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Install Gentoo: My Experiences, Thoughts & Hurdles


#1


####Gentoo Linux is a flavor of GNU / Linux that is popular due to it’s customization, it’s difficulty to install and actually get working (hence the meme that is wildly popular) and the speed benefits. which honestly is it’s biggest flaw as well. and I’m going to get into it a bit in this thread my experiences with Gentoo Linux, the hurdles and my experiences with this flavor of Linux that requires a lot of experience with BASH (the Linux command line) and a lot of reading.

My personal favorite desktop environment is Budgie Desktop. as you can see from the above photo I have it working flawlessly. a lot of things I personally use on Linux period, are not available in the Official Portage Tree. (The Official Repo of Gentoo)

  • Budgie Desktop
  • Lollypop (a Music Player based on the GNOME based Music player)
  • GRUB Customizer (a nice easy GUI that lets you customize the boot options of GRUB2)

must be either obtained from an unoffical repository or obtained from git and manually compiled from source. and mind you I keep saying ‘Compiling from Source’ when it comes to the discussion of this Distribution. this whole distro is compiling everything from source. in other words, you take source code, and compile it to be tailored to your hardware. hence everything within the system is optimized to YOUR hardware. I had this discussion with someone in the lounge but if you don’t understand what I mean, I can give you a simple analogy… imagine if Windows 10, and every single piece of software took advantage of the 16 cores of AMD’s Threadripper CPU… that is basically compiling software and installing it in a nutshell. everything is compiled and will be optimized to your hardware and your CPU will be fully utilized after compilation.

Gentoo’s package manager is called Portage. how it works is every single package is only available as source code, and you use what is called USE flags, to add feature support to said package. in other words, let’s say you wanted to install idk LibreOffice, if you are using GNOME you can add “-kde” to your /etc/portage/make.conf file and you can remove KDE support from LibreOffice and any other piece of software you install on your system. this means you can have a lighter package and you can remove all the un-necessary bullcrap available in about all packages.

Now let’s talking about the main, dish of Portage, the compilation process. this blessing is it’s biggest flaw. if you wish to install idk Chromium… depend on you hardware, it can take a full day to compile and install or a few hours… that is it… if you are using a Dual core 4 thread CPU (like me) Chromium took a day. if you have a quad-core or hexa-core it may take a shorter amount of time. this may go for just about all packages within portage. some compile and install faster than others. but th benefit is that you have a package that is optimized for your stuff.

Now let’s get a bit deep in to Gentoo. if you use any other popular distro and you actually know about Linux, chances are you’ve heard of Systemd. (The initialization system of just about all popular distros) Gentoo’s default init system is OpenRC which is lighter weight, but very miniscule compared to Systemd simply because of the mass adoption and the lack of features compared to systemd. but everything you know about systemd doesn’t work for OpenRC. to give you an example if you love GNOME (like I do) it’s not going to work period with OpenRC… GNOME depends on Systemd to get things done. in other words GNOME cannot be used with Gentoo. HOWEVER during the kernel compilation process of Gentoo (Which you have to do) you can remove support for OpenRC, and add in Systemd support then install the package from the LiveUSB and then manually configure it yourself and then you can install GNOME with no issues. (but like I mentioned it will take a long time depending on your hardware)

I wish to put things into perspective. I’m updating my system right now. I left this compiling at 3AM… it’s almost 10AM and it’s still not done. that’s how long this shit takes on a dual-core… but the benefits are of course speed.

##Now to quickly go over the hurdles of Gentoo quickly / Conclusion / TL;DR

  • Manually Compiling the Kernel From Source - If you FORGET to enable something that is required, after you finish installing the kernel, you have to go back to the LiveUSB, chroot into your system and start over.

  • If you don’t add the proper USE Flags (feature sets) to certain packages… they will not install or they will break.

  • Not every popular package is available within the Official repos. you may have to add them using the Layman package.

  • Systemd does not work by default, you have to manually enable this in the Gentoo Kernel and manually configure this in your GRUB2 boot parameters.

  • Compilation of Software depends on how big the package is, and how many cores or how powerful said cores are.

  • A lot of things within the Gentoo handbook are a bit outdated. but the installation process is mostly still useful.

  • Depending the hardware installing Gentoo can take a long time to install compared to other binary distros (Like Arch Linux, Debian, OpenSUSE and Fedora)

#My honest thoughts on this distro.

If you are bored (like I am) and wish to tinker with things and to toot your own horn, this is the distro you would enjoy playing with. there is a lot of customization, and a lot of things that can happen that can fuck everything up. if you are using this just to get work done, look elsewhere the speed is noticable but it’s not worth the time and effort it takes to compile and install these packages…

#Overall I rate Gentoo a 7.5/10.

It could be better… the Handbook needs to be updated and the instructions need to be more clear.


#2

Wow, a Linux topic that’s neither jerking off over it nor shitting on Windows. I haven’t seen one of these in a while.


Anyways, what would Gentoo offer over another base distro, like Arch for example?


#3

Speed and a waste of time in all honesty.

How fast things are done in Gentoo depend on how good your hardware.

Arch and Gentoo are similar in the sense that you have to build everything, but Gentoo takes much longer… I can build and install a working Arch System in about 7 minutes.


#4

How are you handling support when you need it? I figured that if you roll your own it would be hard to ask questions in forums because everyone has something slightly different?

I’ve stuck to Debian (Mint, Ubunbu) mostly because I don’t have the extra time to fuss with everything. I did fuss with a few things still, but Arch and Gentoo look like massive time sinks.


#5

It’s really stale, If you want support overall and not to toot the horn for many but Arch Linux is the way to go. Arch Linux is extremely community based. It has the most support of any distro.

HOWEVER, stability of the system is mixed. I used Arch Linux for two years with no problem, then one Kernel update and boom my touchpad stops working for good…

When it comes to full security Fedora is the way to go, SELinux is configured and working out the box.

Arch on the other hand, Security is about non-existent. You have to manually install and configure a firewall, and the AUR (The Arch User Repository) as a blessing as it is, it’s also a curse. Cause you are getting packages from the community, but you’ll never know if they are legit or not also you don’t know if the packages are safe. A lot of proprietary software and packages that never made it into the official repositories (which to be fair they are still some good software that doesn’t make it into the official repo) are freely available.

Arch Linux may seem challenge to most new users of Linux but as you get more and more deep in the potatoes of BASH (the command line) installing Arch is child’s play.

But overall for general use Gentoo is not worth it. I was just bored, crazy and had a bit too much time on my hands so I installed Gentoo.

But if your objective is to learn a bit and or get work done. Fedora, OpenSUSE and Manjaro are viable alternatives.