Gentoo

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FEATURE DESCRIPTION
KEY FEATURES Distro for advanced, aware and patient users and also for those who like to mess up a lot :) Gentoo is a distribution which doesn't rely on binary packages (although there are some available as well) but rather concentrates on building the operating system optimized for the target hardware. Installing and configuring Gentoo can take days or weeks. Lots of users say it's worth it because of the control, customizability and speed improvements. Some also like it because the open approach teaches a lot about Linux itself.
Supported architectures 2008.0: alpha, amd64, hppa (hppa 1.1, hppa 2.0), ppc (G4, G5, power3, power4, power5, ppc, ppc64), sparc (sparc32, sparc64), x86 (x86, i686), ia64
Minimal hardware requirements Minimal: 64MB RAM, 1,5GBMB HDD, 256 MB SWAP
Suggested: 600 MHz Pentium II-class, 128 MB RAM, 3 GB HDD
Software freedom status Mostly free, uses some proprietary drivers if desired
INSTALLATION
Installer - overall (6) Since Gentoo 2006.0 the distro comes with a Gnome Live-CD and a graphical installer. It's way easier than the manual way, even if not perfect. In the previous versions, Gentoo had no typical installer. The installation process was performed manually by entering appropriate commands well described in the installation manual. Installing Gentoo this way takes approximately a few days (including sources download, compilation and installing) so it is really not a task for everyone.
Package selection (4) In the GUI installer, there is a short list of packages to choose from. There is an option to enter the required packages manually though.
Predefined package groups (0) Not available.
Expert mode install (6) Possible manual installation in stages 1, 2 or 3. None of them is newbie-friendly though.
Graphical installer (5) A simple one, available from the Live-CD.
Installer speed (3) The graphical installer is quick. The manual installation from stage 3 take a bit more than a standard installation of most popular distros. Advanced installation (stages 1 or 2) is very slow and therefore recommended only for the most patient users.
CONFIGURATION
Graphical system management (0) No dedicated graphical tools.
Console-based system management (0) No dedicated tools. But there is vim :)
PACKAGE SYSTEM
Number of packages (9) More than 11200 packages (ebuilds) available through Portage system, divided into clear categories.
Package management, automatic dependency resolving (9) Very good dependency management through Portage (also when different versions of the same app are installed). Binary packages can be used as well.
Graphical package management tools (4) There are some graphical apps but using them may be a real pain :) Console-based "emerge" just does the job.
PERFORMANCE
System boot-up speed (8) Fast boot speed because gentoo only starts what's necessary.
System responsiveness (9) Very responsive system is the result of Gentoo philosophy - packages optimized for the specific architecture. In order to achieve this, some knowledge and reading may be required.
STABILITY/SECURITY
Popularity (5) Around 14-17th place on DistroWatch.com rank. System is very popular among experienced users. This might very well stem from the fact that gentoo makes you an experienced user if you are willing to learn.
Security focus (7) Quite big pressure on system security: USE flags hardened, hardened PHP, SELinux, hardened kernels (2.4 i 2.6), propolice, PIE, etc. Except for that, GLSA - Gentoo Linux Security Advisory.
Stability and maturity (7) Gentoo is an active, up-to-date distro. Therefore, some problems with instability may occur if you let portage use non-stable packages (also known as ~x86).
INTERNATIONALIZATION
Does the installer support multiple languages? (5) There is no installer (excluding unofficial graphical GLI installer). Installation proces is described in details.
Is the system localized after installation? (0) Criterium does not apply to Gentoo — there is no default installation.
Is manual system localization easy? (3) During or after installation there is no problem with localizing the system (of course configuration files knowledge is required).
APPLICATIONS/NETWORK
Support for restricted formats (6) After Gentoo installation, user may add virtually all restricted components like: Skype communicator, RealPlayer player, Windows codecs win32codecs, Java JRE/SDK. See also Software section on Gentoo Linux Wiki. Gentoo Multimedia FAQ may be also helpful.
Sagem DSL modem support (6) Eagle-USB is in the Gentoo repository as “net-dialup/eagle-usb”
Alcatel DSL modem support (56) Alcatel modems have their drivers in Gentoo’s main repository: “net-dialup/speedtouch” and “net-dialup/speedtouch-usb”. Only the closed-source firmware is missing.
ISDN support (3) Kernel needs to be compiled during the installation (manually or using genkernel tool). Required applications exist in Portage.
Wireless support (3) Drivers and apps are downloadable from the repository.

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