Gentoo Linux is a unique experience for those people that really enjoy tinkering with every aspect of the operating system. Since all of the software is compiled from source, only the options and applications desired need to be installed. While this greatly improves the efficiency of the distribution, it can lead to long compile times and hours of configuring before anything works. As a result, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. Due to variances in configurations and occasional stability issues as a result, Gentoo is not generally recommended as a mission-critical server.
Do you enjoy being on the bleeding edge of computing? Do you like to spend your time tinkering with every option available, from the kernel to the office suite? If so, Gentoo Linux may very well be the distribution for you. The main advantage to be had from Gentoo Linux is that every single application is compiled from the source code. This means that the executables are optimized for your exact model of processor, and it also means that you can install just the functionality needed within each application. Don’t care about having a GUI? It’s not necessary to install one in Gentoo Linux. Don’t want hyperthreading options installed in your compiler? Gentoo Linux doesn’t need that either.
There are hundreds of pages of documentation on Gentoo Linux which will really appeal to the Linux hacker inside you. Each application has all kinds of flags that can be set to ensure the experience is perfect for you. It is available for a variety of computer architectures, including x86, amd64, alpha, and sparc. While the initial installation, compilation, and configuration of everything can take a lot of time, the end result is worth it with the improved speed and ease of use.
If you have some Linux experience but were looking to improve your skills, going through a full install of Gentoo Linux will definitely give you a strong background in all things Linux. If you already have a lot of knowledge, Gentoo Linux will give you that optimized experience you have been looking for.