September 26, 2008

KDE 4.1.2 tagged, gentoo land frozen

by orzel
Categories: Gentoo, KDE
Tags: No Tags
Comments: 26 Comments

I’m not a gentoo fan. Mainly because I don’t like the idea of being a ‘fan’. Being a fan in the Free Software world usually means being an extremist and i hate extremism.

I nonetheless use almost exclusively Gentoo on all computers, laptops, servers and other divx boxes I have or maintain. That means a lot of them and it makes my Debian friends laugh. Who cares ? I use Gentoo and Free Software because I find this convenient, and I like the ideas behind them.

Yet I don’t share the optimism of people who think that gentoo is growing. On July 29th, KDE 4.1, the first almost-usable KDE version since the 3.5 branch, has been released, and since then, guess what have happened in the gentoo-KDE land ? Nothing. By nothing I mean first that not a single ebuild, even masked, even hard masked, has reached the official portage tree, and secondly, that despite the huge KDE user base in Gentoo, not a single official statement has been done concerning this issue. Because, believe me or not, there is an actual issue. Nothing was said on the main Gentoo page, almost nothing on gentoo planet (only one post focused on whether KDE should install in a different place or not). In the gentoo land, everybody speaks about everything but KDE in gentoo. Has the meaning of ‘g’ in gentoo recently changed ?

When you try to know a little bit more about this, it’s getting worse. Rumors are that developers have fought each others and the KDE team is just no more. It’s a new KDE team that is here for whatever reason (to which, by the way, I send my very best support, for the development of new ebuilds, for being put under such light/pressure, and for being sent in this lion’s cage that seems to be gentoo devs). I don’t know anything about this, but it’s not the first time I hear about huge tensions between gentoo developers, and this worries me a lot.

I don’t want politics, I want developers, I want Free Software developers. If I wanted politics, I would have gone for Debian, which, by the way, have had packages for KDE 4.1 and 4.1.1 for long.

Growing is not something easy to handle. It seems to me that KDE has managed to do this very well : a lot of work has been done in the few last years to ‘scale up’ and I think they managed to do this hugely needed step. Gentoo still has to improve a lot in this area. As a user, my expectations are the same as what you can read everywhere : transparency, transparency and transparency.

I love gentoo, i can understand a lot of things, I can wait, I can deal with human resource shortage, I could even help. I’m used with all of that because that is so common in Free Software and that is part of the deal. But I can’t bear darkness and closeness.

I will not conclude by threatening to leave for another distribution. I’m most than happy with gentoo as a distribution and I will keep on using it as long as it is possible. I have a KDE checkout anyway on my main computer. If things are going worse though, I’m not sure I will dare trying to work on the ebuilds.

I’m ready to ignore the “If you’re not happy with gentoo leave it” type of comments.


  1. Šimon Tóth says:

    Actually it’s more funny, than you think. There are ebuilds, but they use new EAPI, which is not allowed in the main portage tree.

    And even more funny, if you ask for ebuilds, they will tell you to use the overlay and for a question, why they just don’t copy the overlay, they tell you that the ebuilds are broken and must be fixed first. So they are sending you to use broken ebuilds.

    KDE 4 is a giant leap, but just look at the speed of pure bug fixes being added to the tree. KDE 3.5.10 was floating in the air for incredibly long time (not counting the time for tagging, but from the official release).

    I’m planing to do a research about the actual “age of Gentoo” by counting the age of deprecated ebuilds in the portage.

  2. Well, actually, I think the very limited KDE team at gentoo does its best and I really don’t blame them, I even think they probably do a good job.

    My point is that Gentoo as a whole has a problem. That can be noticed here, first because KDE is still not available, and secondly because they deny it and do as if everything was great.

  3. Ian Monroe says:

    I used Gentoo from 2002-2008. So a long time. One reason I stopped was due to the issues you highlight; the project just didn’t seem as vibrant as like ~2004.

    But really the main reason is that the reasons I chose Gentoo in 2002 over other distros just doesn’t apply anymore. In 2002 there was Debian, which meant either very old packages or debian-testing which broke fairly constantly with new packages, often due to ABI changes. I had used Debian and was done with that. The other distros had some form of RPM dependency hell; I had used Mandrake and was done with that.

    Gentoo was the only way to have the cutting edge open source packages that I wanted. In some ways I think Gentoo was the easiest to use distros to maintain for a power user in 2002.

    Now its 2008 and we have distros like Kubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva all which do a good job of keeping packages up to date – the main reason I used Gentoo. Hell I hear Debian testing is pretty good too (though people said that back in 2002 as well, when personally experience with rough libpng ABI changes tells otherwise) I’ve settled on OpenSUSE since it means I get the latest KDE packages without the hassle of compiling. Its really a great distro for advanced users. RPM hell is no longer, zypper does dependency handling fine etc.

    Gentoo still is the best at having all the games, open and closed source. There are some certain benefits to source-based distros. But mostly I think a 6-8 month release cycle is nicer then a rolling release distro.

  4. I take it you’ve seen and the linked bugs/overlay/status page already? I think they’re working for getting 4.1.1 or 4.1.2 (seems more likely than .1 since it’ll be released fairly soon) in soon’ish, though I could be wrong.

    @Šimon Tóth: just a small note, 4.0 is in portage (still p.masked likely).

  5. Soap says:

    I feel your pain. After much reading up on it, I finally tried to install 4.1 on my gentoo system.

    First I tried the paludis thing (which you need for the kde overlay – but not an overlay, because paludis doesn’t do overlays). Then, because I hate paludis, and it didn’t work, I tried the kdesvn-portage overlay (4.1 ebuilds). Unfortunately, a week after I installed them, the ebuilds were removed from that overlay.

    So, finally, I’m using the kde-testing overlay, which contains portage-compatible ebuilds that are supposed to make their way into the main tree eventually. So, I have a working KDE 4.1.1 installation after about 3 weeks of trying.

    What bothered me most, is there was no information. The only stuff I could find was on gentoo’s bugzilla, where most developers said it should be on the forums, but those questions never got answered on the forums. Plus, the readme’s in some of those overlays are obsolete.

    I’d like to help, but I don’t know who to contact, and kde is so complicated that it requires more experience with ebuilds.

  6. As you have highlighted there are some issues. I actually spent quite a bit of time removing EAPI 2 stuff from the KDE 4 ebuilds in order to get it in the tree sooner. It appears that EAPI 2 has now been approved. I have been pushing to get KDE 4.1 into the tree and am unhappy that it has been taking so long. I am actually part of the very old KDE team, who was AFK a lot recently and have managed to make more time for development recently.

    We are doing what we can. Our numbers are diminished for a variety of reasons over this last year or more. We do what we can, I am really busy with work right now and so do not have the time I would like to get this in.

    I actually wrote two posts about KDE 4.1, they were intended to inform the general user base what is currently happening. The testing overlay is intended to make it into the tree, I think it should have gone in already (masked at least). I think we have made some important improvements but at the end of the day agree with you that it should be in already. I will see what I can do…

  7. Wulf C. Krueger says:

    The “rumours”you’ve heard have substance, indeed.

    I’m the former lead of the Gentoo KDE team. When I joined Gentoo as a dev in early 2007, there was a team that didn’t really cooperate at all, and had only a handful of members most of which weren’t really active.

    I worked a lot on KDE in Gentoo and successfully tried to get things moving again. KDE in Gentoo had about 350 bug reports in the beginning. After about 3 months, we were down to well below 100.

    Furthermore, I’ve brought two top-notch Gentoo devs on board and we’ve assured that KDE in Gentoo was as good as it gets.

    Unfortunately, my vision of a technically sound, reliable and correct Gentoo,
    which was reflected in our ebuilds, was put off by the Gentoo developer relations lead (musikc) in an overnight coup which she pulled through supported by the Gentoo Council.

    They favour a “fun” Gentoo over one that has the packages people want, they favour a strict policy of “we love each other and disagreement leads directly to hell” and I didn’t always fit into that picture.

    I certainly made mistakes but I got things done. One night I went to bed only to wake up the next morning to having been forcefully retired from Gentoo.

    There was no warning, no attempt to settle the differences; they just kicked me out.

    You can see this in

    Those devs I brought in, Ingmar and zlin, as well as others from the Gentoo KDE team were greatly demotivated by what had happened and, thus, been mostly inactive ever since or retired on their own.

    *This* is the reason why there are no 4.1 packages in the tree yet. Nothing technical, but purely political stuff.

  8. DC says:

    Ah, finally someone says what I have been thinking about for long.
    The KDE thing is mostly inexcusable in my opinion. It reeks of hierarchies and politics. Reading the forums makes you really want to stop using Gentoo. And not to mention Portage, which has been turning into Frankenstein’s monster for some time.

    I’ve been with Gentoo from (almost) the very start, and there was joy. And then a several-years-old install managed by Portage…it can lead to reinstallation at times, and six years ago I had patience to install it, but nowadays, I’d prefer to go with Ubuntu to have a desktop really fast. So I did, and I could try KDE4 even (which is pretty good, I can’t wait for 4.2).

    Gentoo’s popularity came from the promise of updated packages and customizability. Now the packages are not so updated, and the customization…well, you can use overlays!…
    Seriously, it’s a system that requires too much dedication and time. I’d prefer to use my time to code useful stuff instead of trying to figure why GCC broke this time.

    Although I do miss those up-to-date ebuilds of Mplayer and Vim…..

  9. appel says:


    I realise that you say you are still happy but Gentoo, but I’d like to suggest Archlinux anyway.

    I love Gentoo, and have used it exclusively on my workstation and on our servers as a sysadmin for 3 years, even built binary packages for upgrade rollouts etc.

    If I had to describe the perfect distro, it would be Rolling release, bleeding edge, and active. Arch is like Gentoo without the compiling, although you can still rebuild all your packages if you want.

    Oh, and KDE 4.1 has been in the package tree since release.

    Anyway, that’s my 2c, use it dont’ use it…

  10. Zaccret says:

    All this rant (in the comments not in the blog) makes me crazy…
    Surely I understand your frustration. I would also like to test KDE4 on my favorite distro because providing up to date packages IS STILL and MUST REMAIN one of the Gentoo advantages! By the way Gentoo is still one of the most customizable distros. I had never had the needs for overlays, when I talk about customizable, I talk about USE flags, easiness to configure services (rc-update, /etc/conf.d, …). And don’t forget pragmatism : which distro SO EASILY provides you nvidia drivers, vmware, skype ?
    All of us (ex-)gentoo users know that and nobody wants to lose these advantages, except those whose the needs has changed. If now you don’t care anymore of customizability, you have really classic hardware and want to update your packages every day without having to wait, well… Gentoo is not for you and has never suit such needs.
    If you see that Gentoo has some problems with providing you some of the things you could expect from it but you know that you won’t find what you want in other distros, just give a little help !! !

  11. Zaccret says:

    And I forgot, it still has the greater documentation in several languages.

  12. Maki says:

    Makes me wonder, why ex gentoo users switch to distro’s with different philosophy like ubuntu & opensuse ?

  13. fangorn says:

    I’m not really a KDE user, so I don’t miss much by not having KDE 4.x in the tree. Also I am still a happy Gentoo user, because it just works as expected, aka. the way I configured it.

    But I do also see the problem. In the meantime I use my own private Overlay with ebuilds mixed from several sources where I fixed the dependency issues myself. I just did not find an Overlay that contained all the ebuilds I need/want real recent versions of (and that is just 10 to 15 programs).

    If all those dedication that flows into all the overlays (inventing the wheel at least twice) was dedicated to the main portage tree there would be no shortage in human resources. Supporting an ebuild in the main tree is more work than supporting it in an overlay. The user had the choice to use the overlay or leave it alone. But if the overlay maintainers could bundle their efforts and remove double ebuilds I think it would be doable to include the ebuilds as masked ebuilds. Then the user still would have to choose to install them, but it would be accessible in one place and you could be sure the dependencies are fulfillable inside the tree.

    That some of the ebuilds kept in overlays are “immature” is a problem that could relatively easy be handled by assigning experienced developers to train new ones.

    There have recently been discussions in the forums concerning this, but I do not see them lead to something usefull.

    I myself would be willing to help, but my time schedule is so irregular I cannot tell how much time I am able to dedicate in a given timeframe. Quite often I am unavailable for weeks. So I am in general a bad choice for a (only one person) package maintainer. I think that this scheme is valid not just for me. What I am missing is a possibilty to help without “assigning to full developer state”.

  14. xdmx says:

    i’m using gentoo for 3 years more or less. Since i started with linux (4 years) i always used kde as the main desktop, obviously i tried also the other DE/WM (gnome, xfce and enlighment), but i found kde the best one. The same has happen with the distro, i tried a lot of them (debian,suse,ubuntu,fedora,etc etc), but when i found gentoo i knew that that distro would be fit best for my needs. I can just customize it how i want, without install what i don’t want. I can just install the system how i want. Actually i’d like to have kde 4 on gentoo in the main tree, just to use it on every computer, but there isn’t. I could change distro, or add the overlay, but i don’t care. I’ll just wait when it will be ready. In the meantime i use kde 3.5, and do the same thing. 🙂
    btw i think that gentoo would be better to allow part-time/occasionally dev.. i think that it would increase a lot the distro.
    but anyway i just want to thanks every gentoo dev for what they do 🙂

  15. Zaccret says:

    @Šimon Tóth : I am talking about personal experience but maybe I didn’t well express it so I’ll try again. If you were offended by “All this rant (in the comments not in the blog) makes me crazy”, I’m sorry. Anyway it doesn’t deserve such aggressiveness.

    My personal experience is :
    – I have no problems to get the up-to-date packages I need (it was the same for me 4 years ago).
    – It is easier for me to manage services on Gentoo than on Ubuntu (it was the same for me some years ago).
    – Sorry if I was wrong about some closed-source packages. Actually I installed ati-drivers on Ubuntu 1 or 2 years ago, I had to add something in source.list and later an update of had broken it.
    – A Gentoo dev never asked me some money to close a bug
    – I think Gentoo still has the greatest documentation in several languages on ITS official site AND there is the great gentoo-wiki, which is the work of the community.

  16. Šimon Tóth says:

    Zaccret: I’m always very mean, when I meat people with “works for me = everything is great and no one should complain” attitude.

    I actually envy you that you never experienced problems with up-to-date and missing ebuilds. This is a problem a have to solve almost each day.

    I don’t understand what you meant by “manage services”. If you are referring to configuration, than that may be true. Debian always had a very odd approach to default configurations.

    The documentation is great, but only on the gentoo-wiki side. The original documentation is well written, but definitely nothing exceptional (when compared to other distributions). The problem is that gentoo-wiki is the work of user community and that community is moving away from Gentoo.

  17. xdmx says:

    Probably this is not the best place, but, what would you do to change what’s happening to gentoo? to avoid the moving of the community, to do not have so many problems, to return to the old days, to have a distro which can be rock without people who insult between them or something like that (just see the forum sometimes 🙁 )
    I mean… let’s face it, there are problems, but how can be solved? Would be useful to try to change the things? To speak with the council or i don’t know what else?
    I don’t want to lose gentoo 🙁

  18. Zaccret says:

    Thomas, here is something from a dev :
    And a guide (pending official ebuild) :

  19. jon says:

    …Well that’s not good. I left gentoo for arch back in 2004, but still it’s never fun to hear about dev teams falling apart.

    Does the team have to answer to anyone? And if so, why haven’t they brought the hammer of thor down on them for the spectacle of unaccomplishment that is kde on gentoo? It seems that if gentoo is going to allow politics to affect the development process, there needs to be an oversight to straighten people out when they invariably tail-spin into political gridlock.

    I know this is in itself doesn’t warrant switching hands-down, but I’ll throw out there that we already have 4.1.2 released in the main repos… I’m just sayin’ 🙂

  20. @Zaccret : I’ve read the blog from jkt, and i already knew about the overlays… or blogs, .. or irc.. But that’s not in the official tree, and there is still no official statement.
    And, by the way, I’m not a KDE developer (lack of time, else that would be the first project I would contribute to).

  21. Zaccret says:

    @Thomas : I completely agree with you, actually I’ll never follow this guide, I am still waiting for the official ebuild.

    I am wondering what are the reasons of the KDE4 problem. jkt talks about manpower, but I don’t see KDE in the staffing needs : There is a lack of communication to users since daniel’s left : I mean less newsletters. It may also be a lack of manpower, but gmn is not in the staffing needs page. So maybe a lack of manpower in the recruiters (who maintain the page) ? Mmm, it seems that developers are not going away : neither users : and
    So what ???!! Leadership problem ? Well, maybe it is time to ask to the council who decides on global issues and policies.

  22. quantumsummers says:

    kde 4.1.2 is in portage. sorry it took awhile, but the eapi changes make will make things much easier in the future. good things come to those who wait.

  23. enyawix says:

    I have use Gentoo since 2002, but Gentoo is no longer the distro it was. It went from the first to get new software to the last. I am looking to change distro soon.

  24. klimg says:

    It’s more like a wonder the gentoo dev’s get done what they do.There are 5 or 6 guys there.

    Debian lists about 60 dev’s for kde.

    Of course the public relations of Debian and Gentoo are a different ballgame as can be seen on the page you linked and I suspect thats what gets most people going especially since gentoo has recently a history of keeping things under tabs.

    Not like I am going to use it anytime soon anyway except for special projects since there is no really compelling reason to use it as a desktop system anymore.

  25. kde_and_gentoo_user says:

    I use kde almost exclusively and are a big fan, but I must say that KDE4 is not ready yet, not by a long shot. Still today there are too many problems generally in KDE not just gentoo, i’m talking about KDE regardless of distro… for an advanced user it’s not usable at all yet. Many features are missing from KDE3, most apps are not ported to KDE4 yet…. and I could keep going… but this is not a flame, not at all. I think KDE should still be in beta, really. And for useres who do not care that much it’s good to test it, that way it will be usable for everyone sooner… well maybe in a year or so it will become usable. So really I do not see what’s the fuss about, I’m quite happy with KDE3 for the next year or two, maybe even three 😉

  26. kde_and_gentoo_user says:

    Just to back up my statements above, because I do not wont to start a flame or something. Go to and under download click “Stable Version”, there you’ll find under KDE 4.1 that it says:
    “KDE 4.1 is the version for early-adopting users. Please see the KDE 4.1.3 Info Page for details. ”
    And under KDE 3 Series it says that it’s the recommended version:
    “KDE 3.5 is the more mature version of KDE. For more conservative users, this is the recommended version of KDE. ”

    So really if you wont usability and stability you should use KDE 3 for now. And I think that KDE 4 not being in the stable portage tree is not a big deal.

    But if you still wont to test KDE 4 you can, just follow the instructions:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.