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Old 07-24-2010, 10:48 AM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2010
Posts: 16

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Installing Arch Linux... for newbies.

I was going to post this in the Arch sub-forum, but decided this might
be a better place to reach folks who haven't had success with, or been
put off by the rumors of, Arch Linux.

Rabbit's Awesome beginner's guide to:
Installing Arch Linux

Guide can be found here:
(Coming soon, along with Part II)


Let me start by making some points here. I'm not going to go into your specific BIOS options, dual-booting, or anything like that. This guide will wipe your harddrive clean. If you're experienced enough to get into the fine details of a dual-boot system, or manually configuring your network card, choosing your own filesystem and desktop environment or living in the command line... this guide probably isn't for you, anyhow. It's to help the folks curious about trying out Linux jump in feet first and be successful.
So,if you are not in the habit of backing up your system- important documents, photos, music files, video/movie files and Internet favorites/bookmarks- then you are asking for trouble. If you take nothing else from this guide, learn that right now is the perfect time to backup your system.

Secondly, this is a straight-forward, no-nonsense walkthrough of getting Arch Linux installed. I suggest you print it out right now. If you have access to another computer, Google is your bestest friend in the whole world if you have questions. I can't possibly cover every possible scenario. What I have done, however, is point out with -->[]<-- symbols issues that I came across and seem fairly common. When you see info in those brackets, pay attention just in case it pertains to you. Otherwise, feel free to ignore it.

Lastly, don't let the size of this guide scare you. There are a LOT of steps because I tried to get as specific as possible just in case you know very little about Linux. Also note that this is NOT for dial-up folks. You can still do the install, but it would take a long time on dial-up. And laptop users, you may need some extra help getting your network card initialized during setup. Refer to the official forums for walkthough of those commands.

By the time we're done, here's what will be installed:
(A) Arch Linux
(B) The X Window System
(C) The GDM login
(D) The Gnome desktop
(E) The Avant Windows Navigator dock system
(F) Internet Broswer: firefox
(G) Torrent program: deluge
(H) Fonts for Open Office: ttf-dejavu
(I) Fonts for Open Office: artwiz-fonts
(J) Fonts for Open Office: ttf-ms-fonts
(K) Office Suite: openoffice-base
(L) HTML Editor: bluefish
(M) Chat Program: pidgin
(N) Image Editor: gimp
(O) Image Viewer: feh
(P) Movie Player: mplayer
(Q) Firefox extension: gecko-mediaplayer
(R) Music Player: ncmpcpp
(S) Email Program: thunderbird
(T) Eye Candy: compiz-decorator-gtk

Here we go.

001. Download the appropriate image for your system. I have a 64-bit system so I use the net install 64-bit image.

002. Burn image to CD or DVD.
003. Reboot to the CD/DVD.
004. Choose the first option: Boot Arch Linux

{At this point you'll see all the background loading going on. In brackets, you'll notice Busy and Done appearing. If at any point you see FAIL, you will want to start over. The first question to ask at this point is if your system is overclocked. You want your system running as stable as possible during the initial install so enter your BIOS and switch to your default settings until the install is completed. If that doesn't help, refer to the official forums for Arch Linux to seek assistance. If everything goes well and you see Done down the line you will find yourself at a command line.}

005. At the command line Type: root
006. Hit Enter
007. Type: /arch/setup
008. Hit ENTER
009. Choose: Select Source
010. Choose: Net.
011. Hit ENTER
012. Hit ENTER
013. "Setup Network" should be highlighted. Hit ENTER.
014. Hit ENTER
015. "Yes" should be highlighted. Hit ENTER.
016. "The network is configured" should pop up in a window. Hit ENTER.
017. "Choose Mirror" should be highlighted. Hit ENTER.
018. Hit ENTER.
019. Hit ENTER.
020. "Return to Main Menu" should be highlighted. Hit ENTER.
021. Choose: Set Clock.
022. Continue choosing options which fit your needs: Country, then closest major city to you.
023. Choose: Local Time.
024. You'll be given a small window with the current time. If it's correct, Choose: Ok. If it's not, Choose: NTP and then Choose: Ok.
025. Choose: Return to menu.

{We're going to take complete control here and prepare your system from scratch... I hope you backed up!}

026. Choose: Prepare hard drive(s).
027. Choose: Manually Partition hard drives.
028. Hit ENTER

{Linux refers to harddrives in the following manner: I have two Sata drives, my first one shows up as sda, and my second as sdb. If I had a third, it would be sdc.}

029. Select the hard drive you plan to use. On my system it's sda.
030. Hit ENTER.
031. You will be taken into a program called CFDISK. This is a hard drive partitioning utility to prepare your hard drive for Linux.

In the event that you get an error message at the bottom of your screen warning that a partition is using the end cylinder, or some such nonsense, then your current partitions are jacked up as far as Arch Linux is concerned. Fear not, you can fix this without the need for seperate tools. Simply follow these steps:

A. Return to the main menu and choose the first option: Automatically partition the drive.
B. Arch Linux will create it's "Default" setup partitions. Just go through the motions of using all the default options it gives.
C. When it's done, choose: Exit Installation.
D. At the command line type: reboot
F. Start over at Step 1.
It should be smooth sailing from there.

{If you are using a brand new drive you should only see one line at the top which reads Free Space. Otherwise, your old partitions will show up. Linux refers to partitions by number. Since my drive is sda, my partitions show up as: sda1, sda2, etc. During this process it is imperative that you keep track of the name of the partitions you create. Grab something to write with and take notes where I tell you.}

032. You should have either multiple lines of partitions, or just one line which reads Free Space. At the bottom of your screen you will notice a menu which you can navigate with your left and right arrow keys. Use your up and down arrow keys to highlight the partitions. You will want to highlight each partition and select the Delete menu option. (You can't Delete the Free Space, so don't worry.) When all partitions are gone, you will have just one line left which reads Free Space. Now you can continue to step 33.
033. Free space should be highlighted. On the menu, Choose: New.
034. Choose: Primary.
035. It will ask you how much space to give it. Do NOT try to delete the numbers there with your backspace key or delete key. Make sure your NUM LOCK is on and Type: 150
036. Hit ENTER
037. Choose: Beginning
038. You should now show your first partition. In my case, it's sda1. Write down yours and put /boot next to it. We made this partition only 150 megs because it's sole purpose is to hold your /boot directory. As such, this partition doesn't need to be very large. It does, however, need to be bootable. Hightlight this partition and on your menu choose: Bootable. You should see Boot appear next to the partition in the Flags column.

{Next, we'll create our Swap file. Maybe you need one, maybe you don't. Here's my philosophy: it doesn't take up much hard drive space and it's better to have it but not use it than to have your system fail because it wasn't there the one time you did need it. A good rule of thumb for your Swap file is two times your RAM memory, but that's based on most people not having a lot. If you have at least 1gig of RAM just go with a 2gig swap file. Let's create that.}

039. Hightlight Free Space.
040. Choose: New.
041. Choose: Primary.
042. Type: 2000
043. Press ENTER
044. Choose: Beginning.
045. You should now show a second partition. Mine is sda2. Write down yours and put Swap next to it.

{The Swap partition has to be specifically designated as being used for Swap. That's what this next step is for.}

046. Make sure the Swap partition is highlighted and from the menu choose: Type
047. Type: 82
048. Hit ENTER.
049. We now have our Swap file.

{Next, we'll create our / directory. Yes, this directory is just a forward-slash.}

050. Hightlight Free Space.
051. Choose: New.
052. Choose: Primary.
053. Hit ENTER. (This will use the rest of your hard drive)
054. You should now show a third partition. Mine is sda3. Write down yours and put / next to it.

{Excellent. Now your hard drive should be devoted to your Linux install. It's just not permanent yet. To make it permanent, we have to write our setup to the harddrive.}
{It does not matter which partition is highlighted for this next part.}

055. Choose: Write.
056. Type: yes
057. Hit ENTER
058. Choose: Quit.
059. Choose: Done.

{We're back to the Menu screen. We created our partitions, but we did not tell the system how to use them. That's what the next section is for: choosing our Linux filesystem and assigning /mount points.}

060. Choose: Manually configure block devices, filesystems and mountpoints.
061. Choose: UUID {This should protect the mountpoints when the Linux kernel gets updated.)

{We only created four partitions. However, you may see more options on this menu. We will ONLY be assigning the partitions we created so ignore the rest. You have your note sheet, right?}

062. First, we'll set the /boot partition. Choose your boot partition in the menu- for me, it was sda1.
063. Choose: Yes.
064. Choose: ext4
065. Choose: /boot
066. Hit ENTER until you return to the menu.
067. Next, Choose your Swap partiton- for me, it was sda2.
068. Choose: Yes
069. Choose: ext4
070. Choose: Swap
071. Hit ENTER until you return to the menu.
072. Next comes /
073. Choose your / partition- for me, it was sda3.
074. Choose: Yes
075. Choose ext4
076. Choose / {It says Root next to it}
077. Hit ENTER until you return to the menu.
078. Choose Return to main menu.
079. Choose: Done.
080. Watch as your drive is partitioned. Choose: Ok when it's done.
081. Choose: Return to the main menu.

{Now we're going to install the initial drivers and utilities used by your system.}

082. Choose: Select Packages
083. "Base" should have an asterisk next to it. Choose: Ok.
084. Use your down arrow key to scroll down the long list of utilities until you find "pacman-mirrorlist".
085. When it's highlighted, hit your spacebar to select it. It should now have an asterisk by it.
086. Continue scrolling down until you find "sudo".
087. When it's hightlighted, hit your spacebar to select it. It should now have an asterisk by it.
088. Hit ENTER
089. Choose: Install packages.
090. Hit ENTER

{Waiting...waiting... this part takes a bit of time regardless of which mirror you choose to download from.}

091. When the downloads are done you will see "Continue" at the bottom of the screen. Hit ENTER.

{Now we start the Configure System section. You really have to pay attention here because you'll be dealing with actual system files. Like every other Linux distro, Arch Linux is pretty smart. But also like every Linux Distro, if you specifically tell it to do something wrong it will still do what you tell it. For that reason, if you don't need to make changes... don't. The defaults are pretty intuitive, overall.}

092. Choose: Configure system
093. Choose: Yes
094. Choose: nano

{The menu will list all the files you have access to. We need to open each and every one... even if we don't edit them. This forces the system to create the file, thus helping to prevent errors down the line.}

095. Hightlight rc.conf
096. Hit ENTER
097. Use the down arrow until you get to the line which reads: MODULES=()
098. Use the right arrow to move the cursor over the ) bracket symbol.
099. Type: fuse
100. The line should now looke like: MODULES=(fuse)

I have a Radeon video card. My system seems to work by adding "radeon" to my modules list. Therefore, my line looks like:
MODULES=(radeon fuse)
Your mileage may vary.

101. Use the down arrow until you see DAEMONS=(syslog-ng network netfs crond).
102. Use the right arrow until the cursor covers the ) bracket symbol. Hit the space bar and then type: hal alsa gdm
103. The line should now look like this: DAEMONS=(syslog-ng network netfs crond hal alsa gdm)
104. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
105. Choose: /etc/fstab
106. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
107. Choose: mkinitcpio.conf
108. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
109. Choose: /etc/modprobe.d
110. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
111. Choose: /etc/resolve.conf
112. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
113. Choose: /etc/hosts
114. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
115. Choose: /etc/hosts.deny
116. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
117. Choose: /etc/hosts.allow
118. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
119. Choose: /etc/locale.gen
120. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
121. Choose: /etc/pacman.conf
122. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
123. Choose: /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
124. Hit CTRL-O. Then hit ENTER. Then hit CTRL-X.
125. Choose: Root-Password

{At the bottom-left of your screen is a prompt. It's waiting for you to type your password. Note that you will not see anything while you type it- no asterisks, nothing. So type slowly, carefully, and make sure you can remember this password.}

126. Type your password.
127. Hit ENTER
128. Type it again.
129. Hit ENTER
130. Choose: Done
131. Choose: Install Bootloader.
132. Choose: Grub.
133. Hit ENTER.
134. Use the down arrow key until you find some variation of:
# (0) Arch Linux
title Arch Linux
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/disk/by-uuid/9859e1ce-af49-4e4d-9f57-9971368281df ro
initrd /kernel26.img

135. There will be two more that start with (1) and (2). Leave those alone! The only thing you're going to add here is the number 5 at the end of the kernal line. Like so:
kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda ro 5

136. That section would now read:
# (0) Arch Linux
title Arch Linux
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/disk/by-uuid/9859e1ce-af49-4e4d-9f57-9971368281df ro 5
initrd /kernel26.img

137. Hit CTRL-O
138. Hit ENTER
139. Hit CTRL-X
140. Choose the option for your hard drive. If your partitions are sda1, sda2, sda2 then you will choose sda. (Look at your note sheet. The first three digits are what you're looking for here. So if your notes show hda1, hda2 and hda you would choose hda from this menu.
141. Hit Enter
142. Choose: Exit Install.
143. Hit ENTER
144. Remove the CDROM or DVD.
145. Type: reboot
146. Hit ENTER.

Congrats. Your shiny, new Arch Linux install is booting up. You'll find yourself at a command prompt when it's done loading. You can only log in at root at the moment so:
1. Type: root
2. Hit ENTER
3. Type the password you chose.
4. Hit ENTER.

Here's an extra bit to walk you through some important initial commands.

1. Type: pacman -Syy
2. Type: pacman -Syu

{Now we're going to create your account on this machine. Replace USERNAME with the name you want to go by. It must be all lowercase, no capital letters, and no spaces.}

3. Type: useradd -g users -G audio,floppy,network,optical,storage,video,wheel -m USERNAME
4. Hit ENTER
5. Type: passwrd USERNAME
6. Hit ENTER
7. Type your password
8. Hit ENTER
9. Type it again.
10. Hit ENTER
11. Now we need to give your account Root priviledge for installing software and so forth.
12. Type: export EDITOR=nano
13. Hit ENTER
14. Type: visudo
15. Hit ENTER
16. Arrow down until you see:
root ALL=(ALL) All
17. Under that line, add:
18. Hit CTRL-O
19. Hit ENTER
20. Hit CTRL-X
21. Time to do some installing! This extremely long line of data will install everything at once, so feel free to go take a nap, pop some popcorn and watch a movie, whatever. You won't have to sit there waiting for each thing to install to get the next one started.

{Before you being typing this all out, notice the last entry: xf86-video-ati. If you have an ATI video card, stick with that. If you have an nvidia card, change it to xf86-video-nvidia. And if you have an on-board Intel video chip change it to xf86-video-intel.}

22. Type:
pacman -S fuse hal alsa-utils gamin mesa xf86-input-mouse xf86-input-keyboard xf86-input-evdev linux-firmware xorg gnome gnome-extra gnome-system-tools gdm gksu avant-window-navigator awn-extras-applets firefox deluge ttf-dejavu artwiz-fonts ttf-ms-fonts openoffice-base bluefish pidgin gimp feh mplayer gecko-mediaplayer ncmpcpp thunderbird compiz-decorator-gtk xf86-video-ati

23. Hit ENTER
24. When it askes yes or no, just Type: y and Hit ENTER.
25. If you typed it all correctly, the download should begin. If you typed something wrong, you'll get an error message saying the package you mis-typed can't be found. Just hit your Up Arrow key to re-display what you typed and use the Left-Right Arrow keys to move to that section and fix it.
26. Remember to Hit ENTER once you've changed what was wrong.
27. Now go pop your popcorn. It's going to be a while.
28. Once it's (Finally!) done, Type: reboot
29. Hit ENTER.
Old 07-25-2010, 07:54 PM   #2
Registered: Jan 2009
Location: Gordonsville-AKA Mayberry-Virginia
Distribution: PocketWriter/MinimalX
Posts: 5,057

Rep: Reputation: 328Reputation: 328Reputation: 328Reputation: 328
This should be a sticky here and at ARCH forums!
Good work!

Many people say ARCH is kinda hard
I disagree; as I can barely type "hello world" and know 0 programming langs, not even bash, etc
and I have no issues with ARCH

ARCH has the best Wiki too!
Old 07-26-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2010
Posts: 16

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
I posted it on the official Arch forums... and they got pissed. lol
Old 07-26-2010, 05:24 PM   #4
Registered: Nov 2002
Location: Kent, England
Distribution: Lubuntu
Posts: 19,165
Blog Entries: 4

Rep: Reputation: 426Reputation: 426Reputation: 426Reputation: 426Reputation: 426 would be a good place too. Just sort out the code tags and such, break it down into sections, post it up and it will appear (once it's been approved).

The latter part can be sped up by dropping me an email via my profile, by the way .
Old 07-26-2010, 07:18 PM   #5
John VV
Registered: Aug 2005
Posts: 12,061

Rep: Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573Reputation: 1573
I posted it on the official Arch forums... and they got pissed. lol
? i just can not see why ???
the arch wiki explains it just fine
Old 07-26-2010, 11:17 PM   #6
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2010
Posts: 16

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
Because those guides are tough to read, for one. I took out all
the "extra" crap and just went down the line as I was installing.
Also, I took the time to put in the two big problem areas and what
to do about them as you come across them. Personally, I think my
guide gets right down to the point for most users.


arch, linux

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