Fast Arch Install from existing Linux System

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If you are running Linux already and do not have a CD writer---or if you simply want a faster install process---here is how to install Arch from another running Linux installation.

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

You need one spare partition, at least as large as the Arch ISO image. Here I'm logged in as root and am using "/dev/sda12" which happens to be 6GB.

Note: These instructions are for the official Arch install images, and may need to be altered slightly for use with unofficial images (such as archboot).


1) Write the ISO image onto the spare partition:

dd if=archlinux-2010.05-netinstall-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sda12 bs=4k

2) Making or using a suitable mount point, mount the partition somewhere (you can specify -t iso9660, but mount should auto-detect the filesystem type):

mkdir /mnt/archCD
mount /dev/sda12 /mnt/archCD

3) Read the kernel options in isolinux.cfg:

grep -e APPEND /mnt/archCD/boot/isolinux/isolinux.cfg

Remember the value of the initrd= and archisolabel= options; the other options are less important on most systems.

Booting the ISO with GRUB

Note: It is also possible to boot the ISO image using LILO; see #Booting the ISO with LILO below.

1) Reboot the computer. When the GRUB menu appears, press 'c' for a command line.

2) Type:

root (hd#,#)

If you are using GRUB-Legacy, /dev/sda12 corresponds to (hd0,11); if you are using GRUB2, /dev/sda12 corresponds to (hd0,12).

If this command fails with GRUB2, you may need to load a module with the insmod command. See GRUB2 and the list of files in your /boot/grub directory for details.

3) Load the kernel:

kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 archisolabel=ARCH_201005

where ARCH_201005 is the value of archisolabel you memorized or wrote down above.

If you are using GRUB2, use linux instead of kernel in the above command.

4) Load the initial ramdisk:

initrd /boot/archiso.img

where /boot/archiso.img is the value of initrd you memorized or wrote down above.

5) Boot:


Reusing the spare partition with Arch

1) The spare partition can be reclaimed after the installation by making a file system with "mkfs.reiser", "mkfs.ext4", or another mkfs program. Again, using /dev/sda12 as an example:

mkfs.reiser /dev/sda12

2) Then add the partition to /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda12 /mnt/spare reiserfs defaults,noatime,notail,noauto 0 0

3) Ensure that the mount point exists:

mkdir -p /mnt/spare

4) Mount the partition:

mount /mnt/spare

Booting the ISO with LILO

Warning: I have not tested this process; please remove this warning if it works for you.

1) Edit lilo.conf to add:


where /boot/archiso.img and ARCH_201005 are the values of initrd= and archisolabel= you memorized or wrote down above.

2) Run:


3) Reboot the computer; choose archCD at the LILO menu.