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Thread: Gentoo?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    I've got to admit I've been really happy with RedHat 9. It's default configuration isn't the greatest thing in the world but with a little work and allot of third party packages (thank you Nyquist) it's definitely a nice distro and easily my favorite.

    I also really like this forum and spend quite a bit of time @ The thing is there's all kinds of interesting stuff going on at the Gentoo forums. If it's new and it's cool they usually get it first. And there always seems be somebody who's found a way to improve it right after it gets released.

    So basically what I'm saying here is I'm tempted to leave the easy ways of RH and give Gentoo a try. The thing is I'm no programmer and am just not young enough anymore to stay up until 2:00am to get my system working again if I do something stupid or an ebuild goes south on me.

    What it comes down to here is I've been really happy with RH, all my games work really well with it, and my comfort level with it is really high. Still, I can't help but feel left out when I lurk the Gentoo forums. There's some really cool stuff going on over there. And some of the ebuilds you guys are doing sound really bitch'n. I'm just not sure if it's worth all the extra effort to learn linux the "Gentoo" way or if sticking with the tried and true is the way to go since everything is going so well for me.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2


    I'll give gentoo this: it's a LOT of work initially to get a very tight, low-maintenance system later on. Portage lets you specify exactly what features you'd like to compile into each package, so if say mozilla or OOo has an optional gtk enhancement, you can choose whether or not to include it when you compile it. You get to choose what optimizations you compile with as well. And if you're not comfortable with this or don't have the time, it gives some pretty decent defaults.

    I'm using gentoo now, and I have to say that there are no forseeable changes on the horizon. I've never had ANY system so finely-tuned to my needs. Exactly what I want to include goes in and nothing else, and everything I include includes support for what I want it to include. I'd highly recommend Gentoo for someone who has a weekend to throw into getting the system how you like it (another one of the downs: compiling things like OpenOffice takes over a does KDE, and X, Mozilla, Gnome and GCC aren't exactly sandwich-break material either).

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    Thanks for your opinion - that's exactly the type of answer I was looking for.

    Your comment about being able to get exactly what you want in each package is what really interests me. I'm really picky about some stuff - hence the need for me to find third party packages for RH to get the features I want or (think I) need.

    The whole thing that really interests me is portage. When I read through the directions about installing Gentoo approx 8 months ago it said to "emerge KDE". Now I'm not a KDE user but I do know that I only wanted about a third of the packages it was going to install on my system - assuming I wanted KDE. I haven't seen how to install Gnome2 but there are allot of parts of Gnome that I wouldn't want.

    Take magicdev for example. This little gem is responsible for automatically mounting cds when inserted into the drive. Personally, I think that's annoying so that should remain uninstalled on my system. It wouldn't hurt to have it there but I don't like having things installed that I know I'll never use. Will Gentoo give me the ability to leave stuff like that out? The documentation I've read didn't seem to suggest that you could (but it's been a while since I've read it) but reading through the Gentoo forums leads me to believe that you could.

    Does Gentoo have something as easy to use as Synaptic? I just don't think I could ever go back to using a Linux distro that didn't have that feature. Is portage that easy to use while still offering flexiblity? I'd really need GTK2 and XFT support on just about anything I could build that would take them. If you guys are saying that type of customization is possible them I'd really like to give Gentoo a whirl.

    One last question before I turn in: How hard is it to learn it the "Gentoo Way". I have no problem using the command line. In fact the two times I did try Gentoo I was really disappointed that VI didn't come with the stage 3 tarball. That aside, how long does it usually take to get comfortable with Gentoo for someone who's been using Linux for about a year? I guess this is a hard one to answer but any thoughts would be welcome here.

    Thanks again for the comments. If it weren't for the fact that Gentoo takes more than an hour to install I would have started playing with it already - I just want more opinions before I wipe my box and spend a weekend trying it.


  4. #4


    As for your question about including specific apps, sometimes it's possible and sometimes it's not. If the apps have been bundled with specific packages, the only way to get rid of them is to not install the package. For example, KDE's Noatun is distributed in the kde-multimedia package. On Gentoo you can choose not to install kde-multimedia, but I'm not sure that you can choose to not install Noatun specifically. However there is a certain amount of granularity to the packages. kde-multimedia and kde-network are kept separate from one-another, etc...

    As for Synaptic, well almost. At the moment Portage doesn't have a gui, but it's dead simple to use from the command line. Basically take apt, but without the sources.list file. "emerge rsync" synchronizes your package list with the servers, and "emerge <packagename>" automatically merges all dependencies and the specified package. Basically type it in and walk away.

    The "Gentoo Way"...not as bad as some would have you believe. Granted, the install isn't exactly RedHat, but once you're past that little bump you have yourself an install that's no more difficult to navigate than Slack.

    Damn...must jet. Feel free to ask more and I'll try to answer questions.

  5. #5


    Portage has several GUIs - one in java and at least two for KDE, sadly it's missing one written for gtk2.

    you can compile "just what you need in KDE" by exporting DONT_COMPILE="list of programs you don't want" (or something like that - ebrosting posted about it a while back, I'll find it for you later).

    The default gentoo kernel has supermount support, so you can automagically mount your stuff, just for your enjoyment.

    The Gentoo way is easier than most other distros, it's easy to install (follow the docs and you shoul be homefree) the most difficult part is compiling your own kernel and getting it set up with the correct stuff for your computer (there's some work being done to aid you in this endevoure btw).

    The live CD has vim, but nano is still the default editor, but you can set this in /etc/rc.conf so you can get vim installed instead.

    But I won't lie, there's is a certain amount of work involved in configuring your system, but as long as you keep you cflags simple and stay away from very experimental stuff it should be just fine. I would recommend reading the GWN and the forums - lots of interesting stuff going on.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    Thanks guys - your answers are just what I the kind of info I was looking for. You've addressed pretty much all the questions I had regarding the distro.

    Based on what you said I think (time permitting) that I'm going to go for it. Everything said here really makes me want to give it a go just to see how well it'll work for me. Add in the additional learning I'll pick up from playing with Linux and I think I'll be in for a good time.

    Thanks again,

  7. #7


    Let us know how it turns out! The more positive gentoo experiences we can get, the better

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2002


    If you've compiled a kernel before, you should be fine. If not, you should still be fine, you just may wanna check out the irc channel / forum if you have troubles. Gentoo install isn't so much difficult as time-consuming, follow the instructions and I am sure you'll be fine.

    Good luck.

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