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Ah, now you're just being unreasonable. Do you always react this way when people disagree with you?
"Why don't you just write your own OS and software stack? I mean, do you really want the guys at Gentoo deciding what kind of USE flags you get, like you're a pig feeding at a trough?
Or how about build your own hardware out of transistors and wires since we don't want some guy at IBM telling you how to make a computer?"
I don't have to do that. I'm perfectly happy with Gentoo's "front-end" to ./configure utility. No need to resort to ridiculous hyperbolizing in order to make a point, wouldn't you agree?
"Seriously, this line of thinking is insane. WTF does it matter if MPlayer happens to have some code to do encoding, which you yourself might one day need to make use of???"
Yes, that would be the day when I enable the "-encode" flag and re-compile MPlayer, thank you very much.
"Or does it just make you feel l33t that you can compile MPlayer without encoder support. I suspect it's the latter."
Do not ever assume; otherwise you're liable to make an ass out of u and me. I'm a reasonable person -- must you be unreasonable, resorting to vapid, pointless and uninspired ad hominem attacks to make your point?
"Because USE flags really don't give you anything, except the ability to have less, with no real benefit to doing so."
Not "less". More like "control".
"The USE flags are to pull in n00bs who think they are so cool."
I haven't met too many "n00bs" who care about having a full control over their Linux installation, so I'm not even sure what exactly you're talking about here.