Choose two GNU/Linux or BSD flavors and see how they compare in features and supported software/hardware.

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GENERAL FEATURESArch Linux is an independent lightweight i686-optimized community distribution for intermediate and advanced GNU/Linux users who aren't afraid of the command line. It offers great flexibility and control over what software you want to have on your system and how you want it configured. Like Slackware, it follows the "keep it simple" philosophy and is very fast to boot and run.Distro for advanced, aware and patient users and also for those who like to mess up a lot :) Gentoo is a distribution which doesn't rely on binary packages (although there are some available as well) but rather concentrates on building the operating system optimized for the target hardware. Installing and configuring Gentoo can take days or weeks. The users say it's worth it because of the control and speed improvements.
Supported architecturesi686, amd64 (experimental)2006.1: alpha, amd64, hppa (hppa 1.1, hppa 2.0), ppc (G4, G5, power3, power4, power5, ppc, ppc64), sparc (sparc32, sparc64) x86 (x86, i686)
Minimal hardware requirements?Minimal: 64MB RAM, 1,5GBMB HDD, 256 MB SWAP
Suggested: 600 MHz Pentium II-class, 128 MB RAM, 3 GB HDD
Software freedom statusMostly free, but includes some proprietary driversMostly free, but includes some proprietary drivers
Installer - overall(7) Installer is very similar to Slackware, but requires even more experience and know-how. Partitioning has to be done before launching the installer (e.g. using cfdisk). Upon installing, packages configuration files are offered for manual editing, although default settings are already present and will work in alot of cases.(6) Since Gentoo 2006.0 the distro comes with a Gnome Live-CD and a graphical installer. The installer is not yet stable enough to recommend it for the newbies. However it's way easier than the manual way. In the previous versions, Gentoo had no typical installer. The installation process was performed manually by entering appropriate commands well described in the installation manual. Installing Gentoo this way takes approximately a few days (including sources download, compilation and installing) so it is really not a task for everyone.
Package selection(6) ?(4) In the GUI installer, there is a short list of packages to choose from. There is an option to enter the required packages manually though.
Predefined package groups(6) ?(0) Not available.
Expert mode install(1) Only expert mode available.(6) Possible manual installation in stages 1, 2 or 3. None of them is newbie-friendly though.
Graphical installer(0) Only text-mode dialog boxes, ncurses based.(5) A simple one, available from the Live-CD.
Installer speed(6) ?(3) The graphical installer is quick. The manual installation from stage 3 take a bit more than a standard installation of most popular distros. Advanced installation (stages 1 or 2) is very slow and therefore recommended only for the most patient users.
Graphical system management(0) By default there are no graphical configuration programs for Arch. (0) No dedicated graphical tools.
Console-based system management(0) No, except vi, emacs, nano etc. Configuration is done by editing files directly.(0) No dedicated graphical tools. But there is vim :)
Number of packages(6) There is overall a growing number of Arch packages, probably in line with what is available for Slackware. However, there is *alot* more of PKGBUILD's available in a so called "AUR" repository, files similar to gentoo ebuilds used by the Arch Build System for compiling packages from source. An easy to use command line tool is available for fetching and executing compilation of those, called aurbuild.(9) More than 11200 packages (ebuilds) available through Portage system, divided into clear categories.
Package management, automatic dependency resolving(7) Yes, pacman (Arch package manager) handles dependancies pretty well. Even if you install from source, dependancies are being resolved within PKGBUILD's (much like in gentoo ebuilds).(9) Very good dependency management through Portage (also when different versions of the same app are installed).
Graphical package management tools(4) There are optional graphical front ends to pacman, but they have to be installed first (not included). A good example is gtk-pacman.(4) There are some graphical apps but using them may be a real pain :) Console-based "emerge" just does the job.
System boot-up speed(8) It is definitely one of the fastest booting distributions around, and optimization is easy for experienced users as well.(9) Vey good (the best of all distros) boot speed.
System responsiveness(7) Very good due to many optimizations.(9) Very responsive system is the result of Gentoo philosophy - packages optimized for the specific architecture. In order to achieve this, some knowledge and reading may be required.
Popularity(5) It's currently 22nd on Distrowatch, but its popularity seems to be rising, especially among Slackware and gentoo users. It is quite established among experienced users.(5) Around 8-9th place on rank. System is very popular among experienced users.
Security focus(4) It probably lacks behind likes of Slackware and Debian in this respect, but there is an effort in the right direction in form of the Arch Linux Security Team (ALST). Arch is a "bleeding edge" distro more than anything else and security should be on the average GNU/Linux level. Since it lays alot of flexibility towards the user, a big part of security is really up to the user/administrator.(7) Quite big pressure on system security: USE flags hardened, hardened PHP, SELinux, hardened kernels (2.4 i 2.6), propolice, PIE, etc. Except for that, GLSA - Gentoo Linux Security Advisory.
Stability and maturity(3) It is a "bleeding edge" distro so some things could break here and there. It again depends on your choices. It is overall a fairly young distribution founded in 2002.(6) Gentoo is an active, up-to-date distro. Therefore, some problems with instability may occur.
Does the installer support multiple languages?(0) English only.(5) There is no installer (excluding unofficial graphical GLI installer). Installation proces is described in details.
Is the system localized after installation?(4) No, it needs to be done manuall after installation.(0) Criterium does not apply to Gentoo -- there is no default installation.
Is manual system localization easy?(7) Pretty easy and standard using configuration files editing.(3) During or after installation there is no problem with localizing the system (of course configuration files knowledge is required).
Support for restricted formats(0) ?(6) After Gentoo installation, user may add virtually all restricted components like: Skype communicator, RealPlayer player, Windows codecs win32codecs, Java JRE/SDK. See also Software section on Gentoo Linux Wiki. Gentoo Multimedia FAQ may be also helpful.
Sagem DSL modem support(0) ?(6) Eagle-USB is in the Gentoo repository as “net-dialup/eagle-usb”
Alcatel DSL modem support(6) ?(6) Alcatel modems have their drivers in Gentoo’s main repository: “net-dialup/speedtouch” and “net-dialup/speedtouch-usb”. Only the closed-source firmware is missing.
Wireless support(0) ?(3) Drivers and apps are downloadable from the repository.

Each system gets a mark from 0 (min) to 9 (max). In most cases the description precises the mark. A question mark (?) means that we do not have any information about certain feature.