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Re: A GNU/Hurd Roadmap dream

From: Arne Babenhauserheide
Subject: Re: A GNU/Hurd Roadmap dream
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 2009 22:55:06 +0200
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On Wednesday, 3. June 2009 17:41:22 Sergiu Ivanov wrote:
> Could you please dream how to solve the major drawbacks in Hurd and
> to make it mainstream? :-)

For that you'd need to ask my dreams ;) 

Sadly the dreams don't write code themselves... 

Maybe it would help them to know the other drawbacks ;) 
(except from sound, X11 and hardware)

Which are the other drawbacks? 

I don't currently care that much about raw speed. My Linux goes to disk speed 
when it begins heavy swapping because I copy large amount of data - or 
download a torrent... or did until I beat vm.swappiness to 20. The Hurd can 
host a wiki, so why shouldn't it be usable as my desktop system? 

I mostly need an email-client, a console, a webbrowser and python for most 
stuff :) 
For many things dwm suffices as Window manager ;) 
(though I grew accustomed to KDE - but the Hurd would be an argument to 
abstain from KDE when working - until it supports KDE). 

> I may be wrong, but a ``solid hardware support'' will possibly need
> Linux device driver wrapper.

OK, so there's only one point instead of two - this just became a three bullet 
dream ;) 

> Just out of interest: what advantages of Gentoo Portage on GNU/Hurd
> before Debian GNU/Hurd could you point out?

[warning: raving enthusiasm follows ;) ]

I can easily write ebuilds for many programs myself, and Gentoo doesn't need a 
build server, since every user compiles himself (also allows for tweaking and 
testing optimizations). It also means that Gentoo doesn't necessarily need 
package mirrors - it can just use the official repositories (theres's an 
extensive - but completely optional - mirror-network anyway :) ). 

It allows for darn easy overlay creation (an overlay adds nonofficial or 
experimental ebuilds). 
For example I currently use the overlays berkano, zugaina and sping (general 
stuff) as well as kde-testing and qting-edge (KDE and QT on the edge - I get 
updates on the day KDE releases . damn, today's the time to do the KDE 4.2.4 
update!) and sunrise (user contributed ebuilds which get some review before 
going to the tree). An overlay can use rsync or one of many VCS (subversion, 
Mercurial, git, ...) and is just a directory structure with ebuilds. 

Server admins (not me) can just create binpackages and install from them 
without having to compile everything. 

Also it has incremental updates: Gentoo doesn't have distribution releases. 
Instead each single program can be updated for itself - and when a library 
gets updated you can easily (and automatically) rebuild all programs which 
depend on it. 

And you can decide on a per program/package base if you want to use testing or 
stable versions (or even ones from an overlay). Just add a line to 
/etc/portage/package.keywords with the program name (for example dev-

Additionally you can decide with USE flags which capabilities a package should 
have - for example if it should include a gtk gui, or python bindings, or 
examples, or support for playing or encoding ogg theora. Naturally you can do 
this globally as well as on a per package base. 

Updating an ebuild is often only a matter of renaming a file (for example 
"mercurial-1.2.0.ebuild" to "mercurial-1.2.1.ebuild"). 

And you can create "live" ebuilds which build directly from a VCS repository 
(subversion, mercurial, git, ...). 

So much for the obvious stuff ;) 

I'm sure I forgot quite a bit :) 

-> more emotionally: http://draketo.de/english/songs/light/gentoo-for-me

Some additions about the complexity of ebuilds: 

The mean size of an ebuild in the tree is about 1.5kiB (±1.8) or 38 lines of 
code (±49) (excluding comments and empty lines) - I just got these numbers 
myself with some python scripting :) 

This means 84% of the ebuilds are below 3.3kiB in size and 87 lines in length 
(using the not perfectly fitting normal standard deviation - any statistics 
expert would surely kill me for that :) ). 

All ebuilds are (more or less) simple bash scripts. 

All in all the tree contains close to 30,000 ebuilds which equals about 14,000 
programs - in less than 180 MiB :) 

Best wishes, 

PS: I wanted to do these ebuild statistics for a long time - and now was a 
good day for that ;) 

PPS: Yes. I like Gentoo. Much :) 
It only has one drawback: You get used to it, and that spoils you for almost 
every other distro - My Kubuntu died beyond repair after half an hour of 
playing (first try) and I ran back to Gentoo :-)

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 
   - singing a part of the history of free software -

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