A file damager for *NIX.

It has been modelled after the famous Amiga file manager Directory Opus. It has two-pane directory display, command buttons and user-definable directory shortcuts.

It is capable of launching external applications to handle files, and it also has hex and text view mode.

Its GUI is built with GTK+.

Sadly, it doesn't understand mime.types or XDnD drag-and-drool protocol (ie, can't interface with GNOME stuff that easily). =(

Excuse me for using terms like "file damager" and "drag-and-drool"; To be honest, gentoo was good enough for me to make a point that "command line isn't the only way".

Gentoo is a Linux distribution reminiscent of a BSD distribution, for x86, PowerPC (including Power Macintosh), MIPS (like the SGI Indy), Sparc, and Sparc64/UltraSparc systems. It uses a system called "portage" for installing software, which like ports will download source code, patch it, and compile it using the preselected options for your system. Unlike BSD the preferred method of installation is to start with a VERY small system and then build everything. The initial bootstrap process involves first building binutils, then gcc, and then glibc - Then building binutils and gcc again. The idea behind the system is that all software is optimized for your architecture, which gives you the fastest possible system. You can install instead the "Gentoo Reference Platform" (or GRP) which is a collection of precompiled packages, and which also implies the use of a program called "genkernel" which generates (as the name implies) a Linux kernel binary which supports all of the usual gentoo features, such as hardware detection.

Gentoo also has a distinctive init system. It uses sysvinit like others, but it has a custom method of handling init scripts. First of all, your init scripts have dependencies. Rather than the typical SVR4 method of handling your init scripts, where they are loaded (and unloaded) based on the alpha order of the names of symbolic links to the actual scripts, the load order is based on dependence. You use a script called rc-update to manage your runlevels, though generally speaking only a single runlevel is used.

Also unlike BSD, your portage tree is typically maintained via rsync rather than CVS. All you have to do is "emerge sync" and portage is updated. Want to install a package? "emerge packagename". Emerge calls another script called ebuild which can be used on files with a .ebuild extension to carry out various steps of the installation. Binary packages can also be created and emerged, so if you have many similar systems, you can carry binary packages to them, and emerge them.

Gentoo generally runs a fairly cutting-edge version of the latest release kernel, with such patches as the preemptive kernel patch, as well as the low latency patch. Standard available kernels also include XFS, openMosix and User-Mode Linux flavors. Now that kernel 2.6 has been released (and XFS is being merged into the 2.4 kernel), expect the XFS branch to dissappear.

Gentoo finished their port of portage to MacOS X and made the announcement in their newsletter for July 19, 2004. The system is fully functional but many packages have not yet been properly ported/patched, amongst them GCC 3.3, which is currently the default compiler for gentoo linux. However, users can currently utilize the GCC 3.3 build which comes with Xcode, Apple's (free) development environment. The plan is to develop a system which will build Darwin from scratch, allowing you to perform gentoo-style builds with your chosen optimizations. A cocoa interface, livecd creation, and iSync integration (in order to distribute compiled packages to other systems) are all in th e works.

  1. Gentoo Weekly Newsletter: July 19, 2004 (http://www.gentoo.org/news/en/gwn/20040719-newsletter.xml)

My experiences with Gentoo

I wanted to try Gentoo for ages before I actually got it; hearing about it and its optimisations and general niceness. Unfortunately, I was a little too chicken to try it out and was in general unable to: I didn't have Knoppix, or for that matter a CD burner or floppy drive, and so couldn't get to the command prompt and browser I would need to do the install. After getting a CD burner, I downloaded Knoppix, used a hard disk install of that for a month of two and eventually moved over to Gentoo.

Gentoo can be installed in many ways, all of which require an Internet connection and a willingness to sleep while it compiles. The install can be started at various predefined points, called stages, of which there are three.

  • Stage One - You compile everything from scratch. EVERYTHING. This takes a long time, but you get great optimisation.
  • Stage Two (the one I used) - You compile less, but get less optimisations as a result. This took me about 8 hours to set up in all.
  • Stage Three - Not much is compiled at all, just untar a few files, change some settings and the install is done.
Stage Two was pretty easy: it involved downloading two files, a snapshot of Portage files, and a minimal system with which to compile the rest. Following instructions on the Gentoo website, a partition was formatted and the files listed above decompressed into it. The rest of the installation was done by chrooting into the above partition, and issuing the command "emerge system". This told Gentoo's packaging system, portage, to download and compile the source code which would create a full system. After this, init scripts were created for Ethernet cards, the time zone set and a kernel compiled. Through the nature of portage, the latest kernel was available, as was KDE 3.2 and GNOME 2.6.

Gentoo's documentation is excellent, clearly laid out and excellently explained. Tasks like partitioning, bootstrapping and kernel compilation are explained expertly and in a way that even the least computer savvy could understand. Outside of the installation guide, there were brilliant howtos on installing KDE/GNOME, ALSA for sound and even printing (a task made ridiculously easy). I can't praise their documentation enough, and backed up by the helpful forums it is one of many things Gentoo has over other distributions.

After rebooting, Gentoo offers a very basic system, which is added to through Portage. Portage's compile options are endlessly configurable, even at compile time: for instance, if you don't want KDE ARTS support in XMMS, you can put USE="-arts" in front of the XMMS emerge command to disable ARTS support. Again, Gentoo's documentation explains this clearly.

As for bad points, lots of packages are "masked", meaning they can't be installed without unlocking them by editing a text file or modifying Portage options. This is annoying and if dependencies of programs are masked makes it a living hell to sort out. GNOME 2.6, for instance, requires commenting about 50 lines in a text file, otherwise it will be locked. I appreciate that this is for stability concerns, but it is annoying. Also, Gentoo-specific documentation should be provided for some programs, like Apache, to make configuration of these programs easy through the Portage system, and Portage should be able to list all the files which a package has installed, if only to simplify finding some obscure file in a package.

Despite these flaws, I won't be moving away from Gentoo. It made everything, from installation of a web server to the creation of a Freevo PVR box, incredibly easy, and is extremely stable and simple to maintain. I recommend that every user who is annoyed at the lack of flexibility and out of date packages that Debian provides try Gentoo; it's just as simple, if not simpler, than Debian and provides far more scope for customisation.
Gentoo website: www.gentoo.org

Gen*too" (?), n.; pl. Gentoos (#). [Pg. gentio gentile, heathen. See Gentile.]

A native of Hindostan; a Hindoo.



© Webster 1913.

Gen*too" (j&ebreve;n*t&oomac;"), n.; pl. Gentoos (-t&oomac;z").

A penguin (Pygosceles t├Žniata).

[Falkland Is.]


© Webster 1913.

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