Calculate VS Gentoo

Updated 24 April 2018

Multiple tasks, multiple flavours

Calculate Linux is a family of distributions optimized for different purposes. Among them, several desktop flavours, a server solution and a batch of minimalist systems for creating your own Calculate environment from scratch.

Text and GUI system installers

Calculate Linux features a fast and efficient installer. It comes both as a Qt4-based GUI interface and as a command-line driven utility. Calculate may indeed be the only Linux that can install on multiple drives simultaneously.

Assembly, setup and update utilities

While Gentoo is an excellent toolkit for making any modification of the original system you may have figured out, Calculate is a ready-to-use solution. System assembly, configuration and update are managed by Calculate Utilities. Those have a client-server architecture, thus allowing to connect to distant hosts for administration.

Configure with templates

For easier configuration file management, we designed a unified template syntax for Calculate Utilities. Templates support numerous system file formats, including dconf, which is rather particular. As templates do not overwrite existing files, but merge with them, supporting all of them is not difficult. Variables, functions and conditional expressions allow you to build solutions of any complexity.

A binary repository

Gentoo is an extremely flexible system, thanks to its USE flag tuning system: by enabling only the USE flags you need, you can reduce the number of required dependencies. To keep the balance between ease and functionality, Calculate binary packages are built in three different systems: two desktop systems (with KDE support and without) and one server system (without Xorg support). Two binary repositories are available for installation, to avoid duplicate packages. Calculate provides own binaries for all most popular software.

A binary kernel

For an newbie, the biggest difficulty in Gentoo is perhaps the kernel installation, since the package with the kernel source code is only unpacked, while all the rest is suggested to be done manually.

In Calculate Linux, the kernel, calculate-sources is installed as a regular package. It comes both in binary and in source version. Once the kernel has been compiled, it is time for the bootloader to be configured to handle the new kernel. You can always modify your kernel configuration with the cl-kernel tool. It creates a configuration template, storing only your personal kernel settings. They will be applied when compiling subsequent kernels.

System update

As any Gentoo user knows, you have to run eix-sync && emerge -uDNa world to update your system. In fact, this is not sufficient. The user may experience difficulties later, after a Python or a Xorg update. The emerge package manager has improved noticeably in these last years. It shows broken dependencies of installed programs and suggests ready-made solutions to correct conflicts. Nevertheless, upgrading your system in Gentoo may still be difficult.

Calculate has its own solution for updating the system, performing all necessary checks, including patching at an early stage if any problems detected. On the server, you will be notified if an update is available, just like you get notified about new mail. On the desktop, a tray icon will appear to do the same.

Updates, fixes and migration

As well as its parent Gentoo, Calculate Linux is a rolling-release distribution. On the one hand, this is great, because after you have installed the system once, it can be updated for years on a regular basis, so that you will always have the latest versions of your software. On the other hand, you need to periodically migrate to new states. It happens automatically in Calculate Linux, thanks to its revision system. Revisions are templates stored in the overlay and applied at Portage sync time, before the updates are installed.

Customization supported

Calculate Linux has a modular architecture. We added two overlays to the Portage tree, "calculate" and "distros". The first contains base profiles and templates; the second contains "flavour" descriptions and package lists. You can create your profile (on GitHub, for example) and use the cl-update-profiletool to replace 'distros' with it or just to use the 'distros'' configuration.

You can manage almost everything with your overlay: package manager settings, Calculate Utilities, templates, etc. Your overlay profile can be used to build a customized ISO image.

A comprehensive client-server solution

With solutions based on Calculate Linux, you can deploy a corporate local network in no time. Calculate Directory Server will act as the central authority server for Calculate Linux Desktop, that will provide file and mail servers, DNS, DHCP, Jabber, etc. The user accounts will be stored in LDAP. All configuration tasks are performed with Calculate Utilities.