Artix Linux is a fast and easy to use Arch Linux-based distribution. It started as a version of Arch Linux without SystemD around 2017. Since then, it has grown to be a distribution that aims to create an Arch Linux environment that promotes package simplicity and security.
Why Use Artix Linux?
One of the main selling points of Artix is that it maintains a version of Arch Linux without SystemD. Similar to Devuan, this means that Artix does not include software and kernel configurations that are associated with the SystemD init system. This, in turn, reduces the amount of programs that you install and run in your computer.
Another selling point for Artix is that it treats alternative init systems as first-class citizens. This means that, unlike Arch, Artix provides you with the choice of picking the init system that you want for your computer.
This can be especially useful if you want to optimize a system for a specific use-case. For example, you can install Artix with runit if the system does not need complex process management.
With that, Artix gives you the ability to explore and experiment with different kinds of init systems for your machines. Further, Artix allows you to take control of what you want to use your computer for. Its nonreliance on SystemD enables it to be highly flexible, simple and secure.
Obtaining Artix Linux
You can obtain a copy of Artix from the distribution’s download page. From there, you can choose between three different installers with varying degrees of customization:
- The base installer is similar to the default Arch Linux installer. It is a live ISO that you can write to a disk to boot into a basic Artix environment. From there, you need to perform the whole installation manually. This is useful if you want to either install Artix from scratch or create a basic server installation.
- The graphical installer is similar to a regular Linux install CD. This provides an intuitive interface to create a basic installation of Artix. Not only that, the graphical installer also includes a barebones desktop environment. This is useful if you want a quick and easy way to use Artix.
- The community installer is a whole desktop installation of Artix. This provides a complete desktop experience which includes additional applications such as office programs and basic desktop tools. This is useful if you want to either have an Artix system that works out of the box or you intend on installing Artix to multiple machines.
Choosing the Init System for You
From there, one important thing to note is that an Artix installer will only contain a single init system. This will be the init system that the installer will boot from and it will also be the one that it will install in your machine.
Knowing that, Artix supports five different init systems that you can install:
- Dinit is a new init system that proposes a simple yet powerful sevice management system in Linux. One of its biggest selling points is its lightweight dependency management system.
- OpenRC is an init system that was first developed for Gentoo. It is an improved version of the traditional init system found in UNIX. One of the biggest strengths of OpenRC is that it is highly flexible and it does not depend on a lot of software to run.
- Runit is a lightweight init system that allows you to configure services through a traditional filesystem structure. This allows you to easily see how services are created and maintained.
- S6 is a hyper-minimal init program for advanced users. It is simply a process supervisor. This enables you to have total control over the services and processes in your system.
- Lastly, suite66 is a set of scripts that provides an init system with a service manager. Similar to s6, suite66 is for advanced users. It exists for users that only want the bare minimum of an init system.
In my case, I want my install to be an XFCE environment with runit. To do that, I can press the XFCE icon in Artix’s download page and select the “artix-xfce-runit” version.
From there, you can now create a USB installer for your Artix disk by using a tool such as balenaEtcher.
Booting into the Artix Live Disk
Once done, you can then boot into the Artix installer disk through your computer’s BIOS menu. In most cases, you can access this by pressing F2 or F10 when you start up your computer.
Doing that will load a custom GRUB menu where you can change some of the settings of the live disk:
- The tz option tells the Artix installer to set the timezone of the live disk to the region that you want. By default, it uses the UTC timezone to determine the time.
- The keytable option, meanwhile, sets the keymap of the live disk. By default, the Artix installer uses the standard American keymap. As such if you are using anything other than that, you need to set this option to your local keymap.
- On the other hand, the lang option sets the overall language of the live disk. At the moment, Artix supports 15 different languages for its distribution. One important thing to note is that this will only affect the language of your live disk.
From there, you can now boot into the live disk by selecting “From CD/DVD/ISO: artix.x86_64”.
Installing Artix Linux
Once you boot into the desktop, click the “Install Artix” icon in the live disk’s desktop.
From there, the Artix Linux installer will check for your system’s configuration and determine whether you can install it or not. Once done, it will display a splash screen that will ask you for your preferred system language.
After that, the installer will ask for the region that you are installing Artix in. The installer will then use this to determine your timezone as well as the date and number formats that the system will use.
From there, the installer will ask for the keyboard map that you want to use for your machine. If you have a different keyboard map for the live disk, you will need to provide the same keyboard map here.
Disk Partitioning for Artix Linux
Once done, the installer will then ask for your preferred disk partition method. In that, there are three ways to setup a disk for Artix:
- The “Replace Partition” option only shows up if you have a different distribution present in the hard disk. In this, the installer will attempt to remove the old distribution and use its partition layout to bootstrap Artix. This can be useful if you have a custom partition layout that you want to preserve for Artix.
- The “Erase Disk” option will clear the entire disk, including its partition layout, to install a wholly new Artix Linux install. Further, this option also allows you to set a swap partition optimized for Artix.
- Lastly, the “Manual Partitioning” option will allow you to create custom partition layouts for your Artix system. This can be especially useful if you want to create separate partitions for system directories.
By default, the installer will not select a swap partition for your system. However, it is good practice to at least have a basic swap partition. In here, I will select “Swap (with hibernate)” to give the system enough swap space to allow it to sleep when I am not using it.
From there, the installer will then ask for additional options such as disk encryption and separate bootloader partitions. In most cases, you can leave those options to their default settings.
Once done, the installer will ask for your user information.
One important thing to note, however, is that Artix allows you to enforce a “strong password” mode. To enable it, click on the “Require Strong Passwords” checkbox.
From there, you can also set the password for your administrator account. This will be the password that you will use to access your root user. In that, Artix allows you to use the same password for the user and root user.
However, it is good practice to have two different passwords for those two accounts. This will ensure that if anyone cracks your user password that they will not be able to do significant damage to your system.
Once done, you can press Next to view a summary of your installation settings. From here, you can still go back and make any necessary changes to your installation. Once you press Next, however, Artix will start the installation process with your preferences.
From this point on, the Artix installer will automatically install the distribution to your disk. At most, this process will take around 10 to 15 minutes.
Once done, the installer will greet you with an “All done.” screen. From here, you can click the “Restart Now” checkbox to immediately reboot to your new system.
Congratulations! You know have a basic installation of Artix Linux. Aside from that, you also now have a basic idea of the different init systems that you can use for your system.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. The installer went into sleep and now it is asking for a password. Did my installation fail?
No! Since the live disk is a complete Linux environment, it can sleep and lock itself if you leave it unattended. You can log back in to the live disk by entering
artix as your username and password.
2. Is it possible to install Artix alongside other distributions?
Yes! It is possible to install Artix alongside other distributions. In order to do that, you need to use Artix’s manual partitioning to create an unallocated space after Artix. From there, you can then use that space to install a different distribution.
One important thing to note, is that if you intend on dual booting Artix with Windows you need to make sure that Windows is installed first. This is because Windows needs to be in the first sectors of a disk in order to work properly.
3. Is it possible to change an init system after installation?
Ideally, yes. However, doing this will run the risk of making your system unusable. This is because the init system is an integral part of a machine’s boot process. This ultimately means that any mistake while configuring a new init system can make your machine unbootable.
Despite that, if you still want to change your current init system you need to make sure that your system is backed up. Further, you also need to make sure that you have read the documentation for that init system. This includes Artix’s wiki page about that init system and its official manual.
For example if you want to install runit on a non-runit Artix system, the wiki page for runit will highlight the steps on doing it.
Image credit: Unsplash
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