Gentoo Forums
Gentoo Forums
Gentoo Forums
Quick Search: in
some reservations with Gentoo (my first post)
View unanswered posts
View posts from last 24 hours

 
Reply to topic    Gentoo Forums Forum Index Gentoo Chat
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
iplaysax
n00b
n00b


Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:56 am    Post subject: some reservations with Gentoo (my first post) Reply with quote

Hello, Gentoo forums! Let me introduce myself briefly: I'm a Linux user of 3 years, and I've installed and used Redhat, Slackware, and Debian Linux distributions, along with FreeBSD. I'm currently running only Debian.

I love Debian's package management system, but the stable packages are extremely out of date. I would love to try Gentoo. However, I have two large reservations, and I was wondering if anyone would respond to these.

1. stability -- I am considering simply doing a Debian "unstable" install on my other disk, rather than use Gentoo. Can anyone offer me any insight as to which one would be easier to manage? I have plenty of time to install Gentoo, but if I'm going to do serious work in it, eventually I want it to just work. That's why I like Debian... if I want software, I type "apt-get install whatever" and I get it. I don't have to fuss with tons of scripts or debug it very often; it just works 99% of the time. What are people's overall (honest) opinions about the stability of Gentoo, especially vs. Debian stable/unstable?

Also, given a choice between an up-to-date binary-based distro vs a source-based distro, I would probably take the binary one. Again, my main concern is stability and reliability. I found that a lot of times, FreeBSD ports didn't install. I had to putz around because a slight change in one port would affect another without the ports being updated accordingly. This required my direct and time-consuming intervention. A FreeBSD sysadmin even wrote an article about this for O'Reilly's website (with the moral that everyone needs to be motivated enough to read the compiler errors/source code and fix these simple problems themselves), so I know that I'm not alone here. Have people had similar experiences with Gentoo?

2. the maturity of the package management system -- First and foremost, I was shocked when I read the following in the portage manual:

"Warning: Unmerging packages can be dangerous. If you remove any core packages your system may cease to function and the removal of various libraries may cause software to fail. Portage does not warn you if you are removing core packages or dependencies for other packages."

Why doesn't Gentoo warn you if you're about to delete package dependencies?! Oftentimes I can't remember myself whether or not something is a dependency. The issue is, I like to keep distributions around for a year or more without installing a new OS. I want something that doesn't take all my time and energy to manage; that's why I like packaging systems. It means I don't have to keep a notebook of everything I installed, along with all its dependencies. The fact that unmerging packages does not check to see if that package is required by another seems like a severe limitation in Gentoo.

Also, even with Debian's ultra-mature apt packaging system, I haven't been satisfied with the tools available by default. There are a lot of features that either do not exist or aren't very prominent in howtos and manual pages.

1. I'd like to be able to make a list of packages that are at the "top level," i.e. no other package requires them. I would consider this package a safe one to delete to free up disk space.

2. A graphical or simple ncurses program to manage packages would be great. Dselect is somewhat complicated, and I've never had the patience to really learn it. Does Gentoo have this sort of a management program?

Thanks for anyone who has the patience to answer these questions! Gentoo looks like a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to playing with it!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
deepthought
Guru
Guru


Joined: 04 Apr 2003
Posts: 321
Location: icbm://5131''N:0710''E

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: some reservations with Gentoo (my first post) Reply with quote

iplaysax wrote:
Hello, Gentoo forums! Let me introduce myself briefly: I'm a Linux user of 3 years, and I've installed and used Redhat, Slackware, and Debian Linux distributions, along with FreeBSD. I'm currently running only Debian.

Welcome to Gentoo, iplaysax.

iplaysax wrote:

I love Debian's package management system, but the stable packages are extremely out of date. I would love to try Gentoo. However, I have two large reservations, and I was wondering if anyone would respond to these.

I will try to. However, I think you won't be very happy with the answers...

iplaysax wrote:

1. stability -- I am considering simply doing a Debian "unstable" install on my other disk, rather than use Gentoo. Can anyone offer me any insight as to which one would be easier to manage? I have plenty of time to install Gentoo, but if I'm going to do serious work in it, eventually I want it to just work. That's why I like Debian... if I want software, I type "apt-get install whatever" and I get it. I don't have to fuss with tons of scripts or debug it very often; it just works 99% of the time. What are people's overall (honest) opinions about the stability of Gentoo, especially vs. Debian stable/unstable?

As with most things in life, it depends. If you stick to the Gentoo packages being marked "stable" and use conservative compiler optimizations at build time, you will be rewarded with a perfectly stable system.

If you like "living on the edge", use aggressive optimizations and the "unstable" packages of Gentoo -- but don't complain.

However, Gentoo "stable" packages mostly are very up-to-date. Compared with Debian, you'll be living on the edge, even when using the "stable" tree of Gentoo... ;)

iplaysax wrote:

Also, given a choice between an up-to-date binary-based distro vs a source-based distro, I would probably take the binary one. Again, my main concern is stability and reliability. I found that a lot of times, FreeBSD ports didn't install. I had to putz around because a slight change in one port would affect another without the ports being updated accordingly. This required my direct and time-consuming intervention. A FreeBSD sysadmin even wrote an article about this for O'Reilly's website (with the moral that everyone needs to be motivated enough to read the compiler errors/source code and fix these simple problems themselves), so I know that I'm not alone here. Have people had similar experiences with Gentoo?

I haven't. Gentoo packages being in the official portage tree compile in 99,9% of time. It is very rare that a package build file (ebuild) is totally broken. Even then, the Gentoo community is not so small, so it is likely that within a few hours a fix is provided.

iplaysax wrote:

2. the maturity of the package management system -- First and foremost, I was shocked when I read the following in the portage manual:

"Warning: Unmerging packages can be dangerous. If you remove any core packages your system may cease to function and the removal of various libraries may cause software to fail. Portage does not warn you if you are removing core packages or dependencies for other packages."

Why doesn't Gentoo warn you if you're about to delete package dependencies?! Oftentimes I can't remember myself whether or not something is a dependency. The issue is, I like to keep distributions around for a year or more without installing a new OS. I want something that doesn't take all my time and energy to manage; that's why I like packaging systems. It means I don't have to keep a notebook of everything I installed, along with all its dependencies. The fact that unmerging packages does not check to see if that package is required by another seems like a severe limitation in Gentoo.

Well, this is a real deficiency of portage. Actually it can't handle package dependencies correctly. However, this feature is subject to development (if you are interested, search Bugzilla for several discussions about it.
To say something in favour to Gentoo, this is not such a problem as it would be for binary based distros. By specifying the features you want packages to use (the ominous "USE" flag, see the docs). It is unlikely that portage will install packages you don't need. Besides that, you start with a really basic system. So it's up to you to install whatever you want. Anyway, you can always write down the packages being installed (there is a "pretend" feature in portage) and uninstall them by hand.
Hopefully, this limitation will be fixed soon...

iplaysax wrote:

Also, even with Debian's ultra-mature apt packaging system, I haven't been satisfied with the tools available by default. There are a lot of features that either do not exist or aren't very prominent in howtos and manual pages.

Portage is documented very well - just have a look at the Gentoo Documentation Pages.


iplaysax wrote:
1. I'd like to be able to make a list of packages that are at the "top level," i.e. no other package requires them. I would consider this package a safe one to delete to free up disk space.

I think you can do this with "qpkg", the Gentoo "dpkg". However, it is not trivial and somehow cryptic.

iplaysax wrote:

2. A graphical or simple ncurses program to manage packages would be great. Dselect is somewhat complicated, and I've never had the patience to really learn it. Does Gentoo have this sort of a management program?

There are several graphical frontends to portage, and IMHO the most mature one is KPortage (requiring KDE3). Unfortunately it's far from being perfect. You'll eventually fall back to the command line tool "emerge" (Debian "apt-get"), which is very intuitive and combines the power of the commandline with the easeness of use.

Personally, I use KPortage for browsing and updating the package tree and emerge for everything else.

iplaysax wrote:

Thanks for anyone who has the patience to answer these questions! Gentoo looks like a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to playing with it!

Nothing. Feel free to ask whatever you want to know.

Regards,
Alexander
_________________
Out of loyalty to its disregarded comrades, this message feels free to ignore the reader.
Registered Linux User #317705
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
idl
Retired Dev
Retired Dev


Joined: 24 Dec 2002
Posts: 1728
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 11:33 am    Post subject: Re: some reservations with Gentoo (my first post) Reply with quote

iplaysax wrote:
Hello, Gentoo forums! Let me introduce myself briefly: I'm a Linux user of 3 years, and I've installed and used Redhat, Slackware, and Debian Linux distributions, along with FreeBSD. I'm currently running only Debian.


Hi :)

iplaysax wrote:
1. stability -- I am considering simply doing a Debian "unstable" install on my other disk, rather than use Gentoo. Can anyone offer me any insight as to which one would be easier to manage? I have plenty of time to install Gentoo, but if I'm going to do serious work in it, eventually I want it to just work. That's why I like Debian... if I want software, I type "apt-get install whatever" and I get it. I don't have to fuss with tons of scripts or debug it very often; it just works 99% of the time. What are people's overall (honest) opinions about the stability of Gentoo, especially vs. Debian stable/unstable?


The thing that makes Debian's stable so stable is the amount of testing each package gets. Gentoo packages do not undergo such vigerous testing, as Gentoo is for power users and i'm sure a lot of people who use Gentoo would prefer the newest release, over a 2 month stabalizing period (or however long the delay is with Debian)

You may be interested in http://stable.gentoo.org/

I myself can't comment on Gentoo stability has I have never run the stable branch.

iplaysax wrote:
Also, given a choice between an up-to-date binary-based distro vs a source-based distro, I would probably take the binary one. Again, my main concern is stability and reliability. I found that a lot of times, FreeBSD ports didn't install. I had to putz around because a slight change in one port would affect another without the ports being updated accordingly. This required my direct and time-consuming intervention. A FreeBSD sysadmin even wrote an article about this for O'Reilly's website (with the moral that everyone needs to be motivated enough to read the compiler errors/source code and fix these simple problems themselves), so I know that I'm not alone here. Have people had similar experiences with Gentoo?


I was actualy thinking about this the other day... Packages that wouldn't compile were quite common on FreeBSD for me. With Gentoo I realised the only package I could remember having errors with installing, was abiword development version.

iplaysax wrote:
2. the maturity of the package management system -- First and foremost, I was shocked when I read the following in the portage manual:

"Warning: Unmerging packages can be dangerous. If you remove any core packages your system may cease to function and the removal of various libraries may cause software to fail. Portage does not warn you if you are removing core packages or dependencies for other packages."

Why doesn't Gentoo warn you if you're about to delete package dependencies?! Oftentimes I can't remember myself whether or not something is a dependency. The issue is, I like to keep distributions around for a year or more without installing a new OS. I want something that doesn't take all my time and energy to manage; that's why I like packaging systems. It means I don't have to keep a notebook of everything I installed, along with all its dependencies. The fact that unmerging packages does not check to see if that package is required by another seems like a severe limitation in Gentoo.


Portage is obviously not as old as apt-get, but it is developing rapidly. I agree that what you mentioned is a downisde to Portage, but you are not totaly lost with the problem. the tool qpkg can tell you what packages depend on it. Heres an example:
Code:
root > qpkg -I -q gnome-panel
gnome-base/gnome-panel-2.3.3.1 *
DEPENDED ON BY:
        gnome-base/gnome-2.3.3-r3
        gnome-base/gnome-applets-2.3.4
        gnome-extra/gnome-utils-2.3.3
        media-sound/xmms-1.2.7-r15
root >


iplaysax wrote:
1. I'd like to be able to make a list of packages that are at the "top level," i.e. no other package requires them. I would consider this package a safe one to delete to free up disk space.


Code:
emerge -p --depclean

This displays all packages that are not depended upon by other packages. Its up to you which you think are safe to remove

iplaysax wrote:
2. A graphical or simple ncurses program to manage packages would be great. Dselect is somewhat complicated, and I've never had the patience to really learn it. Does Gentoo have this sort of a management program?


Not that I know of, but to be honest, I've have had the need for a program. Portage is very easy to use from a CLI.

EDIT: Thats a "Not that I know of" to the ncurses based tools. I am ware of kportage, gnoportage etc..

iplaysax wrote:
Thanks for anyone who has the patience to answer these questions! Gentoo looks like a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to playing with it!


No problem, I hope you decide to give it a try. Gentoo is far superior to the Borg ;)
_________________
a.k.a port001
Found a bug? Please report it: Gentoo Bugzilla


Last edited by idl on Fri Jun 20, 2003 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
PowerFactor
Veteran
Veteran


Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1692
Location: out of it

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there iplaysax.
Well, I think deepthought and port001 have answered your questions pretty well, just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents on a couple items. I've never actually used debian, so I cant really compare gentoo to that one. But I have used a few rpm based distros and briefly tried slackware and I think gentoo comares very favorably with those.

iplaysax wrote:
I have plenty of time to install Gentoo, but if I'm going to do serious work in it, eventually I want it to just work. That's why I like Debian... if I want software, I type "apt-get install whatever" and I get it. I don't have to fuss with tons of scripts or debug it very often; it just works 99% of the time.
Sounds almost like my history with gentoo. I was playing with it a lot the first couple months, I was still using windows mostly at that time anyway. Reinstalled it a couple times it the process. But as I started actually using it more I settled down and now I just use it and it just works 99% of the time. I reinstalled for the switch to gcc3 rather than trying the upgrade (actually installed alongside my old system) Then ended up reinstalling again (probably didn't need to but I wasn't sure what was going on at the time) after a buggy new ext3 feature bit me. But since then my system has been stable. I just do security updates and upgrade and/or install whatever packages I want. Occasionally I do a little tweaking. But 99% of the time I just use it.

iplaysax wrote:
I found that a lot of times, FreeBSD ports didn't install. I had to putz around because a slight change in one port would affect another without the ports being updated accordingly. This required my direct and time-consuming intervention. ... Have people had similar experiences with Gentoo?

Well, deepthought and port001 said it but I'll go ahead and say it too. That has been very rare in my experience with gentoo. I think in over a year of use I have run across four packages that wouldn't install, and all but one were fixed within a day or two.

iplaysax wrote:
The fact that unmerging packages does not check to see if that package is required by another seems like a severe limitation in Gentoo.

It would be nice to have true reverse dependency checking, and I think it is in the works. It theory it does seem like a severe limitation. But in practice it hasn't been a problem for me. YMMV of course.

iplaysax wrote:
2. A graphical or simple ncurses program to manage packages would be great. Dselect is somewhat complicated, and I've never had the patience to really learn it. Does Gentoo have this sort of a management program?

There are a few as port001 mentioned. I tried kportage a while back and didn't see any advantage to it for me. You can browse the portage tree in any file manager and the cli portage tools are so straightforward to use that I have no real need for anything else. And I typically prefer a gui for most things, at least I used to. Seems like gentoo is slowly turning me into a cli junkie.

Anyway, enough of my rambling for now. :roll:
Welcome to the forums. Best of luck as you embark on the gentoo adventure and I hope you enjoy it.:D
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
ebrostig
Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva


Joined: 20 Jul 2002
Posts: 3152
Location: Orlando, Fl

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome iplaysax! :) Enjoy the Forums.

I run almost everything unstable, and quite frankly, unless you have some very esoteric hardware, the unstable seems to be stable enough. I run all these unstable packages on my main production PC here at work and have close to zero problems. Ther will always be some minor snags, but overall, I'm extremly happy with stability and speed and the ease of building new applications and keeping my system up to date.

Luckily the Portage system is designed so that you can keep several versions of the same program installed parallell.

Try it and see if you like it. Start with the stable ones first and then move on to the unstable if you feel the need :)

Use the forums if you have any problems, we normally perform miracles within a few hours :)

Erik
_________________
'Yes, Firefox is indeed greater than women. Can women block pops up for you? No. Can Firefox show you naked women? Yes.'
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
iplaysax
n00b
n00b


Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses; they definitely helped. I'm glad gentoo ports tend to compile most of the time, as that was one of my largest concerns. I wasn't expecting a system as stable as Debian; I just don't have time to sit and fuss with it every time I want to try a new newsreader or something. I've actually been eyeing Gentoo for a while now. As soon as my classes die down in a couple of weeks, I'll be giving it a shot. I may even have the added time on my hands to play some of Gentoo's ported video games! Going to Quake III/UT from xpilot will be quite fun. Take care.

Josh
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Gentoo Forums Forum Index Gentoo Chat All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum