Beginners' guide/Preparation

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Tip: This is part of a multi-page article for The Beginners' Guide. Click here if you would rather read the guide in its entirety.


Note: If you wish to install from an existing GNU/Linux distribution, please see this article. This can be useful particularly if you plan to install Arch via VNC or SSH remotely.

Burn or write the latest installation medium

This guide pertains to the current release (2012.11.01), which you can obtain from the Download page.

  • Burn the ISO image on a CD or DVD with your preferred software.
Note: The quality of optical drives and the discs themselves varies greatly. Generally, using a slow burn speed is recommended for reliable burns. If you are experiencing unexpected behaviour from the disc, try burning at the lowest speed supported by your burner.

Installing over a network

Instead of writing the boot media to a disc or USB stick, you may alternatively boot the .iso image over the network. This works well when you already have a server set up. Please see this article for more information, and then continue to Boot the Arch Linux installation media.

Installing on a virtual machine

Installing on a virtual machine is a good way to become familiar with Arch Linux and its installation procedure without leaving your current operating system and repartitioning the storage drive. It will also let you keep this Beginners' Guide open in your browser throughout the installation. Some users may find it advantageous to have an independent Arch Linux system on a virtual drive, for testing purposes.

Examples of virtualization software are VirtualBox, VMware, QEMU, Xen, Varch, Parallels.

The exact procedure for preparing a virtual machine depends on the software, but will generally follow these steps:

  1. Create the virtual disk image that will host the operating system.
  2. Properly configure the virtual machine parameters.
  3. Boot the downloaded ISO image with a virtual CD drive.
  4. Continue with Boot the Arch Linux installation media.

The following articles may be helpful:

Boot the installation medium

First, you may have to change the boot order in your computer's BIOS. To do this, you have to press a key (usually Template:Keypress, Template:Keypress, Template:Keypress, Template:Keypress or Template:Keypress) during the POST (Power On Self-Test) phase. Then, select "Boot Arch Linux" from the menu and press Template:Keypress in order to begin with the installation.

Note: The memory requirement for a basic install is 64 MB of RAM.
Note: Users seeking to perform the Arch Linux installation remotely via an SSH connection are encouraged to make a few tweaks at this point to enable SSH connections directly to the live CD environment. If interested, see the Install from SSH article.
Testing if you are booted into UEFI mode

In case you have a UEFI motherboard, the CD/USB will launch UEFI Shell and display a message that startup.nsh script will be launched. Allow the shell to launch it, and exit the shell. Select "UEFI CD: Arch Linux" (or similar) from a list. Then, to check whether you have booted into UEFI mode, load the efivars kernel module (before chrooting) and then check whether there are files in /sys/firmware/efi/vars/:

# modprobe efivars       # before chrooting
# ls -1 /sys/firmware/efi/vars/
Note: The kernel module efivars detects and populates the UEFI Runtime Variables at /sys/firmware/efi/vars. This module is not loaded automatically during the boot process, and until this module is loaded, and the kernel booted in UEFI mode, without noefi parameter, no files will exist in /sys/firmware/efi/vars. These variables are later modified by efibootmgr to add bootloader entry to UEFI boot menu. In BIOS mode, modprobe will not give any error about efivars module. The correct way to detect UEFI boot is to check for files in /sys/firmware/efi/vars .
Troubleshooting boot problems
  • If you're using an Intel video chipset and the screen goes blank during the boot process, the problem is likely an issue with Kernel Mode Setting (KMS). A possible workaround may be achieved by rebooting and pressing Template:Keypress over the entry that you're trying to boot (i686 or x86_64). At the end of the string type nomodeset and press Template:Keypress. Alternatively, try video=SVIDEO-1:d which, if it works, will not disable kernel mode setting. See the Intel article for more information.
  • If the screen does not go blank and the boot process gets stuck while trying to load the kernel, press Template:Keypress while hovering over the menu entry, type acpi=off at the end of the string and press Template:Keypress.

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