Alternatives to Fedora Core, was: [RULE] APT, YUM...

Da Worm daworm at
Fri Jul 30 02:15:29 EEST 2004

On 7/29/2004 at 10:39 PM M. Fioretti wrote:

>> The biggest advantage of Gentoo is that you can optimize for your
>> system, and can include only the components you want.
>One problem I find in many other distros, starting from RH/Fedora, is
>what does "component" mean? If the whole KDE is "one" component, for
>example, then it wouldn't include "only" the components we want. Can
>you say in Gentoo "install only konqueror, kmail and koffice"? (same
>for Gnome of course)

It's a bit more complex than that.  Gentoo has what is called a USE 
variable.  There is a base version, and in one of the config files, you
place your modifications to the base variable.  Here, you either add
something not in the base, or remove something that is in the base.
For example, to get rid of all GTK+ dependencies, you would set
your USE variable as thus:


To remove GTK+ and add support for ALSA, you would do this:

USE="-GTK2 ALSA" (note, no leading +)

Gentoo then uses this variable to compile in/out support for these items.
See the following URL for a list of USE variables.  It is missing quite a 
few, actually, as the list seems to grow faster than the web space can 
be updated.

Note, this isn't the same as the applications list, exactly, which is where
it gets confusing.  Applications are installed using emerge, not via USE.
But some things, such as firebird looks like an application.  It isn't.  To get
firebird, you would have to install it (I don't think it is emerge-able, but 
you can also install via RPM or tarballs), and for any other database aware
program that is part of Portage to be able to access it, you would have to
have firebird in your USE variable, or that support wouldn't be compiled in.

To see if the packages you would like are available (on x86) go here:

I see kdrive is there, for instance:

>> Another problem is time... I did it to see if it could be done.
>> Well, yeah, it can, but why?
>Exactly what I feared

It is one of those things that is hard to call.  A P200 will do it fairly quickly,
I think overnight anyway.  The tradeoff is the time it takes to build versus 
how fast it runs afterwards, and even on that Sparcstation 20, although it 
takes three minutes to come up, once up, it runs halfway decent.
A lighter window manager would both compile and run even faster, obviously.

>Maybe this wouldn't be a problem. What happened with the vum:BOX is
>that we provided only the installer and the *base* system (a working
>demo, if you will), and then *they* built their "mini-distro". RULE
>didn't dictate to them what include, they did it for their own
>installs. This can, and should, remain possible. Whatever distro is

Well, yes and no, with respect to Gentoo.  The problem there is more
hardware oriented.  A midlevel machine might have accelerated video,
but a minimal install probably wouldn't support it (so it would work even
on old ISA VGA cards, for instance).  You can't just add support later,
you must recompile to add that support.  Again, plain VGA would work,
but to get the most out of the hardware, you'd have to have the space 
and time to do this (although on a midlevel machine, say a P2 or P3,
this probably isn't a problem).  So, that might be a problem and it might

If I get time this weekend, I'll see what I can find out about some older
desktops and give real benchmarks on how long and how hard it is to
install.  I know I have a P2 system, I think I have a P90, both already 
built.  I have some 486's as well, but don't know if I have enough RAM 
(I'm short on 4 meg 30 pin SIMS).  I've got hard drives ranging from 
40 Meg to 20 Gig sitting on my shelves (I have machines or enough
to build machines from PCJr to P4's).  To give you an idea of what kind 
of hoarder of old systems I am, here's a pic of the non-PC portion of my 
computer collection :-) :

I'm sure I can find a good deal of working hardware to mess with, I am
just not sure about the time to build them.  I do know that my laptops 
have resisted every Linux install I have ever tried (RULE, Gentoo, 
Mandrake, RH, Suse, Debian) because for some reason the only ones 
I ever get have bizarre PCMCIA controllers in them that refuse to work,
or at least refuse to work past a certain point in the install process).  So
I won't even attempt a laptop install.

Once I know just how much trouble it will, I'll know if it is worth persuing
a mini-distro and can look at what it would take to build something that
can be downloaded as a package.


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