gentoo Snapshot Released

Gentoo Linux released its latest distribution snapshot version 2005.1, which updates the installation media, driver support and wireless networking support.

Unlike releases from commercial Linux distributions, such as Red Hat or Novell, Gentoo considers itself a "meta distribution." This means users can customize their distributions with the Gentoo Portage system from a collection of more than 6,000 continuous update packages.

"Basically, Gentoo doesn't add anything new with each release; we add new stuff around the clock," Gentoo developer Sven Vermeulen explained to internetnews.com.

Vermeulen said the release also serves as a way to verify how well Gentoo has progressed since version 2005.0, which the distro released in March.

The goal of the 2005.1 release, according to Gentoo.org, "is to improve the quality of the Gentoo release media by including more drivers." The overall quality of the build is also noted as a recurring release goal.

It includes improved hardware support for the installation CD, as well as Enterprise Volume Management System and wireless network support. Gentoo has also released a "LiveCD" version of 2005.1, which allows users to sample it without having to install it on their hard drives.

"Wireless is better integrated in Gentoo thanks to a baselayout update a month or so ago," Vermeulen explained. "Baselayout now has an easy way of dealing with several wireless networks using a single configuration file (/etc/conf.d/net). It includes support for wpa_supplicant, ndiswrapper, etc. We have added an entire part in the Gentoo handbook about networking support with the new baselayout."

Gentoo's march toward enterprise adoption is still ongoing.

"There's lot of talk about pushing Gentoo in the enterprise, but that's a long procedure," Vermeulen said. It's not something we can accomplish in one or two years."

In Vermeulen's opinion, Gentoo is making progress toward better integration into larger environments.

"For instance, the webapps team has been working actively on getting Apache and virtual hosting integrated easily, Vermeulen said. "There's now also more knowledge about centralized administration -- like users on LDAP -- in the Gentoo team."

One much anticipated improvement that has not yet made it into the release is a Gentoo installer, which is still under active development by the community.

There is a commercial effort, called GenUX, that aims to help make it easier for users to install a Gentoo system. According to GenUX, the goal, "is to bridge the gap of bleeding edge, high performance, and highly customizable operating system with the stability, testing, quality assurance and support that a business and enterprise consumer needs."

Gentoo developer Jon Portnoy told internetnews.com that GenUX does not directly add value to Gentoo development.

"Rather, they fill a certain niche -- home and small business users who need quick deployment specific to their environments. And of course the fact that they're employing Gentoo developers to work on both GenUX and Gentoo proper helps immensely," Portnoy said.