The Linux Project: Gentoo revisited
Once upon a time, I wrote a series of articles about the various Linux distributions that exist on the Internet. At that time, I had tried, and condemned a distribution known as Gentoo. I gave it very low marks for just about everything I used as a means of rating Linus distros. And while Gentoo remains perhaps the most difficult operating system I have ever installed on a computer, once it gets installed, it works quite nicely.
As I said in the previous article, there are various states in which computer software can exist: source code, and executable files. Source code is the written in "English" stuff; the code used to create functional executable files. With most operating systems, what you get on the install disk is finished, pre-compiled executable files. They are copied to your hard disk, and are functional from that point forward.
Before source code can be used to make the computer do what you want, it has to be compiled. Compiling is a translation process. The final result of compilation is generally an executable file. It is the executable file that does what the program is designed to do.
While there is an executable component to the Gentoo install disk, that is only there to put the source code onto your system, and compile it thereafter. Compilation is a time consuming process. It logically follows that installing Gentoo takes a long time, in some cases, a very long time. This is as true at this point in reality as it was when I first condemned Gentoo.