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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.

Hardware Requirements

CPU Any PowerPC64 CPU
Systems IBM RS/6000s, Power Macintosh G5, iMac G5, IBP pSeries and IBM OpenPower
Memory 64 MB
Diskspace 1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
Swap space At least 256 MB

For a full list of supported systems, please go to

2.b. The Gentoo Universal Installation CD


Gentoo Linux can be installed using a stage3 tarball file. Such a tarball is an archive that contains a minimal environment from which you can succesfully install Gentoo Linux onto your system.

Installations using a stage1 or stage2 tarball file are not documented in the Gentoo Handbook - please read the Gentoo FAQ on these matters.

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 not an Installation CD but an additional resource that you can exploit during the installation of your Gentoo system. It contains prebuilt packages (also known as the GRP set) that allow you to easily and quickly install additional applications 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.

Choosing a userland

On PPC64, the kernel is 64-bit and the userland can be 32-bit or 64-bit. The userland is basically the applications you are running, such as bash or mozilla-firefox. They can be compiled and run in either 64-bit or 32-bit modes. The Gentoo/PPC64 team provides both 32-bit and 64-bit userlands, so which one should you use?

You may have heard that 64-bit applications are better, but in fact, 32-bit applications take up slightly less memory and often run a little bit faster than 64-bit applications.

You really only need 64-bit applications when you need more memory than a 32-bit userland allows, or if you do a lot of 64-bit number crunching. If you run applications that require more than 4GB of memory or you run scientific applications, you should choose the 64-bit userland. Otherwise, choose the 32-bit userland, as it is recommended by the Gentoo/PPC64 developers.

Additionally, the 32-bit userland has been available in Portage longer than the 64-bit userland has. This means that there are more applications tested in the 32-bit userland that just work "out of the box." Many applications compiled for the 64-bit userland may be just as stable as the 32-bit version, but they haven't been tested yet. Though testing isn't difficult to do, it can be annoying and time consuming if you want to use many untested 64-bit applications. Also, some programs just won't run in the 64-bit userland until their code is fixed, such as OpenOffice.

The Gentoo/PPC64 team provides stages and Package CDs for both 32-bit and 64-bit userlands, so no matter which one you choose, you'll be able to successfully install Gentoo and get a full system up and running with minimal fuss.

2.c. Download, Burn and Boot a Gentoo Installation CD

Downloading and Burning the Installation CDs

You can download the Universal Installation CD (and, if you want to, the Packages CD as well) from one of our mirrors. The Installation CDs are located in the releases/ppc/2007.0/ppc64/installcd directory; the Package CDs are located in the releases/ppc/2007.0/ppc64/packagecd directory.

Inside those directories you'll find 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). How to verify MD5 checksums with Mac OS X is described in the Gentoo PPC FAQ.
  • You can verify the cryptographic signature that we provide. You need to obtain the public key we use (0x17072058) 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 --recv-keys 0x17072058

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 path).
  • With K3B, select Tools > Burn CD Image. Then you can locate your ISO file within the 'Image to Burn' area. Finally click Start.

Booting the Installation CD on an Apple

Please check the README.kernel on the Installation CD for the latest information on how to boot various kernels and getting hardware support.

Place the Installation CD in the CD-ROM and reboot the system. Hold down the 'C' key at bootup. You will be greeted by a friendly welcome message and a boot: prompt at the bottom of the screen.

You are also able to tweak some kernel options at this prompt. The following table lists the available boot options you can add:

Boot Option Description
video This option takes one of the following vendor-specific tags: radeonfb, rivafb, atyfb, aty128, nvidiafb or ofonly. You can follow this tag with the resolution and refreshrate you want to use. For instance video=radeonfb:1280x1024@75. If you are uncertain what to choose, ofonly will most certainly work.
nol3 Disables level 3 cache on some powerbooks (needed for at least the 17")
debug Enables verbose booting, spawns an initrd shell that can be used to debug the Installation CD
sleep=X Wait X seconds before continuing; this can be needed by some very old SCSI CD-ROMs which don't speed up the CD quick enough
bootfrom=X Boot from a different device

At this prompt, hit enter, and a complete Gentoo Linux environment will be loaded from the CD. Continue with And When You're Booted....

Booting the Installation CD on an IBM pSeries, OpenPower and Power5 iSeries servers

Please check the README.kernel on the Installation CD for the latest information on how to boot various kernels and getting hardware support.

Most modern pSeries servers can boot from the CDROM drive through SMS ('1' when the “IBM IBM IBM” messages flash across the console). On some older pSeries boxes, sometimes the cds might not autoboot. You might have to set up your cdrom as a bootable device in the multi-boot menu. (F1 at startup) The other option is to jump into OF and do it from there:

  1. Boot into OF (this is 8 from the serial cons or F8 from a graphics cons, start hitting the key when you see the keyboard mouse etc etc messages.
  2. Run the command 0> boot cdrom:1,yaboot
  3. Stand back and enjoy!

And When You're Booted...

You will be greeted by a root ("#") prompt on the current console. You can also switch to other consoles by pressing Alt-fn-F2, Alt-fn-F3 and Alt-fn-F4. Get back to the one you started on by pressing Alt-fn-F1.

If you are installing Gentoo on a system with a non-US keyboard, use loadkeys to load the keymap for your keyboard. To list the available keymaps, execute ls /usr/share/keymaps/i386.

Code Listing 3.3: Listing available keymaps

(PPC uses x86 keymaps on most systems. The mac/ppc keymaps provided
 on the Installation CD are ADB keymaps and unusable with the 
 Installation CD kernel)
# ls /usr/share/keymaps/i386

Now load the keymap of your choice:

Code Listing 3.4: Loading a keymap

# loadkeys be-latin1

Now continue with Extra Hardware Configuration.

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

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 3.6: 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 disk):

Code Listing 3.7: Tweaking hard disk performance

Activate DMA:
# hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda
Activate DMA + Safe Performance-enhancing Options:
# 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 3.8: Changing the root password

# passwd
New password: (Enter your new password)
Re-enter password: (Re-enter your 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 3.9: Creating a user account

# useradd -m -G users john
# passwd john
New password: (Enter john's password)
Re-enter password: (Re-enter john's password)

You can change your user id from root to the newly created user by using su:

Code Listing 3.10: Changing user id

# su - john

Optional: Viewing Documentation while Installing

If you want to view the Gentoo Handbook 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 links to read it:

Code Listing 3.11: Viewing the on-CD documentation

# links /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.

Code Listing 3.12: Viewing the Online Documentation

# links

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 3.13: 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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Page updated June 29, 2007

Summary: Using our Universal Installation CD you can boot up your system into a running environment that allows you to install Gentoo.

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