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SPARC Handbook
About the installation
Choosing the media
Configuring the network
Preparing the disks
Installing stage3
Installing base system
Configuring the kernel
Configuring the system
Installing tools
Configuring the bootloader
Working with Gentoo
Portage introduction
USE flags
Portage features
Initscript system
Environment variables
Working with Portage
Files and directories
Mixing software branches
Additional tools
Custom package repository
Advanced features
Network configuration
Getting started
Advanced configuration
Modular networking
Adding functionality
Dynamic management

Hardware requirements

Before we start, we first list what hardware requirements are needed to successfully install Gentoo on a sparc box.

Sparc System Please check the Gentoo Linux/SPARC64 compatibility list or the UltraLinux FAQ
CPU Currently support is limited to SPARC64 CPUs
Memory 64 MB
Disk space 1.5 GB (excluding swap space)
Swap space At least 256 MB

Installation method

Below we cover how to install Gentoo Linux on a sparc system using the minimal installation CD. Gentoo also supports installation from a TFTP netboot image. For more information, please see the Sparc/Netboot article for setting up a netboot server, and find the TFTPBoot images on the Gentoo mirrors under experimental/sparc/tftpboot/sparc64/.

Gentoo Linux installation media

Minimal installation CD

As of April 20, 2017 the official Minimal CDs are incapable of booting in UEFI mode. They boot in BIOS (MBR) mode only. Readers looking to make their system UEFI bootable must download the latest Hybrid ISO (LiveDVD).

The Gentoo minimal installation CD is a bootable image which contains a self-sustained Gentoo environment. It allows the user to boot Linux from the CD or other installation media. During the boot process the hardware is detected and the appropriate drivers are loaded. The image is maintained by Gentoo developers and allows anyone to install Gentoo if an active Internet connection is available.

The Minimal Installation CD is called install-sparc-minimal-<release>.iso.

The occasional Gentoo LiveDVD

Occasionally, a special DVD is crafted by the Gentoo Ten project which can be used to install Gentoo. The instructions further down this chapter target the Minimal Installation CD so might be a bit different. However, the LiveDVD (or any other bootable Linux environment) supports getting a root prompt by just invoking sudo su - or sudo -i in a terminal.

What are stages then?

A stage3 tarball is an archive containing a minimal Gentoo environment, suitable to continue the Gentoo installation using the instructions in this manual. Previously, the Gentoo Handbook described the installation using one of three stage tarballs. While Gentoo still offers stage1 and stage2 tarballs, the official installation method uses the stage3 tarball. If you are interested in performing a Gentoo installation using a stage1 or stage2 tarball, please read the Gentoo FAQ on How do I install Gentoo using a stage1 or stage2 tarball?

Stage3 tarballs can be downloaded from releases/sparc/autobuilds/ on any of the official Gentoo mirrors. Stage files update frequently and are not included on the installation images.


Obtain the media

The default installation media that Gentoo Linux uses are the minimal installation CDs, which host a bootable, very small Gentoo Linux environment. This environment contains all the right tools to install Gentoo. The CD images themselves can be downloaded from the downloads page (recommended) or by manually browsing to the ISO location on one of the many available mirrors.

If downloading from a mirror, the minimal installation CDs can be found as follows:

  1. Go to the releases/ directory.
  2. Select the directory for the relevant target architecture (such as sparc/).
  3. Select the autobuilds/ directory.
  4. For amd64 and x86 architectures select either the current-install-amd64-minimal/ or current-install-x86-minimal/ directory (respectively). For all other architectures navigate to the current-iso/ directory.
Some target architectures such as arm, mips, and s390 will not have minimal install CDs. At this time the Gentoo Release Engineering project does not support building .iso files for these targets.

Inside this location, the installation media file is the file with the .iso suffix. For instance, take a look at the following listing:

CODE Example list of downloadable files at releases/sparc/autobuilds/current-iso/
[DIR] hardened/                                          05-Dec-2014 01:42    -   
[   ] install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso                 04-Dec-2014 21:04  208M  
[   ] install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.CONTENTS        04-Dec-2014 21:04  3.0K  
[   ] install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.DIGESTS         04-Dec-2014 21:04  740   
[TXT] install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.DIGESTS.asc     05-Dec-2014 01:42  1.6K  
[   ] stage3-sparc-20141204.tar.bz2                      04-Dec-2014 21:04  198M  
[   ] stage3-sparc-20141204.tar.bz2.CONTENTS             04-Dec-2014 21:04  4.6M  
[   ] stage3-sparc-20141204.tar.bz2.DIGESTS              04-Dec-2014 21:04  720   
[TXT] stage3-sparc-20141204.tar.bz2.DIGESTS.asc          05-Dec-2014 01:42  1.5K

In the above example, the install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso file is the minimal installation CD itself. But as can be seen, other related files exist as well:

  • A .CONTENTS file which is a text file listing all files available on the installation media. This file can be useful to verify if particular firmware or drivers are available on the installation media before downloading it.
  • A .DIGESTS file which contains the hash of the ISO file itself, in various hashing formats/algorithms. This file can be used to verify if the downloaded ISO file is corrupt or not.
  • A .DIGESTS.asc file which not only contains the hash of the ISO file (like the .DIGESTS file), but also a cryptographic signature of that file. This can be used to both verify if the downloaded ISO file is corrupt or not, as well as verify that the download is indeed provided by the Gentoo Release Engineering team and has not been tampered with.

Ignore the other files available at this location for now - those will come back when the installation has proceeded further. Download the .iso file and, if verification of the download is wanted, download the .DIGESTS.asc file for the .iso file as well. The .CONTENTS file does not need to be downloaded as the installation instructions will not refer to this file anymore, and the .DIGESTS file should contain the same information as the .DIGESTS.asc file, except that the latter also contains a signature on top of it.

Verifying the downloaded files

This is an optional step and not necessary to install Gentoo Linux. However, it is recommended as it ensures that the downloaded file is not corrupt and has indeed been provided by the Gentoo Infrastructure team.

Through the .DIGESTS and .DIGESTS.asc files, the validity of the ISO file can be confirmed using the right set of tools. This verification is usually done in two steps:

  1. First, the cryptographic signature is validated to make sure that the installation file is provided by the Gentoo Release Engineering team
  2. If the cryptographic signature validates, then the checksum is verified to make sure that the downloaded file itself is not corrupted

Microsoft Windows based verification

On a Microsoft Windows system, chances are low that the right set of tools to verify checksums and cryptographic signatures are in place.

To first verify the cryptographic signature, tools such as GPG4Win can be used. After installation, the public keys of the Gentoo Release Engineering team need to be imported. The list of keys is available on the signatures page. Once imported, the user can then verify the signature of the .DIGESTS.asc file.

This does not verify that the .DIGESTS file is correct, only that the .DIGESTS.asc file is. That also implies that the checksum should be verified against the values in the .DIGESTS.asc file, which is why the instructions above only refer to downloading the .DIGESTS.asc file.

The checksum itself can be verified using the Hashcalc application, although many others exist as well. Most of the time, these tools will show the user the calculated checksum, and the user is requested to verify this checksum with the value that is inside the .DIGESTS.asc file.

Linux based verification

On a Linux system, the most common method for verifying the cryptographic signature is to use the app-crypt/gnupg software. With this package installed, the following commands can be used to verify the cryptographic signature of the .DIGESTS.asc file.

First, download the right set of keys as made available on the signatures page:

user $gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 0xBB572E0E2D182910
gpg: requesting key 0xBB572E0E2D182910 from hkp server pool.sks-keyservers.net
gpg: key 0xBB572E0E2D182910: "Gentoo Linux Release Engineering (Automated Weekly Release Key) <releng@gentoo.org>" 1 new signature
gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, classic trust model
gpg: depth: 0  valid:   3  signed:  20  trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 3u
gpg: depth: 1  valid:  20  signed:  12  trust: 9-, 0q, 0n, 9m, 2f, 0u
gpg: next trustdb check due at 2018-09-15
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:         new signatures: 1

Next verify the cryptographic signature of the .DIGESTS.asc file:

user $gpg --verify install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.DIGESTS.asc
gpg: Signature made Fri 05 Dec 2014 02:42:44 AM CET
gpg:                using RSA key 0xBB572E0E2D182910
gpg: Good signature from "Gentoo Linux Release Engineering (Automated Weekly Release Key) <releng@gentoo.org>" [unknown]
gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
gpg:          There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
Primary key fingerprint: 13EB BDBE DE7A 1277 5DFD  B1BA BB57 2E0E 2D18 2910

To be absolutely certain that everything is valid, verify the fingerprint shown with the fingerprint on the Gentoo signatures page.

With the cryptographic signature validated, next verify the checksum to make sure the downloaded ISO file is not corrupted. The .DIGESTS.asc file contains multiple hashing algorithms, so one of the methods to validate the right one is to first look at the checksum registered in the .DIGESTS.asc file. For instance, to get the SHA512 checksum:

user $grep -A 1 -i sha512 install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.DIGESTS.asc
364d32c4f8420605f8a9fa3a0fc55864d5b0d1af11aa62b7a4d4699a427e5144b2d918225dfb7c5dec8d3f0fe2cddb7cc306da6f0cef4f01abec33eec74f3024  install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso
0719a8954dc7432750de2e3076c8b843a2c79f5e60defe43fcca8c32ab26681dfb9898b102e211174a895ff4c8c41ddd9e9a00ad6434d36c68d74bd02f19b57f  install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso.CONTENTS

In the above output, two SHA512 checksums are shown - one for the install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso file and one for its accompanying .CONTENTS file. Only the first checksum is of interest, as it needs to be compared with the calculated SHA512 checksum which can be generated as follows:

user $sha512sum install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso
364d32c4f8420605f8a9fa3a0fc55864d5b0d1af11aa62b7a4d4699a427e5144b2d918225dfb7c5dec8d3f0fe2cddb7cc306da6f0cef4f01abec33eec74f3024  install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso

As both checksums match, the file is not corrupted and the installation can continue.

Burning a disk

Of course, with just an ISO file downloaded, the Gentoo Linux installation cannot be started. The ISO file needs to be burned on a CD to boot from, and in such a way that its content is burned on the CD, not just the file itself. Below a few common methods are described - a more elaborate set of instructions can be found in Our FAQ on burning an ISO file.

Burning with Microsoft Windows

On Microsoft Windows, a number of tools exist that support burning ISOs on CDs.

  • With EasyCD Creator, select File, Record CD from CD image. Then change the Files of type to ISO image file. Then locate the ISO file and click Open. After clicking on Start recording the ISO image will be burned correctly onto the CD-R.
  • With Nero Burning ROM, cancel the wizard which automatically pops up and select Burn Image from the File menu. Select the image to burn and click Open. Now hit the Burn button and watch the brand new CD being burnt.

Burning with Linux

On Linux, the ISO file can be burned on a CD using the cdrecord command, part of the app-cdr/cdrtools package.

For instance, to burn the ISO file on the CD in the /dev/sr0 device (this is the first CD device on the system - substitute with the right device file if necessary):

user $cdrecord dev=/dev/sr0 install-sparc-minimal-20141204.iso

Users that prefer a graphical user interface can use K3B, part of the kde-apps/k3b package. In K3B, go to Tools and use Burn CD Image. Then follow the instructions provided by K3B.


Booting the installation CD

Insert the Gentoo installation CD in the CD-ROM and boot the system. During startup, press Stop + A to enter OpenBootPROM (OBP). Once in the OBP, boot from the CD-ROM:

okboot cdrom

The SILO boot manager (on the installation CD) is then started. Hit Enter for more help. Type in gentoo and press Enter to continue booting the system:


Once the Installation CD is booted, a root ("#") prompt will be displayed on the current console. There will also be a root prompt on the serial console (ttyS0).

Extra hardware configuration

When the Installation medium boots, it tries to detect all the hardware devices and loads the appropriate kernel modules to support the hardware. In the vast majority of cases, it does a very good job. However, in some cases it may not auto-load the kernel modules needed by the system. If the PCI auto-detection missed some of the system's hardware, the appropriate kernel modules have to be loaded manually.

In the next example the 8139too module (which supports certain kinds of network interfaces) is loaded:

root #modprobe 8139too

Optional: User accounts

If other people need access to the installation environment, or there is need to run commands as a non-root user on the installation medium (such as to chat using irssi without root privileges for security reasons), then an additional user account needs to be created and the root password set to a strong password.

To change the root password, use the passwd utility:

root #passwd
New password: (Enter the new password)
Re-enter password: (Re-enter the password)

To create a user account, first enter their credentials, followed by the account's password. The useradd and passwd commands are used for these tasks.

In the next example, a user called john is created:

root #useradd -m -G users john
root #passwd john
New password: (Enter john's password)
Re-enter password: (Re-enter john's password)

To switch from the (current) root user to the newly created user account, use the su command:

root #su - john

Optional: Viewing documentation while installing


To view the Gentoo handbook during the installation, first create a user account as described above. Then press Alt+F2 to go to a new terminal.

During the installation, the links command can be used to browse the Gentoo handbook - of course only from the moment that the Internet connection is working.

user $links https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Handbook:SPARC

To go back to the original terminal, press Alt+F1.

GNU Screen

The GNU Screen utility is installed by default on official Gentoo installation media. It may be more efficient for the seasoned Linux enthusiast to use screen to view installation instructions via split panes rather than the multiple TTY method mentioned above.

Optional: Starting the SSH daemon

To allow other users to access the system during the installation (perhaps to support during an installation, or even do it remotely), a user account needs to be created (as was documented earlier on) and the SSH daemon needs to be started.

To fire up the SSH daemon, execute the following command:

root #service sshd start
If users log on to the system, they will see a message that the host key for this system needs to be confirmed (through what is called a fingerprint). This behavior is typical and can be expected for initial connections to an SSH server. However, later when the system is set up and someone logs on to the newly created system, the SSH client will warn that the host key has been changed. This is because the user now logs on to - for SSH - a different server (namely the freshly installed Gentoo system rather than the live environment that the installation is currently using). Follow the instructions given on the screen then to replace the host key on the client system.

To be able to use sshd, the network needs to function properly. Continue with the chapter on Configuring the network.