A Brief Review of Gentoo.

02 Mar

As I promised here is my review of gentoo. I’ve been wanting to try gentoo for a while now but I could never get it installed quite right. Amazingly despite my isp’s block of rsync causing gentoo to believe that I didn’t have internet I finally installed it with success! The only thing of interest that I can think of to mention at this point was that the screen saver didn’t work. So once I got my isp to stop blocking Rsync (that took a about a week…) I decided I should update my system; I hoped this would fix the problem with the screen saver. So I ran emerge –update –world and that was when the trouble started. Gentoo is obviously a very manual distro which is fine but it can be annoying times. I won’t complain about that too much because I know the reasons for it and actually kind of like it in some way, however, I don’t have time to worry about software conflicts and updating config files every times I update something.

The trouble that I mentioned was that my computer stopped running the gdm on log in and once I did get into gnome it had lost all of my settings and half of everything simply didn’t work (including dvorak). I wasn’t really in the mood to try to fix this and I had no idea what was wrong so I decide to update gnome and see what happened. It fixed it thats what happened. (the first review was better; this one sucks pretty bad.) Once Gnome was functioning again I decide to install vlc (because that is how I roll). vlc had no gui interface so I’m assuming that somehow I got the cdl version or something. I believe I may have had one or two other minor problems, but I can’t remember what they were as it has been a little while.

Don’t think that gentoo is bad just because I had a few annoyances. I’m sure I would use gentoo if I had more time (and knowledge?) to invest in getting the thing to work properly (and then never touch it), but with school and everything I don’t. For me, Fedora is still the best distribution because it requires a lower level of maintenance (though it has been giving me problems on this install…)


Posted by on March 2, 2008 in linux, review


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11 responses to “A Brief Review of Gentoo.

  1. linuxcrayon

    March 3, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Might I suggest Slackware? True, you don’t get automatic dependency resolution, but it’s not a big issue. You don’t build things from source, so you don’t get that optimization you can get in Gentoo, but it also (in my experience thus far) doesn’t overwrite your configuration files or break anything when you update to current. You don’t install crap you don’t want, you get full control over your system, and your system doesn’t treat you like you’re dumb.

    It honestly does not have a very steep learning curve. The most difficult parts are: installation (which you can just choose a full instead of manually selecting packages), configuration files (there are virtually no gui config tools), and getting used to the CLI package manager as there is no graphical manager.

    Slackware is amazing, and its package manager is heaven. If you want a package manager that’s a little easier to deal with, get slackpkg from /extra on disc 3.

  2. Justin

    March 3, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I’ve never tried Slackware before. I don’t think gentoo really has a steep learning curve it just requires that you do a lot of things by hand that other distros do for you. I think that is actually a good thing if you have time to do it; I don’t.

    Maybe once I get FreeBSD 7 downloaded and I play with it a bit I will try Slackware.

  3. linuxcrayon

    March 4, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Slackware is actually more or less a merger of Linux and BSD. It is often hailed as the more “Unix-like” Linux distribution.

    The only reason for this that I’ve seen so far is its bootstrap process, which is FAR less complicated than the Sys V init that other linux distros uses. It instead uses a BSD-style bootstrap.

    I’ve never tried FreeBSD, although I’ve really wanted to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well as a guest in VirtualBox, and I’m not willing to commit a full installation yet.

  4. linuxcrayon

    March 4, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Oops. Forgot to ask you to let me know how FreeBSD is and how you well you like it (or dislike it).

  5. Justin

    March 4, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I have all three disks downloaded now so I just need to burn them (I will probably do that tomorrow). I’ve been at an academic competition for school all evening so I haven’t had time to mess with it yet.I’ll let you know what I think when I do, though.

    I’ve used FreeBSD (6.3) a bit it the past and I liked it. Its more of a server OS so I decided not to use it as a workstation, but if I ever needed a server I would definitely consider it. I just like to play with linux/bsd distros :); I’ll probably go back to fedora after a few weeks.

  6. Dirk Gently

    March 9, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I installed Gentoo on my laptop about a year ago and have over that time hand configured it. It does take a lot of time and willing to learn linux, but for me it’s the most solid distro out there. I’ve only had to force reboot once and that was sorta my fault.

  7. Burunghantu

    September 22, 2008 at 4:31 am

    I would also like to see how you liked Slackware. U may also have some interest in Arch Linux as I’m currently considering, gentoo, Arch and maybe Slackware as a ‘learning’ distro to help me learn more about linux.

    I’ve been using linux almost a year now and most of my use is 98% Linux. I’m starting to literally forget how to do things in XP. Not that it’s a problem for me and with virtualization available, I’m headed towards a full linux machine with maybe XP running in Virtual for a few programs like for Nokia phones that I need.

    As a new Linux user, I did much ‘shopping’ around, versus hopping, and I had Sabayon for a while and I liked it, but it didn’t work on some of my hardware and I’m still not sure it didn’t ‘do’ something to one of my current notebooks. (I don’t hold this against Gentoo either. I like the idea of Gentoo but I also don’t have the time I think for Gentoo though I really want to look into it.)

    I have a friend that has tried Arch and interesting from what I read and was told, it allows the use of source and it’s package manager will make that source into a package. So they often have community repos with software. It is a ‘from’ scratch type system also, but it’s learning curve is supposed to be a bit easier.

    I need to read up on Slackware.

    I might suggest the very ‘forgotten’ Debian. I am using ‘sidux’ but I am thinking very possibly before I try any of the 3 mentioned above. I will one day try a traditional Debian install. I believe that the way it’s set up, though binary, you can set it up to have only what you want on your machine. As far as getting packages, upgrade the stable to Testing or something if you want some newer things. Testing is really quite stable and I have had ‘sidux’ on this one box, my work machine for going on a year or more now.


    You mentioned a somewhat busy schedule. I teach and also have other projects that take my time. I think for what you might want, Debian may have what you need as well. Just in the suggestion of something to try.

    Well, look forward to your report on Slackware.

  8. Justin

    September 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I actually never got a chance to try Slackware. Maybe sometime in the future I will try it but right now I’m really busy with school (in fact I should be working on some stuff right now) and Fedora is working great for me right now.

    I actually used Debian for a while. It is good but I got annoyed by how old all of the packages were. I’ve been thinking about trying the PPC version on my mac as Fedora won’t run.

  9. Paul

    February 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I stumbled on this site while researching Gentoo information. I have used Gentoo since the early days (1.x?) and I loved it. Yes, it is manual to the extreme, but not as bad as LFS. THe part that I don’t like about it is the terribly long compile times, but if you do those at night, it works out OK as long as there isn’t an error at 0200 hrs or something…

    Prior to that I used Slackware exclusively for a couple of years and loved it as well. Slack is what I would be on today if it weren’t for that fact that Gnome support has been completely removed from the distro. I know there are 3rd party Gnome installs, but not sure how much they muck with the core Slack install.

    I have used FreeBSD as a desktop and it’s OK, but requires a lot of configuration to make it do everything that an out of the box Linux install can do. Like someone said, it makes a great server, but it’s not really a desktop OS.

    I am currently using Debian testing and it is rock-solid. The only thing that bugs me about Debian is that they live in their own little world. I am referring to the “Debian Way” which is how the kernel gets compiled, Nvidia gets installed and some other other maintenence issues happen. They are convoluted and overly complex, in my opinion, but they do work. Even installing Nvidia on Gentoo is easier than installing on Debian. This has changed radically though, now that the binary Nvidia drivers are included in the testing repositories.

    I have tried Arch and it is the closest thing to a binary Gentoo I can think of. Fast and although a manual install, it’s pretty easy. I did find it to be a bit bleeding edge though and some things kept breaking when I did updates. I could have been doing things wrong though – I only used it for a day or so. Never could get my camera to work with it while it worked with no configuration in Gentoo…go figure!

  10. Justin

    April 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    sorry it took me so long to get that approved. I read it in the email that wordpress sends when posts are commented on and I forgot to go approve it.


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