Installing Chakra

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Note: Most of the screenshots here are thumbnailed to speed up page load times. To see the full-sized image simply click the thumbnail.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Load Your Media!

All right boys and girls, this is it!

Pop in your Chakra DVD or USB stick containing the ISO, but do not yet turn on your computer. Because in order to use Chakra, we must first boot the .iso. To do this we must go inside the computers BIOS and change the default boot drive, which usually is the Hard Drive, to your CD/DVD burner or to your USB Hub. For most BIOS, this means changing the "boot order" so that these devices come before the Hard Drive; the Hard Drive is then used only if nothing is found on them.

If this is your first time encountering your BIOS you can consult the manual for your computer. What, you don't have it? No big deal, most computer user manuals are available online in PDF format. If you do not find the manual for your computer on your manufacturers website, search for your computers make and model using your favorite internet search engine. After making the change do not forget to save them, then restart your computer.

For UEFI systems, the USB or CD/DVD drive should appear as another boot option. You can choose between the boot options or set the order such that your drive always appears first in the list of options, and therefore used as the default.

Chakra OS will then boot to a screen that prompts you to select your language, followed by the "Start" screen. Choose "Start (including nonfree drivers)". "Nonfree" doesn't mean that the drivers cost money, it just means that the human-readable source code is not available. In the Linux world we prefer stuff that comes with the source code (we call that "free as in freedom"), but your computer may have some hardware for which "free as in freedom" drivers aren't available, or if they are they aren't very good. My computer, for instance, has an Nvidia graphics card in it. Nvidia provides excellent support in the form of drivers for Linux, and the drivers are "free as in beer" (that means they don't cost any money!). But they're not "free as in freedom". There are free community drivers available, but they don't work as well as the proprietary Nvidia drivers. There's other hardware (a lot of wireless cards come to mind) that won't work at all without proprietary drivers. When you go to boot from the live media, it automatically detects what hardware you have and installs drivers. Choosing the nonfree option means that any nonfree drivers will be included for you for the best results.

Hit "Enter". It'll take a few minutes to bring up the Plasma Desktop.

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That's the Plasma5 desktop environment, folks, with Chakra's custom wallpaper and a widget to to help you get started installing the system or to look at the Beginners Guide. If you want to just run from the live CD for awhile without actually installing it on to your computer, you can certainly do that. If you are prompted for a password check the passwords button on the welcome plasmoid. Everything works as if it were a real install, however if you are running off of a DVD none of your settings will be saved and you would have to configure them again the next time you boot into the DVD but if you're using a USB stick instead of a CD you can even save your settings! Most people, however, will have a much better experience with a real installation.

It is important to know, that Plasma is a single-click environment; what that means is to only click once on whatever it is you want to open or to select. Only if it doesn't do anything should you try double-clicking. This'll take some getting used to if you're transitioning over from a Windows environment (or from certain other desktop environments for that matter), but once you get used to it you'll wonder why you've been doing all that extra clicking all those years! Later on I'll show you how to change this behavior if you can't get used to it, however I recommend giving it a chance first; clicking the mouse buttons is one of the biggest repetitive strains associated with using a computer.

Meet Calamares

Chakra uses Calamares as the graphical installation program, a distribution-independent installer framework. Click on the "Installation" icon, which is located inside the widget on the desktop.

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Click next at the Welcome Screen, after choosing the language you wish for your installation.

Location

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Here's where you'll select your time zone. Click on the map to choose the location where you live at. Alternatively you can use the drop down menus below to select region and zone. Once you've selected your region the locale fields will change to reflect your choices, but you can change them manually if you don't want to use what it picks. Whatever is in these boxes will determine the system language and the time displayed on your clock. Once you're done with your time and date settings click "Next".

Keyboard

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Here's where you'll select your keyboard type, depending on the model, language and setup. The image on the top will change to show you the keyboard configuration for the model you have chosen. You can test typing in the related box on the bottom. After you have selected the model for your case, click "Next".

Disk Setup

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The time has come to configure your hard drive partitions. A partition is the physical space on a drive that information is stored on. Using Calamares you can now configure your hard disks to prepare for the installation.

Have in mind that Calamares automates the installation on UEFI systems using the GPT partition table (this is what most new systems use), and on BIOS systems using MBR (mostly older systems). It does not yet support some more complex configuration like RAID, LVM,LUKS and using GPT on BIOS systems (workaround found on linked page and also on the ArchWiki).

Calamares will automatically detect any other systems you have installed and will give you related installation options accordingly.

Option 1 - Replace a partition with Chakra

If you just want to use a pre-existing partition to install Chakra on, you can simply select this option. This procedure is fully automated. You will be asked to choose which partition you want to replace and Calamares will handle the rest.

Option 2 - Erase entire disk and install Chakra

In this case, Calamares will use the entire disk to install Chakra on, deleting anything else you might have on the disk. So be careful to backup anything on the disk you want to keep.This procedure is fully automated and Calamares will handle the installation after you select the related disk.

Option 3 - Manual Partitioning

Here you get the option to manually setup your installation, choose specific partitions and mount options.

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Check out your disks on the drop down selection button on the top. Your hard drives, and probably any USB sticks or whatever else you have plugged into the computer, will be listed there. Select the hard drive you want to install Chakra on. Any existing partitions on the drive will show up on the main box, along with any free space.

If you're dual-booting on a single drive and haven't re-sized your existing partition yet you'll want to select the partition you are re-sizing. If you're going to be writing over some existing partitions, you'll want to select them and click "Delete". If you delete the wrong thing don't freak out; none of this stuff is finalized until you click "Next"! You can select "Revert all changes" to go back to the initial state.

If you're using a fresh hard drive that's never been used (or installing on a new virtual machine) there probably won't be a partition table at all; you'll want to click on the "New Partition Table" button and select the appropriate for your case (GPT for UEFI systems and MBR for older ones). Once you've got the free space for your Linux installation take note of how much space there is; we now have to figure out how we're going to divide it up.

Partitioning Schemes

Most Windows installations just put the whole thing on a single partition. You can install Linux the same way, but that's not really the best way to go about it. For a home desktop machine I use and recommend three of them.

The Root Partition

The root partition is the critical one; it's where your essential system stuff is going to go. If you were putting everything in one partition it would be this one. For a modern Linux installation I'd make it at least 20 GB.

It could be even smaller if you created a separate partition for /var. Of major concern here is that pacman will store all packages, including old ones even as they are replaced by updates or uninstalled, and over time this can consumer large amounts of disk space. (As an example I found that my /var/cache/pacman took up over 16 GB of space after having had Chakra installed for about a year an a half, keeping up with most of the rolling updates.)

See Pacman#Low_disc_space

If you do not create a separate partition for this, it should be large enough to accommodate as much of this cache growth as you wish you maintain. You can periodically clear out the outdated packages, but can be some advantage to keeping old packages to roll back to in case of a problem.

The Home Partition

We'll set up a second partition for your /home directory, which is the place where all of the user's personal files get stored. If we put it on a separate partition then even if you wind up having to re-install your OS your data is still right there on your hard drive (so long as you avoid formatting the home partition, that is!). But fair warning: this is not, repeat, not an excuse not to keep your stuff backed up. How big your home directory needs to be depends on how many users you're going to have and how much stuff they're planning to dump on it. If it's just you, and you're just looking to check out Linux for the moment, it can be pretty small. If you're going to be putting your entire music collection and all of your data files from work on it you're going to want quite a bit of space.

The Swap Partition

The swap partition is basically a way to add a little extra memory to the system if you get low on RAM by using the hard drive as system memory. It's kind of slow, but not as slow as running out of memory altogether. These days it's not much of an issue (most modern computers have memory to burn), but it's kind of nice to have anyway. In the old days it was generally recommended that your swap partition should be twice as large as the amount of RAM you have, but on a modern computer with tons of RAM that much swap is just wasted hard drive space. I'm typing right now on a machine with 4 GB of RAM, but I've only got 2 GB devoted to swap space on my hard drive. If you have less than 2 GB of RAM, however, the “twice as much” rule is probably a good idea. Also if you want to use hibernation, it is usually suggested to use the same space for swap as the RAM you have on your system.

The Partition Plan

How much space you allocate to each partition is going to depend mostly on how much free hard drive space you have. You'll have to adjust this based on your own hardware, but here's a couple of pointers. First off, no matter how much hard disk you have, anything more than 50 GB for the root partition is gross overkill (forty is probably a bit much). Secondly, there's no such thing as a home partition that's too big.

Create the Partition Table

Note: It's advisable to consult the following section of this wiki for GPT partition table used in Chakra: Setting up with GPT-Partition Table

Once you have figured out the partitioning scheme, you can start by selecting the new partition table type, here I use MBR.

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Once you've figured out how much space you want to devote to each of the three partitions, select your free space and click "Create"

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In the dialog box that pops up, select a "Primary" partition (don't worry about what that means right now). I usually put swap space at the beginning, so in the "File system" dropdown box select "linuxswap". Label it "swap", and enter the size you decided on for your swap space. Click "OK", and your swap partition should show up in the partition table, followed by the remaining free space. Select the free space, then click "Create" again. You'll get the dialog box again and you'll create another primary partition, but this time select "ext4" as the filesystem, select "/" (root) as mountpoint and enter the amount of space you set aside for the root partition. Now select the free space you have left, click "Create" again, and create a primary partition with an ext4 filesystem, with the mountpoint /hoome and let it have the space that's left. After you click "OK" look over your partition table and make sure everything's correct:

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You should see your swap, root, and home partitions, along with any Windows or Mac partitions you have on this thing. If it all looks good click "Next" to move to the next step.


Create Users

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Enter your name and you will see that Calamares automatically fills the following entries. You can change them of course!

For login name most people just use their first names.

You also need to decide how to call this system, this is useful if you plan to locate it on a network or a bluetooth connection with your phone for example.

Then you'll need a password. Pick something that can't be hacked in like two seconds flat. Pick something you'll remember, but something that's reasonably secure. Don't make it too short, and use a combination of small letters, capital letters, numbers, and maybe a symbol or two. Once that's entered hit "Next".

You can then select if you want log in automatically, this means to skip the login screen during boot, where you have to choose a user and enter your password to login into Plasma.

Finally, you can select to use the same password for the administrator account. Your user password will also serve as your root user password (root is what we call the administrator in Linux). Privilege separation between root and regular users is much more rigidly defined in Linux than it is in Windows, which is one reason that Linux is so much more less prone to viruses and malware. I'm not going to go into the details right now; just be aware that if you forget this password you're looking at re-installing the system!

Summary

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Here a detailed summary of the installation and changes that will happen to your drives is displayed. It is a good idea to go through it and make sure everything listed is what you intended to do. It is the last chance to bail if something isn't right. If everything looks good click "Next".

Install

This is it! Chakra is now being installed and depending on your system it will take several minutes. You can sit back and enjoy some beautiful slides and screenshots of what Chakra offers!

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Once everything has completed successfully you will be given the chance to restart your system before quitting the installer. If you want to continue using the live system, you can leave this empty, otherwise select "Restart now". Remove the live ISO disc from the drive and select "Quit" to reboot.

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In moments you'll be looking at your brand new Chakra Linux installation!

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Give yourself a pat on the back. You've installed Linux on your computer, and lived to tell the tale. Click here for a basic orientation on your new desktop environment.

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