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Old 03-16-2006, 10:26 PM   #1
Registered: Dec 2004
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Pros/Cons: Source vs. Binary

Question: What are the advantages/disadvantages to compiling from source/binary?

Background: Question arose while messing around with Gentoo after using Slackware on and off for a few months. After spending a good 12hrs compiling X and Gnome, I'm wondering if the optimization is worth it compared to a 10min (or less) tgz package install?

I did a search, and--feel free to call me lazy--after 5 pages of similar posts that never fully addressed this issue, I felt that it might be worth it to make a more solid post (perhaps a sticky?). If there is already a well-known post addressing this exact issue, my apologies.

Thank you very much in advance.


Last edited by DreameR-X; 03-16-2006 at 10:29 PM.
Old 03-16-2006, 10:30 PM   #2
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source will give you a final version that is optimized for your system. The binaries will be compiled for some other hardware specification and therefore will run best with that configuration but will work fairly well with your system. It will take more time and probably be more difficult but will give a better result. Also sometimes you may have no choice. If you have a system like LFS you must have everything compiled from source. Sometimes the binaries are not availble which would be another reason to go with source
Old 03-16-2006, 10:41 PM   #3
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From my experience, the benefits of compiling from source are not that huge - it can be quicker just to install a binary package, and start using the program straight away, rather than wait 10 hours for Openoffice to compile, just to save 1 second on the startup time.

Just my 2c
Old 03-16-2006, 11:03 PM   #4
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My attitude is that there is so much to learn about the efficient administration of a Linux system that we really don't have time to compile everything. Little situations arise regularly that require the compilation of source for a specific needed program, so one needs to be able to do it, but everything is total overkill.

The exception is for a person who wants to do advanced programming or high level system maintenance. Such a person really needs to know the details of why his OS works the way it does.
Old 03-16-2006, 11:26 PM   #5
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Thanks guys.

rickh: I don't quite see how compiling from source lets an administrator understand his system more carefully: the scripting goes by so fast that I assume most Gentoo/BSD users just watch movies/do something else while it's compiling. It seems like using the "emerge --pretend" or "installpkg --ask" would be more useful to an administrator--at least from what I understand.



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