Setting up Arch Linux (VMware) for Custom ROM building – Part 1: Basic Arch Installation

Building an Android custom ROM in the one of the most customizable Linux Distribution in the planet (Arch Linux)? Here’s my take on how to do it.

If you read my post on building Resurrection Remix for Zuk Z1, I mentioned about building an Arch based Android Development machine. I was struggling to do it before but after some research, I managed to create one.

In this post, we will take a look on how to create an Android Development environment for the use of custom ROM compilation using Arch Linux as the OS. We won’t be touching on the syncing the sources part as it was pretty much detailed in Part 2 of my post on how to build Resurrection Remix for Zuk Z1.

This will be a command-line heavy tutorial so make sure you are comfortable in handling the terminal.

Prepare the Virtual Machine

This part is pretty much the same with the Part 1 of building Resurrection Remix. However, this time we won’t be using easy install for the creation of the virtual machine.

Basically we will have to load the live USB and install the operating system manually on the first boot of our newly created virtual machine. You can check this post as a guide but make sure to modify the options as shown below.

VMware: Install operating system later

VMware: Install operating system later

VMWare: Other Linux Kernel

VMWare: Other Linux Kernel

VMware: Customize hardware

VMware: Customize hardware

VMware: Set to use .iso upon boot

VMware: Set to use .iso upon boot

VMware: Set network to bridged

VMware: Set network to bridged

After completing the settings for the virtual machine, we can now start and run the VM and proceed with the installation.

Installing Arch Linux

Power on the virtual machine and it will greet you with this.

Arch Linux: Install selection

Arch Linux: Install selection

Select the 1st option Boot Arch Linux to continue. After a series wall of texts flashing on the screen, it will bring you to the Arch terminal (see below).

Arch Linux: Install terminal

Arch Linux: Install terminal

There will be no Graphical User Interface (GUI) from this point until we get the chance to install one (Part 2), so make sure that you are comfortable dealing with terminal. If you are not, you can always opt for Ubuntu as your build machine OS and follow this guide instead.

Installation commands

Check for connectivity

Firs, let us make sure that we have a working internet connection. Type:

ping 8.8.8.8

If you see something like the one below, you have a working internet connection.

Arch Linux: Ping

Arch Linux: Ping

Hit CTRL+C to stop the command.

Prepare disks

Next is we prepare the disks that we are going to use. Type

parted /dev/sda

in the terminal to run partition manager program and type help for more info.

Arch Linux: Parted

Arch Linux: Parted

Then afterwards, enter these commands:

mklabel msdos

mkpart primary ext4 0% 100%

set 1 boot on

print

quit

These commands will make a primary partition using your  VM’s full disk  which we will be formatting as ext4 type.

VMware: Parted

VMware: Parted

Double check partition

After running and quitting parted, type

fdisk -l

in order to list partitions found in the machine. If it lists /dev/sda1, you have successfully executed the partitioning instructions.

Arch Linux: fdisk -l

Arch Linux: fdisk -l

Format disks

Now lets format the disk. Type

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1

to start formatting.

Arch Linux: mkfs

Arch Linux: mkfs

Mount partition

After formatting the disk, we can now mount the partition for use of our installation medium. To do this, type

mount /dev/sda1 /mnt

Select mirrors (optional)

After we have successfully mounted the newly formatted disk, we can now go ahead and download Arch packages and install it in the disk drive. However, you might want to change your download mirrors for faster package download.

To do this, type

nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Arch Linux: Mirror list

Arch Linux: Mirror list

From this list, select a line which is geographically near in your location and put it on top in order to gain faster downloads. You can use CTRL+W to find a country, CTRL+K to cut a specific line and CTRL+U to paste the line. Remember to paste the one starting with “Server” and not the line starting with “##”.

After pasting the line in the top of the list, press CTRL+C and type Y and ENTER to save changes.

Pactrapping. Installing the base packages

Now we are ready to download the base packages in our machine. To do this type

pacstrap /mnt base

This will download the base packages and install in our disk drive mounted in /mnt.

Arch Linux: Pacstrap

Arch Linux: Pacstrap

Generating the fstab

Next is we need to generate the fstab file. This file is used by the mnt command which mounts file systems at boot. If we don’t do this, Arch won’t know which disk to use upon boot up.

To generate fstab, type

genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

Chroot to our disk installation

Currently, we are running Arch using our live disc and preparing the system somewhat remotely. We are not yet booted into our Arch instance inside the VMware disk yet. Therefore by default, all package installation done in this environment will affect the live disc and will be installed temporarily only. In order to fix that, let us chroot to our Arch installation. To do it, type

arch-chroot /mnt

After doing this, you will notice the change in an indicator in our terminal. This means that we successfully chrooted to our /mnt. As you may remember, /mnt is the location of the folder where we mounted our /dev/sda1.

Arch Linux: arch-chroot

Arch Linux: arch-chroot

Configuring the installation

Now that we are inside the VMware disk, we can now configure some of its parts.

Configure timezone

To do this, we need to type

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Region/City /etc/localtime

where Region and City is your region and city. To find the list of valid items for Region and City, you can go and type

ls /usr/share/zoneinfo

to see the list of region and

ls /user/share/zoneinfo/Region/

to see the list of cities; where Region is set to your selected region.

Arch Linux: Zone info

Arch Linux: Zone info

After setting the timezone, run

hwclock –systohc

to complete setting the timezone into the machine.

Setting the locale

After configuring the timezone we will now configure the locale which will control the language of the machine. Type

nano /etc/locale.gen

and uncomment (delete the # in front of a text line) any needed localization. If you are in US, you will need to uncomment

en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8

Then, press CTRL+X and to save the file. Afterwards, run

locale-gen

in the terminal to finish the configuration. Then create a locale.conf file by typing

nano /etc/locale.conf

and add the uncommented locale found in the locale.gen to the file. If you selected en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8, put

LANG=en_US.UTF-8

in the file. Press CTRL+X and Y to save file.

Modifying the hostname and hosts file

In this section, we will set our own hostname for our machine and subsequently add it in the hosts files which controls the local nameserver of our installation.

To do this, type

nano /etc/hostname

and add you hostname in the file (avoid spaces ” “). Think of this as the name of your computer. You can set it to any value such as “mycomputer”, “JohnComputer” etc.

Then after editing the file, hit  CTRL+X and Y to save it.

Then, edit the hosts file by typing

nano /etc/hosts

and add

127.0.1.1    myhostname.localdomain    myhostname

where myhostname is the hostname you set in the /etc/hostname. Subsequently, the hosts file will now look like this after the edit:

127.0.0.1    localhost.localdomain   localhost
::1          localhost.localdomain   localhost
127.0.1.1    myhostname.localdomain  myhostname

Configure the network

Then, we should now configure the network so that after a reboot, we will have a working network connection. To do this, type

systemctl enable dhcpcd.service

This command will enabled the dhcpcd.service which is responsible in resolving us a valid IP address for the network. Without it, we will have to configure the network manually everytime we boot up the machine.

Configure the root password

Now we will configure the root or administrator password. To do this simply type,

passwd

and type your desired password. Take note that the characters you are typing will not appear in the screen. Not even the * which hides the characters in most password input fields.

Arch Linux: Passwd

Arch Linux: Passwd

Configure the boot loader

Then we now configure the boot loader. The boot loader is the first piece of software that runs before your OS starts. It is responsible for a lot of things and one of which is starting the OS itself. If we do not configure the boot loader, our Arch installation won’t even boot.

To configure the boot loader, type

pacman -S grub

This will install the boot loader named grub. Then type

grub-install –target=i386-pc /dev/sda

to install the bootloader in /dev/sda. Finally, type

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

to generate configuration settings to our machine.

Arch Linux: grub

Arch Linux: grub

Reboot

Now type

exit

and

umount -R /mnt

to unmount the local disk. Afterwards, type

reboot

to reboot the VM.

Congratulations! You now have Arch Linux installed. But we are not yet finished. We only have the base installation. We still need to add and configure the user interface.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


Special thanks to these sources in making this post a reality:

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