It's not possible? Says who?

First steps with Arch Linux

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Core message (aka “TL;DR”): If you’re new to Arch Linux, start with:

those pages will probably save you a lot of time and frustration.

I finally decided to try out Arch Linux. I did the base install a few days ago. A bunch of unrelated stuff has happened since then, so I hope I recall the following correctly.

As always when trying out new stuff, I could rely on my talent to immediately run into some issues. I messed up some choices regarding partitions and mount points and tried to get back to the main menu of the setup tool. I probably hit the wrong key once too often and was back at the command prompt. I restarted the setup tool and couldn’t format or mount some volumes as they were still mounted from the previous run. I went back to the shell prompt to examine the situation and decided that manually unmounting partitions and deconfiguring device-mapper wasn’t worth the effort (as that might not be the only problem), so I just rebooted the machine and tried again.

After the base install I noticed I embarrassingly forgot to set up networking. Coming from Ubuntu/Debian I expected the package manager to be still aware of packages available through the installer media, but this doesn’t seem to be the case (which is fine, as this usually becomes useless as soon as you’re connected to the internet). So I mounted the usb stick, searched for the packages I needed to set up (wireless) networking and installed them with ‘pacman -U’. Finally I was able to ping (Google’s public DNS server).

The next package I wanted to install was only available through AUR. I didn’t like the idea of manually downloading tarballs and PKGBUILDs, running makepkg and finally installing those packages. I expected to run into some dependency issues and wasn’t very keen on doing the same thing over and over again. I saw a link AUR Helpers on the Arch User Repository page. I coundn’t get a sense which tool was considered to be state of the art or most popular. After a short google search and skimming through some random blogs I ran with yaourt. I’m not sure if it suits me, yet.

Despite having experience with Ubuntu/Debian, the whole ‘adventure’ made me feel like an absolute beginner and I wasn’t very motivated to continue and to set up X right away.

I think the source of my frustration was that I didn’t know where to start and what to do in which order. I started on, immediately went to the Download page where I found a link ‘Arch Linux Install Guide’ to the Official Installation Guide wiki page. I also used some other wiki pages like Pacman and generally ran around the wiki like a headless chicken. But somehow I continuously missed all the links to the Beginners’ Guide. Had I found that page earlier on, I guess I would have completed the base install much faster and would have a running X by now.

I stumbled upon some reddit posts which refueled my motivation to set up Arch (through reddit I also finally found the Beginners’ Guide):

After reviewing the front page I now think there are in fact enough pointers for beginners. I just was a bit to eager to get started and in the rush missed the most helpful links.

Written by johnLate

March 27th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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