15 March 2008

Gentoo Linux on Toshiba Satellite A215-S4747

I began by trying to install from the Gentoo LiveCD but was unsuccessful. I then proceeded to do the manual install from the Ubuntu 7.10 AMD64 LiveCD.

Installing from Gentoo 2007.0 AMD64 LiveCD: Unsuccessful
The first problem you encounter is that the gdm will not start properly. For some reason the livecd has a hard time with opengl stuff so after x fails to start do the following:

vim /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Find the following line in the "Device" section:

Driver "ati"

and change it to:

Driver "vesa"

Then comment out the following lines from the "Module" section:
Load "GLcore"
Load "dri"
Load "glx"
Save it.
killall -9 gdm //to make sure the first (sad) attempt at running gdm is dead
gdm //to start the graphical destop

This should be enough to get you into X.

I have been unable to get the network working, nor have I made it past 50% of the tarball extraction in the networkless install. It sounds like the graphical installer has issues when you don't have a network connection set up. And for some reason the livecd doesn't like my network card. It loads the correct module "r8169" but the light on my router just flashes on and off, and I can never get DHCP, nor can I assign an IP address and actually get it to work. I tried net-setup and everything. No luck. I'm going to proceed with a manual install from a terminal on the Ubuntu LiveCD since it gets my network and graphics out of the box.

Installing from terminal on Ubuntu LiveCD: Pending
Theoretically you can install gentoo from any linux live cd, whether it is text mode or graphical mode. I chose the Ubuntu LiveCD because I had it on hand and it boots correctly. That way I can also look up the modules that it loaded for my system so I can get my drivers right the first time.

In terms of the installation, just follow the handbook. I had an idea of what options I needed to select for my kernel build, but the handbook mentions the most important options to select. Many times the best way to find out what options are needed is through trial and error.

Wireless setup:
Download drivers:
XP 64-bit

Extract drivers and take note of where you extracted them.

sudo -i

ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~amd64" emerge ndiswrapper

ndiswrapper -i net5211.inf

ndiswrapper -l
look for something like this:
net5211 : driver installed
device (168C:001C) present (alternate driver: ath_pci)

modprobe ndiswrapper

echo "ndiswrapper" >> /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6
Now you ought to be able to run iwconfig and connect to a network.

I was able to get a base installation running with my wireless working, but when I attempted to emerge gnome, there was a block on one of the dependencies. The package was being blocked by udev which is an important package for the system to operate. After what was probably a poor resolution to this conflict (removal of udev) I began the gnome installation which failed on the compilation of one of the dependencies. It was unclear what the problem was and I didn't have time to investigate it further.

So far Ubuntu Linux has worked the best.

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