Many people think that Gentoo is just another Linux distro, but it is wrong. Gentoo Linux is a special, different and powerful Linux distribution, because it isn’t like other systems that have pre-compiled software and tools for easy management, in Gentoo the user must configure everything.
Gentoo isn't a distro for new users. If you want to install Gentoo on your PC or laptop, you must master the Linux terminal.
Gentoo could be the hardest distro, but I think that is the most flexible distribution because the number of the possibilities in Gentoo is incredible.
I think that Gentoo is very similar to LFS (Linux from scratch), because when you install the system you can build and personalize every part of it.
If we compare Gentoo with UNIX BSD variants, it has many similarities with this latter. For example, FreeBSD it's a UNIX-based system, and it has a ports collection. If a user wants to install a program in FreeBSD, he must find the corresponding port and compile it.
Gentoo has its own ports system called portage. Portage has significant advantages over the FreeBSD ports system, like dependency management, accurate tuning packages to suit the administrator, safe uninstall, system profiles, virtual packages, management of configuration files and multiple slots for different versions of the same package.
Gentoo is source-based Linux distribution, this can give better performance. Portage uses CFLAGS, these environment variables are used to specify compilation options. The purpose of using CFLAGS is to make specify code for the system and optimize the applications for the computer.
Portage could be the best package management tool and Gentoo could be the best distro that a new user could know, but the reality is a little different.
If you want to install Gentoo on your computer, you must consider the following aspects:
1.- The user controls the system.
2.- The user can personalize each part of the system "easily".
3.- The package manager "Portage" is very powerful.
4.- The use of CFLAGS variables optimizes applications.
5.- The system performance is very good.
6.- Gentoo supports a lot of processor architectures.
7.- Use Gentoo brings a lot of knowledge.
8.- Gentoo is highly secure, it's Linux.
I think that any Linux distro has disadvantages because generally the problems are caused by the user.
A common user problems:
1.- The user doesn't read the documentation.
2.- The user doesn't know how to use the terminal.
3.- The user doesn't know how to use portage.
4.- The user can't install applications.
5.- The user doesn't know how to use the system (Gentoo).
6.- The user doesn't know how to use Linux.
7.- The user thinks that Gentoo isn't a good system.
Gentoo maybe has only one disadvantage: It needs a good hardware.
Any Linux distro can run on any hardware, but in Gentoo, you must compile applications, because Gentoo doesn't have many precompiled binaries in its repositories, and some applications like "google-chrome" could take a big time to install it.
If you want to be a new Gentoo user, you must do the following:
1.- Master the terminal:
The most powerful tool present in each Linux distro is the terminal and you must know how to use it.
2.- Learn how to build applications.
Portage is a great package manager, but is important that you know how to use the CFLAGS.
3.- Read the entire documentation of Gentoo.
When a new user wants to install Gentoo, maybe he finds a quick guide on google, but this is an easy way and it could be failed. You must read the documentation because you could learn more and finally master the system.
4.- Try harder
Is possible that when you install Gentoo for the first time, maybe you have a lot of complications, but don't worry, if you try hard finally will do.
Gentoo is a distro for the people who wants to know more about Linux because the people will learn a lot reading the documentation, fixing problems, configuring their system, compiling software, etc. Gentoo allows the user to configure each part of the system according to his needs.