Fangorn runs GNU/Linux since spring 1992, which is longer than the common GNU/Linux "distributions" exist. For that reason, all software is installed manually, not using an off-the-shelf distribution, that puts a mostly ugly layer between the admin and the source. It has never been neccesary to reinstall GNU/Linux from scratch since the initial installation, because upgrading all software packages worked fine since the beginning. An exchange of a motherboard or a harddrive can certainly be done without reinstalling the whole system.
Unfortunately, Linux shows a movement towards "works for me". By adding complexity and dependencies all the time, projects react very sensible to all changes in the build environment, but the authors don't care. Instead they refer to distributions for working software, and distributions often contain different modifications. It almost looks like that is intended - finally a field of competition. That's no longer the spirit of free software for everybody.
The devfs replacement udev lacks some of its functionality, like /dev/root and accessing disks specified by target, no matter how many lower targets exist, before checking the root filesystem in an easy way. Worse: The previous device naming standard is gone, too. Now each distribution names devices in their own way. Worst: Different udev versions are incompatible, making upgrades a nightmare and devices are called different in the kernel and in userspace.
Trying to compile glibc for i586, the build process fails with missing functions. The problem persists since a couple years now, reappearing every now and then, but the maintainer says "if it does not work for you, use a distribution and do not complain.". Mailinglist archives give the required patches, if you search long enough.
The raidtools are deprecated. Instead of "raidstart /dev/md/3", you need "mdadm --assemble /dev/md/3 /dev/md/0 /dev/md/1 /dev/md/2" now. Has it been too easy so far?
Software RAID performs real bad. Comparing a RAID0 group with 4 MB stripes from RAID1 pairs against a linear RAID built from RAID1 pairs shows how the RAID0 splits transactions in pieces of a few KB each. Nobody cares.
The Intel e1000 driver offloads checksum calculation to the hardware. Unfortunately, packets get corrupted every now and then, which can be fixed by disabling that option. Reports about that reach a couple years back, yet the default stays as it is, as nobody cares.
Everybody's favourite: Since somewhere in the 2.6 series, CD recording does not work with USB recorders. As usual, the web is full of people complaining, and as usual, nobody cares.
Although a big fuzz is made about numbering kernels, release candidates and the like, there is no test suite and no QA. Kernel 2.6.39 completely broke the floppy driver. So what, after the release is before the release, right?
To me, it looks like the fun party is mostly over. What used to be a lightweight and stable OS is getting fat and buggy. Check out the penguin shit blog (in German) to see why penguins fall on their fat belly so often. While the various BSD forks (NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD etc.) focus on different technical goals, the Linux distributions (Debian, Gentoo, Redhat etc.) focus on different political goals. All in all, time to look for something new than just using Linux from scratch.
These links are the official URLs for the installed software (unless I could only find a mirror), listed for administrators of similar sites, who compile everything from original source instead of using "packages".accounting utils