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Re: Fw: Some questions about Gentoo

On Fri, 2007-09-21 at 11:17 +0200, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> Q1. Packages
> How many "pieces of software" do you have in your distribution? Do you
> distinguish between "source packages" and "binary packages"? (if yes,
> give numbers for both). Are there subdivisions in the set of packages (by
> kind of support, by "freeness")? Are all packages supported the same way,
> or are there different levels of support? (If different levels, how many
> packages are supported with each level?) Are some packages imported from
> another distribution, or are most of your packages done from scratch by
> your developers ?

Gentoo Linux has over 12,000 packages in the tree.  We make no
distinction between source and binary packages other than adding -bin to
the end of the name of a binary package.  We do not subdivide our
packages into any arbitrary structure of support or freeness, but we do
divide the repository into multiple categories, to ease browsing and
also to resolve name conflicts.  Since Gentoo uses its own package
manager, all packages are done entirely in-house.

> Q2. Your developers
> What's a "developer" in your distribution? How many developers do you
> have? How many of these developers were active in 2007? Does a company
> (which one?) employ a large number of developers? Do you have different
> "classes" of developers, or does everybody have the same access right to
> all your packages? How do you integrate new developers? How do you
> handle contributors who don't have access rights to the archive? (is
> there some kind of mentoring/sponsoring system?)

A "developer" within Gentoo is anyone who has been granted an
@gentoo.org email address.  This includes staff, such as our
Infrastructure team or Developer Relations, and our Documentation team
and translators.  We have approximately 325 developers, of which most
were active at least once since January 2007, as we have a retirement
process where we retire inactive developers.  We do have different
classes of developers.  We have "staff" and we have "ebuild developers".
The distinction is access to the package repository.  All developers are
given the same access to the repository.  New developers are recruited
from our user pool and go through a recruitment process.  Gentoo's
Developer Relations team takes care of all of the "human resources"
stuff, such as verifying quizzes, enabling access, and processing
retirements.  We have a recruitment program, which pairs would-be
developers with an established developer to act as mentor.

> Q3. Developers and packages ownership
> What's the relationship between developers and packages? Does each
> package have an assigned developer, or can everybody modify all packages
> without stepping on anyone's toes? Are packages mostly maintained by
> teams, or by developers working alone?

Packages in Gentoo are grouped into "herds" of packages.  These herds
will be all similar packages.  These herds are maintained by a team,
which are sometimes also referred to as "herds".  Some packages have an
assigned developer/maintainer, with a team as a backup.  All packages
should have a responsible team, but there are some orphan packages in
our repository.  We routinely check the repository for orphaned packages
and either reassign them, recruit someone to maintain them, or possible
even remove the package from the repository.  Developers are free to
touch any package in the tree, but we recommend that they try to speak
with the maintainers prior to doing anything to someone else's packages.

> Other questions:
> - Did I send that mail to the right mailing list?

PR is fine.

> - Which question should I have asked? What should I ask next?

I think the workflow for how a package gets into a distribution is much
more interesting than the number of developers.  ;]

> - Do you think that this initiative is interesting?

I do, and I'm sure others in Gentoo would, also.

> - Do you think that this should move to a seperate mailing list? Would
>   you participate in such a mailing list?

I'm not sure why a list would be needed unless you were trying to
solicit responses from the entire developer community, versus a single
answer per distribution.

> - Can you suggest a project that could host such a mailing list without
>   annoying anyone? :)
> - Any other suggestions?
> Thank you for reading me so far -- and for answering my questions if you
> did. ;) If you want me to ping you when I'll publish the answers, just
> drop me a mail.

I'd love to see the answers once you're done.

Chris Gianelloni
Release Engineering Strategic Lead
Alpha/AMD64/x86 Architecture Teams
Games Developer/Foundation Trustee
Gentoo Foundation

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