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Facing reality- a short story about Linux, Gentoo, and me...
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:29 pm    Post subject: Facing reality- a short story about Linux, Gentoo, and me... Reply with quote

Hello! I am bored and wanted to type some thoughts about Linux and Gentoo to random people on the internet! And who knows: maybe this will help others come to the same realization that I did....

Around late 2010 / early 2011, I switched to Gentoo after a decade of Debian (and Debian-based distros). Learned more in my first week about Linux than I had in all my years of prior experience combined. Sadly, before my main machine was fully set up and usable, I was faced with a series of tragedies that forced me to switch back to an "easy-mode" OS (Winderps, as much as I hate to admit it) while I rode out the storm.

Well, finally after 6-ish years, all the storms have passed, as well as several advancements made in the Linux world that have now made it a viable option for ALL of my computers and applications (no more need to dual boot -- yay)! This is largely thanks to Valve's efforts in bringing commercial gaming to the platform (as much as I hate and avoid closed source as much as possible).

So a few months ago, I started back down the Linux path again, defaulting to Debian and Ubuntu, at least to get my chops back. However, as much as I love Debian, the stable release requires too much effort to bootstrap on bleeding edge hardware, and testing/sid have caused me too many tears in the past. Then there's Ubuntu, which is just a complete disaster right now with bugs on a scale I'm not sure I've ever seen from the team. And well, let's be honest: Ubuntu has always been a little hit-and-miss anyway....

That lead me to exploring other Debian-based distros, just because I do love me some apt, am generally familiar with the OS, and like the convenience of binary distros. All the while, there was this still small voice that kept whispering in my ear, "Gentoooooooo", which I adamantly ignored, continuing instead to spin my wheels on what would ultimately prove to be a circular quest. Had I continued, it would have certainly lead to madness. So, why not Gentoo you may ask? Very simply because it is a huge PITA to install. It's not something you can do in 15 minutes after pressing enter for defaults a few times.

So after a few weeks on that quest, logic finally started to kick in. I suddenly realized that I could have installed Gentoo 100 times over, in the time I spent searching for fixes, workarounds, and/or alternative distros....not to mention all the down time that came with it....and the fact that in the end, my system would have been a chaotic mess of hacks that would require an entire wiki site just to manage 1 machine.

That pretty much brings us to now. I am back and ready to dive in again. The Gentoo Live iso is in my Downloads directory, and I am hoping being switching all of my machines over within the next couple of days! :D

Cheers, and thanks for reading, if you made it this far. I certainly value feedback and love to read about others' experiences so please do share if you feel so inclined!
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AJM
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really doesn't take all that long to get a Gentoo install up and running these days, with a reasonable spec of machine at least. I personally have never got on with Debian at all - for that kind of "set up and minimally update for the next five years" server RHEL / CentOS have been vastly better for me (although RHEL7 with SystemD is out of the question for me so I'll probably end up using Deuvan for new builds before too long.)

For most purposes though nothing comes close to Gentoo for flexibility - you end up with exactly what you want, no more and no less. It's well worth the little bit of extra initial effort investment!
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szatox
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
why not Gentoo you may ask? Very simply because it is a huge PITA to install. It's not something you can do in 15 minutes after pressing enter for defaults a few times.

Actually it is is something you can do in 15 minutes.
Extract stage3, copy kernel from your temporary environment and install provided bootloader... Gratz, you're done with basics before you even noticed. Yes, it is cheating. Yes, it gives you a usable system. All without running emerge even once.
Without cheating you'd have to install kernel sources, and build it with defconfig, which will give you a lot of bloat that works in most cases at cost of long time needed for compilation.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy when you do that for the first time and have no idea what's going on. You do notice a huge difference after you fail a few times though: suddenly you find yourself doing it single-handedly and blindfolded, and somehow your coffee is still quite hot.
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AJM wrote:
It really doesn't take all that long to get a Gentoo install up and running these days, with a reasonable spec of machine at least. I personally have never got on with Debian at all - for that kind of "set up and minimally update for the next five years" server RHEL / CentOS have been vastly better for me (although RHEL7 with SystemD is out of the question for me so I'll probably end up using Deuvan for new builds before too long.)

For most purposes though nothing comes close to Gentoo for flexibility - you end up with exactly what you want, no more and no less. It's well worth the little bit of extra initial effort investment!


It took me a solid day my first time...and I had to redo it a few times over the next day or two, but as szatox pointed out, the first time is always the hardest. Much of the knowledge I gained from my first experience, however, is lost and I'll be learning from scratch again.

And yea - the flexibility and precision in getting exactly the system you want/need should have been enough in and of itself to make me jump right back in....

szatox wrote:

Actually it is is something you can do in 15 minutes.
Extract stage3, copy kernel from your temporary environment and install provided bootloader... Gratz, you're done with basics before you even noticed. Yes, it is cheating.


As I said: I'm an all or nothing kinda guy! Once I dig in, I'll enjoy all the tinkering and manual steps to create my configs, and build my kernel, etc etc!

Thanks for the replies :D
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A word of warning: If your machines use UEFI rather than PC BIOS, don't use the Gentoo Minimal Installation CD; use SystemRescueCd instead. The Gentoo Minimal Installation CD does not currently support UEFI.
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fitzcarraldo - Many many many thanks!! I can't begin to speculate how much time and frustration you just saved me.
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First victom: Lenovo Yoga 2 11" laptop

Getting it to boot from my USB flash drive proved to be a challenge, and ultimately I'm still not clear what went wrong. Somehow the drive's partitioning/imaging got super messed up, leading me down some very dark roads. In the end, I had to let it auto-mount on an Ubuntu machine, then dd some arbitrary bunch of zeros (about half the capacity of the drive, as it turns out). Again: this had to be done while it was in whatever state the auto-mount put it in (I was not able to mount it manually). After that, I was finally able to unmount it and run fdisk to partition it normally, and subsequently format it and install systemrescuecd to it as prescribed on their site. The prior result of trying to run fdisk, dd, or cp was something like "no medium found" unless it was auto-mounted.

Anyway, with that finally resolved, I'm taking my time on this first install...On day 1, I partitioned, unpacked stage3 + some steps, and now I'm configuring the kernel. This is a step I'm always meticulous about and try to make the most informed decision I can on each option. I've compiled many kernels and my methodology has never lead me wrong, though I feel like there's probably a faster way. I'd feel pretty comfortable downloading a config made by someone more experienced, for my specific machine, then doing a much less stringent and rapid evaluation of their options. However, I'm not sure if such things exist or how to find them in any reliable form that is faster than just doing it manually myself.

I have 2 more machines after this, and possibly my main home server (tho it is an older laptop that is running Debian quite happily, so I don't know if I care to disturb it right now).

Cheers!
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mrbassie
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

statikregimen wrote:
I'd feel pretty comfortable downloading a config made by someone more experienced, for my specific machine, then doing a much less stringent and rapid evaluation of their options. However, I'm not sure if such things exist or how to find them in any reliable form that is faster than just doing it manually myself.


https://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-1051430.html
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrbassie - thank you! When I wrote my last reply, I think I was operating on assumptions from 2.6 kernels. There are vastly more options than I remember. Giving pappy's config a try as-is and will evolve from there if I need changes.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

statikregimen,

It won't work as is. You need the instructions.
The concept is the same as the original kernel seeds.
The site has not been updated in nearly four years but the methodology it provides is sound and Pappys preconfigs continue the idea that kernel-seeds started.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
statikregimen,

It won't work as is. You need the instructions.
The concept is the same as the original kernel seeds.
The site has not been updated in nearly four years but the methodology it provides is sound and Pappys preconfigs continue the idea that kernel-seeds started.


Sorry I wasn't more verbose...yes, I am following that. I read the whole thread which lead me there.

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

have a look at sys-kernel/kergen
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

josephg wrote:
have a look at sys-kernel/kergen


@*$&...this looks fantastic, but I literally just kicked off my first compile after selecting my hardware manually (used the appropriate Pappy seed linked above, which did save a ton of time in and of itself).

Alas, such is life. I will definitely give this a shot next time, though (which is probably going to be later today when my first try fails lol)!

Thank you!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After a few more derps, I finally got to boot my new kernel. Got a blinking caps lock light. Further investigation revealed that it did not read my config. I had saved it to a specific file name and made a sym link to it at .config but for some reason that failed or I failed somehow. Now I've directly saved to .config and rebuilding again....

EDIT: I think what may have happened is that I ran make clean (because I had compiled one before). Which I just did again.....Crap.

EDITAGAIN: It boots :D
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

always backup .config before you run "make clean"
always run "make menuconfig" (i prefer nconfig) to validate your .config and save it, just before you run make..
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

josephg wrote:
always backup .config before you run "make clean"
always run "make menuconfig" (i prefer nconfig) to validate your .config and save it, just before you run make..


Thank you for the advice! I was indeed using make menuconfig and thankfully, was prudent enough to save it to an alternate file before I did anything else, so didn't have to re-do it. Now I'm also keeping my configs on bitbucket for an extra layer of protection against myself. It's just kernel for now, but anything I touch in e.g. /etc or ~/.config is probably going to join it because when it comes to failing upward, few people I have met do it better than me)!
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