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I've been working for 6 years with Gentoo. I love all configuration and installation options, the pretty colorful init toolchain and portage, but I absolutely hate compiling software, since it lasts ages. I'm really envious of Ubuntu users who just type "apt-get upgrade" (lasts about 30 seconds) while I'm typing "emerge --sync" (currently runs for over 40 minutes). "apt-get install anything" just lasts a few more seconds, while compiling even small software needs hours of time. Since I'm planning to buy a typical Atom-powered Netbook, I'm again confronted with the question: Isn't there any Linux distribution which is almost like Gentoo, but just without compiling?

I admit the question is sort of silly, but I tried Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and I just don't like running Firefox 3.0 for half a year until the distributors release a new version.

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FYI, you can add the Mozilla Nightly PPA to your sources.list if you want a newer FFx. –  digitxp Sep 26 '10 at 3:00
    
Take a look at SuSE! –  Kamil Sep 8 at 23:10

3 Answers 3

Try Arch Linux.

It's as bleeding edge as Gentoo, but uses binary packages (you can still compile from source if you wish).

If you decide to try it, you can also use this "apt-get" script I wrote:

bash$ cat /usr/local/bin/apt-get 
#!/bin/bash

usage()
{
    echo Usage: $0 "<clean|install|remove|update|upgrade> ..."
    exit 1
}

[ $# -lt 1 ] && usage

command=$1
shift
case $command in
    install)
    pacman -S $@
    ;;
    remove)
    pacman -R $@
    ;;
    update)
    pacman -Sy
    ;;
    upgrade)
    pacman -Su 2>&1
    ;;
    clean)
    pacman -Scc << OEF
    y
    n
OEF
    echo 
    echo All done.
    ;;
    *)
    usage
    ;;
esac
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1  
Would +1 for ArchLinux (currently using it on an Atom too), but -1 for the useless script (why not just use pacman directly?!), so 0 :) –  houbysoft Sep 25 '10 at 23:44
    
Arch Linux really seems to be an interesting alternative. I wonder if the software repositories are really significantly smaller than Portage. –  Timo V. Sep 25 '10 at 23:53
    
@Timo V. : Check out aur.archlinux.org (Arch User Repository) -- I doubt there is a package you won't find there, if it's not in the official repositories. –  houbysoft Sep 25 '10 at 23:55
    
Well, some of us have to maintain many machines (OSes at work, distributions at home, etc). "Memory quota exceeded", so I have an apt-get for each one of them... including one for FreeBSD ports :-) –  ttsiodras Sep 30 '10 at 16:04

Slackware and use sbopkg combined and you have a nice setup! Quite similar to Gentoo in that sense and regard.

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Well, Arch Linux seems to be the better choice to try, regarding it's "rolling releases" system (like Gentoo), doesn't it? –  Timo V. Sep 25 '10 at 23:51

One of the features I like very much about Gentoo is its cross development friendliness.

You can build the entire system for the Atom netbook on a 2.5" drive (that will be the boot drive for the netbook) installing it in an i7 desktop system with a DVD and a 2.5" adapter. Just hard code "arch=atom" in /etc/make.conf (gotta be using 4.4 or 4.5 gcc, of course for that to work).

When you finish, move the drive to the netbook and install grub/lilo/whatever and you have a fully built system in 1/10 the time you would have had to do natively. It works for me.

I will say, though, that I have to repeat this process every month or so, since I have this urge to keep my systems leading-edge! ;-)

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