(Not) Why I Use Gentoo: Learning about Linux

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Why I Use Gentoo Linux

When it comes to reasons why people use Gentoo, a reason I’ve heard more than once is that Gentoo forces the user to learn about using Linux. On one hand, this is true, as both the install process and day-to-day maintenance of installed packages require the use of the command line. However, there are some caveats to this learning.

First, many of the commands used can be copied and pasted from the documentation, and much of it is no more than interacting with portage, Gentoo’s package installation tool. In the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a general Linux skill, and more akin to learning how to use apt on Debian or rpm and yum on Fedora.

Second, if you think that watching compiler output scroll by will teach you about Linux, you’re probably going to be disappointed. You might learn the names of a few commands, but more likely, you’re just going to be overwhelmed by all the information.

In the end, while Gentoo’s heavier reliance on command-line tools and manual configuration will force the user to learn slightly more about the underlying nature of Linux systems, a user interested in learning such things could just as easily dig deeper into an Ubuntu or Fedora system. Those of you looking for a more extreme challenge could try installing Linux From Scratch. Of course, LFS suffers from much the same “copy and paste” syndrome that other distributions do. Then again, a functional LFS system will almost certainly require substantial customization by the user.

In the end, when it comes to learning about Linux and how to use the command line, it’s probably best to open your favorite terminal program and dive right in, regardless of the distribution you’re using. At least in my opinion, it’s simply not a compelling reason to choose Gentoo over other distributions, especially given the disadvantages of Gentoo.

That said, Gentoo does have its own advantages, and starting in the next post in this series, I’ll look at some of the actual reasons I do use Gentoo.

Series Navigation(Not) Why I Use Gentoo: USE FlagsWhy I Use Gentoo: Rolling Releases

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