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

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pbarill profile image
Philippe Baril Lecavalier

However, it does require frequent updates to ensure smooth
roll-forwards, and that means rebuilding components from source,
a lot. If nothing else, it's ecologically irresponsible to
repeatedly rebuild a whole Linux distribution for negligible gain.

I'm sorry, but what!? Ecologically irresponsible??

I've been using Gentoo for about 4 years, and I hardly do more than one or two complete/deep update per quarter. That's anything but "frequent updates". There might be one or two blocks once in a while, often perl update, which means a separate call to emerge just for that, with backtrack. You may be required once in a while to adjust a few masks if you have libreoffice-bin or firefox-bin (gave up building those two a long time ago). And that's it, done.

Say, what tinkering you do to trigger whole system rebuilds "repeatedly"? That happened maybe just 2-3 times since I started using it, namely ABI changes. Of course using another distribution will not cause such delays, because you will be seriously hampered in your ability to tinker with the system!

I've always been using "stable" Gentoo (+ a few well chosen "unstable" when I want or unavoidable). I once glanced at unstable and decided it's not for me, as that makes pretty much a full system rebuild far too often to my taste. Another thing: I also use KDE, and I learned to avoid the meta packages and trim-down my installation to just what I need. To rebuild a kde web browser when you don't need it is not fun (qtwebengine takes 2+ hours here to build, and I don't need/want it).

I concede that Gentoo is a very questionable choice if you want to quickly try/experiment a bunch of stuff. It shines when you know what you need and don't have suddenly changing requirements on a regular basis, such as:

  • frequently switch to another desktop environment (just trying that DE might take less time than building it);
  • something you need or want to try has a dependency which in turns needs say rust, go or some specific llvm version, and if you don't have it already, well I'm sorry, but you wait an extra 40+ minutes, if not more (bummer!).
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deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy Author • Edited

Ecologically irresponsible??

Yeah, this was not really a valid point, I regret adding it to the post because it's not actually an issue for me and ended up being distracting here.

whole system rebuilds "repeatedly"

Also a wording problem - I don't mean to say that every world update rebuilds my whole system, but over the course of, say, a year, a decent chunk of it will rebuild for (almost) no reason. It's a valid point that that may not be a real problem at all.

It shines when you know what you need

That's precisely it. I don't, actually, I just pretend to, and it's mostly been working for me as a hobbyist. It's becoming a roadblock as I start to do more serious work and collaborate with others on my path towards professional, and I am spending too much cognitive energy "translating" Debian stuff to Gentoo. I'm interesting in software engineering for now, not necessarily Linux administration, and I want to be able to just use the exact same workflow as most other people for now. I'll probably come back some time, but for now that's not a good use of my time or energy.

seriously hampered in your ability to tinker with the system!

Again, it's an impulse control problem, not an inherent Gentoo problem, but that's what I want right now. I don't actually have needs beyond the basics, and run into problems trying to do things off the beaten path.

I do generally agree that stable Gentoo is rock solid, and I will likely be back after some time. I plan to continue running it on my Pi home server for that reason - it's static.

In short, my problem is a human one - with me - not a technical one with Gentoo.

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Philippe Baril Lecavalier

That's precisely it. I don't, actually, I just pretend to [know what you need]

a.k.a. software engineering!! Mandatory xkcd.

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Ben Lovy Author

Hah, exactly :)