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A Walk Through the Gentoo Linux Install Process

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the ingentoous dept.

Linux 352

Anonymous American (Sherman Boyd) writes: "I was looking for a flexible, powerful distribution that makes it easy to build a 'custom' Linux box that meets my exacting specifications. I think I found it. Gentoo Linux has just released version 1.0 of their innovative meta-distribution and to celebrate I decided to throw it on my laptop and write this article based on my experiences." And good news for anyone interested in trying Gentoo: yesterday, Daniel Robbins announced the release of version 1.1a. Read on for AA's detailed look at putting Gentoo on his machine -- Gentoo has a different style than today's typical distributions, and it bears some explanation.

Gentoo solved many problems for me. Some distros install everything, whether you really need it or not. Not Gentoo; other than the base packages required for Linux to run, the only software installed on the system is the software you put there. Gentoo resolves dependencies automatically, eliminating RPM prerequisite hell. As an added bonus I got something I wasn't even expecting. Speed. Blinding, blazing, incredible speed.

The main advantage to the Gentoo distribution is Portage, a python-based ports system similar to BSD ports. For those of you unfamiliar with BSD ports, Portage is a package management tool that downloads and installs source instead of precompiled packages. When I need a program I download, install and compile it with one command:

emerge nmap

The above will download the nmap source code, compile and install it. Of course this method is slow, but it has its rewards. You can also opt to use prebuilt binaries if you are not extremely patient. It took me five hours to get the base Gentoo installed on my PIII with 128 megs of ram. It wasn't a big deal as I had other things to do, but I would like to see the installation process optimized so that it doesn't require any babysitting.

Gentoo is running two of my mission-critical servers right now, I consider it to be stable and mature. A warning, though: this is not a distribution for dummies. This is bare metal Linux, powerful and dangerous. If you do something without thinking you may fall into a bucket of pain.

Let's begin my story.

I download the iso from /. There is a choice of install images here. My favorite way of installing Gentoo is to compile everything, a time consuming process. This method requires a slim 16-meg iso. You may want to grab an iso with pre-built binaries to speed things up, however. This fat iso weighs in at 103 meg. I download the big one with the prebuilt binaries even though I won't use them -- just in case.

I boot my laptop with my shiny new Gentoo CD. The Gentoo install uses isolinux by Peter Anvin. I like the fact that they don't obscure it, giving credit where it is due. It boots quickly and there is a PCI autodetection process, it shouldn't find much on my laptop. Interesting, it loads a SCSI module. Perhaps it has detected my IDE CD burner. Usually this will detect any PCI NIC cards that are installed, but it does not detect my PCMCIA device (of course). After the PCI detection I get a command prompt. I use nano (a small text editor) to open up install.txt, the excellent install doc. Usually these docs are sufficient but the latest ones can be found here:

Keeping the install doc open in this virtual terminal, I hit alt-f2 to open a new one. I begin by loading the pcmcia drivers and installing networking. This is all done at the command line ( insmod, ifconfig, route, dhcpcd, etc.). I use nano to add my DNS servers to /etc/resolv.conf. A word of caution; get in the habit of always using the -w switch with nano. If you do not use the -w switch nano's word wrap feature will jack up your config files. I ping a reliable site, networking is up!

Next I partition my system using fdisk. I choose a simple layout with a swap partition, a root partition and a small boot partition. The boot partition remains unmounted during use, a nice precaution. For filesystems you have a choice of ext2, ext3, ReiserFS and XFS. In my personal experience I've noticed that Reiser performance really rocks when combined with SCSI drives, but as this is an IDE system I think I'll go with XFS. Besides, the XFS tools seem to be a lot more mature than the offerings from Reiser. I format and mount the partitions from the command line creating a /mnt/gentoo directory. I then untar the root filesystem; here I have the choice of the small tarball that requires you to compile everything or a larger tarball that contains pre-built binaries. If you untar the big guy you are almost finished with your install at this point. Using chroot and some scripts you chroot the /mnt/gentoo directory. From this point on you are operating under your new gentoo system.

The first thing I do under my chrooted system is issue this command:

emerge rsync

This downloads the latest version of the portage tree. The portage tree is found under /usr/portage and contains the ebuild scripts used to compile/install programs. Currently there are over 1000 up to date emerge sripts. Next I edit /etc/make.conf, here I can choose compiler settings. I optimize everything for i686. Now it's time to build the GNU compiler and libraries. I run the bootstrap script and leave for lunch. On my PIII 500 the boostrap process takes 2 hours and 2 minutes.

The second emerge command I issue is:

emerge system

Now emerge downloads, compiles and installs my base system packages. I sit back, relax and take the time to fax my legislators a rant about the DMCA. One hour and 30 minutes later it is finished.

Now it is time to download and install the kernel. First I make a link updating my timezone, and then I issue another emerge command:

emerge linux-sources

This grabs the latest kernel, 2.4.19, and drops the source in /usr/src/linux. Ten minutes have elapsed. Now comes the fun, compiling your kernel. That's right, everyone who installs Gentoo compiles their own kernel as a matter of process. I like this. There are some distributions out there that actually say you should never compile your own kernel. Shame on them. I use make menuconfig and the standard commands to compile my kernel. Since Gentoo uses devfs I select /dev file system support and I am also careful to compile in support for XFS. I don't have the kernel mount devfs automatically at boot as the Gentoo startup scripts take care of this for me. Virtual Memory file system support is also enabled.

At this point in time I get to choose a logger. My choices are sysklogd, syslog-ng or metalog. I choose metalog, because it's got the coolest name. I download, compile and install it using a single command:

emerge metalog

XFS has some nice utilities, I better install those. I have some other essential programs to install, and I'm feeling a bit lazy so I chain them all in one big command.

emerge xfsprogs;emerge bitchx;emerge vim;emerge links

At this point I'm feeling pretty 7-Up. I edit my /etc/fstab file, my /etc/hostname file and /etc/hosts. The passwd command is run to set the root passwd. I add my NIC module to the file /etc/modules.autoload and edit /etc/conf.d/net. conf.d/net allows me to configure my IP address and settings, default gateway and alias. I take a look at /etc/init.d/net.eth0, even though I don't need to edit it. I can then add it to the startup script using this command:

rc-update add net.eth0 default

This adds the script to the default runlevel to be executed at startup. Startup scripts are another place Gentoo really shines. The startup scripts have a system of dependencies. For example net.eth0 can depend on pcmcia. The pcmcia drivers get loaded before net.eth0 - this is good.

Next I install grub. If you haven't used grub before, it's nice. You can boot to a kernel directly from the grub shell, without having to edit a config file. lilo is still available, for those of you who prefer it. Gentoo likes to let you make the decisions.

I exit my chrooted shell and unmount all directories. Reboot! Gentoo comes up and the install process is complete.

The Gentoo install process has taught me a lot about Linux, and I like the fact that the command line is embraced, instead of hidden behind gui or scripts. I also like the speed (which is debatable since all I can supply is anecdotal evidence). I wasn't too happy about waiting five hours for everything to compile, but I think it was worth it. I can tell you it compiles and greps noticeably faster than other distros I have run on the exact same machines. I really enjoy using portage, and the packages seem to stay up to date -- if not bleeding edge. This is not a conservative distribution like Debian, however I like the aggressive and intelligent direction gentoo is taking.

If you are considering trying out Gentoo I highly suggest #gentoo on Also subscribe to the mailing lists found at The Gentoo community has helped me out of several jams in the past, I think they will treat you good too.

While writing this, I received help from a lot of people. However I would like to personally thank the people I ripped off word for word. Thanks notafurry of for your pointed help with the stilted second paragraph and thank you Ween from #gentoo on for your clean description of portage.

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Gentoo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3310967)

Gentoo has a different style than today's typical distributions

You mean it doesn't suck balls? Excellent!


L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311034)

Of course Gentoo Linux sucks scrotum. It has such a 'simple' and 'easy to use' install interface, that Slashdot has to writeup instructions on how to use it.

Do yourseld a favor, and get a copy of Windows XP Home Edition. Much better, and there is actually software available.

dfgdfg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3310977)


FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3310983)


Re:FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311106)

Haha! Sorry to burst your bubble, little boy!

Run home crying to Mommy now, that's a good boy.

Yes you are correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311264)

and the parent is WRONG WRONG FUCKING WRONG!

This [] is the fp. All others are cheap pisspoor imitations.

k5 (3, Funny)

smileyy (11535) | more than 12 years ago | (#3310987)

Once again demonstrating that k5 has better and more timely news than /.

Oh god. What have I done? No, k5 sucks. Really. Stay away. Stay far, far away. You have absolutely no desire to get a k5 account.

Re:k5 (2, Informative)

purplebear (229854) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311024)

Yeah. I was just thinking to myself, didn't K5 have this exact "feature" last week sometime?

It seems /. is getting a little behind the times??

Re:k5 (1)

Ween (13381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311164)

Yes they did, but timothy wanted to widen the exposure of this article because gentoo is a great distribution.

Im glad he finally got permission from Anonymous American to post it here.


Re:k5 (1)

smileyy (11535) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311340)

It's interesting -- more often, I'm seeing stories show up in the k5 queue hours or days before they get posted to /. I'd say more about k5, but see my original post.

Re:k5 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311059)

Speaking of which, K5 has been unavailable all morning, so I've resorted to looking at Slashdot.


We started to digest the last batch of stupid slashdot fuckheads over there, don't encourage more... please!

Re:k5 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311132)

This was covered several days ago here [] .

Re:k5 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311139)

E r i c, is that you? Goddamned trollboy.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311202)

It redirects you to somewhere much worse than!

Re:k5 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311261)

Fuck you Eric Krout, I fucking hate you!

Re:k5 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311154)

Too bad K5's servers are Pentium 75s with 16MB of RAM and are, once again, down.

Re:k5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311169)

At least slashdot isn't plagued by downtime like K5 is. kuro5hin goes down like Jon Katz's sister earning crack money. Look at today for example.

Well (1, Offtopic)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311223)

It does suck today. Been down/unreachable/ungodly slow for several hours now...

Dammit, how can I post a comment that'll piss off streetlawyer AND trhurler at the same time if the site is dead?

Gentoo Linux and Kuro5hin (1)

b0z (191086) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311245)

The reason K5 has been down most of the day is because Rusty followed the advice of this article and installed Gentoo Linux on it.

Hmmmm (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311274)

He did say, in his diary (last night), that he some secret plan for something cool. Methinks it bit him in the butt.

Things To Do Today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311244)

1. Stick finger up ass

2. Remove finger from ass, sniff finger

Re:k5 (1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311408)

"Extreme Programming - Embrace the protective blanket of fear "

haha, well put.

53. (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | more than 12 years ago | (#3310993)

--It is so little true that martyrs offer any support to the truth of a cause that I am inclined to deny that any martyr has ever had anything to do with the truth at all. In the very tone in which a martyr flings what he fancies to be true at the head of the world there appears so low a grade of intellectual honesty and such insensibility to the problem of "truth," that it is never necessary to refute him. Truth is not something that one man has and another man has not: at best, only peasants, or peasant apostles like Luther, can think of truth in any such way. One may rest assured that the greater the degree of a man's intellectual conscience the greater will be his modesty, his discretion, on this point. To know in five cases, and to refuse, with delicacy, to know anything further . . . "Truth," as the word is understood by every prophet, every sectarian, every free-thinker, every Socialist and every churchman, is simply a complete proof that not even a beginning has been made in the intellectual discipline and self-control that are necessary to the unearthing of even the smallest truth.--The deaths of the martyrs, it may be said in passing, have been misfortunes of history: they have misled . . . The conclusion that all idiots, women and plebeians come to, that there must be something in a cause for which any one goes to his death (or which, as under primitive Christianity, sets off epidemics of death-seeking)--this conclusion has been an unspeakable drag upon the testing of facts, upon the whole spirit of inquiry and investigation. The martyrs have damaged the truth. . . . Even to this day the crude fact of persecution is enough to give an honourable name to the most empty sort of sectarianism.--But why? Is the worth of a cause altered by the fact that some one had laid down his life for it?--An error that becomes honourable is simply an error that has acquired one seductive charm the more: do you suppose, Messrs. Theologians, that we shall give you the chance to be martyred for your lies?--One best disposes of a cause by respectfully putting it on ice--that is also the best way to dispose of theologians. . . . This was precisely the world-historical stupidity of all the persecutors: that they gave the appearance of honour to the cause they opposed--that they made it a present of the fascination of martyrdom. . . .Women are still on their knees before an error because they have been told that some one died on the cross for it. Is the cross, then, an argument?--But about all these things there is one, and one only, who has said what has been needed for thousands of years--Zarathustra.

They made signs in blood along the way that they went, and their folly taught them that the truth is proved by blood.
But blood is the worst of all testimonies to the truth; blood poisoneth even the purest teaching and turneth it into madness and hatred in the heart.
And when one goeth through fire for his teaching--what doth that prove? Verily, it is more when one's teaching cometh out of one's own burning!

Re:53. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311016)

???? Thank you for the -1 mod!!!!!!

Re:53. (0, Offtopic)

OccSub (572282) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311404)

This sort of thing really does need to stop. As long as the moderators keep modding down these attacks on people's faith, many people don't have to see them. But some people enjoy the -1 posts, eh? GafTheHorseInTears obvioulsy has some deep, long-running hatred of Christianity, and feels that expressing it here is either: a) funny, or b) gonna get him noticed as a "free thinker" or something. Since when is Slashdot a place for putting people's religions down?

All these words... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311006)

and no mention that "Gentoo Linux" is an anagram for "Lounge Toxin"?

Re:All these words... (3, Funny)

Timmeh (555676) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311183)

see also: 'not ogle unix'

Re:All these words... (2, Funny)

Timmeh (555676) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311284)

see also: 'onion gel tux'

Or, for the Scrabble(tm) fans out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311286)

Monolithic And Proud Of It []

Word, Scrabble Score

EXULTING, 16 | OXTONGUE, 16 | LOXING, 14 | TOXINE, 13 | EXTOL, 12 | EXULT, 12 | IXTLE, 12 | TOXIN, 12 | ... (I couldn't put the rest here because of the lameness filter)

Re:All these words... (2, Funny)

Hallow (2706) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311289)

For all you scientology fans out there...

xenu to login (or login to xenu if you prefer)

Slightly off-topic (1)

qurob (543434) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311007)

Their website [] has a great look!

Exile (-1, Offtopic)

Walmart Security (570281) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311014)

It was late, nearly seven in the morning. The sun was rising; it crept through my window, seemingly in defiance of the darkness that was beginning to elude it. Its effluence of light had proven itself to be more beautiful every day. A mere twenty years of age, I'd not yet experienced a job in which people trusted you, especially with their well-being. Searching futily for the cable that connected the remote control to the new Zenith television that I'd purchased from my parents, I realized that my appointment was only an hour away. I hadn't any time to leisurely brew coffee and catch up on the country's events. As I stepped out of bed, I cringed slightly. The tile floor always seemed gelid to my bare feet during the winter, especially after one of those egregiously arctic nights when it seemed as though the season would never enter the transition to spring.

According to popular rumor, William Robinson, the man who would later interview me, was facilely impressed by somebody who wore fashionable clothing. I had purchased a pink polo shirt and dress pants a week prior from the Sears catalog. Today I would exhibit them as I attempted to become a security assistant. I stepped into the five year old maroon, 1947 Plymouth that I'd inherited from my grandfather. It operated immaculately. The bleak, uneventful drive to Robinson's office seemed like an eternity; I was quite eager to commence my interview.

"So you're Peter Geralds," a stocky man greeted me. He pointed at a chair. "Come, sit. May I offer you something to drink? Water? Coffee?"

"No, thank you." I replied with all of the calmness that I could muster.

He chuckled. "A martini?"

I had anticipated that William would be a businesslike, humorless man. What a pleasant surprise it was to meet somebody in an executive position that was so laid-back. "So, you want to be a security..." He flipped through my application. "... assistant, do you?"

"Why yes sir, I do." I hadn't been in a mood as pleasant as this for months, perhaps even years.

Then his smile turned to a rather maniacal glare. "You won't live long enough to be one." He hastily produced a Smith and Wesson revolver from his desk drawer and fired twice. I screamed as the bullets penetrated my chest. The man then walked over to my chair and pushed me to the floor. After a moment, I was drowning in my own warm blood, unable to think of anything but the searing pain...

... "Yeah, yeah. No, patient two-four-seven isn't conscious. Yeah, I want a cheeseburger. With mayo. Go get them, Rhonda. Now!" A man said commandingly.

"Fine, you anal-retentive... Ugh." The second voice was that of a woman; she seemed to be unwilling to comply.

I opened my eyes attenuately. Unbearable pain indicated that I hadn't utilized them for days. My unfocused eyes created a vision of a white blur overhead. Perhaps I'd entered the afterlife. "Are you an angel?" I queried.

Whoever was standing over me began laughing feverishly. "I'm Thomas, your doctor. You certainly have a good sense of humor for somebody who has been unconscious for two days." His voice increased in intensity. "Hey Rhonda, before you leave, mark two-four-seven as conscious!"

"Where am I? Where's Robert? What happened?!" I was fretting. After all, he was my direct responsibility. If he had died, I promised myself that I would leave the security business permanently both in mourning and to prevent another tragedy occuring on my watch.

"You're at Christus Jasper Memorial. I'm afraid to say that Robert Arishima..." I interrupted the doctor in mid-sentence. "No!" I screamed, on the edge of tears. "He can't be dead! Not Robert! Why not me?"

Thomas placed his hand on my shoulder, comforting me. "I'm afraid to say that Mr. Arishima was released without injury two days ago, so you can't see him presently. Would you like me to call him?"

I felt as though I was a simpleton. How humiliating. Hopefully the doctor would practice a lot of discretion with both his peers and other patients, as well as Robert. "Yes, if it isn't bothersome."

"No, not at all," he replied. "Also, I have your incident report here, would you like to read it?"

Predictably, I responded with one word: "yes." Maybe it would shed light on the accident that Robert and I were involved in. My eyes, fortunately, were now focused. I grasped the paper as Thomas handed it to me and began reading the hastily constructed, rather inaccurate report:

"Incident report submitted by Harris on 3 April at 4 AM.

Two security attendants at Jasper Walmart Supercenter (Robert Arishima, Peter Geralds; blue EZSECURE golf cart, 1992) involved in vehicular collision with Paul Cryer (silver Mercedes-Benz SUV, 2001). Cryer reports that an unprovoked altercation (Arishima and Geralds being the aggressors) between the three preceded the accident..."

"Hey, Peter?" It was Robert! I ceased reading as he entered the room. "I've got bad news. You've um, been suspended as a security guard until EZSECURE investigates what happened. I'm sorry... Are you okay?"

Re:Exile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311032)

thanks again for the -1 mod---- who are these people????????????

What better troll than... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311017)

FreeBSD [] NetBSD [] OpenBSD [] OS X [] Have a nice day!

For you existing Gentoo'ers (5, Informative)

Xafloc (48004) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311021)

I have created a site [] that will allow you to post your Compile Times for the different packages, relative to your hardware.

It's in alpha stage right now, but I'll add features as we go a long. Any suggestions [mailto] would be appreciated. You must signup first in order to post your compile times.

Hopefully at some point, one willbe able to get a sense of how long it would take to install, say kde3.

How about some user testing on distro websites? (5, Insightful)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311030)

The Gentoo site looks about like that of every other distro out there... just fine if you know exactly what you're looking for. How about grabbing a few average Linux users and watching them try to find what they need? I think people just don't realize how poor a lot of the websites and documentation are.

I think Debian, for example, is a fine installation. I've used it frequently. But the website really irritated me when I needed to find some specific floppy images and hardware support the other day. I got so frustrated that I finally gave up and went to FreeBSD. It's far from perfect, but I found what I was looking for in short order and quickly had the machine up and running.

Here's a question for anyone involved in the production of ANY distro out there: Is there ANY form of usability testing that goes into these sites? What's the process these people are using for designing the sites?

Re:How about some user testing on distro websites? (2, Informative)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311104)

Ah, yes, usability testing..What a crock that is.

There are two types of "usable":

One is "usable" because it's close to what the user is used to.
The other is "usable" because it appeals to someon who has never used that interface before.

Funny, the only people I hear talking about usability are those who complain they can't do something, because the 'new' interface doesn't emulate what they're already used to..

I never liked how Microsoft's site worked, and people looked at me strange.
Friends never liked how Novell's site worked, and I looked at them strange..

Would you rather have a distro maintainer spending hours and hours on their website, or the distro?

I guess the solution is just: "Get used to it."

Re:How about some user testing on distro websites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311151)

I never liked how Microsoft's site worked, and people looked at me strange.
Friends never liked how Novell's site worked, and I looked at them strange..

Yeah, well no one likes the way Cisco's site works, except their competitors. Trying to find something there is like trying to squeeze blood from a rock.

Re:How about some user testing on distro websites? (3, Insightful)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311163)

I think that attitude is the core of the problem. There IS such a thing as usable, and some designs are just plain BAD. My sister's finishing up a Master's at Stanford in the field, and she's shown me that there's a hell of a lot more to it than I would have thought.

I run a busy (military) website myself, and I've found that a lot of the users on the site don't use the site in the same way I would. They get the information they need, and they put up with a sub-optimal interface, but if I can find out what they're trying to do it's often a matter of a simple change to allow them to do it with a lot more efficiency. You can't ever ignore the users and tell them to "get used to it", just like saying "read the source code" doesn't cut it as documentation for most folks.

Re:How about some user testing on distro websites? (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311158)

My only problem with the FreeBSD install process, is that it installs XFree86 3.3.6 by default. If you install XF4.1 from the ports tree, it is quite difficult to configure and run it correctly. I ended up re-installing everything, skipping X, and installing it from ports. Everything was fine after that.

(BTW, I use FreeBSD for my workstation, with OSX for my laptop (TiBook), I'll install FreeBSD on it as soon as the PPC port is stable)

RE: Distro Sites (1)

Suburban nmate (542147) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311392)

Try this one [] ;-)

The site is at least pleasant to use. However, owing to a 10gb of BSD/Linux ISO's (all less than 1 week old) I've yet to try this distro. O blessed be the bandwidth! []


My Experience (3, Interesting)

XBL (305578) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311031)

I think Gentoo is great. It's FreeBSD, clean and fast. It would definitely take some work to get it up to a point where all of your desktop toys work, but I don't care about that stuff much.

My only problem with the installation was that it didn't like the partitions I made with Partition Magic. It installed fine, but afterword when I tried to setup Grub, the /boot partition somehow disappeared! fsck chucked out some serious errors, and I had to start over again... and that was not fun.

It was rather annoying, the babysitting. You just have to sit there an type in a lame command or two now and then. Why can't the installer do that for me?

In summary, use Gentoo because it's not-bloated, fast, easier than Debian (in my opinion), and Portage is great.

Re:My Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311148)

It's FreeBSD

It was my understanding that this was a Linux distribution...

Re:My Experience (3, Interesting)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311262)

I've been using Gentoo for a few months now, and like others I've found it a great distro. It definately forces you to learn alot about your system, but does so in a nice way.

My biggest nit pick is that I wish Portage had a better way of tracking changes between package versions. Sometimes the only difference between two versions is a few lines of a Gentoo-supplied script or config file. When you upgrade the package it forces you you to recompile the whole thing, even though the changes didn't do anything that would have affected compilation.

Anyway, speaking of Portage, doesn't anyone know what the equivalent of the old-school "emerge --world update" is (to make it look up EVERY installed package)? During a world update the new Portage will only update packages that appear in your "favorites" file. If it does, only then will it update dependencies not in your "favorites" file.

frost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311048)

pist. In the night. I am the best. Damn.

rock (5, Interesting)

President Chimp Toe (552720) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311056)

Rock Linux [] sounds pretty similar. Anyone know how they compare?

Re:rock (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311310)

Well its been around since 1998 and has done basically the same thing as gentoo since then. What gentoo is doing is old hat. Rock Linux 2.0 which will be out later this year will be much more than a distro.

I dont think slashdot likes them or something as most of their news never shows up here. Only lwn, linuxtoday, linuxjournal, etc. So slashdot readers might not know about them.

Re:rock (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311321)

I've been using ROCK since it's 1.2.0 release, and
I have to say that I really love it. Since you
can completely build the whole distro on your own,
it allows a high level of code optimization to best
fit your hardware.
ROCK isn't a distro for the beginner but for
advanced users which don't want to use yast, linux-
conf, ..
ROCK currently still doesn't have a very good package
management system, but developers are currently re-
solving this issue in the 1.7 development tree.

Rock, Gentoo, same motivation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311387)

Every once in a while, someone decides to write a robust, simple, minimalist Linux distro for folks who aren't afraid to get their fingers dirty -- but they don't realize that Slackware already exists, so they re-implement it. Not that this is a bad thing! More Slackware-like distributions is entirely more desirable than not.

-- Guges --

Isn't it ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311069)

that the reliable site he pinged is down right now.

Hey, what the hell is this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311085)

A wellwritten article on slashdot. I'm buying a skitrip to hell.

Re:Hey, what the hell is this? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311328)

Don't bother, it was posted on k5 first.

Slashdot ripping someone else's good article off is hardly "snow in hell" time.

Real Linux (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311122)

I would suggest that anyone wanting real control over a linux box use the LFS (linux from scratch) distrobution. You can find it here LSF.ORG [] .

This is truly the way to make a customized system. The Problem with the BSD ports system is that It tells you what is the best version to run. If you do it this way you will have a complete understanding of your system.

In Short: If you really want a geeked out version of linux. Do it from scratch with LFS.

Minor nit (5, Informative)

Mike Connell (81274) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311123)

This is not a conservative distribution like Debian,

There are 3 debians, at varying degrees of 'conservativyosity'

Stable: Potato is dead stable and conservative. To put it another way: it's old, and you probably wouldn't want it on your desktop.

Testing: Woody is very stable (IME more stable than RH FWIW), and quite up to date (g++ 3 etc)

Unstable: Not sure of the name because I wouldn't use it. I don't know how stable it is, but I am thinking that it's quite up to date with the latest releases.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make in a rather longwinded mannar, is that debian will be as conservative as you want it to be. There is always a tradeoff between "up to date" and "no nasty surprises" debian is very honest about letting you choose.

Re:Minor nit (2, Informative)

AaronMB (136741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311146)

> Unstable: Not sure of the name because I wouldn't use it. I don't know how stable it is, but I am thinking that it's quite up to date with the latest releases.

Its Sid, and as to being unstable, i've found that it isn't. I've used unstable on my laptop for ~6 months now, and not once have I had any sort of issues with it. As always, YMMV, but it has been great for me.

Re:Minor nit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311399)

"IME more stable than RH FWIW"

Hmm I see debian users saying this all the time and I just dont' know where it comes from. I have used RH for 4 years and have had no major crashes to speak of when using their kernels. I have also used debian and have had no major crashes as well.

So why do debian users insist that their distro is "more" stable? Linux is linux and unless your talking about the cutting edge GUI tools in Mandrake that tend to crash, None of the linux servers I have set up crash for no reason. Even when I have set up a Mandrake server it didn't crash, so what's your point?

So I guess MY point is unless you have proof that RH or any other distro crashes more then Debian quit your FUD.

menu... (1)

AaronMB (136741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311127)

the one thing I miss about debian(ok, so there others, but this one in particular) and am wondering if I am just missing it in the config files somewhere. Does gentoo have a menu system? with debian when you install a new package, it throws a menu entry on all window managers you have installed(windowmaker, blackbox, kde, gnome, etc). Thus, whether I use blackbox or windowmaker or whatever, I have all the programs in a nice menu that is identical across most window managers(kde is a notable exception where stuff is slightly different). Is there a system like this in Gentoo and i'm missing it? if not, are there any plans to include something like it?

Metadistribution? (4, Funny)

stevenbee (227371) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311133)

Can someone explain this term?
Is it like: "I never metadistribution I didn't like?"

; )

My Gentoo Install (4, Informative)

Trolocsis (319617) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311137)

I have gentoo up and running on my laptop, and my desktop. I consider myself as an intermediate to semi-advanced linux buff, but I had never really knew the intricities of installing a distribution from complete source and what happens at the core of the installation (thanks to all those GUI installers). It was a great learning experience - at times I had some trouble, but #gentoo actually has the gentoo developers in there helping people with problems and trying to resolve them. Kudos to the Gentoo team.

Upgrading to a new version of gentoo is easy, and straight forward with the Portage system. There is no need to reinstall, like some flavors of linux, just a simple emerge --update system and an emerge --update world.

The distro is fast - in fact - much faster than my mandrake box I had on my desktop (before I migrated to gentoo). I have no benchmarks, but the bloat is gone, and the speed is there.

2.4.19? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311143)

Wow, Gentoo IS advanced. They have a time machine!

Re:2.4.19? (1)

NewbieSpaz (172080) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311229)

I thought this was weird too, and I began to wonder how I missed the announcement... Then I thought, wow, 2.4.18 was released not too long ago, that was fast! confirmed my suspicion...

Re:2.4.19? (2, Informative)

SagSaw (219314) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311231)

One of the 13 available kernels is a 2.4.19pre? patched with XFS and other goodies. If you don't want bleeding edge, various other kernels are availible, including 2.4.4 and a couple of 2.2's for those who want more stable proved kernels.

Debian's apt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311254)

And what about debian apt system ? His stability,speed ?
As my friend say:
"I don't know distro that is better then debian" !

LVM? (2)

yamla (136560) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311165)

Anyone know how well Gentoo works with LVM, Linux's logical volumn manager [] ? I run Mandrake 8.1 at work and probably won't switch but at home, I also run Mandrake and would likely switch if the dist properly supported lvm. Particularly if that dist supported KDE 3 which I see Gentoo does.

Re:LVM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311308)

LVM works fine. During the install stages, you can install to an LVM just fine.

modprove lvm-mod
-- DO LVM stuff --
-- pvcreate, vgcreate, lvcreate --
mke2fs/mkreiserfs/mkfs.xfs on /dev//
mount /dev// /mnt/gentoo

go on your way.

Re:LVM? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311384)

quote from: []

"15.Final steps: install additional packages

You may need to install some additional packages in the Portage tree if you are using any optional features like XFS or LVM. If you're using XFS, you should emerge the xfsprogs ebuild:

Code listing 27

# emerge sys-apps/xfsprogs

If you're using LVM, you should emerge the lvm-user ebuild:

Code listing 28

# emerge --usepkg sys-apps/lvm-user


Sorcerer and LFS (1)

rogerl (143996) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311190)

There is also Sorcerer at It is another Source based distribution.

There is also LFS at which is a Source based distribution where you type all of the commands.

Has anyone compared Rock, Gentoo, Sourcerer and LFS?

Re:Sorcerer and LFS (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311280)

I don't know anything about Rock or Gentoo, but Sourcerer requires an obcene amount of RAM + swap. LFS might be good if you have loads of time to get it right. Myself, after 1 week I had something that did little more than boot, and I didn't really have enough HD space for LFS + my host distro.

Goddammit! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311195)

I just got killed by the same damn grey unicorn on a Nethack bones level that killed me before! Fucking time I see one I'm gonna rip its horn off and shove it up its ass!

Oh...would you believe it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311357)

Next game and I got the bones level again. That unicorn is so dead...just wait til I find it.

re-compiling everthing (1)

werd life (94886) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311200)

seems like a waste of computing power, especially if you are compiling it with all default options (which must be the case if all you are typing is "emerge foo").

Afterall, there's always Extraterrestrial [] life to search for, encryption [] to break, or maybe even a cure [] for cancer. Do we all really need to re-compile rsync?

Re:re-compiling everthing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311247)

Actually, you are wrong. If you were to actually read any of the docs, you would notice that there is a variable set up called "USE"

USE lists the types of options that you want compiled into your packages. For example, if you were running DirectFB and wanted packages that had DirectFB to use it, put "directfb" in your USE variable list.
If you wanted GTK and not QT, put "GTK" in the USE variable list, but not QT.
This is in the docs. Read.

Re:re-compiling everthing (1)

werd life (94886) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311371)

first of all, it's pretty insane to assume everyone should read all relevant documenation before posting. YES, read the article/review/whatever itself, but if there's an article about a new XML parser from apache, should ever reader read all the w3 docs regarding XML documents, dtd, schemas, etc.? probably not...

secondly, if you're saying that I'm wrong about only vanilla compiles, whatever. of course it's always possible to compile in whatever you want (umm, download the source).

the point i'm trying to make is that if all you are doing is typing "emerage rysnc", you're obviously not doing all this setup. If you were doing all this setup, how is "emerge rynsc" easier than just downloading the package, setting some variables, and typing "make"?

Re:re-compiling everthing (1)

drodver (410899) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311253)

Next I edit /etc/make.conf, here I can choose compiler settings. I optimize everything for i686.

It is being optimized if you wish it to be.

Re:re-compiling everthing (1)

werd life (94886) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311335)

that's why they have packagename-i{386, 596, 686}.{rpm, deb, whatever}.

Re:re-compiling everthing (2, Insightful)

lotaris (34307) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311343)

It's like freebsd in that you set all your config options in central files (for gentoo /etc/make.conf). In gentoo this include things like c and c++ compile options as well as any specific packages you know you are going to use (kde, gdk, qt, gnome, esd, ...).

That way when you build packages you get the compiler options and ./configure options appropriate for the box you want, automagically.

You can also use env variables to override of course.

Definitely dangerous (1, Informative)

kefoo (254567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311209)

This is bare metal Linux, powerful and dangerous. If you do something without thinking you may fall into a bucket of pain.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I installed a new kernel manually, rather than letting Portage handle it. I must have missed something, because now a growing list of stuff won't compile and all my efforts to fix it have only exacerbated the problem, so I guess it's time to reinstall. Other than that little foul up (not the distro's fault), it's been smooth sailing. Just remember to update the config files when Portage tells you to.

First Hug A Root Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311213)

Hug a Root

greetings fellow losers and lowlifes!

Sounds like the Apafche Toolkit (1)

adamy (78406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311215)

THis is a very similar type project/setup as the Apache toolkit, which is what I use to configure nd compile apache sources. (AT is Perl based, and this sounds like it is python based)

AT has the same problems as gentoo, the babysitting. Seems to me that this is a case of needing to figure out up front what questions need to be asked. The scripts for how to a build a particular component should contain that info. If you specify that you want to build under apache the jakarta stuff, you actually need Java, jakarta-ant, and Jakarta-tomcat.

This is probably what makes Red Hat so successful: they have most of the dependencies front loaded so you don't need to baby sit for the long installs.

Re:Sounds like the Apafche Toolkit (1)

AaronMB (136741) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311324)

Gentoo does dependency checking for you. As an example, I don't have guile, guppi or other things that gnucash depends on installed. However, if I do an "emerge -p gnucash", it tells me the packages it would merge:

These are the packages that I would merge, in order.

Calculating dependencies ...done!
[ebuild N ] dev-util/guile-1.4-r3 to /
[ebuild N ] dev-libs/slib-2.4.3 to /
[ebuild N ] dev-libs/g-wrap-1.2.1-r1 to /
[ebuild N ] gnome-extra/guppi-0.40.3-r1 to /
[ebuild N ] dev-lang/swig-1.3.10-r2 to /
[ebuild N ] app-office/gnucash-1.6.6 to /

If you emerge a package, it grabs all the dependencies and installs them for you before installing the desired application.

It's true, you know! (4, Interesting)

MilesBehind (517130) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311216)

Gentoo is a nice distro with tons of potential. The debate whether it is neccessary to compile glibc and everything in the system from scratch aside, the freedom that it allows is incredible. It reminds me a lot of slackware in its openness. There's no shoving stuff down your throat, just one swank port system.

Not to start a distro war, but I always thought linux distros fall into 2 categories; on one side the colorful, happy-newbie distros with many good features and nice interfaces, but ultimately dreadful underbelly that you get exposed to when things go wrong. On the other hand are distros like slack and debian; will install on anything initially, run fine, and if something goes wrong, they're as transparent as can be and tweakable as hell.

Problem with slack is that the community is slowly dwindling. Security updates get less frequent, packages are updated and maintained at a slower pace, ultimately making most of the stuff installed non-distro specific and thereby more complex and harder to update.

Gentoo is as open and simple as slack, just as tweakable and in active development. If the community doesn't get discouraged with some early troubles with the portage system and documentation proliferates, there is a very bright future for the distro.

Re:It's true, you know! (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311402)

Slackware IS in active development, in fact there's rumblings of an 8.1 "soon". But I am curious about Gentoo. It sounds interesting.

FP! (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311224)

This FP is dedicated Cece Peniston and Men without Hats.

Have to agree with the review (1)

1gig (102295) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311225)

I've been using Gentoo for a few weeks now and you just fall in love with it. Now that I have one box done it's time to migrate all of my boxes to it. But seeing that my boxes are pretty much the same I will most likly creat my own binary packages and use those to install the other boxes. No need to compile it on every machine when they all have the same processor type. Which is nice. I can have compile box and the rest can just grab the new compiled package from it.

Sounds like an automated LFS (3, Informative)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311239)

I've been using Linux From Scratch [] for a while now...when I replaced SuSE with LFS on my home server, I noticed a considerable increase in speed. Since Gentoo compiles everything from source (like LFS), it sounds like this'd be an easier way to get the benefits of LFS. Instead of having to babysit the machine while each package is built, you tell it what to build and let it go to town.

I have a R*dh*t box at work (that was set up by a total incompetent, which makes things even worse) that's screaming for an upgrade...while I can get LFS going in not much time now, I think I'll end up giving Gentoo a shot when the time comes.

Re:Sounds like an automated LFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311331)

I went from LFS to Sorcerer to Gentoo back to LFS. Gentoo does somethings that aren't so fun, like ugly boot scripts.... but thats preference.

LFS is for a superfreak tweaker... I'm trying to get there.

Re:Sounds like an automated LFS (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311374)

I'm also thinking about trying Gentoo. A manual LFS took me a week and I still had no X or internet access. From what I've heard, I could probably install Gentoo overnight, or at least over a weekend. And without needing a host distro.

Not Yet!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311251)

I'm in the middle of an installation....the mirrors are gonna get bogged!

Tip for i686 users (4, Informative)

Kaypro (35263) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311268)

If you have an i686 I recommend getting the i686 iso and simply jumping to the stage 3 install. Basically you'll save yourself a bunch o time since the base install is already compiled for your CPU. No sense in doing over again.

You'll still have to install X and apps and the kernel, but at least the base will be taken care of.

Switched to Gentoo 6 months ago from FreeBSD/Linux setup and haven't looked back since.
Even put it on a new production server. Very nice.

Have fun with what IMHO is the BEST distrib around!

Yeah, right. (4, Insightful)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311279)

This distribution SOUNDS nice, but plain sucks in practice. First, to remove the suckage, have a cd full of source tars. No need for the net.

That in itself is the main gripe. Bandwidth is the biggest problem. I can bring my computer to my college to download an image (or few). It's big, but once a few months isn't bad. However, all I've got is a modem connection at home (and I'm sure gentoo's program doesnt support resuming). What?! KDE desnt come with it? Guess I'll have to download it. (a day and a half later)... Still isn't done! DAMN! Heh, and then comes compile-time.

Face it, this distribution is for high bandwidth connections, not for us modem users. And what's really funny is that just yesterday, Slashdot posts article: "Time Warner to Charge Extra for Over-Quota Bandwidth". Yeah, these go together real well.... Reeeeal well.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

shadowplay (25867) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311337)

Its also possible that Gentoo is in its infancy and can be expected at some point to provide all of the niceties and conveniences you expect from other distros.

Gentoo is currently not for the faint of heart or bandwidth.

Re:Yeah, right. (2)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311376)

You're telling me that just putting all the source tars is a niceties? Yeah right. Am I asking for pretty screens and neat icons to display the files? No. I'm just asking what comes with NEARLY every distro. it wouldnt be hard to have a "source cd" and then hack the update program so that it looks at the cd rom directory first. I don't even care if it was just 'tossed' onto the cd root. I DONT CARE. I just want some easy to manage image, not some net download. CD's sure makes installing a lot easier than chewing up that nice 4 KB/S bandwidth.

Re:Yeah, right. (2)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311356)

No kidding. I'm getting a bit sick of the tripe these folks with fat pipes keep spouting. I'd like to see some of these folks drop back down to the three and a half hour download just for the kernel. I promise they wouldn't be so damn smug ;)
Seriously though, it sounds like a great idea, and I am sure it is wonderful if you have the throughput, but let's face it... most folks don't.

Re:Yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311372)

"This distribution SOUNDS nice, but plain sucks in practice. First, to remove the suckage, have a cd full of source tars. No need for the net. "

How ya gonna get that CD? Download it from the 'net? Oh wait, all you've got is a modem connection!

"and I'm sure gentoo's program doesnt support resuming"

Oh, but it does!

"and then comes compile-time"

emerge --go_to_bed kde

Fuck LInux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311292)

I was installing gcc 2.95 and was most of the way through make when I got a parse error and the process exited. I never had to go through this crap with Win2K. Linux sucks. Only geeks with no life have time to put up with this shit.

Building Gentoo with a 56K dialup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311313)

Is it possible? Or is this a broadband-only distro?

Re:Building Gentoo with a 56K dialup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311369)

you worthless pile of doo. why would you even bother us gods with a question like that. come back when you have a real internet connection, till them hide in the corner

Its nothing like BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3311326)

Portage is nothing like ports, nor is it compatible.
The build system doesn't do half what BSD does. Its a step in the right direction, however, it definitely needs to mature.

compiler (5, Interesting)

brer_rabbit (195413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3311394)

it'd be nice if one of these compile-it-yourself distributions worked with Intel's Linux C++ compiler (icc). Though Intel's compiler still doesn't support compiling the kernel and some other stuff, lots of software compiles just fine with icc. You can consistently obtain 10-20% improvements over gcc 2.9x in cpu intensive applications using icc (I haven't compared versus gcc 3.0 yet).

The icc license should be ok for home users to compile programs for their own use with it. I think you only have to buy the license if you plan on distributing binaries.
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