Distribution Watch: Gentoo Linux - page 2
Introducing Gentoo Linux 1.1a
There's a bit of strategy involved in getting Gentoo Linux. It's important to remember that Gentoo is specifically designed for software developers, consultants, and power users who like to have heavy control over their environments. With this in mind, you have two options when it comes to downloading the files required to install Gentoo Linux 1.1a.
Option 1 involves downloading the 16 MB burnable CD-ROM image gentoo-ix86-1.1a.iso. This is the route I chose to take, since I suspect most people trying out Gentoo Linux will be doing so in order to control their environment, and this option gives you the most control by having you actually build the rest of the distribution by hand. You also get the latest versions of all packages by using this method.
Option 2 is only available if you have a 686 (Pentium Pro) or faster. If this is the case for you, and either you are having a hard time getting Gentoo Linux 1.1a to build on your hardware or you don't want to deal with the time it takes to do so--even on a fast connection and with a fast machine it can take hours--then you'll want to get gentoo-i686-1.1a.iso and follow the installation instructions for this combination instead of the instructions I'm following.
There are quite a number of differences between Gentoo Linux and the mainstream Linux distributions. If you come from the days where we had to install Linux in many ways by hand then some of what you'll see in the installation section will be familiar. Still, things are far more automated than "the old days." Rather than having a pile of disks to work with there's a bootable CD-ROM. You don't have to manually place most files, either, the first chunk are included on the CD-ROM, while the rest are downloaded during the install process (the Gentoo FAQ at the Gentoo web site, www.gentoo.org, addresses what to do if downloading during the installation is not feasible).
Other differences include:
- You're not installing from pre-made packages (and I'm not just referring to the installation). Instead, you're compiling from source. Even if you get the second option with most of Gentoo already on CD-ROM you still have some compilations to go through. * A highly configurable build environment and package manager named Portage. Since Portage is available during the installation process, you can use it from the start to set various factors for your Gentoo Linux distribution as a whole. Later, when you're working with your full system, you can set up a cascade of configuration files that override each other, the global file being overridden by any file that refers more specifically to the package you're building. For more on Portage, see the manual at the Gentoo Linux web site (www.gentoo.org).
- Quick, simple commands for upgrading your system and its components.
There are many more differences between Gentoo Linux 1.1a and the more mainstream Linux distributions, but these are the big ones. If you're curious, take a look through the web site and documentation, or even try out Gentoo yourself.
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