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.

This document will guide you through the process of installing Arch Linux using the Arch Install Scripts. Before installing, you are advised to skim over the FAQ.

The community-maintained ArchWiki is the primary resource that should be consulted if issues arise. The IRC Channel (irc:// and the forums are also excellent resources if an answer cannot be found elsewhere. In accordance with the Arch Way, you are encouraged to type man command to read the man page of any command you are unfamiliar with.


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. Users seeking to perform the Arch Linux installation remotely via an SSH connection should read Install from SSH for additional tips.

System requirements

Arch Linux should run on any i686 compatible machine with a minimum of 64 MB RAM. A basic installation with all packages from the base group should take about 500 MB of disk space. If you are working with limited space, this can be trimmed down considerably, but you will have to know what you're doing.

Burn or write the latest installation medium

The latest release of the installation media can be obtained from the Download page. Note that the single ISO image supports both 32 and 64-bit architectures. It is highly recommended to always use the latest ISO image.

  • Install images are signed and it is highly recommend to verify their signature before use: this can be done by downloading the .sig file from the download page (or one of the mirrors listed there) to the same directory as the .iso file and then using pacman-key -v iso-file.sig.
  • Burn the ISO image on a CD or DVD with your preferred software. On Arch, that's covered in CD_Burning#Burning.
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 the 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 installation medium.

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 beneficial 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 installation medium.

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, press a key (usually Delete, F1, F2, F11 or F12) during the POST phase. This will take you into the BIOS settings screen where you can set the order in which the system searches for devices to boot from. Select "Save & Exit" (or your BIOS's equivalent) and the computer should then complete its normal boot process. When the Arch menu appears, select "Boot Arch Linux" and press Enter to enter the live environment where you will run the actual installation (if booting from a UEFI boot disk, the option may look more like "Arch Linux archiso x86_64 UEFI").

Once you have booted into the live environment, your shell is Zsh; this will provide you advanced Tab completion, and other features as part of the grml config.

Testing if you are booted into UEFI mode

In case you have a UEFI motherboard and UEFI Boot mode is enabled (and is preferred over BIOS/Legacy mode), the CD/USB will automatically launch Arch Linux kernel (Kernel EFISTUB via Gummiboot). To test if you have booted into UEFI mode run:

# mount -t efivarfs efivarfs /sys/firmware/efi/efivars              # ignore if already mounted
# efivar -l

If efivar lists the uefi variables properly, then you have booted in UEFI mode. If not check whether all the requirements listed at Unified Extensible Firmware Interface#Requirements for UEFI Variables support to work properly are met.

Troubleshooting boot problems

  • If you are using an Intel video chipset and the screen goes blank during the boot process, the problem is likely an issue with Kernel Mode Setting. A possible workaround may be achieved by rebooting and pressing e over the entry that you are trying to boot (i686 or x86_64). At the end of the string type nomodeset and press Enter. Alternatively, try video=SVIDEO-1:d which, if it works, will not disable kernel mode setting. You can also try i915.modeset=0. 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 Tab while hovering over the menu entry, type acpi=off at the end of the string and press Enter.

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