Review ends where problems begin

Story: Dispelling the myths of Gentoo Linux, an honest reviewTotal Replies: 5
Author Content

Mar 23, 2004
7:37 AM EDT
I think it's interesting that the review left off exactly where the problems I and (if the Gentoo forums are any indication) many others have start.

I've gone back and forth between Gentoo and Fedora/Redhat for a while now. When using Fedora I miss the more aggressive release schedule of Gentoo (KDE 3.2.1, Emacs, etc..), but what always sends me back to Redhat/Fedora are the desktop difficulties.

I've been using Linux since about the same time as the author, and while I'm quite capable of screwing things up, I'm pretty experienced with Linux desktop admin and development. While I'm sure I could spend a couple weeks researching why fonts and sound don't work well out of the box on the several machines I have played with... but I don't want to and I shouldn't have too. Mandrake gets it right, SuSE gets it right, and Fedora has never had a problem either. Until the maintainers of Gentoo can setup the font ebuilds to properly configure xfs (at the very least) I'm not going to sit in front of a Gentoo box for the 12 hours a day I spend coding. Until the sound comes up easily and plays without distortion I'm going to spend those 12 hours mp3'ing on Fedora (which has no such issues). (And again, based on the Gentoo forums I am certainly not alone here)

I think that the power of Gentoo is that you can customize as needed and wanted. This is a boon that the other distro's just don't offer well, if at all. But that really isn't an excuse for poorly implemented defaults. A distro needs to work flawlessly in the default.

I don't mind pooring time into configuring my Emacs, my cross-compiling suites, and my debuggers. I need to customize them for my work and accept that burden to get them right. The rest of the desktop should just work.

- Hunter

Mar 23, 2004
7:44 AM EDT
Hi Hunter,

You might be correct - I don't know enough about Gentoo to know for sure. As I stated in the review article, this was a review of Gentoo on the server and I only recommended it for that purpose (even then, just for LAMP-type services).

As for the desktop, I don't yet know. I expect to have a lot of the problems that you mentioned in your post, and whether they are surmountable or not is yet to be seen. My review of Gentoo on the desktop very well may have a surprisingly different outcome than this server review. I'm still using White Box Enterprise Linux for my desktop (and Fedora for my wife's desktop) and am happy.

best wishes, Dave

Mar 23, 2004
9:00 AM EDT
Hunterware: You can get a pretty aggresive KDE release schedule on Fedora using the packages from

It was there less than 48 hours after official release :-)

Mar 23, 2004
9:46 AM EDT
*smile* I used them to do the upgrade. I also eagerly await Fedora Core 2 that will be out with many many updates.

While this project gave Fedora users fast access to an updated KDE, Gentoo gives it's users fast access to pretty much everything. It's almost spooky how many projects find their way into ebuilds and how quickly.

I just wish that they'd "raise the bar" with certain core desktop features (fonts and sound springing to mind).

- Hunter

P.S Dave, thank you for a clear and complete review of the Gentoo distrobution at a server or text-based level. I in no way meant to post otherwise. I just found it ironic that while Gentoo is so powerful on the server, the next step is exactly where the difficulties seem to arise (for me).

Mar 24, 2004
6:54 PM EDT
Hunter, If you've got a problem or suggestion, just visit We can't go searching all over the Internet to find everybody's gripes and ideas.

By the way, I'm a little surprised you're still using legacy applications that use xfs and therefore the old core fonts setup, although your point is just as valid for fontconfig.

The general idea is "We tell you how to do it; you do it yourself." This is supported by our superb (in my opinion) documentation and the info given after each emerge.

Thanks, Donnie

Mar 24, 2005
1:13 AM EDT
Hi Hunter,

It may sound odd to you, but after installing Gentoo my fonts and sound just worked out of the box. I didn't have to configure anything to make it work, just as it should.. Setting up X was very simple also, just edited three lines in xorg.conf. In fact, I never had much issues with GUI-utilities. But I use very common hardware, it may be different with other hardware.

Just wanted to say it's not always Gentoo doesn't work out of the box.

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