This page explains the basics and gets you started, but before you actually install, it can also help to skim through the Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ).
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, to save newer data states and configurations of a running system.]
Course of actions
[Note: To install Alpine on single-board-computer (SBC) architectures that can not boot .iso images, read e.g. Alpine on ARM for its peculiarities.]
The regular installation is started by carrying out three basic steps (more details follow further below):
1.) Downloading and verifying the proper stable-release ISO installation image-file for your computer's architecture, and the corresponding
sha256 (checksum) and
GPG (signature) files.
2.) Either burning the ISO image-file onto a blank CD/DVD/Blue-ray disk with your favorite 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 then copies the entire operating system into the RAM memory, and runs it completely from RAM. This means that the running command line environment does not depend on reading from the (slow) initial boot media anymore.
Log-in as the user
root with its initially empty password.
Now an interactive script called
setup-alpine can be used to configure the initial Alpine Linux system. Alternatively, more specific setup-scripts, the apk package manager, and all the general command line tools may be used beforehand. For example, to install some special package requirement to prepare the system before running
setup-alpine, or to fine-tune the newly installed system's configuration before its first own boot.
setup-alpine can configure the system to boot into one of three Alpinelinux disk modes, "diskless", "data", and "sys":
This is the default boot mode of the .iso images, and
setup-alpine configures this if selecting to install to "disk=none". It means that the whole operating system and all applications are loaded into the RAM, and run extremely fast (saving unnecessary disk spin-ups, power, and wear). Still, customized configurations and package selections may be preserved on permanent storage media by using the "local backup utility"
lbu and a local package cache. [Fixme:
setup-alpine still needs this detour to prepare a partition for this.] In setup-alpine, select to store configs and the package cache on a partition. (That mounted partition may later also be used by configuring some important applications to keep their data on it.)
Data Disk Mode
This mode is still accelerated by running the system from RAM, however swap storage and the whole /var directory tree gets mounted from a persistent storage device (two newly created partitions). This location holds e.g. all log files, mailspools, databases, etc., as well as
lbu backup commits and the package cache. The mode is useful for having RAM accelerated servers with amounts of variable user-data that exceed the available RAM size, and to let the entire current system state (not just the boot state) survive a system crash according to the particular filesystem's guarantees. [Fixme: Storing lbu configs to disk is not auto-configured after configuring the data partition, one still has to select saving configs to "none" first (the new data partition is not listed), and to manually set e.g. LBU_MEDIA=sda2 in /etc/lbu/lbu.conf and execute
echo "/dev/sda2 /media/sda2 vfat rw 0 0" >> /etc/fstab afterwards, to have the partition (here sda2) used.] The boot device may remain to be the one initially used, and can even be immutable (read-only).
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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|Windows (PowerShell installed)||- ? -||- ? -|
Flashing (direct data writing) the installation image-file onto a device or media
Under Unix (and thus Linux), "everything is a file" and you can directly write the data from the image-file to a device or media with the
dd command. Afterwards,
eject the target device from the system, to ensure the completion of all writes and clearing of the cache.
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-out-to>
Be careful to correctly identify the target device to overwrite, because all previous data on it will be lost! The connected "bulk 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
If, for example, the target device is sdX, first make sure to un-mount all mounted partitions of the target device individually. For example sdX1 and sdX2.
umount /dev/sdX1 umount /dev/sdX2
dd's out-file (
of=), however, do not specify a partition number. For example, write to sdX and not sdX1:
Warning: This will completely erase the target device /dev/sdX, so before executing, make sure you have a backup of the data if you may still need it.
dd if=~/Downloads/alpine-standard-3.00.0-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M oflag=sync status=progress; eject /dev/sdX
Verifying the written installation media
After re-attaching the device, a bit-wise comparison can verify the write, if the comparison terminates with an end-of-file error on the .iso file side:
cmp ~/Downloads/alpine-standard-3.00.0-x86_64.iso /dev/sdX
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 selection for choosing the media to boot from. Depending on the computer the menu may be accessed by quickly (repeatedly) pressing a key when booting starts, or sometimes it is needed to press the button before starting the computer and keep holding it when it 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.`
Questions asked by
setup-alpine script offers to configure:
- 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.)
- SSH (Remote login server. The "openssh" is part of the default install images. Use "none" to disable remote logins, e.g. on laptops.)
- NTP (Client package to use for keeping the system clock in sync. Package "chrony" is part of the default install images.)
- Disk Mode (Select between diskless (disk="none"), "data" or "sys", as described above.)
All data on the chosen device will be erased!
After the script finishes installing the system, it will tell you to reboot.
Rebooting and testing the new system
After the installation is completed, the system may be power-cycled or rebooted to confirm that everything is working. If the configured disk mode was "sys", then remove the initial installation media to boot the newly installed system.
The relevant commands for this are
Customizing the installation
The installation script only installs the base operating system. Applications such as a web server, mail server, desktop environment, or web browser are not installed and
root is the only normal user. For instructions on proceeding after installation, please see the "Post-Install" list of links below.
- Directly booting an ISO file (without flashing it to a disk or device)
- Setting up Networking (incl. non-standard configurations)
- Enable Community Repository (providing additional packages)
- Package Management (apk) (general search/add/del packages etc.)
setup-xorg-base(display graphics, if required)
- How to get regular stuff working (things one may miss with a too lightweight Alpine )
- 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)
- Runnig programs and services in their own Firejail Security Sandbox
- Upgrading Alpine (checking for and installing updates)
- How to make a custom ISO image with mkimage (to boot your own distro)
Further Help and Information
- Comparison with other distros (how common things are done on alpine)
- Running glibc programs (installation and development)
- Tutorials and Howtos
- How to Contribute
- Developer Documentation
- Wiki etiquette to collaborate on this documentation
There may still be something useful to find and sort out of the newbie's install notes in this wiki, but beware that they can contain highly opinionated content and lack explanations.