Beginners' guide

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Revision as of 14:53, 5 September 2012 by DSpider (Talk | contribs) (Wireless: improved some of the parts, moved the note up a bit)

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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.


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

Change the keymap

Tip: This step is optional for the vast majority of users and it can be used at any point during the instalation. Useful only if you plan on writing in your own language in any of the configuration files, if you use diacritical marks in the wifi password, etc.

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.

Template:Keypress activates it.

Don't worry if some of the letters show up as white squares or as other symbols. It's probably just the console font missing those glyphs. The glyph codes are correct and if you press the correct keys they will show up fine when (or if) you set up a graphical environment later.

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
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=1 ttl=50 time=17.0 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=2 ttl=50 time=18.2 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=3 ttl=50 time=16.6 ms

--- 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 wired connectivity (Ethernet) during the installation process.

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
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 (WiFi) 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:
# 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

wlan0 is the available wireless interface in this example.

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.
  • 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 modem or a router in bridge mode, run:

# pppoe-setup

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

# pppoe-start

For an analog modem, 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 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, ran from a "live" Linux distribution such as Parted Magic, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc. See Partitioning for some general tips and make sure to format the partitions with a filesystem (e.g. ext4, btrfs, etc) 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:

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

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

Note: If you are installing to a USB flash key, see Installing Arch Linux on a USB key.
Note: If you are not dual booting with Windows, then it is advisable to use GPT instead of MBR. GPT partitioning can only be done with gdisk or parted. Read GPT for the list of advantages.
# cfdisk /dev/sda

The example system will contain a 15GB root (/) partition, a 1GB 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.

Note: If you have a UEFI motherboard you will need another partition to host the UEFI System partition. Read this article.

Here's how it should look like:

Name    Flags     Part Type    FS Type          [Label]       Size (MB)
sda1    Boot       Primary     Linux                             15440
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 quit 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:

# 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 any other separate partition (/home, /boot, /var, etc), if you have any:

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

Select installation 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

## Score: #, Country
Server =$repo/os/$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
  • 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.

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.

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 "/" partition needs "1" for the last field. Everything else should have "2" or "0" (see Field definitions).

Chroot into the system

Next we chroot into our newly installed system.

# arch-chroot /mnt

Configure the base system

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

At this stage of the installation, you will configure the primary configuration files of your Arch Linux base system.

/etc/rc.conf is the configuration file for Arch's initscripts, and in the past used to also contain configurations for other parts of the system. Unless you are using an alternate init system like systemd, this file specifies which daemons to start during boot-up and some networking and storage information.

Note: Using the legacy configuration options in rc.conf for system configuring still works (for now) with the default init system, but the new configuration files take precedence and using them is recommended. The new files will also work for configuring systemd.
Configuration Configuration file(s) Legacy rc.conf section
Hostname /etc/hostname


Console fonts and keymap /etc/vconsole.conf LOCALIZATION
Locale /etc/locale.conf


Timezone /etc/timezone


Hardware clock /etc/adjtime LOCALIZATION
Kernel modules /etc/modules-load.d/ HARDWARE
Daemons /etc/rc.conf DAEMONS
Wired network /etc/rc.conf NETWORKING

Configuration files can be created if they do not exist, or edited if you wish to change the defaults.

For this, you can use the editor Nano. Press Template:Keypress and when prompted to save changes, press Template:Keypress and Template:Keypress to use the same filename, or you can press Template:Keypress to exit without saving.


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   localhost.localdomain   localhost myhostname
::1         localhost.localdomain   localhost myhostname
# myhostname   #Uncomment if you use a static IP and remove this comment.
Note: ::1 is the IPv6 equivalent of and should be added.
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 a media and data server on your network by name and without the need for typing out their respective IP addresses.

Console fonts and keymap

To edit vconsole.conf:

# nano /etc/vconsole.conf
  • KEYMAP – If you want, you can use the one from the beginning of the install process: Change the keymap, but the default (us) is fine for the vast majority of keyboards. Please note that this setting is only valid for your TTYs, not any graphical window managers or Xorg.
  • FONT – Available alternate console fonts reside in /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/. The default (blank) is safe.
  • FONT_MAP – Defines the console map to load with the setfont program at boot. Possible maps are found in /usr/share/kbd/consoletrans, if needed. 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

If you are using systemd's timedated, you might wish to also edit the file /etc/timezone and write your Zone/Subzone.


# nano /etc/timezone

Read man tzset for more options.

The need for /etc/timezone might go away in the future [1].


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. For a comprehensive list of locales and what they stand for, see here.

If you would like to receive system messages in English during the install process and after rebooting, keep reading. Otherwise, see the example.

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, as long as you choose their UTF-8 encoding.
# nano /etc/locale.gen
en_US.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.
Note: This file must be readable by regular users, so don't set any weird permissions for it. It is read when a user logs in.
# echo "LANG=en_US.UTF-8" > /etc/locale.conf

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.
Example for languages other than English

If you would like to receive system messages in some other language than English during the install process and after rebooting (German, in this example), the above procedures are:

# nano /etc/locale.gen
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
de_DE.UTF-8 UTF-8
# locale-gen
# echo "LANG=de_DE.UTF-8" > /etc/locale.conf
# export LANG=de_DE.UTF-8

Hardware clock

Note: Make sure that HARDWARECLOCK isn't set in /etc/rc.conf.

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 DTS 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: 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 can be found here.

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 login manager (e.g. gdm, slim), 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 Xorg 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.
  • Edit this line whenever new system services are installed, if starting them automatically during boot is desired.

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

# rc.d list

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
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

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.

Direct Modem Connection

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

Create an initial ramdisk environment

Configure /etc/mkinitcpio.conf as needed (see mkinitcpio) and create an initial ramdisk with

# mkinitcpio -p linux
Tip: Most users can simply accept the defaults provided in the /etc/mkinitcpio.conf file.

Install and configure a bootloader

Install either Syslinux or GRUB. There is no need to install both. Syslinux is considered to be easier to understand and to configure because it has only one configuration file. In spite of GRUB's many configuration files (for which the recommended method is to re-generate the grub.cfg file each time you change anything in one of those files), using GRUB could make it more comfortable to transition to BURG in the future, a much more customizable GRUB fork. Of course, Syslinux can also be customized. (*)


Note: Syslinux does not yet support UEFI.

Install the syslinux package and edit 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.

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

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 LABEL archfallback.

Then type the following command to install the files (-i), mark the partition active with the boot flag (-a), and install the MBR boot code (-m):

# syslinux-install_update -iam

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


For BIOS motherboards:

# pacman -S grub-bios
# grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck /dev/sda

For UEFI motherboards:

# pacman -S grub-efi-x86_64
# grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/efi --bootloader-id=arch_grub --recheck
Note: In rare cases you may need to use grub-efi-i386 instead; on older macs for instance, where Apple hardware uses some kind of mixture between UEFI v1.x and v2.x. In such cases, GRUB would only work with 32 bit modules, even though the CPU may be 64 bit.
Note: GRUB is not the only UEFI bootloader available. See UEFI Bootloaders.

To prevent a (harmless) error message at boot time:

# mkdir -p /boot/grub/locale
# cp /usr/share/locale/en\@quot/LC_MESSAGES/ /boot/grub/locale/

Create the grub.cfg file:

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

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

Root password

Set the root password with:

# passwd

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,}

Exit the install, and reboot:

# reboot
Tip: Be sure to remove the installation media and change the boot preference in your BIOS (if you changed it to install); otherwise you may boot back into the installation media!
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