Any experiences with Gentoo?

I have been reading a bit from the Gentoo forum and handbook this morning to start getting a feel for the community and documentation. I’ll probably keep reading when I can over some days or weeks before deciding on an install. Installing and maintaining it seems pretty involved on the surface, but maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems. It does seem like I would like it more than my past experience with Arch, if not for the community alone. Reasons why I’m looking at it are to have a slimmer and better performing rolling release system, learn more about linux in general, get further away from tech that aims to control users.

What I gather so far, on the software end of things, Gentoo is essentially the Portage pack manager and package distribution system and repositories. What you install for your base system and further is completely up to you, where by contrast Arch in practice requires systemd, for example. And then there is the Gentoo documentation and community. What I see so far, it looks that Gentoo documentation aims to better inform on linux fundamentals (how things work together) than by contrast, Arch documentation aiming more to just configure things to get a Arch slanted system working. And the Gentoo community looks to be more of a community than by constrast, a tech hierarchy.

It might turn out that Gentoo is more involved than I want to get into, but it looks pretty promising in the ways mentioned above. On the other end, there is lots of compiling, manual configuration, and likely more initial troubleshooting than an Arch install.

Edit: Sorry for all the edits.

I’ve heard about the install pain but other than that am clueless about it.

I think the curated rolling release like Manjaro or similar is the workaround Linux needs. I’ve mentioned it before, but having this system library dependency chain nightmare made sense when we had 16MB of memory and small HDDs but look at how much memory (and disk space) Electron apps use these days! Suddenly saving a few MBs here and there isn’t important.

I’d like to see more devs just installing everything to /opt, linking everything statically or with -fPIC and forgetting about The Linux Way. Any desktop system ends up with multiple versions of system libraries and none of that prevents spinning up minimal Alpine instances for the kind of shizzle that needs low everything.

I agree. Even on a distro like Manjaro where lots of very smart people from Arch and Manjaro put in the effort to prevent dependency breaking, things still break because of dependencies. It seems like insanity hoping to make that work, not to mention the time that goes into it all from devs and maintainers and users when the things break.

I’ve always been a big Linux fan, but haven’t kept up with things since retiring.

Maybe install it on a second computer to test drive it without impacting your current production system.

That is a given. It’s really a matter of getting enough of an impression of Gentoo before jumping in and putting in the time. I have done my share of distro hopping in the past, and my enthusiasm for it isn’t what it used to be. And Gentoo seems a bit like it could be the end of the line of all that, albeit more involved initially. What I have noticed over the years with ‘easy’ distros is that when things break, I still have to put in the time to figure out why and get it corrected or find a workaround. And since I didn’t configure things from the getgo, I’m less informed in general in finding what might have broke. And the ‘easy’ systems tend to come with more unwanted appendages and general bloat. And no matter how ‘easy’ a distro, I’m always going to end up on a terminal dealing with utilities and files to get something unbroken.

Yeah, software has always been a bitch.

I got my first computer job in the late 70’s with Digital Equipment Corp. Back then, DEC had multiple operating systems available depending on what the customer needs were. There were operating systems designed for use as business accounting systems, engineering systems, and time sharing. I think the main point was the compilers the OS supported, given back then, there wasn’t a lot of off the shelf software available.

Even in the early days of PC’s, users had a choice of operating systems. You bought the PC, then bought either CP/M, QDos, MS-DOS, to name a few.

But then things started getting “standardized” and software companies started putting all kinds of stuff in their software trying to be all things to all people. Had to do it that way, I get that, but still it added a lot of bloat and other issues.

I still think that one of the things from the past that still applies today is sitting down and figuring out exactly what it is you’re trying to do and find the software that best meets those needs. Not so much of an issue these days with the “all things to all people” software out there today, but still not a bad idea to keep in mind.

I read that Bill Gates approached Gary Kildall to license/buy CP/M after Bill’s mum persuaded IBM into giving her ickle darling a wee bash at supplying an OS for the biggest computer company in the world. A history where Kildall was a slightly less nice person with more of a business brain could have seen him as the richest man in the world and Gates writing pieces of software for some of his mum’s other friends.

Ballmer could have been top sales guy for some double glazing companies and the world would have been a better place.