Formerly having been a Gentoo power user this is really nice to read. I hadn’t heard of GURU before - is it Gentoo’s answer to Arch’s AUR? I assume so but have never used either.
Funny timing. I just switched my gaming/development desktop from Windows to Gentoo the other day.
It’s amazing how painless the Linux desktop experience has become. It didn’t take long to have everything compiled and flawlessly running Cyberpunk 2077, on KDE plasma, on wayland, on proprietary NVIDIA drivers, on Gentoo.
I often think back to this moment in time when my computer felt just right, everything under my control and ./configure‘d just for my use-cases; with Gentoo (DWM). It probably didn’t feel “finished” at the time (does it ever?), but I had a lot of time to spend on it then and the local maximum stayed with me. I learned real problem solving skills, and whatever field or eldrich nature I encounter software “issues” in today, it’s those foundational experiences which equipped me the confidence to grope into the dark, an intuition for where to find light, and a tactile familiarity with the properties of the lens through which we focus, particularly when mapping a system’s behavior. I’m still learning how best to solve problems once I understand them, and wouldn’t be here it weren’t for the tools that embracing Gentoo gave me. I occasionally donated when I was daily driving it and, aware that the unusually high spend this year was intentional, will donate again soon. Even when I don’t use the distro, the wiki has been priceless, and is my go-to.
On a more reified note, Portage’s use flags are great and I hope to see functional package managers (not sure about nixpkgs?) taking wider advantage of a Restricted Dictionary of Keyword Arguments to allow users to tailor their software and it’s dependencies (inc. optional deps!). Such flags do exist, but do not have the same level of standardized vocabularies, application and discovery mechanisms, flag-based dependency-resolution, and of course, widespread implimentation. I can write manual package transformations as an end user, but that introduces a dependency on the package’s build phases and is far more verbose. While both systems theoretically empower end users, Gentoo has nurtured a packaging model and culture which actively supports those powers.
Well, as supported as combinatorial explosions can get; I didn’t learn those skills fixing nothing :p. Will always have a place in my heart for Gentoo, both Portage and the community. Huge shoutout to the GentooLTO project.