Jeff has a great response to my half-arsed comments about Gentoo, I should point out that I wasn’t talking particularly about Gentoo (though some of the Gentoo users I’ve seen do show this tendency), but about obsession with speed.
He says Gentoo has three advantages (relative to other Linux Distributions): 1) Constant release schedule, 2) tailored compiles, and 3) easier distributions.
3) doesn’t really affect me. I use a majority platform (Intel P4) which is where most people target anyway.
Jeff attempts to tweak me on 2), though, telling me I could include LDAP in all the packages I want. (Jeff knows my obsession with directories — something he’s had to endure on our tiny server.) He’s got a point. But, I’m guessing that package maintainers have to make those options available. That is, even if a package has an option to compile in some “foo” goodness, the package maintainer still has to make his package responsive to the ” foo” flag. 3) may play a role here if it is truly easier to maintain all these packages and respond to bug reports from users who want you to make the package responsive to ” foo”. (btw, Jeff, Debian does have a mozilla-xft package…)
His other point, “constant release schedule” is something I’m not sure I’m too worried about. I’m not too worried about running the latest everything, just Emacs. I compile my own Debian package of Emacs from CVS. So, I could see a limited set of circumstances where I’d want such a thing. And from my experiennce running Debian’s Unstable, I’m not sure that I want to have updates the minute they happen. When I read one Gentoo user who had downloaded GCC 3.2.2 (and then subsequently had to re-compile everything that depended on libstdc ), I couldn’t see the advantage. If I don’t get the latest GCC until two months after it’s released, I don’t really care.
Now, I can see circumstances where it would matter, where I would care. And, I can see how all Gentoo users running the same code-base would create a more stable OS than Debian’s “Unstable”. And, I can see that Jeff is a happy Gentoo user. To be frank, my curiousity is piqued. But is it piqued enough for me to try it out? Probably not this month. We’re working on the house.