posted by Doug M. Swain on Sat 3rd Apr 2004 23:17 UTC
IconDoug Swain takes a look at the Gentoo Linux installation and offers a quicker guide than the available online documentation of the distro.

Any Gentoo user knows how great this distro is. Any Gentoo user also knows the amount of time it takes to install this distro, and to damage your partition is just not an affordable option. I've managed to take the standard 20-30 hour installation and bring it down to about 2-3 hours of time. This guide will try and lead you into the correct direction of the Gentoo installation. It will NOT give you all the apps, Window Managers and so on you are looking for in the distro, but it will get you to the point where it will be very easy to have an operating computer while getting those things.

In general, this guide will do several things for you:

1. Format your installation partitions
2. Get your stage unpacked, and lead you through a general stage3 installation (possibly stage2, I always just used stage3)
3. CHROOT your enviorment
4. Install: sysklogd, xfree, icewm, grub, kernel (2.6.4), nano, gdm
5. Help configure grub for booting
6. Reboot
7. Boot into Gentoo
8. Configure X
9. Add GDM (graphical login) to startup
10. Set a root password

Not too bad for 2-3 hours huh? A few things I am assuming though:

1. You know how to handel internet configuration yourself (and to check)
2. You have partitioned preinstallation, and have no data that may be potentially lossed (I won't be responcible for that)
3. You have a general idea of the command line.
4. You actually went to read some stuff, learned what stages are, and found a working bootable cd
5. Can follow instructions fairly well, and had some Linux expirence.

Now that that's all cleared up, lets start.


Alright, just in case it wasn't clear enough before, make sure you have partitioned, or know how to within the installation and format the partitions if you want beforehand. Also, make sure you know which stage you want to do (I'm assuming 3.) Put your cd into the drive, and hit enter so you boot into the enviorment. Now, we can start the work.

Formatting/Untarring Stage

Next, we are going to format the partition of installation choice. This is where things can get a bit tricky. Command wise: pretty simple, but knowing the drive you want to format can be confusing. Here's what I would do to identify them:
First, type in fdisk /dev/hda then from there hit p. That will list the hard drives on your first hard disk (assuming that your hard disk is hda)
My setup is usually like this:

1. hda1 (windows partition)
2. hda5 (1st Linux Part)
3. hda6 (2nd Linux Part)
4. hda7 (swap partition)

I install Gentoo onto hda5. So go ahead and hit q and leave fdisk. Now, there are a few commands you can use for different types of partitions.
my choice usually is reiserfs, so I'll list ext3 and reiserfs for you:

1. Reiserfs= "mkreiserfs /dev/hdx#"
2. EXT3- "mke2fs -j /dev/hdx#"
3. SWAP- "mkswap /dev/hdx#"
"swapon /dev/hdx#"

The quoted are the commands to format the partitions. to verify: the X in hdx# is a variable, replace it with whichever letter your partition is. the same goes for the number sign, enter the number of the partition onto there.
After this, you need to mount the installation partition into a folder. I follow the default directory /mnt/gentoo and I've never tried anything else. If you wish, attempt another directory, otherwise, continue reading.
First, type

"cd /mnt/"

and then type

"mount /dev/hdx# gentoo"

What this does is mounts your partition you formatted into the folder within the directory of /mnt so it can be accessed. Once that is done, you type

"cd /mnt/cdrom/stages/"

This lists the files located on the CD-ROM of stages on the Live-CD. From there, you type

"tar -xvjpf stage#-more-text-bignumber.tar.bz2 /mnt/gentoo/"

this unpacks your stage onto the mounted partition which will take a few minutes. Once that has finished, type in

"cd /mnt/gentoo/"

and then begin the next part.


Now that you have untarred all the files you needed onto the primary install part, we now want to switch your root directory to the install directory, or /mnt/gentoo. To do this, simply enter

"chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash"

And you've now finished the chroot of things.

Table of contents
  1. "Gentoo installation, Page 1/2"
  2. "Gentoo installation, Page 2/2"
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