Eix: enhancing the Gentoo experience

Everyone knows that if you want to search for a package in Gentoo portage, emerge -s is a real PITA, because is so slooooooooow.
The solution is named Eix, and you can install it with a simple

emerge eix

and, after the package has been emerged, issue a


to sync EIX DB with portage or even a


to automatically do an emerge --sync && eix-sync

Now, you can do your search with a simple

eix $pattern

and it will be lightning-fast! eix –help for a load of neat options :)


8 thoughts on “Eix: enhancing the Gentoo experience

  1. It’s a lot faster, but not by much.

    gentoox css # time emerge -s apache >/dev/null

    real 0m1.058s
    user 0m0.940s
    sys 0m0.104s
    gentoox css # time eix apache >/dev/null

    real 0m0.051s
    user 0m0.040s
    sys 0m0.000s

  2. Your emerge seems really fast :P because this is what I get on my desktop system:

    time emerge -s apache > /dev/null

    real 0m19.920s
    user 0m1.512s
    sys 0m0.364s

    time eix apache > /dev/null

    real 0m0.255s
    user 0m0.040s
    sys 0m0.008s

    Pay attention, this is a FIRST run, as it should be. In a benchmark like this it’s the first run that matters, cause we are benchmarking a program, not a platform.
    Starting from the 2nd run my numbers are very close to yours, but if I change the query, here we are again, with eix blasting emerge.

  3. Yeah, emerge with its directory-based search system is heavily I/O bound… so eix is generally better because it’s using hashes (I suppose)

  4. Hi ..

    I have to disappoint you, we don’t use hashes.

    eix only reads the binary cache generated by update-eix. That cache is a list of tightly packed binary records. Every record holds the (reduced, we don’t store everything) data for one package.

    When eix searches, it only reads and interprets as much of a record as it needs to determine if it matches. If a record doesn’t match, we skip the rest of the record and continue with the next.
    You can see that this brings us some performance if you compare “eix -H eix” with “eix -s eix”. “-H” will search the “homepage”-field, which is one of the last fields inside a record. OTOH, “-s” just checks the name, which is the first field. [1]

    Also, our cache is a relatively small file that has _probably_ no or very little fragmentation in comparison to the cache directories of portage. For example, update-eix uses those directories and you know that update-eix takes a whole lot more time than eix.

    You should also note that portage does more work. It actually checks that validity of its cache. So if you change a ebuild, portage will catch that and show you the correct information. eix would show you the obsolete information.

    HTH, Emil

    [1] The order of the fields inside a record can be seen here: https://projects.gentooexperimental.org/eix/browser/trunk/src/database/package_reader.cc?rev=504#L20

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