This page explains the basics to get started. But before actually installing, it can also help to skim through the Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ).
- 1 Minimal Hardware Requirements
- 2 Installation Overview
- 3 Additional Details
- 3.1 Verifying the downloaded image-file
- 3.2 Flashing (direct data writing) the installation image-file onto a device or media
- 3.3 Verifying the written installation media
- 3.4 Booting from external devices
- 3.5 Custom partitioning of the harddisk
- 3.6 Questions asked by setup-alpine
- 3.7 Preparing for the first boot
- 3.8 Rebooting and testing the new system
- 3.9 Completing the installation
- 4 Additional Documentation
- 5 Other Guides
Minimal Hardware Requirements
- At least 100 MB of RAM. [A graphical desktop system may require up to 1 GB minimum.]
- At least 0-700 MB space on a writable storage device. [Only required in "sys" or "data" mode installations (explained below). It is optional in "diskless" mode, only needed to save newer data and configurations states of a running system.]
For more information please check Requirements
The general course of action
[Note: For single-board-computer (SBC) architectures which can not boot .iso images, see Alpine on ARM for peculiarities.]
As usual, the regular installation procedure starts with three basic steps (additional details for all the steps follow below):
1.) Downloading and verifying the proper stable-release ISO installation image-file for the computer's architecture, and the corresponding
sha256 (checksum) and
GPG (signature) files.
2.) Either burning the ISO image-file onto a blank CD/DVD/Blu-ray disk with disk burning software, or flashing the installation image onto a bootable storage device (USB-device, CF-/MMC-/SD-card, floppy, ...).
3.) Booting the computer from the prepared disk or storage device.
The boot process copies the entire operating system into the RAM memory, then runs it from there, after which, the command line environment does not depend on reading from the (possibly slow) initial boot media.
Log-in is possible as the user
root. Initially, the root user has no password.
An interactive script named
setup-alpine is available at the command prompt to configure and install the initial Alpine Linux system.
setup-alpine question-and-answer dialog can configure installations that boot into one of three different Alpinelinux disk modes, "diskless", "data", and "sys". These are explained in more detail in the following subsections. However, a newly installed system may always be configured into a fully usable, standalone, "diskless" live-system by runing
setup-alpine and answering "none" when asked for the disk to use, where to store configs, and the location for the package cache.
Once a "diskless" system is configured by running
setup-alpine, it's possible to use the apk package manager to install any desired tool that may be missing in the live system to configure available hardware.
Specific hardware configuration may be desired, for example, for available disk drives. e.g. If you need to install a custom partition or filesystem scheme, and if the installation should not use and/or overwrite the entire disk (details below).
After the desired adjustments have been made using the "diskless" system,
setup-apkcache may be run to add persistent configuration and package cache storage to the running "diskless" system. After that, the system state may be saved with
lbu commit. Or,
setup-disk may be run to add a "data" mode partition, or do a classic full install of the "diskless" system onto a "sys" disk or partition.
More setup-scripts are available to configure other specifics. They may be run separately to set up a system, or to adjust only specific parts later. For example, to set up a graphical environment (covered in Post-Install below).
This is the default boot mode of the .iso images.
setup-alpine configures this if "disk=none" is selected during installation. It means the entire operating system and all applications are loaded into, then run from, RAM. This is extremely fast and can save on unnecessary disk spin-ups, power, and wear. It is similar to what is called a "frugal" install running with the "toram" option as with some other distros, but without the need to
remaster the install media.
Custom configurations and package selections may be preserved across reboots with the Alpine local backup tool
lbu. It enables committing and reverting system states using .apkovl files that are saved to writable storage and loaded when booting. If additional or updated packages have been added to the system, these may also be made available for automatic (re)installation during the boot phase, by enabling a local package cache on the writable storage.
[FIXME-1: Storing local configs and the package cache on an internal disk still requires some manual steps to have the partition listed, i.e. making a /etc/fstab entry, mountpoint, and mount, *before* running setup-alpine. And requires manually committing the configuration to disk afterwards.]
To allow for local backups,
setup-alpine can be told to store the configs and the package cache on a writable partition. (Later, directories on that same partition or another available partition may also be mounted as /home, or for important applications, e.g. to keep their run-time and user data on it.)
The boot device of the newly configured local "diskless" system may remain the initial (and possibly read-only) installation media. But it is also possible to copy the boot system to a partition (e.g. /dev/sdXY) with
Data Disk Mode
This mode also runs from system RAM, thus it enjoys the same accelerated operation speed as "diskless" mode. However, swap storage and the entire /var directory tree get mounted from a persistent storage device (two newly created partitions). The directory /var holds e.g. all log files, mailspools, databases, etc., as well as
lbu backup commits and the package cache. This mode is useful for having RAM accelerated servers with variable amounts of user-data that exceed the available RAM size. It enables the entire current system state (not just the boot state) to survive a system crash in accordance with the particular filesystem guarantees.
[FIXME-2: Setup-alpine can not yet configure storage of the lbu configs to the "data disk" after selecting one. It's still necessary to first select to save configs to "none" in setup-alpine (the new data partition is not listed), and to manually edit /etc/lbu/lbu.conf to set e.g. LBU_MEDIA=sdXY, then execute a corresponding
echo "/dev/sdXY /media/sdXY vfat rw 0 0" >> /etc/fstab afterwards, and save the config with
lbu commit to have the partition (here, denoted as sdXY) mounted when booting.]
In data disk mode, the boot device may also remain the initial (and possibly read-only) installation media, or be copied to a partition (e.g. /dev/sdXY) with
System Disk Mode
This is a traditional hard-disk install.
If this mode is selected, the
setup-alpine script creates three partitions on the selected storage device, /boot, swap and / (the filesystem root). This mode may, for example, be used for generic desktop and development machines.
For custom partitioning, see Setting_up_disks_manually.
To install along side another operating systems, see Installing_Alpine_on_HDD_dualbooting.
This material needs expanding ...
This "Additional Details" section needs to be consolidated with the work at https://docs.alpinelinux.org (not finished) (Restructuring things there, moving and linking from here or there?).
Verifying the downloaded image-file
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Flashing (direct data writing) the installation image-file onto a device or media
Under Unix (and thus Linux), "everything is a file" and the data in the image-file can be written to a device or media with the
dd command. Afterward, executing the
eject command removes the target device from the system and ensures the write cache is completely flushed.
dd if=<iso-file-to-read-in> of=<target-device-node-to-write-out-to> bs=4M oflag=sync status=progress; eject <target-device-node-to-write-to>
Be careful to correctly identify the target device as any data on it will be lost! All connected "bulk storage devices" can be listed with
# lsblk NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sdX 0:0 0 64,0G 0 disk ├─sdX1 0:1 0 2G 0 part └─sdX2 0:2 0 30G 0 part /mnt/sdX2 # blkid /dev/sdX1: LABEL="some" UUID="..." TYPE="vfat" /dev/sdX2: LABEL="other" UUID="..." TYPE="ext4"
For example, if /dev/sdX is the desired target device, first make sure you un-mount all mounted partitions of the target device. For example sdX1 and sdX2:
umount /dev/sdX1 /dev/sdX2
dd's output-file (
of=), however, do not specify a partition number. For example, write to sdX, not sdX1:
Warning: This will overwrite the target device /dev/sdX, so before executing, make sure you have a backup of the data if you can't afford to lose it.
dd if=~/Downloads/alpine-standard-3.00.0-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M oflag=sync status=progress; eject /dev/sdX
For example, there is the Rufus program. Rufus will enable you to create bootable USB flash drives under Windows.
Rufus has been tested and works for Alpine Linux 3.12.x with the following settings:
- Partition scheme:
- Target system:
BIOS or UEFI
- File system:
- Cluster size:
4096 bytes (default)
Verifying the written installation media
After detaching and re-attaching the device, a bit-wise comparison can verify the data written to the device (instead of just data buffered in RAM). If the comparison terminates with an end-of-file error on the .iso file side, all the contents from the image have been written (and re-read) successfully:
# cmp ~/Downloads/alpine-standard-3.00.0-x86_64.iso /dev/sdX cmp: EOF on alpine-standard-3.00.0-x86_64.iso
Booting from external devices
Insert the boot media to a proper drive or port of the computer and turn the machine on, or restart it, if already running.
If the computer does not automatically boot from the desired device, one needs to bring up the boot menu and choose the media to boot from. Depending on the computer, the menu may be accessed by repeatedly pressing a key quickly when booting starts. Some computers require that you press the button before starting the computer and hold it down while the computer boots. Typical keys are: `F9`-`F12`, sometimes `F7` or `F8`. If these don't bring up the boot menu, it may be necessary to enter the BIOS configuration and adjust the boot settings, for which typical keys are: `Del.` `F1` `F2` `F6` or `Esc.`
Custom partitioning of the harddisk
It is possible to specify configurations for RAID, encryption, LVM, etc. as well as manual partitioning.
For "diskless" or "data disk" mode installs, manual partitioning may be needed to prepare the harddisk for committing local backups of the system state with
lbu commit, a package cache, or to use it as the /var mount.
For a "sys" install, custom partitioning is needed only if the desired scheme differs from overwriting an entire disk, or creating the default /boot, swap and root partitions.
See Setting_up_disks_manually for the alpine options for RAID, encryption, LVM, etc. and manual partitioning.
Questions asked by
setup-alpine script offers the following configuration options:
- Keyboard Layout (Local keyboard language and usage mode, e.g. us and variant of us-nodeadkeys.)
- Hostname (The name for the computer.)
- Network (For example, automatic IP address discovery with the "DHCP" protocol.)
- DNS Servers (Domain Name Servers to query. For privacy reasons it is NOT recommended to route every local request to servers like google's
- Proxy (Proxy server to use for accessing the web. Use "none" for direct connections to the internet.)
- Mirror (From where to download packages. Choose the organization you trust giving your usage patterns to.)
- SSH (Secure SHell remote access server. "Openssh" is part of the default install image. Use "none" to disable remote login, e.g. on laptops.)
- NTP (Network Time Protocol client used for keeping the system clock in sync with a time server. Package "chrony" is part of the default install image.)
- Disk Mode (Select between diskless (disk="none"), "data" or "sys", as described above.)
Preparing for the first boot
setup-alpine has finished configuring the "sys" disk mode, the system should be ready to reboot right away (see next subsection).
If the new local system was configured to run in "diskless" or "data" mode, and you do not want keep booting from the initial (and possibly read-only) installation media, the boot system needs to be copied to another device or partition.
The target partition may be identified using
lsblk (after installing it with
apk add lsblk) and/or
blkid, similar to previously identifying the initial installation media device.
The procedure to copy the boot system is explained at
Once everything is in place, save your customized configuration with
lbu commit before rebooting.
Rebooting and testing the new system
First, remove the initial installation media from the boot drive, or detach it fron the port it's connected to.
The system may now be power-cycled or rebooted to confirm everything is working correctly.
The relevant commands for this are
Completing the installation
The installation script installs only the base operating system. No applications e.g. web server, mail server, desktop environment, or web browser are installed, and
root is the only user.
Please look under "Post-Install" below, for some common things to do after installation.
- Kernels (kernel selection, e.g. for VMs or RPi)
- Directly booting an ISO file (without flashing it to a disk or device)
- Dual/multi-boot install to HDD partition
- Setting up Networking (including non-standard configurations)
- How to make a custom ISO image with mkimage (installation media with its own configuration)
- Fix unicode defaults:
sed -i s/#unicode="NO"\n\n#/#unicode="NO"\n\nunicode="YES"\n\n#/ /etc/rc.conf
apk add musl-localesInstalls a limited set of locales (languages) for musl (C library) generated console messages.
- Listing defined locales is possible with
cp /etc/profile.d/locale.sh /etc/profile.d/locale.sh.shCopies the default locale settings. Then the custom override file can be edited
apk add langPulls in the translation packages of all installed packages.
apk list hunspell*To list available hunspell dictionary packages.
apk list *-xy *-xy-*To list translation packages for your specific (xy) language (for example, pt for Portuguese).
apk add man-pagesInstalls basic manual pages.
apk add mandocInstalls the man command to be able to open man pages.
apk add mandoc-aproposInstalls the apropos command to search in man pages.
apk add docsInstalls all the *-doc sub-packages of installed packages.
- Setting up a new user (to allow remote, console, or graphical logins)
- Enable Community Repository (access to additional packages)
- Package Management (apk) (how to search/add/del packages etc.)
setup-xorg-base(setup graphical base environment)
- How to get regular stuff working (things one may miss in a too lightweight installation )
- Local backup utility
lbu(persisting RAM system configurations)
- Init System (OpenRC) (configure a service to automatically boot at next reboot)
- Hosting services on Alpine (links to several mail/web/ssh server setup pages)
- Running applications and services in their own Firejail Security Sandbox
- Upgrading Alpine (checking for and installing updates)
Additional Help and Information
- Comparison with other distros (how common things are done on Alpine)
- Running glibc programs (installation and development)
There may still be something useful to find and sort out of some "newbie" install notes in this wiki, but beware that these pages can lack explanations and contain highly opinionated content, redundantly on many convoluted pages.