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Joined: 16 Jul 2002
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Location: Michigan - 15 & Ryan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 6:43 pm    Post subject: IG1: How to install Gentoo from a boot floppy Reply with quote

Navigation: [next IG2: How to install Gentoo in a Win XP/NT configuration ][Installing Gentoo] [Table of Contents]

Installation from a boot floppy HOWTO

So you say you want to install Gentoo but you can't boot from the installation CD? Maybe you have an old CDROM drive, buggy BIOS, SCSI, maybe no CDROM drive at all or perhaps you don't have enough RAM to boot off of the distribution CD. One fairly slick and easy solution that can get around a buggy BIOS is this boot manager. Another more general solution is to either install from an existing Linux installation, or to use a boot disk.

Before getting started, you'll want to have your Gentoo CD handy (or at least have some sort of access to the tarball you want to use.) You'll also want to familiarize yourself with the standard installation instructions.

1. Acquire a boot disk
Formerly tomsrtbt was the best disk to use, but it no longer works because the kernel on it is too old. The best choice now is to use boot disks from another distro such as Slackware. See the discussion thread linked below for more suggestions. Some of this HOWTO still refers to tomsrtbt, but the procedure is basically the same for other boot disks.

2. Boot from the floppy
The boot disk will do its best to discover any SCSI, PCMCIA and network hardware you have. It will also try to set up your network via DHCP. I nearly passed out in disbelief when it got my cranky network card up and running with no effort on my part (it took me ages to get it working under Red Hat). If your network doesn't come up, you should still be able to set it up manually with ifconfig as per the standard installation instructions.

3. Set up partitions
You can set up your partitions as you would with a standard installation, however, tomsrtbt does not have XFS or ReiserFS support, so if you want to use one of those you'll need to do a bit more work (see notes below).

When you mount the partitions, I recommend explicitly specifying the file system type. I had made mine as ext3, but when I let mount automatically choose the filesystem, it mounted them as ext2.

# swapon /dev/hda2
# mkdir /mnt/gentoo
# mount -t ext3 /dev/hda3 /mnt/gentoo
# mkdir /mnt/gentoo/boot
# mount -t ext3 /dev/hda1 /mnt/gentoo/boot

Don't forget to turn on the swap partition you made, you'll probably need it when it comes time to compile. We're mounting the root filesystem we created as /mnt/gentoo (this will be the root of our Gentoo install once we're done). For any other partitions we've created for the Gentoo installation (other than swap), we want to make directories underneath the root and mount them as well. In the above example, we're mounting our boot partition at /mnt/gentoo/boot which will be /boot once our install is done. If you made a separate partition for /usr, it would get mounted under /mnt/gentoo/usr, etc.

The simplest way to set up XFS or ReiserFS would be to throw in an extra hard drive (a 1 gig would be plenty, you do have some old hard drives lying around, don't you?) Install into ext2 or ext3 partitions on that spare drive, then once you've got the base Gentoo installation up and running (be sure you compiled XFS/ReiserFS support into the kernel), make your XFS/ReiserFS partitions on your main drive and copy everything over. Be sure to copy the symbolic links and whatnot from the /dev hierarchy. Edit your fstab (in the new location) to reflect the changes, and reconfigure grub (or lilo) to point to the new partitions. Don't nuke the original drive until you're sure you've got everything up and running correctly.

4. Unpacking the tarball
You can now mount your cdrom drive and copy over the tarball you want to use. Because tomsrtbt has stripped down versions of your basic utilities, the procedure is a bit different. Replace stage1-ix86-1.4_rc2.tbz2 with the tarball you've chosen to use (the example below is for installation from stage 1 of release 1.4_rc2). You could also download the tarball with wget instead of using the CD. Also note that the cp command below changes the extention on the tarball filename - the version of bzip2 on tomsrtbt complains otherwise. If you are using a boot disk other than tomsrtbt, it probably has more complete versions of bzip2 and tar, so the instructions for untarring are the same as the standard installation instructions.

# cd /mnt/gentoo
# cp /mnt/cdrom/stage1-ix86-1.4_rc2.tbz2 /mnt/gentoo/stage1-ix86-1.4_rc2.tar.bz2
# bzip2 -d stage1-*.tar.bz2
# tar xvf stage1-*.tar
# chown -R root.root /mnt/gentoo

If you'd like to download the tarball instead of getting it off the CD, try replacing the "cp" command above with the following (use whichever mirror you'd like):

# wget
# mv stage1-ix86-1.4_rc2.tbz2 stage1-ix86-1.4_rc2.tar.bz2

By default, the stripped down tar (actually, a wrapper for pax) on tomsrtbt restores permissions on extracted files (it has no -p option). It also seems to set the user and group ownership of the file to something strange, hence the chown.

You can delete the tarball off your HD at this point if you'd like to tidy things up a bit (or you may want to wait until you've got everything working).

5. Chrooting
This part is slightly different than the CD procedure (/proc must be mounted a bit differently.) It may complain that there is no make.profile, but that's OK - it'll be taken care of in the emerge rsync later on.

# mount -t proc /proc /mnt/gentoo/proc
# cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/resolv.conf
# chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash
# /usr/sbin/env-update
Regenerating /etc/
# source /etc/profile

6. Finish installation
You can now finish the standard installation instructions starting from chapter 9. Be sure to remove the floppy and CD before rebooting.

Updated 2002-07-25 - Various corrections. Thanks go out to Naan Yaar, delta407, lilian, DtMM and Lockup for their feedback.
Updated 2002-08-09 - Added notes about Smart Boot Manager, ReiserFS and wget, other corrections. Many thanks to everybody for the praise and feedback. :)
Updated 2002-08-22 - Included reminder about swap partition (thanks to Throstur.)
Updated 2002-12-29 - Split tar/bzip into two commands at the suggestion from mooman - apprently the "broken pipe" errors aren't always harmless. Moved to FAQ forum and made a few updates.
Updated 2003-01-30 - Updated navigation bar.
Updated 2003-02-15 - Added information to reflect that tomsrtbt doesn't work anymore.
Updated 2003-06-14 - Changed to continue with chaper 9 instead of 10 (Gimmefuel)

Navigation: [next IG2: How to install Gentoo in a Win XP/NT configuration ][Installing Gentoo] [Table of Contents]

Last edited by phong on Sat Jun 14, 2003 8:09 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Joined: 16 Jul 2002
Posts: 778
Location: Michigan - 15 & Ryan

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2002 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discussion or questions about this HOWTO can go in this thread.
"An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head."
-- Eric Hoffer
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