This beginners' guide provides step-by-step instructions for installing Parabola GNU/Linux-libre. This guide assumes little to no understanding of the installation process, but does require extensive use of the command line and a willingness to troubleshoot problems that may occur.
The Parabola wiki, as well as the Arch Linux wiki, should be the primary source of information and your first resource during trouble-shooting. Parabola users are also encouraged to use man command to read the man page of any command they are not familiar with. Users are also encouraged to read the Arch Linux FAQ before beginning.
- 1 Beginners
- 2 Minimum system requirements
- 3 Preparation
- 4 Installation
- 5 Establish an internet connection
- 6 Prepare the storage devices
- 7 Select a mirror
- 8 Install the base system
- 9 Generate an fstab
- 10 Chroot and configure the base system
- 10.1 Locale
- 10.2 Console font and keymap
- 10.3 Time zone
- 10.4 Hardware clock
- 10.5 Kernel modules
- 10.6 Hostname
- 10.7 Configure the network
- 10.8 Set the root password
- 10.9 Install and configure a bootloader
- 11 Unmount the partitions and reboot
- 12 Post-installation
- 13 Attribution
Installing and maintaining a bare-bones distribution like Parabola is an excellent way to gain knowledge of the GNU/Linux system. This does mean that such distributions might not be the best choice for new GNU/Linux users. Installation and maintenance will require extensive use of the command line and knowledge of the GNU/Linux file system. Parabola ascribes to The Arch Way, which favors being "user-centric" to being "user-friendly." If you'd prefer a more "user-friendly" GNU/Linux system, installing Trisquel GNU/Linux-libre or another 100% Free/libre GNU/Linux system could provide an easier transition into GNU/Linux-libre computing. See also the Free Software Foundation's current list of 100% Free/Libre GNU/Linux distributions.
Another important consideration to note is that Parabola is in the class of operating systems commonly known as "Rolling" distros; which do not offer the long-term stability and uptime reliability that are more desirable features to have for casual desktop users and for web-servers. Another class of operating systems commonly known as "Long-Term Supported" ("LTS") exists with the focus on stability and reliability; which is much better suited for most users. Please read Rolling vs. LTS for more on that topic if you are not convinced of this.
If you do choose to use Parabola as your main operating system, you should at the very least, be prepared that if ever your computer will not start, to have some other way of joining the #parabola IRC channel to ask for help.
2 Minimum system requirements
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre should run on any i686 compatible machine with a minimum of 256 MB RAM. A basic installation of packages from the base group should take less than 800 MB of disk space. If you are working with limited space, this can be trimmed down considerably, but this is recommended only for experienced users.
You will need to create a bootable live disk (e.g. a CD or a USB flash drive) containing the Parabola ISO that will then be used to install the base system.
3.1 Download the Parabola ISO
Download the current copy of the Parabola ISO.
3.2 Optical Disks
To create a disk to use as your install medium, insert a blank or re-writable disk, CD or DVD, into your disk drive. Next, you will need to mount the disk.
# mount sr0
Provided your computer has a disk drive. Sr0 should the first or only, if you only have one disk drive, mount point of disk drives. You will need to address the correct destination for the command to work.
# dd if=~/downloads/parabola-*-dual.iso of=/dev/sr0 bs=2048 conv=noerror && sync
3.3 USB flash drive
To list the block devices, execute the following command:
# lsblk -S
NAME HCTL TYPE VENDOR MODEL REV TRAN sda 0:0:0:0 disk ATA STXXXXXXXX-XXX AAAA sata sdb 5:0:0:0 disk General USB Flash Disk 1.0 usb sr0 1:0:0:0 rom PLDS DVD-RW DSXXXXX BBBB sata
Assuming you don't have many storage devices plugged in, the USB flash drive is easily identified by the VENDOR, MODEL and TRAN columns. In order to use a USB flash drive as your install medium, you will need to write to the device and not to the partition (for example, /dev/sdc not /dev/sdc1). Write to the USB flash drive with the following command (where sdx is the device):
# dd bs=4M if=~/downloads/parabola-*-dual.iso of=/dev/sdx && sync
The flash drive should now be a bootable disk.
Once booted into the live medium, follow these steps to install Parabola.
4.1 Changing Keyboard
By default it is set to English (US) if you would like to change this execute
# loadkeys "layout abbreviation"
Use this command to list available keymaps.
# localectl list-keymaps
Example: this command sets the keyboard layout to British English.
# loadkeys uk
5 Establish an internet connection
The dhcpcd network daemon starts automatically during boot of the live system and will attempt to start a wired connection. Try to ping a server to see if a connection was established. For example, GNU.org's webservers:
# ping -c 3 www.gnu.org
PING wildebeest.gnu.org (18.104.22.168) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (22.214.171.124): icmp_req=1 ttl=46 time=15.0 ms 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (126.96.36.199): icmp_req=2 ttl=50 time=15.2 ms 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (188.8.131.52)): icmp_req=3 ttl=50 time=15.4 ms --- wildebeest.gnu.org ping statistics --- 3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2003ms rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 15.058/15.366/15.624/0.280 ms
If you get a ping: unknown host error, first check if there is an issue with your cable. If not, you will need to set up the network manually, as explained below. Once a connection is established move on to #Prepare the storage devices.
Use netctl's wifi-menu to connect to a wireless network:
This should bring you a menu of wifi networks if your computer has only one Wi-Fi device (mostly the case in laptops).
If your computer has more than one Wi-Fi device, you need to choose one and pass its interface name to wifi-menu. First, identify the name of the needed interface:
# iw dev
phy#0 Interface wlp3s0 ifindex 3 wdev 0x1 addr 00:11:22:33:44:55 type managed
This example shows wlp3s0 as the only available wireless interface, for simplicity. If you are unsure, wireless interfaces are likely to start with the letter "w", and unlikely to be "lo" or start with the letter "e".
Now try wifi-menu again by passing it the interface name:
# wifi-menu wlp3s0
See the sample configuration in WPA2 Enterprise#netctl for networks that require both a username and password.
You should now have a working wireless network connection. If you do not or even failed to identify the wireless interface, see #Without wifi-menu below or the detailed Wireless network configuration page.
If you're using running from an OpenRC ISO, you must use NetworkManager since wifi-menu is from netctl (part of systemd). To connect to a network run:
# nmtui connect
6 Prepare the storage devices
In this step, the storage devices that will be used by the new system will be prepared. Read Partitioning for a more general overview.
6.1 Identify the devices
The first step is to identify the devices where the new system will be installed. The following command will show all the available devices:
This will list all devices connected to your system along with their partition schemes, including that used to host and boot live Parabola installation media (e.g. a USB drive). Not all devices listed will therefore be viable or appropriate mediums for installation. To filter out inappropriate results, the command can optionally be amended as follows:
# lsblk | grep -v "rom\|loop\|airoot"
Devices (e.g. hard disks) will be listed as sdx, where x is a lower-case letter starting from a for the first device (sda), b for the second device (sdb), and so on. Existing partitions on those devices will be listed as sdxY, where Y is a number starting from 1 for the first partition, 2 for the second, and so on. In the example below, only one device is available (sda), and that device uses only one partition (sda1):
NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sda 8:0 0 80G 0 disk └─sda1 8:1 0 80G 0 part
The sdxY convention will be used in the examples provided below for partition tables, partitions, and file systems. As they are just examples, it is important to ensure that any necessary changes to device names, partition numbers, and/or partition sizes (etc.) are made. Do not just blindly copy and paste the commands.
If the existing partition scheme needs not be changed, skip to #Create filesystems, otherwise continue reading the following section.
6.2 Partition table types
If you are installing alongside an existing installation (i.e. dual-booting), a partition table will already be in use. If the devices are not partitioned, or the current partitions table or scheme needs to be changed, you will first have to determine the partition tables (one for each device) in use or to be used.
There are two types of partition table:
Any existing partition table can be identified with the following command for each device:
# parted /dev/sdx print
6.3 Partitioning tools
For each device to be partitioned, a proper tool must be chosen according to the partition table to be used. Several partitioning tools are provided by the Parabola installation medium, including:
6.3.1 Using parted in interactive mode
All the examples provided below make use of parted, as it can be used for both BIOS/MBR and UEFI/GPT. It will be launched in interactive mode, which simplifies the partitioning process and reduces unnecessary repetition by automatically applying all partitioning commands to the specified device.
In order to start operating on a device, execute:
# parted /dev/sdx
You will notice that the command-line prompt changes from a hash (#) to (parted): this also means that the new prompt is not a command to be manually entered when running the commands in the examples.
To see a list of the available commands, enter:
When finished, or if wishing to implement a partition table or scheme for another device, exit from parted with:
After exiting, the command-line prompt will change back to #.
6.4 Create new partition table
You need to (re)create the partition table of a device when it has never been partitioned before, or when you want to change the type of its partition table. Recreating the partition table of a device is also useful when the partition scheme needs to be restructured from scratch.
Open each device whose partition table must be (re)created with:
# parted /dev/sdx
To then create a new MBR/msdos partition table for BIOS systems, use the following command:
(parted) mklabel msdos
To create a new GPT partition table for UEFI systems instead, use:
(parted) mklabel gpt
6.5 Partition schemes
You can decide the number and size of the partitions the devices should be split into, and which directories will be used to mount the partitions in the installed system (also known as mount points). The mapping from partitions to directories is the partition scheme, which must comply with the following requirements:
- At least a partition for the / (root) directory must be created.
- Depending on the motherboard's firmware interface, the chosen #Partition table types, and in some cases also the chosen boot loader, the following additional partitions must be created:
- BIOS/MBR: no additional partition required.
- UEFI/GPT: one EFI System Partition.
In the examples below it is assumed that a new and contiguous partitioning scheme is applied to a single device. Some optional partitions will also be created for the /boot and /home directories: see also the Archwiki article Arch filesystem hierarchy for an explanation of the purpose of the various directories; if separate partitions for directories like /boot or /home are not created, these will simply be contained in the / partition. Also the creation of an optional partition for swap space will be illustrated.
If not already open in a parted interactive session, open each device to be partitioned with:
# parted /dev/sdx
The following command will be used to create partitions:
(parted) mkpart part-type fs-type start end
- part-type is one of primary, extended or logical, and is meaningful only for MBR partition tables.
- fs-type is an identifier chosen among those listed by entering help mkpart as the closest match to the file system that you will use in #Create filesystems. The mkpart command does not actually create the file system: the fs-type parameter will simply be used by parted to set a 1-byte code that is used by boot loaders to "preview" what kind of data is found in the partition, and act accordingly if necessary. See also Wikipedia:Disk partitioning#PC partition types.
- start is the beginning of the partition from the start of the device. It consists of a number followed by a unit, for example 1M means start at 1MiB.
- end is the end of the partition from the start of the device (not from the start value). It has the same syntax as start, for example 100% means end at the end of the device (use all the remaining space).
The following command will be used to flag the partition that contains the /boot directory as bootable:
(parted) set partition boot on
- partition is the number of the partition to be flagged (see the output of the print command).
6.5.1 UEFI/GPT examples
In every instance, a special bootable EFI System Partition is required.
If creating a new EFI System Partition, use the following commands (the recommended size is 512MiB):
(parted) mkpart ESP fat32 1MiB 513MiB (parted) set 1 boot on
The remaining partition scheme is entirely up to you. For one other partition using 100% of remaining space:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 513MiB 100%
For separate / (20GiB) and /home (all remaining space) partitions:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 513MiB 20.5GiB (parted) mkpart primary ext3 20.5GiB 100%
And for separate / (20GiB), swap (4GiB), and /home (all remaining space) partitions:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 513MiB 20.5GiB (parted) mkpart primary linux-swap 20.5GiB 24.5GiB (parted) mkpart primary ext3 24.5GiB 100%
6.5.2 BIOS/MBR examples
For a minimum single primary partition using all available disk space, the following command would be used:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 1MiB 100% (parted) set 1 boot on
In the following instance, a 20GiB / partition will be created, followed by a /home partition using all the remaining space:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 1MiB 20GiB (parted) set 1 boot on (parted) mkpart primary ext3 20GiB 100%
In the final example below, separate /boot (100MiB), / (20GiB), swap (4GiB), and /home (all remaining space) partitions will be created:
(parted) mkpart primary ext3 1MiB 100MiB (parted) set 1 boot on (parted) mkpart primary ext3 100MiB 20GiB (parted) mkpart primary linux-swap 20GiB 24GiB (parted) mkpart primary ext3 24GiB 100%
6.6 Create filesystems
Once the partitions have been created, each must be formatted with an appropriate file system, except for swap partitions. All available partitions on the intended installation device can be listed with the following command:
# lsblk /dev/sdx
With the exceptions noted below, it is recommended to use the ext4 file system:
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdxY
6.7 Activate swap
If a swap partition has been created, it must be set up and activated with:
# mkswap /dev/sdxY # swapon /dev/sdxY
6.8 Mount the partitions
The / (root) partition must be mounted first: this is because any directories such as /boot or /home that have separate partitions will have to be created in the root file system. The /mnt directory of the live system will be used to mount the root partition, and consequently all the other partitions will stem from there. If the root partition's name is sdxR, do:
# mount /dev/sdxR /mnt
Once the / partition has been mounted, mount any remaining partitions in any order. The general procedure is to first create the mount point, and then mount the partition to it. If using a separate /boot partition:
# mkdir -p /mnt/boot # mount /dev/sdxB /mnt/boot
If using a separate /home partition:
# mkdir -p /mnt/home # mount /dev/sdxH /mnt/home
Once all the remaining partitions, if any, have been mounted, the devices are ready to install Parabola.
7 Select a mirror
You may want to edit the mirrorlist file and place your preferred mirror first. This will usually be the closest mirror to your location. A copy of this file will be installed on your new system by pacstrap as well, so it is worth getting it right.
# nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
# Parabola GNU/Linux-libre - Last Updated: dd-mm-yy hr-min-sec GMT 2015 # # Location: Bucharest, Romania # ... # Work hours: 24*7 Server = http://parabolagnylinux.mirrors.linux.ro/$repo/os/$arch ...
If you want, you can make it the only mirror available by deleting all other lines, but it is usually a good idea to have a few more, in case the first one goes offline. Should you change your mirror list at a later stage, refresh all package lists with pacman -Syyu. See Mirrors for more information.
8 Install the base system
# pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel
Or in the case you wish a clean OpenRC installation:
# pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel elogind
Install other packages later using pacman.
9 Generate an fstab
# genfstab -U -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab # nano /mnt/etc/fstab
10 Chroot and configure the base system
Next, chroot into your newly installed system:
# arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash
At this stage of the installation, you will configure the primary configuration files of your Parabola GNU/Linux-libre base system. These can either be created if they do not exist, or edited if you wish to change the defaults.
Closely following and understanding these steps is of key importance to ensure a properly configured system.
Locales define which language the system uses and other regional considerations, such as currency denomination, numerology and character sets. Possible values are listed in /etc/locale.gen, with the active locale defined in locale.conf files.
All entries in locale.gen are commented out (preceded by #) by default. Uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8, as well as other needed localisations. UTF-8 is highly recommended over other options.
# nano /etc/locale.gen
... #en_SG ISO-8859-1 en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 #en_US ISO-8859-1 ...
Create /etc/locale.conf, where LANG refers to the first column of an uncommented entry in /etc/locale.gen.
# echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
Export chosen locale:
# export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
10.2 Console font and keymap
If you changed the default console keymap and font in #Keyboard layout, create /etc/vconsole.conf to make those changes persist in the installed system. It is important KEYMAP matches the value initially set with loadkeys, to ensure correct entry of the root password on reboot.
# nano /etc/vconsole.conf
10.3 Time zone
Find a list of available time zones and subzones in the /usr/share/zoneinfo/Zone/SubZone directories, and listed with the ls command. Create a symbolic link /etc/localtime to your subzone file /usr/share/zoneinfo/Zone/SubZone:
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Zone/SubZone /etc/localtime
You may use tab completion to show available zones and subzones. Example:
# ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Minsk /etc/localtime
10.4 Hardware clock
If you have multiple operating systems installed in the same machine, they will all derive the current time from the same hardware clock, which must be set to either UTC or localtime. For this reason you must make sure that all the operating systems see the hardware clock as providing time in the same chosen standard, otherwise some of them will perform the time zone adjustement for the system clock, while others will not.
In particular, it is strongly recommended to set the hardware clock to UTC, in order to avoid conflicts between the installed operating systems. For example, if the hardware clock was set to localtime, more than one operating system may adjust it after a DST change, thus resulting in an overcorrection; more problems may arise when travelling between different time zones and using one of the operating systems to reset the system/hardware clock.
Set the hardware clock to UTC:
# hwclock --systohc --utc
The hwclock command also generates the /etc/adjtime file.
10.5 Kernel modules
Set your hostname:
# echo myhostname > /etc/hostname
Add the same hostname to /etc/hosts:
#<ip-address> <hostname.domain.org> <hostname> 127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost myhostname ::1 localhost.localdomain localhost myhostname
10.7 Configure the network
Configure the network, this time for your newly installed environment. The procedure and prerequisites are similar to the one described above, except we are going to make it persistent and automatically run at boot.
As a first step, identify the network interface name you want to configure the connection for with ip link.
Now select a daemon to handle the configuration and operation. Several are listed below; only select one of them for the new system.
- Using dhcpcd
A simple option for adapter configuration is to use the DHCP Client Daemon, the method used by default with the install medium. See Dhcpcd#Running.
Users requiring only single wired network connection can simply enable the dhcpcd service for the interface:
# systemctl enable dhcpcd@interface_name.service
Or in the case of OpenRC:
# rc-update add dhcpcd default
If static IP settings are required, adjust the profile configuration as described in #Static IP.
- Using systemd-networkd
The Parabola default init system, systemd includes built-in support for managing adapters using both DHCP and static IP setups. Configuration is simple. See Systemd-networkd#Required_services_and_setup.
- Using netctl
Another option is netctl which is a CLI-based tool used to configure and manage network connections via user-created profiles. Create a profile as shown in netctl#Example profiles, then enable it as described in netctl#Basic method.
All of the tools listed in #Wired above can activate wireless connections. For wireless, however, dhcpcd and systemd-networkd require a separate configuration of the connection in the wireless backend, wpa_supplicant, first. If you anticipate to connect the machine to different wireless networks over time, a tool which provides its own connection management may be easier to handle. Aside from netctl introduced below, Wireless network configuration#Automatic setup lists other choices.
# pacman -S iw wpa_supplicant
10.7.2.1 Adding wireless networks
- Using wifi-menu
Install dialog, which is required for wifi-menu:
# pacman -S dialog
After finishing the rest of this installation and rebooting, you can connect to the network with:
# wifi-menu interface_name
Where interface_name is the interface of your wireless chipset.
- Using manual netctl profiles
Copy a network profile from /etc/netctl/examples to /etc/netctl:
# cd /etc/netctl # cp examples/wireless-wpa my-network
Edit the profile as needed (modify Interface, ESSID and Key):
# nano my-network
Enable above created profile to start it at every boot:
# netctl enable my-network
- Using NetworkManager
This is the recommended method for OpenRC, as wifi-menu and netctl work only on Systemd. However, this works with any init.
Connect to a wireless network running:
# nmcli dev wifi connect <SSID> password <password>
You can see a list of WiFi networks by doing:
# nmcli dev wifi
10.7.2.2 Connect automatically to known networks
Install wpa_actiond, which is required for netctl-auto:
# pacman -S wpa_actiond
Enable the netctl-auto service, which will connect to known networks and gracefully handle roaming and disconnects:
# systemctl enable netctl-auto@interface_name.service
10.8 Set the root password
Set the root password with:
10.9 Install and configure a bootloader
10.9.1 For legacy motherboards
For legacy systems, several boot loaders are available, see Boot loaders for a complete list. Choose one as per your convenience. Possible choices include:
- Syslinux#Installation is (currently) limited to loading only files from the partition where it was installed. Its configuration file is considered to be easier to understand. An example configuration can be found in Syslinux#Examples.
- GRUB is more feature-rich and supports more complex scenarios. Its configuration file(s) is more similar to 'sh' scripting language, which may be difficult for beginners to manually write. It is recommended that they automatically generate one.
Here, installation with GRUB and MBR is demonstrated.
# pacman -S grub os-prober
Install the bootloader to the drive Parabola was installed to (do not append a partition number, or /dev/sdaX):
# grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck /dev/sda
Automatically generate grub.cfg:
# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
For more information on configuring and using GRUB, see GRUB.
10.9.2 For UEFI motherboards
For UEFI systems, several boot loaders are available, see Boot loaders for a complete list
# pacman -S grub efibootmgr
Then run the following script:
# grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot --bootloader-id=grub --recheck
This setup should work for most systems, but if you have any trouble consult the GRUB UEFI section for more information or try putting your device into a legacy BIOS mode.
The final step is to generate the main configuration file for GRUB using this command:
# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
11 Unmount the partitions and reboot
Exit from the chroot environment:
Reboot the computer:
Remove the installation media, or you may boot back into it. You can log into your new installation as root, using the password you specified with passwd.
Your new Parabola base system is now a functional GNU/Linux-libre environment ready to be built into whatever you wish or require for your purposes. You are now strongly advised to read the General recommendations article, especially the first two sections. It's other sections provide links to post-installation tutorials like setting up a graphical user interface, sound or a touchpad.
For a list of applications that may be of interest, see List of applications.