Ease of Use
However, because of this control, it is not the most user friendly version of Linux out there. Most commands must be done via the command line and something that might seem simple like system updates require user intervention in order to run. This makes the OS more complicated compared to other distributions meaning that it probably isn’t the best choice for Linux novices.
We have already mentioned the speed of Gentoo, but it is worth highlighting again as it is, hands down, one of the fastest Linux distributions you could ever hope to use. This makes it the perfect candidate for the operating system on a web server where speed is a necessity so you can serve out pages to the many visitors that your website receives day in and day out.
The reason that Gentoo is so fast, is simply because of the software that it uses and how it is installed. Nothing that you don’t ask for is installed when you build the operating system for your computer and server. So it won’t suffer from software bloat that many other systems have as they are forced to process applications that you never even touch.
Support and Community
Like most distributions of Linux, Gentoo has a very large and active community along with a searchable database filled with documents to help you figure out your way through Gentoo. You can easily find chats, forums and much more about Gentoo and you can even ask questions to the community to find the help you need if you run into problems.
Google Uses It
If you take a closer look at Google’s Chrome OS, you will find that it also uses the same package manager, Portage, for its flagship operating system that can be found on millions of Chromebooks around the world. Admittedly, Google’s Chrome OS has been customized so it isn’t much like Gentoo anymore these days, but still the fact that they have chosen to use the same package manager means at the very least Gentoo and Chrome OS are cousins.
While you don’t have a choice of what Linux version your site is hosted on when you use the more affordable shared hosting options, when you graduate to the larger packages that include virtual private servers and even your very own dedicated server, you often have way more control over what is and is not on your server.
Some hosting providers who sell Linux dedicated servers, offer Gentoo as one OS option. Other Linux distributions are more widely available pre-installed with dedicated servers. Due to its adaptability, you probably wouldn’t want someone to pre-configure your Gentoo installation anyway. When choosing a dedicated server plan, talk with your hosting provider to ensure Gentoo can be safely installed.
Gentoo Linux is one of the most powerful and fastest Linux distributions available today. It is stable, reliable and secure making it the perfect Linux distribution for web or even file server. It is not for the faint of heart, however. It is most definitely more difficult to use compared to many other distributions as it requires you to control everything. Nothing will run on Gentoo Linux unless you want it to, but with this added control comes more responsibility.
If you are looking to purchase your own dedicated server, and are wondering what operating system you should install on it for your web server, consider Gentoo Linux. It will provide you with one of the fastest servers in the data center while providing a secure environment that you are in control of, and not some automated system built into the operating system that will do things for you but slow your system down in the process.
Closely related features
Gentoo Frequently Asked Questions
What is Linux?
Linux is an open source operating system. Because it is open source, the source code can be used, modified, and distributed by anyone in compliance with the GNU General Public License, which has resulted in hundreds of different Linux distributions. The most popular free distributions are Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, and openSUSE. There are also commercial distributions, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
What architectures are supported?
Gentoo Linux is available for many architectures (processor families), including x86, x86_64, sparc, ppc (the PowerPC family), mips, arm, and more. For a complete list of supported architectures, see the Gentoo Handbook on their website.
So, Gentoo is an OS. Does it work just like Windows or Mac OS X?
Yes and no. There are a number of similarities between modern operating systems, including similar user interfaces and common programs, such as Mozilla Firefox and other internet software. However, Gentoo can be installed with a number of varieties of graphical user interfaces, each of which contains its own unique style, menus, and available programs. And, like most Linux distributions, Gentoo will require more command line programming to customize certain features.
How do I burn the installation ISO onto a CD?
You will need a CD burning tool for this. Depending on the operating system you’re running, there may be a built-in ISO burner. If so, right clicking on the downloaded file should give you the option to burn to CD. If not, you’ll need a third-party software, like EasyCD Creator, Nero Burning Rom, cdrecord, K3B, or ImgBurn.
Can I purchase an installation CD?
The easiest way to get the installation CD is to download it on the Gentoo website. But if you’re unable to download it or burn the ISO file to a CD, you can purchase Gentoo through one of their licensed stores. You can find a complete list of licensed stores on their Wiki page.
How do I add users?
The simplest way to add a user is to use the command line “useradd larry”, where “larry” is the name of the user you wish to add. However, this only gives the user basic rights. To add additional rights, you must follow this format: “root #useradd -m -G users,audio,wheel larry”. Doing this will also add “larry” — but the -G tells the system to add larry to the following groups: users (lets larry interact with the system), audio (lets larry access sound devices), and wheel (gives larry the ability to gain root privileges).
I’m running an older version of Gentoo. How do I upgrade to the latest version?
There’s no need to reinstall the software, because there is no difference between the various versions of Gentoo once they’ve been installed. All you have to do is run the command line “emerge –sync && emerge -uDN @world”. This will update any installed packages and their dependencies.
Does Gentoo support international keyboard layouts?
Yes. Once you’ve installed Gentoo, you’ll need to go to go to /etc/conf.d/keymaps and edit the keymap variable. Depending on your keyboard, you may need to set some additional variables, which you can find on the Gentoo Wiki page.
Does Gentoo offer a LiveCD, so I can try it out?
Yes. You can run Gentoo via the full-functioned LiveCD. However, since Gentoo is designed to install differently based on your system configuration, you won’t get the same experience running it from LiveCD as you would after installing it.
How do I report bugs?
Users can report system issues on Gentoo’s Bugzilla site. However, before reporting an issue, they suggest that you visit #gentoo on the Freenode IRC network and post about the issue, to see whether or not the issue you are experiencing is a bug.
How can I contribute to Gentoo?
There are several ways you can contribute to Gentoo. You can provide community support through their IRC channels, on their forums, and through the mailing list. You can help improve their documentation by contributing to the Gentoo Wiki. If you’re a programmer, you can register to become a developer. They have mentors who can help you get started. You can also report bugs, contribute articles or stories, or donate to Gentoo to support their efforts.
Who maintains Gentoo?
Gentoo was created by Daniel Robbins, and was originally called Enoch Linux. It was built to install specifically to hardware and only include required programs. Robbins released the first Gentoo Linux distribution in 2002, and in 2004 he established the Gentoo Foundation to oversee future development. The Gentoo Foundation is governed by a five-member Board of Trustees and seven-member Gentoo Council. With the help of a rich community of developers and contributors, the Gentoo Foundation continues to develop and release Gentoo Linux.
Are any other Linux distributions based on Gentoo?
Yes, the following distributions are derived from Gentoo: Calculate Linux, FireballISO, Funtoo, Gentoox, Knopperdisk, Pardus, Pentoo, Sabayon Linux, SystemRescueCD, Tin Hat Linux, and VidaLinux. Additionally, the following distributions use Gentoo’s portage system: CoreOS, Google Chrome OS and Chromium OS, and Ututo.
About Brian Wu
Brian specializes in technology and medicine. This isn't surprising given he now has a PhD in integrative biology and disease and an MD with a focus on holistic treatment. In the past, he's been an actor. Brian lives in southern California.