Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 12th Dec 2003 06:53 UTC
Slackware, Slax "Slackware Linux is not your ordinary Linux distribution. For starters, it rarely figures in news headlines, preferring to keep a low profile instead. Its developers have stubbornly resisted any attempts to make their users' lives easier: the distribution provides no graphical configuration utilities, it's package management does not resolve dependencies and its simple, text-mode installer has undergone very few changes in years. Yet, Slackare Linux remains one of the top 5 Linux distributions in use today. What is the reason for its tight hold on many users?" Read the article at DistroWatch.
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slack vs gentoo
by now slacking on Fri 12th Dec 2003 14:01 UTC

I used Gentoo off and on for about a year, I just switched to Slackware. Some of the larger apps you compile from source require you to turn off most of your optimizations, if you have several of these apps (like openoffice), then you end up producing plain vanilla 386 obj's - at which point you may as well not being be compiling them. You end up having a system optimized for the lowest common denominators of what the source can handle.

You can use ccache to cache compiled objects, and distcc to do some distributed compiling - in order to speed up your compiles. Of course changing optimizations will generally result in changed objs, and some of the larger apps do not support parallel compilation. You can also use precompiled packages, but then when you try to do a source update it will complain you have binaries installed (and must run fixpackages). When you update binaries, it takes a long time, and downloads quarterly binary patches for the last 5 quarters. Then you can try to update your source again. I never had warm feelings about these binary/source updates.

If you run it on a laptop, you will need to use precompiled binaries, or distcc. A build that takes 12 hours on a desktop machine will take several days on laptop - at which point your laptops HD will have been beaten to DEATH. Some people buy a laptop connector so they can run a normal HD on their laptop, then move the files over when the build is complete.

The most common way to fix problems is to change your CFLAGS compiler options, and rebuild your system. At 8-12 hours a pop, it takes a long time to trouble-shoot. I recently came to the conclusion that my time would be better spent tweaking a pre-compiled distro than rebuilding Gentoo twice a day for weeks on end.

You *will* learn a lot using Gentoo, it *does* run fast, but you *will* spend a lot of time rebuilding your system. FWIW, I'm running Slack 9.1 right now, and it seems about as fast as my Gentoo install was.

The best thing about Gentoo, is the ease of installing software. "emerge xine-ui", "emerge vmware-workstation", and "emerge rtcw" work perfectly. It is easy to use and has excellent dependency resolution.

One aspect of Gentoo not often mentioned, is that it makes a poor remote server. If you want to rent a dedicated system somewhere, they rarely offer Gentoo - becaus of Gentoo's hands-on install. Slackware makes a perfect remote OS option, and most rack renters offer it.

Actually the best thing about Gentoo is prolly its user forums. The people are amazingly friendly and the forums are easy to read and very informative. People will do anything to help you out. Very nice folks over there.

I left Gentoo for now because I need Linux on my laptop, I need it on a remote server, and I don't have any more spare time to watch things compile..

The final straw was an apparent bug in the current Gentoo kernel, the current nvidia OpenGL driver, and my nvidia card. I'm sure they'll get it fixed soon, but I have moved on.

my 2 cents