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MutantJohn
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:09 pm    Post subject: Should I use Gentoo Linux? Reply with quote

Hello Gentoo Forums,

I'm currently a 22 year old Arch Linux user and I've been using it for like a month or two now. I really, really like it. I loved installing Arch even though I did it following some guide line-by-line, which is fine. I did learn how to use the command line partitioner on my own though. But yes, I'm super into Linux.

I posted on the GameFAQs Linux forum about how much I love Arch and how all the different varieties of Linux are just amazing. The response from one user was that I should install Gentoo and get my certification. I've thought about becoming certified before and I think I'd like to.

I'm a physics major as of now (will graduate very soon) so for me and my career, a certification in Linux does nothing but look good. I'm also just very interested in using what I've seen called an "advanced" version of Linux. I hear Arch is just intermediate.

But there's a couple of conditions here. First and foremost, I need to be able to use the Gnome 3 shell. Anything else is sacrilege and my GPU will refuse to display anything else (I'm being facetious here, of course). And I think that's about it, actually.

I really just need the Gnome 3 shell, the ability to play music, Wine, Steam, basically everything I can do on Arch but on Gentoo. I only ask about the Gnome 3 shell because I've googled it and it seems like Gentoo is lagging in implementing the shell.

There isn't an overwhelming need for me to switch distros so I'm wondering if I should even bother. I can see myself being content entirely with Arch but I'm on the fence. What should I be expecting with Gentoo that makes it so much more advanced than Arch?
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MutantJohn,

If your motive is to learn, by all means try Gentoo. Gnome3 hase been working for me for some time now - well before Christmas anyway but I don't think its reached stable Gentoo yet.
If you want to test dive Gentoo, there is the liveDVD. Its slower than your own install due to the compression on the DVD and the speed of the DVD.

You can also install Gentoo beside Arch. It will want its own root partition but swap boot and tmp can be shared.

If you don't want to donate a partition to Gentoo, it will install in VirtualBox too. Install VirtualBox on Arch and install Gentoo as a guest.
You don't quite get native speed this way but its fairly good. The guest filesystem ends up being in a file on Arch.

If your operating system is a tool to do a job, Gentoo may not be for you.

You will not get formal certification from using Gentoo but it will provide a good grounding.
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sitquietly
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Should I use Gentoo Linux? Reply with quote

MutantJohn wrote:
Hello Gentoo Forums,

I'm currently a 22 year old Arch Linux user and I've been using it for like a month or two now. I really, really like it....I'm a physics major as of now (will graduate very soon).....I really just need the Gnome 3 shell, the ability to play music, Wine, Steam, basically everything I can do on Arch but on Gentoo. I only ask about the Gnome 3 shell because I've googled it and it seems like Gentoo is lagging in implementing the shell.

There isn't an overwhelming need for me to switch distros so I'm wondering if I should even bother. I can see myself being content entirely with Arch but I'm on the fence. What should I be expecting with Gentoo that makes it so much more advanced than Arch?


Wow, those are BIG questions, but you've already answered them for the most part. I'll try to share a couple of bits of my experience that may help to broaden your perspective:

I switched from Arch to Gentoo last year, and probably had the same appreciation for Arch that you have. I switched because I found that Arch was, in my experience, less well engineered and offered fewer packages than Gentoo. I was building my Arch system entirely from sources. Arch binary packages are built by the various developers and are not compiled as a set -- there is no build server and no check that pkgbuilds actually build on an up-to-date installation. At one point I found that I had to modify 350 out of 1400 pkgbuilds to build my Arch system from source.

Some flaws in pkgbuilds were typos, most were incompatibilities with current libraries. Most of the compile-time failures I fixed by borrowing patches from Gentoo ebuilds or from Debian Sid sources. Gentoo current and Debian sid are generally on the same package versions as Archlinux. I found that Gentoo and Debian packages could always be built (Gentoo because the distro is source-based and Debian because they use a build farm to check for compile failures and flag them to be fixed). I also found too many of the Arch pkgbuilds to be "messy". Their switch to python3 as the standard python was not engineered in a functional way like is done in Gentoo. They just changed the symlink of python to /usr/bin/python3 and did nothing to make this system actually work with existing software. I found that even many Arch pkgbuilds could only be compiled in an environment in which python -> python2. Their own packages could not build in their installed environment. :(

So I checked on package availability in Arch and in Gentoo. I counted approx 4,500 different packages available in Arch linux (not counting AUR) and 18,000 packages in Gentoo (not counting overlays). There are some excellent Gentoo overlays for science, math, and programming languages with thousands more of well-supported packages. I didn't find any university math or physics departments using Arch linux but I did find universities using Gentoo and Debian. Gentoo, Debian, and Centos/Scientific Linux seem to be most used by researchers.

I did NOT find it easy to master :D package management in Gentoo. In Arch a single command with very few options will serve almost all of your needs, and you need to understand a single configuration file. On the downside pacman can not downgrade packages for you when you encounter regressions, does not allow you to choose between stable and current versions of software, and does not allow you to run a less-bloated system by choosing to avoid unnecessary dependencies. In Gentoo I didn't feel comfortable until I understood the commands emerge, eix, eselect, and equery, and the configurations files make.conf, package.use, package.mask, package.unmask, and package.accept_keywords.

If you want to experiment with a Gentoo system that is most like what you would get with Arch linux then of course you have to run Gentoo "unstable" (put ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~amd64" in /etc/portage/make.conf). As of today Arch linux has gnome-shell 3.6.3 and Gentoo current has gnome-shell 3.6.2.

In short, I see no reason for you to switch. You're enjoying Arch and haven't encountered its weaknesses yet. You can't lose whichever way you go. Learning some physics probably has higher priority right now. Hope to see you in the Gentoo forums in the future...
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MutantJohn
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both for your replies. They were exactly what I was looking for.

I'm probably going to slowly strive towards official certification over the course of my career and I will most definitely share my HDD with Gentoo, after I graduate which should be pretty soon. I have a 1 TB drive and Arch is already partitioned for .5 TB so Gentoo gets the rest. Or maybe I'll do .25 Gentoo, .25 Ubuntu, .5 Arch. I think I like that the most.

Ty Gentoo Forum, you're going to be hearing from me probably in like a month :)
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LiamOS
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Should I use Gentoo Linux? Reply with quote

MutantJohn wrote:
Hello Gentoo Forums,

I'm currently a 22 year old Arch Linux user and I've been using it for like a month or two now. I really, really like it. I loved installing Arch even though I did it following some guide line-by-line, which is fine. I did learn how to use the command line partitioner on my own though. But yes, I'm super into Linux.

I posted on the GameFAQs Linux forum about how much I love Arch and how all the different varieties of Linux are just amazing. The response from one user was that I should install Gentoo and get my certification. I've thought about becoming certified before and I think I'd like to.

I'm a physics major as of now (will graduate very soon) so for me and my career, a certification in Linux does nothing but look good. I'm also just very interested in using what I've seen called an "advanced" version of Linux. I hear Arch is just intermediate.

But there's a couple of conditions here. First and foremost, I need to be able to use the Gnome 3 shell. Anything else is sacrilege and my GPU will refuse to display anything else (I'm being facetious here, of course). And I think that's about it, actually.

I really just need the Gnome 3 shell, the ability to play music, Wine, Steam, basically everything I can do on Arch but on Gentoo. I only ask about the Gnome 3 shell because I've googled it and it seems like Gentoo is lagging in implementing the shell.

There isn't an overwhelming need for me to switch distros so I'm wondering if I should even bother. I can see myself being content entirely with Arch but I'm on the fence. What should I be expecting with Gentoo that makes it so much more advanced than Arch?

21 year old physics major here.

I got gnome shell working in January pretty nicely, but I promptly purged it from my system(I hate it).


With Gentoo, you get a lot more involved in the software. You're given a choice of all the optional features of a program, and are usually given some basic, sane default configuration and left to fix things to your liking.
To the newcomer, what makes Gentoo 'advanced' is that you'll probably be configuring and compiling your own kernel, laying out the filesystem yourself, and writing the appropriate configuration files. You also get to choose how everything's compiled.

Ultimately, Gentoo gives you much more freedom than Arch. In my brief Arch days, pacman also liked to break everything a lot, which portage doesn't :)
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Hypnos
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Working physics PhD here.

If you are interested in learning about the Linux "platform" then by all means, use Gentoo -- the installation process and the control over the software will invite you to learn much more than nearly every other distro.

However, if you are concerned about what will look good on your resume, I would focus on your programming skills, not your systems administration. The overlap between those who care both about your physics degree and your administrative experience is small, but the overlap between those who care about your physics degree and your ability to write high-performing C(++) code is quite large.

My $0.02.
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MutantJohn
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, don't worry. I've been trying to teach myself modern particle mesh methodologies to a very mixed understanding. But it's a s*** ton of fun and I'll get there someday. The only problem is f***ing Volker Springel won't stop making new codes so I'll never catch-up to him. Not like I ever could. That guy's a rock star.

Also, sorry if swearing isn't appropriate. It's just how I have to express my feelings.
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