Linux Delta
Gentoo

Gentoo

Gentoo Linux is a Linux distribution built using the Portage package management system. Unlike a binary software distribution, the source code is compiled locally according to the user's preferences and is often optimized for the specific type of computer. Precompiled binaries are available for some larger packages or those with no available source code. Gentoo Linux was named after the fast-swimming gentoo penguin. The name was chosen to reflect the potential speed improvements of machine-specific optimization, which is a major feature of Gentoo. Gentoo package management is designed to be modular, portable, easy to maintain, and flexible. Gentoo describes itself as a meta-distribution because of its adaptability, in that the majority of users have configurations and sets of installed programs which are unique to the system and the applications they use.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentoo_Linux
Homepage: https://www.gentoo.org/

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Ryan

2 users found this useful.
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Gentoo is one of those things that you do once, and then unless you are a masochist you never return to. To install it was literally the worst experience I've ever had installing a Linux distro. Compiling software for hours and hours and hours and eventually you might have a working machine. Absolutely horrible to do, but the resulting system is ok if the installation was successful. Then every time you have updates...there's another 30 minutes to an hour while waiting for the compiler again. It was useful to do to see how a system is built from source...but if you want to have the experience of building a custom Linux system without the pain, you should go for Arch. There is no reason Gentoo should be on your radar except to say you did it this one time and you don't want to experience it ever again.

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Esbeeb

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Have you ever heard the phrase "penny-wise, but pound-foolish"? Gentoo is a great example of this. You'll wait for days for your software to compile, just to shave a few seconds here and there of actual execution times when you actually use the software to get things done.

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John Russell

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Oh, Gentoo... What can I say - I've tried? I think all together I've started a dozen Gentoo installs, and I think only one of those times has resulted in a functional system. A few times, I've gotten to the end but it didn't boot, but usually I say to myself "What's the point of this?" about 1/2 through and go back to normal life. And then the USE flag... Oh that flag of great power that is explained so poorly to leave one absolutely confused and scared that using the wrong flags will start WWIII. And not to mention that most software is distributed only in source, which is fine, but normally when I want to install software its because I want to use it now - not in 4 hours when it and all its dependencies are done compiling.

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Rene Kjellerup

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George P. Burdell

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Gentoo's strength is in is flexibility, stability, and transparency. It owes many of these attributes to it being a source based distro where you compile the software on your machine locally and then install it instead of simply extracting a binary that somebody else has already compiled for you. This means if you have a very underpowered machine like a Raspberry Pi, Gentoo can take days to install. Packages like webkit or chromium can take well over 10 minutes to compile even on modern respectable hardware. What you lose in time from having to compile your own locally you then gain in other areas. You can select multiple versions of just about any piece of software and have them installed, in some cases simultaneously. This means if you run into a weird bug with a package or a botched release from a package maintainer, you can simply select a different version. I use this feature all the time to get past bugs in both enterprise production and my own personal machines. This also means that Gentoo is a rolling release and has been going as a rolling release for decades. I have a production machine that was installed with kernel 2.4 and currently runs kernel 5.0 without ever having to reinstall. Try getting that level of longevity even from CentOS. In Gentoo none of the levers of power are hidden from you. If anything you're deliberately exposed to them and encouraged to learn about them and familiarize yourself with them. However with total power over the system setup comes total responsibility. If you're looking for something turn key consider turning around. If you're looking for something that can be honed into a precision instrument to do whatever you ask of it while staying out of your way and needing minimal maintenance then this distro is very provocative. I'll present below a few use cases I think Gentoo is particularly well suited for: If you need to manage a fleet of bare metal machines Gentoo is also highly suited for the task. It is trivial to create your own binary repository and farm binaries out to all your machines. Compile once, download infinitely. Gentoo is a great distro for taking a competent novice with a serious interest in Linux and turning them into a seasoned veteran. Installing Gentoo using the Gentoo Handbook is one of the more informative self-guided instructions you can do in Linux, and it comes with the beauty of watching you build a distro from scratch and see it take shape in front of you. Gentoo is well suited for enterprise production web servers. Install gentoolkit so you can use glsa-check to show you any outstanding vulnerabilities to software installed on your system. Take at a look at the server profiles. While the hardened profile is sadly no longer around, there is still some additional security hardening you can do both through turning on additional USE flags and by turning off USE flags that aren't needed. To me this is a really underappreciated aspect of security. Think of all the stuff that comes pre-installed on so many distros, even enterprise ones. With Gentoo you'll get what you ask for and nothing else. This is ideal for minimizing surface area of attack. Gentoo is also well suited for workstations where you don't want to reinstall and you don't want to have to deal with much maintenance after you dial in things to your exact liking. If you have an exotic CPU architecture, Gentoo has extensive support. If you're interested in MythTV, Cardoe does an amazing job with MythTV support in Gentoo. It's outstanding. My one major persistent quibble with Gentoo is there aren't enough package maintainers for desktop software. Too much software that doesn't have a big following simply doesn't get a maintainer to make it into the official tree. While adding overlays through the tool layman (such as Gentoo sunrise or gamerlay which has Steam in it) isn't too difficult, it feels like it shouldn't be necessary to have to add overlays to get software as important as that to a desktop user.

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