DEV Community

Discussion on: Which Distribution of Linux Should I Use?

gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

This is a great read - thank you for writing it!

I'm trying to choose between Gentoo and Slackware, but I find it hard to compare them. Any advice?

jeremycmorgan profile image
Jeremy Morgan

As I said I used Gentoo for years. It usually took me a whole weekend to install.

But back then, the performance advantages were great, and I really wanted to dial it in.

These days, I don't find it worth my time to compile everything. Optimized or not, I don't notice a day to day difference that's worth that kind of time.

My move to Arch was based on the fact that I still wanted to hand pick everything that goes into my system and optimize it, without spending an entire weekend.

That being said it depends on how often you cycle machines. If you're planning on putting together a system that you'll use the next few years, that time spent might be worth it because a Gentoo system well done is really, really solid. I just ordered an i9 64gig workstation that I know I'll use the next 5-7 years and I'm considering putting Gentoo on that one.

As far as Slackware, I haven't really used it in so long I don't have much of an opinion on it. There were things I really liked about Slackware, but package management wasn't one of them.

flrichar profile image
Fred Richards

Picking a distribution is tricky, it's often times down to a personal preference, like choosing what to eat or what car you drive.

First off, I love the article! My experience with Linux has been similar, I started ~1996 with Slackware on floppies, and my first CD distros were the ones I ordered online through cheapbytes. I was a Slackware user for years then recently (2012-2013) switched to ArchLinux. Like the author, I preferred to customize my software setup.

Now, for your question. Slackware to me, has always felt like traditional Unix, while Gentoo is much more progressive. This is just how it "feels" to me, if I had to select one for you, I'd look at other things you prefer to get a feel of which type of user you'd be.

ghost profile image

I've used both, I like Gentoo better and is the one I've used for longer, I'm writting from Gentoo actually. Slackware uses older versions and has no official dependency manager wich to me is a dealbreaker nowdays, I don't want to deal with dependencies and personally don't care to take care of it, you can always get a non-official one but why tho. Gentoo has a bad rep as being very hard to install, but to me is just like Arch, compilations may take a while but you don't have to be watching the screen, you can do its thing while you sleep, and you can install it from any existing Linux so you can do it at your own pace and even between reboots, you just chroot and keep going, and after your first you just backup /etc and keep your /home separated and you are done, Gentoo install in a few minutes and let it compile before you go to bed in the monring it should be almost ready. Kernel config can be hard if you haven't done it but genkernel can make it automagically if you are not ready to do it manually (I recommend the automated way in your first install on new PC and then play with it manually), you can even use the automated one as starting point to start "cleaning". I thing the rep of Gentoo being hard is mainly to scare new people and for Gentoo users to feel powerful, is not that hard, just follow the excelent handbook. Aside the install, is rock solid. To me, the only reason to move away from Gentoo is that gets boring, in a good way, after 5+ years from your last install, almost no trouble (I say almost just in case, I can't recall any incident) you can get the hop itch, fool around with other distros but I always get back to the trusty Gentoo. Is also worth mentioning that big packages have binaries too, so if you don't think compiling Libreoffice is worthwhile (I don't) you can just install the binary. I certainly don't recommend Gentoo to everyone, you have to be kinda weird for it, but if you suspect you may be weird enough to say Arch is not enough control or lightweight enough; welcome! :)