A stage file, also known as a stage tarball, is an archive containing a minimal Gentoo environment, typically serving as a seed for a Gentoo install. More precisely, they are profile and instruction set architecture (ISA)-specific seed archives which are designed for the installation and development of Gentoo Linux.
Stage 3 files are the only stage files offered for download by Gentoo's Release Engineering team. They are distributed via the mirror system.
Downloading and decompressing a stage 3 file, as described in the handbook's stage file section, will install an almost-complete and mostly-functional system (the most important parts still missing are a kernel and a bootloader).
The desktop stage files provide extra packages to help setup desktop systems more easily. If planning on installing a desktop system, using a desktop profile, choose the corresponding archive.
Stage 3 files are compiled from stage 2 files, but contain a @system set of packages.
Not including sub-profiles, the base file used for the system set of all profiles can be found at: /var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/base/packages.
A "stage 4" file is a loosely defined term that generally just means a stage 3 with 'extra bits'.
Official "stage 4" files were previously available in January 2016 for the amd64 architecture.
A cloud "stage 4" has been created to aid in the process of virtual machine provisioning. These stage 4 files can be used with diskimage-builder (available via ). See the Gentoo README upstream and official diskimage-builder documentation for more information.
mkstage4 can be used to help create a stage 4 file.
Catalyst is also another tool for power users to deploy Gentoo to multiple machines.
Internal development stages
These stages are used by Gentoo developers to bootstrap the system for release, and are generally not intended for other uses.
Being mostly for development purposes, stage 1 or stage 2 files are unavailable for download.
Stage 1 files are generated from a packages.build file. Each system profile may have a slightly different packages.build file:
Stage 2 files contain the same packages as a stage 1 file with one caveat: stage 2 files are compiled from a stage 1 file. This is to ensure the stage 1 file contains the tool chain necessary to reproduce itself.
- Bootable media — images available for download
- Installation — an overview of the principles and practices of installing Gentoo on a running system.
- https://www.gentoo.org/downloads/ - Gentoo download page with links to official stage files.