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2. Booting the Installer LiveCD
2.a. Hardware Requirements
Before we start, we first list what hardware requirements you need to
successfully install Gentoo on your box using the Installer LiveCD.
||i686 or later
||1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
||At least 256 MB
2.b. The Gentoo Linux Installer LiveCD
A LiveCD 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 Installer LiveCD contains everything you need to install Gentoo. It
provides a graphical environment, a graphical as well as console based
installer which automatically carries out the installation for you, 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.
2.c. Download, Burn and Boot the Gentoo Linux Installer LiveCD
Downloading and Burning the Installer LiveCD
You can download the Installer LiveCDs from one of our mirrors. They are located in the
Inside that directory you'll find an ISO file. That is a full CD image 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 subkeys.pgp.net --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 > Burn CD Image. Then you can locate
your ISO file within the 'Image to Burn' area. Finally click Start.
Booting the Installer LiveCD
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 LiveCD, 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 LiveCD in the CD-ROM drive 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 LiveCD with custom boot options by specifying
a kernel followed by boot options and then hitting Enter.
Specifying a kernel? Yes, we provide a few kernels on our LiveCD. 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 through F7 at the bootscreen.
This loads support for ACPI and also causes the acpid daemon to be started by
the CD on boot. This is only needed if your system requires ACPI to function
properly. This is not required for Hyperthreading support.
Completely disables ACPI. This is useful on some older systems and is also a
requirement for using APM. This will disable any Hyperthreading support of
This sets up serial console access for the CD. The first option is the
device, usually ttyS0 on x86, followed by any connection options, which are
comma separated. The default options are 9600,8,n,1.
This allows for passing options to the device-mapper RAID subsystem. Options
should be encapsulated in quotes.
This loads APM driver support. This requires you to also use acpi=off.
This loads support for PCMCIA and Cardbus hardware and also causes the pcmcia
cardmgr to be started by the CD on boot. This is only required when booting
from PCMCIA/Cardbus devices.
This loads support for most SCSI controllers. This is also a requirement for
booting most USB devices, as they use the SCSI subsystem of the kernel.
This allows you to partition the whole hard disk even when your BIOS is unable
to handle large disks. This option is only used on machines with an older BIOS.
Replace sda with the device that requires this option.
This forces the disabling of DMA in the kernel and is required by some IDE
chipsets and also by some CDROM drives. If your system is having trouble
reading from your IDE CDROM, try this option. This also disables the default
hdparm settings from being executed.
This disables the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller that is present
on newer motherboards. It has been known to cause some problems on older
This disables all of the autodetection done by the CD, including device
autodetection and DHCP probing. This is useful for doing debugging of a
failing CD or driver.
This disables DHCP probing on detected network cards. This is useful on
networks with only static addresses.
Disables support for device-mapper RAID, such as that used for on-board
IDE/SATA RAID controllers.
This disables the loading of Firewire modules. This should only be necessary
if your Firewire hardware is causing a problem with booting the CD.
This disables gpm console mouse support.
This disables the loading of the hotplug and coldplug init scripts at boot.
This is useful for doing debugging of a failing CD or driver.
This disables the keymap selection used to select non-US keyboard layouts.
This disables the local APIC on Uniprocessor kernels.
This disables the loading of Serial ATA modules. This is used if your system
is having problems with the SATA subsystem.
This disables SMP, or Symmetric Multiprocessing, on SMP-enabled kernels. This
is useful for debugging SMP-related issues with certain drivers and
This disables sound support and volume setting. This is useful for systems
where sound support causes problems.
This disables the autoloading of USB modules. This is useful for debugging
This adds some extra pauses into the boot process for slow USB CDROMs, like
in the IBM BladeCenter.
This enables support for Linux's Logical Volume Management.
Enables debugging code. This might get messy, as it displays a lot of data to
This caches the entire runtime portion of the CD into RAM, which allows you
to umount /mnt/cdrom and mount another CDROM. This option requires that you
at least twice as much available RAM as the size of the CD.
This causes the initial ramdisk to load any module listed, as well as
dependencies. Replace X with the module name.
Multiple modules can be specified by a comma-separated list.
Starts sshd on boot, which is useful for unattended installs.
Sets whatever follows the equals as the root password, which is required for
dosshd since we scramble the root password.
This causes the initial ramdisk to skip the loading of a specific module that
may be causing a problem. Syntax matches that of doload.
Disables the starting of portmap/nfsmount on boot.
This causes an X-enabled LiveCD to not automatically start X, but rather, to
drop to the command line instead.
This causes the CD to pause for 10 seconds during certain portions the boot
process to allow for devices that are slow to initialize to be ready for use.
This allows you to specify a given delay, in seconds, to be added to certain
portions of the boot process to allow for devices that are slow to initialize
to be ready for use. Replace X with the number of seconds to pause.
The CD will check for "no*" options before "do*" options, so that you can
override any option in the exact order you specify.
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 3.3: 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
immediately press Alt-F1 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, Gnome will
start up and you will be automatically logged in to the "Live" Gentoo Linux
system as "gentoo" in graphical mode. You will be logged in as "root", the
superuser on the other consoles and should have a root ("#") prompt there. You
can switch to those consoles by pressing Alt-F2, Alt-F3, Alt-F4 Alt-F5, Alt-F6.
Get back to the graphical desktop you started on by pressing Alt-F7. To switch
to other consoles from within X, you must prefix the above with Ctrl. You are
able to run commands as root from any terminal within the graphical environment
by using the sudo application. You can even become root within a
terminal to perform multiple tasks.
Code Listing 3.4: Using sudo to run applications
# sudo vi /etc/group
# sudo su -
Extra Hardware Configuration
When the LiveCD 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. These tasks require root access.
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: 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. You need root access to change the root password and add new users.
To change the root password, use the passwd utility:
Code Listing 3.6: Changing the root password
$ sudo su -
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 3.7: 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 3.8: Changing user id
# su - john
You can also change the password for the "gentoo" user in the graphical
environment. This account is already suitable for use on the Internet.
Code Listing 3.9: Changing the gentoo password
Optional: Viewing Documentation while Installing
If you want to view the Gentoo Handbook (either from the CD or online) during the
installation, you can view it with Mozilla Firefox (from the graphical
environment) or with links (from a terminal environment).
Code Listing 3.10: Viewing the on-CD documentation with Firefox
# firefox /mnt/cdrom/docs/handbook/html/index.html
If you would prefer to use links to see a text-only version of the
handbook, 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.
Code Listing 3.11: Viewing the on-CD documentation with links
# links /mnt/cdrom/docs/handbook/html/index.html
You can go back to your original window by pressing Alt-F7.
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 Firefox or
links 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
Code Listing 3.12: Viewing the online documentation with Firefox
# firefox http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/2008.0/handbook-x86.xml
Code Listing 3.13: Viewing the online documentation with links
# links http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/2008.0/handbook-x86.xml
You can now choose to proceed by using the GTK+
based installer (which needs X) or the Dialog based installer that can be run on a
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The contents of this document, unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under the CC-BY-SA-2.5 license. The Gentoo Name and Logo Usage Guidelines apply.