Why I dislike Arch and Gentoo

Over the years, I have used many many Linux distributions. The reason I am now using a distribution maintained by me, is because I am never truly satisfied about other people’s work. Not that they are bad at they do, it’s just that they don’t share the same vision as me. And I have felt this way with almost every distribution I have used.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux itself feels like it became a ‘meme distribution’. Their user-base is a cult-like community that think they are superior for using Arch Linux. Now, you might be an Arch user, and might not be like this. I used Arch for a long time, and didn’t feel this way, ever. I only see this level of cultism for Arch and systemd.

If you ever call Arch bloated on an online community website, you will get lots of crap for it. But in fact, Arch Linux is bloated. Now this isn’t due to having too many packages in the base installation. This is because of their packaging of software.

Arch enables almost every single option in the package configuration, meaning lots of unnecessary dependencies, and packages with humongous sizes.

Pacman is a rather slow package manager, and missing alternatives. For me, an alternatives system is a must.

If you want to use a better binary distribution, use Void Linux. They have saner package configurations, and the environment just feels more UNIXy. xbps is really fast, and has an alternatives system.

Gentoo Linux

This will be the longer part, because my dislike for Gentoo is bigger than my dislike towards Arch. If you want to see how NOT to maintain a distribution, check out Gentoo.

I’ve used Gentoo for a few months, and I’m saying this right out of the gate. Portage is the slowest piece of software that I have ever used on Linux. Maybe that’s because I deliberately avoid software using Python, but Portage is most probably the slowest package manager that is being used.

Portage depends on Bash, Python, and GNU wget. I have got a line count from cloc, doing a find . \( -name '*.sh -o -name '*.py' \) -exec cloc {} +. The source code of just *.sh and *.py files are over 100k lines of code. Then I got curious and runned cloc against the whole repository. Here is the output.

Language                      files          blank        comment           code
Python                          703          20009          21411         102180
Bourne Shell                     13            643            678           3911
Bourne Again Shell               44            583            434           3172
diff                             17             31            298            574
YAML                              6             32             80            573
XSD                               1             27             27            494
C                                 2             56            128            291
make                              1              7              6             19
INI                               1              1              0             15
reStructuredText                  1              5              4              9
XSLT                              1              0              0              5
SUM:                            790          21394          23066         111243

That’s quite a lot.

Portage is a package manager that tries to ease the configuration process of packages, but at the process makes it terribly complex to compose packages, and adds billions of portage configuration options. Configuring your first kernel is literally easier than configuring portage in a way you want. Users just do not know that they would be better off doing an LFS build for a much stabler system. My system was broken countless times while using Gentoo. Maintaining a Gentoo system is honestly harder than maintaining my own distribution.

EAPI, probably the worst thing about the Portage ecosystem. It is the most complex, hard to read, hard to learn packaging system ever made. Creating a USE flag system shouldn’t have been this hard.

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