The Uniqueness of Gentoo

June 1, 2007 at 4:40 am | Posted in History | Leave a comment

Somebody on Linux Forums said that he was not able to install Gentoo. since i carry some experience with Gentoo so i feel qualified to give my opinion. here is how I went:


(my blog contains some new comments that i did not include in the original reply) :


Try it again, this time with much awaited 2007.0 CD and stage 3 install. it takes 1 day to set-up the minimal-system on my AMD64 with 1GB DDR 400 MGHz RAM using 256 Kbps connection and another 3 days to make it usable with all the tools i use but rewards will wait for you..if you keep patience. next are my own *personal* experiences and views on Gentoo and others distros (no OFFENSES):


i was able to boot into my Gentoo installation at 11th attempt. for all those 10 attempts, i did something wrong. whenever something wrong happens during Gentoo installation, 99% of the times the user does it, not Gentoo. Gentoo was the 1st distro that taught me how to write “/etc/fstab”. though i used Fedora for 6 months, Debian for next 6 months, Frugalware, Foresight, UTUTO, BLAG and KATOS for that 13th and 14th month and Arch for 15th month and had a look at my /etc/fstab many-many times but never got courage (or a deadly need) to edit that file BUT Gentoo *forced* me to create that file. Gentoo was the 1st distro that taught me what drivers my Ethernet card, including that PPP support and VIA PATA driver for my ATA hard-disk in kernel. these days “/et/fstab” is my toy and kernel-compilation is just another toy 🙂


think this :


when you use Fedora/Ubuntu you will get used to “sysconfig” and hate it when you will come across textual-configuration. you will even hate adding IPADDR, GATEWAY, NETMASK to “/etc/syconfig/interfaces/ifcfg-eth0”, (IIRC that was the file on BLAG for your Ethernet card configuration).


in Gentoo land, when you will come across “sysconfig” you will feel frustrated and damned and will feel much comfortable and better editing text-files and running scripts.




……..just….because…..Philosophies/Goals are different and hence environments these goals/philosophies have created are literally different and when you live-into and use that specific environment… for a long time.. you *will* become that environment…..and your thinking and behavior will get shaped according to that. you will no longer be a normal human but you will speak, write and unintentionally will walk that environment, when ever you will see any painting or any piece of art or any car, airplane then you will not describe that airplane or that painting or that car, rather words will come out from your mouth to describe how that car/airplane fits into that environment, you will never describe the beauty of that piece of art, you will describe *yourself* and that distro will be your mirror, it will be your personality and will reflect you and your inner strengths and weaknesses. same is true for highly-technical Engineers, high-profile CEOs, Martial-Artists, drug-addicts and people who are addicted to groupsex/orgies.


i think this is my short description of UNIX philosophy :-), feel free to criticize it…only constructively.


this was just one example, Gentoo has AWESOME community, ready to help with their very-patient attitude, with all of their technical skills at your disposal. +ve part is that nobody will recommend any GUI.. … in Gentoo world ….”SHELL rules”


install Gentoo and MAKE IT RUN, install all tools you use daily and then use them for some days, say 1 week and then think what to do with it , then live or leave ( with a new distro). for me the tools are:


wmii, ratpoison


compile times — but this is source-based distro and you can not do anything about it. same is true for CRUX, SOURCEMAGE and LUNAR.


USE flags — i REALLY hate USE flags. i just want all support compiled in for my softwares. hard-disk space is cheap these days so even if it increases the size of whole system by 3 GB, it does not make any difference to me. i am not a big fan of customization. but you have to live with that because this is how Gentoo is designed, customization of options during compilation.


Speed – Debian is much faster in accessing applications like firefox, GIMP etc. i am talking of applications, start-up times and response times of mouse click are much faster on both Debian and Arch. i do not have much experience with SOURCAMEGE or LUNAR so i can not say whether source-based disotos are, in general, slower than binary based ones. Gentoo is fastest at system startup but everything else is slower as compared to Debian and access-time and response-times of applications in Gentoo are equal to what you get on Fedora. Debian gives you the best deal here and Arch, as usual, has stability issues[0], may be because of its bleeding edge philosophy. that is for my hardware only:


AMD64 on ASUS with VIA K8M800 and VT8237 chipsets
2×512 DDR 400 MHz RAM
80 GB ATA (DMA mode enabled)


Now why i wrote this blog about Gentoo and did not praise Fedora/Ununtu. there is a technical reason behind it. i do not use user-friendly distros because they do many things in the background, hidden, automatic e.g. setting up X, ALSA and firewall [1]. for 6 months i used Fedora and for next 6 months i used Debian Sarge and for next 3-4 months i tried many many others like Foresight, UTUTO, BLAG, Frugalware, Arch, SOURCEMAGE, in order to find my perfect distro but never found it. with user-friendly distros, my ASUS motherboard with VIA K8M800 & VIA VT8237 chipsets always had the problem with videos, video never played properly, playing a video was too slow like a “Replay of Sachin Tendulkar’s sixer on Shane Warne ‘s bowl” on TV [2] . both mplayer and xine said that XV driver does not exist for my graphics card. hence this XV problem is inherent in GNU.. that is exactly what i always thought and for 1.5 years. i did NOT play any video as Linux lacks XV driver for my hardware., WIndowsXP did but i was committed not to use it because of its too many problems. after 1.5 years i installed Gentoo and it *forced* me to do “Xorg -configure”, a thing i never came across on user-friendly distros for 1.5 years of my GNU time and it told me that i need VIA in the the driver section and videos played excellently in Gentoo, without XV…. then after that i installed Fedora and found that it was using VESA in “/etc/X11/xorg.conf”, same for Debian. you never need to install X by fact you do not know what is X. you just put in the Fedora/Ubuntu CD and gives you GNOME/KDE and you use those eye-candy menus. as another example you always go to “GNOME menu -> Administration -> Services” to stop the services you do not need and in CRUX you add/remove from “/etc/rc.conf” much simpler solution. as a Fedora user when you try “chkconfig” you feel frustrated and damned, as i explained earlier in this post. my experience has taught me that “a newbie will get frustrated with Debian” is just a fallacy 🙂

Now at the end of this blog, do you really think i use Gentoo ? OOPS! i do not. i use CRUX these days and may be i will switch to a binary based distro because i am not big fan of customizations, i just worded my experience of different GNU distros. i am fan of stability, reliability and text-based system administration and configuration. in the end, for me, “SHELL rules”.


These are just some of the things that i have experienced. if you think i am wrong or need improvement or if you have anything on your mind regarding my blog then please put comments and as usual, i accept only constructive criticism 🙂


thanks for your precious time 🙂


NOTE: Make sure you attempt to install LFS at least once. it will teach you a lot about GNU internals. well, how did i got so much of time to write such a rant 😉 because…because…i am jobless and business-less and hence have a lot of time to learn about UNIX philosophy and to create better quality software, something that 99% of the corporates do not do.



[0] As of Arch Duke, June 29th, I have not encountered any bugs. previous releases were much buggy. it seems like, soon, Arch is going to become a matured distro 🙂

[1] if you use Fedora and you think you know how to set-up, think again:



Copyright © 2007, Arnuld Fraser, #331/type-2/sector-1, Naya Nangal,
Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA) – 140126

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.


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