Linked by Steve Husted on Wed 5th Oct 2005 17:53 UTC
Gentoo I've been wanting to try Gentoo for some time, but always had to roll my eyes at the pages and pages of installation instructions. This time, however, I rolled up my sleeves and buckled down. Minutes later, I was on my way.
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RE[4]: all
by butters on Wed 5th Oct 2005 23:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: all"
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As some of you might know, I'm a longtime Gentoo user who is starting to move on. The reason I dove into Gentoo so early (spring 2002) and continued for so long is that it appeals to my basic philosophy on software: I prefer a system that makes it as easy as possible to get things working exactly the way I want over a system that make it extremely easy to get things working the way someone else wants. At the time, there was no simpler way to get a completely custom Linux installation. Debian would get in my way and had way too many distro-specific tools, and Slackware didn't have dependency support. My choice was between Slack and Gentoo, and I chose waiting for things to compile (usually nice -n 19 while doing other things) over fighting dependencies and not getting exactly what I wanted.

There were always three aspects of Gentoo I wasn't thrilled with: 1) lack of binary packages except in a few cases, 2) installing custom packages or unstable packages is complicated due to portage overlays and package.mask/unmask/keywords/provided being persistent, and 3) I could never figure out how to write ebuilds that work properly.

But lately, I've added a fourth gripe: that none of these issues are going to get any better. It's only downhill from here. Daniel Robbins' original vision, expressed in the unchanged philosophy page you quoted, has been largely ignored by the community in favor of this developing "Gentoo way." A commitment to supporting binary packages has somehow morphed into, we'll only support binary packages if they're provided by the upstream developers. A community with a great balance of gurus and newbies devolved into a cespool of "problems while trying to emerge -uavD world."

A distribution that, three years ago, I thought would evolve into a mother distribution to rival Debian, has produces a mere two commercial derivatives, both of which are rather anemic. It is and will always be a hobbyist distribution for people who crave control and have a bit of patience. It didn't have to be pigeon-holed into this niche, but the Gentoo community took pride in their elitism and ran with it.

Until recently, I hadn't found an exit strategy for leaving Gentoo. In fact, I'm writing this on a Gentoo laptop, and I have another Gentoo laptop at home. But I found what I'd been missing in Arch Linux. As others have mentioned in this thread and elsewhere, If you like aspects of Gentoo, Debian, and/or Slackware but neither is a perfect fit for you, then read this document:

The first part is an install guide, and the second part discusses how to configure, administer, and build packages for Arch Linux. Basically, it has the binary package management of Debian, with the simplicity and configurability of Slackware, and the source-based package customization of Gentoo rolled into one distribution. Arch can be summed up in one word: simple. It is simple regardless of how little or how much you wish to tinker or contribute.

Especially for the Slackers who don't take fondly to the "Gentoo Way," you might want to consider Arch, or possibly Rubix (which is another Pacman distribution with more of an explicit Slackware heritage). They might not have every package you need in the repositories, but there's a growing community repository, and it's incredibly easy to create and contribute your own package. It took me three years to understand how to write ebuilds that sort of work on my computer and no one else's, and under an hour to learn how to write a PKGBUILD that works perfectly.

If you don't want to write "A Slacker Tries His Hand at FreeBSD," then consider writing "A Slacker Tries His Hand at Arch."

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RE[5]: all
by on Thu 6th Oct 2005 00:12 in reply to "RE[4]: all"
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