Mar 142011

gentooWhat these two distributions have in common?opensuse
Very little in my opinion, except that the latest release of both came out last week, we got to version 11 of Gentoo live dvd , in Gentoo it usually refers to the version of the Live DVD as it is a “ rolling release ” unlike other distros like openSUSE that release versions regularly, and with his last release stands at version openSUSE 11.4 .

So, let’s see what these 2 distributions can offer to Linux users.

General Features


The openSUSE project is a worldwide community program sponsored by Novell with the goal to serve the most usable and userfriendly desktop Linux system. openSUSE (earlier known as Suse or SuSE) has been a top Linux distribution for quite a while (first appeared in 1992 as S.u.S.E). Formerly a business-only solution, now concentrates on home user’s desktops and workstations.


Distro for advanced, aware and patient users and also for those who like to mess up a lot. Gentoo is a distribution which doesn’t rely on binary packages (although there are some available as well) but rather concentrates on building the operating system optimized for the target hardware. Installing and configuring Gentoo can take days. The users say it’s worth it because of the control and speed improvements.

Base System


As wrote, Gentoo it’s a rolling distribution so these release (and all the following) refer to what you can find in the Live DVD, once installed you’ll be able to upgrade any package installed and with a with a later release on the repository.

System packages include: Linux Kernel 2.6.37 (with Gentoo patches), Accessibility Support with Speakup 3.1.6, bash 4.1, glibc 2.12.2, gcc 4.5.2, binutils 2.21, python 2.7.1 and 3.1.3 and perl 5.12.3.


11.4 is based around Kernel 2.6.37 which improves the scalability of virtual memory management and separation of tasks executed by terminal users, leading to better scalability and performance and less interference between tasks. The new kernel also brings better hardware support, with open Broadcom Wireless drivers, improved Wacom support and many other new or updated drivers. It also supports the improvements to graphic drivers in the latest Xorg and Mesa shipped, so users will enjoy better 2D and 3D acceleration.

Desktops and Applications


Opensuse offers both Gnome and KDE, but you should keep in mind that this distribution has a long tradition of be a KDE distribution, so i really suggest to use that Desktop manager to get the most.
The KDE Plasma Desktop 4.6 introduces script-ability to window manager KWin and easier Activity management as well as improvements to network and bluetooth handling. Stable GNOME 2.32 improves usability and accessibility. 11.4 also has GNOME Shell, part of the upcoming GNOME3, available for testing. Xfce 4.8 now makes use of the GIO VFS implementation for better remote file system browsing as well as udev, ConsoleKit and PolicyKit. The lighter weight LXDE 0.5 hasn’t seen any major changes with this release but continues to enhance stability and usability with a series of bugfixes, improved file association and theming.

Firefox 4.0, first to ship in 11.4, introduces a major redesign of the user interface with tabs moved to the top of the toolbar, support for pinning of tabs and more. 11.4 includes even more of the popular up to date Free Software applications as it’s the first major distribution to ship LibreOffice 3.3.1. 11.4 also débuts the result of almost 4 years of work with the Scribus 1.4 release based on Qt 4 and Cairo technology.


Gentoo don’t has a preferred Desktop Manager, you are free to build from scratch a KDE, a Gnome or a Fluxbox environment.
These are some of the packages shipped in the DVD (and so available fro installation):

  • Desktop environments and window managers include: KDE SC 4.6, GNOME 2.32, Xfce 4.8, Enlightenment 1.0.7, Openbox, Fluxbox 1.3.1, XBMC 10.0 and more.
  • Office, graphics, and productivity applications include: OpenOffice 3.2.1, XEmacs 21.5.29 gVim 7.3.102, Abiword 2.8.6, GnuCash 2.2.9, Scribus 1.9.3, GIMP 2.6.11, Inkscape 0.48.1, Blender 2.49b, XSane 0.997, and much more.
  • Web browsers include: Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, Arora 0.11.0, Opera 11.0, Epiphany 2.30.6, Seamonkey 2.0.11, and other favorites.
  • Communication tools include: Pidgin 2.7.10, Quassel 0.7.1, Mozilla Thunderbird 3.1.7, Claws Mail 3.7.8, Qtwitter 0.10.0, irssi 0.8.15, and many more.

Video Reviews

Unfortunately, Gentoo 11 is not yet available as a review, but the one i’ve found that it is recent enough to get an idea:

Popularity on Distro watch

These the numbers for the last 7 days:

Opensuse: 2532
Gentoo: 1134

Consider also that opensuse has been released 2 days after Gentoo, so it’s clear which of the two is more used.


On the applications I have to say that openSUSE has dared more, introduced Firefox 4.0 (currently still in beta) and Libreoffice instead of OpenOffice. But if you’re a fan of gentoo do not worry too much, by its very nature it is possible to switch from Firefox 3.6 to 4.0 even within two or three months without having to upgrade the whole system.

As i expected Opensuse it’s much more popular than Gentoo for number of people that use it.

So, which one?
As usual, there isn’t 1 good response only to me, considering also the different approach between the two distro.
If you want a distribution up and running with little, which has a great KDE ready the answer is openSUSE.
If this install isn’t your first Linux, and you are ready to read manual and learn a little more, losing time yes, but understanding a bit much more of your Linux then i suggest you to try Gentoo.

Personally I’m happy with my three distributions: Xubuntu 10.10 at home, Gentoo Fluxbox/Gnome at work and Debian Squeeze for my girlfriend, happy installation.

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  4 Responses to “Gentoo 11 or Opensuse 11.4 ?”

  1. Why not split it down the middle and install Arch?

  2. Using the Gentoo LiveCD as the comparator in assessing Gentoo against another distro is very silly.

    The Gentoo LiveCD does not and is not intended to provide users with a proper Gentoo experience and it should not be used as a substitute for one.

    There is only one way to experience Gentoo, install it.

  3. Also openSUSE now offers a rolling release option which you omitted to mention.

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