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Gentoo Reviewed 438

An anonymous reader writes "Nick Petreley over at gives the uninitiated an excellent view of what the world of Gentoo is like."
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Gentoo Reviewed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:18PM (#5982257)
    [ N] net-www/first_post_0.23
  • And now another distro comes out to tempt me...back...back I say!

    Oh well, I'm treating my home machine with Linux installed as kinda that old car you're trying to cherry out, tinker with, adjusting the carb...things like that.

    I don't do this for a living, but hey, it keeps me off the streets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:24PM (#5982292)
    It lacks to the l33t factor. Either you're dealing with people who have no clue what Gentoo is, or you're dealing with people who will know what it is and laugh at you. That's why you have to pick a real distro like... Slackware. That makes your fellow geeks take notice and salute you.
    • That's why you have to pick a real distro like... Slackware. That makes your fellow geeks take notice and salute you.

      Except you wont notice that salute, because youll be too busy looking at man pages. I ran slack for three years - Gentoo is just superior in my opinion. Most software is available through the ports system. Some builds are buggy but get fixed quickly. Dependency checking is no longer a headache and all software installs in a "locked down" but still usable configuration. The forced optimi
      • by Rooktoven ( 263454 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @09:28PM (#5983262) Homepage
        Not that I mind using man pages, but I haven't been _too_ busy using them. Why would I for *installs anyhow? That's why one reads README and INSTALL and does ./configure --help. This goes for _any_ linux system where one compiles, unless you want someone to do it for you.

        Quite frankly, Slack packages usually install flawlessly and almost always very quickly. I'm willing to sacrifice a small percentage of speed for the convenience of getting my software (even the stuff I compile) installed quickly. I don't want to wait a day or two to try something.

        Slackware is aptly named; it's for people who want things to work simply and without a lot of effort. I've tried Gentoo and though some features are impressive, it tries my patience. I for one am sticking with Slack on my home box _and_ my servers at work.

        Your mileage may vary of course, just pointing out that Slack doesn't require a bigger investment of time (far less in fact) than Gentoo.

  • by revmoo ( 652952 ) <slashdot@m[ ].ws ['eep' in gap]> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:25PM (#5982301) Homepage Journal

    I've taken the plunge in the last week or so, and totally switched my system over to linux.

    I decided to go with gentoo, since one of the things that always annoyed me abour slackware(my second favorite distro) was the package management(or lack thereof), and just the overall annoying process of having to compile dependant packages by hand for every piece of software.

    The install process was grueling to say the least, it took me forever to get the kernel compiled properly(gentoo is rather picky about kernels), but once I got the system installed, and waited for kde to emerge, I was impressed to see that things "just worked". When I want a new program all I have to do is 'emerge program', and it is installed, no having to deal with dependancies or lenghty configuration processes

    In other words, the install takes forever, and does demand a fair bit of linux knowledge, but the process IS worth it, once you are finished. I find Gentoo to be quite user-friendly(though it may be picky who it's friends are :)), and I would definitly reccomend it to friends.

    • Debian? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SHEENmaster ( 581283 ) <travis@utk . e du> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:32PM (#5982354) Homepage Journal
      It also "just works", but without the long install process.

      Just out of curiousity, does emerger also upgrade? If I was upgrading MySQL, would I have to uninstall it first and live without it while recompiling? This sounds rather wasteful...
      • Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

        by handsomepete ( 561396 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:36PM (#5982381) Journal
        The original package is not unmerged until the new one installs successfully (i.e. if the install fails, you've still got the complete original version untouched). Even then, you can turn off the automatic 'cleaning' of packages and keep the old version until you feel like uninstalling it.
      • Re:Debian? (Score:5, Informative)

        by revmoo ( 652952 ) <slashdot@m[ ].ws ['eep' in gap]> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:39PM (#5982406) Homepage Journal

        Well, Debian is great for servers, I still would use debian for a production server, partially because it is so stable, partially because you don't have to wait for things to compile

        However, those who like to run bleeding-edge workstations, and customize their configurations like crazy are the ones that I think Gentoo is aimed at.

        • I run gentoo on servers as well, both at home (for fun) and at work (so I'd get fired if they hung). Two things mitigate the slow compiles: the ability to save tar.gz'd versions of the optimized compile, so that I only have to compile a given package once and then deploy it onto the other machines, and distcc - so that all the machines help with the compilation.

          distcc is particularly cool - I love compiling kde on my laptop with help from my 4 dell 2650s :)
        • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nathanh ( 1214 )

          However, those who like to run bleeding-edge workstations, and customize their configurations like crazy are the ones that I think Gentoo is aimed at.

          This used to be true; Debian focussed so heavily on stability that it trailed the bleeding edge by several years. But thanks to unofficial apt sources (which are now surprisingly common) it's possible for your servers to be stable and your desktops to be bleeding edge.

          For example, I'm an exclusive Debianite now running Evolution 1.2.4, Galeon 1.3.4, XF

      • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by intermodal ( 534361 )
        Debian may be fine for you, but I run into all sorts of conflicting dependencies and such whenever I try it, or the install things exit out before I intended to. It may be old hat to you, but it made me want to quit.

        Gentoo, on the other hand, while it takes some work, is simple to set up and doesn't have the same complexity to the install interface (because it lacks one).

        And to answer your question, emerge upgrades as well. You can simply type emerge [programname] or emerge -u [programname] to upgrade t
    • Same here, I've tried all the popular distros and Gentoo seems to just work. The compiler setup is great and compiles most things better than other distros I've tried. Debian is the only other distro I can tolerate using, but that has some minor compiler setup quirks sometimes (mainly location of some includes, symlinks fix that).

      The only downside with Gentoo is if you lose your system partition it takes ages to get the system going again.
      • by chriso11 ( 254041 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:49PM (#5982460) Journal
        You know, even though Gentoo is supposed to be a "geek" distribution, it does make a lot of things easier.

        For example, I could never compile my own kernel under SuSE. For some reason, I could never get it right. All I would get is a near-endless stream of agony out of the boot console, then the whole thing dying in a kernel panic. Not so in Gentoo. Gentoo makes it easy to get a new kernel going, and to try out different versions. When I want to use my Archos Jukebox - hey make sure you compile in IDS-200 support.

        However, I must stress Gentoo is not for everyone. Not everyone has time/interest in getting such a distribution going. But you certainly learn a lot more about what is going on in a linux machine.

        My boss always says "using a pc is like going to a movie to look at the projector". I guess that is why he uses a Mac...

        • I can't see how it makes it easier other than unpacking the code for you. But in the next release there will be some kind of script or tool to aid kernel configuration and installation.

          I've read of problems people have with compiling kernels on the Gentoo forums, I used to hang out there helping people a little a while back. There does appear to be a lot of less experienced users giving it a try despite it being aimed at more experienced Linux users.
        • For example, I could never compile my own kernel under SuSE. For some reason, I could never get it right. All I would get is a near-endless stream of agony out of the boot console, then the whole thing dying in a kernel panic. Not so in Gentoo. Gentoo makes it easy to get a new kernel going, and to try out different versions.

          I don't see how a distribution can alter the success or failure of kernel compiles. Either you compile in everything you need, or the thing panics. I doubt SuSE ships glibc or gcc ve
        • > You know, even though Gentoo is supposed to be a "geek" distribution, it does make a lot of things easier.

          Yeah, some things might be easier at the expense of other things being a total, horrible, mind-numbing pain-in-the-ass [].

          Perhaps I'm alone, but I wanted to try it. I usually give all the new distros a try. I'm no Linux genuis though (why should I have to be?)...

          I downloaded the 1.4rc3 (I think?) ISO and tried to boot from the CD. The damn thing wouldn't get past the inital boot process and f

    • Since when does it take quite a bit of linux knowledge? The only "hard" part is compiling a kernel. Everything else is outlined quite well in the install documentation; Just do what they tell you and you'll be fine.

      Hell, they even provide nano as your default editor (yecch) so you don't even have to know how to use vi in spite of the fact that there is no automated installer. (There should be, though. There's no reason why not.)

    • by Majix ( 139279 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:50PM (#5982471) Homepage
      When I want a new program all I have to do is 'emerge program', and it is installed, no having to deal with dependancies or lenghty configuration processes

      And how is this different from Red Hat or Debian when using apt? With apt for rpm or deb you don't have to spend a day compiling OpenOffice or Mozilla. And don't get me started on customized compilations... the performance increase is usually neglible, but you will never recover the time you spent compiling the software.

      You also end up with whatever crappy defaults the project maintainers have chosen, BigRedCursor theme in Xfree86 4.3 anyone? Gentoo also has no configuration tools of it's own, just because I've used and mastered samba and iptables for years doesn't mean I want to go editing files or writing complicated rules when my distro can (gasp) do it for me, meanwhile I can hopefully get some real work done.
      • I agree the benefits from optimized compiles are mostly negligible.
        The performance benefit comes from the linked libraries.

        Binary distributions have to link everything and the kitchen sink (sorry for stressing that old quip again) into their packages in order to satisfy a boad customer spectrum.

        Compiling from source keeps that configurable, and with gentoo's system it even becomes automated.
  • Granted, I can't tinker with Linux at work anymore (based on NDA/contract stuff), but I really enjoyed the opportunity to truly learn Linux with Gentoo rather than have my hand held like Mandrake does.

    If you're going to spend the time and effort to deal with Linux and try to learn it, you might as well go all-out rather than just learning how to install it.

    I personally recommend Debian or Gentoo if you want to learn more about operating systems, and I recommended Mandrake if you just want to use Linux (fo
    • Sure, it's not great if you need to get a lot of work done

      So what kind of work are you doing that you can't get done in Linux? Trying to find security holes in the OS or something?
    • Re:I loved Gentoo (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Surak ( 18578 ) * <surak AT mailblocks DOT com> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:34PM (#5982368) Homepage Journal
      Granted, I can't tinker with Linux at work anymore (based on NDA/contract stuff), but I really enjoyed the opportunity to truly learn Linux with Gentoo rather than have my hand held like Mandrake does.

      I agree. I was a former Mandrake user, and my first distro was Slackware, and even then I can tell you, Gentoo makes you learn everything... maybe not quite as much as LFS, but then again, installign Gentoo is actually not unlike installing LFS. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that Daniel Robbins based the whole project on LFS.

      Linux is just plain fun. Sure, it's not great if you need to get a lot of work done, but it's an amazing teaching tool if you want to truly learn computers.

      Yeah, I personally use two boxes -- one for tickering with Gentoo and one for production work on Gentoo. So that way I can do some good integration testing before going live with it. Using this system as worked out great for me, especially since the hardware is cheap enough.

    • Linux is just plain fun. Sure, it's not great if you need to get a lot of work done, but it's an amazing teaching tool if you want to truly learn computers.

      Not too sure how you come to this conclusion, unless its specifically related to your line of work.

      I personally use a Linux distro on my home computer, and the computer I use for business - I get a lot of work done. Through Crossover I successfully use MS Word (I prefer it over OpenOffice) and it's a great platform for manipulating our internal/external

  • by Surak ( 18578 ) * <surak AT mailblocks DOT com> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:27PM (#5982316) Homepage Journal
    I've been a happy Gentoo User for almost a year now, and I can tell you that on my machine 2-3 days is a more accurate time estimate. I just totally rebuilt my machine from scratch a couple of days ago and it took me about 3 days working on it part time to get it going. If I had more time to devote to it, I could have got it up and running in 1-2 days.

    One thing Pietrely (sp?) misses though: you need a high speed Internet connection to use Gentoo. If you're on dialup, Gentoo is gonna take a llllooonng time to complete the installation because, unless you're starting from a precompiled base system (GRP), you pretty much have to download everything -- from the kernel, GCC, bash, XFree, KDE, GNOME, whatever.

    Also of note, there's very little in the way of GUI admin tools -- no Linuxconf, no graphical init system editor. You'd better get to loving modifying everything with a text editor. For me this was no problem as I'm an oldskool Unix sysadmin. ;)

    Anyways, I love gentoo. Emerge ROCKS! No more dependency hell! And the system is FAST! Way to go Gentoo!
  • Review? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by munter ( 619803 )
    Hey, Respect to Nick Petreley, but the summary:

    "..First, there is a philosophical snootiness in its software design that makes things far less intuitive and friendly than they should be. Second, there is an adolescent snootiness developers often exhibit toward each other whenever a conflict arises.."

    Come ON! Give me a decent reason! You've not got a issue with some debian developers have you? Are you not engaging in "le games politic" yourself???

  • Novices. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BHearsum ( 325814 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:31PM (#5982346) Homepage
    You just won't find many novices installing it.

    Uhm...I think that's completely innaccurate. I would say that probably half of the people using Gentoo are novices, and that most of them installed it themselves. This is based on my experiences in #gentoo on freenode, and the forums. The documentation for installation, and other parts of the distro is excellent, which, in turn makes it a trivial issue for anyone to install it provided they aren't afraid of the command line, and can read.
    • Re:Novices. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JJahn ( 657100 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:43PM (#5982434)
      Indeed, Gentoo makes you learn what you are doing by installing and using linux, but at the same time provides documentation to guide you. Not sure why a previous poster thought Gentoo is picky about kernels, it details quite specifcally in the docs what you need to turn on (DevFS, which is handy on any linux system).

      Gentoo is not for everybody. Some people don't want to tinker with compile settings or kernel configurations at all. But for people who do, it just works. Rarely have I had a problem with an ebuild failing, and even then it was easy to fix. Besides the fact that dependencies are very very well handled.

    • Well, gee. Your experience with #gentoo and web forums now means you have the knowledge necessary to accurately describe half of all Gentoo users everywhere.
    • After installing Gentoo, after the first reboot, you know everything which is on your system, where, how and why.

      After installing Debian (and others), you don't even know the name of the tool you select packages with. Or the one to change your IP.
    • There's a pretty large gap between computer novices and Linux novices. A computer novice won't know what IRC is.
  • Love it! (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChiefArcher ( 1753 ) * on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:35PM (#5982379) Homepage Journal
    I love gentoo... I've been using it for about 6 months now...
    the best thing in the world is
    emerge sync
    emerge -up world
    The updates work.. Unlike upgrading from other distros...
    If gnome 2.4 came out tomorrow, emerge will have it.

    I don't think i can go back to any other distro now.

  • I know that every single statement on this list will be made at least once, so I decided to post it to get it all out the way now. Enjoy!

    Official Gentoo-Linux-Zealot translator-o-matic

    NetBSD rules! Anyway, Gentoo Linux is an interesting new distribution with some great features. Unfortunately, it has attracted a large number of clueless wannabes who absolutely MUST advocate Gentoo at every opportunity. Let's look at the language of these zealots, and find out what it really means...

    "Gentoo makes me s

  • by windows ( 452268 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:37PM (#5982392)
    I'm one of those people who insists on compiling everything myself and not using packages. I do this because I like to have some control over what options are used when compiling and that everything is optimized to run on my machine.

    Unfortunately, there's no consistent way to cleanly remove things that I compile. And keeping track of the dependencies is next to impossible to do. I don't like to clutter up my directories with files and directories that aren't needed anymore.

    I'm a big fan of the ports collection in any BSD because it solves both of those problems. Everything is compiled on my machine and later it's simple to cleanly remove stuff I'm no longer using.

    Gentoo also has a ports collection, which is why I chose it over other Linux distros. Debian is quite nice but I have yet to find a way to use some packages from stable, some from testing, and some from unstable, while still having everything getting along. I like almost everything else about Debian, but that's what frustrates me about it, and why I give Gentoo the nod.

    It would be nice, however, to have a more automated install process in Gentoo. I'd like to be able to choose being doing it myself and starting from any stage, or being able to use an automated install program like other distros have. I'm not asking for a lot, but just something as simple as Slackware's install program would be a nice touch.

    That being said, I use Gentoo, and I like it a lot. :)
    • I'm one of those people who insists on compiling everything myself and not using packages. I do this because I like to have some control over what options are used when compiling and that everything is optimized to run on my machine.

      Using a package manager and compiling everything yourself doesn't have to clash. Every package has a source package, just build those with whatever options you desire. You get all of the benefits of using an package manager, almost every file on the system can be accounted for

      • It's invaluable for maintining a consistent system when most programs don't even include an "make uninstall" target anymore.

        Uh, any source package that uses the GNU autoconf/automake system (read: probably 99% of them) have a built-in make uninstall target.

    • "I'm one of those people who insists on compiling everything myself and not using packages. I do this because I like to have some control over what options are used when compiling and that everything is optimized to run on my machine."

      Aside from the fact that many big packages (kernel, X11, etc) are available in CPU-optimized versions (i.e. i686, etc), I'm sure the time you spend modifying compile-time optimization flags is quickly regained by the milliseconds faster in which your computer runs.


    • Unfortunately, there's no consistent way to cleanly remove things that I compile. And keeping track of the dependencies is next to impossible to do. I don't like to clutter up my directories with files and directories that aren't needed anymore.

      Actually, on my Debian system, I have a mix .debs and stuff I've compiled myself, and my solution to the cruft problem is to use stow. I install all custom-compiled packages to /usr/local/packages/package-name, and then just enter the package directory and type

    • Having switched from Debian to Gentoo on my fastest machines (and one pretty slow one, relatively), I can definately say a couple things.

      1: Debian is really good for server admins who don't want to bother editing their config files a lot.

      2: Debian Stable, however, is not all it's cracked up to be.

      I switched a long-time Debian system (it started as Slink... then went to Potato... then to Woody) over to Gentoo because I encountered something that should never exist in a "stable" tree: A stable package depe
  • I started a new job where I was allowed to run Linux on my desktop at work. Great. I installed my old (server) standby, Debian. It was alright, but stable (which I use all all my Linux servers) was far too out of date for a desktop system and I had too many problems with unstable (and even it was behind Gentoo I later learned). I tried a few different distros and later settled on Gentoo.

    The installation process for Gentoo, as most people echo, is quite lenghty, but it's quite striaghtforward to anybody wh

  • by guile*fr ( 515485 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:45PM (#5982446)
    I've been a user of gentoo for some time now... overall its pretty good, init script dependencies, up to date software but there is a few points I dislike:
    • init script is broken. when you want to relaunch a service that died, it says the service is already launched. no big issue but still...
    • gcc is a fscking python script, everytime you compile a file you call python... and i wondered why xfree compilation took so long.
    • no cli to check options in ebuild scripts. read the script, edit /etc/make.conf, build
    • Your first point... You realize that you can "zap" services right? Example: /etc/init.d/apache zap would reset the init script so that you can start it up regularly. I figured that out first week using Gentoo and I'm no rocket scientist.
    • > init script is broken. when you want to relaunch a service that
      > died, it says the service is already launched.

      See the 'zap' option of the init files. /etc/init.d/ zap

      FYI, it's a problem in DJB's daemontools, not the init scripts.

      > gcc is a fscking python script

      bali@byblos ~ % which gcc /usr/bin/gcc
      bali@byblos ~ % file /usr/bin/gcc /usr/bin/gcc: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), for GNU/Linux 2.0.0, dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped

      Some Python script, is
    • Do not get me started on documentation either. All the docs are only for the 1.4rc.

      The rc is quite bleeding edge and flaky. Compiling does take awhile longer compared to FreeBSD ports because of python.

      Gentoo is great for goofing around but is too bleeding edge for my taste. Freebsd is cool because it comes conservative out of the box but ports for newer versions of gcc, kde, perl, and java are installed if you ever want to upgrade.

  • by Speed Racer ( 9074 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:47PM (#5982454)
    This is a very timely article for me. My wife's computer died (one of the infamous IBM 75GXP drives) a few weeks ago. I didn't have any time to work on it before now so I set her up with Knoppix 3.2 in the interim so she could e-mail and surf. As a side note, Knoppix is a life saver. I'm very impressed with it and I'll always have a copy of the latest release burned and ready to go in an emergency.

    Getting back to the story, this morning I asked her what she thought about the "Linux" software she's been using since the crash and she said it's been fine. Of course, she's only been using Evolution and Mozilla AFAIK so that's to be expected. I suggested installing Linux on her machine for good and she said "sure, why not".

    I've used Gentoo for a little bit and I'm pretty sure that's the route I want to go. I just finished burning the 1.4RC4 CD and I'm gearing up to install Gentoo this evening and I'm wondering what others do when less computer literate family members start using Linux. Any tips or experiences would be appreciated.
  • Go Gentoo! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digicosm2 ( 672998 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:51PM (#5982483)
    Whoo hoo!

    I've been using Gentoo for a few months and absolutely love it. Once you run the gauntlet of installation a few times and get used to where things are setup in the system, then it's smooth sailing from then out.

    But I think the best feature of Gentoo has nothing to do with the distribution. It's the legions of enormously helpful folks who hang out on the Gentoo Message Board []. These folks sacrifice their time to answer all kinds of questions about the distribution. Moreover, they are all polite! It's the most unique thing I've ever seen on the Internet...

    I hope that Gentoo becomes more popular, but I also hope that this doesn't disrupt the stellar community behind it as well. Time will tell.

  • Ignorance is bliss. (Score:4, Informative)

    by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:51PM (#5982484)
    If you want to run ntpd at boot time by default, you would issue the command rc-update add ntpd default. This puts a link to the ntpd startup script in the directory /etc/ runlevels/default. Notice also that this is not the traditional Unix SysV path for runlevel scripts (one fewer reason for SCO to think it can sue the Gentoo folks, I guess).

    SCO's startup script directories suck, IMHO. I honestly don't see the advantage of filling the filesystem up with all kinds of garbage a la SCO when a simple text file containing a few configuration options will suffice just fine.

    Since I will likely get modded down for talking such blasphemy on this screwed up init system anyway, I may as well go ahead and say that FreeBSD's system is really cool. The defaults are read from /etc/defaults/rc.conf and then your overriding settings are read from /etc/rc.conf... As far as all these useless runmodes are concerned... On FreeBSD, the system starts up in Single User mode and then immediately switches to Multi User mode. These are the only two modes that I could ever conceive uses for. I don't understand why all these Linux distros give you 10 different runmodes, of which only one or two are ever used, with five or so of them being used solely for different types of shutdowns and restarts, and in fact, one of the first things I do on any Linux distro is blow all those excessive modes off. Either this machine uses XFree or it doesn't... it's not that hard to start from the command line if you don't ALWAYS use it. Oh, well... Maybe I'm just an ignorant fsck.

    • by Majix ( 139279 )
      The Big Idea behind the SysV init style is that you use tools to administer it. Sure you could do it all manually, but why would you want to? All the symlinking of scripts to runlevels is done automatically for you, as a benefit it is easy to build very complex post install configuration scripts of server software installations.

      A init script in Gentoo is little more than a wrapper to call some binary. Even the status checking seems to fail ever so often in my experience. Compare this with an Red Hat style
    • The number 1 advantage of SysV init:

      /etc/init.d/sendmail stop

      And sendmail will stop. No remembering obscure syntax. No weird rules. All of it (should) be encoded in that script.

      The problem with traditional BSD init files is that it is deeply challenging to add/remove the code to start/stop a package because it has to insert code into a single script. If there's an out-er 'if' statement that the code doesn't expect, the program might not start. Well, it's somewhat easy to add. It's almost imposible

  • Gentoo Topic Icon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zerOnIne ( 128186 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:53PM (#5982491) Homepage
    I'd say it's about time for a Gentoo topic icon. We've been seeing a fair bit of press about this distribution lately (on here anyway). It has a very active developer and user community, and doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. I mean, if we've got a bunch of different icons for other distributions (including a bunch that no longer exist), why not Gentoo? For fairness, I'm still a Debian user, but I think they deserve a fair shake here now.
  • To each his own (Score:5, Informative)

    by infiniti99 ( 219973 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @06:58PM (#5982516) Homepage
    Gentoo really requires a speedy system if you want to have any fun, as you'll spend so much time compiling things. I have Gentoo on my desktop here, and it is great. I used to use Slackware, and this is definitely an upgrade. Well, for me at least. The great thing about Linux is that there is a distro for everyone, no such thing as 'best'. ;-)

    However, on my laptop, which is about half the speed, I use Debian. While Debian has been around for a long time, I only recently tried it, some six months after I discovered Gentoo. I'm very impressed by it, apt-get is as good as emerge as far as I can tell, but without any compilation to wait for. I had a full system, KDE and all, up in just a few hours instead of days.

    If you use Gentoo and a friend says to you, "oh you need program X", throw your instant gratification out the window. By the time you have program X, your friend will be asleep, and you'll have to coordinate another day.

    I still recommend Gentoo, but I think Debian is probably a better choice if you want easy software installation. Of course, neither of these distros is very user friendly. Setting up Gentoo is almost like LFS, and Debian is sorta like Slack. Give your mom SuSE.
    • Well actually the vast majority of apps take less than 5 minutes to install. Only the big ticket items like X, KDE, Gnome, Mozilla, OpenOffice, and a few others actually take any time to install.

      Most of the time when i want an app in another distro i still have to gather all the dependencies and sometimes still compile them.

      With gentoo I simply type emerge, and usually within a minute or two its all done.
  • I first installed gentoo last november and I loved it after the initial hell of installation. However one day a power outage corrupted the drives in both of my machines and I went to suse 8.1 on one machine and put win2000 back on the other.
    kde crashed almost daily so I removed suse and put gentoo back on that box. Everything was great and I decided to ditch win2000 for gentoo.

    The install was hell as always and things went fine untill I tried to get alsa support for my sbLive going. I fought with i
  • How well does Gentoo work on the same system with other distros? I'd like to try it in its own partition to see if I like it, but I don't want to mess with the partitioning scheme, and my system is running GRUB because Mandrake wanted that - is it easy to add a Gentoo along with that? (It's easy with LILO, but I confess I haven't spent enough time messing with GRUB to be comfortable with it.) And of course it *can't* mess with any of the Windoze partitions, because they've got my tax software and backups
  • Longtime Gentoo user (Score:5, Informative)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:09PM (#5982584)
    I've been using Gentoo since 1.0-RC3. I switched my whole system completely over to Gentoo about a year ago, and haven't looked back since. Here are the top reasons I like Gentoo:

    1) Community support. The Gentoo community is absolutely awesome. is a one stop shop for any problem you might have. To this day, I have yet to encounter a problem I couldn't fix by a quick trip to the forums.

    2) Excellent documentation. Everything is very verbose, and the most thinking you have to do is substitute devices names and the like for the appropriate values for your system. Previous Linux distributions I have used (and I've been using Linux since Slack 3.5) almost always required you to deviate a little from the written instructions, but this almost never happens with the Gentoo docs.

    3) Great package management system. It easy for anybody that knows a bit of sh to write their own package build scripts (.ebuilds). As a result, the forums are full of ebuilds for the latest software. Thing of as "0-day Linux Warez." Also, the ease of writing your own packages means you rarely have to bypass the package manager, since it's almost as easy to write your own ebuild (or, more often, edit an existing ebuild) as it is to compile the software manually.

    4) Thoughtful extras. The NVIDIA Linux kernel drivers autodetect your kernel, and apply the appropriate patches if you're doing something like running a development kernel. It's these little tidbits that just makes life

    5) Great configuration system. The init system makes sense. All environment variables are in files in the directory env.d. All module aliases are in seperate files in modules.d. All configuration parameters are in conf.d. Also, great utilities like etc-update for managing configuration files and whatnot.

    PS> Note that nowhere in the top 5 is any reference to optimization. I use Gentoo not to be 1337, but because, after an initial investment in installation time, I ultimately get a very low maintenence, customizable, and flexible machine. So you anti-Gentoo trolls can just fuck off.
  • by YokuYakuYoukai ( 570645 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:11PM (#5982599)
    Gentoo has one of the best linux communities ive ever seen. I've only experanced the gentoo forums and the #gentoo on efnet but both are full of cool tricks and helpful people. Its simply amazing to find a community of friendly, inteligent and knowledgeable people like this on the internet. It must be some kind of shock and awe type campain.
  • Excellent view? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omega_cubed ( 219519 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:14PM (#5982617) Journal
    Isn't 1900 words a tadbit short for an "excellent view" of Gentoo linux?

    Personally, I don't think the article did a fair job describing the Gentoo philosophy. Having widely sampled flavors of linux and bsd, I found the installation process to be most similar to that of OpenBSD. It is commandline all the way. Which is good for me, because I don't really go for the eyecandies of a GUI installation (they make me dizzy). And after the basic install, what you get is much similar to the base system you get after the openbsd install: a system that boots, can access the network, with some simple tools.

    I think the main reason Gentoo won me over was the portage system. After having used the BSD ports system, I found the concept very pleasurable. the gentoo emerge is truly wonderful, it solves the dependency issue with source compiles automatically, while still allowing the control over compilation options.

    A note about the compilation time though. Whereas a typical compile of KDE or GNOME would take forever (a whole day and some on my P4 2Ghz), Gentoo recently started the Gentoo Refernce Platform, with certain packages offered in binary form. Mostly the packages that would take a long time to compile.

    Also on the analogy to Debian's stable v. unstable versions, I don't think the article was quite correct in saying that Gentoo has "one branch". By using the "~ARCH" keyword in the configuration, Gentoo allows the using to emerge from packages still in testing, not unlike Debian's unstable branch. There were quite a few packages that were only available in the unstable branch (until recently), one example that I remember is bittorrent. And for many packages present in the stable branch, the unstable branch is, as its name suggests, a few releases more up to date.

    And I don't think Gentoo was a release "designed for geeks only". The forums often give wonderful aid to newbs, and the documentation pretty much let you do everything with a step by step instruction if you so choose. As for the complaint about etc-update, personally I found the software very self-explanatory, and it is basically just a script that searches the directories for updates to config files and offer you the option of running sdiff on the old and the new (which, incidentally, I've been doing for 5 months by hand before discovering etc-update).

    The only complaint, after running Gentoo for 7 months, is the occasionally lack of packages. But given that it is a relatively new distro, it really isn't all that surprising that some items that I would find helpful do not come in nice little ebuild scripts. I guess I could go and contribute by writing my own...

    But all in all, I think that to truly appreciate/understand the experience, the only way is to install Gentoo yourself and try it out.

  • bwalaa (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Official Gentoo-Linux-Zealot translator-o-matic

    Gentoo Linux is an interesting new distribution with some great features. Unfortunately, it has attracted a large number of clueless wannabes and leprotards who absolutely MUST advocate Gentoo at every opportunity. Let's look at the language of these zealots, and find out what it really means...

    "Gentoo makes me so much more productive."
    "Although I can't use the box at the moment because it's compiling something, as it wil

  • Modem install (Score:2, Informative)

    by justrob ( 445616 )
    I've noticed a few comments advising people not to try Gentoo if you don't have a high speed internet connection.

    If you already have an existing Linux distribution
    installed, you'll have no problem installing Gentoo on another partition, even with a modem.

    I was running Red Hat and downloaded the stage tarball, did a chroot on an empty partition and had my system downloading and compiling in the background.

    Yeah, it took a long time but it was worth it. I started with Slackware then switched to Red Hat and
  • by kingLatency ( 624983 ) <{alex.kahn} {at} {}> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:45PM (#5982762) Homepage
    I felt that review was incomplete and rather poorly written. In addition, it spoke too broadly and not about the specific features that make Gentoo appealing. And frankly, I don't care that he had to switch his motherboard or that he needed a special patch for his graphics card. But we all know the old saying: any publicity is good publicity, not to mention this was a positive review. So, it's good to see some publicity on Gentoo (it's quite a good distribution) but that article stank. :D
  • carmack likes it too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Muhammed Absol ( 670439 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:50PM (#5982791)
    On second day of E3 a few of us managed to catch john carmack walking around the booths and when I got a chance to ask him about hi views on where linux is going, and if its more feasible as a desktop these days, he said something like "we've got a few boxes setup with gentoo at the office, and we're going to have ebuilds for doom 3 as well as rpms." He also said he favors the portage system and would like more time to reevaluate modern linux desktops.
  • What did Gentoo Do? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jefu ( 53450 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @07:55PM (#5982815) Homepage Journal
    I installed gentoo a while back and really liked it. A lot. It took a while to get it installed and I had to work out how to do quite a few things.

    But now that machine runs redhat......


    Because one day I wanted a new version of something and did the usual gentoo "emerge -pretend" to find out what was going to be updated and it was only the package I wanted and a couple other things. Cool.

    But in the meantime I'd made and eaten supper and when I did the "emerge" for real, suddenly I discovered it was suddenly "emerging" a whole bunch of packages. Including glibc and kdebase and who knows what else.

    Worse yet, the emerge failed partway along and I suddenly discovered that because it had changed glibc that suddenly a bunch of stuff did not work any more. Including nice things like "find".

    And emerge itself.

    I spent about a day trying to fix this and concluded it was going to take a complete reinstall of gentoo - but I had redhat on cd so just went with that.

    Since then I've found myself wanting to go back to gentoo a couple of times. And I think I will in a bit - but not until I have the inner strength.

    But what was the biggest draw of gentoo? If a package had been ported to gentoo, "emerge package" would install it. And (lacking the need to completely reinstall glibc and kdebase and....) it would almost invariably work the first time and work well. Neither debian nor redhat (with its rpm hell - "You are stuck in a maze of twisty little developer rpms - all alike - but incompatible") have ever managed to do it quite that well.

    Hmmm, maybe tomorrow will be a good time to install gentoo again....

  • by LMCBoy ( 185365 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @08:08PM (#5982879) Homepage Journal
    Gentoo has a great community. The forums are a great place to ask any question, and the people who reply are generally courteous and well-informed. There is virtually no newbie-bashing, and never a cry of "RTFM!" (about the closest you'll get is a link to an existing post or FAQ with a polite suggestion that you avail yourself of the search button next time :)

    Anyway, yes Gentoo is leet and emerge kicks ass, but I think the Gentoo forums are another of its great strengths. Indeed, because of the forums I question the conventional wisdom that Gentoo is only a good choice for the uber-Geek crowd. There are plenty of newbies on the forums, and they seem to get up to speed rather nicely.

    Oh, and "Go Gentoo!!!" or some junk...
  • he was asking about linux at work, so I showed him things on my gentoo system. I keept trying to steer him towards Redhat, since he's not already a linux geek, but the more he saw of emerge and portage, the happier he was. he ended up leaving with a copy of the iso, the url to on a postit, and a gleam in his eye
  • Package granularity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vanza ( 125693 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @08:30PM (#5983011)
    Gentoo has drawn my attention when I first heard of it (it kinda reminds me of the time when I used to use Slackware and compiled everything myself from tarballs), but I don't think I have the time to invest on it... but I've read some of the documentation, and I couldn't find anything about how to control the granularity of the packages.

    What I mean is: let's say you're installing KDE and you "emerge" kdeutils. There are lots of applications in that package, but let's say that I only want konsole and a couple of others. Is there an easy way to specify that?

    I know that other distros (RedHat, at least) aren't much better in that area, but I use Conectiva at home, and it has a very fine grained package setup. That's one of the things I like about it (aside from the fact that it has a few tweaks that makes it better to use with Brazilian Portuguese).

    For instance, I can install only konsole, and only konsole's documentation in Brazilian portuguese. Each single application has its own package and its own documentation packages (one for each language for which it's available). I think that's very cool. Add that to the fact that apt is the standard package manager, and it's a very pleasant system to maintain.

    "rpm -qa | grep konsole" brings up:
    kde-i18n-fr-docs-kdebase-konsole-3.1.1-26675c l

    So, back to the question: is it possible to do something like that with Gentoo?
    • DO_NOT_COMPILE (Score:3, Informative)

      by Praxxus ( 19048 )
      It looks like people use a combination of "emerge inject category/package" and the "DO_NOT_COMPILE" flag to customize their KDE installations.

      For example, say you don't want kdeedu when you go to install KDE 3.1.1:

      emerge inject kdebase/kdeedu-3.1.1

      Then Portage thinks "kdeedu" is already installed, so it won't compile/install it when you "emerge kde."

      For further "granularity" within the different KDE groups, you can do something like:

      DO_NOT_COMPILE="knode ksirc kppp korn" emerge kdenetwork. Then, as y
  • by Zigg ( 64962 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @08:46PM (#5983071)

    You forgot

    1. Buy the koolaid and sugar and dump into pitcher.
    2. Turn on the faucet and wait for it to fill. Normally this would be a short process, except your water is distilled-on-demand. (You like your water as pure as possible.)
    3. Wait some more.
    4. Still waiting. Take the dog for a walk.
    5. Wait wait wait. Need some sleep, or else you'll sleep through your morning commute tomorrow.
    6. Whoops! You fell asleep, and your pitcher overflowed. You must start over. So, start over.
    7. Twiddle thumbs.
    8. Pitcher falls over due to a freak gust of wind through the open window in your kitchen, and shatters. Sigh, find new pitcher, star over.
    9. (More waiting steps, which I'll spare you.)
    10. Ah, it's done! Brag to all your friends that you have the purest koolaid in town.
    11. Drink the koolaid.
    12. Discover you need new koolaid in order to continue drinking it. Go to step 1.

    Thanks, I'll keep my Debian. :-)

  • Gentoo and Debian (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @09:48PM (#5983342) Homepage
    I think they're the two best distributions, and should complement each other. Debian is great for the server, it's solid and works as it should. That's why it's still on my server.

    Gentoo, on the other hand, will give you the latest stuff without problems. You won't have dependency problems like you can have on Debian due to strange package mixes. When you install stuff from 5 unofficial sources you end running into trouble sooner or later.

    Oh, and here's a hint if you're thinking about upgrading your hardware and installing Gentoo. Get a dual CPU motherboard. It's not *that* expensive, and it more than compensates the increased cost with great stability and smoothness. I have a dual Athlon MP 2000+ and don't notice that the system is compiling at all. And KDE emerges in about 4 hours.
  • by krmt ( 91422 ) <therefrmhere&yahoo,com> on Sunday May 18, 2003 @01:57AM (#5984321) Homepage
    Around Christmas, there was a big thread on the Debian-devel mailing list titled "Are we losing users to Gentoo?". I went back and re-read it last night, and I came across an interesting point. Debian developers were toying with the idea of officially supporting custom compilation options in the various package building tools out there (apt-src, apt-build). One point that came up was that when you're trying to build a stable software platform, you've got to be able to debug. In order to do so, you've got to have reproducible bugs. With all the custom compilation options, how can you hope to reproduce the bugs if everyone is customizing the hell out of their binaries? I see a lot of posts about how great emerge is, but my question to the gentoo users out there is how often do you actually use custom options on your compilations? Do you really pass a lot of specific flags to different compilations, or do you just do a ton of generic emerge's? I can't help but wonder if a lot of the people who say gentoo is really stable just aren't using that much of the real customization options that it offers over apt.

    I actually tried to scan the bugzilla database for gentoo last night too, to see if this kind of effect would be prevelant, but I don't know bugzilla well enough to really look through it. Do bugs like this pop up, and if so, do they usually get resolved?
  • Gentoo vs. Debian (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krmt ( 91422 ) <therefrmhere&yahoo,com> on Sunday May 18, 2003 @02:02AM (#5984333) Homepage
    I see gentoo as being very fast moving right now, and still small compared to Debian. Once they reach the peak of their growth curve as Debian seems to have, they're going to run in to the same sorts of problems that Debian has had to face.

    Debian spends a lot of time making incremental improvements to the distro. Find bugs and fix them, move on. Find more bugs and fix them. Rewrite the installer because it's buggy. Rework the package classification system because it's gotten unwieldy. These are exciting things that are going on in Debian that might not be innovative or exciting enough for Larry the Cow, but then again, real innovation requires a lot of unglamorous grunt work.

    It'll also be interesting to see if the userbase for gentoo remains as friendly as they are reputed to be. Most small projects are friendly because everyone is of like mind, but once it grows beyond a certain bounds, things can get tense. Debian has, unfortunately, suffered from this, although it varies. The debian-user mailing list tends to be very friendly and useful, and the IRC channel can be as well, depending on who is in it at the time. I honestly hope having gentoo get some of the spotlight from Debian will cause some positive change in Debian. Gentoo obviously was heavily inspired by Debian (Social Contract) and it'll be interesting to see how both distros influence each other as they develop.

    I'm hoping we wind up with plenty of killer geek distros personally, and I hope I'm not the only one.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry