Believe it or not, up-to-date Arch on an i586

I honestly didn’t think this possible, but those i586 repos I mentioned a week or two ago work fine, which means you can effectively leapfrog a system from the ancient Lowarch 1.1 ISO available here, to a fully functional and up-to-date Arch system compiled for i586, with packages here.

It’s not all sunshine, flowers and happy puppies though. If you decide you want to make the same jump, I have a few tips for you.

First of all, I’d strongly recommend installing only the core system packages and leaving out the remainder. I suppose if you want you could install an entire system and update it in one fell swoop, but it seems like you’re adding time to the entire process.

Part of that is because the old version of pacman that appears on that ISO doesn’t understand the newer style of Arch repositories, or at least not that particular one. You may find yourself downloading the entire core repo anyway, because pacman can’t download the files for you.

And that will work; that’s how I got the system to update itself from the old core versions to the current versions off that repo. It’s a bit tedious and bandwidth is a bit slow, but it will do the trick.

You can add those repos as the core, current and extra, in the original /etc/pacman.conf, and the system will update its database nicely. You can manually update package by package and force configuration files to be updated, which is what I did, or possibly do the whole system as a single update command, which works too.

I ran into a small glitch on restart, because Lowarch automatically assigns the drives with the ide-legacy system (in other words, hda) while the newer packages will label everything as sda-series drives.

So you’ll have to touch up your kernel boot line in Grub, and edit the Grub configuration files once your system is booted. Which might take a couple of tries, since the fstab file is also listed with hda-style parameters, but those drives don’t exist in the system’s mind. Just remount the drive with mount -o -n / remount,rw, which is the command given in the error message, edit the fstab file, and logout to trigger the reboot. It will work, trust me.

And provided your network is running, it should still be okay after a reboot. I used a whacked-out Buffalo wireless card and I’ve got a solid network running with no glitches, before or after installation.

Beyond that, the usefulness of that repo will depend on the hardware you’re using. I don’t expect anyone to build my entire system for me, but I do notice that the xorg-server-utils package isn’t there, and there’s no Silicon Motion driver. For both of those I fell back to the versions included on the Lowarch ISO until I can compile my own versions; that might not ever happen because I’m getting strange errors out of gcc whenever I try to compile something. It’s the story of my life. …

Regardless, if you’ve got the right components you might not have to actually compile anything. And really, provided your network can do it, you can conceivably build anything you like out of abs. Of course, you’ll have to manually edit PKGBUILDs to include the i586 architecture, but that’s no great chore.

Otherwise I think that’s it. I have a few reservations about doing that leap again, but I do know that it works. Personally, I think transplanting the drive might actually be a better method for this system. I believe I could point the Lowarch installer at the repo, do an FTP installation and skip the ugly step of updating the system package by package, or downloading all of core. I haven’t tried that; if you have a Pentium or a K6 and a little time, see if it works that way.

I’m just happy it works at all. Graceful it is not, but functional it is. And that’s what I look for first.

Oh, and by the way, I built this on the old Sotec. Yes, it’s true, after almost nine months of non-use and sitting on an office shelf, I decided to hijack it again. Why? Because it’s there. 😈

4 thoughts on “Believe it or not, up-to-date Arch on an i586

  1. Pingback: Banquo’s ghost: Lowarch 0.1.1 ISO and torrent « Motho ke motho ka botho

  2. Pingback: A zero-sum day « Motho ke motho ka botho

  3. Pingback: The myth of Arch Linux and the i586 « Motho ke motho ka botho

  4. Pingback: Another Arch repository for i586 « Motho ke motho ka botho

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