Archiso For Dummies Like Me and You
-What the hell is Archiso?
Archiso is a small set of bash scripts that is capable of building fully
functional ArchLinux-based liveCDs. It is a very generic tool, so it
could potentially be used to generate anything from rescue systems,
to install disks, to special interest liveCD systems, and who knows what
else. Simply put, if it involves Arch on a shiny coaster, it can do it.
-Alright, so how does one install it?
First off, Archiso has some dependencies:
- mkarchroot from the devtools package
Archiso itself can be installed with the handy dandy included Makefile,
and the incantation 'make install'.
-Great, so how do you use this thing?
The heart and soul of Archiso is mkarchiso. All of its options are
documented in its usage output, so we won't go into detail here.
Instead, let's go over the general process.
The first thing you should probably do is create a directory to work
in, and cd to it. This'll help keep things organized. Next, you'll want
to create a mkinitcpio config file that suits your needs. Typically this
means modifying whatever hooks you want. A typical set of hooks for
archiso looks something like this:
HOOKS="base udev boot-cd archiso ide scsi sata usb fw filesystems"
If you're creating an image for a bootable usb device, you'll want to
use boot-usb instead of boot-cd. It's probably worth mentioning that
hardware autodetection and things of that nature do not belong here.
Only what's necessary to get the system on its feet, and out of the
initcpio really belong here, fancier stuff can be done on the booted
You'll also want to create a list of packages you want installed on your
liveCD system. A file full of package names, one-per-line, is the format
for this. Typically you'll want BASE and a kernel as a bare minimum, but
you're free to install whatever else you want (this is *great* for
special interest liveCDs, just specify packages you want and gogogo).
The last item of importance is what are called addons. Basically this
means any other crap you might want to include on your liveCD, including
binary package repos, special configurations, random files, we don't
know, be creative. mkarchiso expects them all to be put in a single
directory, with an fstab-like config file. Currently two types of addons
are supported, squashfs images that get layered onto the root union, and
plain directories which can be bind mounted anywhere under the root.
If you want to add a squashfs union layer:
- Set up whatever you want to include in a separate directory someplace,
as if that directory was / . Then run mksquahfs on it, and copy the
created image to your addons directory.
- Add an entry to your addons config file (which must be named 'config',
by the way). Typical squashfs entries look like this:
live_overlay.sqfs / squashfs
Where the first component is the path to the image relative to your
addons directory, the second is the mountpoint (irrelevant for
squashfs, they will all get layered at /) and of course the third
component is the type.
- Be aware that the order of entries on the config matters! Entries will
be layered on top of one another, later entries are mounted _UNDER_
earlier entries (an unfortunate counterintuitive result of the way we
have to mount the unions).
If you want to add plain directories to bind mount:
- Set up your directory somewhere, and copy it to your addon directory.
- Add an entry to your addons config file, example entry:
core /packages bind
where the first component is the path to the directory relative to
your addons directory, the second component is where you'd like it
bind-mounted relative to the liveCD's root filesystem, and the last
component is the type.