Why did Gentoo Linux fade into obscurity? – InfoWorld

August 23, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized

Gentoo Linux was fairly well known at one point, with many tech-savvy Linux users opting to run it on their computers. But Gentoo Linux slowly lost popularity over time and is now a pale shadow of its former self in terms of usage and mind-share among Linux users (though there are still some die-hard Gentoo users left on Reddit).

What happened to Gentoo Linux? A redditor asked this question in a recent thread on the Linux subreddit and got some very interesting answers.

Walfers: “Why did Gentoo peak in popularity in 2005, then fade into obscurity?”

gentoo linux fade away

XANi: “Well in 2008 Gentoo Wiki died, taking a ton of good documentation with it, and they didn’t have backups.”

Px403: “Every distro switch I ever did was primarily about security. Around 2006 I started moving everything from Gentoo to Ubuntu, mostly because Gentoo refused to actually sign packages, and tools like Evilgrade for injection malicious updates were becoming more common.

The whole X to Xorg switch happened around that time too, then the subsequent Compiz/Beryl drama, which broke the hell out of graphics on Gentoo for years.

Gentoo also refused to properly package NetworkManager, so connecting to WPA required a…ton of manual wpa-supplicant.conf tweaks that were easy to…up, whereas Ubuntu just worked as expected out of the box.”

32bitwhore: “It seems rather counter intuitive, but I think you’re right. I loved bootstrapping my own system and loved the control and speed that Gentoo offered, but eventually as Ubuntu matured, I switched directly to it and that was it. Last time I tried to install Gentoo for fun (2010 or something) there was zero documentation for newer hardware and I gave up and installed Ubuntu again.”

Abalamahalamatandra: “I’m going to say Ubuntu. I ran Gentoo back then too and rather liked the control it gave me, but compiling updates with the hardware available at the time was rather a pain. I switched to Ubuntu right about them, as it had matured enough.”

Mnzi: “I don’t really think Ubuntu had much to do with it, their userbases don’t really overlap a huge amount. Internally Gentoo went through some disruptive organizational changes, the wiki was broke for awhile (wiki and forums were very rich and constantly updated by the community) and the community just drifted apart.”

Letmebeme: “Well, don’t forget that it was an unofficial wiki and the official developers hated the guy maintaining it.

Also at that time, Gentoo was struggling a lot with stability. Many highly experimental packages got pulled into stable, and on the other hand, many very old stable packages kept being hard masked. It was a mess.”

PearlyDewdropsDrops: “I ran gentoo for a couple years and toward the end I got scared to emerge because I knew the system would break. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted because of some 40kb script-package failed because it wanted python– and I had already “upgraded” to python–

I finally realized my time is worth something, and I’d rather use my OS than…with it all the time, so I went to linux mint.”

Thepatman: “A few things. As others have pointed out, the rise of Ubuntu and related distros helped.

Another issue was the relative rise in capability for home computers. Gentoo is great when a little bit of performance means a lot, or when your hardware or needs requires specific and strange configuration to work properly. As computers got faster, Linux got more efficient, and more hardware was supported, it made less sense to spend hours re-compiling something to get a slight performance boost.”

Cacatl: “As a former Gentoo user, I can tell you that 99% of users don’t care about the performance benefit. For me, Gentoo’s main feature is convenience. Of course, setting up your own system and compiling everything you needed isn’t ‘convenient’ per se, but having certain things being completely automated like setting up a cross compiler or compiling and deploying images really helped.

For the end user, stuff like choosing your own window manager could be accomplished easily with Arch. But for the developer, a modular, easily programmable package manager and tools like crossdev is a godsend that very few mainstream distros offer.”

Bnolsen: “As a former gentoo user the reason i left was because of the inconvenience of the use flag system. There’s way too many and they change way too often. There really needs to be 2 orders of magnitude fewer use flags to cover major features, not individual ones. I left for arch and due to the systemd fiasco i’ve mostly moved over to void linux, although i still have my core dev ones on arch.”

Countzero11: “Obscure? I guess.

I’m still running it on my main computer, and have been since 2004. Things have changed a lot–many things “just work” now, where they used to require a lot of work to get up and running. The new Dell laptop I just got worked out of the box.

The thing I (still) love about Gentoo is that I control and customize every aspect of my box–I only have the programs and daemons I need, I build my own kernel, I choose my own init system (no systemd here). I don’t have to worry about configurations hidden behind a GUI. Emerge is a fine package manager, compile times are now less of a burden on my i7, so I really don’t see a downside. I’ve tried a few different distros over the years, but keep coming back to Gentoo.

I just hope it’s still chugging along in another 12 years.”

More at Reddit

DistroWatch reviews Gentoo Linux live DVD “Choice Edition”

Speaking of Gentoo Linux, DistroWatch has a full review of the Gentoo Linux live DVD “Choice Edition” and found that it still has much to offer users who want control of their Linux systems.

Joshua Allen Holm reports for DistroWatch: