Quick Arch Linux Install

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This document walks you through a basic Arch Linux installation without being to verbose.


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, and don't want too much hand holding.

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.
  • It will present you with a menu. For the installation, choose the "Boot ArchLive" option. It will go through the process to set up the live system. Give it a minute.
  • Now it should look like this:

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

To start the installation, type:


If you got the net install (FTP) image, or wish to get the latest packages from the servers, choose net install. This is the preferred method. If you have the Core image, you can optionally install the packages on the CD with the CD install option. If you use the net install, try to choose a server near to you physically. (Ex. ftp://cs.uwaterloo.com is closest for people in the Greater Toronto Area.)

The Main Menu will appear:

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

For the net install, you need to configure the network. If you have a DHCP server connected to your computer with an Ethernet cord, odds are the auto-configure will work automatically. You can also use ctrl-alt-F2 to set up the network connection from the command line, using ctrl-alt-F1 to go back to the installation script.

If you are installing from the CD, there is no need to configure the network now.

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 (Like saving a Windows install), 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 XP. Vista or Windows 7 may have 2 NTFS partitions.):

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

  • Don't touch the NTFS partition/s in any way; otherwise, you may lose Windows.
  • The type of the swap partition should be set to 82. Swap space is generally recommended to be twice the amount of RAM you have, but you can use less.
  • You must have at least one primary partition and a swap space is recommended. A safer setup is to have one primary partition of 100MB and all other partitions for Arch Linux can be logical partitions. The primary partition must be marked bootable.
  • If you want to quit cfdisk without saving anything, then select quit; otherwise, select write. Use quit if you accidentally change a setting on a Windows partition.
  • Remember which partitions you want to use for what. Note the partition's number to the right. (ex. sda1, sda2, etc.)

Set Mountpoints

  • Select point 3: Set Filesystem Mountpoints
  • Select the partition you wish to use as '/' and use set it to mount to '/' (no quotes). The most common choice for file system is ext4, but any will work.
  • If you have a partitions to use as '/boot', set '/boot' (again, no quotes) as the mount point and ext2 is the recommended file system.
  • Select the partition to use as swap space, and choose the mount point of swap. No file system need be specified.
  • 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 Choose Packages (Or something similar - it is selected automatically after setting mount points.
  • Now it should look like this:
  • For now, you should select only base. All packages already marked should not be unmarked unless you know you wont need them. Anything else you need not already marked should be installed later unless you need it for the setup.

Install Packages

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

Edit Config Files

  • Choose nano to edit the files unless you already know Vi. Nano's commands are listed at the bottom and you use the arrow keys to move the cursor.

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

  • nano is easy to understand: (Ctrl-X) saves the file and exits nano.
  • In 'rc.conf', set a host name in the HOSTNAME= field. (ex. HOSTNAME='Taco')
  • Be sure to change the root password.

Install GRUB

When you are done editing the config files, choose the 'Install Bootloader' option from the main menu.

  • Choose to install GRUB unless you will setup a bootloader yourself. If you don't install a new bootloader, only Windows will boot.
  • 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 To dual boot, uncomment the following section at the end (remove the # symbol from the beginning of the line:
#title Windows
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
chainloader +1

Save it and quit nano.

Ready to reboot

  • Choose done at the main menu, type reboot, and the computer should reboot.
  • Remove the CD before it tries to boot from it again.
  • You should be able tp choose between Windows and Arch; default is Arch. The timeout is 5 seconds.

Alternative Installing Methods