21 Jan 2005

gentoo project participation

i started getting involved with gentoo development sometime around january 2003, which corresponds to around the second term of being in cambridge. my motivation was that i had used gentoo for about a year and was extremely happy with it. it used to run on my desktop and even on my sony vaio pcg-n505ve 10.4" notebook.

i used to spend somewhere between 20-30 hours a week just maintaining packages and contributing to development, which actually meant all the other time i wasn't working, i would be tweaking with portage, playing with ebuilds etc.

eventually, i wrote 'etcat' to ease the way i could manage ebuilds and portage in general. it was written with the goal of being lightning fast and roughly accurate. in fact, it was designed on the principle that i am usually smarter than portage, and sometimes i don't mind putting in an extra 0.5 seconds of effort to decrease portage calculation time by 10 seconds (eg. specifiying the full package name rather than have portage search.)

but as my phd wore on, i got less and less time to work on it, mainly cumulating in a period where i didn't have a single gentoo machine anywhere to do development. so development switched to a chroot on a redhat box which proved to be incredibly interesting. i also dabbled into UML (user mode linux) and Gentoo/PPC, both of those didn't really work out well for me.

since then, gentoo has introduced the concept of herds, which basically imply a group of packages that can be roughly categorised into groups. for instance, there's a mobile herd, pda herd, dictionary herd, a gnome herd, a cjk (chinese-japanese-korean) herd, etc. i believe i am a member of around 6 herds at the moment, and by the end of this post, i would only be a member of 5 herds. apart from packages that are grouped by herds, i also maintain around 50+ packages that are herd-less.

nowadays, i think i spend around 4-5 hours per week on the project, which is not ideal especially given the amount of packages i directly, or indirectly maintain. so after around a week of consideration, i've decided to withdraw from maintaining for the gnome herd. the herd responsibility is so big, that i just haven't been able to keep up with bugzilla mail for that alias. it has more bugs reported/commented on than any of the 5 other herds plus my own bugs combined. not only that, but i have lost interest in the GNOME project in general, not that i don't like them, but most of the gentoo machines i maintain are actually servers. i only have one gentoo machine that actually has a display.

hopefully, by withdrawing from the gnome herd, i'll be able to focus on upping the quality of the other packages i maintain, and also slowly delegate some of the packages that i've lost interest in to other people, find good new maintainers for them.

at the end of the day, i'm still a member of the python, cjk, mobile(bluetooth), pda and dictionaries. so it's not like i'm abandoning gentoo development!

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