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Get the ISO image

Good choices are:

  • the architecture appropriate Gentoo Minimal Installation CD
  • SystemRescueCd 5.3.2, which is Gentoo-based. Both 32-bit and 64-bit setups are supported by the same ISO. As of version 6.0.0, SystemRescueCd is based on Arch Linux and dropped 32-bit support (i.e. x86)[1], so in time this alternative might no longer be suitable.
As of August 2018, Gentoo Minimal Installation CD images support both UEFI and legacy boot.

With that being said, almost any modern LiveCD should work for installing Gentoo.

When downloading, adjust the architecture (x86, amd64, arm, sparc, etc.) portion of the URL to match the system's CPU. Gentoo mirrors are here.

Convert the ISO image to hybrid mode

Most modern LiveCD's, like Gentoo are already in hybrid mode. If the LiveUSB does not boot, then it will have to be converted to hybrid mode. Hybrid mode means image will enable the ISO to boot from both a CD-ROM device or a USB drive.

Convert the ISO with the following command:

root #isohybrid filename.iso

The isohybrid command comes as part of the sys-boot/syslinux package.

Write the ISO image to a USB drive

Write the ISO image to a USB drive using the dd utility:

root #dd if=livedvd-amd64-multilib-20160704.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M

The dd utility will not return any progress output on standard output (it can provide some progress output, but not without some finagling). The command will exit without any errors (no output) when it completes the transfer successfully. Depending on the size of the ISO image and the speed of the USB device, this process could some time. Be patient!

Once complete, the USB drive should be bootable.

See LiveUSB/Guide for more installation options.

Boot via the system's firmware interface

When attempting to boot from a USB device, be sure to select or enable USB drives as bootable devices in the system's firmware interface. If the ISO is UEFI capable, it may be necessary to enable booting UEFI devices as well. This is typically performed via toggle options in the BIOS or UEFI firmware interface.

The boot order may need to be adjusted in the system's firmware for USB devices to boot first, although it is usually easier to hit the appropriate key (commonly either F2 or Delete) and manually select the USB device as a one-time boot option from the list of bootable devices.


  1. SystemRescueCd change log, February 2nd, 2019. Retrieved on March 6th, 2019.