I too have an XL-366 and just recently went through the Gentoo install. It was not all the difficult. If you are already running a 2.4 kernel, it will be pretty easy. That was my biggest hurdle in that I has still been running on old 2.2.19 kernel.
Yes, you can custom build things for your machine type (ev56). I have already noticed that it does seem a bit snappier than before. I had been running Red Hat 6.2 (ancient I know). How I went about it is I basically installed the system stuff (/, /usr, /var ) to an unused partition. Then I followed the instructions on the gentoo site for "Installing from a running system". Basically, you start by untarring one of the "stages" (I started with Stage 1) to your new partition and then doing a "chroot" to that from the running system. Then you kick off the bootstrap process. Starting from Stage 1, I think my system ran almost all night building things. The process would probably be faster if you started from a higher stage or tried an install from the LiveCD (a new image for that was offered up last week by Jay Maynard).
As for Perl performance, I haven't done enough Perl work to say whether the performance difference in using a "-mcpu ev56" build flag is noticeable or not.
Apache 2 installs without a hitch. I did have a problem building Samba last week though, which I haven't had time to chase down yet. I'm getting some duplicate/conflicting symbol definitions in two header files.
One thing I did notice is that the "vanilla-sources" kernel source tree does not seem to obey the Portage build flags for machine type that I had set. It still built an "ev5" kernel even though I had set "-mcpu ev56" build flags for Portage. I looked at it a little bit and it looked like a few tweaks to the kernel source Makefiles would fix that problem. It may already be fixed in one of the other kernel trees (alpha-sources and/or compaq-sources for instance). I didn't look however.
I have also installed the sshd daemon and that works fine too. I have not tied fetchmail, or SpamAssassin yet. However, I "force built" Zope 2.6.4 (it was not marked to build on alpha in the Portage tree) and so far that too seems to be working too.
I haven't worked with Debian/apt a lot, but in the respects you mention, it sounds very similar. Portage will download and build necessary dependencies as well. I did find that the Portage tree (/usr/portage) did start eating up space rather quickly (I have some pretty small disks) and I ended up moving it to a partition of it's own.
Keep posting questions as you hit them.
From: Jean-Sébastien Guay [mailto:jean_seb@...]
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2004 10:09 AM
To: Gentoo-Alpha Mailing List
Subject: [gentoo-alpha] Gentoo Alpha questions
I am thinking of moving from Debian to Gentoo on my home server, which is an Alpha XL-366 (xlt milo image). The machine currently runs Apache2, ssh, fetchmail and procmail with spamassassin and clamav to filter unwanted mails, a simple firewall script (iptables, with nat and masquerading for my networked machines, can be found at
http://www.asgardsrealm.net/linux/firewall/) and acts as a file server using Samba. I have a few questions to ask of people who have been using Gentoo on Alpha for a while.
1. I heard that the fact that you can compile everything for your machine type, with all the necessary optimisations, makes a nice difference in system speed. How true is it? Can someone with a similar setup to my own comment on that? I'm especially hoping that Perl will see a nice speedup, since I do lots of Perl coding in my free time, and spamassassin is written in Perl too and currently takes about 3-5 seconds per message.
2. Will the transition from Debian to Gentoo be painful? I'm especially worried about getting everything to work the same as it did on Debian as fast as possible. As you can see above, the whole home network depends on this machine...
3. Also, how do you think the transition from apt to portage will be? I'm wondering if it's similar to apt, in the sense that you can download updates (new versions) to currently installed software and install them automatically (compiling as needed, I guess).
Thanks in advance,
Jean-Sébastien Guay jean_seb@...
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