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Gentoo Linux 1.4 Release Candidate 1

After trying all the latest main distro releases, and being rather unimpressed with all of them, I decided to give Gentoo a try.

I'll start off by saying that to get the full benefit of Gentoo, you will need a semi-fast Internet connection.
To begin the installation, you first need to download an ISO image for the Gentoo Live CD from which you perform a manual installation.

You can then choose to download another tar file containing additional software - specific to your processor - or you can install a basic system and download and install only the software you require. This makes it really great if you just want a cut-down system for a specific job, such as a webserver.

While Gentoo does use a manual text-based installation process, I reckon that a newbie could manage it - there are full step-by-step instruction on the Gentoo site.

With a basic installation option, Gentoo requires you to compile your own kernel. It is generally safe to simply accept the defaults here and let the system get on with it.
Various filesystems are supported, including my FS of choice, XFS.

Once the initial installation has been performed, you can then choose to install/update the software you require. The package management is excellent.
If, for example, you wanted to download KDE, you would simply type: -

emerge kde

That command would then download the absoulte latest version of the KDE source code and all its dependencies from the Internet. It will then compile it for your system and install the packages.
Almost any software package you can think of is available by this method which I think is great. Not only is it easy to download software, all the software is all up-to-the-second which I particually like.

It does have its similarities with Debian, particually with the easy package management. My only concern with Debian is that it is intended to be stable, which often means comparatively old software, whereas I like to be relatively cutting-edge.

Gentoo is exactly what I'm looking for in a distro. It's aimed at power users, while not being impossible for newbies, and gives everyone the power to build a system which is right for them.

As I've said, I have tried all the latest distro releases and found them to either contain out of date packages (SuSE), be very unstable (Mandrake) or try to change things beyond recognition (Redhat).
I love Gentoo, and while it may be bandwidth hungry, I'll never go back.

Added:  Thursday, November 21, 2002
Reviewer:  David Johnson
Related Link:  Gentoo Website
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