Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Living the Gentoo life!

It was a while back when I did my Gentoo review on my iBook G4. I was really liked how well it performed but the one drawback was the compile time. Well I have decided to run with Gentoo again. This time I am using my PowerBook G4 (it is back from the dead!!) and my PowerMac G5. It has been a few weeks and it has been both challenging and fun. Pretty much everything I did in my previous review was the same but I would like to take some time and go over some specifics.

Kernel Compiling

When it comes time to compile your kernel, there are two commands that will give you what you need to have a bootable kernel. Then you can go in and make your tweaks.

G3 and G4 machines use: make pmac32_defconfig
G5 machines use: make g5_defconfig

Now that you have your base kernel you can use make menuconfig to make your needed edits. Be sure to follow the Gentoo PPC FAQ for the graphics and sound sections. If you follow that then you should be ok with the kernel. If I would have started using defconfigs from the begging I would have saved hours of work!


The latest version of yaboot is broken and if you try to use to install the boot loader you will not be able to boot. Thankfully the version of yaboot on the live cd works fine and here is how you use it.

First you need to have your fstab file set up. The PPC:Handbook's filesystem section covers this well. At this point of the install you are still chroot in you new enviroment, now you are going to leave by entering exit. Once you are out to set up yaboot use this command: yabootconfig --chroot /mnt/gentoo. Just answer the questions provided and you should have a working yaboot.conf file. Finally since this will be the inital load you will enter this: mkofboot -v -C /mnt/gentoo/etc/yaboot.conf. Now you should be ready to boot. If you do run into issues booting into your system, go back into the live CD and edit the device section of yaboot.conf and set it to hd:. Then reload with ybin -v -C /mnt/gentoo/etc/yaboot.conf. This should be the only change you need.

Final Thoughts

Living in Gentoo has been a lot of work. As time permits I will be sharing some of the challenges I ran into. Yet I must say I have really come to love living in Gentoo. I have learned so much about how Linux works as an OS just by using Gentoo and getting to work on my PowerPC machines. Yes the compile times are sometime long (I left it running overnight to build xorg and xfce). However what you get in the end is a system that you can truely say you built from the ground up. There is a level of satisfaction with that.