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2. Choosing the Right Installation Medium

Content:

2.a. Hardware Requirements

Introduction

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

Hardware Requirements

CPU Please check with the Alpha/Linux FAQ
Memory 64 MB
Diskspace 1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
Swap space At least 256 MB

2.b. 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 install-alpha-minimal-<release>.iso and takes up around 110 MB of diskspace.

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 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 the Installation CD from one of our mirrors. The Installation CD is located in the releases/alpha/autobuilds/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 install-alpha-minimal-<release>.iso.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 3.1: 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 3.2: Obtaining the public key

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

Now verify the signature:

Code Listing 3.3: 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

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 3.4: Booting a CD-ROM using SRM

(List available hardware drives)
>>> show device
dkb0.0.1.4.0        DKB0       TOSHIBA CDROM
(...)
(Substitute dkb0 with your CD-ROM drive device)
>>> boot dkb0 -flags 0
(This flag will use serial port ttyS0 as the default console)
>>> boot dkb0 -flags 2

Code Listing 3.5: Booting a CD-ROM using MILO

(Substitute sdb with your CD-ROM drive device)
MILO> boot sdb:/boot/gentoo initrd=/boot/gentoo.igz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc looptype=squashfs loop=/image.squashfs cdroot
(Using serial port ttyS0 as the default console)
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 3.6: 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 3.7: 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 3.8: 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 3.9: 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 3.10: 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 3.11: 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.


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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 although installation through the Universal Installation CD is possible as well.

Sven Vermeulen
Author

Grant Goodyear
Author

Roy Marples
Author

Daniel Robbins
Author

Chris Houser
Author

Jerry Alexandratos
Author

Seemant Kulleen
Gentoo x86 Developer

Tavis Ormandy
Gentoo Alpha Developer

Jason Huebel
Gentoo AMD64 Developer

Guy Martin
Gentoo HPPA developer

Pieter Van den Abeele
Gentoo PPC developer

Joe Kallar
Gentoo SPARC developer

John P. Davis
Editor

Pierre-Henri Jondot
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Eric Stockbridge
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Rajiv Manglani
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Jungmin Seo
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Stoyan Zhekov
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Jared Hudson
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Colin Morey
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Jorge Paulo
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Carl Anderson
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Zack Gilburd
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Jack Morgan
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Erwin
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Xavier Neys
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Joshua Saddler
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Gerald J. Normandin Jr.
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Donnie Berkholz
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Ken Nowack
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Lars Weiler
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