I Just Can't Help Myself

They say that the third time is the charm, don’t they? Whoever “they” are, that is. As a dedicated Slacker, I have been using Slackware on my laptop for a couple of years now and have been extremely happy with it. But then I think, “I should try other distros out”. Debian and Debian based distros are out – not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because I have tried them and just don’t like them. It’s me, not Debian.

So I am going to retry Gentoo. Since I became comfortable with Slackware I have been considering switching, even just for a short while, to Gentoo. Just to see what I am missing out on. My installs have always failed in the past, but that was my fault – I never had the time or patience for it.

However, everything seems to be falling into place to make this work: I have faster broadband (thanks to my employer), the initial install is now quicker (thanks to Gentoo) and I have a little more time available to me (thanks to the ‘flu).

So I’m going to give it a go. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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Posted on 26 March, 2006, in Computer Stuff, Generalities, Open Source. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I am also looking for another distro on my laptop. SUSE is difficult to upgrade without having to download the new CDs every time. Maybe I’ll put Debian, maybe I’ll put Slackware on it.

  2. I love using Slackware, I can get a working system on the laptop in next to no time. Since using Slackware, I’ve been spoiled for using “automatic” systems – Mandriva, Suse, Fedora and the like which is why I’m trying Gentoo.

    I suspect I’ll go back to Slack eventually.

  3. I gave up and went back to Slackware 🙂

  4. IME, the single hardest thing about Gentoo is installing it.

    I downloaded the install ISO & burned it. The CD wouldn’t boot. I tried the install-from-another-distro approach. Couldn’t emerge anything. I tried buying a magazine with a Gentoo install disc, which also wouldn’t boot.

    In the end, I tried a from-scratch approach using the sources on the magazine disc & a mishmash of the Gentoo install instructions & the magazine’s install instructions. Amazingly, that worked. And once there was a base Gentoo system installed & bootable, it took amazingly little effort to get it up to full GUI & multimedia status.

    Don’t give up: The install problems *can* be beaten! 🙂

  5. Yeah, Gentoo takes up a lot of time. But I think the system itself is great. The biggest issue I have is with compile times. The results don’t justify the means. Binary packages are quite as good and I personally don’t see any difference myself.

    When I installed Gentoo, I did it off Debian as the host distro: two advantages. One: no downloading the install disk. Two: I could read the help in my browser while installing at the same time and that made things a lot easier.

  6. I think ibiblio was having problems.. it was getting late, I couldn’t be bothered and so on. I feel better now I’m back in Slack. Maybe another time.

  7. Ray, what would you recommend for my laptop. I’m not sure I like SUSE. It’s a bit slow and although it has everything I need, I just think I need a different distro.

    I’d go with Debian, but I have to download the CDs again. I just don’t feel up to that.

  8. I hear good things about SimplyMepis and about Xandros for laptops. I use Slackware on my Thinkpad and it gives me few problems. Fedora could also be a usable option.

  9. Have you tried SLICK? It’s a performance-enhanced version of SUSE, and I didn’t think it was that bad. I also tried Gentoo a couple of days ago – but having installed it successfully, I ended up with a system with no graphics and DHCP problems. Funnily enough, I had neither of the two while I was installing it with the minimal CD! 😛

    I’m going to give Slackware another go soon, because it worked well on an old laptop, so I’ll give it a shot. I had problems setting it up on my desktop last time, but hopefully I’ll be able to sort those issues out in my second attempt.

    SUSE has never disappointed me, and neither has (K)Ubuntu – both have great hardware detection, and I like the way Ubuntu goes for “one app for each need” out of the box. But it’s down to personal preference in the end 😀

  10. Since using Slackware I’ve gone off pre-packaged distros. Not sure if that makes me a distro snob or if I’ve simply found what I like.

    My Gentoo problems turned out to be down to a faulty network cable 🙂 regardless, I think I’ll stick with Slack.

  11. ARRGH! I wish I had something I could install linux on. saving up… 🙂

    The computers in the IT lab dual boot linux though- not that I am allowed to log into it. (“scientific linux” redhat based)

    I like slack a lot.

  12. Why not just dual boot your Mac? Alternatively, you should be able to pick up an older machine relatively cheap – as long as you studenty budget stretches to it….;)

    How goes the studying?

  13. I’m still searching for that ideal laptop distro. Suse is too GUIsh for me. Not able to configure dial up with the internal modem.

    Fedora and Fedora-like distros are out for the same reason.

    I would give Slackware a go, but it requires too much manual intervention. Not that it’s difficult, but just not something I wish to do on a regular basis and I’m a user of a lot of apps… too many apps not suited for Slackware since I need to keep installing every single dependency by hand. Also I love keeping updated to the latest software and that makes it even more difficult to maintain.

    Arch is out for the same reason. Updating isn’t always safe and I could be left with an unbootable system if I’m not careful.

    Ubuntu is out. I don’t like Gnome, somehow and wouldn’t use Ubuntu.

    Debian is an option, but again, I haven’t got a suitable installation medium at the moment. The Sarge DVD I have is very old (older than the official Sarge- stable release) and anyway my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive.

    I think Kanotix or Mepis might be an option, but I would need to download the CD. Let’s see…

  14. To go back to Slack – I use swaret to update it to “-current” and I haven’t had any problems with it. I think that as long as your hardware is fairly middle of the road (I have a Thinkpad R40 – ati video card) and you don’t have a lot of esoteric programs with hard to come by dependencies, you should be fine.

    My Slack install is rock solid.

    With the manual configuring, after installing and using swaret to go to current and then installing KDE and the rest of the programs I use, I can normally be up and running in around 3 hours. There is then a lot more tweaking to do, but I can be working in a very short time.

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