Gentoo (was Re: strangest systems I've sent email from)

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Apr 29 11:10:00 CDT 2016

On Fri, 29 Apr 2016, alexmcwhirter at wrote:
> Gentoo is powerful because you get to chose your init system, kernel 
> options, and every other piece of software that runs on the box.

Other than the swapping init systems, many OSS OS distributions have the 
ability to choose what you want to run. Not all are as granular as Gentoo 
(but some, say embedded distros, have even more control). There are dozens 
of Linux distros as you know, and this degree of control & granularity is 
one of the main variable. Ubuntu users want "just-worky-ness", Gentoo 
users often want tweakability in the extreme. It all depends on your needs 
and value system. 

> For example, dovecot on ubuntu pulls in ldap, sasl, etc... On gentoo you 
> choose what gets pulled in via USE flags.

I guess there is no accounting for taste. I would not call USE flags a 
feature, my opinion is that they are painful in implementation (dragging 
around a list of way-too-many little keywords is not fun, IMHO), nasty to 
work with and have to look at (some giant wrap-around variables in the 
conf file), and make me feel dirty and disorganized. Plus, in my 
experience, if you accidentally put in two mutually exclusive or 
not-very-well-tested USE flags you are in for a hard time that might be 
difficult to track down (ie.. if the effects don't immediately surface).

> CrossDev is also a great to that has helped me port gentoo to SPARC64 
> with little to no issues.

Cross compiling is neat, for sure. However, Gentoo doesn't have any unique 
claim on that (not that you implied that). Many other OSs have used the 
same methodology since long before Linux, much less Gentoo.


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