Top > Notes > Installing Gentoo Linux on an Acer Ferrari

This covers my notes on installing Gentoo Linux 2004.3 (AMD64) on my Acer Ferrari laptop. There are three stages of installing a distribution like Gentoo on a laptop ... the basic installation, getting the hardware devices recognised, and tweaking the final environment to your liking. This page covers all three stages to my liking. As such, it may not be to your liking. If you have any suggestions, you are welcome to contact me.

Please bear in mind if you are looking at this page and thinking "Linux looks hard", that this is a special case. I am using running a 64-bit version of Linux (and you can't get a 64 bit version of Windows unless you can get beta versions at the time of writing), and I am using a distribution of Linux intended to be flexible (and thus more difficult than a normal distribution).

Much of the information to produce the following came from resources on the net. The following were most helpful :-

Oh! And this page is not complete. It will never be complete until I get rid of my Ferrari. And at the moment this page is in an extreme state of flux!

Basic Installation

  1. Boot off the 2004.3 CD.
  2. Do a modprobe tg3 to get the module for the NIC loaded.
  3. The remainder is the same as the installation reference except for the following points.
  4. I opted for a stage 3 install ... on an earlier install (2004.2?), the stage 1 did not compile.
  5. I opted to roll my own kernel using 'development-sources' rather than 'gentoo-dev-sources' with everything possible compiled as modules. But no DRM!
  6. CFLAGS in /etc/make.conf was set to "-O2 -march=athlon64 -pipe".
  7. After doing the necessary steps, I had to leave the laptop for work, so did an emerge gnome vim ethereal to save time later.

Hardware Configuration

Note that anywhere below that says "modprobe xxx", really means add "xxx" to /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6, but modprobe is quicker to write.

X Configuration ... the ATI Drivers

Basically the same as documented here.

Remember to modprobe fglrx and to remove the xtrap module from /etc/X11/xorg.conf. If you merge the changes from the generated configuration file into one you made earlier, ensure you include the Section "dri" part as this allows ordinary users to access the DRI device ... essential for 3D accelleration.

Rather than remerging the ati drivers every time you compile the kernel, extract the original RPM source file from /usr/portage/distfiles and copy to /usr/src :-

  1. cp /usr/src/fglrx64_8_0-8.8.25-1.x86_64.rpm /usr/src
  2. cd /usr/src
  3. rpm2targz fglrx64_8_0-8.8.25-1.x86_64.rpm
  4. gunzip -c fglrx64_8_0-8.8.25-1.x86_64.tar.gz | tar xvf -
  5. rm -rf usr
  6. mv lib fglrx-src

This leaves you with the 'source' of the kernel module needed for the ATI drivers. If you are running 2.6.10 or higher, you need to replace 'pci_find_class' with 'pci_get_class' in fglrx-src/modules/fglrx/build_mod/agpgart_be.c

To rebuild the module :-

  1. cd /usr/src/fglrx-src/modules/fglrx/build_mod
  2. chmod +x; ./
  3. cd ..
  4. chmod +x; ./

USB Mouse

  1. modprobe uhci-hcd (USB bus)
  2. modprobe usbhid (USB mouse plus other interface stuff I'm not interested in)

Plus relevant section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Synaptics TouchPad

  1. emerge synaptics (Compile and install driver for X11)
  2. modprobe psmouse (Touchpad presents itself as a PS/2 mouse)
  3. And of course relevant changes to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Specifically the "TouchPad" input device section.

USB Storage Devices (including builtin flash card reader)

  1. modprobe usb-storage
  2. modprobe ub

The ub module is a new device (with linux 2.6.10) that produces devices under /dev/ub/[letter] instead of presenting USB storage as SCSI devices.

DVD Writer

As a read-only device, it just works (assuming you have support for IDE CDs compiled into the kernel). As for support for writing, just :-

  1. emerge cdrtools.
  2. emerge dvd+rw-tools.
  3. emerge nautilus-cd-burner.

Afterwards it is possible to just drag files to the Nautilus burner window, and write the end result.


Rather than document individual bits, I have just copied the whole file here. Someday I'll add helpful comments to the file.


Diagnostic Software

Software emerged to diagnose installation problems ...

  1. emerge strace : To trace execution ... nifty for finding device permissions problems.
  2. emerge usbutils : Gives the lsusb command which comes in useful for diagnosing USB device problems.
  3. emerge ut2004-demo : Just the thing for a bit of fun ... sorry I mean verifying that 3D accelleration works.
  4. emerge links : Text mode browser for reading HTML documentation.

Useful Software