Installing Debian from another Linux Distribution such as Gentoo or Arch Linux

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There are various scenarios in which one might need to install a Debian-based system (e.g., Debian, Ubuntu, etc.) from another distribution (e.g., Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.). One common reason is when a user wants to set up a Debian-based system alongside an existing distribution. This could be for the purpose of testing software compatibility, development, or simply to have a dual-boot.

A Debian-based distribution can be installed from any other distribution (e.g. Arch Linux, Gentoo…) using debootstrap. The debootstrap command-line tool allows installing a Debian or Ubuntu base system within a subdirectory of an existing, installed system. Unlike traditional installation methods using a CD or a USB Key, debootstrap only requires access to a Debian repository.

Step 1: Create a new LVM partition, format it, and mount it

# Create the root LVM partition
lvcreate  -L 20G -n debian_root VOL_NAME

# Format the partition
mkfs.ext4 /dev/VOL_NAME/debian_root

# Mount the partition
mkdir /mnt/debian_root
mount /dev/VOL_NAME/debian_root /mnt/debian_rootCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 2: Install the debootstrap command-line tool

On Arch Linux, debootstrap can be installed using:

sudo pacman -Sy debian-archive-keyring debootstrapCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

On Gentoo, it can be installed using:

sudo emerge -a dev-util/debootstrapCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 3: Install the Debian base system

Use the debootstrap command to install Debian into the target directory:

debootstrap  --arch=amd64 stable /mnt/debian_root language: plaintext (plaintext)

You can replace stable with another Debian release like testing or unstable if desired. You can also add the flag --force-check-gpg to force checking Release file signatures.

In the above example, it will install the Debian-based system from the repository into the local directory /mnt/debian_root.

Step 4: Chroot into the Debian system

Since you are installing a Debian-based system inside another distribution (Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.), you’ll need to ensure that the directory where the Debian system is mounted is ready. You can achieve this by mounting certain directories and chrooting into the Debian system:

sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/debian_root/dev
sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/debian_root/proc
sudo mount --bind /sys /mnt/debian_root/sys
sudo mount --bind /boot /mnt/debian_root/boot
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/debian_root/etc/resolv.conf
sudo cp /etc/fstab /mnt/debian_root/etc/fstab
sudo chroot /mnt/debian_root /bin/bash -lCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

The chroot command will open a new shell in the Debian environment.

Step 5: Configure the Debian-based system

Now that you’re inside the Debian-based system, you can configure it as desired. You can install packages, modify configurations, set up users, etc.

Here is an example:

apt-get update

# Install the Linux Kernel
apt-get install linux-image-amd64 firmware-linux-free firmware-misc-nonfree 

# Install cryptsetup if you are using a LUKS encrypted partition
apt-get install cryptsetup cryptsetup-initramfs

# Install misc packages
apt-get install console-setup vim lvm2 sudo

# Reconfigure locales
dpkg-reconfigure locales

# Configure the host name and the time zone
echo yourhostname > /etc/hostname
ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Do not forget to:

  • Modify /mnt/debian_root/etc/fstab (The mount point “/” has to point to the Debian system)
  • Modify /mnt/debian_root/etc/crypttab (If you are using a LUKS encrypted partition)
  • Configure the bootloader (Grub, Syslinux, etc.).

Congratulations! You have successfully installed a Debian-based system using debootstrap from another distribution such as Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.

Gentoo: How to Speed Up emerge ‐‐sync


Synchronizing with the Gentoo Portage ebuild repository using emerge --sync can be slow when utilizing the rsync protocol. However, an effective solution exists that can greatly improve the synchronization speed: Configuring emerge --sync to synchronize using Git instead.

In this article, we will explore how to set up emerge to synchronize from the official Gentoo ebuild Git repository and save valuable time during the synchronizing process.

Step 1: Install Git using the following command:

sudo emerge -a dev-vcs/gitCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 2: Remove any file from the directory /etc/portage/repos.conf/ that configures the emerge command to use rsync.

Step 3: Create the file /etc/portage/repos.conf/gentoo.conf containing:

main-repo = gentoo


# The sync-depth=1 option speeds up initial pull by fetching 
# only the latest Git commit and its immediate ancestors, 
# reducing the amount of downloaded Git history.
sync-depth = 1

sync-type = git
auto-sync = yes
location = /var/db/repos/gentoo
sync-git-verify-commit-signature = yes
sync-openpgp-key-path = /usr/share/openpgp-keys/gentoo-release.asc
sync-uri = language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 4: Finally, run the following command to synchronize with the Gentoo ebuild repository using Git:

sudo emerge --sync

The initial download of the entire Git repository will cause the first emerge --sync command to take some time. However, subsequent synchronizations will be significantly quicker, taking only a few seconds.

Using Git can be a great way to speed up synchronization with the Gentoo ebuild repository. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can clone the Portage repository to your local machine and keep it up-to-date with the latest changes using Git. This can save you a lot of time when syncing your local repository.

Gentoo Linux: Unlocking a LUKS Encrypted LVM Root Partition at Boot Time using a Key File stored on an External USB Drive


Gentoo can be configured to use a key file stored on an external USB drive to unlock a LUKS encrypted LVM root partition.

We will explore in this article the general steps involved in configuring Gentoo to use an external USB drive as a key file to unlock a LUKS encrypted LVM root partition.

1. Create a key file on the USB stick and add it to the LUKS encrypted partition

Generate a key file on a mounted ext4 or vfat partition of a USB stick, which will be used by initramfs to unlock the LUKS partition:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile bs=1024 count=4Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Ensure that the partition on the USB drive has a label, as the initramfs will use this label to find where the key file is located.

Afterward, add the key file to the LUKS partition to enable decryption of the partition using that key file:

cryptsetup luksAddKey /dev/PART1 /PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile

In this example, “/dev/PART1” is the partition where the LUKS encryption is enabled, and “/PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile” is the location of the keyfile.

2 – Find the UUID of the encrypted partition and the label of the USB drive

Use the lsblk command to find the UUID of the encrypted partition and the label of the USB drive:

lsblk -o +UUID,LABEL

3. Configure the boot loader (such as Systemd-boot, GRUB, Syslinux…)

Add to the boot loader configuration the following initramfs kernel parameters:

  • crypt_root=UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111
  • root=/dev/LVMVOLUME/root
  • root_keydev=/dev/disk/by-label/LABELNAME
  • root_key=keyfile

Here is an example for Systemd-boot:

options dolvm crypt_root=UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111 root=/dev/LVMVOLUME/root root_keydev=/dev/disk/by-label/LABELNAME root_key=keyfileCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

To ensure proper setup:

  • Customize the initramfs options for LVMVOLUME, LABELNAME, and UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111 to match your specific case.
  • Verify that the ext4 or vfat partition of the USB drive that is labeled “LABELNAME” contains a file named “keyfile”.
  • Make sure that the modules “dm_mod” and “usb_storage” are included in the initramfs.

This method offers a convenient way to unlock a LUKS encrypted root LVM partition. The implementation process is well-documented, making it a suitable choice for those looking to secure their Gentoo Linux systems.

Gentoo Linux: Printer driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB

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Installing the printer driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB on Gentoo Linux can be a bit tricky, but thanks to a helpful ebuild written by James Cherti, the process becomes a breeze. The ebuild automates the whole process of downloading and installing the appropriate driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB on Gentoo Linux.

Brother QL-111NWB Driver installation on Gentoo

Create the file /etc/portage/repos.conf/motley-overlay.conf containing:

location = /usr/local/portage/motley-overlay
sync-type = git
sync-uri =
priority = 9999Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Update the repository:

emerge --sync motley-overlayCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Install the Brother QL-1110NWB printer driver:

emerge -av net-print/brother-ql1110nwb-binCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

The ebuild will automatically download the necessary driver package from Brother and install it on your system.

Finally, restart CUPS with:

systemctl restart cupsCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

You can now register your new printer using the web interface at: http://localhost:631/

(Please add a star to the Git repository jamescherti/motley-overlay to support the project!)