[arch-general] Arch Linux USB stick won't boot

Tomasz Kramkowski tk at the-tk.com
Sat Mar 23 10:53:20 UTC 2019

On Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 08:57:54PM -0600, steve at vwebr.net wrote:
> No reading at all isn't necessarily what I'm after. 
> Like I said, I can follow and appreciate clear instructions. 
> I need to end up with a distro that has good driver support,
> and very low resource utilization and gets me to a GUI in 20
> steps or less, which are clear steps. 
> Ubuntu being virtually zero steps, so that gives you a better idea.
> Steve 
> <... snip ...>

Hi Steve,

I would appreciate if you could put replies to emails at the bottom of
the quoted section of the email you're replying to (just like I am doing
now). It just makes it easier to read the flow of the emails. I have
snipped the email chain you replied to as it was very difficult to
follow especially after the transformation your email client was
applying to it.

I am happy to hear that my recommendation helped you get the Archlinux
ISO running and put you into a position to install the distribution.

Now, to respond to your concern that the instructions are unclear:

The instructions are written with the intention that the reader is
familiar with what a normal distro's graphical installation tool might
be doing in the background when the user navigates through its prompts.
The instructions also link to multiple other pages which give a lot of
the necessary background to anyone with the time to read.

That being said, the installation instructions STILL provide a
considerable excess of information which should be enough for someone
who is willing and patient enough to do the necessary research to follow
them without much prior experience (even prior linux experience).

Regarding an earlier message of yours about root passwords, I'm not
entirely sure how you got lost so early in the process. I'll give you
the benefit of doubt and give you some elaboration on the beginning of
the process of installing archlinux in the hope that it will give you a
better idea of how to read the rest of the installation guide.



Since you have already written the ISO to a USB flash drive and booted
from it successfully, we can skip the "Verify signature" step as at this
point you have already consciously or unconsciously made the decision to
trust what you have downloaded enough to boot from it.

The step you're on, as far as I am aware is the very end of the section
named "Boot the live environment." That is to say that you have
successfully booted the Archlinux live ISO and have been "logged in on
the first virtual console as the root user, and presented with a Zsh
shell prompt." This means that you're now running Archlinux from the ISO
and the next step to aim towards would be to prepare the machine you're
installing the distribution onto for the installation process.

As Archlinux isn't yet installed on the machine, it would be pointless
to try to set the root password as the root password would only change
on the ISO and only until you were to re-boot the ISO.

Now hopefully you understand where you are, following along from this
step the next step is "Set the keyboard layout." This is obviously an
optional step but if you have dealt with graphical distro installers,
one of the first steps upon booting is usually a question about your
keyboard layout.

Continuing, the next steps deal with other pre-installation tasks which
put the running system into a good position to begin configuring the
target machine. Then as the final stage of pre-installation the guide
explains partitioning, formatting and mounting the target disks for the


I will not go any further in paraphrasing the installation process
because unfortunately if the above is not enough to get you started then
the chances that you will be successful in configuring and using the
distribution AFTER the installation are low and the Archlinux community
does not exist to teach potential users how their machine works under
the hood.

So to finish off, it's not that the instructions are unclear, it's that
the instructions are not intended to teach the end user what they're
doing, and they're also intentionally not designed such that someone
could just copy paste commands without thinking about what they're
doing. Part of the reason why the simplified installation guide was
removed (as far as I am aware) was because it was misleading users who
were not adequately familiar with Linux or did not have the right
attitude towards learning about Linux into thinking that the entirety of
the Archlinux experience was going to be a matter of following simple
steps with minimal thought to achieve any desired end result. This just
ended up putting a significant burden on the community to answer
questions for which answers were already publicly available.

Or to use a (probably not very good knowing my past record) mathematics
analogy: someone who enjoys teaching and working with linear algebra
might not enjoy or want to answer endless questions about the
fundamentals of algebra or geometry when there is plenty of good
material and good teachers who specialise in teaching precisely that
kind of thing.

Kind regards,

Tomasz Kramkowski

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