You now need to select your timezone so that your system knows where it is located. Look for your timezone in /usr/share/zoneinfo, then make a symlink to /etc/localtime using ln:

# ls /usr/share/zoneinfo
(Suppose you want to use GTM:)
# ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/GMT /etc/localtime
Filesystem Information What is fstab?

Under Linux, all partitions used by the system must be listed in /etc/fstab. This file contains the mountpoints of those partitions (where they are seen in the file system structure), how they should be mounted (special options) and when (automatically or not, can users mount those or not, etc.).

Creating /etc/fstab

/etc/fstab uses a special syntaxis. Every line consists of six fields, seperated by whitespace (space(s), tabs or a mixture). Each field has its own meaning:

  • The first field shows the partition described (the path to the device file)
  • The second field shows the mountpoint at which the partition should be mounted
  • The third field shows the filesystem used by the partition
  • The fourth field shows the mountoptions used by mount when it wants to mount the partition. As every filesystem has its own mountoptions, you are encouraged to read the mount manpage (man mount) for a full listing. Multiple mountoptions are comma-seperated.
  • The fifth field is used by dump to determine if the partition needs to be dumped or not. You can generally leave this as 0 (zero).
  • The sixth field is used by fsck the order in which filesystems should be checked if the system wasn't shut down properly. The root filesystem should have 1 while the rest should have 2 (or 0 in case a filesystem check isn't necessary).

So start nano (or your favorite editor) to create your /etc/fstab:

# nano -w /etc/fstab

Lets take a look at how we write down the options for the /boot partition. This is just an example, so if your architecture doesn't require a /boot partition, don't copy it verbatim.

In our default x86 partitioning example /boot is the /dev/hda1 partition, with ext2 as filesystem. It shouldn't be mounted automatically (noauto) but does need to be checked. So we would write down:

/dev/hda1   /boot     ext2    noauto        1 2

Now, to improve performance, most users would want to add the noatime option as mountoption, which results in a faster system since access times aren't registered (you don't need those generally anyway):

/dev/hda1   /boot     ext2    noauto,noatime    1 2

If we continue with this, we would end up with the following three lines (for /boot, / and the swap partition):

/dev/hda1   /boot     ext2    noauto,noatime    1 2
/dev/hda2   none      swap    sw                0 0
/dev/hda3   /         ext3    noatime           0 1

To finish up, you should add a rule for /proc, tmpfs (required) and for your CD-ROM drive (and ofcourse, if you have other partitions or drives, for those too):

/dev/hda1   /boot     ext2    noauto,noatime    1 2
/dev/hda2   none      swap    sw                0 0
/dev/hda3   /         ext3    noatime           0 1

none        /proc     proc    defaults          0 0
none        /dev/shm  tmpfs   defaults          0 0

/dev/cdroms/cdrom0    /mnt/cdrom    auto      noauto,user    0 0

auto makes mount guess for the filesystem (recommended for removable media as they can be created with one of many filesystems) and user makes it possible for non-root users to mount the CD.

Now use the above example to create your /etc/fstab. If you are a SPARC-user, you should add the following line to your /etc/fstab too:

none        /proc/openprom  openpromfs    defaults     0 0

Reread your /etc/fstab, save and quit to continue.

Networking Information Hostname, Domainname etc.

One of the choices the user has to make is name his PC. This seems to be quite easy, but lots of users are having difficulties finding the appropriate name for their Linux-pc. To speed things up, know that any name you choose can be changed afterwards. For all we care, you can just call your system tux and domain homenetwork.

We use these values in the next examples. First we set the hostname:

# echo tux > /etc/hostname

Second we set the domainname:

# echo homenetwork > /etc/dnsdomainname

If you have a NIS domain (if you don't know what that is, then you don't have one), you need to define that one too:

# echo nis.homenetwork > /etc/nisdomainname
Configuring your Network

Before you get that "Hey, we've had that already"-feeling, you should remember that the networking you set up in the beginning of the gentoo installation was just for the installation. Right now you are going to configure networking for your Gentoo system permanently.

All networking information is gathered in /etc/conf.d/net. It uses a straightforward yet not intuitive syntax if you don't know how to setup networking manually. But don't fear, we'll explain everything :)

First open /etc/conf.d/net with your favorite editor (nano is used in this example):

# nano -w /etc/conf.d/net

The first variable you'll find is iface_eth0. It uses the following syntax:

iface_eth0="<your ip address> broadcast <your broadcast address> netmask <your netmask>"

If you use DHCP (automatic IP retrieval), you should just set iface_eth0 to dhcp. However, if you need to setup your network manually and you're not familiar with all the above terms, please read the section on Understanding Network Terminology if you haven't done so already.

So lets give two examples; the first one uses DHCP, the second one a static IP ( with netmask, broadcast and gateway

(For DHCP:)

(For static IP:)
iface_eth0=" broadcast netmask"

If you have several network interfaces, create extra iface_eth variables, like iface_eth1, iface_eth2 etc. The gateway variable shouldn't be reproduced as you can only set one gateway per computer.

Now save the configuration and exit to continue.

Automatically Start Networking at Boot

To have your network interfaces activated at boot, you need to add those to the default runlevel. If you have PCMCIA interfaces you should skip this action as the PCMCIA interfaces are started by the PCMCIA init script.

# rc-update add net.eth0 default

If you have several network interfaces, you need to create the appropriate net.eth1, net.eth2 etc. initscripts for those. You can use ln to do this:

# cd /etc/init.d
# ln -s net.eth0 net.eth1
# rc-update add net.eth1 default
Writing Down Network Information

You now need to inform Linux about your network. This is defined in /etc/hosts and helps in resolving hostnames to IP addresses for hosts that aren't resolved by your nameserver. For instance, if your internal network consists of three PCs called jenny (, benny ( and tux (this system) you would open /etc/hosts and fill in the values:

# nano -w /etc/hosts     localhost   tux   jenny  benny

If your system is the only system (or the nameservers handle all name resolution) a single line is sufficient:     localhost   tux

Save and exit the editor to continue.

If you don't have PCMCIA, you can now continue with System Information. PCMCIA-users should read the following topic on PCMCIA.

Optional: Get PCMCIA Working

PCMCIA-users should first install the pcmcia-cs package:

# emerge -k pcmcia-cs

When pcmcia-cs is installed, add pcmcia to the boot runlevel:

# rc-update add pcmcia boot
System Information

Gentoo uses /etc/rc.conf for general, system-wide configuration. Open up /etc/rc.conf and enjoy all the comments in that file :)

# nano -w /etc/rc.conf

As you can see, this file is well commented to help you set up the necessary configuration variables. When you're finished configuring /etc/rc.conf, save and exit to continue.