Showing posts with label arch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arch. Show all posts

06 June 2013

440. Briefly: Upgrading Arch -- consolidation of /sbin, /bin and /usr/sbin

Anyone running Arch and attempting to upgrade recently will have run into this:

(83/83) checking for file conflicts  [##########] 100%
error: failed to commit transaction (conflicting files)
filesystem: /bin exists in filesystem
filesystem: /sbin exists in filesystem
filesystem: /usr/sbin exists in filesystem
Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded.

There's a solution:

What I'm doing in this post is simply testing that solution. The intellectual contribution from me is very small.

1. Non-official packages
pacman -Qqo /bin /sbin /usr/sbin | pacman -Qm -
bootchart2-git 20130314-1
Not too bad.
sudo pacman -R bootchart2-git

2. Unofficial repositories
cat /etc/pacman.conf | grep '^\['
[options] [core] [extra] [community] [multilib

OK. Let's see whether there are any packages around:

paclist options | awk ' { print $1 } ' | pacman -Ql - | grep ' /s\?bin/\| /usr/sbin/'
apache /usr/sbin/ apache /usr/sbin/ab apache /usr/sbin/apachectl apache /usr/sbin/apxs [..] wpa_supplicant /usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant zvbi /usr/sbin/ zvbi /usr/sbin/zvbid
paclist core | awk ' { print $1 } ' | pacman -Ql - | grep ' /s\?bin/\| /usr/sbin/' paclist extra | awk ' { print $1 } ' | pacman -Ql - | grep ' /s\?bin/\| /usr/sbin/' paclist community | awk ' { print $1 } ' | pacman -Ql - | grep ' /s\?bin/\| /usr/sbin/' paclist multilib | awk ' { print $1 } ' | pacman -Ql - | grep ' /s\?bin/\| /usr/sbin/'

I think 'options' would qualify as an Official repository, so we are fine.
3. Orphan packages
find /bin /sbin /usr/sbin -exec pacman -Qo -- {} + >/dev/null

comes up blank. Good.

4. Upgrade
sudo pacman -Syu --ignore filesystem,bash
[..] (27/81) upgrading libgdm [################] 100% (28/81) upgrading gdm [################] 100% warning: directory permissions differ on /var/log/gdm/ filesystem: 711 package: 1770 (29/81) upgrading libx11 [..] (67/81) upgrading pacman-mirrorlist [################] 100% warning: /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist installed as /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist.pacnew (68/81) upgrading pm-utils [..] (80/81) upgrading wicd-gtk [################] 100% (81/81) upgrading zvbi [################] 100%

So far, so good.

sudo pacman -S bash
resolving dependencies... looking for inter-conflicts... Packages (1): bash-4.2.045-4 Total Installed Size: 3.51 MiB Net Upgrade Size: -0.10 MiB :: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] :: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] (1/1) checking keys in keyring [###################] 100% (1/1) checking package integrity [###################] 100% (1/1) loading package files [###################] 100% (1/1) checking for file conflicts [###################] 100% (1/1) checking available disk space [###################] 100% (1/1) upgrading bash
sudo pacman -Su
:: Starting full system upgrade... resolving dependencies... looking for inter-conflicts... Packages (1): filesystem-2013.05-2 Total Installed Size: 0.01 MiB Net Upgrade Size: -0.30 MiB :: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] (1/1) checking keys in keyring [###########] 100% (1/1) checking package integrity [###########] 100% (1/1) loading package files [###########] 100% (1/1) checking for file conflicts [###########] 100% (1/1) checking available disk space [###########] 100% (1/1) upgrading filesystem [###########] 100%

So far so done!

30 May 2013

435. Briefly: Frippery extensions for Gnome 3.8

I'm running Debian Wheezy on most of my machines, Debian Jessie on my laptop, and Arch on my home multimedia centre. Arch has Gnome 3.8 which up until recently didn't have the extensions that I had relied on to make Gnome 3.8 use-able.

Well, the Frippery extensions for Gnome 3.8 are out now:

Sure, you can install them the boring way by going to, but it's more fun to do
cd ~
tar xvf gnome-shell-frippery-0.6.0.tgz

The files will be extracted into their proper locations.
At this point I (foolishly) did alt+F2, type r, and hit enter (to reload gnome shell) -- which promptly crashed GNOME 3. At this point I simply rebooted from a tty since restarting gdm didn't help. 

Use gnome-tweak-tool/Shell Extensions to enable and disable extensions.

Using the Frippery extensions (favourites, bottom panel etc.). Note that this desktop also uses conky to display the  sysinfo on the right hand of the desktop.

29 April 2013

400. XpressConnect on Debian, Arch: step by step

Here's a step-by-step write-up of this post:

The 'problem' with running Xpress Connect on non-Ubuntu linux distributions is entirely artificial -- XpressConnect checks whether you are using Ubuntu, and if you're not, it refuses to run.

So the solution is simply to pretend that you are using ubuntu, however annoying that is. I wish universities would take this into account and end their association with Cloudpath, or to force them to support other distributions.

Note: XpressConnect is completely superfluous -- it doesn't do anything other than set up your wireless connection, which is something you could easily do by hand. See e.g. here for eduroam:

How-to get XpressConnect running
1. Create the file /etc/lsb-release and put the following in it
If you are completely new to linux, one way of creating the file is to run
gksu gedit /etc/lsb-release

Alternatively, if you're not using gnome, try
sudo nano /etc/lsb-release 

2. Install lshw and iwlist

On debian (and clones like mint, ubuntu etc.):
sudo apt-get install lshw wireless-tools

On arch linux
sudo pacman -S lshw wireless_tools

3. Run XpressConnect
This is the vanilla version -- replace with the link to your universities version.

cd ~/Downloads
tar xvf XpressConnect-Linux.tar

That's it. Simple as that.

28 March 2013

372. Leadtek DTV1000S on Arch linux

While this DVB-T card seems to work fine out of the box on Arch linux (using kaffeine, gnome-dvb-setup, me-tv, w_scan etc.) it is quite unstable --  you often get 'failed to lock channel' errors, and the picture gets corrupted after watching the same channel too long (1 hour). . In contrast, I've been using it for over a year on Debian without issues, so I decided to have a quick look at what I did back in the days to get it working, and realised I'd been a bit lazy setting things up (i.e. I had treated it like PnP).

To improve the stabilit of Leadtek DTV 1000S on Arch linux, do the following:

1. Edit /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf
options saa7134 tuner=48 card=175
2. Install the proper firmware driver
If you've noticed errors in dmesg/during boot-up relating to missing tda10048 firmware, install the dvb-fe-tda10048-1.0.fw firmware from AUR

tar xvf dvb-fe-tda10048-1.0.fw.tar.gz
cd dvb-fe-tda10048-1.0.fw
makepkg -s
sudo pacman -U dvb-fe-tda10048-1.0.fw-1-2-any.pkg.tar.xz

08 February 2013

336. Compiling ATLAS, netblas, lapack and openblas on Arch Linux

Here's another Arch post.

I was a bit surprised to find that there's no ATLAS in the standard Arch repositories (it is in AUR though), so here's how to build some of the more common math libraries for yourself:


pacman -S wget base-devel gcc-fortran cpupower
sudo systemctl enable cpupower

To build ATLAS you should set the governor for your CPU to performance to get the best optimization:

cpupower frequency-set -g performance
sudo cp /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor

Basically copy the scaling_governor to all cpus (cpu0, cpu1, cpu2 ...) as shown in the last line above. When you set the governor back to e.g. ondemand, follow the same steps.

sudo mkdir /opt/ATLAS
chown ${USER} /opt/ATLAS
mkdir -p ~/tmp/atlas
cd ~/tmp/atlas
tar xvf atlas3.10.1.tar.bz2
mkdir build/
cd build/
../ATLAS/./configure --prefix=/opt/ATLAS -Fa alg '-fPIC' --with-netlib-lapack-tarfile=$HOME/tmp/atlas/lapack-3.4.2.tgz --shared
make install

Simple as that. You can now change the governor back
cpupower frequency-set -g ondemand
sudo cp /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
sudo cp /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu2/cpufreq/scaling_governor

netlib BLAS and lapack
pacman -S wget base-devel gcc-fortran cmake
sudo mkdir /opt/netlib
sudo chown $USER /opt/netlib
mkdir /opt/netlib/blas/lib -p
mkdir -p ~/tmp/blas
cd ~/tmp/blas
tar xvf blas.tgz
cd BLAS/

OPTS = -O3 -shared -m64 -march=native -fPIC
make all
gfortran -shared -Wl,-soname, -o *.o -lc
ln -s
cp lib*blas* /opt/netlib/blas/lib
cd ../
tar xvf lapack-3.4.2.tgz
mkdir /opt/netlib/lapack
mkdir build/
cd build/
ccmake ../lapack-3.4.2/ -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/opt/netlib/lapack -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON -DUSE_OPTIMIZED_BLAS=ON 

Hit c twice to configure, then g to generate.
Edit CMakeCache.txt and add the following lines at the beginning:
# EXTERNAL cache entries

ccmake ../lapack-3.4.2/

again, then hit c once, then g.
make install


Copied from here:

Download from

pacman -S wget base-devel gcc-fortran
sudo mkdir /opt/openblas
sudo chown $USER /opt/openblas
tar xvf xianyi-OpenBLAS-v0.1.1-0-g5b7f443.tar.gz
cd xianyi-OpenBLAS-e6e87a2/
make all BINARY=64 CC=/usr/bin/gcc FC=/usr/bin/gfortran USE_THREAD=0 INTERFACE64=1 1> make.log 2>make.err
make PREFIX=/opt/openblas install
cp lib*.*  /opt/openblas/lib

03 February 2013

331. A full linux install on a USB stick: Arch and LXDE on a thumbdrive

Update 9 June 2013: I've updated the torrent URL for the current image. Note that you will likely have to do this every month or so. See for the latest image.

Original post:
Post 330 (How to install Arch linux) got me thinking: one of my most popular posts is post 70 ("Installing Debian on a USB stick -- live usb vs a true and full installation").

I'm new to Arch and LXDE and Openbox -- I normally run Debian with Gnome 3 -- so I'm probably not doing this the best way. But if you're also new to Arch and struggling with the beginner's wiki you may find some ideas here.

I admit: this post and post 330 aren't that different. Here I basically refine what I did in post 330, and adapt it for desktop use. I also don't have to worry about networking here since we're not talking about a headless box anymore, but an interactive system. There'll most likely be a third post at some point which will be a streamlined version of this post. Anyway.

Whatever I do here will obviously also apply to a desktop installation of Arch -- i.e. if you're struggling with LXDE/openbox on Arch, see here.

 Debian is fine and dandy, but the approach I describe there involves using a virtualbox to install debian on a thumbdrive.

In post 330 I learned how to use a chroot to set things up, which speeds things up significantly (you could of course just boot from a live CD etc., but that's too easy).

 Also, while I'm very happy with debian and it gives pretty small installs if done correctly, Arch might just give even leaner installs.[citation needed]

So here's how to install Arch linux and a graphical DE (LXDE -- I've never warmed to XCE for some reason).

We'll do 32 bit Arch here -- a reason to make a bootable linux drive is so that you can travel with your own safe desktop, and 32 bit linux will work on almost all hardware you're likely to encounter, while 64 bit linux is limited to more modern hardware. Note that if you really want to be secure you will need to encrypt the entire USB stick with e.g. truecrypt -- otherwise in particular your gpg/pgp keys are at risk. Ultimately, security is a matter of vigilance and risk reduction.

You do need a running linux machine  (or at least a live disk) -- I don't know how to do this from Windows.

1. Formatting the thumbdrive
2. Chrooting the drive and installing stuff with pacstrap
3. Arch-chroot to install the boot loader, setting up internet, and installing a desktop

Formatting the thumbdrive
Plug in your drive to your running linux machine
df -h
rootfs 28G 21G 5.7G 79% / udev 10M 0 10M 0% /dev tmpfs 397M 852K 396M 1% /run /dev/disk/by-uuid/d7479df8-0d84-4236-a92c-b05327b8fa3d 28G 21G 5.7G 79% / tmpfs 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock tmpfs 2.3G 728K 2.3G 1% /run/shm /dev/sda5 112G 82G 25G 78% /home /dev/sdb2 937M 18M 872M 2% /media/ext /dev/sdb1 1014M 4.5M 1009M 1% /media/win32
sudo umount /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdb2

Time to start fdisk. First we delete any existing partitions (and data...), then we make one partition, and then we'll make it bootable. We won't bother with a swap disk -- we don't have the space and we want to keep disk i/o to a minimum.

sudo fdisk /dev/sdb
Command (m for help): p Disk /dev/sdb: 2063 MB, 2063597056 bytes 64 heads, 62 sectors/track, 1015 cylinders, total 4030463 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0x000cf539 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdb1 62 2079231 1039585 e W95 FAT16 (LBA) /dev/sdb2 2079232 4027519 974144 83 Linux Command (m for help): d Partition number (1-4): 1 Command (m for help): d Selected partition 2 Command (m for help): n Partition type: p primary (0 primary, 0 extended, 4 free) e extended Select (default p): p Partition number (1-4, default 1): 1 First sector (2048-4030462, default 2048): Using default value 2048 Last sector, +sectors or +size{K,M,G} (2048-4030462, default 4030462): Using default value 4030462 Command (m for help): a Partition number (1-4): 1 Command (m for help): w The partition table has been altered! Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table. Syncing disks.
Create the filesystem:
sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb1
mke2fs 1.42.5 (29-Jul-2012) Filesystem label= OS type: Linux Block size=4096 (log=2) Fragment size=4096 (log=2) Stride=0 blocks, Stripe width=0 blocks 125952 inodes, 503551 blocks 25177 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user First data block=0 Maximum filesystem blocks=515899392 16 block groups 32768 blocks per group, 32768 fragments per group 7872 inodes per group Superblock backups stored on blocks: 32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912 Allocating group tables: done Writing inode tables: done Creating journal (8192 blocks): done Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done
sudo fsck /dev/sdb1
fsck from util-linux 2.20.1 e2fsck 1.42.5 (29-Jul-2012) Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes Pass 2: Checking directory structure Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity Pass 4: Checking reference counts Pass 5: Checking group summary information /dev/sdb1: 11/125952 files (0.0% non-contiguous), 16846/503551 blocks
Make sure to verify you filesystem.

Get the arch iso and set up your chroot:
Note that you will most likely have to update the torrent URL every month or so. Obviously you'll need to change the mount command as well according to the iso name.
sudo apt-get install bittorrent squashfs-tools
cd ~/Downloads/
sudo mount -o loop archlinux-2013.06.01-dual.iso /mnt
unsquashfs -d arch /mnt/arch/i686/root-image.fs.sfs

If you want x86_64 do unsquashfs -d arch/ /mnt/arch/x86_64/root-image.fs.sfs instead

Time to get busy:
sudo umount /mnt
sudo mount -o loop arch/root-image.fs /mnt
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/resolv.conf
sudo mount -o bind /proc /mnt/proc
sudo mount -o bind /sys /mnt/sys
sudo mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev
sudo mount -o bind /dev/pts /mnt/dev/pts
sudo chroot /mnt
[root@lithium /]# 

The first chroot:
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt
mkdir /run/shm
haveged -w 1024
pacman-key --init
pacman-key --populate archlinux

If you're installing i686 (i.e. 32 bit) linux from an x86_64 (i.e. 64 bit) linux, edit /etc/pacman.conf and set Architecture:
Architecture = i686
pacstrap /mnt base vim grub-bios openssh wicd lxde-common lxsession desktop-file-utils openbox upower
(196/196) installing openbox [#############] 100% Place menu.xml, rc.xml and autostart in ~/.config/openbox They can be found in /etc/xdg/openbox Optional dependencies for openbox pyxdg: for the xdg-autostart script
This will download a large number of packages (196 packages; ca 178 M download, ca 750 Mb installed), and will take a while. Make sure that all packages end with the architecture you want (e.g. -i686 or -x86_64) or '-any'. I've omitted base-devel above, since you might not need it.

Generate a proto-fstab:
genfstab -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

and edit it (/mnt/etc/fstab) to read something like (the uuid will differ):
UUID=c540eff0-0e10-4e7a-9fb6-190a46f38203 / ext4 rw,relatime,data=ordered 0 1 /dev/scd0 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto 0 0 /dev/sdb1 /media/usb0 auto rw,user,noauto 0 0
The last two lines will automount CDs and usb sticks. It's not necessarily something you do want to allow -- so you may comment them out.

The second chroot:
arch-chroot /mnt

edit /etc/pacman.conf and change Architecture=auto to i686.

pacman -Syy
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Australia/Melbourne /etc/localtime
echo "kookaburra" > /etc/hostname

Edit /etc/locale.gen and uncomment the locales you want e.g.
en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8
echo 'LANG="en_GB.UTF-8"'>/etc/locale
echo 'KEYMAP=us'> /etc/vconsole.conf
mkinitcpio -p linux
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
grub-install /dev/sdb

Don't screw up that last step! If you put the wrong device the arch install won't boot, and most likely not the system you chrooted it from either. i.e. don't accidentally type /dev/sda (or sdb is you have two disks -- it's not difficult to repair, but you'll need a live CD already prepared)

Continuing to set up LXDE/Openbox and network:

pacman -S ifplugd xorg-xinit xorg-server xorg-utils xorg-server-utils

I've only got nvidia boxes at home, but if you're travelling you're likely to run into intel and ati as well. You can probably skip the last package since we're pulling in nouveau

pacman -S xf86-video-nouveau xf86-video-ati xf86-video-intel xf86-video-nv nvidia

At this point startx would get you a black screen with a mouse cursor. Right-clicking on the background yields a menu, but you don't have anything installed.

There are a couple of services we want to run on boot:
systemctl enable wicd
systemctl enable sshd

Edit /etc/wicd/manager-settings.conf;change wired_interface to whatever you're using in udev.

The pc beep on tab is annoying me:
echo "blacklist pcspkr" > /etc/modprobe.d/nobeeep.conf

Create a user:
pacman -S sudo
useradd verahill -m
echo "verahill ALL=(ALL) ALL">> /etc/sudoers
su verahill
cd ~

mkdir ~/.config/openbox -p
cp /etc/xdg/openbox/*.xml ~/.config/openbox
cp /etc/xdg/openbox/* ~/.config/openbox
echo "exec startlxde" > ~/.xinitrc
echo "export DESKTOP_SESSION=LXDE">> ~/.bashrc

At this point we have a setup which supports both wired and wireless internet (depending on drivers) and which has a very rudimentary desktop. We're now using 1.4 Gb, out of which 231 M is the package cache.

The range of programs that you may want to install is probably fairly personal, and will also depend on the size of your USB stick. Here's a basic selection which fits me (install as root, or try sudo, although the latter option works best if you actually boot from your USB stick rather than chroot it):

pacman -S truecrypt firefox chromium thunderbird flashplugin

(when asked, ttf-bitstream-vera is fine)

Miscellaneous packages:
pacman -S conky guake leafpad gparted elinks mcabber mutt gajim screen mlocate xterm lxpanel menumaker obmenu obconf alsa-utils volwheel pulseaudio-alsa

To improve the functionality of screen and vim, see here and here. Setting up Mutt and Mcabber is described here and here. Conky is here (item 4).

To sort out sound you might need to create ~/.asoundrc and fill it with:

pcm.!default.type pulse
ctl.!default.type pulse

(Not everyone is a fan of pulseaudio though)

And see this post for a bit more on encrypting communication and files (I travel in China so these things do matter)):

Some basic science packages that let's me do basic work on the road:
pacman -S octave gnuplot maxima gummi texlive-science gimp

If you pull in all those packages you'll need a pretty big USB drive though (albeit you actually have a small build environment installed) -- it comes in at about 3.4 Gb. Skip the science stuff to save space.

And I think that's that. Time to safely umount:
umount /mnt
sudo umount /mnt/proc
sudo umount /mnt/sys
sudo umount /mnt/dev/pts
sudo umount /mnt/dev
sudo umount /mnt

To boot:
Plug in your USB stick and hit whatever key or key-combination during BIOS start up is necessary to interrupt boot and allow you to select your boot device. Sometimes it's F9, F2, F12 or del.

On boot:
Your first task  will be to get your internet up and running. Assuming that you haven't already played with /etc/udev/rules.d you need to find out what the interfaces are called. Do ifconfig -a, note the names, and then start wicd-curses. Select Preferences and enter the name of e.g. the wired interface.

Then start your desktop by running startx. There'll be plenty of menu options, but most programs will be missing, but that's what your ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml is for. And that's how far I've gotten. Time to explore.

Potential issues:
It doesn't always work on first try -- for some reason. I had to start from scratch twice before everything worked without a hitch. Often it's easier starting from scratch than trying to fix a basic installation.

You might not be able to run the systemctl commands until you've actually booted from the usb stick.

If you're on a laptop and the mouse/touchpad isn't working, install xf86-input-synaptics.

Consider installing wicd-gtk if you'll be working a desktop environment a lot.

02 February 2013

330. Installing Arch linux: installing from existing linux onto an external USB HDD

Update: You might want to look at this post instead: -- it covers setting up Arch with LXDE (very, very basic set-up -- more openbox than lxde) and wicd

I'll update this post once I've got a good solution to setting up network on headless boxes (i.e. a way of bringing up multiple interfaces without knowing their mac addresses)

Original post:

Note: what follows is what I've 'discovered' while learning. If you have suggestions, feel free to post comments. If you have questions, be aware that I'm only a beginning at Arch myself and will probably not have much advice to offer.

The problem: I have a headless server running 32 bit debian. I don't actually use it much, and so I figured I might as well use it to explore Gentoo or Arch. Given that it's a single core atom I didn't want to risk spending hours compiling things just to get things up and running (Feb/March are busy days at Australian Unis) and I figured that Arch, with it's version of ports, ABS, is a better choice for now.

I'm also curious about systemd, which arch uses by default. (that curiosity has currently turned to frustration)

Why Arch?
I do like my debian, but you need to challenge yourself every now and again. I can also see how a more 'sparse' distro might be a good candidate for my cluster nodes -- less overhead is a good thing. But before doing that I need a test case.

Also, even though I've been using debian I occasionally pay a visit to the Arch wiki and forum when I run into trouble with software that I've compiled myself -- Arch is a lot more bleeding edge than debian (which emphasizes stability), and the information there is often quite good.

Well then...
The easiest way (needing little preparation) by far to install arch would be to use ArchBang which is fast, pretty and functional. I don't need the graphical environment, and I want the learning experience. Otherwise I'd definitely give that a look as well:

We'll follow this guide:

We'll use method "2: Chroot into LiveCD image".

I've ripped out the harddrive from the headless box and have attached it via USB to my main desktop, which runs Debian Testing.

I've rewritten this guide a couple of time -- not everything worked smoothly from the beginning -- so if it's unreadable and confusing, let me know. Also, due to the lack of versioning in blogspot I have had to try to recover/rewrite from memory, which annoys me.

A word of warning: at one point when working in a chroot I accidentally did grub-install /dev/sda instead of /dev/sdc. I then did update-grub in the main system and rebooted. I should've done grub-install /dev/sda again but from the host system. Anyway, you might screw things up, so a first precaution will be to burn a live CD of some linux distro that you can use to rescue your system with if you mess things up too badly. I'm a debian guy, but I found that the Ubuntu Rescue Remix ( was a pretty good thing to have lying around.

1. Nuke the existing file system (not necessary, but easier)
2. Get the iso and unsquash it
3. Mount the unsquashed image using chroot, and mount your hdd under it. Get packages
4. Chroot inside the chroot and install the bootloader
5. Set up network

Get started

Format/Prepare your harddrive:
In this case I'm using a 40 Gb hard drive. Since it's so small I'll just partition it to hold one / partition and one /swap partition. We'll make the swap partition 1 Gb which should be plenty, given that the box has 512 Mb RAM. Make sure that you leave enough space before you partition -- 1 Mb is overkill, but is something you can afford. In my original attempt I used palimpsest to format my drive and ended up having to shrink the partition using gparted. Better to use fdisk which may be slightly more challenging, but will give you full control.

Remove the harddrive from your target box, and attach it to your running linux desktop e.g. via USB (or by opening the case and hooking it up via sata/pata). If it automounted, do df -h so see what device it is (here /dev/sdc), otherwise just do ls /dev/sd* before and after it's attached.

df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/sdc1 36G 15G 20G 43% /media/steelhead
Unmount it:
sudo umount /media/steelhead

We now know that our disk is /dev/sdc, so let's get cracking with fdisk
fdisk -u -l /dev/sdc
Disk /dev/sdc: 40 GB, 40007761920 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 4864 cylinders, total 78140160 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdc1 * 63 78140159 39070048 83 Linux
We want our swap to be 1 Gb. (40007761920 bytes /4864 cylinders)/(1024*1024*1024)=.00766038894653320312 Gb per cylinder or ca 130.5 cylinders per Gb. Our first partition will start at cylinder 2 and run until cylinder (4864-131=)4733.

sudo fdisk /dev/sdc
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-1): 1
Command (m for help): n
Partition type e extended p primary partition (1-4)
p First cylinder (default 0cyl): 2 Last cylinder or +size or +sizeMB or +sizeKB (default 4863cyl): 4733 Command (m for help): n
Partition type e extended p primary partition (1-4)
p First cylinder (default 0cyl): 4735 Last cylinder or +size or +sizeMB or +sizeKB (default 4863cyl): Command (m for help): w sudo fdisk /dev/sdc Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sdc: 40 GB, 40007761920 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 4864 cylinders Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdc1 2 4734 38025792 83 Linux Warning: Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary. /dev/sdc2 4735 4864 1036192 83 Linux
Command (m for help): a Partition number (1-2): 1 Command (m for help): t Partition number (1-2): 2 Hex code (type L to list codes): 82 Changed type of partition 2 to 82 (Linux swap) Command (m for help): w

The cylinder boundary warning is why we started the next partition on cylinder 4735, so as to avoid overlap. 'a' makes the first partition bootable. 't' creates the swap fs.

Create the file system for partition 1:
sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdc1
sudo mkswap /dev/sdc2

Get the iso:
sudo apt-get install bittorrent
cd ~/Downloads

If you're company/isp/whatever has a blanket ban on P2P (e.g. bittorrent) download the file using regular http, e.g.
cd ~/Downloads

However you downloaded it, do:
sudo apt-get install squashfs-tools
sudo mount -o loop archlinux-2013.01.04-dual.iso /mnt
unsquashfs -d /tmp/squashfs-root /mnt/arch/i686/root-image.fs.sfs

This is for a 32 bit install. Most likely you'll want the 64 bit, so change i686 to x86_64 for that. Also note that the unsquashed image is 1.4 Gb so make sure you put it somewhere with sufficient space.


sudo umount /mnt
sudo mount -o loop /tmp/squashfs-root/root-image.fs /mnt
sudo mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
sudo mount -t sysfs none /mnt/sys
sudo mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev
sudo mount -o bind /dev/pts /mnt/dev/pts
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/resolv.conf
sudo chroot /mnt
[root@beryllium /]#

You're now in the chroot.

In the chroot:
mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt
mkdir /run/shm

Since I am installing 32 bit Arch from a 64 bit host, I had to edit /etc/pacman.conf using nano and change
23 Architecture = auto
23 Architecture = i686

If you are installing 64 bit Arch from a 64 bit host you don't need to edit anything. Also, the only editor installed by default is nano, not vi, for some reason.

Finally, edit /etc/pacman.d/mirrors and copy/paste (ctrl+k, ctrl+u) the nearest/most logical mirror to the beginning of the file.

pacman-key --init
pacman-key --populate archlinux
pacstrap /mnt base base-devel vim grub-bios openssh
==> Creating install root at /mnt ==> Installing packages to /mnt warning: database file for 'core' does not exist warning: database file for 'extra' does not exist warning: database file for 'community' does not exist :: Synchronizing package databases... core 105.1 KiB 15.8K/s 00:07 [##################] 100% [..] Total Download Size: 163.59 MiB Total Installed Size: 603.01 MiB [..]
I got a couple of errors above re file systems (during grub init) that arch had no business looking at. I don't think it matters since the next chroot is what's important.
pacman -Syy
genfstab -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
cat /mnt/etc/fstab
# # /etc/fstab: static file system information # #

# UUID=ae73518f-5675-486e-8cdd-6579c528ab72 LABEL=steelhead /dev/sdc1 / ext4 rw,relatime,data=ordered 0 1 # UUID=f25a484c-e8e2-4ead-808b-96dd5e915020 /dev/sda5 none swap defaults 0 0
Two problems here:
* Since this will be the only hdd on the new system the root partition is probably /dev/sda1. Change the sdc1 to sda1 above OR use UUID
* Likewise, the swap will be the current sdc2 but the future sda2. Alternatively, get the UUID via blkid.

Here's my new two-line version of fstab with uuid:
UUID=ae73518f-5675-486e-8cdd-6579c528ab72 / ext4 rw,relatime,data=ordered 0 1 UUID=a12b484c-f2d2-4edd-8d8b-76ee6f725020 none swap defaults 0 0

arch-chroot /mnt

which gives

You're now in a chroot inside a chroot.

A chroot within a chroot:

pacman -Syy
pacman-key --init
pacman-key --populate archlinux
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Australia/Melbourne /etc/localtime
echo "kookaburra" > /etc/hostname

Kookaburra is the hostname of the new Arch box.

Edit /etc/pacman.conf and change Architecture from auto to i686 if you need to.

Edit /etc/locale.gen and uncomment the locales you want. For me
en_AU.UTF-8 UTF-8 en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8 en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8

Continue working on boot:
echo 'LANG="en_AU.UTF-8"'>/etc/locale
echo 'KEYMAP=us'> /etc/vconsole.conf
mkinitcpio -p linux
==> Building image from preset: 'default' -> -k /boot/vmlinuz-linux -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-linux.img ==> Starting build: 3.7.4-1-ARCH -> Running build hook: [base] [..] ==> Creating gzip initcpio image: /boot/initramfs-linux-fallback.img ==> Image generation successful
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Generating grub.cfg ... Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-linux Found initrd image: /boot/initramfs-linux.img done

Check /boot/grub/grub.cfg to see that it exists and that it doesn't look like it's about to blow up. Double-check the uuid vs fstab. Check the 'root'. Mine was wrong. I changed it in /boot/grub/grub.cfg by hand, which isn't recommended but we'll deal with that later. In /boot/grub/grub.cfg change hdX to whatever the correct setting is (counting starts at 0) e.g.
        set root='hd0,msdos1'

since /dev/sdc in the future will be the only hdd. Changing this file by hand is untenable in the long run, but our goal is to boot and then regenerate the grub.cfg at a later stage.

grub-install /dev/sdc
Installation finished. No error reported.
Then continue -- in this case we're working with a headless box so we want openssh-server and all that:

Enter new UNIX password: Retype new UNIX password: passwd: password updated successfully
pacman -S net-tools ifplugd dialog sudo wireless_tools wpa_supplicant wpa_actiond systemctl enable sshd.service systemctl enable net-auto-wired.service systemctl enable net-auto-wireless.service cp /etc/network.d/examples/ethernet-dhcp /etc/network.d/ethli

Edit the /etc/network.d/ethli file as shown in the next section.(the ethli name holds no significance)

adduser verahill -m

Edit /etc/sudoers and add:
verahill ALL=(ALL) ALL
pacman -S pkgtools mlocate htop screen elinks

Time to exit:

sh-4.2# exit
[root@beryllium /]# umount /mnt
[root@beryllium /]# exit

You're now back in your normal host filesystem, and unmount the rest:
sudo umount /mnt/proc
sudo umount /mnt/sys
sudo umount /mnt/dev/pts
sudo umount /mnt/dev
sudo umount /mnt

At this point you have a bootable system. I attached the hdd to my laptop using USB, and chose to boot from it. Went fine. However, it turns out that networking in arch and/or using systemd is very different from debian and initd.

Networking should be one of the easiest things in the world to set up, since if you have network access everything else will eventually sort itself out. No network means no remote access via ssh if the screen/keyboard/mouse get screwed up. No network means that you can't install anything. No network means that you can't go online and look up solutions.

initd was easy -- you checked your udev rules, then edited /etc/network/interfaces and added an auto eth0 line followed by e.g. iface eth0 inet dhcp or a more extensive static definition. It was easy.
So I'm a bit frustrated that systemd seems to make the whole process of managing network interfaces so much more difficult. At least for a newcomer.

With systemd your interfaces may not have simple names like eth0 right off the bat, but may have names like enpS08 instead -- it does make things a bit more difficult and unpredictable -- remember that my goal is to get a headless box up and running and that I have no way of getting any error messages -- openssh will simply have to work from the start. I mean, there's a certain logic to systemd, but there are plenty of frustrating issues with it too if you're used to chucking start-up commands in rc.local and setting up your own network devices.

Some of this stuff you could do by hand on a running system, but that's not very helpful when you are working with a headless box where your only option is to connect via ssh (technically I could do rs-232 but I can't find a cable).


Create /etc/udev/10-persisten-net.rules
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTR{address}=="00:2e:9e:2e:bb:20", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="ethli"
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTR{address}=="00:e2:bb:be:d4:c8", KERNEL=="wlan*", NAME="wlan0"
and put the mac addresses of you interfaces in it.

Edit /etc/conf.d/netcfg to use the correct WIRED_INTERFACE,
NETWORKS=(ethli ethkb5 ethkb3 wpa-wireless)
ethkb5, ethb3 and wpa-wireless are other files that I've set up in /etc/network.d/, although at this point they are pretty darned useless -- I can define plenty of profiles, but I can only define a single WIRED_INTERFACE from what I can tell. So only one interface will be started by netcfg.

Copy /etc/network.d/example/ethernet-dhcp to /etc/network.d/ethli, and edit the interface name.
DESCRIPTION='A basic dhcp ethernet connection using iproute'
Do the same for any other profiles.
For wireless, all you need to do is copy  /etc/network.d/examples/wpa-wireless to /etc/network.d/ and add the password in clear text (i.e. no need to use wpa_password). Change the permissions so that it's 'safe'.

Here's my wpa-wireless
DESCRIPTION='A simple WPA encrypted wireless connection'

The wired network should now start on boot. To launch it manually, just do
sudo netcfg ethli

This is where I'm currently at:
* arch works fine when I boot it by attaching the hdd via usb to a laptop or desktop and booting off of it. I have working internet and the sky's the limit to what can be done

* I can't get it to boot my headless box (or at least not to get a working network connection), and because it's completely headless (it's a server with only eth ports and an RS 232 port) I have no idea why. The logging in systemd leaves a lot to be desired it seems. I'm waiting for an rs-232 cable to arrive via ebay, so we'll see.
The two possibilities that I'm entertaining right now is that either there's an issue with the network devices or...well, I don't know. I'm also getting tired of netcfg and will probably switch to wicd -- it's not quite what I want, but at least I know that it works.
But more about that some other time...

Error 1:
# pacstrap /mnt
==> Creating install root at /mnt
mount: mount point /mnt/dev/shm is a symbolic link to nowhere
==> ERROR: failed to setup API filesystems in new root

mkdir /run/shm

On debian /dev/shm points to /run/shm via a symlink, so your chroot has a dead link.

Error 2:
error: key "E62F853100F0D0F0" could not be looked up remotely
error: psmisc: key "FCF2CB179205AC90" is unknown
error: key "FCF2CB179205AC90" could not be looked up remotely
error: reiserfsprogs: key "7F2D434B9741E8AC" is unknown
error: key "7F2D434B9741E8AC" could not be looked up remotely

pacman-key --init
pacman-key --populate archlinux

You need to get all the gpg keys so you can check the package signatures.

Error 3:
warning: database file for 'core' does not exist
warning: database file for 'extra' does not exist
warning: database file for 'community' does not exist

pacman -Syy

Not sure, but probably due to me interrupting pacman rather rudely with ^C at some point.

Error 4:
# arch-chroot /mnt pacman -S grub-bios
error: failed to prepare transaction (package architecture is not valid) :: package grub-bios-2.00-1-i686 does not have a valid architecture
pacstrap /mnt grub-bios

And then skip the arch-root command

grub-install /dev/sdc
/usr/sbin/grub-bios-setup: warning: your embedding area is unusually small.  core.img won't fit in it..
/usr/sbin/grub-bios-setup: warning: Embedding is not possible.  GRUB can only be installed in this setup by using blocklists.  However, blocklists are UNRELIABLE and their use is discouraged..
/usr/sbin/grub-bios-setup: error: will not proceed with blocklists.

Solution: You partitioned your system without leaving enough space before the first partition. In my case I had 32 sectors*512 bytes.
sudo apt-get install gparted
Start gparted and shrink the partition. I put 2 Mb (probably overkill) of free space in front, and aligned to cylinder.