No more Gentoo for me

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I was running Gentoo on my Dell Inspiron 7000 laptop but today I've gone and slicked it. I'm going to switch my laptop over to use Debian. Gentoo is pretty neat, but it takes me days to compile GNOME and I'm hitting the point where the novelty is wearing off and I want to actually use my laptop.

Anyhow, I recommend it for folks with more powerful machines. I enjoyed running it and learned a lot in the process.

It's 2:30pm--do you know what your laptop is doing now?

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I know what my laptop is doing. It's compiling Xfree86. I figured I'd do an emerge rsync and an emerge -uD world yesterday. I let it run through the night and when I awoke this morning, it was still chugging through XFree86.

I must admit, it's really awe-inspiring thinking about how much code is involved and how long it takes to compile it. It makes one think seriously about the

   code  ->  compile  -> examine issues -> fix code
                ^                            |
                |                            |

methodology. Fixing a bug that way on my laptop would take weeks. When I was in college, I would tutor CS 1 and CS 2. It was difficult to watch people do theme-and-variations programming with syntax: "Maybe I should add a ; here?... Nope. How about an extra *?... Nope--that didn't work either. How about ( ) around this?... Nope..." Then I would point out, "Um--this would never work. Remove that extra *." And they would say, "Nope--that won't work because it segfaults." Then I would sit there and try to explain why the two things are completely different issues and all I'd get back would be vacant looks.

It always made me wonder why they chose to study CS in the first place. If I was studying CS and was a theme-and-variations programmer, I would either:

  1. change methodologies
  2. quit

I wonder if that's true of other jobs and knowledge spaces.

gentoo introduction at MIT

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I went to the Gentoo introduction thing at MIT last night. I mostly went because my friend Brian is toying with Gentoo now and I thought it would help him along to get something more than the documentation and it would give me a good idea of how much Gentoo I know. Turns out I know a fair bit. I learned one or two minor things, but generally already knew the material.

One thing of note was that Rajiv said that if you trusted the developers' decisions in regards to building the stage 3 package, you might as well start there and skip the first two stages of installation. I disagree. I don't think most people appreciate the sheer magnitude of effort that has gone into GNU, the Linux kernel, the drivers, Mozilla, Python, X, OpenOffice or other components.

Ooops... Got sidetracked. Anyhow, the introduction was interesting.

Gentoo on my laptop

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I spent the greater portion of the last two weeks installing Gentoo on my laptop. I wanted to get more in depth with Linux internals and administration and additionally my laptop is somewhat underpowered and it benefitted greatly from doing a source install rather than a binary install. Things are much snappier under Gentoo than they were under Mandrake--which is the Linux distribution I used prior.

I have ALSA, APM, Gnome (with Metacity), Xmms, GDM, vim, pure-ftpd, X, gcc 3.2, pcmcia with a wireless ethernet card (SMC 2632) and a series of other things all installed and working happily with everything else.

The Gentoo forums are great for help as is the mailing list. I found I was able to fix all my problems without too much looking around.

At some point I may post the various configurations involved in getting ALSA and the wireless pcmcia stuff working--that was probably the hardest part and required the most tinkering. The rest was cake.