Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (3666 mails)

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Re: [SLE] Gentoo
  • From: Sid Boyce <sboyce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 16:03:59 +0000
  • Message-id: <4242E4EF.5010409@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Danny Sauer wrote:
On Wednesday 23 March 2005 09:19 pm, Philipp Thomas wrote:

"Carlos E. R." <robin1.listas@xxxxxxxxxx> [20050324 01:39]:

[...speaking of installing Gentoo...]

I'm not so adventurous ;-)

And it IMHO doesn't get you very much (besides the feeling that you
built everything from scratch :)

Qualifier: I'm typing this from a Gentoo workstation right now, and might be biased. I'm still running SuSE, Slackware, and RedHat/YellowDog on at least 2 machines each, though. :)

Most of the loud Gentoo advocates will push things like the ability to optimize all compilations for the given system, for speed. Honestly, most of that speed increase is in their heads. While my Gentoo systems feel a bit snappier than the SuSE setups I've had on the same hardware, for example, it's more because of the package selections (I can remove some of the bloat that I don't need) than from stupidly using "-O3 -funroll-loops" all over the place. There are 2 main reasons that I personally use it. First, if I want apache built without the threading MPM, and I want mod_php and mod_perl to all use the same mysql libraries, it doesn't take any more work than it would to install a threaded apache with a threaded mod_perl built on a threaded perl. Just change a couple of USE flags and go. Upgrade a library? Run revdep-rebuild and the stuff that depended on that library gets rebuilt against the new lib. A package wants to change some config files in a protected directory (like /etc)? Its change will *always* be made to a new file, which you go through and accept/reject/merge using etc-update (rather than looking for all of the .rpmnew and .rpmbak files, depending on whether the packager wanted to overwrite your config or not)

So far, it's pretty similar to an RPM-based system, except without editing spec files. However, I think it's easier to create ebuild files than spec files. So, when you find a package that you want but which isn't included in the system, you pull down the source and either make an ebuild, or just configure/make/make install. It'll definitely work with the other stuff on your system. Sure, you can do that on any other distro, but it's just a little more integrated on Gentoo.

However, those are more "features" than reasons to switch. The single biggest reason I changed a bunch of machines over is the incremental upgrades. When a new software package is released and marked stable, then that package is available for Gentoo. It's not just available for the last 2 or 3 versions, because "versions" don't really exist. A new "version" is just a snapshot of the current state of Gentoo affairs, and is only relevent when you first install. Once you're installed, you just update packages periodically, and you're kept up-to-date. I still have a SuSE 7.1 system "somewhere" - I've had to roll my own RPMs to keep security-sensitive stuff up-to-date, and lots of stuff won't even build now with the ancient glibc on there. If I had installed Gentoo 3 years ago, say, I could be keeping the software up-to-date right now without ever having to have done a "version" update. I simply got sick of having to bring the machine down, boot from install media, and update hundreds of packages at once. Now, I can let a Gentoo system sit without updating for a year or so, run "emerge sync" to update my package list and then run "emerge -u -D world" and bring my same package set up to current standards. That'd make me a bad sysadmin, but it proves a point.

It's not all roses, though. Gentoo's "stability" testing isn't the greatest. Sometimes things make it into stable that maybe should've been in testing for a tad longer. However, a little time reading the forums will bring to light those packages that tend to not be tested as well. The "mask" system is rather nice for that. If I want to stay with apache version 2.0.13 for some reason, I just mask off versions above that number (one line in one config file), and then updates to apache beyond that point, as well as any deps that would be affected, don't happen when running the same update command. If something else needs apache updated, it'll alert me and won't go on until the problem's fixed.

"But, I've got a bunch of machines to maintain, I can't be compiling the same package over and over". Then you set compiler flags to generate code that'll work on all of your machines, add the "-b -k" flags to your updates/builds on one machine, and share the binary output directory among all of those machines (I use CIFS for that). Then, the update is only built from source if the binary doesn't already exist on the network. It works nicely - I'm maintaining several machines in just that way.

If you need a support contract, Gentoo's not for you. If you're on a modem, Gentoo will irritate you. If you're not pretty familiar with the operation of a Linux system, Gentoo will probably be frustrating as a "first" distro. If you don't have a fast (I'm talking fast by modern standards, though I still consider a 500MHz proc "fast"), you'll spend a lot of time waiting for something to compile - or you'll be using Gentoo's binay packages (yes, you can easily go that route for some/all of a system too), which does negate *some* of the gains. It took roughly 1.5 days to get a full system with KDE installed on my dual 2.1GHz Athlon MP / 1.5GB RAM system, maybe 2 days to get a similar setup running on my 2 GHz Semperon-based system. It took close to 4 days on my 400MHz P2 system. Using a compile farm consisting of the 2.1GHz system and the P2 (as well as the local machine), a 400MHz K6-3 gets the base system installed overnight. And this is with me knowing pretty well what I'm doing - add a few hours for a first-timer. So, there's a large time investment in a "stage-1" "build absolutely everything" install. However, the system one ends up with is incrementally upgradeable "forever", has access to as many or more packages than even SuSE, and will never make me wait until the "next release" if I want to use the newest KDE. It works very well for many situations (and isn't ideal in some other situations - like my 24MB RAM 486-based mail router), and the forums at are on-par with this list, though with a little worse expert/newbie ratio (this list has several real smart folks, but the same people can sometimes get lost in the noise out on the Gentoo forums).

--Danny, needlesly defending his choice on an unrelated mailing list :)

Installing gentoo I didn't have the feel of building anything myself, emerge takes care of it all. There are a few commands I had to get used to, emerge and etc-update mainly. It certainly feels fast with a XP2000+ and was even snappy on a XP700 with KDE, then again, it's not as heavily loaded as my Mandrake or SuSE boxes with much faster processors. On a dial-up, I wouldn't even attemmpt it as it took 34 hours to build on the XP700 using a cable modem. I did "emerge --update world" yesterday and it ran for about 18 hours building everything.
It's Linux, a different way slightly, that's about all I can say.
Sid Boyce .... Large Computer Systems Specialist - Retired
Hamradio Callsign G3VBV and Keen Private Pilot
Aeroplanes, Linux, Computers and Cricket my major passions
===== LINUX USED HERE, A Microsoft-free Computing Environment ====

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