I’ve recently been rather unhappy with Ubuntu’s Hardy Heron. To date, none of the alphas or betas has correctly identified my monitor/graphics, saddling my 22-inch widescreen with a max resolution of 800×600. It’s extra-annoying, because Gutsy detects it just fine. So this weekend I put Gutsy on my test partition and modified my apt sources.list to use all hardy repositories, and upgraded to Hardy that way. Seems to have worked just fine, but I’m unhappy with the new version of Wine, which won’t let me play Guild Wars. While I’m sure it’s possible (hope it’s possible) to “downgrade” to a working version, there’s no obvious solution to it, other than to just keep using Gutsy.

That’s when I started longing for the “good old days” of Gentoo, where if a particular package version broke my system, I could easily mask it and upgrade again to get an older version. I also loved Gentoo for the fact that it was “install once”. With Ubuntu, there’s a twice-a-year release cycle, and so we are forever testing the next big release in anticipation of installing it to get the new goodies. With Gentoo, we got the goodies right away, on a package-by-package basis (depending on the package’s dependencies, of course), and in the roughly 2 years I ran Gentoo, I never ever had to reinstall it (or go through an irreversible distribution-upgrade procedure) to be modern again.

Of course, I know that reminiscing about “good old days” often overlooks why they’re the old days and not the current days. I left Gentoo for a few good reasons, and I have to remember that before I spend a lot of time and energy on going back.

So then I think to myself… we need Genbuntoo. We need the flexibility and easy upgrade path of Gentoo, combined with the precompiled packages, fantastic user community, and Launchpad of Ubuntu. (Note: this is not to say Gentoo doesn’t have a great user community. I used to think it had the very best user community. Until I realized Ubuntu’s is even better… if only for the higher number of participants.)
I’m sure there’s problems with my idea. Possibly problems I haven’t even thought of yet. But I still like the idea, and if anybody would like to tackle it, I’m right there with you. I just don’t have the time (or the organizational skills, honestly) to spearhead the effort. Which I think really just boils down to porting Portage to Ubuntu.

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  • fatalexception  On April 14, 2008 at 10:02 am

    What actually I think Debian is a better solution for the “problem” you are describing, though Gentoo does have its charms as well 🙂 The whole rolling release concept behind Ubuntu can get a bit annoying, but another option would be to stabilize yourself on a LTS version and then use the backports repository or roll your own software. With the current issues in Hardy Server’s updates I’m seriously considering Debian Etch or CentOS. I’ll probably stick with Hardy awhile after the release but if I ever get annoyed with the Ubuntu method of six month releases, I’ll probably end up on Debian again. I’ve treid lots of other distros and I just like Debian, thats probably why I ended up on Ubuntu…

  • fatalexception  On April 14, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Wow I really need coffee this morning, I called Ubuntu a rolling release, when actually its not. The repos are locked at each release… a rolling release is like Debian or Redhat

  • wolfger  On April 14, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Gentoo is the ultimate “rolling release”, and it’s one of the things I love about it. Debian doesn’t do it for me, because it’s too “Free”. I need the true freedom that comes with the ability to choose non-“Free” software (like Nvidia drivers). Perhaps it’s possible to do on Debian, but they sure don’t make it easy. At least not the last time I tried it. I’m considering giving openSuse or Fedora a shot… I just wish somebody out there would go ahead and design my ultimate distro for me, though 😉

  • fatalexception  On April 14, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Gentoo definitely does have the freedom, I’ve used it in the past too and loved it. I think the biggest problem with Ubuntu right now is its being marketed as an “entry level” form of Linux. I enjoy the good support and active forums there, but there are times when I really disagree with the big push they make to get the releases out on time. Gentoo, CentOS and debian all hold fond memories and strong ties with me as far as OS choices. I guess in a way I am much like you, there just hasn’t been a “perfect” OS for me yet. Gentoo came close- but obviously it wasn’t or I’d still be using it too 🙂

  • tallman  On April 15, 2008 at 4:03 am

    You can lock the wine package to the version you prefer. You can also try to downgrade. aptitude for sure can do it

  • wolfger  On April 15, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Thanks for the feedback, Tallman. I’ll look into that after this weekend.

  • hrikkengaa  On April 15, 2008 at 4:56 am

    You might want to take a look at Arch Linux! It’s all that and…

  • Nick Bakelas  On April 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    if you are looking for gentoo combined with precompiled packages, I think you are looking for Sabayon, as that is exactly what it is….

  • wolfger  On April 15, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Actually, I’ve done Sabayon… it’s not what I’m looking for. Only the initial install is precompiled packages. Updates compile. It is more like “Gentoo with a really nice graphical installer”.

    • Fitzcarraldo  On May 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm

      Actually, there are two package managers for Sabayon: Gentoo’s Portage, which is source based and does compile, as you say, but there is also Sabayon’s home-grown Entropy binary package manager, which is the same concept as Ubuntu: it downloads and installs pre-compiled (a.k.a. binary) packages. You can either use the GUI tool, called “Spritz”, which is analagous to Synaptic, or the command line tool called “equo”, which is analagous to apt-get. So Sabayon Linux is your Genbuntoo.

    • Fitzcarraldo  On March 7, 2010 at 6:41 am

      That’s not correct: Entropy is a pure binary package manager. The initial install from LiveDVD to HDD is binary, and updates using Entropy are also binary. You must have used Sabayon back in the days when Portage was the only package manager. Then, indeed, the initial install from the LiveDVD to the HDD was binary but updates were done using Portage, which compiles source code. But, as I say, Entropy does installation of new packages and updates of existing packages using pre-compiled code.

  • WladyX  On April 19, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I also thought abou this, hoped Sabayon is for me, but i’ll stick to Ubuntu, until i get a new hardware to start emerging again 🙂


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