Arch Linux Install Guide

Written by Aerdian

March 21, 2019

One of the most popular Linux distributions is Arch Linux. Arch Linux, however, is generally recommended only to veteran Linux users and power users, definitely not for beginners or moderate users. One of the reasons for this is the difficult installation and configuring process, as well as solving problems that make come up. Fortunately, in this tutorial, I will be showing you how to download and install Arch Linux on your system with hopes of making the process easy and understandable. I also have a video (found here) that shows the process step-by-step. Because every computer is different, there will be some parts of this tutorial where you may need to visit the Arch Wiki to figure out what you need to install for your specific setup. That being said, even though I am doing my best to make this a simple and easy-to-follow process, this is still not for beginners and will require significant time and effort. For reference, I will be installing Arch Linux on a Lenovo Thinkpad T450s. Without further ado, let’s get started.

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Downloading Arch Linux

Before you can begin the installation process, you first need to download Arch Linux. On the Arch Linux download page, choose a mirror in your country (the first one on the list is generally just fine). 

Arch Linux Download:

After the ISO file has been downloaded, I would recommend checking the checksum with QuickHash or a similar program to ensure the file has not been tampered with before continuing. While rare, this is still good practice. The MD5 and SHA hashes can be found on the Arch Linux download page.

Insert a USB drive into your computer and format it as FAT32 or NTFS. Open Etcher, choose the Arch Linux ISO image you downloaded, select your formatted USB, and flash the image onto the USB to create a live, bootable drive.

It is much simpler to use Ethernet instead of WiFi during the installation process, so make sure to get an Ethernet cable plugged into your desktop or laptop before beginning the installation process. Power off your device and boot into your BIOS or UEFI (the button differs, but in my case, it’s F1). Disable any password(s) that may be protecting the BIOS and make sure Secure Boot is disabled. After making any necessary changes, save and exit your BIOS. As soon as it begins booting up again, go into your boot manager (in my case F12) and select your USB drive from the list.

Base Installation

Once you boot into your live environment, choose the first option to Boot Arch Linux. You will be greeted with a command prompt. We first need to make sure our internet is working properly. 


Use Ctrl+C to exit “ping mode.” The next thing we need to do is to set our time and date.

timedatectl set-ntp true

To make sure the command ran properly, run…

timedatectl status  

We now need to configure our disks and partitions. You may want to create a boot partition, home partition, and swap partition, but you can also just create one partition.


In the prompt that appears, choose dos, then choose New, type the desired size of the partition if you’re making multiple partitions, make this the Primary partition, select Bootable, and finally Write. Repeat this as many times as necessary to create the number of partitions you would like. Finally, quit the program.

We now need to format and mount the drive we just created.

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1
mount/dev/sda1 /mnt

Before downloading the actual base Arch Linux packages, we need to edit the mirror list. You can open the mirror list in whatever text editor you prefer, but I’m going to open it in vim. 

vim /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

In Vim, scroll down with J until you arrive at the Server you wish to download the packages from. Make sure to be on the line that starts with Server and not on the commented line. Press yy to copy this line. Press gg and scroll down until you get just below the ## underneath Generated in the file. Press p to paste the server you copied. Finally, type :wq to save and exit. If this is too confusing, you can quit Vim without saving by typing :q and continue with the steps. Arch Linux should still be installed with no issues. Another unnecessary step is to edit the pacman configuration file, but is still good to do nonetheless.

vim /etc/pacman.conf

Scroll down and uncomment the TotalDownload line by pressing X. Save and exit with :wq.

It’s now time to actually install the Arch Linux packages. This process may take a while, so it’s a great time to make yourself some hot chocolate (or coffee if you’re into that).

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel

This will install both the base packages, along with the developer packages. We now need to create our fstab file, which tells the system how to mount our partition(s).

genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
nano /mnt/etc/fstab

It will now open the generated fstab file. Ensure the file is created and that there is appropriate content inside. Save and exit nano or your chosen text editor.

The next step is to change the root directory into our new system.

arch-chroot /mnt

The next step is to set the time zone. Replace America and Chicago with your current location.

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/Chicago /etc/localtime

Now, generate the time.

hwclock –systohc

Enter your locale file with your desired text editor and uncomment your location. For me, I need to uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8. Save and close the file.

nano /etc/locale.gen

The next step is to create the hostname for your system by opening the /etc/hostname file and adding the desired name.

nano /etc/hostname

Save and exit the hostname file. You must remember the hostname you entered and it must match the next step(s) exactly. 

nano /etc/hosts

Add the following lines to this file. Replace arch with the hostname you entered in the hostname file.     localhost
::1           localhost     arch.locadomain arch

Save and exit the file, then create the password for the root user.


Now, type in the following commands to download, install, and configure GRUB, which is a bootloader, which allows you to boot into the newly installed operating system. If you so choose, you may use a different bootloader, but I would personally recommend sticking with GRUB. This also allows for dual-booting, although this tutorial does not cover the steps needed for dual-booting.

systemctl enable dhcpcd
pacman -S grub
grub-install /dev/sda
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Exit the Chroot service and reboot your system. 


Once the system reboots, it should open your Arch Linux installed environment. Arrow down and select power off. Remove your USB drive and turn on your system.

You should be greeted with the GRUB bootloader, at which time you can select the top option for Arch Linux. You will then be greeted with a login screen, where you can login as root, using the password you created during the install process. At this point, you have a base Arch Linux install. In the next post and video, I will be showing you the post-install steps to get Arch Linux up and running.



# Post Install

# Login as root.

useradd -m -g users -G wheel -s /bin/bash ian
passwd ian
EDITOR=nano visudo
# Uncomment first %wheel

nano /etc/pacman.conf
# Uncomment [multilib] and line under.

# Login as new user.

sudo pacman -S git
git clone
cd yay
makepkg -si

# Install i3wm on base Arch Linux install.

sudo pacman -S xorg-server
sudo pacman -S xf86-video-vesa
# This is a video driver. Install whatever driver is necessary for your specific hardware.
sudo pacman -S xorg-xinit
sudo pacman -S i3-gaps i3lock i3status

nano -w .xinitrc
exec i3

sudo pacman -S rxvt-unicode dmenu




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