Striving for greatness

Thoughts on emerging tech, open source, and life

What do you think of the Gentoo website?

The main Gentoo website has looked pretty similar since it was created in 2001. None of the from-scratch redesigns have come to fruition, so I’m curious whether this is something people even want. Is the existing site good enough? What do you think of it?


Written by Donnie Berkholz

January 27, 2009 at 10:11 am

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , ,

36 Responses

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  1. Gentoo is the .ebuilds
    Those who use Gentoo know this.
    No need to pimp the site into an unmanageable mess.

    C Smith

    January 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

  2. While its not the greatest looking site in the world, it does for the most part work ok. What would be great is to get some more activity on the site, whether thats by having more author written content (either dedicated articles, or just making some of the already available articles and guides more visible), or making greater use of automated posting as is shown in the index2.xml work in progress thats been available for a while now.


    January 27, 2009 at 11:37 am

  3. The general _look_ is ok, the problems are IMO of functional nature:
    – suboptimal navigation
    – no search functionality (using google is a crappy workaround at best)
    – limited to static content with very few arcane exceptions (e.g. to simply list the current versions of portage on the project site we’d have had to update it manually all the time or add some really hackish code to the release script)
    – no central information management, e.g. announcements have to be posted manually on the website, mailing lists, the tree, forums, … separately
    – in general the site relies too much on manual updates instead of performing updates and organize itself automatically
    – lack of integration with other Gentoo components (packages.g.o, devspaces, …)

    Some of those things can be fixed (to some degree) with the current setup, but long term I’m afraid that it has become too limiting (I’m talking about gorg here, not about GuideXML).
    If you’re looking for examples, of the major distro homepages I think is the most useful (even though, or maybe because, it isn’t a fancy web-2.0 wiki-blog powered site).


    January 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  4. My only real comment is that the needs a search function. Trying to find info on a particular package on it can be pretty frustrating..

    Matt Henley

    January 28, 2009 at 8:32 am

  5. I’d like a direct link to the handbook, since if I haven’t got my laptop with me when installing another computer I have to browse with links(if I can’t get a GUI live-cd online).

    Lukas Iffländer

    January 28, 2009 at 9:04 am

  6. I like the fluid design. The style of “left-column nav + right-column ads” is so common that it’s intuitive. The right column could stand to scale better in older browsers, but it’s fine if FF3+ and similar.

    As for the quick links in the top menu: I’d put the Support, Forum, and Bugs links side-by-side, as they are so closely related. I’ve often clicked on the “Support” link when I really wanted the bugzilla, just because many sites have such things under their “support” link.

    Phil Turmel

    January 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

  7. It would be cool if there was an official blog, something that gave a voice to the direction of the project so that outsiders can see what is going on. The monthly newsletter is great, but something more frequent and less formal would help.


    January 28, 2009 at 10:56 am

  8. Look and feel is functional and generally not in my way. Off the top of my head: some kind of search function should be seriously considered and implemented, a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly report that people can look forward to (really guys, choose one and publish it on time, please), a wiki …


    January 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  9. One thing that bothers me with the website that you need to know where to find stuff. Take one example: Downloading an installable iso is hidden under “Mirrors”. Every other distro has a big, bright, blinking button labeled “download”.

    I also think that the website needs some major graphics overhaul to represent gentoo better. IMHO the website does not have anything of the coolness (or however one would call it) of gentoo.


    January 29, 2009 at 2:24 am

  10. Hello there,

    the wealth of gentoo is it’s community. On the one hand developers wrangling the ebuilds on the other users who help each other.
    I would suggest to emphasize this aspect and go all elearning. Hot forum threads should be visible on the main page (maybe in a box on the right side).
    And last but not least: get that great gentoo wiki an own subdomain of!



    January 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm

  11. i wish gentoo site would follow design.

    it’s simple and it’s quite good.

    especially that navigation bar on the top, with quick and easy links to wiki/forums (there could be a planet link too).

    it just works.


    January 29, 2009 at 11:47 pm

  12. I think the key here is navigation. Oh, and please change the look 🙂


    January 30, 2009 at 12:36 am

  13. What ever happened to this:

    I think there are some really good comments above, so I’ll refrain from adding similar ones, hehe.


    January 30, 2009 at 2:38 am

  14. is a good design, if it was still some years ago, but for a 2009 site it’s outdated.

    I could create a long list of my pet ideas for a web site, but it would be pointless. A new design would have to be community developed and I’ll wait until then before thinking about it seriously as anything I post now is not going to remembered by anyone when the work actually starts.


    January 30, 2009 at 2:43 am

  15. Less focus on graphic design and more focus on informational design please:
    1. Make the whole thing a wiki – let current document providers be “housekeepers”
    2. Realign site to offer insta-download of livecd’s and installers
    3. Display what’s happening in the community instead of showing month-old news (planet and changelogs from packages, forums, etcetera comes to mind)
    and for the advanced users
    4. Do a quick log review and see where most of your traffic lands in the documentation and add these to a “popular” section

    Then, from there I would personally like to pull out what’s magical about Gentoo – rolling your own installs and customizing them. Gentoo is such a vital part of the Linux distribution community and should put its foot down on where it stands.

    There is already lots of thing happening beneath the surface – so I personally don’t see the point of introducing yet another source of timekeeping such as a blog or some news section. Start off by displaying what Gentoo’s (we, really) up to at the moment.

    One additional thing that really would improve things (from my perspective) is some kind of communication of what’s coming; such as the glibc 2.8 & gcc 4.3 transition, where init/baselayout is heading and so on. This would make it easier to handle when it hits your “emerge –deep world”.


    January 30, 2009 at 4:04 am

  16. It defenitely needs a major overhaul!
    The information and “look-and-feel” of the web-site give the user an impression of the quality of the product beeing presented.
    Old site-layout = old-fashioned linux distriburion!


    January 30, 2009 at 6:15 am

  17. I remember when the site first went up and it was cool back then. Now, it is pretty annoying and looks dated.

    My suggestion would be to look at Sabayon’s site and, even though it is a fork, see what a more userfriendly Gentoo site can look like. I would also like to see a more community look on the front page to combat the constant thought that Gentoo is so closed off from the average person.


    January 30, 2009 at 8:28 am

  18. Gentoo’s website sucks. It always has since I’ve used Gentoo. I don’t know what a lot Gentoo devs do besides update ebuilds, but apparently website maintenance was never something they were fond of.

    Steven Oliver

    January 30, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  19. I think the design is not the most important point at all. The published information is the point of interest.
    A better structure and navigation strategy would be absolutely fine, but I wished there were more information about the individual development activities. Some interviews with individual developers, who they are and how they do the work in detail.
    The site should animate everybody to be a part of the gentoo community and to make a contribution to it.

    New articles, interesting hints and hacks should be referenced on the website, too.


    January 31, 2009 at 1:40 am

  20. Seems like the old web site, but with more stuff taken from other, more volatile sources. And that’s fine by me. It should help to quiten those people who say “Gentoo’s dead, look, the monthly news hasn’t been updated for 5 weeks”. And yes, there were several links I followed that I wouldn’t have bothered to look up otherwise, so it does what a news site should.

    Paul Gover

    January 31, 2009 at 2:10 am

  21. * need a searchfunktion
    * has a differend an bad design than the main-page.
    * The gentoo site looks old-fashioned.
    * I don’t like purple.


    January 31, 2009 at 4:07 am

  22. Extremely old fashioned.
    Designed in 1980’s feel.
    Left sided links cluttered.
    Right sided links look like cheap advertising scam.

    Really really really badly designed.

    H. Raku

    January 31, 2009 at 4:52 am

  23. I had to give it a “meh”.

    I think the recent updates are great, so thanks for that! But I’ll agree with other commenters that the design is a bit dated now. What’s considered “good” design has changed a lot in the last 8 years.

    It only takes a split second for a viewer to make a first impression, and we only get a few more seconds after that to hold their attention. Most users won’t scroll off the first page.

    Though I don’t exactly like the design, flip between and See where your eye lands first and see how relevant that information is. I also really like clicking “learn more” on The “what’s so great about firefox” thing is brilliant and I wish we had something like that, either on our homepage or on the about page. Most people don’t even know why they should try gentoo.


    January 31, 2009 at 6:50 am

  24. I think it’s fine for a main site of a distro. What would actually need more attention is trying to make *one* of the ebuild search sites good enough that you wouldn’t need more than it. (How many are there currently, four? None of which is afaik is feature-complete enough to be the only one) While this isn’t a problem for Gentoo-Gentoo helpdesking (a Gentoo user can always trivially check from his portage what the ebuild list looks like), it can become a problem where a non-Gentoo guy from some arbitrary software project tries to helpdesk a Gentoo user to get that software to work.

    Seppo Yli-Olli

    January 31, 2009 at 7:34 am

  25. Like a other users already mentioned: The design looks quite old. It’s not only the style, the logo, the typography, but also the informational design. Things are organized in a much too complex way.
    But I really like larry the cow and how the documentation is organized and presented.

    If the devs don’t like working on the site, there are a lot people out there which do enjoy making websites. I would also suggest to contact a real designer, someone who really knows what she/he is talking about.

    Open up the process of redesigning the site. Last year there were 2 moments when I looked at the source code of the last attempt of a redesign (mirrored here: and thousands of ideas and possibilities came up. But then I was so frustrated to see that the last redesign never happened and thought there isn’t enough interest there.

    The process of a redesign could be mentored by 1 or 2 gentoo devs but imo the actual work should be done by people who do that everyday (designers, webdevs).

    David Persson

    February 1, 2009 at 6:46 am

  26. It is great that something is happening with home page, now can you just give as our google search back. Blocked since summer, I don’t understand, if you guys need a 6+ months to configure squid then why did you block it than, you can’t find a word about gentoo forums anywhere, soon it will be like they never existed at all.


    February 1, 2009 at 8:42 am

  27. it looks old


    February 2, 2009 at 5:02 am

  28. Thanks for the good work Donnie!

    Even though I highly appreciate Mike’s work setting up and running the wiki and portage-db sites I would recommend to make it part of the core activities of!
    These documentation project are currently relying on Mike only… so what happens in case of technical probs or/and illness.

    BTW: The layout of the site is, well, not so fancy but this is not so important for me personally…


    February 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

  29. David,

    It is equally frustrating to everyone in Gentoo that the website redesign didn’t get finished. One of our developers put it best in saying that the last 10% is the part that kills every redesign effort. (Do tables render properly in IE6, etc.)

    Donnie Berkholz

    February 2, 2009 at 8:58 am

  30. Donnie,
    I really like the idea of a complete redesign.
    Can you explain what in the last 10% ?? table render on IE6 cannot take 10% of the design process. Browserbugs are everywhere and will probably never go away. A good designer knows that and will take cake about that.

    Thats my opinion.
    What are the real blockers for a lets call it:
    “emerge -N @system @world”


    February 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

  31. I, for one, like the more basic nature of the main page. It loads quickly and reliably, and looks the same no matter what you’re browsing with (except lynx/links in text mode, but that’s an exception). I like the first comment- “no need to pimp the site…” It’s nice to not have to wait for some scripting (either server side or client side) to complete for the page to display, or have the page display but when you go to click on something it re-organizes itself because something just changed the layout a bit. Navigation could be improved some, and while it’s nice to show more info on the page from, ie, planet,, I’ve noticed these aren’t showing up in my rss feed.
    I do miss the old pacages site. Ever since it came back, it just looks like a mess. I only use it when I’m looking for the most up-to-date information, which is atypical since I mostly use stable.


    February 3, 2009 at 6:57 am

  32. @superbrain666:

    The bugfixes. From the point of view of site completeness, they’re the last 10%, but they may well take 50% of the overall effort.

    Donnie Berkholz

    February 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

  33. Gentoo website is about as nice as is needed, IMHO.
    The site could do with a package search function but most important a _regular_ newsletter or maybe an “official blogg”.
    Don’t overdo site design as I believe Gentoo is about package mgmnt, the superb documentation and the equally great community (and in these areas Gentoo is super).

    Keep up the splendid work!


    February 3, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  34. For me, I like it -> good. And no need to get much better – we like Gentoo for what it is, not for the looks of it.

    But what is most important – it shows that Gentoo is alive and kicking. With the weekly and then monthly newsletters not coming in regularly, and all the bad press recently, it’s great to see daily activity. It was there anyway but having a central access point is simply better.

    And I join the crowd that suggests a search function for the package database!


    February 4, 2009 at 8:48 pm

  35. I kinda like the page as it is. There’s overview for everything you need, links to manpages/install., the mirrors, forum and recently the improved news on it. Fine for me and I don’t need too much stuff or messed up design. Just some issues on Seamonkey (long ago and sometimes still now) when viewing the install man in one page (I got lots of strange grey bars over the text) but otherwise I can hardly complain.
    And I guess the news addition might come out well since it’s a sign of life for those who aren’t developers or just on developer mailing lists.

    just a Gentoo user from .de

    February 7, 2009 at 3:22 am

  36. Recent improvements are great. I very seldom visit gentoo front page, but do read related blogs, and find current content very nice, and better than not so supported weekly^Wmonthly^W news.

    Mostly I use the forums, documentation, bugzilla, and gentoo wiki in that order (frequency ~ 80%, 10%, 5%, 5%) So the lack of forum search within thread, or even good google results for the forums is a constant small frustration in my life.

    Style doesn’t at all match what gentoo is for me, but I live with it, and at least it mostly stays out of my way. (I do switch to user style sheets sometimes when I get sick of the purple, though.)

    So re: prioritizing efforts into website improvements, my vote is for better searchability. Of course easier, and perhaps would attract more talent to help, would be to modernize style.

    p.s. package search doesn’t matter much to me, but I’m probably in a minority here. eix roxx0rz.


    February 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

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