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*BY NO MEANS DO I INTEND TO START A FLAME WAR*
*THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON GENTOO USERS, I AM JUST CURIOUS ABOUT SOMETHING*
That said, I would like to ask all current- and past-Gentoo users why you would use Gentoo over a *BSD OS such as FreeBSD. Let me explain my logic:
Portage From my understanding, there are no major differences between Gentoo's Portage and FreeBSD's Ports. Both do basically the same thing - you can update the Portage/Ports tree to have access to the newest packages for your system. Both Portage and Ports allow you to compile pretty much any application you want from source. Both also have package updaters for your currently installed packages ("emerge world" on Gentoo, "portupgrade" on FreeBSD).
Compiling from source Having stated some similarities between the two, let me explain why I think FreeBSD has the advantage. In both FreeBSD and Gentoo, you can compile from source and pass special arguments to the compiler based on how you want the given application to be compiled and installed. But let's say you don't want to wait 12 hours to compile OpenOffice. In FreeBSD you could get a precompiled package and install it in <2 minutes. At the same time, you could choose to compile everything else from source. At least this way, you've got more options. I personally would shoot myself if I had to compile everything from source, knowing that it can all be done in a matter of minutes, or even seconds if everything is precompiled.
Contents of Ports/Portage FreeBSD Ports tend to be better tested and therefore are more stable than Gentoo's Portage packages. Who would want to run a program that hasn't been sufficiently tested if you could just use FreeBSD and get a stable and secure alternative? Also, FreeBSD seems to have more ports than Gentoo, at least at the moment (~7000 for Gentoo, ~10000 for FreeBSD).
Other advantages FreeBSD is known to be more stable and secure out-of-the-box than Linux (keep in mind I said "out-of-the-box"). This is why FreeBSD is perfect for servers, as well as desktops.
So basically, you can get a Gentoo-like OS by doing a minimal install of FreeBSD with Ports and then compiling everything from source through Ports.
I could think of several other things to compare FreeBSD and Gentoo, but this is just off the top of my head. These are just my opnions about this subject, and Gentoo users, especially ones who have used FreeBSD before, please give me input. I'm just curious because this is something I never understood.
In gentoo you also have precompiled package. You can install with the command
emerge --usepkg whateverapp
(if you don't have the package in your system, download it with emerge --getbinpkg)
I didn't try *BSD, but I love gentoo
No, if you do a stage3 install, the entire base system is from binaries. I haven't tried FreeBSD much, but gentoo has more ebuilds vs ports (17000 atm) and thus get's new software releases much quicker (xorg 6.8 for example). Another reason would be the linux kernel (2.6 with ck patches), which is nice for desktops. In other words, I think gentoo is propably better for desktop usage. On servers then again, no idea, I don't know enough about servers to comment that. I'd quess FreeBSD is better for servers.
The desktop-kernel thing mostly applies to freebsd 4.X... I'm looking forward to trying 5.3 when it's released (not a beta version). The new scheduler should make it better for desktop usage... (this is all hearsay, I've only installed freeBSD once + played with it in command line mode). But one thing where linux beats *BSD is hardware support.
+ FreeBSD still won't have the bleeding edge desktop-orientated software I want though
Xorg 6.8, transset, xcompmgr, fluxbox 0.9.10, kde 3.3 at the moment for example... To be honest though, if I manage to crash my system someday, I won't be installing gentoo again if Debian has xorg 6.8 at that time (I'd quess debian will switch after sarge is released). I've only used gentoo for 3 days now, it seems less stable than debian unstable (ebuilds broken with certain use flags/portage not detecting dependencies correctly or warning about conflicting packages + I have about 5 packages from ~x86 so that might cause some problems). Of course I've propably just had a horrible luck with gentoo, so this is just a first impression which is likely false.
Also, this is fast system, and I haven't noticed a speed increase over Debian yet, but gentoo has other strenghs like being able to have a kde without arts support (arts has always broken alsa for me) + absolutely huge ebuild selection (17000+ atm) and a great forum/good documentation. This is a bit off topic but my favourite is still Debian for the moment, perhaps after a few weeks I've changed my mind, who knows So I'm not really a true gentoo fan yet... There are many things I like about it, but it's not perfect.
just curious, are there really a lot of extra features you use on newer, untested software?
allow me to bring up another point:
many Gentoo users talk about "optimization" and how their OS is built perfectly for their hardware, therefore it's faster. like you said vrln, there's not a noticeable speed increase. in my opinion, if you want speed, use Yoper. i don't really like Yoper personally, but when i tested it out, it was insanely fast compared to other distros. i find that FreeBSD has the potential to be really fast too. just another point....
Well, no, not really to honest. But that's not the reason I want to use them, it's just fun to try out new programs just for fun. There are some exceptions but for example xorg 6.8 composite/transset/xcompmgr - they are fun to test for a while but aren't stable enough yet. KDE 3.3 for example is completely stable for me so far though, and I really like it compared to 3.2. I don't really use this comp for working, it's more like a hobby for me; I enjoy tweaking stuff and learning new windowmanagers etc. That's the reason why I'm going to try freebsd 5.3 too, eventhough I'm completely satisfied with linux atm.
btw, I think YOPER is mostly fast because of prelinking, which can be done in gentoo too. I haven't tried it yet though.
i see, if you want to test new software, that's cool.
yes, the yoper people do a lot of stuff to the kernel to make their OS faster. and of course, Gentoo could be really fast if you did what they did to the kernel. but it's sort of hard to do and if you're looking for out-of-the-box speed, Yoper has a 5 minute install and all the programs launch blazingly fast once you get it up and running. so you don't have to spend a long time in front of the computer if you don't want. i would just imagine people who are concerned about speed would want a fast install too.
This is purely a quess, but I'd assume the YOPER people patch their default kernel with con kolivas kernel patches (http://members.optusnet.com.au/ckolivas/kernel/). This is all possible in gentoo too, just takes more time. I'm running 2.6.8-ck7 at the moment, it's propably the only optimization so far that's actually noticeable immediadly. You have to compile the kernel in gentoo during the install anyway, so it's not really difficult. Just one patch -p1 < patch-ck7 away
update: about that gentoo being unstable comment: All the ebuilds I've tried today have worked perfectly, yay \o/ hopefully it was just bad luck.
For all those skeptical people out there, this is what Andreas has done to make Yoper the fastest "out-of-the-box" distribution:
0.) Performance patches from Con Kolivas, i686 2.6.7 kernel, reiserfs
1.) All original sources, minimal patches.
2.) Compiled with i686 against latest gcc
5.) Latest gcc and glibc and other sources
6.) Keep everything only dependent to what it really needs not what the ./configure happens to find.
7.) Hdparm on install
All things you can do with other distros, but it requires knowledge and a lot of time. And if you reinstall them, the result is gone. Instead, if you do a quick Yoper install (minutes is all it takes), you can have a really fast and fully functional distribution running on your desktop in no time.
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PS: Full credit for this to Bongoots the original writer of all above. As I've wrote nothing but this "PS". Yoper is getting even more faster with each release just try it you won't regret it.