Virtual Box: Installing Arch Linux, Part 3

Read Part One.

Read Part Two,

At the end of Part Two, we had finished preparing the hard drive. Now it’s time to select packages for installation.

Arch Main Installation Menu

This is much simpler than it sounds. The selection consists of choosing to install the “base” package or the “base” and “base-devel” (base plus some developer tools) packages.

Choosing Packages

I chose both.

Arch next presents a list of the individual items to be installed. If I had, for example, selected the “base” package, I could select additional items from the “base-devel” package at this point.

Okaying that screen took me back to the main menu with Step 5: Install Packages highlighted. Pressing enter brings up a dialog informing me that installation will begin; hitting enter again displays a progress window:

Progress Dialog

When this is complete, “Continue” takes you back to the main menu with Step 6: Configure System highlighted.

First is choosing an editor for editing configuration files.

Choose an Editor

The default selection is nano; the best comparison I can make is that it’s sort of like the old DOS editor.

(I took a look at joe (Joe’s Own Editor), which I’ve not used: nano contains a list of command keys at the bottom; joe does not. I would not recommend the vi editor for someone new to it; it can do a lot of things, but it is not transparent in any way. Installing an OS is not a good time to also learn a new command key menu-less text editor.)

Next, Arch displays a list of configuration files. If you highlight one, the file opens in the editor. I looked at a couple of the files and said to myself, “I’m not wading through all this,” and accepted the defaults.

At the bottom of the list of files, though, there is the dialogue for creating the root login password. I reckon you could skip this and add a password later, but I recommend strongly setting up the root (“Administrator”) password at this point:

Edit Configuration Page

A short progress dialogue displays as Arch configures the start-up scripts, then it notifies you that it’s time to install the GRUB boot loader.

Select Boot Loader

The only likely circumstance I can think of in which you would want not to install the boot loader is this: You already have a boot loader, you’re setting up Arch as additional OS in a multi-boot system, and you plan to add Arch to your existing boot loader. (I’ve never dual-booted a Linux system, though I used to have dual-boot Win95 WinNT computers for a training class I taught.)

Clicking “OK” displays a message telling you that you “must” review the GRUB configuration, then the configuration file opens in the editor. Again, I just accepted the defaults.

Arch next asked me where I wanted GRUB installed:

GRUB Target Drive

I selected /dev/sda and Arch installed GRUB to the MBR of my virtual hard drive (remember, this is a virtualized installation; /dev/sda[number] refers to partitions on the virtual hard drive).

After notifying me that GRUB was successfully installed, Arch returned me to the main menu with Step 7: Exit Install highlighted.

It was time to reboot.


Rebooting brought me to the command line. At this point, there is no GUI and no programs other than a fairly basic set of Linux utilties. In keeping with the Arch philosophy, the user can now choose the combination of programs that he or she wants.

Next: Notes on Configuring the Installation.

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