Pro/Cons on Mint vs. Gentoo?

Dan Egli ddavidegli at
Wed Dec 11 03:47:22 MST 2013

On December 7, 2013, S. Dale Morrey wrote:

> I think mint is just ubuntu without the craplets installed. For a gentoo

> rival you need to look at Arch linux.

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

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

Thanks, all!

--- Dan

On Sun, Dec 8, 2013 at 1:11 AM, Eric Wald <eswald at> wrote:

> On Dec 7, Dan Egli wrote:
> > So, while I love Gentoo, I hear a lot of people talking about how they
> love
> > Mint, and that Mint has the same flexibility as Gentoo, but is easier to
> > install/configure/update.
> >
> > So, I ask those who may have had experience with both to rate your
> > experience on each. How was the initial setup? Maintenance of config
> files?
> > Updates? Package/program availability (especially in pre-compiled
> binary)?
> > Granularity?
> I don't have experience with Gentoo (my source distribution experience
> has been with LFS), I have had both good and mediocre experiences with
> Mint.
> I originally set it up on my wife's new laptop, when she discovered that
> her Apple software could no longer be upgraded because it needed a new
> operating system, which needed new hardware.  She had originally bought
> that Mac after getting fed up with Windows, but before meeting me, and
> had seen me using Linux, so decided to try it.
> Initial setup was a breeze, and she was happy enough with the music,
> office, and other programs.  It was able to use all Ubuntu packages,
> and many straight Debian ones, so program availability was fantastic.
> Even Google Chrome was a breeze to install.  Mint's custom configuration
> editor meant that I rarely even touched a configuration file.
> That laptop ran Mint 7 (Gloria) for over two years, until websites
> started complaining about the age of the browsers. However, the
> maintenance window for that version had closed, so neither Firefox nor
> Chrome could be updated.  I couldn't even compile new versions, because
> I hadn't installed the header files for a few key libraries before the
> package repositories moved on.
> Unfortunately, upgrading to a new version was painful.  Mint had
> completely replaced Ubuntu's upgrade manager, with one that had no
> ability to switch distributions.  Their website also strongly
> discouraged upgrading by any means other than backup and re-install.
> Therefore, instead of upgrading incrementally, I had waited so long that
> even Mint 8 was no longer available, so we had to switch straight to
> an even later distribution.
> I backed up the home directory, but not the operating system itself,
> which proved to be a mistake when my first attempts at a system upgrade
> completely failed.  I eventually managed to get Mint 11 (Katya) running,
> but it never worked quite as well as Gloria.  In particular, X would
> freeze for no particular reason.  By the time that laptop's battery died
> a year later, my wife was frustrated enough with the random crashes that
> she wanted to try Windows again.
> To be fair, Windows 7 has been suddenly rebooting or shutting off almost
> as often, and Ubuntu 13.10 has been freezing even more frequently.
> Ubuntu on a desktop has been somewhat more stable, but one version had
> serious NTP issues, another version randomly corrupted Git object files,
> and just about every upgrade breaks one of the work-related programs I
> run under Wine.
> I have also tried PCLinuxOS, but failed to keep up with the distribution
> fast enough to keep the package manager working, so I refuse to try any
> other rolling release.  Another desktop used Debian stable, but it tends
> to feel old, and distribution upgrades are potentially worse than Mint.
> On the LFS front, my server has been rock-solid for years, but when I
> tried to roll up a desktop machine, Firefox failed to compile.  Then
> something got fried by a lightning storm, so I never got to use it much.
> - Eric
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