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Thread: How do USE flags work?
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How do USE flags work?
"I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"
If you will notice in Debian, they have many packages that have support for other things such as apache. They have apache-mod-php, apache-mod-ssl, etc... Those packages may not be exact, but you get my point.
In Gentoo, instead of installing those separate packages, they use USE flags. If you want an option built in, you set its USE flag. If you don't, you unset it.
It is an easier way to not build support for things you don't want.
The default USE flags enabled will depend on the profile you selected when you installed. I usually just leave it at default and select everything I want in my make.conf.
Gentoo Linux Documentation -- USE flags
That link explains them very well.
We also had a small discussion on which combination of USE flags work well for us, if you want to have a gander at them.