[OT] Lunar vs. Gentoo

Brian J. Tarricone bjt23 at cornell.edu
Thu May 6 18:39:50 CEST 2004

On Thu, 6 May 2004, Chuck Mead wrote:

> Sorry I have not responded but I really have not time for an in depth 
> explanation. My recommendation is to jump on irc.freenode.net in the 
> lunar channel and ask the folks there your questions.
> As far as my allusion to speed goes lunar was built, on purpose, to go 
> fast (and it does). It is also easier to install than Gentoo and this 
> has been said by every Gentoo user who has converted.

i'll just start by saying i'm a gentoo user, and i have no experience 
with lunar (yet), other than nestu nagging me to give it a try.  i've 
been using gentoo for almost two years now.  i originally installed 
gentoo 1.2, which was based on gcc 2.95.  sometime later, my main HD 
started dying, and i lost most of / and /usr (not /home, thankfully).  i 
installed gentoo 1.4rc2, which was based on gcc 3.2.  this was probably 
late summer, 2002.  i haven't reinstalled since.  

that's probably my main reason for not trying lunar yet, and is probably 
my second-favourite benefit of using a source-based system: you really 
don't have to reinstall the OS unless it gets destroyed somehow (or 
there's a major compiler upgrade... and even then, i recall upgrade 
scripts for gentoo 1.2 -> 1.4).  i say this also to play down the 
advantage gained by lunar install-wise.  you really only have to do the 
install once.  gentoo's installation guide is very thorough, and, unless 
you end up with bizarre hardware-related problems, most semi-experienced 
users should have no problems following the directions.  i believe there 
are some automated gentoo install scripts floating around too, though i 
can't vouch for their usability and/or robustness as i've never tried 

(on a side note, my favourite benefit of a source-based system is 
defintely the package management and dependency resolution.)

the one benefit i can see that gentoo has (that someone else mentioned) 
is userbase and support.  gentoo, having been around longer, has a 
larger userbase, and may have better long-term security regarding "will 
it still be around in X years."  as lunar is around longer, and gains 
more users, i expect its situation to be more in line with gentoo's.

from my limited poking, it looks like lunar is even more bleeding-edge 
than gentoo is with regard to package versions.  so if that's your 
thing, lunar may be a better choice.  granted, with gentoo you can 
always roll your own ebuilds (which often just means
"cp package-x.y.z.ebuild package-x.y.[z+1].ebuild"), but i'm lazy, and 
having something "officially" in the package tree is always better.

as for any claims about which distro is "faster"...  i really can't 
imagine that they differ by all that much.  given two identical 
machines, one with lunar, one with gentoo, both using the same compiler 
with the same optimisations, i can't see how they'd be all that 
different.  either way, for someone like me who's a long-time gentoo 
user, i can't justify putting in the install and config time, as well as 
learning the lunar package management tools, just for what would most 
likely be an imperceptible speed gain.  at any rate, i'm not one of 
those optimisation nuts - i think my CFLAGS on my home machine are 
something like "-O3 -march=athlon-tbird -ffast-math -pipe" and that's 
about it.  actually, i may have changed that to -O2 a bit ago to speed 
up compiles somewhat; i don't remember.

(note: before you flame me, yes, i'm well aware that -ffast-math can be 
dangerous.  but it's never caused any problems for me.  if i do have 
problems with a piece of software, that's the first thing i change 
before filing a bug report.)

but hey, most of this is all conjecture, as i've never tried lunar.  if 
you really want to know, try them both out and see which you like 
better.  in this case i think ultimately it's going to boil down to 
personal taste.  do a dual boot setup if you have the HD space.  sure, 
it means an investment of a little more time, but in the long run, it's 
worth it,  as you'll presumably be spending quite a lot more time living 
with your decision.

i hope i haven't offended anyone.  it looks like the lunar team has put 
together a great distro, and i don't wish to be negative toward them or 
lunar itself in any way.  when i get some free time, i'll certainly try 
out lunar, as it seems like a fun thing to do, but i don't expect myself 
to actually switch (the aforementioned setup/config time issue).  ah, 
free time...  where did that go...?


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