Difference between revisions of "Install from existing Linux"

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{{Note|Do not forget to mount the system's boot partition if your setup uses a separate one!  The above assumes that either the boot partition resides on the root filesystem or is mounted to /boot on the root file system!}}
{{Note|Do not forget to mount the system's boot partition if your setup uses a separate one!  The above assumes that either the boot partition resides on the root filesystem or is mounted to /boot on the root file system!}}
Detailed instructions for [[GRUB]], [[GRUB2]], [[LILO]], [[Burg]] and [[Syslinux]] are available elsewhere on this wiki.
Detailed instructions for [[GRUB]], [[GRUB2]], [[LILO]], [[Burg]] and [[Syslinux]] are available; see also [[:Category:Boot loaders]].
===Finishing touches===
===Finishing touches===

Revision as of 01:56, 30 May 2012

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This guide is intended to combine and update the three previously existing and highly similar alternative install guides on this wiki. This guide is intended for anybody who wants to install Arch Linux from any other running Linux -- be it off a LiveCD or a pre-existing install of a different distro.


Arch Linux's pacman can be configured (-r) to perform operations in any directory you like, using that as the context of "root" while running.

This is useful for building up new Arch Linux systems from scratch from another distro's LiveCD or existing installation. It is also useful for creating new chroot environments on a "host" system, maintaining a "golden-master" for development & distribution, or other fun topics like rootfs-over-NFS for diskless machines.

This guide requires that the existing host system be able to execute the new target Arch Linux architecture programs. In the case of an x86_64 host, it is possible to use i686-pacman to build a 32-bit chroot environment. See Arch64 Install bundled 32bit system. However it is not so easy to build a 64-bit environment when the host only supports running 32-bit programs.

Throughout this guide, we will refer to partitions as /dev/hdxx or /dev/sdxx. This refers to whatever dev entry you have on your system for the partition in question. The convention is:

Drive 1, Partition 1:  /dev/hda1 or /dev/sda1
Drive 1, Partition 2:  /dev/hda2 or /dev/sda2
Drive 2, Partition 1:  /dev/hdb1 or /dev/sdb1


We will refer to it as /dev/sdxx whenever possible, but realize depending on your system it could be /dev/hdxx.

In this article,

refers to the computer which is used to perform the installation.
refers to the computer where you want to install Arch.

These may be one and the same computer. The host does not need to be an Arch system -- it can be a Debian or Redhat system, for example. The section entitled "Setup the host system" explains how to install pacman on the host. The following section "Setup the target system" explains how to use pacman from the host system to install Arch on the target system. Therefore if the host system is already running Arch, you can skip to "Setup the target system".

Setup the host system

You need to install the archlinux package manager pacman on your host linux environment. In addition you will need a list of pacman mirrors sites which is used to download data on available packages as well as the packages themselves. If you are already using arch, skip this step and go to Install from Existing Linux#Setup the target system.

Get the required packages


You need to get the required packages for your host linux environment. The examples given here assume you are using a i686 environment. If you are running on an 64bit linux instead you should replace each occurance of "i686" with "x86_64".

All version numbers given here may change. Please check the version numbers the packages are at first and note them down. The version numbers can be found:

Once you are sure of the version numbers download the required packages (change the value of ARCH to either x86_64 or i686, see above):

mkdir ${base_chroot}/archlinux
cd ${base_chroot}/archlinux

Download the pacman's binaries and shared libraries

You want to install pacman in the order to be able to install softwares in your new base directory. We first download the binaries for pacman, the arch package manager.

wget https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core/$ARCH/pacman/download/ --no-check-certificate
wget https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core/any/pacman-mirrorlist/download/ --no-check-certificate
Note: If the program wget is not getting the output filenames right, try using wget using the option --trust-server-names. (Hint: you could use an alias:
alias wget='wget --trust-server-names'

It enables to download the files with the names proposed by the server.

See the man page and the official manual of wget for further details.
Note: If you have issues with downloading pacman-mirrorlist use this direct way with lftp :
lftp -e "mget pacman-mirrorlist-*.tar.gz" "${link_name}"

or this direct way (give attention to the date string in the file name) :

wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/archlinux/core/os/x86_64/pacman-mirrorlist-20110703-1-any.pkg.tar.gz

You may need additional libraries to make pacman work:

for software_name in libfetch libarchive openssl xz expat ; do wget https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core/$ARCH/${software_name}/download/ ; done
Note: In some cases a few more libraries may be needed to work, for example when using an older distribution to bootstrap:
for software_name in glibc gcc-libs binutils libssh2 libcurl gcc libfetch libarchive openssl xz expat ; do wget https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core/$ARCH/${software_name}/download/ --trust-server-names; done

Also note that below when you set LD_LIBRARY_PATH you have to add /lib and /lib64:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=${base_chroot}/archlinux/usr/lib:${base_chroot}/archlinux/lib:${base_chroot}/archlinux/usr/lib64:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

Unpack all needed packages:

for f in *.pkg.tar*; do tar xvf $f; done

To prepare for using pacman, do not forget to edit /tmp/archlinux/etc/pacman.conf to point to /tmp/archlinux/etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist and select your favorite mirror. For easier use (assuming you are using bash or zsh), you may set up an environment

export PATH=${base_chroot}/archlinux/usr/bin:$PATH
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=${base_chroot}/archlinux/usr/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
alias pacman="pacman --config ${base_chroot}/archlinux/etc/pacman.conf"

Install pacman on the host system

Note: (Issues while running pacman on 64 bit host) If while running pacman you end up with /tmp/archlinux/usr/bin/pacman: No such file or directory please symlink ld-linux-x86-64.so.2: ln -s /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 /lib/

If you do not mind littering your install host, you can extract all the downloaded tar balls into your root directory by running as root:

cd /
for f in /tmp/archlinux/pacman-*pkg.tar.gz ; do
  tar xzf $f

However, keep in mind that this operation could erase some of your files, and break your system.

  1. If installing from Ubuntu 9.10's LiveCD (perhaps other versions), you will need more than just the pacman files (shared libs) to use pacman at all. Use Lucky's script described in [this thread] to get/install them for you!
  2. Alternatively, you can instead turn these tarballs into packages for your distribution with the alien tool. See the man page of the tool for instructions. The packages created that way may be installed into your host distribution using the usual package management tools available there. This approach offers the best integration into the host linux environment. For a debian package based system this is done with the following commands:
    cd /tmp/archlinux
    alien -d pacman-3.3.3-1-i686.pkg.tar.gz
    alien -d pacman-mirrorlist-20101223-1-any.pkg.tar.gz

    RPM based systems will need to replace the parameter "-d" with "-r".

    These distribution packages can then get installed using the normal package management tools of the host Linux environment.

  3. Under Fedora 12, I was not able to install pacman with any of the other methods, but with the nice script at https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=734336#p734336 it will download and install it for you. Worked wonderfully for me.

  4. On Gentoo: Just unmask pacman by adding sys-apps/pacman to /etc/portage/package.keywords. Now just run emerge -av pacman.

    There is also a more detailed tutorial.

Configure the host system

The main goal of this operation is to make a proper configuration to pacman.

Configure your /etc/pacman.conf to your liking, and remove unnecessary mirrors from /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist. Also, enabling at least a few mirrors might become necessary, as you may experience errors during syncing if you have no mirror set. You may want to manually resolve DNS in the /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist, because pacman for i686 may not be able to get address information on x86_64 systems.

If you are installing from a LiveCD, and you have a system with a low amount of combined RAM and swap (< 1 GB), be sure to set the cachedir in /etc/pacman.conf to be in the new Arch partition (e.g. /newarch/var/cache/pacman/pkg). Otherwise you could exhaust memory between the overhead of the existing distro and downloading necessary packages to install.

Setup the target system

Prepare a partition for Arch

You do not have to install Arch on a separate partition. You could instead build up a root filesystem in a normal directory, and then create a master tarball from it, or transfer it across the network.

However, most users will want to be installing Arch onto its own partition.

Prepare any partitions and filesystems you need for your installation. If your host system has any gui tools for this, such as gparted, cfdisk, or mandrakes diskdrake, feel free to use them.

To format a partition as ext4, you run (where /dev/sdxx is the partition you want to setup):

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdxx 

To format it as ext3 with journaling and dir_index:

mkfs.ext4 -j -O dir_index /dev/sdxx 

To format it as reiserfs:

mkreiserfs /dev/sdxx 

To format a partition as swap, and to start using it:

mkswap /dev/sdxx 
swapon /dev/sdxx

Most other filesystems can be setup with their own mkfs variant, take a look with tab completion. Available filesystems depend entirely on your host system.

Once you have your filesystems setup, mount them. Throughout this guide, we will refer to the new Arch root directory as /newarch, however you can put it wherever you like.

mkdir ${new_arch}
mount /dev/sdxx ${new_arch}

Install the core

Update pacman. You may have to create the /newarch/var/lib/pacman folder for it to work (see "Setup the host system" above):

mkdir -p ${new_arch}/var/lib/pacman 
pacman -Sy -r ${new_arch}

Install the 'base' group of packages:

mkdir -p ${new_arch}/var/cache/pacman/pkg
pacman  -Su base --cachedir ${new_arch}/var/cache/pacman/pkg -r ${new_arch}

Prepare /dev nodes

First, ensure the correct /dev nodes have been made for udev:

ls -alF ${new_arch}/dev

This result in a list containing lines similar to the following (the dates will differ for you):

crw-------  1 root root 5, 1 2008-12-27 21:40 console
crw-rw-rw-  1 root root 1, 3 2008-12-27 21:42 null
crw-rw-rw-  1 root root 1, 5 2008-12-27 21:40 zero

Delete and recreate any device which has a different set of permissions (the crw-... stuff plus the two root entries) and major/minor numbers (the two before the date).

cd ${new_arch}/dev 
rm console ; mknod -m 600 console c 5 1 
rm null ; mknod -m 666 null c 1 3 
rm zero ; mknod -m 666 zero c 1 5

All device nodes should have been created for you already with the right permissions and you should not need to recreate any of them.


Now we will chroot into the new Arch system.

In order for DNS to work properly you need to edit ${new_arch}/etc/resolv.conf or replace it with the resolv.conf from your running distribution

cp /etc/resolv.conf ${new_arch}/etc/ 

Also, you need to copy a correctly setup mirrorlist into the new system:

cp /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist ${new_arch}/etc/pacman.d

Finally edit pacman configuration file ${new_arch}/etc/pacman.conf setting the Architecture so that is matches the one of target system. The default auto might fails if it is different from the host system.

Architecture = i686 or x86_64

Mount various filesystems into the new Arch system:

mount -t proc proc ${new_arch}/proc
mount -t sysfs sys ${new_arch}/sys
mount -o bind /dev ${new_arch}/dev

If you have a separate /boot partition, you will probably need to mount that too. See Change Root for more details.

Warning: If you have a separate /boot partition and plan on using grub2, make sure to mount /boot after chrooting. If you mount the /boot partition before the chroot, grub2 will assume that /boot and root are on the same partition and will not update correctly.

When everything is prepared, chroot into the new filesystem:

chroot ${new_arch} /bin/bash

Install the rest

Install your preferred kernel, and any other packages you may wish to install. For the default kernel (which is already installed!):

pacman -S --needed linux

If you wish to install extra packages now, you may do so with:

pacman -S packagename

Configure the target system

Edit your /etc/fstab, remembering to add /, swap and any other partitions you may wish to use. Be sure to use the /dev/sd* (sda1, sda2, sdb1, etc) for the partitions instead of /dev/hd*, as Arch uses the sdxx convention for all drives.

Edit your /etc/rc.conf, /etc/hosts and /etc/mkinitcpio.conf to your needs. If you are installing arch linux to a usb flash drive, don't forget to add the usb hook to /etc/mkinitcpio.conf. Then rebuild the initcpio image:

mkinitcpio -p linux

Edit /etc/locale.gen, uncommenting any locales you wish to have available, and build the locales:


Setup Grub

To use GRUB when chrooted, you need to ensure that /etc/mtab is up-to-date:

diff /etc/mtab /proc/mounts

If you get any output from the previous command, run:

grep -v rootfs /proc/mounts > /etc/mtab  

You can now run:

grub-install /dev/sdx

If grub-install fails, you can manually install:

grub> find /boot/grub/stage1     (You should see some results here if you have done everything right so far.   If not, back up and retrace your steps.)
grub> root (hd0,X) 
grub> setup (hd0) 
grub> quit 

Double-check your /boot/grub/menu.lst. Depending on the host, it could need correcting from hda to sda, and a prefix of /boot as well in the paths.

Manual recovery of GRUB libs

The *stage* files are expected to be in /boot/grub, which may not be the case if the bootloader was not installed during system installation or if the partition/filesystem was damages, accidentally deleted, etc.

Manually copy the grub libs like so:

# cp -a /usr/lib/grub/i386-pc/* /boot/grub
Note: Do not forget to mount the system's boot partition if your setup uses a separate one! The above assumes that either the boot partition resides on the root filesystem or is mounted to /boot on the root file system!

Detailed instructions for GRUB, GRUB2, LILO, Burg and Syslinux are available; see also Category:Boot loaders.

Finishing touches

See Beginners Guide:Configure the system. You can ignore 2.11, but the rest of that guide should be of use to you in post-installation configuration of your system.

Exit your chroot:

umount ${new_arch}/boot   # if you mounted this or any other separate partitions
umount ${new_arch}/{proc,sys,dev}
umount ${new_arch}

Reboot to your new Arch system!

An alternate, simpler installation method

This method is verified to be working as of 1-4-12. This works best if you are in a LiveCD environment (or, in the case of servers, a GNU/Linux-based rescue environment). Firstly, you need to mount the disk you want to use for the Archlinux installation at /mnt. In this example, /dev/sda1 is used.

mnt /dev/sda1 /mnt
cd ~
wget http://tokland.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/archlinux/arch-bootstrap.sh && chmod +x arch-bootstrap.sh

If you are wanting to install a 32-bit system:

./arch-bootstrap.sh -a i686 -r "ftp://ftp.hosteurope.de/mirror/ftp.archlinux.org" /mnt/

Or a 64-bit system:

./arch-bootstrap.sh -a x86_64 -r "ftp://ftp.hosteurope.de/mirror/ftp.archlinux.org" /mnt/

The bootstrapping will take 2-5 minutes depending on the speed of your system.

mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
mount -t sysfs none /mnt/sys
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev

Mounting these is essential for the installation of a bootloader later on.

If you have switched between architectures, pacman auto detection might not work, in this case you need to edit /etc/pacman.conf to:

From 64-bit to a 32-bit system:

Architecture = i686

Or from 32-bit to a 64-bit system::

Architecture = x86_64

Now for the fun part, chroot into your newly installed Arch installation:

chroot /mnt bash
pacman -Sy base
mkinitcpio -p linux

Choose a bootloader. You can find the installation instructions on their own dedicated pages. (Syslinux, Grub, Grub2, etc.).

Remember: You will still need to do any final configuration touches as you would in a normal Arch install.

Credits to the Turkish site Raptiye for the original guide.


Kernel panic

If when you reboot into your new system you get a kernel panic saying console could not open:

kinit: couldn't open console, no such file... 

This means you did not follow the instructions above. Follow the steps to create basic device nodes at the beginning of preparation.

Root device '/dev/sd??' doesn't exist

If when you reboot into your new system you get a error messages like this:

Root device '/dev/sda1' doesn't exist, attempting to create it... etc. 

This means the drives are showing up as "hda1" instead of "sda1" In which case change your GRUB or LILO settings to use "hd??" or try the following.

Edit /etc/mkinitcpio.conf and change "ide" to "pata" in the "HOOKS=" line. Then regenerate your initrd. (Make sure you have chroot'ed into the new system first.)

mkinitcpio -p linux

If you are using LVM make sure you add "lvm2" in the HOOKS line. Regenerate your initrd as above.

If you are installing to a device that needs PATA hook make sure it is located before autodetect hook in mkinitcpio.conf.

If your root partition is on an USB device, you have to add “usb” into your “HOOKS=” line before anything else, even “base”.

Another method: Installing from an existing Linux with an Arch installation image

Preparing the installation environment

You can grab whatever image from Arch's Download Page and get the content of image by mount loopback:

i686 CD Image:

$ mkdir -v /mnt/image
$ mount -o loop archlinux-2011.08.19-core-i686.iso /mnt/image

create directories for image extraction and chroot environment

$ mkdir -v /mnt/extract
$ mkdir -pv /mnt/archlinux/lib/modules
$ mkdir -pv /mnt/archlinux/usr/share
$ mkdir -pv /mnt/archlinux/repo/core/{i686,any} 

extract the image contents:

$ cd /mnt/image/arch/i686/
# root-image 
$ unsquashfs -dest /mnt/extract/root root-image.fs.sfs 
$ mount -t ext4 /mnt/extract/root/root-image.fs /mnt/archlinux
# lib-modules 
$ unsquashfs -dest /mnt/extract/modules lib-modules.fs.sfs 
$ mount -t ext4 /mnt/extract/modules/lib-modules.fs /mnt/archlinux/lib/modules
# repo-core-i686 
$ mount -o loop -t squashfs repo-core-i686.sfs /mnt/archlinux/repo/core/i686
$ cd /mnt/image/arch/any/
# usr-share 
$ unsquashfs -dest /mnt/extract/share usr-share.fs.sfs 
$ mount -t ext4 /mnt/extract/share/usr-share.fs /mnt/archlinux/usr/share
# repo-core-any 
$ mount -o loop -t squashfs repo-core-any.sfs /mnt/archlinux/repo/core/any

after this step, you will have a new archlinux directory which contain new Arch system.

Install from new environment

Now chroot into the new Arch system:

$ mount -t proc /proc /mnt/archlinux/proc
$ mount -t sysfs /sys /mnt/archlinux/sys
$ mount -o bind /dev /mnt/archlinux/dev 
$ chroot /mnt/archlinux /bin/bash

At this point, go ahead and launch Arch's aif installer!

$ aif -p interactive

and you can install Arch as normal (from CD or Internet) with the following pointer:

  • Your target partition must not be being used by host system

After installing Arch from chroot's environment, you should unmount partitions mounted by aif before exit the chroot:

$ umount /mnt/boot,home...
$ exit
$ umount /mnt/archlinux/{dev,sys,proc} 
$ umount /mnt/archlinux/lib/modules
$ umount /mnt/archlinux/usr/share
$ umount /mnt/archlinux/repo/core/{i686,any}
$ umount /mnt/archlinux
$ umount /mnt/image
$ rm -r /mnt/{archlinux,extract} 

It is essential to unmount partitions before exit chroot, or you will not be able to unmount the chroot directory

Update and install packages from host system via chroot

Add an entry to your existing Grub bootloader's menu.lst, or if you installed a new Grub during the Arch installation process, add it to the /boot/grub/menu.lst on your Arch filesystem.

Now either reboot or chroot into the new Arch's partition to install further packages:

$ mkdir /mnt/arch
$ mount /dev/sdxx /mnt/arch
$ mount -t proc proc /mnt/arch/proc
$ mount -t sysfs sys /mnt/arch/sys
$ mount -o bind /dev /mnt/arch/dev 
$ chroot /mnt/arch /bin/bash

Update and install new packages:

# pacman -Syu