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Exherbo is a Linux distribution inspired by Gentoo.




Exherbo is a Linux distribution designed for people who know what they're doing with Linux. It is inspired in many places by Gentoo - in particular, it supports flexible source-based installation with up-front configuration.

Exherbo is not a Gentoo fork in the conventional sense. Although it shares some code with Gentoo, and although many concepts are similar, and although many of the people involved were or are Gentoo developers, most Exherbo code is rewritten from scratch.

Exherbo is not, at the moment, a user-targeted distribution. It supports packages that the people involved find interesting or useful; it probably does not support your favourite desktop environment or applications. That kind of thing will come later - there are plenty of other options for users who want a distribution that does everything badly rather than a few things well.

Why the Need?

It's not that we think that Gentoo (or other distributions) are bad. It's just that we think we can do something that suits our needs better. We've tried, without success, to do this using Gentoo. Unfortunately this wasn't a viable long-term approach.

Aspects we find particularly problematic include:

Portage. The code can't deliver the changes we need in the timeframe we need. Portage haven't delivered many features needed by Gentoo; for what we're trying, it's completely out of the question.
Gentoo management.
QA. Gentoo developers, by and large, don't consider QA to be their problem or at least doesn't agree with a stricter view of QA. Several prolific developers repeatedly break things and refuse to do simple things like keeping a proper changelog. In Gentoo this is considered acceptable by many developers because spending a little time to do things properly isn't be fun (never mind the lack of fun for everyone else having to clean up) and because no-one is allowed to tell a volunteer what to do. Similarly, there's a great divide between package maintainers and arch teams with package maintainers often overwriting arch team decisions.
The users. There's an annoying minority of very vocal users, many of whom haven't used Gentoo for years, who go around yelling "Gentoo is about community!" because they don't actually use anything Gentoo provides any more. We don't think it's about the community and instead focus on technical goals and the needs of real users.
The developers. Not the ones that do things properly. The ones that either do nothing or repeatedly break things.
Lack of overall design and direction. This problem is widely recognised by Gentoo but at the same time enforced by policies allowing everybody to start their own subprojects without disussing it first. The idea is that volunteer work shouldn't be prevented but rather encouraged. We'd rather focus on a few clear goals and provide solid solutions in those areas rather than trying to do everything at once.

Ultimately, we believe that Gentoo was a good starting point. However, to provide what we need and what we want, a new generation of tools and development is required.
Last updated on May 20th, 2008

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