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Alright so I have a modest amount of Linux experience through Knoppix and several other Live CD's with varying success, and now I'm looking for a more permanent Linux experience. So far I've narrowed it to Gentoo and Ubuntu. Any suggestions either way? I'm drawn to Gentoo's reputation for full control and performance, as well as Ubuntu's user-friendly nature. Another possible option is Slackware (I've heard it's one of the more powerful Linux distros)
Gentoo is an awesome distribution and the Portage tool is the greatest thing since sliced bread IMO. Portage allows you to customize your software installs and will install dependencies if needed, which saves tons of time since installing software manually can be a huge headache. Gentoo has a definent learning curve to it at first and can drive you crazy sometimes, but it is the ultimate in customization. Although, if you bear through the walkthrough's on Gentoo's website, you will be able to install it; as long as you are patient enough.
Ubuntu is a great beginner's distro and is super easy to install. I recommend this distro if you want a quick install and then learn after the fact. Unless you are running an old computer or are running the PC as a server, the performance gains between Ubuntu and Gentoo are negligable. If like the KDE desktop -I am partial to it- then I recommend you get the specific distribution called Kubuntu. This distro is KDE on Ubuntu and is optimized for KDE.
Slackware is another good distribution and one of the older ones that is out there. I liked it and it offers a good balance of usability and performance.
If your totally anal, get Gentoo. If you just want to get the job done, get Kubuntu. If you want a balance, get Slackware.
Allocate 10 Gig to each and try them all. Pick which suits.
LiveCDs typically do not get you "down and dirty" into configuring your environment.
My testbox (currently) has 9 different distros - some unused for some time, but I don't need the space back yet.
IMHO grub handles this best, but again the Linux community offers you the freedom to choose.
I've never used Gentoo. I'm typing this from Ubuntu 6.06 x86-64 and it works fine, the interface is the most "polished GNOME version" that I've used. Synaptic is great, and .deb give less problems (...to me) than .rpm ...but that's Debian.
I took a look at Debian's web site and I just wasn't very impressed. I'd love to just partition up my hard drive but unfortunately (at least for the time being) the install will be on a relatively old laptop that doesn't have room to spare. I think it's more a choice between Gentoo and Slackware now that I've looked at the three respectively. Ubuntu sounds great, but I really want to learn while enjoying Linux. I've heard a lot of complaining about the source installs for Gentoo.. should that be a concern?
I've heard a lot of complaining about the source installs for Gentoo.. should that be a concern?
How old is the laptop? If it's 1GHz or less then expect to take about a day for the install with X and a window manager. People on older hardware who don't set up their USE flags properly run 'emerge kde' then come post here 2 days later asking why it's not finished yet...
It takes a while but it's certainly controllable if you set the distro up intelligently, think before you just emerge something and take advantage of USE flags.
I'm aware that Ubuntu and Gentoo are at basically opposite ends of the scale. However, I wasn't sure if I should go ahead and stick with the user-friendliness of Ubuntu instead of taking the challenge of Gentoo. Like I said, I've only had experience with LiveCD's and am now trying to install Linux on my Palm device.
Well it's not ancient. It's a Compaq Presario 1626. It was my step-dad's when he was taking some college courses a few years ago.
The whole "x distro is better for learning on than y" is a bit misleading. yes, Gentoo and Slackware force you to know more about the process and about your hardware than other distros, but once they're installed, they are identical to every other distro.
Let's use my laptop as an example: Thinkpad r40 with 256meg of RAM. I don't really see much of a speed difference between the two, although I don't tweak it. Once your desktop environment is installed, KDE or Gnome are pretty much the same regardless of you distro.
Install the distro, install the tools you need and you'll find that you can do the same things in each one.