Alpine User Handbook

What is It?

This is the Alpine User Handbook, an effort to centralize relevant Alpine Linux information. This handbook contains installation instructions for a typical user, as well as information for working with relevant system components.

This handbook will focus on the traditional "to disk" style of installation, and target primarily desktop and server systems. If your use-case is different, you should be sufficiently familiar with Linux, and can consult the Developer Handbook and manual pages for further details.

Where to Get Help?

If you run into problems, you can ask for help in the #alpine-linux irc channel, available on the freenode network.

You can also send an email to the Alpine-User mailing list.

How to Contribute?

If you believe you can help with the documentation project, or have a specific improvement in mind, you can join the #alpine-docs irc channel, to offer help or submit your patch.

If you want to help with Alpine itself, please head over to the Developer Handbook instead.

Conventions

This is, ultimately, a technical document. As such, it is impossible to escape having some technical jargon and conventions. Here are a few things to watch out for, in case you are new to computing or Linux.

Definitions

BIOS

Basic Input-Output System - a very simple program that runs immediately after POST. Used on older computers to perform configuration and initially execute the bootloader.

Bootloader

A small program whose job it is to execute the kernel, load the initial runtime filesystem, and pass any arguments necessary to them to ensure booting happens.

DHCP

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol - a very common automatic ip reservation system. If you have a consumer router, you are most likely using this.

Ethernet

A relatively generic term that mostly means "wired internet". WiFi is wireless, ethernet involves some sort of wire (usually an RJ45 style jack with copper cables inside).

Hostname

A name that identifies your device. A good hostname is not directly linked to the owner, or the purpose. Think of it like naming a pet - you don’t name your dog "Hannah’s Dog", do you? In case further suggestions are desired, feel free to see the relevant standard (RFC 1178).

Kernel

The core program of the operating system - present in all operating systems.

NTP

Network Time Protocol - a service that synchronizes your computer’s clock with another. Usually used to synchronize with a specialized pool that get their information from a highly accurate atomic clock.

POST

Power-On Self Test - a process all modern computers go through at the very start of its booting process, immediately after pressing the power button.

PXE

Pre-Boot eXecution Environment - a method of booting a disk image off of the network. Support for PXE booting is uncommon in consumer routers, but there is a good chance of it being present in business networks.

Root

The root user is the owner of the system - think of it like a super administrator - it has all the rights that are possible to have. It is not intended for day-to-day use.

SLAAC

StateLess Address AutoConfiguration - a method specific to ipv6 to generate a link-local (not accessible through routers) access.

Shell

A program that can interpret what you type into it as an instruction to execute commands or programs on your disk in a specific way.

SSH

Secure SHell - a convenient way to use a shell on another system in a secure way. Commonly used in Linux.

Terminal emulator

A display or window, usually with a black background and white font, that can host a shell.

UEFI

Unified Extendible Firmware Interface - a more complex and more flexible replacement for the BIOS, that can, however, make manual and automatic setup more complex and difficult, under some circumstances.

Shell

When you see a block like the one that follows, that is usually a "command" you can run.

run --this command

This means you should insert that text, or something similar to it (read the explanation surrounding these!) into your terminal emulator.