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The Gentoo handbook effort


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.


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 table below gives a high-level overview of the supported architectures. The example set of CPUs or systems is nothing more than an example. If you are still not certain which architecture to pick, please read the first section of the Gentoo Handbook's second chapter (Choosing the Right Installation Medium) as this will elaborate on the supported platforms.
ARM and ARM64 are supported by the Gentoo project but do not yet have a full handbook at their disposal. Please refer to the ARM project for more information.
One page per chapter (many shorter pages) One page per part (longer pages)
Handbook for architecture Description of architecture Installing Gentoo Linux Working with Gentoo Working with Portage Network configuration
Alpha 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.
(ES40, AlphaPC, UP1000, Noname)
Installation Working Portage Networking
AMD64 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.
(AMD Athlon 64, AMD Opteron, AMD Sempron processors, AMD Phenom, Intel Pentium 4, Intel Core2, Intel Core i3, i5, i7, some Intel Atom variants)
Installation Working Portage Networking
ARM This 32-bit architecture is a very popular architecture for 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.

(StrongARM, Cortex-M)

ARM64 This 64-bit architecture is a new arm variant 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.

(Cortex-A53, Cortex-A57)

HPPA 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).
(HP 9000, PA-8600)
Installation Working Portage Networking
IA64 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 (aka amd64) and is mostly found in medium and high-end server series.
(Intel Itanium)
Installation Working Portage Networking
MIPS Developed by MIPS Technologies, the MIPS architecture entails multiple subfamilies (called revisions) such as MIPS I, MIPS III, MIPS32, MIPS64 and more. MIPS is most common in embedded systems.
(MIPS32 1074K, R16000)
Installation Working Portage Networking
PPC A 32-bit architecture used by many Apple, IBM and Motorola processors. They are most commonly found in embedded systems.
(Apple OldWorld, Apple NewWorld, generi Pegasos, Efika, older IBM iSeries and pSeries)
Installation Working Portage Networking
PPC64 The 64-bit variant of the PPC architecture, popular in both embedded as well as high-end performance servers.
(IBM RS/6000s, IBM pSeries, IBM iSeries)
Installation Working Portage Networking
SPARC The SPARC architecture is best known by its most common producers, Sun (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.
(E3000, Blade 1000, Ultra 2)
Installation Working Portage Networking
X86 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).
(i486, i686, AMD Athlon, Intel Core, Intel Atom)
Installation Working Portage Networking

Frequently asked questions

Can't you magically have the handbook dynamically created for each choice?

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

I can't find stage1 information in the Gentoo handbook

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

I disagree with ...

Please report your idea through the Discussion pages of the respective handbook page. Documentation is made for the community, so community feedback is well appreciated.

However, you must know that most decisions made while developing documentation are based on a consensus-model. It is impossible to write/structure documentation in such a way that everybody is happy with it. You must be able to accept a "No" with the reason that we believe the current implementation benefits most people.

In order to properly track open issues we ask you to add the following marker to your question:

CODE Example open discussion
{{InfoBox stack
|{{InfoBox talk open|date=Jul 2 2015}}

This allows us to keep track of issues within the Gentoo Handbook.