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As developers expand Gentoo to new architectures and platforms, they may find there is not any real collection of knowledge which explains all the little details of Portage and moving a platform into the experimental release stage. This document aims to address porting Gentoo to new architectures/platforms/etc...

The example used will port Gentoo Linux to the SuperH (sh) architecture, but the details should be pretty straightforward for other architectures and operating systems.

Getting the system running

This is the hardest step by far (really!). There are two ways to get going. Either start with an existing Linux port out there (Debian, RedHat, some random hobbyist distribution, etc...), or cross compile the entire system. The first route is the easiest, and will be covered in this guide. Simply boot up the system with the existing port and make sure it has all the important packages installed for development. A quick checklist (with recommended minimum versions):

  • binutils (2.20)
  • gcc (4.4)
  • glibc (2.11)
  • python (2.7)
  • rsync
  • wget
  • tar
  • gzip
  • bzip2
  • bash (must be 2.05b or newer, ver 3 is best, accessible as /bin/bash)

Converting to Gentoo

Once these prerequisite packages are installed, Portage can easily be installed too. This script has been written to do the task. Simply download it and run:

root #sh ./bootstrap-portage

Todo: Todo:

  • Move this file to the portage tree and parse the portage ebuild...

Make a profile for the new architecture: first create a local ebuild repository (overlay) with the new profile, then activate both the repository and the profile:

root #mkdir -p /var/db/repos/local/profiles/default/linux/sh
root #cd /var/db/repos/local/profiles/default/linux/sh
root #echo '..' > parent
root #cat << EOF > make.defaults
root #mkdir -p /etc/portage
root #cd /etc/portage
root #echo "PORTDIR_OVERLAY=/var/db/repos/local" >> make.conf
root #ln -sfT ../var/db/repos/local/profiles/default/linux/sh make.profile
To use a newer version of Portage than provided by the bootstrap script, additional steps may be necessary to set up the local ebuild repository and the profile. See the Profile (Portage) and Ebuild repository wiki pages for more information.

Finally, sync up to have a Portage tree!

root #emerge --sync

Preparing a seed for Catalyst

None of the ebuilds in Portage "know" about the new arch, but it is possible to "cheat", with package.keywords and using amd64 as the reference architecture:

root #mkdir -p /etc/portage
root #cd /etc/portage
root #printf '%s x86\n' $(USE="-*" ACCEPT_KEYWORDS=amd64 emerge @system -qep --cols | awk '{print $2}') >> package.keywords

Emerge the system into a new ROOT and create a seed file with the result:

root #env ROOT=~/gentoo-seed/ USE="-*" emerge @system
root #tar jpcf ~/seed.tar.bz2 ~/gentoo-seed/

Preparing a Portage snapshot for Catalyst

Add the sh KEYWORD to all ebuilds in the @system set. It is possible to use the ekeyword command from app-portage/gentoolkit, to automatically update the ebuilds and their manifests:

The following command modifies the ebuilds in-place. Use ekeyword -n instead of ekeyword -m for a dry-run.
root #ekeyword -m $(ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="x86" USE="-*" emerge @system -qep --cols | awk '{print $2, $3}' | sed -e 's_^\([^ /]*\)/\([^ ]*\) \(.*\)$_sh /var/db/repos/gentoo/\1/\2/\2-\3.ebuild_' | sort -u | tr '\n' ' ')
As of December 8, 2018, ekeyword can only handle arches from the official portage repository ('gentoo'). Hence, if using an entirely new arch not yet supported by Gentoo, it may be possible to add the arch to /var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/arch.list as a workaround. See bug #672728 for details.

Once the Portage tree has been updated, create a Catalyst snapshot:

root #catalyst -C target=snapshot version_stamp=sh

Before making stages with catalyst, teach it something about the new arch. Go into /usr/lib/catalyst/arch/ and copy one of the small *.py modules to sh.py. Then edit it to reflect the sh architecture. Finally edit the generic_stage_target.py file in /usr/lib/catalyst/modules/.

Only need to update the targetmap and machinemap variables.

Then try building a stage1 with catalyst and the seed.

root #mkdir -p /var/tmp/catalyst/builds
root #mv ~/seed.tar.bz2 /var/tmp/catalyst/builds/
root #catalyst -C \
  snapshot=sh version_stamp=sh \
  subarch=sh profile=default/linux/sh \
  rel_type=default target=stage1 \

If everything goes well, there should now be a stage 1 file which can be used to build a stage 2 and a stage 3.


For those who dislike the idea of running catalyst by hand, grab this script which will generate the Portage snapshot and stage 1/2/3 files instead. Simply edit the settings at the top of the script (see above for proper settings).

At the end, the seed file must still be moved manually to the catalyst directory.

Pushing work into the Portage tree

So that all this work isn't for nothing, share it :).

Here's what needs to be updated to not commit half broken work (and making other developers very angry).

Create the profiles

The first profile was just a 'make it work' solution. Now a much more complete one must be created. After the profile is committed, update the following files in the profiles/ subdir:

  • arch.list
  • profiles.desc

Declare the profile status in profiles.desc as exp for now (it'll keep people from yelling).

Start committing KEYWORDS

At this point, it's time to start updating ebuilds in the tree with the new KEYWORD.