Gentoo vs Arch

So I notice a lot of confusion in this forum over subtle differences between Archlinux when compared with Gentoo.

This simple fact is, Gentoo is not a binary distro and therefore must be superior to Archlinux. Gentoo is not hacked together with a bunch of scripts - this is Fact - What would Qain use - that's right, Gentoo.

Besides the elitist check me out i have Arch installed attitude amongst 56,105 Arch users, the obvious difference can be found in the seperate communities;

Gentoo has 5,776,933 articles and 142,100 registered users on their forums.

Archlinux has 1,388,456 articles and 56,105 registered users on their forums.

Both Distros were released around the same time 12 years ago. Do the math.

Not convinced? INSTALL GENTOO.

disclaimer: this post is not designed to start a flame war and is just a result of the posters' retarded sense-of-humour.

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I've been around for almost 26 years. So me > (Gentoo & Arch)

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Gentoo is the best Linux operating system in my opinion.

Packages and base system are compiled for your system's hardware rather than using some generic unoptimised binary that works for many dissimilar systems.

The only two complaints I hear about Gentoo is it's too hard or compilation takes too long. Difficulty is not a reasonable excuse if you're seeking extreme performance, and compilation times are worth it if you're getting a program designed for you.

Gentoo > Arch > Ubuntu > Windows

I like gentoo but don't like the lack of packages; well perhaps that isn't true but the lack of the AUR is a big downfall for me. I really hate having to compile everything from source and git; unlike arch where is is nice and easy. Although i have far better boot times on arch i find in rather unstable (Nvidia drivers) and have things break every update (even on Manjaro). I have been thinking about using BSD as it can run OS X Software. 

There are no lack of packages in Gentoo. I would argue that Arch has less packages, and most definitely less official packages. But then anything can be pulled from Git or source on any distro. Stable Gentoo can be a little slow on boot times depending on which kernel you are using. If you opt for an EFI stub then obviously boot times are similar to Arch. I use both distros and find them comparable with similar setups.

Nvidia drivers can be fiddly just like any proprietary drivers in linux which don't follow kernel standards. Generally you need to know which drivers/modules to load on boot accompanied with the right configuration to avoid most common issues, although this is no guarantee.

BSD is what Windows should be like IMO. Try PCBSD for a simplified experience and try chrooted environments, or the BSD term "jails/warden" where you can run linux/OSX on bare metal or in a so-called isolated virtual environment without the traditional overheads of virtualisation.

The thing that I can't seem to understand about Gentoo is the USE flags. Like how many are there to pick from? How many should I use? Do I have to re-set them when updating or does portage use the same USE flags that were used when I installed the program?

sabayon is a gentoo dist too

There's roughly a little over 2500 USE flags.

USE flags are set globally and locally depending on what you choose to install. You can set as many as you like or need.

USE flags don't need to be altered unless your USE requirements change.

They both have their pros and cons, I will not start in the "this os is better than that os because reasons" flame war, simply because every os, based in unix or not, has a use case scenario.

Now, which do I prefer? I've spent more time in Arch than I have with BSD, so naturally I am more comfortable with Arch, and I have grown to love and adore pacman, but I think I'm going to add it to grub this weekend and give it a whirl.

In my honest opinion, Gentoo's ratio for time invested and performance gained is too small for me to jump on the boat. Does anybody have any actual evidence of definite performance improvements? Yes, I understand it's system optimized, *if* the user knows what he's doing, but there's so much to know that I end up with hundreds of extra kernel modules during compile that I know I probably don't need but I have no idea what they actually do, whether my computer might need it or not, and it was recommended to use it anyways.

Since I'm a distro-hopper, I tend to only keep a distro around a couple of weeks at most, so Gentoo's supposedly better source base requires a holy-crapload more time to set up, and I spend all that time fretting over setup variables that I worry may make or break my computer instead of actually installing the stuff I want and the performance gained doesn't equal the time saved. Since I redownload and reinstall a lot of the same stuff so much, it really isn't worth it for me. To tell the truth, I haven't had the best experience waiting for the entirety of 96 programs to download and compile and install just to be able to use one thing, especially since it took just about all night. After 12 hours, I still didn't have it to the point where I could even start X, and I ended up breaking GRUB. After a day or two I went back in and fixed it (since I knew exactly what the problem was), but I pretty much gave up at that point and installed something else.

That is to say, I haven't had much success with Arch either, but I only tried installing it once and it was a while ago. I'll probably try again sometime soon, but getting minimal installs off the ground has been less than successful for me.

Arch is just gentoo on ubuntu!

For people complaining about time and complexity to set up: most people install their operating system once. It is irrelevant how long or hard the initial installation is because you only do it once (unless you're changing your OS frequently for some reason). I would prefer to spend hours setting everything up the way I want it than performing an installation that takes a few minutes and it made all the choices for me!

Maintaining a Gentoo OS is not that hard once you have installed everything you need like kernel modules, programs and settings. Updating packages can be done while you use your computer, so why would it matter how long compilation takes? Again, the increased time does not affect my usage of the system so it is irrelevant.

Here is a beginner's tutorial on setting up Gentoo (be careful about the USE flags, see thirdmortal's previous comments about USE):

Because i have an Nvidia card almost every update drivers break, and I can no longer start X and for what ever reason down grading packages doesn't seem to fix the problem and I normally have to reinstall;  and because my drivers are so outdated there is no way i can play any games. At the moment i'm Running the nouveau drivers, they are probably the slowest and most unstable thing ever created; they crash hourly for me. I hate to say it but I'm going back to windows on my main pc, at lest until i get an AMD GPU, then i can use my Nvidia for virtual machines.

tl;dr I have to reinstall often because drivers like to break. I found that Gentoo is a bit more stable than arch though. 

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Before reverting to Windows, maybe we can help you sort out your graphics card issues?

What distro are you running and with what DE/WM?

What Nvidia card are you using?

So I just got done installing Gentoo on my netbook which I don't usually use. I decided to use brtfs because why not. I resorted to using genkernel because I don't understand 95% of the kernel customization stuff. I finished installing and rebooted. "cannot find root block device". I forgot to add btrfs support in the kernel......... I'm back in the live cd right now reinstalling the kernel with btrfs support. I just used "genkernel --menuconfig all" and enabled it.

Also can someone use too many or too few USE flags? I just looked through the listed ones in the portage directory and went with:

X aac acpi alsa bzip2 calendar cups curl culrwrappers cxx dbus dri emacs encode exif ffmpeg flac ftp gif gimp git gnome gnome-keyring gnutls gstreamer gtk gtkhtml guile gzip hddtemp imagemagick ios ipod ipv6 java javascript jpeg kde latex libnotify lua matroska modules mozilla mp3 mp4 mpeg mplayer ncurses networkmanager ogg openal opengl pdf perl php png python qt4 qt5 quicktime raw samba ruby sound source ssl tk udev unicode usb vorbis wayland x264 webkit wifi xcb xml xscreensaver

Depends on audience A5H, you are an experienced Linux user, you have setup Gentoo many of times and can walk someone through the Install blind, I can do the same with Arch, and while I would love Gentoo as my main system, I am a perfectionist and need to install multiple times before I even have my base, I dont even think I would be able to setup Gentoo with BTRFS easily, even with a guide, but I can with Arch.

For everyone else, here are good/bad points of both

Arch Linux Base (CLI Installer)

Good Points... 
Stupidly light, Can offer similar builds via ABS, Yaourt for easy compile, Pacman and AUR is a massive database of things, Easier to setup than gentoo, A massive guide, stupidly easy kernel swap abilities,

Bad Points...
Been so light can leave you lost, ABS takes time to learn, Yaourt is easy but clumsy, Pacman and AUR are still not the biggest database, Not as easy as Manjaro .NET or something but you dont know whats happening then, Kernel swapping can be rocky as a bleeding edge distro, The forums are elitist forums Gentoos are a bit more friendly.

Gentoo Base (CLI Compile install)

Good Points... 
Its built for your system only!, The database can compile anything for your system (Non binary so more performance) good guide, custom kernel at start, minimal footprint, faster than Arch unless heavily optimised and then its a challenge for Arch, Better community.

Bad Points...
Hard to setup for less savvy users, Documentation is no where near Arch Linux level (Although a lot of gentoo general fixes are found on Arch forums), Compiling can takes ages even if it doesnt stop you from working, the first install can take hours due to this, the distro is elitist compared to the forums if you dont know it your stuck, things like BTRFS and EFI can be a little bit more tricky to start, Partitioning of the drive is must know knowledge Arch can use scripts.

But at the end of the day, they both have good points, Arch can be setup in a rapid format, Gentoo can offer performance Arch could dream of, can achieve if you build it correctly, also binary packages are a good thing, someone has to provide for Ubuntu lol, yeah their compiling system is nothing compared to Gentoo/Arch

Arch is also a good stepping stone, you can learn vital skills from this to carry to gentoo, as said partition of drives, but to be honest schools should teach this stuff, Windows wont be here forever.

For now I shall personally stick to Arch, until I get the time to start a gentoo project and then I shall be calling on both Thirdmortal and A5Hs help lol, and maybe Zoltan and Brenn if they are ever about :)


I just installed Gentoo with btrfs :)

Other than a few extra commands the installation process isn't that different from Arch.

Although this thread was just a tounge-in-cheek poke at Archlinux, you do raise some good points.

One of the benefits of Archlinux is that it's incredibly simple to install, which adheres to the "keep it simple stupid" philosopy. An Arch box can be setup and running in less than 5 minutes with a decent internet connection.

I won't say much else about Archlinux, because I have become jaded after using it for over a decade, just like Gentoo, but I will say I am retiring all my Arch installs this year.

What I will say about Gentoo is that I am happy not having systemd forced down my throat.

You can use too many use flags.

Depending on which profile you select you may run into issues. Political dependencies like FFmpeg vs Libav and so on may cause you issues.

I organise my use by group, So with your USE flags I would have something like this;


XUSE="X xorg xscreensaver opengl"

SYSUSE="dbus networkmanager"

GENUSE="samba git libnotify gzip"

IUSE="jpeg gif png"

MUSE="alsa x264 mp3"

DUSE="qt4 qt5 gtk gnome"

NOUSE="-what -ever -you -block -here "



 You could organise USE alphabetically if you have hundreds of them.