getting rid of gentoo

My good intentions to have the OTW wargames up and running by the end of the week are being tampered by bad fortune in the form of an outdated gentoo installation.
We currently use a VMWare setup hosted by an old gentoo installation, The gentoo installation is so old that it can't even upgrade itself. I've tried it with some sad results. After it destroyed its own portage system and I had to revive it, it would not compile virtualbox-ose because of conflicts among bash, portage, util-linux and coreutils. Installing virtualbox-bin worked, but the kernel module required by virtualbox wouldn't load because the kernel didn't export the correct symbols.

I recompiled the kernel but didn't have the guts to reboot the server because if it doesn't come back, there is nothing I can do (I have no console access or anyone to contact at the datacenter)

Finally, I tried to install qemu, which kindof worked, except that qemu segfaulted all the time.

So I'm fed up with gentoo and will attempt an exciting "viral" hack: repurpose the swap partition to install a bootstrap linux and boot into that, and then erase the root partition and install a new linux on it.

Before I do any of that, I want to test out this procedure on a local setup.