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I am looking for a distro that I can recompile with optimized CFLAGS. I really like Ubuntu, but everything is compiled with "-g -O" and that isn't very speedy. It doesn't have an /etc/make.conf, and GCC wrappers don't work. I wanted an optimized build of Firefox, and it took me forever to figure out how to bypass the dpkg-buildpackage's default CFLAGs. I had to add them to the configure line of the debian/rules file in the SRC package. I don't want to use Gentoo though, I don't want to mess with the USE flags, I'm too scared I will set the wrong one, or I'll forget one when installing GNOME or something huge like OO.o, and have to recompile that whole thing. I really liked FreeBSD, but all the desktop software was like it was messily hacked together and everything kept crashing + no flash9, and I think it ignored my CFLAGS. I notice a huge speed increase with the CFLAGS on my 2.93 GHz Prescott. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Sounds like you need Gentoo. There's a very easy to follow handbook which will walk you through the initial install and other guidance on the site to install X and a DE, etc. Gentoo makes use of USE flags and everything is compiled for your PC.
Basically "set and forget" - you can override for particular products, but I found it rarely necessary.
Some ebuilds will ignore what you set anyway - again, I never found it necessary to fight the devs on this.