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Re: installing debian though compiling most everything.....

(This is a FAQ, as much as it's a question.  See the archives of both
debian-user and debian-devel about this.)

tripolar <tripolar@comcast.net> writes:

> I recently tinkered with another GNU/Linux distro Gentoo. I was
> impressed with several features- especially having everything run
> super fast compared to other distros.

Really?  The canonical request here is for numbers substantiating this
claim; with very limited exceptions, processor-specific optimizations
seem to add very little to most programs, which tend to be speed-bound
by the disk subsystem or the user.

> I am sure there is a simple answer to this though I must ask to get
> it :-) I would like to go back to debian though start with a very
> small base then any other programs I install- compile them from
> source to get a more stripped and fast OS.

Debian has poor support for doing this sort of thing.  Individual
packages can be easily rebuilt (look at 'debuild' in the devscripts
package, for example) but it's non-trivial to force gcc to run with a
particular set of options.

> I seem to remember some line in sources.list relateding to source.
> Any suggestions what to start with?

In general, copy all of your 'deb' lines and change the first word to
'deb-src'.  'apt-get source packagename' will get the source.  You can
also download sources directly from the FTP site; 'dpkg-source -x
foo.dsc' will unpack a Debian source package, given the .orig.tar.gz
and .diff.gz as well.

If you really do want to do this, you'll probably need to write the
machinery to do semi-automated recompilation on your own, and remember
to recompile packages when they've updated on the Debian site.  If you
really do want to compile everything on your system from source,
Gentoo might be a better choice for explicitly catering to you.

> Also, Do most of you consider Debian better than Gentoo? Why?

Disclaimer: I've never used Gentoo.  I'm actually much happier with
Debian over Slackware in that it *doesn't* force me to recompile any
time I want to change something; in tracking unstable, I only need to
pay the time cost of downloading packages, not the further cost of
compiling them.  And when we do have the occasional package that
requires more processor-specific tuning (ssh and atlas come to mind),
Debian tries to accomodate that.

David Maze         dmaze@debian.org      http://people.debian.org/~dmaze/
"Theoretical politics is interesting.  Politicking should be illegal."
	-- Abra Mitchell

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