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Gentoo Linux Rolls Its Secret Sauce - InternetNews.
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Gentoo Linux Rolls Its Secret Sauce

The first Gentoo Linux release of the year is now available, featuring an improved installer and updated packages.

The release, which Gentoo developers have code-named Secret Sauce comes after several delays and revisions by developers to iron out security flaws.

"This release met with several delays due to an abnormally high number of security vulnerabilities in large packages which had to be rebuilt using the newer, secure versions of the packages," Gentoo developer Chris Gianelloni wrote in a post on the Gentoo.org Web site.

"There was also a complete resnapshot done about half way through the release period due to the release taking so long and the packages becoming stale."

The term release isn't all that accurate in reference to Gentoo, since Gentoo considers itself to be a metadistribution that is constantly updated.

Unlike commercial Linux distributions, such as Red Hat or Novell/SUSE, Gentoo users constantly build their systems with the Gentoo Portage system from a collection of more than 6,000 continuously updated packages. A Gentoo release is actually a snapshot of Gentoo development at a particular point in time, with an installer and release media.

The Gentoo installer enjoyed the most dramatic overhaul of 2007.0. Gentoo first debuted the installer with the 2006.0 release. The installer was further improved in the 2006.1 release eight months ago.

With 2007.0, the installer has been completely re-written for AMD64 and x86 architectures. Gentoo 2007.0 is available for Alpha, AMD64, HPPA, IA64, MIPS, PPC, S390, SH, SPARC, and x86 architectures.

Though popular among a certain subset of Linux users, Gentoo Linux has not been as broadly adopted as other community based distributions like Debian for example.

Gentoo's founder Daniel Robbins told internetnews.com that he isn't pleased with where Gentoo is now.

"There is a big leadership vacuum at the project and the Gentoo culture seems to be getting worse month to month," Robbins said. "I see a lot of mistakes being repeated rather than learned from. However, on a technical level, Gentoo has many wonderful qualities that make it a very compelling choice for a lot of people."

Robbins, who had a brief stint working at Microsoft, currently uses Gentoo as his distribution of choice for developing custom solutions and stacks for clients of his new consulting company, Funtoo Technologies, LLC.

Though he doesn't lead Gentoo's efforts anymore, Robbins does have a few ideas on what Gentoo needs in order to be more successful.

"What is missing from the Gentoo project is a compelling vision for how the project will continue to be an innovator in the Linux space and become more relevant to larger numbers of people," Robbins said.

"Gentoo has a bad habit of measuring its success based on its ability to continue to attract new developers. This is a poor method to evaluate the health of the project. Gentoo really needs to define a much higher standard and then work towards it."