Gentoo one of the most customizable Linux distro;Is it a good choice for Web Servers?
There is a controversy about using Gentoo on servers and i have read a lot about that and came to a conclusion.As many Gentoo linux fans believe it is a good option on servers.
What is Gentoo Linux?
An advanced Linux distribution which can be customized and optimized to the finest level.It is a hybrid Linux which works well as a desktop Linux,Server system,development workstation,Gaming system,laptop linux and more.The question is "Is Gentoo is a good option as a Server Linux Distro?" Lets find out more about Gentoo.
- Support for x86, AMD64, PowerPC, UltraSparc, Alpha and MIPS processors
- Latest KDE and GNOME versions
- Various optimized Linux kernels
- Very modern GNU development environment
- Excellent hardware support: NVIDIA, Creative Labs Live! and Audigy
- Excellent filesystem support: ReiserFS, XFS, ext3, EVMS, LVM
- Modular OpenGL and compiler sub-system (supports multiple co-existing versions)
- more than 8000 packages
Portage is the packet management system in Gentoo Linux and it makes the distro independent.Portage compiles the package from the source code of the software the user wants to install.Thus it is gives the option for customizing the package.If you are using a desktop or gaming console you do not need so much customization to tune your system.But as a Server administrator you want to know the finer things in your servers.Here the advantage of Gentoo comes.You know what is happening on your server and the full control is on your hand.
The emerge command-line is the heart of portage and it makes the user easy to install a software with necessary dependencies.Portage offers an option called USE FLAGS by which user can customize the software features he needs after installation.Portage adds the necessary dependencies for the features you add and the installation works cool.
Gentoo Linux has an active and helpful web community and this is another requirement of a server linux distro.Many newbies who starts to use servers have a tough time to face with.Definitely there will be lot of problems and Gentoo forum will be always there to help them.
A disadvantage of Gentoo as told by the critics is the time required to build a Gentoo server.If you want to build your own server with customized softwares,it takes more time definitely.But i say it is worth to spend time for Gentoo.You just install your softwares with required features only.You can select the features by the USE FLAGS option and by this you are installing minimal dependencies to the server.You wont take long time for this as you are minimizing your installation.If you do not a package don't install it,make your server with minimal things for your needs.
Another thing is about Gentoo's security.As you know a server linux distro should be highly stable and it should never crash literally.Gentoo releases frequent updates including security updates.Gentoo releases update versions every week from the year 2008.emerge -uD world command will update your system and you can avoid the vulnerability of your server.But one disadvantage of Gentoo is important; Gentoo profiles have a shorter life cycle than what you would expect in a production server.Large companies want long term release cycles and Gentoo doesn't meet that.
Whatever the world says it is worth trying Gentoo on your server and experience the Gentoo effect.In my opinion Gentoo is a good choice as a linux server distro for small scale companies.If you do not want much to spend for the paid maintenance support for servers offered by other companies,you can always depend on Gentoo.