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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This thread will be a log of my summer project…my first experience with Arch Linux. In it I will discuss what wiki pages I read, what other research I do, goals and hopes for what to accomplish, what works, and what does not. Tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, questions or clarification just as much. Of course I will try and keep this as up to date as possible, no promises on when there will be updates but as I have time to work on the project, I will make time to post.
7 years ago I received my first laptop. This was not my first experience by any means with computers but the first time I would have one with me pretty much all day (and be on it a good majority of that time). I was starting 7th grade at that time. By the end of that first year, my friends and I had happened upon "linux" and really the open source world (beyond Mozilla Firefox). In those middle school years, it was solely Ubuntu (7.04 was the first one I believe). Using the laptop in an academic setting, it was frowned upon to run anything other than Windows XP. As the years progressed and I moved into high school, I played around with Ubuntu more and more. In 10th grade I tried running only Ubuntu. I got a few months in but in the end had to select the 2nd option in the Grub menu. By the time high school graduation came around I told myself that Windows 7 would be the last Windows operating system I use "leisurely" (of course there will be times when I will need to use Windows, perhaps in a future job). I plan on keeping Windows around for some occasional gaming and for use with various specialty programs that do not run elsewhere.

A couple of weeks ago I finished my first year in college. I "successfully" completed one year in engineering school (and I'm going back!). My Computer Engineering degree is now more or less 3 years away. After winter break, upon completion of my first semester, per the suggestion of a friend (one of those same friends who was there for 7.04), I installed Fedora on my laptop. Last semester I ran Fedora. In my intro to C++ class I coded in vim.

Having not found a full time summer internship, I picked up summer school and have set a goal for myself…Arch Linux by the end of the summer. Getting a fully operational and functional OS running would be a huge learning experience in the world of the linux kernel, operating systems, and much more (I'd tell you what but then I'd already know about it).
Get an Arch Linux setup running on the HDD on my desktop computer, more so understand all that I did.
See my signature below, the install will be done on my Phantom build. Right now I have Windows 7 on my SSD. A Fedora install is on my HDD partitioned with a data partition as well (where I store all of my documents, pictures, etc.). GRUB is installed on the HDD for the dual boot. My initial plan is, assuming the SSD boots by itself into Windows 7, that is with the HDD unplugged. I will just leave the SSD unplugged, wipe the Fedora partition, and install Arch there. Ideally I would like to have a drive completely allocated for Arch, but I do not have such necessary resources. Many Windows' Program Files are on the data partition as well. I will obviously be making a backup of the data partition.

Now the first thing I want to do is READ! Read the introduction pages on the archwiki and any other pages I may be led to from there. All of the pages I read will be linked in the following Spoiler.

  • after reinstalling tint2 pygtk was marked as option install for using tint2conf , GUI editor
  • after installing pcmanfm arch wiki page suggested to install gvfs for automounting usb drives, is there a lighter not GNOME alternative?
  • gvfs includes 10 packages, intltool, libfm, lsof, lxmenu-data, menu-chase, parted, perl-xml-parser, sg3_utils, udisks, pcmanfm
  • for now, not installed
 

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I don't want to sound like I'm discouraging you or saying Arch isn't good for this...but if your goal was to learn a lot more about Linux and internals I think Gentoo, Slackware, or trying to compile things from source in Arch would be the way to go. But take that with a grain of salt as that's what all but one of my friends (one just stuck with Windows and never touched Linux) who actually stuck with either CompSci or CompE or are actually working in similar fields did one of those 3 both in highschool and in college. The one friend that works as a Senior coder IIRC for Zynga (yes I know) was doing Gentoo in high school and the other who got me started in Linux and is both a sys admin for his employer's company (a power company in Cali) and does coding on the side.

But as a fun project for the summer I hope it works out better for you than me. My head still hurts trying to figure out how I even got Arch (Archbang was magnitudes easier) to even work (and that's just because I'm not the brightest crayon in the box).
 

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If you have any questions Plan9, Xaero, and I ( and any other ( few ) Arch user 'round these parts ) would be pleased to help
tongue.gif


As to you're readings. The Beginner's Guide is a great piece to follow as you install. It guides you along the way as well as explains a bit into each process. Really not much important until you at least get that far. Pretty much a learn as you go experience.

It would probably be better for you to get set up, then set goals for certain tasks to learn the ins and outs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rookie1337 View Post

I don't want to sound like I'm discouraging you or saying Arch isn't good for this...but if your goal was to learn a lot more about Linux and internals I think Gentoo, Slackware, or trying to compile things from source in Arch would be the way to go. But take that with a grain of salt as that's what all but one of my friends (one just stuck with Windows and never touched Linux) who actually stuck with either CompSci or CompE or are actually working in similar fields did one of those 3 both in highschool and in college. The one friend that works as a Senior coder IIRC for Zynga (yes I know) was doing Gentoo in high school and the other who got me started in Linux and is both a sys admin for his employer's company (a power company in Cali) and does coding on the side.

But as a fun project for the summer I hope it works out better for you than me. My head still hurts trying to figure out how I even got Arch (Archbang was magnitudes easier) to even work (and that's just because I'm not the brightest crayon in the box).
As I am reading up on how Arch compares with other linux/bsd OSes it does sound as though Gentoo would be a good way to go. Nonetheless I do want to get my feet wet with Arch and will definitely consider Gentoo for possible future exploration.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrak View Post

If you have any questions Plan9, Xaero, and I ( and any other ( few ) Arch user 'round these parts ) would be pleased to help
tongue.gif


As to you're readings. The Beginner's Guide is a great piece to follow as you install. It guides you along the way as well as explains a bit into each process. Really not much important until you at least get that far. Pretty much a learn as you go experience.

It would probably be better for you to get set up, then set goals for certain tasks to learn the ins and outs.
I have indeed known about the Beginner's guide, and after I get through those first many pages about the Arch Way and whatnot, I was planning on heading over to the Beginner's Guide. Thanks!
 

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My best advice: Go through the install process from start to GUI multiple times. This will not only cause you to start "remembering" the tools you used, but It can also begin to teach you the importance of each section/step in the way the OS works.

Also, once you get "comfortable" with the install process, try skipping steps as well as changing what you're doing in certain steps, or combining steps and try to fix any issues that arise because of it.

And also, best of luck!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stumped View Post

My best advice: Go through the install process from start to GUI multiple times. This will not only cause you to start "remembering" the tools you used, but It can also begin to teach you the importance of each section/step in the way the OS works.

Also, once you get "comfortable" with the install process, try skipping steps as well as changing what you're doing in certain steps, or combining steps and try to fix any issues that arise because of it.

And also, best of luck!
^This will definitely make you learn things.
biggrin.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyap7 View Post

Friend chiming in here, the best of luck to ya
biggrin.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by stumped View Post

My best advice: Go through the install process from start to GUI multiple times. This will not only cause you to start "remembering" the tools you used, but It can also begin to teach you the importance of each section/step in the way the OS works.

Also, once you get "comfortable" with the install process, try skipping steps as well as changing what you're doing in certain steps, or combining steps and try to fix any issues that arise because of it.

And also, best of luck!
That is a very interesting idea, and I may indeed take you up on that idea. To make sure I am understanding you correctly, so after I've done it a few times I should skip steps to bring up issues and try to fix those issues?

I may not get much going before Sunday, I've got to go see crazyap7 graduate today. Congrats dude!
graduated.gif
thumb.gif
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by benpack101 View Post

To make sure I am understanding you correctly, so after I've done it a few times I should skip steps to bring up issues and try to fix those issues?
Pretty much, yeah. Or just start combining steps (when possible) or straying from the guide and doing your own thing.

I've personally reinstalled linux on my laptop probably 15 times this week, in my quest to find a distro that has the combination of things that I want (I'm very picky, this has nothing to do with the quality of linux or each dsitro, just me not being able to be satisfied). But I've learned a ton from setting up linux, breaking it, and then fixing it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by benpack101 View Post

That is a very interesting idea, and I may indeed take you up on that idea. To make sure I am understanding you correctly, so after I've done it a few times I should skip steps to bring up issues and try to fix those issues?

I may not get much going before Sunday, I've got to go see crazyap7 graduate today. Congrats dude!
graduated.gif
thumb.gif
A really neat idea building on this is to install once to a GUI, work with a system you can (Gnome2, KDE, OpenBOX) and reinstall Arch using foreign systems in Virtual Machines. I.e. Get yourself a working system you can use, and play with new things in VMs. This way you can experiment when you want, and use your computer when you need. You also don't have to worry about stuf getting all screwed up due to lack of experience when you toy around with settings in VMs.

You also have the luxury of trying different VM's; KVM, VirtualBox.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by stumped View Post

Pretty much, yeah. Or just start combining steps (when possible) or straying from the guide and doing your own thing.

I've personally reinstalled linux on my laptop probably 15 times this week, in my quest to find a distro that has the combination of things that I want (I'm very picky, this has nothing to do with the quality of linux or each dsitro, just me not being able to be satisfied). But I've learned a ton from setting up linux, breaking it, and then fixing it.
Sounds like a plan!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaero252 View Post

A really neat idea building on this is to install once to a GUI, work with a system you can (Gnome2, KDE, OpenBOX) and reinstall Arch using foreign systems in Virtual Machines. I.e. Get yourself a working system you can use, and play with new things in VMs. This way you can experiment when you want, and use your computer when you need. You also don't have to worry about stuf getting all screwed up due to lack of experience when you toy around with settings in VMs.

You also have the luxury of trying different VM's; KVM, VirtualBox.
Well by the end of the summer I obviously would like a nice working system, but may I remind you that I have a working Windows 7 on an SSD so if I do need a working system on my desktop I can just plug that in and boot.

I have considered the VM approach but I think I am going to do it all outside of a VM, but you are right, the experience with VMs isn't a bad idea by any means!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Installation (Day 1 First Install)

So here I go with my first install!

I am following the Beginner's Guide.

After turning the machine off, I unplugged the HDD to confirm that windows would boot up by itself. It did so I unplugged the SSD and plugged back in the HDD. Having downloaded and mounted the arch iso image onto a flashdrive I went ahead and plugged in the flashdrive and booted up the machine. Sure enough the image from the flash drive booted up and took me to the root terminal. So far so good!
thumb.gif


An initial ping of google showed that my wired connection was good and working! (so what it is wired from my room, down the stairs and to the router)
I was kind of worried that this wouldn't go well, and I am not a big fan of networking, as I am not too familiar with it. Farther down the road I would like to mess around with setting up different internet connections.

Here the guide discusses GPT partitioning and MBR partitioning. I know that I had already set up my drive with grub and an MBR partition so I was going to go with that. Knowing that I just wanted to use the partition previously allocated to Fedora, I figured my drive was already set up and ready to go. I went ahead and mounted the root partition

Code:

Code:
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
This went well so I went ahead with

Code:

Code:
mkdir /mnt/home
Here I was told that that directory already existed. Well sure enough, it did because I had not erased anything from the Fedora partition.
So I searched and found the command to wipe the partition:

Code:

Code:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda2 bs=1M
A few minutes later when it finished wiping the data. I tried mounting again but I was running into some more problems(mainly silly things) so I decided to reformat the disk, aside from the data/storage partition. I assigned 25GB of RAM to root, 1 GB of Swap (who knows!) and the remainder to the home partition. For now I am just pretty much following the examples. I am not really sure how much of a home directory I need. For the most part I have saved all of my school work and what not in dropbox and shared it across my two OSes on my desktop as well as my laptop.

For reference the drive now looks like this:

sda1-data/storage
sda2-root
sda3-home
sda4-swap

From here I went to update the mirror list and brought the UMD mirror to the top. Really how important is it to make sure I have the closest one to home? I believe either the CS department or the ECE (electrical/computer) department has a mirror at Virginia Tech, and that would probably be ideal, but I don't feel like looking through all of them and this seems find.

It was then suggested to update the package lists with

Code:

Code:
pacman -Syy
From here I installed the base system

Code:

Code:
pacstrap -i /mnt base
Thankfully no errors.

Then I went ahead with generating an fstab

Code:

Code:
genfstab -U -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
followed by opening it up in nano.
The guide suggests doing this with the UUID vs. label as UUID is unique to each partition and will never change unlike a label

A "chroot" was then followed by going into /etc/locale.gen and removing the '#' in front of

Code:

Code:
en US.UTF-8 UTF-8
After my system was ready in english (perhaps I'll try not doing this next time and see what happens
smile.gif
), I set my TimeZone to New York.
I like creating the sybolic link to the zone file, very smart! ...set the hardware clock to utc, next time I'm in windows, I have a quick registry edit to do.

Went ahead and created a hostname and enabled dhcpcd service.

Set my root password.

And now here I am getting to choose my bootloader!
I have vaguely heard of syslinux before, never of LILO, and have always used GRUB. As I am happy with the many features of GRUB I am going to go with that for now.

There was the suggestion of automatically searching for other operating systems using os-prober, I installed it but I am not sure I actually got it to work. (LOOK INTO THIS)

Now I unmount everything and reboot!

On reboot I am now in my Arch system! Goodbye flashdrive!

I spent a few minutes playing around with the user management, looks very useful for more elaborate systems, I am sure I will be the only one on my system, everyone else in the house gets scared from the sight of a black screen with little white letters running across it.

To test out the package manager I installed vim and gcc. Also enabled the multilib repository.

From here on out I am less confident in what I accomplished (before calling it a night)

I unmuted the audio with ALSA.
Was able to get sound out of the speakers with a simple speaker test

Code:

Code:
speaker-test -c 2
Not sure if that is sufficient for getting the most out of my hardware. (FURTHER READING ON THE ALSA PAGE COULD HELP)

And now I get to the Graphics...
I could install the base xorg packages and even run startx with the basic default environment

Code:

Code:
pacman -S xorg-twm xorg-xclock xterm
Not really sure which NVIDIA driver to instal for my GTX 560, I ran

Code:

Code:
lspci | grep VGA
and got what I expected. wasn't really sure how to go from there and install the correct driver. Tried

Code:

Code:
pacman -S xf86-video-nouveau
This is pretty much as far as I got today. Happy with my progress. Now I need to figure out the real configuration stuff, getting graphic interfacing working.
 

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Just a heads up, if you're trying out gnome; look at the arch linux gdm specific entry about an issue with SB and the latest GDM. they provide a way to fix it.
 

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On the audio front you should talk with Shrak or Plan9 on getting the best out of ALSA as audio is not exactly a simple part in Linux do to some crazy things. The foremost thing you'll need to do is get dmix/alsa setup to allow mixing so you can have multiple programs access the sound card without locking it up. That was one of the most annoying things I encountered with a ALSA only setup is programs that would lock up the sound server and never let it go until a reboot. Some programs will be tricky to setup without Pulseaudio (Skype comes to mind). So hopefully Shrak and Plan9 can help you out with ALSA. If not and you're fine with adding Pulseaudio for a bit of an "easier" setup; I can help you get the best out that (not as good as pure ALSA I'm told but it's better than the default Pulseaudio config).
 

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Wow you have the same summer project as I do!

I am currently trying to install arch as well. Unfortunately I was unlucky and cannot get my wireless to connect. From a little bit of research I am finding that the 2013 05 build of arch doesn't have "netctl" included... So i cant get to "wifi-menu" (command does not exist!)
frown.gif


Does anyone have any light to this. And also "BenPack101" Are you using EFI?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rookie1337 View Post

On the audio front you should talk with Shrak or Plan9 on getting the best out of ALSA as audio is not exactly a simple part in Linux do to some crazy things. The foremost thing you'll need to do is get dmix/alsa setup to allow mixing so you can have multiple programs access the sound card without locking it up. That was one of the most annoying things I encountered with a ALSA only setup is programs that would lock up the sound server and never let it go until a reboot. Some programs will be tricky to setup without Pulseaudio (Skype comes to mind). So hopefully Shrak and Plan9 can help you out with ALSA. If not and you're fine with adding Pulseaudio for a bit of an "easier" setup; I can help you get the best out that (not as good as pure ALSA I'm told but it's better than the default Pulseaudio config).
I don't run PulseAudio as it completely breaks audio in KDE4. Plus ALSA works out of the box for me (always had done - i've been quite lucky in that regard) so I've never felt the need for anything additional.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gouzlan View Post

Wow you have the same summer project as I do!

I am currently trying to install arch as well. Unfortunately I was unlucky and cannot get my wireless to connect. From a little bit of research I am finding that the 2013 05 build of arch doesn't have "netctl" included... So i cant get to "wifi-menu" (command does not exist!)
frown.gif


Does anyone have any light to this. And also "BenPack101" Are you using EFI?
Did you follow the beginners guide? https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners'_Guide#Wireless_2
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post

I don't run PulseAudio as it completely breaks audio in KDE4. Plus ALSA works out of the box for me (always had done - i've been quite lucky in that regard) so I've never felt the need for anything additional.
Did you follow the beginners guide? https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners'_Guide#Wireless_2
Hmmm...Pulse and KDE4 work fine for me in any distro that I have used them with from kubuntu, fedora, opensuse, etc. But I'm more curious how you handle multiple audio sources with just pure ALSA....every time I tried to do that I always end up with that whole problem of programs locking others out of audio or when dmix works I'd get some horrific sounding distortions when multiple programs would make sound at the same time. I haven't worked on an ALSA config yet so I'm open to seeing what others did to make things work out.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rookie1337 View Post

Hmmm...Pulse and KDE4 work fine for me in any distro that I have used them with from kubuntu, fedora, opensuse, etc. But I'm more curious how you handle multiple audio sources with just pure ALSA....every time I tried to do that I always end up with that whole problem of programs locking others out of audio or when dmix works I'd get some horrific sounding distortions when multiple programs would make sound at the same time. I haven't worked on an ALSA config yet so I'm open to seeing what others did to make things work out.
Ah, well I've had issues with PulseAudio in KDE4 on Arch, but I've never bothered to investigate it (just uninstalled PulseAudio) so it might even just be a quirk of that machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Today was a frustrating day and I really didn't get much completed.

I began by trying to mount the storage partition I have on the same HDD to be able to access my files. At first I had it mounted within "/home/username/" which was a nice little touch. Now it is in "/media/".

The problem I am having is that I can not access it in as another user other than root. I have multiple times tried to go into the /etc/fstab to change the properties of the partition but that did not work either. I tried adding the "user" and "users" options to allow read and write access to all users (and user groups). As the partition type is ntfs I am thinking I may need to read a little about NTFS-3G.

From here I went and tried to play with some Window Managers. To boot up anything other than the default xorg environment that I had been able to pull up last time, one must create a

Code:

Code:
~/.xinitrc
for each user. There the following line of code must either be uncommented or added in:

Code:

Code:
exec [I]blackbox[/I]
or whatever WM/DE desired. I was able to get a few WM up and running however when I tried cinnamon, installed and changed the "~/.xinitrc" I got a black screen. I ended up having to restart the machine to get out of it.

Another issue I was having, and saw once yesterday was this issue that only happens occasionally while I am using pacman, I'll get an "error" of sorts while trying to install something. In short I am told that there is an error getting libjpeg-turbo-1.3.0-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

Code:

Code:
The requested url returned 404 not found
. Pinging google shows that I still have a good internet connection. Whenever I do get this error, it is only with this same package. It will cycle through all the different mirrors, returning the same error. After downloading the rest of the required packages it will not install stating an error (I'll need to get better documentation on this next time it happens). After restarting and going to grab something to drink or eat, all is well and I continue on my way.

Another thing I want to get figured out is my GRUB menu. I don't quite remember how I did it last time, but I would like the GRUB menu to recognize the Windows 7 partition on the SSD. I imagine this is just something I have to set in the grub.cfg file.

With the long weekend coming to an end, I am going to be heading back to school for the week and probably won't get too much time to work on it until next weekend. In the meantime I am hoping to get some reading done on GRUB.

I am going to wait on figuring out ALSA until I have a browser up and able to play stuff from multiple sources.
 
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