Posted in Linux, Tutorials/Tips

Easiest way to create custom Live version of Arch

This tutorial will show how to create (more likely to customize) your own custom version of Arch Linux Live CD/DVD. There are better ways to do this, but they are more complicated and takes more time to complete. I am going to show how to change already made Live CD of Arch, because here is the deal, most users can not make working Arch Linux with working X and some windows manager, although there are some already made Arch Linux versions they are mostly already trashed with tools which users do not need. Tutorial is intended for those who still want’s to try:

  • created own Arch Linux CD easiest way
  • are lazy (or simply does not have time) to take full route
  • does not have enough knowledge to make everything from the scratch

Here is what you will need:
1. Arch Linux Live CD which are closest to your wanted. Simplest way to do this, go to DistroWatch and input in search, for finding Linux version which are based on Arch. Here is the link in which should by search with  applied filter. As I have previously mentioned, find the one which is closest to your wanted, most important factor is already installed windows manager which you like. You should not take much attention to installed software, it can by removed and added ones you like, but if there will by less, better for you, less work it will by then removing it, and this mean less left unneeded config files.

2. Some patience and focused attention for doing steps correct.

Let’s start. I have selected CTKArch. It is an Arch based and really minimally software trashed Linux. It already has installed Windows Manager, OpenBox.

Burn image to CD-RW or make bootable USB key. You need a working Arch system. Boot into the system, this Arch version has ability to boot whole data into RAM, it is really nice feature, but do not use it now, use “Start (US keyboard)”, the reason is that you will heavily load your system during this tutorial and if you load into ram, and then fill RAM till the very end, system would freeze, tried this with my 3GB laptop, freezed at the very end, 4GB should by enough, but I can not guarantee.

When system is loaded you will get a greeting message, close it. You will notice that there are not items on desktop, right click on desktop and select “Environment” in there turn on what you want, although it is not necessary. I suggest you to turn on Desktop icons it will allow easily to get to Home folder, also panel, which will help to navigate, if you are not familiar with keyboard shortcuts.

1. Open terminal, you will by in Home directory. Go to place where you have writing permissions and where are some free space (1.6 GB in our case). I would not recommend going to places which are accessible only when in Live mode, I am talking about whole: Home, Desktop, root folders, reason is that in Live mode these folders are not quite real and during file creation progress, system might freeze. I suggest you to go to some USB/SD card, this will make sure, that system won’t freeze.
I still have done this in my Home folder, with commands:
You can go to folder in which you want to extract files and then click in file manager Tools-Open Current Folder in Terminal.

2. Enter root mode:
su root
Password is: toor

3. Now type:
unsquashfs /bootmnt/root-image.sqfs
/bootmnt is place where CD/USB is mounted, it might by same, or might differ, you should check it, by simply going to CD/USB and looking what is written in address line.
After this command root-image.sqfs will by uncompressed into same directories, if it would have been installed. It might take some time to complete, I have done this from 4GB Kingston USB2  to another 8GB Corsair VoyagerMini USB2, on USB2  channels of laptop, it took approximately 20 minutes, that’s is quite a lot, but keep in mind that USB speed drobed by half, or even more, because speed was split-ed, for reading/writing in differed devices. If you decided to write files to HDD, this will by done really fast.

4. Now type:
chroot squashfs-root

You should see something similar.

5. Now you can use arch command for installing/removing software.
Install software:->  pacman -S package_name
Uninstalling software:->  pacman -R package_name
Upgrading packages:->  pacman -Syu
Cleaning-up:->pacman -Rsn  //  pacman -Qqdt
Searching for name of installed software:-> pacman -Qs

There are more commands, but you can Google them, these 3 are main needed.

6. After you have done installing files, you can go also to that extracted folder “squashfs-root” and alter some settings.

7. Now after all changes you wanted to do is done, type:
mksquashfs squashfs-root root-image.sqfs
This will create a new root-image.sqfs with your installed software, and altered configs. You also can adjust command, so it would create root-image.sqfs to other directory mksquashfs squashfs-root /media/Data/root-image.sqfs

8. Now simply replace root-image.sqfs and boot into your custom Arch.

EXTRA: If you have already installed some Arch Based system (NOT RUNNING FROM LIVE MODE), you can simply go to step 3 and extract files to your home folder or desktop.

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