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AROS Installation Guide


This manual will guide you through the necessary steps for installing different AROS flavours.


AROS is alpha quality software. This means that it is currently mostly fun to play with and cool to develop for. If you came here because you thought AROS was a finished, complete and fully usable operating system, you will most likely be disappointed. AROS isn't there yet, but we're slowly moving in the right direction.


As AROS is currently under heavy development, no new stable snapshots are currently available. The snapshots that are still available are obsolete and don't reflect the current status of AROS. The users are encouraged to download the nightly builds instead.

Nightly builds are done, as the name implies, automatically every night directly from the Subversion tree and contain the latest code. However, they have not been tested in any way and can be horribly broken, extremely buggy and should you be very unlucky, they might even destroy your system. Most of the time they work fine, though.

Please see the download page for more information on nightly builds available and how to download them.


AROS/linux-i386, AROS/linux-x86-64 and AROS/freebsd-i386


To run AROS/linux-i386, AROS/linux-x86-64 or AROS/freebsd-i386 you will need the following:

  • A working FreeBSD 5.x or Linux installation (doesn't really matter which distribution you run, as long as it's relatively recent).
  • A configured and working X server (for example X.Org or XFree86) for x11.hidd, or libsdl installed (for sdl.hidd).

That's it.


Since AROS/linux-i386, AROS/linux-x86-64 and AROS/freebsd-i386 are hosted flavors of AROS, installation is simple. Simply get the appropriate archives for your platform from the download page and extract them where you want them:

> tar -vxjf AROS-<version>-<platform>-<cpu>-system.tar.bz2

If you downloaded the contrib archive, you may want to extract it too (but its contents is already included in the system archive and on the LiveCD):

> tar -vxjf AROS-<version>-pc-<cpu>-contrib.tar.bz2


After having extracted all files you can launch AROS like this:

> cd AROS
> boot/aros-unix -m <size of mem, used for AROS in MB, number>


Unless you are running XFree86 3.x or earlier, you may notice that the AROS window does not refresh properly (for example when a different window passes over it). This is due to the fact that AROS uses the "backingstore" functionality of X, which is turned off by default in XFree86 4.0 and later. To turn it on, add the following line to the device section of your graphics card in the X configuration file (commonly named /etc/X11/xorg.conf, /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 or /etc/X11/XF86Config):

Option "backingstore"

A complete device section might then look like this:

Section "Device"
    Identifier      "Matrox G450"
    Driver          "mga"
    BusID           "PCI:1:0:0"
    Option          "backingstore"

Also there's an sdl.hidd, allowing you to run AROS-Hosted without any X-server ever installed. It's known to be working, but is in testing stage.

AROS/pc-i386 and AROS/pc-X86-64



AROS can be installed to a hard drive, and its installer won't remove or wipe any partitions if not asked to do so. However, note that it's always unwise to install an operating system on a working machine whose HD contains valuable data. We'd advise you to make a backup of your data beforehand (always a good thing to do), and we cannot take responsibility for damage that occurs. Any bug reports on the installation process will however be appreciated.

You will need a PCI-based PC-AT (based on i486 or later) with PS/2 or USB mouse, PS/2, AT or USB keyboard, IDE hard disk and CD-ROM on parallel ATA or SATA configured in legacy mode, and an (S)VGA video card and monitor. At least 24 MB of RAM is required. A VESA-compliant VGA card is recommended. There are generic 2D-accelerated drivers (HIDDs) for some ATI and nVidia cards.

Also, most PC-compatible emulators/VMs (virtual machines) can be used. QEMU, VMware (Server/Workstation/Fusion), Q, Bochs and MS VPC are known to work. A notable exception is VirtualBox. IcAros is a distribution already configured with Qemu (windows)

AROS has drivers for several different network cards. Further details are available in the FAQ.

If you want to try sound on AROS, the best choice at this moment is Creative 10k-based sound cards.

The x86-64 port has similar requirements, except of course that a 64-bit capable Intel/AMD CPU is needed. Chipset support is currently limited. This port is in the early stages of development, so please report any bugs found.

BIOS Settings

AROS relies on the BIOS to do some hardware configuration that other operating systems handle by themselves. Because of this, the BIOS settings are more important when using AROS. Listed below are some of the common BIOS options that affect AROS, and advice on how to set them.

  • Plug 'n' Play OS: If it exists, choose the option for a non-plug-'n'-play OS.
  • Bus mastering: If there's an option to enable or disable PCI bus mastering, it must be enabled.
  • ATA mode: In most cases, you should set the transfer mode for every disk drive to the best mode possible. Only set a slower mode if you have trouble with disk access in AROS.
  • SATA mode: On some computers with SATA disk drives, you may need to select a legacy/compatibility mode for disk access.

In most cases, the BIOS options selected for AROS will also be compatible with other OSs on your computer. However, changing the SATA mode may require you to change some settings in these other OSs or even reinstall them.

Installation media

The recommended installation media for AROS/pc-i386 is CD-ROM, since the whole system fits on a single disc (and also all the contributed software). This also makes the installation easier, since you don't have to go through hoops transferring the software on several floppies.

Since nobody currently sells AROS on CAROM (or any other media for that matter), you will need access to a CD burner to create the installation disk yourself.



Simply download the ISO image from the download page (we recommend using a download manager able to resume broken downloads, like wget) and burn it to the CD using your favorite CD burning program. There are a number of freeware CD burning programs for any system. Windows users we can point to the InfraRecorder - it's free, small and fast, and it's just simple. Other examples are CDBurnerXP, DeepBurn, and AstroBurn. In the Linux world there are k3B, Brasero and others. On Amiga (and AROS) you can use FryingPan.


The easiest way to boot from the AROS installation CD is if you have a computer that supports booting from CD-ROM. This might require additional changes in the BIOS set-up, though, to enable booting from CD-ROM, as it is quite often disabled by default. Once the computer is set to boot from CD-ROM, simply insert the CD into the first CD-ROM drive and reboot the computer. The boot is fully automatic, and if everything works you should see a nice screen after a little while.

If your computer does not support booting directly from CD-ROM, you can create a boot floppy and use it together with the CD-ROM. Simply insert both the boot floppy and the CD into their respective drives and reboot. AROS will start booting from the floppy, but after the most important things have been loaded (including the CD-ROM file system handler) it will continue booting from the CD-ROM.


These days floppies can be found useful only to boot if your PC's BIOS doesn't support booting from CD or on some really obsolete PCs. But it's still maintained.


To create the boot floppy, you will need to download the disk image from the download page, extract the archive, and write the boot image to a floppy disk. If you are using a Unix-like operating system (such as Linux or FreeBSD), you can do this with the following command:

> cd AROS-<version>-pc-i386-boot-floppy
> dd if=aros.bin of=/dev/fd0

If you are using Windows, you will need to get rawrite to write the image to a floppy. Please see the documentation of rawrite for information on how to use it. There's also an GUI version called rawwritewin.


Simply insert the boot floppy into the drive and reboot the computer. The boot is fully automatic, and if everything works you should see a nice screen after a while.

Installing to hard drive

Note that you have been WARNED that AROS is still in development. Though harddisk installation is well-developed by now; there is still an off chance that it may corrupt existing partitions. If you want to be as safe as possible, install AROS on its own harddisk. Other options would be: Making a full backup beforehand, using a PC which does not contain anything you can't live without, or use a virtual machine. There are many free VMs available, such as VirtualPC, Q, QEMU and VMWare, which are known to work with AROS. You can also use VmwAROS preinstalled environment to try it out.

Getting ready

First, set up your HD - either real or a virtual drive image - for use. For a real drive, this may involve plugging it into the machine (always a good start) and setting it up in the BIOS. For a virtualiser's or emulator's virtual drive, you probably just need to select an option to create a new drive image, and set it as one of the virtual PC's boot devices (the CD drive must be the first boot device during installation of AROS however).

The following options are depending on what you want to do.

Installing AROS Only

The most simple situation is that of installing AROS alone on the whole disk, either a new one or one with some unneeded data on it. You might also use an additional HDD for AROS.

Currently the installation is meant to be made by means of the InstallAROS program, which is located in the Tools drawer on your BootCD. Please, launch it by clicking on its icon. Once it's launched, it'll show you the greeting screen. Then click the Proceed button in the installer to get a screen with installing options.

You can see the current installing device (ata.device) and its unit (0), which is your first HDD. If you intend to install on additional disk, please, change this number. To find out the number, you can use a /Tools/HDToolbox utility. Check the option Only use free space if you want to keep current partitions as they are, or select Wipe disk to erase existing data on the hard drive. You can set the size of new AROS partition if you wish, and add an extra WORK partition to install programs on it. After you click the Proceed button again, installAROS will create the partition or partitions, and after that it will ask you to reboot. After the reboot, please start InstallAROS again.

This time, the option Use existing AROS partitions should be selected. Proceed with this. You will see some extra options (defaults shown) in a window:

[ ] Choose language Options
[x] Install AROS Core System
[x] Install Extra Software
[ ] Install Development Software
[x] Install Bootloader
  • Choose language Options allows you to select the locale of your newly

    installed system (by launching the /Extras/Locale program).

  • Install AROS Core System allows installing of all AROS base programs

    that the OS needs to function properly.

  • Install Extra Software allows installing additional programs (located

    in the /Extras drawer and, if selected, on the WORK partition).

  • Install Development Software allows the installation of development

    software, like programming languages.

  • Install Bootloader enables installing of GRUB bootloader to the MBR of

    HD. (There can be some situations where you don't need to install this.)

Make your choice and click the Proceed button.

On the next installer screen you can choose which partitions you want to format and copy files to, and whether a WORK partition is used and whether files should be copied to it:

Destination Partition     [x] Format Partition

[ ] Use 'WORK' Partition
[ ] Copy Extras and Development Files to Work

Work Partition            [ ] Format Partition

After you made your choices and proceed, the installer will show the GRUB installation device and the path to the GRUB files for you to check. Proceeding, you will see the last screen before installation, which will warn you about the pre-alpha status of the AROS install process. After clicking Proceed one last time, you should see the installer doing its work. You may be asked to select your keyboard type and locale settings, then the files are being copied. This may take a while; be patient, please.

After the installation is finished, you can remove the AROS Live CD from the CD-ROM drive and reboot into your newly-installed AROS system.

Installing AROS along with Windows(R)/DOS(R)

Installing AROS along with Windows should be an easy task (assuming you use Windows XP). Generally, you'll just need to follow the installer prompts as shown above to make this working. The installer is designed to automatically detect your Windows installation and put it in the GRUB menu. Check the chapter above about standalone AROS installation for the details of the procedure.

If you ever need to restore the previous NT loader, you can use the fixmbr command in the recovery console from your Windows installation CD.

There can be problems with some older and newer Windows versions (like 95/98 and Vista). For installing over Vista you can use steps, similar to the ones for Linux with GRUB installer. In cases where Grub should be installed and used to boot Vista, you'd just need to add a menu entry to your /boot/grub/menu.lst:

title Windows Vista
root (hd0,0)
chainloader +1

If you prefer to use the Vista bootloader, there are programs like EasyBCD to manage its behaviour.

TO-DO more...

Installing AROS along with Linux/BSD

Installing AROS along with Linux or BSD systems is almost the same as doing so for Windows. You'll need to create free space for AROS with available tools. Then use InstallAROS to do the partitioning and formatting of the AROS partition and copy the system on to it. (You can use additional WORK partition if you want to.) It's better, however, not to install the bootloader (uncheck the corresponding checkbox):

[ ] Install Bootloader

After the installer has finished copying the files, it will ask you to reboot. After the reboot you'll need to boot your Linux/BSD again, to set up the bootloader. AROS uses a patched GRUB bootloader, able to load a kernel from AFFS. But you don't have to use it, if you put AROS kernel in the location of your system kernel is - usually /boot - and use a conventional GRUB from your distribution. Just copy /boot/aros-i386.gz from AROS LiveCD to /boot. Then put some new lines to the end of your /boot/grub/menu.lst file to include an AROS menu entry:

title AROS VBE  640x480  16bpp
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/aros-pc-i386.gz vesa=640x480x16 ATA=32bit floppy=disabled

You can change the kernel's parameters to set the screen resolution. The 'floppy=disabled' option disables the floppy trackdisk device, as this device is not too useful these days but can cause troubles in some cases.

If you happen to use lilo or any other booloader, this trick won't be that easy. (It's hard to make lilo booting AROS kernel.) You will need to somehow chainload AROS GRUB and set it to start up a kernel.

After the reboot, you should be able to see an AROS entry in the GRUB menu and to boot AROS.

Installing AROS along with other systems

A lot of other operating systems exist on the platforms AROS supports. If your system uses GRUB bootloader the process should be fairly similar to the one for Linux. If not, please remember that all you need for AROS to boot is just to place its files on a partition where GRUB can find it and boot the kernel.

TO-DO more...

Manual install

(almost deprecated) Using InstallAROS is recommended.

As the InstallAROS is functional now, the following information is kind of deprecated but still can be of some interest, so it's been kept here for informational purposes.


Although AROS can be installed to a hard drive, please be aware that HDToolBox is known to contain bugs. It should not remove or wipe any partitions if not asked to do so, but this cannot be guaranteed. So please note that generally you should not install AROS on a working machine whose HD contains valuable data, as there is a real possibility of data loss. We take no responsibility for any data loss that occurs. Any bug reports on the installation process will, however, be appreciated.


Single partition install

This describes how to install AROS as the only system on a PC and install it on a single partition. This is an easier installation example.

This chapter can be found a bit tricky, as the install feature is incomplete. First, remember a common rule for this process - reboot after any significant change made to the file system (we will note where it is needed). Rebooting means closing the HDToolbox window if it's open and restarting the computer or VM, so it's a hard reset. You can also try a soft reset by typing <reboot> ENTER in CLI window.

First, find a tool on the AROS CD called HDToolBox. It's located in the Tools drawer. This is your HD tormenter for a while. When you start it, you will see a window with a device-type selector. In this example (here and further on), we are using a real or virtual IDE hard drive (also known as an ATA hard drive). So, clicking on the ata.device entry will show Devices:1 in the left window. This is your HD. By clicking on this entry, you'll enter the available HD list.

So here you should see your HD listed. If it's a virtual HD, you'll see something like QEMU Harddisk or the equivalent VMWare one. If your HD is real, you should see its name. If this doesn't happen, you must make sure you've correctly prepared your HD. Clicking on the HD name will give you some information:

Size: <Size of HD>
Partition Table: <type of current PT; must be unknown after cleanup>
Partitions: <count of partitions on HD; must be 0 as you've just started>

Now, you should create a new partition table. IN this case, for a PC, you should create a PC-MBR type of table. To do this, please press the Create Table button and choose PC-MBR from the list. Click OK.

Then write the changes to disk. To do this, click on the HD's name and press Save Changes. Answer Yes in the confirmation dialog. Close the HDToolbox window and reboot the system from the Live CD.

After the system boots up, start HDToolbox again. Now, after entering the ata.device entry you should see the info "Partition table: PC-MBR. You should also see "Partitions:0", as you set no partitions yet.

To set the partitions, click on the HD's name to go to the partitions list. The list is still empty. Click on Create Entry button, choose all the space, by clicking on unselected empty space, and click OK. You should now see an entry "Partition 0" in the list. Choose it by clicking, to get this information:

Size: <Partition size. Almost equal to HD size>
Partition table: Unknown <Not created yet>
Partition type: AROS RDB Partition table <A possibility>
Active: No <Not active>
Bootable: No <Not bootable>
Automount: No <Will not mount on system startup>

A choice can be made here - Either making a partition in a RDB table, or in a PC-MBR partition. RDB (Rigid Disk Block) is the choice of compatibility; it was used in Amiga HDD's partitioning, and it can be used here too. Yet, AROS also supports FFS partitions created within a common PC-MBR table, similar to normal PC partitions like FAT/NTFS/etc., and this can be considered somewhat more modern and more compatible to some new AROS programs. Here follow paragraphs on both cases.

FFS in RDB Click on the Create Table button, select RDB table and click OK. To save changes, go one level up by clicking the Parent button, select the HD name again and click the Save Changes button. Answer Yes in the confirmation dialog twice. Exit from HDToolbox and reboot the machine.

FFS in MBR be added

After booting up, start HDToolbox (again). The info for your Partition 0 has not changed, except that the partition table should now be as you set it, RDB or MBR. This partition must be set to Active. To do this, click on the Switches button, select the Active checkbox and click OK. And again save the changes by going a level up and clicking the button. Exit and reboot.

The reason you're told to reboot so often is that HDToolbox and the system libraries it uses are still unfinished and quite buggy, and rebooting after every step ensures they return to their initial state.

After boot up, HDToolbox should show you that Partition 0 has become active. Once it is active, you should create your disk to install AROS on. Go one level down by clicking on the "Partition 0" entry. Click the Add Entry button and choose all the empty space. Now you should see see a "DH0" entry there, which is your disk. Clicking on it shows information:

Size: <well...>
Partition Table: Unknown <don't worry about it>
Partition Type: Fast Filesystem Intl <As intended>
Active: No <Not active>
Bootable: No <Not bootable>
Automount: No <Will not mount on system startup>

Now, go 2 levels up to the HD name, click Save Changes, confirm, exit and reboot.

After booting up HDToolbox (again!), you should now set the switches to the DH0 drive. Go to the DH0 entry and set switches with the relevant button and check boxes: Bootable: Yes and Automount: Yes. Go 2 levels up, save changes, confirm and reboot. You're more than half way now!

After starting up HDToolbox (once more), check the settings for DH0. They should all be OK now. If so, you can exit HDToolbox with no hesitation. Now it's time for some CLI magic.


You need to format your created DH0 drive to make it usable. Currently, AROS has a choice of two file systems - Fast FileSystem (FFS) and Smart FileSystem (SFS). FFS is known to be somewhat more stable and compatible to most programs, while SFS is more fail-proof and advanced, but still has some issues with some programs.

Currently you have to set it to FFS, because GRUB bootloader doesn't support SFS. (GRUB2 will.) Also, please note that with SFS you can get problems using some ported software, such as gcc. So, open the CLI window (right click on upper menu and select Shell from the first Wanderer menu). At the prompt, enter the Info command (type info and press Enter). You should see your DH0 in the list as DH0: Not a valid DOS disk. Now format it with the command:

About to format drive DH0:. This will destroy all data on the drive. Are
you sure ? (y/N)

Enter y, press Enter and wait a second. You should see the string Formatting...done displayed. If you got an error, use HDToolbox to check all partition parameters, as you may have missed something, and after saving and rebooting, repeat.

If you're experiencing problems with format (such as ERROR messages, especially when using partitions in RDB), though this is unlikely, you can try the good old Amiga FORMAT64 utility:

>extras/aminet/format64 DRIVE DH0: Name AROS FFS INTL

If you enter the Info command again, it should now show:

>DH0: <size>  <used> <free> <full 0%> <errors> <r/w state> <FFS> <AROS>

That's it. Before the installation, reboot.


If all this seems to be so boring that you can't stand it, there's some relief if you intend to use AROS only on a virtual machine. First, you can get a pre-installed pack, such as WinAROS/WinAROS Lite - this system is already installed, though it can be outdated. Second, you can look at the AROS Archives for the Installation Kit, which contains ready-made virtual HD's that are already created and formatted, ready for the installation, so you can skip the previous procedure and install a fresh version of AROS.

Copying the system

After reboot, you may notice that you can see your AROS HD on the desktop now, and it's empty. You'll now need to fill it with files.

Now after the Drag 'n' Drop support developed in AROS the whole system can be easily copied from LiveCD by just dragging files to DH0: drawer. It's only left to replace the file dh0:boot/grub/menu.lst with dh0:boot/grub/menu_dh.lst.DH0 then.

There's an installer in AROS, as incomplete as HDToolbox is, but it can be used. At least, you can try. So, here's the first way to install.

1. Run InstallAROS in the Tools drawer. You will see the welcome screen telling you the same again that you're using the alpha version. Continue anyway. There's a Proceed button for you to click. Next, you will see the AROS Public License, and you should accept it to go further. Now you will see the install options window (where it says No, just uncheck the relevant box)

Show Partitioning Options...    []
    <No. As you've done that already>
Format Partitions               []
    <No. You've done that as well>
Choose Language Options         []
    <No. It's better to do that later>
Install AROS Core System        [V]
    <Yes, that's what you're here for>
Install Extra Software [V]
    <Yes. Uncheck only if you want a lite installation>
Install Development Software    []
    <No. This is mostly a placeholder at a moment>
Show Bootloader Options         [V]
    <Yes, bootloader will not be installed otherwise>

Note that Show Partitioning Options can be unselectable and greyed out if the installer is unable to find any suitable partition.

After you've made the selection you want, click Proceed. The next window shows you possible installation destinations:

Destination Drive

DH0  <that's correct>

Use 'Work' Partition                        []
    <uncheck it, you're installing all-on-one>
Copy Extras and Developer Files to Work?    []
    <uncheck it, as you're not using Work>
Work drive ... <skipped>

Now after you unchecked those, click Proceed. The window showing bootloader options should appear. Here you can only check whether GRUB, the GRand Unified Bootloader, is to be installed to DH0 and on which device. Click Proceed again.

Now the window says it's ready to install. Click Proceed (once again).

After that, the copying progress bar will appear as files are copied. Wait until after a while the process finishes. After that, you will get the finishing screen and a Reboot checkbox. Leave this checked and click Proceed. Now your machine will reboot with the same settings as before, from the Live CD. You're almost there!

Installing the bootloader

You should again see your AROS disk, and all files should be there. Since you've already installed the bootloader in previous steps, nothing should be missing.

Well, if you used a fresh nightly build then GRUB should already be installed and working, and you can skip the step in the next paragraphs. If not, please read on.

In older versions (before Nov. 2006) there was a bug in GRUB, preventing it from installing correctly on the first try. So if you can't boot now, and get messages like GRUB GRUB FRUB etc., please read the following. A second try to install it usually helps to solve it. So, now you'll need InstallAROS once again. Repeat all the previous steps from point 1, but uncheck every checkbox. After the last click on Proceed, GRUB will be reinstalled, and a window will appear asking you to confirm that write. Answer yes as many times as needed. Now, on the last page, uncheck the Reboot checkbox, close the Install program and power off the machine.

Alternatively, GRUB can be installed from shell with this command:

c:install-i386-pc device ata.device unit 0 PN <pn> grub dh0:boot/grub kernel dh0:boot/aros-i386.gz

where PN <pn> (or PARTITIONNUMBER <pn>) is the number of partition where GRUB bootloader will be installed.

Preparing to boot You've now followed your first installation alchemy course, and AROS should be ready now. Remove the Live CD from the CD drive (or disable booting from CD in VM) and check it out. You've made it!

Troubleshooting The installation process is one of the topics most frequently asked about on forums, mostly by newbies. You can check the FAQ to see if there's an answer to your questions.



To be written by someone.


Simply get the appropriate archives for your platform from the download page and extract them where you want them:

> tar -vxjf AROS-<version>-<platform>-ppc-system.tar.bz2

If you downloaded the contrib archive, you may want to extract it too (but its contents are already included in the system archive and on the LiveCD):

> tar -vxjf AROS-<version>-ppc-all-contrib.tar.bz2


To be written by someone.

AROS/m68k-backport (AfA)

This is not the usual native/hosted flavour of AROS, but a thing that can be called a backport. Actually, it's a set of libraries and binaries to enhance the capabilities of original AmigaOS. AfA stands for AROS for Amigas. AfA is developed by Bernd Roesch and can be found here.


To be written by someone.


  • copy the directory AfA_OS_Libs to your sys: Amiga drive Bootpartition. If you don't want it there, you can copy it elsewhere and assign AfA_OS: to the directory where the AfA_OS_Libs are located.
  • copy Libs:freetype2.library to your sys:libs directory.
  • copy C:AfA_OS_Loader to your sys:fonts directory.
  • copy Fonts: to your sys:fonts directory. If you want to have more fonts, use the Fonts from AROS or MOS.
  • copy prefs: to your sys:prefs directory.

To start AfA at boot time, add AfA_OS_Loader to your S:startup-sequence, just before IPrefs. It must be inserted after patching tools like MCP or picasso96/cgx, because they patch the AfA_OS Functions back.

If you start it with the parameter MOUSESTART (must be written in uppercase), you must hold the left mousebutton during boot time to load the modules, instead of skipping them.

To see if all works well, start the "TextBench" program found in the AfA archive. Antialiased TTF fonts rendering speed is currently not the best, it is not optimized (see aatext source code), but hopefully it's fast enough to be usable even on a 060/50MHz.

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