Pro/Cons on Mint vs. Gentoo?

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Wed Dec 11 11:07:12 MST 2013


On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 3:47 AM, Dan Egli <ddavidegli at gmail.com> wrote:

> Ok, then I'll ask the same on Arch. How well does it compare to Gentoo, how
> easy is it to use/update, etc...?

I don't have any experience with Gentoo recent enough to give a
comparison, but I do have a current Arch install.  I have mixed
feelings about it.  It is definitely good if you want to intimately
know every detail about your system's configuration, but you don't
want to compile absolutely everything.

> Especially of interest to me is how much of it can be updated in binaries.
> Since Gentoo has basically no binary version (and yes I know about binhosts
> but those are maintained by 3rd parties, not the gentoo development
> community) all updates need to be compiled. That's not too bad for things
> like exim or courier-imap or whatever that is small and compiled with
> custom options under C. But that's a pain for longer things like gcc/glibc,
> or for things that use g++ which was a lot slower than gcc when I used it
> last (again, around 10 years ago now). However, I do like gentoo's
> customizability. So perhaps someone can give me a comparison on how easy it
> would be to setup and maintain a machine with Arch vs. Gentoo? I know
> exactly what I'd do to setup a machine under Gentoo. How does Arch compare?
> Let me give a hypothetical setup.
>
> Suppose I'm installing and maintaining two servers. One is the primary
> gateway/mail/web/PXE/nfs server. The other is just for bulk storage.
> Hypothetically let's have the gateway be a simple setup with a software
> RAID 1 on ext4 (I don't know of a better FS for something the size of say
> 2TB). The bulk storage is accessible via nfs. The main machine provides the
> root FS to two different "networks", via two separate network cards. The
> storage server is just attached to one network, but accessible to both. It
> is much larger (say 10 4TB hdds in software raid 6). This storage server
> also has X installed (let's use kde, since that's the interface I'm
> familiar with, and that takes the longest to compile), but the iptables
> rules on the gateway prevent outside access to anything but the nfs, samba,
> and ssh ports. Internally xdmcp, vnc and rdp are also allowed to pass to
> the storage server.
>
> Setting this up in Gentoo would take a couple hours, but could be done in
> my head easy enough. Maintaining would be easy, except in times where
> gcc/g++, glibc or kde need to be updated. They'll take a lot longer. How
> easy would it be to setup something like that in Arch, and how easy would
> it be to update things in binary mode (especially those items I just
> mentioned)?

I think those packages are all part of the core set of packages, which
means there are official binaries for them.  You'll have to configure
everything yourself, but the Arch wiki is pretty comprehensive, though
I have occasionally found some advice for niche configuration options
to be questionable.

So, I doubt it would take any more time to configure than Gentoo, and
it won't require re-compiling anything for updates.

The only time you need to compile things is when you move beyond the
core and community sets of packages, which all have standard binary
packages.  The coverage in these collections is much smaller than you
get in a standard .deb or .rpm based distro.  But there's a system
called the Arch User Repositories (or AUR) that provides a central
database of source-based package building recipes, and it includes
some tools that can make the AUR packages integrate fairly well with
the standard binary packages.

The management of the AUR database seems to be completely
decentralized and with only community-provided oversight, so it's a
bit of a crapshoot as to whether the software you want will have a
good AUR build recipe.  It tends to *mostly* succeed automatically
unless you want something really obscure, though.


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