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 to another partition from within an existing GNU/Linux distribution or LiveCD, please see this wiki article for steps to do this. This can be useful particularly if you plan to install Arch via VNC or SSH remotely. The following assumes installation by conventional means.

Obtain the latest installation media

You can obtain Arch's official installation media from here. The latest version is 2011.08.19.

  • Both the Core and the Netinstall images provide only the necessary packages to create an Arch Linux base system. Note that the Base System does not include a GUI. It is mainly comprised of the GNU toolchain (compiler, assembler, linker, libraries, shell, and utilities), the Linux kernel, pacman (Arch's Package Manager), and a few extra libraries and modules.
  • Core images facilitate both installing from CD and Net.
  • Netinstall images are smaller and provide no packages themselves; the entire system is retrieved via internet.
  • The Arch64 FAQ can help you choose between the 32- and 64-bit versions. The Dual Architecture image has packages for both architectures so you can use one CD to install Arch on 32- and 64-bit computers.
  • Remember to download the checksum txt files along with your chosen ISO.

Pre-release images are also available and can be downloaded here. These are not official releases and so are not officially supported. They should only be used if the official installation images do not work with the current hardware on your system and you suspect newer images will have the appropriate drivers.

Check the integrity of the downloaded file

cd to the directory where the downloaded files have been placed, and invoke sha1sum:

$ sha1sum --check name_of_checksum_file.txt

This should give you an "OK" for the one you have. (Simply ignore other lines.) If not, download all files again.

The md5sum check works the same way.

CD installer

Burn the .iso image file to a CD or DVD media with your preferred CD/DVD burner drive and software, and continue with Boot Arch Linux installer.

Note: The quality of optical drives, as well as the CD media itself, vary greatly. Generally, using a slow burn speed is recommended for reliable burns; Some users recommend speeds as low as 4x or 2x. If you are experiencing unexpected behavior from the CD, try burning at the minimum speed supported by your system.

Flash memory device or USB stick

See Install from a USB flash drive for more detailed instructions.

This method will work for any type of flash media from which your BIOS will let you boot, be it a card reader or USB port.

Note that all data on the removable medium will be irrevocably destroyed!

*nix method
Warning: Be very careful where you send the image ISO, as dd will obediently write to any target you point to, even if that is your hard disk (which could lead to potential data loss and/or filesystem corruption).

Insert an empty or expendable flash device, determine its path, and write the .iso to the device with the dd program:

# dd if=archlinux-2011.08.19-''{core|netinstall}''-''{i686|x86_64|dual}''.iso of=/dev/sd''x''

where if= is the path to the .iso file and of= is your flash device. Make sure to use /dev/sdx and not /dev/sdx1. You will need a flash memory device large enough to accommodate the image.

To verify that the image was successfully written to the flash device, make a note of the number of records (blocks) read in and written out, then perform the following check:

# dd if=/dev/sd''x'' count=''number_of_records'' status=noxfer | md5sum

The md5sum returned should match the md5sum of the downloaded archlinux image file (2011.08.19); they both should match the md5sum of the image as listed in the md5sums file in the mirror distribution site. A typical run will look like this:

Write .iso to drive

# dd if=archlinux-2011.08.19-core-i686.iso of=/dev/sdc
 744973+0 records in
 744973+0 records out
 381426176 bytes (381 MB) copied, 106.611 s, 3.6 MB/s

Verify integrity:

# dd if=/dev/sdc count=744973 status=noxfer | md5sum
 4850d533ddd343b80507543536258229  -
 744973+0 records in
 744973+0 records out

Continue with Boot Arch Linux installer

Microsoft Windows method

Download Disk Imager from here. Insert flash media. Start the Disk Imager and select the image file (Disk Imager accepts only *.img files, so you will have to put "*.iso" in file open dialog to select Arch snapshot). Select the drive letter associated with the flash drive. Click "Write".

There are also other solutions to writing bootable ISO images to USB sticks. If you have problems with USB sticks disconnecting, try using different USB port and/or cable.

Continue with Boot Arch Linux installer.

Install over the network

Instead of writing the boot media to a disc or USB drive, 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 Arch Linux installer.

Install on a virtual machine

Installing on a virtual machine is a good way to become familiar with Arch Linux and its installation procedure for the first time without the need for leaving your current operating system and repartitioning the hard drive; it will also let you keep this tutorial open in your browser during every phase of the installation. Having an Arch system installed on a virtual drive can also be useful to Arch users as a way of having an independent system promptly available for testing purposes.

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

The exact procedure to prepare the virtual machine for the installation depends on the virtualization software being used, but generally it will follow this scheme:

  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 Arch Linux installer.

You may also be interested in reading the following articles:

Boot Arch Linux installer

Tip: The memory requirement for a basic install is 64MB of RAM.
Tip: During the process, the automatic screen blanker may come on. If so, one can press the Alt key to safely obtain the normal display.

Boot from the media

Insert the CD or flash media you prepared, and boot from it. You may have to change the boot order in your computer BIOS. To do this, you have to press a key (usually DEL, F1, F2, F11 or F12) during the BIOS POST (Power On Self-Test) phase.

Main Menu: The main menu should be displayed at this point. Select the preferred choice by using the arrow keys to highlight your choice, and then by pressing [Enter]. Menus vary slightly among the different ISOs.

OS system start

Select "Boot Arch Linux" from the Main Menu and press [Enter], in order to begin with the installation. The system will now load and present a shell prompt. You will be automatically logged in as root.

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.

If 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 <Tab> at the GRUB menu to enter kernel options. At the end of the kernel line, add a space and then:


Alternatively, add:


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 kernel, press <Tab> to edit the kernel line and append the following at the end (after a space):


When done making any changes to any menu command, simply press "Enter" to boot with that setup.

Changing the keymap

If you have a non-US keyboard layout you can interactively choose your keymap/console font with the command:

# km

or use the loadkeys command:

# loadkeys layout

where layout is your keyboard layout such as fr or be-latin1


The official install guide document is conveniently available right on the live system. To access it, change to tty2 (virtual console #2) with Template:Keypress and log in as root. Here you can use the less pager to page through the document:

# less /usr/share/aif/docs/official_installation_guide_en

Change back to tty1 with Template:Keypress to follow the rest of the install process. Now you can change back to tty2 at any time if you need to reference the Official Guide as you progress through the installation process.

Tip: Please note that the official guide only covers installation and configuration of the base system. Once that is installed, it is strongly recommended that you reference the wiki to find out more about post-installation considerations and other related issues.
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