This installation guide provides step-by-step instructions for installing Parabola GNU/Linux-libre. This guide requires 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 Foreword
- 2 Pre-installation
- 3 Installation
- 4 Establish an internet connection
- 5 Prepare the storage devices
- 6 Select a mirror
- 7 Install the base system
- 8 Generate an fstab
- 9 Chroot and configure the base system
- 9.1 Locale
- 9.2 Console font and keymap
- 9.3 Time zone
- 9.4 Hardware clock
- 9.5 Kernel modules
- 9.6 Hostname
- 9.7 Configure the network
- 9.8 Set the root password
- 9.9 Install and configure a bootloader
- 10 Unmount the partitions and reboot
- 11 Post-installation
- 12 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.
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.
2.1 Download the Parabola ISO
Download the current copy of the Parabola ISO.
2.1.1 OpenRC vs. systemd
Generally speaking, if you don't know what the differences are, you would probably never notice any difference. The typical computer user never needs to touch their init system. One of the main argument that people who are against using systemd is that it does not follow on of UNIX's core philosophies, 'do one thing and do it well', instead systemd represents a collection of dozens of tightly coupled libraries, with responsibilities that exceed those of a simple init system because it also tries to handle things like device management, power management, mount points, cron, encryption, syslog, network configuration, etc. On the other hand, OpenRC, while it's true that it has more features than sysvinit, it does not stay away from its primary function with unnecessary added features.
systemd's proponents argue that, as an init system, it has faster boot times compared to OpenRC, however, most comparisons were made using OpenRC's default options, meaning parallel service startup was not enabled. When OpenRC's optional parallel service startup is enabled, systemd's times falls quite short of OpenRC's times. Perhaps what's more important than boot times is the fact that systemd init system makes use of dozens of services that may affect performance, while a clean installation of the OpenRC system init usually makes use of just 5 services.
However, since the support of OpenRC has only quietly and recently been discussed, systemd is probably recommended for now, because OpenRC's features are still being implemented.
2.1.2 Verify signature
It is recommended to verify the image signature before using it.
$ gpg --keyserver-options auto-key-retrieve --verify parabola-version.iso.sig
Alternatively, from an existing Parabola GNU/Linux-libre installation run:
$ pacman-key -v parabola-version.iso.sig
$ pacman-key -v parabola-openrc-2019.03.10-dual.iso.sig
2.2 Boot the live environment
Once booted into the live medium, follow these steps to install Parabola.
3.1 Keyboard layout
For many countries and keyboard types appropriate keymaps are available already, and a command like loadkeys uk might do what you want. More available keymap files can be found in /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/ (you can omit the keymap path and file extension when using loadkeys).
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
3.1.1 Braille Support
TalkingParabola includes brltty, for those who own braille displays. The brltty package available on the TalkingParabola CD was compiled with as few dependencies as possible. If you wish to use braille, you will need to supply the brltty parameter at the boot prompt. Alternatively, you can start brltty from the shell, after the system has booted.
The brltty boot-time parameter consists of three comma-separated fields: driver, device, and table. The first is the driver for your display, the second is the name of the device file, and the third is a relative path to a translation table. You can use "auto" to specify that the driver should be automatically detected. You can read the brltty documentation for a fuller explanation of the program.
For example, suppose that you have a device connected to /dev/ttyS0, the first serial port. You wish to use the US English text table, and the driver should be automatically detected. Here is what you should type at the boot prompt:
Once brltty is running, you may wish to disable speech. You can do so via thekey, also known as . On my QWERTY keyboard, that key is located directly above the key, between and .
4 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 (188.8.131.52) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (184.108.40.206): icmp_req=1 ttl=46 time=15.0 ms 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (220.127.116.11): icmp_req=2 ttl=50 time=15.2 ms 64 bytes from wildebeest.gnu.org (18.104.22.168)): 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.
5 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.
5.1 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.
5.2 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
5.3 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:
5.3.1 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 #.
5.4 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
5.5 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).
5.5.1 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%
5.5.2 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%
5.6 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
5.7 Activate swap
If a swap partition has been created, it must be set up and activated with:
# mkswap /dev/sdxY # swapon /dev/sdxY
5.8 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.
6 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.
7 Install the base system
Install the base system using the pacstrap script. The -i switch can be omitted if you wish to install every package from the base group without prompting. To build packages from the AUR or with ABS, you will also need the base-devel group.
# pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel
Or in the case you wish a clean OpenRC installation:
# pacstrap -i /mnt base-openrc base-devel
Install other packages later using pacman.
8 Generate an fstab
# genfstab -U -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab # nano /mnt/etc/fstab
9 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
9.2 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
9.3 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
9.4 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.
9.5 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
9.7 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
22.214.171.124 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
126.96.36.199 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
9.8 Set the root password
Set the root password with:
9.9 Install and configure a bootloader
9.9.1 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.
9.9.2 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
10 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.