With my old Ubuntu installation on my desktop beginning to show signs of implosion (probably a result of the server software that had been installed and then removed once i setup my real server) I felt like trying something new. I’ve managed to come to grips with Ubuntu over the past few years, but I feel somewhat constrained in my explorations in Linux by the ease of use within Ubuntu. So, rather than reinstalling or fixing Ubuntu again, I decided it was time to try a new distribution, one which requires more setup than Ubuntu or even Fedora (which I last tried a couple of years ago). Being comfortable enough within command line to attempt to install a system without any graphics, I decided upon Gentoo.

So, a few days ago I downloaded the minimal installation CD for AMD64, and yesterday I began installing the system on my computer. It turned out not to be the easiest system to setup - although the inclusion of ssh within the live CD allowed me to log in from my laptop (which already has my keyboard layout, Programmer’s Dvorak, setup and running) making the process somewhat easier. It proved to be easy for me to get networking configured with the provided net-setup tool, which meant I was able to download the stage3 tarball (which provides the basic Linux system - excepting the kernel) and then the portage system (which is the package manager). Soon after I got past installing these tarballs (which involved chrooting into the root disk) I ran into my first real struggle. For reasons I have yet to figure out, my kernel did not compile with the correct drivers for my hard drives. After struggling with this for a time - which meant dealing with booting into my live USB (a process which my computer requires me to change my BIOS for every time) I decided to install the software that compiles a generic kernel, figuring I could compile it specifically for my system after I managed to get everything else up and running. Fortunately, once I setup the generic kernel I was but a small modification of the grub.conf file away from booting.

Having gotten the system up and running with the generic kernel, I’ve definitely begun to get into setting up the system. I’ve yet to get to a point where I can test to see if the system actually runs faster than my Ubuntu install did, but I certainly am enjoying being able to pick and choose what systems I will have running on my computer, and not having to remove the choices that other people made for me about the configuration of my system. Having said that, once I have the system configured, I rather hope that it will maintain stability more consistently than Ubuntu has for me, as ts definitely time consuming to manually add sshd and every other service into rc.d.

My next update will speak to my troubles - or successes - in getting graphical services and audio working on my machine.