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I am messing around with Gentoo and I have never done so before but installing takes forever. So when I get a stable base establish I want to back up my Gentoo install to Ubuntu so if I mess it up I can just restore. What is the best way to do that?

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My quick answer will be to just use dd to make an image of the binary install. This an accurate restoration of the specific installation. See Learn the DD command on linuxqueations.

But, reading again, it seems that you want something like preparing your own distribution. For this you can look at Gentoo's Catalyst:

"The goal of the catalyst project is to provide a single multi-faceted tool that can reliably build all aspects of a Gentoo Linux release: stage tarballs, GRP package sets, and install CDs."

Or, better for your type of dynamic needs from the installation, there is this article: Build Your Own Live-CD or Live-DVD.

"This article will show you how to create your own LiveCD. This method has the following advantages over Gentoo's own Catalyst tool:

  • The build source will not be deleted between iterations of LiveCD creation. This will allow you to periodically sync, update, merge and customize your environment the same way you do it with a real system.
  • ...

"

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I was also thinking the DD tool, though I have Gentoo on a 60GB partition and I will only have it about 6GB full, will DD create an image that is bigger than 6GB? –  Seth Hikari Oct 24 '12 at 8:45
    
If I compressed all the files when mounting it from Ubuntu can I just restore them to the same partition if I want to restart? –  Seth Hikari Oct 24 '12 at 8:48
    
It is not so easy to image only part of the drive, because if your drive is even a little fragmented you would not know what parts you need to take... But see the link I added for dd, search for the section about imaging a partition from another machine with netcat. This section also deals with piping through a packer. –  amotzg Oct 24 '12 at 9:05
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