Arch Linux Vs Gentoo Linux (Binary Vs Source)

Arch or Gentoo what’s the better distribution?

Arch and Gentoo are both rolling release distributions and both by nature are simple and minimal, you get what you want and nothing more.  And to some people that’s exactly what they want, however Arch and Gentoo are by no means beginner Linux distros they’re for people who are comfortable with the command line and know their way around Linux and have knowledge of echo, proc, modprobe, less, find, and other linux command line tools.   You should also be comfortable editing a rc.conf, make.conf, resolv.conf, net, hostname(in arch it’s in rc.conf), and other configuration files with either nano or vi I personally use nano for my editing, and always if you’re in doubt ask on the 2 respectful communities or consult the documentation as both are very well documented.

So when it comes down choosing arch or gentoo you need to factor in a couple of things as they’re 2 entirely different types of distros, one is binary and the other is source bases but that isn’t quite the case as you can install source or binary packages and with arch if you want to install from source you can install from the AUR and there’s tools like yaourt and various other aur front ends, gentoo has ebuilds which are essentially the same thing but you can install them directly from portage without using a front end tool like yaourt.  Gentoo is also different because you can change your UseFlags which are essential for a lean mean system you basically add to your flags what you want and what you don’t want, if you don’t want say any gnome packages you would add “-gnome” to your useflags, if you want php in your system you would add php to your useflags.  You can use emerge to search for a package which will tell you all the available use flags for that package and you can choose what you want.

I personally change my useflag configuration per package as there is a few packages that I may want a gnome package but want it when I need it.  That’s the beauty of these two distros as they’re highly configurable and customizable and you get what you want out of them and that’s why I personally think these are 2 of the best distros around but that’s  not to say that Ubuntu, Fedora, LinuxMint, and OpenSuse aren’t good distro’s they’re very good distros especially Ubuntu, Opensuse, and Fedora.  That’s just Linux and freedom you can go from one distro to another as some distros even though derivative’s of Redhat and Debian they add there own flavor to the mix, Fedora for example is based of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and is a testing ground for it’s Enterprise brother and is considered bleeding edge but I’ll save this discussion for another post, now let’s get back to the matter Gentoo or Arch?

I may have already answered this question for you as it’s impossible to choose one over the other, both portage and pacman are excellent package managers and they do a great job with packages so I think it comes down to what do you want more?  Do you want to go in quickly and add your window and desktop manager and start adding you day to day packages?  If so than I would probably recommend Arch Linux to you as the install can take 15 minutes to 30 minutes but it depends on if you added extra packages during the install I generally just add base and base-devel and add sudo and any other packages I may need down the road but some my want it now.  Now if you want to customize your packages down to the core with Use and Cflags than I’m going to recommend Gentoo and another great thing about Gentoo because it’s source based it’s optimized specifically for your hardware and I think that’s just a big bear hug bonus.  In the end there is no winner as they’re two different type of distros being binary and source so they work differently but it just comes down to your preferences as these  are 2 killer distros that you should at least give a go once, especially gentoo.

On a side note these are two excellent choices for a server OS but it’s for those that know the inner workings of Gentoo and Arch, you should not update willy nilly as you may break a package and in result cause downtime and money if it’s your business.  Only use them as a server OS if your confident in your abilities and always always consult the forums and documentation before doing anything server related.

Thanks for reading!


About rukiridv

I'm a student studying IT and Server Administration focused on Web Development. I love to play around with linux in my spare time, linux over the years has been increasingly becoming my day to day operating system and will one day replace Windows. It won't however replace OS X as there is specific apps that I do need to use. Some of my hobbies are programming, web design, anime/manga, and toying with linux.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Linux. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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