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#1 2012-10-13 09:35:47

t4711
Member
Registered: 2012-10-12
Posts: 21

Installing Arch on a Win* machine

I'm a Windows developer with a pretty convoluted setup (2 HDs with various partitions for assorted bits and pieces), dual-booting into two Windows versions via the Windows boot menu. This menu also chainloads GRUB (in its grldr guise) which I use to boot into a couple other things (mainly rescue stuff).

I want to port some of my own programs to Linux, so I need a Linux system. Also, long term, I may want to move away from Win* as my main system and just use it in in a virtual machine running on a Linux host for the occasional app that's not available for Linux. After some looking around I've decided that Arch Linux may be a good starting point. I know next to nothing about Linux (though I worked on a real Unix system in the mid-'80s) but I like the idea of building my own system. I am also a big command-line fan so the fact that Arch doesn't come with a default GUI is no big deal for me, at least for the start.

I want to be able to run my Arch Linux setup in two ways: first in a VM (VirtualBox) running under Windows. This already works; I did a quick test install yesterday, just to test the waters, and compiled "hello world". I will reinstall this later.

Second I'd eventually want to transfer this same install to one of my physical HDs and use it standalone. From what I gather, this shouldn't be too difficult.

Couple questions I am having before I take the plunge: I've just freed 16GB in a *logical* partition as my playground, assuming that GRUB/grldr can boot Arch from a logical partition. Right?

Second, how would I best distribute the 16GB between partitions? How big should the system partition be (4GB, 6GB, 8GB?) and how big the user partition (the rest, minus 512MB for swap? I'd use the machine mainly for installing a basic GUI, editing and compiling stuff, testing and a bit of browsing. No office apps, no multimedia; for the time being this will remain on the Windows side.

Some rough numbers would be welcome!

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#2 2012-10-13 09:56:46

DSpider
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From: Romania
Registered: 2009-08-23
Posts: 2,273

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/FA … se_Arch.3F
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Mo … al_machine

Install GRUB to the MBR (i.e. /dev/sda, not /dev/sdaX) and it doesn't matter if the GRUB files are located on a logical or primary partition. Personally, I link Syslinux better: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php … 8#p1109328

Read Partitioning for some general tips. Basically, it depends how much software/crap you want on your computer. KDE and a bunch of games will quickly fill it up. Openbox (or a tiling WM, since they work very well for development environments), will only need a 10 GB root partition (/home and /boot included). Speaking of which, you don't necessarily need a separate /home or /boot, and you don't need a swap partition with 2 GB RAM (or more). If you're only using swap for suspending to disk, you can always use a swap file.


"How to Succeed with Linux"

I have made a personal commitment not to reply in topics that start with a lowercase letter. Proper grammar and punctuation is a sign of respect, and if you do not show any, you will NOT receive any help (at least not from me).

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#3 2012-10-13 10:42:10

ackt1c
Member
From: Visalia, California
Registered: 2012-10-10
Posts: 215

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

i use windows MBR to syslinux to openbox ( i don't trust syslinux or grub as a booting option as they have repeatedly crashed my entire windows installation)

my boot is sda3 (primary 100mb) no boot flag set (boot is set on my sda2 win7 partition)
swap is sda5 mkswap/swapon cfdisk 1024MB (never exceeds 2MB in my case)
and root is logical sda6 (remaining freespace) mkfs.ext4

i partition in windows disk management, its easier to me than cfdisk or compiling gparted
and makes sda5/sda6 logical on extended logical sda4

so... my configuration is

sda1 primary restore NTFS
sda2 BOOT primary win7 NTFS
sda3 primary ext4 100MB
sda4 logical extended (swap+rest of freespace)
sda5 logical 1024MB swap type structure
sda6 logical ext4 root structure containing users

HDD allows 4 primary partitions but one extended allows logicals, etc. etc.

win7 is no longer even a consideration even to use to me.
anything else?

Last edited by ackt1c (2012-10-13 10:44:02)

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#4 2012-10-13 13:56:22

t4711
Member
Registered: 2012-10-12
Posts: 21

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

DSpider wrote:

Install GRUB to the MBR (i.e. /dev/sda, not /dev/sdaX) and it doesn't matter if the GRUB files are located on a logical or primary partition.

As I wrote in my OP, I already have GRUB installed. GRUB itself is on a primary partition but my question was whether GRUB can boot Arch Linux if it's installed on a logical partition.

DSpider wrote:

Basically, it depends how much software/crap you want on your computer. KDE and a bunch of games will quickly fill it up. Openbox (or a tiling WM, since they work very well for development environments), will only need a 10 GB root partition (/home and /boot included). Speaking of which, you don't necessarily need a separate /home or /boot, and you don't need a swap partition with 2 GB RAM (or more).

I want to separate root and /home from the start since in the long run, I will probably move my whole system to Linux and I am a big fan of separate partitions for separate things.
I think I will split the 16GB 50/50.

ackt1c wrote:

my boot is sda3 (primary 100mb)

My setup is looking vaguely similar but with two HDs. You're booting Arch from your sda3 which is a primary partition. I want to boot Arch from my sda6 which is a logical partition.
My booting process first loads ntldr/BOOT.INI from where I can boot either of my Win* installations or chain to GRUB. And from the GRUB menu I want to boot Arch on sda6.
Perhaps it's best I just try it.
THX for the help.

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#5 2012-10-13 18:13:57

kristof
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2012-10-03
Posts: 5

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

By definition, only primary partitions may be bootable by the Windows bootloader. GRUB is not so picky and will let you boot from a logical partition. Just remember to always check your /etc/fstab before you boot for the very first time after partitioning.

EDIT: I suppose by now you've already tried it, but in case you haven't, I wish you the best of luck!

Last edited by kristof (2012-10-13 18:14:45)

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#6 2012-10-16 10:04:16

t4711
Member
Registered: 2012-10-12
Posts: 21

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

kristof wrote:

I suppose by now you've already tried it, but in case you haven't, I wish you the best of luck!

Thanks;-) Yeah, I just re-installed Arch on a real HD and, after some fiddling with grldr, I've got it to boot. So I now have two installations, one in a VM under Windows and the other "for real". Eventually, I'd like to run the real install also in the VM (via raw disk access), so that both ways of running Arch share the same file system.

Of course this begets another question: I've put a few entries for shared directories into the VM Arch /etc/fstab, so that I can access my Win* files. The /etc/fstab in the other install will have similar entries but of course these are not shared VM directories but point to real partitions. Is there an elegant solution how I can have some partitions auto-mounted in the VM and others in the real install? (Remember that I want to share the same setup, so this is probably not going to work with a single /etc/fstab.)

And another question: I am still running Arch via the TTY, ie w/o GUI. For compiling stuff and basic testing that's fine but eventually I'd like to install some window manager. Again, as with the base Linux system, I am faced with a plethora of bewildering choices. Though I am a Windows guy, I am not really a GUI person and I'd prefer something lean and mean and fast over some unwieldy package. The main points are that I want to be able to use a browser (FF if possible), an Office package like LO and the VirtualBox Guest Additions. Plus a flexible terminal emulator because I spend most of my time in the shell anyway (I'm using zsh). Most other things (graphics, multimedia etc.) I will do from the Windows side.

Thanks for any pointers.

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#7 2012-10-16 12:52:55

lifeafter2am
Member
From: .........
Registered: 2009-06-10
Posts: 1,325
Website

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

t4711 wrote:

And another question: I am still running Arch via the TTY, ie w/o GUI. For compiling stuff and basic testing that's fine but eventually I'd like to install some window manager. Again, as with the base Linux system, I am faced with a plethora of bewildering choices. Though I am a Windows guy, I am not really a GUI person and I'd prefer something lean and mean and fast over some unwieldy package. The main points are that I want to be able to use a browser (FF if possible), an Office package like LO and the VirtualBox Guest Additions. Plus a flexible terminal emulator because I spend most of my time in the shell anyway (I'm using zsh). Most other things (graphics, multimedia etc.) I will do from the Windows side.

Thanks for any pointers.

If you mostly use command line you may want to look into tiling window managers. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Co … w_Managers

I pretty much use my window manger to manage various terminals, with the occasional GUI program (browser, gimp, etc.). I personally use XMonad, but to each his/her own.

I also use ZSH, and use URXVT as my terminal emulator. You can set it up to use a server/client model which helps to conserve on resources some.

Have fun!


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-------------
Allan -> ArchBang is not supported because it is stupid.

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#8 2012-10-18 11:07:23

t4711
Member
Registered: 2012-10-12
Posts: 21

Re: Installing Arch on a Win* machine

lifeafter2am wrote:

I also use ZSH

Do you (or does anyone else) know how to set the background color of a zsh session (in a TTY, not in any GUI terminal emulator)? It's pitch black and so far my googling has not produced any hints. I could recompile the whole thing but that's a quite drastic measure for such a simple query.

Also, I still have trouble with /etc/fstab in two different environments (see my penultimate post).

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