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Two Linux Distributions that are similar in many ways and yet so different... I'm talking about Debian and Gentoo. You can observe a bit of bias here, because I have both these operating systems in my computer and I can say that these two are my favourites. Of all the Linux distributions I've used, I have found Debian to be my best choice, closely followed by Gentoo.
So what is it about Debian and Gentoo that makes them so similar? Here are some of my impressions.
Firstly both are general purpose distributions (neither are particularly "tailored" or "customized" for any particular purpose). Both use built-in package management systems that makes installing and uninstalling applications a lot less painful than other distributions, mainly by resolving dependency issues automatically. Next, both these are easy as pie to maintain and upgrade and both provide stability as a priority by maintaining strict standards (especially Debian) controlling what versions of which applications make it to their package repositories. Rarely will you get "broken" applications in either unless you deliberately choose to use the unstable repositories. Thirdly both are extremely customizable to specific needs, though you won't find much by way of GUI configuration tools in either. But neither are too difficult. Gentoo, in particular, in spite of its scary reputation among newbies, is actually a breeze to configure once it's up and running thanks to the comprehensive documentation in the Gentoo handbook.
With Debian and Gentoo, what you get are two, well-tested, well-maintained, rock-solid, community supported distributions with considerable user bases. And Debian, in particular, has a long, illustrious history, being one of the oldest distributions (along with Slackware) in the world of Linux. I am proud to be a part of the Debian community because Debian's success can be seen in the way so many newer distributions (like Ubuntu and Mepis among others) are based on it. And no wonder: by first hand experience, I can only say that there is a certain "comfort-factor" with Debian that I cannot find in any other distribution. Not even Gentoo.
In the next part, I will cover some of the differences in the philosophy and approach of these two Linux distributions as I see them.
Posted on Fri, May 13, 2005 at 11:47 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:09 IST)