Let me see...
Mar 22, 2004
8:59 AM EDT
|You actually *loved* an installation process that involves creating fstab and grub.conf by hand?
Can I be skeptical about it? ;-)
Also: Sure. You can install binaries. But then what's the difference between Gentoo and other distros, except Gentoo is harder?
When you read gentoo fanboys write about it, they always go on how it's "optimized" and how compiling in the background doesn't make it slow (yeah, right)... if you are going to install binaries, what's the point?
Mar 22, 2004
9:04 AM EDT
|Either you get it, or you don't. :-) If reading my review doesn't whet your appetite for this distribution, then you're not going to enjoy it and you'd be wasting your time.
If, however, a distribution that gives nearly 100% of the control into your own hands interests you, then perhaps you ought to give it a try.
Optimization is cool and all, but I prefer the power. It's easily the easiest installation I've ever performed, despite its apparent complexity.
Remember: GUI != Easy.
Mar 22, 2004
8:06 PM EDT
|Dave, you're so right. Either you "get it" or you don't. I love gentoo, and it has to do with personal power. I love it because _I_ am in total control of what gets installed when and where and how. _I_ make the decisions about the operating system. This is not about installing "just another distro of Linux." This is about being empowered to install as I see fit. I start with a clean slate (clean hard drive) and set up the partitions, then the file system, then the applications necessary to make things work. For me it was not about just installing an open source alternative to Windows. It was about learning exactly what makes an operating system work - why certain files are needed, what they do and how. If all you want to do is fiddle with some windows on a desktop and click click click then Gentoo is not for you. But if you, like me, get a giddy feeling in the pit of your stomach after compiling every component of your brand new operating system entirely from millions of lines of source code, and your breath quickens when you boot up a complete operating system that you built from scratch, then Gentoo is for you. Put a different way: there are those who buy homes and there are those who build homes. The end result is a home but the difference is how it got here and WHY.|
Mar 22, 2004
9:32 PM EDT
I love gentoo as well... I tried Gentoo to get away from RPM hell. I'm not sure if it's faster and quite frankly I don't care. I like Gentoo because I've edited the config files and I know that nothing is going to break on me.
Mar 23, 2004
5:59 AM EDT
|I believe the greatest strength of Gentoo may lie on all those non-Intel architectures still around, and when you don't want for some reason switch to FreeBSD (or NetBSD or OpenBSD or...). As far as Alpha is concerned, it is probably the only way of getting a current and up-to-date Linux distribution running on them....
All the best, Novico
Mar 23, 2004
6:38 AM EDT
|Honestly, I think you guys live in a parallel dimension from my own.
Not that I tthink it's a bad dimension or anything, but, it's bizarro world for me :-)
Honestly, no, my breath doesn't quicken at all because the distro was compiled by me, not one bit. And no, absolute control is no big deal for me.
Computers are tools for me. Cool tools, but tools.
Besides, you know you *can* edit fstab and grub.conf while installing Red Hat or whatever, right? You don't *have* to, but you can (just switch to the terminal after installation ends, go to /mnt/sysimage and edit at will).
And you *can* recompile all your packages on any distro. But you don't have to. I know, on Gentoo you don't either. Then what's the difference?
I want the computer to do things for me, not I do things for her!
I know exactly how my operating system works. That doesn't mean I have to do each and every thing that is necessary for it to work. That's a waste of my time, because a tool can do it just as well. That's what computers were invented for!
In fact, I think all the arguments given in this thread are bizarre, and they make no sense to me. I am sure they make sense to you guys, but I suppose, indeed, I don't get it. I have a nagging feeling *you* don't get it, though ;-)
On another note, I find the comment about how gentoo users are "builders" while users of other distros are "buyers" amusing, and sad.
Amusing because gentoo "builders" using recipes to build stuff, are as blind as anyone to what happens. They have a (IMHO) false feeling of knowledge. They don't learn, they just do.
And sad, because that false feeling of learning is about learning something that is pretty useless. Sure, you can create fstab from scratch. you can create grub.conf from scratch. You can tell your system to recompile itself.
What's the PURPOSE????
That's what I don't get. If you just get fun from it, I suppose it's a worthy cause, but don't pretend that you are doing anything useful. You are playing with your system.
I want to use it for something else. Not for the system's sake.
Mar 23, 2004
6:52 AM EDT
|That's not really the point, ralsina. With Gentoo, you really *must* learn about how the system works. If you don't, you'll have many problems. Especially if you want to do stuff on a laptop, like CPUFreq, ACPI, etc. I found working with Gentoo that my understanding of my system increased significantly.
If you don't want to understand your system, then use Fedora or SuSE. I still use SuSE on my server, and for the quick and easy, I love it. But I wanted to learn more, so I took on Gentoo. There have been times I was very tempted to ditch it and install SuSE, but in the end, I got what I wanted.
So, the purpose with Gentoo is to understand more about your computer and how it works, optimizing it along with way. If you don't want to do that, then you should use another distro. All distros have their niche.
Mar 23, 2004
8:58 AM EDT
|tizzyd: Again, you can learn that using any distro. The ACPI and CPUFreq software used in Gentoo is the same as in every other Linux distribution.
I am getting from your post the idea that things like that, in Gentoo, don't work until you learn about them. And that you like Gentoo because it made you learn about them.
Call me crazy, but if you really wanted to learn about that stuff, you can do it just as well on any other distribution. So that's not really a very reasonable pro-gentoo point.
I mean, it sounds like "stuff does't work on gentoo, so you leanr how to fix it, and that's good". That's weird to me.
Mar 23, 2004
12:25 PM EDT
|ralsina: I have used mandrake, slackware, debian, and I recently installed gentoo. I agree with you about learning how the distros work, I learned how a distro worked using mandrake. They all have the same software. However, conditional dependencies through USE flags is what sets gentoo apart from the rest. With mandrake, when you install a package all of that package's dependencies get installed as well, but the creators of the package decided what the dependencies should be. With gentoo, you have the option of deciding what optional dependencies you want to have automatically installed. This is about the only thing I see as an advantage over debian unstable. If you can do something similar with another distro please let me know. I don't really see the compilation as a big deal because I don't take advantage of it (I don't really try out compiler flags), but others might.|
Mar 23, 2004
2:47 PM EDT
|I've spent about 30 hours installing and using Gentoo on two machines and currently don't use it on either. I absolutely love several aspects of Gentoo but there are currently way too many problems one needs to solve just to get stable desktop going.
I love emerge, USE flags, the innovative init system, and the ability to use bleeding edge applications.
The reason I don't actively use Gentoo is that compiling from source is very fragile. To get KDE going from source, one needs to ebuild over 100 packages and several of the ebuilds will fail to compile. You then need to debug the ebuild. Fortunately, I could always find a fix on the Gentoo forums which is another one of Gentoo's strengths. The thing that really bothered me is that these known fixes to broken ebuilds didn't get incorporated into newer ebuilds! I would see newer versions of broken ebuilds that wouldn't incorporate the fixes. I didn't get the sense that Gentoo was getting better. That is why I gave up on Gentoo in spite of its really cool features. I will try it again sometime.
The standard I use to judge any Linux distribution is Knoppix. Knoppix boots from CD and just works correctly. There is absolutely no excuse for any other Linux distribution to not work as well as Knoppix because its source is available for all to see.
Mar 24, 2004
7:10 AM EDT
|mlite75: simple. Get the src.rpm, edit the configure flags in the build step, remove dependencies from the spec, rebuild. It is a bit harder than doing it in gentoo, though.
The Gentoo init is not innovative. It's just a standard SysV init, with a different rc script. The only remotely original thing in it is conditional startup of services and service startup parallelization which:
a) Is better done by some (real) init replacements
b) Means that when you flip-flop the network everything goes down and then back up. Which is usually completely unnecessary.
c) Only makes about 45 seconds of a difference on startup. And anyway, how often are you supposed to boot? So, it may save you, I don't know, 2 minutes a day?
If you really want to have a cool init, get one f the real parallelizing provides-based inits that are floating around.
Mar 24, 2004
11:14 AM EDT
|I am a debian sarge user who is considering trying out gentoo on my laptop. two questions I have:
1 - what is the difference (besides the fact that compiling is optional) between gentoo and LFS (Linux From Scratch)? Is build-it-yourself init, fstab, password, group and other config files optional or mandatory?
2 are there any resources for overlaying gentoo over debian without hosing my system royally? (yes /home is on a seperate partition).
Currently Debian Sarge is giving me some fits with reguards to the kernels. I installed it using knoppix (kernel-2.4.22-xfs), installed a few optional kernels 2.4.24, 2.6.3 and a self-compiled 2.6.4.
2.4.22-xfs cdrw works fine but no nvidia glx driver, stuck with nv driver 2.4.24 nvidia glx works but hdc=ide-scsi does not work thus cdrw does not work 2.6.3 and 2.6.4 do not boot. 2.6.3 is from the debian sarge archive.
I am hoping that gentoo will work better.
Mar 24, 2004
4:24 PM EDT
|Actually, I think Gentoo has its place and other distros have their place. I mean, frankly, ralsina, you don't just bash a distribution because of its way of doing things. I don't care if I have to edit fstab or grub.conf, as long as I get all my partitions with the correct options mounted at boot-time, restrictions by who can mount and with what uid it gets mounted, flags for different file-systems... etc. There's a lot of tweaking that is surely for _power_ users. Joe Average won't want to do this, but well, I want to, and if Gentoo get's this done painlessly, cool with me. On the other hand, Gentoo isn't in any case _redundant_, as it seems you think so in saying other distros do the same. I personally prefer to configure my packages by hand, rather than having druids drakes, or w/e.. Yast, some apt-util, or this or that do it for me. I'm sorry if that's too old school or too troublesome for others, but haven't we all got a right to choose what we would like? There are aspects of Gentoo I consider superior (IMHO) to other distribution's alternatives, like for example: -Outstanding ports-style package management, with dependency checking/handling that (again, IMHO) is superior to debian's apt-get's, urpmi's, click'n'run (is that what Lindow's is called?)... etc. -Unstable packages are masked cleanly with ~arch keyword which you can obviously pass by with environment variables, or hard masked with package.mask, which you can edit at will. -On the fly: USE, CFLAGS, ACCEPT_KEYWORDS... etc, all env. vars that give you a working env. that's just a pleasure. -Improving reverse-dependencies. -It's extensible framework, which allows for nearly any improvement, and not only allows, but is the aim. -Excelent documentation from the docs section on the website, absolutely a must for any Gentoo user, specially the docs about ebuilds, env.d, admin... etc. -Friendly forums, with great user activity. Of course some other distro(s) could have these but I'm yet to find them. Actually being a former Slackware user, then a Debian user, I've moved to Gentoo with nothing but satisfaction. From Slackware to Debian i gained in the package management, but coming to Gentoo I'm back home with the best of both worlds, and more. If Gentoo is peculiar in this or that aspect, you're not forced nor asked to try it, there're sure many of us who prefer this method of working to others, and that's what it's all about, CHOICE.|
Mar 27, 2004
11:31 AM EDT
Well, honestly, I don´t see where I have ever said Gentoo shouldn´t exist, or that everyone should abandon Gentoo, in fact, let me be clear: if you like Gentoo, by all means waste your time with it ;-)
I am, however, seriously peeved whenever a weakness (or something thst, at least to me, is an obvious weakness) is flaunted as a strength.
You even say "and if Gentoo get's this done painlessly [fstab configuration?], cool with me."
Gentoo makes it *harder* than any other distro. In fact, it can´t be done any harder, since Gentoo´s approach to fstab configuration seems to be "you need a fstab, go write one".
In no way does Gentoo make it painless, in fact, it seems to go out of its way to make it painful ;-)
Unstable packages are marked as such on every package management worth a damn. That´s par for the course.
Yes, the gentoo forums are busy. Usually with people who know what they talk about. However, not nearly as much as they think they do.
I was highly entertained by a thread about a linux booting description I wrote, which covered the usual SysV stuff.
When posted on osnews, a dozen gentoo users popped up critizicing it for not mentioning gentoo.
Then it was posted in the gentoo forums.
The first reply (and half a dozen followups) were about how "the gentoo way" was different and simpler and nicer.
About post 12, someone actually bothered mentioning that this *was* the gentoo way, they just had renamed the runlevels.
The docs about ebuilds.... considering on other distros you don´t NEED ebuilds, I suppose it´s good it´s documented ;-)
And sure, you have your choice, and I have mine. But since when is it wrong for me to say chosing Gentoo may not be all that smart? Is only uninformed choice real choice? I think not.
Mar 27, 2004
2:00 PM EDT
|There are those who read books and there are those who write them. There are those who use Linux and there are those who live Linux. It's in my blood. I like all distros for one reason or another. But I _prefer_ Gentoo, again - for one reason or another.
I fail to understand why it would upset someone else if I choose to spend more time and effort doing something I enjoy.
It is like saying "why write books when there are so many already - it is easier to just read a book than write one."
I prefer pineapple on my pizza too.
So anyway, it is just a preference. Just be happy _you_ do not have to use Gentoo, shrug it off and move on. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment; and what fun this punishment it is! he he he
Mar 28, 2004
6:42 AM EDT
Your post seems to assume I am somehow a casual Linux user, or something like that.
I have been using Linux since 1994. My first distro was Yggdrasil. I installed Slackware from floppies (5 1/4 inch ones). I have been developing free software on Linux since 1995. I was one of the first KDE developers, in early 1997. I have made a living out of understanding Linux since 1996. I write software, package software, install software, configure software, and write about software, all on Linux. So, that argument "some read books, some write them" or "some use linux, some live linux" won't fly with me, dude.
I probably understand what goes on in a distro better than 99.999% of Linux users. I have been employed by a distro maker, too!
And trust me, it is quite possible to "live linux" and still feel something like Gentoo lacks purpose or usefulness, to the best of my understanding. Which is a pretty good understanding.
I am glad I don't have to use it, yes, like you said ;-)
I am however worried how when someone points out a shortcoming of Gentoo, the kneejerk reaction is you don't have to use it, we real 313373 linux users know its better.
If you can put out an interesting argument on why it's better beyond it's cool and I am in control, well, you ain't that elite, either ;-)
Mar 31, 2004
12:34 AM EDT
|I full heartedly agree with ralsina on this one, and I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought this way. Ill be the first one to admit that in the 5 years ive been using linux, Ive learned about 75% of it because I broke something and it was fix it or format. Most everybody ive talked to that said they learned so much about linux by using Gentoo is for this exact same reason, ie. if you dont learn how to do it all you'll have is a $1000+ box with a blinking cursor. If gentoo *forced* you to have a deeper understanding of linux, then that's wonderful, but to tout it as a *feature* or somehow conclude it makes a better distro is absurd.
As mentioned earlier, apart from using the portage system there isnt anything gentoo can do that other distros cannot. And in fact 9 times out of 10 its much harder to do it on gentoo! And as a follow up to the setting of compile flags in Mandrake/Redhat, all you need to do toss them into ~/.rpmrc and --rebuild the src.rpm.
Apr 01, 2004
12:47 PM EDT
|I'm tempted not to get involved at all, but here goes.
I am definitely not a linux guru -- I've been using it for just over a year, the first 6 months or so on various versions of Redhat, mostly 9. I was pretty happy with it, but there were always things that I couldn't make work -- mplayer comes to mind, and any kind of streaming content on the web.
I tried gentoo, and I have all these things working. This isn't because I got any smarter (though I did learn a lot via the install) but because someone else who had already figured it out coded it all into an ebuild.
Could I have learned how to fix all these things on Redhat 9? Probably. But I spent a lot of time on it, in some cases (mplayer) trying everything from rpms, to apt-for-rpm, to compiling from source, scrupulously following instructions.
So that's among the many reasons I now prefer Gentoo -- it works.
Having said all that, I just read today that someone ported anaconda so you can install Gentoo with it -- which to me sounds like a great idea. I'm not tied to the current Gentoo install process, it would be cool if there were a choice.
Apr 13, 2004
9:10 AM EDT
First you say that the installation is harder, and then you say that that you are an expert user. Which is it?
I have used most of the hoard of linux distributions that have been available over the years. I have -never- found one as easy to install and use. Everything just works right "out of the box", as they say. Everything is exactly where I'd expect, and this is not the case with more "user friendly" distros like Redhat, Mandrake, or Suse. If you don't see what makes Gentoo such a pleasure to use than I'm sorry your experience wasn't as good as mine has been. Simply put, I use Gentoo because it's easier. And I'm not the only person who feels this way. This message was edited Apr 13, 2004 12:11 PM
Apr 13, 2004
11:06 AM EDT
|Just because I am experienced, that doesn't mean it's easy.
I mean, I can solve partial differential equations. That doesn't mean it's easy, either.
In fact, let me be even more clear: I can make gentoo work great. I just don't see it as worth the effort, if I can make other distros work great in one tenth of the time.
Apr 13, 2004
4:52 PM EDT
|Ok knuckle draggers.
After reading the article and all the posts I found myself wondering, does it really matter? As long as the linux you use gets the job done then what does it matter. If you take the time to become familer with the linux you use there should be few problems. But it really really really does not matter if something loads a 100th of a second faster or if you compiled it yourself. I feel that there are far too many Linux Distros. Perhaps the Linux community would be better off if many of them joined forces and improved the things that suck about Linux. OMG I admitted that there is something wrong with Linux. I shall now punish myself by reloading Gentoo 10 times. If slackware works for you then fan dang ding great, if gentoo works for you wooohoo. Point is they all work for someone but unfortunatly finding the one that works for you is sometimes difficult. But if you did not take the time to find out why something did not load or configure right don't throw a temper tantrum and say its a pile of hoo hoo. There are many things that can go wrong or be wrong while you install or use it. Anyway I am rambling so I will just shut my pie hole. Please send my your thoughts I would love to discuss it with you. I am always open to learning new things.
Dec 03, 2004
2:01 PM EDT
|I've been using Linux only for about 6 months now. I started with Gentoo because a friend I knew used it and recommended it to me, and after looking over a lot of the other distrobutions, I decided its flexibility appealed to me.
It was a bumpy introduction to Linux, to say the least. After about a month of tweaking, I finally had a fully-functional desktop I was satisfied with. Eventually, though, I got tired of compiling ... so, I decided to try out Suse Personal 9.1.
This distro was a nice break from Gentoo. However, I eventually ran into some problems with it involving my sound card and my wireless lan. I tried to figure out the problem, but being new to Linux, I had little idea what to do, and when I tried to find the answer by probing around in my system, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of processes running under Suse that I didn't understand.
When running Gentoo, however, I made an attempt to learn each program as I emerged it, and felt like I had a better grasp of what was happening on my system.
I soon switched back to Gentoo and was able to get everything working as it should! I've realized that using Gentoo isn't really all that hard if you're used to programming. The best thing I like about it is how clean it is, and how mutable.
Now, if Suse had worked perfectly on my machine right out of the box, so that I didn't need to pay attention to the underlying system so much, I definitely would've stuck with it. But with the annoyances it was causing me, I found it refreshing to have a system without clutter: Gentoo.
It's really best to think of Gentoo as a meta-distro, anyway. If you have several computers (or have many family members with computers who aren't willing to learn Linux's innards), then it's awesome to use Gentoo to build your own small, domestic distro :) Compile your own binary packages into the constellation of dependencies best fit to your knowledge and use of Linux ... and distribute!
So basically, the key to understanding Gentoo is that it's not actually a distro so much as a tool for generating custom micro-distros. When it's all said and compiled, you've got yourself a very appliance-like system -- and just because you can emerge --update world doesn't mean you always have too! Bleeding edge is fun and all, but who wants to always be compiling?
Not to mention that Gentoo has a compilation cache you can use so that an emerge --update won't neccessarily have to recompile everything -- just the pieces of source that need it.
Mar 23, 2005
4:32 PM EDT
|Ralsina, with all your years of Linux experience, why would you be interested in an approach like Gentoo's anyway? You've been there, done that, the thrill is gone... Fair enough.
Many of us, though, are still delighted with the idea of doing such a ground-up install (yes, even making fstab!).
I just installed Gentoo 2004.3, and I loved it. I love knowing where everything is, what it does, how to make it do exactly what I want. Compared to my experiences with Mandrake and Red Hat, I feel like my Linux IQ has gone up 100 points.
Sure, it's interesting to know that I could've installed one of the other distros in such a fine-grained way. But if I did, why would I then want to hang out in a community where so relatively few users were interested in knowing their systems so deeply? (Well, to help them, I suppose... :?)
As a technical writer, my job is to learn about a project, then to imagine what it's like _not_ to understand it. That's harder than it seems (and why developers are such notoriously poor documenters).
So I can appreciate why it may be hard for you to understand why we like Gentoo so much. I can also appreciate that most Gentoo users probably fall into that narrow area between complete noobs and jaded vets.
Anyway, ain't it great, having all these choices?
Mar 23, 2005
5:36 PM EDT
First, my thanks to ralsina, for any involvement she may have had with KDE in the early days. The assorted betas and pre-1.0 releases of KDE (well, StarOffice was a big help, too) allowed me to wipe Windows and never look back some 7 years ago.
I was introduced to Linux by a big-time Debian booster, circa Debian 1.2, and stuck with it (mostly) until the ridiculous brouhaha over whether KDE was free enough to be truly free. At that point, problems in getting an unstable version (in those days, your choices were run unstable or use software whose tech support could have been provided by Ptolemy) that didn't kill my desktop chased me away from Debian forever and into the arms of SuSE, where I have stayed ever since.
On those occasions when I put a different distro on one of my machines, I used RedHat briefly, and really liked Caldera.
The point, if I have one, is that your distro should suit your needs and wants. A second point, is that you should be careful casting stones.
Many of us have spent a lot of time tweaking Linux and its accompanying software over the years. We may or may not want to play with our systems, depending on what we need to do today.
These days, a lot of my Linux work consists of writing with OpenOffice, doing video work with Cinelerra, Kino, and other assorted tools, some web development, and assorted graphical tasks that fall within my tiny skillset.
Spending too much time just getting crap to work is not nearly so much fun when you have things that need to be done, something I discovered when I upgraded to an Athlon 64/64-bit Linux and discovered which of my favorite tools were not quite 64-bit clean.
I'm delighted to see newbies having a blast doing the things that I did years ago. You should be doing that. It's good for you and it's fun.
But so is doing my video work and my writing and not worrying too much about getting the system going. Just because I'm a doddering old turd, doesn't mean I'm clueless.
Mar 24, 2005
12:32 AM EDT
|Hope you don't mind I, Gentoo user, get involved in the discussion too.
Let me tell you first I don't give a &* about optimization, and I don't like compiling. But nonetheless I use Gentoo, shall try to point out why.
So, let me tell Gentoo is developing from LFS to a fully blown distro in my opinion. Many people are begging for an installation tool, so they don't have to edit their grub.conf and fstab. Thus that's being developed now by the Gentoo-devels.
Then, let me tell there's an ongoing effort to take away the long compiling times, a 'bin-based' gentoo-distro called Genux (see genux.org). It's the same as Gentoo, but packages are precompiled. It's a pity money is involved if you like this.
Following that, I'll point to several Gentoo-benefits, not mentioned earlier. Though, since my lack of knowledge of other things, this stuff may have been included in other distros as well:
Now, as I pointed out earlier, I was a newbie to Linux (came from *BSD actually, but was a newbie there too. That was my first other-than-windows-experience. But OpenBSD is difficult to use for desktop, that's why I switched). Since I was a newbie, you can wonder what's the use of 'knowing what you are doing'. Now, let me say this: I'm trying to pass the LPIC level 1 exam, succeeded for the 101 exam, without too much effort. Couldn't have done that just using Debian I think. So, for end users, it's like a 'toy', but it's the best distro for learning Linux, I think, if you forget about LFS. It isn't very suited for people just wanting to edit some videos, or just quickly install a system to use a text-processor, as dinotrac pointed out.
That's why everyone should choose their own distro. Mine is Gentoo, and unless I can get all my stuff to work on *BSD, that's not going to change (except for Genux).
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