Sunday, August 01, 2004
- Gentoo brewing
I read up on the whole BSD family and, although I liked what I read, I decided that Gentoo was the way to go. It has the best qualities of BSD from a non-kernel hacker's perspective, and will be more familiar to me as an ex-Mandrake user. So I gave it a try - just from the universal CD, stage 3, and the packages CD, since the system is way too slow to compile everything from source in one go - it would take too many days. Even though I was not getting the "full" Gentoo experience this way, I was injoying the installation. A real do-it-yourself feeling of control. Give me a root prompt and instructions to do what needs to be done. Cool. That way I can stop whenever I want and pick up where I left off, and more importantly understand what is happening more than I did before.
A hardware problem did come to light during the initial setup. The kernel kept going into a panic and saying my memory was probably bad. This was just when copying files around - not even running a customized kernel at that point. I tried swapping out each bank in turn, but couldn't get the problem to go away. So then I figured it was a software incompatibility, and tried different kernels, even different filesystems, but that got me nowhere. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I reseated all the connecting cables inside, and removed some nonessential cards. I doubted it would help at that point, and figured I'd be putting Solaris 7 back on, or trying out FreeBSD instead, but luckily for me the problem went away.
So I was free to continue. I got my filesystems set up, built my kernel, got the system configured in a chrooted environment. Then the instructions said to install GRUB or LILO. I tried grub. It built without incident, but it wouldn't install. I was still running chrooted and the preinstall failed, saying boot was mounted readonly (which I knew it wasn't, since I had just put my bzImage in place). So, next time I come back to it, I'll make a boot floppy and then emerge grub once I'm booted. If worse comes to worst, I can just use LILO of course, but I'd prefer to go with GRUB, having had problems with LILO on my previous Mandrake 8 system.
The next step needs to wait, though, as I'm spending a few days at the cottage before I go on a month-long cycle of business trips.