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Gentoo 2004.1
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 24984 08-11-2004
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 9.0

Description: The Gentoo Linux "metadistribution.
Keywords: Gentoo Linux 2004.1 Portage emerge

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Old 05-02-2004, 10:24 AM   #1
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: Gentoo Linux 2004.1
Posts: 61

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 8

Pros: configureable to the max, emergeing packages is so easy
Cons: configureable to the max, installation in stupid hard, takes a long time to install.

Gentoo linux and debian both have programs that automatically download and install programs. They have emerge and apt-get respectively. This is what made me want to switch. I went with Gentoo because it seems to be updated more often. The installation of this seems to be the only downside. Even with the 74-page Gentoo Handbook, you can still mess up. And if you choose stage1 or 2 it takes a really long time to build certain things. But its so configureable. you can use the USE enviroment variable to configure anything any way you want. That is the good thing. One small downside that I personally dont like is that it doesn't include X in the default config.
Old 05-12-2004, 08:01 AM   #2
Registered: Oct 2003
Distribution: Arch Linux, Ubuntu server
Posts: 145

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Compiles everything, great control over your system, well documented
Cons: Compiles everything, not for new users.

I've tried several distro's; years ago a I started with SuSe (version 6.2), but once I started to learn more about how linux works, I got annoyed with the lack of control SuSE provided me. I tried Debian and Slackware, but found it weren't the distro's for me (although they are great distro's for lots of other people). Gentoo provided me with everything I wanted to see in a distro and more. I hate RPM's (I prefer to compile stuff myself so a product does what I want it to, nothing more nothing less) and with Gentoo, everything from glibc to your email client is compiled (although you can choose to emerge precompiled packages too). This takes some time, but I feel it is worth it, because it gives you more control over what your software supports (or not). It does make Gentoo unsuited for people who are completely new to linux, they are better off learning about the OS through distro's like Mandrake or SuSE first. The compiling time can be easily reduced (even from the bootstrap) by installing tools like ccache or distcc.

If you don't mind waiting for your system to take a little time to build, you will love the great flexibility Gentoo provides. Emerge is still missing a few features, but some of the users have written some scripts to bridge these gaps and the makers of emerge are working very hard on improving the program. Gentoo also gives you great control over what you install, which makes it a lot safer then distro's that install all sorts of software you don't know about. For instance, it doesn't automatically install XFree, so you can also use it for servers or other setups that don't require X in any way or fashion.

In short; Gentoo is one of those distro's you either love or hate, and it is worth trying to find out which of these things it is for you ;-)
Old 05-19-2004, 06:56 PM   #3
Registered: Sep 2003
Posts: 22

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Friendly community, great package manager, slim default installation
Cons: Installation time, much to configure

My previous linux experience is mandrake and slackware. I have been running gentoo for the past year, and when I installed using the new installation hand book (2004.1) on my newly aquired file server, I figured I'd write a few lines about why I choose gentoo for all my three computers.

Gentoo is a meta distribution. That means noone has built a complete system for you, but you are given the tools to put it together youself. In another linux distribution, you may get a logger, a mail transfer agent, a cron program, an x server and so on. In gentoo I can choose all of this myself. I want vixie cron. I want postfix. I want syslog-ng. I can be picky without having to uninstall and reinstall any default programs. The choice is mine. ;)

Gentoo's package manager is called portage. It's based on a directory of installation scripts, called ebuilds. If I want to install mozilla, I simply run the mozilla ebuild which downloads the mozilla source code, configures, compiles and installs the program. In case mozilla has any dependancies, these ebuilds will be run as well. Portage also keeps track of all installed programs, and if an ebuild for a newer version is released, I'll get the option to install it next time I run emerge -up system.

Portage compiles most programs from source. This is somehow a controversial thing in the linux society and has led to a lot of gentoo bashing. I don't think compiling from source makes the programs run much faster, but there are other benefits. One is the compile time configuration. For example, some programs can be compiled for either kde or qt.

Some people also complain about the time it takes to compile. This is in my opinion only a problem during installation (which is why the stage 3 installation is there). When the system is up and running, the compile times aren't important. They're running in the background while I do other things. In case of an important big fix or update, sure it takes 30 minutes to compile from source instead of 5 to just install a binary.

The gentoo forums are one of the chief reasons I stick with gentoo. There are a lot of people there, most of them very friendly. Almost every problem I've had has been solved by searching the archives there. In fact, when looking for linux information, I go there before I go to google.

I learned a lot about linux from gentoo. This may not be a good thing for some people. If you prefer things to "just work", then this is not the distribution for you. But if you want to know how things work, and have knowledge about and control over all the programs that run on your computer, then this is the distribution for you.
Old 05-24-2004, 02:51 PM   #4
Registered: May 2004
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 3

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 8

Pros: Good documentation, extensive support fora, friendly community
Cons: Unforgiving to newbies, no GUI installer

Disclaimer: I am an utter n00b to Linux and the hardware on which I have been trying to install it -- SPARC. My comments should, therefore, be taken with that in mind.

Background: As a newbie, I was somewhat intimidated by the prospect of installing Linux. I had heard horror stories about how you have to compile everything and edit text files and manage all this crap that Windows and Macintosh handled for you behind the scenes. But I decided to give it a shot. I started shopping around for a distro.

After some research, Mandrake seemed to be the most forgiving of newbies. I downloaded the install ISOs and started looking around for a cheap PC on which to install it. At a neighborhood yard sale I found, not a PC, but a pair of Sparc workstations, which were being sold for peanuts. I grabbed them and started looking for a distro that supported it. The only ones were Slackware, Aurora, SuSE, and Gentoo. There might have been others, but I forget. I picked Gentoo because of it's reputation for excellent docs and support. I was glad to learn its rep was well earned.

Installing Gentoo has been hard. It probably would have been easier if I installed it on an x86 system, and if I had more experience with Linux, but the documentation and support fora have been livesavers. The Linux community, in some circles, has a reputation for being -- um -- hard on newbies. I found the Gentoo community VERY helpful and VERY forgiving of newbie questions.

What I haven't liked so far is that I haven't yet been able to install it successfully. The documentation, while excellent if everything goes well, doesn't waste much ink on troubleshooting. Again, the fora help, but when you want to just get the dang thing installed, waiting a day or two for an answer every time you run into a wall gets old. I wish there was a GUI option that would take out some of the complexity, but given what I've seen of the culture of the community, I don't think one's coming around soon.

All in all, despite my failure to successfully install yet, which I largely blame on my inexperience, I recommend Gentoo. Someone told me that if nothing else, if I used Gentoo, I'd learn a lot about Linux, and that has certainly been my experience.
Old 05-26-2004, 06:26 PM   #5
Registered: Feb 2004
Posts: 9

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Portage system. Great user community. GREAT FOR NEWBIES. High pride factor.
Cons: Takes longer to install (which is not necessarily bad, see comments below)

Let me make the admitedly contrarian argument for recommending Gentoo for NEWBIES: you'll learn a lot.

I started getting my feet wet with Linux about 6 months ago, with minimal previous Unix experience (I know how to get out of vi without saving!).

My first experience was with Red Hat 9. It installed great on my desktop, and everything seemed to be perfect until I tried to install it on the laptop. As usual in these circumnstances, MANY things did go wrong. While most of them were probably not serious, I had no way to cope. I googled and seemengly found answers to my questions, only I was unable to implement the solutions. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT THE HECK fstab WAS!

I then tried Mandrake 9.2 and it was better (did not have to modify X11F86Config, for starters). Everything was already done for you. And I mean EVERYTHING!! You want a text editor? Here's 20. Want a CD player? Here's 46. Of course you can select the packages you want, but which ones? Again, I had some problems with ACPI on the laptop, and could not get them resolved. The big turn-of, however, was the fact that Mandrake pushed the membership to their club a bit too much. Linux is supposed to be free, right?

It was turn for SuSE. By far, that was the best experience I had up to then. It was probably due to the fact that by now I new a bit more about Linux in general, but everything seemed a bit better thought out.
The problem arose when I tried to compile a new kernel: there are some SuSE patches that while make the SuSE experience what it is (excellent) do not exactly facilitate the customization of the system.

So I decided to try Gentoo on the strength of the forums (OUTSTANDING) and the completeness of the Installation Handbook. The other contender at the time was Slackware but the installation documents scared me off.

That, if you want to do it right.
But a funny thing happened in the process: I learned a whole lot. If I messed up, I started anew and identified where I had gone wrong. I compiled my kernel, and it is very hard to explain the sense of pride when that thing booted!
And that is nothing compared to the sensation after KDE compiled successfuly and started! Of course, in both cases it did not happen the first time. But when it did, I new EXACTLY what I had under the hood.
The process of installing forces you to take it ONE STEP AT A TIME, which in my humble opinion is the best way to learn.
The other byproduct of going slowly is that you deal with less complexity at any one time: when you have 10000 packages on your system it's just more difficult to find what's wrong.
dmesg is more manageable when you only have 3 things on.

Oh, by the way, once you have the base system in place, IT TAKES FAR LESS TIME TO BRING A PACKAGE UP IN GENTOO THAN ANY OTHER DISTRO I TRIED.

I love my Gentoo box, and I feel much more Linux-savvy after installing it.
Make sure you've tried some other distros, however, before tackling this one. You'll have a better appreciation for its simplicity and flexibility.

Old 06-10-2004, 04:16 PM   #6
Registered: Apr 2002
Distribution: Debian / Gentoo / RHEL
Posts: 209

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10

Pros: highest level of configuration, support, handbook mauals, emerge, genkernel
Cons: not forgiving, install time (the pros can not exist without this con)

I use Redhat 7.3 - FC1 on different servers at work. I spend most of my time in a Redhat enviornment. Recently I found myself being bound by Redhat in different areas of administration. I tested Slackware, and Debian and found them to be nothing more than harder versions of Linux to configure securely than say a good version of SuSE or Redhat. I definately liked the feel of Debian but I was frustrated many times configuring it. I recently started with Gentoo 2004.1 64 bit for Opteron's and was very impressed. I spent a massive amount of time getting the system running at peak preformance, but it was also something that could never be physically accomplished on a packaged based distribution.

There were many tools in Gentoo that thoroughly impressed me. I can not talk enough about the power of emerge. The best way to describe emerge would be like a new cutting edge version of apt, that compiles all of the packages it downloads. You can also specify certain optimizations to the compiler, that will affect every package you emerge to the system. Another tool that I was very impressed by was genkernel. Genkernel allows you to pass options on the way you want your kernel compiled, it also opens menuconfig and allows you to customize you kernel while doing some of the configuring for you. Genkernel will then compile and build all of the items needed such as modules, bzImage, and initrd without having to type extra commands.

All in all I was impressed by the sheer speed of this distribution, security, and scalability, while I was equally impressed with its tools, and documentation manuals. I would recommend this to anyone who is comfortable with Linux. After using most of the major distributions I am the happiest I have ever been with Linux, I will use this for quite some time.
Old 06-23-2004, 02:44 PM   #7
Registered: Jun 2004
Distribution: Mint
Posts: 41

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9

Pros: Configurability, speed
Cons: Long install time

In the past, I have mostly used Slackware and Red Hat/Fedora. I have also used Mandrake and SuSE in the past, but those 2 distros have had problems installing on my current system.

After having used Fedora for quite a while, I wanted to give Gentoo a try. I installed Gentoo first on my second PC, which I use as a web server. I have since also installed Gentoo on my laptop and on my main system.

Gentoo has a very good installation guide, which explains how to set up this distro step-by-step. They also have very good guides for setting up X and other software.

One thing I've noticed is that it can take a very long time to install, depending on the way you install it. I chose to use the stage1 tarball (which means you'll compile everything). On my laptop, which has an 850mhz Pentium 3 and 512mb RAM, it took about 4 and a half hours to install. My server PC, which has a 1.4ghz Athlon and 512mb RAM, took about 2 and a half hours, and on my main PC (which has an Athlon XP 2700+ and 1gb RAM), it took about an hour and a half. This is mainly due to having to compile everything. I've also found that X and Gnome/KDE can take a very long time to compile.

The advantage of compiling everything, however, is that you can optimize everything for your CPU. Gentoo keeps 2 compiler variables to store the command-line compiler settings in /etc/make.conf, and these are used when compiling anything. I have found that my web site seems to load faster running on Gentoo (with Apache, PHP, and php_mod installed) than it did on Slackware (also with Apache, PHP, and php_mod). Everything else in general also seems very fast compared to other distros.

I did have one problem with getting the mouse working on my main PC with Gentoo. On my laptop and on my second PC, I was able to get the mouse working without a problem. However, on my main system, the mouse pointer would jump around randomly and send random button clicks. This usually means there's something wrong with the mouse config. Even after following the instructions on setting up a mouse and triple-checking my config, the mouse still wouldn't work correctly. My mouse is a MS IntelliMouse Explorer, which can work with either the IMPS/2 or ExplorerPS/2 protocols, and I have always used the USB-to-PS/2 adapter with it to make use of my PS/2 mouse port. It seems that there may be a problem somewhere (either with Gentoo or the 2.6 kernel) with my motherboard (an Abit NF7-S rev2) or my chipset (Nvidia nforce2). I finally got my mouse to work, though, by using it as a USB mouse, and having it plugged in while Gentoo is booting.

Another downside to Gentoo, I think, is that in order to install some things, you need an internet connection. Gentoo does say that they do provide 'snapshot' CDs, which contain a collection of software at a certain point of time, that you can use if you don't have an internet connection, but their main installation methods do require downloading some items from the internet. I personally preffer something that isn't dependent on external sources when installing. Having to download software for the install means that it will take longer, and if you want to install it on multiple systems, you have to download the same things each time you install it, which not only takes longer, but puts more load on the servers.

Overall, though, I think Gentoo is a good distro. You'll probably want some Linux experience before trying it, but it has good documentation, and if you follow the docs, things will most likely just work (whereas with other distros, they may try to pre-configure some things for you, and it might not work for everyone). Gentoo's portage system is a very good package system, and Gentoo seems faster in general than other distros.
Old 07-01-2004, 08:21 AM   #8
Registered: Sep 2003
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 26

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10

Pros: exactly what you want for the life cycle of the system
Cons: the stigma that install seems that hard

In my opinion the life cycle of any system is where the time is spent, not the install.
Security patches come out, yes even in linux.
applying these patches in a quick and easy method is where I think the true beauty of Gentoo lies.

when a new package is out simply "emerge" the new package, it installs the new, removes the new(if needed) or removes the old(typical), and there config file can be updated line by line with etc-update.
This new package is optimised for my machine based on my CFLAGS and USE variables. I have total control over these variables and I can even change them just before the emerge to get that last bit of control.
The install does not bother me much because all our workstations are the same hardware, and the base software packages are the same.
I install on one machine and then image the rest, tweak a little after the copy, and its off and running.
I even use Gentoo instead of FreeBSD for some of my servers now.
Old 07-23-2004, 03:23 AM   #9
Registered: Oct 2003
Distribution: Gentoo rules them all
Posts: 279

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 10

Pros: Portage, configurability, variety, excellent community
Cons: Can be confusing at first, be prepared to wait (i'll explain)

Well, first and foremost i am a gentoo fanboy and i've been running it exclusively on any system i could get my hands on. Also, to get this out of the way, linux is not for games, if you want to play games, run windows! There, i said it.

Ok, so why gentoo, you ask. Let me ask you this, then: "What do you do when you want to learn how to swim?" A: "You get wet!" Gentoo offers exactly the water that you need to learn how to swim in linux :) First of all it has the clearest installation instructions for something this complex i've ever seen. Without reading all the comments its fully possible to install the whole system just by copying and pasting the commands that are given (and highlighted) in the so-called gentoo installation handbook. Infact, for all of you who are scared of 100+ page document, all of it is really stuffing that prepares you for the journey, the REAL instructions can be fit onto a single sheet. An additional benefit of installation is the learning experience. I have learned at least as much as i already knew about linux, first time i tried installing gentoo. (For the record: i was using Red Hat 8.0 before. Now i realize that i really did not learn anything at all from RH in all 6 months of using it. Unfortunately that is the case with almost any binary distribution, be that Fedora, Mandrake, RedHat, or Suse, or few others.)

Portage: Portage offerst the BEST software management tool on any linux distribution, installation, uninstallation and upgrades are just a short command away.
Configurability: Gentoo is highly configurable, for example if you do not plan to run X server or there is no KDE on your computer, its very easy to prohibit any package from compiling support for them by adjusting just one line in a global configuration file and thus making the setting universal.
Variety: As of today Gentoo has more than 90,000 (you heard right, ninety THOUSAND) ebuilds and more than 8,000 distinct applications (most ebuilds are different release versions of any application). With such numbers on your side its almost guaranteed that you never will have to look for sourcecode on the web again.
Community: gentoo forums are some of the most informative places on the web, for information on linux in general and gentoo in particular (no more RTFM that is so common in other places, in fact i've not seen rtfm there, yet :))
Did i mention that you only get software you asked for, and nothing you don't?

Now for the cons of gentoo, and as we know nothing is perfect, can gentoo still emerge on top? Lets see:

Confusing: Unfortunately, many people out there like eye candy, and pretty pictures. But trying to install gentoo, you are dumped into command prompt right after bootable cd plays and left there wondering if the installer crashed. Well i have news for ya, commandline IS your installer. This is why gentoo has such an excellend installation handbook so that anyone with even almost none linux expertise can follow the instructions, install the operating system, and (if the handbook is read from beginning to end) would be somewhat ready for next step. My advice for anyone who is installing gentoo for the first time would be: Handbook is your bible, read every single line of it and follow the instructions to the letter. That is why there is genkernel which is a set of automatic scripts which configure and install the kernel (which is likely the hardest part of the install for uninitiated). Granted, its big and a bit slower than it can be, but genkernel-generated kernel will work on almost any hardware and do all the required functions without manual configuration by the user that's been using linux for the first time. In the end anyone will find that gentoo is not really confusing, and only a minimum familiarity with linux command line operations are required (handbook takes care of teaching those to you too)
Slow installation time: I've seen many, many complaints that gentoo is slow to install and maintain, and i will tell you all that this is untrue for the most part. Allow me to explain: installation first, gentoo has 3 possible ways to go about initial installation: a) compile everything locally, b) download few pre-compiled packages and continue compiling the rest, and c) download everything ready to go. (aka, slowest, slow and fast). When i say everything, i mean the base system, or the minimum number of things that will allow to run the computer and install new programs with no problems. Take my advice and don't go for anything but c) installation (aka stage3), with it i was able to get the system fully functional within 2 hours. (hell, i've seen Red Hat install for longer than that), the rest is not worth it, mostly just a waste of installation time. In the end it does not matter, as once you do few updates most of the software will be re-compiled anyways, and that's exactly what stage1 and stage 2 do (a and b installations). Most of the software does not take long to compile, few minutes for the big things. The only other wait-producing installation is Xfree86/XOrg with any window manager. I timed installation of Xfree and kde on a 2.4 P4 computer (starting with fresh installed system) and it took it about 17 hours to finish. but what do you care? you just do 'emerge kde' and go away for a day. portage figures out what kde needs (such as any libraries xfree86 server, etc) then compiles and installs it. After the initiall installation and compilation of window manager, no single compilation should take more than 10 minutes.

Anyways, in my opinion the Pros outweight Cons by such a large factor that cons, become almost irrelevant as compared to all that gentoo has to offer.

Highly Recommended.

ps. Almost forgot, in gentoo there is no real physical difference between the release versions, so someone who is running 1.4 (first major stable release) can easily upgrade to 2004.1 (latest at the moment), just by running this command: 'emerge -Du world' which will upgrade any program that can be upgraded to the latest version.
Old 08-11-2004, 02:13 PM   #10
Registered: Aug 2004
Distribution: Linare
Posts: 48

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Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 8

Pros: very good for those who want some thing new
Cons: A first popular distro i had seen with out installer

Gentoo is realy a good distro. I personly recomand Gentoo as one should try at least one time in a life.
I had downloaded gentoo on my slow network for 1weak and now i personaly feel i had got fruit.


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