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Bootable 64-bit Gentoo image for the Raspberry Pi4B, 3B & 3B+, with Linux 4.19, OpenRC, Xfce4, VC4/V3D, camera and h/w codec support, weekly-autobuild binhost
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README.md

gentoo-on-rpi-64bit

Bootable 64-bit Gentoo image for the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, and Pi 3 B and B+, with Linux 4.19, OpenRC, Xfce4, VC4/V3D, camera & h/w codec support, profile 17.0, weekly-autobuild binhost

Description

[Raspberry Pi 4B, 3B and B+]

This project is a bootable, microSD card 64-bit Gentoo image for the Raspberry Pi 4 model B, 3 model B and 3 model B+ single board computers (SBC).

The image's userland contains a complete (OpenRC-based) Gentoo system (including a full Portage tree) - so you can run emerge operations immediately - and has been pre-populated with a reasonable package set (Xfce v4.12, LibreOffice v6.3.0.4, Firefox Quantum v68.0.2, Chromium v76.0.3809.87, Thunderbird v60.8.0, VLC v3.0.7.1, Kodi v18.0, GIMP v2.10.12 etc.) so that you can get productive without having to compile anything first! Unless you want to, of course; this being Gentoo, GCC v9.2.0, Clang v8.0.1, IcedTea v3.13.0 (OpenJDK 8), Go v1.12.9, Rust v1.37.0 and various versions of Python are of course bundled also ^-^ As of version 1.2.0 of the image, all userland software has been built under Gentoo's 17.0 profile, and, as of version 1.5.0 of the image, the new RPi4 Model B is also supported (and to reflect this, the project itself has been renamed, from gentoo-on-rpi3-64bit to gentoo-on-rpi-64bit ^-^).

The kernel and userland are both 64-bit (arm64/aarch64), and support for the Pi's VC4 GPU (VC6 on the Pi4) has been included (using vc4-fkms-v3d / Mesa), so rendering performance is reasonable (e.g., glxgears between 400 and 1200fps, depending on load and system type; real-time video playback). The Pi's onboard Ethernet, WiFi (dual-band on the RPi3 B+ / Pi4 B) and Bluetooth adaptors are supported, as is the official 7" touchscreen (if you have one). Sound works too, both via HDMI (given an appropriate display), and the onboard headphone jack. As of version 1.1.0 of the image, a weekly-autobuild binhost, custom Gentoo profile, and binary kernel package have been provided, making it relatively painless to keep your system up-to-date (and, because of this, genup has been configured to run automatically once per week, by default). As of version 1.4.0 of the image, access to the RPi3's hardware video codecs (and camera module, if you have one) is supported too, via the V4L2 framework, and, as of version 1.5.0, these features are available on the RPi4 also. Additionally, on the RPi4, the use of dual monitors is supported (but not required) as of version 1.5.0 (as is accelerated graphics, via V3D / Mesa). And, there is no 3GiB 'memory ceiling' anymore: if you are fortunate enough to own a 4GiB Pi4, all 4GiB of that RAM is usable.

Here's a screenshot of the image running on a dual-display RPi4 B (click to show a higher resolution view):

[gentoo-on-rpi-64bit in use on Pi4 (screenshot)]

The image may be downloaded from the link below (or via wget, per the instructions which follow).

Variant Version Image Digital Signature
Raspberry Pi 4B, 3B/B+ 64-bit Full v1.5.1 genpi64.img.xz genpi64.img.xz.asc
Raspberry Pi 4B, 3B/B+ 64-bit Lite v1.5.1 genpi64lite.img.xz genpi64lite.img.xz.asc

NB: most users will want the first, full image (genpi64.img.xz) - the 'lite' variant (genpi64lite.img.xz) boots to a command-line (rather than a graphical desktop), and is intended only for experienced Gentoo users (who wish to to e.g. set up a server).

Please note that as of v1.5.1, the Pi-Top (a DIY, RPi3-based laptop) pre-built image will unfortunately no longer be provided as part of this project. My Pi-Top v1's hub has recently suffered a hardware failure, leaving me unable to charge the internal battery, or boot an RPi3 in its chassis. As such, I am unable to test this variant of the image going forward - and I am not comfortable releasing images I haven't tested myself. You should still be able to bring up the Pi-Top specific drivers on the 'full' standard image above, by setting the pitop USE flag globally, and then re-emerging rpi-64bit-meta however. My apologies for the inconvenience to users on this platform ><

The previous release versions are still available (together with a detailed changelog) here. If you have a significant amount of work invested in an older release of this image, I have also provided manual upgrade instructions (from 1.0.0 thru 1.5.0 → 1.5.1) here (note that due to the addition of RPi4-compatibility in 1.5.0, you cannot simply upgrade via genup alone; some manual steps are required).

Please read the instructions below before proceeding. Also please note that all images (and binary packages) are provided 'as is' and without warranty. You should also be comfortable with the (at the moment, unavoidable) non-free licenses required by the firmware and boot software supplied on the image before proceeding: these may be reviewed here.

It is sensible to install Gentoo to a separate microSD card from that used by your default Raspbian system; that way, when you are finished using Gentoo, you can simply power off, swap back to your old card, reboot, and your original system will be just as it was.

Please also note that support for arm64 is still in its early stages with Gentoo, so it is quite possible that you may encounter strange bugs etc. when running a 64-bit image such as this one. A lot of packages have been * ~* keyworded to get the system provided here to build... but hey, if you like Gentoo, little things like that aren't likely to put you off ^-^

Table of Contents

Prerequisites

To try this out, you will need:

  • For the full image (which most users will want), a microSD card of at least 16GB capacity (as this image is 1,720MiB compressed, 12.25GiB == 13.15GB uncompressed, so it should fit on any card marked as >= 16GB). For the 'lite' image, a card marked as >= 8GB should suffice (as this image is 664MiB compressed, 7.25GiB == 7.78GB uncompressed). If you intend to build many additional large packages (or kernels) on your RPi, a card of >16GB is recommended (the root partition will automatically be expanded to fill the available space on your microSD card, on first boot). Depending on the slots available on your PC, you may also need an adaptor to allow the microSD card to be plugged in (to write the image to it initially). Class A1 cards are particularly recommended, but not required.

    I have found most SanDisk cards work fine; if you are having trouble, a good sanity check is to try writing the standard Raspbian 32-bit image to your card, to verify that your Pi4 (or Pi3) will boot with it, before proceeding.

  • A Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, or Pi 3 Model B or B+ (obviously!). For simplicity, I am going to assume that you will be logging into the image (at least initially) via an (HDMI) screen and (USB) keyboard connected directly to your Pi, rather than e.g. via ssh (although, for completeness, it is possible to ssh in via the Ethernet interface (which has a DHCP client running), if you can determine the allocated IP address, for example from your router, or via nmap). A decent power supply is recommended.

  • A PC to decompress the image and write it to the microSD card. This is most easily done on a Linux machine of some sort, but it is straightforward on a Windows or Mac box too (for example, by using Etcher, which is a nice, all-in-one cross-platform graphical tool for exactly this purpose; it's free and open-source). In the instructions below I'm going to assume you're using Linux.

    It is possible to use your Raspberry Pi for this task too, if you have an external card reader attached, or if you have your root on e.g. USB (and take care to unmount your existing /boot directory before removing the original microSD card), or are booted directly from USB. Most users will find it simplest to write the image on a PC, however.

Downloading and Writing the Image

Choose either the full (recommended for most users) or 'lite' (command-line only) variant, then follow the appropriate instructions below (full or lite).

If you are using a Windows or Mac box, or prefer to use a GUI tool in Linux, I recommend you download your preferred image via your web browser using the links above, and then check out the free, open-source, cross-platform tool Etcher to write it to microSD card. Then, once you've done that, continue reading at "Booting!" below.

Alternatively, for those who prefer the Raspberry Pi NOOBS installer GUI, both images are now available for installation using PINN (called gentoo64 and gentoo64lite there). PINN is a fork of NOOBS and includes a number of additional advanced features. Please see this post for further details. Many thanks to procount for his work on this.

Full Image (genpi64.img.xz)

On your Linux box, issue (you may need to be root, or use sudo, for the following, hence the '#' prompt):

# wget -c https://github.com/sakaki-/gentoo-on-rpi-64bit/releases/download/v1.5.1/genpi64.img.xz
# wget -c https://github.com/sakaki-/gentoo-on-rpi-64bit/releases/download/v1.5.1/genpi64.img.xz.asc

RPi4 Running Full Image

to fetch the compressed disk image file (~1,720MiB) and its signature.

Next, if you like, verify the image using gpg (this step is optional):

# gpg --recv-key DDE76CEA
# gpg --verify genpi64.img.xz.asc genpi64.img.xz

Assuming that reports 'Good signature', you can proceed. (Warnings that the key is "not certified with a trusted signature" are normal and may be ignored.)

Next, insert (into your Linux box) the microSD card on which you want to install the image, and determine its device path (this will be something like /dev/sdb, /dev/sdc etc. (if you have a USB microSD card reader), or perhaps something like /dev/mmcblk0 (if you have e.g. a PCI-based reader); in any case, the actual path will depend on your system - you can use the lsblk tool to help you). Unmount any existing partitions of the card that may have automounted (using umount). Then issue:

Warning - this will destroy all existing data on the target drive, so please double-check that you have the path correct! As mentioned, it is wise to use a spare microSD card as your target, keeping your existing Raspbian microSD card in a safe place; that way, you can easily reboot back into your existing Raspbian system, simply by swapping back to your old card.

# xzcat genpi64.img.xz > /dev/sdX && sync

Substitute the actual microSD card device path, for example /dev/sdc, for /dev/sdX in the above command. Make sure to reference the device, not a partition within it (so e.g., /dev/sdc and not /dev/sdc1; /dev/sdd and not /dev/sdd1 etc.)

If, on your system, the microSD card showed up with a path of form /dev/mmcblk0 instead, then use this as the target, in place of /dev/sdX. For this naming format, the trailing digit is part of the drive name (partitions are labelled as e.g. /dev/mmcblk0p1, /dev/mmcblk0p2 etc.). So, for example, you might need to use xzcat genpi64.img.xz > /dev/mmcblk0 && sync.

The above xzcat to the microSD card will take some time, due to the decompression (it takes between 5 and 25 minutes on my machine, depending on the microSD card used). It should exit cleanly when done - if you get a message saying 'No space left on device', then your card is too small for the image, and you should try again with a larger capacity one.

Note that on first boot, the image will automatically attempt to resize its root partition (which, in this image, includes /home) to fill all remaining free space on the microSD card, by running this startup service; if you do not want this to happen (for example, because you wish to add extra partitions to the microSD card later yourself), then simply rename the (empty) sentinel file autoexpand_root_partition (in the top level directory of the vfat filesystem on the first partition of the microSD card) to autoexpand_root_none, before attempting to boot the image for the first time.

Now continue reading at "Booting!" below.

Lite Image (genpi64lite.img.xz)

Please note: this image boots to a command line, not a GUI, and is only suitable for experienced Gentoo users. If unsure, choose the full image above, instead.

On your Linux box, issue (you may need to be root, or use sudo, for the following, hence the '#' prompt):

# wget -c https://github.com/sakaki-/gentoo-on-rpi-64bit/releases/download/v1.5.1/genpi64lite.img.xz
# wget -c https://github.com/sakaki-/gentoo-on-rpi-64bit/releases/download/v1.5.1/genpi64lite.img.xz.asc

[RPi4 Running Lite Image]

to fetch the compressed disk image file (~664MiB) and its signature.

Next, if you like, verify the image using gpg (this step is optional):

# gpg --recv-key DDE76CEA
# gpg --verify genpi64lite.img.xz.asc genpi64lite.img.xz

Assuming that reports 'Good signature', you can proceed. (Warnings that the key is "not certified with a trusted signature" are normal and may be ignored.)

Next, insert (into your Linux box) the microSD card on which you want to install the image, and determine its device path (this will be something like /dev/sdb, /dev/sdc etc. (if you have a USB microSD card reader), or perhaps something like /dev/mmcblk0 (if you have e.g. a PCI-based reader); in any case, the actual path will depend on your system - you can use the lsblk tool to help you). Unmount any existing partitions of the card that may have automounted (using umount). Then issue:

Warning - this will destroy all existing data on the target drive, so please double-check that you have the path correct! As mentioned, it is wise to use a spare microSD card as your target, keeping your existing Raspbian microSD card in a safe place; that way, you can easily reboot back into your existing Raspbian system, simply by swapping back to your old card.

# xzcat genpi64lite.img.xz > /dev/sdX && sync

Substitute the actual microSD card device path, for example /dev/sdc, for /dev/sdX in the above command. Make sure to reference the device, not a partition within it (so e.g., /dev/sdc and not /dev/sdc1; /dev/sdd and not /dev/sdd1 etc.)

If, on your system, the microSD card showed up with a path of form /dev/mmcblk0 instead, then use this as the target, in place of /dev/sdX. For this naming format, the trailing digit is part of the drive name (partitions are labelled as e.g. /dev/mmcblk0p1, /dev/mmcblk0p2 etc.). So, for example, you might need to use xzcat genpi64lite.img.xz > /dev/mmcblk0 && sync.

The above xzcat to the microSD card will take some time, due to the decompression (it takes between 5 and 10 minutes on my machine, depending on the microSD card used). It should exit cleanly when done - if you get a message saying 'No space left on device', then your card is too small for the image, and you should try again with a larger capacity one.

Note that on first boot, the image will automatically attempt to resize its root partition (which, in this image, includes /home) to fill all remaining free space on the microSD card, by running this startup service; if you do not want this to happen (for example, because you wish to add extra partitions to the microSD card later yourself), then simply rename the (empty) sentinel file autoexpand_root_partition (in the top level directory of the vfat filesystem on the first partition of the microSD card) to autoexpand_root_none, before attempting to boot the image for the first time.

Now continue reading at "Booting!", immediately below. Note, however, that in the case of this 'lite' image, after the startup / resize process has completed, you will be landed at a console login prompt. The login credentials are the same as for the full image, viz.:

  • default user demouser, password raspberrypi64;
  • root user password also raspberrypi64.

Hint: you can use the bundled tool nmtui to easily establish a WiFi network connection from the command line.

Booting!

Begin with your RPi4 (or RPi3) powered off. Remove the current (Raspbian or other) microSD card from the board (if fitted), and store it somewhere safe.

Next, insert the (Gentoo) microSD card you just wrote the image to into the Pi. Ensure you have peripherals connected (with the display plugged into the HDMI0 port - the one nearer the USB-C power connector - if using an RPi4), and apply power.

You should see the Pi's standard 'rainbow square' on-screen for about 2 seconds, then the display will go blank for about 10 seconds, and then (once the graphics driver has loaded) a text console will appear, showing OpenRC starting up. On this first boot (unless you have renamed the sentinel file autoexpand_root_partition in the microSD card's first partition to autoexpand_root_none), the system will, after a further 10 seconds or so, automatically resize the root partition to fill all remaining free space on the drive, and, having done this, reboot (to allow the kernel to see the new partition table). You should then see the 'rainbow square' startup sequence once more, and then the system will resize its root filesystem, to fill the newly enlarged partition. Once this is done, it will launch a standard Xfce desktop, logged in automatically to the pre-created demouser account. A simple configuration application will also be autostarted; this allows you to e.g. change screen resolution, if required:

[Baseline Xfce desktop]

If your display looks OK, there's no need to make any changes immediately - just click OK to dismiss the welcome dialog, and then click on the Cancel button to close out the configuration tool itself.

The whole process (from first power on to graphical desktop) should take less than three minutes or so (on subsequent reboots, the resizing process will not run, so startup will be a lot faster).

The initial root password on the image is raspberrypi64. The password for demouser is also raspberrypi64 (you may need this if e.g. the screen lock comes on; you can also do sudo su --login root to get a root prompt at the terminal, without requiring a password). These passwords are set by the autoexpand-root startup service. Note that the screensaver for demouser has been disabled by default on the image.

NB - if your connected computer monitor or TV output appears flickering or distorted, you may need to change the settings in the file config.txt, located in the microSD card's first partition (this partition is formatted vfat so you should be able to edit it on any PC; alternatively, when booted into the image, it is available at /boot/config.txt). Any changes made take effect on the next restart. For an explanation of the various options available in config.txt, please see these notes (the shipped defaults should work fine for most users, however). As of v1.3.1 of this image, you can also use the bundled GUI tool (shown in the screenshot above) to modify (some of) these settings. The program, pyconfig_gen, is, as noted, automatically started on first login, and is available under ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool.

If the edges of the desktop appear "clipped" by your display (this mostly happens when using HDMI TVs), issue sudo mousepad /boot/config.txt, comment out the line disable_overscan=1 (so it reads instead #disable_overscan=1), save the file, and then reboot (from v1.3.1, you can also enable and configure overscan via the Rpi Config Tool, as noted above). Please note that with modern boot firmware, overscan is ignored if a DMT mode is set.

Using Gentoo

The supplied image contains a fully-configured ~arm64 Gentoo system (not simply a minimal install or stage 3), with a complete Portage tree already downloaded, so you can immediately perform emerge operations etc. Be aware that, as shipped, it uses UK locale settings, keyboard mapping, timezone and WiFi regulatory domain; however, these are easily changed if desired. See the Gentoo Handbook (here and here) for details on the first three; to customize the WiFi regulatory domain, start the ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool app, select the WiFi tab, choose your location from the drop-down, click Save and Exit, and reboot when prompted.

If you wish to add Bluetooth peripherals (e.g., a wireless mouse and/or keyboard) to your RPi, please see below.

If you would like to run benchmarks on your RPi system, please see these notes.

The @world set of packages (from /var/lib/portage/world) pre-installed on the image may be viewed here (note that the version numbers shown in this list are Gentoo ebuilds, but they generally map 1-to-1 onto upstream package versions).

The full package list for the image (which includes @system and dependencies) may also be viewed, here.

The system on the image has been built via a minimal install system and stage 3 from Gentoo (arm64, available here), but all binaries (libraries and executables) have been rebuilt (with profile 17.0) to run optimally on the Raspberry Pi 4 B's Cortex-A72-based SoC, while still retaining backwards compatibility with the older Pi 3 (B and B) model's Cortex-A53. The /etc/portage/make.conf file used on the image may be viewed here, augmented by the custom profile's make.defaults. The CHOST on the image is aarch64-unknown-linux-gnu (per these notes). All packages have been brought up to date against the Gentoo tree as of 10 August 2019. The image contains two kernels: one (bcmrpi3-kernel-bis) is used when booting on the RPi3 B/B+, and the other (bcm2711-kernel-bis) when booting on an RPi4. The correct kernel is chosen automatically at boot time. Each kernel has a distinct release name, and so a separate module set in /lib/modules/.

Note: the CFLAGS used for the image build is -march=armv8-a+crc -mtune=cortex-a72 -O2 -pipe. You can of course re-build selective components with more aggressive flags yourself, should you choose. As the SIMD FPU features are standard in ARMv8, there is no need for -mfpu=neon mfloat-abi=hard etc., as you would have had on e.g. the 32-bit ARMv7a architecture. Note that AArch64 NEON also has a full IEEE 754-compliant mode (including handling denormalized numbers etc.), there is also no need for -ffast-math flag to fully exploit the FPU either (again, unlike earlier ARM systems). Please refer to the official Programmer’s Guide for ARMv8-A for more details. Neither the Pi3 nor Pi4 is shipped with the ARMv8 hardware crypto extensions enabled, unfortunately.

When logged in as demouser, it is sensible to change the password (from raspberrypi64) and root's password (also from raspberrypi64). Open a terminal window and do this now:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ passwd
Changing password for demouser.
(current) UNIX password: <type raspberrypi64 and press Enter>
New password: <type your desired password, and press Enter>
Retype new password: <type the desired password again, and press Enter>
passwd: password updated successfully
demouser@pi64 ~ $ su -
Password: <type raspberrypi64 and press Enter, to become root>
pi64 ~ # passwd
New password: <type your desired password for root, and press Enter>
Retype new password: <type the desired root password again, and press Enter>
passwd: password updated successfully
pi64 ~ # exit
logout
demouser@pi64 ~ $

If you want to create your own account, you can do so easily. Open a terminal, su to root, then issue (adapting with your own details, obviously!):

pi64 ~ # useradd --create-home --groups "adm,disk,lp,wheel,audio,video,cdrom,usb,users,plugdev,portage,cron" --shell /bin/bash --comment "Sakaki" sakaki
pi64 ~ # passwd sakaki
New password: <type your desired password for the new user, and press Enter>
Retype new password: <type the desired password again, and press Enter>
passwd: password updated successfully

You can then log out of demouser, and log into your new account, using the username and password just set up. When prompted with the Welcome to the first start of the panel dialog, select Use default config, as this provides a useful 'starter' layout.

Depending on how quickly you select Use default config, you may find you are left with a black desktop background. This issue should resolve itself after your next login, however.

Then, once logged in, you can delete the demouser account if you like. Open a terminal, su to root, then:

pi64 ~ # userdel --remove demouser
userdel: demouser mail spool (/var/spool/mail/demouser) not found

The mail spool warning may safely be ignored. Also, if you want your new user to be automatically logged in on boot (as demouser was), substitute your new username for demouser in the file /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-autologin-demouser.conf (and if you do not want autologin, this file may safely be deleted).

One hint worth bearing in mind: desktop compositing is on for new users by default (unless you are using a Pi3 and have a very high-resolution display, when it will automatically be turned off for you). This gives nicely rendered window shadows etc. but if you find video playback framerates (from VLC etc.) are too slow, try turning it off (ApplicationsSettingsWindow Manager Tweaks, Compositor tab).

Note that as of version 1.1.2 of the image, a number of Xfce 'fixups' will automatically be applied when a new user logs in for the first time; these include:
1) synchronizing compositing to the vertical blank (without which menus flash annoyingly under VC4);
2) setting window move and resize opacity levels; and
3) ensuring the desktop background displays on login (otherwise it often stays black; note that this fix sometimes does not work for the first login of a new user, as noted above).
They are managed by the xfce-extra/xfce4-fixups-rpi3 package (which inserts an entry into /etc/xdg/autostart/).

Keeping Your System Up-To-Date

You can update your system at any time. As there are quite a few steps involved to do this correctly on Gentoo, I have provided a convenience script, genup (source, manpage) to do this as part of the image.

Note that by default, this script will run automatically once per week, commencing the second week after first boot (see the task installed in /etc/cron.weekly). Review the logfile /var/log/latest-genup-run.log to see changes made by the latest auto-update run.

As of version 1.3.0 of the image, a number of additional 'fixups' will also be applied weekly - these are small scripts (which may be viewed here) used to address emergent issues that e.g. may prevent your system updating correctly. The output may be reviewed in /var/log/latest-fixup-run.log. Disabling auto-updating (see text immediately below) will also disable the fixup cronjob.

If you would rather not use auto-updating, simply edit the file /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta so it reads (the relevant line is the last one):

# Enable/disable any metapackage USE flags you want here, and then
# re-emerge dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta to have the effect taken up
# e.g. you might set (uncommented):
#
#    dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta -weekly-genup
#
# to disable the automated weekly genup (package update)
# run.
#
# Unless you override them, the default metapackage flags are used.
# At the time of writing, those are (default flag status shown as + or -):
#
#  + boot-fw : pull in the /boot firmware, configs and bootloader
#  + kernel-bin : pull in the binary kernel package
#  - porthash : pull in repo signature checker, for isshoni.org rsync
#  + weekly-genup: pull in cron.weekly script, to run genup automatically
#  + innercore: pull in essential system packages for image (RPi initscripts etc.)
#  + core: pull in main packages for image (clang etc.) (requires innercore)
#  + xfce: pull in packages for baseline Xfce4 system (requires core)
#  - pitop: pull in Pi-Top support packages (NB most users will NOT want this;
#      the Pi-Top is a DIY laptop kit based around the RPi3) (requires xfce)
#  - apps: pull in baseline desktop apps (libreoffice etc.) (requires xfce)
#
# NB the main point of the core, xfce, pitop and apps USE flags is just to let
# you reduce what is in your @world set (/var/lib/portage/world).
dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta -weekly-genup

Then re-emerge the meta package, which will remove the cron entry (NB: doing it this way ensures the entry stays removed, even if you later manually update your system):

pi64 ~ # emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta

Of course, you can always use genup directly (as root) to update your system at any time. See the manpage for full details of the process followed, and the options available for the command.

Bear in mind that a genup run will take around three to six hours to complete, even if all the necessary packages are available as binaries on the binhost. Why? Well, since Gentoo's Portage - unlike most package managers - gives you the flexibility to specify which package versions and configuration (via USE flags) you want, it has a nasty graph-theoretic problem to solve each time you ask to upgrade (and it is mostly written in Python too, which doesn't help ^-^). Also, many of the binary packages are themselves quite large (for example, the current libreoffice binary package is ~100MiB) and so time-consuming to download (unless you have a very fast Internet connection).

When an update run has completed, if prompted to do so by genup (directly, or at the tail of the /var/log/latest-genup-run.log logfile), then issue:

pi64 ~ # dispatch-conf

to deal with any config file clashes that may have been introduced by the upgrade process.

For more information about Gentoo's package management, see my notes here.

You may also find it useful to keep an eye on this project's (sticky) thread in the 'Gentoo on ARM' forum at gentoo.org, as I occasionally post information about this project there.

Installing New Packages Under Gentoo

The following is only a very brief intro to get you started. For more information, see the Gentoo handbook.

You can add any additional packages you like to your RPi. To search for available packages, you can use the (pre-installed) eix tool. For example, to search for all packages with 'hex editor' in their description:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ eix --description --compact "hex.editor"
[N] app-editors/curses-hexedit (--): full screen curses hex editor (with insert/delete support)
[N] app-editors/dhex (--): ncurses-based hex-editor with diff mode
[N] app-editors/hexcurse (--): ncurses based hex editor
[N] app-editors/lfhex (--): A fast hex-editor with support for large files and comparing binary files
[N] app-editors/qhexedit2 (--): Hex editor library, Qt application written in C++ with Python bindings
[N] app-editors/shed (--): Simple Hex EDitor
[N] app-editors/wxhexeditor (--): A cross-platform hex editor designed specially for large files
[N] dev-util/bless (--): GTK# Hex Editor
Found 8 matches

(your output may vary).

Then, suppose you wanted to find out more about one of these, say shed:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ eix --verbose app-editors/shed
* app-editors/shed
     Available versions:  *1.12 *1.13 ~*1.15
     Homepage:            http://shed.sourceforge.net/
     Find open bugs:      https://bugs.gentoo.org/buglist.cgi?quicksearch=app-editors%2Fshed
     Description:         Simple Hex EDitor
     License:             GPL-2

(again, your output may vary, depending upon the state of the Gentoo repo at the time you run the query, your version of eix, etc.)

That '*' in front of versions 1.12 and 1.13 indicates that the package has not yet been reviewed by the Gentoo devs for the arm64 architecture, but that its versions 1.12 and 1.13 have been reviewed as stable for some other architectures (in this case, amd64, ppc and x86 - you can see this by reviewing the matching ebuilds, at /usr/portage/app-editors/shed/shed-1.12.ebuild and /usr/portage/app-editors/shed/shed-1.13.ebuild). Version 1.15 is also marked as being in testing (the '~*') for those (other) architectures.

However, you will find that most packages (which don't have e.g. processor-specific assembly or 32-bit-only assumptions) will build fine on arm64 anyway, you just need to tell Gentoo that it's OK to try.

To do so for this package, become root, then issue:

pi64 ~ # echo "app-editors/shed * ~*" >> /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/shed

The above means to treat as an acceptable build candidate any version marked as stable on any architecture (the '*') or as testing on any architecture (the '~*'). The second does not imply the first - for example, shed-1.12 is not marked as testing on any architecture at the time of writing, so just '~*' wouldn't match it.

Then you can try installing it, using emerge:

pi64 ~ # emerge --verbose app-editors/shed

These are the packages that would be merged, in order:

Calculating dependencies... done!
[ebuild  N    *] app-editors/shed-1.15::gentoo  86 KiB

Total: 1 package (1 new), Size of downloads: 86 KiB

>>> Verifying ebuild manifests
>>> Emerging (1 of 1) app-editors/shed-1.15::gentoo
>>> Installing (1 of 1) app-editors/shed-1.15::gentoo
>>> Recording app-editors/shed in "world" favorites file...
>>> Jobs: 1 of 1 complete                           Load avg: 1.25, 0.56, 0.21
>>> Auto-cleaning packages...

>>> No outdated packages were found on your system.

 * GNU info directory index is up-to-date.

Once this completes, you can use your new package!

Note that if you intend to install complex packages, you may find it easier to set ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="* ~*" in /etc/portage/make.conf, since many packages are not yet keyworded for arm64 yet on Gentoo. Obviously, this will throw up some false positives, but it will also mostly prevent Portage from suggesting you pull in 'live' (aka -9999, aka current-tip-of-source-control) ebuilds, which can easily create a nasty dependency tangle.

Once you get a package working successfully, you can then explicitly keyword its dependencies if you like (in /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/...), rather than relying on ACCEPT_KEYWORDS="* ~*" in /etc/portage/make.conf. Should you do so, please feel free to file a PR against the genpi64:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/genpi64 profile with your changes, so that others can benefit (I intend to submit keywords from this profile to be considered for inclusion in the main Gentoo tree, in due course).

Have fun! ^-^

If you need to install a particular package that isn't currently in the Gentoo tree, note that it is possible to install binary packages from Raspbian (or other 32-bit repos) on your 64-bit system. For further details, please see these notes.

Alternatively, to install source packages with highly resource-intensive build profiles (such as dev-lang/rust), you can temporarily mount the image within a binfmt_misc QEMU user-mode chroot on your Linux PC, and perform the emerge there. This technique allows you to easily leverage the increased memory and CPU throughput of your regular desktop machine. For further details, please see my wiki tutorial here.

Miscellaneous Configuration Notes, Hints, and Tips (↓skip)

You don't need to read the following notes to use the image, but they may help you better understand what is going on!

NB some of the following notes need updating for the new 1.5.1 image. I plan to do this shortly.

  • For simplicity, the image uses a single ext4 root partition (includes /home), which by default will be auto-resized to fill all remaining free space on the microSD card on first boot. Also, to allow large packages (such as gcc) to be built from source without running out of memory on smaller systems, a 1 GiB swapfile has been set up at /var/cache/swap/swap1, and on boot this will be auto-resized if necessary, if space becomes tight (by this service). Feel free to modify this configuration as desired (for example, you can significantly improve performance under load by setting up a dedicated swap device on a separate bus from the system's rootfs; for details, please see this short tutorial).

    Incidentally, it is possible to get an RPi3 Model B to boot from a USB drive (no microSD card required); see for example these instructions (try at your own risk!), and furthermore the RPi3 Model B+ can boot a USB-written image without modification, as it has the necessary OTP fuses factory set. Alternatively, you can retain /boot on the microSD card, but use a USB drive for the system root (remember to modify /boot/cmdline.txt and /etc/fstab accordingly, if you choose to go this route). At the time of writing, the RPi4 does not yet support direct USB boot (although this feature is pending, and you can always use the split sys{b,r}oot method just mentioned: NB, if doing so I recommend you use the a USB2 port for your rootfs on the RPi4, until the FIQ is implemented on the aarch64 kernel).

  • As of version 1.3.0 of the image, the zswap in-memory transparent compressing swap cache is in use. Under most normal workloads, this should improve responsiveness when the system starts to run out of memory, by intercepting swapped-out memory pages, compressing them, and storing them in a dynamic RAM buffer instead of hitting flash. The rpi3-zswap service may be viewed here, and configured via /etc/conf.d/rpi3-zswap.

  • Because the Pi has no battery-backed real time clock (RTC), I have used the swclock (rather than the more usual hwclock) OpenRC boot service on the image - this simply sets the clock on boot to the recorded last shutdown time. An NTP client, chronyd, is also configured, and this will set the correct time as soon as a valid network connection is established.

    Note that this may cause a large jump in the time when it syncs, which in turn will make the screensaver lock come on. Not a major problem, but something to be aware of, as it can be quite odd to boot up, log in, and have your screen almost immediately lock! For this reason, the demouser account on the image has the screensaver disabled by default.

  • The image is configured with NetworkManager, so achieving network connectivity should be straightforward. The Ethernet interface is initially configured as a DHCP client, but obviously you can modify this as needed. Use the NetworkManager applet (top right of your screen) to do this; you can also use this tool to connect to a WiFi network.

    Note that getting WiFi to work on the RPi3/4 requires appropriate firmware (installed in /lib/firmware/brcm): this is managed by the sys-firmware/brcm43430-firmware package (see below). On the RPi3 B+ and RPi4 B, dual-band WiFi is supported.

  • Bluetooth is operational on this image, but since, by default, the Raspberry Pi 3 uses the hardware UART / ttyAMA0 to communicate with the Bluetooth adaptor, the standard serial console does not work and has been disabled (see /etc/inittab and /boot/cmdline.txt). You can of course change this behaviour if access to the hardware serial port is important to you.

    Bluetooth on the RPi3/4 also requires a custom firmware upload. This is carried out by a the rpi3-bluetooth OpenRC service, supplied by the net-wireless/rpi3-bluetooth package (see below).

    • Tip: to connect a new Bluetooth device to your RPi3/4 (a wireless mouse or keyboard, for example), first click on the Bluetooth icon in the top toolbar. When the Bluetooth Devices panel opens, click on Search, and make your device discoverable (this will usually involve pressing or holding a button or switch on the device itself), shortly after which it should appear in the listing. Once it does, click on it, then press Setup..., then ensure the Pair Device radio button is selected, and click Next. Then, if you are attaching a more complex device such as a keyboard, you'll see a PIN code notification message displayed (simpler devices, such as mice, often don't require a PIN for pairing, in which case no message will show). If you are prompted with a PIN, enter the code given into your device (for a keyboard, this normally means typing it in and pressing Enter). Once the devices are paired, you'll be prompted where to connect the device to: ensure the Human Interface Device Service (HID) radio button is selected, and click Next. Hopefully you will then see a message telling you Device added and connected successfully; click Close to dismiss it. With this done, your new device should start working. However, if you want to have it connect again automatically each boot, there's one more step you need to do. Click on your new device in the list (its icon should now be showing a key symbol, indicating that it is paired), and then click on the Trust shortcut button (the one that looks like a four-pointed gold star). With this done, your device setup is complete! You can add multiple interface devices to your RPi3/4 in this manner.
  • The Pi uses the first (vfat) partition of the microSD card (/dev/mmcblk0p1) for booting. The various (closed-source) firmware files pre-installed there may are managed by the sys-boot/rpi3-64bit-firmware package (see below). Once booted, this first partition will be mounted at /boot, and you may wish to check or modify the contents of the files /boot/cmdline.txt and /boot/config.txt.

  • Because of licensing issues (specifically, bindist compliance), Mozilla Firefox Quantum has been distributed in its 'developer' edition - named 'Aurora'. Bear in mind that this app will take quite a long time (20 to 30 seconds on an RPi3, somewhat less on a an RPi4) to start on first use, as it sets up its local storage in ~/.mozilla/<...>.

    • As your copy of Firefox is updated, you may see its title-bar name change sometimes to 'Nightly' (where that particular edition is taken from the eponymous release channel).
    • I have also pre-installed the lighter-weight Links browser on the image, in case you would like to use this in preference to Firefox.
    • For additional security, you can consider running Firefox inside an X11 firejail sandbox. See these notes for further details (the setup described therein will work on arm64; I use it configured that way on my own RPis).
  • As of v1.3.1 of the image, the full-scale browser Chromium is also included on the image. For bindist compliance, I use a modified ebuild and turn off the patent-encumbered h264 software codec.

  • It is a similar story with the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client. Its bindist-compliant developer edition (installed on the image) is named 'Earlybird'.

    • Claws Mail has also been pre-installed on the image, if you want a lighter-weight, but still fully featured, mail client.
  • By default, the image uses the Pi's VC4 GPU acceleration (VC6 in the Pi4, although it still uses the vc4... kernel modules) in X, which has reasonable support in the 4.19.y kernel and the supplied userspace (via media-libs/mesa ultimately - this has been tweaked on the image to include v3d support for the new Pi4). Note however that this is still work in progress, so you may experience issues with certain applications. The image (as shipped) uses the mixed-mode vc4-fkms-v3d overlay / driver (see /boot/config.txt, or ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool; you can change the driver if you wish to, or are experiencing serious glitches). On my RPi4 B at least, a glxgears score significantly in excess 1000fps can be obtained on an unloaded system (~400fps on a loaded desktop). Incidentally, in normal use the main load is the Xfce window manager's compositor - try turning it off to see (via ApplicationsSettingsWindow Manager Tweaks, Compositor tab) . YMMV - if you experience problems with this setup (or find that e.g. your system is stuck on the 'rainbow square' at boot time after a kernel update), you can fall-back to the standard framebuffer mode by commenting out the dtoverlay=vc4-fkms-v3d line in /boot/config.txt (i.e., the file config.txt located in the microSD card's first partition).

    Kodi, VLC and SMPlayer have been pre-installed on the image, and they will all make use of accelerated (Mesa/gl) playback. Because of incompatibilities and periodic crashes when using it, XVideo (xv) mode has been disabled in the X server (/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-disable-Xv.conf); this doesn't really impinge on usability. NB: if you find video playback framerates too slow, it is always worth disabling the window manager's compositor (see point immediately above) as a first step. Hint: for some video types, SMPlayer and Kodi perform significantly better than VLC, so if you do experience 'glitchy' playback with one media player, try using one of the others.

  • As of v1.4.0 of this image, 'true' kms mode (vc4-kms-v3d) is usable for regular RPi users (this can be easily selected via ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool). Please note that window manager compositing should be turned off when using this mode, and accordingly, I have modified the existing rpi3-safecompositor service to do this automatically.

    For avoidance of doubt, fkms, the shipped default, is unaffected by this. Also please note that Pi-Top users should not use the 'true' kms mode; as Pi-Top speaker audio output is not supported under it. Also, since fkms mode is the factory default for the Buster release of Raspbian, it is likely to receive the most support going forward, and as such, my recommendation would be to stick with that.

  • ALSA sound on the system is operative and routed by default through the headphone jack on the Pi. If you connect a sound-capable HDMI monitor (or television) sound should automatically also play through that device (in parallel) - at the moment there is only one 'master' volume control available.

    In addition to Kodi, VLC and SMPlayer (all of which can play audio) the image also includes Clementine, which has good audio library support and is well integrated with on-line music services. NB - on first launch, Clementine sometimes fails to start, if it has difficulties creating its necessary database files. If this occurs, log out, log back in, and try launching Clementine again. Once it has first started successfully (for a given user) the issue disappears.

    Hint: if you have headphones connected to your RPi3, but can't hear anything, issue (as the regular user, in a terminal) amixer -c 0 cset numid=3 1 to force sound to route to the onboard jack (this will cause HDMI output to be muted too). Issue amixer -c 0 cset numid=3 2 to turn HDMI audio output on again (muting the headphones).

  • As of v1.5.0 of the image, full pulseaudio support has been built into all supplied packages (via a global USE flag).

  • If you are using a Pi-Top chassis, have emerged rpi-64bit-meta with the pitop USE flag set, and have one or more pi-topSPEAKER units plugged in, the HDMI audio stream will automatically play though these. You should also be able to change the screen backlight brightness using the keyboard buttons, see the remaining battery charge in the top panel, and find that the when you shut down your system, the hub powers off your Pi-Top properly.

    • Pi-Top (v1) users: you can (at your option) swap out your existing RPi3 Model B board for a RPi3 Model B+; everything should work as before, but performance will be increased somewhat (the peak normal clock speed of the B+ is faster (at 1.4GHz) than the B (at 1.2GHz); also, the B+ includes a heat spreader, so is less prone to thermal throttling when worked hard). While you could in principle also use an RPi4 in the Pi-Top chassis, you'd need an adaptor for the microHDMI and power connectors, and you may also find the unit draws more power than the Pi-Top circuitry can supply, so this approach is not recommended.
  • The frequency governor is switched to ondemand (from the default, powersave), for better performance, as of version 1.0.1. This is managed by the sys-apps/rpi3-ondemand-cpufreq package (see below).

    • If you are using an RPi3 Model B board, the frequency will switch dynamically between 600MHz and 1.2GHz, depending on load. On a Model B+, it will switch between 600MHz and 1.4GHz. On an RPi4, it will switch between 600MHz and 1.5GHz.
  • On the RPi4, you can easily try overclocking your system, without voiding your warranty. To do so, open ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool app, select the Pi4 Tuning tab, select an option from Mid to Extreme in the supplied 'manettino' ^-^, click Save and Exit, then elect to reboot when prompted. Note that you are likely to require active cooling for your RPi4 when overclocked, and it is always possible (although unlikely) that your device may fail to boot at the faster settings (if it does, simply edit the file config.txt on the first partition of the microSD card, comment out the arm_freq and gpu_freq settings, and try again).

  • On the RPi4, please make sure your EEPROM firmware is up-to-date; there is (at the time of writing) an official update available (0137a8.bin) that can lower power consumption by around 300mW, which makes a significant difference to this somewhat thermally challenged ^-^ device. For more details please see this post.

  • PermitRootLogin yes has explicitly been set in /etc/ssh/sshd_config, and sshd is present in the default runlevel. This is for initial convenience only - feel free to adopt a more restrictive configuration.

  • I haven't properly tested suspend to RAM or suspend to swap functionality yet.

  • As of version 1.0.1, all users in the wheel group (which includes demouser) have a passwordless sudo ability for all commands. Modify /etc/sudoers via visudo to change this, if desired (the relevant line is %wheel ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL).

  • As mentioned above, by default on first boot the image will attempt to automatically expand the root (second) partition to fill all remaining free space on the microSD card. If, for some reason, you elected not to do this (and so renamed the sentinel file autoexpand_root_partition to autoexpand_root_none prior to first boot), you can easily expand the size of the second (root) partition manually, so that you have more free space to work in, using the tools (fdisk and resize2fs). See these instructions, for example. I strongly recommend you do expand the root partition (whether using the default, first-boot mechanism or manually) if you are intending to perform large package (or kernel) builds on your Pi (it isn't necessary just to play around with the image of course).

  • If you are using the official 7" touchscreen with your RPi3 (I have not tried it with an RPi4), you can rotate the display (and touch input) 180° (to make it the right way up for the default case orientation) by appending lcd_rotate=2 to /boot/config.txt, and restarting. Also, as of v1.1.3 of the image, the twofing daemon is included and will run automatically on startup; this lets you two-finger press to simulate right click, and also enables a limited repertoire of two-finger gestures (zoom/pinch, rotate, scroll etc.) within some apps. The daemon has no effect when the touchscreen is not connected. The onboard on-screen keyboard is also available (again, as of v1.1.3); activate it via ApplicationsAccessoriesOnboard.

  • As of version 1.2.0 of the image, the SPI interface has been activated (via /boot/config.txt); feel free to comment this out again if you need the GPIO lines it uses.

    • Additionally, as of 1.2.0, the necessary binaries for using your RPi3/4 to disable the Intel Management Engine are now bundled with the image. Together with the above change, this allows your system to be used to run me_cleaner 'out of the box' (provided you have the correct hardware connector and wires, of course). Users uninterested in this particular application are unaffected, and need take no action.
  • The image uses the RPi3/4's hardware random number generator to feed /dev/random (via sys-apps/rng-tools); see these notes for further details.

  • As a (limited, 64-bit) build of media-libs/raspberrypi-userland is included, you can use vcgencmd etc. Note however that MMAL and OpenMAX IL features are not currently supported (this is an issue for all 64-bit OS on the RPi3/4 at present, please see here, here and here).

  • If you wish to share files on a network with Windows boxes, please note that net-fs/samba is bundled as of version 1.2.2 of the image. To configure and activate it, please see e.g. these notes.

  • An sysctl.d rule (35-low-memory-cache-settings.conf) is used to modify the kernel cache settings slightly, for better performance in a memory constrained environment, per these notes.

  • As of version 1.2.2 of the image, a startup service (rpi3-safecompositor) is used to turn off display compositing if a high pixel clock is detected (> 1.2175MHz, currently), and an RPi3 is in use. This is because certain applications, for example LibreOffice v6 Draw and Impress, can cause the whole system to lock-up when used with compositing on under such conditions. The restriction does not apply to the RPi4.

  • Also as of version 1.2.2, a startup service (rpi3-ethfix) is used to workaround certain RPi3B+ Ethernet issues via ethtool. It has no effect on RPi3B or RPi4 models.

  • You can easily install (and run) 32-bit Raspbian apps on your 64-bit Gentoo system if you like (using apt-get from a chroot), since ARMv8 supports mixed-mode userland. If this interests you, please see my wiki entry on this subject, here.

  • To install source packages with resource-intensive build profiles, you can temporarily mount the image within a binfmt_misc QEMU user-mode chroot on your PC, and perform the emerge there. For further details, please see my wiki tutorial here.

  • If you would like to run benchmarks on your RPi3/4 system, please see these notes.

  • You can easily remove unwanted applications, and even the Xfce4 graphical desktop itself, from your 64-bit Gentoo system if desired. To do so, please refer to my notes here.

  • If you are interested in a Docker variant of the image, please see necrose99's notes here.

  • As of version 1.3.0 of the image, the weekly-gated rsync mirror URI has changed, to rsync://isshoni.org/gentoo-portage-pi64-gem. This mirror has no porthash repo.hash{,.asc} files present in it, so may be checked by Portage's official gemato verification tool (and this will be done automatically for you during genup runs). The porthash tool itself (which previous versions of the image used for tree verification) has now been retired.

    The old rsync://isshoni.org/gentoo-portage-pi64 (non -gem) mirror will continue to be updated also for now, but will likely be withdrawn at some point in the future.

  • As of version 1.2.2 of the image, you can efficiently run additional guest operating systems on your 64-bit Gentoo RPi3/4, using QEMU virtualization with KVM acceleration (much as you might use, say, VirtualBox on a PC). For further details, please see my wiki tutorial here. If you like, you can run a GUI, even a full desktop, on your guest OS, as further detailed here. Sample screenshot (with an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS guest): [QEMU Guest Desktop with KVM Virtualization]
    Notice how the guest and host OSes in the above are running different kernels - it's not just a chroot. On the higher-memory (2 and 4GiB) RPi4 models, running a guest OS using KVM becomes quite a realistic proposition.

  • If you'd like to remotely access your RPi3/4's desktop from another machine (whether a Linux PC, Windows PC, Mac or even another RPi!), you can do so easily, by using VNC. Please see these notes for further details.

    • For Windows users, RDP access is also supported (please see these notes for further details).
  • As of version 1.3.1 of the image, an Xfce4 startup service rpi3-noblank is active; this prevents the X11 screensaver from blanking the screen when it (i.e., the screensaver) is supposed to be turned off, as this can cause a mysterious 'black screen' (with no obvious way to recover, moving the mouse and keyboard don't work) under the vc4-{f,}kms-v3d graphics drivers.

  • As of version 1.3.1 of the image, and as noted earlier, a simple tool, pyconfig_gen has been provided, for easy (GUI-based) update of (a subset of the features contained in) the /boot/config.txt file on the RPi3. This utility is autostarted on first boot for each user. Changes made to the /boot/config.txt file using this application are subject to ratification on reboot; if you do not explicitly accept them before a short time limit expires, an automatic reboot under the prior, 'last known good' config is performed. This prevents you from locking yourself out by specifying (e.g.) an HDMI mode that is unsupported by your display (as an additional precaution against this particular case, only modes reported as being supported by the currently connected display are presented for selection in the GUI). Currently, only a small (but hopefully, useful) subset of the options available may be edited via this application, but this will be increased in future. It is still possible to directly edit /boot/config.txt via nano etc. - the app ignores keys it does not manage.

    • As of v1.5.0 of the image, you can use the pyconfig_gen tool to specify settings for a second screen, connected to the HDMI1 port on your Pi4 (these additional settings are ignored on the Pi3, which only has a single HDMI connector). To do so, open ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool, select the Second Display tab, choose the appropriate settings just as you did for your main (HDMI0) display, then click Save and Exit, electing to reboot when prompted. Once your system comes back up, you can then confirm the settings (if OK),then click the Launch Screen Layout Editor to start the arandr program. This tool lets you set the relative rotation and layout of your two screens (side by side, stacked etc.), and you can apply these settings 'live' by clicking on the "green tickmark" toolbar button. Once you have a layout you like, you can persist it across reboots, by clicking the "save" toolbar icon (the rightmost one). If you save the settings to the location ~/.screenlayout/default.sh, they will automatically be applied for you at each (graphical) login, for convenience.
  • As of version 1.4.0 of the image, use of the Pi's hardware video codecs, and (optional) camera module, are both supported, via the V4L2 framework. Two trivial applications (ApplicationsMultimediaRPi Camera Live View, and ApplicationsMultimediaRPi Video Player (HW Codecs)) are bundled to help demonstrate these features; a screenshot of these in use (running on an RPi3B+, with an attached Pi camera module v2, in a Pi-Top v1 chassis) is shown below: [Demonstrating Camera and Hardware Video Codec Access]
    As of v1.5.0 of the image, these tools also work on an RPi4.
    Given an appropriately patched ffmpeg (which is present in >=v1.4.0 of the image), exploiting these features from the command line is very simple - see the example 'recipes' (which work for both the RPi3 and RPi4) in this project's open wiki.

Maintenance Notes (Advanced Users Only) (↓skip)

The following are some notes regarding optional maintenance tasks. The topics here may be of interest to advanced users, but it is not necessary to read these to use the image day-to-day.

NB some of the following notes need updating for the new 1.5.1 image. I plan to do this shortly.

Optional: Switch Back to a 'Pure' bcmrpi3_defconfig / bcm2711_defconfig Kernel

As of version 1.2.2 of the image, the default binary kernel package has changed, to sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel-bis-bin, the underlying kernel for which uses a slightly augmented version of the upstream bcmrpi3_defconfig, thereby enabling a number of useful additional facilities (such as KVM, ZSWAP etc). And, as of version 1.5.0 of the image, a second default kernel package is used, sys-kernel/bcm2711-kernel-bis-bin, the underlying kernel for which uses an augmented version of the upstream bcm2711_defconfig for the RPi4.

However, if you'd rather use the 'vanilla' sys-kernel/bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel-bin (i.e., "pure" bcm{rpi3,2711}_defconfig) kernel packages, as was the case for <= v1.2.1 of the image, you can do so easily; simply become root, and issue:

pi64 ~ # emerge --ask --verbose --oneshot sys-kernel/bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel-bin

Once this completes, reboot immediately, and you'll be using the "old default" binary kernel packages again (and this choice will be respected during e.g. genup system update runs, going forward).

Switching back to the "-bis" binary kernel package pair, should you subsequently wish to do so, is just as straightforward; simply become root again and issue:

pi64 ~ # emerge --ask --verbose --oneshot sys-kernel/bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel-bis-bin

Reboot immediately the above command completes.

Optional: Compiling a Kernel from Source

If you'd like to compile a kernel from source on your new system, rather than using the provided binary package, you can do so easily.

Because (at the time of writing) 64-bit support for the RPi3/4 is fairly 'cutting edge', you'll need to download the source tree directly, rather than using sys-kernel/raspberrypi-sources. You'll need to use at least version 4.19.y (to get camera and V4L2 M2M access to the RPi3/4's hardware video codecs).

Actually, you can also use sys-kernel/raspberrypi-sources if you like, as that has a 4.19.9999 ebuild. However, to keep things straightforward, I have retained the 'direct clone' instructions in what follows.

The tree you need is maintained here.

However first, since it generally makes sense to use a 'stable' branch compiler and binutils for kernel builds, but the RPi3/4 image uses the 'testing' (aka ~arm64) branch for all packages by default, begin by downgrading your gcc compiler and binutils on the RPi3 to the 'stable' variants (these versions are also available on the binhost, so the following process shouldn't take long). Become root, and issue:

pi64 ~ # echo "sys-devel/gcc -~arm64" >> /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/gcc
pi64 ~ # echo "sys-devel/binutils -~arm64" >> /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/binutils
pi64 ~ # emerge --update --oneshot sys-devel/gcc sys-devel/binutils
pi64 ~ # gcc-config --list-profiles

Take a note of the index number of the 'stable branch' version of the compiler returned by the last command above (this will probably be 1), and then ensure the profile is set (substitute it for 1 in the below, if different):

pi64 ~ # gcc-config 1
pi64 ~ # env-update && source /etc/profile
pi64 ~ # FEATURES="-getbinpkg" emerge --oneshot sys-devel/libtool

This process only needs to be done once. It won't affect your ability to build other packages on your RPi3/4.

NB: if you are running Gentoo on a microSD card, please be sure that you have an expanded root partition (as described above) on a >=16GB card, before attempting to build a kernel.

Now, suppose you wish to build the most modern version of the 4.19.y kernel (same major/minor version as on the image). Then, begin by pulling down a shallow clone of the desired version's branch from GitHub (users with sufficient bandwidth and disk space may of course clone the entire tree, and then checkout the desired branch locally, but the following approach is much faster).

Working logged in as your regular user, not root (for security), issue:

user@pi64 ~ $ mkdir -pv kbuild && cd kbuild
user@pi64 kbuild $ rm -rf linux
user@pi64 kbuild $ git clone --depth 1 https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux.git -b rpi-4.19.y

This may take some time to complete, depending on the speed of your network connection.

When it has completed, go into the newly created linux directory, and set up the baseline configuration. You'll actually need to build two kernels, one for the RPi3, another for the RPi4. So let's begin by building an RPi3 kernel, which uses bcmrpi3_defconfig. Issue:

user@pi64 kbuild $ cd linux
user@pi64 linux $ make distclean
user@pi64 linux $ make bcmrpi3_defconfig

Next, modify the configuration if you like to suit your needs (this step is optional, as a kernel built with the stock bcm{rpi3,2711}_defconfig will work perfectly well for most users):

user@pi64 linux $ make menuconfig

When ready, go ahead and build the kernel, modules, and dtbs. Issue:

user@pi64 linux $ nice -n 19 make -j4 Image modules dtbs

This will a reasonable time to complete. (Incidentally, the build is forced to run at the lowest system priority, to prevent your machine becoming too unresponsive during this process.)

With the kernel built, we need to install it. Assuming your first microSD card partition is mounted as /boot (which, given the /etc/fstab on the image (visible here), it should be), become root.

Next, remove the provided binary kernel. Edit the file /etc/portage/package.use/rpi3-64bit-meta so it reads (the relevant line is the last one):

# Enable/disable any metapackage USE flags you want here, and then
# re-emerge dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta to have the effect taken up
# e.g. you might set (uncommented):
#
#    dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta -weekly-genup
#
# to disable the automated weekly genup (package update)
# run.
#
# Unless you override them, the default metapackage flags are used.
# At the time of writing, those are (default flag status shown as + or -):
#
#  + boot-fw : pull in the /boot firmware, configs and bootloader
#  + kernel-bin : pull in the binary kernel package
#  - porthash : pull in repo signature checker, for isshoni.org rsync
#  + weekly-genup: pull in cron.weekly script, to run genup automatically
#  + innercore: pull in essential system packages for image (RPi initscripts etc.)
#  + core: pull in main packages for image (clang etc.) (requires innercore)
#  + xfce: pull in packages for baseline Xfce4 system (requires core)
#  - pitop: pull in Pi-Top support packages (NB most users will NOT want this;
#      the Pi-Top is a DIY laptop kit based around the RPi3) (requires xfce)
#  - apps: pull in baseline desktop apps (libreoffice etc.) (requires xfce)
#
# NB the main point of the core, xfce, pitop and apps USE flags is just to let
# you reduce what is in your @world set (/var/lib/portage/world).
dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta -kernel-bin

Then re-emerge the meta package, to delete the binary kernel package itself:

pi64 ~ # emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta
pi64 ~ # emerge --depclean

Important: do not try to restart your system yet - with the binary kernel uninstalled, you must install the new kernel (and DTBs and module set) you have just built, or the image will no longer boot. We will do that next.

Next, substituting your regular user's account name (the one you logged into when building the kernel, above) for user in the below, issue:

pi64 ~ # cd /home/user/kbuild/linux
pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/Image /boot/kernel8.img

Note that by default, the kernel does not require a separate U-Boot loader.

Next, copy over the device tree blobs (at the time of writing arm64 was still using the 2710 dtb, but this may change to 2837 in future, so for safety, copy both of these, and also the RPi3 B+ and compute module 3 variants):

pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/dts/broadcom/bcm{2710,2837}-rpi-3-b.dtb /boot/
pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/dts/broadcom/bcm2710-rpi-3-b-plus.dtb /boot/
pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/dts/broadcom/bcm2710-rpi-cm3.dtb /boot/

Interestingly, even if you have a RPi3 B+, you don't actually need the bcm2710-rpi-3-b-plus.dtb dtb to boot it - the system's firmware will intelligently patch your standard bcm2710-rpi-3-b.dtb file, if that's all it can find. Nevertheless, it is better hygiene to include it.

Then, copy across the device tree overlay blobs (these are now the responsibility of the kernel, not the boot firmware, package, so it is essential you add them):

pi64 linux # cp -rv arch/arm64/boot/dts/overlays /boot/

Lastly, install the modules:

pi64 linux # make modules_install
pi64 linux # sync

We don't do a make firmware_install here, since that build target has been dropped for >= 4.14.

Once that is done, we'll loop back and build and install the Pi4 kernel. Issue:

user@pi64 linux $ make distclean
user@pi64 linux $ make bcm2711_defconfig
user@pi64 linux $ make menuconfig

Make sure to set CONFIG_LOCALVERSION to something distinct (like "-2711") to ensure the release names of the two kernels are distinct - you don't want their modules getting co-mingled in /lib/modules/<kernel-release-name>/.... Make any other changes you want, then save and exit the configuration tool, and issue:

user@pi64 linux $ nice -n 19 make -j4 Image modules dtbs

Once done, copy across the kernel, dtb and modules (note the modified name used for the RPi4 kernel in /boot, to distinguish it from the RPi3 kernel (kernel8.img) that we built and copied over earlier):

pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/Image /boot/kernel8-p4.img
pi64 linux # cp -v arch/arm64/boot/dts/broadcom/bcm2711-rpi-4-b.dtb /boot/
pi64 linux # make modules_install

There is no need to copy the overlays directory, as that is identical between the RPi3 and RPi4 64-bit builds, and you have already copied it over.

All done! After you reboot, you'll be using your new kernels.

It is also possible to cross-compile a kernel on your (Gentoo) PC, which is much faster than doing it directly on the RPi. Please see the instructions later in this document.

Alternatively, if you set up distcc with crossdev (also covered in the instructions below), you can call pump make instead of make to automatically offload kernel compilation workload to your PC. However, if you do use distcc in this way, be aware that not all kernel files can be successfully built in this manner; a small number (particularly, at the start of the kernel build) may fall back to using local compilation. This is normal, and the vast majority of files will distribute OK.

If you want to switch back to the binary kernel package again, simply comment out the line you added at the end of /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta, and issue:

pi64 ~ # emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta

You will receive warnings about file collisions (as the kernel package overwrites your /boot/kernel8.img, /boot/kernel8-p4.img etc.) but it should go through OK. Reboot, and you'll be using your binary kernels again!

At this point, you may wish to clean up your old, source-built kernels' modules from /lib/modules/<your-kernel-release-names>, to save space.

Have your Gentoo PC Do the Heavy Lifting!

The RPi3 (and even the RPi4, although significantly better) does not have a particularly fast processor when compared to a modern PC. While this is fine when running the device in day-to-day mode (as a IME-free lightweight desktop replacement, for example), it does pose a bit of an issue when building large packages from source.

Of course, as the (>= 1.1.0) image now has a weekly-autobuild binhost provided, this will only really happen if you start setting custom USE flags on packages like app-office/libreoffice, or emerging lots of packages not on the original pre-installed set.

However, there is a solution to this, and it is not as scary as it sounds - leverage the power of your PC (assuming it too is running Gentoo Linux) as a cross-compilation host!

For example, you can cross-compile kernels for your RPi3/4 on your PC very quickly (around 5-15 minutes from scratch), by using Gentoo's crossdev tool. See my full instructions here and here on this project's open wiki.

Should you setup crossdev on your PC in this manner, you can then take things a step further, by leveraging your PC as a distcc server (instructions here on the wiki). Then, with just some simple configuration changes on your RPi3 (see these notes), you can distribute C/C++ compilation (and header preprocessing) to your remote machine, which makes system updates a lot quicker (and the provided tool genup will automatically take advantage of this distributed compilation ability, if available).

Since they share the same ARMv8a architecture (march), binaries built in this manner can be used on either a RPi3 Model B, B+ or an RPi4 Model B, without modification.

Using your RPi3/4 as a Headless Server

If you want to run a dedicated server program on your RPi3 or RPi4 (for example, a cryptocurrency miner), you won't generally want (or need) the graphical desktop user interface. To disable it, issue (as root):

pi64 ~ # rc-update del xdm default

You can also reclaim the memory reserved for the vc4 graphics driver (this is optional). To do so, issue:

pi64 ~ # nano -w /boot/config.txt

and comment out the following line, so it reads:

#dtoverlay=vc4-fkms-v3d

(Your setup may have a cma specification following the vc4-fkms-v3d; it's still the same line, and should be commented.)

Also ensure that the camera module support software is not loaded, and that only a minimal amount of GPU memory is allocated - to do so, ensure the below lines in the file read as follows:

#start_x=1
gpu_mem=16

Leave the rest of the file as-is. Save, and exit nano.

Reboot your system. You will now have a standard terminal login available only, which greatly saves on system resources.

Should you wish to completely remove the graphical desktop's packages from your system too, please see my notes here.

Next, ensure that your system won't autoupdate (since this can cause high system load at an unpredictable moment). Log in as root, then issue:

pi64 ~ # echo "dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta -weekly-genup" > /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta
pi64 ~ # emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta

You can now arrange for your server program to start on boot, either by creating an explicit OpenRC service file in /etc/init.d/ or by adding an (executable) startup script, named /etc/local.d/<servicename>.start, in which you fork off the server using start-stop-daemon (or similar).

I recommend that you run your service at the lowest possible system priority (i.e., highest positive number niceness), particularly if it is CPU intensive. This will ensure that you're able to log in successfully using ssh, even if the daemon is in a tight CPU-bound loop.

It is generally more reliable to use the Ethernet rather than the WiFi network interface when running a headless server in this manner. Also, make sure your system has an adequate heatsink fitted (or even active CPU cooling, for particularly demanding applications), since the RPi3 (particuarly when running in 64-bit mode) can get quite hot, leading to thermal throttling or even protective system shutdown if your cooling is insufficient. The RPi3 Model B+ has a integral heat-spreader, so (in addition to having a higher clock speed) it may be a somewhat better choice than the RPi3 Model B for more demanding applications. The RPi4 has even more significant thermal challenges than the RPi3, so active cooling is recommended for demanding applications.

Of course, take the normal precautions when running an internet-exposed server in this manner: for example, set up an appropriate firewall, consider running the server process under firejail, modify the shipped-default passwords, and keep your system up-to-date by (manually) running genup, from time to time.

Should you wish to revert back to using the graphical desktop at some point in the future, simply issue (as root):

pi64 ~ # rc-update add xdm default

Then, if you edited /boot/config.txt above, undo that change now. Issue:

pi64 ~ # nano -w /boot/config.txt

and uncomment the following line, so it reads:

dtoverlay=vc4-fkms-v3d

With modern boot firmware, the recommendation is not to set an explicit cma parameter on vc4-fkms-v3d.

If you wish to use the camera, and hardware video codecs, also ensure that the below lines read as follows (if not, this step may be omitted):

start_x=1
gpu_mem=128

Leave the rest of the file as-is. Save, and exit nano. Reboot your system, and you should have your full graphical desktop back again!

Miscellaneous Points (Advanced Users Only) (↓skip)

The following are some notes about the detailed structure of the image. It is not necessary to read these to use the image day-to-day.

NB some of the following notes need updates/expansion for the new 1.5.1 image. I plan to do this shortly.

RPi-Specific Ebuilds

As of version 1.1.0 of the image, all the required firmware and startup files have now been placed under ebuild control, for ease of maintenance going forward:

  • A metapackage, sys-firmware/rpi-64bit-meta from the (subscribed) genpi64 ebuild repository (overlay) governs the inclusion of all the components discussed below (controlled by a set of USE flags). The version of the metapackage matches the version of the live-USB release to which it pertains.

    For avoidance of doubt, by default the rpi-64bit-meta metapackage does not specify the various end-user applications installed on the image (such as libreoffice, firefox etc.), so these may be freely uninstalled or modified as required (if you only intend to install additional applications however, you can specify the apps USE flag for rpi-64bit-meta, and then remove libreoffice, firefox etc from your @world set (/var/lib/portage/world).

  • The /boot firmware (excluding the kernel and DTBs; those are provided by sys-kernel/bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel<-bis>-bin, discussed later) is provided by sys-boot/rpi3-64bit-firmware: the upstream raspberrypi/firmware/boot repo is checked once per week for new release tags, and a new corresponding ebuild created automatically if one is found. This package also pulls in (via sys-boot/rpi3-boot-config) 'starter' configuration files /boot/cmdline.txt and /boot/config.txt (with settings matching those on the image), but these are CONFIG_PROTECTed, so any changes you make subsequently will be preserved.

  • The configuration file brcmfmac43430-sdio.txt, required for the RPi3/4's integrated WiFi, is provided by sys-firmware/brcm43430-firmware (its main firmware being provided by the standard linux-firmware package).

    • This package now also provides the equivalent file brcmfmac43455-sdio.txt, for use with the RPi3 B+'s (and RPi4 B's) new dual-band WiFi setup (Cypress CYW43455), plus the brcmfmac43430-sdio.clm_blob.
    • The WiFi regulatory domain (initially set to GB on the image), is set by the rpi3-wifi-regdom service (provided by the net-wireless/rpi3-wifi-regdom package); its value may be set by editing the file /etc/conf.d/rpi3-wifi-regdom, or (more conveniently) via the GUI-based ApplicationsSettingsRPi Config Tool, WiFi tab.
  • Firmware (/etc/firmware/BCM43430A1.hcd) for the RPi3/4's integrated Bluetooth transceiver is provided by sys-firmware/bcm4340a1-firmware (adapted from the Arch Linux pi-bluetooth package). A startup service and udev rule are provided by the companion net-wireless/rpi3-bluetooth package (adapted from the same Arch Linux upstream).

  • The /etc/local.d/ondemand_freq_scaling.start boot script, which switches the RPi3/4 from its (bcm{rpi3,2711}_defconfig) default powersave CPU frequency governor, to ondemand, for better performance, has been switched to a sysinit OpenRC service, provided by sys-apps/rpi3-ondemand-cpufreq. On the RPi3 B, this allows the frequency to range up to 1.2GHz, and on the RPi3 B+, up to 1.4GHz, without overclocking. On the RPi4 B, this allows the frequency to range up to 1.5GHz without overclocking (and up to 2.0GHz with).

  • The autoexpand_root_partition.start script has been migrated into an OpenRC boot service, provided by sys-apps/rpi3-init-scripts.

  • On first boot, after the root has been expanded, the default swapfile (at /var/cache/swap/swap1) will be auto-expanded to 1,024MiB if required, by sys-apps/rpi3-expand-swap; configuration settings in /etc/conf.d/rpi3-expand-swap.

  • The zswap transparent compressing swap cache is set up by sys-apps/rpi3-zswap; configuration settings in /etc/conf.d/rpi3-zswap.

New Features to Expedite Regular System Updating

In addition to the above, as of version 1.1.0 of the image, a number of other changes have been made to expedite the process of keeping your 64-bit Gentoo RPi3 up-to-date:

  • An autobuild of the official raspberrypi/linux kernel (default branch) using bcmrpi3_defconfig has been set up here; a new release tarball is automatically pushed once per week, and a matching kernel binary package (sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel-bin) is also created simultaneously. A variant of this with a slightly tweaked config is also maintained here with binary kernel package (sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel-bis-bin); this latter version is used by default as of v1.2.2 of the image.

    As of version 1.5.0 of the image, a parallel set of projects is maintained for the bcm2711_defconfig kernel used when booting an RPi4 (default autobuild here with binary kernel package here, -bis autobuild here with binary kernel package here).

    NB: at the time of writing, the rpi-4.19.y branch was the default (receiving most attention for backports etc.) Using -bin packages for the kernel makes it easy to switch between them (and to update your kernel, and module set, to the latest version available - along with all other packages on your system - whenever you issue genup); you can see the kernels available by issuing eix bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel-bis-bin. Also, note that by default (via the with-matching-boot-fw USE flag) installing a particular sys-kernel/bcm{rpi3,2711}-kernel<-bis>-bin version will also cause the version of sys-boot/rpi3-64bit-firmware (see above) current at the time the kernel was released, to be installed (to /boot). This helps to reduce issues with firmware / kernel mismatches with cutting edge features such as VC4 support. Note also that via the (default) pi3multiboot flag, a matching-release bcmrpi3-kernel-bis-bin becomes a dep of bcm2711-kernel-bis-bin, so it suffices to work only with the latter (a similar USE flag is also available for the non-bis variants).

    Use of the provided binary kernel packages is optional, you can always uninstall them (by editing the file /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta, setting the -kernel-bin USE flag, then issuing emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta) and building your own kernel instead, if desired.

  • The project's Gentoo binhost at https://isshoni.org/pi64pie has been reconfigured to perform a weekly update and autobuild of all installed (userspace) packages on the image, allowing your RPi3/4 to perform fast updates via the resulting binary packages where possible, only falling back to local source-based compilation when necessary (using this facility is optional, of course, just like the binary kernel package). The binhost also provides a (weekly-gated) rsync mirror (rsync://isshoni.org/gentoo-portage-pi64-gem) for the main gentoo repo (fully compatible with Gentoo's official gemato signed hash verification), used to keep your RPi3/4's "visible" ebuild tree in lockstep with the binary package versions available on the isshoni.org binhost (incidentally, the gentoo repo on isshoni.org itself is maintained against upstream using webrsync-gpg).

    NB: I can make no guarantees about the future availability of the weekly autobuilds on isshoni.org, nor the autoupdated binary kernel packages (on GitHub). However, we use these as part of our own production infrastructure, so they should be around for a while. Use the provided binary packages at your own risk.

  • A custom Gentoo profile, genpi64:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/genpi64, is provided (and selected as the active profile on the image), which supplies many of the default build settings, USE flags etc., required for 64-bit Gentoo on the RPi3/4, again, keeping them in lockstep with the binhost (and ensuring you will have a binary package available when upgrading any of the pre-installed software packages on the image). You can view this profile (provided via the rpi3 ebuild repository) here.

    NB: as of release 1.2.0, the profile changed, from rpi3:default/linux/arm64/13.0/desktop/rpi3 to rpi3:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/rpi3, reflecting the underlying Gentoo profile upgrade from 13.0 to 17.0. Users of prior releases interested in manually upgrading should read these notes. Then, as of release 1.5.0, the profile changed again, from rpi3:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/rpi3 to genpi64:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/genpi64, reflecting a change in name of the main overlay (from rpi to genpi64). Users interested in this migration should read my transcribed news article here.

These features, viz.:

make updating a typical system (with few user-added packages) possible with a near 100% hit rate on the binhost's binaries. As such, updating (via genup, for example, or an old-school eix-sync && emerge -uDUav --with-bdeps=y @world) is much less onerous than before, and so has been automated on the image (via the app-portage/weekly-genup package, which installs a script in /etc/cron.weekly). This automated weekly updating can easily be disabled if you do not wish to use it (simply edit the file /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta and set the -weekly-genup USE flag, then emerge -v rpi-64bit-meta).

Subscribed Ebuild Repositories (aka Overlays)

NB some of the following need updates/expansion for the new 1.5.1 image. I plan to do this shortly.

The image is subscribed to the following ebuild repositories:

  • gentoo: this is the main Gentoo tree of course, but is (by default) supplied via rsync://isshoni.org/gentoo-portage-pi64-gem, a weekly-gated, signature-authenticated portage rsync mirror locked to the binhost's available files, as described above.

  • sakaki-tools: this provides a number of small utilities for Gentoo. The image currently uses the following ebuilds from the sakaki-tools overlay:

    • app-portage/showem source, manpage

      A tool to view the progress of parallel emerge operations.

    • app-portage/genup source, manpage

      A utility for keeping Gentoo systems up to date.

    • app-portage/porthash source, manpage

      Checks, or creates, signed 'master' hashes of Gentoo repos (useful when distributing via e.g. rsync). Retired as of version 1.3.0 of this image in favour of Gentoo's official gemato verification.

    • sys-apps/me_cleaner upstream

      A tool for partial deblobbing of Intel ME/TXE firmware images, used to disable the Intel Management Engine (ME). Now bundled with the image for convenience, for those who would like to use their RPi3 as an external programmer to reflash the firmware on their PC. See these notes for further details.

    • sys-apps/coreboot-utils upstream

      Provides some tools useful for inspection of Intel firmware images (used with me_cleaner, above).

    • app-portage/porthole upstream

      A GTK+-based front end to Portage. At the time of writing, required slight patching to work, hence this overlay. Will revert to using the default repo at the next revbump.

    • media-gfx/fotoxx upstream

      A program for improving image files from digital cameras (HDR etc). Supplies v19.13, which is not yet in the Gentoo tree.

  • genpi64: this overlay (which used to be named rpi3 and was subsequently migrated at v1.5.0 with the advent of RPi4 support) provides ebuilds specific to the Raspberry Pi 3 & Pi 4, or builds that have fallen off the main Gentoo tree but which are the last known reliable variants for arm64. It also provides the custom profile genpi64:default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/genpi64. The image currently uses the following ebuilds from the genpi64 overlay:

    • dev-embedded/rpi-64bit-meta This is the main gentoo-on-rpi-64bit metapackage - its version matches that of the image release (currently, 1.5.0). The features it pulls in (via other ebuilds) can be customized via the following USE flags (edit via /etc/portage/package.use/rpi-64bit-meta):

      USE flag Default? Effect
      boot-fw Yes Pull in the /boot firmware, configs and bootloader.
      kernel-bin Yes Pull in the bcm{2711,rpi3}-kernel<-bis>-bin binary kernel package.
      porthash No Pull in repo signature checker, for isshoni.org rsync.
      weekly-genup Yes Pull in cron.weekly script, to run genup automatically.
      innercore Yes Pull in essential system packages for image (RPi initscripts etc.)
      core Yes Pull in main packages for image (clang etc.). Requires innercore.
      xfce Yes Pull in packages for baseline Xfce4 system. Requires core.
      pitop No Pull in Pi-Top packages (NB most users won't want this). Requires xfce.
      apps No Pull in baseline desktop apps (libreoffice etc). Requires xfce.
    • sys-firmware/brcm43430-firmware upstream Just provides a configuration file (brcmfmac43430-sdio.txt) that is required for the RPi3/4's integrated WiFi (the main firmware is provided already, by sys-kernel/linux-firmware). Now also provides the equivalent file brcmfmac43455-sdio.txt, for use with the RPi3 B+ / RPi 4 B's dual-band WiFi WiFi chip set (Cypress CYW43455), plus the matching brcmfmac43430-sdio.clm_blob.

    • net-wireless/rpi3-wifi-regdom Provides a simple service to set the WiFi regulatory domain; the value set may be modified by editing the file /etc/conf.d/rpi3-wifi-regdom.

    • sys-firmware/bcm4340a1-firmware upstream Provides firmware (/etc/firmware/BCM43430A1.hcd) for the RPi3/4's integrated Bluetooth transceiver. Adapted from the pi-bluetooth package from ArchLinux. Required by net-wireless/rpi3-bluetooth package (see below).

    • net-wireless/rpi3-bluetooth upstream Provides a startup service and udev rule for the RPi3/4's integrated Bluetooth transceiver. Adapted from the pi-bluetooth package from ArchLinux.

    • sys-devel/portage-distccmon-gui Desktop file (and wrapper) to view Portage jobs with distccmon-gui (provided your user is a member of the portage group). Currently installed on the image, but not controlled by the rpi-64bit-meta metapackage.

    • sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel-bin Provides ebuilds to install the available binary packages for the 64-bit bcmrpi3_defconfig Linux kernels (for the Raspberry Pi 3 model B and B+), which are updated weekly here.

    • sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel-bis-bin Provides ebuilds to install the available binary packages for the 64-bit bcmrpi3_defconfig Linux kernels (for the Raspberry Pi 3 model B and B+), which are updated weekly here. This version is used by default in preference to bcmrpi3-kernel-bin as of v1.2.2 of the image, as it includes some additional kernel configuration items such as KVM (but either is acceptable).

    • sys-kernel/bcm2711-kernel-bin Provides ebuilds to install the available binary packages for the 64-bit bcm2711_defconfig Linux kernels (for the Raspberry Pi 4 model B), which are updated weekly here.

    • sys-kernel/bcm2711-kernel-bis-bin Provides ebuilds to install the available binary packages for the 64-bit bcm2711_defconfig Linux kernels (for the Raspberry Pi 4 model B), which are updated weekly here. This version is used by default in preference to bcm2711-kernel-bin as of v1.5.0 of the image, as it includes some additional kernel configuration items such as KVM (but either is acceptable).

    • media-libs/raspberrypi-userland Provides a (restricted) 64-bit build (-DARM64=ON) of raspberrypi-userland, forvcgencmd etc. The ebuild needs tidying, so please use with care ><

    • sys-apps/rpi3-init-scripts Provides a few simple init scripts (to autoexpand the root partition on first boot, etc.).

    • app-portage/weekly-genup Installs a simple cron.weekly script, to automate genup, and another, to run 'fixups' (small scripts to correct issues that may e.g. prevent correct genup operation etc.).

    • sys-apps/rpi3-ondemand-cpufreq Provides the rpi3-ondemand OpenRC sysinit service, which switches the RPi3 from its (bcmrpi3_defconfig) default powersave CPU frequency governor, to ondemand, for better performance.

    • x11-misc/rpi3-safecursor Provides the rpi3-safecursor OpenRC service, which will install a rule to force software cursor blitting (rather than the hardware default) if the user has not set disable_overscan=1 in config.txt. Introduced to deal with issue #17. The service no-ops with the supplied 4.19.y kernel however, as this has a fix already committed.

    • app-portage/rpi3-check-porthash Provides a porthash signed hash check for the isshoni.org rsync gentoo ebuild repository, implemented as a repo.postsync.d hook. NB not installed as of v1.3.0 of the image, as Gentoo's official gemato signature check is used instead; please see the release notes here.

    • sys-boot/rpi3-64bit-firmware upstream Provides the firmware and config files required in /boot to boot the RPi3/4 in 64-bit mode. Does not provide the kernel or DTBs (see sys-kernel/bcmrpi3-kernel<-bis>-bin, above, for that). A weekly check is made to see if a new tag has been added to the official raspberrypi/firmware/boot upstream, and, if so, a matching ebuild is automatically created here.

    • dev-embedded/wiringpi upstream Provides Gordon Henderson's WiringPi, a PIN based GPIO access library (with accompanying gpio utility). Now deprecated; use e.g. the bundled pigpio library instead.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-fixups-rpi3 Effects some useful new-user fixups for Xfce4 on the RPi3 (forcing compositing to sync to the vertical blank etc.). Installs an /etc/xdg/autostart/xfce4-fixups-rpi3.desktop entry.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-keycuts-pitop Installs some simple keyboard shortcuts for the Pi-Top (an RPi3-based DIY laptop). Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-battery-plugin upstream A modified version of the standard xfce4-battery-plugin gas gauge. It is patched with code from rricharz to query the status of the Pi-Top's battery over I2C; this code is activated by building rpi-64bit-meta with the pitop USE flag.

    • sys-apps/pitop-poweroff Provides a simple OpenRC shutdown service, to ensure that the Pi-Top's onboard hub controller is properly powered off. Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta.

    • sys-apps/rpi3-spidev Provides a udev rule for SPI access on the RPi3/4; ensures that the /dev/spidevN.M devices are read/write for all members of the wheel group, not just root. Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta (but usable on any RPi3/RPi4).

    • sys-apps/rpi3-i2cdev Proves an OpenRC service and udev rule for I2C access on the RPi3/4. Ensures that the i2c-dev module is modprobed, and that the /dev/i2c-[0-9] devices are read/write for all members of the wheel group, not just root. Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta (but usable on any RPi3/4).

    • dev-embedded/pitop-utils upstream Provides the pt-poweroff and pt-brightness sbin utilities for the Pi-Top. Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta.

    • dev-embedded/pitop-speaker upstream Provides the ptspeaker Python 3 package and accompanying OpenRC service, to initialize pitopSPEAKER add-on-boards. The init has been adapted from the original Debian package and does not use pt-peripherals-daemon. Only installed when the pitop USE flag is set on rpi-64bit-meta.

    • x11-misc/twofing upstream Provides the twofing daemon, which converts touchscreen gestures into mouse and keyboard events. Included primarily for use with the official 7" RPi (1,2,3) touchscreen (not sure if this is yet compatible with the RPi4).

    • app-accessibility/onboard upstream Provides a flexible onscreen keyboard. Again, included primarily for use with the official 7" RPi (1,2,3) touchscreen. Adapted with thanks from original ebuild, here.

    • xfce-extra/xfc4-mixer upstream Provides xfc4-mixer-4.99.0-r1, a 'pseudo-package' replacing the original, treecleaned xfce4-mixer with the (broadly equivalent) media-sound/volumeicon package.

    • sys-apps/qdiskusage upstream Provides qdiskusage-1.99.0.ebuild, a dummy, as this has now been removed from the main Gentoo tree, and the local copy no longer builds, due to missing deps.

    • x11-themes/gnome-icon-theme upstream Provides gnome-icon-theme-3.12.0-r1.ebuild; this has been removed from the main Gentoo tree, but is still required for some icons on the image.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-notifyd upstream Provides xfce4-notifyd-0.4.0.ebuild; this has been removed from the main Gentoo tree, but is still used on the image. Upgrades masked because of message truncation, which causes problems with PIN notification during Bluetooth device setup. To be fixed / resolved soon.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-indicator-plugin upstream Provides xfce4-indicator-plugin-2.3.3-r2.ebuild; this has been removed from the main Gentoo tree, and the v2.3.4 is currently masked.

    • net-misc/rpi3-ethfix Effects some simple Ethernet workarounds (using ethtool) for the RPi3B+. It has not effect on the RPi3B or RPi4B.

    • sys-apps/rpi3-expand-swap Expands the default swapfile (/var/cache/swap/swap1) to 1,024MiB on first boot (after the root filesystem has been expanded), subject to sufficient space.

    • sys-apps/rpi3-zswap Activates the zswap kernel facility to transparently compress, and cache in RAM, pages that are being evicted to swap. Can significantly improve responsiveness of the RPi3 when a number of large applications are open. Configured via /etc/conf.d/rpi3-zswap.

    • sys-boot/rpi3-boot-config Provides the 'starter' configuration files /boot/cmdline.txt and /boot/config.txt.

    • net-wireless/blueman Provides blueman-2.0.4-r1.ebuild; this has been removed from the main Gentoo tree, but is in use on the image (until the current version proves stable, at which point it will be unmasked, and blueman will revert to using the main-tree ebuild).

    • x11-misc/rpi3-safecompositor Provides an OpenRC service to off display compositing, on the RPi3 only, if a high pixel clock is detected (> 1.2175MHz, currently). This is because certain applications, for example LibreOffice v6 Draw and Impress, can cause the whole system to lock-up when used with compositing on under such conditions. As of v1.4.0 of the image, also turns of compositing when 'true' kms mode (vc4-kms-v3d) is in use.

    • app-office/orage upstream Provides orage-4.12.1-r1.ebuild, patched for bug 657542. Once this revbumps in the main Gentoo tree, orage should revert to using that version instead.

    • dev-libs/openssl upstream Provides a number of builds of openssl with the Fedora EC patchset, that allow use / distribution in bindist builds.

    • dev-python/pyopenssl upstream Provides a version of pyopenssl that can use with the above openssl builds, with bindist set.

    • net-libs/nghttp2 upstream Provides version of nghttp2 that can work under bindist, by using the EC-patched openssl libraries (above).

    • net-libs/nodejs upstream Provides version of nodejs that can work under bindist, by using the EC-patched openssl libraries (above).

    • sys-apps/pyconfig_gen Provides a simple, PyQt5 dialog-based app, to allow the /boot/config.txt file to be edited in a structured manner, together with some support services (to revert the new config automatically, unless ratified upon reboot).

    • www-client/chromium upstream Provides a version of the open-source browser chromium, capable of being built in a bindist compatible manner (by suppressing all software-based h264 codec inclusions).

    • xfce4-extra/xfce4-noblank Provides an /etc/xdg/autostart script to prevent the xscreensaver blanking the screen, even when it is notionally 'off'.

    • xfce-extra/xfce4-cpugraph-plugin upstream Provides a version of this plugin that periodically completely redraws, as the original is subject to occasional display corruption.

    • media-video/ffmpeg upstream Provides a version of ffmpeg that has been patched to allow leverage of the RPi3/4's hardware video codecs, via V4L2 M2M.

    • media-video/pi-ffplay Provides a trivial video player app (based on ffplay) that uses the RPi3/4's hardware video codecs where possible.

    • media-video/pi-ffcam Provides a trivial live view app for the RPi3/4's (optional) camera module.

Project Wiki

In addition to the notes in this README, this project also has an associated open wiki, containing a number of short tutorial articles you may find helpful when using 64-bit Gentoo on your RPi3 or RPi4.

You can view the wiki homepage here. Feel free to add your own material!

Help Wanted!

You've got this far through the README - I'm impressed ^-^. In fact, you may be just the sort of person to help get arm64 into a more stable state in the main Gentoo tree...

To that end, if you have managed to get additional packages (not included in the original pre-installed set) working reliably on your gentoo-on-rpi-64bit system, please feel free to submit PRs for the relevant profile elements of the genpi64 overlay (for example, package.accept_keywords, package.bashrc and package.use entries). Not only will upstreaming your changes help other users in the short term, it will also create a shared knowledge base (about how to get various packages working on arm64) that can be used as a sourcebook for keywording PRs (etc.) to the main Gentoo tree.

Within reason, I'm also happy to consider adding working packages to the set maintained by the weekly-autobuild binhost; just open an issue to request this.

Acknowledgement

I'd like to acknowledge NeddySeagoon's work getting Gentoo to run in 64-bit mode on the RPi3 (see particularly this thread, which was a really useful reference when putting this project together originally).

Feedback Welcome!

If you have any problems, questions or comments regarding this project, feel free to drop me a line! (sakaki@deciban.com)

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