The Linux distro is due to release a version of its operating system that can be run directly off a CD-ROM, so that people can try Gentoo without installing it
The next version of Gentoo, due for release in February 2005, will include a Live CD that allows users to run the operating system off a CD, and with a more user-friendly interface.
Gentoo is a distribution of Linux that its developers claim is fully customisable for any application or need. According to a Netcraft survey in July 2004, Gentoo experienced the fastest percentage growth rate out of all Linux distributions over the previous six months, increasing from 0.7 percent of Web servers in January 2004 to 1.0 percent in July.
Chris Gianelloni, the operational manager for Gentoo's Release Engineering group, said the Live CD will be produced for the x86 andAMD64 platform and will be "very similar" to Knoppix, a Linux Live CD which is based on the Debian distribution. Gianelloni said this is the first time that Gentoo has produced a fully functional Live CD -- a "LiveCD" is already available on the Gentoo Web site, but this is primarily an installation CD. However, LiveCD will be a beta release, which contains all the functionality but is still in test mode.
The next version of Gentoo, 2005.0, will also include a more user-friendly installer. This takes the Gentoo handbook apart and integrates into the installer. A future version will include the option of a graphical installer, and will allow users to automatically install the same set-up of Gentoo on multiple machines, according to Gianelloni.
"The graphical installer will have lots of facilities like Red Hat kickstart," said Gianelloni. "You can create a script, containing details on, for example, what packages you want installed. You can then feed the same script to the installer on every machine, so that it will install identically."
The most recent release of Gentoo, which was released last week, focused on bug fixes and improving the release tools, according to the Gentoo Web site. The changes in 2004.3 included a switch to a single kernel for the AMD64 and x86 platforms and a switch to a new version of the GNU compiler collection, GCC 3.4, in the AMD64 and PowerPC platforms.
Gianelloni said that previously the AMD64 and x86 platforms had both the 2.4 and 2.6 versions of the Linux kernel, but Gentoo developers decided to fully switch to the 2.6 kernel as it has now stabilised, and tends to have more stable and up-to-date drivers than the 2.4 kernel.
Gentoo 2004.3 also includes a new release of its package management tool, Portage. Gianelloni said an important new feature in Portage 2.0.51 is an option which gives users more flexibility when enabling or disabling packages. The option allows users to use any dependent package when they have enabled support for a package, while in the past they would have needed to reinstall the dependent packages, according to Gianelloni.