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systemd-firstboot allows for the setting of basic system settings before or during the first boot of a newly created system image. The four manipulable settings are the system timezone, locale, hostname, the root password, as well as automated generation of a machine id.

As systemd-firstboot interacts with the filesystem directly, and doesn't make use of related systemd services (such as timedatectl, hostnamectl or localectl), it should not be executed on an already running system.

Settings can be specified non-interactively when externally used on filesystem images, or interactively if executed during the early boot process.

A default Arch Linux installation will set most variables systemd-firstboot is able to manipulate, or facilitate the creation of skeleton files which prevent its use when installing the systemd package through pacstrap.


systemd-firstboot is part of and packaged with systemd.

Usage Example

Warning: Doing this on an existing Arch Linux instance may break your system. The following steps should only be used on new installations.

Interactively configure system settings during boot of a fresh Arch Linux installation

Allowing systemd-firstboot to manipulate a previously un-booted Arch Linux installation is particularly useful in situations where installation is undertaken by an individual other than the eventual end user, such as in the distribution of laptops with a pre-loaded install.

The following steps should be appended to the end of the Configure the system section of the Installation guide, before the target partitions are unmounted, thus taking place within the chroot of the new installation. Make sure all locales you want available have been generated, non-generated ones will not be offered as a possible setting.

Delete existing settings

If the following files are present, systemd-firstboot will not prompt for the setting they relate to.

# rm /etc/{machine-id,localtime,hostname,shadow,locale.conf}

Modify and enable systemd-firstboot.service

Changes from the packaged service file are indicated in bold. Use of --prompt makes systemd-firstboot query for all possible settings. The [Install] section is needed to specify where in the boot process the service is to be activated.

#  This file is part of systemd.
#  systemd is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
#  under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by
#  the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or
#  (at your option) any later version.

Description=First Boot Wizard

ExecStart=/usr/bin/systemd-firstboot --prompt

# systemctl enable systemd-firstboot.service

Finalize installation

Continue installing as per the Installation Guide. Unless more configuration is to be undertaken, exit the chroot, unmount the partitions and shut down. Upon the next boot, systemd-firstboot will execute. Presuming no other changes to system configuration are made, removing the files above and rebooting will trigger systemd-firstboot again, in case you wish to test whether the installation worked.

See also