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Old 10-06-2008, 08:38 AM   #1
NickViper1024
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Gentoo Linux - What is it?


Hey guys,

I've tried Ubuntu and I love it. Unfortunately, Ubuntu feels very "one size fits all" and I'm looking to try something a little more advanced that gives me more control of installing, configuring things and gives me more choices.

I ran across a thread where someone said they also tried Ubuntu but went to Gentoo because they thought it was "better". I looked at their site and now I'm curios.... I downloaded the ISO but I have to wait until I get home to try it, but I want to know: What makes Gentoo Gentoo? Who is it geared towards and would you say it's something a Linux newb could handle versus say Slackware (which I hear is NOT for Linux newbs)?

I put this thread here because I couldn't find a Gentoo-distro forum on this site.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 08:50 AM   #2
Total-MAdMaN
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Gentoo is a distro where everything is compiled from source code. This is it's advantage, as you can customise it based on your computer and requirements, though if you have a slow computer compiling certain programs can take a long time.

Here's an example of why some people (including me) prefer it to a binary distro:

I use XFCE as my GUI, so any programs with the option to are compiled without using Gnome and KDE. If I was using a binary distro those programs would be pre-compiled, and probably be compiled for Gnome and KDE as the distro vendor can't tell what GUI someone would be using.

I'm not sure whether it'd be appropriate for someone new to Linux.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:05 AM   #3
NickViper1024
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Total-MAdMaN View Post
Gentoo is a distro where everything is compiled from source code. This is it's advantage, as you can customise it based on your computer and requirements, though if you have a slow computer compiling certain programs can take a long time.

Here's an example of why some people (including me) prefer it to a binary distro:

I use XFCE as my GUI, so any programs with the option to are compiled without using Gnome and KDE. If I was using a binary distro those programs would be pre-compiled, and probably be compiled for Gnome and KDE as the distro vendor can't tell what GUI someone would be using.

I'm not sure whether it'd be appropriate for someone new to Linux.
That makes sense. That explains why under Ubuntu's Synapse, there are different applications (including different flavors of Ubuntu) for different window managers.

My next question to you would be: Does any program you want to install have to be compiled by yourself? And do you run into a lot of problems doing it that way versus pre-compiled binaries? I remember using Linux a long time ago that required compiling everything yourself and the whole dependency hell issue was a big one. And frequently I would run into compile errors and feel stranded.

And I notice that some people describe Gentoo as a BSD-ports based system. I've heard of BSD, and it's ability to be very good for dependable servers. What is the difference from say, a Ubuntu port system and a BSD ports system?

And (hopefully) my last question is: Can you compile/use programs that do not have an XFCE compile option or are you stuck with XFCE-compliant apps?
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:16 AM   #4
Total-MAdMaN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickViper1024 View Post
That makes sense. That explains why under Ubuntu's Synapse, there are different applications (including different flavors of Ubuntu) for different window managers.

My next question to you would be: Does any program you want to install have to be compiled by yourself? And do you run into a lot of problems doing it that way versus pre-compiled binaries? I remember using Linux a long time ago that required compiling everything yourself and the whole dependency hell issue was a big one. And frequently I would run into compile errors and feel stranded.
The compiling of programs is done through Portage, Gentoo's package manager. This takes care of dependency issues, and is why I chose Gentoo over compiling everything myself. You tell Portage which program(s) you want to install and it selects all the neccessary dependencies and runs through the compilation for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickViper1024 View Post
And I notice that some people describe Gentoo as a BSD-ports based system. I've heard of BSD, and it's ability to be very good for dependable servers. What is the difference from say, a Ubuntu port system and a BSD ports system?
I've not used Ubuntu or BSD, so I can't say how Gentoo compares.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickViper1024 View Post
And (hopefully) my last question is: Can you compile/use programs that do not have an XFCE compile option or are you stuck with XFCE-compliant apps?
The reason I mentioned Gnome and KDE is that some programs can be compiled to use certain functions from those GUIs. Leaving out those functions usually doesn't affect the program when run on other GUIs. Programs without options for certain GUIs can still be used on those GUIs without any problems.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:27 AM   #5
NickViper1024
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Thanks for the reply

I've decided I'm going to try it out... worst case scenario is I revert back to Ubuntu in a quick and expeditious manner. I want to try XFCE... While I like Gnome, I know that XFCE is more light weight.

Here's a question for you:
Does the Portage system have a GUI?
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:35 AM   #6
Total-MAdMaN
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I'm not sure. I'm comfortable using the command line so haven't looked for one.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:38 AM   #7
NickViper1024
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Is there a command line argument to browse available packages, or do you just have to know what you're looking for in advance?
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
Total-MAdMaN
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There's "emerge -s" for searching in the package names and "emerge -S" for checking the description. I don't think there's a command that will allow you to browse the list of packages, but there's a website that lists all available.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:55 AM   #9
weibullguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickViper1024 View Post
Does the Portage system have a GUI?
No, but there are a couple of third-party frontends. Portato and Porthole have a similar look and feel as Synaptic. elogviewer is a GUI for viewing Portage log files.

In addition to the link provided by Total-MAdMaN, the official package list is here and official recent changes list is here.

Last edited by weibullguy; 10-06-2008 at 09:58 AM.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 10:43 AM   #10
NickViper1024
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Thanks for the help! Another question: When referencing Gentoo, I hear about how nice it is to be able to compile apps on your own machine to have them customized for your hardware. Is there a real, tangible benefit to compiling yourself over binaries? Is there a performance increase for example?
 
Old 10-06-2008, 10:49 AM   #11
Total-MAdMaN
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There can be a slight performance increase, which you may or may not notice depending on what you're doing.

Personally, I prefer it because I don't end up with a lot of stuff I'm not going to use taking up space on my hard drive.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 07:18 PM   #12
AlphaSigmaOne
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I'd like to try it sometime. Maybe on a second computer.

From what I've heard, it can take a lot of time.

One thing I like about Slackware is, you get to design and build the house, but a nice sturdy foundation is provided. With Gentoo you still have to put in the foundation.
 
Old 10-06-2008, 09:50 PM   #13
johnson_steve
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Total-MAdMaN View Post
There's "emerge -s" for searching in the package names and "emerge -S" for checking the description. I don't think there's a command that will allow you to browse the list of packages, but there's a website that lists all available.
just look in /usr/portage/ and you will be able to find the ebuilds for all the available applications listed in neatly catagorized directories.
 
Old 10-07-2008, 07:15 AM   #14
carlosinfl
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If you love Ubuntu but don't like the one size fits all feeling...download and install Debian. Ubuntu is based of Debian however you have a bit more freedom in Debian w/o the hold you hand feeling...
 
Old 10-07-2008, 07:59 AM   #15
NickViper1024
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I will look into Debian... I tried Debian awhile back and couldn't get it to install for some reason, I don't remember why. Does Debian have a text or graphic based installer that I can work with or is it all terminal?

I tried Gentoo last night, and unfortunately I gave up trying (hah). I downloaded the minimal install CD and was hoping for at least a text-based installer to guide me through basic setup but alas there was just a terminal. I tried to fdisk my way through (even though the partitions were already setup how I want them, manually) and failed miserably... Instead of a text-based "app" that I'm used to, it was just command-line arguments and for some reason it wouldn't write changes to the disk.

I will probably try again soon.

People worship Slackware like a deity... While I know I would probably cry uncle trying to install it, I'm going to check it out just so I can have an idea of what's "the next thing" to conquer in Linux. I love playing with Linux as a n00b... it's a world not many delve in.
 
  


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