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2. Booting the Universal Installation CD
2.a. Hardware Requirements
Before we start, we first list what hardware requirements you need to
successfully install Gentoo on your box.
||i486 or later
||1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
||At least 256 MB
2.b. The Gentoo Universal Installation CD
Gentoo Linux can be installed using one of three stage tarball files. A
stage file is a tarball (compressed archive) that contains a minimal
A stage1 file contains nothing more than a compiler, Portage (Gentoo's
software management system) and a couple of packages on which the
compiler or Portage depends.
A stage2 file contains a so-called bootstrapped system, a minimal
environment from which one can start building all other necessary
applications that make a Gentoo environment complete.
A stage3 file contains a prebuilt minimal system which is almost fully
deployable. It only lacks a few applications where you, the Gentoo user,
needs to choose which one you want to install.
We will opt for a stage3 installation throughout this document. If you want to
perform a Gentoo installation using the stage1 or stage2 files, please use the
installation instructions in the Gentoo Handbook. They do
require a working Internet connection though.
Gentoo Universal Installation CD
An Installation CD is a bootable medium which contains a self-sustained Gentoo
environment. It allows you to boot Linux from the CD. During the boot process
your hardware is detected and the appropriate drivers are loaded. The Gentoo
Installation CDs are maintained by Gentoo developers.
There currently are two Installation CDs available:
The Universal Installation CD contains everything you need to install
Gentoo. It provides stage3 files for common architectures, source code
for the extra applications you need to choose from and, of course, the
installation instructions for your architecture.
The Minimal Installation CD contains only a minimal environment that allows
you to boot up and configure your network so you can connect to the
Internet. It does not contain any additional files and cannot be used
during the current installation approach.
Gentoo also provides a Package CD. This is no Installation CD but an additional
resource that you can exploit during the installation of your Gentoo system. It
contains prebuilt packages (the so-called GRP set) that allows you to easily
and quickly install additional applications (such as OpenOffice.org, KDE,
GNOME, ...) immediately after the Gentoo installation and right before you
update your Portage tree.
The use of the Package CD is covered later in this document.
2.c. Download, Burn and Boot the Gentoo Universal Installation CD
Downloading and Burning the Installation CD
You can download the Universal Installation CDs (and, if you want to, the
Packages CD as well) from one of our mirrors. The Installation CDs are located in
the releases/x86/2005.0/installcd directory;
the Package CDs are located in the releases/x86/2005.0/packagecd
i686, athlon-xp, pentium3 and pentium4 Package CDs are available via
Inside those directories you'll find so-called ISO-files. Those are full CD
images which you can write on a CD-R.
After downloading the file, you can verify its integrity to see if it is
corrupted or not:
You can check its MD5 checksum and compare it with the MD5 checksum we
provide (for instance with the md5sum tool under Linux/Unix or
md5sum for Windows)
You can verify the cryptographic signature that we provide. You need to
obtain the public key we use (17072058) before you proceed though.
To fetch our public key using the GnuPG application, run the following command:
Code Listing 3.1: Obtaining the public key
$ gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 17072058
Now verify the signature:
Code Listing 3.2: Verify the cryptographic signature
$ gpg --verify <signature file> <downloaded iso>
To burn the downloaded ISO(s), you have to select raw-burning. How you
do this is highly program-dependent. We will discuss cdrecord and
K3B here; more information can be found in our Gentoo FAQ.
With cdrecord, you simply type cdrecord dev=/dev/hdc <downloaded iso
file> (replace /dev/hdc with your CD-RW drive's device
With K3B, select Tools > CD > Burn Image. Then
you can locate your ISO file within the 'Image to Burn' area. Finally click
Booting the Universal Installation CD
Read this whole subsection before continuing, as you will probably not have the
opportunity to read it before doing things later.
Once you have burned your installation CD, it is time to boot it.
Remove all CDs from your CD drives, reboot your system and enter the BIOS.
This is usually done by hitting DEL, F1 or ESC, depending on your BIOS. Inside
the BIOS, change the boot order so that the CD-ROM is tried before the hard
disk. This is often found under "CMOS Setup". If you don't do this, your system
will just reboot from the hard disk, ignoring the CD-ROM.
Now place the installation CD in the CD-ROM drive (duh) and reboot. You
should see a boot prompt. At this screen, you can hit Enter to begin the
boot process with the default boot options, or boot the Installation CD with
custom boot options by specifying a kernel followed by boot options and then
Specifying a kernel? Yes, we provide several kernels on our Installation CDs.
The default one is gentoo. Other kernels are for specific hardware needs
and the -nofb variants which disable framebuffer.
Below you'll find a short overview on the available kernels:
||Default 2.6 kernel with support for multiple CPUs
||Same as gentoo but without framebuffer support
||Test your local RAM for errors
You can also provide kernel options. They represent optional settings you can
(de)activate at will. The following list is the same as the one you receive
when you press F2 at the bootscreen.
Code Listing 3.3: Options available to pass to your kernel of choice
- agpgart loads agpgart (use if you have graphic problems,lockups)
- acpi=on loads support for ACPI firmware
- ide=nodma force disabling of DMA for malfunctioning IDE devices
- doscsi scan for scsi devices (breaks some ethernet cards)
- dopcmcia starts pcmcia service for PCMCIA cdroms
- nofirewire disables firewire modules in initrd (for firewire cdroms,etc)
- nokeymap disables keymap selection for non-us keyboard layouts
- docache cache the entire runtime portion of cd in RAM, allows you
to umount /mnt/cdrom to mount another cdrom.
- nodetect causes hwsetup/kudzu and hotplug not to run
- nousb disables usb module load from initrd, disables hotplug
- nodhcp dhcp does not automatically start if nic detected
- nohotplug disables loading hotplug service
- noapic disable apic (try if having hardware problems nics,scsi,etc)
- noevms2 disable loading of EVMS2 modules
- nolvm2 disable loading of LVM2 modules
- hdx=stroke allows you to partition the whole harddrive even when your BIOS
can't handle large harddrives
disable loading of specific kernel modules
Now boot your CD, select a kernel (if you are not happy with the default
gentoo kernel) and boot options. As an example, we show you how
to boot the gentoo kernel, with dopcmcia as kernel
Code Listing 3.4: Booting an Installation CD
boot: gentoo dopcmcia
You will then be greeted with a boot screen and progress bar. If you are
installing Gentoo on a system with a non-US keyboard, make sure you press F2
to switch to verbose mode and follow the prompt. If no selection is made in 10
seconds the default (US keyboard) will be accepted and the boot process will
continue. Once the boot process completes, you will be automatically logged
in to the "Live" Gentoo Linux as "root", the super user.
You should have a root ("#") prompt on the current console and can
also switch to other consoles by pressing Alt-F2, Alt-F3 and Alt-F4. Get back
to the one you started on by pressing Alt-F1.
Extra Hardware Configuration
When the Installation CD boots, it tries to detect all your hardware devices and
loads the appropriate kernel modules to support your hardware. In the
vast majority of cases, it does a very good job. However, in some cases, it
may not auto-load the kernel modules you need. If the PCI auto-detection
missed some of your system's hardware, you will have to load the appropriate
kernel modules manually.
In the next example we try to load the 8139too module (support for
certain kinds of network interfaces):
Code Listing 3.5: Loading kernel modules
# modprobe 8139too
If you need PCMCIA support, you should start the pcmcia init script:
Code Listing 3.6: Starting the PCMCIA init script
# /etc/init.d/pcmcia start
Optional: Tweaking Hard Disk Performance
If you are an advanced user, you might want to tweak the IDE hard disk
performance using hdparm. With the -tT options you can
test the performance of your disk (execute it several times to get a
more precise impression):
Code Listing 3.7: Testing disk performance
# hdparm -tT /dev/hda
To tweak, you can use any of the following examples (or experiment
yourself) which use /dev/hda as disk (substitute with your
Code Listing 3.8: Tweaking hard disk performance
# hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda
# hdparm -d 1 -A 1 -m 16 -u 1 -a 64 /dev/hda
Optional: User Accounts
If you plan on giving other people access to your installation
environment or you want to chat using irssi without root privileges (for
security reasons), you need to create the necessary user accounts and change
the root password.
To change the root password, use the passwd utility:
Code Listing 3.9: Changing the root password
To create a user account, we first enter their credentials, followed by
its password. We use useradd and passwd for these tasks.
In the next example, we create a user called "john".
Code Listing 3.10: Creating a user account
# useradd -m -G users john
# passwd john
You can change your user id from root to the newly created user by using
Code Listing 3.11: Changing user id
# su - john
Optional: Viewing Documentation while Installing
If you want to view the Gentoo Handbook (either from-CD or online) during the
installation, make sure you have created a user account (see Optional: User Accounts). Then press Alt-F2 to
go to a new terminal and log in.
If you want to view the documentation on the CD you can immediately run
links2 to read it:
Code Listing 3.12: Viewing the on-CD documentation
# links2 /mnt/cdrom/docs/handbook/html/index.html
However, it is preferred that you use the online Gentoo Handbook as it will be
more recent than the one provided on the CD. You can view it using links2
as well, but only after having completed the Configuring your Network
chapter (otherwise you won't be able to go on the Internet to view the
Code Listing 3.13: Viewing the Online Documentation
# links2 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml
You can go back to your original terminal by pressing Alt-F1.
Optional: Starting the SSH Daemon
If you want to allow other users to access your computer during the
Gentoo installation (perhaps because those users are going to help you
install Gentoo, or even do it for you), you need to create a user
account for them and perhaps even provide them with your root password
(only do that if you fully trust that user).
To fire up the SSH daemon, execute the following command:
Code Listing 3.14: Starting the SSH daemon
# /etc/init.d/sshd start
To be able to use sshd, you first need to set up your networking. Continue with
the chapter on Configuring your Network.
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