I have recently downloaded archlinux, but as embarrassing as it is I simply don't think I am installing it correctly. When I do, my version of the install and hook it up to the Raspberry Pi, the screen remains black.

I have never installed a .tar.gz to a SD, I have found this: http://archlinuxarm.org/platforms/armv6/raspberry-pi

But im not on linux. Any Help/link to instructions would be Great!

  • 4
    The instructions require you to create an ext4 partition, which is not possible on OS X (at least without additional software). – Milliways Oct 26 '14 at 11:33
  • Thank you for clearing that up, and recommended additional software? – Dawid van der Hoven Oct 26 '14 at 11:40
  • Is this possible with a windows pc? – Dawid van der Hoven Oct 26 '14 at 13:36
  • @DawidvanderHoven I would run a linux live distribution, such as SysrescueCD, on VirtualBox (free) and create ext4 partition. – gurcanozturk Oct 27 '14 at 15:32

I just ran into this issue myself. I found two ways to create the SD card using the .tar.gz images provided by ArchLinuxARM, provided you have a USB SD card reader.

Method 1: Raspberry Pi + USB card reader + 1 additional SD card

This method requires an additional SD card and a USB card reader. It uses Linux on your Raspberry Pi to build an new SD card that can boot into ArchLinux.

  1. Connect an external USB card reader to Raspberry Pi.
  2. Plug the SD card that you want to install ArchLinux onto into the external USB card reader.
  3. Boot your Raspberry Pi using Raspbian, as Raspbian has an image you can write to an SD card from OSX or Windows.
  4. Install bsdtar using: sudo apt-get install bsdtar

  5. Follow the ArchLinuxARM instructions for Raspberry Pi. Make sure you do everything as the root user. To become root on Raspbian, run sudo -s.

Method 2: VMWare + USB card reader

This method does not require an additional USB card, but it does require you to have installed Linux on a VMWare.

  1. Start Linux on VMWare
  2. Connect an external USB card reader to the computer running VMWare. VMWare will ask you if you want to connect it to your Linux instance, which is what you want.
  3. Follow the ArchLinuxARM instructions for Raspberry Pi.

I was able to build an SD card running ArchLinux on my Mac running VMWare Fusion. I imagine this also works with Virtual Box though I did not try. I imagine it works on Windows but, again, I did not try.

You should also know that VMWare is not able to access the Mac's built in SD card reader, hence the need for a USB card reader. Perhaps on Windows VMWare can access the built-in card reader, making the external USB card reader unnecessary.


The above two methods did work, but it took several tries for me to get it to work. Here are some of the issues I ran into:

  • I had an intermittent failure while using bsdtar to extract image. Using journalctl -kf I was able to see a reset occurring in the USB system. I was able to git rid of this reset by connecting my unpowered USB card reader to a USB hub, rather that connecting it directly to my Raspberry Pi (method 1) or Mac (method 2).
  • Using method 2, I kept getting an error about pathnames not being able to be converted from UTF-8 to the current locale. I then realized my current locale was not set to UTF-8, so I fixed this issue by running localectl set-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8 and then logging out and back into Linux.

When booting the Raspberry Pi into Arch, I highly recommend using a USB serial cable, like the USB to TTL Serial Cable from Adafruit or any FTDI based USB to serial cable. This will allow you to see the entire boot process of the Raspberry Pi, which is a key debugging tool when trying to use a new OS on Raspberry Pi.

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  • Method 1 worked for me. @Dawid_van_der_hoven - please remember to mark the question as solved if it worked for you. – Jan Jun 28 '15 at 14:21

I've been in the same situation, wanting to run Arch on my Pi with only the MacBook without Linux.

Requirements: USB Stick + SD Card + Live Linux

If you haven't got a USB SD card reader, you can write a Debian live image (or any favorite LIVE distro) to the USB stick, on macOS, using, for example, balenaEtcher or the dd utility from Terminal, then you can run Linux in RAM of your MacBook/iMac without any data loss (but be careful because if you do not use the Arch Linux installation commands in the correct way something could go wrong). So in this solution, you will not need any external USB card reader. Hope it helps someone.

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