Installing applications on AryaLinux using alps

AryaLinux comes with a utility called alps. This tool can be used to install packages on top of the packages that were installed as a part of the base system. Alps makes use of build scripts which are bash scripts to download source tarballs for the package, extract them, build and install them. These build scripts also have information about the dependencies that need to be installed before the package itself can be installed. Alps takes this information, works out a list of dependencies and the order in which they need to be installed and then installs them.

Run the following command to know more about the options that can be passed to alps:

alps help

Here are few useful alps commands that you might need to know:

Command Purpose Example
alps install To install a package alps install vlc
alps selfupdate To update alps alps update
alps updatescripts To download the latest build scripts. You need to run this command before trying to upgrade an existing package alps updatescripts
alps showall Show the list of all available packages that can be installed using build scripts alps showall
alps showinstalled List the packages that have been installed alps showinstalled
alps clean Alps keeps accumulating package tarballs in cache and that consumes space. You can clear the cache in case you are running short of space by doing alps clean. This is necessary to be done especially after very large package installations like libreoffice and QT alps clean
alps urlinstall In case you know the link to the source code for a particular package you can simply do alps urlinstall and pass the source tarball path and alps would try installing the package with default configuration options. alps urlinstall http://somepackage.com/packge-1.0.tar.gz
alps src While downloading certain package in case alps fails due to a broken link, you can do an alps src to guide alps to download the source tarball from an alternate location. Once the download completes, you can resume installation by doing alps install… alps src http://somepackage.com/packge-1.0.tar.gz
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Building Aryalinux

AryaLinux is a Linux distribution that is built from scratch using readily available online source code. This makes AryaLinux independent of any other Linux distribution out in the wild. There are two aspects to using AryaLinux:

  • As an independent distribution

  • As a platform to create distributions

While using AryaLinux as a general purpose distro makes it similar to other distributions, where AryaLinux stands out is in its capability to churn out a distribution from scratch. The resulting distribution has very little dependency on AryaLinux itself and can exist independently and behave as a generic distribution where everything needs to be built from source. This means you can have a custom Linux like a custom car or bike – you decide the components that would go into the finished Linux, the systems on which it would run, the applications that would be packaged by default and also things as advanced as the kernel modules that needs to be built.

This article outlines the process of building a distro using the AryaLinux. The aryalinux builder DVD packages all the tools and scripts that one would need to carry out such a project. These scripts and tools make the whole process extremely simple and the entire process finishes in hours other than in weeks/months if carried out manually. One can also build AryaLinux from any existing distribution but it is recommended to use the AryaLinux live DVD for builds because the live DVD comes with all dependencies and pre-requisites installed in order to build AryaLinux.

Pre-requisites

You need to download the aryalinux builder DVD ISO and write it to a pen-drive or burn it to a DVD. If you are in windows then you can use unetbootin to write the ISO image to a pen-drive and if you are in Linux you can use the dd command to do the writing:

dd if=aryalinux-builder-2017-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdb

Here replace /dev/sdb with the device that corresponds to your pen drive. The ISO image can be burnt onto a DVD using any ISO image writing software on Windows or Linux.

Once you are done with the bootable live media, you need to boot your computer into the newly created bootable media(pen drive or DVD). On booting you would presented with a blue menu with options to boot into the builder and to boot into the builder in debug mode. Try booting in normal mode. It should work in most cases. In case you fail to get to the desktop, reboot the system and this time try the debug mode. Once the boot process is complete you would be taken to the desktop.

This is the XFCE desktop which has been configured slightly differently from the default to give a more Gnome2 like look. This is where we would be building AryaLinux.

Right click on the desktop to open up the terminal. In the terminal, type the following commands:

sudo su

cd /root/aryalinux/base-system

Once you are at the base system start the build script by running the following command:

./build-arya

The build script would take you through a series of questions that need to be answered before proceeding. The inputs that are needed are as follows:

Input needed

Description

Example

Bootloader Device

The device on which bootloader(grub) would be installed. Usually this is your hard disk.

/dev/sda

Root Partition

The root partition on which arya would be built and installed. You need to have an empty partition already created. This partition would be formatted so make sure you backup any data that you might need later that’s present in this partition

/dev/sda1

Home Partition

The partition that would be used for /home.

/dev/sda2

Format Home partition

If you respond ‘y’ to this question, the home partition would be formatted. Answer no to this question in case you have data in this partition that you would not like to loose. The default answer is ‘n’

n

Swap Partition

The swap partition is used as virtual memory when RAM runs out. Usually swap partitions have size twice that of the RAM. If your system has more than 4 GB RAM there are good chances you don’t need this.

/dev/sda3

Format Swap Partition

Answer ‘y’ to this question if you want the swap partition to be formatted

‘y’

Locale

Your system locale. Locale is a code combination for your language and country.

en_US.utf8

OS Name

You could give a name for your OS. Type it here. In case you do not give a name its assumed to be AryaLinux

AryaLinux

OS Version

This is where you specify the version of your OS

2017

OS Codename

A Codename is a fancy name for your current version.

Spectrum

Domain Name

In case your system is a part of a network domain type it in here.

aryalinux.org

Keyboard Layout

The code for your keyboard layout

us

Printer paper size

The default paper size. Letter or A4

A4

Full Name

Enter your full name here. In case you do not enter a name, the default is assumed to be AryaLinux

AryaLinux

Username

Enter the username that you would use to log in. You should not use special characters in the username and no spaces. Usually by convention this is all lower-case.

aryalinux

Computer name

This name would identify your computer in the network. The computer name should not contain spaces.

aryalinux-spectrum

Create backups

Respond to this question with a ‘y’ if you want backups to be created at different stages like backup of the base-system, backup of base-system with x-server(in case you are going for it), backup of base-system with x-server and desktop environment(again if you are opting for it). Its safe to respond with a ‘n’ to this question. You need to have at least 50GB space in your root partition in case you respond with a ‘y’ here.

n

Install X Server

In case you are planning on building Arya that would be deployed on a server, then respond with a ‘n’ here, else respond with a ‘y’. X-Server is that component of Linux systems that provides a Graphical user interface on top of the system.

n

Install Desktop Enviornment

This is where you make your choice of desktop environment. There are four choices you can make here – XFCE, Mate, KDE and Gnome.

Advanced build options – Kernel configuration

In case you choose ‘y’ for this question you would be asked to choose how the kernel would be configured. You can either make an appropriate choice here or go with the default option. 1

Root Password

Enter the root(administrator) password for the system.

User Password

Enter the password for the username you entered previously.

Timezone

Respond to a series of questions about your location(continent and country) to specify your timezone.

Once all these questions are answered the build process would start off. You would see a lot of messages scrolling up the terminal. This is pretty normal. In fact if the messages stop scrolling for a very long time, it might be an indication that something is not normal. If your inputs are correct the process would take some time to complete depending on what components you chose and in the end you would have your Linux ready. Time for completion may vary drastically depending on the speed of the system and resources available as well as the internet connection speed. These are rough time estimates on an i3 system with 4GB RAM:

Component

Time taken

Base System

~ 5 hours

Base System with X-Server

~ 7 hours

Base System with X-Server and desktop environment

~ 15 – 18 hours depending on the desktop environment, XFCE being the least and Gnome being the most.

Once the process is done you can restart the system and log in to your newly built arya(or your own Linux whatever you want to call it). The boot menu would be shown in the beginning from where you could choose the first option to log into your freshly built system.