Proceeding with Arch – GRUB works, KDE works, Wifi piddles around

So, just giving a little update on my proceedings with Arch Linux. Well, I finally managed to get a proper triple boot system with OS X, Windows and Arch Linux – thanks to Kompottkin btw. The problem is that Windows needs to be the last partition on the disk to boot, and OS X and the EFI Bootloader has the two partitions in the beginning of the disk – i.e., only one Partition remains, until Windows gets confused – but thats just for the MBR Table. In the GPT Table, there can be partitions with a higher number than 4 between the third and the fourth partition. Linux recognizes GPT Disklabels and can handle these – the only problem is that GRUB (in a reasonable simple setup) so far only understands MBR Disklabels, which is why you have to install your /boot-Partition into the third MBR-Partition. But for anything else, it doesnt matter for Linux and Windows. So the basic installation procedure that worked for me was (this is just a compendium, not a guide – dont know if it always works):

  • Perform a fresh install of OS X (this shouldnt be necessary, but well, it prevents from any problems).
  • Use BootCamp-Assistant to partition disks (I gave Windows 32 Gig) but dont install.
  • Use Disk Utility and add an additional partition (This sometimes fails – I actually dont get why. Well, as far as I saw, you have to select the BootCamp-Partition and then press „+“ and add the partition.
  • Install Windows completely
  • Boot OS X, install rEFIt. Run „“ to make the system always boot into rEFIt.
  • Boot the Arch Linux LiveCD, and use parted to create partitions as shown below.
  • Reboot into rEFIt. Let it Sync your Disklabels (in the partition tool). If you have a QUERTZ-Keyboard, remember to press „z“ instead of „y“. Otherwise, rEFIt wont do anything, since the default is not to change the disk.
  • Reboot again, boot Windows – now Windows should be confused and tells to boot from the Install Disk and run the Disk Repair Utility – well, I have done so. After reboot, Windows booted again.
  • Now boot again from the Arch Linux CD and install Arch. Grub wont install, because the Partition Type of /dev/sda3 is set to something different than 83. Use fdisk (not parted!) to change this. Now anything should be OK and after several reboots you should be able to boot all the 3 Systems.

At least this procedure worked for me. Here are the outputs of fdisk and parted (showing Dos and GPT Disklabel):

# fdisk -cu /dev/sda

WARNING: GPT (GUID Partition Table) detected on '/dev/sda'! The util fdisk doesn't support GPT. Use GNU Parted.

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sda: 160.0 GB, 160041885696 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 19457 cylinders, total 312581808 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x37ff4f62

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1               1      409639      204819+  ee  GPT
/dev/sda2          409640    63264575    31427468   af  HFS / HFS+
/dev/sda3   *    63526720    65011712      742496+  83  Linux
/dev/sda4       245778432   312580095    33400832    7  HPFS/NTFS
# parted
GNU Parted 2.2
Using /dev/sda
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type 'help' to view a list of commands.
(parted) print
Model: ATA Hitachi HTS54501 (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 160GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: gpt

Number  Start   End     Size    File system     Name                  Flags
1      20.5kB  210MB   210MB   fat32           EFI System Partition  boot
2      210MB   32.4GB  32.2GB  hfs+            Macintosh HD
3      32.5GB  33.3GB  760MB   ext2            linux-boot
5      33.3GB  41.9GB  8590MB  linux-swap(v1)  linux-swap
6      41.9GB  50.5GB  8590MB  ext4            linux-root
7      50.5GB  126GB   75.4GB  ext3            linux-home
4      126GB   160GB   34.2GB  ntfs            BOOTCAMP

rEFIt claims that /dev/sda3 has a wrong filesystem label in the Dos Table. I dont know why, but I didnt let it resync the partitions, since this seemed not to produce any problems so far – and at least the partition boundaries are equal. So who cares.

For KDE4, there are the kdemod-Packages which are recommended by the Arch Linux Wiki. However, these packages didnt work for me (random crashes of plasma), so I preferred to install the supported packages. These also crashed after adding the NetworkManager-Applet to plasma, but after reconfiguring anything, it didnt crash anymore so far. A problem which remains is that it seems like my xorg.conf is just ignored – at least the XkbLayout-Option, and the options for my synaptics touchpad. I always have to use setxkbmap and synclient manually to set it to proper values as a workaround. But I am sure to be able to find out the reason soon.

Actually, I dont want to use KDE anyway – not that its not a good system, but its … huge. The main reason for using it is that there is basically no equivalent Frontend for NetworkManager, except under Gnome, and I dont like Gnome. Under KDE3, there was KNetworkManager, but they have replaced it by a „Plasma Applet“ now. There is still KNetworkManager in the AUR-Archives, but it fails to compile. And there is cnetworkmanager, but I dont really get how to set up eduroam connections with it. Well, there are other network management tools than networkmanager, and I will try these.

The main problem is not the frontend but the backend: I need the official broadcom-driver for my card, which fails hard! It seems like the Wifi is randomly working perfectly, but randomly just refuses to do anything. This is strange, because on Ubuntu, Wifi worked well, as well as on a similar arch linux installation on a MacBook Pro of some other person. The firmware should be the latest. So I dont really have any clue on how to investigate on this. I think the next thing I will try is ndiswrapper, but I couldnt find any 64 Bit Windows Driver for downloading yet. Well, we’ll see.

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