On installing Gentoo (onto a Thinkpad T60)

Hi, howdy, hey.

I had one of my dad’s old laptops sitting around collecting dust in my room and suddenly I had the old 4chan /g/ adage pop into my head; “Install Gentoo.” So, me and my bored self set out to do that on this poor thing. Running a Intel Core Duo T2400, 2 gigs of DDR2(?) RAM, a 120GB Sandisk SSD that I picked up years ago (never used in a build, and completely forgotten), a 4:3 ratio screen that I wish never went out of style, and some fans that might not be doing what they are supposed to do.

I managed to get it done on the first try, following the installation handbook to a T, though, with a MBR partition table. It worked, it booted, but networking didn’t (not even with a damn Ethernet cable!). ~3-4 hours down the drain, most likely because I screwed up configuring the kernel manually instead of maybe going down an alternative route using genkernel… Oh well! I’ll just try it again, right?

The next day I got right back to work, wiped the drive clean, set up the partitions again, got the stage3 squared away. This time while selecting a profile I decided to go with one of the desktop options, but I had an issue: it was complaining that sse2 wasn’t supported when I went to emerge! But, it was supported, I did a bit of searching myself to check. I had found a Google Groups thread detailing my issue and it worked, it started compiling things from the desktop profile. But it was taking quite a bit of time, eventually erroring out at qt5 for reasons unknown to me (though, in hindsight, it did seem like it was complaining about not being able to access /usr/src/linux, by then I hadn’t gotten to the kernel install yet). However by that time it was getting rather late so I decided to just move on with the install, eventually deciding to give up after genkernel was taking a considerably long time to compile. The poor laptop was screaming, I had it propped up and I could feel the hot air flow out from the fan/heatsink in the top left corner.

Try #3 was yesterday, everything went fine except for GRUB not compiling, so I tried one of the other bootloader options, which worked… or so I thought. First boot resulted in a kernel panic, something about not being able to load a filesystem type that I didn’t seem to have set (I believe it said VFS? I’m writing this the day after.), it had left me confused and defeated that night and I had originally set it aside for today but instead I decided to kinda finish writing this blog post.

I’ll amend this post with an update when I get back to it, eventually.

2022-01-30 Edit:

Attempt #4 was a success! Didn’t fuck with the use flags at all, stuck with the default CFLAGS too. GRUB compiled with no issues, and booted into a usable system, even networking worked! I’ll be attempting to install LXQT tomorrow…

2022-01-31 Edit:

Running emerge –ask lxqt-base/lxqt-meta put me at ~270 packages to emerge, and this is after tacking Focuswriter on top of it. Terminal “blanked” and the system seemed to have hanged sometime during the Rust compilation (around 1200/2000whatever too! ctrl+c did nothing!), had to forcefully shut it down and restart anew. But before that I had installed a few utilities, specifically with Screen and Htop in mind. If what I had experienced were to happen again I could just ctrl+a and ctrl+d to try and get out of there. I originally planned on doing the rest of the packages tomorrow (which were around 98 left?) but I may just leave it running overnight and hope for the best.

I forgot to mention something yesterday, I didn’t actually know how to use wpa_supplicant! I spent a good 10-20 minutes fiddling around with config files but it turned out I was just over complicating things… I had found a Reddit post where u/zhme had put some simple instructions in the comments, and it worked just fine.


Turns out I’ve been labeling these edits under 2021…

Rust has been compiling for the past 9 and a half hours as of writing this edit, it may not end today.


I’ve finally done it. Everything I wanted to get on this damn laptop is on it. Used www-client/firefox-bin for the sake of my own sanity, and it feels good to have everything working.

obligatory neofetch screenshot.

It still boggles me that some people use Gentoo as a daily driver on hardware from around the same time, and it may be something I may not fully understand, ever. But this experience has been a humbling test of my patience and it paid off. I still wouldn’t recommend that anyone else does this, especially on such old hardware. So do yourself a favor, if you insist on using a thinkpad, get something newer, possibly something with more than 1-2 cores. 😉