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Spoiled on Gentoo

March 18, 2005 | Computers

Red Hat Linux Enterprise Edition.

I’m fearing it. I have to do an install at work to run a test server and I’m not looking forward to it. Since I’ve started using Gentoo the RPM based distro’s seem like such a pain in the ass.

A little background for the non-geeks. Linux packages typically consist of just what is needed to perform a certain function. Because of this when you install one package you probably need others to do this, they have dependencies. But if you don’t have a dependency installed you can’t install it later, it has to be installed before you install the one you’re after. WIth RPM based distros this can be a pain in the ass especially when you want to install 3 things but you have 30 or more dependencies. And the crappy thing about RPM based distros, unless I’m missing something here, is that you’ll find out about dependencies one at a time. So you’ll have to try a build 30 times to find you have 30 dependencies that you need to get first. And sometimes dependencies have dependencies.

This is where Portage on Gentoo comes in handy. You tell it what you want, it factors dependencies and it installs what you need. I put CVS, Python and a couple of CVS extras on my Gentoo box at work and it downloaded and compiled 76 items. That would have wasted a bunch of time on an RPM based system.

That said – I’m dreading this install of Red Hat. I’m not geeky enough to just punch out an install. I had to look up recommended partition tables for Red Hat so I knew how to manipulate it and still get the system what it wanted. Granted, the install of Gentoo wasn’t quite smooth as silk – my build took 3 days because it was an old machine and I had to boot Knoppix to do it. But I just don’t want to think about the crap I’m gonna have to do to get Red Hat installed and happy with everything that I need.

I really have been spoiled by Gentoo.

7 Responses

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  • Gentoo is a great distro. The portage is amazingly good for Linux starters. (No need for ./configure, optimize make, etc…) Applications run amazingly fast compared to RPM based distros. There are some drawbacks, such as long installation time just to get running and stuff, compared to RedHat or Mandrake but it’s amazing.

    As for RHEL, I think it’s crappy. I’m against making server editions of Linux; easy. First, servers should definitely not be RPM based. (For security and performance reasons) If you start to have binary distributions, RPMs, you will start seeing people who manage Microsoft servers, aka crappy admins who only hold certificates but no real life experience. I think if you are just a curious geek who likes to explore new distributions, then go ahead and try RedHat. It’s pretty amazing, and most companies prefer it. But if you think you are going to run a server off a RedHat distribution, I suggest not. Cracking a RedHat Server is pretty easy, in certain conditions. (Gentoo is too, if you have just regular ol’gentoo-sources or gentoo-dev-sources. But, grsec-sources are very very secure; recommended for server build.)

    As for RPMs, I think the reason why they built such way of binary distribution is for fast installation, and no need for any "Terminal" for new users to linux. Obviously, it is much faster for a person to double click on a RPM file and install a mail server, rather than installing 40 different dependencies from source. (I guess it depends on the MAKE="" variable, but still.)

    Well, if you are a curious geek, and have a x86 machines around (or ppc machines for that matter), try out OpenBSD and FreeBSD. They are equally good distribution for both server-production and user desktop use. Oh yeah, not to mention Solaris 10.

    Tom, March 19, 2005 3:49 am | permalink

  • oh yeah, and as for slowness. 3days?!?! for gentoo? I assume it is Stage 1, but still! (I am also assuming you meant installing, Window Manager, etc…) If it was that slow for you old comp, I recommend against RedHat. It will be very very very slow….

    Tom, March 19, 2005 3:52 am | permalink

  • Well, the reason for Red Hat is because the Management System that our Tech department bought was built and tested, and supported only on Red Hat. So we don’t have much choice. They’ve got a production server running Gentoo right now but it behaves oddly: memory leaks and failing to clean up its cache files are a couple – I’ve been told of more but I can’t remember.

    And that 3 day load time was a stage 1 install of Gentoo just for the base system. The computer is a 233mhz PII with 512 mb of Ram. They gave me such a smokin’ machine I just about pissed my pants (now I REALLY need to put in emoticons). I don’t mind that computer being slow because it forces me to develop sleek pages that load fast. The site I test on there is very fast despite the crappy server.

    This other server is gonna be interesting though. This system I need to skin is a hog. Seriously, the production server is a Dual PIII 2ghz or something like that, running off of Ultra 320 SCSI drives, 4 gigs of Ram, ya know, a real server platform that should smoke. But it doesn’t. I fear that this test server is gonna choke under the weight of the software. Hopefully not. All I have to do is skin this sucker but the templates are so fucked up that I won’t touch the live server. I have to work on a test server because I know that skinning it means breaking it first.

    Back to my main test server: yeah, its a slow ass PII. I installed CVS packages and Python and it took most of the day to do. It is a trooper though – I’m also setting up a PDF printer for folks in my department but I’m gonna have to re-emerge the cups-pdf driver so that I can dump finished PDF files to a different location. Right now they dump into a spool folder which is only accessible to the admin. Not very helpful to the user that needs his PDF file. And the destination folder is a compile time variable – pretty stupid to make it compiled in if you ask me but what do I know?

    shawn, March 20, 2005 8:03 am | permalink

  • I hate RPMs.

    Just did an upgrade of Mysql from an RPM and now the system reports that no Mysql is installed but there is a mysqld deamon running but no mysqladmin or mysql to talk to the server.

    Shawn, March 21, 2005 11:12 am | permalink

  • have you tried

    service mysql start

    ? It’s equivalent to

    /etc/init.d/mysqld start

    in Gentoo. (Or it might have been service mysqld start.)

    Tom, March 21, 2005 12:46 pm | permalink

  • Odd thing is, mysql is running – its just that after I did an upgrade both versions are on there, and both versions are incomplete, and one is running.


    rpm -q mysql

    reports that nothing is installed. I’m rebuilding from source now, and then I get to figure out if the startup script is the new one or old one because like a dip I didn’t remove the old one before compiling.

    Shawn, March 21, 2005 1:05 pm | permalink

  • Looks like Autopackage just declared 1.0 and declared it to be stable. The screenshots look very promising.

    Tom, March 27, 2005 1:33 pm | permalink

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