The Gentoo Debate Continues

_Wow! I guess I created this post quite a while ago, but I never did publish it. It’s old, but still pretty relevant. Here ya go … _

Gentoo seems to be one of the most controversial Linux distributions out there. It seems, people either completely hate it or love it. Not much middle of the road in Gentoo land. This was brought to my attention again after reading a couple articles that I ended up coming across on Digg. If you would like to see the original articles, you can find them here and here.

The main problem with Gentoo (if you want to call it a problem), is that it is VERY customizable. Unfortunately this makes it very difficult to install and maintain for a Linux newbie and even Linux administrators that are used to the GUI administration utilities provided by Redhat and most others. Well then, if I admit that Gentoo can be difficult even for some Redhat admins to use, why in the world would I defend and use such a distribution? Because Gentoo works and it works how I want it to.

Josh already did an excellent job of countering many of the complaints that Alex had. Let me just say, that I completely agree with Josh’s rebuttal. Even Alex admitted that Gentoo was a darn good distribution. So… let me list each complaint with solutions for each (along with some web linkage ;) ).

  1. Gentoo is hard and time consuming to install.
* Oh c'mon.  The official [Gentoo 2006.1 x86 install guide]( is only 66 pages long!  Of course, they've really cut out a few things out of that one, so I much prefer the good ol [Gentoo Linux x86 Handbook]( which is a mere 99 pages.  I guess you could go with the tiny 11 page [Gentoo x86 Quick Install Guide](, but that's just way too tiny. ;)

In all seriousness, with the exception of the quick install guide, these books are this long only because it thoroughly explains each step. It’s a wonderful way to learn how Linux works. If you don’t want to a command line install, you can always use Gentoo’s shiny new graphical installer. While the graphical installer isn’t perfect, it does a pretty good job of getting you up and running pretty quickly.

  1. Gentoo takes forever to build packages.

  1. [GLCU]( - This is a wonderful little program that automates updating your system.  It runs as a cron job and automatically prebuilds packages for you and sends you an email when it's ready for you to install them.


* Josh already did a great job of explaining how to solve this problem when you have multiple machines.

But… what do you do when you only have Gentoo on your 1 machine? You actually have quite a few options.

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