PixieLive4 to HDD as "normal" distro

Dear PixieLive4 users, since some of you wanted to install PixieLive4 on their NetBooks HDD as "normal" (i.e. non live) distro, here is the quick and dirty guide.

It's pretty straight forward, it can be summarized as:

  • prepare an HDD partition
  • extract the lzm modules
  • remove pixielive scripts
  • create missing directories
  • copy /dev
  • create an /etc/fstab
  • install and configure grub (the bootloader)
  • reboot and have fun!

This guide is not for newbies, i will not explain every command in the details, it would take too much time and you could damage your system if you don't know what you are doing.

For the commands you don't know "man", "gentoo wiki" and "google" are your friends.

I cannot guarantee everything is done in the best way here, it worked on my computer so it should on your.

Let's get started:

  • backup all of your documents
  • backup your windows partition if you think you will need it in future
  • make sure you have a backup of all your documents and software
  • double check you have a backup of all your documents and software (on a different disk)
  • boot PixieLive4 as usual
  • Prepare an empty partition on your disk, at least 10GB (you can use fdisk or gparted)
  • open a terminal window and become root
    • su
  • format the partition you created as ext3 (ext4 won't boot with grub-1)
    • mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdaX #where X is the partition number
  • prepare the mount directory
    • mkdir /gentoohdd
  • mount the partition in the directory (replace the X with your partition number)
    • mount /dev/sdaX /gentoohdd
    • recursively copy the content of every module on the partition (notice the / after $i, it's important). It will take a looong time
      • for i in /mnt/live/memory/bundles/*; do rsync -a "$i/" /gentoohdd; done
    • copy the /dev directory
      • cp -a /dev /gentoohdd
    • create the some missing directories:
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/sys
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/proc
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/run
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/tmp
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/mnt
      • mkdir /gentoohdd/media
    • create the fstab file (replace the X with your partition number)
      • echo "/dev/sdaX / ext3 noatime 0 1" > /gentoohdd/etc/fstab
    • install grub
      • grub-install --root-directory=/gentoohdd /dev/sda
    • copy the kernel in place
      • cp /mnt/live/memory/data/PixieLive4/boot/vmlinuz /gentoohdd/boot
    • create a grub menu configuration (replace the Y with your partition number in the grub way, usually Y=X-1)
      • nano /gentoohdd/boot/grub/menu.lst
        • ##############################
        • default 0
        • timeout 5
        • title PixieLive4-HDD
        • root (hd0,Y) # usually Y = X-1
        • kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sdaX
        • # you don't need this part if you don't have Windows installed
        • title Windows
        • rootnoverify (hd0,0) # assuming windows is on the first partition of the first disk
        • makeactive
        • chainloader +1
        • ##############################
    • remove unneeded pixielive init scripts
      • rm /gentoohdd/etc/init.d/pixielive*
      • rm /gentoohdd/etc/conf.d/pixielive*
      • rm /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/default/pixielive*
      • rm /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/boot/pixielive*
      • rm /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/shutdown/*
    • rebuild the shutdown runlevel
      • ln -s /etc/init.d/killprocs /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/shutdown
      • ln -s /etc/init.d/mount-ro /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/shutdown
      • ln -s /etc/init.d/savecache /gentoohdd/etc/runlevels/shutdown
    • copy the xorg.conf
      • cp -a /etc/X11/xorg.conf /gentoohdd/etc/X11
    • unmount the gentoohdd partition
      • umount /gentoohdd
    • reboot from the hdd


1. On Saturday, December 21 2013, 23:46 by KRoBot

Hey Chris,

when I use this way to install Pixie on my HDD,
can I boot directly in Pixie without enter some PW?

2. On Sunday, December 22 2013, 00:00 by Christian Lorandi


by default you will not be asked to insert any password (no encryption is enabled by default and the login is automatic for the user "pixielive")


3. On Wednesday, December 25 2013, 22:00 by szabolor

Thank you for sharing this detailed description, I'm just about to start installing

Merry Christmas!

4. On Tuesday, December 31 2013, 15:22 by KRoBot

Hey Chris..

Is there any way to make it easyer ?
To install it like a normal distro over iso ??..

I need this distro for my work..

5. On Wednesday, January 8 2014, 18:39 by Christian Lorandi


well, it depends on what you need to do (e.g. will PixieLive be the only operating system on those computers?)

if you want to send me more details (may be by email if you don't want to discuss about that in public) we can think about a solution

you know the email.. (admin @ pix...)


6. On Thursday, January 9 2014, 00:48 by KRoBot


so I need it Only for Office and browser with Flash.. and nothing more. But now i have install it on my HDD, but it wont install Grub correctly on Gentoohdd...

7. On Thursday, January 9 2014, 08:52 by Christian Lorandi


Does the grub-install command run properly?

If yes:

does grub start at least or does the system stop before it?

If no:

can you post the error message?


8. On Saturday, January 11 2014, 14:35 by KRoBot

Hello Chris,

now I am successfull with Grub 2 :D

I can use your Realy good Distro like a normal distro.

But can i install a Store like Ubuntu store oder Gentoo store ?

9. On Saturday, January 11 2014, 23:32 by Christian Lorandi


of course you can, it's called portage http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&chap=1 but it's something completely different from Ubuntu, it compiles everything from sources, therefore it's not a good idea to use it on a netbook... (it could require DAYS to compile LibreOffice, literally)


10. On Friday, January 17 2014, 23:27 by KRoBot

Hey Chris,

did you have a Remote Desktop Client on this distro??

Or can I use one??

11. On Sunday, January 19 2014, 10:24 by Christian Lorandi


there are 2 of them (i don't remember why 2, it seems stupid to include 2 programs to make the same thing, but u can remove the one you don't need, they are single modules...) anyway they are

  • freerdp
  • rdesktop

enjoy your remote desktop :-)


12. On Thursday, March 6 2014, 23:56 by Corrado

Hi Christian, thank you so much for your wonderful work! I'm currently running Pixielive on my hdd and it works like a charm. I was wondering if there is a way to enable Super Hybrid Engine with Intel Atom processors, it seems not to be using it (otherwise it would have crashed as usual at +30%). That would bring a substantial performance improvement. Anyway this distribution is terrific, thanks again!

13. On Tuesday, July 15 2014, 11:22 by ali

Thank you . It's work great
but how to start "tor" and install new program on installed Pixielive

14. On Wednesday, July 16 2014, 18:51 by Christian Lorandi


well, to start tor you should use "/etc/init.d/tor start" as usual, and also polipo with "/etc/init.d/polipo start", do not forget to configure your browser to use it as proxy https://www.torproject.org/docs/tor-doc-unix.html.en#using

about installing new programs... you should install and configure portage. I won't provide any additional support on it since it's a standard gentoo feature, you can read the documentation on https://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&chap=1 and ask for help on the gentoo forum if needed, they will be able to help you much better than me.

Moreover, since portage compiles any package from sources I wouldn't use it on a netbook, it could take ages on some packages. Anyway if you are installing PixieLive on a better hardware (or you are not in hurry) it will surely work.


15. On Thursday, August 21 2014, 02:47 by ZaQ_1

when I try this step "cp -a /dev /gentoohdd", I end with this:
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/dri/card0': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/video0': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/mixer': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/audio': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/dsp': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/snd/controlC0': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/snd/pcmC0D0c': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/snd/pcmC0D0p': Operation not supported
cp: preserving permissions for '/gentoohdd/dev/snd/timer': Operation not supported

I have 60GB free space on this partition so it's not a cause

16. On Saturday, August 23 2014, 22:21 by Christian Lorandi


It's normal, it's not a matter of space, but of device file properties.

You are supposed to receive these errors, just ignore them and continue


17. On Friday, March 6 2015, 09:33 by Sebastián

Love your distro, you’re doing an awesome job! Now i've installed pixielive in my Sony Vaio VGN-P510T and works perfectly. Just a little problem with resolution (80% normal screen and 20& black screen) just need fix xorg.conf file for this---> https://gist.github.com/anonymous/8... and thats all. Hope to be helpul. Greetings from Chile :)

18. On Thursday, March 12 2015, 19:11 by Christian Lorandi
@Sebastián: Great! Your configuration solved a known, previously unsolved, problem! thank you very much
19. On Thursday, April 2 2015, 17:27 by Jamie

Thank you for the update Sebastian - I'm going to give this a go on my P11Z, really hope this works :D

20. On Wednesday, April 8 2015, 14:32 by Jamie

Hi Sebastian,
Just to follow-up yes I did get this working - many thanks. The cause of my original issue was not realising its a 1600x768 display on the P11Z .. oops. However, I decided to give the original Poulsbo driver a go using the last version of Ubuntu that supported it .. 10.10. After some troubles getting it installed (setting flag acpi=boot being the key) I've found some archives with the drivers and the whole machine now really does fly.

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