I have an external hard disk and I want to install Arch Linux on it. I want to have access to the online the documentation. Is it possible to install it from a VM so I could have access to the documentation?

  • You can access the wiki from within the Live install using a text browser like links or w3m...
    – jasonwryan
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 3:41
  • great! I didn't know about that
    – daniel
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 4:09

4 Answers 4


This actually can be done directly using VirtualBox using the following steps:

  2. Create a Virtualbox VM without attaching a storage device
  3. Find and note the device path of your external hard drive. This should be something like /dev/sdb. Make sure you have this right or you could lose a lot of data.
  4. Run the following command in a terminal: VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /path/to/file.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sda replacing /dev/sda with the path you noted in step 3. Replace /path/to/file.vmdk with some location on your main hard drive. This file simply provides the information necessary to tell VirtualBox how to mount your external, do not save this file on the external it self.
  5. Go back into the VirtualBox UI, and attach that file you created in step 4 to your VM and boot it.
  6. Install Arch Linux like you would on a normal VM.

After you create the Live USB from the latest .iso Arch Linux - Download). Reboot your computer from USB. Once you're booted into the live system in the root directory there is a install.txt file that you can view that contains instructions on installing the system.

Also, the live media ships two very useful applications:

  • irssi (irc chat client)

    /server irc.freenode.net

    /msg nickserv help (register your nick or you wont be able to speak in #archlinux)

    /join #archlinux

  • elinks (terminal web browser)

But, while you're download the .iso and making the boot media you might want to look over this document.


I think you don't need a VM for that at all. You can create your own Archiso, have a look at this: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Archiso


There are two ways to do that:

  1. Create a virtual harddrive on the external harddrive and install Arch on it.
  2. Mount the external harddrive natively to the virtual machine and install Arch on it.

While im pretty sure the first way will work, it leaves you with a virtual harddrive. If you want to install arch natively on your external harddrive, you will need to copy the whole contents of the virtual hd to your native hd after you finished installing. The documentation of your vm should state how to do that.

The other way would be mounting your hd natively to your vm. Obviously, you need a virtual machine that is able to do that or it wont work. Without any guest additions, i dont know any vm that is able to do that.

All these ways are not very elegant to go, so i recommend you not to try it. Instead, try to find a way to access the documentation without using a vm. You could print the documentation. If you have a second pc or a tablet, you could use that to browse the documentation.

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