What's New on Calculate Linux (Sep 2012)

Gnome 3.4

It was high time Gentoo maintainers removed the hard mask from GNOME 3.4, so we’ll see the famous eog once again (remember that nobody wanted to fix v3.2…?) They were probably right to keep some packages masked, but we shouldn’t wait until they have removed Gnome 3.2 from the Portage tree, I guess.

Gnome 3.4 has been unmasked. The testing image is ready…but you’d better not look at it now! Once gnome-shell-calculate plugins have been rewritten, an update to the new Gnome will be made available.

The less meta-packages the better

Calculate has always gone the evolutionary (and not the revolutionary) way. We’re not racing helplessly after new features: we’re making them reality as they come. This is why we cannot tell exactly what Calculate Linux 13 will look like. We do have plans, of course, but we believe that quality is more important than respecting conventional deadlines – and we always welcome change when it seems beneficial.

Now it’s time to make package management more flexible.

When we were young, the list of packages was created by Calculate 1.0: it generated the world file when building the system. This made support easier to manage, but created problems with blocked packages.

At the time, we found using meta-packages very convenient. Masks and USE flags have since been handled by the overlay. Updating the system became a much simpler matter, and Calculate was becoming quite user-friendly. But which one is better: fulfilling gurus’ dreams or making a distro for ordinary users? Working around meta dependencies with custom flags is rather cumbersome, isn’t it?

The best solution is always somewhere in the middle. We found it when we worked on a small patch for eix, designed for Portage deployment when eix-sync is first launched (not even a patch in fact, but rather a script built into the eix package).

So we decided that we should use one meta-package only, calculate-meta, with a strict minimum of dependencies including eix; the same will resolve blocking problems in all CL editions. eix-sync will launch a script from the overlay: at the first compilation time or whenever new format requirements are applied, it will create the world file based on previous meta dependencies and will, later on, handle minor modifications of the world due blocking. The overlay will include the world directory, where packages with their description will be sorted by category. It should look somewhat like sets, a conception allowing any abstraction. True Calculate users will say this reminds them of the first CL releases. Well, yes and no, as now the old good world file will be completed by overlay features, something that Calculate did not have back then.

CL will thus have three distinct layers of abstraction: Gentoo >> Calculate Overlay >> Calculate Utilities. We will clearly describe them when we update to CU 3.1, as we want you to understand what makes Calculate Linux different.

The localization project

You may have noticed that the latest CU revision has some French support. Very soon, or so we hope, Calculate Utilities will fully support French as well as English and Russian; other contributors are working on Spanish, Bulgarian and Ukrainian versions. Yet much remains to do, and if you are willing to help, we’ll truly appreciate it :slight_smile: