Installation Planning

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System Check

Ensure that the candidate system meets the minimum system requirements, and that the hardware is in good working order. This includes verifying that the RAM has no reported errors, the BIOS is up to date, and that any connected storage devices are error free.

Various tools are available to test and validate hardware, including standalone bootable diagnostic discs. A good RAM test is one which actually writes patterns to memory registers and reads them back, verifying that the data read back actually matches what was written. MemTest86+ is one such program for this purpose, though there are countless others. Likewise, checking the storage devices (hard drives, solid state drives, optical drives, floppy drives) may be accomplished with numerous tools which write and read patterns. Hard drives are almost always best tested using the manufacturer’s utility.

If purchasing new hardware for an ArcaOS system, keep in mind that ArcaOS (like OS/2) is not very tolerant of non-standard, exotic, or lower quality hardware. It is well worth a little more in price for good components, instead of battling endless frustration trying to force the operating system to run on hardware not designed to support it.

Also when purchasing new hardware, bear in mind that ArcaOS requires either a traditional BIOS, or if a UEFI system, one with a robust Compatibility Support Module (CSM). Pure UFI systems (those which cannot emulate a traditional BIOS) are unsuitable for ArcaOS. In order to access USB devices (keyboard, mouse, mass storage, printers, etc.), it is essential that the system have a real USB 2.0 controller (EHCI). Often, new systems will list “USB 2.0 ports,” however, these ports are actually connected to a USB 3 controller (xHCI). While USB 3 support is anticipated in the near future, ArcaOS 5.0.x does not ship with a driver for this hardware. When in doubt about hardware, ask the vendor or the manufacturer.

You may also find this related wiki page useful, listing some hardware known to work with ArcaOS.

New Hard Drive (or Solid State Drive)

If purchasing a new HDD or SSD, 2TB is the maximum size recognized by the current disk driver in ArcaOS. Purchasing a 6TB drive, for example, is a needless waste of space, as 2/3 of the device will go unnoticed, assuming the first third can be properly seen at all.

SSDs are fine, so long as they can emulate a standard hard drive geometry. Thus, Advanced Format units may not be well suited for ArcaOS, unless such feature may be disabled.

Existing Drive (with other bootable operating systems)

If using an existing drive, ensure that there is adequate room for one or more additional partitions. If a boot manager will be required, ArcaOS ships with AiR-BOOT, a capable utility which does not require a partition for installation. Keep in mind that an ArcaOS bootable volume generally must begin within the first 512GB of the disk, and may need to be entirely contained within the first 512GB. Space after that may be used for additional partitions, and as mentioned, as long as all partitions fit within the first 2TB, ArcaOS should see them. More detailed information is available in the AiR-BOOT Supplementary Guide.

If you are using the old IBM boot manager, ArcaOS will try to work with it. However, due to the various problems with the old IBM boot manager, some systems may work while others won’t. If you have problems booting, or if the installer cannot see all the volumes, try using Air-BOOT instead. AiR-BOOT can be installed using the Installation Volume Manager (the Manage Volumes button) in the installer. AiR-BOOT can even start the old IBM boot manager if you really want to keep that.

Logical Volume Manager

OS/2 Warp Server for e-Business introduced the concept of a Logical Volume Manager (LVM) to replace the older Fixed Disk utility (FDISK), which dealt solely with disk partitions. OS/2’s LVM, in contrast, deals with filesystems existing in volumes which may span multiple partitions, and where drive letters (still a requirement for OS/2) are assigned to such volumes and because they are assigned, they remain “sticky” (C: is always C:, even if five volumes are created “in front” of it on the disk).

OS/2 LVM should not be confused with other logical volume management schemes. OS/2 LVM is not EVMS (Enterprise Volume Management System) which exists in Linux, for example. While many of the concepts are similar, only tools which understand OS/2’s LVM should be used to effect changes to it. Arca Noae highly recommends DFSee for more advanced tasks.

Volumes vs Partitions

In a traditional fixed disk (or hard disk) layout, the drive may be divided into a maximum of four primary partitions. One or more of these may be further divided into multiple logical partitions.

Generally, the first partition is assigned the first available drive letter (usually C:), and so on, in order of appearance, with a second hard drive following the chain of “BIOS-lettering.”

Logical volumes, however, introduce the concept of user-assigned drive letters which are stored on disk, and which are “attached” to their assigned filesystems. Thus, the first volume on a given disk may be Q:, the second H:, and the last volume on a secondary hard drive may be C:. Deleting one of these volumes has no effect on the letter assignments of the remaining volumes. In addition, it is possible to expand some types of filesystems across multiple partitions to allow for growth without having to destroy and recreate their content on a larger volume or partition.

Installation Types

The ArcaOS installer allows for several options when transferring the operating system to the local hard drive. The simplest, of course, is a single volume installation where the operating system and all other components are stored on a single volume. Other, more advanced layouts include up to four additional volumes which may be created at the time of installation, and of course, you are free to add as many additional volumes as there are drive letters remaining, in order to suit a particular purpose for the installation.

Single Volume Installation

In this configuration, the operating system is installed to a single bootable volume. The volume may be formatted HPFS (limit: 64GB) or JFS (limit, for bootable purposes: 2TB). Software selections suitable for a general purpose workstation are pre-selected for this configuration. Hardware options, of course, are always available on the Hardware selection page.

Multi-Volume Installation

There are many factors which come into play when selecting the size and type of partitions for a multi-volume installation. It is impossible to advise what size each of the volumes should be. The same formatting options apply here, however, as to the single volume installation, though the non-bootable volumes may exist on other physical media, and the bootable constraints do not apply (a non-bootable JFS volume, for example, may indeed begin well after the 512GB mark).

Pre-configured Installation “Personalities”

As previously mentioned, ArcaOS provides several installation layout possibilities. Some of these are called “Personalities,” as they attempt to create a system of a certain type, whether that may be a single-volume workstation, a multi-volume workstation, a “traditional” OS/2 NetBIOS-based file and print server, or a modern Samba-based server, without the requirement of NetBIOS.

Custom Installation

Like the multi-volume installation, the custom installation allows for the selection of multiple volumes for the finished layout, however, this option adds one more unique feature: the Software selections page. Here, you may select to remove “standard” components, add “optional” components, and even select an alternative browser as the default.

Scripted Installation

In order to rapidly deploy sets of similar workstation configurations, supply a response file when selecting this option, and all previous selections will be replicated to the new installation.

Update previous ArcaOS installation

If an existing ArcOS 5.0.x installation is detected on any accessible volume, this option will become visible. An update leaves all third-party software untouched, as well as data, user settings, and desktop arrangement. It does not format any drives, and does not allow for adding new software selections which were not part of the previous installation. The goal of the update facility is to provide the latest code available as part of a fresh installation to an existing system, leaving everything else in place.

See the Updating ArcaOS wiki page for more details (coming soon).

This entry last updated: by David Azarewicz