Posted by: Richard Chennault | June 14, 2005

Gentoo is for you!

Hi dedicated reader!
As most of you may know through reading of previous post I’ve been installing, tweaking, testing and all other ‘ings one can do when attempting to use a different operating system than that which is offered by the diabolical hegemony Microsoft. At first I was excited about the capability to build an operating system that is tailored to a specific type of computer. This was naturally followed by the trough of disillusioned as I begn to understand the power of the operating system I was using.
If analogies are usefully (and some may say they are not) the difference in the operating systems is like the difference between the family mini-van and an elite sports car. Microsoft like the mini-van must cram in every possible feature and potential use item that a family/person may possible need in order to deliver maximum value to the broadest audience. The sports car is for one person to do one thing; go fast.
While the analogy breaks down (much like cars) it demonstrates the value of the non-Microsoft operating system in order to maximize the return on investment on aging computer equipment. Gentoo gives you an operable computer to perform common task you specify (i.e. web browsing, instant messaging) without the added bloat of other task you don’t desire (faxing, scanning, character mapping).
Much like the sports car you must pay for the value of the car. The form of this payment is knowing what you want to do with your computer. If you can’t move beyond that point then it is likely your best off with the mini-van. This is not to say that Gentoo is not for you. Even if you were to trick out the sports car with all the shizzle and whizzle with that is fly you still have a sports car underneath. The Gentoo (and other Linux variants) only load what you tell it. This means when you put your key into the car it remembers what you custom seat settings, steering wheel tilt, radio presets and etc. Sure Microsoft can do something similar but it gives you all that AFTER it loads every possible scenario you could possibly want. Gentoo assumes once you put that key in the car you are ready to drive as opposed to fiddling around with oil dispstick, opening the trunk to ensure the spare tire is properly aligned as to not crush the egg carton (etc.).
Back to my own travails. I have invested a great deal of time in installing and building specific components into the Gentoo machines I’ve been using (two laptops). I am nearly complete with the oldest of the two which I am setting up as a media front-end for the guest bedroom (I’ve chosen freevo). The second I am struggling with more because I’ve not yet decided ‘what’ I want to use it for. Because the second is newer (four years old) it really has the capability from a hardware perspective to perform bigger task (the car analogy begins to break down here).
Ultimately I am convinced that Gentoo is really the best choice one can make to maximize the last mile of use out of old equipment. So before you go out and lay down money for a new computer you may want to evaluate if Gentoo is for you. At the least you can build a internet station for the family to use in the den, study or even garage .

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