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My Life with ArchLinux

I always wanted to have a customized linux distribution. Above that, I needed to know how things work together and how the little pieces connect each other.

The Beginning

After spending much time googling for the best Linux distro that is simple and lightweight. I decided on "Arch Linux".

Downloading Arch Linux

You can get iso images for Arch Linux from it's official site - ArchLinux.org

Since I have a 32-bit computer. I went for CoreImage and i686 CPU. After it's downloaded you need to burn it onto a CD or DVD. It's easy to do it if you have softwares like Nero.
(Another option is to use virtualBox or any other virtualization softwares)
After it's burned. Use the CD/DVD to Boot Arch Linux.

Insert the CD/DVD into your drive and then start/restart the computer.
Press the appropriate key to load the boot screen. (For me it was F12). Select the source as CD/DVD drive.

We get the splash screen in seconds. It looks similar to this.


To install ArchLinux we need to first boot into the liveCD environment. So select the first option.
Once the boot process is completed. You get the shell prompt.
Login as root.
Then, we initiate setup using the setup script. Run,

#/arch/setup


From here onwards you need to be extremely careful. There is a wonderful video tutorial in youtube which I made good use of.


If you follow the steps exactly given in the video, likely there won't be any problems.
I didn't choose memory for swap partition. You may do so if you have low RAM space or if you need to hibernate your system.
Also, I chose vi as my default text editor and not nano. Choose any editor you are comfortable with.

ArchWiki
There is a neat manual in Archwiki pages, Arch Linux Beginners Guide
This is something you wouldn't want to miss. It's self-explanatory and simple.

I was faced with 2 problems. I installed GRUB and modified entries as explained in the video but still my computer couldn't load GRUB. Also I forgot to install it on the MBR.

What went wrong?
I had been modifying the grub entry for the currently loaded linux image (which is from LiveCD) and not the one installed on my HD.
Here is the solution:
Boot into Arch using your CD. Mount the partition where you installed /boot.
For me it was dev/sda6 so here is what I did.

mount /dev/sda6 /media

media is a folder under root were other partitions are usually mounted.
Now cd into /media to locate grub/menu.lst
menu.lst is the configuration file for GRUB. Modify the entries as explanined in the video.

Now to install it in the MBR. Open grub shell by typing

#grub


This will open the GRUB shell. The following command installs GRUB to the MBR of your HD.

grub>setup (hd0)


Type "quit" to exit GRUB.

Restart the system and check if GRUB loads fine.

There is a detailed reference to GRUB in ArchWiki: GRUB

Post Installation - The Fun part

Now you have a clean Arch linux base system. If you have reached this point, it's up to you to make your glorious custom Linux distro.

There are a thousand options and choices out there. So it's your personal taste.

Anyways there are a few common steps.

Additionally, I installed tea a text editor and a terminal emulator.
pacman -Syu tea
What is a terminal emulator?
The simplest definiton is that "it's a software used to interact with a shell".
xterm is the default terminal emulator of X Widnow system. It has certian drawnbacks, like it doesn't offer options to copy or paste within the console.
sakura is a terminal emulator based on GTK and VTE. It's a terminal emulator with few dependencies, so you don't need a full GNOME desktop installed to have a decent terminal emulator.
pacman -Syu sakura

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