What Linux distribution do you use as a desktop? Gentoo

Posted by tadelste on Feb 19, 2006 12:42 PM
Lxer; By chron

I use Gentoo. I switched from Debian when I built a dual Opteron. At the time there were only a few Linux distros that were ready to run in 64bit with dual ( 32/64 bit ) binary support. I tried them all and ended up trying Gentoo last.

I was missing Debian for the first 3 weeks after my install of Gentoo, and after that I migrated ALL of my machines to Gentoo. I have tried more distributions than I can count. I have worked for 2 of the largest Linux clustering manufacturers and currently work for IBM. I love Linux, however Gentoo is my favorite distro. There are many reasons to use Gentoo, but lets cover the basics:

I. Compile Optimisations Or Features Such As SSP
Gentoo, like any source based distribution gives you the ability to change your compile optimisatins. This allows many nice features. For example, say that you have a machine which has a small cache size...like a VIA EPIA CL, etc. You can use -Os and have smaller binaries which do not flood your cache. Of course you can compile every binary on your system with optimisations for your CPU. Lets say you are using x86 then you get optimisations for your CPU instead of i386 which is what most distros have. They do that so it will run on the widest possible range of x86 hardware . You can also add things like SSP, etc. So this may be trivial to some of you...however you have more options available and this is where Gentoo shines. With "USE Flags" ... you can of add or remove certain support from binaries that support it. For example if you use do not use KDE or Gnome, then you can have support for QT and GTK without having support for KDE or GNOME in all the binaries that support it on your entire system. These are some of the best reasons to use Gentoo, but are also quite easy to mess up.

II. The Best Source Based "Package Management"
Emerge is a very robust tool. You can emerge source-only items such as djbdns, qmail, you can also emerge the nvidia drivers and glx. There are lots of things that make this nice. Also keeping a machine up-to-date, adding and removing items are easy and well done. Also, Gentoo takes patchwork out of the way....I use qmail ( with greylisting ) and instead of applying the 70+ patches manually, Gentoo makes it a non-issue. Of course, you do not have to compile everyting. You can use precompiled binaries and packages that are compile for the best general situations like other distros.

III. Easy Fixes Of Security Advisories
glsa-check -f Makes Security Updates A Snap

You can update all packages against the security advisories. This is a nice tool.

IV. Excelent BSD-Like Feel
It is the most BSD-like structure that I have found in a Linux system. It just feels right.

V. No Locked Down Installer Limiting Your Options
It doesn't give you an installer per say ... which really gives you the most fine grained control of how you want things. You can install with ease via a remote ssh session. :-)

VI. Great Way To Handle init Scripts
init scrips are setup the way they should be and are easily maintained using rc-update

rc-update -a sshd default

for example would add sshd to your startups

I know that Debian has something similar, but Gentoo has done it right. I did not particulary like the way Debian had done it.

VII. Extremely High Availability Of "Packages"
There are LOTS of "packages" available in Gentoo. You can also make your system as stable or bleeding edge as you want.

VIII. Documentation And User Community

Gentoo by far has the best online documentation and howtos that I have seen. Also the user community on freenode.net in #gentoo, #gentoo-hardened, #gentoo-server, #gentoo-sparc, #gentoo-amd64, #gentoo-desktop, etc. Are great helpful people. Gentoo may be more difficult at first, but the documentation and community make it easy.

IX. Secure
Gentoo allows you to choose between many security camps. RSBAC, GrSecurity, SeLinux, PAX, etc. You can obtain a ultra-secure machine using Gentoo.

X. Gentoo focuses on options.
Their entire philosophy is to give the user choices. Your box will be how you want it. Not how someone else thinks it should be done. You can also use existing binaries and packages if you like so you do not have to compile everyting.

--- Wishes ---

I wish that Gentoo would take the same measures of download integrity confirmation that Adamantix has done...with everything being cryptographically signed and of course having md5sums on it as well. This wish howver, hasn't been done ( that I know of ) in any other distro except for Adamantix.


"Then Turambar summoned all his will and courage and climbed the cliff alone, and came beneath the dragon. Then he drew Gurthang, and with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, he thrust it into the soft belly of the Worm, even up to his hilts."

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