Arch Linux is a really nice distro offering flexibility and speed. Even though it’s a meme I can really recommend it to other people (it might be hard to install which is why I’m writing this blog post). I assume you successfully written your install media to a USB drive or CD and booted your PC from it.
Setting keyboard layout
You can use
loadkeys de-latin1-nodeadkeys for a German keyboard layout. The default keyboard layout is American.
Connect to the Internet
If you connected your computer to an Ethernet network before you booted the install media it should in theory be connected to your network. If not find out which interface is your Ethernet interface by using
ip addr. It should produce an output like this:
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000 link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00 inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever inet6 ::1/128 scope host valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever 2: enp0s25: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000 link/ether fff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff 3: wlp3s0: <NO-CARRIER,BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state DOWN group default qlen 1000 link/ether ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
All Ethernet interface start with the letter “e” and all wireless interfaces with the letter “w”. The “lo” interface can be ignored. In this case the ethernet interface should be
enp0s25. We can now set an IP address for this network automatically which is required in order to use the internet:
You can replace the interface above with any interface you want to automatically configure. The command above should then produce an output like this:
enp0s25: IAID ff:ff:ff:ff enp0s25: soliciting a DHCP lease enp0s25: soliciting an IPv6 router enp0s25: offered 192.168.2.187 from 192.168.2.1 enp0s25: probing address 192.168.2.187/24 enp0s25: leased 192.168.2.187 for 600 seconds enp0s25: adding route to 192.168.0.0/24 enp0s25: adding route to 192.0.0.0/12 via 192.168.2.2 enp0s25: adding default route via 192.168.2.1 forked to background, child pid 1337
You are then connected to the internet. Try pinging koyu.space using
ping -c4 koyu.space. It should produce an output like this:
PING koyu.space (126.96.36.199) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52 (184.108.40.206): icmp_seq=1 ttl=54 time=34.6 ms 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168): icmp_seq=2 ttl=54 time=32.6 ms 64 bytes from 22.214.171.124 (126.96.36.199): icmp_seq=3 ttl=54 time=31.10 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52 (184.108.40.206): icmp_seq=4 ttl=54 time=35.6 ms --- koyu.space ping statistics --- 4 packets transmitted, 4 received, 0% packet loss, time 6ms rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 31.983/33.706/35.632/1.473 ms
wifi-menu and follow the instructions. After waiting for about 10 seconds after you’re being dropped back into a shell try pinging koyu.space using
ping -c4 koyu.space.
I assume you want to install Arch Linux from scratch. I can’t provide a manual here on how to dual-boot your system with e.g. Windows, because this is harder than usual (and I only did it once and then never again). If you still want to dual-boot you can consult the Arch Wiki here. Make sure you use a BIOS installation with installed GRUB2 bootloader as described below.
You can find out which disk you want to format by using the command
fdisk -l which should produce an output like this:
Disk /dev/sda: 167.7 GiB, 180045766656 bytes, 351651888 sectors Disk model: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disklabel type: gpt Disk identifier: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Device Start End Sectors Size Type /dev/sda1 2048 1050623 1048576 512M EFI System /dev/sda2 1050624 351651854 350601231 167.2G Linux filesystem
Mostly your system hard drive (on Windows it’s the drive letter C:) is being
/dev/sda. The command below will destroy all data on the disk (make sure you have a backup):
dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=1
/dev/sda with the disk you want to wipe the data off. Now there’s no way back except if you properly backed up your hard drive’s data.
Partitioning the hard drive
In order to partition the hard drive you can run the program
cfdisk. So in order to partition the drive
cfdisk /dev/sda. Now we can create a partition table and format the drive as seen below.
Finding out which system to use
You can find it out by using the command
ls /sys/firmware/efi. If the command returns an error you’re using a BIOS system and if not then you’re using an (U)EFI system.
(U)EFI (modern system)
In this example we want to create two partitions using the
gpt disk format. One holds the data required for the computer to boot up and the other holds your own data that you’re working with everyday (pictures, documents, music, games, browsing history, programs, settings etc.). On the bottom you find buttons to interface with your disk. Please do not use VirtualBox with (U)EFI as I have no idea how to set it up, consult the Arch Wiki for more information on using (U)EFI to boot up a VirtualBox VM.
Your partition table should look like this now:
|/dev/sda2||Linux filesystem||Rest of the disk|
Now we can go on and format the disks. First we format the partition for the EFI system with
mkfs.vfat /dev/sda1. This creates a new FAT filesystem used for booting from EFI. The second partition is our Linux filesystem which can be created using
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2. Now we have a complete filesystem structure we can install Arch Linux on.
BIOS (older systems)
Follow the instructions for UEFI systems, but instead use the
dos disk format, only create one Linux filesystem partition for the whole disk and mark it bootable. It should look something like this
|/dev/sda1||Linux filesystem||Rest of the disk||Yes|
Then format it using
Mounting the disk and start the installation
You can mount the disks (replace
[mountpoint] accordingly) like this
mount [device] [mountpoint]
And you can create a new folder like this:
mkdir -p [folder]
Creating new folders will also create a new mountpoint.
Mounting disks on (U)EFI systems
This table is an example. Please refer to the partition schemes above for an explanation. Mount the disks from bottom to top in the table, not the other way round as this causes serious issues.
|Device||Mountpoint||Needs new folder?|
Mounting disks on BIOS systems
If everything was mounted correctly which you can verify by using the command
lsblk you can start the installation process. The command
lsblk should return on (U)EFI systems something like this
NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sda 8:0 0 167.7G 0 disk |-sda1 8:1 0 512M 0 part /boot `-sda2 8:2 0 167.2G 0 part /
So now use this command and take some sips from your caffeinated drink, because this process will take a little bit longer than usual.
pacstrap /mnt base dhcpcd e2fsprogs inetutils linux linux-firmware man-db man-pages nano netctl s-nail usbutils base-devel wget bash-completion git dialog wpa_supplicant linux-headers
This command downloads all necessary packages and extracts them onto the hard drive.
The Arch Linux Wiki might tell you something different than the command above, because the developers changed the base package on October 6th 2019 which requires you to install some other packages like a kernel or system tools back onto your machine.
After the installation of these packages is finished you can write the partition information to your Arch Linux installation using
genfstab -p /mnt > /mnt/etc/fstab.
Configuring the system
You can enter chroot by using the command
arch- if you have done everything correctly.
Changing root password
echo yourhostname > /etc/hostname
yourhostname with the desired hostname for your machine. Yes, you can give your computers names.
Setting up locales
echo de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8 >> /etc/locale.gen
de_DE.UTF-8 with your desired language e.g.
en_GB.UTF-8 for British English.
Now generate your locales with
locale-gen and enter this command to apply the changes
echo LANG=de_DE.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
echo KEYMAP=de-latin1-nodeadkeys > /etc/vconsole.conf
de-latin1-nodeadkeys with your desired keyboard layout.
Configuring superuser access
We use the editor
nano to edit the file
/etc/sudoers like this:
A text editor will appear. Please follow the key combinations below.
Ctrl-W, wheel, Enter, Arrow-Down, POS1, Del, Del, Ctrl-X, Y, Enter
Edit the file
/etc/pacman.conf like shown above and enter the key combinations below
Ctrl-W, Color, Enter, POS1, Del
Ctrl-W, lib], Enter, POS1, Del, Arrow-Down, POS1, Del
Ctrl-X, Y, Enter
Now after that is done enter
pacman -Sy to refresh the package lists.
Configuring your user
useradd yourusername passwd yourusername mkdir /home/yourusername chown -R yourusername:yourusername /home/yourusername usermod -aG audio,video,wheel yourusername
Installing a bootloader
First install efibootmgr like this:
pacman -S efibootmgr
Then write your bootloader to the ESP like this:
efibootmgr -c -d /dev/sda -p 1 -l \vmlinuz-linux -L "Arch Linux" -u "initrd=/initramfs-linux.img root=/dev/sda2"
Use the partition schemes described above as reference.
pacman -S grub
And install it to the MBR and write some configuration files
Then configure it
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Now you installed GRUB2
Finishing up installation
Now press Ctrl-D to exit the chroot and press Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot your computer. If your screen turns black for a short amount of time unplug your USB drive or eject the CD used for installation.
Your computer should now successfully boot into Arch. Now login as root, reconnect to the network as described in the section “Connect to the Internet” and you’re ready to go. Log out with Ctrl-D. Your computer will still be connected to the internet.
Installing an AUR manager
The AUR (Arch user repository) is a huge repository for third-party software which is mostly proprietary and not available in the official repositories. In this guide I use the
yay AUR manager. Log in with your user (not root) and install
yay like this:
git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/yay.git cd yay makepkg -sifc
Now follow the on-screen instructions to install
Installing a graphical desktop
In this guide we use the GNOME desktop. If you need another desktop consult the Arch Wiki for a desktop of your choice.
sudo pacman -Sy gnome gnome-extra gnome-software-packagekit-plugin noto-fonts-emoji noto-fonts-cjk noto-fonts-extra chrome-gnome-shell xorg xorg-xinit --noconfirm --needed
This will install GNOME, utilities, pacman support in GNOME Software, Emoji fonts, fonts for Asian languages, extra fonts, browser plugin to install GNOME extensions and the Xorg graphics server.
Configuring graphical desktop
Edit the file
nano and enter the following key combinations
Ctrl-W, Wayland, Enter, POS1, Del, Strg-X, Y, Enter
This disables Wayland and enables Xorg for better compatibility with graphics drivers from Nvidia.
sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager and
sudo systemctl enable gdm and reboot your machine with Ctrl-Alt-Del.
Usually Linux detects hardware out of the box, but devices like printers, Nvidia graphics cards, VirtualBox or Bluetooth needs extra configuration.
For using printers you need CUPS. This printing system is awesome, because it’s not a headache like on Windows. Open up a terminal and install CUPS like this
sudo pacman -S cups sudo systemctl enable --now org.cups.cupsd
You should now be able to set up your supported printer from the settings menu. Usually HP and Canon consumer printers work the best.
Depending on your GPU-type you need a different package. Here is a broad overview on which package you’ll need.
You can install it via pacman with
sudo pacman -S [package name]. Replace
[package name] with the package from the reference table above.
If you installed GNOME like above you can easily enable Bluetooth with the command
sudo systemctl enable --now bluetooth.
Fixing issues with Bluetooth headsets
Enter the following commands into a Terminal
echo Disable=Socket | sudo tee /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf sudo su - echo autospawn = no > /var/lib/gdm/.config/pulse/client.conf echo daemon-binary = /bin/true >> /var/lib/gdm/.config/pulse/client.conf exit sudo -ugdm mkdir -p /var/lib/gdm/.config/systemd/user sudo -ugdm ln -s /dev/null /var/lib/gdm/.config/systemd/user/pulseaudio.socket
After that reboot your computer and Bluetooth headsets should work without any problems.
VirtualBox Guest additions
Make sure you’re running the latest version of VirtualBox. Then use the following command to install the latest VirtualBox Guest additions.
sudo pacman -S virtualbox-guest-dkms
Reboot your virtual machine and you’re good to go.
Keeping your system updated
You can update your system simply by running
yay in a Terminal.
Install more software
Software can be installed using
yay [your search term]. Replace
[your search term] with the software you’re looking for. You can use the AUR package list for more information like fixes, package information and more. Normal packages from the ABS can also be downloaded using
yay. It’s always a good idea to read the comments in the AUR as they contain useful workarounds if a package is broken or out-of-date and the maintainer won’t fix it.
Installing Arch looks hard at first, but this guide is an insight on what you could do with it. I think most guides are just too uninformative or not written for average users.
Let me know in the comments if you have any troubles or answer to this post via the fediverse on [email protected] I am always there for helping people getting into Arch Linux and installing it “The Arch way”.