Hosted projects

The following guidelines have been proposed for hosted projects in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the genkernel disaster.

Documentation requirement

All hosted projects should have decent, up to date user and developer documentation. This documentation must be available before the first release, and not left as "something we'll do later (honest)".

Our documentation team is happy to help out with GuideXMLification, translation etc. for the user documentation, but they need various things to do this:

  • Basic documentation to start with.
  • Basic information on the project or tool, such as:
    • The goals
    • The design specification
    • An FAQ
  • To be informed of any updates, in advance if at all possible — this is to avoid having out of date recommendations in the documentation.

Developer documentation is generally best left in the hands of the project maintainers.


Gentoo runs on a large number of architectures. This is one of our big advantages over some other distributions. It is therefore important that any tools are made with portability in mind, even if you originally think that your tool is only relevant for one arch. It was this kind of assumption that meant that genkernel had to be completely rewritten when it suddenly became mandatory.

In practice, this means the following:

  • Using a portable programming language — no Java or C# for any Gentoo tools. Bash, C and Python are good, especially since everyone already has those installed.
  • Not making assumptions about the hardware or architecture. This covers various things, depending upon the tool — simple examples include:
    • Not assuming that you are running on a 32bit little endian system.
    • Not assuming that all computers have a VGA text console, or indeed any kind of graphics capability.
    • Not assuming that all computers use DOS disclabels.
  • Not relying too strongly upon particular implementations of various tools, except where it has been agreed that we will always use a particular implementation of said tool (it is safe to use GNU sed extensions, for example, but not GNU find extensions).

Open / free

All hosted projects should use an appropriate open / free / libre license. Typically this will be the GPL v2 for software, and some version of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC-BY-SA-*) for documentation. However, reasonable exceptions can be made — sometimes it makes more sense to use the LGPL or a *BSD license, and for application-specific projects going with the application's license may make more sense (the gentoo-syntax package for vim uses the vim license, for example).


Projects should be accessible to users with disabilities. Simple examples of how to go about this include:

  • Not relying solely upon colour to convey information.
  • Providing textual descriptions for any images.
  • Providing clear captions for dialogs, buttons, form fields and so on.

Good places to look for further hints include: