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10-Day Gentoo Installation Agony 540

Posted by kdawson
from the rtfm-and-join-the-channel dept.
lisah writes, "The Linux distribution Gentoo has a hard-core following, and with good reason. Gentoo is known for its configurability and choices. It's not known, however, for its easy installation. NewsForge's Joe Barr outlined his painful installation experience with Gentoo in an article that explains why, after 10 days, he finally gave up and went with Debian Etch. From the article: '[B]ack in the day, Gentoo users first had to rip the source code from the bone with their teeth before compiling and installing it, but now the live CD had sissified the process to the point that anyone could do it... I exaggerated the ease of installing Gentoo.' And: 'Gentoo doesn't ask what it can do to make things easier, it asks you exactly what it is that you want it to do, and then does precisely and only that.'" Slashdot and NewsForge are both owned by OSTG.
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10-Day Gentoo Installation Agony

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What about the 100-day agony of using Gentoo?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I've been using Gentoo for what I guess about 100 days now, and except for me totally screwing something up early on (I think it was the X server) and having to reinstall the entire thing, I've had a good experience with it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        I've been using it for years...and it is VERY easy to do now. I mean, it might be a little difficult for a complete Linux noob, coming from a mac or windows machine where you might not know what hardware you even have on your box...but, any Linux install would prove a little difficult for a first timer.

        The Gentoo of today, starts you off with either a gui install (have not tried it yet) or CLI...but, they start you off with a stage3 tarball...and you actually get a running config quite rapidly. I actually

        • by fistfullast33l (819270) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:35PM (#16140677) Homepage Journal
          I actually just installed Gentoo again on my desktop for the first time in about 6 months and I was pissed to learn that you can't do a stage 1 install easily anymore. In the end though, reiso in #gentoo on FreeNode informed me that it doesn't really matter, which I kind of agree with. Within a month you'll have updated most of stage 1 anyways so I guess it's worth the less effort up front to get the system set up faster.

          Gentoo definitely is better for those wanting to Learn Linux because it forces you to get into the nitty gritty of a Linux OS setup. I started with Slackware 8 or so and used it through Slack 9, but never really grew comfortable with Linux until I installed Gentoo in 2004 for the first time.

          For someone to say it took them 10 hours to install Gentoo is a bit deceiving though. It sounds like a long time but really, most of the time you aren't in front of the monitor. I'd say the longest bit of the whole thing is emerging X and OpenOffice and even today that doesn't take long on a P4 with 2Ghz or better. I did the majority of the work overnight while I slept.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ElleyKitten (715519)

          I've been using it for years...and it is VERY easy to do now. I mean, it might be a little difficult for a complete Linux noob, coming from a mac or windows machine where you might not know what hardware you even have on your box...but, any Linux install would prove a little difficult for a first timer.

          I'm not sure what your definition of "first timer" is, but all the Linux distros I've used are *much* easier to install than Windows. Really, the hardest part for newbies is figuring out how to burn an iso.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            I'm not sure what your definition of "first timer" is, but all the Linux distros I've used are *much* easier to install than Windows. Really, the hardest part for newbies is figuring out how to burn an iso.

            I agree in every area except partitioning; most linux distributions have traditionally made this at least as difficult as it is in DOS; sure, to you and I it's a doddle, but to the masses it might as well be written in sanskrit.

            But, really...as far as Linux installs go...Gentoo is about as eas

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fordiman (689627)
          "With any of them, you often have to do a little research on the chipset of some component you have on board...hell, you need to know that for many items on a simple kernel config....and everyone has to do that sooner or later...."

          What the hell are you talking about? Kernel config? I'll agree that it isn't the easiest thing to do, but get real: most users won't have to bother - a well-configured distro will have everything available, driver-wise, and hotplug or another similar driver-helper will automatic
      • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:16PM (#16140489)

        I've been using Gentoo for what I guess about 100 days now, and except for me totally screwing something up early on (I think it was the X server) and having to reinstall the entire thing, I've had a good experience with it.


        Something you might want to do. Once you get your base system (plus X, KDE/Gnome/whatever) installed, do a stage 4 backup.
        Basically, just make a tarball out of your partitions.

        If you have to reinstall, just boot off the CD, mount your partitions, chroot, copy the image over and untar it.
        Reboot, and you're good to go. Saves a lot of hassle with reinstalls.

        Quick, cheap and dirty, but it works well.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:46PM (#16140777)
      1. Windows
        You wear wraparound sunglasses, even indoors. You wish your mother would let you ride a motorbike. You tell your friends you're pulling in $50,000 a year and $2,000 a month "playing the stock market" but in reality you're only bringing in half that and your dividends from MSFT havn't been good in years. Your non computing friends all turn to you for help; you only charge $30 an hour. Your collegues talk about you behind your back. Your workplace nickname is likely to be "The Asshole". Unlike the Linux fanboys, you actually try to pick up dates in bars but women laugh at you.
      2. Apple
        You think you're so cool you hurt. You have mirrors on every wall in your "loft apartment", which is really a grimy little apartment next to a guy who plays Guns 'n Roses at 3am. All of your furniture is from Ikea. You sometimes think that changing your name to "Steve" would be "pretty cool". When you go to bars you only drink Miller Lite. No body ever asks you for help with their computers because they know you don't know anything but OS X, even if you do tell them you "run Unix" now. Your friends openly laugh at you.
      3. Linspire
        You regularly give $10 bills to homeless guys because you have too much money. Computers baffle you, but you enjoy looking at pictures of naked women. You don't know what Linux is, but you continually bugged the IT guy at work about your computer he installed Linspire on your machine.
      4. Umbongo
        You shop at GAP. You probably used to use a Mac. When you saw the multiracial image used as a desktop picture and heard that this operating system came from the same country as Nelson Mandella, you knew it was for you. You meet with your friends in fair-trade coffee houses and talk about the eventual overthrow of evil corporations such as Microsoft and Starbucks. Like the Linspire user, you have very little real knowlege when it comes to computers but you would never use your computer to look at pictures of women degrading themselves.
      5. Gentoy
        You've been "into computers" for ohh, one or two years now and fancy yourself as "a bit of a hacker". Wouldn't know C from C++, or even Perl for that matter. Older Gentoy users may be building their homes from matchsticks. You've explained to all your friends that your matchstick house will have an "optimised floorplan". They've tried to tell you that your house violates every known building code and law in your area, but you've ignored them so far because you can't read those complicated regulatory documents.
      6. Linux From Scratch
        Much like the Gentoy user but you'd also be into sadomasochistic sex if you could get it. You're not just building a house from matchsticks, you're planing to grow the trees to make the matchsticks. You've cleared some land but don't know what to do next because you havn't read the books you've got, so you've posted to alt.arborists.newbie asking for help. It's been three days so far and no one has replied. You remain hopeful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        1. Old Skool Cross-Platform Cosmopolitan
          You lovingly maintain a 12-year-old Mac Quadra 950 whose only purpose is to run ResEdit and baffle all those young punks (i.e., anyone under 40) who think they know shit. You like to brag about the uptime on your Windows 2.0 box and how you've got better "lockdown" and a "more hardened system" than those BSD clowns; nobody you brag to is old enough to recall that networking wasn't an option on Windows 2.0 and no apps were available. Your Linux is Slackware 3.1 becaus
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mennucc1 (568756)
        you forgot
        • 7 Debian You chose Debian because you don't like to waste your time fiddling with Makefiles to install your system.
          After 3 years of happy debian using, you apply and become a Debian Mantainer. Now you waste your time fiddling with debian/rules file, to address stupid lintian warnings to comply with obscure parts of the Debian Policy.
          Meanwhile, some people waste your and others [livejournal.com] time with endless discussions. While you are deleting^H^H^H^H^H^Hreading the latest 400-email-long
      • Debian Immigrant
        You have learned about Knoppix from a new software engineer guy who keeps laughing every time you bring up a new feature using Internet Explorer. The software engineer guy tells you what a "Distro" is. Your parents tell you that Linux is Evil, and Knoppix is the anti-christ. To make a copy of the Knoppix's ISO image, you bought a stack of 100 CD's. When learning to install Knoppix to your hard drive you believe that Knoppix is actually 3 distro's; Debian, Knoppix, and Beginner. Fearfull
  • Odd (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psycosys (886125) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:53PM (#16140245)
    My install experience with gentoo took less time than that and I spent 3 days figuring out that my motherboard was defective.
    • by bunions (970377)
      So only six days to install then?
    • Re:Odd (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SCO_Shill (805054) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:04PM (#16140366) Homepage Journal
      "...it asks you exactly what it is that you want it to do, and then does precisely and only that."

      I took me less than 10 days for my very first Linux install (the author mentions using about nine different versions of Linux) using Gentoo a couple of years ago.

      This was a Stage 1 install (the one that takes the longest and requires the most user input/interaction) on an old AMD K6 laptop with some heavy optimization, and included building X and a bunch of useful apps (I can't remember which ones I compiled at the moment), and it really did exactly what I told it to do. Which is what I would expect.

      Maybe I just had a better experience than the author.

    • 10 days (Score:5, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:33PM (#16140645) Journal
      I built OpenOffice on my 1GHz Duron machine -- that alone took 10 days. Now I use OpenOffice-bin.

      But seriously, Joe Barr:
      1. Did not RTFM
      2. Was impatient and gave up his first attempt while it was still running.

      There are alternatives. I have used a chroot approach to building a system while running under another distro. This works well, is low risk and is documented.
      • Re:10 days (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:06PM (#16141009) Homepage
        1. Did not RTFM


        That's the big one.

        I'm an Ubuntu convert, but I was exclusively a Gentoo user for two or three years, and I recall there being extremely good documentation that, if followed exactly, would result in a working system in 99.99% of cases.

        The only way you could screw up a Gentoo install is to be one of those people who always got an "F" on those following-directions assignments in grade school.
        • Re:10 days (Score:4, Informative)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:15PM (#16141096) Homepage

          I'm an Ubuntu convert, but I was exclusively a Gentoo user for two or three years, and I recall there being extremely good documentation that, if followed exactly, would result in a working system in 99.99% of cases.

          Well, I've run into a couple instances where the directions didn't work, but the Gentoo forums helped a lot. If you run into a problems, search for the answer in the forum. If you don't find an answer, post your question. You'll get a pretty good answer pretty quickly.

          No, admittedly, Gentoo is not the quickest/easiest way to get a working desktop linux install. If that's what you're looking for, use a different distro. But if you're want to learn about Linux and are willing to put in the time and effort, I can't really see a complaint that you can't get it working.

          • Re:10 days (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BeeBeard (999187) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @06:07PM (#16141578)
            I'm always baffled by the contention that Gentoo "teaches you Linux." In a time when most hardware is automatically detected by the kernel and automatically configured by the distro (including Gentoo, if you set it up that way), there really isn't nearly as much necessary config file editing as there used to be. Are you talking about trying to learn where your program and configuration files are on your root partition? Well, emerging something surely won't help you there. Could you mean the installer teaches you Linux? Because all you're basically doing is un-tarring a stage tarball, chrooting, and then making mild modifications to a few files. And regardless, you're (hopefully) just typing in what you were instructed to type, when you were instructed to type it. Then you're done. How could that have taught you a thing?

            I don't want to be reductive here, but Gentoo is really just a platform for building programs from source code and then managing those programs after they are built. There's no mystery to it--most of the other distros install binaries that were compiled on other computers but that work perfectly well on yours. The only thing that is even mildly instructive about Gentoo is that you have an often extremely limited ability to control how you want your own binaries to be built by changing USE flags and compiler optimizations. But that's not going to teach you much in the end: Sure, that one application you just emerged has "jpeg", "png", and "tiff" USE flags. But you know, that's probably because it's an ACDsee-clone image viewing app. And one the program is installed, what then? You just use it the same way you would on an Ubuntu machine.

            I guess what I'm saying is that Ubuntu and Gentoo really aren't that different from each other, and your learning experience with Linux is in no way diminished or enhanced based on the distribution you use. Besides, once you emerge gdm and gnome and make your wallpaper a picture of a bunch of multiracial people getting naked or holding their hands and singing kumbayah, you're pretty much there already. ;-)

            And yes, before your panties get in a bunch, I am a Gentoo user, mostly because I like how it's basically Slackware with a package management system...(sorry Patrick!)

            • by silverdirk (853406) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @03:25AM (#16144274)

              I didn't start my unix experience on Gentoo (FreeBSD, rather) but I do remember what it was like to be completely new to the system.

              Things that a complete newbie does not know:

              • ls
              • mount
              • tar
              • man
              • grep
              • /etc
              • editing make.conf
              • making symlinks
              • /boot
              • boot loaders, in general
              • compiling a kernel, by hand
              • installing a kernel, by hand
              • editing /etc/passwd
              • knowing the basic pieces of software, what they do, and how they are divided by purpose: cron, a system logger, Xorg, apache, etc etc etc.

              When Gentoo sits you down and says "type this", any curious user will say "hm, what is this, what is it doing..." and learn a little bit in the process. Exercise builds skill. If you see it, you might get a little knowledge, but if you do it, you are actually learning. Kind of the hands-on concept.

              I guess the point is that Gentoo is for people who are curious and interested in the workings of Unix. Yes, it is possible to use Gentoo if you pretend that typing some long crazy string corresponds to what would be a button click in another distro, but for that kind of user, there's no point. Non-curious users will simply type keystrokes and learn nothing. and then get fed up. and then quit and use a different distro.

              Also, even at the later stage of emerging things, you do still learn various things thanks to "emerge portage", and "etc-update". Also, to get most daemon programs to run as needed you will need to edit their conf files, and play with symlinks, and edit rc.conf, and conf.d and friends. Heck, I never understood the Linux rc script system when I was using Debian, but I learned it pretty quick when Gentoo started changing things and adding boot-time messages like "/etc/hostname is depricated, use /etc/conf.d/hostname instead".

              And, when a user finally gets tired of not having sound and tackles ALSA, they get to learn all sorts of fun things like /dev nodes, devfs, udev, modules.conf, lspci, recompiling the kernel with and without alsa built-in, or as a separate module, or as a userspace lib... and I'd better stop here before I start an ALSA flamewar.

              And yes, not reading the handbook is suiscide, and the forums are the lifeblood of Gentoo.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dvice_null (981029)
          > if followed exactly, would result in a working system in 99.99% of cases

          I'm perhaps in the minority, but I did read and follow the documentation and almost was able to create a working system. But then, I couldn't get the X to start. The documentation is really friendly if everything works ok, but if something goes wrong, it doesn't tell you anything you could do. At that point I desided that I like better distros that work without my work effort.

          What I would like is a distro that would install pretty
      • Re:10 days (Score:5, Informative)

        by Curtman (556920) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @06:03PM (#16141548)
        But seriously, Joe Barr: 1. Did not RTFM 2. Was impatient and gave up his first attempt while it was still running.
        Joe Barr doesn't write serious reviews. He writes flamebait so that other sites will link to his articles. Anyone else remember the MPlayer uproar? The one that got him a mention in their documentation [mplayerhq.hu]?

        Forever immortalized for being a jack-ass.
        • Seriously, they get a bad review from someone, so they personally attack the reviewer on their web page? That's incredibly childish.

          Furthermore, while I haven't read his article about mplayer, criticism was warranted to that project. I haven't used it in a while, simply because there are other, better, players available now such as VLC, but I remember the install being pointlessly combersome. I also recall a lack of binary packages. Their player wasn't up to snuff, and the reviewer was doing a service to th
  • OH NOES!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrismcdirty (677039) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:57PM (#16140292) Homepage
    I don't want to learn!! It's hard to read the documentation!

    This guy wants everything handed to him, and there are plenty of distros for that. What I don't understand is that he complains about having to RTFM, then he installs Debian. I could have sworn they were the worst offenders for telling noobs to RTFM.
    • by lpcustom (579886) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:02PM (#16140356)
      I guess he'll understand when I don't read TFA
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      "then he installs Debian. I could have sworn they were the worst offenders for telling noobs to RTFM."

      I've heard that about the Debian forums. That is one very nice thing about Gentoo....the people on the forums are very nice, and helpful...yes, even on questions that have been asked 100's of times before.

      I do with the search on the forums was a little better...I often find it deletes some of my search terms...and I dunno why.

      • Re:OH NOES!! (Score:4, Informative)

        by LearnToSpell (694184) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:55PM (#16140881) Homepage
        The search on the forums sucks. It deletes some of your search terms because they're "restricted" words for whatever reason. There's a couple of threads on it that you could, umm... never mind. :-) Anyway, if you do something like 'site:forums.gentoo.org search terms' in Google you can come up with stuff.

    • by conner_bw (120497) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:22PM (#16140554) Homepage Journal
      Not only that, but this guy can't even give up right!

      Debian Etch?! Pfft... If you're gonna slack, do it right and use UNBUNTU!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Maybe that was the case a while back, but when I installed Debian for the first time in years a couple of months ago, the installer seemed pretty idiotproof. Having heard of its reputation the I RTFMed first, but didn't really need to as the installer was no less good at handholding than many commercial distros. Can't comment about Gentoo, but I suspect that the bloke that wrote the article might want to put himself in a position where he can do image backups and restores (using dd or whatever) so that wh
  • by lefticus (5620) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:58PM (#16140302) Homepage
    I've installed Gentoo several times now and have never had a problem when I FOLLOW the DIRECTIONS. I've known two other people, one professional Linux developer who could not get it installed because he refused to follow the directions step by step and another, the VP of marketing at my company, who installed it easily after following the directions.

    It's really not complicated, just tedious.
    • by sammyo (166904)
      Yes, exactly.

      Don't get tired. Don't miss a step. Don't loose patience.

      I missed a step... so it was dig through network details, restart from
      the beginning, or, take a beat, be up with ubuntu in another
      20 minutes.

      Another happy ubuntite.

      ps. I'll dig in to gentoo on another project that is more
      performance oriented (and where I'll have a gentooguru on call)

    • by Eideewt (603267) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:14PM (#16140464)
      Gentoo has the best documentation in the Linux world too. I refer to it even when configuring other distros.
    • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:20PM (#16140526)
      It's really not complicated, just tedious.

      Heck, it doesn't even have to be that tedious.

      From bash.org:

        it only takes three commands to install Gentoo
        cfdisk /dev/hda && mkfs.xfs /dev/hda1 && mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/gentoo/ && chroot /mnt/gentoo/ && env-update && . /etc/profile && emerge sync && cd /usr/portage && scripts/bootsrap.sh && emerge system && emerge vim && vi /etc/fstab && emerge gentoo-dev-sources && cd /usr/src/linux && make menuconfig && make install modules_install && emerge gnome mozilla-firefox openoffice && emerge grub && cp /boot/grub/grub.conf.sample /boot/grub/grub.conf && vi /boot/grub/grub.conf && grub && init 6
        that's the first one
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Monkelectric (546685)
      You hit the nail on the head my friend. Many years ago, I installed Gentoo and got it up and running *HAVING NEVER USED LINUX OR ANY TYPE OF UNIX BEFORE.* I followed the directions.
      • That may work great for you, a person who's used to explicity following directions to the letter. But there's other types of people that'd rather have some flexibility in how they do things, aren't good at "to the letter" directions, or just don't like tedium.

        It's a perfectly valid complaint about a product that it doesn't work if you didn't follow the directions TO THE LETTER. Imagine a cake recipe that was inedible if you cooked it for 9 minutes instead of 8 1/2 minutes, or at 420 degrees instead of 425
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:15PM (#16141094) Homepage Journal
          It's a perfectly valid complaint about a product that it doesn't work if you didn't follow the directions TO THE LETTER. Imagine a cake recipe that was inedible if you cooked it for 9 minutes instead of 8 1/2 minutes, or at 420 degrees instead of 425 degrees. It's often difficult to follow directions perfectly, especially when there's a lot of different and complicated ones.

          Imagine for a second utilizing a metaphor that makes some sense. What you're talking about is baking a fucking cake, it's an inherently analog process and it responds well to tweaking. Let me use as an even simpler example making pancakes from a box. Do they ever put enough water in the recipe to get it to flow out right? No. But once you've made pancakes a couple times you know what the consistency is supposed to be like.

          Computer don't work that way. I'm going to wade out into the dangerous waters and make an automotive analogy here. If you are working on an automatic transmission, you had better get every little piece and part in the right place, and there's TONS of them. For instance, automatic transmissions are chock-full of check valves, which are constructed from a spring and a ball bearing. Eliminate just one of those (the spring, OR the ball bearing) and your transmission doesn't work right.

          Well, your distribution is orders of magnitude more complex (in terms of functional units) than an automatic transmission. Do you think that maybe, just maybe the way you put things together might be important?

          Anyway, it's a bunch of bullshit, because while I followed the directions to the letter during my very first gentoo install, I have not done so during any subsequent install, and they have all been successful installs. Of course, that's because I know what I'm doing. I've been messing with this Linux shit for a long time now, and always from either a hobbyist or IT perspective. Constant tinkering has a way of teaching you, mostly by negative example :)

          The point is that gentoo is intended for a certain class of user. There are other distributions out there. If you don't need the things you can get from gentoo that you can't get anywhere else, run something else. See how easy that was?

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:23PM (#16140560) Journal
      I know what you mean. Reading the article, I was laughing when I realized he hadn't frobnozled the prepalpitator scripts with the correct USE -octaroon -dingo flags. I just knew that would come back to bite him on the ass latter. Simply follow the directions, people! Perfectly easy, my grandmother has severe alzheimer's and she managed to get gentoo installed from source in under 15 seconds.

      Seriously, it's not just incredibly tedious, it's also complicated unless you are doing a stock vanilla install with exactly and nothing but the recommended options. But I was doing stuff like that with Linux before there was even a gentoo, just for fun. It is fun, for a certain type of person. But, like masturbation, it's a very personal kind of fun that doesn't contribute anything very useful to society at large. And most normal people really, really don't want to hear the gory details about how you did it and how much fun it was.
      • This guy hasn't even realized true pain yet. To borrow your analogy, ATI's driver install is just like masturbation. Only with a cheese grater. The correct method changes every time they update their driver, it breaks every time you install a set of updates and it doesn't get along with any given packaging system. If you want to add some spice to that Gentoo installation, buy an ATI PCI Express card! Remember! Like masturbation, only with a cheese grater!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ndansmith (582590)
      I actually install Gentoo for fun!

      It was my very first attempt at Linux, and it worked great. In fact the difficulty of the installation process causes me to recommend it to new users, because it forces newbies to learn the ins and outs of the system from the get-go.

      As a hardcore Gentoo fanboy [funroll-loops.org], I was also greatly saddened that they "sissied" the process with the fancy GTK installer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by slapout (93640)
      I tried to install Gentoo once, but I couldn't understand the directions. In fact, I couldn't understand the directions that told you which set of directions to follow!
  • by The Real Toad King (981874) <toadking@toadking.com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @03:58PM (#16140312) Homepage
    After one day of partitioning my Windows hard drive, and an hour reading through the installation manual online, I managed to install Gentoo without any problems after figuring out what exactly to do. (Except for having to download ndiswrapper manually from Windows to port over to Gentoo, because my wireless router doesn't have any native Linux drivers for it, so I couldn't download any updates.) This was also the first time I installed any Linux distro.

    Just because one guy can't install it successfully doesn't mean the entire thing is flawed.
    • ...dept.

      Actually I think that's the mistake that a lot of people make (The author of the article makes it as well). They write these articles from the perspective of, "This OS sucks because..." or "The BEST OS in the world is [insert OS here], because...". Sorry folks but it really comes down to, "This OS sucks for ME because..." or "The BEST OS in the world for ME is [insert OS here] because...".

      I love Gentoo. It's my favorite OS experience (and I've been through quite a few in the Atari, Commodore, Mac
  • that no one yet has made an OS that is trivial to get working in a reasonable default configuration, and then infinitely (and relatively easily) tweakable.

    (I'm sure someone will suggest that someone has...)
  • by corroncho (1003609) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:01PM (#16140340)
    This is the type of elitist attitude that will keep normal users from adopting Linux. The live CD is one of the best ways to prove Linux's viability as a Desktop OS. I can't count the number of Linux users I know that didn't first try it out on a live CD. "...to the point that anyone could do it...", isn't that the idea?
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  • Try binary install (Score:3, Insightful)

    by modemboy (233342) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:02PM (#16140347)
    This guy needs to install from the -bin packages if his computer is that slow or he can't stand to use it while it compiles. I never had a problem doing other things with my machine while it compiled...
  • by Frag-A-Muffin (5490) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:02PM (#16140352) Homepage
    I can't completely agree with the article. I never had any problems installing it. In fact, the installer was very kewl in that it came with ssh and screen. I even did COMPLETE remote installs for people before. I just call them up and tell them to put the CD in and boot up and set a password. After I'm done with it, call them back and tell them to take the CD out so I could reboot. Done. they were amazed.

    Install wasn't my problem.

    Maintenance was my problem. As one of the commenters from the article pointed out, you were basically compiling an update constantly. It could be a minor bug fix but if it was in a big package like glibc, it would take a while to compile. You could go about your business, but you noticed it. The next day would bring about another big compile (say, X!?) and on and on it went. The endless cyle of updating. Some would argue that this was a feature of it. Sure, you're always getting the latest of everything. But it was a little bit of a PITA. The worst was when I went away, came back to a LOT of updates. Those updates (during the end of my time on gentoo) started to break things unfortunately. QA went downhill as the distro got too big.

    Anyways, I still think gentoo is kewl, with its configurability. However, I've traded some of that control in for maintenance sanity and am currently on Ubuntu for my desktop and debian on my server.

    Thanks to the gentoo community for the fun few years. #gentoo was always lively :)

    • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:14PM (#16140470) Journal
      The worst was when I went away, came back to a LOT of updates. Those updates (during the end of my time on gentoo) started to break things unfortunately.

      I just posted a similar set of complaints, but you've touched on one I'd forgotten. The Portage system still works well *if* you're a Gentoo obsessive and emerge sync; emerge -uD world at least once a week. If you get behind, and need to update Portage, layouts, gcc, X and the kernel all at once, you start running into all sorts of really nasty collisions and breakages.

    • I've tried Redhat, Fedora, Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, etc.. and I've settled on gentoo as my desktop OS of choice for both home and work. Here's why:

      1.) Gentoo has *the best* documentation available out of any linux distro I've used (even most of the conf files are fully commented) http://www.gentoo-wiki.org/ [gentoo-wiki.org] http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/index.xml [gentoo.org]

      2.) Installing / maintaing gentoo has taught me many things about linux that I didn't know before. (I enjoy learning about linux, and Reading The Fucking Manual)

  • I thought Gentoo had gone the way of BSD... had followed it down that lonely path to oblivion after Daniel Robbins left for Microsoft. This is a crazy crazy world.
  • A few points... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:03PM (#16140359) Journal
    1) I used to be a big Gentoo fan not because of the (nebulous, in my experience) performance gains but because one you had it set up, it really was the easiest Linux to update. That's no longer the case, with Portage conflicts and things like that getting more and more frequent and serious.

    2) A lot of the recent headaches (incuding #1) come from the fact that the project is just too damn big. It was a blast during that year or two when Gentoo usage skyrocketed, but the whole developer/support/user system hasn't scaled well.

    3) *The* key to installing Gentoo -- unless you really know what you're doing, you need to install some other distro first and copy the xorg.conf, fstab and grub.conf files to use, or at least reference, for your Gentoo install. I can write an fstab by hand, if necessary, but there's no way I could do that for xorg.conf.

  • And this from a guy whose installed every HP-UX since 6, multiple IRIXs and XENIXs, RedHats, Mandrake^H^H^Hivas. I don't for a minute subscribe to the "makes a man of ya" or even funnier, "learn Linux" crap. What I love it for, plain and simple, is Portage. I get a versionless, always close-up-to-date system, and I don't spend all my time on patch management. The crazy dependancies of RPM and HPs patches are just ugly memories.
  • not for newbies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you want a "one size fits most" distro that installs out of the box, gentoo is NOT for you!
    go install your Fedora or your Ubuntu and leave the hard-core pipe-hittin linux to the gentoos.

    -DB
  • ... To be honest, the main reasons I like Gentoo are because it's relatively free from political hassles (you want easy NVidia XOrg drivers? MP3 playback? Win32 Codecs? Go nuts!) and Portage is pretty good enough. Also, KDE is pretty well supported and USE variable settings can catch ./configure flags that I might forget if I were to not use ebuilds.

    However, installation really is a bear, and AFAIK the ill-publicized alpha GUI installer is still not stable or reliable (don't want a crash while repartit
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ElleyKitten (715519)

      To be honest, the main reasons I like Gentoo are because it's relatively free from political hassles (you want easy NVidia XOrg drivers? MP3 playback? Win32 Codecs? Go nuts!)

      Don't you still have to compile or install those with Gentoo? How is that different than the other distros that you have to install that stuff, or better than the distros that automatically install them?

      Can I have a distro that's as easy to install as Ubuntu, but uses Portage and standard Linux config files and doesn't give me polit

  • I went through the same thing a week ago and gave up when it wanted me to set each parameter for the kernel (the auto configure kernel failed)..there we like 500 options and I have no idea which ones my IBM T42 supports or not. It was hell. I think proceeded to run back to familiar Windows XP.. /me hides his head in shame

    linux is great for servers, i wouldnt want anything else. however in general i think we still have a ways to go..
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:07PM (#16140391) Homepage
    I'm hoping I won't have much difficulty since I've been using Linux since 1993 and have done my fair share of source compiling, even back when half of the sources were hackjobs from HPUX or AIX or [insert UNIX here] that required you to get an alternate version of make or Imake in order to compile. Somewhere I still have a textfile on building modelines from scratch that I used to use to get fixed frequency monitors too display graphics modes with PC video cards.

    But why the switch?

    I've been using Fedora Core and before it Red Hat since version 5 (when I swtiched away from Slackware, for good, it would seem). I like it a lot. Fedora Core, in particular, is a no-brain-necessary sort of Linux. I haven't had to touch a configuration file in god only knows how long.

    BUT... It's slow. I've had the inkling that it seemed to make my PIIIM 1.2GHz machine just a bit sluggish for my tastes. Gentoo has tempted me for several years as a result, but I always thought to myself: "Well, for a 10% increase in speed as the result of recompiling an entire system, it's probably not worth it..." I've always built my own kernel with proper CPU optimizations and just left it at that.

    Then the other day I stumbled on to Swiftfox (do a Google search), which is basically a set of precompiled Linux Firefox builds for specific CPU architectures. I downloaded the PIII Mobile version and launched it in place of the Fedora Core 5 Firefox build.

    WOW. The speed and interactivity benefits sure feel like more than 10%. I haven't done extensive benchmarking, but my subjective impression is that Swiftfox is maybe 80% faster than the Fedora Core Firefox build on my personal machine (a Thinkpad T23). It's not just obvious, it's the sort of thing that will make me want to gnash my teeth if I have to go back to the standard Fedora Firefox build.

    And now I'm thinking to myself: that's just one app. What about glibc? What about kdebase? X.org? Could I be missing out not on 10% speed gains, but on 40-50% speed gains, or more? I don't know, but I think maybe it's time I dust off my inner geek and find out, and Gentoo seems like the place to do it.
    • by db32 (862117)
      I am certainly not an expert on the low levels of compiling and such as my greatest accomplishment in any compiled language I have touched since the days of BASIC and PASCAL is "Hello World", however, my understanding is that you CAN get some performance benefits out of code optimized for your processor since newer processors can do some things more efficiently rather than having the code rely on the backwards compatability. The biggest performance gain in Gentoo doesn't actually come from the processor op
  • what a quitter :) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toby (759) * on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:10PM (#16140412) Homepage Journal
    Fifty-odd installs later, I never met a desktop, laptop or server that didn't love teh Gentoo.

    The instructions have been tested by hundreds of thousands of people. They work.

  • by supun (613105) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:12PM (#16140443)
    They have stage3 tarballs, which contain everything compiled already. You just have to partition the drive, install the stage tarball, compile the kernel, and install syslog, cron, and grub.
  • by zoftie (195518) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:13PM (#16140463) Homepage
    Gentoo provides a useful way for linux powerusers to configure their packages without lowering themselves to level of downloading and matching up source tar balls, and compiling them in the right order. Process of package building and installation is flexible and anyone with mediocre shell scripting ability can do great things with gentoo. Gentoo after all is very personal distro. Everything you have installed on your computer is going to be be fit exactly the way you like it to be.

    Clearly they guy doesn't have the true grit to do gentoo. Gentoo is *NOT* rolling your own distro. Have you ever tried compiling mplayer with all these extensions and libraries? You do need to know your own stuff, but you don't need to get mired down in downloading your own packages and matching them up and compiling them in the right order with right compiler, and have the right kernel branch with proper patchset.

    So the guy has it installing, and thinks it is not fast enough, going to try to reinstall it? How clever is that. Yes gentoo is overly flexible, downside being that sometimes you really have to know how things suppose to work. Like configuring Xorg. I was in similar position, but I'll never give up flexibility of gentoo for power desktop.

    Gentoo is a hobby, some tell and I agree.

    Good night and Good luck,
    2c.
  • What's the Trouble? (Score:2, Informative)

    by aarmenaa (712174)
    Gentoo's a bit harder than other distros I've tried, for sure. But I'm not exactly a Linux expert and managed to get it installed. Heck, with nothing more than the default install instructions I managed to dual boot it with my Windows install. It did take a while my first time through - 3 days actually sounds about right, but I could do it again in probably a few hours, not counting compile time.

    In fact my biggest difficulties installing Gentoo are pretty much common to all Linux distros I've tried. The
  • Lame?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moracity (925736) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:14PM (#16140472)
    Am I the only that thinks this submission is a lame non-event? Do nerds even care about Gentoo anymore? Some tech-writer couldn't follow instructions to install an operating system and that is a surprise? Why am I writing in questions?
  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:16PM (#16140492) Homepage
    Last night I had the joy of installing Red Hat 7.3 for my Unix Administration class with a two-disc set provided in the Thompson book. Everything was fine until it asked for a third disc. Needless to say, after 25 minutes of loading, I was so screwed. Rebooted, tried to recover, so out of luck. Worst, the hard drive was hosed. I haven't had that much fun since when Red Hat 7.3 was current.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aussersterne (212916)
      That's a publisher problem. When distros were shipping mainly as several CD iso files instead of a single DVD image as they're most popular now, publishers were "trimming" distributions to reduce the number of glue-in CDs that they had to ship with their Linux books. They'd cut out stuff that they figured nobody would use, like the source packages, either GNOME or KDE, maybe some of the services and more obscure administration tools, TeX/LaTeX, or whatever their "media" people decided could go to trim a dis
  • TFA said:

    now the live CD had sissified the process to the point that anyone could do it...

    Since the author does not seem to understand the difference between a liveCD and a graphical installer, I for one, am not at all surprised he had problems installing Gentoo. It is not for the computer illiterate.

    The last I heard the Gentoo Graphic Installer sucked bowling balls and ate existing partitions. To be fair, I found the newish Ubuntu Graphical Installer to totally suck also. It seemed to require

  • by mr_da3m0n (887821) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:27PM (#16140590) Homepage
    Well, this is my first serious post on Slashdot. I have been reading the comments every day with much interest, and I think it's time I contributed something.

    I have a Love&Hate relationship with Gentoo. I switched to it from Redhat a rather long while ago, on my server. Ran it that way on a Pentium 200mhz for a while -- it was painful, but I wasn't really tired of it yet, and I could stand it compiling junk for days, it was only my personal server.

    Then I got it on an old Athlon Tbird, and that was better.

    And one day, it reached my workstation. And then all of my servers, including that strange, obscene HP LH4r. Quad Xeon machines can have scary clock issues.

    I still like it immensely, portage is awesome. But, but but, compiling things got tiring after a while.

    I fixed that by buying an Athlon X2. Dual core, MAKEOPTS="-j3" made compiling a breeze, and made me happy. Samba in three minutes was impressive to me.

    But then, the quality of packages went to hell, upgrades begin breaking things more and more frequently. Circular blockers, if you felt bleeding edge and tossed a modular xorg in. Unexpected changes in configuration files that were only being mentionned on mailing lists, forum posts, and places where you wouldn't look.

    Portage made it so easy to miss something important. Changelog entries are now sloppy. (I.E. "version bump" or "Added stuff from upstream").

    And then, there are the slotted packages, that you don't really understand why they are slotted. There are the modular, split ebuilds for KDE. If you don't want the whole shebang, good luck trying to get 3.5 installed and also sucessfully rid yourself of 3.4 easily.

    One Gentoo would have been fine. But I now had five. So I set up facilities. Central internal portage mirror (sync server), distfiles on NFS, to save bandwidth. distcc, for distributed compliling.

    But I still have to spend the time to keep them updated. Let a gentoo linger in for too long, and it's going to be discouraging, and look more and more like a complete reinstall.

    And somewhere in there, you'll do a quick baselayout. But then things will get depreciated and break on next reboot. Why change standards to be fancy?

    There's also the -R283 syndrome, which was mentionned earlier by someone else. You get glibc, install glibc, live happy. It takes a while, but that's fine. Next week, you get glibc-r1. Ebuild was sloppy. You get to remerge it.

    Then, there's -r3. Fixes an obscure Sparc bug. You still get it on x86. Remerge. ccache becomes your best friend. But it's still time consuming.

    And then, there are the serious bugs that get marked as WONTFIX, or the part of the software that you're having a problem with that will just get removed until upstream fixes it, which is rarely done due to the crazy compiling flags one might have.

    I now run Kubuntu on my desktop. I welcome updates, they're easier to manage. Also, my primary server will most likely turn into a Debian Sarge box. I haven't decided yet. I'll leave the Quad Xeon running on gentoo. But it's sad how quality lowered.

    I really want to still like gentoo, if it wasn't so... time and ressources consuming, once you get more than one.

    And these are my home machines. I also have my work machines to support and administer, and god knows I haven't become a network guy just to spend my whole life installing patches.

    My problem with gentoo is not that it takes a long time to configure, it is that, if you aren't uncareful, you'll spend way to much time just /dealing/ with the updates themselves. You can't blinding run emerge -uvaD world and hit "Yes" then go back to your buisness like it was no thang...

    I miss when gentoo was a little less hectic.
  • Debian apt-build (Score:3, Informative)

    by digitalderbs (718388) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @04:32PM (#16140641)
    I've been a long time user and fan of Debian. I very much appreciate Gentoo, but it was never clear to me how this differed from apt-build in Debian. In Debian, the user has the option of downloading pre-installed binaries (apt-get) and building them from source (apt-build or apt-get with some special flags, if I'm not mistaken) using compiler options. For example, here [danjou.info] is a good 'howto' for apt-building a Debian system.

    With that said choice is still good.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @05:29PM (#16141241) Journal

    I've slowly watched all of the reasons I prefer Gentoo be eliminated by other distros. Here's the original list:

    • USE flags. This was cool because, among other things, X takes forever to compile, so I don't compile it on a server. Unfortunately, I end up wanting it anyway (some stupid little app to run over ssh forwarding), and many other customizations -- which plugins do I compile for gaim and xmms? -- become completely irrelevant when other distros simply take the plugin and wrap it up in a separate package. What's more, if I do decide I want mp3 support after all, I can just install it, I don't have to recompile all of XMMS, Xine, mplayer, and everything under the sun for a USE flag change.
    • Customizability. I still want to be able to dig under the hood, and I'll probably be compiling custom kernels for awhile. Still, USE flags are a perfect example of what I hate about Gentoo -- insanely too much to customize, but you'll regret it later if you don't.
    • Nice package manager. Unfortunately, both the lack of a decent frontend (at least to demonstrate the concept to newbies) and the way /usr/portage exploded has made the whole process much, much slower. Ubuntu still seems to take too long to find dependencies, but it's nowhere near as bad as Portage.
    • Init scripts. Simple, intuitive, reflect the old sysvinit scripts, yet provide dependencies, and even parallization now. However, Ubuntu is poised to introduce something called "upstart", which will likely kick initng's ass, which already kicks Gentoo's ass.
    • Unmolested packages. Your'e compiling from source, and aside from your own customizations, it should be a default setup as provided by upstream -- the idea is that Gentoo does the absolute bare minimum to make it work on Gentoo, and doesn't do any of the rebranding or customization that other distros do. This is no longer either desirable or a practical reality -- Gentoo customizes the hell out of everything, which is nice sometimes (the init system, various patches), but not always, when you just want it to work.
    • Maintenance. On Ubuntu/Debian, upgrading a package will likely restart it -- if there are config differences, you'll have been prompted for them during the upgrade, before the restart. On Gentoo, installing a package doesn't automatically start it. I used to like this -- I could install a server and play with it later, and have it not added to the boot init scripts. But now, I'd much rather have a way to handle this automatically.
    • Speed of updates. I remember reading an announcement on Slashdot of a new version of some package, or checking its website, or some such, and finding it already in Portage. Turnaround time from upstream source release to actually using the new version on my box could be a couple of hours. I used to laugh at how far behind Debian Stable was. Now, I'm finding more and more cool packages that are completely neglected by Portage, that Ubuntu and others have a recent, working version of -- and not only that, but since it's a binary package, it would install faster!
    • Community. irc.freenode.net#gentoo is still a nice place to hang out, but it's no longer as responsive as it used to be. Bugs especially -- it used to be, the few times I saw bugs, there'd be a fix in a new, unstable version, or on bugzilla. Now, I have ridiculous bugs that stay open for months, with absolutely no response from maintainers.
    • Speed. I have seen Ubuntu, and it's fast. I used to believe even arch-specific optimizations would help, but now that I'm on amd64, there's really no point. Just compiling for x86_64 should be enough to give a performance boost -- or not, in some cases. So, Ubuntu for x86_64 should be ready to go.

    Here's what still keeps me on Gentoo:

    • Customizability. Mainly transparency. Just about any part of Portage, Gentoo's init, or anything else about my system is all text, and easily hackable. I'll already have the source tarballs from upstream.
  • by iplayfast (166447) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @06:19PM (#16141676)
    Yup I'm a Gentoo user, and have been since the first slashdot artical came out about it. (around Jul 2002). It hasn't gotten any harder since then. I'm not exactly a Linux Noob but before Gentoo I just let Mandrake scripts deal with the OS.

    If Joe can't install Gentoo, Joe shouldn't be reviewing Linux Distros, except from a pure newbie point of view. Cause it's just not that hard.
  • How hard core am I? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by /dev/trash (182850) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:23PM (#16142911) Homepage Journal
    I once installed Gentoo from stage 1 on a VPS with 64MB of RAM.

    It ran great after it was all done.
  • Hear hear! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ttfkam (37064) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:50PM (#16143586) Homepage Journal
    While it was once fun to compile the kernel and mention it the next morning while grabbing a cup of coffee, these days I want to use my machine for things other the care and feeding of the operating system.
    As I type from my Mac and monitor my Ubuntu and Debian servers, I couldn't agree more.

    Life's too damn short to reinvent the wheel. 5% extra speed from a custom compile? Screw that! Give the slower binary and more time to live life, be happy, do my job, and get paid. With the time I saved on the 5% custom compile, I can buy a CPU that's 15% faster. Since time is money, I actually save money buying the CPU rather than doing the 5% custom compile.

    If it gives you pleasure, by all means, do the custom compile. Hell, even if the custom compile reduced speed by 5%, go ahead and do it if it makes you happy.

    Me? Hanging out in the sunlight and fresh air makes me happy these days. The opportunity cost associated with the 5% custom compile just ain't worth it to me anymore.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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