Handbook:HPPA/Installation/Base

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HPPA Handbook
Installation
About the installation
Choosing the media
Configuring the network
Preparing the disks
The stage file
Installing base system
Configuring the kernel
Configuring the system
Installing tools
Configuring the bootloader
Finalizing
Working with Gentoo
Portage introduction
USE flags
Portage features
Initscript system
Environment variables
Working with Portage
Files and directories
Variables
Mixing software branches
Additional tools
Custom package repository
Advanced features
OpenRC network configuration
Getting started
Advanced configuration
Modular networking
Wireless
Adding functionality
Dynamic management


Chrooting

Copy DNS info

One thing still remains to be done before entering the new environment and that is copying over the DNS information in /etc/resolv.conf. This needs to be done to ensure that networking still works even after entering the new environment. /etc/resolv.conf contains the name servers for the network.

To copy this information, it is recommended to pass the --dereference option to the cp command. This ensures that, if /etc/resolv.conf is a symbolic link, that the link's target file is copied instead of the symbolic link itself. Otherwise in the new environment the symbolic link would point to a non-existing file (as the link's target is most likely not available inside the new environment).

root #cp --dereference /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/

Mounting the necessary filesystems

In a few moments, the Linux root will be changed towards the new location.

The filesystems that need to be made available are:

  • /proc/ is a pseudo-filesystem. It looks like regular files, but is generated on-the-fly by the Linux kernel
  • /sys/ is a pseudo-filesystem, like /proc/ which it was once meant to replace, and is more structured than /proc/
  • /dev/ is a regular file system which contains all device. It is partially managed by the Linux device manager (usually udev)
  • /run/ is a temporary file system used for files generated at runtime, such as PID files or locks

The /proc/ location will be mounted on /mnt/gentoo/proc/ whereas the others are bind-mounted. The latter means that, for instance, /mnt/gentoo/sys/ will actually be /sys/ (it is just a second entry point to the same filesystem) whereas /mnt/gentoo/proc/ is a new mount (instance so to speak) of the filesystem.

Tip
If using Gentoo's install media, this step can be replaced with simply: arch-chroot /mnt/gentoo.
root #mount --types proc /proc /mnt/gentoo/proc
root #mount --rbind /sys /mnt/gentoo/sys
root #mount --make-rslave /mnt/gentoo/sys
root #mount --rbind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev
root #mount --make-rslave /mnt/gentoo/dev
root #mount --bind /run /mnt/gentoo/run
root #mount --make-slave /mnt/gentoo/run
Note
The --make-rslave operations are needed for systemd support later in the installation.
Warning
When using non-Gentoo installation media, this might not be sufficient. Some distributions make /dev/shm a symbolic link to /run/shm/ which, after the chroot, becomes invalid. Making /dev/shm/ a proper tmpfs mount up front can fix this:
root #test -L /dev/shm && rm /dev/shm && mkdir /dev/shm
root #mount --types tmpfs --options nosuid,nodev,noexec shm /dev/shm

Also ensure that mode 1777 is set:

root #chmod 1777 /dev/shm /run/shm

Entering the new environment

Now that all partitions are initialized and the base environment installed, it is time to enter the new installation environment by chrooting into it. This means that the session will change its root (most top-level location that can be accessed) from the current installation environment (installation CD or other installation medium) to the installation system (namely the initialized partitions). Hence the name, change root or chroot.

This chrooting is done in three steps:

  1. The root location is changed from / (on the installation medium) to /mnt/gentoo/ (on the partitions) using chroot or arch-chroot, if available.
  2. Some settings (those in /etc/profile) are reloaded in memory using the source command
  3. The primary prompt is changed to help us remember that this session is inside a chroot environment.
root #chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash
root #source /etc/profile
root #export PS1="(chroot) ${PS1}"

From this point, all actions performed are immediately on the new Gentoo Linux environment.

Tip
If the Gentoo installation is interrupted anywhere after this point, it should be possible to 'resume' the installation at this step. There is no need to re-partition the disks again! Simply mount the root partition and run the steps above starting with copying the DNS info to re-enter the working environment. This is also useful for fixing bootloader issues. More information can be found in the chroot article.

Preparing for a bootloader

Now that the new environment has been entered, it is necessary to prepare the new environment for the bootloader. It will be important to have the correct partition mounted when it is time to install the bootloader.

UEFI systems

For UEFI systems, /dev/sda2 was formatted with the FAT32 filesystem and will be used as the EFI System Partition (ESP). Create a new /efi directory (if not yet created), and then mount ESP there:

root #mkdir /efi # May have been created in a previous step
root #mount /dev/sda2 /efi

DOS/Legacy BIOS systems

For DOS/Legacy BIOS systems, the bootloader will be installed into the directory, therefore mount as follows:

root #mount /dev/sda2

Configuring Portage

Gentoo ebuild repository

A second important step in selecting mirrors is to configure the Gentoo ebuild repository via the /etc/portage/repos.conf/gentoo.conf file. This file contains the sync information needed to update the package repository (the collection of ebuilds and related files containing all the information Portage needs to download and install software packages).

Configuring the repository can be done in a few simple steps. First, if it does not exist, create the repos.conf directory:

root #mkdir --parents /etc/portage/repos.conf

Next, copy the Gentoo repository configuration file provided by Portage to the (newly created) repos.conf directory:

root #cp /usr/share/portage/config/repos.conf /etc/portage/repos.conf/gentoo.conf

Take a peek with a text editor or by using the cat command. The inside of the file should be in .ini format and look like this:

FILE /etc/portage/repos.conf/gentoo.conf
[DEFAULT]
main-repo = gentoo
 
[gentoo]
location = /var/db/repos/gentoo
sync-type = rsync
sync-uri = rsync://rsync.gentoo.org/gentoo-portage
auto-sync = yes
sync-rsync-verify-jobs = 1
sync-rsync-verify-metamanifest = yes
sync-rsync-verify-max-age = 24
sync-openpgp-key-path = /usr/share/openpgp-keys/gentoo-release.asc
sync-openpgp-key-refresh-retry-count = 40
sync-openpgp-key-refresh-retry-overall-timeout = 1200
sync-openpgp-key-refresh-retry-delay-exp-base = 2
sync-openpgp-key-refresh-retry-delay-max = 60
sync-openpgp-key-refresh-retry-delay-mult = 4
sync-webrsync-verify-signature = yes
sync-git-verify-commit-signature = yes

The default sync-uri variable value listed above will determine a mirror location based on a rotation. This will aid in easing bandwidth stress on Gentoo's infrastructure and will provide a fail-safe in the event a specific mirror is offline. It is recommended the default URI is retained unless a local or private mirror will be used instead.

Tip
The specification for Portage's plug-in sync API can be found in the Portage project's Sync page.

Installing a Gentoo ebuild repository snapshot from the web

Next step is to install a snapshot of the Gentoo ebuild repository. This snapshot contains a collection of files that informs Portage about available software titles (for installation), which profiles the system administrator can select, package or profile specific news items, etc.

The use of emerge-webrsync is recommended for those who are behind restrictive firewalls (it uses HTTP/FTP protocols for downloading the snapshot) and saves network bandwidth. Readers who have no network or bandwidth restrictions can happily skip down to the next section.

This will fetch the latest snapshot (which is released on a daily basis) from one of Gentoo's mirrors and install it onto the system:

root #emerge-webrsync
Note
During this operation, emerge-webrsync might complain about a missing /var/db/repos/gentoo/ location. This is to be expected and nothing to worry about - the tool will create the location.

From this point onward, Portage might mention that certain updates are recommended to be executed. This is because system packages installed through the stage file might have newer versions available; Portage is now aware of new packages because of the repository snapshot. Package updates can be safely ignored for now; updates can be delayed until after the Gentoo installation has finished.


Optional: Selecting mirrors

In order to download source code quickly it is recommended to select a fast, geographically close mirror. Portage will look in the make.conf file for the GENTOO_MIRRORS variable and use the mirrors listed therein. It is possible to surf to the Gentoo mirror list and search for a mirror (or multiple mirrors) close to the system's physical location (as those are most frequently the fastest ones).

A tool called mirrorselect provides a pretty text interface to more quickly query and select suitable mirrors. Just navigate to the mirrors of choice and press Spacebar to select one or more mirrors.

root #emerge --ask --verbose --oneshot app-portage/mirrorselect
root #mirrorselect -i -o >> /etc/portage/make.conf

Alternatively, a list of active mirrors are available online.

Optional: Updating the Gentoo ebuild repository

It is possible to update the Gentoo ebuild repository to the latest version. The previous emerge-webrsync command will have installed a very recent snapshot (usually recent up to 24h) so this step is definitely optional.

Suppose there is a need for the latest package updates (up to 1 hour), then use emerge --sync. This command will use the rsync protocol to update the Gentoo ebuild repository (which was fetched earlier on through emerge-webrsync) to the latest state.

root #emerge --sync

On slow terminals, such as certain frame buffers or serial consoles, it is recommended to use the --quiet option to speed up the process:

root #emerge --sync --quiet

Reading news items

When the Gentoo ebuild repository is synchronized, Portage may output informational messages similar to the following:

* IMPORTANT: 2 news items need reading for repository 'gentoo'.
* Use eselect news to read news items.

News items were created to provide a communication medium to push critical messages to users via the Gentoo ebuild repository. To manage them, use eselect news. The eselect application is a Gentoo-specific utility that allows for a common management interface for system administration. In this case, eselect is asked to use its news module.

For the news module, three operations are most used:

  • With list an overview of the available news items is displayed.
  • With read the news items can be read.
  • With purge news items can be removed once they have been read and will not be reread anymore.
root #eselect news list
root #eselect news read

More information about the news reader is available through its manual page:

root #man news.eselect

Choosing the right profile

Tip
Desktop profiles are not exclusively for desktop environments. They are also suitable for minimal window managers like i3 or sway.

A profile is a building block for any Gentoo system. Not only does it specify default values for USE, CFLAGS, and other important variables, it also locks the system to a certain range of package versions. These settings are all maintained by Gentoo's Portage developers.

To see what profile the system is currently using, run eselect using the profile module:

root #eselect profile list
Available profile symlink targets:
  [1]   default/linux/hppa/ *
  [2]   default/linux/hppa//desktop
  [3]   default/linux/hppa//desktop/gnome
  [4]   default/linux/hppa//desktop/kde
Note
The output of the command is just an example and evolves over time.
Note
To use systemd, select a profile which has "systemd" in the name and vice versa, if not

There are also desktop sub-profiles available for some architectures which include software packages commonly necessary for a desktop experience.

Warning
Profile upgrades are not to be taken lightly. When selecting the initial profile, use the profile corresponding to the same version as the one initially used by the stage file (e.g. ). Each new profile version is announced through a news item containing migration instructions; be sure to carefully follow the instructions before switching to a newer profile.

After viewing the available profiles for the hppa architecture, users can select a different profile for the system:

root #eselect profile set 2



Note
The developer sub-profile is specifically for Gentoo Linux development and is not meant to be used by casual users.

Optional: Adding a binary package host

Since December 2023, Gentoo's Release Engineering team has offered an official binary package host (colloquially shorted to just "binhost") for use by the general community to retrieve and install binary packages (binpkgs).[1]

Adding a binary package host allows Portage to install cryptographically signed, compiled packages. In many cases, adding a binary package host will greatly decrease the mean time to package installation and adds much benefit when running Gentoo on older, slower, or low power systems.

Repository configuration

The repository configuration for a binhost is found in Portage's /etc/portage/binrepos.conf/ directory, which functions similarly to the configuration mentioned in the Gentoo ebuild repository section.

When defining a binary host, there are two important aspects to consider:

  1. The architecture and profile targets within the sync-uri value do matter and should align to the respective computer architecture (hppa in this case) and system profile selected in the Choosing the right profile section.
  2. Selecting a fast, geographically close mirror will generally shorten retrieval time. Review the mirrorselect tool mentioned in the Optional: Selecting mirrors section or review the online list of mirrors where URL values can be discovered.

FILE /etc/portage/binrepos.conf/gentoobinhost.confCDN-based binary package host example
[binhost]
priority = 9999
sync-uri = https://distfiles.gentoo.org/releases/<arch>/binpackages/<profile>/x86-64/

Installing binary packages

Portage will compile packages from code source by default. It can be instructed to use binary packages in the following ways:

  1. The --getbinpkg option can be passed when invoking the emerge command. This method of for binary package installation is useful to install only a particular binary package.
  2. Changing the system's default via Portage's FEATURES variable, which is exposed through the /etc/portage/make.conf file. Applying this configuration change will cause Portage to query the binary package host for the package(s) to be requested and fall back to compiling locally when no results are found.

For example, to have Portage always install available binary packages:

FILE /etc/portage/make.confConfigure Portage to use binary packages by default
# Appending getbinpkg to the list of values within the FEATURES variable
FEATURES="${FEATURES} getbinpkg"
# Require signatures
FEATURES="${FEATURES} binpkg-request-signature"

Please also run getuto for Portage to set up the necessary keyring for verification:

root #getuto

Additional Portage features will be discussed in the the next chapter of the handbook.

Optional: Configuring the USE variable

USE is one of the most powerful variables Gentoo provides to its users. Several programs can be compiled with or without optional support for certain items. For instance, some programs can be compiled with support for GTK+ or with support for Qt. Others can be compiled with or without SSL support. Some programs can even be compiled with framebuffer support (svgalib) instead of X11 support (X-server).

Most distributions compile their packages with support for as much as possible, increasing the size of the programs and startup time, not to mention an enormous amount of dependencies. With Gentoo, users can define what options for which a package should be compiled. This is where USE comes into play.

In the USE variable users define keywords which are mapped onto compile-options. For instance, ssl will compile SSL support in the programs that support it. -X will remove X-server support (note the minus sign in front). gnome gtk -kde -qt5 will compile programs with GNOME (and GTK+) support, and not with KDE (and Qt) support, making the system fully tweaked for GNOME (if the architecture supports it).

The default USE settings are placed in the make.defaults files of the Gentoo profile used by the system. Gentoo uses a complex inheritance system for system profiles, which will not be covered in depth during the installation process. The easiest way to check the currently active USE settings is to run emerge --info and select the line that starts with USE:

root #emerge --info | grep ^USE
USE="X acl alsa amd64 berkdb bindist bzip2 cli cracklib crypt cxx dri ..."
Note
The above example is truncated, the actual list of USE values is much, much larger.

A full description on the available USE flags can be found on the system in /var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/use.desc.

root #less /var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/use.desc

Inside the less command, scrolling can be done using the and keys, and exited by pressing q.

As an example we show a USE setting for a KDE-based system with DVD, ALSA, and CD recording support:

root #nano /etc/portage/make.conf
FILE /etc/portage/make.confEnabling flags for a KDE/Plasma-based system with DVD, ALSA, and CD recording support
USE="-gtk -gnome qt5 kde dvd alsa cdr"

When a USE value is defined in /etc/portage/make.conf it is added to the system's USE flag list. USE flags can be globally removed by adding a - minus sign in front of the value in the the list. For example, to disable support for X graphical environments, -X can be set:

FILE /etc/portage/make.confIgnoring default USE flags
USE="-X acl alsa"
Warning
Although possible, setting -* (which will disable all USE values except the ones specified in make.conf) is strongly discouraged and unwise. Ebuild developers choose certain default USE flag values in ebuilds in order to prevent conflicts, enhance security, and avoid errors, and other reasons. Disabling all USE flags will negate default behavior and may cause major issues.

CPU_FLAGS_*

Some architectures (including AMD64/X86, ARM, PPC) have a USE_EXPAND variable called CPU_FLAGS_<ARCH>, where <ARCH> is replaced with the relevant system architecture name.

Important
Do not be confused! AMD64 and X86 systems share some common architecture, so the proper variable name for AMD64 systems is CPU_FLAGS_X86.

This is used to configure the build to compile in specific assembly code or other intrinsics, usually hand-written or otherwise extra, and is not the same as asking the compiler to output optimized code for a certain CPU feature (e.g. -march=).

Users should set this variable in addition to configuring their COMMON_FLAGS as desired.

A few steps are needed to set this up:

root #emerge --ask --oneshot app-portage/cpuid2cpuflags

Inspect the output manually if curious:

root #cpuid2cpuflags

Then copy the output into package.use:

root #echo "*/* $(cpuid2cpuflags)" > /etc/portage/package.use/00cpu-flags

VIDEO_CARDS

The VIDEO_CARDS USE_EXPAND variable should be configured appropriately depending on the available GPU(s). Setting VIDEO_CARDS is not required for a console only install.

Below is an example of a properly set VIDEO_CARDS variable. Substitute the name of the driver(s) to be used.

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf
VIDEO_CARDS="amdgpu radeonsi"

Details for various GPU(s) can be found at the AMDGPU, Intel, Nouveau (Open Source), or NVIDIA (Proprietary) articles.

Optional: Configure the ACCEPT_LICENSE variable

Starting with Gentoo Linux Enhancement Proposal 23 (GLEP 23), a mechanism was created to allow system administrators the ability to "regulate the software they install with regards to licenses... Some want a system free of any software that is not OSI-approved; others are simply curious as to what licenses they are implicitly accepting."[2] With a motivation to have more granular control over the type of software running on a Gentoo system, the ACCEPT_LICENSE variable was born.

During the installation process, Portage considers the value(s) set within the ACCEPT_LICENSE variable to determine if the requested package(s) meet the sysadmin's determination of an acceptable license. Here in lies a problem: the Gentoo ebuild repository is filled with thousands of ebuilds which results in hundreds of distinct software licenses... Does this implicate sysadmin into individually approving each and every new software license? Thankfully no; GLEP 23 also outlines a solution to this problem, a concept called license groups.

For the convenience of system administration, legally-similar software licenses have been bundled together - each according to its like-kind. License group definitions are available for viewing and are managed by the Gentoo Licenses project. While an individual license is not, license groups are syntactically preceded with an @ symbol, enabling them to be easily distinguished in the ACCEPT_LICENSE variable.

Some common license groups include:

A list of software licenses grouped according to their kinds.
Name Description
@GPL-COMPATIBLE GPL compatible licenses approved by the Free Software Foundation [a_license 1]
@FSF-APPROVED Free software licenses approved by the FSF (includes @GPL-COMPATIBLE)
@OSI-APPROVED Licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative [a_license 2]
@MISC-FREE Misc licenses that are probably free software, i.e. follow the Free Software Definition [a_license 3] but are not approved by either FSF or OSI
@FREE-SOFTWARE Combines @FSF-APPROVED, @OSI-APPROVED, and @MISC-FREE.
@FSF-APPROVED-OTHER FSF-approved licenses for "free documentation" and "works of practical use besides software and documentation" (including fonts)
@MISC-FREE-DOCS Misc licenses for free documents and other works (including fonts) that follow the free definition [a_license 4] but are NOT listed in @FSF-APPROVED-OTHER.
@FREE-DOCUMENTS Combines @FSF-APPROVED-OTHER and @MISC-FREE-DOCS.
@FREE Metaset of all licenses with the freedom to use, share, modify and share modifications. Combines @FREE-SOFTWARE and @FREE-DOCUMENTS.
@BINARY-REDISTRIBUTABLE Licenses that at least permit free redistribution of the software in binary form. Includes @FREE.
@EULA License agreements that try to take away your rights. These are more restrictive than "all-rights-reserved" or require explicit approval

Currently set system wide acceptable license values can be viewed via:

user $portageq envvar ACCEPT_LICENSE
@FREE

As visible in the output, the default value is to only allow software which has been grouped into the @FREE category to be installed.

Specific licenses or licenses groups for a system can be defined in the following locations:

  • System wide within the selected profile - this sets the default value.
  • System wide within the /etc/portage/make.conf file. System administrators override the profile's default value within this file.
  • Per-package within a /etc/portage/package.license file.
  • Per-package within a /etc/portage/package.license/ directory of files.

The system wide license default in the profile is overridden within the /etc/portage/make.conf:

FILE /etc/portage/make.confAccept licenses with ACCEPT_LICENSE system wide
# Overrides the profile's ACCEPT_LICENSE default value
ACCEPT_LICENSE="-* @FREE @BINARY-REDISTRIBUTABLE"

Optionally system administrators can also define accepted licenses per-package as shown in the following directory of files example. Note that the package.license directory will need created if it does not already exist:

root #mkdir /etc/portage/package.license

Software license details for an individual Gentoo package are stored within the LICENSE variable of the associated ebuild. One package may have one or many software licenses, therefore it be necessary to specify multiple acceptable licenses for a single package.

FILE /etc/portage/package.license/kernelAccepting licenses on a per-package basis
app-arch/unrar unRAR
sys-kernel/linux-firmware @BINARY-REDISTRIBUTABLE
sys-firmware/intel-microcode intel-ucode
Important
The LICENSE variable in an ebuild is only a guideline for Gentoo developers and users. It is not a legal statement, and there is no guarantee that it will reflect reality. It is recommended to not solely rely on a ebuild developer's interpretation of a software package's license; but check the package itself in depth, including all files that have been installed to the system.

Optional: Updating the @world set

Updating the system's @world set is optional and will be unlikely to perform functional changes unless one or more of the following optional steps have been performed:

  1. A profile target different from the stage file has been selected.
  2. Additional USE flags have been set for installed packages.

Readers who are performing an 'install Gentoo speed run' may safely skip @world set updates until after their system has rebooted into the new Gentoo environment.

Readers who are performing a slow run can have Portage perform updates for package, profile, and/or USE flag changes at the present time:

root #emerge --ask --verbose --update --deep --newuse @world

Removing obsolete packages

It is important to always depclean after system upgrades to remove obsolete packages. Review the output carefully with emerge --depclean --pretend to see if any of the to-be-cleaned packages should be kept if personally using them. To keep a package which would otherwise be depcleaned, use emerge --noreplace foo.

root #emerge --ask --pretend --depclean

If happy, then proceed with a real depclean:

root #emerge --ask --depclean
Tip
If a desktop environment profile target has been selected from a non-desktop stage file, the @world update process could greatly extend the amount of time necessary for the install process. Those in a time crunch can work by this 'rule of thumb': the shorter the profile name, the less specific the system's @world set. The less specific the @world set, the fewer packages the system will require. E.g.:
  • Selecting default/linux/amd64/ will likely require fewer packages to be updated, whereas
  • Selecting default/linux/amd64//desktop/gnome/systemd will likely require more packages to be installed since the profile target has a larger @system and @profile sets: dependencies supporting the GNOME desktop environment.


Timezone

Note
This step does not apply to users of the musl libc. Users who do not know what that means should perform this step.
Warning
Please avoid the /usr/share/zoneinfo/Etc/GMT* timezones as their names do not indicate the expected zones. For instance, GMT-8 is in fact GMT+8.

Select the timezone for the system. Look for the available timezones in /usr/share/zoneinfo/:

root #ls -l /usr/share/zoneinfo
total 352
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root   1120 Jan  7 17:41 Africa
drwxr-xr-x 6 root root   2960 Jan  7 17:41 America
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    280 Jan  7 17:41 Antarctica
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root     60 Jan  7 17:41 Arctic
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root   2020 Jan  7 17:41 Asia
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    280 Jan  7 17:41 Atlantic
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    500 Jan  7 17:41 Australia
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    120 Jan  7 17:41 Brazil
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2094 Dec  3 17:19 CET
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2310 Dec  3 17:19 CST6CDT
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    200 Jan  7 17:41 Canada
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root     80 Jan  7 17:41 Chile
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2416 Dec  3 17:19 Cuba
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   1908 Dec  3 17:19 EET
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    114 Dec  3 17:19 EST
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2310 Dec  3 17:19 EST5EDT
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   2399 Dec  3 17:19 Egypt
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   3492 Dec  3 17:19 Eire
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    740 Jan  7 17:41 Etc
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root   1320 Jan  7 17:41 Europe
...
root #ls -l /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/
total 256
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2933 Dec  3 17:19 Amsterdam
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1742 Dec  3 17:19 Andorra
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1151 Dec  3 17:19 Astrakhan
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2262 Dec  3 17:19 Athens
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3664 Dec  3 17:19 Belfast
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1920 Dec  3 17:19 Belgrade
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2298 Dec  3 17:19 Berlin
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2301 Dec  3 17:19 Bratislava
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2933 Dec  3 17:19 Brussels
...

Suppose the timezone of choice is Europe/Brussels.

OpenRC

The desired timezone name can be written to /etc/timezone:

root #echo "Europe/Brussels" > /etc/timezone

Finally, the sys-libs/timezone-data package can be reconfigured - updating /etc/localtime, based on the /etc/timezone entry:

root #emerge --config sys-libs/timezone-data
Note
The /etc/localtime file is used by the system C library to know the timezone the system is in.

systemd

A slightly different approach is employed when using systemd. A symbolic link is generated:

root #ln -sf ../usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Brussels /etc/localtime

Later, when systemd is running, the timezone and related settings can be configured with the timedatectl command.

Configure locales

Note
This step does not apply to users of the musl libc. Users who do not know what that means should perform this step.

Locale generation

Most users will want to use only one or two locales on their system.

Locales specify not only the language that the user should use to interact with the system, but also the rules for sorting strings, displaying dates and times, etc. Locales are case sensitive and must be represented exactly as described. A full listing of available locales can be found in the /usr/share/i18n/SUPPORTED file.

Supported system locales must be defined in the /etc/locale.gen file.

root #nano /etc/locale.gen

The following locales are an example to get both English (United States) and German (Germany/Deutschland) with the accompanying character formats (like UTF-8).

FILE /etc/locale.genEnabling US and DE locales with the appropriate character formats
en_US ISO-8859-1
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
de_DE ISO-8859-1
de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8
Warning
Many applications require least one UTF-8 locale to build properly.

The next step is to run the locale-gen command. This command generates all locales specified in the /etc/locale.gen file.

root #locale-gen

To verify that the selected locales are now available, run locale -a.

On systemd installs, localectl can be used, e.g. localectl set-locale ... or localectl list-locales.

Locale selection

Once done, it is now time to set the system-wide locale settings. Again eselect is used, now with the locale module.

With eselect locale list, the available targets are displayed:

root #eselect locale list
Available targets for the LANG variable:
  [1]  C
  [2]  C.utf8
  [3]  en_US
  [4]  en_US.iso88591
  [5]  en_US.utf8
  [6]  de_DE
  [7]  de_DE.iso88591
  [8]  de_DE.utf8
  [9] POSIX
  [ ]  (free form)

With eselect locale set <NUMBER> the correct locale can be selected:

root #eselect locale set 2

Manually, this can still be accomplished through the /etc/env.d/02locale file and for systemd the /etc/locale.conf file:

FILE /etc/env.d/02localeManually setting system locale definitions
LANG="de_DE.UTF-8"
LC_COLLATE="C.UTF-8"

Setting the locale will avoid warnings and errors during kernel and software compilations later in the installation.

Now reload the environment:

root #env-update && source /etc/profile && export PS1="(chroot) ${PS1}"

For additional guidance through the locale selection process read also the Localization guide and the UTF-8 guide.

References