Arch Handbook

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This handbook has only just been started. It's currently a rather bare outline. Please edit it and make it better! Look at the FreeBSD Handbook as a style guide.

Most sections should be a summary, with a link to the main article on the subject.

Getting Started


Arch linux is a lightweight and flexible linux distribution that tries to Keep It Simple. There are official packages optimized for the i686 and x86-64 architectures. There is also a community-operated package repository. See the pages in this category

Installing Arch Linux

There are two types of install CD. The CORE CD holds the packages required to get a basic system running. The FTP CD pulls the latest packages from the repositories during the install. Both CDs have NCURSES installers. There are the following steps:

  1. Loading a non-US Keymap
  2. Running Setup
  3. Configure Network (FTP Install only)
  4. Prepare Hard Drive
    1. Auto-Prepare
    2. Partition Hard Drives
    3. Set Filesystem Mountpoints
  5. Select Packages
  6. Install Packages
  7. Configure System
  8. Install Kernel
  9. Install Bootloader
  10. Exit Install

The full install guide is here and the install CDs are available here.

Linux Basics

A few basics on the file system and command line, for people starting Unix/Linux with Arch.

Installing Software: Pacman

Some basics on Pacman options, how repositories work, etc.

Pacman is the Archlinux package management tool. It is a command line tool which provides an easy way to install and manage applications, libraries and other software. It is extremely easy to use and powerful, and will be one of the main administrative tools you will use while running Archlinux. The main operations are

pacman -S app # install package named app
pacman -Syu # update package database and upgrade any packages
pacman -R app # remove package name app

To get a full list of operations pacman can perform, open a terminal and type:

pacman --help

To get more detail on an operation, combine it with --help:

pacman --help -S

Or, for a more in-depth guide, consult the man page:

man pacman

See the wiki entry for pacman for a user-friendly guide.

X11 and Graphical Desktop Environments

Basics of X11 concepts, installation and configuration of Gnome, KDE, etc.


Xorg is the public, open-source implementation of the X11 X Window System. Basically, if you want a GUI atop Arch, you will want xorg. It is installed by:

pacman -S xorg

Drivers for your video card are alo needed. They are listed by this command:

pacman -Ss xf86-video

You also need a /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. This can be automatically generated by hwd:

pacman -S hwd
hwd -xa

You may want to edit this slightly before proceeding. Then test Xorg by executing


This should give the basic WM.

Window Managers and Desktop Environments

Common Tasks

Desktop Applications

Web browsers, office suites, etc.


Video players, music jukeboxes, photo management, how to get codecs.


CUPS installation and configuration, finding drivers.

System Administration

Configuration and Tuning

A lot of the configuration of Arch is done in /etc/rc.conf. This may sound daunting , but it is well commented and allows you to set modules for auto-loading and blacklisting, along with daemons and some network configuration. Details on some common configuration (init, cron).

Users and Basic Account Management

Creating and managing users with command-line utilities.


Network Configuration

How networks are set up in Arch.


Mail, web, SSH server installation and configuration.


Basic firewall concepts, how to use iptables.