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lainchan archive - /tech/ - 34859

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Any /gentoo/men here?

In the past, I've used only Debian/Arch based distro, and as I tried Gentoo I found myself quite uncomfortable.

What I don't really get is Portage and how the USE flags are supposed to be comfy and convenient.

Anyone minds to explain?


/gentoo/man here.
Okay so basically when software is compiled it often has a number of features that can be turned on or off or switched from one thing to another. In a binary distro like Debian the package maintainers make these choices on behalf of the users. Since users may want all different things most things are compiled in except maybe some experimental features that may be unstable etc. The binary you get when you install a package through apt-get is the result of choices made by upstream that you had no control over.

This is where Gentoo comes in. Since its source based you get to make these choices for yourself. The way you do it is with the USE flags. As an example say you run a headless server, why would you want all your programs to have support for X or gtk? Say you don't have a printer, do you need cups support? You can take out these features via USE flags and get a smaller and potentially faster binary. You also can make choices as some USE flags are in direct opposition and make you choose, say between libav and ffmpeg, or maybe between alsa and pulseaudio. It allows you to compile your packages for the environment you have and the features you want. USE flags are attached to dependencies too so not only will you have smaller binaries but if you remove a feature you don't need the libraries/packages required for that feature to work will not be pulled in resulting in an overall less boated system. You can define global USE flags for your system so say all packages that can have support for feature z will have it or you can say things like compile every package without support for systemd. Gentoo in some cases will let you enable experimental features that are not available in the binaries in other distros yet. Beyond USE flags you can block installation of packages based on license which is great if you want to be free as in freedom. Slots let you install different versions of the same package side by side on a system. You can choose between installing stable or unstable packages without having to choose the stable/unstable version of the distro itself. You can choose compiler flags to get optimizations you want, perhaps you want speed or perhaps you want to optimize for disk space. Gentoo is called a meta-distrobution for a reason, its because in general a distro is a distrobution of a set of choices that have been made for you. Gentoo is what you make it. So yeah, install Gentoo.

TL;DR: You make decisions at compile time instead of the upstream maintainers and that gives you a lot of power, install Gentoo.


Love when ppl actually dedicate some time to write a well elaborated answer, really really appreciated.

I've read about slotting a while ago, but didn't remember it had a specific name, smh.

Anyway, great explaination, gonna take the occasion to suggest anyone to read the General Concepts page as well >https://devmanual.gentoo.org/general-concepts/index.html


smh fam pplz



I thought it's a slang chan approved. Was I wrong?


Well, Lainchan is different. It's best to make a decent sized post using correct grammar.

Anyways, to address the topic, I've never used Gentoo. I've considered using Utoto, but it's not an active distribution anymore.

I also use little software. I'd be fine with Debian, but it's been rejecting my Free Software compatible wifi card lately and that means I'll need to change the kernel or distribution.

The biggest hurdle is that I'm at the stage where I've distrohopped dozens of times and just want something that I can use without it breaking because of arcane flaws.


sorry if this is a bit off topic but i am in the middle of making a guide for a tin foil hat gentoo installation. i am going to do everything from full disc encryption to configuring selinux. i know that all the information exists in order to do this but the information is not all in one place nor is it the easy to follow for someone who is less technically inclined.


Not him and correct me if I'm wrong but they are talking about rsync, portage switched to git some time ago now.


yes they have talked about switching to git. and what is the point of posting this bug


i havent used gentoo in a desktop environment for a while and i was wondering if it was possible to install a semi modern de such as mate or xfce without systemd and udev? ill be installing on a t420 btw.


yes it is gentoo if the package does not require the dependency you can run it


I'm using XFCE on Gentoo without systemd. The eudev project is a non-systemd replacement for udev.


>The eudev project is a non-systemd replacement for udev.
It's only a matter of time when eudev becames irrelevant, because they integrate everything from udev-systemd upstream and there is already few very harmful features.
It's mdev or some other node manager or back to static /dev (which, incidentally I've stayed with on most of my systems).


I installed Gentoo a few weeks ago but for some reason I'm still can't compile KDE. I'll try it again in my spare time.


This always happens at the start, you'll be fine once you get used to things.


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The reason I personally use Gentoo is not really conveniency. It's got a very steep learning curve but eventually you'll learn quite a few things about how Linux distros work. I actually failed my first two Gentoo attempts but I just kept on trying because it was interesting to actually have a system where everything is recompiled from scratch. You can certainly build a great desktop with Gentoo, but you'll need some serious free time.

If I want to get a webserver running, like with my VPS for example, there's no way I'm running Gentoo on it, because I don't have the time to maintain two Gentoo systems. Debian is usually my distro of choice for servers.
It's just that Gentoo requires small bits of knowledge here and there other distros would never teach you, which may make it a bit uncomfortable for a beginner. This mostly applies to Portage and how damn complex that thing is. I honestly still can't believe it actually works.

>What I don't really get is Portage and how the USE flags are supposed to be comfy and convenient.

The point is to give you the freedom to recompile your packages with certain features enabled/disabled. This in itself is a really hard thing to do and they solved it in the most convenient way possible (in my opinion).
>>34860 Explains USE flags more in-depth

If you're happy with Debian or Arch that's great. There's no need to force yourself trying to learn Gentoo.


Completely agree with the server comment, I run Gentoo on my laptop but use FreeBSD on my server. I like to just quickly SSH in and out, maintaining a Gentoo install on it would be a true nightmare made real. The one time I would use Gentoo on a server is if I had a job as a sysadmin and get paid to spend all day fuarrrking with it.


>If you're happy with Debian or Arch that's great. There's no need to force yourself trying to learn Gentoo

Of course, I'm not forcing myself into anything, I was just curious about how differently Gentoo worked, therefore tried an install, haven't felt at ease and came here to ask why Lainons preferred Gentoo/Portage rather than other systems.

I'm probably going to run it again on VM, and eventually learn more about its packet manager, which is rather unique


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Aye, I failed my first five gentoo installations. Now I'm using funtoo on my main desktop and I maintain three servers using gentoo, without X of course. Gentoo isn't the optimal solution for servers, unless you _need_ all the performance the hw can give without going full custom distro like supercomputers and the like. Debian is my choice for servers, never learned the whole red hat way-of-life.

On the other hand Gentoo has worked well for me on my servers (one game server, one seedbox and one 12yr old box currently sitting idle). Gentoo is a very comfy distro for desktop use honestly though. I have had to solve seemingly arcane problems with the kernel and dotfiles, I love it because now I understand these things. I replaced the nouveau drivers with nvidia ones because I need 3D accel for the few games and added support for _only_ my specific sound card and codecs, also corrected ALSA behaviour to match my needs and finally decided on my de facto programs (since gentoo doesn't decide those for you).


Truly the best thing about Gentoo is the amount of choice it gives you.
You can choose libc implementations, package managers, ssl implementations, kernels (like deblobbed linux ones or the FreeBSD kernel), etc.
Its great being able to mix and match between stable, testing, and live packages. Stable is almost debian style stable (though it usually more up to date), testing is great for stuff like web browsers (ESR firefox is on stable, normal release is in testing for example), and live is nice for things like mpv or other things that don't receive releases often.
The Hardened Gentoo Project is fantastic as well and its worth it to look in to.

For me Gentoo feels like the final step for linux. Its the perfect mix between choice and convenience. Sure you could manually track dependencies but no one wants to do that. I run Gentoo on my desktop and for anything that I would need linux on I would be inclined to use it. For my laptop and servers I prefer BSD.


Poor ebuild maintainers can really ruin Gentoo by not dissecting all dependencies correctly into use flags.
And of course maintainers that have swallowed the RH bill, like williamh - lead maintainer of openrc - who openly adds systemd combatibility into openrc (which, of course isn't a sysv /sbin/init replacement like systemd, just to make sure).

Lots of 'old farts' in the Gentoo forums clearly seeing the warning signs, but not actually doing anything (except for staying with old software versions - 'great' solution indeed) and I'm no better, but that's because I can't into anything but sh scripts and poorly to them too.


I've tried gentoo before, but the long install time has me going back to other distros. I keep trying however and eventually I'll get the hang of it and won't have to worry about spending more time reading the wiki rather than using it.


>What I don't really get is Portage and how the USE flags are supposed to be comfy and convenient.

I don't like my Vim to be boated with lua, python and ruby. And I don't use it outside the terminal either, so I would disable all those USE flags for Vim.
Almost every other distro comes with Vim precompiled usually with all flags and you're fuarrrked. On the other side it's not convenient to just clone/compile by yourself because dependencies.


if you are willing to clone and compile then you should run slackware not gentoo


I used to use Slackware. They use md5 for package signing still and there is no way to know if you're downloading a corrupt source file unless you check it; not to mention that slackbuilds.org are not current by any means. I really don't get the whole stability thing either. My install of Trisquel has been rock solid on my Thinkpad for awhile now without a reinstall aside from a few minor issues with the desktop and package manager.


Gentoo empowers the user, Slackware bogs the user down in the most minute details.


that is subjective since some people do want to learn about package dependencies


It's basically the stability of Debian minus all the hundreds of useless dependencies and everythings upstream


what i took away from slackware was the learning how to resolve dependencies issues. with what you are saying you can achieve the same result with gentoo and arch


Except that Arch is horrendously unusable as a serious daily desktop, unlike what most internet autists say. Gentoos Arch with the added benefit of actually customizing your whole system, as most people just follow the standard installation guide for arch and have no idea what their system actually has on it or why. Gentoo can also actually be made decently stable, but Slackware's still one of the most rock solid


While Gentoo has so far proven to be the most stable system out of all the distros I've tried, it still crashes in certain situations mostly because of video drivers and X. Though it's not as bad as Ubuntu 14.04 where I would get daily error dialogs.
Linux just becomes less stable as soon as X enters the equation (maybe that's just because both nvidia and nouveau are soykaf). Just my experience so far.


Ubuntu has always been soykaf, and we need a functioning X alternative so X can die in a burning pit already.

I'll defend Slackware, it's the first distro I've used that I can positively say feels like home


Using Arch as your daily distro is super comfy. It never breaks, you have a lot of packages from Pacman and AUR, it has an incredibly wiki and user base...
It's 2017 already, stop saying that Arch breaks everyday.


This lain if total;y right. And same with gentoo as far as i'm using it.


>is totally
How i hate myself for this.


wayland is the x alternative i do no know of any others. but i used wayland a month ago and from what i surmised wayland still has a ways to go between application support and stability


>still has a ways to go between application support and stability
this, its even said in the gentoo wiki


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I might have problem... I've installed AMDGPU and I've been trying to compile the modules but I get this error. The configuration is based on what the Gentoo documentation suggests.


post specs what part of the installation are you on. or do you have a working system and are trying to install a new gpu


The GPU is a RX 480.
I completed the Gentoo installation by following the Handbook.
Now, I'm trying to get Xorg working, so I'm basically stuck at the point 2.2 of the Xorg Guide and at the point 1.3.1 of the AMDGPU one:




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Why hadn't anyone mention NixOS?

It's very much in the spirit of Gentoo, but the whole system can be configured declaratively from a single "configuration.nix" file.

And so its easy to

> maintain two ... systems

(or a whole bunch of them) with nixops, since you can share big chunks of configurations.

The only problem I see there is systemd.


Nevermind, problem solved.
Basically forgot to specify the directory


Installed Gentoo

After I got the hang of it, it's reasonably comfy

I set up a "normal person" XFCE4+consolekit system, justwerks reasonably well.

It's like Gentoo IS what Arch THINKS it is

Setting up a Minecraft+YouTube+LibreOffice rig for my lil bro+sis, will see how well this works


It's nice to see some other Nixers out there. I switched to NixOS like three weeks ago after using Arch for over 4 years and I'm happy with it. At first it's somewhat strange with the global configuration but after quite a time it just feels comfy. The possibility to switch always back to older states of the system are just adding the feel of safety in case I'd mess something up.

I don't have a problem with systemd, so I'm fine. Honestly I like it. Perhaps you should check out GuixSD in this case.


my first attempt at installing it didn't even boot because of a systemd error

maybe i'm just an idiot


>Why hadn't anyone mention NixOS?
Because this wasn't a thread asking for distro advice (see this >>19416). Lainon just wanted some info about a feature in Gentoo which happens to be one of the best things Linux has to offer.


>It's like Gentoo IS what Arch THINKS it is
this is not true.

« Arch taking a more principled stance in favor of architectural simplicity and avoiding over-engineering. »


the only thing gentoo is superior to arch is USE flags... everything else is pretty much the same, and also gentoo gives you more freedom anon


surprised at some of the comments around Gentoo being difficult for server use, where do problems arise? i've left stable setups running for months and only updating for serious CVEs or major version bumps of software.

totally agree with the comment about X and all the baggage that comes with it being the principal pain in the ass for any Linux system.


For me I just can't be bothered to install, set up and maintain Gentoo on a server, I give my install time and effort on my laptop but I want my server to just work, I don't want to wait for compiling or check USE flags or anything like that. Its great on my laptop I love all that stuff but on server I want to just say give me these packages, don't make me think about anything and just do it fast.


I've tried installing gentoo and ended up in a dependency hell when merging ebuilds to a hardened amd64 ininstall I've decided to give up and didn't even begin to compile the kernel.
Besides that I was temporarily derezzed from the servers so I had to give up.
Can you guys give me tips on how to install gentoo for whenever I have any more time to do it. Some of the tools to mask packages sometimes don't work when I was chrooted into the system.


If you want to learn how to use gentoo more easily install funtoo. It lets you use a prebuilt debian kernel that just werks and the installation is a lot more sane (they cut out some dumb work). Don't use tools for package masking, just 'sudo emacs/vi /etc/portage/package.mask'. Or create a dir called package.mask in /etc/portage and create files inside there to edit mask settings.

I have customized the kernel only on my main desktop. The other gentoos I have use a standard 'genkernel all' setup. Don't stall with the kernel, it's just a part of the gentoo experience, get booted into your gentoo to learn a lot more than hassling with the kernel too much (unless you need it for production/leisure servers and want to get PaX etc.)


Could anyone give me a hand with the guidebook? I've tried installing gentoo on a little laptop of mine, done it twice now with gpt and i get all the way through and then the computer doesn't boot, just get stuck at a blinking cursor so i think it's time to try bios partitioning. The only problem I'm having is that when i follow the guide it make a bios_grub flag on the first partition but i can't seem to do that with msdos tabling. Any help would be appreciated thanks :)


gentoo is literally the most insecure os. nearly all systems vulnerable to MITM attacks on update and devs dont seem to care.

choose an os that actually cares about security, not one that just perpetuates neckbeard cred on on image boards.


What would you recommend?



Making a big deal out of insignificant security holes compared to running - for example - xorg-server with minimal deps.


Goddamn, now that I actually bothered to read the report, rsync is indeed insecure as fuarrrk and should not be the default under any circumstances.
Personally I've used the gpg rings to confirm non-fuarrrked-with images for more than decade.

This is definitely a problem and it was discussed year and half ago on the forums, with even some 'senior' members 'getting much needed wake-up call'.
More that I look at it, there is indeed some idiocy in gentoo devteam and especially on certain projects like openrc, where williamh openly advocates systemd compliancy and of adding sysd rc functions to openrc.


But you can only say that gen2 is 'most insecure os' with default settings and there is no such thing for FUNCTIONAL gentoo system.


Just use an ssl mirror.


many people run gentoo with defaults straight from the installation manual but they will learn eventually


Just tried installing it on an external drive yesterday, was busy with it for like 6 hours, excluding all the hours spend reading documentation the week before.
I think I more-or-less succeeded, it booted to the login screen at least and it allowed me to log into the system without any problems.
Only I didn't manage to get network access working, I think I have to enable some modules in the kernel for that but I'm still not quite sure if that will be the solution.

I will see if I can get to that later this week, if I get wifi up and running I will delve deeper and install a graphical interface.
Though I have mixed feelings about the whole installation, I could've spend all these hours doing something else, I really hope I can use the things I learned in the future.


with wifi it does help if you are stuck to use a liveusb a pull the config file from the usb


I personally really love gentoo, it ignited my love for linux and my passion for tinkering.

I was afraid of trying it out because everyone keeps going on about how hard and impossible the install is supposed to be (I was not really an experienced linux user at the time).

This turned out not to be true at all, it is not a quick first install, that much is true, but reading carefully through the manual and looking up things I did not understand taught me so much more more than months of running other distros, which basically taught me nothing about linux except for the basics of using bash and a package manager.

Now I got Gentoo running on 2 machines and several VMs.

However there are things that kinda suck, as others have mentioned. One is the stubbornness and ignorance of some of the main developers or core community members.
They are a helpful bunch and their IRC guys provided me with an incredible amount of help.

But sometimes it feels as if a lot of them refuse to at least acknowledge some problems and aspects that could use some modernization.


>One is the stubbornness
>that could use some modernization
Stubbornness and not accepting unneeded 'modernization' (almost always a one side step and three steps back) is a good thing about most Gentoo devs.
It's exactly the odd men out like williamh, who is out there to work for RH's business interests (and this guy is main openrc maintainer for crying out loud).


This. Maybe its just because williamh is so terrible but I haven't really noticed anything wrong with the other devs. Lots of them are pretty great.

Also Neddy. He is like a god. You go into pretty much any forum thread and he is there giving helpful advice. His static /dev guide[1] is pretty awesome as well.

[1] https://wiki.gentoo.org/index.php?title=User:NeddySeagoon/Static_dev



Well spoken, this philosophy is a core aspect I love as well and I am not disagreeing with anything you just said.

It could be that my perception is warped as well as I do not follow discussions that closely, it just sometimes seemed as if critique or suggestions even between Gentoo devs is simply dismissed without much reason? Not sure.

I was also not mainly talking about aspects of Gentoo as a system itself.