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THinking of installing gentoo

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I am thinking about changint from redhat to Gentoo and want to hear from others that made a similar transition. What kind of hardware detection does gentoo have? Do I have to find all the drivers for all my hardware, and compile them all manually, or will the installer do that for me? Am I going to have to configure the kernel myself or are there some presets I can choose from? How long does it take? How did you go about installing, I ask because after reading their site I had the idea that if you already had a linux system up you didn''t need to download the iso''s.

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I used Gentoo for a while (moved from Slackware). I loved it, but it''s a bit complicated to install (though the installation instructions are wonderful). I''d suggest Debian though. I just officially switched over to it, and it''s great. Make sure if you do, that you use the beta installer, because it makes life a whole lot simpler.

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I actually just did the exact oposite, I switched from Debian to Gentoo and I must say I''m liking it so far. I especially like the way that you can fully customize it the way you want, and I never get the feeling that the emerge function is doing anything without me knowing it (something I never had with Debians apt-get). It''s a bit more difficult to set up though, and depending on the install method you use it can certainly take a lot of time to get up and running.

As far as the transition itself I had absolutely no problems. In fact I had a lot more problems getting Debian to run with my hardware. Biggest problem was the time it took me... About 3 days on a slow to medium internet connection using a 500 Mhz machine (And that includes overnight downloading and compiling!) using the stage 2 install method. I must add though that this also included all the software like Apache, MYSQL, PHP, Samba, etc. And that the biggest bottleneck was probably the internet connection.

So in the end the choise will mostely depend on your personal preferences:
If you want full control and customization, fully optimized software for your processor, have plenty of time and you want to learn something in the process, go with Gentoo.

If you want a quick(er) and easier initial setup go with something like Debian.

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Gentoo has a very nice installation system. It''s not as braindead-simple as Red Hat or Windows, but just follow the instructions. Gentoo has some of the best documentation of any peice of software.

Be prepared to wait. It takes a long time to set up a usable system. emerge gnome takes an ungodly amount of time, even on a fast system.

The hardware support is pretty good. The LiveCD can boot on pretty much anything, but it helps to have a pretty good knowledge of your hardware when it comes time to compile the kernel (which isn''t as scary as it sounds). I still haven''t gotten my printer working, though. It helps if you happen to have common hardware; ATI''s drivers are still not up to nvidia''s (but getting very close). ALSA supports pretty much everything, however.

It can be a pain to set things up. You have to be willing to work with configuration files, RTFM, and read the gentoo forums.

Gentoo''s blessing is that you can control everything; the curse is that it doesn''t always Just Work. Take your pick.

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If you want to install Gentoo quickly, then you can get install CDs with prebuilt packages for things like X, Gnome, KDE and OpenOffice. If you start from a stage3 tarball and use the binaries, it takes about half an hour to install a decent system with Gnome. Of course, you lose any benefits you might gain from compiling them yourself, but those aren''t too drastic, as you can probably find binaries built for your processor anyway.

If you don''t use the binaries and build everything, it will take a long time. You''ll be building XFree, Gnome or KDE and OpenOffice, most likely, and none of those are particularly small. Of course, the faster your system, the quicker the install will be, and to a much greater extent than other distros which don''t compile everything.

If you don''t know what hardware you have, or don''t want to configure your own kernel, then they provide a genkernel script that will configure and build a kernel that autodetects hardware on bootup. However, that actually takes longer than configuring and building it manually, as it has to build modules for every single device it supports.

I also switched from Debian to Gentoo; I''m liking it as well. I actually installed mostly from binaries, as my machine (a PII) would take about a week to build everything. The install CDs include links, so you can have the Gentoo website install guide open as you go. Also, the stable tree has much more up-to-date packages than Debian stable, which was one of the reasons I switched over. There''s something about ''stable'' packages that''s nicer than ''unstable'' packages.

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Yeah, honestly the main thing about Gentoo that kinda sucks is the compile time for everything. It''s not bad if you have time so you can just type ''emerge kde'' (for example) and go do something else for a while, but it really gets old after a while.

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You should try having to sort out library dependencies as well! (ala linux from scratch).

All in all, I prefer linux from scratch to gentoo, and debian to either. Gentoo has funny ideas about some dependencies... for instance when i typed "emerge links" it compiled xwindows..


Scout



All polynomials are funny - some to a higher degree.
Furthermore, polynomials of degree zero are constantly funny.

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I switched from windows to gentoo and that was the best choice i ever made. Anyone literate and with common hardware can do the installation.

quote:
Yeah, honestly the main thing about Gentoo that kinda sucks is the compile time for everything.

Well as with every other possible distro out there. If your going to be downloading the source coded and compiling it it will take that long. Infact gentoo would be the fatest for doing it because its all automated. You Don''t have to do you this, if you would much rather prefer a binary install as fast as red hat and debian then your still able to. You can even mix installs as well, its all about choice.

quote:
I am thinking about changint from redhat to Gentoo and want to hear from others that made a similar transition. What kind of hardware detection does gentoo have?


It depends what you choose. Hot-plug is good for that. Gentoo was the only distro who autodetected my network settings for me with the livecd. Then i just copied over the automaticly generated configs to my system.

quote:
Do I have to find all the drivers for all my hardware, and compile them all manually, or will the installer do that for me?


All the drivers are in the kernel... there''s no *finding* if you use genkernel then it will compile ALL the drivers for every hardware. Then you can use Hot-Plug to automaticly load the kernel module drivers relevant to your hardware.

quote:
Am I going to have to configure the kernel myself or are there some presets I can choose from?

You can choose

quote:
How long does it take?

You can choose. 30 minutes to 30 days

quote:
How did you go about installing, I ask because after reading their site I had the idea that if you already had a linux system up you didn''t need to download the iso''s.


I suppose you could but that would completly destroy gentoo''s packaging system. So... Don''t. Well you put in the CD and read the Installation Doc.

quote:
All in all, I prefer linux from scratch to gentoo, and debian to either. Gentoo has funny ideas about some dependencies... for instance when i typed "emerge links" it compiled xwindows..


then you need to read up more on gentoo and USE Flags. that isn''t a bug. Links has many interfaces: terminal, X interface, FB Interface. If you didn''t want the X interface all you had to do was: USE="-X" emerge links

To list USE flags use emerge -pv links.

Thanks,
Jason

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Gentoo rox. That's pretty much all I have to say on the matter. All you have to do to make the most out of it is read the documentation.

Anyone who is getting wierd dependencies - just take a look at your USE flags... You'll prolly find that's half you problem.

I've been through quite a few linux distributions in my time, from Debian, through Redhat and Mandrake to Gentoo and I have to say that Gentoo is the only one that i've felt at home with. You really get to know exactly what is going on with your system.

Anyways - at work, shouldn't be here

Oh, one more thing - using genkernel DOES NOT include all kernel options by default, but does include quite a few common modules and you can also configure your kernel exactly the way you want it using genkernel or just use the plain old fashioned way.

[edited by - Jx on December 17, 2003 12:10:57 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
MrScout,

That''s because by default, you have X in your USE flags. So when you emerge links, it notices you have X in your use flags, and proceeds to emerge links, and the X support for it. (Graphical links. I know, I know)

Try either emerge -X (-meaning off)

Although, I don''t see why you wouldn''t want X.

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I didn''t want X because I wanted a browser while I emerged xwindows.

... what the crap is so hard to think about that? Isn''t that one of the purposes of vc''s?

Scout



All polynomials are funny - some to a higher degree.
Furthermore, polynomials of degree zero are constantly funny.

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quote:
Original post by MrScout
I didn''t want X because I wanted a browser while I emerged xwindows.

... what the crap is so hard to think about that? Isn''t that one of the purposes of vc''s?


Then install links without the X interface.

export USE="-X"; emerge links

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I switched to Gentoo lastweekend and it''s great. Aside from the long install process and the fact that I am still getting software compiled it''s been super. Very fast and much easier to instal than I thought it would be.

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