About this post: I have proceeded installing the laptop in two days, which quite some time between them. I have made notes of this, including some mistakes I’ve made. Therefore this is not directly an installation guide. I guess I should clean it up as an installation guide. However, it might give some solutions to problems encountered in the wild.
I am using a mlti
architecture (x86/x86_64) boot cd. This CD fails to boot correctly on
this laptop when the disc is inserted into the internal optical
drive. Flashing caps lock and scroll lock leds, and after a while
they stop blinking, the hard disk led flashing rapidlly.
To solve this
problem I have installed Smart Boot Manager
As this is an older
program, not aware of AHCI, therefore I have set the SATA mode to
IDE. However, the Smart Boot Manager still doesn’t detect the optical
Since it
mentions on
it is possible to write the content of the ISO file directly to a
flash medium, and I do have my digital camera with me, I will attempt
to write the content to an MMC card and boot from that. Perhaps the
content of the CDROM is confusing the “BIOS” in the laptop. (It’s
not a real BIOS, but an UEFI in BIOS mode, but enabling UEFI tells me
this is for development purposes only)
However booting from an
MMC card doesn’t seem to work. I suppose the “BIOS” only
recognises SD cards. (SD is electronically compatible with MMC but
uses a different protocol)
Anyhow, I have found a way to boot the CD. Press Escape, and then F9, during the POST to enter the Boot Device Menu, and inserting the disc when this menu is
displayed (NOT any earlier), and then choose the “Notebook Upgrade Bay” option to boot from the CDROM. (Really….Upgrade Bay means Optical Drive???) Sigh Why is it
so difficult to implement a BIOS that correctly boots from CDs. I
thought we had these kind of problems behind us. Appearently, booting
from CD problems are still an issue today.
Anyhow, now the boot
process is completed, I am dropped in a root shell, with the message
“To begin installation run /arch/setup”, so let’s do that.
Selecting the sources.
Since I am at Stack, meaning I got a high speed internet connection
available, I choose remote sources in stead of the local source.
Core-remote, extra-remote, community-remove and multilib-remote.
Next step, selecting the
mirror. Since I am in the Netherlands, I choose the
http://ftp.nluug.org mirror. Next is network setup. Just a few times
hitting enter to set up a wired DHCP configured network, to be used
during installation.
The next question is
choosing an editor. The choise is between nano and vi. It has as
comment nano (easy) and vi (advanced). However I have no expecience
with nano, but I do have experience with vim, which means vi
improved. Well… let’s give nano a try.
Setting the clock and
timezone, Europe/Amsterdam. The next question, the hardware clock, to
set it to UTC or local time. Operating Systems like Microsoft Windows
usually set the hardware clock to local time, while Linux/Unix
operating systems usually set the hardware clock to UTC. As this
system might Dual-boot with windows later, I will set it to localtime
for now. In the next menu, I choose for syncing time with an ntp
server, and continue.
Back in the main
menu, the next step, preparing the hard disk. I keep the default value for the
/boot partition, 100 MiB. For the swap partition, the default value
is 256 MiB. How much swap space does a system require? I believe an
advice many times mentioned is double the amount of RAM in the
I have entered a value of 8192 MiB.
The /
file system: the default value is 7500 MiB. In my experience, this
value is way too low, and I advice to set it to 30000 MiB. After
setting this, the installer asks to use the rest for the /home
However, I just realised I
might need to install Windows on this laptop later. It would usually
be recommended to install Windows first and then other operating
systems. Due this fact, I will revert the partitioning and make the
partitions manually.
So, I will have a 100 MB
ext2 formatted primaty partition at the beginning of the disk, the
/boot partition, and at the end of the disk, extended paritions,
30000 MB ext4 root, 80000 MB ext4 home, 8192 MB swap partition. Note
the cfdisk tool used for manual partitioning uses MB in stead of MiB.
Setting up the file systems and mount points is a separate menu
Installing packages,
selecting grub as bootloader, keeping the default selection. We will
install software later. Next option in the main menu is to configure
the system. We should add another mirror to the mirror list, but we
shouldn’t do so at this moment, as, a new version of pacman has been
released, and chaning the configuration file now will make it not
auto upgrade the configuration file with options required for the new
version to run. Let’s edit the mirrorlist, and uncomment a Dutch
mirror from the list. The rest we will configure later.
Then we continue
installing the boot loader, and finish up this part of the
installation. I am still not convinced this is the most ideal setup.
I have been thining a lot about wether I would install a windows
installation or not, and how this would impact my partitioning.
Booting, logging in with
the root password set duing the installation.
pacman -Syu
install updates. The installation medium comes with pacman 3.5.4.
Since pacman 4 is released, we will need to upgrade this first. After
running the upgrade command, pacman will upgrade itself, and suggest
to run
pacman-key –init
As it requires some random
bytes, and the bare system not doing much other activities this might
take a few minutes to complete. To speed up, possible run
dd if=/dev/urandom
of=blaat count=100
while true; do cp blaat
blaat2; done
in a second console.
When this is done, run
pacman -Syu
It may complain about conflicting files in the filesystem package, if so run

pacman -f -S filesystem

then run
pacman -Syu
again, and answer
questions to replace module-init-tools with core/kmod with yes.
I continued installing on
03-03-2012. Since some time passed by since I ran previous steps, another pacman -Syu is required. It seems some more changed happened and the package util-linux required to be forced as well

pacman -Syu

pacman -S util-linux –force

pacman -Syu

If we wish to run a
graphical enviorement we should install X, therefore we need the
package group xorg
pacman -S xorg
Besides xorg, we need also
a desktop environment and window manager. Nowadays, many of the
options provide both functionality. Technically spoken they can still
be run as separate entities. My choice goes to xfce4. The xfce4 group
contains the xfce4 desktop environment and the xfwm4 window manager.
In the xfce4-goodies package group are some utilities, like a
screenshooter and task manager.
pacman -S xfce4
During the resolving of
dependencies a messaage appears “ kmod and module-init-tools
conflict, remove module-init-tools?”. Answer yes here
There might be some more conflicts, –force them as above
Next, we need a display
mananger. As I have always been a gnome user, until they released
Gnome3, which made me make the switch to xfce4. I have always used
the Gnome Display Manager (GDM)
Let’s see what we have
available. The default display manager is XDM. () This is a
minimalistic display manager. A little too minimalistic perhaps. GDM
has an option to choose the session type, which means, if you have
multiple Window Environments installed, you can choose upon login
which one you wish. This option appears to be missing in XDM. Most
alternatives are developed by a Window Manager project, such as KDE,
Gnome, LXDE, Window Maker, etc. However, xfce doesn’t have it’s own
Display Manager. On their page they point to SLiM as an alternatives
that doesn’t have dependencies of KDE or Gnome. I will investigate
this possibility
pacman -S slim
Now it is installed, let’s
try it
/etc/rc.d/slim start
Now, my screen goes black.
Therefore I try to espace back to the console by pressting
control+alt+f1, but I see nothing. I type reboot, and the system
reboots. So the console is still running, but the graphics card is
messed up. Xorg is messing something up. Let’s have a look at this.
less /var/log/Xorg.0.log
The auto configure
attempts the following drivers in this order:
  • nouveau (open source
    driver for nvidia cards)
  • nv (older Xorg driver)
  • nvidia (the binary blob
    from nvidia)
  • vesa (VESA interface)
  • fbdev (Framebuffer)
The xorg driver for
nouveau is not installed. Appearently this is not part of the
xorg-drivers package
The nv driver fails due a
kernel driver claiming it. Appearently the kernel part of nouveau is
The binary blob from
nvidia isn’t installed either.
The VESA driver appears to
be used, and somehow messes up. Probably because the nouveau kernel
module did some initialisation of the graphics card.
As it appears to be, after
unloading the nouveau driver the console becomes unusable. (
Well… the question is,
which driver to use? The binary blob from Nvidia or the open source
nouveau. For the time being, I will use the nouveau driver, since
it’s already in the kernel, and so it required the least effort.
Besides… a binary blob in a linux kernel, well… is it desirable?
But that’s a whole different debate.
So… let’s just install
some stuff
pacman -S nouveau-dri
/etc/rc.d/slim start
gives a graphical login
screen. Press control+alt+f1 to return to the console. We cannot
login yet since we have no users (expect root) yet.
At this point, we might change some config files
nano /etc/rc.conf
or if you prefer vim,
install it first with
pacman -S vim
vim /etc/rc.conf
In the Hardware section we
If we see a () in this
config file, it means an array. The values are space separated.
It might be usefull to add
the module sg here. I had some weird problems in the past due the
fact this module not being auto loaded anymore, as it used to be in
the past. This module inplements an older interface to IDE/SCSI/SATA
drivers, and is required to run certain cd burining software, such as
Nero Burning Rom for Linux.
Next thing to do, under
the Networking section, set the hostname. (default setting was
At the bottom, we can add
slim to the end of the daemons list.
After these changes, we’re
going to add a user
and answer the questions,
such as username and password. In the usual case the defaults for
the other options are just fine.
After a reboot I am still having issues. I decided to switch to gdm instead, as I am familiar with this, and it basically configures itself.Although I wonder, why does a Display Manager depend on gcc
I made myself some trouble by forcing a complete upgrade and aborting the installation of a kernel with a control C.  I created myself a corrupted initramfs, causing my system not to book.

So, on a side track, if installing a kernel gives the error

Error hook ‘udev’ can
not be found

you got to re-install udev (just enter pacman -S udev)
If the system is unbootable, boot from CD and change root as described on

Rven though I did a
different approach: I booted from the CD, created a new initramfs using that CD, and copied kernel + modules over to my system, so it was bootable again.

So far this side track, installing GDM, and a dependency dbus, which it doesn’t automatically install with gsm
pacman -S gdm dbus

A test run

/etc/rc.d/dbus start
/etc/rc.d/gdm start
now, we get the login
screen, change the session type from gnome to xfcd4-session, enter
username and password, xfce4 should start. For now, I accept the
default panel settings.
With control+alt+f1 I
return to my console
The next thing to do is
adding the archlinux-fr repository, and installing yaourt. Yaourt is
a front end for pacman. But it has more features, it can install from
AUR. Archlinux User Repository.
As it says on their site
Simply add


Server = http://repo.archlinux.fr/$arch

to /etc/pacman.conf and run
-Sy yaourt
If you wish to install
some closed source software, such as skype or nerolinux, this can
often be found in the AUR repository. Some someware in the AUR
repository will be built from source by the yaourt. Anyways…. it
enables you access to some more software. One of the packages from
AUR we’ll be using is a simple wireless script, which starts
wpa_supplicant and after it connected acquire am IP address through
yaourt -S wpa_auto
Answer edit PKGBUILD with
no . And the following questions with yes
Then we’ll have to edit
the /etc/rc.conf file again
the daemons, add “wpa_auto
dbus gdm” there.
Edit the
/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file,
remove everytthing, and
just put
In the default
installation there are no tools such as ifconfig and iwconfig.
pacman -S net-tools
pacman -S wireless_tools
Also usefull to install is
wpa_supplicant_gui ,
pacman -S
Now, return to the X world
by pressing control+alt+f7
Open a terminal, and get
Now we can configure a
wireless network. And we will notice, due the wpa_auto script, we
will see an IP address appear automatically. Do not forget to save
the configuration. (we did allow this in the two line
wpa_supplicant.conf we made earlier)
Well… so far do good.
Done configuring. Now it’s time to just install some more software,
such as firefox, thunderbird, libreoffice, vlc and so on. But that’s
just straight-forward pacman -S and doesn’t require any other
System maintenance. To
install upgrades
pacman -Syu
That’s it folks
One more thing. I am
running an NFS server, and to configure that
pacman -S nfs-utils
and add to the daemons in
/etc/rc.conf, “rpcbind nfs-common” after network.
I have also added an @ to
the network, so the laptop will not wait for an IP address in case no
ethernet cable is connected.
So, my daemons look like

DAEMONS=(hwclock syslog-ng
@network rpcbind nfs-common netfs crond wpa_auto dbus gdm)

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