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The Gentoo Handbook effort

Introduction

The Gentoo Handbook is an effort to centralize documentation into a coherent handbook. This handbook contains the installation instructions for Internet-based installation approaches and parts about working with Gentoo and Portage.

Architectures

Gentoo Linux is available for many architectures. But what exactly is an architecture?

An architecture is a family of CPUs (processors) who support the same instructions. The two most prominent architectures in the desktop world are the x86 architecture and the x86_64 architecture (for which Gentoo uses the amd64 notation). But many other architectures exist, such as sparc, ppc (the PowerPC family), mips, arm, etc...

A distribution as versatile as Gentoo supports many architectures. For that reason, you'll find that our Gentoo Handbooks are offered for many of the supported architectures. However, that might lead to some confusion as not all users are aware of the differences. Some are only aware of the CPU type or name that their system is a part of (like i686 or Intel Core i7). Below you will find a quick summary of the supported architectures and the abbreviation used in Gentoo. However, most people that do not know the architecture of their system are mostly interested in x86 or amd64.

Viewing the Handbook

The list below gives a high-level overview of the architectures supported by various Gentoo Linux projects. It is important to choose the correct architecture before proceeding with the associated Installation section of a Handbook. Be sure to verify the CPU's architecture before moving onward.

A note for new users: if the CPU is less than five years old and the manufacturer is Intel or AMD, choosing the AMD64 Handbook is probably the correct route.

Note
The arm and arm64 architectures are supported by the Gentoo project but do not yet have a Handbook at their disposal. Please refer to the ARM project and bug #534376 for more information.
Alpha Handbook
The Alpha architecture is a 64-bit architecture developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It is still in use by some mid-range and high-end servers, but the architecture is slowly being faded out. Variants include: ES40, AlphaPC, UP1000, and Noname.
AMD64 Handbook
AMD64 is a 64-bit architecture that is compatible with the x86 architecture (and thus also known as x86_64). It was first used by AMD (under the AMD64 name) and Intel (under the EM64T name) and is now the most prominent architecture for medium and high-end desktop PCs. It is also commonly found in the server segment. Variants include: AMD Athlon 64, AMD Opteron, AMD Sempron processors, AMD Phenom, Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core2, Intel Core i3, i5, i7, and some Intel Atoms.
ARM Handbook
ARM is a 32-bit architecture that is a very popular in embedded and small systems. Sub-architectures range from ARMv1 to ARMv7 (Cortex) and are often found in smart phones, tablets, hand-held consoles, end-user GPS navigation systems, etc. Variants include: StrongARM and Cortex-M.
ARM64 Handbook
ARM64 is a new 64-bit variant of ARM for embedded and server systems. The only sub-architecture is ARMv8 and includes the Cortex-A53, and Cortex-A57 processors which are starting to appear in a variety of SoCs in developer boards, smart phones, tablets etc. Variants include: Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57.
HPPA Handbook
Referred to as HPPA, the PA-RISC architecture is an instruction set developed by Hewlett-Packard and was used in their mid- and high-end server series until about 2008 (after which HP started using Intel Itanium). Variants include: HP 9000 and PA-8600.
IA64 Handbook
IA64 is a 64-bit architecture designed by Intel and used in their Intel Itanium processor series. This architecture is not compatible with x86 or x86_64 (a.k.a. amd64) and is mostly found in medium and high-end server series. Variants include: Intel Itanium.
MIPS Handbook
Developed by MIPS Technologies, the MIPS architecture comprises multiple subfamilies (called revisions) such as MIPS I, MIPS III, MIPS32, MIPS64 and more. MIPS is most common in embedded systems. Variants include: MIPS32 1074K and R16000.
PPC Handbook
PPC is a 32-bit architecture used by many Apple, IBM and Motorola processors. They are most commonly found in embedded systems. Variants include: Apple OldWorld, Apple NewWorld, generi Pegasos, Efika, older IBM iSeries and pSeries.
PPC64 Handbook
PPC64 is the 64-bit variant of the PPC architecture, popular in both embedded as well as high-end performance servers. Variants include: IBM RS/6000s, IBM pSeries, and IBM iSeries.
SPARC Handbook
The SPARC architecture is best known by its most common producers, Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) and Fujitsu. It is used in server systems although a few workstations exist as well. In Gentoo, only SPARC64-compatible CPUs are supported. Variants include: E3000, Blade 1000, and Ultra 2.
X86 Handbook
X86 is a 32-bit architecture used by CPUs that are often said to be "Intel compatible". It was until recently the most popular architecture for desktop PCs. Gentoo offers builds for i486 (supports all families) and i686 (supports Pentium and higher or compatible). Variants include: i486, i686, AMD Athlon, Intel Core, and some Intel Atoms.

Frequently asked questions

Can't the Handbook be dynamically generated for each installation choice?

Everything is possible, but we have opted to only do this on a per-architecture level. Other choices, like partitioning, kernel selection, and package installation are easy enough to explain in a single document.

I cannot find stage1 information in the Handbook. Where do I look?

Instructions on using a stage1 or stage2 tarball are now available in the Gentoo FAQ. A stage3 installation is the only supported method of installation.

How do I improve the Handbook?

Suggestions, comments, or ideas on how to make the Handbook better can be reported to the Handbook project via the Discussion page of the respective article. Documentation is made for the community, so community feedback is well appreciated.

Be aware that most decisions made while developing documentation are based on a consensus-model. It is impossible to write or structure documentation in such a way that renders every reader happy.

Those who open discussions with the goal of improving the Handbook must be able to accept a "No" as an answer. Typically "No" is used when we believe the current implementation is beneficial for the majority of readers.

In order to properly track open issues we ask you to add the {{Talk}} template to each discussion you open, as seen in the following example:

CODE Example open discussion
{{Talk|open|date=March 28, 2017}}
 
Hi, I constructively think this part of the Handbook can be enhanced in this way.
Here is an example of the code/text that will make the improvement:
 
(insert code or text to be improved here.)
 
Kind regards, --~~~~

The --~~~~ code at the end of the example inserts a dated signature when the page is saved or previewed. This code can either be typed in manually or generated by using the Signature and timestamp button in the edit toolbar. Wiki editors will refer to this as 'signing a discussion.' Please remember to sign each comment made on discussion pages.