- Installation (how long/simple)
It takes a couple of hours at most to get a working system with CLI only. This assumes you've read and understand the installation documents before you start and know your hardware pretty well. "Everything" is compiled from source for your machine, so you can guesstimate how long different packages will take . For example, KDE or GNOME could take 6 or more hours when installed from scratch. Of course, you define the flags for your system that are used during compilation so you only provide support for what you want.
Gentoo provides a stable, a testing, and a masked branch. It also allows you to use non-Gentoo software. Obviously you can see the philosophy with regard to stability. Gentoo's stable branch is more updated than Debian's, IMHO. I'll offer that I mix stable, testing, and 3rd party on my system and don't notice any stability issues or problems that limit my productivity. Currently the only issue I have is my screensaver doesn't start unless I manually lock the session. Keep in mind that this is for a home desktop system.
Well, the apps on Gentoo aren't any different, so from that perspective it's no more or no less easy to use. As far as managing the system, I do most of that from the CLI regardless of distro. So from my viewpoint that aspect is no more or no less easy either.
Once again, I do this from the CLI, but I'm sure there are GUI interfaces. I had to learn a new set of commands, but I like the system that Gentoo uses (called portage). I feel like it gives me more control over the packages I have installed on my system. I can exclude whole categories of applications (e.g., I don't want games, I mask the all the games categories). I can include or exclude a single package or even a single version of a single package. I can choose to use the testing branch for package A, version 2 and the stable branch for all other versions of package A. There's alot of other features like cached compiling, binary support, USE flags. You can read about portage on the Gentoo website.
New versions are being introduced every day, so you could theoretically be updating on a daily basis. I don't think there are an inordinate number of critical/security bugs that would require you to be patching and updating all the time either. A lot of those come from upstream and would, likely, impact you no matter what distro. There's alot of opportunity to tweak, but no requirement to tweak.
That said, if you do a poor job during the initial installation, you could spend a fair amount of time maintaining things. For example, if you forget to compile parallel port support into your kernel during the initial install, you'll need to recompile the kernel before you use your printer. If you spent the time planning your initial install, you should be OK.
Once you get it setup, it's not like you need to adjust this and turn that everytime you want to run some program. Similarly, you don't need to overhaul the system every three months just to keep going.
Coming to Gentoo from another distro, probably not too high. Of course, I'm learning something new all the time. It sorta depends on what you've done on previous distros.
Anything that you use in Debian to make your system secure is (?) available in Gentoo.
Well, like I said earlier, I do just about everything from the CLI when maintaining/managing my system. So I'm just as likely to make a mistake in Gentoo as in another distro (except maybe *buntu which uses sudo by default).
Put a GNOME desktop on Debian and a GNOME desktop on Gentoo and I don't know that the user is going to be more likely to make an error in one over the other.
- anything else worth comparing
It's kinda dumb, but Gentoo has a slicker, more professional looking website.
I'm not a programmer, so don't have much to offer a project I guess, but I volunteered to help two other distros and never heard a peep. It would've been nice to at least be told to piss off. When I volunteered to help test a package, the Gentoo dev said, "Cool, thanks." and responded within an hour of me volunteering. As a customer, that goes a long way with me.
Gentoo's official forum is hosted at their website. I look for answers there, but I prefer a different forum that I won't mention whose initials are LQ.org. They're not unfriendly, but I feel that there's less patience there than at the previously unmentioned forum.
For your information, I've used FC4, FC5, Debian Woody, Debian Etch, and Slackware 10.2. My kids use Ubuntu and Kubuntu. So, that's my frame of reference.
Originally Posted by bongo22
You're welcome, hope at least something I wrote is helpful to you.