Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 16th Dec 2007 00:04 UTC, submitted by obsethryl
Gentoo A relatively lengthy Q&A with Ciaran McCreesh about Paludis, the Portage alternative for Gentoo.
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Gentoo for me, year 5.
by Quag7 on Mon 17th Dec 2007 06:43 UTC
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Well, I run Gentoo as my desktop machine, and it works just fine for that purpose. A few points:

(*) Occasionally a package will not compile properly. This is annoying. Most of the time, however, the fix is either obvious or it is a fairly obscure package. The big stuff works fine for me most of the time; or at least, it fails rare enough that I haven't switched to Debian, which is one of the other distributions I run here (Debian on my router and fileserver, and Kubuntu on another desktop). Inasmuch as there is a population of users who have problems with portage, I'm not one. It works well for my purposes. The only thing I slot is GCC so I can compile QEMU. And that works effortlessly. I just select the version of GCC I want (3.4.6), compile QEMU, then switch back (4.1.2).

(*) Complaining about compile times is rational if you have an older, slower system. It's not something I ever think about. Emerging a typical package takes a few minutes for me and the big stuff I do before I go to sleep for the night. I hear people complaining about this whenever Gentoo is brought up. Fair enough, I guess. It doesn't bother me. It's not like I am installing 10 new packages every day of my life. Setting up a Gentoo system *initially* takes a little bit of time but on a newer system, thats about 16 hours of compile time, and about an hour of actually sitting in front of the computer. Come home from work, configure, set up everything, then recompile everything while I sleep and work the next day, come home, and it works. From there on we're talking 1-10 minutes per package, with some obvious exceptions (and some of the big stuff does have binary alternatives, like openoffice).

(*) The benefit of USE flags is, for many users, tied up in the compile-me nature of the system. This isn't a "feel good" ricer thing as some claim. The fact is, if you are running a system that compiles, you don't want to compile any more than you have to, and have any more updates than you have to (and yes, it's fair to ask yourself whether you want to compile at all, and whether Gentoo is right for you).

While some people are really obsessive over what exactly is installed on their system and therefore make use of USE flags to keep their system lean, that's not my trip. I start out with a minimal number of USE flags until something doesn't work the way I want it to. Often, an ebuild will warn you if something is missing. Otherwise, if I install a program that is missing an option, I look in the USE flags first and add them as I need them. Not a huge deal.

(*) Gentoo's popularity - I don't really know what to say about this except that it's not 2002 and Gentoo is no longer the flavor of the month or the OMG h4x0R distribution it had a reputation for being (and never was, by the way). Any users who ever installed it to be "l33t" have since jumped to other distributions. What's left is a fairly solid userbase. The forums are still very active and things still work well, at least on my system. As I've stated before, I would have no idea that Gentoo was having any kind of problems if I didn't read articles saying so. On my system, Gentoo is stable. It doesn't feel aging or old or outdated. All the new stuff I want is there, and I really wouldn't be gaining much by switching, based on my personal needs.

(*) I don't know Ciaran McCreesh and while I'm definitely in favor of alternatives and advances, I seriously wish he didn't have such an abrasive personality. That does hurt development - it puts people off to him and therefore his accomplishments. Every time I read anything by him, he comes off as unprofessional, and a bit of an asshole. Everything I read about his code says that its great. This combination is a shame. I've not tried Paludis yet, but mainly because I can't find a compelling reason to switch over such a fundamental part of my OS yet. If I was a developer, maybe I'd feel differently. He's not the only one to have stated that portage is kind of patchy and hacky. It looks and works pretty stable for me, and that's the only standard I have to judge (and I'm running amd64, too).

Anyway, the reasons to run or not run Gentoo are the same as they ever were, but Gentoo is hardly a dying or decaying distribution. People keep suggesting that and it's simply not true, at least, not from my perspective. It is not flavor of the month anymore, nor is it some kind of "prove yourself" distribution. I started with Gentoo as a complete newbie and got it installed by just following the directions, and almost anyone can. I stick with it because it works, and works well, for the KDE desktop system I run. I don't represent it as being great for anything else, but for me, I have few complaints. I still think it's worth trying out if you're shopping around for a distribution. Just my two cents.

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