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They are both difficult and inappropriate for you. If you must run one or the other, pick Debian.
On gentoo you compile everything. On my computer it would probably take about three days of nonstop compiling to install the OS, KDE, and all the stuff I like. Newer computers can do it faster.
When you install new software with Gentoo, you compile it. So if you decide you need applicaton X, you'll need to wait an hour (or three).
Debian does not make you compile everything, you use binaries.
Both are non-commercial and created wholly by volunteers. Well, this is true of Debian anyway. I don't know if Gentoo is tied to a company.
Installing software is easy for both. If you want to install X you type emerge X (Gentoo) or apt-get X (Debian).
Both are relatively hard to install but easy to upgrade. Before anyone responds in outrage remember that I said relatively; i.e. compared to Mandrake. Without *reasons* why you want these distributions I think you should install Mandrake or Fedora. Linux is linux, so as a newbie why struggle with a painful installation?
Major differences. Dabian focuses on security and stability, Gentoo is aimed towards the bleeding edge. Also Debian's package management is centered on binary packages whereas in Gentoo you compile from source code.
As for the installation, Gentoo has very helpfull documentation and user forums which give it a slight edge over Debian GNU/Linux right now. That said, they are both amongst the most difficult distros to install.
Debian can be very, very easy to install though, if you are willing to do it in a roundabout way. What I mean by that is that you'd use a Debian-based distro like Knoppix, Mepis, or Libranet to do the installation and then use apt-get to upgrade the system to a Debian build. That's what I'd do.
I'd also add that if you don't have broadband forget about Gentoo right now.
Last edited by Greyweather; 11-30-2003 at 01:18 PM.
Actually I do have broadband, since I'm in a college dorm...and being in college I have some people who can help me, which is why I'm doing Gentoo/Debian even though I'm a newbie (People have said I should be fine..).
But I still like to hear what people have to say in message boards, it helps a lot. I've already run into trouble several times in last week installing gentoo...have had to restart installation few times!
Firstly, I'd have to agree in part with mac_phil in that either of these distro's is a brave start for a newbie.
Having said that, I have found either to provide a very usable system, with a little work.
The Knoppix route to a Debian system is a great idea, and if you want a graphical desktop while installing Gentoo, Knoppix can be used for this also. http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/altinstall.xml
Having tried both, I found that Gentoo was the easier of the two to get a really slick desktop happening, and it is also the easiest system I have ever maintained.
The install documents on the Gentoo site made the difference for me, if you follow them carefully, you'll be impressed by the results.
I am very new to Linux myself. My first time around, I installed Redhat. Didn't learn a thing besides using the GNOME/KDE desktops because everything came up working "out of the box". I soon lost my interest in linux because of this. I was learning nothing new and wanted my old Windows software back. Several months went by and out of boredom I decided to give it another go.
I am currently running Slackware 9.1 and Debian 3.1 (also installed Vector Linux 4.0 which I replaced with Slack). I had a hell of a time installing both of them. But when the smoke cleared I was far better off than after my Redhat install. I'm by no means a linux guru or any other such thing, but in my experience waltzing blindly into the installation of a no-frills distro that won't hold your hand is the best way to force yourself to learn what is going on inside your box -- if you don't you won't be using it .
It is too easy after installing a distro like Redhat or Mandrake to get lost in a world of frilly graphical interfaces and you will likely spend most of your time fooling around with them instead of really getting a good look at your system.
If you are looking for productivity, don't really care to know what is happening, and just want a fully functional (slow, buggy, bloated) system right out of the box by all means go for an easy to install and configure distro like Redhat or Mandrake.
If you love computers and are installing Linux solely out of curiousity and a desire to understand your system, and don't mind not having the functionality of a more accessible distro right away, by all means punish yourself and plow right into it with Slack (It is totally beautiful)