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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gentoo provides social workspaces to close the gap between users and developers

The Gentoo Overlays project, together with other groups including Gentoo Infrastructure and User Relations, is pleased to announce the availability of a new service to provide a single source for development overlays. Stuart Herbert, the founder of the project, envisions this service,, as a way to create social workspaces where developers can collaborate with each other and with users to improve the Gentoo experience for everyone.

'Overlays' are collections of additional packages for Gentoo. They are maintained and distributed separately from Gentoo's main package tree, and they allow anyone to deliver extra packages for the award-winning Gentoo Linux distribution.

The social workspaces, hosted on, provide a testing ground and development sandbox for teams within Gentoo to collaborate directly with Gentoo users. Together, developers and users will work on new packages for Gentoo and on improving existing packages already included with Gentoo.

Users interested in joining the volunteer-driven Gentoo project can gain experience with Gentoo package development in a real-world setting, backed by mentoring from experienced Gentoo developers. This will greatly improve the recruitment process for Gentoo developers and users alike. There are also many users who have extremely valuable contributions to make, but for one reason or another don't want to become a full Gentoo developer. With the workspaces provided by the Overlays project, they can still contribute directly to projects within Gentoo.

One Gentoo project that has pioneered the use of overlays in this way is the Gentoo PHP project. Luca Longinotti, lead developer of the PHP project, was originally recruited through his contributions to the project's overlay. "I really appreciate the overlays idea," he says. "At the beginning, when I started to work on PHP on Gentoo, Stuart and I were constantly mailing patches and ideas to each other. We had to work that way because I was not a Gentoo developer, and that was the only way. Then he set up the PHP Overlay, and it helped us immensely to collaborate, try out new, and exciting ideas. We use it now successfully to test new packages and releases of PHP-related software. I think it's because of the PHP Overlay that in the end I got involved enough to become a full Gentoo developer."

Workspaces hosted on are created at the request of Gentoo projects and individual Gentoo developers. Gentoo users who wish to contribute to a workspace should contact the workspace's owners. They can do this by visiting, where they will find information on each social workspace.

For more information, see the home of Social Workspaces, and the Overlays Project page.

About Gentoo Linux
Gentoo Linux is one of the foremost community-based Linux distributions, well known for its flexibility, performance, and portability. Supporting more hardware architectures and configurations than any other mainstream distribution, Gentoo is the platform of choice for those wanting to create systems to their own needs. The latest release can always be found at

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