Installing Gentoo can be an overwhelming and uninviting task because you are limited to a shell interface, and the computer is unavailable for tasks during the installation. That is, of course, unless you use the Knoppix CD.
Gentoo is a Linux distribution that aims to create a system that is optimized for your computer. One of the ways it attempts this is by compiling each program from its source code before it installs and providing an automated means to update and install new software by downloading and compiling from the source code. Gentoo provides detailed documentation on how to install the distribution, but even then the installer can be challenging to newcomers. Knoppix makes installing Gentoo a much less painful experience. The Knoppix hardware detection seems to be more robust and is much more successful than the Gentoo system. A Gentoo install involves downloading packages from the Internet, so Knoppix provides you with much better support for your particular NIC. Furthermore, your computer is still fully functional while you compile the base Gentoo system, which provides you with some additional advantages. First, the compilation process for a Gentoo install can take hours, so with Knoppix, you can browse the Web, play games, and get work done while the system compiles in the background. Second, you can browse the Web with a graphical web browser, so if you run into a roadblock in the installation process, you can head straight to the Gentoo forums at http://forums.gentoo.org to ask a question. The installation instructions are also readily accessible ( http://www. gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml), so there is no need to print them out. The instructions are very thorough and explain not only what each step is, but also why it is necessary.
These two reasons are also true for installing Gentoo from a chrooted environment on an existing Linux install if youdidn’t want to install via the Knoppix method. Knoppix gives you the advantage of using the entire hard disk for your Gentoo install. If you have only a single hard drive and Linux is already on it, you can’t exactly wipe it entirely clean while you are in the middle of using it.
Installing Gentoo from Knoppix requires very few additional steps. First, boot your Knoppix CD with thenoswapcheat code. This cheat code tells Knoppix not to automatically use any existing swap partitions it finds on the hard drive. This saves you extra steps of disabling the swap later if you need to delete the swap partition to create new partitions on your drive for the install. There is no need for a Gentoo Live CD, because the Knoppix CD is replacing it in your setup. When the desktop finishes loading, open a terminal window. At the prompt, type:
knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ su -
This switches the current user to root and reloads the shell configuration. Next, type:
root@ttyp0[root]# mkdir /mnt/gentoo
While naming the mount point gentoo is not strictly necessary, it does make it easier to follow the install documentation that asks you to mount the root filesystem under /mnt/gentoo. All Knoppix-specific steps have now been completed.
The first page of the Gentoo Installation Handbook has links to each chapter of the install. You are using a Knoppix CD for the install, so the first few chapters only provide information about the install process. You won’t actually start performing any of the steps until Chapter4 .
Chapter 1 of the Gentoo Installation Handbook provides an overview of the entire installation process.
Update a Knoppix Install from the CD
Chapter 2 describes the differences between the stages and how to boot the Gentoo CD. When you read Chapter 2, ignore the CD-booting steps, and instead focus on the differences between a Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 install. Each stage starts you at a different point in the compilation of the base system. The later the stage you choose, the less input you have into how the base system is configured. Which stage you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference and depends on the amount of time you have for this particular install.
Chapter 3 describes some additional steps that you may need if you are using the Gentoo CD, but since you are not, these steps can be safely ignored.
Once you have chosen a stage for the install, you are ready to start the Gentoo install process. First, partition and format your disk, as described in Chapter 4. Then simply follow the rest of the Gentoo Installation Handbook to complete the installation. Remember to retrieve your stage tarball from the Internet, as described in Chapter 5.b.
Now you have all the benefits of having a Gentoo system, such as the excellent portage package manager, but with a much less painful installation. If you enjoy puzzle games, I recommend playing Frozen Bubble while you wait for the system to compile.