Gentoo Linux - Drawbacks and Criticisms

Drawbacks and Criticisms

Compiling packages from source takes considerably more time than installing pre-built binaries. In some cases (depending on the size of the source code to be compiled and hardware), compilation of large programs can take hours and may also require a few gigabytes of temporary disk space in which to build.

Generally, Gentoo users accept long compile times as the cost of being able to apply their own compile-time options and enjoy the flexibility of Portage, but Gentoo developers have created a number of work-arounds to avoid slow package installation.

  1. Pre-compiled binaries are provided for some applications with long build times, such as and Mozilla Firefox, provided by upstream maintainers. By using these binaries, installation time is equivalent to other Linux distributions, but users lose the ability to customize optional features.
  2. The standard installation process gives users configuration options to reduce compilation times, such as enabling parallel compilation and using pipes instead of temporary files.
  3. Other optional features of the Portage system include distributed compiling and using a compiler cache. In addition, the user may be able to mount a large filesystem in RAM to greatly speed up the process of building packages. Some of these approaches have drawbacks, and so are not enabled by default.
  4. When installing the same package on multiple computers, the package may be compiled once and a binary package created for quick installation on the other computers, assuming sufficiently similar hardware.

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