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Arch Linux for the DIY Linux user

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 96.228.149.153] on July 16, 2008 05:55 PM
In your article you make it appear that Arch Linux is the only distro to pick if you really want to learn how Linux is put together and make one to believe that all Gentoo has to offer is to compile your system from scratch. Well I have to strongly disagree with you. I am fairly new to Gentoo so I don't want you to think that I am some sort of Gentoo evangelist but in my humble opinion I will strongly ascertain that Gentoo is one of the best documented Linux distros out there, there are other good ones too but you brought up Gentoo. Yes if you are a lazy user and go for the quick install that they now offer on their live DVD you will not gain a lot of knowledge, you don't even need to compile anything at first. However if you really want to learn you should at least pick the minimum install CD that initially boot straps your system and go from there, if you really want to get into the nuts and bolts forgo installing from a stage 3 tar ball and learn how to do it from a stage 1. Yes I know that is not their recommended install method now in 2008 as they clearly state in their documentation the stage 1 or stage 2 is now mainly for the developers of Gentoo and also for anyone willing and who wants to learn. So in my opinion, as good as Arch Linux is for the DYI Linux user Gentoo is still better mainly because of the tons of high quality of documentation that they have produced on about every topic one could think of. If you dive in you just naturally learn a lot.

I have been a long time user of Linux starting with Suse 6.1 and used that distro up until they were bought out by Novel. I was concerned with what was happening with them and my fears were confirmed after Novel got into bed with Microsuck that I have since been a distro refugee. I have been trying to find a new home and there always seems to be a deal breaker for me with every distro I have tried and I have downloaded and tried most of the well known ones and even some of the obscure ones. At first I was angry with the various distros, couldn't understand why my hardware would work out of the box on one and not on others or would work on one release but was broken on the next release (not to point fingers but Ubuntu comes to mind). But there always seemed to be some fundamental flaw that they possessed that stopped me from using them long term. Then the more I mulled things over I became more angry at myself for not learning enough along the way so I would know how to fix things myself. So instead of complaining about a particular disro I decided to try and learn how every thing is put together and configured in a Linux system. I hate to say it but if all you ever do is rely on the GUI tools that the various distros provide for configuration and system admin you will never learn anything, you will just be a transplanted windows user still relying on what is put in front of you often being frustrated when something does not work like you think it should and continually being frustrated at the incomplete control that the GUI tools leave you.

After I decided I needed to learn a lot more I started looking at the various distros that force you to learn something instead of feeding you pablum. I started looking at Slackware at first and there are a lot of things I liked about that distro except I could not understand why they haven't yet begun to support the 64 bit systems, I looked at Debian as well and I like their package system, then I looked at Arch Linux, Linux from scratch and Gentoo. I have settled on Gentoo at this point in time because of their superior documentation, I have several PC's in my network so I intend on setting up a compile farm using distcc on the various PC's on my network. I know that this will increase the learning curve at the beginning but should greatly lessen the compile times for my systems. I also will force myself to do everything at least at the beginning from the command line even if there are some GUI tools that may have been created for system administration. Hopefully this will not prove to be too painful in spite of my short term memory problems. I am not a programmer or a developer in any since of the term just an average user who has decided to take control of my system and to make it work the way I want it to.

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