Back to origins

Thanks to the luck with QEmu this week I finally got a Gentoo/FreeBSD VM working again, so I can actually resume working on the one thing I joined Gentoo for, initially. The nice thing about this is that the project is, in itself, mostly an experimentation, which means it’s quite easygoing. But it also has some very interesting and useful results.

Every time people ask me why do I think Gentoo/FreeBSD is useful to something, I point out that by not using ports, we’re ensuring that the software builds out of the original sources, and if it doesn’t, we can provide the patches upstream, since we have to write them in a way that is compatible with other systems anyway. This hasn’t changed the slightest in the last two years I didn’t work on the project: ports maintainers still don’t seem to provide upstream with patches, and lots of software is quite broken.

Indeed, in the last couple of days I identified quite a few issues both in and outside of Gentoo: bsdtar from libarchive failed to work with latest Portage version (thanks to Tim who provided me a patch within the hour!), pambase was putting nologin in the wrong chain (fixed and pushed a new release out), sandbox does not compile (still broken, need to be investigated yet), PulseAudio was totally borked upstream (now I made it build but it still fails tests, need to fix and port some areas, and if I had the time there is also the OSS driver to fix), libSM has a dependency over libuuid (which collides in FreeBSD, where the system already provides a different, incompatible interface; I submitted a patch to use the FreeBSD uuid interface when available), and more.

I cannot blame the Gentoo/FreeBSD team for this, because, well, it’s just Alexis right now I guess; I’m getting my hands dirty and making sure I can get the thing to work as it’s supposed to, and this is the important part, I guess. On the other hand, I wonder why is it that FreeBSD developers don’t seem to care about this kind of problems at all. PulseAudio might not have the best OSS support, but that’s just because Lennart obviously don’t care about it (Fedora now also disabled it by default, good for them!), but if somebody were to actually mind PulseAudio (more than I can do, since I don’t have audio in my VM anyway), I don’t think it would be impossible for it to provide proper support for the FreeBSD OSS options.

At any rate, I guess I’m now back to my original plans as well, at least part time, hopefully it won’t be too bad on the long run. Going to try GCC 4.4 with the system packages, and the kernel, later on today. Or rather I’ll leave it to test the build since I’m actually supposed to be out of here to a friend’s house for some photo shoots (long story…).

Oh by the way, if you haven’t noticed I’m still making some changes to the blog, in particular now the tags and categories pages show decent titles; I have made some changes to Typo that allows me to set the titles in a more human-readable way. If I can find time I’ll be also cleaning up the tags, since I have lots of tags with one post each, and there are some synonyms that I should really get rid of. To do the latter, though, I’m going to write a script that can merge the tags’ contents and then set up redirection, since I dislike very much to break the links in my blog, as you may know already.

Oh well!