Archiso is a highly-customizable tool for building Arch Linux live CD/USB ISO images. The official images are built with Archiso. It can be used as the basis for rescue systems, linux installers or other systems. This wiki article explains how to install Archiso, and how to configure it to control aspects of the resulting ISO image such as included packages and files. Technical requirements and build steps can be found in the official project documentation. Archiso is implemented with a number of bash scripts. The core component of Archiso is the mkarchiso command. Its options are documented in mkarchiso -h and not covered here.
Install the archiso or archiso-gitAUR package. The archiso-profilesAUR package contains additional community-provided profiles.
Prepare a custom profile
Archiso comes with two profiles, releng and baseline.
- releng is used to create the official monthly installation ISO. It can be used as a starting point for creating a customized ISO image.
- baseline is a minimalistic configuration, that includes only the bare minimum packages required to boot the live environment from the medium.
To build an unmodified version of the profiles, skip to #Build the ISO. Otherwise, if you wish to adapt or customize one of archiso's shipped profiles, copy it from
/usr/share/archiso/configs/profile-name/ to a writable directory with a name of your choice. For example:
$ cp -r /usr/share/archiso/configs/releng/ archlive
Proceed to the following sections to customize and build the custom profile.
An archiso profile contains configuration that defines the resulting ISO image. The profile structure is documented in
packages.x86_64 to select which packages are to be installed on the live system image, listing packages line by line.
Custom local repository
To add packages not located in standard Arch repositories (e.g. custom packages or packages from AUR/ABS), set up a custom local repository and add your custom packages to it. Then add your repository to
pacman.conf as follows:
... [customrepo] SigLevel = Optional TrustAll Server = file:///path/to/customrepo ...
- The ordering within
pacman.confmatters. To give top priority to your custom repository, place it above the other repository entries.
pacman.confis only used for building the image. It will not be used in the live environment. To do this, see #Adding repositories to the image.
Packages from multilib
To install packages from the multilib repository, simply uncomment that repository in
Adding files to image
The airootfs directory is used as the starting point for the root directory (
/) of the live system on the image. All its contents will be copied over to the working directory before packages are installed.
Place any custom files and/or directories in the desired location under
airootfs/. For example, if you have a set of iptables scripts on your current system you want to be used on you live image, copy them over as such:
$ cp -r /etc/iptables archlive/airootfs/etc
Similarly, some care is required for special configuration files that reside somewhere down the hierarchy. Missing parts of the directory structure can be simply created with mkdir(1).
archlive/airootfs/root/. To add a file to all other users home directories, place it in
By default, permissions will be
644 for files and
755 for directories. All of them will be owned by the root user. To set different permissions or ownership for specific files and/or folders, use the
file_permissions associative array in
profiledef.sh. See README.profile.rst for details.
Adding repositories to the image
To add a repository that can be used in the live environment, create a suitably modified
pacman.conf and place it in
If the repository also uses a key, place the key in
archlive/airootfs/usr/share/pacman/keyrings/. The key file name must end with
.gpg. Additionally, the key must be trusted. This can be accomplished by creating a GnuPG exported trust file in the same directory. The file name must end with
-trusted. The first field is the key fingerprint, and the second is the trust. You can reference
/usr/share/pacman/keyrings/archlinux-trusted for an example.
The files in this example are:
airootfs ├── etc │ ├── pacman.conf │ └── pacman.d │ └── archzfs_mirrorlist └── usr └── share └── pacman └── keyrings ├── archzfs.gpg └── archzfs-trusted
... [archzfs] Include = /etc/pacman.d/archzfs_mirrorlist ...
Server = https://archzfs.com/$repo/$arch Server = https://mirror.sum7.eu/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch Server = https://mirror.biocrafting.net/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch Server = https://mirror.in.themindsmaze.com/archzfs/$repo/$arch Server = https://zxcvfdsa.com/archzfs/$repo/$arch
archzfs.gpg itself can be obtained directly from the repository site at https://archzfs.com/archzfs.gpg.
Although both archiso's included profiles only have linux, ISOs can be made to include other or even multiple kernels.
packages.x86_64 to include kernel package names that you want. When mkarchiso runs, it will include all
work_dir/boot/initramfs-*.img files in the ISO (and additionally in the FAT image used for UEFI booting).
mkinitcpio presets by default will build fallback initramfs images. For an ISO, the main initramfs image would not typically include the
autodetect hook, thus making an additional fallback image unnecessary. To prevent the creation of an fallback initramfs image, so that it does not take up space or slow down the build process, place a custom preset in
archlive/airootfs/etc/mkinitcpio.d/pkgbase.preset. For example, for linux-lts:
PRESETS=('archiso') ALL_kver='/boot/vmlinuz-linux-lts' ALL_config='/etc/mkinitcpio.conf' archiso_image="/boot/initramfs-linux-lts.img"
Finally create boot loader configuration to allow booting the kernel(s).
Archiso supports syslinux for BIOS booting and GRUB or systemd-boot for UEFI booting. Refer to the articles of the boot loaders for information on their configuration syntax.
- The releng profile by default builds into an ISO that supports both BIOS and UEFI booting when burned to an optical disc using El Torito, or when written to a hard disk (or USB flash drive, or similar) using Isohybrid.
- Due to the modular nature of isolinux, you are able to use lots of addons since all .c32 files are copied and available to you. Take a look at the official syslinux site and the archiso git repo. Using said addons, it is possible to make visually attractive and complex menus. See .
mkarchiso expects that GRUB configuration is in the
grub directory, systemd-boot configuration is in the
efiboot directory, and syslinux configuration in
UEFI Secure Boot
If you want to make your Archiso bootable on a UEFI Secure Boot enabled environment, you must use a signed boot loader. You can follow the instructions on Secure Boot#Booting an installation medium.
To enable systemd services/sockets/timers for the live environment, you need to manually create the symbolic links just as
systemctl enable does it.
For example, to enable
gpm.service, which contains
$ mkdir -p archlive/airootfs/etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants $ ln -s /usr/lib/systemd/system/gpm.service archlive/airootfs/etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/
The required symlinks can be found out by reading the systemd unit, or if you have the service installed, by enabling it and observing the systemctl output.
Starting X at boot is done by enabling your login manager's systemd service. If you do not know which .service to enable, you can easily find out in case you are using the same program on the system you build your ISO on. Just use:
$ ls -l /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service
Now create the same symlink in
archlive/airootfs/etc/systemd/system/. For LXDM:
$ ln -s /usr/lib/systemd/system/lxdm.service archlive/airootfs/etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service
This will enable LXDM at system start on your live system.
Changing automatic login
The configuration for getty's automatic login is located under
You can modify this file to change the auto login user:
[Service] ExecStart= ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty --autologin username --noclear %I 38400 linux
autologin.conf altogether to disable auto login.
If you are using the serial console, create
airootfs/etc/systemd/system/serial-getty@ttyS0.service.d/autologin.conf with the following content instead:
[Service] ExecStart= ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty -o '-p -- \\u' --noclear --autologin root --keep-baud 115200,57600,38400,9600 - $TERM
Users and passwords
To create a user which will be available in the live environment, you must manually edit
For example, to add a user
archie. Add them to
archlive/airootfs/etc/passwd following the passwd(5) syntax:
Generate a password hash with
openssl passwd -6 and add it to
archlive/airootfs/etc/shadow following the syntax of shadow(5). For example:
Add the user's group and the groups which they will part of to
archlive/airootfs/etc/group according to group(5). For example:
root:x:0:root adm:x:4:archie wheel:x:10:archie uucp:x:14:archie archie:x:1000:
Create the appropriate
archlive/airootfs/etc/gshadow according to gshadow(5):
/etc/gshadow have the correct permissions:
... file_permissions=( ... ["/etc/shadow"]="0:0:0400" ["/etc/gshadow"]="0:0:0400" )
After package installation, mkarchiso will create all specified home directories for users listed in
archlive/airootfs/etc/passwd and copy
work_directory/x86_64/airootfs/etc/skel/* to them. The copied files will have proper user and group ownership.
Changing the distribution name used in the ISO
Start by copying the file
/etc/os-release into the
etc/ folder in the rootfs. Then, edit the file accordingly. You can also change the name inside of GRUB and syslinux.
Build the ISO
Build an ISO which you can then burn to CD or USB by running:
# mkarchiso -v -w /path/to/work_dir -o /path/to/out_dir /path/to/profile/
-wspecifies the working directory. If the option is not specified, it will default to
workin the current directory.
-ospecifies the directory where the built ISO image will be placed. If the option is not specified, it will default to
outin the current directory.
- It should be noted the profile file
profiledef.shcannot be specified when running mkarchiso, only the path to the file.
/path/to/profile/ with the path to your custom profile, or with
/usr/share/archiso/configs/releng/ if you are building an unmodified profile.
# mkarchiso -v -w /tmp/archiso-tmp /path/to/profile/
When run, the script will download and install the packages you specified to
work_directory/x86_64/airootfs, create the kernel and init images, apply your customizations and finally build the ISO into the output directory.
Removal of work directory
/run/media/user/labelgets bound within
work/x86_64/airootfs/run/media/user/labelduring the build process).
The temporary files are copied into work directory. After successfully building the ISO , the work directory and its contents can be deleted. E.g.:
# rm -rf /path/to/work_dir
Using the ISO
See Installation guide#Prepare an installation medium for various options.
Test the ISO in QEMU
Install the optional dependencies qemu-desktop and edk2-ovmf.
Use the convenience script
run_archiso to run a built image using QEMU.
$ run_archiso -i /path/to/archlinux-yyyy.mm.dd-x86_64.iso
The virtual machine can also be run using UEFI emulation:
$ run_archiso -u -i /path/to/archlinux-yyyy.mm.dd-x86_64.iso
Tips and tricks
If you do not have an arch system available or you need to setup Archiso from another GNU/Linux distribution, be aware there exists an online builder.
Prepare an ISO for an installation via SSH
archlinux-2021.02.01-x86_64.iso, cloud-init support is provided, and
sshd.serviceis enabled by default.
To install Arch Linux via SSH without any interaction with the system, an SSH public key must be placed in
Adding the SSH key can either be done manually (explained here), or by cloud-init.
To add the key manually, first copy Archiso's releng profile to a writable directory. The following example uses
$ cp -r /usr/share/archiso/configs/profile/ archlive
.ssh directory in the home directory of the user which will be used to log in. The following example will be using the root user.
$ mkdir archlive/airootfs/root/.ssh
Add the SSH public key(s), which will be used to log in, to
$ cat ~/.ssh/key1.pub >> archlive/airootfs/root/.ssh/authorized_keys $ cat ~/.ssh/key2.pub >> archlive/airootfs/root/.ssh/authorized_keys
Set correct permissions and ownership for the
.ssh directory and the
... file_permissions=( ... ["/root"]="0:0:0750" ["/root/.ssh"]="0:0:0700" ["/root/.ssh/authorized_keys"]="0:0:0600" )
Finally build the ISO. Upon booting the ISO, OpenSSH will start and it will be possible to log in using the corresponding SSH private key(s).
Automatically connect to a Wi-Fi network using iwd
/var/lib/iwd/ inside the profile's
airootfs directory and set the correct permissions:
$ mkdir -p archlive/airootfs/var/lib/iwd
... file_permissions=( ... ["/var/lib/iwd"]="0:0:0700" )
Follow the instructions in iwd#Network configuration and iwd.network(5) to create a network configuration file for your Wi-Fi network.
Save the configuration file inside
Adjusting the size of root partition on the fly
When installing packages on a live Archiso, for example on hardware requiring DKMS modules, the default size of the Archiso might not allow the download and installation of such packages due to its size.
It will manifest as the following error message when downloading files or installing packages in the live environment:
error: partition / too full: 63256 blocks needed, 61450 blocks free error: not enough free disk space error: failed to commit transaction (not enough free disk space) Errors occurred: no packages were upgraded.
You can also adjust the root partition size on the fly by running:
# mount -o remount,size=2G /run/archiso/cowspace
To adjust the size of the root partition on the live Arch Linux system before booting it, press the
Tab key to edit the kernel parameters. Append
cow_spacesize=2G at the end to get 2G size for the root partition.
Enter to continue booting into the live system.
You can check the size of the filesystems by running:
$ df -h
See more boot parameters here
In order for vanilla
mkarchiso to produce encrypted images, LUKS support in archiso, encrypt hook's compatibility in mkinitcpio-archiso and nested
cryptkeys support in cryptsetup merge requests need to be approved.
Packages with such features already merged are archiso-encryptionAUR, mkinitcpio-archiso-encryptionAUR and cryptsetup-nested-cryptkeyAUR.
To enable encryption on an existing profile:
- set an
profiledef.sh(to use a key file instead of a password).
- enable the
- add AUR packages (or build custom replacements with the aforementioned sources) to
- add the
keysbuildmode to the
profiledef.sh(to build a second ISO containing the key file that put on external storage is able to boot the system).
Example configurations based on the
releng profiles are available as
ereleng in the archiso-profilesAUR package.
Google Compute Engine images
A Google Compute Engine-compatible
releng compressed image is available as archlinux-gceAUR.
Libvirt VM configuration
A libvirt configuration which runs the
releng image is available as archlinux-libvirtAUR.
Window manager freezes
If you want to use a window manager in the Live CD, you must add the necessary and correct video drivers, or the WM may freeze on loading.