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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 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 CD (and, if you want to, the
Packages CD as well) from one of our mirrors. The Installation CD is located in
the releases/alpha/2005.0/installcd directory;
the Package CD is located in the releases/alpha/2005.0/packagecd
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:
Koodilistaus 3.1: Obtaining the public key
$ gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 17072058
Now verify the signature:
Koodilistaus 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
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 SRC 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. If you don't have MILO installed already, use one of the
precompiled MILO images available on taviso's homepage.
Koodilistaus 3.3: Booting a CD-ROM using SRM
>>> show device
dkb0.0.1.4.0 DKB0 TOSHIBA CDROM
>>> boot dkb0 -flags 0
>>> boot dkb -flags 1
Koodilistaus 3.4: Booting a CD-ROM using MILO
MILO> boot hdb:/boot/gentoo_2.6 initrd=/boot/gentoo_2_6.igz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc looptype=zisofs loop=/zisofs cdroot
MILO> boot hdb:/boot/gentoo_2.4 initrd=/boot/gentoo_2_4.igz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc looptype=zisofs loop=/zisofs 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 (the
SPARC Installation CDs don't even do autodetection), 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):
Koodilistaus 3.5: Loading kernel modules
# modprobe 8139too
If you need PCMCIA support, you should start the pcmcia init script:
Koodilistaus 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):
Koodilistaus 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
Koodilistaus 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:
Koodilistaus 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".
Koodilistaus 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
Koodilistaus 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
lynx to read it:
Koodilistaus 3.12: Viewing the on-CD documentation
# lynx /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 lynx
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
Koodilistaus 3.13: Viewing the Online Documentation
# lynx 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:
Koodilistaus 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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