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novicegentoo
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 4:27 pm    Post subject: Completely new to Linux, want to try Gentoo Reply with quote

Hello,

I'm completely new to Linux, I'm in a legal dispute with Microsoft, so I switched to Linux few months ago, since then I've tried Fedora 22 and openSUSE but I have been very disappointed with both, Fedora started freezing at the login screen after a update, despite asking for help at it's support forums and pages, no one were able to help, then I switched to openSUSE but this one is suffering from graphical artifacts, when I try to install graphics driver using zypper, it is not able to connect to the internet because of some IPv6 problem, although I can browse the net through FireFox on the same openSUSE, problem persists even when I disable IPv6.

As I started searching for other Linux distributions to try, I came across this webpage: http://www.tecmint.com/10-linux-distributions-and-their-targeted-users/ , in it Gentoo is mentioned after Debian at number, the author wrote " “If you learn a Linux distro you learn that distro, if you learn Gentoo you learn Linux”, so I'm hoping that by using Gentoo I'll learn whatever is needed to use other Linuxes.

I was shocked by the way programs are installed in Fedora and openSUSE, which was very unfamiliar to me, by using Gentoo, I hope to become familiar with these kinds of concepts and ways of doing things, learn the basics of Linux commands, etc.

What do I need to install Gentoo, what partitions do I need to create? Can I use the ones of openSUSE? Do I need to create separate, home, root, swap, etc? What should be the size of each of those partitions? I'm completely new to Linux, is there a manual for Gentoo which will tell me how to use, I'm unfamiliar with using terminal and it's commands, etc.

Is there a Desktop Environment for Gentoo, how do I install graphics drivers, sound drivers, etc, what can I do if they are incompatible or create problems? Is there VLC player and PDF reader available?

Thanks
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gentoo is indeed a good way to learn about Linux but you'll need to invest some time and patience on it. This is not the easiest distro for a beginner.

I strongly recommend learning basic shell / unix commands before (cd, mv, ls, cat , pwd, grep, | , >, >> , vim or nano , cp , ... )

The handbook should be able to answer most of your question(s), this is the guide to installing a Gentoo system from 0.

The size of the partition is up to you to decide. Some prefer splitting /home and / (like me), some not.

As for Desktop environments, there's plenty available, VLC and many of the usual open source programs you know are available on Gentoo's > 18.000 ebuilds repository.

And most important, have fun, Gentoo is an excellent distro and learning experience.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best way to learn Linux is to not switch distros every time you run into a problem.

With no disrespect intended, you need to decide what your priorities are, and what you're willing to pay in terms of time spent learning.

The vast majority of software on EVERY Linux distro is available in every other distro. Software packages are made by teams, often not related to any distro. The maintainers of a distro choose which packages to use in their distro, or in Gentoo's case they may offer all of the packages meeting their quality criteria and let the user choose which to use.

As such, the problems you have with Fedora might show up with OpenSuse or Gentoo as well. Sometimes the problem is specific to your box, either the hardware or the configuration. The actual software differences between distros is relatively small. You're looking at the package manager, probably the init system and a bit of desktop tweaking as the most obvious differences. And of course the community.

My recommendation is to pick one and stick to it. It's certainly possible to use Gentoo as your starter distro, we've had even children pick it as their first and become proficient. But it's not an easy path.

The reason you would choose Gentoo over another distro is because you want extreme control over what software is on your system and what options are compiled into it. This means you have strong opinions why package A might be better than package B, or why you do/don't want any of your software to support some feature. I don't hear that in your post. I hear dissatisfaction with Windows and a bunch of test drives of various Linux distributions.

You are definitely welcome to try Gentoo, but based on what I've seen so far in your post I doubt it will be a good fit.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Novicegentoo, Gentoo is a really cool way to deal with all that software, and if you manage to tame it, you will surely grow to love it. However, it's NOT a distribution for newcomers, and the newcomers are not likely to tame it.
If you still want to try it first, I won't hold you back and the mentioned handbook is your best friend, but the expected result for you is to get disappointed, irritated, or find out that linux sucks. Better start with some easy distribution. Perhaps Ubuntu or Debian would be a good starter. They have the advantage of providing you with a working system from the beginning, so you can mess with it and learn the tricks at your pace. Gentoo doesn't provide that comfort. If you don't know what you're doing, it will not do what you want.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you find installing software shocking in Linux then you find installing drivers in Gentoo even more shocking, you do not install drivers in Gentoo! You set the variables and portage will install drivers for you.
To install low level drivers you reconfigure and rebuild your kernel.
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novicegentoo
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your informative and helpful replies. Can I first try it in virtualbox? Then when I become competent, I can use it directly?

I also didn't understand what Buffoon meant by this:

Quote:
You set the variables and portage will install drivers for you.
To install low level drivers you reconfigure and rebuild your kernel.


What are variable and portage? What is meant by reconfigure an rebuild your kernel?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

novicegentoo,

Welcome to Gentoo. If your objective is to learn about Linux, Gentoo will help.
If you just want to be productive straight away, Gentoo is probably not for you.

You have already put a lot of hours into learning Windows. Keep that in mind when you decide to learn Linux.
With Gentoo, you will be your own systems admistrator. It fact, you will build your own distro.

You can try Gentoo in Virtual Box. The transfer to real hardware won't be difficult once you have enough Gentoo experience to want to do that.
You will need to rebuild some things as Virtual Box offers guests emulated hardware. You won't have that real hardware.

Rather that expand on Buffoons hints, Make yourself a new Virtualbox guest, with a 40G HDD, and boot it with System Rescue CD.
If you really, really want to, the Gentoo minimal ISO will work too but its pretty minimal.

When you have got that far, follow the Gentoo Handbook

At some risk of putting you off Gentoo, I'll show you the Gentoo installer.
Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. There you will see the installer.
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Last edited by NeddySeagoon on Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

novicegentoo wrote:

What are variable and portage? What is meant by reconfigure an rebuild your kernel?


Portage is the name of the package installation system. You configure it by setting USE variables which are optional features of each package. The kernel is the real operating system. I know Microsoft claims that everything is in the operating system, but that's not true. IMHO, the best definition of "Operating System" is IBM's from the 1950's "A program whose purpose is to run other programs". The kernel has optional features, many optional features. It's not a kitchen sink like Windows. Actually, I would liken Windows to a toilet, but I have some strong opinions. In binary distros, the distro gives you a kitchen sink kernel and that's that. In Gentoo you refine and tune your kernel, although pre-packaged configurations are available.

You haven't said anything about your technical background, but I gather you are not technical. That's OK. Many, if not most, of us have some technical background. I, myself, am a retired embedded software engineer. That helps, but isn't required. Do you have an insatiable itch to tinker under the hood? Did you take things apart when you were a kid to see how they worked? If the answer is "no", this probably is not the distro for you, unless you know someone like that to help you install and maintain your system. My grandkids loved running Gentoo although they had not the faintest idea how it worked. My strong suggestion,even though I don't want to discourage you, is to try Ubuntu and if you didn't like RedHat's interface, try Kubuntu. Also, try an older version. Ubuntu and RedHat are now using a new major software called systemd, so are most Linux distros. This software is unproven and in my opinion and the opinion of many others with a professional background is ill-conceived and ill-designed. I'm not surprised that you encountered freezes and crashes. Meanwhile, read the Gentoo Documentation,https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Handbook:Main_Page and buy a book on Linux. I recommend "Running Linux" http://www.amazon.com/Running-Linux-Matthias-Kalle-Dalheimer/dp/0596007604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453150010&sr=8-1&keywords=running+linux although it's rather dated now, but the concepts don't change (or shouldn't). If you feel you can (mostly) make sense of the Installation Guide, come on back and tell us what your hardware is and how you want to use the system. If there is no response, send a private message to me via the forum and I will surely respond.

Good Luck and don't surrender to Micro$oft.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course you can try it on virtualbox. You can try it on the bare hardware too, it's pretty much the same thing.

"Becoming competent:" This is a really murky topic. I've been using Linux almost exclusively since 1996, and there are days when I don't consider myself to be competent. It's a long journey, with smooth spots and bumpy spots. You will never reach your destination, but it's a fun trip if you're in the right frame of mind.

What Buffoon said: If you follow the Gentoo Handbook all this will be made clear. Speaking as somebody who actively uses several Linux distributions, it's not shocking that you would install drivers. Usually it happens automatically these days, or with Gentoo your initial system configuration should take care of it.

What I said: Mostly what I was talking about is that people who decide to make Gentoo work can usually do so. It will take much more effort to learn than a precompiled distro, and it will take a lot more time to manage at least in the beginning than any distro you have used. Gentoo has two features which cause it to be more difficult:

  1. It's a rolling release distro, which means that the daily/weekly software updates are all you get. Other distros have versions of the distro, and you reinstall or do a major upgrade, like with Windows 7 and Windows 8.
  2. Gentoo is source-based. Everything else is compiled for your hardware, Gentoo requires that you configure your system and then build everything (or almost everything) right on your system.


You may have already found this information out, but the short end of the story is that Gentoo forces you to research things you would never even notice on other distros, because they make few assertions about software Gentoo users install.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@NeddySeagoon

Thanks for welcoming me, I feel happy to part of such an active and helpful forum.

My main objective is to learn Linux, it's internal working, etc. I don't think I'll be so easily put off by Gentoo, you may have gotten that impression because I wrote I switched to different Linuxes when they didn't work as expected, I feel Gentoo will be different.


@Tony0945

Thanks for your reply, package is just a different name for software programs? Is Portage the only way through which one can install in Gentoo?

I actually refer to Microsoft as Macroshit, so there is no question of me surrendering to them(I still have Windows 7 for games). About my technical background, I learnt C and C++ many years ago, I doubt how good I'm in it now, I need to revise it. In my childhood, I used to take apart, cameras, radios, boomboxes, alarm clocks and put them back, etc sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn't, I used to help my uncle clean his bike, he used to take it apart and clean like that. I've upgraded the hardware of my present computer to what it is, built it up from scratch, bought the motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, PSU, put the whole thing together to it's running state and I've been maintaining my computer since 2004 or so.

Before I try any Linux, I visit it's support forums and pages and ask there to see if the community is responsive and helpful, because in case I run into any problems I'll know that those forums and pages will help me, this gives me comfort and confidence to go ahead with that Linux distro, till now I don't know why but I could never get into Ubuntu support forums, there was always this problem of username already taken, even when I tried a unique username which I know would never be taken by some other user, so because of this I didn't try Ubuntu.

I never heard about systemd, which you mentioned, I don't think I'll be able to spend that much money to buy the book you suggested on Amazon.


@1clue

By source based you mean, the source codes have to be compiled on my system? Rather than installing from executable binaries like in Windows? I think I'll need to learn the most basic commands on Gentoo Linux to get a hang of it.

Thanks
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

novicegentoo,

We can promise that Gentoo won't work as you expect.
Your expectations will soon be recalibrated :)

To help us help you when you get started, post one problem per forum thread and work on one thing at a time.
By all means ask which is the most important to fix first.

Instructions to read the friendly manual will be accompanied by a pointer to the piece of the friendly manual you should consult.

You will need your enquiring mind. We tend to help you learn to fish, rather than feed you a fish.

Good luck.

-- edit --

Your Gentoo install will give you a system that can do very little except build more software. There will be no Graphical User Interface until you add it.
Its not a part of the base install. By the time you get to booting your install, you will know the basics of installing software on Gentoo.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@novicegentoo,

Yes, I mean everything is compiled from source code on your machine.

There are some packages (firefox, libre office, etc) which can be installed as binary packages, but generally speaking it's all done with a compiler on your system.

Other distros are much easier to figure out for most beginners. Installing Gentoo the first few times takes a lot of time (I've spent days on a single install in the beginning), mostly because you're off reading documentation and trying which of several different options you want to use. As opposed to Ubuntu, for example, which I have installed in 5 minutes from initial prompt booting off a CD to reboot into the basic OS.

The difference between Ubuntu and Gentoo is what makes each distro attractive to a certain group of people. I use both actively, for different purposes. If I want a "don't have to mess with it" install, especially if some other person needs to help maintain it, then I use Ubuntu. If I want something special, or if I'm the only one involved, it will probably be Gentoo. If there are other criteria then I might choose a different distro.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@novicegentoo,

Quote:
I learnt C and C++ many years ago
Good, then we don't have to explain the difference between source code, object code, and executable code.

Yes, packages are usually single programs, data, and the manual (man page) that goes with them. But they can contain a suite of related programs. As I said, the installer is named portage and even that can be changed to a different one called paludis. 99% use portage. portage has a directory system full of ebuilds. Ebuilds are automated installation scripts. So, if you want to install say, firefox, it is just necessary to type "emerge firefox". Sounds simple, but that particular one is resource intensive. The portage system (actually emerge is a python program) tries to match up the new package that you are installing with what's required for it to run. Quite often, that causes problems and the installation will fail with an error message. Sometimes even old timers like me are stumped and come to the forum for hope. Except NeddySeagoon. The man is awesome!

I recommend starting with a simple system, no disk encryption or RAID, the basic OpenRC init system, and no GUI at first. After the system is up and running well, then install X and a GUI. Way back in the thread you asked if there is one. Yes, about six or more.

The book, being old, can probably be found in a used book store or used from Amazon, or in a library. Looking to my left, I have two copies on the shelf, probably different editions. I'm a book pack rat.
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el muchacho
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised that you encountered so many drivers/hardware issues/instabilities, etc, on "mainstream" distros.

However, i think it's a good thing to be a bit familiar with the Linux world before jumping into gentoo. Ie. knowing the filesystem, the commands, the concept of a "kernel", etc, ie all the basics.

Then you can go on with Gentoo, there's plenty of online support (the community is great, especially the support you find on this forum).

The installation Handbook is very detailed and will teach you more than installing Gentoo, you will at the same time go though the underlyings of a proper working Linux system.

It will teach you to:

- create the partitions, mounting them
- install a basic system, and understand that code can be compiled with several options in gcc, depending on your type of CPU, etc, which is ultimately what makes Gentoo's specificity
- compile a kernel (depending on how much you want to fine-tune it this might be the most demanding step in terms of trials/errors as you're more likely to miss an important option/driver/module)
- the first steps of basic admin: how to set up a network interface; add a non-root user; install the basics like vi, sudo, iptables if you want it, etc...

- then you can add X, and a graphical desktop (Gnome, KDE, or XFCE). This is NOT part of the official handbook but there are plenty of official Gentoo wikis on this.

The most complicated steps for me have always been:

- compiling a customized kernel
- getting the audio drivers to work well
- sometimes the X config although in the current versions of X and XFCE things are almost straight-forward (i have dual-screens and it used to be complicated...)
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be quicker to install Ubuntu (leaving space on the drive for a Gentoo install)
and then install Gentoo using the basic knowledge you've gained from Ubuntu, than
it would be to install Gentoo directly.

Will
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:08 am    Post subject: ><)))°€ Reply with quote

Indeed, welcome, novicegentoo!


For a lot of the time betwixt 2000 and 2010, I had a desire to try out Linux, but I could never decide which distribution to go for. At some point in 2010, I finally did try out Ubuntu, which was not very... inspiring. I didn't feel I was learning anything; for while I learn things by doing, pointing and clicking I was already somewhat experienced with.

I'm not sure how nor why, but some months later, I bumped into Gentoo, and right off the installation I was hooked quite completely! It might have reminded me of growing up with the Commodore 64, and of the times with my first PC and some MS-DOS diskettes. I don't remember a single frustrating moment, seriously, even though things often took a while to 'click' (but that was to be expected).

Here I am, still using the same install soon six (6) years later, though it has moved from spinning platters to an SSD, and there probably aren't all too many bits left of the original, aside from some .keep-files and other things I don't feel like deleting because... uh, nostalgia?

I was most surprised by the fact that I never really needed my Windows install again, even though I play games quite a bit too! Wine has been essential in making this possible (a compatibility-layer used for running Windows things on Linux and other operating systems that are not Windows). Nowadays we have the native Steam client, with a great collection of games with native Linux support, so there's that, too! I think I still have said Windows installation somewhere, but I don't remember when I last booted it. Sometimes I do run Windows 7 on a Virtual Machine for building software to be used by my friends (until I get cross-compiling set up). That said, I'm no real coder (yet; hopefully soon-to-be one!). I have not gone to school nor work related to programming or anything IT in general (yet).


A lot can be said about the advantages of Gentoo, and I think a major part are the forums here, as well as the community visiting them. I haven't asked many questions around here to help myself, but that's only because I was able to find the solution(s) by searching around, and by reading questions already answered. If I see something I can help with, I do what I can, and often learn more in the process.

The documentation also deserves loads of credit. Nothing is perfect, though, so some things might be out of date, or in a flux due to the migration to a wiki format (though I haven't really encountered that much at all personally). Being a wiki, it should be easy for users to contribute and help correct and improve things where need be.


With all that said, I usually recommend Gentoo first, then Linux Mint. Not that I can say much about Linux Mint though; I haven't used it that much, but it is the one other distribution I am at least somewhat familiar with, and have used a bit as testing grounds for various things. I also took Sabayon for a ride out of interest, but it had nothing to keep me entertained. In the very end, I do often recommend trying out as many distributions as one has the energy for, even if it was Ubuntu. Use what works for you, and all that.


Of course it's not for everyone, but yes, Gentoo provides great tools for building a distribution of your own. It will also teach you a lot, if you give it the chance. I know I for one am still learning! ^^

I like my distribution, and I still consider it to be my first, even though I ran with Ubuntu for a few hours before going out with Gentoo.


Again, welcome. I wish you a fun stay!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

just wanted to point novicegentoo to sven vermeulen's linux book.
having a copy of that at hand will answer quite a number of questions I think.

http://swift.siphos.be/linux_sea/

note there are PDF and ePUB versions available
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theotherjoe wrote:
just wanted to point novicegentoo to sven vermeulen's linux book.

And i'm just backing up theotherjoe's hint of sven's book, a real good read for learners :)
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://linuxcommand.org/tlcl.php - I consider it very good introduction.

Did we lose our OP?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I'm still here Buffoon, I've downloaded "The Linux Command Line" by William E. Shotts.

@theotherjoe & krinn
Thanks for bringing to my attention Linux Sea by Sven Vermeulen, I've just downloaded it's PDF version.

@chiitoo

Thanks for the welcome and sharing your experience.

@cwr

I'll be running it in VirtualBox not directly.

Because of bandwidth limitations, I download huge files at month end. Can you suggest which one should I download from this page: https://www.gentoo.org/downloads/

Should I download Minimal Installation CD ISO or Hybrid ISO or Stage 3? What's the difference between all three? Where are stage 1 and 2?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stage 1 and 2 are not available. The different stages are based on how much of the work was done for you. Stage 3, you get an almost-bootable image but you have to add/configure a few things, as instructed in the handbook. If you do this on a VM, and then later shutdown that VM and copy it to a new folder, the copy would be a stage 4 install. You started with a ready-to-use system configured the way you want it, you change the machine name and a few other things and you're done.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

novicegentoo,

You can use any Linux liveCD you have to hand to install Gentoo. The CD only provides the tools you need to accomplish the install.
None of its code ends up in your install. The only constraint is that for a 64 bit install, you must boot a 64 bit kernel.
If you don't have a suitable Linux already, use System Rescue CD
Its a much smaller download that the DVDs, which are intended to be Gentoo tasters and not so much of a shock to you an the Gentoo minimal ISO.
The minimal CD is very err ... minimal. System Rescue CD provides an optional GUI, which makes getting help easier.

You will need a stage3 file too. This is a binary tarball of everything you must have on a Gentoo system, except where you have choices.
Get the amd64 stage3 for a 64 bit install and the i686 stage3 for a 32 bit install.
Read the Gentoo handbook for more detail.

You will need a portage snapshot to get your portage tree. Its quite big too.
That's two or three things to download.

Once upon a time there was also tarballs for stage1 and stage2 install starting points. They are still generated in the course of producing a stage3 but no longer distributed.
Starting from a stage1 provides more opportunities to mess up/learn than starting from a stage3.
The stage1 and stage2 documentation is still around and you can use a stage3 tarball to perform a stage1 or stage2 install if you wish. It will take your CPU longer but you will end up with the same thing.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Completely new to Linux, want to try Gentoo Reply with quote

novicegentoo wrote:
“If you learn a Linux distro you learn that distro, if you learn Gentoo you learn Linux”, so I'm hoping that by using Gentoo I'll learn whatever is needed to use other Linuxes.


I read through the thread, and there is a lot of great advice and very appropriate cautioning here. I just wanted to chime in with one more alternative, since I didn't see it mentioned earlier.

If your objective is to 'learn Linux' (a nebulous goal, but I suspect I know what you're driving at), you may want to consider following the Linux from Scratch series of guides (probably LFS v7.8 (stable) to start). This will teach you how a Linux system works internally by taking you through the compilation of the entire system using the build tools directly.

Note that, if you decide to go this route, you will need to have a working Linux installation from which to start. In this case, to get yourself going on VirtualBox as quickly as possible, I'd suggest to make use of a bootable SystemRescueCd ISO, from which you can configure a VM to boot in VirtualBox, along with a blank virtual hard disk.

While Gentoo is an excellent way to learn Linux compared to other distros as it brings you much closer to the above mentioned processes, portage and the Gentoo meta-distribution intentionally abstract away many of the details to which you will gain direct exposure by use of LFS.

-N
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