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52midnight
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:31 am    Post subject: A new simplified installation procedure for Gentoo newcomers Reply with quote

I have developed a simplified installation procedure that I believe may have strong appeal for newcomers to Gentoo. It eliminates the need for chrooting, cuts down the amount of explanation required, and describes a single path to a single outcome.

It makes certain assumptions, and is thus limited to a specific group, but this is probably large enough to warrant it being offered. It requires the following:

1. A standard ISA PC - i.e. the Industry Standard Architecture "IBM PC".
2. An existing, working Linux installation, Gentoo or other.
3. The use of Grub as a bootloader. This may be extended to include Grub2.
4. A standard LAN connection to the Internet - sc. the usual modem/router with a DSL or wireless connection.

Perhaps the most useful feature is the ability to boot the new partition and connect to the Internet before installing a bootloader, downloading any packages, or getting into the intricacies of Portage.

I'm not sure whether the Gentoo community will think this worthwhile. Distro maintainers and developers tend to have a somewhat religious (i.e. exclusive) attitude to "their" distro, and my agnostic approach may be seen as heretical. I've uploaded the instruction page at its present stage of development and invite comments:

http://52midnight.com/gentoo/isa-install.html

The project is incomplete; I'm now moving to installing a simple desktop and basic apps, but won't bother uploading further material unless there's some degree of interest, since I've other things on the go. If there is any interest I'd be very happy to cooperate with others.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

is the main difference between your procedure and the official quick install guide that instead of emerging grub you just use the one in stage3, and instead of emerging a kernel you just use the one from the boot medium?

If so, I think the reason one emerges the bootloader and kernel in the official quick install is that he'll have to do it anyway eventually. Also, you'll want to make sure to emerge any out-of-tree drivers and/or firmware you'll need upon reboot, e.g. for wireless.
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52midnight
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hypnos wrote:
is the main difference between your procedure and the official quick install guide that instead of emerging grub you just use the one in stage3, and instead of emerging a kernel you just use the one from the boot medium?


No, there are many other differences. From the User's perspective, the main one is probably that only a fraction of the explanatory material is required. Also, IT DOES NOT USE THE LIVE CD. The target partition is prepared ahead of time from your existing (familiar and comfortable) Lx installation, the kernel and modules are copied over, an entry is created in the existing Grub menu, and voila! - you can boot into it without chrooting and all the rest.

You then connect to the Inet by assigning your own (fake?) IP, hence the need for a LAN (unless you have a direct connection and know your personal Inet IP address). With modern modem/routers this is from one of the Private groups, typically either 10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255 or 192.168.0.0 - 192.168.255.255

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_network

With a couple of minor tweaks to Portage, you can then begin the installation proper.

As good as is Gentoo documentation, it suffers from the major flaw of intermixing essential procedural instructions with verbose explanations of fundamental topics such as partitioning and IP address formats. Not only is this overwhelming for the newcomer, who is unsure whether skipping redundant material will miss important instructions, but it makes the task of going back to clarify a forgotten point a nightmare, since it's buried in a welter of irrelevant material.

The academic approach is to learn everything before proceeding, but this is highly inefficient. It's much better to have a clear, simple path to a single, well-defined outcome. Once having arrived there, the process can be repeated several times to build confidence, clarify concepts, and expand into new territory. This is, in fact, how people (especially children) learn in the REAL world, and why modern "education" is such a disaster.

Please note: for those who've already accessed the instructions, I've added a line to untar the Portage tree. The reason it was omitted is because I don't use it. I have a USB memory stick with the contents of /usr/portage/ on it, and I mount this on /usr/portage/ whenever I add software. In this way I've built up a single, consistent set of distfiles and packages (hence "FEATURES="buildpkg" in /etc/make.conf), which allow me to replicate installations without repeatedly downloading and recompiling the same basic packages. I now have four partitions with Gentoo in different stages/configurations on the Desktop machine, and two on the Laptop.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's true that you only need to chroot in order emerge/eselect things.

Here's my install cribsheet, which gives a decent overview of what it takes to run a basic Linux system:

Code:
My cribsheet for a new install, adapted from the quick install guide.

* Basic
- Boot up sysrescue disk
- Connect to net
- Verify/set UTC date/time
- Prepare disks (e.g., partitioning)
- Mount filesystems into /mnt/gentoo

* Gentoo
- Download stage3, unpack into rootfs
- Download Portage snapshot, unpack into tree location

* Chroot
- mount -t proc proc /mnt/gentoo/proc
- mount --rbind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev
- cp -L /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/
- chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash

* Basic configuration
- passwd
- vim /etc/fstab
- cp /usr/share/zoneinfo/<foo> /etc/localtime; vim /etc/timezone
- vim /etc/hosts; vim /etc/conf.d/hostname; hostname <bar>
- ln -s /etc/init.d/net.lo /etc/init.d/net.<moo>; vim /etc/conf.d/net

* Software (emerge, configure)
- eselect profile
- Edit /etc/locale.gen, make.conf
- kernel, bootloader
- logger, cron, ntpd

* Machine-specific installs required to boot
- Special drivers/firmware (e.g, wireless, RAID)
- Special tools (e.g, fs progs, dhcpcd/ppp)

* First run
- Reboot
- Portage sync, security and world updates

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52midnight
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, thx for that. I'd guess that there are a lot of experienced Gentoo users out there who've developed their own notes and ways of doing things. As I said in an earlier post, I first used Gentoo some years ago, and gave it away to travel O/S. Coming back to it, I vowed that THIS TIME things would be different - I'd keep the notes and things I promised I would last time; and, to my own surprize, I've ACTUALLY done it.

Someone on an earlier post mentioned using the kernel from the SysRcd; I had a quick look but wasn't too sure.

My preference would be for the Gentoo maintainers to make available a tarball with a precompiled kernel, system map, initramfs and modules, but it would mean their agreeing to support this idea, and that's probably a long shot, given that they've undoubtedly got more to do than they want. Anyway, thought I'd give it a shot. Worst that can happen is I get ignored, and that's no novelty.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are "stage4" tarballs out there -- just partition your disks, unpack the tarball, set up bootloader and networking and you're good to go.

Here's one for Raspberry Pi. You can also port an existing Gentoo install to a new machine by this method using some scripts.

I don't know why there isn't an official stage4; I guess no developer think it's worth the trouble, since any stage4 has significant customization, whereas a stage3 system is expected to be rebuilt after reboot and has a custom kernel to deal with hardware support.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

> There are "stage4" tarballs out there .. you're good to go.

Curious. Suggests that there's a "Gentoo subculture" out there.

> Here's one for Raspberry Pi.

Now THAT's interesting. One of my reasons for returning to Gn2 was that, having bought an Rpi, Gn2 seemed like the best option for it.

> You can also port an existing Gentoo install to a new machine ..

Thx again, will check it out.

> I don't know why there isn't an official stage4; I guess no developer think it's worth the trouble ..

IMO the advent of smartphones, Android and the rest have taken significant human resources away from mainline Lx/FOSS development, and the whole area has been depleted. I notice this especially in the content of the major magazines, which are now so predictable and tedious that I haven't bought one in yonks. I'm personally of the opinion that the core Lx/FOSS community needs to rethink its whole attitude to where it is and where it's going, but that's the sort of discussion that gets you flamed and ridiculed in most forums. I've no doubt that Gn2 will weather this, since it's a unique "product", but its community would do well, not only to acknowledge the new situation, but to set about defining it in order to understand its parameters.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's natural that developers are moving into mobile, which is where the growth is.

One tool that allows Gentoo to compete in the mobile space is catalyst (in Portage). You can cross-compile an entire stage4-like distro on your workstation, ready for installation on any other device, e.g. a smartphone.

If there is distribution support for mobile, perhaps it'll bring more casual software developers/power users to the space.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

> It's natural that developers are moving into mobile, which is where the growth is.

Yes. It's a matter of how you react to this. One way is simply to let the earlier phase die out. My preference is to take advantage of it and instigate a new paradigm. I'll assume that you understand the difference between "top-down" and "bottom-up" as applied to project planning and development. Lx/FOSS has religiously espoused a bottom-up approach through-out its development, since this aligns with what is traditionally though of as the innovative, "hip", rebellious and "kewl" clique beloved of script-kiddies and other wanna-be's. The fact is that Torvalds and others commanded enough respect amongst their peers to assert top-down authority and maintain a productive overall structure.

I believe that it's time to acknowledge these facts (politically embarrassing though they be) and review the entire history of Lx development. Torvalds has stated that Lx has become "big and scary" - in other words, bloated and inefficient - and this is mainly reflected in the plethora of badly-documented library files to which every new app is linked in excess. These need to be examined, winnowed, and reduced to a coherent, manageable suite of well-standardized routines - no easy task, and one requiring highly disciplined, top-down management.

Comments such as this have had me effectively banned from other forums. I hope my fate here may be somewhat less drastic.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your opinion won't get you banned, but it is getting off-topic in this thread. I'll close with two remarks; you can private message me if you want to continue the conversation:

1) Many Gentoo users do prefer the coherent design of the FreeBSD userland. Gentoo FreeBSD is an effort to bring the Portage tools to this space. Others have proposed using the FreeBSD userland with the Linux kernel, to provider better support for consumer hardware.

2) Top-down control means different things to different people. One vision is hegemony by big players such as Red Hat, who are pushing concepts like D-BUS and JSON down the stack to the chagrin of old Unix hands. Another vision is an enforcement of Unix-y principles which permit the interoperability of different small tools, a la Plan 9.
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52midnight
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, thx for the frank reply. You've gone well outside my knowledge of the area, perhaps outside my interests and abilities; but I'll follow up on the links you've provided and see if there's anything useful I can contribute.

Ciao
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

52midnight wrote:
As good as is Gentoo documentation, it suffers from the major flaw of intermixing essential procedural instructions with verbose explanations of fundamental topics such as partitioning and IP address formats. Not only is this overwhelming for the newcomer, who is unsure whether skipping redundant material will miss important instructions, but it makes the task of going back to clarify a forgotten point a nightmare, since it's buried in a welter of irrelevant material.

I think restructuring the install guide is a more worthwhile effort for Gentoo as such. You will find very little official support for a stage4 type install. Gentoo targets power users, and its core features are choice and configurability. Your approach brings a binary distro style approach into Gentoo, which is generally not what people choose Gentoo for. If you want that, then go with Sabayon. Earlier experiments with the Gentoo Installer were disastrous, and few if any developers want to go there again.

So I would urge you to concentrate your efforts into streamlining the install documentation, to make that easier to follow for newcomers. Now that we have an official wiki, that should be easier.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Re: A new simplified installation procedure for Gentoo newco Reply with quote

52midnight wrote:
1. A standard ISA PC - i.e. the Industry Standard Architecture "IBM PC".

Did you mean to say "A standard x86 PC", or are you still using a 486? Your posts would be much more concise and comprehensible if you stopped fluffing them up with misused "techy" terms and thesaurus attacks.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

id like it easy enough to pop in a disk, run a command like "unwrap" then bam gentoo's set to go with prompts and everything guiding me through it
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

666threesixes666 wrote:
id like it easy enough to pop in a disk, run a command like "unwrap" then bam gentoo's set to go with prompts and everything guiding me through it


Sorry, but that isn't ever going to happen, firstly because it would be very difficult to do with a source-level
distribution, and secondly because it runs against the whole idea of Gentoo. I have four or five scripts that
help me to install and configure a new system, and a 50 line README which reminds me of the jobs to be
done and the order in which they are to be done. Even with all that information I couldn't write a fully-
automatic Gentoo install script - there are just too many variations in software and user requirements.

Will
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> Gentoo targets power users, and its core features are choice and configurability.

True, but I'm angling for novice power users who want to explore new territory, need a rough map of it, and safe passage to the first staging post. Even power users are Gentoo novices at some point in time, and need training wheels.

> Your approach brings a binary distro style approach into Gentoo

That's neither my intention nor the approach taken by the new installation procedure I've outlined.

> So I would urge you to concentrate your efforts into streamlining the install documentation, to make that easier to follow for newcomers.

I believe that a new installation procedure is warranted by the major hardware improvements we've seen in the last decade. Huge, inexpensive HDDs and cheap USB drives make storage considerations minimal. IMO a newcomer to Gentoo would be well advised to open up several smallish partitions (about 6GB) and repeat the installation procedure several times, experimenting with different configurations and package options. The new knowledge, techniques, insights and experience gained by doing this are not available with any other distro, SFAIK. This is a primary goal of the new procedure I'm experimenting with.

> I have four or five scripts that help me to install and configure a new system, and a 50 line README which reminds me of the jobs to be done

Those who've been using mainline distros will need to adopt a similar approach, and would benefit from suggestions of this sort. After my first Gentoo install several years ago, I realized that this is what I should have done; but by that stage the setup was robust and productive so I just got on with using it. This time I'm working with benefit of hindsight.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

52midnight wrote:
> Gentoo targets power users, and its core features are choice and configurability.

True, but I'm angling for novice power users who want to explore new territory, need a rough map of it, and safe passage to the first staging post. Even power users are Gentoo novices at some point in time, and need training wheels.

52midnight wrote:
I believe that a new installation procedure is warranted by the major hardware improvements we've seen in the last decade. Huge, inexpensive HDDs and cheap USB drives make storage considerations minimal. IMO a newcomer to Gentoo would be well advised to open up several smallish partitions (about 6GB) and repeat the installation procedure several times, experimenting with different configurations and package options. The new knowledge, techniques, insights and experience gained by doing this are not available with any other distro, SFAIK. This is a primary goal of the new procedure I'm experimenting with.

I no genius or even a geek, and I did not need training wheels. I came to Gentoo from Debian. I used to install every OS new to me twice, first time to learn about it and second time to make it stick. After installing Gentoo base system I realized there is no need to install it again, just change your options and rebuild. What you are doing there is IMHO counterproductive. Just my 2c. :wink:
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI, another user posted an "easy" installation script which, at first glance, looks fairly comprehensive.

Of course, it may end up doing things you don't want in your install, so caveat emptor.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Putting together my own (very different) approach with that mentioned suggests that there may be interest in an "alternative installation techniques" topic. I know that there's an "Alternative installation methods HOWTO", but like much of the (otherwise excellent) Gn2 docn this seems to be somewhat out-of-date.

As I remarked earlier, the advent of huge, inexpensive HDDs and large USB sticks warrants a new approach to Gn2 installation, in which newcomers are invited to repeat the process several times so as to quickly learn about the many options and configuration possibilities. You only ever "learn by doing", no matter how much counsel you peruse.

The Gn2 docn brags about "choice" and "flexibility", and this is true; but coming from a standard distro this is overwhelming at first, and can be very discouraging.

One thing that's sorely missing from the Gn2 docn is a listing of all available packages ALONG WITH descriptions sufficiently informative as to allow users to decide what they are and whether or not to try them. Of course, the reason for this omission is obvious; I've thought of filling the gap myself, but on reflecting on the time and effort required, I've always decided to do it tomorrow (which, of course, never comes).

If you've come from a few years with Feduntu, you're used to having a multitude of decisions already made for you. In Gn2 you have the delightful freedom of making them yourself - delightful, that is, until you realize their number and technical complexity, at which stage many go looking for a config and package broker. This forum provides such a service, but it may be better to anticipate the need. A well-thought-out wiki page may serve the purpose.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you develop something that you find useful, then by all means write it up on wiki.gentoo.org so it can be shared and maintained by the community. You can then link to it here.

Regarding package descriptions, are the official package site and unofficial package site not enough, in addition to the commandline Portage interface?
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

> Regarding package descriptions, are the official package site and unofficial package site not enough, in addition to the commandline Portage interface?

No, unfortunately. Portage is well documented, no argument. Take my present (PCLOS) KDE as an example of my complaint. Immediately after install, I get a clock with a clickable calendar, a couple of personal time managers, a competent low-level configuration manager PLUS a top-level desktop settings app. A few judicious clicks get me handy things like a choice of image viewers (though I prefer gThumb), archive manager, screensavers galore, print manager, document viewers, etc. etc, all neatly integrated into the KDE interface and trouble-free.

Now all of these ARE available from the Gn2 repo, but (unless you install the whole KDE shebang - horrors!) you've never seen them before, some are great and some lousy, some will fit with your chosen desktop, others have problems. I'm currently trying to decide on a multi-tabbed console app; the choice at present is mrxvt (simple, reliable, but old and without cut-and-paste) or Terminator (looks good but has locale issues or something that gives strange characters), and both require reading yards of docn for config. This is in OpenBox. If I change to Enlightenment, it's anyone's guess what will happen. And this is just one app; multiply it by the whole swag and you see why I do it slowly, part time. AND, SFAIK, there's nothing I can read (other than an endless list of porject home pages, many completely uninformative in this regard) to solve my problem.

I'd guess that many, if not most Gn2 users work in IT professionally. They've probably installed Gn2 many times, learning something new each time, and have played with many different configurations. Contrast this with a home user like myself, whose first installation some years ago resulted in one of the most robust and enjoyable Lx setups I've had; but I was always plagued by the "what if ..." possibilities. Simply don't have the time and opportunity that pro's do. This time I'm taking it slowly, at present have several basic installs with different configs, but none yet in use. At this stage I'm more interested in exploring options before committing to a single one or two; hence my bothering this forum with my quandaries.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For setting up a usable desktop environment, perhaps these wiki articles could be expanded or improved.

The official XFCE and OpenBox docs have been updated withing the last 3 months, and look to be useful for the same purpose.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as package descriptions go, znurt.org gives a good if terse overview
of all the packages in the current tree.

Will
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> znurt.org gives a good if terse overview of all the packages in the current tree.

Thx for this, will browse.

> perhaps these wiki articles could be expanded or improved .. The official XFCE and OpenBox docs ..

.. and for these; you're a mine of useful info. I found the OpenBox HOWTO very useful in getting things going, but you'll notice that Terminator is not in the console app list. I found it on another forum by googling, then installed it from the Gn2 repo.

In an ideal world, every maintainer/developer would add an informative description and brief evaluation to the package metadata. I thought of writing a Perl script to extract this from each pkg subdirectory in /usr/portage/, but on checking I found a terse one-liner at best, nothing for many/most.

In the real world, if you ask a senior IT project manager for his chief gripe about his team, he'll almost certainly reply, "They never write the ^&*%% documentation!" We're not dealing with a Gn2 failing, but with a fact of human nature, so I'm not holding my breath waiting for a solution.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just uploaded the latest fileset of this new install procedure. It's far from complete, but given the number of hits it's received, there seems to be enough interest to warrant this advice. It also shows the structure I've adopted for organizing the information.

I'd like to thank those who responded to my recent posts, especially those who did so constructively and generously. I'll also apologize for some of them being deliberately naive and repetitive; as a relative newcomer to Gentoo attempting to document it, I wanted to verify that my assumptions were valid, and this allowed me to do so.

In response to those who regard all of this as unnecessary (and even "counter-productive") I'll quote the opening paragraph of my page on Portage:

Quote:
The Gentoo documentation lists eight files relating to Portage. Four of them are numbered, but two have the numer '3', and the last is a list of six other files. In addition, there are substantial sections on Portage in the x86 Handbook, the Quick Install Guide, and Networkless Install. This seems to reflect uncoordinated changes over the years and a present state of some confusion. This page is an attempt at making sense of available documentation.


http://52midnight.com/gentoo/portage.html

Those who know the system well may dismiss this as irrelevant, but from a Nwecomer's perspective I believe it demonstrates the need for a rewrite of Gentoo's substantial documentation base. Unfortunately I have little time to spare for it, but will persevere along present lines:

http://52midnight.com/gentoo/
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