Install Gentoo

Two ways how to install Gentoo on the AAO are described in this guide. If replacing the internal SSD with a bigger on then the Gentoo installation is as in the Gentoo Handbook . This guide therefore just contains some AAO specific hints and tips.

Common hints

Gentoo is a source code distribution where you have to compile for your CPU. During the Gentoo installation you need to know the compiler flags. Here they are:

CFLAGS="-march=i686 -O2 -pipe" 

It is wise to emerge mc the midnight commander during the installation when you are not a command line specialist. During installation of Gentoo use the desktop profile.

Configure X

In/etc/make.conf add


The configuration works straight forward and a compiz desktop is even possible.

To configure the VGA port check man intel and modify/etc/X11/xorg.conf. Then type xrand that prints the configuration and xrandr --auto to enable the port.


Screens are not monitors, so when you have one screen it has to be linked to both ports. Since the aspire has a wide screen and probably an attached CRT not, one of the two devices has to adapt to the other one.

There is also emerge intel-gpu-tools that contains command line tools to show the details of the Graphical Processing Untit (GPU).


Create a kernel with the uvc driver and use cheese as the application.


Using lspci shows that there is a Atheros AR242x wireless pci adapter. That uses the kernel module ath5k. Atheros 5xxx wireless cards support has to be added in the kernel to get the driver ath5k.

Compile a kernel with the ath5k driver. Then emerge wireless-tools and emerge wpa_supplicant.

Don't configure too much in /etc/conf.d/net it is actually ok when this file is completely empty. Just unmask and emerge knetworkmanager once started manually it has the option to restart automatically on next restart of KDE. There is also a start script/etc/conf.d/NetworkManager.

Now use KnetworkManager to have GUI for Wlan, but also for the wired network.


The AAO uses r8101, the Ethernet driver for the PCI express fast Ethernet controller from realtek. However this driver does not exist anymore in the newest Linux kernels. Using the realtek r8169 driver got loaded instead and works fine.

Compiling the kernel

First you can use the same kernel as Linpus uses, but when having Gentoo, you like to customize it. When compiling the kernel there is the option in the general setup to create a local version. A string will be added to the name of the kernel, /lib/modules/<kernel><string> this string causes problem with modprobe (probably not just) on Gentoo (and not just for modprobe) so disable this kernel option when building a kernel.

Chroot into Gentoo

Create on the SSD a mounting point/mnt/gentoo

Mount the MMC/SD card there, first find out what device is assigned fdisk -l then mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt/gentoo

Copy over the network environment

cp -L /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/

Mount the current running kernel status

mount -t proc none /mnt/gentoo/proc

mount the active device files

mount -o bind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev

Now tell the kernel to take the MCC/SD card instead of the internal SSD (Change root)

chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash

Bring the library links in place


Restore the environmental variables

source /etc/profile

And finally get the prompt updated

export PS1="(chroot) $PS1"

To safely leave the chrooted environment:



umount /mnt/gentoo/dev /mnt/gentoo/proc /mnt/gentoo

Install Gentoo Linux on a SDcard

Gentoo can be installed using Linpus and plugging in the SD card on the right upper SD slot, so Linpus leaves it alone. Follow the installations from however skip the grub and kernel installation, since you have them already. Don't be worried you can update them later.

Large MMC/SD cards are affordable. To have a full blown Gentoo desktop system running and have space for the future a 32GByte MMC/SD card is recommended. Gentoo Linux could also be installed on the internal SSD, however 8GByte would be used up quickly and a hybrid version with some files on the MMC/SD card and some on the internal SSD would be the result. Finally Linpus would be lost. Linpus can be used as a backup Linux during the setup of Gentoo. It probably takes a while until everything runs on Gentoo as desired with all the required device drivers. During setup of Gentoo it is helpful to find out how Linpus deals with the AAO. Since Gentoo is a meta Linux distribution that can be updated on a daily base to have all the time actual versions, it might be happen that some features get lost after updates, so when you need something urgently that runs, switch back to linpus.

Finally for simple tasks as browsing the Internet AAO Linpus works fine.

Since the BIOS does not support to boot from the MMC/SD slot, the internal SSD will be used to boot. This means, it will hold the boot loader and the kernels. The 1GByte swap space that the SSD offers can also be used for Gentoo. After the kernel has booted it can use the Linux kernel device driver included in the kernel to access the MMC/SD card.


The evolution has created different SD (Secure Digital) card standards. Originally there were the Multi Media Cards (MMC) that got superseded by SD cards. Standard SD cards are available up to 4GByte. Luckily the Acer supports SDHC cards up to 32GByte.


It is not foreseen that SDXC cards can be read by SDHC, so it creates a limit for 32GByte for the AAO slot.

The Storage Expansion SD slot on the AAO

The MMC/SD card slot on the lower right corner is foreseen to expand the internal SSD. This is done under Linpus via a volume manager that automatically merges both discs MMC/SD card and internal SSD. This can be considered nice, but it is annoying when a clean standalone Linux version is considered to be installed on the MMC/SD card.

Instead of trying to make Linpus behave differently it is easier to follow the following strategy:

  1. When installing things to the MMC/SD card under Linpus, use the slot on the right.

  2. When working and booting Gentoo or work with Linpus use the left MMC/SD slot.

Type fdisk -l to see what you have:

/dev/sda1 is the internal SSD the * shows that this is a bootable disk

/dev/sda2 is also the internal SSD but this is the swap partitions

/dev/mcblk0p1 is the MMC/SD card ready to get Gentoo Linux! The dev file could also be something as/dev/mcblk1p1, since it is incremented when cards get plugged in and out.

Prepare the boot loader

Aspire boots with grub, but there seems to be a grub version that does not show the menu to select different boot configurations. Rename the acer grub directory to grubacer. However avoid to shut down, since it will not boot anymore. Copy grub binaries over from a Gentoo PC (standard pentium) to a newly created grub directory and use grub.conf from linpus. Delete the hidden menu line and give a timeout=5 for 5 seconds. Copy over the splash image from the grubacer, however it does not work, since the splash.xpm.gz contains a subdirectory inside. Therefore unzip it, go to the splash.xpm subdirectory and gzip splash.xpm to get rid of the subdirectory. Then copy the new splash.xpm.gz to/boot/grub and delete the /boot/grub/splash.xpm directory. Now during the next boot sequence grub pops up showing the Linux splash screen and the menu. Then the menu can be expanded to contain the lines booting gentoo Linux from the SD card, but also to still use Linpus on the acer internal SSD.

Accessing the SDcard

There are drivers necessary to access the MMC/SD card. The drivers are mmc_core, mmc_block and sdhci. They are delivered with the kernel source under device drivers => MMC/SD card support => Secure Digital Host Controller Interface Support. The AAO has a kernel where those drivers are compiled as module. Therefore the kernel will not be able to access the sd card during boot and will stuck with kernel panics. The easiest way is to create a kernel with those modules built into it. This makes it also easy to use more up to date kernel sources.

An other small issue is that the MMC/SD card driver will not be ready when the kernel wants to access the files on it. Passing via grub the parameter rootdelay solves this issue.

Enable the kernel MMC/SD option UNSAFE_RESUME to not unmount the MMC/SD card when go into suspend mode. If it would unmount it, then when awake, it would re-mount it under an other device name and would obviously getting confused.

Note: If you want to read the SD/MMC card on a other computer be aware that many cheap SD/MMC card readers are not able to read 32GByte large SD/MMC cards.

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