I’ve ascended into a Gentoo user, the highest ranking nerd species found in GNU/Linux Land. As of now, I’ve switched all of my devices to Gentoo, needless to say, I’m really enjoying it so far.
I’ve been an Arch Linux user for a while now,
Arch Linux was the first distro I’ve ever installed on hardware. It
treated me well over the past year, but after trying out gentoo on a virtual
machine I think I’ve found my
$HOME. Now I’m running
Gentoo on all of my devices for the past 2+ weeks.
What did you enjoy so much about Gentoo?
The Gentoo Handbook, I can’t really stress this enough, the Gentoo Handbook, is extensively documented with every detail you might need, specifically for using Gentoo. The Arch Wiki is awesome, it includes documentation for a wide range of programs, but it’s a generic documentation that feels more like a general “Linux wiki” rather than specific for Arch Linux. Even the parts that are specific to Arch Linux, such as the installation instructions, are severely lacking, which leads to most of the Arch Linux users to rely on third party guides even on how to install their OS.
No other Linux Distribution has a centralized “book” that takes you “by the hand” from the installation process all the way to working with native software tools that you’ll interact with on a daily basis, that can compare to the Gentoo Handbook.
One thing that I advocate about choosing which software to use is:
Use software projects that you wouldn’t mind / would like contributing to
Gentoo community is the most helpful one that I’ve found so far, specifically I’ve had people on the GURU Project, analogous to the AUR package software that I needed as well as help me on contributing, which has been a rather pleasant & chill experience.
If a project has a “toxic” community that you don’t want to interact with, its a huge red-flag for me.
But… Why would you compile everything from source?
Because someone has too…
Jokes aside, there are many advantages to compiling your system from source rather than installing an already made binary that someone else compiled, hoping that it is compiled the way you want.
It takes way too much time install, nobody has time for that!
It doesn’t really take that much more time from installing Arch Linux, I’ve installed Gentoo on my desktop (Ryzen 7 5800X) the first time, in ~2 hours, I’d argue that because you will be installing less dependencies, if you trim down the software you want with USE flags that don’t take much time to compile either way, you might not notice the difference.
I’ve first considered setting up distcc for my ThinkPad x220, but the only piece of software that takes a lot of time to compile is Firefox, which I just let it compile while I’m working on my desktop/hit the gym.
Note: I’ve only installed ~700 packages on ThinkPad, and ~900 on my desktop, most of that difference is due to installing qemu/virt-manager on my desktop & random fonts. I’m not using a DE, if you are planning to use GNOME or KDE etc. you might have a different experience than me in that regard, since many DE’s are quite large and take a lot of time to compile.
I’ve been enjoying running Gentoo on all my devices for the past weeks. One of the main advantages of Gentoo is the control it provides for tailoring your system to your liking. This is bundled with one of the best documentation, if not the best, available to learn everything you need to know about using your Linux system.
The community is rather chill & friendly that welcomes new contributions and will help you with any issue you might have.
If you are able to read and follow instructions on how to install & use your system, you will find Gentoo to be a simple, reliable Linux Distribution, with a helpful community. If you want a “just works” experience, stay away from Gentoo, it’s a “Nerd’s Only Allowed” place.