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Old 11-12-2004, 02:25 PM   #1
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Gentoo and Catch 22?

I just thought I'd post this, well it's sort of a rant/moan, but not really.

The other week, I got the latest edition of LinuxFormat mag through the post. It had Mandrake 10.1 community (it was just before Mandrake release 10.1 official) on the cover disc.

I thought "excellent", it's been out for a while so it's not too far from going "official" (which it did, about a fortnight after).

Anyway, I proceeded to do the upgrade from 10.0 official to the 10.1 community. Unfortunately, the upgrade wasn't very successful, so I decided that it probably needed a fresh install of the 10.1 community.

That was even worse, for reasons that I don't understand it wouldn't boot at all, which I feel is a rare occurance. I've had considerable success with mandrake.

So, I thought things through, and eventually put a knoppix disc in the drive and booted that, followed by a visit to a terminal and
sudo knoppix-installer
off it went.

The knoppix disc I was using, had been previously used without any problems whatsoever, so when the knoppix installer started showing error after error I became, well I suppose dis-oriented would be a good word.

That wouldn't boot either!

So, back to square one.

It just happens, that I also had some gentoo discs (2004.2). Now I appreciate that gentoo "can" take one hell of a long time to install, but I thought that if I opted for the "stage 3 + GRP" (that's with using binary packages from the second disc to save time during install).

After about 2 hours or so I had a running gentoo system (which is what I'm using at the moment). Great, but heres the catch 22.

When, like me, you've had lots of success with a distro like Mandrake, it's very easy to forget just how much of the install, management and configuration of the software is actually automated.

The number of things that I've had to learn, or re-learn so I can get the gentoo install to anything approaching an "off the shelf" version of mandrake is/are considerable.

For example, getting packages and installing them is sooooooo easy. Just a case of
# emerge whatever
and off it goes, gets the package, downloads and compiles it - Bingo.

But bugger me, it seems such hard work. If it's not a missing application, it's damned confusing configuration.

So far, I've had to battle to install/configure the Xserver (xorg) to be able to work properly with my nvidia based graphics card, learn about doing partitial kernel compiling so I can then get the modules or kernel support that I didn't know I'd need after the initial install, configuring printers, working out how to either apply/install modified /etc/config files when completing an update and todays "little exercise" has been to find out more about the possibility of having multiple versions of KDE installed (unintentionally) and how to configure my system so that the numlock facility is switched on at boot.

The catch 22 being that yes, I could easily order another DVD powerpack of 10.1 from mandrake and pretty much everything would be there, up and running straight after the install, but given the time that I've invested installing/learning/configuring/managing this gentoo install, I'm very reluctant to do that - not forgetting that to move back to mandrake would tie me back into the perennial upgrading cycle again. If only there was a way of having either Gentoo's portage or debians Apt package manager in mandrake, but so it only gets mandrakised packages, but still offers the option of either "emerge -uDv world" or "apt-get install dist upgrade", then mandrake truely would (IMO) be just about the best that is available (perhaps it is possible, but I greatly suspect the implementation of such a plan would be so far over my head, as to be impracticle).

So I suppose I'm stuck with Gentoo for the time being (not a bad thing, but I'm still not entirely convinced that gentoo is right for me). I'll just have to keep my eyes open for things that it's not doing, that I took for granted when I had mandrake installed and try to make it "do that" as well.

Phew, thats that "off my chest".

Keep up the good works Jeremy and all the LQ mods, you've got one hell of a good resource here. It's a pleasure to be part of it, even in such a very small way.


Old 11-12-2004, 02:37 PM   #2
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have you looked at Ubuntu?

I used Mandrake for a 18 months or so very happily but then I discovered Ubuntu.
1 cd and the rest online. Based on Debian.
Gnome 2.8
Very nice indeed.

(I had problems with 10.1 too. Bootable but messed up in places and no nvidia drivers would work with the 2.6.8 kernel. As opposed to very easy to get to work with Ubuntu.)

Last edited by salparadise; 11-12-2004 at 02:39 PM.
Old 11-12-2004, 02:38 PM   #3
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/me undated gnome to version 2.8 yesterday.

/me typed in "emerge gnome" and walked off. 3 hours and 89 package compiles later, it worked out of the box.

for the middle to experienced user, gentoo is better than mandrake in every concievable way... to be honest i'm not sure quite what the problem is you're having... there's a few small fiddly things like numlock, keymaps etc.. but they're all pretty easy fixes. biggest problem i have is that when i update baselayout it normally resets the keymap to american.. hardly a big hang up!
Old 11-12-2004, 04:57 PM   #4
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Bigjohn, promise me that in a month or so you can back to this thread and tell us how Gentoo is going for you. Its the crack of linux. You will be hooked for sure.
Old 11-12-2004, 06:32 PM   #5
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Gentoo has its upsides and its downsides just like any other distribution. I am originally a Debian guy, but I installed Gentoo on my laptop 15 months ago and was pretty hooked. I installed it on my server and on my desktop later as well.

What makes Gentoo great is it simple and logical setup - package system (Portage), configuration, and so on. Building packages from source is vastly overrated and very seldom provide the "extreme" payoffs some Gentoo users claim.

I recently installed Ubuntu on my laptop and so far I am extremely pleased with it. I recommend it to anyone, newbies and veterans alike. It is not based on Debian - it *is* Debian. Think of it as an alternative to the Testing distribution.

Old 11-12-2004, 07:14 PM   #6
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Bugger me! I didn't really expect any answers, I was just, well, erm "venting my spleen" I suppose.

If any of you look at this thread (taken from the gentoo forums), it may highlight what I mean when I moan about confusion.

TBH I'm still not sure which or how many versions of KDE I've actually got installed, or why I may (or not as the case may be) actually have a latter kernel version installed (but not used, as far as I can tell I'm using the 2.6.7-gentoo-r11 one) afterall, this is the first time I've seen the 2.6.9 one mentioned in conjunction with my system.

Plus, while all the stuff that I moaned about in the original post were done in "spare" time, though as a professional haulage operator, "time" is very much, money. So while that time might not actually have cost me anything, I can still see value in my investment of time.

Yes, if you checked out my posting history here at LQ, you'd see that previously, I didn't worry about having to "splash the cash" and get the latest original discs from mandrake, previously I figured it a very worthy cause - I enjoyed my time using mandy, very much.

But it was the events of the original post that showed me that I was obviously getting bored upgrading to the latest and greatest of mandrakes offerings 2 or 3 times a year, hence the half hearted effort of trying to install knoppix, then ending up with gentoo i.e. so I had a distro that doesn't actually ever need to be replaced with the latest version. I should (in theory) be able to just keep the updates going and keep things pretty close to cutting edge - it just means that I'll have to visit kde-look for my eye candy, rather than just downloading whatevers been produced/mandrakised by the PLF!

Ho Hum



p.s. If Chris (Acid kewpie) is reading this in the next day or 2, the update you did to get the 2.8 gnome stuff, was that just a normal(ish) update of did you have to do the "ACCEPT_KEYWORDS=~x86" stuff - as the couple of updates I did during last week havent changed my gnome 2.6 - yet?


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