This is a read-only archive. Find the latest Linux articles, documentation, and answers at the new Linux.com!

Linux.com

Feature: Linux

My Gentoo odyssey

By Joe Barr on September 19, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

Share    Print    Comments   

Gentoo is a Linux distribution unlike any other I have used, not just in terms of how it does things, but in the philosophy which drives its design. Gentoo doesn't ask what it can do to make things easier, it asks you exactly what it is that you want it to do, and then does precisely and only that. I gave Gentoo a good try, but I won't be sticking with it. Why not? I'm glad you asked.

When I began my Gentoo adventure, I believed that the main difference between Gentoo and the other distributions I've used (Caldera, Red Hat, Mandrake, Xandros, Storm, SUSE, Debian, Slackware, and Ubuntu) was that it was a roll-your-own distro, requiring you to compile everything you use. But after struggling with Gentoo for 10 days, I realized I was wrong.

I began on a Friday and spent the weekend doing Gentoo installs -- ranging from the ultra-fast minimal install (live CD) to a partially pre-compiled Gentoo Reference Platform install from the live CD. On Monday I decided I was Gentoo-savvy enough to use it on my production desktop platform. I even joked with my co-workers about it, saying that back in the day, Gentoo users first had to rip the source code from the bone with their teeth before compiling and installing it, but now the live CD had sissified the process to the point that anyone could do it.

I exaggerated the ease of installing Gentoo. For a proper Gentoo install, you'll need to read the fine manual. Read it a couple of times. Cover to cover. Pay particular attention to the sections on USE flags and Portage.

You will hear, see, and read "RTFM" dozens of times before you're done. But don't make the mistake of thinking that simply means having a copy handy as a reference during the installation, because by the time a question appears, it may already be too late. You need to RTFM before you begin.

When you finish, you can start looking for answers to questions not covered in the manual. Learn everything there is to know about your hardware and the drivers the various components use. Study GCC and the options that govern the behavior of GCC version 4.1.1. You can find a short list here. You'll also want to have more than a nodding acquaintance with Xorg if you want to use a GUI display.

I did the first install by mistake. I thought I was installing the live CD. The minimal install is a live CD, too, but it's different. When it finished, less than 15 minutes later, I assumed it would then continue the install from the hard disk after I rebooted. But it just sat there. That was the first in a series of bad assumptions. On the plus side, it led me to the #gentoo IRC channel on irc.freenode.net.

The IRC resource

Gentoo 2006.1 LiveCD
Click to enlarge
The #gentoo channel -- one of about 120 channels devoted to Gentoo on Freenode -- is an active, heavily populated, extremely valuable IRC resource for help with Gentoo installation and usage. Typically, more than 900 people are present on the channel. Among them are a corps of friendly, helpful, extremely knowledgeable folk who take the time to help newbies find their way around Gentoo.

When I asked how to continue after doing the (minimal) live CD install, they pointed me to the Gentoo 2006.1 live CD manual. After reading a few pages of the manual, I realized that the minimal live CD did not equal the Gentoo 2006.1 live CD. So I stopped and got the real thing.

After I had downloaded, burned, and booted from the live CD, I found myself with a network-connected GNOME desktop system with a cute but cool Gentoo background. The desktop included icons for Computer, Gentoo's home (Gentoo being the default user name), the CD-ROM drive, a CLI version of the Gentoo installer, a GTK version of the Gentoo installer, and an installer FAQ.

I selected the GTK installer and was presented with page 1 of a 17-page installation and configuration script. I chose the settings I felt most appropriate and kicked off the install. In no time at all, GCC began compiling everything that didn't move. That was Friday afternoon. At 10:30 on Saturday morning, it was still cooking, so I decided to take a different approach to the install.

For the next attempt, I followed the Gentoo Reference Platform (GRP) path, using pre-compiled packages anywhere I could. That worked out pretty well, and I played with and kicked the tires on Gentoo on my test box for the next day or so, learning how to use Portage and emerge to install applications. Then I thought I was ready for the big time, so I decided to migrate my production desktop machine from Ubuntu to Gentoo.

I didn't do this out of any unhappiness with Ubuntu. I try to move to a new distro every six to 12 months, so I don't get locked into a set of distro-blinders. I've happily used Ubuntu for over a year, and I'm sure I will run it again. But it was time to change, and what better way to check out Gentoo than a real-world scenario.

The migration begins

I began about noon on Monday. I decided to try an install more in keeping with Gentoo tradition and philosophy, by compiling almost everything except OpenOffice.org. Besides, it was the Labor Day holiday, so I had almost 24 hours before the workday began.

The live CD didn't like the video card in my machine. I noticed as I booted that the text began about three-quarters of the way across the screen, then wrapped around to continue on the left side. When the GUI display appeared, it was similarly offset. Using the monitor's auto-image adjust feature, I was able to set the display properly.

I selected the Stage 3 install, with GRP extras. When I tried to proceed, I couldn't, because I hadn't told the installer where I wanted to get the Stage 3 tarball. I didn't know where to get it, so I visited the #gentoo channel (and remained there until the install was done). Luckily, during an install from the live CD, you can surf, chat, and play games, so I didn't have to abort the install, and a kind soul on the channel gave me the URI for the tarball.

I chose the snapshot version of the Portage tree. When faced with the settings for make config, I accepted the defaults and moved on. I started to choose the live CD kernel, because the installer suggested that this would get the system up and running quickly. Then I noticed that I wouldn't be able to install any packages that required kernel sources if I did that, so I opted to fetch and build the kernel from source code.

I left the kernel-config option blank, selected GRUB as the boot loader, and specified that it live in the master boot record on /dev/hda. After selecting eth0 as my network interface device, and specifying DHCP for the network configuration, I accepted the default suggestions for cron duty and logging. From a menu of Extras offered, I chose GNOME, Xorg, and a few others.

Then the install began in earnest, and I became very good at playing Mah Jongg. When I got bored with that, I skimmed through the Gentoo FAQ. One of its questions read: "Gentoo is too hard to install and I feel like whining." The answer? "Please see /dev/null."

At 5:30 p.m. I checked Gentoo's progress. 120 of the 474 packages had been emerged. Some packages take longer than others, of course. Xlib seems to have been a biggie, for example, and since it had finished an hour before, 20 others had been compiled and installed. By 9:00 p.m., 175 packages were done. My hopes for the install finishing on the same day evaporated.

Install failure

By 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Gentoo was up to package 326, and still cooking. A few hours later, after almost 24 hours of continuous compiling, the install failed when emerge said it could not emerge media-libs/zlib1.1.3.r2. At first I thought all was lost, but the FAQ and the IRC channel assured me that I could resume the emerge by specifying the --resume and --skip-first options. Emerge, however, had other ideas, and it told me there was nothing to resume.

I crossed my fingers and tried booting from the hard disk for the first time. It worked, and I logged in as root, since my attempt to add a user during the install had failed. I used the GNOME User and Group manager to add a user, signed off as root, and signed back in as an ordinary user.

The first order of business was to emerge Xchat so I could communicate with my colleagues on IRC. For the rest of the afternoon, I was happily Gentooing, emerging this and that, getting sound to work, tweaking my X config. I think it was something that I did trying to get the Nvidia driver installed that was my downfall. Whatever it was, it broke X beyond my ability to repair it. And while the IRC channel was sympathetic, it was really impossible for them to be helpful since I wasn't sure what I had done to break it. Sometime after 5 p.m., I decided I would have to bite the bullet and reinstall.

Post-mortem, I believe that I caused the problem by setting a keyword in /etc/make.conf to ~X86. That told Portage that using unstable code was fine with me. I made that change because one of the packages I wanted to emerge required it, and I didn't know the correct way to allow test/unstable code in a single package. I paid the price for not knowing that.

Gentoo install: take two

The second time around was a lot different than the first. Before starting the install, I moved my entire home directory from the first drive to the second so I could save it, since one of the things I had managed to do before crashing the system was to recover my email, chat, and browser settings and data from the second drive.

In the interest of speed, I chose GRP binary packages wherever possible. A little more than an hour later, I had a working system again, with no loss of data. The resolution wasn't right on my monitor, but I was afraid to try to fix it, given what had just happened with my last X experimentation.

I lived with the bad resolution for the next few days while trying to catch up at work and continuing to emerge and tweak the system to get it back to the same functionality it had while running Ubuntu. Finally, I decided to try to resolve the resolution issue.

Right away, X started crashing again, complaining that the frequency was "out of range," even though it was not. Even worse, I couldn't figure out how to get it to boot into single-user mode, and the GRUB menu contained nothing but a single boot option, which started GDM and crashed before I could do anything.

I experimented with various edits to the GRUB boot commands, but never found the right magic. I decided to simply copy the working Xorg.conf from the live CD to my disk and use it. After booting the live CD, I mounted the drive and copied the file, then rebooted from the hard drive. Success!

Then I noticed that I had lost my sound again.

That was the final straw. I was spending all of my time tending to Gentoo and none of my time being productive. I called a halt to the great migration and admitted to myself that I was simply not good Gentoo material.

Is Gentoo for you?

About an hour later, Gentoo was gone, replaced by Debian Etch. It took me five minutes to get the sound working, another five for the printer, and the resolution problem never happened. And though I still have a little bit of tweaking to do, the system is very nearly as functional now in all respects that it was when I was running Ubuntu.

Why are Gentoo and I not meant for each other? I'm sure there will be a few Gentoo users who will blame me for all the problems. Let me cut them off early. I agree. If I knew everything there was to know in order to be a competent Gentoo geek, I'm sure I never would have run into all those problems. It's my own fault.

Gentoo is a popular, powerful, well-crafted distribution that panders to your geek side to the nth degree. You want control? Gentoo hands you the reins and wishes you good luck. How much luck you need depends on how much you know. But it's simply not for me. Like a good programmer, I'm lazy. While it was once fun to compile the kernel and mention it the next morning while grabbing a cup of coffee, these days I want to use my machine for things other the care and feeding of the operating system.

Share    Print    Comments   

Comments

on My Gentoo odyssey

Note: Comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

Not For Everyone

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 12:26 AM
Gentoo is not for everyone. I don't think anyone will dispute that. It is, however, great for learning what goes into Linux and a Linux distribution.

I learned more in five months of running Gentoo than I learned in five years of running Red Hat/Suse/Mandrake.

#

Gentoo Not for you

Posted by: Fletch on September 20, 2006 12:35 AM
Gentoo is a fantastic operating system. However, if you come from a "I don't want to do any work, but I just want to install something and use it" scenario, it may not be for you. For me personally, seeing as I cut my teeth back before all the distros this person listed existed, I used Slackware, and I used FreeBSD. Seeing as to me, I like compiling from source when I get the chance because my optimized toolchain makes improves the performance and robustness of my system. I'm not sure why the author of this article claims that he was going to "roll" his own Linux, as that is not technically correct. You can do similar things with other distros, but you have to use source packages instead of the binary ones. So seeing that he did not perform that route, it seems like the author was going to use Gentoo for one of its features (being portage), and rather than not read to see how it works and how to resolve errors that may exist, he decided to switch to another operating system, being Debian.

    Gentoo isn't really about the software as much as it is about a "process". Based on the dialogue of the author, I would not recommend him to Gentoo anyway, as it seems he or she simply wants to play with Linux, or at least to simply have a "Linux based worksation". However, Gentoo is for those who want to get under the hood of their distribution. You can tune the software you put on it, and you can choose the level of integration it has with each other. If this is not your interest, then yes, move along. I used Debian for years as well, but as with any binary only managed pacakge system, I found it to be constraining. However, if I went back and used source based packages and used the tips for tuning and all that I have learned with Gentoo, I could make any distro behave the way I want.
Bottom line, if you are not willing to read documentation and you are not interested in the inner workings for the operating system (i.e. you have no love for computer optimization, computer science, etc), then stay away from Gentoo. It's only for the bold.

#

Re:Gentoo Not for you

Posted by: gurudyne on September 20, 2006 06:23 AM
Perhaps you are unaware who "this person" is. The fact you can type "joe barr" (without the quotes, no less) in Google and just click "I feel lucky" should give you a clue that "this person" is not unaccustomed to Linux or setting up systems.

The real bottom line of "this person" is that he has a job to do. If the distro stops being a tool and starts getting in the way of the real job, some other distro is probably more suited. NOTE: not "better" but more suited.

And, get off my damn lawn! Young whippersnappers have no respect for thier elders.

#

Re:Gentoo Not for you

Posted by: Fletch on September 20, 2006 06:54 AM
The subject isn't Joe Barr, and more over I could care less who it is. Moreover, how do you not know that I am his and your elder, eh? Right, so back on topic, the real bottom line is that if you see your Linux system as a system with some sort of overseeing management of configuring each and every piece so that you don't have to know the fine details of the system, then by all means, Ubuntu is for you (and that is for you AND Joe Barr). If you wish to individually manage each piece, and you don't mind reading documentation in the process, then Gentoo is for you. Am I to believe simply because a person writes articles on Newsforge, Linux.com, that I am supposed to simply say "oh wth am I talking about! It's Joe Barr!" Let's not be Trolls, shall we?

#

Re:Gentoo Not for you

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 29, 2006 12:11 AM
Very good explanation hasues

#

maybe i just got lucky

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 03:45 AM
I decided to give Gentoo a go back in 2002 after I had my fill of just about every RPM based distro (RH, Mandrake, Suse), and did a GRP install with Gentoo 1.4. I had no problem using the manual to get all of my hardware and software working.

After I did the GRP to get a GUI up and running quickly, I then emerged the latest version of my preferred GUI (KDE). With the exception of RPM, I was a complete noob when it came to anything CLI, and I thought the Gentoo install was pretty easy if you just followed what was in the manual.

I've installed Gentoo four or five times, since then, and I've always found the manual easy to follow.

The only thing I don't like about the new GUI installer is that if you prefer to do an install by hand, the manual is nowhere to be found on the CD, and on 2006.0, the GUI installer failed several times before finally churning out a decent base system.

I just hope the 2006.1 GUI installer has the kinks worked out, and that the manual is on the CD as a backup.

#

Re:maybe i just got lucky

Posted by: Fletch on September 20, 2006 06:59 AM
I agree with this. I guess for me knowing that the real "guts" to the installer (at least for non Stage1 installs) is that they simply decompress a tar file of the system. You simply take it from there installing software from it from the snapshot of portage. Rather than use Gentoo's boot disk, I have used SuSE, etc. as it doesn't matter, the concept was the same. Gentoo has occassional hiccups concerning certain e-builds, but that's all part of human error. I have seen my share of these in Debian, SuSE, Red Hat,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...all of them. So, I accept that and move on.

#

Gentoo Guides:

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:35 AM
A HOWTO to help you with a Gentoo Linux 2006 installation.
A script to walk you through a Gentoo Linux 2005.1 installation (still relevant to 2006), at:


<a href="http://linux.coconia.net/" title="coconia.net">http://linux.coconia.net/</a coconia.net>

linux.coconia.net also has HOWTOs on:

1) cloning your windows XP/2000 installations using Linux (back-ups).
2) installing windows XP/2000 on a spare partition with Linux.
3) accessing and writing to Windows XP (formatted with the NTFS) from Linux.
4) some discussion on the GPL and non-free third party kernel modules.
5) remix those 14 Debian installation CDs as 2 DVDs.
6) compile the worlds best DVD/Movie/Video/MP3 Player and Encoder (MPlayer and MEncoder).
7) 3D acceleration for ATI cards (simple procedure, works for SuSE, Mandriva and Debian).
8) the entire book "Linux Device Drivers 3" in HTML format.

#

Nice summary

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 19, 2006 10:48 PM
I have been an avid gentoo user for years now and I love it for all the reasons that you state. Gentoo is NOT for everyone (yet), but it WILL teach you more than 99% of people want to know about their computer and linux. If more people read articles like yours before they tried to install gentoo there would be less people like you that get frustrated with the install. One thing that you should mention though is that forums.gentoo.org is an excellent source for figuring out issues.

BTW... I love your last paragraph.

#

Re:Nice summary

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:41 AM
Nod, nod, nod. But I won't have it any other way...

#

Re:Nice summary

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 12:34 PM
That was pretty much my reaction, I prefer to work from source. Indeed, for the most part, I have to work from source. Most of my computers aren't x86 or AMD64. Once you stray from the x86 mainstream, your only real choices are Debian and Gentoo. Of the two, I prefer Gentoo. Or rather, for building from source for non-x86 systems, I prefer Portage over Apt.

I suppose I could use one distribution on my servers and a different one on my workstations, but that seems inefficient. It defeats some of the cross-platform appeal of using one distribution across 7 CPU architectures.

#

Re:Nice summary

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 07, 2007 11:53 PM
How can you say that Gentoo teaches you Linux, or how things work?

LFS teaches you.
Slackware does too.
Hell, I think you have a point, most distributions teach you something, SuSE does less than Gentoo for sure<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

But you must differ -

If the user must run
emerge --some_option --some_other_option

then you are learning a TOOL
not HOW something works!

#

Excellent Article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 19, 2006 10:53 PM
That was a really nice read. I think any honest person that has tried Gentoo will nod while reading<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

About the Grub issue, have you tried booting from the Grub command line? You should be able tospecify kernel/boot-options there

#

Re:Excellent Article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:03 AM
Hmmmm interesting. my back ground has been Redhat4.2 to Redhat7.0 I migrated to Mandrake 8 and stopped at Mandrake 10. I Found Debian install horrible and I didn't like it. I Play with SuSE due to work requirements.

The reason why I moved away from the above was so that I could use Enlightenment on all my systems. I hate KDE and Gnome as a window managers, I wanted fast graphics and unique looking interfaces, if I wanted my system to behave like windows I would have installed windows, and KDE and gnome behave just like windows.

I have been using Gentoo at home for the last 2 years. I have never had problems as described in the article. To me it appears the author did not follow the manuals as they are intended. I read the manuals, and followed them step by step and have had flawless installs, especially on my MythTV server. I have had less greif installing Gentoo and configuring my HDTV card than with Redhat and Mandrake.

#

Another 'you should try' reply

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 19, 2006 11:25 PM
Arch Linux is similar to Gentoo in that it does what you ask it to and nothing else. In one 100th of the time. Well, you don't have to compile any packages unless you want to. Then you can, easily.

You need to know a bit about how a Linux system works, and you should read the manual. But if you don't, and get stuck, you can ask. Then you'll most often get a straight answer, or be pointed to a specific place in the manual or in the formums that can help you out.

#

Re:Try another?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 12:04 AM
Yeah, package management is much simpler and more fun in lunar and sourcemage. Gentoo's portage was modelled after freebsd's ports, which starts to show its age. But, then again, no-one has ever claimed that gentoo would be the easiest distro out there.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

#

Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 12:07 AM
I became a Gentoo user a while back, and this was my experience.

1. Glibc had a minor update. Had to recompile the entire thing, taking hours.
2. Next day, Xorg had a minor update. Had to recompile the entire thing, taking hours.
3. Next day, Kde had a minor update. Had to recompile the entire thing, taking hours.
4. Next day, Xorg had another minor update. Had to recompile the entire thing, taking hours.
5. Next day, Kde had another minor update. Had to recompile the entire thing, taking hours.

And that is what the gentoo experience is: endless recompilation for every single minor, trivial update to any package.

The good news is that my CPU, usually idle, actually spent a lot more time maxed at 100%.

I'm now a kubuntu user and I am loving it!

#

Gentoo is great on the Server

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 12:39 AM
I installed Gentoo on my server to replace Suse. The reasons for this were that the machine was my old desktop, and so I wanted to get the most out of its more limited CPU and hard drive. I found Gentoo excellent for the following reasons:

1) I now have a far better understanding of how Linux works underneath. It is a necessary part of doing the install to know where to configure everything.

2) The server flys along quickly and happily, with little or no interference from me.

3) The Gentoo documentation is excellent - better than any other distro I have seen. In fact I often use the Gentoo docs if I need help doing things in other distros.

I have the following caveats however:

a) The server Gentoo install is a headless install - I really couldn't be bothered to do a full KDE install on it, simply due to the size of the download and time it takes to compile.

b) I don't upgrade all of the packages on a regular basis - only when I *need* the new features. In my experience upgrading a perfectly functional system is a recipe for a lot of potential work to get it all working correctly!

In short, I find Gentoo an excellent server distro, especially if you need to use older hardware. I use Ubuntu on my desktop however.

#

Re:Gentoo is great on the Server

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:04 AM
>I really couldn't be bothered to do a full KDE install on it, simply due to the size of the download and time it takes to compile.

If you really want this, why don't you build the packages on another box then. But gui software doesn't belong on a server anyways...

#

Re:Gentoo is great on the Server

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:42 AM
1) Better understandig of how Linux works? Sounds more like you can now cut & paste from the Gentoo manuals. Linux per se is _only_ the kernel. And no, editing configuration files below<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc by hand does not make a you a Linux-Pro. UNIX hackers have been doing that for >20 years...

2) Sounds very subjective to me. Did you actually take the time to benchmark Suse vs. Gentoo? How much faster is your mysql, apache, sambe whatever churning through requests?

3) I've found them to be little more than cut & paste howtos that leave you wondering what's happening behind the scenes.

b) That's one of my biggest complaints with Gentoo. AFAIK there is no way to cherry-pick upgrades. I don't want to rebuild gcc or my libc every other day, _unless_ there's a security hole. This forces me to manually review almost every emerge. Yuck.

On a side note: Having a compiler installed on a real server sounds like a bad idea to me. But then, from your post, it sounds more like it's just an old tower sitting in the corner dishing out some files...

#

Re:Gentoo is great on the Server - and on the Desk

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 12:15 PM
I use Gentoo since a year ago in my desktop system, and I couldn't be happier with any distro.

I've used Red Hat, Mandrake and Debian Sarge, and they were good, but I don't need to flame them just because I've found something better (_for me_).

The problem is that Gentoo is not a distro for everyone. You MUST be interested in how a computer works if you want to have fun with Gentoo.

In fact, if I have to install a Linux to any friend, my choice will be always Ubuntu/Kubuntu, but I wouldn't install Ubuntu in my computer. It's the perfect distro for anyone that only wants to USE his computer, in the easiest possible way.

However, if this friend is a computer g33k and wants to have fun, we will probably install Gentoo. I've done that with some friends, and now they are gentoo-geeks (and some of them even have a girlfriend o_O!).

Btw, there are no KDE or Xorg updates since months.
I haven't compile any package in weeks, and my system is fully functional and updated.
And, if I want to update my system, I leave it compiling while I sleep. Sorry, but I can't see the problem. I am too unsocial-geek?<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:(

>> "Sounds more like you can now cut & paste from the Gentoo manuals"

Ok. What Gentoo can't do is to _force_ you to learn things. The documentation is there, so you can:

1.- go and copy/paste without understanding anything (then you are not interested in hoy your system works, then probably Gentoo is not for you)

2.- go, read the documentation, search for additional documentation to understand how it works, and then copy/paste _or_ write your own better code.

Anyway I think this happens in every distro, you can copy/paste or learn how to do it.
User's choice.
Even in Ubuntu.
If you don't want to know what's happening behind the scenes, it's because you don't want to.

>> "AFAIK there is no way to cherry-pick upgrades."

Oh, yes, you can. There are some packages that I don't want to upgrade (in example, the new version of yakuake sux), I tell it to portage, and portage doesn't upgrade them. I can even configure what versions I want and what don't.
Anyway, I don't understand why are you upgrading gcc every day, I haven't compiled gcc in months. I only compiled it some weeks ago because I switched to an "unstable" version to test things.

#

Re:Gentoo is great on the Server

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:16 PM
Sorry, I disagree. I had a Gentoo server til a few months ago, that is now a Debian server. We installed software in the last year and got more or less everything working, but at some point those compiling orgies are a real PITA. Servers are all about having services online, and most users just don't care about the OS on the machine. When I need a mailserver, I'd like to see it online by the end of the day and not by the end of next week. I personally experienced less problems with Debian howto's, and I guess that has to do with release cycles. When you setup 3 Gentoo servers in a month, you usually have 3 different versions of your server software required 3 differents sets of settings, so at best you would require 3 different howto's. Yes, you can solve most of the problems in the Gentoo forum, but I think it seriously hinders productivity.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a real Gentoo fan. I currently run an update on my laptop for a week now. I have a machine here doing nothing but compiling our Gentoo based distro, and still think catalyst is a great tool for creating your own livecd-based distro. But if I had an office with x desktop machines, I'd never wanted Gentoo on those machines. You usually have x different versions of each app on those machines and supporting this is a nightmare in my eyes.

#

Re:Gentoo is great on the Server

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 30, 2006 10:05 PM
Has it crossed your mind that if you have x different installs of any distro on x company machines, then you're way out of control? Most companies I know have already figured out how to use disk images and so...

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:26 AM
You know<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... if it's a minor update<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... you don't have to update it<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... unless you are just typing "emerge -u world" like a bad admin would.

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:39 PM
Okay - I can believe Xorg having two minor updates that close together (because it happened at least once), but recompiling the whole of KDE twice two days apart? The only time all of KDE gets updated at once is when a new version is released (every few months) - and if you're using stable, it happens even less often. Since KDE is split up into multiple packages, you shouldn't end up recompiling the whole thing very often at all. (Which is fortunate, as it takes ages...)

(Also, I think Gentoo is actually moving over to modular X at the moment, which means long recompiles of Xorg should become a thing of the past).

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 05:42 PM
> Also, I think Gentoo is actually moving over to modular X at the moment, which means long recompiles of Xorg should become a thing of the past
It's done; I recall having to do the install/tweak thing a month or two ago for Xorg 7 (I think that's right; could be wrong on the version number)

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 04:43 AM
wah! That's your own fault for running kde. You know that no one was forcing you to check for daily updates.

BTW, anyone who can't successfully install gentoo is a 'tard. The author has a linux background (not including linspire)?

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 12, 2007 02:52 AM
"BTW, anyone who can't successfully install gentoo is a 'tard. The author has a linux background (not including linspire)?"

Anyone who says things like this is a d*ck who only hurts the Linux community.

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 31, 2006 09:13 PM
Man, you are so a moron!!!

I have been using Gentoo for 1 month and I found 2 updates of firefox and gnome in this time. And I chose not to install them. You did recompile everything because you wanted to. Gentoo never forces the user for an update. So don't say "Gentoo Stinks".

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 08, 2007 02:13 AM
Wanna love other great distributions

Try Gentoo First

I tried gentoo live cd installer. Lost patience with my pc. Deleted half baked partition done by gentoo by using gparted (from my sweet ubuntu)

#

Re:Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 25, 2007 12:27 AM
I lol'ed

did you have emerge -up world set to run every morning?
or do you even know how to set that up?

If kubuntu's for you then use it, and quit knocking other distro's, especially when it makes you look like an idiot. If I wanted to use precompiled binaries for everything I'd be using windows, but that's me, have fun doing what you like and keep your nose out of everyone elses buisness, or at least keep your comment's constructive.

#

Re: Gentoo stinks

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.3.228.107] on August 05, 2007 08:02 PM
As is the nature of the distribution. If you are unhappy with updating your system ever single day, DON'T. Leave it too once a week, or even once a month, or if you're game, once a (linux) year (~ 5 months), or even once a (calender) year. If you --sync and --update world every single day, you will, as you say, be endless recompiling your system.

#

With power comes great responsability!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 01:05 AM
Gentoo is really a great distro, but not for anyone yet. It will require a lot of precious time reading manuals, forums and articles in order to really use the distro (portage and friends).

The majority of distros hides from the user the trouble of tunning the system, which will give the user, along the headache, a lot of knowledge about the system.

It was a big time for me reading your article. Remembered myself a few years ago. Hehe! If you wanna learn more about Linux and stuff, try Gentoo again.

Best regards!

#

Re:With power comes great responsability!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:06 AM
That's cute -- 'not for anyone yet'.

#

The New Install

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 01:30 AM
The new way of instlling Gentoo is a joke.
I have no idea why the Gentoo devs thought it would be a good idea and be like the other distros. Gentoo is NOT like the rest, so why try to act like them?
To really get a good understanding of Gentoo is to do it the old way. To do it all by hand, and its not that hard. The Gentoo.org handbook makes it pretty complex and hard to understand.
<a href="http://gentoo-install.com/" title="gentoo-install.com">http://gentoo-install.com/</a gentoo-install.com>
Yes it links to the other guides, but its another way of installing Gentoo, and its easy to understand.
If you have used Linux before you shouldnt have any issues.

#

Re:The New Install

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 10:59 PM
Interesting article. I'm a Gentoo user, though I'm rather agnostic regarding distros, and I'd have to agree that installing Gentoo is a good thing for a newbie who wants to learn. It will teach you very important fundamentals that you would never think of doing on purpose any other time. I'd have to say that I do not like the new quickie-install live CD. I think it should be old-school Stage 1 installs for Gentoo. That's what they excel at and should stick with it. Many other comments from various viewpoints are relevant as well. On the one hand, the system should be primarily useful ASAP. On the other hand, Gentoo boxen, once built, hardly need any work. It's simply a matter of needs vs. wants. No need to flame anyone. One of the major roadblocks for Gentoo is it's use of portage. AFAIK, it's the only distro that does so and you'd have to install an RPM package installer to get RPM's up and running. This makes things a little more difficult when apps are scattered all over the landscape with RPM installers prebuilt and no ebuilds. Otherwise, Gentoo is a pretty damn good distro.

#

I'm with you; Slackware is suh-weet

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 02:20 AM
I, too, tried a Gentoo Stage 3 install. Yep, I actually got everything working, but it took a couple of tries. I of course knew this going in.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-) But after I was done, I ended up with a system that really wasn't any faster a desktop box than my Slackware 10.2 box at home (custom-compiled 2.6.17.13 kernel, 2.6.16.19 before then). Yeah, you have to be a little 1337 to properly play with Gentoo, but that's kinda the point of Gentoo--total control, the closest thing a distro can be to Linux From Scratch (LFS).

[ShamelessPlugForSlackware]

Patrick really does keep it clean and standard; having used command lines since DOS 2.0 and Applesoft BASIC, I've had no discomfort keeping my Slackware box up to date. It's pretty easy to configure once you remember that it uses the BSD style of rc files. In less than three hours (this includes the time to compile your kernel), you can have a Slackware system that runs just about as fast as Gentoo, without spending three days. Oh, and if you need GNOME (I need Evolution for work--MS Exchange Server), just install DropLine GNOME (another hour, depending on download time) and boom, you're done.

[/ShamelessPlugForSlackware]

#

A Great Article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 02:48 AM
I used Gentoo for about 1.5 years straight on the same install. Before that I spent maybe a year just installing, removing, and reinstalling Gentoo simply so I could get to learn the underpinnings. It was my first real experience with linux (other than Knoppix and Mandrake, each of which I spent maybe an hour with) and really made me into a power linux user. Gentoo is still my favorite distro, and any time I'm setting up a spare Linux Desktop or Server that I don't have to have up and running immediately (and has decent compiling power) I'll go with it.

That said, you are absolutely right about wanting to use your machine. My laptop (the machine I ran Gentoo on for a year and a half) is now running Kubuntu Edgy because I wanted a system close enough to the "bleeding-edge" that I got with Gentoo without nearly as much hassle. Thanks to all of my time with Gentoo, I am experienced enough that when X has failed on me (numerous times during my dapper -> edgy upgrade) I didn't flinch for a moment and knew exactly what I needed to look for in order to fix it.

Gentoo is a great learning system, and a wonderful system for getting an absolute performance beast on a customized system which will have specific uses. It will never, however, be the system to install if you want to have very few hassles on a given machine.

#

The looks...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 03:38 AM
Gentoo is far less configurable than it seems to be. I tested gentoo for a year and than reinstalled debian. That's right, debian.

I didn't want to build my own ebuild scripts for each and any package but otherwise you won't be able to configure your system through to its bones.

I noticed flags being used but not reported, flags being reported but not used, inconsistent system tools and weak dependency tracking. Oh, and those funny effects of install order being important but not being tracked.

Very cool to have a floating system...

cb

#

Re:The looks...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 01, 2006 12:49 PM
Gentoo is far less configurable....then what? Then what you thought you could do with Gentoo or dreamed you could do with Gentoo? Or what Gentoo was intended to be?

Your own ebuild scripts? Really? I've been using Gentoo since 2000 and I've rarely had to build/write an ebuild script for anything that I couldn't just build from source normally anyhow.

Can you name these inconsistent system tools? Do you realize that some tools become deprecated and are usurped by newer, more appropriate tools?

Weak dependency tracking? As opposed to tracking everything so virulently that in order to have an X server and GUI, one also has to have Gnome, KDE, and Metacity installed?

What flags are not reported but are used? Is it being used by a Gentoo developer? Is it listed in the use.desc or use.local.desc files? Did some dufus of a linux-hack wannabe make up a flag?

So a flag is reported, but not used? That's a problem? You use every seat belt in your car? Or only when you have a person in each seat, thus a person needing the seat belt? Why throw in a use flag if you don't need it? Just because it's documented to exist?

#

Is this what Linux users are coming to...?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:23 AM
OMFG, I really hope the author is not considered a Linux "guru".

Can't configure X without the distro doing it for you...?

Can't recover your system using GRUB? (if it was using LILO, I could sympathize... a little)

I'm sorry, but this "review" only shows how inept the installer (not the software) is.

#

Wrong answer; doesn't help our cause

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 07:07 AM
Not everybody's a hacker type that wants to, or even needs to, learn GCC compile-time flags. Gentoo is definitely for the knowledgeable GNU/Linux user, and that's the market/audience that it serves. For others, Ubuntu/Kubuntu or SuSE is perfect. Insulting people, like you just did, only shows why some people (admittedly, mostly Microsoft and Apple proponents) call us difficult to work with. Please don't give them more ammunition.

#

Re:Wrong answer; doesn't help our cause

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:48 AM
I have to agree with the orignal responce here, although I feel he could have come across a bit more polite.

I started with Mandrake, which I found to be uterally unusuable for my purposes -- it had WAY more bloat and crap that I was trying to get away from etc.

So, knowing practically nothing about linux, I decided to dive into Gentoo -- I had spare pentium 3 so there was no complex partitioning for dualboot and whatnot.

First install, although it took a while, I got right. But shortly after I managed to accidently mess up the partition table (don't ask how heh), so I decided, what-the-hey I'll just reinstall now that I have more of an idea whats going on.

Second install, uter failure.

Third install -- perfect. Absolutely beautiful, and still using the same one. That computer is one of my most reliable and easiest to work with. I've been using it for more than two years and I've been learned way more about linux and computers than I could have ever though possible from just browsing forums and whatnot.

Gentoo is by far my favorite distro, although it's a hassle to get going, it's a tank once you do.

And, if you don't update for 'EVERY' 'minor' update, it doesn't take forever each time. I find weekly updates are about the most time efficient, and I usually only update the kernel (because it requires a restart) every month or so.

And, I've found the gentoo community to be more than willing to help out someone with questions so long as they show they've done their part in looking for anwsers first (forums/manuals/etc).

Just my thoughts,
Nex

#

Re:Wrong answer; doesn't help our cause

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 11:16 PM
Umm... I never said anything about learning GCC flags, or that Gentoo was a perfect distro, and I'm sure as hell not giving anti-Linux companies more ammunition.

My gripe is this article was supposed to be a review of the installation process by a person that can't even install the distro at hand. Wow. What a fscking concept. So instead of getting a complete review of the installation process with tips and caveats for new users, we instead get "OMG... it's soo hard. I couldn't even get it installed, and I had to go back to something easier".

Now, potential new users that could've been helped by this article are going to say "OMG... it was too hard for that Newsforge/Linux.com guy, it's going to be too hard for me".

Not to mention whining about things that shouldn't be whined about in the first place like compiling a distro from scratch. Get fscking real... it's going to take some time.

#

Re:Wrong answer; doesn't help our cause

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 21, 2006 12:08 AM

Thanks for your feedback.

#

You're criticizing and you think LILO is hard?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 11:00 AM
Dude, if you didn't thoroughly understand LILO after three minutes with Werner's source code, you are not in any condition to criticise anyone else's dissatisfaction with Gentoo.

LILO is butt-simple. GRUB is needlessly complex, and should only be used by Windows refugees. If you don't agree, you simply don't understand the hardware you are using.

I absolutely agree with Joe's review of Gentoo. It's a great distro for certain purposes (for example, wannabe kernel coders should DEFINITELY install gentoo at least once) but it's not appropriate for 90% of the linux user base. It's great for me because I'm old enough to have started out compiling my OS from scratch and I'm comfortable with the process.

#

Re:You're criticizing and you think LILO is hard?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 09:03 PM
The point to be made is that the author didn't know how to pass the -s flag to the kernel with GRUB. That's a no brainer if you know what the -s flag does - even if you're not familiar with GRUB. Try passing -s to a kernel using lilo when your machine boots to a non functional Xorg by default...

Booting using the installation disc as a rescue disc is the first thing a linux newbie should learn. As a self-proclaimed veteran of many distros, the author should have known the basics of changing boot parameters and/or default runlevels using the installation cd.

#

Re:You're criticizing and you think LILO is hard?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 11:07 PM
I never said LILO is hard... I just said I'd be able to extend a *little* sympathy to the author. LILO is very simple to understand, but GRUB is a much better boot loader and just as easy to master. I don't have to re-install the boot loader every time I install a new kernel; it's more flexible in the case of problems as I can get a CLI and boot alternate kernels from alternate root devices. If you're holding on to LILO, you must enjoy running antiquated pieces of software with limited functionality.

As far as Gentoo, I never said it's appropriate for 90% of people, but the author is whining about things (and had to revert back to an "easier" distro) because of issues someone proficient in Linux would be able to correct. Granted, I'm not saying to cover it up, but if you're going to write an honest review of a distro, get someone who can at least fsking install it.

Whining about how long a source-based distro takes to install...? Buy faster hardware, install a binary distro, or STFU and wait.

#

Re:You're criticizing and you think LILO is hard?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 25, 2007 12:10 AM
oh yes let's bring up LILO and GRUB again. that makes you more mature than the original poster.

the point is he has a gripe, most of this review is spent crying about not being able to hack a gentoo install. Who the hell claimed that gentoo was as easy to install as windows? if you want something easy f'ing buy windows, or find something easy, I personally like gentoo how it is now, 100% my way.
It slaps me in the face if I do something stupid and I'm forced to learn something.

One of the biggest problems the linux community has out there are all the flipping zealots telling each other that their distro is the best.

Yeah, your distro is the best, for YOU. Tell people what's good about it and let them decide which is for them.

I'm not sure what good this review's going to do anyone. "Oh noes stay away from gentoo, scarey install." Are we advising against experimenting here. Heaven forbid anyone learn anything.

If you don't wanna use windows or a mac OS<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... and you don't have the desire to become a linux guru, get something w/ a simple installer such as SuSE (my first distro, easiest thing I ever installed, in fact I think it was almost as easy as windows)

Gentoo doesn't claim to be the easiest distro to install, it does claim to be one of the most customizable<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... to me that implies some complexity.

jeez

And from what I saw in the pictures, the install wasn't even following any I've ever seen in the handbook, I've not seen one that documents use of the LiveCD GUI install yet... basing our article on an unsupported install medium it seems.

#

Gentoo inferences, compilation

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:31 AM
I do appreciate your comments about being a coder, and that you want your machine dedicated to making your life easier, and not to feeding the Operating System.

I do disagree with implication I perceived by that very last sentence: that Gentoo does not do that for you.

The truth of the matter is you spend a lot of time setting up the machine the way you like it, but once you have it set up, you should very rarely need to tweak anything in it: I find that what you spread out over time on other Operating Systems/Linux distributions is a lump sum payment with Gentoo.

And to reply to the person who made the comment about the amount of time spent compiling on Gentoo: you are being stupid if that is the only impression you take away from it.

That you choose to compile for every minor update is your prerogative. That you somehow make this seem a bad thing is foolish.

The great thing about Gentoo is that you are given the flexibility. In some cases it pays off, and in others it doesn't: I still prefer recompiling all of X, rather than updating (for example) a library, just because some arbitrary person decided that the library I am using is now "outdated", and forces me to update it to get the new package that I am trying to retrieve.

Maybe you don't run into that anymore, but I haven't run into that since I have started using Gentoo.

Which really does bring me back to the first point.

#

Yesterday was my last day with Gentoo

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:52 AM
The words in the last paragraph of the article are my thoughts exactly!
Coincidentally, this is my first day running Kubuntu after using Gentoo for the last two years. I finally switched because like the article writer, I'm also lazy. Gentoo is a high-maintenance system and it can give you geeky satisfaction when you meddle with USE flags, compiler options and build your own, lean kernel. But it does get old after a while, compiling dozens of new packages whenever KDE comes with a new minor version and figuring out which packages in modular Xorg you need.

I'm not saying Gentoo is bad. In fact it's quite good in what it is trying to be, it's just not for everyone. I can recommend it to serious hobbyists who want to learn more about the inner works of Linux!

#

Yet another [Gentoo] Linux is too hard to install

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:52 AM
Yet another "[Gentoo] Linux is too hard to install review", and it surely is very difficult to install. But I've been running Gentoo for many years, and it's by far the nicest distribution I've used for upgrading/updating packages. As other people have commented, compiling takes time, but how much is up to you. Sure you can upgrade every day if you want, but no one is forcing you to. I just upgraded my son's machine that had Gnome 2.08 on it. Currently Gnome is at 2.14, so it's been a long time since it was last updated. There were some minor issues, but I'd rather solve them than reinstall and reconfigure everything from scratch. On my own machine, I usually upgrade about once a month, with most of the compiles running overnight while I'm sleeping. Installing new packages is usually easy. I still remember "rpm hell" when trying to download new packages for Redhat/SuSE, and I much prefer Gentoo.

#

Kororaa

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:58 AM
You can use Kororaa to install a Gentoo system. It is a curses installer and uses prebuild packages, automatically configures everything, etc. It gives you a pretty good base system in Gnome or KDE, x86 or AMD64. Maybe you should give it a try?

#

This is good thing

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:59 AM
I am long time user of SMGL (another great distro) and my first (and only) Gentoo install took me 4 days. That included setting up everything down to XGL, themes, keyboard shortcuts and all the stuff I need to work. It was not too bad at all. Fact of the matter is that linux is not everyone, and Gentoo is for even smaller group of people. The way I see it is: if you cannot configure xorg without some helper app and if you do not read manual before doing stuff then your contribution to the Gentoo community would be none and people would just waste their time reading your bug reports. The fact that you did not manage to set this up is good for you and it is good for Gentoo.

#

hmmm...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:10 AM
is portage much more than just an option translator for the different build environments? Couldn't we replace the use flags by a standardized build system and standardized configure options?

#

Re:hmmm...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:30 AM
> is portage much more than just an option translator for the different build environments?

No. It also deals with the dependencies of packages and it's a hard fight getting all of them deterministic to be able to implement proper reverse dependency support somewhat in the future. You can read here¹, why automagic dependencies suck. Installs happen in a sandboxed environment to save the user from wild running build scripts. And before the installed files get merged to the system, a check for files conflicting with other ones by already installed packages is done as well.

>Couldn't we replace the use flags by a standardized build system and standardized configure options?

The whole point of it is, that every user can choose the options he wants and has not to rely on "standardardized configure options" matching his requirements.

[1] <a href="http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/qa/automagic.xml" title="gentoo.org">http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/qa/automagic.xml</a gentoo.org>

#

kind of surprising

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:17 AM
I'm not a techie type person by any means. I didn't study it in school, and while I enjoy having a computer and messing about on it every once in a while I basically use it as a typewriter and jukebox.
That said I've been running gentoo since I discovered it which must be 3 years or maybe 4. I've had little issues every once in a while, but I've always been able to figure out how to fix them with minimal work.
I suppose it's not for everyone, but it's also not nearly as complicated as people make it out to be, and the best part is that once it's set up it's terrifically easy to manage. It also doesn't fill your computer with crap. That's why I like it I suppose -- it does what I want it to and nothing else, and it stays up to date.

You should've stopped and moved to Etch earlier. I would've recommended the moment that you said, "I left the default options." If you say that you are not a gentoo user, shouldn't be, and shouldn't bother writing about it.

s.

#

great article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:17 AM
Other than making for good war stories (my first installation was on an 450Mhz K6-2 with 128MB RAM... it took 3 days just to bootstrap the d*mn thing from a stage 1 install) the upside of the sometimes heinously painful installation is that by the time you have installed and tuned your system, you'll know more about it than you probably ever thought possible.

You simply have to learn it, and fortunately, you only have to do that once.

I've heard the Debbies joke about Gentoo users becoming 'instant experts' by watching garbage scroll across their screen for hours, but the simple truth remains that there is no substitute for knowledge and experience, regardless of the distribution. There is no debconf to make things easy and chances are good that you'll eventually get cut if you want to play with the bleeding edge packages, regardless of the distribution.

That is by no means a slam, just a statement. We've all been burned by 'stable' packages as well, and every package management system has its own unique way of handling things.

So what about all those cycles getting constantly chewed up as hours of our lives burn away waiting for package X, Y, and Z to install?

Exactly how intensive are your day to day tasks? Even running GNOME, Thunderbird, GAIM, Firefox, Rhythmbox, Eclipse, and urxvt with screen and ssh connections my CPU usage barely cracks 10% on P4 2.4Ghz w/ 796MB RAM - we're not exactly talking about a burly machine.

I'll agree that compiling _everything_ is a pain, but there are a few object lessons here.

1. Discretion.

Compilation, in fact, provides _more_ incentive to use our computers for things other than maintenance. I certainly don't want to recompile X or KDE for every trivial change that comes through either, and since nobody is actually _forcing_ me to do just that... well, the point should be clear by now.

If clock cycles are truly an issue even for critical maintenance you may not want to push a source based distribution to begin with. But, in case you do, there are several strategies to pushing the actual compilation to off-peak hours. Cron, anyone?

And for the record, wanton changes and upgrades will eventually doom _any_ system.

2. Binaries have problems too.

I actually moved away from binary package distributions because of having to deal with Someone Else's Binaries. At some point we have all had to hand compile a package due to a dependency, feature or availability issues, or have run across a binary that misbehaves or simply does not work.

Sure, not all binaries misbehave and Portage ebuilds can be just as broken at times, but there is a point that is reached when the benefits of a binary package management system are marginalized by the need to step outside of it for system maintenance. Why fight Apt or RPM when they do not fit my needs?

Gentoo is definitely not for everyone, but it is nice to hear that someone else gave it an honest effort. I won't try to tell you that your experience would have improved with time, but I can certainly attest to the fact that I spend just about as much time and effort performing simple maintenance on my car as I do with my Gentoo box.

Besides, the installation is a trial by fire... and since when have the first steps to anything great ever been easy?<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

#

Re:great article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:25 AM
I don't think good articles spent lots of time saying what the author knows and think. The idea is to be fair, and not just to say: it's hard, it's not for me. I'm a technical writer, and even not using Gentoo, I use Slackware, I think Gentoo is one of the best distros I've ever used.

I meant, the last "as good programmer Im lazy", I don't agree, because using Gentoo you're going to learn a lot, even more than writing articles as I do. Even, Gentoo has an amazing community, by far the biggest, the strongest and the more complete. See the forum, the Wiki and still counting.

I think would be nice if you also tell the people the good sides of Gentoo. Even, Gentoo is by far more than the couple of hours to install. In fact, you are able to use packages semi-compiled, and then install packages it's easy. Install X and a few things, then emerge works very fast.

I don't like the title, because it show the bad side, why don't you tell "The amazing gentoo community helps me everyday, but the distro is not for me".

#

Re:great article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:39 AM
"I called a halt to the great migration and admitted to myself that I was simply not good Gentoo material."

I'd rather hear that conclusion than "G3n2 suX0rz!!111!!1 LOL" any day.

The author's assessment of the Gentoo community was quite fair, but we can't really escape the ugly truth is that the installation really is a b*tch until you've done it a few times.

Gentoo probably is the best example of "set and forget" of any distribution, but you do have to get there first.

#

Gentoo is a waste of time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:51 AM
People say Gentoo is good because it has good performance. Compiling packages yourself isn't likely to give a significant increase in performance.
But it takes hell lot of a long time waiting for it to compile. And it Gentoo is overly complex, with CFLAGS and all kinds of strange stuff.

An operating system should install in less than 40 minutes.

#

Re:Gentoo is a waste of time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:10 AM
I ran Gentoo for about a year, and some things were faster, some weren't. Of course it can all depend on what flags you set, how customized your kernel is, etc, etc... However, the amount of time required to compile things when a new version of a large package (such as Xorg, OpenOffice, or Mozilla) came out, just didn't make it worth it to me. Lots of Gentoo users will say "but you can get those large packages in binary form", but if I'm getting it in binary form anyway, why stick with a source distribution. Switched to Ubuntu with Debian's apt-get, which is just as nice a package manager as Portage, and never looked back. Gentoo was great for learning linux, but it's a compilation nightmare to stick with it.

#

Re:Gentoo is a waste of time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 07:35 AM
No, gentoo is great because I can muck about with the internals to my hearts content.

If you dont want to, fine stick with windows where everything "just works" with no tweaking required.

Personally, I like tweaking.

#

You kids are so spoiled.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 11:57 AM
The PDP-11s I used for testing thermonuclear weapon delivery systems required 16 hours to sysgen - and you pretty much had to sit in front of the console the whole time, because you never knew when it would suddenly halt and ask you a question like "what cluster size do you want for the MFD (recursive root directory)?".

"An operating system should install in less than 40 minutes." Pffth. Yeah, and I should have fifty beautiful supermodels waiting in my bedroom right now. An operating system should install in however long it takes to do the job right given the purposes for which the system is intended. An you should allocate that time appropriately. Get a grip.

#

Not just RTFM, but do what it says

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 05:57 AM
Based purely on what the article says, it seems your install failed because you did not follow the instructions. Start off with unstable? Used the wrong CD?

I installed Gentoo a couple years ago when I had played with some RPM distros for about a year. I had almost never used the command line, never compiled a kernel, and chroot, what the hell was that?

Never the less, I wanted to give Gentoo a whirl. I read the manual, followed the instructions, and although it took awhile, Gentoo installed just fine. I only installed it once, that is all that is necessary.

I am nowhere near a guru, though I have learned a lot over two years. Now I spend very little time administering the system. With knowledge comes power. My system is fast, flexible, and easily upgraded. I don't know an awful lot, but I can follow instructions, use google, and check out the gentoo forums.

#

Re:Not just RTFM, but do what it says

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:48 AM
My thoughts exactly. I had that problem when my brother was 'trying' to install gentoo. He'd say "What do I do now?" and I'd say, what does the installation guide tell you to do? After 3 days of telling him to read the installation instructions, I took the wheel and the installation was finished within a matter of hours.

Now, with the number of systems I have running, I can have a gentoo system installed (using stage1) in 2 hours with X.....distcc is a wonderful thing.

Some previous commentor said he had to recompile everything every time something was upgraded. That is insane. Sometimes a package is updated to provide new and exciting features that nobody can use yet. Why bother updating that component when it gains you nothing? I recently updated Xorg to the latest version because I wanted the new features. At the same time, there was an update to a trivial program that I use a lot, but it contained updates that I didn't need....so I didn't bother to update it.

Sometimes you must make decisions about your gentoo system and there is no manual to tell you what to do.....

I'm glad that the author wrote this article. This will, hopefully, convince someone who might otherwise attempt gentoo to go to a less advanced distro like fedora or suse.

#

author is pretending..

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:01 AM
by reading your article I realized that you pretend to be lazy or stupid!

btw, what CPU you are using?

#

You don't learn that much.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:05 AM
Emerge packagename, hardly teaches you about the inner workings of Linux.

#

Re:You don't learn that much.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:22 AM
true but emerge packagename + a puke message & google help you learn a lot about the intter workings of linux

#

Re:You don't learn that much.

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 06:43 AM
It's when emerge fails that you start to learn. Which may sound flippant but isn't: just reading and executing a manual doesn't teach one much...

#

Gentoo Nightmare

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 07:48 AM
I haven`t use gentoo yet and i got no nice opinion to say about it but the things you have said about gentoo are very sad. I agree when you say (in the final part of your testimonial) that the machine must work for you.

I don`t like distro flames and i think almost the distros out there has their importance in some way here and there. My experience in linux distros are FreeBSD(ok, not a linux), Conectiva (not a linux too!) RedHat, Debian and Slackware. The last one is the one i use since 2002 and i tell you, i love it. It is simple if you want, can be customized just like you want, allow you to compile software from its source and let you install pre-compiled software either. It is, in my poor opinion, an all-in-one distro that can offer simplicity and power.

Slackware is great!

#

Gentoo Guides.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:25 AM
A HOWTO to help you with a Gentoo Linux 2006 installation.
A script to walk you through a Gentoo Linux 2005.1 installation (still relevant to 2006), at:


<a href="http://linux.coconia.net/" title="coconia.net">http://linux.coconia.net/</a coconia.net>

linux.coconia.net also has HOWTOs on:

1) cloning your windows XP/2000 installations using Linux (back-ups).
2) installing windows XP/2000 on a spare partition with Linux.
3) accessing and writing to Windows XP (formatted with the NTFS) from Linux.
4) some discussion on the GPL and non-free third party kernel modules.
5) remix those 14 Debian installation CDs as 2 DVDs.
6) compile the worlds best DVD/Movie/Video/MP3 Player and Encoder (MPlayer and MEncoder).
7) 3D acceleration for ATI cards (simple procedure, works for SuSE, Mandriva and Debian).
8) the entire book "Linux Device Drivers 3" in HTML format.

#

Re:A source distribution is NOT a binary distribut

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:47 AM
I have been using Gentoo on a production server for years now. The single best thing about it is that my system never needs to be upgraded - the installation doesn't expire in the same way that most other distros do after a while. You may like to upgrade or replace your installation every 12 months, but I prefer a system that never has to be reinstalled.

I freely admit that installing Gentoo is a pain, as is configuring various bits and pieces of the system (mindboggling so). However, the guides are great and any questions are usually easy to resolve by searching the gentoo forums. It's well worth the initial investment if you want to know more about linux, or value some of the other advantages enough.

#

Re:A source distribution is NOT a binary distribut

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 09:04 AM
Yeah, the not-expiring thing is great, isn't it? I've had a machine that has not been reinstalled for three years. With Windumbs I needed to reinstall at least twice a year (sometimes more if I did something as heinous and complex as changing/upgrading a graphics driver, oh horror); SuSE made that once a year and only if I wanted to; with gentoo I do not need to reinstall at all! Really great!

#

try vidalinux

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:56 AM
VLOS or VidaLinux ( www.vidalinux.com ) stage3 painless gentoo linux install with support for xgl and most recent kernel + most recent wireless drivers

worth a try, it's my current distro on the desktop

I wouldn't use it on a server though

#

Gentoo

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 09:47 AM
I am no expert by any means, I am currently running gentoo, I did a stage one install after using Fedora Core 1 for about two years.

I tried gentoo on a friends computer and I thought to myself why don't I give this a try. that was about a year and a half ago. The First time I tried to install it I had very little command line experence. I could not get the kernel to boot using both genkernel and manual configuraions. I Needed my computer for school so I reinstalled fedora and went on my way.

Then In April I decided that Fedora was not enough for me anymore so I installed gentoo, It took me about three hours of real work (3 days of compile time) I got it to boot the first time. It it by far the most stable, fastest distro I have ever tried I am using only stable packages (some exceptions) but I really like the configrability that it gives you I do write some custom ebuilds for packages but mostly the stock packages work fine for my needs.

#

Nice read

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 10:02 AM
A very good, pretty honest assessment of Gentoo. I agree, it isn't for everyone. I like to call Gentoo "Linux for control freaks" because Gentoo lets you make the choices instead of some distro packagers deciding for you. That's the upside. The downside is that in order to make intelligent choices, a lot of knowledge is required. That comes through reading the fine manuals and a bit of trial and error.

I would suggest doing a Gentoo install or two or three in a VMWare session and playing and experimenting there before installing for real. That will allow you to get familiar with Portage and the config files, etc.

Some things to remember -
  1. larger packages like KDE, OpenOffice and Firefox have binary packages available to save time installing.
  2. Don't update things just because there are updates (unless they are security related of course). If there is an update for a package you use once every two months, who cares?

#

learn a lot fast

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 10:22 AM
I thought I knew a lot about UNIX and Linux until I installed Gentoo. After I installed Gentoo I knew a lot more about both Linux and UNIX. I agree that Gentoo is not EASY to install and keep up but it only took me a day to get it working even with a Nvidia graphics card. I learned a great deal about boot strapping a system and getting it all to work. Gentoo is certainly not for anyone who doesn't want to learn and learn a lot. I found the manual and the wiki etc. very helpful and knowledgeable. I still have Gentoo on one of my systems and it has been over a year now. The system is very very stable. I do have to update things from time to time, and it does take more time than doing an RPM or YUM or APT update, but I usually download the tarball and "configure/make/make install" even on other systems. Learn and play. It could be fun.

Old enough to know better but young enough to try again.

#

Gentoo Not Being *That* Hard to Install

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 01:42 PM
As a person who has only been using Linux for approximately 2 years, I do not consider myself an expert at all...yet I have managed to run Gentoo for a little over one year without too many major issues. Yes, like the author, I did kill my system by compiling everything as ~x86 once, but in retrospect, that was just stupid on my part. Really, you don't have to be any smarter than the average Linux user to run Gentoo...you just need to know how to read. My first Gentoo installation was up and running in about 2 days after following the Gentoo Handbook line by line and reading up on everything carefully. The Gentoo Handbook really tells you most everything you need to know, and if not, the Gentoo Wiki can help with most other things, and when all else fails...Google is your friend. I think the problem with most people who try to install Gentoo is that they're not patient enough to let the install finish (like the author), and that's where they run in to problems. (Although, I will admit that installing via a LiveCD was bizarre...the automatic install would not work for me, so I ended up just doing everything manually...once you've done it manually a couple of times it only takes an hour or two to run through the install process and then set the computer to compiling for a couple days.)

#

Good article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 01:47 PM
I completely understand some of your frustrations. You may be completely done with gentoo, but in case you give it another try, or want to try some other distros:

As a Gentoo/linux user for several years here ar some tips:

First, you can dual boot different linux distros just like dual booting linux and window or linux and mac. This way you can keep a stable production system, while playing with new distros. I actually do this with two gentoos (a flock of gentoo?). I have one that is stable for work and one that runs XGL that I play around with and crash and can't get running again for a few hours. But i am never panicked about it because I can always boot into the stable version to get my work done. Also once you learn your hardware (like Xorg, which is tricky), you don't usually have to mess with it to much again.

You can even install gentoo from any other linux distro without the boot cd (you will still need to downlod stuff). That way you can work in your other distro while gentoo is compiling. You can do this by chrooting.

Gentoo definitely isn't for everybody, but it will teach you a lot about linux and once you learn it, it has one of the best package management systems (portage) out there. The great thing about gentoo is that is very powerful and you can do anything you want with it. The bad thing is that gentoo is powerful and you can do anything you want with it, including having a very cool looking desk ornament.

Keep up the good reviews.

#

LiveCD install didn't work for me either.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 01:49 PM
"Although, I will admit that installing via a LiveCD was bizarre...the automatic install would not work for me, so I ended up just doing everything manually"

Didn't work for me either.

Maybe it is designed not to work for anyone, or, at least, be difficult to use.


Jade @ <a href="http://linux.coconia.net/" title="coconia.net">http://linux.coconia.net/</a coconia.net>
Jade @ <a href="http://m.domaindlx.com/LinuxHelp/" title="domaindlx.com">http://m.domaindlx.com/LinuxHelp/</a domaindlx.com>

#

Applications From Scratch

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 03:01 PM
Stories like this and my own experience screwing up
my own system made me start my project:

Applications From Scratch:

<a href="http://appsfromscratch.berlios.de/" title="berlios.de">http://appsfromscratch.berlios.de/</a berlios.de>
.

I hope it's the best of the two worlds - the
ability to compile from source and NOT to screw up
the running system.

#

Gentoo Wasn't Meant Easy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 03:37 PM
I have used Gentoo for almost 2 years and its true:
It's not easy BUT the most things I have learned about how linux and a machine in general work are because of gentoo.

Besides, is this the same Jon Barr that had problems with MPlayer?
<a href="http://www.mplayerhq.hu/DOCS/HTML/en/joe-barr.html" title="mplayerhq.hu">http://www.mplayerhq.hu/DOCS/HTML/en/joe-barr.htm<nobr>l<wbr></nobr> </a mplayerhq.hu>

Greetings form a gentoo user.

#

Re:Gentoo Wasn't Meant Easy

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 20, 2006 08:18 PM

Yes, it is one and the same. I see they have tamed down the outrage over the initial article a lot in this revised memorial page.


By the way, the title for the 2001 article didn't come from me, it came from a disgruntled MPlayer user in his online complaints about the arrogance and rudeness of the developers.

#

specs missing

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:19 PM
Thanks for an informative article, Joe. Please also provide the following details:


    - specs of the PC you were installing Gentoo on (processor, RAM)


    - how were you connecting to web and chat when the Gentoo machine was not running?

#

newschooler and lazy?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 04:31 PM
well in my opinion Gentoo is for people that already understand how Linux and Unix like systems run,function and the config files that govern them.
if your one of those people that realy understands what that slackware or debian package is realy installing to, or you the type that hates prebuilt kernals with a passion, or one of those dudes that designs scripts to do things for you so you dont have to drive youself crazy later....give GENTOO a try.
its easyer just to load a LIVE CD like knoppix or SLAX.
then make and mount your mount points...download and extract the "STAGE tarball in the / of your points...cd into that dir and then CHROOT into it, set your envirnment stuff then "EMERGE --SYNC", build your kernel, emerge and configure your boot loader then restart.
if you need to be told to RTFM than your better off with a binary (safe,....er?) ditro.
after a while its embeded in your head and dont need the docs anymore

its just my opinion so....relax

#

Install can be tricky, but it's worth it

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:31 PM
I've been using Gentoo for nearly 2 years now, and I'm incredibly happy with it.

Yes, the install process can be more than a little labour intensive, and it can take a few days to iron out all the wrinkles with your system. However once you've done this, you never need to install again, you just need to update when you want.

I find that the update (emerge) process with Gentoo is far superior to other distro's, where every 6 months to get the latest packages you need to burn a new iso and upgrade/reinstall.

With Gentoo you don't need to do this, though admitedly sometimes when there are big changes where you need to dive in and fix things. This isn't so much of a problem because of the great community and excellent upgrade guides.

In short, if you're tired of downloading and reinstalling redhat/fedora/ubuntu every year, then Gentoo may be a good fit. You'll pay an upfront cost in installation, but benefit in the longer term.

Gentoo's strengths are in configurability, (relatively) easy management, and easy upgrading 99% of the time. It does however have a learning curve, and require the odd bit of research every now and then.

#

Dead on

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 06:32 PM
Your article is dead on. I run two gentoo boxes (Sparc E250 and an x86) and two Unbunntu Boxes (workstation and home desktop).

Gentoo is a development platform, a meta distro. It's a distro from which to build other distros. When an Unbuntu user tells me (a gentoo user) how much easier their distro is to administer, I say, "Your Welcome". This is because it's me who is submitting bugs against the CVS versions of various GNU applications. It's me who is writing patches when xorg can't handle multiple PCI domains or the mpeg123 plugin for xmms has a tizzy with a new version of libid3. It's me (or rather "us" gentoo users) who makes your Unbuntu experience easier than running Gentoo. That's where Gentoo's real value lies. That's where the GPLs value lies as well.

You're all extremely welcome. It was my pleasure.

Wonderful article (I've never used the gui installer though). I'm glad you tried Gentoo out, and discovered what a "shit-vortex" getting everything to work is. It's not Gentoo's fault. It's Gentoo's duty.

#

bakka

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 08:38 PM
i bet you couldn't administer your way out of a paper bag.

#

Re:bakka

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 20, 2006 10:08 PM
You're right, and I have no ambitions along those lines, either.


Programmers rule, admins drool.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

#

Re:A source distribution...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 09:36 PM
You say you are using gentoo since about four years now. How many machines? Solely clients or servers or a mix? I used gentoo on a small network, a few clients with different profiles, a server. For a bit more than one year.

I am one of those kicking gentoo for debian. Therefore I am one of those you address by telling about the differences between binary and source distributions. There are differences between source and binary distributions. Sure, but they aren't neccessarily that big than one might expect at first.

But the problem with gentoo was't being a source distribution, a floating source distribution. It was the tools, none of them working reliably.

By today, do you get the actual set of use flags of a package? By the time I kicked it, that wasn't the case -- false reports in both directions, others not even listed as being available.

By today are there still several generations of system tools in alpha stage, as none of them is able to give the whole information?

The tools I used were find, grep and an editor. These gave the only results I could rely on. Pretty poor for a distribution, don't you think?

cb

#

Re:A source distribution...

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 09:58 PM

I use gentoo on about 12 machines, both servers and workstations.


I think the differences are big, and a source distribution is in no way as "easy" as a binary distribution: there's just much more to consider when handling source. What compiler is used to compile packages? What compiler was used to compile library X which is needed in the compile of package Y? Are use flags consistent over a dependent set of packages? Have they been overridden somehow in an improper way?


I grant you that some of the tools surrounding portage are not that great. Use flags are an example although not that important - you look 'm up in the ebuild and these are easy to read and find. You state that none of the tools worked reliably. I use gentoo a lot and find that an extaggeration. Sure, ebuilds do not always work expecially when mixing STABLE and UNSTABLE packages but that is not unexpected, and a fix is usually easy to find. And there are not that many more tools I need to do proper system maintenance: i use vi/less to examine ebuilds in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/usr/portage; I use equery to relate files to packages and vice versa and I use the various *-update scripts for maintenance. That's about it, and they often work rather well. Which does not mean that the tools cannot be better - they can.


I thing one should not position gentoo as a simple end-user distribution. It requires way more knowledge about both Linux, the software you install and the idiosyncraties of gentoo/portage itself. And an installer does not fix this at all.

#

coincidence...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 09:40 PM
yesterday was my last day with Gentoo as well. decided to give it a go.

install was fine, but after 2 hours trying to get SMBFS installed, i modified the masked keywords from the packages. it wiped my python, bash and then wouldn't boot.

SuSE was back and running under an hour (with SMB, sound and all).

#

gentoo is for ricers (*wink*)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 20, 2006 11:51 PM
I came to gentoo over two years ago with a pretty solid linux background dealing mostly with debian. I have enjoyed the company of coworkers well schooled in gentoo and have learned quite a bit about it since my first install. I do enjoy the ease with which I can keep my workstation updated without ever going through a massive distribution upgrade (from one release to the next).

However, not all is rosy. To the linux newbie, gentoo appears to be a distribution that teaches you about linux and gives you the flexibility to tweak your system however you like. Not quite. Gentoo teachs you about gentoo, not linux. It makes it much *easier* to tweak your system with the powerful, yet fragile portage system. I have found that 90% of this tweakage is totally unnecessary and serves only to boost the 'leet' factor. Any linux admin worth his salt can tweak any distribution of linux. Any linux admin worth his salt can recompile apps from source (ala<nobr> <wbr></nobr>./configure && make && make install) including the patches, and/or config options he needs. The portage system is not necessary for this.

coming from debian I have found that gentoo unecessarily complicates the things I don't want to have to worry about (package management) and throws the 'gentoo way' in front of everything else.

#

Re:gentoo is for ricers (*wink*)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 07:06 AM
I agree with your any admin can tweak any distro to his specs, but the point of the distros is to make it easy. Sometimes it depends on how easy and tweaked you want to get. I tried fought many different package management systems when I was trying to set up some packages with some nonstandard configure options. Yes, I could have built them from source, and for a while i did, but I wanted to be a consistent part of the system and didn't want to go through dependency hell like I seemed to do every time I had to upgrade. I started using gentoo two years ago and I love the configurability. Although it does come at the price of not being able to point and click install like Windows. Not putting anyone down, just different strokes for different folks.

#

Re:gentoo is for ricers (*wink*)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on February 13, 2007 09:39 PM
I'd agree<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...maybe... but what about the debian way,aka finding anything written in the author's docs changed from the debian guys....

#

Re:Gentoo Wasn't Meant Easy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 01:13 AM
Ah, well thanks for the answer. I didn't meant to stirr up old stuff, only the name rang a bell and i was courious.

Sorry for misspelling your name, usually i check my posts twice, but this slipped my notice.

Greetings, Astifter

BTW: I use Mac OS (on an iBook) for a few months now, THATs a OS!<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-))

#

Gentoo is not for columnists/reporters/n00bs

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 01:26 AM
eof

#

Re:Gentoo is not for columnists/reporters/n00bs

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 21, 2006 03:06 AM


Even columnists who started using Linux when you were in diapers?<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

#

I was in the same boat....

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 02:20 AM
...For 3 months I tried and I tried - installations on my laptop, desktop, and even a c3000 pa-risc machine. This was when 2006.1 came out. Gentoo - the only distro I couldn't get to install, compile right or work with my common hardware. Honestly, I'd like to think I was careless and doing something wrong or misreading a direction. One installation that I finally was able to boot, didn't work with my nic or my wifi and could see half the console screen bleeding off. I've read the installation guide at least 20 times, different and older installation guides to see how they differ, etc. I'd look up some parts of the guide, taking them out of context because maybe something wasn't clear. Sometimes I'd find a preconception of another Linux distro would confuse me with the way Gentoo was set up. Why would I need to chroot and do this and that? The installation taxed my patience, and I had a lot of it wasted.

I always screwed up getting the boot loader configured or written. I thought it was the way I set up my partitions at first, then I tried to mimic the instructions exactly... and gave up. I really got nothing done and I was back-logged on work.

Gentoo was not for me.

When I ask my Gentoo fanatic friend why he loves it so much, he tells me a list of things like package dep checks with visual candy, etc. I mean other distros have it. Instead of making the argument to him that a perfectly suitable distro, (for example, Slackware, has all that plus side projects like Dropline, slapget, swaret, etc and things) - I tell him distros are like women~

Some of us like the fat ones, some of us like the DSLs (Damn Small Linux), some of us look for a 'personality' of the flavor, and some of us look for a empty girlfriend to configure ourselves.

My point is this: I like Gentoo, and I respect the idea behind it - but if you want to get down and dirty without that constant needless OS foreplay and post-install manipulation, Gentoo is not for you.

#

Re:I was in the same boat....

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 02:32 AM
Alright - so I just found this <a href="http://gentoo-install.com/" title="gentoo-install.com">http://gentoo-install.com/</a gentoo-install.com>
and it's making a lot more sense than the 2006.1 handbook.

I'll try it again tonight, because I don't like to give up easily.

#

Just the opposite experience

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 03:55 AM
Don't understand why lots of people have problems installing Gentoo. My take on it is that don't have the time it takes.

After XP came out I decided to go to linux. Tried several distros and always had trouble.
Suse: almost impossible to get alsa and jack running (7.3) if it started at all when booting (9.0 & 10.0).
RH: don't get me started on dependencies and rpm...
Debian: never got past the command line with docs that are 3 years old.
Ubuntu: hang during install.

Then there were installers that couldn't install on the 3th HD (RH), that needed floppies (on a machine without floppy), never got on the network etc.

Went to Gentoo out of misery. Followed the manual line by line and ended (after a few days) with a working machine that booted into X and started KDE. Adding alsa and jack went without major trouble.

If you can read a manual, don't want to do the install in an hour and use a bit of your brain, any idiot can install Gentoo and keep it working.

#

Yes Yes Yes !!!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 06:06 AM
I use only Gentoo for last 3 years and did I have fun reading this article<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:) It is exactly the way it says<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:> but don't I just love it<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:D At any given moment where I have about 1000 packages installed on my ~x86 setup there is always about 5 packages that wouldn't work. When you finally fix them and and emerge sync for newer soft it is very likely that one app or another is going to go bye bye on you. Maybe one day Ill get bored of it and would not want to see it any longer, but for now Gentoo it da shet for me<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:8

#

Ultimate Gentoo experience

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 08:41 AM
A great article. Even though I would not necessarily agree with all your conclusions, it's still really worth reading.

I installed Gentoo first time after endlessly trying to keep updated my Debian Sarge installation when it was still in testing phase. Finally I came to the conclusion that maybe I will come back to Debian after stabilization of Sarge (which in fact ended with Ubuntu in my case). I was always wondering about installing Linux From Scratch but the amount of time and perspective of manually keeping it updated was freaking me off.

Then I installed Gentoo using the manual method (the only one available at the time) with stage1 and <tt>bootstrap.sh</tt>. The most challenging thing was configuring and installing a kernel on my own, since I've never done it successfully before. But I was very determined and then I was rewarded with the friendly command line login screen. But I was very proud of myself, because I understood why it came this way and was quite well prepared to go graphical. I've learned a lot from Gentoo documentation and then discovered an even better source of information: Gentoo forums.

Yes, I am a tinkerer type. But I really appreciate what I've learned during my 3+ years of using Gentoo. It helped me to better understand unique features of Debian, Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS and a handful of other systems, including Solaris (sic!). I have a multiboot system with four different Linux flavors and a Windows XP that came with my laptop. All of them run just fine, but Gentoo boots as a default OS. And I'm happy with it.

Since your experience was a flaky one I suppose you wouldn't be keen to give Gentoo another try in a near future. And maybe it should stay this way? Gentoo can be a wonderful tool in hands of experienced and knowledgeable user. But it comes at a price, and it's not as bullet-proof (idiot-proof?) as other distros out there. Where other distros bet on the best user experience, using lots of autodetection and user-friendly GUIs, Gentoo puts most of these choices on its users. Gentooers are expected to err, look for documentation (or help) and learn along the way. Then some of them are enlightened with the inner understanding and overcome their obstacles. So they prove they are worth something. But this also means that when something breaks (not necessarily in Gentoo, but in Ubuntu's GRUB, for example), they have a higher probablity of fixing it themselves. Because they think, they've configured similar things (or were forced to do so) and in general they are not afraid of tinkering, breaking and fixing things. Ultimately, they become independent.

On the other hand, such is the specificity of Gentoo. But obviously, you didn't know that ahead of time. You seem to be accustomed to the easiness that binary distributions give you. That someone else already compiled and preconfigured lots of aspects of your OS. And it should probably stay this way! Your problems only confirm my observation that the new graphical installer gives false assumptions about similar easiness of Gentoo. Which is not always the case.

That said, I would recommend to ALL people interested in Gentoo a manual installation, with the Handbook nearby. This is the only true way through which one can understand the Gentoo spirit. Build it slowly, install base system first, configure it, add some command-line utilites. Install udev, hal, dbus, ALSA. Read about package management and masked packages. Try to keep everything under control. Proceed to installation of xorg-x11, configure it, appreciate the fact that you will never in your life need to run the ugly TWM again, and then install GNOME/KDE/XFCE or something else of your choice. Discover Gentoo Java handling (one of the best I've ever encountered, ever!). Install mozilla-firefox-bin, mozilla-thunderbird-bin and openoffice-bin to save lots of time. But remember to make small steps to understand implications of what you're doing. Do this and you will be rewarded with a system that nobody in the world has. Maybe a similar one, but not exactly the same. Trimmed exactly to your own, unique needs and habits.

Gentoo can be for you. But only if you are willing to understand its unique strong and weak points. And ultimately it will make you a lot more knowledgeable about Linux in general and Gentoo specifically.

IMHO.
SirYes @ forums.gentoo.org

#

Ultimate Gentoo experience

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 21, 2006 03:59 PM
A great article. Even though I would not necessarily agree with all your conclusions, it's still really worth reading.

I installed Gentoo first time after endlessly trying to keep updated my Debian Sarge installation when it was still in testing phase. Finally I came to the conclusion that maybe I will come back to Debian after stabilization of Sarge (which in fact ended with Ubuntu in my case). I was always wondering about installing Linux From Scratch but the amount of time and perspective of manually keeping it updated was freaking me off.

Then I installed Gentoo using the manual method (the only one available at the time) with stage1 and <tt>bootstrap.sh</tt>. The most challenging thing was configuring and installing a kernel on my own, since I've never done it successfully before. But I was very determined and then I was rewarded with the friendly command line login screen. But I was very proud of myself, because I understood why it came this way and was quite well prepared to go graphical. I've learned a lot from Gentoo documentation and then discovered an even better source of information: Gentoo forums.

Yes, I am a tinkerer type. But I really appreciate what I've learned during my 3+ years of using Gentoo. It helped me to better understand unique features of Debian, Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS and a handful of other systems, including Solaris (sic!). I have a multiboot system with four different Linux flavors and a Windows XP that came with my laptop. All of them run just fine, but Gentoo boots as a default OS. And I'm happy with it.

Since your experience was a flaky one I suppose you wouldn't be keen to give Gentoo another try in a near future. And maybe it should stay this way? Gentoo can be a wonderful tool in hands of experienced and knowledgeable user. But it comes at a price, and it's not as bullet-proof (idiot-proof?) as other distros out there. Where other distros bet on the best user experience, using lots of autodetection and user-friendly GUIs, Gentoo puts most of these choices on its users. Gentooers are expected to err, look for documentation (or help) and learn along the way. Then some of them are enlightened with the inner understanding and overcome their obstacles. So they prove they are worth something. But this also means that when something breaks (not necessarily in Gentoo, but in Ubuntu's GRUB, for example), they have a higher probablity of fixing it themselves. Because they think, they've configured similar things (or were forced to do so) and in general they are not afraid of tinkering, breaking and fixing things. Ultimately, they become independent.

On the other hand, such is the specificity of Gentoo. But obviously, you didn't know that ahead of time. You seem to be accustomed to the easiness that binary distributions give you. That someone else already compiled and preconfigured lots of aspects of your OS. And it should probably stay this way! Your problems only confirm my observation that the new graphical installer gives false assumptions about similar easiness of Gentoo. Which is not always the case.

That said, I would recommend to ALL people interested in Gentoo a manual installation, with the Handbook nearby. This is the only true way through which one can understand the Gentoo spirit. Build it slowly, install base system first, configure it, add some command-line utilites. Install udev, hal, dbus, ALSA. Read about package management and masked packages. Try to keep everything under control. Proceed to installation of xorg-x11, configure it, appreciate the fact that you will never in your life need to run the ugly TWM again, and then install GNOME/KDE/XFCE or something else of your choice. Discover Gentoo Java handling (one of the best I've ever encountered, ever!). Install mozilla-firefox-bin, mozilla-thunderbird-bin and openoffice-bin to save lots of time. But remember to make small steps to understand implications of what you're doing. Do this and you will be rewarded with a system that nobody in the world has. Maybe a similar one, but not exactly the same. Trimmed exactly to your own, unique needs and habits.

Gentoo can be for you. But only if you are willing to understand its unique strong and weak points. And ultimately it will make you a lot more knowledgeable about Linux in general and Gentoo specifically.

IMHO.
SirYes @ forums.gentoo.org

#

Gentoo is not for first timers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 22, 2006 01:43 PM
Gentoo is definitely not for those who want to quickly get done with installing and setting up their GNU/Linux systems. Its something like the emacs and vi editors: it has a steep learning curve in the beginning but it pays off well in the end.

I never used an operating system for more than 6 months before - most of the time for less than 2 weeks. I have been using Gentoo for the past one year now and have no plans to replace it with anything else. It did take a lot of reading(2006.1 manual is all that is needed) and investment of time in installing it, but once it was all done, it's never come in my way to use the computer(like every other OS except Debian does). I can't live without emerge and USE flags. Except for the installation, Gentoo has been the easiest distribution to use for me.

#

What are you complaining about?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 22, 2006 09:07 PM
I fail to see the value of this article. Other than complaining about your own lazyness and incompetence, there is nothing useful there.

Gentoo is a very well documented distribution. Follow the instruction that the Gentoo Handbook gives you, and you'll experience pretty smooth sailing. If that's not enough information and you need help with a specific problem, check out the forums. Somebody out there surely has already had the same problems as you.

For example, it took me about 1.5 days to get Gentoo up and running (and I am talking stage 1 bootstrap) on an Apple TiBook. And that includes X and Gnome. If your LiveCD is booting and running then there is no problem with Gentoo, then it's you being incapable of configuring your system.

#

Last minutes of my Gentoo system

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on September 24, 2006 01:44 AM
Great article. I'm at the turning point right now. I'm writing this from my Gentoo system that is about to be converter back to Ubutnu. I thought I give Gentoo a try, because I like the packaging concept ( I still do). After hours of figuring out how to set up my wireless network card, getting the display back to life when I open the lid of my laptop (had to configure acpi, figure out what modules have to be compiled into the kernel, etc.), getting the gnome battery applet to work, I'm afraid what might be still ahead of me to get the system to a state, like let's say, like Ubuntu right after you install it.

I can confirm that the Gentoo documentation is terrific! Step by step, all the details. You will get a deep understanding of the deepest system internals. I even compiled the kernel for the first time. Now I'm happily adding and removing modules from the kernel config (thank god, acpi finally works).

I believe my problem is I'm not a handbook guy. Or rather, I'm the kind of person with a "give it a shoot and if it does not work, read the manual" attitude. As the article stated, that's not a Gentoo attitude. You have to read the handbook beforehand. And not only once, better read it twice.

If only I had done this, I would have known why the graphical installer always grayed out all partitions as soon as I added 4 primary partitions and tried to add the 5th without an extended partition. Anyway, now I know that there can be only 4 primary partitions, and when I install Ubuntu tomorrow I will make sure I create an extended partition so that I have space to restore my home directory. Can you imaging the look on my face when I realized that I have to re-install again (installed Gentoo 3 times) to get the right partition layout?

I hate to admit it, but I want back to happy Ubuntu land where a nice bootsplash greets, xorg.conf is sane, the network works, and the screen comes back when I open the lid of my laptop.

I learned a lot during my Gentoo break out, I compiled my first kernel, I now know that I don't have to reboot should the network not come up right away, I know about ACPI, xorg.conf, how to change root (and recover a lost root password), but I feel it's time now to get my system back into a state where I can work with it not on it.

#

Gentoo... Or not Gentoo...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 01, 2006 12:38 PM
Quite a fair little editorial on Gentoo, though a bit slanted...

It's akin to a career high school Calculus teacher trying to teach a college course for one semester - and then stopping there because the communication wasn't quite there...wasn't quite the same as with the high school students.

Several factors are at work in this example. You have the intellectual level of the teacher, the intellectual level of the high school students, and the intellectual level of the college students.

So too, you have the linux experience/desire of a coder/programmer, the linux experience/desire of a system administrator, and the linux experience/desire of a hacker/hobbyist of sorts.

Each person will approach Gentoo from a different point of view with different needs and different end results in mind.

The coder/programmer probably likes to dabble with operating systems in general, but really just wants to code something other then the O/S.

The system admin is likely fond of tuning, tweaking, pruning, and preening the O/S - but at some point, he has to worry about his other duties as a system admin.

The hacker/hobbyist, is the best target for a distro such as Gentoo - which is why it is popular among this very group of people. You get the power you need, when you need it, if you need it, and for exactly the task that you need. You don't have to have fluff - you don't have to worry about any sort of binary packaging hell.

My biggest complaint against binary distributions is that the macros and build scripts that are in place rip through your build system and then align all of the installed libraries as dependencies - thus created a much larger web of required packages then is really necessary. Other then that - I really don't want to put down any distro's one way or the other.

Now I used Debian (stable, unstable, testing) for years and the dependency trail for Debian's dpkg and APT repository was not altogether that much better then RedHat's RPM dependency madness...

Why do I need to install X-Windows for GCC? Just because GCC can be debugged with the gnu DDD debugger and therefore requires a windowing system for the interface? What if I don't want to use DDD? What if I want to use something else? This dependency may not exist in Debian - but I can speak from experience that RedHat's Enterprise releases do have such ridiculous tie-ins from what seem like disparate packages.

The point to all of that was to say that Gentoo offers someone with the time and initiative to create something very exacting.

Getting a specific Core 2 Duo SSE3 optimized linux build with only KDE (if that's what you want), or only Gnome - is far better then getting a generically compiled distro with every last piece of KDE and Gnome thrown in including the kitchen sink.

But ultimately, this all comes down to choice - your choice. My choice. And what works best for our personalities and purposes.

Anyway..

#

Another EASY installation story

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 11, 2006 04:15 PM
Let me tell you my story. I've been a Gentoo user since January 2005, almost for two years now. Before that, I was (and still am at home) a Mac OS X user. As a Mac user, I was used to the way the fink project (<a href="http://fink.sf.net/" title="sf.net">http://fink.sf.net/</a sf.net>) installed GNU software in OS X: fetch the source code, compile it, install it and finally configure it. In fact, I was not only used to, but in love with it.

When I got my first ever PC in January 2005 (you've read correctly, my first non-Apple hardware), I decided to install FreeBSD or a Linux distro, even though I had never, NEVER, used FreeBSD or Linux before. I had never used Windows as my regular OS, neither, and didn't have the slightless will to change that. But I needed the latest version of VMware to be able to run the two Windows-only programs I need (very specific scientific ones). That eliminated FreeBSD as an option, but thanks God I found Gentoo. To me, it is FreeBSD with the Linux kernel.

With no idea about PC's in general (even the kind of knowledge the dumbest Windows user has about his machine), I was able to install a beautiful, powerful, easy-to-mantain, free-from-bloat, 64 bit OS just by FOLLOWING A GUIDE TO THE LETTER. I wasn't even used to concepts like primary or extended partitions, because in the Mac world we don't have that cr*p. Much less I had any experience setting up the BIOS or stuff like that. You get the idea.

I installed the stable 64 bit AMD64 version, bootstraping it from stage 1, which is considered to be even more complicated than its regular 32 bit sibling. Hard? Not at all. It took me two working days from scratch till I got a customized KDE, and never, ever, have I felt the need for a reinstallation, nor have I had any problem with big updates like from glibc 2.3.x to 2.4, or from monolithic Xorg 6.8.x to modular 7.x, etc... It is just a matter of following the phenomenal guides the Gentoo project, the Gentoo community and the several Gentoo wikis put at your disposal. You just need to know how to read. Maybe this is asking for too much? I don't think so, and the reward you get is inmense.

Regarding the great amount of time it needs to update, how often do you see KDE or Xorg updated? Once every year? Is it that terrible to compile them once, or at most, twice a year? What's more, who or what prevents you from using your computer when the update is taking place? Do you stop working just because the MP3 player is running? So, why stop because gcc is running? I can't see the point. In fact, I update my system daily. Only once a month or so the update is bigger than two or three small packages. The total process taked less than 20 minutes.

I bet people whining have never used a stable Gentoo (x86, not ~x86), and I guess their problems arise, mainly, from not knowing how to installed the ~version of a particular package they need without turning the whole system into ~x86 (very well documented, by the way).

Just install Gentoo in VMware. There's even a guide, as usual: <a href="http://gentoo-wiki.com/HOWTO_Install_Gentoo_on_VMware_in_Windows_NT/2K/XP" title="gentoo-wiki.com">http://gentoo-wiki.com/HOWTO_Install_Gentoo_on_VM<nobr>w<wbr></nobr> are_in_Windows_NT/2K/XP</a gentoo-wiki.com>. Or install Kororaa, Sabayon or Vidalinux. They install Gentoo by using precompiled binaries.

YOU CAN DO IT. I did.

#

Re:Gentoo is not for columnists/reporters/n00bs

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 02:28 PM
Yet you couldn't even configure grub or X without a pretty interface? ROFL. Go back to windows mate.

#

Not that hard

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2007 07:07 AM
I've been using gen2 for almost a year now... Gentoo is my very first linux distro. It took me 3 days to make it work, and I succeeded in my second attempt. Sure, it's not configured perfectly, but it satisfies me absolutely. I can't compare this distro with any other as for now, but Gentoo is certainly worth a try.

-- Kos

#

it's the old adage, writ large

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 01:36 AM
I really hate this damned machine
I wish that they would sell it.
It never does quite what I want
But only what I tell it.

  (from my "fortunes" file)

But it isn't really just you. The Portage system, while excellent in thought and philosophy, is horribly fragile in practice. With it, you have to be an expert not only in Linux and coding, but also in this newfangled wrapper system that is supposed to keep your system dependencies in check. Then, to make the GNU/Linux system more compatible with Portage, the Gentoo team introduces mountains of patches and several<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/*.d directories.

The net result: a problem in the system can be a bear to track down. Is it in the Portage tree? Is it in your USE flags? Is it in some other library?

I'm back to Slackware. Patrick Volkerding supplies all the source code and build scripts. If you want a custom-built package, you simply adjust the build script and run it.

#

Amen: Time to face what's needed, not what's cool

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 06:19 AM
I completely agree with you about the level of work involved in Gentoo (and other distros). They're _great_ for learning everything about Linux, and most of it you'll remember until it gets re-written.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

But when you've been doing this as long as I have, some of it gets _old_. I'm tired of getting a tarball and being told "just make and install" because that rarely works. I'm lucky if they remembered to tar the relative directory, so the project itself doesn't wind up in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/usr/src. (Instead of<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/usr/src/projectname)

If there's not a Deb or an RPM, I really don't feel like messing with it. Lazy? Not completely. A tarball will never, ever, contact a software repository in the middle of the night to upgrade itself (I'm aware of Firefox...) A tarball's going to be there, still needing the niche technicals I needed to know to get it compiled the FIRST time, six months later when I can't even remember I un-tarred it. It's a bump in the road.

The client's paying me for results, not for me to be re-tutored all day. And it's embarrasing to tell the customer, "I can't remember how to relink *this* library, or if it's the current one..." when I can "aptitude install packagename" and it's done.

Personally, I'm *happy* to see slick, simple interfaces, solid, clean package repositories and stuff that just >>>works. I've spent too many long, wasted nights blowing my brains out on details I'll never need to know again.

#

Re:Gentoo/Grub Single

Posted by: Joe Barr on September 20, 2006 11:43 PM

Thanks for that pointer on single user mode. I'll remember it for next time.

#

Try another?

Posted by: Administrator on September 19, 2006 10:44 PM
If your not fed up with source based distros. I suggest you give Lunar-Linux a spin. Not all source based distros has to be complicated.

<a href="http://www.lunar-linux.org/index.php" title="lunar-linux.org">http://www.lunar-linux.org/index.php</a lunar-linux.org>

#

Wow

Posted by: Administrator on September 19, 2006 11:51 PM

I've been using Gentoo without difficulty for a year or two, and had no idea that doing so was evidence that I had acheived such a level of Linux eliteness. (Or should that be l33tness?)

Go me!

;o)

#

Did you look at the handbook?

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 06:22 PM
Just wanted to point out Gentoo's excellent handbook. My first Gentoo install (on my laptop 'prometheus', thought it appropriate) went fairly smoothly, and it was a stage 1. Yes, it took awhile to compile, but walking step-by-step through the handbook was easy.

Did I learn everything about Gentoo from the handbook in that first install? Of course not, but I did have a working system at the end of it all. I used that install for over a year before deciding to redo the install (changed to a dual-boot system to play Windows games). Still went without much of a hitch.. because of the handbook.

I've since installed Gentoo on a number of systems; it became my distro of choice (over Slackware, which was my first). Mainly that is due to the Handbook and searching the forum. I'm sure the IRC channel is quite helpful too, but I haven't needed it (yet).

#

Preinstalled Gentoo

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 04:45 AM

Believe it or not



some companies will preinstall Gentoo for you.



<a href="http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/" title="lxer.com">http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/</a lxer.com>

#

A source distribution is NOT a binary distribution

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 07:55 AM

It's a pity that your gentoo experience went this bad. But reading your article and some of the comments on it do make me understand something: I think most people do not understand that a source distribution is fundamentally different from a binary one, and it is by definition way more complex.



Some of the things you encounter (and have not yet encountered like config file maintenance wrt updates) are indeed gentoo shortcomings. The most glaring one is X configuration where many distributions indeed have fine utilities which generate a proper config, using gentoo one has to do most of the work by itself. The same goes for many config files: gentoo expects a higher level of knowledge about many config issues, even though default configs are getting better. Most gentoo users (read: the ones providing the ebuild<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-) have more knowledge of linux and have less of a problem doing this, and in this way gentoo is kind of a trap: things do not get fixed because most users can fix it by themselves. Other users use forums.gentoo.org and learn. This is not an end-user friendly way but at this point gentoo is not meant to be for end user (even though things like the live CD and the installer seem to indicate otherwise)



In a binary distribution your provider makes a huge number of choices for you. Using gentoo you have to make these choices yourself. Can it be any other way than that this increases complexity? Learning gentoo is indeed more difficult. USE flags, selecting stable/unstable packages etc all give you lots of rope to hang yourself. Also, since gentoo is all about compiling sources most of the problems also come from compiling sources. And these tend to be not-too-nice problems which exceed the occasional RPM dependency hell. Luckily most problems can be easily fixed by searching forums.gentoo.org or googling.



Many people here complain that gentoo compiling takes an [expletive of your choice]load of time. I think that is utterly silly. What does one expect of a source distribution? It's nature is to compile anything, and some packages are huge! Patches (minor fixes) for open source software are also source so a fix means an update to a package and a complete recompile. Can it be any other way? Complaining about compilation times is silly when you use a source distribution: it's the nature of the beast. In addition these compilations are usually only a problem while installing; once your system is up and running you can just compile in the background while you work. Just don't switch the machine off when you go off to breakfast and sleep<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-).



Complaining that packages change often, implicating that recompiles are needed all of the time is silly too for two reasons:

  • Whether you want to recompile a package is a choice left to a user. Gentoo is about choice and no one requires you to update all packages that have fixes or changes! Don't fix what ain't broken! The only packages that REQUIRE fixing are those that form a security risk in YOUR configuration, and checking that does not use emerge but glsa-check -t all (yeah, not obvious).


  • It would be silly to keep fixes out of the repository just to prevent recompiles. It is the USER which decides what and when he wants to upgrade and what changes he does not need. Why recompile KDE if nothing is wrong (and nothing new is wanted) in your installation? If you are an addict to new software releases gentoo serves you well in that new versions are often available quicky as unstable packages, but at a cost of a recompile. If you need a faster "fix" then a source distribution is not for you - a binary distribution is ALWAYS faster in providing a new executable by definition


The gentoo live CD and the installer that is being created might give you the idea that gentoo is just another Red Head or SuSE. It is not: it is just a convenient method for people to get a gentoo machine up without all of the boring work (reading the quick install; doing a lot of typing; waiting for one's beard to grow while the thing compiles [yes, not all of us grow beards but I imagine that a KDE compile might at least force our female brethren to wax once or twice 8-(]). In many ways it does not prevent you from having to learn a lot because it is still the same distribution! And the current installer is not even that good - if you want to install Gentoo it is way better to start with a gentoo-based distribution like <a href="http://www.vidalinux.com/" title="vidalinux.com">VidaLinux</a vidalinux.com>, one of the fastest ways to get a fine gentoo system installed.



I've used gentoo for about four years now and it has been a great experience. Once you have reached a basic understanding (which consists of more knowledge than needed for a binary distribution, and good reflexes [error? forums.gentoo.org]) then gentoo is a very maintenance friendly distribution with lots of options and flexibility. Which comes at the price of being forced to learn a lot about Linux.

#

Dark Ages

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 11:38 AM
Well well, i lefted Windows, because surge an unix variant that don't need any strange, magic, surreal or simply really expensive processor as an Cray, Vax or Yng-Yang machines.

I Love the problema difficulty, but the full knowledge and control over my system, softwares and hardwares. This campaign for a Linux for human beings is great for<nobr> <wbr></nobr>....... human beings, but<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.... nerds, engineers, computer scientist and nay other persons from this area, should never get in contact with "human beings" distros. Is an obligation for generally speaking, nerds, know you system, from bottom to top.

I'm proud of if i have a trouble i know how to solve, I'm free FREE.

Linux, BSD and (thank good, let Gentoo be worst an painfull even for me with the advance of time) Gentoo is about freedom, this had never been forget. Is the only thing that really matters KNOWLEDGE. I don't care if Gentoo is painfull exist at least 300 others distro arround the world. It's my choice, which one I'll use.

This is what really matters all the rest could be solve with some butt-computers-coffee hours.

#

Gentoo/Grub Single

Posted by: Administrator on September 20, 2006 10:53 PM
I've been through just about every problem you've described using Gentoo. Plus many, many more. There is a learning curve in order to take full advantage of Gentoo/Portage. I've been an avid Gentoo user for about four years. Maybe you would have more luck using the non-gui version of the install coupled with the Gentoo Handbook? Gentoo isn't a fire-and-forget installation in the least, but I have found that forums.gentoo.org almost always has the needed solutions. Maybe try installing in a VMWare box? Finally, Gentoo does have a different method of reaching a 'single' command prompt: add the number '1' to the end of the grub command line. <a href="http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Booting_into_single_user_mode" title="gentoo-wiki.com">http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Booting_into_single_us<nobr>e<wbr></nobr> r_mode</a gentoo-wiki.com>
As for X, I've lately had luck using Xorg -configure. Then, edit the resulting xorg.conf (it always needs to have the mouse device 'fixed'). You can then test the new configuration to make sure it has correctly detected your hardware settings Xorg -conf<nobr> <wbr></nobr>./xorg.conf.new.

#

All Distros Requiere Work

Posted by: Administrator on September 22, 2006 07:28 AM
No distro that a I have tested works as espected out of the box. There's something obscure that bothers you that you can't get fixed quickly. I took me good two hours in Fedora Core 5 to make it play mp3's. SUSE I can't disable touchpad click with the mouse pad. These are small things but once you want to change it (hey linux is about liberty) there's always a long hard to understand explanation. One time or another you have to get to the guts, in Fedora this is hardly documented (at least the gentoo way). If you dont want to change something you realise that there isnt a package for your distro of some software. This has been my experience with linux, currently I'm not doing any productive work on linux but I'm willing to give a Gentoo another chance, but I will set limits if I dont get it working in two weeks I will switch. Is cool to learn a lot (that was my primary purpose) but once in a while you want to do SOMETHING useful.

Abdiel.

#

interesting stuff

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.231.3.7] on August 07, 2007 10:33 PM
Reading through the comments is almost as informative as the article itself was. I'm fairly new to the linux scene, and I thought I might as well jump in at the deep end. Wish me luck.

#

Unbuntu Installation

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 99.228.47.104] on October 21, 2007 08:41 AM
Am a new user in linux world and i need help to install unbuntu or linspire

#

My Gentoo odyssey

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.235.5.84] on October 31, 2007 04:22 AM
Sorry you tried it when you did...

You really picked the absolute worst time to try and join the gentoo community. The latest release 2007.0 is one of the worse linux installers I have ever seen. I am trying to install amd64 on my laptop and having a terrible time with it. I would have given up as well if I didn't already use and love gentoo on my other platforms. I feel your pain!

Back when I installed 2004 for the first time, it took a few days, but I didn't have any major problems. Unlike other distros, I was happy to have access to so many experimental packages, and found that I had finally escaped rpm-hell. Linux programs that I wanted to use I was able to use. I also felt I had a much better hand on configuration, and I liked being able to upgrade gcc and then recompile the system to use gcc properly. (Only did this once when I changed from gcc3 to gcc4)/

Now though, it seems like things have gone downhill. Portage isn't as well maintained, with numerous problems this year. Packages.gentoo.org is down, and the gentoo news postings are RARE. I miss when it was weekly.

I don't blame you for ditching after what you've been through. Gentoo is worth it once it is working, (really, it's worth it) but in some cases that just isn't going to happen, and 2007.0 is the worst piece of crap they have ever put out.

#

This story has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.



 
Tableless layout Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict Validate CSS Powered by Xaraya