Quick Arch Linux Install

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This document walks you through a basic Arch Linux installation. It is based on the 0.8 (Don't Panic) installation scripts.


This is a quick walk-through for those who don't yet know what Arch is and what it is capable of. It is written mainly for those people who already have an existing Windows partition on their hard drive and want to set up Arch Linux without harming the Windows install.

This guide is for "normal" hardware; nothing special (e.g. SCSI) is documented.

Windows is assumed to exist on the first partition of the hard drive; otherwise, GRUB won't be able to find it.

Necessary things

  • The Arch Linux Base-Installation-CD or Full-Installation-CD. (Get it from here.)
  • Either one free hard disk or free space on one partition. You have to separate this free space from an existing partition in Windows with a partitioning utility (e.g. PartitionMagic).

Installation from the Arch CD

  • Insert the CD in your drive, reboot, and check that your BIOS will boot from the CD-ROM drive first.
  • Now it should look like this:

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/1.png Default Arch boot screen

  • Press Enter
  • After the boot process is finished, type:

You will be installing from the CD first, so network drivers are not necessary.

The Main Menu will appear:

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/6.png Main Menu

Partition Hard-Drive

If you have an empty hard drive, you may skip these steps and choose Auto-Partitioning. Please note this will erase all partitions from your hard drive! If you want to keep any partition on your hard drive, follow the steps below:

  • Select Prepare Hard Drive.
  • Select Partition Hard Drive.
  • Select the disk you want Arch Linux to be installed on.
  • The cfdisk partitioning utility will open and allow you to create the partitions. For Arch base installation there are at least two partitions needed:
 * one swap partition
 * one data partition
  • At this point the display may look like this (if you have an NTFS partition for Windows):

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/9.png cfdisk

  • Don't touch the NTFS (or VFAT) partition in any way; otherwise, you may lose Windows.
  • The type of the swap partition should be set to 82.
  • If you want to quit cfdisk without saving anything, then select quit; otherwise, select write.
  • After using cfdisk it should look like this:

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/10.png Partition Layout

Set Mountpoints

  • Select point 3: Set Filesystem Mountpoints
  • Select the partition you marked as swap
  • Select the other partition for the system (to mount as /)
  • Select the filesystem ext3
  • Select DONE!!

This last step is very important: many people skip this step, but no actions take place until you select DONE. If you do not do this, the install will appear to work, but it will not install any files.

Select Packages

  • Select CD.
  • Now it should look like this:

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/11.png Package Categories

  • For now, you should select only base.

Install Packages

  • This is rather easy: Just select install packages, say OK, and everything will be copied from CD to hard disk.

Install Kernel

  • Choose "Kernel 2.6.x for IDE/SCSI systems" unless you know you have different hardware.

Edit Config Files

  • Choose nano to edit the files.

You have to edit the rc.conf if you want to change your keyboard layout. For example, de is German.

  • If you use a router, consider using this in /etc/rc.conf:
#Router address
gateway="default gw"
ROUTES=(gateway) # Remove ! in front of gateway
  • In /etc/resolf.conf
  • nano is easy to understand: Strg-O (Ctrl-O) saves the file, and Strg-X (Ctrl-X) saves the file and exits nano.
  • Change the line with keymap=us to keymap=de.

You may have to edit the menu.lst*.

  • Here you create your bootloader. There you can switch between Windows and Linux.
  • You will see a file like this:

http://home.arcor.de/Langeland/13.png Menu.lst

  • Everything should be set up correctly to boot into Arch; If it's missing, you only have to add the following lines at the end to have the ability to boot Windows:
title Windows
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
chainloader +1

Press Strg-O, then Strg-X, and everything will be saved.

Install Bootloader

  • Choose GRUB.
  • Choose the entry on top of the list.

Ready to reboot

  • Exit the main menu, type reboot, and the computer should reboot.
  • Remove the CD.
  • You can choose between Windows and Arch; default is Arch.

Alternative Installing Methods

First steps in Arch

  • Log in as root.
  • Execute the command passwd to set a password for root.
# passwd
  • Add a user. You can use the adduser script. Your user should be in the users, audio, and optical groups.
# adduser

Now it's time to fix your internet and start installing packages with Pacman. Enjoy!