Date with the Gentoo Oxen

This was a somewhat unexpected decision from me. I have never before seriously looked at Gentoo as I was focused on all of the different Debian variants and Debian-based distributions. However, I read that Gentoo is truly powerful and in essence can be anything the user wants it to be – ranging from a monstrous powerhouse to a small, nimble operating system. There was of course a catch to that outstanding potency – Gentoo has to be built from scratch. Seeing how all of the core distributions (Arch Linux, Debian, BSD, etc.) have customized, easy-to-use derivatives, I decided to do some digging and find one for Gentoo as well…

A_Ducasse_Fraises_des_bois_sabayon_coco again proved to be a valuable source of information. The most reasonable Gentoo derivative turned out to be Sabayon Linux (though not like the one in the attached photo). Without further ado I launched a LiveCD and began the installation.

Some things I noticed after trying several LiveCDs – Sabayon Linux is not exactly Gentoo. It might seem like a good means of trying out Gentoo and getting to know the distribution, but to be fair, it is not.

Firstly, the GUI installer failed to work properly on every single LiveCD I tested. I then read about Gentoo itself and used the text-mode installer Anaconda. This somehow worked and I could boot into the newly installed system.

Unfortunately, the second problem occurred. I could not install anything through Portage (Gentoo’s package manager), because all of the packages were initially masked and I didn’t know how to unmask them properly. After some reading and tinkering I managed to compile some packages in an unmasked state, but in the end Portage showed errors and this led me nowhere.

Back then I felt that Sabayon Linux is a ‘hit or miss’ initiative. It is meant to make Gentoo accessible to new Linux users, but at the same time forsakes the intrinsic complexity of Gentoo. Even pure Gentoo users have problems with Sabayon users, as people running Sabayon Linux sometimes ask for Sabayon-specific advice on Gentoo forums. Then they are often met with a cold response that ‘Sabayon is not Gentoo’. Truth be told, Gentoo is not for everyone. I tried installing it myself following the official guide (very thorough, by the by), but only managed to get the core system running. Installing the graphical interface (the X Window System) was a too hard of an ordeal. Hence, I recommend playing with Gentoo only to advanced Linux users. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart…

Overall, the ‘date’ was a somewhat depressing one. Gentoo told me I’m clearly not ready for that sort of commitment. Thereby, I decided to hone my Linux skills before I approach Gentoo once more…



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