Installing Arch Linux from VirtualBox

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Introduction

This HOWTO will guide you through the process of installing Archlinux from a host machine on a raw disk using VirtualBox. This is useful for example in case you want to work with the computer while installing. The disadvantage of using this method is that you cannot configure the installation for any real hardware but USB devices (if you set it up in VirtualBox). Still, it might be a good method to simplify the process of making a live system on a flash disk.

Step 1: Install VirtualBox

See the detailed article VirtualBox for installation instructions. You have to install the PUEL edition.

Step 2: Creating a raw disk .vmdk image

In order to use a raw disk in VirtualBox, your user must have write rights for the device. There are two ways to achieve this: either by directly changing the access rights of the device or by adding your user to the disk group. The latter way is preferred. To do this, run:

# gpasswd -a user disk

Note: To apply the new group settings, you have to log out and log in again.

Now you must create a special .vmdk virtual machine disk file, so VirtualBox will save the data to a raw disk instead of the file. Let the file be saved in your user's VirtualBox directory, named raw.vmdk. You'll create it using this command:

$ VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /home/user/.VirtualBox/VDI/raw.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sdb -register

Where user is your user name and /dev/sdb is the device you want to install Archlinux on.

For more information on using raw host disks, see the VirtualBox user manual.

Step 3: Downloading an Archlinux install image

If you have a working Internet connection on your host machine, which you probably do, you should go for the FTP ISO image. Otherwise download the core image. To obtain the image, go to: http://archlinux.org/download/

Step 4: Creating a virtual machine

Start up the VirtualBox GUI and run the New Virtual Machine Wizard:

  1. Give the machine a name and choose Arch Linux for the operating system.
  2. Choose the amount of memory to be allocated to the machine. At least 160 MiB is needed.
  3. Select the raw.vmdk disk image.
  4. Click Finish.

Now go to File » Virtual Disk Manager and add the installation CD-ROM image you've downloaded. Close the window, go to the Settings of the virtual machine and choose the CD/DVD-ROM item on the left. Finally check the Mount CD/DVD Drive box, choose the ISO Image File option and select the installation media.

Step 5: Installing the system

The hard part is behind you. You have prepared a virtual machine with mounted installation media. Now you can loosely continue with one of these guides: