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2. Choosing the Right Installation Medium
2.a. Hardware Requirements
Before we start, we first list what hardware requirements you need to
successfully install Gentoo on your box.
Please check with the Alpha/Linux FAQ
||1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
||At least 256 MB
2.b. The Gentoo Installation CD
The Gentoo Installation CDs are bootable CDs which contain a
self-sustained Gentoo environment. They allow you to boot Linux from the CD.
During the boot process your hardware is detected and the appropriate drivers
are loaded. They are maintained by Gentoo developers.
All Installation CDs allow you to boot, set up networking, initialize your
partitions and start installing Gentoo from the Internet.
Gentoo Minimal Installation CD
The Minimal Installation CD is called install-alpha-minimal-<release>.iso and
takes up around 110 MB of diskspace. You can use this
Installation CD to install Gentoo, but only with a working Internet
The Stage3 Tarball
A stage3 tarball is an archive containing a minimal Gentoo environment, suitable
to continue the Gentoo installation using the instructions in this manual.
Previously, the Gentoo Handbook described the installation using one of three
stage tarballs. While Gentoo still offers stage1 and stage2 tarballs, the
official installation method uses the stage3 tarball. If you are interested in
performing a Gentoo installation using a stage1 or stage2 tarball, please read
the Gentoo FAQ on How do I Install Gentoo
Using a Stage1 or Stage2 Tarball?
Stage3 tarballs can be downloaded from releases/alpha/autobuilds/current-stage3/ on any of the Official Gentoo Mirrors and are not provided
on the LiveCD.
2.c. Download, Burn and Boot a Gentoo Installation CD
Downloading and Burning the Installation CDs
You have chosen to use a Gentoo Installation CD. We'll first start by
downloading and burning the chosen Installation CD. We previously discussed
the several available Installation CDs, but where can you find them?
You can download any of the Installation CDs from one of our mirrors. The Installation CDs are located in
the releases/alpha/autobuilds/current-iso/ directory.
Inside that directory you'll find ISO files. Those are full CD images which you
can write on a CD-R.
In case you wonder if your downloaded file is corrupted or not, you can check
its SHA-2 checksum and compare it with the SHA-2 checksum we provide (such as
install-alpha-minimal-<release>.iso.DIGESTS). You can check the SHA-2 checksum
with the sha512sum tool under Linux/Unix or File Checksum Tool for Windows.
Another way to check the validity of the downloaded file is to use GnuPG to
verify the cryptographic signature that we provide (the file ending with
.asc). Download the signature file and obtain the public keys whose
key ids can be found on the release
engineering project site.
Code Listing 3.1: Obtaining the public key
$ gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv-keys 96D8BF6D 2D182910 17072058
Now verify the signature:
Code Listing 3.2: Verify the files
$ gpg --verify <downloaded iso.DIGESTS.asc>
$ sha1sum -c <downloaded iso.DIGESTS.asc>
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
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
When your Alpha is powered on, the first thing that gets started is the
firmware. It is loosely synonymous with the BIOS software on PC systems. There
are two types of firmware on Alpha systems: SRM (Systems Reference
Manual) and ARC (Advanced Risc Console).
SRM is based on the Alpha Console Subsystem specification, which provides an
operating environment for OpenVMS, Tru64 UNIX, and Linux operating systems. ARC
is based on the Advanced RISC Computing (ARC) specification, which provides
an operating environment for Windows NT. You can find a
detailed guide on
using SRM over at the Alpha Linux website.
If your Alpha system supports both SRM and ARCs (ARC, AlphaBIOS, ARCSBIOS) you
should follow these
instructions for switching to SRM. If your system already uses SRM, you
are all set. If your system can only use ARCs (Ruffian, nautilus, xl, etc.) you
will need to choose MILO later on when we are talking about bootloaders.
Now to boot an Alpha Installation CD, put the CD-ROM in the tray and reboot the
system. You can use SRM to boot the Installation CD. If you cannot do that, you
will have to use MILO.
Code Listing 3.3: Booting a CD-ROM using SRM
>>> show device
dkb0.0.1.4.0 DKB0 TOSHIBA CDROM
>>> boot dkb0 -flags 0
>>> boot dkb0 -flags 2
Code Listing 3.4: Booting a CD-ROM using MILO
MILO> boot sdb:/boot/gentoo initrd=/boot/gentoo.igz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs cdroot
MILO> boot sdb:/boot/gentoo initrd=/boot/gentoo.igz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs console=ttyS0 cdroot
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.
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: 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 3.6: 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 3.7: 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
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.
You can view the handbook using links, once you have completed the
Configuring your Network chapter (otherwise you won't be able to go on
the Internet to view the document):
Code Listing 3.9: Viewing the Online Documentation
# links http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-alpha.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 3.10: Starting the SSH daemon
# /etc/init.d/sshd start
If you (or other users) log on to the system, they will get a message that the
host key for this system needs to be confirmed (through what is called a
fingerprint). This is to be expected as it is the first time people log on
to the system.
However, later when your system is set up and you log on to the newly created
system, your SSH client will warn you that the host key has been changed. This
is because you now log on to - for SSH - a different server (namely your freshly
installed Gentoo system rather than the live environment you are on right now).
When you hit that warning, follow the instructions given on the screen then
to replace the host key on the client system.
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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