Fast Arch Install from existing Linux System

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If you are running Linux already and don't have a CD writer or simply want a faster install process, here is how to install from hard drive.

Read the Arch Linux Install Guide first so that you know what to expect.

You need one more spare partition, bigger than the Arch CD iso. Here I'm logged in as root and am using "/dev/hda12" which happens to be 6GB.

Depending on your boot loader, follow the "LILO" or "GRUB" section. Then the "REBOOT AND INSTALL" section


1) Copy the iso to the spare partition (you can use a plain recursive copy, cp -R instead of dd, dd may sometimes screw the partition):

dd if=arch-0.7.iso of=/dev/hda12

2) Making or using a suitable mount point, mount the partition somewhere (you can use option -tiso9660 but mount should work it out):

mkdir /mnt/archCD
mount /dev/hda12 /mnt/archCD

3) Edit lilo.conf and add:

        append="root=/dev/rd/0 BOOTMEDIA=cd"

then don't forget to run:



I've not been able to boot a hard disk partition containing the Arch iso with grub, instead the iso must first be unpacked to an ordinary partition. This is still quicker than burning a CD:

1) Format the spare partition and (making or using a suitable mount point) mount it:

mkreiserfs /dev/hda12
mkdir /mnt/archCD
mount /dev/hda12 /mnt/archCD

2) Mount the Arch iso file (making or using a suitable mount point):

mkdir /mnt/tmp
mount -o loop arch-0.7.iso /mnt/tmp

3) Copy from the iso to the spare partition:

cd /mnt/tmp
cp -a * /mnt/archCD

4) then modify /boot/grub/menu.lst

title ArchCD
kernel (hd0,11)/isolinux/vmlinuz root=/dev/rd/0 BOOTMEDIA=cd
initrd (hd0,11)/isolinux/initrd.img

Reboot and Install Arch

Reboot and select archCD, when the installer asks if you're using CD or SRC, you can hop out to another shell and:

mount -tiso9660 /dev/discs/disc0/part12 /src
  • replace /dev/discs/disc0/part12 with the spare partition you allocated
  • remember you can use "tab completion" to find that partition, rather than type the whole thing in
  • then hop back and install from hard drive by selecting SRC rather than CD.

And to reclaim the spare partition when Arch is up and running...

1) The spare partition can be reclaimed by making a file system with "mkreiserfs", "mke2fs" etc. Using hda12 as an example:

mkreiserfs /dev/hda12

2) Then edit /etc/fstab to check the partition has the correct file system and options listed against it:

/dev/hda12 /mnt/spare reiserfs defaults,noatime,notail,noauto 0 0

3) Lastly check that the mount point exists, if not:

mkdir /mnt/spare