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1 Year On - Gentoo Review

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From back in secondry school i wanted to do things differently, i wanted to stand out from the crowd that little bit, just to make sure that i was counted and not just part of whatever happened.

My first expirence with a computer which i remember, and which wasn't just messing around on websites playing games (didn't we all do this!) or taking direct orders from a teacher was in the first week of school. The teacher knew that if they tried to teach these 30 or so young boys, about these amazing machines without first letting them run wild then they would get no where. So we were given free reign on the computers for a hour, allowed to do what we liked.

Many played games, or viewed websites and signed up to email accounts and the like. I sat in the corner of the room and started up some editor named "Turtle Edit" or something simuler. I managed to write a program which took the input from a user, ask for a even number and then swear at them if it wasn't even.


Now to the present day, computers have got faster and faster before our very eyes, and with this they have become so much more complicated. After those first few weeks of "IT" at school we had no more lessions with computers, and so i had looked for another way to learn, for this i eventually had a Cyrix 300 at home and i learnt to dismantle and rebuild this with ease.


Problem was, it was still running at the same slow speed, with the same boring O/S. Windows 95. I didn't like the idea of being with the "norm" but it was something i stuck with until Feb 2005.


I had a windows system which i wasn't fond of, and some spare space and a spare hard disk. I moved all my data off the spare hard disk so it was nice and empty so i could install suse.

This great idea didn't last long. I had all the cables connected and for some reason suse refused to do any kind of install, sometimes it would get half way then refuse to update. Sometimes it would refuse to boot outright, but eitherway it wasn't going to happen.


From this i was annoyed, i had heard so many great things about linux, and how it should work on any box i choose to try it on. It was meant to blow my mind and break me out of the mould that windows had created for me, to free me from windows constaints, and instead i was stuck with a "Source not found" message leaving me totally bewildered.

I then left it a few days, and once again plucked up my courage and downloaded a mandrake CD. At the time on BT Dialup downloading a ISO would take all night easily, so to do this was a big thing. I took my new Mandrake disk and plompted it into the disk drive..... Nothing. It refused to boot, just like suse.


Now i was really amused and baffled, i had tried two linux distros, both which i had heard great things about, and yet nither booted. I decided that i needed extra help, i contacted my local lug (Linux user group) whom at first assisted me, but then slowly started to turn against me for whatever reason (sometimes it would be because my spelling was off, sometimes because i forgot to mention something), but slowly but surely they pushed me away.

Strangely, they were my blessing, how could they dare to treat me so badly after i had entered their world? I was shocked and horrified at how nasty they had been, but i decided there and then that i WOULD get linux working, and it WOULD be with this machine.


I went in search of the fastest way of installing linux on my machine and found two options, a debian net install, or gentoo. I talked to various people on IRC and they all pretty much gave me the same answer, debian was far eaiser to install than gentoo.


So i went for it, the debian install it was....


It appered to be going peachy up until the point at which i had to choose sources. I went off to the family PC so i could find out what i was doing. The documetnation i found was beyond awful in some places. It was hard to read and didn't flow, plus most of it said it was out of date, and was going to be updated, but none of it appered to actually be upto date. I sighed and went back to my computer and tried to work through selecting packages my self, but without knowing what i was really doing.


I ended up with a half dead system, which may or maynot of been easily fixed, but i was once again put off. I turned off my computer and it sat there for about 2 weeks. At uni at the time i had a programming assignment, and someone suggested that we look at installing linux, so that we had some idea how computers worked with logic and other things along these lines.

I rushed home and popped back onto irc....


One guy, whom has my upmost respect was almost... waiting for me. He greeted me as he does and we chatted for awhile, i then announced that i was planning to install gentoo, and his answer was "I hope you can read". Little did i know how much that was going to mean.

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i'm really glad you stuck it out... and unfortunately your story isn't all that rare :( so many people within the community fail to see that without giving back knowledge, without sharing and helping when people are in trouble you will not have the userbase you carve.


#linux on efnet has long since moved to become an elitist chamber that will not help anyone and instead aims them at manuals that are either too complex or simply go striaght over the head of the new users.


Now you know why this place is such a great place to have, here is a place where all the new guys can come and ask the questions that may have been asked before, may have answers already present somewhere else on the net (google is not ALWAYS right!), and here we will try our hardest to help...


I'm really disappointed by the reaction of your LUG, they should be there to commune with for all your troubles and hold your hand into the Linux world...


but !!


you did but show them up, and with gentoo no doubt :D woot



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Yeah, i've met all sorts of troubles along my way. Most of it seems to be bad management (espicially in #linux where im now "allowed" as long i let any op know that i'm a special case and they should contact the channel owner if they have a problem with me LOL).



Im going to write a full review of gentoo soon enough, just got to fix a few problems and clean up some stuff.



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Gentoo is an amazing distrobution in my eyes. Firstly there is the fact that i came from windows, an entirely self taught teen with the need for something a little different, a little funky, which would set me apart from everyone else. My reasons for getting away from windows weren't because of any one thing which had gone wrong, but a combination of wanting to experinment, wanting to learn, and the fact that knowing some linux skills would look good on my CV.


Gentoo has a cleanness, a feel to it that its been polished, but allowed to bear its battle scars at the same time. While a noobie might come along, glance at gentoo and scream in horror at the text flying past their eyes as a new package compiles, or shrink away at the idea of it not setting up a graphical user interface for you from the second you install it.


But then a seasoned linux user can see the beauty which gentoo holds, they might not like gentoo, but none can say that the design of portage, gentoos main weapon, is nothing less than pure bliss.


Some say that portage is ugly, that its cmdline interface makes it difficult to use, especially for people new to linux. This may be true, but if they have managed to install gentoo, then they have already shown that they have at least some comprehenshion of what they are doing. Maybe this is the reason for my next reason.


Another thing that gentoo has, which i find is an incredible draw, is its amazing community, and the stuff that they manage to output.The gentoo comunity, unlike any other linux (i should say distro) community which i've experinced are incredibly forgiving. If you stroll into #gentoo on freenode or efnet and ask your question, you are hardly ever met with "Google noob" or random other insults which i meet in so many other distro channels. The gentoo guys also have the time (or make you feel that do) to sit down, and work though a problem with you.


I've had a number of problems, where portage was behaving strangely, or some program just wouldn't compile and not once was i given the answer "google", nor was i ignored or put to the bottom of the pile. People would take me, and ask for a paste of what was happening, i would provide this (in a pastebin ofcourse!) and then they would set to anaylising it. 90% of the time someone reckonised the problem on the spot, and if they didn't, then they would start researching it. One of the first steps, would be they would themselfs install the program (Which is super easy thanks to portage), and check if it compiles fine on their machine, if it did then we would work though different ideas trying to fix the problem at hand.

I hardly ever felt this kind of... caring about users with other distros. Maybe its due to the fact that if you can manage to install gentoo, then your not your adverage dumb noobie with no knowledge, i dont know, but what ever causes it, its amazing.



If you did find a problem which you couldn't solve with the guys (and girls) on irc, then you have a few more choices. There is a wonderful forum, which you can expect the same kind of support as from the irc peeps. Also the site is filled with tons of wonderful, precise, nicely layed out documentation which holds clues and hints to all sorts of problems.


All of this is created by supporters of gentoo, for gentoo'ers.


Gentoo is an amazing distro, with an amazing Community and i hope to be part of that for a long time to come

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interesting reading djsmiley2k


would you be willing to condense (and expand) some of the above to a format similar to the reviews posted on http://linux-noob.com/review ?


and include some screenshots if possible, i'd be happy to edit the final file (can be straight text in vi or whatever) and get it published for you as a review


let me know




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i'd appreciate it ! and would love to have a review of Gentoo on http://linux-noob.com/review


so get working :)


this format > http://linux-noob.com/review/suse/10/ < is the way i'd prefer it to be, (as in topics etc) but you are free to go your own route, also try to include


* why you chose gentoo instead of another distro

* why you stayed with gentoo

* how hard did you find compiling coming from a windows background

* anything else that would enlighten others to try gentoo (or linux) for that matter




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