O’Reilly recently introduced a new pocket guide to using Linux on desktops. They kindly made the first chapter, on distributions, freely available. In it, David Brickner has a nice table comparing the top 5 distros: Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, SUSE and Ubuntu.
On a 1-5 scale, Gentoo got a 2 for installation, a 3 for configuration, a 4 for package management and a 5 for documentation and community.
The installer project has put a great deal of work into what many see as Gentoo’s weakest point over the past couple of years. It’s now in its 0.2 release and working toward 0.3. I’m quite pleased to see that Brickner mentioned our beta installer in the book. Although I’ve since handed off leadership to Andrew Gaffney, I still feel some pride of parenthood.
Unfortunately the desktop research project has mostly died off, because that team promised much toward fixing our second-lowest point, configuration tools. If anyone would like to help revive it, please get in touch with me.
I’m a bit surprised that package management was only at a 4 rather than a 5, but perhaps that’s because Gentoo lacks an officially supported GUI package manager. Many exist, however, and porthole stands out among them.