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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 didn't use the installer on the disk (there's supposed to be problems with either the GUI or CLI (or both) installer). Instead, I followed the instructions on the website. It takes a while to finish, and you have to type the instructions by hand (or copy & paste them into the terminal), but you learn some things while doing it.
Debian installer is very easy to use now. I would suggest you download the "netinst" image which is a 160MB ISO file and then you can download the rest from the web as you install your system rather than installing old packages of a CD on your PC hard drive and then updating them once the install is complete. The 'netinst' does require a high speed Internet connection however...
Here is the link as its kind of hard to find on the Debian site...
I followed the instructions on the website for Gentoo but I kept getting lost in the shuffle because my hard-drives are not setup exactly how they have theirs. I figured I could wing it with my basic knowledge, but for some reason I would never get quite the same response they did... I couldn't figure how to format the disks once I partitioned them, and it refused to write the partitions in the end... that's when I gave up.
CLI installers (I'm assuming that's a text-based sister of GUI) is my friend. As long as I'm not literally "flying blind" I don't mind working with a GUI, CLI, or the terminal. I just wish the Gentoo handbook explained a little more about each command used and the paramaters. I learned a thing or two, but chickened out in the end, lol.
I think I'm going to scrounge up another hard-drive to try again... I reinstalled Ubuntu and was completely up and running (with my nice Gnome themes and eyecandy) in less than an hour so I'm hesitant to break it again for another whack at it. But if I can make headway in installing this son-of-a-bitch we call Gentoo (or Debian, or something else) I want to try it... I need a system with more "control" in the "control panel" as it were. I hear OpenSuSe has a lot of control functionality, but it has a lot of excess eyecandy and installs I don't necessarily want.
Gentoo is insane dude. I have used Linux since 2001 and I still feel like a moron when I even try and look at the install manual...
Well at least it's comforting knowing I'm not the only one. I really want to learn the old-school Linux terminals... I'm afraid I'll have to go through a cert class or something on Linux 101 commands or something. While Linux has come a LONG way since the old days, with flashy GUI's that virtually eliminate the need for a terminal... sometimes you simply need the terminal to get the job done, and there's a certain amount of pride to be had for someone who can remember basic bash commands.
Don't think that you need to learn Gentoo to get hands on command line interface experience. You can get the same experience from Debian, CentOS, Arch, etc etc etc...
I just shy away from Gentoo because its not a binary distribution which means anything and everything on your system is compiled from source which is crazy time intensive however then your OS is custom fit for your PC only. Works great but in my opinion but its like building custom parts for your car. You wait super long for the part to be made for your car and shipped but when you have it - it works better than a universal piece made for your car. It fits but not the same as custom.
I tried Debian last night... and promptly reinstalled Ubuntu (lol). The Netinst took over six hours on my high-broadband connection, and most of whatever it was downloading was redundant (multiple copies of the same software). The partitioning portion took a looong time to reformat my 250 GB hard-drive appropriately too... that was weird.... I was able to knock out a shower in-between partition reformats.
I guess I'll just stick with Ubuntu for now... I only have a couple of minor issues with it, and my wife did tell me "If it ain't broken, don't fix it"... I probably should have heeded that advice, but I told her that's not the spirit of Linux.
Everytime I reboot/shutdown Ubuntu, it tries to close both my Ethernet ports and fails/hangs because one of them is in a "closed" state (it's not connected to anything). I tried looking at the Network and Network tools under the System Menu... I don't know how to disable the appropriate interfaces.
Strange - I can get Debian installed in a third of the time it takes Ubuntu to install and thats with Desktop Environment...
I guess I'll try it again. I was very disappointed by the entire Debian install... taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to format, and then to grab the packages and install but perhaps I flagged the wrong settings? I selected Desktop Environment, SQL Server, and something else... can't remember what.
Does Debian come with the latest Gnome? The Gnome I got after the install reminded me of Windows 3.1... the File Browser was a plain one pane window with icons.
I wish I could get a functional comparison between these distros... I googled a couple comparison but for the most part they compare the software that is included and the authors/history behind each distro.. I want more details like...
What is the functional difference between Debian and Ubuntu (based on Debian)? Is one supposed to be geared specifically towards something versus the other? Someone mentioned that Debian should give you a little more freedom than Ubuntu... is that true, and what kind of freedom?
Also... I know there is Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu. Is it possible to install a desktop manager beyond those three on Ubuntu? How about Debian?
I'm not sure which Debian you installed but Lenny is the more up to date than Etch. And here is the download link for Debian Lenny with Gnome, KDE & Xfce desktops. All you need is the first CD for a complete desktop.
I'm not sure why it took so long to download using the netinst or formatting your hard drive. Maybe a fluke happen. Some say Debian is not meant for everybody, but now days it is fairly easy to use. Debian can be said more advance for users than ubuntu, which is geared for the linux newbie. One can install just about any desktop environment he choose for any linux distro.
If you want to try debian again, I would say try using the full cd to install, at least less time getting it up & running.
I tried Debian again last night and was almost pleased with it. I keep having this issue with multiple distros (Fedora, RedHat, Debian, etc...) where if I specify the max resolution to be my monitor's default (1680x1050 60hz) the screen goes blank and my monitor says the resolution is not supported... but the distros I've used that auto-detect your monitor (Ubuntu, Gentoo) are using 1680x1050 60hz no problem... weird..
I even revised the /etc/X11/xorg.conf appropriately and it still won't accept my monitor's "optimum" resolution (22" widescreen).
If I can get over this hurdle, I think I would be golden with Debian. I do like the extra freedom of being able to install whatever I want... while we're on the subject: I noticed Debian doesn't have an "Add/Remove Programs" menu option like Ubuntu. Is the Administration->Synaptic Package Manager the only way to install/remove packages? I did a search for mozilla, firefox, and wine and nothing came up... a little strange eh?