Moveover Ubuntu… I’m on Gentoo now


For those interested…

I’m not sure that you all know this or not, however I’ve successfully been running a flavor of Unix for the past 2 years as a desktop system where I do all my development/testing/ and etc. I started with Ubuntu 9.10 and moved onto Ubuntu 10.04 then 10.10 and finally 11.04. I’ve presented at  Microsoft conferences, externally and internally, all with the Unix platforms running, however hidden from view. However after the major announcements made by Ubuntu within the last year, I’ve decided to bump up the game up another level.

After all the past calamities of Ubuntu changing their directions to be more in line with Canonical apps, and themes, I decided to bump my knowledge on linux up a notch. Ubuntu recently made the decision to switch it’s desktop engine/environment to Unity and ditch the gnome desktop engine, in favor of a more “Touch Based” type of GUI. I absolutely hated this decision, after using Unity in its infacy stages and then trying Ubuntu 11.04 in its second year stage, I’ll have to say that Unity that “U n I” don’t see eye to eye. Unity did not have a very good feel personally and I wanted to actually move to a more open platform that allowed me to choose exactly what I wanted from the start.

Enter the world of Gentoo. Gentoo is a linux distribution that from the start makes no default decisions on how and what your computer system runs. This is the interesting part. You load it from a liveCD, and you get this black screen with a prompt that leaves you wondering…. “OK Now What???” This is the beauty behind it. “OK Now what… !!!” you are in complete control of what you want your system to do. You just need to google it, and then add it and it’s running. It takes a while to get it the way you want it, but it’s so open that you can tell it to do just about anything upon boot.

I’m also not the only one using this too… If you’ve ever flown on a Delta plane across the US. You may have been on certain planes that have the wifi access, and a tv touch screen on the back of the chair head rest. If you’ve ever been so lucky to see these computers start up, and you read closely if a flavor of linux. Which if I remember the lines actually had the same gentoo splash screen: two “tux’s” penguins at the top of the screen.

The genearal steps I learned and tasks that I performed were:

  • Installed Gentoo
  • Downloaded linux kernel 2.6.36 r-8
  • Configured, Edited source, and compiled a new kernel
  • chrooted my old laptop (“This was the easy button…”)
  • Customized my boot up process
  • I must warn you. It took a whole weekend, google, and the #gentoo IRC chat room to get it, but once it was on, the speed, the usability, the freedom to do what you want amazed me. I’m now confident that if one of my “drivers” goes bad, or if something breaks, I know pretty much where to look and how to fix it. Linux- I’m not scared of you anymore!!!

    I’m sorry Microsoft, due to the lack of control on a Win 7 box, and the terrible slow performance each and everytime an windows update occurred, I’m afraid that I’m now totally converted over to the “DarkSide!!!” I’m now a ‘Nix head for life’ as some say. In my opinnion, the best things about this experience is i’ve learned so much about the platform, I’m *almost* as comfortable with it and it’s command line actions, as with the life long embedded – hit over your head with this is how it’s got to work Windows platform.

    But Don’t worry Microsoft, I still have to use Microsoft products, because you force me to. I still have to deal with developing inside your environements, mostly because you have the best dev environments. Thus I’m not moving off you anytime soon. I just wanted to let you know there’s a nice alternative to those who want to get their hands and feet wet, and actually know the underlying pieces of how their system works…!

    -Dwight

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    4 thoughts on “Moveover Ubuntu… I’m on Gentoo now

    1. I’m literally about 2-3 months away from being 100% *nix on hardware. I’m sure I’ll be running some Windowz instances here and there for some things, but for most of my day to day computing, I’ll be turned completely to Linux. Not sure what flavor it will be, but does it matter, it may even be a few different flavors. 🙂

      Interesting seeing that you’ve been on *nix for so long too, considering the amount of BizTalk related stuff you do. Very cool however it’s done though, very cool!

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    2. Er… those penguins you see on the plane are nothing Gentoo, those are the penguins that are standard linux kernel splash. Each of them represent a present CPU core as found in /proc/cpuinfo. It just happens to be so that most linux distros configure their kernels to not splash these penguins, and instead use their own splash. There are also dedicated penguins for certain archs, like the one for m68k based macs and the Tuz (look up tux on wikipedia) and once upon a time the entire m68k arch had a beer drinking Tux showing on boot.

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