However I still have a feeling there is a lack of leadership in the Gentoo community. Community needs individuals with ideas, and because the way communities work at the moment I mean individuals who have ideas and make them reality. This is how I think of Gentoo, vision of technically advanced Linux distribution with features not seen anywhere else that became true.
Whether lack of leadership is the source of small innovation in gentoo recently I do not know. But as long as I know Gentoo it did not changed very much (that is not necessarily anything wrong). There is excellent idea of ports (borrowed from other OS), super package manager "emerge", technically one of the best distros out there. One would say THE distro.
But others have their point as well, Fedora being sandbox for RedHat (in good way of course), Ubuntu focusing on end users and laptops, Novell playing corporate games and many others.
As a user I feel there is no clear vision of where is Gentoo going to. "Meta" does not tell me much.
My two cents here would be:
Make servers the prime arena for Gentoo and get in touch with some big company. Aim for Google for example. This would bring commercial support. Many times I see enthusiastic admins running gentoo on a spare desktop box, leaving the big and interesting hardware for RedHat, Novell, and other players with "support" sticker included. I'm not aware of any commercial company providing large scale support for Gentoo linuxes. I wish LSB was more widely supported by every player in the field. Now we have every other Linux company tinkering with MS instead of pulling one string!
To do that several things need to be done
- create package format specification (yet keep emerge as a reference implementation), this will lead to faster development of other packaging systems (faster, with better features) that can eventually replace emerge in some time
- finish support for handling binary packages and different USE flags. as far as I know currently broken
- create tools for managing vast amount of servers (different profiles compiled on one box,...), as Jonathan Shwartz says "The Network is the Computer"
- support virtualization
- perhaps run emerge as a daemon, machineXX will ask builder machine (emerge daemon running there) : "hey I'm using this profile and I would like to install Apache with those USE flags" and get the binary packages from the builder. But I think there is a long way to get there.