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1.  Hardware Requirements


Before we start, we first list what hardware requirements you need to successfully install Gentoo on your box.

Hardware Requirements

1.  The Gentoo Installation CD

Gentoo Minimal Installation CD

The Minimal Installation CD is a bootable CD 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 CD is maintained by Gentoo developers and allows you to install Gentoo with an active Internet connection.

The Minimal Installation CD is called ${min-cd-name} and takes up around ${min-cd-size} MB of diskspace.

Gentoo Linux LiveDVDs

Occasionally, a special DVD is crafted by the Gentoo Ten project which can be used to install Gentoo with too. The instructions further down this chapter target the Minimal Installation CD so might be a bit different. However, the LiveDVD (or any other bootable Linux environment) supports getting a root prompt by just invoking sudo su - or sudo -i on a terminal.

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 ${release-dir}current-stage3/ on any of the Official Gentoo Mirrors and are not provided on the LiveDVD.

1.  Download, Burn and Boot a Gentoo Installation CD

Downloading and Burning the Installation CD

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 Installation CD, but where can you find it?

You can download any of the Installation CD from one of our mirrors. The Installation CD is located in the ${release-dir}current-iso/ directory.

Inside that directory you'll find the ISO file. This is a full CD image 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 ${min-cd-name}.DIGESTS). You can check the SHA-2 checksum with the sha512sum tool under Linux/Unix or Checksums calculator for Windows.

Note: The tool will attempt to verify the checksums in the list, even if the checksum is made with a different algorithm. Therefore, the output of the command might give both success (for SHA checksums) and failures (for other checksums). At least one OK needs to be provided for each file.

Code Listing 1.1: Verifying the SHA-2 checksum

$ sha512sum -c <downloaded iso.DIGESTS>

Note: If you get the message that no properly formatted SHA checksum was found, take a look at the DIGESTS file yourself to see what the supported checksums are.

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 1.1: Obtaining the public key

(... Substitute the key ids with those mentioned on the release engineering site ...)
$ gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 96D8BF6D 2D182910 17072058

Now verify the signature:

Code Listing 1.1: Verify the files

$ gpg --verify <downloaded iso.DIGESTS.asc>
$ sha512sum -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/sr0 <downloaded iso file> (replace /dev/sr0 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

Once you have burnt 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 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 hitting Enter.

When the boot prompt is shown, you get the option of displaying the available kernels (F1) and boot options (F2). If you make no selection within 15 seconds (either displaying information or using a kernel) then the LiveDVD will fall back to booting from disk. This allows installations to reboot and try out their installed environment without the need to remove the CD from the tray (something well appreciated for remote installations).

Now we mentioned specifying a kernel. On our Installation CD, we provide several kernels. 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:

Kernel Description
gentoo-nofb Same as gentoo but without framebuffer support
memtest86 Test your local RAM for errors

You can also provide kernel options. They represent optional settings you can (de)activate at will.

Hardware options:

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 your processor.
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 hardware.
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 motherboards.
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 USB issues.
This adds some extra pauses into the boot process for slow USB CDROMs, like in the IBM BladeCenter.

Volume/Device Management:

This enables support for Linux's Logical Volume Management.

Other options:

Enables debugging code. This might get messy, as it displays a lot of data to the screen.
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 have 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.

Note: 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 parameters:

Code Listing 1.1: 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, 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.

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 1.1: 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 1.1: 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 1.1: 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 1.1: 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 1.1: Viewing the Online Documentation

# links${online-book}

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 1.1: Starting the SSH daemon

# /etc/init.d/sshd start

Note: 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).

Page updated April 12, 2014

Summary: You can install Gentoo in many ways. This chapter explains how to install Gentoo using the minimal Installation CD.

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