Stage tarball

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A Stage tarball is an archive of the basic files used for the installation of Gentoo Linux. Stage tarballs can be generated with catalyst using the appropriate specs files.

Stage1 and stage2 tarballs are for development purposes only and are not intended for users.

Stage 1

Stage 1 tarballs are generated from a file. Each system profile may have a slightly different file:

  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/arch/riscv/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/default/linux/musl/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/default/linux/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/default/linux/uclibc/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/features/musl/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/features/uclibc/
  • var/db/repos/gentoo/profiles/targets/systemd/

Stage 2

Stage 2 tarballs contain the same packages as a stage 1 tarball with one caveat: stage 2 tarballs are compiled from a stage 1 tarball. This is to ensure the stage 1 tarball contains the tool chain necessary to reproduce itself.

Stage 3

Stage 3 tarballs are compiled from stage 2 tarballs, but contain a system set. Portage includes a quick reference to this set of base packages by using the @system set operator.

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

Stage 3 tarballs offered in architecture specific versions are available the downloads page; they are hosted on (navigate to the <arch>/autobuilds/ directory).

Downloading and decompressing a stage 3 tarball as described in Gentoo Handbook will install an almost-complete and almost-functional system (the most important parts still missing are a kernel and a bootloader).

Stage 4

Official stage 4 tarballs became available in January 2016 for the amd64 architecture on These tarballs contain a kernel and bootloader and therefore provide a bootable system. No automatic network detection is attempted, however, so they are not intended to replace the usual Handbook-based installation method starting from a minimal installation CD or Gentoo LiveDVD and a stage3 tarball. (The LiveDVD can be used to get a full, working Gentoo desktop system without first installing Gentoo. Users with access to the appropriate commands can also create a LiveUSB.)

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 app-emulation/diskimage-builder). See the Gentoo README upstream and official diskimage-builder documentation for more information.

External resources