How the Platypus Built an Arch

One evening the platypus was in his workshop tinkering with a new piece of code. As the evening wore on and the code grew the platypus started to think about the code’s future. Who would use it? Where would it live? He knew that only he would use the code, it was just a silly personal project after all, but to his dismay he did not know where it could live. The clouds were where most code lived, but the clouds were expensive and far away, it didn’t make sense for this code to live there. “What if there was a small cloud,” he thought, “close to home, that was cheap (like the budgie)?” Well, then the code could live in a cloud.

The platypus knew that even his small cloud would have to be high up. Looking around the workshop the platypus spotted an old tower, but the tower didn’t have any structure. There was nothing the platypus could put the pieces of a cloud on.

“I will build an arch on the tower,” the platypus thought, “then the cloud can sit on the arch.”


For this arch the platypus built two partitions one to boot, one to run. Boot was small, and fat. The one to run, the Root, was big and extendable.

parted /dev/sdx
mkpart primary fat32 1MiB 513MiB
mkpart primary ext4 513MiB 100%

It may also be necessary to explicitly format the partitions. mkfs.vfat -F 32 /dev/sdxx and mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdxy should do it. Installing dosfstools might be required for mkfs.vfat.


Starting work, the platypus placed the Root of the new arch on his workbench. Which was also an arch.

sudo mount /dev/sdxx /mnt

The Boot was placed on top of the Root.

sudo mkdir /mnt/boot
sudo mount /dev/sdxy /mnt/boot


Then the platypus got out all of his arch building tools.

pacman -S arch-install-scripts

One tool, pacstrap, allowed the platypus to put more structure into the new arch. He put the base in.

pacstrap /mnt base

He wanted to be able to write on the arch.

pacstrap /mnt vim

And talk to it from afar.

pacstrap /mnt openssh

He also wanted others to be able to find the arch.

pacstrap /mnt avahi nss-mdns

Next the platypus put down some scaffolding that the arch would need to support other things once it was done.

sudo sh -c 'genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab'


Working inside the newly constructed arch

arch-chroot /mnt

The platypus set the time,

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

set the local language,

# uncomment languages in `/etc/locale.gen`


echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 >> /etc/locale.conf

named the arch,

echo myhostname >> /etc/hostname

and set up some minimal fortifications.


Next, knowing that he wanted to be able to reach the new arch, he made sure it was accessible

systemctl enable sshd.socket

if you need to permit root login open /etc/ssh/sshd_config, comment out PermitRootLogin without-password to allow root login with a password, then add or uncomment the line PermitRootLogin yes to allow root to login at all.

and that he could find it from a distance.

systemctl enable avahi-daemon.service


The new arch was almost ready. All that was left was to tell the new arch how to get itself started.

pacman -S syslinux gptfdisk mtools
syslinux-install_update  -i -a -m

If there are any problems finding the root device when booting check the order of the hooks. The HOOKS in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf should looks something like HOOKS="base udev block autodetect modconf filesystems keyboard fsck" note block coming before autodetect. If you make any changes run mkinitcpio -p linux to make them stick.

The platypus stepped back from his workbench. The new arch was ready.