Both laptop and desktop converted
It has taken me almost 2 months (and I shudder to think how long it would've taken if I had been gainfully employed), but both my workstation type computers now run the Gentoo distribution. More or less with all the same software as I used with Debian. In a few cases I had to abandon packages I loved because they turned out to be zombies, totally dependent on life support from their Debian maintainers. But I found passable alternatives, or I hacked my own.
The last major step was enabling wifi on the laptop. I thought I had seen a page somewhere on the Gentoo wiki about switching networking configurations with a single command, and specifying the configuration to boot into with the kernel command line parameters, but I couldn't quite find the one I remembered, though there definitely is at least one Gentoo package that can do that: hprofile. But it can do a lot more, unfortunately; it's not the single purpose tool I'm looking for. So for now, the laptop always connects over the wifi, even when I'm at home. Maybe I'll hack something up, but the trouble is it's not just switching different version of files, it's also different openrc services to start. Possibly I need to create a new runlevel for the wired mode.
Coverlet and MPD protocol madness
And after that, today I ported over my coverlet hack for displaying music cover art. That wasn't too bad except it turned out the MPD daemon, in the version currently in Gentoo, handles the idle protocol command (and in particular its arguments) slightly differently than the ancient version I had with Debian wheezy. This cost me 2-3 hours of intense frustration which I cannot really afford with my fragile health. If you're curious search the coverlet source for EXTREME KLUDGE.
So, now I'm able to listen to Bustan Abraham and see the leopard on their cover. But the tinnitus is getting worse, much worse ... now it's really there even when I'm listening with headphones.
And what about the server?
As I wrote in a previous post, after upgrading the server to Debian jessie from wheezy I shouldn't really worry about it, because jessie will be supported at least for 4 more years. But on the other hand, the desktop conversion really taught me how dangerous it is to rely on the "old stable" release for too long; one gets attached to software that is no longer maintained upstream, and it gets harder and harder to get useful new features backported. So I do worry. And I'm thinking of taking the big jump to FreeBSD. The main reason I chose Gentoo, another GNU/Linux disribution, to replace Debian on the desktop, was broad and up to date hardware compatibility. With the server being just a cloudy figment of my imagination rather than a piece of iron, that reason doesn't apply. I should decide soon, because Linode doesn't support FreeBSD images; I would have to switch to another hosting provider, and better to do it when my yearly contract is up in early September.