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First of all, welcome to Gentoo. You are about to enter the world of choices and performance. Gentoo is all about choices. When installing Gentoo, this is made clear to you several times -- you can choose how much you want to compile yourself, how to install Gentoo, what system logger you want, etc.
Gentoo is a fast, modern metadistribution with a clean and flexible design. Gentoo is built around free software and doesn't hide from its users what is beneath the hood. Portage, the package maintenance system which Gentoo uses, is written in Python, meaning you can easily view and modify the source code. Gentoo's packaging system uses source code (although support for precompiled packages is included too) and configuring Gentoo happens through regular textfiles. In other words, openness everywhere.
It is very important that you understand that choices are what makes Gentoo run. We try not to force you onto anything you don't like. If you feel like we do, please bugreport it.
How is the Installation Structured?
The Gentoo Installation can be seen as a 10-step procedure, corresponding to chapters 2 - 11. Every step results in a certain state:
When you are given a certain choice, we try our best to explain what the pros and cons are. We will continue then with a default choice, identified by "Default: " in the title. The other possibilities are marked by "Alternative: ". Do not think that the default is what we recommend. It is however what we believe most users will use.
Sometimes you can pursue an optional step. Such steps are marked as "Optional: " and are therefore not needed to install Gentoo. However, some optional steps are dependant on a previous decision you made. We will inform you when this happens, both when you make the decision, and right before the optional step is described.
What are my Options?
You can install Gentoo in many different ways. You can download and install from one of our Installation CDs (installation CDs), from an existing distribution, from a bootable CD (such as Knoppix), from a netbooted environment, from a rescue floppy, etc.
This document covers the installation using the Universal Installation CD, a bootable CD that contains everything you need to get Gentoo Linux up and running. You can optionally use one of our Package CDs as well to install a complete system in a matter of minutes after having installed the Gentoo base system.
This installation approach however does not immediately use the latest version of the available packages; if you want this you should check out the Installation Instructions inside our Gentoo Linux Handbooks.
For help on the other installation approaches, please read our Alternative Installation Guide. We also provide a Gentoo Installation Tips & Tricks document that might be useful to read as well. If you feel that the current installation instructions are too elaborate, feel free to use our Quick Installation Guide available from our Documentation Resources if your architecture has such a document available.
If you find a problem in the installation (or in the installation documentation), please check the errata from our Gentoo Release Engineering Project, visit our bugtracking system and check if the bug is known. If not, please create a bugreport for it so we can take care of it. Do not be afraid of the developers who are assigned to (your) bugs -- they generally don't eat people.
Note though that, although the document you are now reading is architecture-specific, it will contain references to other architectures as well. This is due to the fact that large parts of the Gentoo Handbook use source code that is common for all architectures (to avoid duplication of efforts and starvation of development resources). We will try to keep this to a minimum to avoid confusion.
If you are uncertain if the problem is a user-problem (some error you made despite having read the documentation carefully) or a software-problem (some error we made despite having tested the installation/documentation carefully) you are free to join #gentoo on irc.freenode.net. Of course, you are welcome otherwise too :)
If you have a question regarding Gentoo, check out our Frequently Asked Questions, available from the Gentoo Documentation. You can also view the FAQs on our forums. If you can't find the answer there ask on #gentoo, our IRC-channel on irc.freenode.net. Yes, several of us are freaks who sit on IRC :-)
1.b. Fast Installation using the Gentoo Reference Platform
What is the Gentoo Reference Platform?
The Gentoo Reference Platform, from now on abbreviated to GRP, is a snapshot of prebuilt packages users (that means you!) can install during the installation of Gentoo to speed up the installation process. The GRP consists of all packages required to have a fully functional Gentoo installation. They are not just the ones you need to have a base installation up to speed in no time, but all lengthier builds (such as KDE, xorg-x11, GNOME, OpenOffice, Mozilla, ...) are available as GRP packages too.
However, these prebuilt packages aren't maintained during the lifetime of the Gentoo distribution. They are snapshots released at every Gentoo release and make it possible to have a functional environment in a short amount of time. You can then upgrade your system in the background while working in your Gentoo environment.
How Portage Handles GRP Packages
Your Portage tree - the collection of ebuilds (files that contain all information about a package, such as its description, homepage, sourcecode URLs, compilation instructions, dependencies, etc.) - must be synchronised with the GRP set: the versions of the available ebuilds and their accompanying GRP packages must match.
For this reason you can only benefit from the GRP packages Gentoo provides while performing the current installation approach. GRP is not available for those interested in performing an installation using the latest versions of all available packages.
Is GRP Available?
Not all architectures provide GRP packages. That doesn't mean GRP isn't supported on the other architectures, but it means that we don't have the resources to build and test the GRP packages.
At present we provide GRP packages for the following architectures:
If your architecture (or subarchitecture) isn't on this list, you are not able to opt for a GRP installation.
Now that this introduction is over, let's continue with Booting the Universal Installation CD.
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