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Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 403
Location: Central, Florida

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:59 pm    Post subject: Just an idea... Reply with quote

I have an idea ... an idea that is probably riddled with problems and impossible to implement. But I thought I'd toss it out here in the programming section. If it is a viable idea, maybe someone can run with it.

OK ... I love Gentoo primarily for the fact that I can set USE flags when installing a program. When I use a binary distribution, I'm "stuck" with whatever options the package maintainer enabled (or disabled). Sometimes, I don't care about that aspect. Like on this little embedded computer I have setup as a server system - I only have a few things installed on there so I'm perfectly happy to use the pre-compiled binary packages. It saves me time, I don't have any programs on that system that require a complex chain of dependencies, and the system is free from having compiling tools sprawled out across the system. Binary distros feel much "cleaner" to me. But sometimes the lack of control is undesirable.

What about a combination of the two? Many of the other thousands of Gentoo users have the same hardware that I have. Out of that select group, surely some of them are ocassionally going to emerge a package using the exact same set of USE flags that I want. So, what about creating a P2P network via bittorrent where people can exchange precompiled binary packages? But in a structured way. A utility program of some kind that would allow a person to easily search the P2P network and find the package they were looking for that was compiled with the USE flags they want.

Now, such a system makes absolutely no sense for very small programs. It would be 10 times faster to just download the source code and compile it yourself. But once a program reaches a certain size, it becomes time efficient to download a precompiled binary instead. The exact size should be user definable. For example, if Joe User has an overclocked, water cooled 4GHz+ Pentium 4 with 2GB of RAM, it will be faster for him to compile a medium-ish sized program than it would be to download it. But if Jack User only has a 900MHz laptop with 256MB of RAM, it would be much faster for him to download a precompiled program.

When a person wants to emerge a program, there could be a wrapper script (or something) setup that would first search the P2P network and give the person the option of downloading it. For me personally, I don't think the CPU optimization options are that big of a deal. In my experience, they really make zero difference. (Please send your hate mail to on that point.)

So, I don't use Gentoo for performance reasons. It's all about the USE flags for me. On a Desktop system, I install a lot of stuff. I'm always wanting to check out some program or another. I hate binary distros where I have to install some massive chain of dependencies to meet the requirement for a program I want - when I know darn good and well that the dependencies aren't warranted IF only it was compiled without such and such option.

I would gladly run a generically CPU optimized package as long as I could still control the USE flags. If a P2P network like I'm talking about would be possible, it would probably be preferable to have people optimize for i686 and just leave it at that. Because if 3 other people are using the exact same USE flags that you want, but they all have incompatible CPU optimizations, then of course their package is useless to you.

Maybe Gentoo isn't widespread enough for such a system to be useful. Or maybe the idea is completely stupid. I don't know. Like the subject says "Just an idea..."
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Joined: 16 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both binary and p2p portage has been suggested. Merging a bunch of them is on my list of things to do. Most should be in Chat or Dups, with some probably still in P&P.
Those who know what's best for us must rise and save us from ourselves.
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