Installing Gentoo on an HP Folio 9470m laptop

This post is the instructions list I followed to install Gentoo on my new work laptop: an HP Folio 9470m. It's a mix of the official Installing Gentoo handbook, @ultrabug's french install guide and various resources I found while googling for this specific laptop.

This is mostly intended to be a reminder to future-me, but I'd be more than happy if it's useful to someone else. If so, let me know by writing a comment!

Prepare the USB drive

Boot on the LiveCD (well, LiveUSB drive)

  • boot on the USB drive
  • UNetbootin has a loader that allows you to choose what to boot, choose gentoo
  • you briefly have the option to change your keyboard layout, type the number associated with the layout of your laptop before the default one (US) is loaded

Tip: if the default was loaded before you could change it, and want to get (e.g.) the french layout, type loadkeys fr once you are in the shell.

Set the date

Verify that your clock is correct by typing date.

If not, you can change it via:

date MMJJhhmmAAAA

Configure Wifi

To verify that wpa_supplicant is available on your LiveCD, type /etc/init.d/wpa_supplicant start

You should get this kind of error:

 * Starting WPA Supplicant Daemon
Successfully initialized wpa_supplicant
Failed to open config file 'etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf', error: No such file or directory
Failed to read or parse configuration '/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf'.
 * start-stop-daemon: failed to start '/usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant'
 * Failed to start wpa_supplicant
 * ERROR: wpa_supplicant failed to start

It indicates that wpa_supplicant is installed and that you need to provide it with a valid config file.

Taking info from the Gentoo handbook, edit the following file /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf:

  psk="very secret passphrase"

Now retype /etc/init.d/wpa_supplicant start and you should see:

 * Starting WPA Supplicant Daemon
Successfully initialized wpa_supplicant [ok]

An iwconfig should show that you are connected to your SSID, and an ifconfig should show your IP address.

To verify that you really have Internet access, type ping -c 3 to see the pings.

Partition the disk

You will make a GPT disk here, and use the without-GUI-but-still-excellent gdisk utility. It allows for automatic partition alignment. (see more tips for maximizing SSD performance)

To enter the partition utility, type gdisk /dev/sda. Then:

  • Print the existing partition table by typing p
  • Delete all the existing partitions (if any). Type d and the partition number.
  • Create the bios-boot partition by typing n, partition number by default (1), first sector by default (2048), last sector +2M, partition type ef02
  • Create the boot partition by typing n, partition number by default (2), first sector by default (6144), last sector +512M, partition type by default (8300)
  • Create the swap partition by typing n, partition number by default (3), first sector by default (1054720), last sector +8192M, partition type 8200
  • Create the root partition by typing n, partition number by default (4), first sector by default (17831936), last sector by default (500118158 if you have a 256MB SSD), partition type by default (8300)
  • Rename the boot partition by typing c, partition 2, name boot
  • Rename the swap partition by typing c, partition 3, name swap
  • Rename the root partition by typing c, partition 4, name root
  • Print the partition table to verify it by typing p
  • Write the partition table and quit by typing w, answer y at the warning

Init the partitions

  • Format the partitions
mkfs.ext2 /dev/sda2
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda4
  • Init and activate the swap
mkswap /dev/sda3
swapon /dev/sda3
  • Now mount the partitions
mount /dev/sda4 /mnt/gentoo
mkdir /mnt/gentoo/boot
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/gentoo/boot

All set, you'll now start to configure your final Gentoo system.

Download stage3

You can choose the current stage3 here:

Note the URL for the stage3-amd64-YYYMMDD.tar.bz2 file

Tip: You are better off not choosing a nomultilib file if you want maximum compatibility.

Tip: You can choose a closer mirror to download the stage3.

cd /mnt/gentoo
wget URL_of_your_stage3_file
tar xpf stage3-*.tar.bz2

Install a portage snapshot

To download and install the latest portage snapshot, the easiest way is to use emerge-webrsync.

Prepare your Gentoo system

Before you chroot to your system, you need to prepare it first:

  • copy the DNS info
cp -L /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/
  • mount the filesystems
mount -o remount,nodev,nosuid -t tmpfs shm /dev/shm # to remount shm so you can use it as a temp dir for portage
mount -t proc proc /mnt/gentoo/proc
mount --rbind /sys /mnt/gentoo/sys
mount --rbind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev
  • now chroot in your new environment
chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash
  • adjust a few settings
env-update && source /etc/profile
export PS1="(chroot) $PS1"

From now on, everything you do is in your final system, not on the LiveCD.

Portage profile

The portage profile aims to pre-fill USE flags. Since this is a laptop and you want some graphical UI, choose the desktop profile.

First, type eselect profile list to see the list of available profiles.

Then type eselect profile set X where X is the desktop profile.

While you are at it, choose your Python version:

First, type eselect python list to see the list of available python versions.

Then type eselect python set X where X is the your prefered version.


This laptop has an Intel Core i7-3687U CPU. It's an IvyBridge and as of gcc-4.7, its march is core-avx-i.

So here is the content of /etc/portage/make.conf:

CFLAGS="-march=core-avx-i -O2 -pipe"

MAKEOPTS="-j3" # 2 cores

USE="bindist mmx sse sse2 -ipv6 -kde -gnome xinerama v4l -llvm -llvm-shared-libs"



VIDEO_CARDS="intel i915" # despite being an IvyBridge, the video card is still an i915, not an i965
INPUT_DEVICES="synaptics evdev"

ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="~amd64" # yes, we will accept unstable packages! Crazy us!
FEATURES="buildpkg" # keep a compiled version of packages for speedier further uses 

EMERGE_DEFAULT_OPTS="--keep-going=y --quiet"

If you need to know which CFLAGS you should use with a different processor, you can go to the Gentoo wiki.


You need to specify which locales you want on your system.

Here is the content of /etc/locale.gen enabling the use of US english and french locales:

en_US ISO-8859-1
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
fr_FR ISO-8859-1
fr_FR@euro ISO-8859-15
fr_FR.UTF-8 UTF-8

You then have to run locale-gen to generate all the specified locales.

Finaly, edit your /etc/env.d/02locale file to match your preferences. Here is mine, mostly french, apart from messages:


Don't forget to set your timezone. Type these commands for Paris, France:

echo "Europe/Paris" > /etc/timezone
emerge --config sys-libs/timezone-data

If you live somewhere else, check /usr/share/zoneinfo for a list of all the supported timezones.

You should now reload your environment:

env-update && source /etc/profile
export PS1="(chroot) $PS1"

First global update

Because you changed your portage profile and chose to enable unstable packages, it's good to launch a global update of the system. All "mandatory" packages will thus be installed.

emerge --update --deep --with-bdeps=y --newuse @world

Following this big emerge, you'll probably have to run (check the end of the emerge log to see if other messages exist):

rc-update add kmod-static-nodes sysinit

Now that your system is updated, you can remove obsolete and unused packages

emerge --depclean

Build your kernel

There is a very involving process where you can choose every single piece of code that goes into your kernel, and there is a simple one, where you don't have to decide anything.

This is what you'll choose here, and because the genkernel tool takes its config from what was detected at the LiveCD boot, your kernel will mostly be optimized for your laptop.

  • First, grab the kernel sources and the genkernel util
emerge gentoo-sources genkernel
  • Then copy the config used during the LiveCD boot to the file used by genkernel
zcat /proc/config.gz > /usr/share/genkernel/arch/x86_64/kernel-config
  • Edit the /etc/genkernel.conf file:

    • find MAKEOPTS and set it to -j3
    • set the TMPDIR to /dev/shm/tmp/genkernel
  • You can now launch the kernel building

genkernel all

If all succeeds, you'll see these 2 files in /boot: kernel* and initramfs*

Configure the filesystem

Your partitions are listed in /etc/fstab. Gentoo provides a default file that is not valid and must be modified.

Based on the partitions you made earlier, here is what it should look like:

/dev/sda2   /boot        ext2    defaults,noatime     0 2
/dev/sda3   none         swap    sw                   0 0
/dev/sda4   /            ext4    noatime,discard      0 1

shm         /dev/shm     tmpfs   nodev,nosuid         0 0

Note the discard option for our root partition: since it's on an SSD and the fs is ext4, this will enable the TRIM command.

Also: there is no cdrom drive on this laptop, so no need to write an entry in the fstab.

Configure the network

First, define your hostname in /etc/conf.d/hostname

While you are at it, modify your /etc/hosts to fill your host name:    *your_host_name* localhost

Now, you will install and configure wpa_supplicant to enable wireless networking.

  • install wpa_supplicant (with some other wireless utilities) by typing emerge net-wireless/wpa_supplicant net-wireless/wireless-tools net-wireless/iw

  • as you did previously, edit the /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel

  psk="very secret passphrase"
  • now edit the /etc/conf.d/net file:
config_wlo1="dhcp" # wireless interface for this laptop. Run ifconfig to see yours.
config_enp0s25="dhcp" # lan interface for this laptop. Run ifconfig to see yours.
  • and to automatically start networking at boot, type the following commands:
cd /etc/init.d
ln -s net.lo net.wlo1
ln -s net.lo net.enp0s25
rc-update add net.wlo1 default
rc-update add net.enp0s25 default
  • for linux to be able to start the wireless interface, you need to install a microcode for it. This laptop needs the sys-firmware/iwl6005-ucode ebuild:
emerge sys-firmware/iwl6005-ucode
  • finally, don't forget to install a dhcp client by typing emerge dhcpcd

Configure keymap and hwclock

Some misc config now:

  • edit the /etc/conf.d/keymaps file to reflect your keyboard
  • edit the /etc/conf.d/hwclock file and set it to "UTC" "or "local" depending on your BIOS setting. If you came from or dual-boot with Windows, it will be "local".

Change the root password

Just type passwd. This is the root password. You know what it means.

Install some necessary system tools

  • metalog will be your system logger. To install it, type emerge metalog && rc-update add metalog default.
  • the cron daemon will be cronie. Type emerge cronie && rc-update add cronie default
  • install a NTP daemon: emerge ntp && rc-update add ntpd default
  • install ACPI (power button, fans, battery...): emerge acpid && rc-update add acpid default
  • install some useful utils: emerge gentoolkit portage-utils iproute2
  • want to use your mouse in the console? Install gpm : emerge gpm && rc-update add gpm default
  • to run SSH at boot: rc-update add sshd default

Install a bootloader

  • install GRUB2: emerge sys-boot/grub
  • now install the necessary GRUB2 files in your boot disk: grub2-install /dev/sda
  • generate the GRUB2 configuration: grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg


Before you can reboot, you have to do some cleaning:

  • type exit to exit the chroot
  • get back to root by typing cd
  • delete the stage3 and portage archives: rm /mnt/gentoo/stage3-* && rm /mnt/gentoo/portage-latest*
  • unmount all the partitions
umount -l /mnt/gentoo/dev{/shm,/pts,}
umount -l /mnt/gentoo{/boot,/proc,/sys,}
  • and now, unplug your USB drive and type reboot

You now have a working Gentoo distribution installed on your laptop. It's time to configure it further.

Install X

  • Install the X11 server:
emerge xorg-server

You will now configure some settings, like the keyboard layout or the touchpad functions.

First, if it does not exist already, create the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d directory.

If you don't want to use the default (US) keyboard layout, create the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-keyboard.conf file, containing the following:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier      "Internal Keyboard"
    MatchIsKeyboard     "True"
    Option "XkbLayout"  "fr" # or whatever your layout is

This laptop has a synaptics touchpad, so create the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf file, containing:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier              "Touchpad"
    Driver                  "synaptics"
    MatchIsTouchpad         "True"
    Option "VertEdgeScroll" "off"
    Option "TapButton1"     "1"
    Option "TapButton2"     "2"
    Option "TapButton3"     "3"
    Option "VertTwoFingerScroll"    "1"
    Option "HorizTwoFingerScroll"   "1"

You can find the list of available options in the man synaptics page.

  • Install a display manager: SLiM
emerge x11-misc/slim

Then set SLiM as your default display manager by setting DISPLAYMANAGER="slim" in /etc/conf.d/xdm

You'll need to modify the /etc/slim.conf file to set the login_cmd to the line login_cmd exec /bin/bash -login ~/.xinitrc %session and comment the 2 others.

To start SLiM at boot, add xdm to your default runlevel: rc-update add xdm default

Debug tip for later: if when you login with SLiM, it seems that no Window Manager is loading, type: rc-update add dbus default

  • Install i3
emerge x11-wm/i3 i3status

Then edit your ~/.xinitrc to be just: exec i3

  • Install a terminal
emerge terminator

Verify the webcam

To test the webcam, use mplayer (emerge it before):

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:device=/dev/video0

If you are in an X session, your video should show. Otherwise, you should see a frame counter rolling. That's good.

Get sound

Install alsa-utils

emerge alsa-utils && rc-update add alsasound default

If you don't get any sound, launch alsamixer to unmute (type m)

That's it... for now!

Everything should work now - mostly. Of course, there is still some tweaking left!

In an upcoming post, I'll detail the exact config files I used for this hardware, including for the kernel.