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What is Arch Linux?

Arch Linux is an independently developed i686 and x86_64 optimized Linux distribution that was originally based on ideas from CRUX. Development is focused on a balance of simplicity, elegance, code-correctness and bleeding edge software. It's lightweight and simple design makes it easy to extend and mold into whatever kind of system you're building.


Arch Linux and scripts are copyright

2002-2007 Judd Vinet

2007-2009 Aaron Griffin

and are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Installing Arch Linux


Arch Linux is optimized for i686 and x86_64 processors and therefore will not run on any lower or incompatible generations of x86 CPUs (i386,i486 or i586). A Pentium II or AMD K6-2 processor or higher is required. Before installing Arch Linux, you should decide which installation method you would like to use. Arch Linux provides bootable ISO and USB disk images, using the GRUB bootloader. The ISO images will work on almost any machine with a CD-ROM drive, and the USB images will work on any system capable of booting from a USB drive. For those having problems with GRUB not loading, ISOs with the ISOLINUX bootloader are offered as well. There are two variants of each installation medium which only differ in terms of supplied packages.

  • The "core" images contain a snapshot of the core packages. These images are best suited for people who have an internet connection which is slow or difficult to set up.
  • The "ftp" images contain no packages at all, and will use the network to install packages. These images are preferred since you will end up with an up-to-date system and they are best suited for people with fast internet connections.

You can instruct the installer to obtain the packages via FTP using either of these images, and all images can also be used as fully functioning recovery environments. The images run like any regular installed Arch Linux system. In fact, they're exactly the same, just installed to a CD or USB image instead of a hard disk. They include the entire "base" package set, as well as various networking utilities and drivers. If there's something else you happen to need at runtime, just get your Internet connection up and install it using pacman. A short pacman command reference is available at the end of this document. The most common (and recommended) installation procedure is to use the install media to initially install only the "base" package set and whatever utilities and drivers you need to get online. Then once you've successfully booted the installed system, run a full system upgrade and install any other packages you want.

Acquiring Arch Linux

  • You can download Arch Linux from any of the mirrors listed on the download page.
  • You may also purchase an installation CD from Archux, OSDisc or LinuxCD and have it shipped anywhere in the world.

Preparing the Installation Media


  • Download iso/<release>/archlinux-XXX.iso
  • Download iso/<release>/sha1sums.txt
  • Verify the integrity of the .iso image using sha1sum:
 sha1sum --check sha1sums.txt
 archlinux-XXX.iso: OK
  • Burn the ISO image to a CD-R or CD-RW using any software of your choice.


  • Download iso/<release>/archlinux-XXX.img
  • Download iso/<release>/sha1sums.txt
  • Verify the integrity of the .img image using sha1sum:
 sha1sum --check sha1sums.txt
 archlinux-XXX.img: OK
  • Write the disk image to a USB mass storage device, such as a thumb drive, using dd or similar raw-write software:
 dd if=archlinux-XXX.img of=/dev/sdX

Make sure to use /dev/sdX and not /dev/sdX1. This command will irrevocably delete all files on your USB stick, so make sure you don't have any important files on it before doing this.

Using the Install Media

Make sure your BIOS is set in a way to allow booting from your CD-ROM or USB device. Reboot your computer with the Arch Linux Installation CD in the drive or the USB stick plugged in the port. Once the installation medium has booted you will see the Arch Linux logo and a grub menu waiting for your selection. Most likely you can just hit enter at this point. At the end of the boot procedure, you should be at a login prompt with some simple instructions at the top of the screen. You should login as root. At this point you are ready to commence the actual installation, or do any manual preparation you consider necessary.

Using the available shell tools, experienced users are also able to prepare the hard drive or any devices needed for the installation before starting the installer. Note that the Arch Linux installation media also contains a /arch/quickinst script for experienced users. This script installs the "base" set of packages to a user-specified destination directory. If you are doing an install with things like RAID and LVM, or don't want to use the installer at all, you'll probably want to use the quickinst script. You will have to configure the system afterwards since no form of auto-configuration takes place.

Common Installation Procedure

Installation Steps:

  1. Loading a non-US Keymap
  2. Running Setup
  3. Select Source
    2. FTP/HTTP
      1. Setup Network
      2. Choose Mirror
  4. Set Clock
  5. Prepare Hard Drive
    1. Auto-Prepare
    2. Partition Hard Drives
    3. Set Filesystem Mountpoints
  6. Select Packages
  7. Install Packages
  8. Configure System
  9. Install Bootloader
  10. Exit Install

Login and Loading a non-US Keymap

If you need to load a non-US keymap and/or want to set a different console font, use the "km" utility.


Running Setup

Now you can run /arch/setup to invoke the installer program.


After an informational welcome message you will be presented with the main installation menu. You can use UP and DOWN arrow to navigate menus. Use TAB to switch between buttons and ENTER to select. At any point during the install process, you can switch to your 7th virtual console (ALT-F7) to view the output from the commands the setup is running. Use (ALT-F1) to get back to your first console where the installer is running, and any F-key in between if you need to open another console to intervene manually for any reason.

Select Source

As a first step you must choose the method you want to install Arch Linux. If you have a fast Internet connection, you might prefer the FTP installation to ensure you get the latest packages instead of using the potentially outdated CD or USB image contents.


When choosing a CD-ROM or OTHER SOURCE install you will only be able to install packages contained on the CD, which may be quite old, or packages stored on a medium you were able to mount (DVD, USB stick or similar) somewhere in the filesystem tree manually. Of course it has the advantage that you won't need an Internet connection, and is therefore the recommended choice for dialup users or those unable or unwilling to download the entire package set.

Setup Network

The first entry Setup Network will allow you to install and configure your network device. If you are using a wireless device you will still need to use the usual utilities to configure it manually, in which case this part of the installer isn't much use to you. A list of all currently available network devices is presented to you. If no ethernet device is available yet, or the one you wish to use is missing, either hit OK and go on to probe for it, or switch to another console and load the module manually. If you still can't configure your network card, make sure it's physically been properly installed, and that it is supported by the Linux kernel.

When the correct module is loaded, and your desired network card is listed, you should select the ethernet device you want to configure and you will be given the option to configure your network with DHCP. If your network uses DHCP, hit YES and let the installer do the rest. If you select NO, you will be asked to enter the networking information manually. Either way, your network should be successfully configured, and you may check connectivity using standard tools like ping on another console.

Choose Mirror

Choose Mirror will allow you to choose the preferred mirror to download the packages that will be installed in your Arch Linux system. You should choose a mirror situated near where you live, in order to achieve faster download speed. At some later point of the installation, you will be given the option to use the mirror you choose at this step, as the default mirror to download packages from. Template:Box Note

These menu entries are only available when choosing FTP Installation, for rather obvious reasons. After successful preparation, choose Return to Main Menu.

Set Clock

Set Clock will allow you to set up your system clock and date. Choose UTC if your BIOS clock is set to UTC, or localtime if your BIOS clock is set to your local time. If you have an OS installed which cannot handle UTC BIOS times correctly, like Windows, choose localtime, otherwise you should prefer UTC. Next the setup will want you to select the continent and country you are from, and then set the date and time.

Prepare Hard Drive

Prepare Hard Drive will lead you into a submenu offering two alternatives of preparing your target drive for installation.


The first choice is Auto-Prepare, which will automatically partition your hard drive into a /boot, swap, a root partition, and a /home using the remaining space and then create filesystems on all four. These partitions will also be automatically mounted in the proper place. To be exact, this option will create:

  • 32 MB ext2 /boot partition
  • 256 MB swap partition
  • 7.5 GB root partition
  • /home partition with the remaining space

You will be prompted to modify the sizes to your requirements, but /home will always use the remaining disk space.


If you prefer to do the partitioning manually, use the other two options, Partition Hard Drives and Set Filesystem Mountpoints to prepare the target media according to your specifications as outlined below. After successful preparation, choose Return to Main Menu.

Partition Hard Drives

Partition Hard Drives should be skipped if you chose Auto-Prepare already!

Otherwise you should select the disk(s) you want to partition, and you'll be dropped into the cfdisk program where you can freely modify the partitioning information until you [Write] and [Quit]. You will need at least a root partition to continue the installation, and it's helpful to note somewhere which partition you're going to mount where, as you'll be asked exactly that in the next step.

Set Filesystem Mountpoints

Set Filesystem Mountpoints should also be skipped if you chose to Auto-Prepare your hard drive. You should select this choice once the partition information is edited to your liking with the previous menu selection, or already existent through whatever other means.

The first question to answer is what partition to use as swap. Select the previously created swap partition from the list, or NONE, if you don't want to use a swap partition. Using a swap file is not directly supported by the installer. Instead choose NONE here, finish the mountpoint associations, and activate a swap file on your desired, formatted partition with the swapon command. If you chose to use a swap partition, you will be asked whether to create a filesystem on it, and since this partition uses a specific filesystem of it's own, you should always answer YES here.

After setting up the swap partition, you'll be asked to specify the partition to be used as the root partition. This is mandatory. The association process is then repeated until you choose DONE from the list. The installer will suggest /boot for all following mountpoints after choosing swap and root. Each time a partition to mount is specified, you will be asked if you want to create a filesystem on the respective partition. Selecting YES, will prompt you for the filesystem type to create. The partition will then be formatted with the chosen filesystem type, destroying all data in the process. It should be no problem, however, to say NO at this point to preserve any existing files on the partition. Before the actual formatting is done, the installer will present a list of all of your choices for review. After formatting and mounting all partitions, you may return to the Main Menu and proceed with the next step.

Select Packages

Select Packages will let you select the packages you wish to install from the CD, USB or your FTP mirror. You have the opportunity to specify whole package groups from which you'd generally like to install packages, then fine-tune your coarse selection by (de)selecting individual packages from the groups you have chosen using the space bar. It is recommended that you install all the "base" packages, but not anything else at this point. The only exception to this rule is installing any packages you need for setting up Internet connectivity.

Once you're done selecting the packages you need, leave the selection screen and continue to the next step.

Install Packages

Install Packages will now install the base system and any other packages you selected with resolved dependencies onto your harddisk.

Configure System

Configure System allows you to edit the configuration files crucial for your newly installed system. You will be asked for the editor you want to use for manually fine-tuning the generated configuration files, either VIM or nano.

Configuration Files

These are the core configuration files for Arch Linux. Only the most basic configuration files are listed here. If you need help configuring a specific service, please read the appropriate manpage or refer to any online documentation you need. In many cases, the Arch Linux Wiki and forums are a rich source for help as well.

  • /etc/rc.conf
  • /etc/fstab
  • /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
  • /etc/modprobe.conf
  • /etc/resolv.conf
  • /etc/hosts
  • /etc/hosts.deny
  • /etc/hosts.allow
  • /etc/locale.gen
  • /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist


This is the main configuration file for Arch Linux. It allows you to set your keyboard,timezone, hostname, network, daemons to run and modules to load at bootup, profiles, and more.

LOCALE: This sets your system language, which will be used by all i18n-friendly applications and utilities. See locale.gen below for available options. This setting's default is fine for US English users.

HARDWARECLOCK: Either UTC if your BIOS clock is set to UTC, or localtime if your BIOS clock is set to your local time. If you have an OS installed which cannot handle UTC BIOS times correctly, like Windows, choose localtime here, otherwise you should prefer UTC, which makes daylight savings time a non-issue and has a few other positive aspects.

USEDIRECTISA: If set to "yes" it tells hwclock to use explicit I/O instructions to access the hardware clock. Otherwise, hwclock will try to use the /dev/rtc device it assumes to be driven by the rtc device driver. This setting's default "no" is fine for people not using an ISA machine.

TIMEZONE: Specifies your time zone. Possible time zones are the relative path to a zoneinfo file starting from the directory /usr/share/zoneinfo. For example, a German timezone would be Europe/Berlin, which refers to the file /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Berlin. If you don't know the exact name of your timezone file, worry about it later.

KEYMAP: Defines the keymap to load with the loadkeys program on bootup. Possible keymaps are found in /usr/share/kbd/keymaps. Please note that this setting is only valid for your TTYs, not any graphical window managers or X! Again, the default is fine for US users.

CONSOLEFONT: Defines the console font to load with the setfont program on bootup. Possible fonts are found in /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts.

CONSOLEMAP: Defines the console map to load with the setfont program on bootup. Possible maps are found in /usr/share/kbd/consoletrans. You will want to set this to a map suitable for your locale (8859-1 for Latin1, for example) if you're using an UTF-8 locale above, and use programs that generate 8-bit output. If you're using X11 for everyday work, don't bother, as it only affects the output of Linux console applications.

USECOLOR: Enable (or disable) colorized status messages during boot-up.

MOD_AUTOLOAD: If set to "yes", udev will be allowed to load modules as necessary upon bootup. If set to "no", it will not.

MODULES: In this array you can list the names of modules you want to load during bootup without the need to bind them to a hardware device as in the modprobe.conf. Simply add the name of the module here, and put any options into modprobe.conf if need be. Prepending a module with a bang ('!') will blacklist the module, and not allow it to be loaded.

USELVM: Set to "yes" to run a vgchange during sysinit, thus activating any LVM groups

HOSTNAME: Set this to the hostname of the machine, without the domain part. This is totally your choice, as long as you stick to letters, digits and a few common special characters like the dash.

INTERFACES: Here you define the settings for your networking interfaces. The default lines and the included comments explain the setup well enough. If you use DHCP, 'eth0="dhcp"' should work for you. If you do not use DHCP just keep in mind that the value of the variable (whose name must be equal to the name of the device which is supposed to be configured) equals the line which would be appended to the ifconfig command if you were to configure the device manually in the shell.

ROUTES: You can define your own static network routes with arbitrary names here. Look at the example for a default gateway to get the idea. Basically the quoted part is identical to what you'd pass to a manual route add command, therefore reading man route is recommended if you don't know what to write here, or simply leave this alone.

NET_PROFILES: Enables certain network profiles at bootup. Network profiles provide a convenient way of managing multiple network configurations, and are intended to replace the standard INTERFACES/ROUTES setup that is still recommended for systems with only one network configuration. If your computer will be participating in various networks at various times (eg, a laptop) then you should take a look at the /etc/network-profiles/ directory to set up some profiles. There is a template file included there that can be used to create new profiles. This now requires the netcfg package.

DAEMONS: This array simply lists the names of those scripts contained in /etc/rc.d/ which are supposed to be started during the boot process. If a script name is prefixed with a bang (!), it is not executed. If a script is prefixed with an "at" symbol (@), then it will be executed in the background, ie. the startup sequence will not wait for successful completion before continuing. Usually you do not need to change the defaults to get a running system, but you are going to edit this array whenever you install system services like sshd, and want to start these automatically during bootup.


Your filesystem settings and mountpoints are configured here. The installer should have created the necessary entries for you, but you should look over it and make sure it's right. If you are using an encrypted root device, LVM or RAID, you will likely need to change the UUIDs the installer has inserted for you to device names.


This file allows you to fine-tune the initial ramdisk for your system. The ramdisk is a gzipped image that is read by the kernel during bootup. Its purpose is to bootstrap the system to the point where it can access the root filesystem. This means it has to load any modules that are required to "see" things like IDE, SCSI, or SATA drives (or USB/FW, if you are booting off a USB/FW drive). Once the ramdisk loads the proper modules, either manually or through udev, it passes control to the Arch system and your bootup continues. For this reason, the ramdisk only needs to contain the modules necessary to access the root filesystem. It does not need to contain every module you would ever want to use. The majority of your everyday modules will be loaded later on by udev, during the init process.

By default, mkinitcpio.conf is configured to autodetect all needed modules for IDE, SCSI, or SATA systems through so-called HOOKS. This means the default initrd should work for almost everybody. You can edit mkinitcpio.conf and remove the subsystem HOOKS (ie, IDE, SCSI, RAID, USB, etc) that you don't need. You can customize even further by specifying the exact modules you need in the MODULES array and remove even more of the hooks, but proceed with caution.

If you're using RAID or encryption on your root filesystem, then you'll have to tweak the RAID/CRYPT settings near the bottom. See the wiki pages for RAID/LVM, filesystem encryption, and mkinitcpio for more info. If you're using a non-US keyboard uou should also add the 'keymap' hook, as well as the 'usbinput' hook if you are using a USB keyboard.


This tells the kernel which modules it needs to load for system devices, and what options to set. For example, to have the kernel load your Realtek 8139 ethernet module when it starts the network (ie. tries to setup eth0), use this line:

 alias eth0 8139too

Most people will not need to edit this file.


Use this file to manually setup your nameserver(s) that you want to use. It should basically look like this:

 search domain.tld

Replace domain.tld and the ip addresses with your settings. The so-called search domain specifies the default domain that is appended to unqualified hostnames automatically. By setting this, a ping myhost will effectively become a ping myhost.domain.tld with the above values. These settings usually aren't mighty important, though, and most people should leave them alone for now. If you use DHCP, this file will be replaced with the correct values automatically when networking is started, meaning you can and should happily ignore this file.


This is where you stick hostname/ip associations of computers on your network. If a hostname isn't known to your DNS, you can add it here to allow proper resolving, or override DNS replies. You usually don't need to change anything here, but you might want to add the hostname and hostname + domain of the local machine to this file, resolving to the IP of your network interface. Some services, postfix for example, will bomb otherwise. If you don't know what you're doing, leave this file alone until you read man hosts.


This file denies network services access. By default all network services are denied.



This file allows network services access. Enter the services you want to allow here. eg. to allow all machines to connect via ssh:

 sshd: ALL: ALLOW


This file contains a list of all supported locales and charsets available to you. When choosing a LOCALE in your /etc/rc.conf or when starting a program, it is required to uncomment the respective locale in this file, to make a "compiled" version available to the system, and run the locale-gen command as root to generate all uncommented locales and put them in their place afterwards. You should uncomment all locales you intend to use.

During the installation process, you do not need to run locale-gen manually, this will be taken care of automatically after saving your changes to this file. By default, all locales are enabled that would make sense by rc.conf's LOCALE= setting. To make your system work smoothly, you should edit this file and uncomment at least the one locale you're using in your rc.conf.


This file contains a list of mirrors from which pacman will download packages for the official Arch Linux repositories. The mirrors are tried in the order in which they are listed. The $repo macro is automatically expanded by pacman depending on the repository (core, extra, community or testing).

If you are performing an FTP installation, the mirror you used to download the packages from will be added on top of the mirror list, in order to be used as the default mirror in your new Arch Linux system.

Set Root Password

At this step, you must set the root password for your system. Choose this password carefully, preferably as a mixture of alphanumeric and special characters, since this password allows you to modify critical parts of your system.

When you are done editing the configuration files choose Return to return to the main menu. The setup will regenerate the initial ramdisk to enable the changes you made in mkinitcpio.conf.

Install Bootloader

Install Bootloader will install a bootloader on your hard drive, either GRUB or NONE in case you have a bootloader already installed and want to use that one instead. If you choose to install GRUB, the setup script will want you to examine the appropriate configuration file to confirm the proper settings.


You should check and modify this file to accommodate your boot setup if you want to use GRUB, otherwise you will have to modify your existing bootloader's configuration file. The installer will have pre-populated this file using UUID entries which you may have to change in the same cases you'd need to change them in your fstab.

After checking your bootloader configuration for correctness, you'll be prompted for a partition to install the loader to. Unless you're using yet another boot loader, you should install GRUB to the MBR of the installation disk, which is usually represented by the appropriate device name without a number suffix.

Exit Install

Exit the Installer, remove the media you used for the installation, type reboot at the command line and cross your fingers. If your system boots up, you can log in as root with the password you set during installation.

Congratulations! Welcome to your new Arch Linux system!

Package Management

Pacman is the package manager which tracks all the software installed on your system. It has simple dependency support and uses the standard gzipped tar archive format for all packages. Some common tasks you might need to use during installation, are explained below with their respective commands. For an extensive explanation of pacman's options, read man pacman or consult the Arch Linux Wiki.

Typical tasks:

  • Refreshing the package list
 # pacman --sync --refresh
 # pacman -Sy

This will retrieve a fresh master package list from the repositories defined in the /etc/pacman.conf file and decompress it into the database area.

  • Search the repositories for a package
 # pacman --sync --search <regexp>
 # pacman -Ss <regexp>

Search each package in the sync databases for names or descriptions that match regexp.

  • Display specific not installed package info
 # pacman --sync --info foo
 # pacman -Si foo

Displays information on the not yet installed package foo (size, install date, build date, dependencies, conflicts, etc.)

  • Adding a package from the repositories
 # pacman --sync foo
 # pacman -S foo

Retrieve and install package foo, complete with all dependencies it requires. Before using any sync option, make sure you refreshed the package list.

  • List installed packages
 # pacman --query
 # pacman -Q

Displays a list of all installed packages in the system.

  • Check if a specific package is installed
 # pacman --query foo
 # pacman -Q foo

This command will display the name and version of the foo package if it is installed, nothing otherwise.

  • Display specific package info
 # pacman --query --info foo
 # pacman -Qi foo

Displays information on the installed package foo (size, install date, build date, dependencies, conflicts, etc.)

  • Display list of files contained in package
 # pacman --query --list foo
 # pacman -Ql foo

Lists all files belonging to package foo.

  • Find out which package a specific file belongs to
 # pacman --query --owns /path/to/file
 # pacman -Qo /path/to/file

This query displays the name and version of the package which contains the file referenced by it's full path as a parameter.


See Official Arch Linux Install Guide Appendix for some related unofficial documentation, new users may find useful.