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Old 05-12-2007, 02:40 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Gentoo 2007.0

The latest Gentoo release is upon us and I am going to take a look at what's new. Promised updates include a revamped installer and the latest versions of your favorite applications.

You can read the article here and discuss it here.
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Old 05-12-2007, 09:48 AM   #2
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Great review! I have for a long time been wanting to install Gentoo on my system. I think now I finally have enough knowledge to do so. It will be one of the first distributions I try to install this summer, on a quest to try a new Linux distro every week (using Ubuntu now... of course , have used Fedora, SUSE, Mandriva, and a few others).
Again, great review! I hope my install process goes well, I've been reading up on the installation manual on the website, and I think I can get it (of course, I'll be doing the command line way). Any tips to offer?
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for the comments

The first tip I have is to have patience. If you are already familiar with a command line, it probably will not be as much of a chore as it would be to those who never deal with it. The install guide is fantastic, if you follow it and make sure you don't accidentally skip something. The first time I installed Gentoo via command-line, I wound up skipping over an important section without noticing. For that reason, it's probably recommended to not use the "All On One Page" version of the guide, but instead the one that splits it into sections, so there is less chance of that happening.

Other than that, don't give up just because you messed up. Keep re-trying until it's installed, then you can give yourself a well deserved pat on the back
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Old 05-12-2007, 03:19 PM   #4
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I am impressed with your review! I find it fair, balanced, informative and with constructive criticism. Furthermore it looks like you have a good understanding of the way Gentoo works. Do you happen to use it yourself?

I find most reviews poorly conducted by reviewers who don't seem to grasp the basic concepts of Gentoo and complain about things that can be solved by reading the manual. In that regard your review is a breath of fresh air .
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Old 05-12-2007, 08:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the nice comments aniruddha.

Gentoo has been my preferred distro for just over a year now. I mainly like the fact that it gives you total control of your system. Portage is a great package manager as well. It's not the most efficient out there, but it works well and offers a lot of flexibility. I think I'd have a hard time moving over to another distro now, but I do keep my options open ;-)

Thanks again
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Old 05-13-2007, 04:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Williams View Post
Thanks for the nice comments aniruddha.

Gentoo has been my preferred distro for just over a year now. I mainly like the fact that it gives you total control of your system. Portage is a great package manager as well. It's not the most efficient out there, but it works well and offers a lot of flexibility. I think I'd have a hard time moving over to another distro now, but I do keep my options open ;-)

Thanks again
Well you earned it . But now I understand why the review was so balanced. The only think I dislike about Gentoo is how it dwarves other distributions. I've gone so far to recommend primarily Gentoo to Linux newbies (off course I help with the install) because other distro's always became a headache after the install. With Gentoo you at least know you headache will be over when done installing .

That being said I alway keep my eye open for other distro's. The only one I haven't really tried are:
Linux from Scratch
OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris looks promising to me! And off course there is Slackware and PCLinuxOS which are also good distro's in my opinion.
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Old 05-13-2007, 02:59 PM   #7
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If you are willing to help someone along, for sure Gentoo can be a great starter distro. Installation is the difficult part, keeping it going is rather easy as long as you know what you are doing and keep your world clean. Sometimes it's overwhelming for a new Gentoo user to go a month without doing a -uD -av world only to find they need to update 80 packages ;-)

I have never used LFS or OpenSolaris either. I used SUSE and Fedora extensively before moving over to Gentoo. After reading up on it, I knew I had to give it a try. I really cannot see myself moving over to another distro anytime soon... I just like how everything works here.
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Old 05-14-2007, 12:27 AM   #8
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Hi Rob. First, thanks for the honest review -- regardless of conclusion (good or bad), reading honest reviews is always a real thrill for me as a Gentoo developer (I'm the guy who did the installation handbooks for this release & others; I'm a documentation developer).

Just a few comments:

1. Yes, the installer behavior did change. Seems there were more bugs and code problems doing all the steps at the end of the process, so the installer team just made it on-the-fly. As far as the partitioning goes, yup, that behavior changed too. It used to throw the recommended layout onto a spare partition of 4GB or more, but now it overwrites any existing filesystem layout, just like the installers for most distros out there.

And as you said, there was explanatory text off to the left visible *at all times* during the installation process; users really do have no one to blame but themselves if they don't read it. One point that I personally goofed on is that the on-disc handbook doesn't quite agree with the installer's help text; the on-disc handbook implies that the partitioning still has the old behavior when in fact it does not. I made the change in the drafts, but apparently I never applied them to the final version I created for the Release Engineering team to put on the LiveCD. My fault for that error; sharp-eyed readers caught it. I have since fixed it in the online version of the handbook: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/2007.0/index.xml

2. You may want to try out the ncurses-based installer included on the CD for comparison's sake. This is one you can use without needing to load the Gnome desktop at all; it's pure console goodness.

3. There is no "Gentoo Art team" as such -- just a week or so ago, a brand new developer announced the creation of the Gentoo Artwork Project, but nothing has actually happened on that front. All the LiveCD artwork, including the desktop background and the splash image, was done by blackace, a member of the Release Engineering team.

4. You may want to mark those links to gentoo-portage and (especially) gentoo-wiki as unofficial. Those sites are neither run by nor endorsed by any Gentoo developer.

5. There are a few outstanding issues that have popped up, mostly related to graphics drivers (as you noticed). You can actually update the graphical installer by booting the LiveCD and running "/opt/installer/misc/updategtkfe" -- this may address some of those problems. Also, you may want to pop on over to #gentoo-installer or Bugzilla (http://bugs.gentoo.org) and make a feature request for that unusual kernel build exit behavior.

6. The eselect profile stuff is even easier than you think. Follow our upgrading guide that I updated for the new release: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/gentoo-upgrading.xml

It's as simple as "eselect profile list" followed by "eselect profile set 3" (the number of the profile of your choice).

7. Sorry you'll be sticking with 2006.1; I hope the next installer update and/or the 2007.1 release works a little better for you. Sure, the graphical or ncurses installation methods can be timesavers, but the true power of Gentoo is its flexibility, and I still believe the CLI-based approach has the greatest flexibility. Thanks for trying out Gentoo and for the review!
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Old 05-14-2007, 06:13 PM   #9
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Hi nightmorph,

Thanks for all the comments and for clearing a few things up. You replied in a thread I started on the Gentoo forums as well. It's nice to see a developer so actively involved in the community.

I did complain about the installer, and I stand by everything I said. It's understandable that things are documented, but there are many people who fell into the same trap I did. Not new Gentoo users either, but people who have been using the distro for quite a while.

It's easy to say that it's the users own fault for not paying attention, but there is no way I believe that the partitioner should begin it's process as soon as the "Proceed" button is pushed in the prompt. For those who click buttons too fast, it will be too late before they realize what they've done. That's why I proposed in the article that the prompt and process begin when the user attempts to go to the next part of the installation. At least at that point they would notice the partition scheme gone wrong.

I admit I haven't dealt much with the ncurses-based installer, but I will next time I need to install Gentoo for something. It's my primary distro, so it shouldn't be far off. I normally focus primarily on the GUI installer because that's what I find most people are interested in with the new release, noobies especially.

> "There is no "Gentoo Art team" as such"

Thanks for clearing that up. I will edit that portion of the review to give thanks to blackace directly.

> "You may want to mark those links to gentoo-portage"

Also a good point.

> "Also, you may want to pop on over to #gentoo-installer or Bugzilla"

Well again, I am not sure if this was how the installer was supposed to act or not. It, like the partitioner, could be on purpose. I just found it odd that canceling a step during the installer would cancel it entirely. It would be a waste of time for those people who took their time getting that far in the installer. If you agree it's indeed a bug, I'll attempt to reproduce to make sure it's recurring and then submit a bug report.

> "The eselect profile stuff is even easier than you think."

Good point. I normally just highlight the profile and paste it in, but had no idea you could perform it with the number.

Thanks again for the comments. I look forward to 2007.1 :-)
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:14 PM   #10
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I also had a problem with the partitioning. I started to load Gentoo when I had 5 Linux distros and XP loaded on my hard disk. All of a sudden I realized what it was doing but by that time all the other distros were erased and I had only Gentoo which then failed. I then restarted Gentoo and babied it all the way through to completion and then added the rest of the Linux distros back on but then found that the backup disks I had for XP required there to be an XP already there so I was now "windowless." This forced me to go with a Linux distro. I kept on with the Gentoo but at some point ended up with a total failure so I went to re-install. I was careful but once again lost all the distros. Tried one more time and it happened again.

I then installed Sabayon which uses all the good stuff from Gentoo and have not looked back since. I know the Gentoo people keep harping on the CLI being the way to go to learn Linux but I want to be able to spend some time using it as well. All the failures just told me that Gentoo was good but when I could get all the goodies and still have a GUI install to get going that worked I see no reason to put up with an installer that bad.

As to the comment by the developer that the rest of the distros do the same thing, I can certify that they do not. I have installed Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandriva, Sabayon, Slackware, Gentoo, Wolvix, and lately PC-BSD and none of them did what Gentoo did in erasing the disk unless I specifically told it to and even then it asked before it did it. Gentoo was the only one that took off before I finalized any choices. What was good about the others was that I could make a choice and then see what the result looked like. If it did not meet my needs, I could backtrack and try something else. Gentoo did not allow that and as a result I will not be using Gentoo. I can get the good stuff elsewhere and end up in the same place.
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Old 06-20-2007, 09:46 PM   #11
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The sad thing is that Gentoo is not really a bad distro, it's just the installer that leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths. It's better than two years ago when there was no such thing as a Gentoo GUI installer, but the current one is seriously lacking. I found the best Gentoo installer to be 2006.1, although with numerous Linux distros installed alongside it, it might not have proved that simple. I tend to keep multi-boot Linux systems to a minimal, since I stick exclusively to Gentoo unless I require another for an article.

Sorry to hear about all your hassle, that sounds far worse than what I dealt with.
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