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1. About the Gentoo Linux Installation

Content:

1.a. Introduction

Welcome!

First of all, welcome to Gentoo. You are about to enter the world of choices and performance. Gentoo is all about choices. When installing Gentoo, this is made clear to you several times -- you can choose how much you want to compile yourself, how to install Gentoo, what system logger you want, etc.

Gentoo is a fast, modern metadistribution with a clean and flexible design. Gentoo is built around free software and doesn't hide from its users what is beneath the hood. Portage, the package maintenance system which Gentoo uses, is written in Python, meaning you can easily view and modify the source code. Gentoo's packaging system uses source code (although support for precompiled packages is included too) and configuring Gentoo happens through regular textfiles. In other words, openness everywhere.

It is very important that you understand that choices are what makes Gentoo run. We try not to force you onto anything you don't like. If you feel like we do, please bugreport it.

How is the Installation Structured?

The Gentoo Installation can be seen as a 10-step procedure, corresponding to chapters 2 - 11. Every step results in a certain state:

  • After step 1, you are in a working environment ready to install Gentoo
  • After step 2, your internet connection is ready to install Gentoo (this can be optional in certain situations)
  • After step 3, your hard disks are initialized to house your Gentoo installation
  • After step 4, your installation environment is prepared and you are ready to chroot into the new environment
  • After step 5, core packages, which are the same on all Gentoo installations, are installed
  • After step 6, you have compiled your Linux kernel
  • After step 7, you have written most of your Gentoo system configuration files
  • After step 8, necessary system tools (which you can choose from a nice list) are installed
  • After step 9, your choice of bootloader has been installed and configured and you are logged in into your new Gentoo installation
  • After step 10, your Gentoo Linux environment is ready to be explored

When you are given a certain choice, we try our best to explain what the pros and cons are. We will continue then with a default choice, identified by "Default: " in the title. The other possibilities are marked by "Alternative: ". Do not think that the default is what we recommend. It is however what we believe most users will use.

Sometimes you can pursue an optional step. Such steps are marked as "Optional: " and are therefore not needed to install Gentoo. However, some optional steps are dependant on a previous decision you made. We will inform you when this happens, both when you make the decision, and right before the optional step is described.

What are my Options?

You can install Gentoo in many different ways. You can download and install from one of our LiveCDs (installation CDs), from an existing distribution, from a bootable CD (such as Knoppix), from a netbooted environment, from a rescue floppy, etc. This document covers the installation using one of our LiveCDs or, in certain cases, NetBooting. For help on the other installation approaches, please read our Alternative Installation Guide. We also provide a Gentoo Installation Tips & Tricks document that might be useful to read as well. If you feel that the current installation instructions are too elaborate, feel free to use our Quick Installation Guide available from our Documentation Resources if your architecture has such a document available.

You also have several possibilities: you can compile your entire system from scratch or install prebuilt packages to have your Gentoo environment up and running in no time. And of course you have intermediate solutions in which you don't compile everything but start from a semi-ready system.

Troubles?

If you find a problem in the installation (or in the installation documentation), please check the errata from our Gentoo Release Engineering Project, visit our bugtracking system and check if the bug is known. If not, please create a bugreport for it so we can take care of it. Do not be afraid of the developers who are assigned to (your) bugs -- they generally don't eat people.

Note though that, although the document you are now reading is architecture-specific, it will contain references to other architectures as well. This is due to the fact that large parts of the Gentoo Handbook use source code that is common for all architectures (to avoid duplication of efforts and starvation of development resources). We will try to keep this to a minimum to avoid confusion.

If you are uncertain if the problem is a user-problem (some error you made despite having read the documentation carefully) or a software-problem (some error we made despite having tested the installation/documentation carefully) you are free to join #gentoo on irc.freenode.net. Of course, you are welcome otherwise too :)

If you have a question regarding Gentoo, check out our Frequently Asked Questions, available from the Gentoo Documentation. You can also view the FAQs on our forums. If you can't find the answer there ask on #gentoo, our IRC-channel on irc.freenode.net. Yes, several of us are freaks who sit on IRC :-)

1.b. Prebuilt or Compile-All?

What is the Gentoo Reference Platform?

The Gentoo Reference Platform, from now on abbreviated to GRP, is a snapshot of prebuilt packages users (that means you!) can install during the installation of Gentoo to speed up the installation process. The GRP consists of all packages required to have a fully functional Gentoo installation. They are not just the ones you need to have a base installation up to speed in no time, but all lengthier builds (such as KDE, xorg-x11, GNOME, OpenOffice, Mozilla, ...) are available as GRP packages too.

However, these prebuilt packages aren't maintained during the lifetime of the Gentoo distribution. They are snapshots released at every Gentoo release and make it possible to have a functional environment in a short amount of time. You can then upgrade your system in the background while working in your Gentoo environment.

How Portage Handles GRP Packages

Your Portage tree - the collection of ebuilds (files that contain all information about a package, such as its description, homepage, sourcecode URLs, compilation instructions, dependencies, etc.) - must be synchronised with the GRP set: the versions of the available ebuilds and their accompanying GRP packages must match.

For this reason you will have to install a Portage snapshot instead of synchronising Portage with the latest available tree if you want to use the GRP installation method.

Is GRP Available?

Not all architectures provide GRP packages. That doesn't mean GRP isn't supported on the other architectures, but it means that we don't have the resources to build and test the GRP packages.

At present we provide GRP packages for the following architectures:

  • The x86 architecture (x86, i686, pentium3, pentium4, athlon-xp) Note: The x86 and i686 GRP packages (for example packages-x86-2004.2.iso) are available on our mirrors, while pentium3, pentium4, athlon-xp are only available via bittorrent.
  • The amd64 architecture (amd64)
  • The sparc architecture (sparc32, sparc64)
  • The ppc architecture (G3, G4, G5)
  • The alpha architecture (alpha, alphaev5, alphaev56, alphaev6)
  • The mips architecture
  • The hppa architecture

If your architecture (or subarchitecture) isn't on this list, you are not able to opt for a GRP installation.

Now that this introduction is over, let's continue with Choosing the Right Installation Medium.


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Page updated October 18, 2004

Summary: Users not familiar with Gentoo do not always know that choice is what Gentoo is all about.

Sven Vermeulen
Author

Daniel Robbins
Author

Chris Houser
Author

Jerry Alexandratos
Author

Seemant Kulleen
Gentoo x86 Developer

Tavis Ormandy
Gentoo Alpha Developer

Jason Huebel
Gentoo AMD64 Developer

Guy Martin
Gentoo HPPA developer

Pieter Van den Abeele
Gentoo PPC developer

Joe Kallar
Gentoo SPARC developer

John P. Davis
Editor

Pierre-Henri Jondot
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Eric Stockbridge
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Rajiv Manglani
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Jungmin Seo
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Stoyan Zhekov
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Jared Hudson
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Colin Morey
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Jorge Paulo
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Carl Anderson
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Jon Portnoy
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Zack Gilburd
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Jack Morgan
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Benny Chuang
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Erwin
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Joshua Kinard
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Tobias Scherbaum
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Lars Weiler
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Jochen Maes
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Grant Goodyear
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Gerald J. Normandin Jr.
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Donnie Berkholz
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Ken Nowack
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