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December 31, 2012

Input requested from Debian Stable and Gentoo users for new distribution


First of all, I apologize in advance if this is the wrong section to post this topic.

I have used GNU/Linux for the past ten years. Mostly Debian (stable for the most part, but also testing and Sid) and Gentoo.

I am attracted to Debian stable because of its stability. It is true that this results in older software, but to me that is a small price to pay for having a thoroughly-tested system that just works. Of course, at times this resulted in installing packages or features I did not need just to comply with dependency requirements.

On the other hand, Gentoo is an extremely interesting project. I found especially resourceful the USE flags, which allow users to only compile the features they are interested in. This saves system resources and increases system stability, as there are less things to break. The processor-specific optimizations are also a nice bonus.

However, my overall experience with Gentoo was thwarted by the fact that the distribution lacks a stable branch. As a result, things tend to break often. While this is a nice way to learn, it is also a hindrance for users who simply lack the time to re-install the OS every time it breaks.

My idea combines these two distributions. It consists of applying Gentoo's Portage USE flags and source code focus to stable code on Debian's stable branch. A Gentoo system hooked to Debian stable code, if you will.

This arrangement would result in:

* Similar or better stability than Debian stable, which is arguably one of the top choices for servers;
* Higher performance and hardware efficiency due to machine-specific optimizations and ability to exclude unneeded software features when installing/compiling, resulting in lower RAM usage, lower HDD needs, and lower CPU usage;
* Higher energy efficiency as a result of the above, thus being more economical in the long run.

There is currently high demand for this type of distribution, particularly on the server side. One of Gentoo's criticisms is that it takes so long to install because it is source-code based. But servers are a type of application that you install once and then leave alone, save for security updates.

I was wondering if there is a distribution that currently does this, and if not, I kindly request your feedback on the feasibility and attractiveness of the idea. I understand it would not be a distribution for everyone, but I think it could be advantageous to many users.

Thanks in advance.

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