Shortcut your Arch installation with Architect Linux or Arch Anywhere

Architect Linux

Architect Linux [5] is a successor to the original Evo/Lution project. Like Evo/Lution, Architect boots a simple Linux, but it completely dispenses with a graphical environment. Instead, you get a text-based installation framework that provides a very flexible installation. You just need to work through the wizard step by step (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Architect guides you through the Arch installation with a menu-driven wizard.

In our hands-on lab with version 2015.11.19, a typical installation of Arch took about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the speed of the computer and connection to the Internet. You can download Architect Linux as an approximately 350MB ISO image onto an optical disc or a USB flash drive and boot the computer from it.

The first step is to choose the installer version: The "stable" version (currently with Arch Installation Framework 1.5.5) has already been tested in detail within the Architect community; the "development" version (Framework 1.6.1) contains additional functions, such as automatic detection of the graphics card.

The setup routine guides you through the installation in nine steps; the items branch into submenus. You'll have the choice of numerous desktops, boot managers, and login managers. You can also choose whether to install binary blobs for graphics cards and WiFi chipsets. Because a graphical partitioning tool is lacking, the biggest hurdle is partitioning the disk. If you are using Arch as the sole system on the machine and can delete existing partitions, an automatic system provides you with help.

You pay for the convenience of automated installation by giving up some of the options for individually tailoring your system. For example, the stable installer installs all graphics drivers, even if the system doesn't need them. The development installer of Architect Linux detects the graphics card and then only installs the relevant drivers. As of now, this development edition doesn't provide advanced functions, such as LUKS encryption, but the Architect team says full system encryption is on the to-do list.

Arch Anywhere

Arch Anywhere [6] is a potential alternative to Architect. The developers supply the image as a 1.3GB dual ISO for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Unlike Architect, Arch Anywhere directly contains the most important packages. The on-board package list includes Xfce, Openbox, Awesome, and i3, as well as several lean window managers, so that you can install the Arch system completely without an Internet connection.

The installation is performed from a base Linux system that automatically loads on the boot screen (Figure 2). You can access the installation instructions from the Arch wiki using commands like arch-wiki-guide or arch-wiki-simple. Start the system setup using arch-anywhere.

Figure 2: For Arch Anywhere, start the installation from a base Linux system.

The installation routine will now take you by the hand, just as with Architect (Figure 3); however, keep in mind that it is impossible to revise any decisions you make later on. Arch Anywhere provides a similar variety of installation options; however, you'll only have access to the full range of desktop environments and packages if you have an active Internet connection.

Figure 3: Upon request, Arch Anywhere installs numerous useful packages in addition to the desktop environment.

Conclusions

If you're too busy or too impatient for Arch's arcane manual installation, you can set up your Arch system using an Arch installer such as Architect Linux or Arch Anywhere. These two Live Arch installer systems let you set up a clean Arch system without a derivative vendor "enriching" the system with software from their own repositories. Architect is appealing, thanks to its well-considered menu structure, which allows the you to repeat and retrace installer steps. Arch Anywhere has the advantage that you don't need to have an Internet connection for the installation.

Table 1 shows a comparison of Architect and Arch Anywhere with a pair of leading Arch derivatives.

Table 1

Comparing Arch Installer and Derivatives

 

Architect

Arch Anywhere

Antergos

Manjaro

Repositories

Arch mirror

Arch mirror

Arch mirror, own source

Own sources

Internet Connection

Required

Optional

Optional

Optional

Desktop Choice

During installation

During installation

During installation

Through installation medium

Console Only

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

AUR Can Be Activated

No

No

Yes

Yes (standard)

Encryption

LUKS (planned)

Not available

LUKS

LUKS

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