Gentoo jargon glossary

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The Gentoo jargon glossary is a collection of terms, definitions, acronyms, colloquialisms, and sometimes expressions known to the Gentoo community.

As with any unique distribution with a history, specific colloquialisms such as "Portage tree", or deprecated terminology such as "Herds" have influenced conversation in the Gentoo community. In order to aid new community members and harden concepts for existing ones, Gentoo needs an authoritative, informative location to keep jargon. This is that location. This is the Gentoo jargon glossary a.k.a the GJG.

Authoritative upstream

If possible, each section below should list an authoritative upstream in order to provide citations. Individual entries under each section should try to include a least one citations or a link to more information. links are welcome, but only if the site is no longer hosted.

Gentoo project

Authoritative Gentoo projects and Foundation page.

Package Manager Specification

Authoritative upstream: PMS project and HTML rendered specification.


Authoritative upstream: Portage project.

The following are Portage related terms. Remember, Portage is the package management framework for Gentoo. It downloads, unpacks, compiles, and installs packages.


  • EAPI — a version defined in ebuilds and other package manager related files which informs the package manager about the file syntax and content.
  • Genkernel — a tool created by Gentoo used to automate the build process of the kernel and initramfs.
  • gentoo.git — The name of Gentoo's official, primary repository containing elements of the EAPI used to install packages via Portage.
  • Herd — A deprecated term used to define a group of developers who shared maintenance responsibility for a specific group of ebuilds.
  • Portage — the official package manager and distribution system for Gentoo.
  • Portage tree - The historic title of the main ebuild repository for Gentoo. Now more of a colloquial reference.
  • Package Manager Specification — a standardization effort to ensure that the ebuild file format, the ebuild repository format (of which the Gentoo ebuild repository is the main incarnation), as well as behavior of the package managers interacting with these ebuilds is properly agreed upon and documented.
  • PMS — See Package Manager Specification.