Difference between revisions of "Beginners' guide"

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(move note without modifications, see Talk:Beginners'_Guide#Guide_restructuring)
(we're in the chroot here, the reboot is scheduled as the next step, see also Talk:Beginners'_Guide#Guide_restructuring)
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{{Note|Occasionally, configuration changes may take place requiring user action during an update; read pacman's output for any pertinent information. See [[Pacnew and Pacsave Files]] for more details.}}
{{Note|Occasionally, configuration changes may take place requiring user action during an update; read pacman's output for any pertinent information. See [[Pacnew and Pacsave Files]] for more details.}}
{{Note|Reboot if the {{Pkg|linux}} package (the Linux kernel) was updated.}}
Keep in mind that Arch is a '''rolling release''' distribution. This means the user doesn't have to reinstall or perform elaborate system rebuilds to upgrade to the newest version. Issuing {{ic|pacman -Syu}} periodically (and noting the above warning) keeps the entire system up-to-date and on the bleeding edge. At the end of this upgrade, the system will be completely current.
Keep in mind that Arch is a '''rolling release''' distribution. This means the user doesn't have to reinstall or perform elaborate system rebuilds to upgrade to the newest version. Issuing {{ic|pacman -Syu}} periodically (and noting the above warning) keeps the entire system up-to-date and on the bleeding edge. At the end of this upgrade, the system will be completely current.

Revision as of 14:07, 2 October 2012

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.


You are now presented with a shell prompt, automatically logged in as root.

Change the language

Tip: These are optional for the majority of users. Useful only if you plan on writing in your own language in any of the configuration files, if you use diacritical marks in the Wi-Fi password, or if you would like to receive system messages (e.g. possible errors) in your own language.

By default, the keyboard layout is set to us. If you have a non-US keyboard layout, run:

# loadkeys layout

...where layout can be fr, uk, be-latin1, etc. See here for a comprehensive list.

The font should also be changed, because most languages use more glyphs than the 26 letter English alphabet. Otherwise some foreign characters may show up as white squares or as other symbols. Note that the name is case-sensitive, so please type it exactly as you see it:

# setfont Lat2-Terminus16

By default, the language is set to English (US). If you would like to change the language for the install process (German, in this example), remove the # in front of the locale you want from /etc/locale.gen, along with English (US). Please choose the UTF-8 entry.

Use Template:Keypress to exit, and when prompted to save changes, press Template:Keypress and Template:Keypress to use the same filename.

# nano /etc/locale.gen
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8
# locale-gen
# export LANG=de_DE.UTF-8

Remember, Template:Keypress activates and deactivates the keymap.

Establish an internet connection

The dhcpcd network daemon is started automatically at boot and it will attempt to start a wired connection, if available. Try pinging a website to see if it was successful. And since Google is always on...

# ping -c 3 www.google.com
PING www.l.google.com ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from wb-in-f105.1e100.net ( icmp_req=1 ttl=50 time=17.0 ms
64 bytes from wb-in-f105.1e100.net ( icmp_req=2 ttl=50 time=18.2 ms
64 bytes from wb-in-f105.1e100.net ( icmp_req=3 ttl=50 time=16.6 ms

--- www.l.google.com ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2003ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 16.660/17.320/18.254/0.678 ms

If you get a ping: unknown host error, you will need to set up the network manually, as explained below.

Otherwise, move on to Prepare the storage drive.


Follow this procedure if you need to set up a wired connection via a static IP address.

If your computer is connected to an Ethernet network, in most cases, you will have one interface, called eth0. If you have additional network cards (apart from the one integrated on the motherboard, for example), their name will follow the sequence eth1, eth2, etc.

You need to know these settings:

  • Static IP address.
  • Subnet mask.
  • Gateway's IP address.
  • Name servers' (DNS) IP addresses.
  • Domain name (unless you're on a local LAN, in which case you can make it up).

Activate the connected Ethernet interface, e.g. for eth0:

# ip link set eth0 up

Add the address:

# ip addr add <ip address>/<subnetmask> dev <interface>

For example:

# ip addr add dev eth0

For more options, run man ip.

Add your gateway like this, substituting your own gateway's IP address:

# ip route add default via <ip address>

For example:

# ip route add default via

Edit resolv.conf, substituting your name servers' IP addresses and your local domain name:

# nano /etc/resolv.conf
nameserver 61.95.849.8
search example.com
Note: Currently, you may include a maximum of 3 nameserver lines.

You should now have a working network connection. If you do not, check the detailed Configuring Network page.


Follow this procedure if you need wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) during the installation process.

The wireless drivers and utilities are now available to you in the live environment of the installation media. A good knowledge of your wireless hardware will be of key importance to successful configuration. Note that the following quick-start procedure executed at this point in the installation will initialize your wireless hardware for use in the live environment of the installation media. These steps (or some other form of wireless management) must be repeated from the actual installed system after booting into it.

Also note that these steps are optional if wireless connectivity is unnecessary at this point in the installation; wireless functionality may always be established later.

Note: The following examples use wlan0 for the interface and linksys for the ESSID. Remember to change these values according to your setup.

The basic procedure will be:

  • (optional) Identify the wireless interface:
# lspci | grep -i net

Or, if using a USB adapter:

# lsusb
  • Ensure udev has loaded the driver, and that the driver has created a usable wireless kernel interface with iwconfig:
Note: If you do not see output similar to this, then your wireless driver has not been loaded. If this is the case, you must load the driver yourself. Please see Wireless Setup for more detailed information.
# iwconfig
lo no wireless extensions.
eth0 no wireless extensions.
wlan0    unassociated  ESSID:""
         Mode:Managed  Channel=0  Access Point: Not-Associated
         Bit Rate:0 kb/s   Tx-Power=20 dBm   Sensitivity=8/0
         Retry limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
         Power Management:off
         Link Quality:0  Signal level:0  Noise level:0
         Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
         Tx excessive retries:0  Invalid misc:0   Missed beacon:0

In this example, wlan0 is the available wireless interface.

  • Bring the interface up with:
# ip link set wlan0 up

A small percentage of wireless chipsets also require firmware, in addition to a corresponding driver. If the wireless chipset requires firmware, you are likely to receive this error when bringing the interface up:

# ip link set wlan0 up
SIOCSIFFLAGS: No such file or directory

If unsure, invoke dmesg to query the kernel log for a firmware request from the wireless chipset.

Example output from an Intel chipset which requires and has requested firmware from the kernel at boot:

# dmesg | grep firmware
firmware: requesting iwlwifi-5000-1.ucode

If there is no output, it may be concluded that the system's wireless chipset does not require firmware.

Warning: Wireless chipset firmware packages (for cards which require them) are pre-installed under /usr/lib/firmware in the live environment (on CD/USB stick) but must be explicitly installed to your actual system to provide wireless functionality after you reboot into it! Package installation is covered later in this guide. Ensure installation of both your wireless module and firmware before rebooting! See Wireless Setup if you are unsure about the requirement of corresponding firmware installation for your particular chipset.

Next, use netcfg's wifi-menu to connect to a network:

# wifi-menu wlan0

You should now have a working network connection. If you do not, check the detailed Wireless Setup page.

xDSL (PPPoE), analog modem or ISDN

If you have a router in bridge mode, run:

# pppoe-setup

To use these settings and connect to your ISP, run:

# pppoe-start

And because most ISPs have moved to IPv6, you may need to adjust your resolv.conf:

# echo nameserver > /etc/resolv.conf

If you have an analog modem (dial-up), or an ISDN connection, see Direct Modem Connection.

Behind a proxy server

If you are behind a proxy server, you will need to export the http_proxy and ftp_proxy environment variables. Click here for more information.

Prepare the storage drive

Warning: Partitioning can destroy data. You are strongly cautioned and advised to backup any critical data before proceeding.

Absolute beginners are encouraged to use a graphical partitioning tool. GParted is a good example, run from a "live" Linux distribution such as Parted Magic, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc. A drive should first be partitioned and the partitions should be formatted with a file system before rebooting.

If you have already done so, proceed to Mount the partitions.

Otherwise, see the following example.


The Arch Linux install media includes the following partitioning tools:

  • gdisk – supports only GPT partition tables.
  • cfdisk – supports only MBR partition tables.

This example uses cfdisk, but it can easily be followed using gdisk, which will allow for GPT instead of MBR partitioning.

Notes regarding UEFI boot:
  • If you have a UEFI motherboard, you will need to create an extra UEFI System partition.
  • It is recommended to always use GPT for UEFI boot, as some UEFI firmwares do not allow UEFI-MBR boot.
Notes regarding GPT partitioning:
  • If you are not dual booting with Windows, then it is advisable to use GPT instead of MBR. Read GPT for a list of advantages.
  • If you have a BIOS motherboard (or plan on booting in BIOS compatibility mode) and you want to setup GRUB on a GPT-partitioned drive, you will need to create a 2 MiB "BIOS Boot Partition". Syslinux doesn't need one.
Note: If you are installing to a USB flash key, see Installing Arch Linux on a USB key.
# cfdisk /dev/sda

The example system will contain a 15 GB root (/) partition, a 1 GB swap partition, and a /home partition for the remaining space.

It should be emphasized that partitioning is a personal choice and that this example is only for illustrative purposes. See Partitioning.




Here's how it should look like:

Name    Flags     Part Type    FS Type          [Label]       Size (MB)
sda1    Boot       Primary     Linux                             15360
sda2               Primary     Linux swap / Solaris              1024
sda3               Primary     Linux                             133000*

Double check and make sure that you are happy with the partition sizes as well as the partition table layout before continuing.

If you would like to start over, you can simply select Quit (or press Template:Keypress) to exit without saving changes and then restart cfdisk.

If you are satisfied, choose Write (or press Template:Keypress) to finalize and to write the partition table to the drive. Type "yes" and choose Quit (or press Template:Keypress) to exit cfdisk without making any more changes.

Simply partitioning is not enough; the partitions also need a filesystem. To format the partitions with an ext4 filesystem:

Warning: Double check and triple check that it's actually /dev/sda1 that you want to format.
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda3

Format and activate the swap partition:

# mkswap /dev/sda2
# swapon /dev/sda2

Mount the partitions

Each partition is identified with a number suffix. For example, sda1 specifies the first partition of the first drive, while sda designates the entire drive.

To see the current partition layout:

# lsblk /dev/sda

Pay attention, because the mounting order is important.

First, mount the root partition on /mnt. Following the example above (yours may be different), it would be:

# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt

Then mount the /home partition and any other separate partition (/boot, /var, etc), if you have any:

# mkdir /mnt/home
# mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/home

In case you have a separate /boot partition:

# mkdir /mnt/boot
# mount /dev/sdaX /mnt/boot

In case you have a UEFI motherboard, mount the UEFI partition:

# mkdir /mnt/boot/efi
# mount /dev/sdaX /mnt/boot/efi

Select a mirror

Before installing, you may want to edit the mirrorlist file and place your preferred mirror first. A copy of this file will be installed on your new system by pacstrap as well, so it's worth getting it right.

# nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
## Arch Linux repository mirrorlist
## Sorted by mirror score from mirror status page
## Generated on 2012-MM-DD

Server = http://mirror.example.xyz/archlinux/$repo/os/$arch

If you want, you can make it the only mirror available by getting rid of everything else (using Template:Keypress), but it's usually a good idea to have a few more, in case the first one goes offline.

Tip: Use the Mirrorlist Generator to get an updated list for your country. HTTP mirrors are faster than FTP, because of something called keepalive. With FTP, pacman has to send out a signal each time it downloads a package, resulting in a brief pause.

Install the base system

The base system is installed using the pacstrap script.

# pacstrap /mnt base base-devel
Note: If pacman fails to verify your packages, check your system time. If the system date is invalid (e.g. it shows year 2010), signing keys will be considered expired (or invalid), signature checks on packages will fail and installation will be interrupted. Make sure to correct the system time, either by doing so manually or with the ntp client, and retry running the pacstrap command. Refer to Time page for more information on correcting system time.
  • base: Software packages from the [core] repo to provide the minimal base environment.
  • base-devel: Extra tools from [core] such as make, and automake. Most beginners should choose to install it, as it will likely be needed to expand the system. The base-devel group will be required to install software from the Arch User Repository.

This will give you a basic Arch system. Other packages can be installed later using pacman.

Generate an fstab

Generate an fstab file with the following command. If you prefer to use UUIDs or labels, add the -U or -L option, respectively. It's also a good idea to check it before continuing:

Note: If you encounter errors running genfstab or later in the install process, do not run genfstab again; just edit the fstab file.
# genfstab -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
# nano /mnt/etc/fstab

Only the root (/) partition needs 1 for the last field. Everything else should have either 2 or 0 (see fstab#Field_definitions).

Also, data=ordered should be removed. This option will be used automatically whether you specify it or not. No point cluttering up your fstab.

Chroot and configure the base system

Next, we chroot into our newly installed system:

# arch-chroot /mnt

At this stage of the installation, you will configure the primary configuration files of your Arch Linux base system. These can either be created if they do not exist, or edited if you wish to change the defaults.

Closely following and understanding these steps is of key importance to ensure a properly configured system.


Locales are used by glibc and other locale-aware programs or libraries for rendering text, correctly displaying regional monetary values, time and date formats, alphabetic idiosyncrasies, and other locale-specific standards.

There are two files that need editing: locale.gen and locale.conf.

  • The locale.gen file is empty by default (everything is commented out) and you need to remove the # in front of the line(s) you want. You may uncomment more lines than just English (US), as long as you choose their UTF-8 encoding:
# nano /etc/locale.gen
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8
# locale-gen

This will run on every glibc upgrade, generating all the locales specified in /etc/locale.gen.

  • The locale.conf file doesn't exist by default. Setting only LANG should be enough. It will act as the default value for all other variables.
# echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
# export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
Note: If you set some other language than English at the beginning of the install, the above commands would be something like:
# echo LANG=de_DE.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
# export LANG=de_DE.UTF-8

To use other LC_* variables, first run locale to see the available options. An advanced example can be found here.

Warning: Using the LC_ALL variable is strongly discouraged because it overrides everything.

Console font and keymap

If you set a keymap at the beginning of the install process, load it now, as well, because the environment has changed. For example:

# loadkeys de-latin1
# setfont Lat2-Terminus16

To make them available after reboot, edit vconsole.conf:

# nano /etc/vconsole.conf
  • KEYMAP – Please note that this setting is only valid for your TTYs, not any graphical window managers or X.Org.
  • FONT – Available alternate console fonts reside in /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/. The default (blank) is safe, but some foreign characters may show up as white squares or as other symbols. It's recommended that you change it to Lat2-Terminus16, because according to /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/README.Lat2-Terminus16, it claims to support "about 110 language sets".
  • FONT_MAP – Defines the console map to load at boot. Read man setfont. The default (blank) is safe.

See Console fonts and man vconsole.conf for more information.


Available time zones and subzones can be found in the /usr/share/zoneinfo/<Zone>/<SubZone> directories.

To view the available <Zone>, check the directory /usr/share/zoneinfo/:

# ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/

Similarly, you can check the contents of directories belonging to a <SubZone>:

# ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe

Create a symbolic link /etc/localtime to your zone file /usr/share/zoneinfo/<Zone>/<SubZone> using this command:

# ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/<Zone>/<SubZone> /etc/localtime


# ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Minsk /etc/localtime

Hardware clock

Set the hardware clock mode uniformly between your operating systems. Otherwise, they may overwrite the hardware clock and cause time shifts.

You can generate /etc/adjtime automatically by using one of the following commands:

  • UTC (recommended)
Note: Using UTC for the hardware clock does not mean that software will display time in UTC.
# hwclock --systohc --utc
  • localtime (discouraged; used by default in Windows)
Warning: Using localtime may lead to several known and unfixable bugs. However, there are no plans to drop support for localtime.
# hwclock --systohc --localtime

If you have (or planning on having) a dual boot setup with Windows:

  • Recommended: Set both Arch Linux and Windows to use UTC. A quick registry fix is needed. Also, be sure to prevent Windows from synchronizing the time on-line, because the hardware clock will default back to localtime. If you want such functionality (NTP sync), you should use ntpd on your Arch Linux installation instead.
  • Not recommended: Set Arch Linux to localtime and remove any time-related daemons from /etc/rc.conf. This will let Windows take care of hardware clock corrections and you will need to remember to boot into Windows at least two times a year (in Spring and Autumn) when DST kicks in. So please don't ask on the forums why the clock is one hour behind or ahead if you usually go for days or weeks without booting into Windows.

Kernel modules

Tip: This is just an example, you do not need to set it. All needed modules are automatically loaded by udev, so you will rarely need to add something here. Only add modules that you know are missing.

For kernel modules to load during boot, place a *.conf file in /etc/modules-load.d/, with a name based on the program that uses them.

# nano /etc/modules-load.d/virtio-net.conf
# Load 'virtio-net.ko' at boot.


If there are more modules to load per *.conf, the module names can be separated by newlines. A good example are the VirtualBox Guest Additions.

Empty lines and lines starting with # or ; are ignored.


Tip: The DAEMONS line need not be changed at this time, but it is useful to explain what daemons are, as they will be addressed later in this guide.

Daemons are programs that run in the background, waiting for events to occur and offering services. A few good examples are: a web server that waits for a request to deliver a page (e.g. httpd), an SSH server waiting for a user to log in (e.g. sshd), a daemon which writes system messages to a log file (e.g. syslog-ng), a BitTorrent client (e.g. rtorrent, deluged), a music player (e.g. mpd), a firewall (e.g. iptables), etc. While these are full-featured applications, their work is usually not that visible. Their main advantage is that even if X.Org crashes (or is absent from the system), they will continue to work.

Daemons can be added to the DAEMONS line in /etc/rc.conf and they will start when the system boots, in the order that they are placed. Their names are the equivalent scripts from /etc/rc.d/.

# nano /etc/rc.conf
DAEMONS=(network @syslog-ng netfs @crond)
  • If a script name is prefixed with a bang (!), it is not run.
  • If a script is prefixed with an "at" symbol (@), it is run in the background; the startup sequence will not wait for successful completion of this daemon before continuing to the next (this may shorten system boot time). Do not background daemons that are needed by other daemons. For example, mpd depends on network, so backgrounding network may cause mpd to break.

A list of available services (and their running status) can be found using the command:

# rc.d list


Add your hostname in /etc/hostname:

# echo myhostname > /etc/hostname

Set it to your liking (e.g. arch). This is the name of your computer. And add it to /etc/hosts, as well:

Warning: This format, including localhost and your actual hostname, is required for program compatibility. Errors in these entries may cause poor network performance and/or certain programs to open very slowly, or not work at all.
# nano /etc/hosts   myhostname localhost
::1         myhostname localhost
# myhostname.domain.org myhostname   #Uncomment if you use a static IP and remove this comment.
Note: and ::1 are the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses of the local loopback network interface.
Tip: For convenience, you may also use /etc/hosts aliases for hosts on your network, and/or on the Web. media data
The above example would allow you access to a media and data server on your network by name and without the need for typing out their respective IP addresses.

Configure the network

You need to configure the network again, but this time for your newly installed environment. The procedure and prerequisites are very similar to the one described above, except we are going to make it persistent and automatically run at boot.

Note: For more in-depth information on network configration, visit Configuring Network and Wireless Setup.


If you only use a single fixed wired network connection, you can use the network daemon, a simple solution for both dynamic and static IP addressing.

First, ensure that the daemon is listed in the DAEMONS array:

# nano /etc/rc.conf
DAEMONS=(... network ...)

Then configure the NETWORKING section of /etc/rc.conf as follows, depending on your IP addressing type:

Dynamic IP

Assuming the network interface to activate at start is eth0, use this configuration:


Your DNS server addresses will be automatically filled in by the dhcpcd daemon.

Static IP

If you have a static IP address, use this configuration:


You will also need to add your name servers' (DNS) IP addresses and your local domain name to your /etc/resolv.conf like this:

nameserver 61.95.849.8
search example.com
Tip: The network daemon is suitable for systems connecting wired to a single network. For multiple network configurations (e.g. using a laptop), it is recommended to use a network manager program, such as netcfg, which has been designed to manage both wired and wireless connections.


The network daemon is not sufficient to handle wireless networking. You will need to install other programs to configure and manage wireless network profiles, such as netcfg.

NetworkManager and Wicd are other popular alternatives.

  • Install the required packages:
# pacman -S wireless_tools netcfg dialog

If you use WPA/WPA2 encryption, install:

# pacman -S wpa_supplicant wpa_actiond 

If your wireless adapter requires a firmware (as described in the above Establish an internet connection section and also here), install the package containing your firmware. For example:

# pacman -S zd1211-firmware
  • Connect to the network with wifi-menu (optionally checking the interface name with ip link, but usually it's wlan0), which will generate a profile file in /etc/network.d named after the SSID. There are also templates available in /etc/network.d/examples/ for manual configuration.
# wifi-menu
  • Add net-auto-wireless to the DAEMONS array in /etc/rc.conf, daemon which will connect to known networks and gracefully handle roaming and disconnects:
Note: Netcfg also provides net-auto-wired, which can be used in conjunction with net-auto-wireless.
# nano /etc/rc.conf
DAEMONS=(... net-auto-wireless ...)
  • Make sure that the correct wireless interface (usually wlan0) is set in /etc/conf.d/netcfg:
# nano /etc/conf.d/netcfg

It is also possible to define a list of network profiles that should be automatically connected, using the AUTO_PROFILES variable in /etc/conf.d/netcfg. If AUTO_PROFILES is not set, all known wireless networks will be tried.

xDSL (PPPoE), analog modem or ISDN

For xDSL, analog modem (dial-up) and ISDN, see Direct Modem Connection.

Configure pacman

Pacman is the Arch Linux package manager. It is highly recommended to study and learn how to use it. Read man pacman, have a look at the pacman article, or check out the Pacman Rosetta article for a comparison to other popular package managers.


For repository selections and pacman options, edit pacman.conf:

Note: When choosing repos, be sure to uncomment both the [repo_name] header lines, as well as the Include lines. Failure to do so will result in the selected repository being omitted! This is a very common error.
# nano /etc/pacman.conf

Most people will want to use [core], [extra] and [community].

If you installed Arch Linux x86_64, it's recommended that you enable the [multilib] repository, as well (to be able to run both 32 bit and 64 bit applications):

Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

See Official Repositories for more information, including details about the purpose of each repository.

For software unavailable directly through pacman, see Arch User Repository.


Mirrors are listed in /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist, ordered by priority.

Note: If you're using an older installation medium, your mirrorlist might be outdated, which might lead to problems when updating Arch Linux (see FS#22510). Therefore it is advised to obtain the latest mirror information as described below.
  • Arch Linux MirrorStatus reports various aspects about the mirrors such as network problems with mirrors, data collection problems, the last time mirrors have been synced, etc.
  • Mirrorlist Generator uses the above to automatically sort mirrors by various criteria. Please use HTTP mirrors. They are faster because of something called keepalive. FTP is slower, because it sends out a signal each time pacman downloads a package, resulting in a brief pause. For other ways to generate a mirror list, see Sorting mirrors and Reflector.

Change them to your liking and force pacman to refresh all package lists even if they are considered to be up to date:

# pacman -Syy

Use this whenever a mirror is changed. This is considered to be good practice and will avoid possible headaches.

Note: Some issues have been reported in the Arch Linux forums regarding network problems that prevent pacman from updating/synchronizing repositories (see [1] and [2]). When installing Arch Linux natively, these issues have been resolved by replacing the default pacman file downloader with an alternative (see Improve Pacman Performance for more details). When installing Arch Linux as a guest OS in VirtualBox, this issue has also been addressed by using "Host interface" instead of "NAT" in the machine properties.

Create an initial ramdisk environment

Tip: Most users can skip this step and use the defaults provided in mkinitcpio.conf. The initramfs image (from the /boot folder) has already been generated based on this file when the linux package (the Linux kernel) was installed earlier with pacstrap.

Here you need to set the right hooks if the root is on a USB drive, if you use RAID, LVM, or if /usr is on a separate partition.

Edit /etc/mkinitcpio.conf as needed and re-generate the initramfs image with:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

Set the root password and add a regular user

Set the root password with:

# passwd
Warning: Linux is a multi-user operating system. You should not perform everyday tasks using the root account. It is considered a very poor practice and could be extremely dangerous. The root account should only be used for administrative tasks.

Then add a normal user account, using one of the two following methods. The user archie is just an example.

Interactive method

The adduser command will prompt for information interactively:

# adduser

Login name for new user []: archie
User ID ('UID') [ defaults to next available ]:
Initial group [ users ]:

Additional groups (comma separated) []: audio,video,storage,power,optical,lp,scanner,games

Home directory [ /home/archie ]:

Shell [ /bin/bash ]:

Expiry date (YYYY-MM-DD) []:

As shown in the example, you are advised to enter values only for the Login name, Additional groups, and leave the other fields empty.

The Additional groups list from the example is a typical choice for a desktop system, hence it is recommended especially for beginners:

  • audio - for tasks involving sound card and related software.
  • video - for video tasks and hardware acceleration.
  • storage - for managing storage devices.
  • power - for allowing interactions with power options (e.g. shutdown with power button).
  • optical - for managing tasks pertaining to the optical drive(s).
  • lp - for managing printing tasks.
  • scanner - for using a scanner.
  • games - for write permission for games in the games group.

For additional information about listed and other groups, see User groups.

Now you will be presented with a preview of your new account, and the option to cancel or continue operations. After pressing Template:Keypress the account will be created, and you will be prompted to enter additional, optional information for the new user (e.g. the full name). After that, you will be asked to enter the password for your account.

Non-interactive method

# useradd -m -g users -G audio,video,storage,power,optical,lp,scanner,games -s /bin/bash archie
# passwd archie

To enter additional information, you can use the chfn command.

Deleting the user account

In the event of an error, or if you wish to delete this user account in favor of a different name or for any other reason, use userdel:

# userdel -r [username]

The -r option will remove the user's home directory and its content, along with the the user's settings (the so-called "dot" files).

More information

Read Users and Groups for further information. If you want to change the name of your user or any existing user, consult the Change username page. You may also check the man pages for usermod(8) and gpasswd(8).

Install and configure a bootloader

For BIOS motherboards

For BIOS systems, there are three bootloaders - Syslinux, GRUB, and LILO. Choose the bootloader as per your convenience. Below only Syslinux and GRUB are explained.

  • Syslinux is (currently) limited to loading only files from the partition where it was installed. Its configuration file is considered to be easier to understand. An example configuration can be found here.
  • GRUB is more feature-rich and supports more complex scenarios. Its configuration file(s) is more similar to a scripting language, which may be difficult for beginners to manually write. It is recommended that they automatically generate one.

Install the syslinux package and then use the syslinux-install_update script to automatically install the files (-i), mark the partition active by setting the boot flag (-a), and install the MBR boot code (-m):

Note: If you have partitioned the drive as GPT, install gptfdisk package, as well (pacman -S gptfdisk), because it contains sgdisk, which will be used to set the GPT-specific boot flag.
# pacman -S syslinux
# syslinux-install_update -iam

Configure syslinux.cfg to point to the right root partition. This step is vital. If it points to the wrong partition, Arch Linux will not boot. Change /dev/sda3 to reflect your root partition (if you partitioned your drive as we did in the example, your root partition is sda1). Do the same for the fallback entry.

# nano /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg
LABEL arch
        APPEND root=/dev/sda3 ro

For more information on configuring and using Syslinux, see Syslinux.

Note: For GPT-partitioned drives on BIOS motherboards, GRUB needs a 2 MiB "BIOS Boot Partition".
Note: Please do not use /dev/sdaX in the below command. You may use /dev/sdb if you installed Arch there, as long as you set that drive to boot first from the BIOS settings.
# pacman -S grub-bios
# grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck /dev/sda
# cp /usr/share/locale/en\@quot/LC_MESSAGES/grub.mo /boot/grub/locale/en.mo

While using a manually created grub.cfg is absolutely fine, it's recommended that beginners automatically generate one:

Tip: To automatically search for other operating systems on your computer, install os-prober before generating it:
# pacman -S os-prober
# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

For more information on configuring and using GRUB, see GRUB.

For UEFI motherboards

For UEFI boot, the drive needs to be GPT-partitioned, and a UEFI System Partition (512 MiB or higher, FAT32, type EF00) must be present and mounted on /boot/efi. If you have followed this guide from the beginning, you've already done all of these.

While there are other UEFI bootloaders available, using EFISTUB is recommended. Below are instructions for setting up EFISTUB and GRUB.

Note: Syslinux does not yet support UEFI.

The Linux kernel can act as its own bootloader using EFISTUB. This is the UEFI boot method recommended by developers and simpler compared to grub-efi-x86_64. The below steps set up rEFInd (a fork of rEFIt) to provide a menu for EFISTUB kernels, as well as for booting other UEFI bootloaders. You can also use gummiboot (not tested) instead of rEFInd. Both rEFInd and gummiboot can detect Windows UEFI bootloader in case of dual-boot.

1. Boot in UEFI mode and load efivars kernel module before chrooting:

# modprobe efivars      # before chrooting

2. Mount the UEFISYS partition at /mnt/boot/efi, chroot and copy the kernel and initramfs files to /boot/efi.

3. Every time the kernel and initramfs files are updated in /boot, they need to be updated in /boot/efi/EFI/arch. This can be automated either using systemd or using incron (for non-systemd setups).

4. Install the following packages:

# pacman -S refind-efi-x86_64 efibootmgr

5. Create a refind_linux.conf file with the kernel parameters to be used by rEFInd:

# nano /boot/efi/EFI/arch/refind_linux.conf
"Boot to X"          "root=/dev/sdaX ro rootfstype=ext4 systemd.unit=graphical.target"
"Boot to console"    "root=/dev/sdaX ro rootfstype=ext4 systemd.unit=multi-user.target"

6. Add rEFInd to UEFI boot menu using efibootmgr.

Warning: Using efibootmgr on Apple Macs may brick the firmware and may need reflash of the motherboard ROM. For Macs, use mactel-bootAUR, or "bless" from within Mac OS X.
# efibootmgr -c -g -d /dev/sdX -p Y -w -L "Arch Linux (rEFInd)" -l '\\EFI\\arch\\refind\\refindx64.efi'
Note: In the above command, X and Y denote the drive and partition of the UEFISYS partition. For example, in /dev/sdc5, X is "c" and Y is "5".

7. (Optional) As a fallback, in case efibootmgr created boot entry does not work, copy refindx64.efi to /boot/efi/EFI/boot/bootx64.efi as follows:

# cp -r /boot/efi/EFI/arch/refind/* /boot/efi/EFI/boot/
# mv /boot/efi/EFI/boot/refindx64.efi to /boot/efi/EFI/boot/bootx64.efi
Note: In case you have a system with 32-bit EFI, like pre-2008 Macs, install grub-efi-i386 instead, and use --target=i386-efi.
# pacman -S grub-efi-x86_64 efibootmgr
# grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi --bootloader-id=arch_grub --recheck
# cp /usr/share/locale/en\@quot/LC_MESSAGES/grub.mo /boot/grub/locale/en.mo

Run the next command to create a menu entry for GRUB in the UEFI boot menu. See efibootmgr for more info.

# efibootmgr -c -g -d /dev/sdX -p Y -w -L "Arch Linux (GRUB)" -l '\\EFI\\arch_grub\\grubx64.efi'

While using a manually created grub.cfg is absolutely fine, it's recommended that beginners automatically generate one:

Tip: To automatically search for other operating systems on your computer, install os-prober before generating it:
# pacman -S os-prober
# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

For more information on configuring and using GRUB, see GRUB.

Update the system

Warning: System updates should be performed with care. It is very important to read and understand this before proceeding.

Often, the developers will provide important information about required configurations and modifications for known issues. The Arch Linux user is expected to consult these places before performing an upgrade:

  • Arch news. If you did not read this before an upgrade and you encounter an error, check the news before you post a question on the forum!
  • Announce mailing list.

Sync, refresh the package database, and upgrade your entire system with:

# pacman -Syu

Or, same thing:

# pacman --sync --refresh --sysupgrade

If you are prompted to upgrade pacman itself at this point, respond by pressing Template:Keypress, and then reissue the pacman -Syu command when finished.

Note: Occasionally, configuration changes may take place requiring user action during an update; read pacman's output for any pertinent information. See Pacnew and Pacsave Files for more details.

Keep in mind that Arch is a rolling release distribution. This means the user doesn't have to reinstall or perform elaborate system rebuilds to upgrade to the newest version. Issuing pacman -Syu periodically (and noting the above warning) keeps the entire system up-to-date and on the bleeding edge. At the end of this upgrade, the system will be completely current.

See the Package Management section of the FAQ for answers regarding updating and managing packages.

Ignoring packages

After executing the command pacman -Syu, the entire system will be updated. It is possible to prevent a package from being upgraded. A typical scenario would be a package for which an upgrade may prove problematic for the system.

In this case, there are two options:

  • Indicate the package(s) to skip using the --ignore switch:
# pacman -Syu --ignore libass,filesystem
  • Indicate the package(s) to skip in pacman.conf:
# nano /etc/pacman.conf
# Pacman won't upgrade packages listed in IgnorePkg and members of IgnoreGroup
IgnorePkg   = libass filesystem
Note: Currently, a bug in the util-linux package will display a message during boot (and in the boot log):
:: Removing leftover files                           [FAIL]
/usr/lib/tmpfiles.d/uuidd.conf Unknown user 'uuidd'
See FS#31663. This can be fixed by reinstalling util-linux using pacman -S util-linux. This will likely be fixed in a newer version.

Please note that the user is expected to keep the whole system up-to-date with pacman -Syu, rather than selectively upgrading packages. You may diverge from this typical usage as you wish; just be warned that there is a greater chance that things will not work as intended and that it could break your system. The majority of complaints happen when selective upgrading, unusual compilation or improper software installation is performed. Use of IgnorePkg in /etc/pacman.conf is therefore discouraged, and should only be used sparingly, if you know what you are doing. Use of IgnorePkg is analogous to "voiding the warranty".

Unmount the partitions and reboot

Exit from the chroot environment:

# exit

Since the partitions are mounted under /mnt, we use the following command to unmount them:

# umount /mnt/{boot,home,}

Reboot the computer:

# reboot
Tip: Be sure to remove the installation media, otherwise you will boot back into it.


Congratulations, and welcome to your new Arch Linux system!

Your new Arch Linux base system is now a functional GNU/Linux environment ready for customization. From here, you may build this elegant set of tools into whatever you wish or require for your purposes.

Go ahead and login with the root account, because we will configure pacman and update the system as root.

Note: Virtual consoles 1-6 are available. You may switch between them with Template:Keypress, Template:Keypress, ... Template:Keypress.

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