I'll presume that you've got virtualbox installed.
0. Get the Arch iso:
If you're allowed to use bittorrent:
sudo apt-get install bittorrent squashfs-tools cd ~/Downloads/ btdownloadcurses https://www.archlinux.org/iso/2013.01.04/archlinux-2013.01.04-dual.iso.torrent
If you're not allowed to use bittorrent:
cd ~/Downloads wget http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/archlinux/iso/2013.01.04/archlinux-2013.01.04-dual.iso
Note that the links will change with time.
1. Setting up the machine
Start virtualbox and click on New. Select Type=Linux and Version=Arch Linux.
Give the machine at least 512 Mb, although even that is probably a bit on the low end for Gnome.
Create a virtual harddisk. 8 Gb is enough for testing purposes, but if you're actually planning on using the virtual machine you're better off giving it something like 15-20 Gb. VDI is fine when it comes to format, and 'Dynamically allocated' is a safe choice for a normal desktop.
There's a little bit of tinkering left to do. Click on Settings, go to Storage, and mount your iso:
2. First Boot
Click on Star which will boot off of the CD.
You can pick whatever makes you happy here. For the sake of simplicity will pick the first option -- x86_64.
You're now met with the first indication that this ain't Kansas (or Ubuntu):
Remember -- terminals/consoles should give you warm and fuzzy feeling because there is nothing which you can't accomplish in a terminal. A one-click installation option would be nice for checking things out though, but it's actually pretty easy to get started.
Preparing the harddrive
Our first step is to format the harddrive. Remember, it's an imaginary virtual harddrive -- nothing will be touched on your physical harddrive.
Hit n to create a new partition. p for primary, 1 to make it partition number 1, make it start at sector 2048, and make it e.g. 2 Gb by having it stop at +2G -- this will be our swap. Hit n again, p again, and make it partition number 2, and accept the default sectors that it suggests. This will be our /(root) partition.
Hit a, then 2, to make the partition bootable.
Hit t, then 1, then 82 to make a swap disk.
Hit w to finalise the changes.
mkswap /dev/sda1 mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2
to set up the file systems.
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
to mount your new ext4 partition.
Install a basic system:
pacman-key --init pacman-key --populate archlinux
to get set up with pacman. Edit pacman.conf if you want a specific architecture (i686 or x86_64), or the current architecture will be used.
Time to install packages:
pacstrap /mnt base gnome xorg-xinit xorg-server xorg-utils xorg-server-utils virtualbox-guest-modules virtualbox-guest-utils vim mlocate wicd wicd-gtk openssh grub-bios upower
Generate a proto-fstab:
genfstab -p /mnt > /mnt/etc/fstab
Then enter a chroot:
Edit /etc/fstab and add a line for swap:
/dev/sda1 none swap sw 0 0
Set up your locale and timezone:
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Australia/Melbourne /etc/localtime echo 'LANG="en_US.UTF-8"'>/etc/locale echo 'KEYMAP=us'> /etc/vconsole.conf echo 'en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8' >> /etc/locale.gen locale-gen echo "spinebill" >/etc/hostname
Set up a user:
pacman -S sudo useradd -p `openssl passwd -1 mypassword` -m verahill echo "verahill ALL=(ALL) ALL">> /etc/sudoers
Edit /home/verahill/.xinitrc and uncomment
Set up grub and booting:
mkinitcpio -p linux grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg grub-install /dev/sda
You're now ready to start your Arch system. First you need to shut down your current system though:
exit umount /mnt shutdown -h now
Once the machine is off, go to Settings, Storage, and remove disk from virtual drive.
Boot by clicking on Start.
You might get the odd error message while booting, but everything will be fine.
Log in as the user you created, then enabled the ssh daemon and the wicd daemon:
sudo systemctl enable sshd sudo systemctl enable wicd
and wait 10-20 seconds for wicd to detect the network card and starting it
Quit by hitting 'Q'.
To launch gnome, type