Gentoo, build it like Lego.

It seems as though I’m again too busy to come up with a proper long techy post. I decided to tackle an old problem that many people overlook: the ability to communicate the advantages of a project properly to potential customers.

Right now, I’m reffering to Gentoo. Gentoo is a Linux distribution which targets a very niche market of what normal people consider the geek elites. To put it in perspective, the #gentoo irc channel is a constant market of kernel builds, compilation issues, hardware discussion and other really geeky things. Why don’t you go in there and try take part, you’d find you’ll want to hide in a corner in shame. All your base are belong to us.

So what is the wonderful thing about Gentoo that makes people say “Yes! FUBAR is the way I like it!” Well, simply put, it’s maximum configuration. It’s pretty much the closest you can get before LFS takes over. You know everything you put into your system, where it is, why it’s there, when it’s going to go pop, how it upgrades, when it upgrades, how much space is taken, why your directory structure is like it is, why your sound works, why your printers work, how your internet works, how your LAMP setup works, what programs communicate with what, what packages are needed by desktop environments, what options each package has, what the source code of everything is … the list goes on … and on … (recurring)

So, how to communicate the ultimate build-it to break-it configuration to the average Joe? Let’s take a look at the steps I took to set-up the new laptop I’m now using over the past week.

  1. Download and burn Gentoo Minimal Install CD for amd64.
  2. Boot up, follow the Gentoo handbook, setting up Internet and compiling kernel as well as base system.
  3. Reboot and tada – Gentoo works. (I really didn’t type justice about that Gentoo installation stage, because if I did, I could write several essays)
  4. Emerge irssi (for IRC), links/lynx (for web-browsing), vim (because it is the meaning of life) and screen (for multitasking in console)
  5. Using screen, irssi and links simultaneously to follow the handbook and troubleshoot problems, set up the X server until you can run twm.
  6. emerge fluxbox and ratpoison, startx into fluxbox.
  7. Keyword ~arch for mozilla-firefox-bin, openoffice-bin, portage, gimp.
  8. Emerge portage, and get sets for KDE.
  9. Add xcomposite and opengl global useflags for special effects :)
  10. Emerge firefox, openoffice, gimp, and the entire @kde.
  11. Emerge kdeplasma-addons: can’t live without it.
  12. Emerge mplayer, alsa, cups.
  13. Configure alsa to work, configure cups for printing.
  14. Add appropriate useflags for a LAMP setup, then emerge apache, mysql, php, phpmyadmin.
  15. Configure LAMP setup.
  16. Configure sshd, and emerge pure-ftpd for ftp. Add them to boot-level.
  17. emerge scrot (of course!), cowsay (for hilarity!), x-sane (for scanners), then GVim (if you like the graphical version)
  18. Download Blender.
  19. Emerge libsdl – because Blender needs it.

Along the way, you’d probably want to emerge the necessary packages for slocate, lspci, lsof, etc. Well, that’s my general plan when setting up a system. I hope it helped somebody!

Sorry for the rush post, but I’ll probably add more detail in the future.

Dion Moult

I've been developing software for well over 10 years, work as an architect (not the computer kind, the regular sort), and am classically trained as a pianist. I try to do the right thing when I get the chance in my field, such as through contributing to open-source communities and promoting sustainable living.

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