Virtual Box: Installing Arch Linux, Part 1

I have wanted to play with Arch Linux for some time, but my test computer is currently non compos harddrive (I took the HDD out to help someone else test a different computer). Using Virtual Box, I have been able to do so.

Arch is a “build-it-your-way” Linux distribution. The initial install provides a text interface with the standard multiple desktops, a text editor, and not much else. It’s designed so that the user can then download the graphical user interface and programs that he or she wants, as opposed to accepting the decisions made by others.

It is not for Linux newbies, not because it’s particularly complicated–the instructions at the website for building the system are very clear–but because someone new to Linux would likely not have enough experience to know what UI and programs he or she prefers.

For example, I prefer Fluxbox for a GUI and use a mix of programs, some using KDE libraries, some using Gnome libraries, and some using basic X libraries. I know that sounds like gibberish to persons who’ve never used Linux–it would have been gibberish to me six years ago–which illustrates my point about Arch.)

In my previous post, I described creating a virtual machine (VM) in Virtual Box for testing Arch.

Now we’ll start the installation.

Before booting the installation CD, I checked the settings by highlighting the Arch VM and clicking “Settings” on the menu bar.

Under “System” I verified the boot order as

    1. Floppy
      CD/DVD ROM
      Hard Drive

VM Settings

. . . and I set the networking as “Bridged Adapter,” which allows Virtual Box to create a “bridge” to my network card, identified in Linux as “eth0” (wired connections are commonly “eth0,” wireless commonly “eth1”) to connect to the Big Wide World. (You can read more about the types of network connections offered by Virtual Box.)

After saving the settings, I inserted the installation CD, which I had burned from the *.iso file, into one of the two internal drives in the computer, highlighted the Arch VM, and clicked “Start” in the menu bar. Virgual Box displayed a message that it was “spawning a session” . . .

VB Spawning New Session

. . . then asked me to select a boot device, since I have two CD/DVD drives (I bought the computer from the best secondhand shop you will ever find and it came that way–one of the drives writes DVDs, the other doesn’t).

VB Select Boot Device

The CD booted to Arch:

Arch Install Screen

I logged in as “root” and Arch displayed its welcome screen. I okayed through it and Arch displayed the installation menu, listing the seven steps of the Arch install process:

Arch Installation Menu

As I worked through menu, selecting an item would take me to a series of submenus. When I was done with each step, Arch brought me back to the next step in this menu. At any time, if I had had second thoughts, I could have moved back and started over from any one of these steps.

Next: Steps one through three.

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