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Some mistakes, assumptions I made about a basic bootable sys
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frank56
Tux's lil' helper
Tux's lil' helper


Joined: 02 Nov 2009
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:32 am    Post subject: Some mistakes, assumptions I made about a basic bootable sys Reply with quote

It look like this might be the best forum to share the mistakes I made in just having a boot able system. I was able to do that without setting any USE variables. I worked with them after I had already booted. I don't know if that is true for every system.

The other mistake I made was using the default fstab in nano -w /etc/fstab instead of the default fstab in the Gentoo manual. I think if the default fstab in nano -w /etc/fstab was replaced by the one in the Gentoo manual, it would have gotten me a bootable system sooner. I wonder how many newbies make the same mistakes I have made.

For me, booting has been the biggest bottle neck. I made my first attempt in 2009 and put Gentoo off for a later time. Perhaps taking a break was a good thing, though I wish it had not been so long. It took me weeks just to get a bootable system, but only hours to get a working Gnome Desktop. By that I mean, is that I can post from it. Perhaps there is already a HOWTO on how to get a "bare bones" system to boot. Or is it more important to focus on having a correct fstab and grub file/setting, than to worry about USE or other settings?

I appreciate the progress I have made lately, but consider my self still a Newbie. So please consider my comments in that context. :-) My computer is a Dell Optiplex GX 270 with a EIDE hard drive. I may add other errors I have made later. Frank
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gerard82
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Joined: 04 Jan 2004
Posts: 2227
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your problems are caused by not reading/understanding the Handbook verbatim.
If English is not your native language and there's no handbook available in your native language that might lead to
misunderstandings.
I made the same mistakes when I first installed Gentoo,so you're not alone.
But I persevered because I saw how much better Gentoo is compared to the other Linux distro's.
In the long run it will all become familiar and you will not want anything else.
Gerard.
_________________
To install Gentoo I use sysrescuecd.Based on Gentoo,has firefox to browse Gentoo docs and mc to browse (and edit) files.
The same disk can be used for 32 and 64 bit installs.
You can follow the Handbook verbatim.
http://www.sysresccd.org/Download
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psycho
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Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Posts: 153
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Frank.

If you're installing Gentoo in order to learn about GNU/Linux then it's important to understand what you're doing as you do things: even though it's a lot slower to stop and research every instruction that doesn't make sense to you, in the long run this can actually save you a lot of time, because the consequences of following instructions without understanding them (e.g. just typing in default /etc/fstab settings instead of writing an fstab to suit your system) can be (a) problems that take a long time to fix, and (b) if you haven't taken the time to understand the instruction now when it's important, chances are you're not going to go back and do so once your system's working and you're busy doing other things, which means you're going to face the same kinds of problems the next time you install or make significant changes to your system. It's better to take your time and make sure you really understand every step of the install.

Normally your grub.conf and fstab files would be much more important to your system's booting than your USE flags, which are largely taken care of by portage in the sense that Gentoo's developers and ebuild maintainers can limit some of the damage you do with them. So, while it's very easy to lose functionality (e.g. to have a GUI application missing some graphics or not communicating properly with another application) as a result of dodgy USE flags, it's unlikely the changes you've made to your USE flags will have so completely ruined your system that it will fail to boot. GRUB's configuration however is vitally important: your boot loader is the first thing your computer fires up after the BIOS (the hardware that handles things when you first switch it on) points it to the appropriate start-up drive, so if you've messed up grub.conf you can wind up going nowhere, fast. Once your boot loader is installed, you'll need to point it at a working kernel through grub.conf or whatever its configuration file is (another potential headache for newbies, if you're building your own kernels...in fact I would say that building a perfectly working kernel for your particular hardware is the hardest part of the install)...and then assuming you've got that far, pretty soon after the kernel has started and you're actually running Linux, your fstab becomes crucially important because this tells the system where all your files are...and since a GNU/Linux system is basically a bunch of files (even the physical hardware devices are treated as files in the filesystem) a messed up fstab can also wreak havoc.

So yes, focus on grub.conf and fstab: once you understand those you're a long way towards quick and easy installs of any distro, not just Gentoo. Then once you've learned those GNU/Linux basics, learn more about the USE flags. Another thing to bear in mind is that playing with fstab can have instant effects (if you add a filesystem to fstab your "mount" commands will use it straight away, for example), and playing with grub.conf is only a reboot away from testing its effects (make sure you have another means of booting for when you stuff things up!)...but a change of USE flags can mean re-compiling vast amounts of your system, which can take hours. So the "seriousness" of mistakes is not a straightforward thing: a grub.conf stuff-up can be "serious" in the sense that it makes your system unbootable and so completely useless without a boot disk; yet it can be fixed in about one minute, whereas a poorly chosen set of USE flags can cause annoyances and "less serious" problems that are more serious in the sense that they can take hours to correct.
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frank56
Tux's lil' helper
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Joined: 02 Nov 2009
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Gerard and Pycho. I agree with you both. Thanks for your reply. I consider myself bilingual, but I have not learned to speak Gentoo, not even with an accent. :-) But what ever I don't learn about Gentoo it can come back and bite me, and also make me lose time. I hope my behavior and or actions demonstrate that I have truly learned that. Frank
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