[Techtalk] Same old question -- which distro?

Lisa Marie lisany at rochester.rr.com
Wed Feb 5 16:05:31 EST 2003

On Wed, 2003-01-29 at 20:37, Brenda Bell wrote:
> I'm sure everyone will give me their true-blue opinion of their 
> particular distro... but I'm particularly interested in finding out if 
> someone has experience with multiple distros and can offer information 
> on why they switched, whether they're happy they switched, how they 
> measure up against each other and so forth.

Up until last April (2002) I was running Windows 2000 on my desktop and
Red Hat 7.1 on my gateway/fileserver/webserver.  Fed up with Windows I
decided to see what was out there in the Linux World.

I had previous experience with Red Hat (Since 5.2) and knew the "RPM
Hell" situation well enough: cyclical dependancies, dependancies that
require an upgrade which you can't do (lest it push some other package
out of date), etc.  

On a messageboard I frequented at the time a post was made about Gentoo
(www.gentoo.org) and that it was relativly new and pretty flexable.  So
I decided to give it a try!  I downloaded the ISO (The 1.2a was under
15MB, I believe) and burned it with Nero and rebooted with a printout of
the installation procedures.

Now, I should mention now that Gentoo is an "advanced users"
distribution requires you to basically do everything: Download source,
compile [the source], compile your kernel, format and partition your
hard drive, etc. (n.b., the installation document has a comprehensive
howto).  Following the installation document was very easy, as it is
fairly comprehensive.  My hangup was the kernel: I had never compiled a
kernel before!  A long story short: It was 3 days after I started before
I had a running system!

Special notice should be given to this:  Gentoo is NOT for people who
have a slow internet connection -- since all your source is downloaded
on request -- and it is not for those who have no patience:  compiling
KDE, Gnome, XFree86, and Mozilla takes a while! Even on a 1.2GHz

So why would anyone go through the hassle of Gentoo?  Well, in a word:
Portage.  Portage uses ideas from BSD's "Ports" system.  Gentoo's
Portage offers interdependant packages.  So if you wanted to install
Gentoo with Alsa support, you would (in your /etc/make.conf file, USE
variable (see docs) put: USE="alsa") simply type `emerge gnome` and
Portage would see that you requested Alsa support (in your
/etc/make.conf) and ./configure Gnome with the --with-alsa (or whatever
it happens to be).  Its more complex than that, so do check the Gentoo
site for more details!

And, before I forget, when I did have problems with my Kernel the IRC
channel (on Freenode, #gentoo) was full of people who were willing to
help.  Along with the message board (forums.gentoo.org), Gentoo has a
lively and helpful community.

Hope that helps.


<Vix ulla tam iniqua pax, quin bello vel aequissimo sit potior>

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