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Discussion on: Au Revoir, Gentoo - Sell Me A New Linux Distro

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Dave Cridland

I started on Slackware, on kernel 1.1.59 (I forget the Slackware version). Back then, distros were largely about getting a system installed - after that, you were really on your own.

Compiling my own kernel became routine. Compiling an upgraded libc wasn't unheard of, and I don't recommend that. Switching manually from a.out to ELF.... Yeah, I try not to remember that. But I certainly compiled nearly all the software I used myself.

Now? I run Ubuntu on my desktop, almost exclusively from packages. I'm sure there are exceptions - besides the code I write for a living, but I can't think of any.

Steam, Jetbrains, Slack, and Google Chrome are all packaged, and the PPAs support my more esoteric needs.

The reason I switched away from self-compilation was actually Gentoo - I've never used it, but I was in a kitchen at a party, and someone else made the comment that they never understood why anyone would want to compile someone else's code unless it was their job.

The person was Alan Cox, who was at the time the Linux stable kernel maintainer. If he's not interested in compiling everything himself, why on earth would I want to?

So I shrugged, and next time I reinstalled, and I went with Ubuntu. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good out of the box, well supported commercially, and the PPAs give it whatever bleeding edge you need.

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Ben Lovy Author

Awesome answer - even just reading "[s]witching manually from a.out to ELF" made me feel kind of queasy.

never understood why anyone would want to compile someone else's code unless it was their job.

This is going to stick with me. I've never heard it put quite so bluntly, but, like, yeah.

I've got a Debian 10 experiment going now, but I think long-term Ubuntu or a derivative makes sense for me too.

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Dave Cridland

The glibc switching was worse than ELF, especially when it went wrong. You had a shell, but quite often no new processes would run. Gave you a crash course on how to use echo * instead of ls, and so on.