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Arch Linux manual recovery

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Though SystemRescueCD is powerful, if it is system specific, then it cannot work. With the recent changes of the Arch Linux filesystem, I made a mistake that I cannot start Arch Linux after a careless reboot.

The instruction from the official site mentions,

1) Fix any non-official packages with files in /bin, /sbin or /usr/sbin to put those files in /usr/bin.

The term “fix” does not give me too much solution about the packages. These packages mostly come from AUR. What can I do to “fix” them? There is no much hint for me. Thus, I ignore this part, though I can list those packages.

So, I followed the instructions until the step “pacman -S filesystem”. This shows the conflict because of the /usr/sbin. Therefore, I assumed that reboot may “solve” the problem. But this is the cause of the problem.

As a result, I cannot boot into the system anymore. And I know that, this is the package installation error. Even if I use SystemRescueCD, it cannot help for package installation, because it does not have pacman. Luckily, I have a bootable pendrive with Arch Linux installation image. So, I can only recover with this pendrive.

Fortunately, Arch Linux now has wifi-menu (from netctl package), which is so useful that I can access WiFi with text-based interface. WiFi connection by commands is exhaustive. After connection, then I use the elinks to browse the related pages. I am so happy that the pages like Wiki is working gracefully with the text-based web browser.

I tried chroot, but it does not work. Finally, I mount the partitions, move the /usr/sbin to another location, then use the pacstrap as in the Wiki to install the base packages. Now, reboot, everything work fine. Then I moved the sbin just now to the /usr/sbin again.

So, if you don’t have desktop environment, don’t worry. Firstly, we need to know how to switch the TTY with Alt+F1 (or F2, F3, F4, …). This is helpful just like we switch the windows with Alt+Tab. By using this, we can have a screen to read the webpages with elinks, a screen with manpage of a command, and a screen with the commands that we are going to perform.

Secondly, we need to know how to access internet from command-line, especially the WiFi. The wifi-menu from Arch Linux simplifies a lot of work. Else we need to know the commands like “ip”, “iw”, “dhcpcd”, and so on.

Thirdly, we need to know how to use some text-based applications, especially “elinks” or “links” as web browser. The text editor such as “vim” or “nano” is useful. To view the file, “cat” with “less” is useful. Furthermore, “man” or “info” is helpful to understand how to use certain commands.

With these knowledge, then system recovery should have no much problem.

About Allen Choong

A cognitive science student, a programmer, a philosopher, a Catholic.

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