After having earned some experience with Arch I've decided to give Gentoo another try. Last time I tried it, I failed miserably because I didn't know what I was doing. Now one thing I'm still overwhelmed by is the USE Flags section. There are just so many options and I have no idea which ones to pick for optimal results. Can anyone help me?
When you installed Gentoo you will have selected a profile https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Handbook:AMD64/Installation/Base
This sets the base USE flags, flags for a nice kde system for example.
After that add use flags per package or globally depending on what you want, I suggest you do that once you have a base system up and running.
There is no "optimal" result. If you want mkv support in vlc for example you enable matroksa support, if you dont you disable it. Its what you want.
Most of the time youll want most media USE flags. Most can be enabled in your
/etc/portage/make.conf. Initially it takes a little time to set up a full desktop environment in Gentoo with absolutely everything you want, but once done you rarely have to make any changes and portage is very good at informing you of upcoming changes or any issues.
See this link to an intro to portage and USE flags.
I would say it is safe to start with just a profile and only add per package use flags as needed. The package manager will tell you if any are required for compiling. Otherwise you can look through available flags in packages you're pulling in, and add any that look interesting to you.
Also many guides on the gentoo wiki for configuring specific software will list required and recommended use flags.
It should accumulate over time.
I totally understand where you are coming from dude. Also by the way "Welcome to the Deep End"
these are the ones from my make.conf that are by no mean the best for you and/or optimal but it might be a place to start bro.
and also jump on the #gentoo irc they are great there
Thanks a lot man I really appreciate. After Christmas break I'll probably actually get started with Gentoo. I haven't been able to get to work in VirtualBox so I'll probably install it on a scrap disk
Given you will be building most things from scratch bare metal is probably better.