Arch Linux is an independently developed, x86-64 general purpose GNU/Linux distribution versatile enough to suit any role. Development focuses on simplicity, minimalism, and code elegance. Arch is installed as a minimal base system, configured by the user upon which their own ideal environment is assembled by installing only what is required or desired for their unique purposes. GUI configuration utilities are not officially provided, and most system configuration is performed from the shell by editing simple text files. Arch strives to stay bleeding edge, and typically offers the latest stable versions of most software.Exert from https://www.archlinux.org/about/
I’m just going to say it – Arch Linux isn’t for everyone. It’s a DIY operating system, though it isn’t as neckbeard worthy as Gentoo. You’ll essentially have to install nearly everything by yourself. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a computer that boots to a command line, and… that’s it. I have another article just for you after you finish these steps to have a more… user-friendly environment.
If you’re new to Linux and/or scared of typing commands into a command line, I would recommend an easier to use distribution such as Ubuntu or it’s many flavours.
If you think you’re up to the challenge and/or you’d like to be an Arch Elitist, here’s how to install Arch Linux.
- Access to a working computer
- A computer with the following specifications (or better):
- 512MB of ram (Yep! Only 512MB!)
- 1 GB of free storage space (You’ll definitely want more though)
- Internet connection via Ethernet
- USB Ports
- x86-64 (64 bit) or ARM compatibility
- Basic computer components required for function
- Keyboard, mouse, monitor and other basic computer peripherals
- A USB drive (~2GB or more)
- The ability to follow instructions
Stage 1: The USB
In order to install Arch Linux on the target computer, you’ll need to write a temporary image on Arch Linux called ArchISO onto the USB Stick.
Estimated time needed: 10-15 minutes
1 – Download the latest release of Arch Linux from their website.
Before we need to touch the target computer, we must write the download the ISO file from the official website. https://www.archlinux.org/download/
2 – Write the ISO on to the USB Stick
If you’re using a VM, you can skip this step, and directly boot the ISO image.
If you’re actually intending to install this distro on a real computer, you will need to write the ISO to the USB stick. I recommend using Rufus.
That’s it! Now it’s time to get the target computer ready.
Stage 2: Installing Arch Linux
Congratulations on reaching this stage, the real part of installing Arch Linux begins here.
1 – Booting from the USB
To start off, you will need plug the USB in, and enter the boot menu of your device. Every device is different, so at this stage, I’ll put it into your hands to find the boot menu. This might help.
Tip: Spamming F2, F8, or F12 during boot might be what you need.
2 – Entering Arch Linux
If you’ve followed these instructions correctly, you should be granted with this screen. All you need to do from here is hit enter (With “Boot Arch Linux” selected)
3 – Test the internet
This is where the commands start. To test the internet, we’re going to use the ping command. Type something such as:
ping -c 5 thatoneguy.com.au
If you plan on using a wireless connection, the Arch Linux wiki provides documentation on this. I wouldn’t personally worry about this until later.
4 – Make sure the clock is correct
Before we do anything else, you need to enable Net Time Protocol so the system can update the time via the internet. You can do this with the following command:
timedatectl set-ntp true
5 – Partitioning the Hard Drive
In this guide, you’re going to partition the hard drive so you have one partition for the OS, and another for swap (virtual memory).
Begin with the command:
Remember (or write down) the drive you want to use. In my case, it’s /dev/sda, the teeny tiny 8GB drive.
Now we’re going to use a cfdisk, a partition manager.
cfdisk /dev/THE DRIVE YOU WANTED TO USE
In my case, I would type “cfdisk /dev/sda“
Select “dos” as your label type. You’ll be taken to another screen which will look like this:
It’s now time to partition the drive. Select “new” (highlighted by default). You’ll have to come back to this step later.
Type the size that you would like for the partition. If you intend on using swap space, be sure to leave room for double your ram. I’m using an 8GB drive, with 1GB of ram, so I will type “6G” and then hit enter.
Next, you’ll be asked if you want it to be a primary or extended partition, select “primary”. A final option will come up.
Scroll down to the “free space” and repeat the last few steps. Do not make it bootable. This is going to be your swap space, and we will need to tell the OS that.
Scroll to “type” and select “82 – Linux swap / Solaris”
You may now scroll to “write” to make the changes, and then quit cfdisk by selecting “quit”. (You were smart enough to figure that last part out yourself, right..?)
6 – Creating the filesystem and swap space
This step is a lot shorter. we’re going to use the ext4 file system in this guide. To create the file system, use the following command:
In my case, I would do “mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1“
To create the swap space, we must do:
7 – Mounting the space
Since both of the partitions have been created, we now need to “activate them”. Use the following commands:
mount /dev/sdYOURDRIVEHERE1 /mnt
I used sda1 and sda2 on my systems.
8 – Installing the base system
Finally, the actual installing part of an installation tutorial.
Now, we’re going to use “pacstrap” to install the main components needed.
pacstrap /mnt base base-devel
This will probably take a while, go make a cup of tea or do stuff while you wait.
9 – Create the fstab file
This step is very simple, run the following command:
genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
10 – Chroot into the newly installed system
It’s time to enter arch Linux, chroot into Arch Linux by typing:
And Voilia! You are in Arch Linux, you’ve successfully installed it! But we’re not done yet. It’s time to start configuring the system.
Stage 3: Configuring Arch Linux
Like I said before – It’s a DIY system, here are the bare basics of things we need to configure.
1 – Set the time zone
Figure out where you live, and then do:
ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/REGION/CITY /etc/localtime
Replace the REGION and CITY with your respective area.
Now update the clock with:
2 – Generating the locale file
To generate the locale file, you must first edit the /etc/locale.gen file. This can be done with
Un-comment the locale relevant to you, as well as
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8. On my first time, I didn’t uncomment those and I had a bundle of errors.
For example, you’ll need to change
Use your arrow keys to navigate. Then do Ctrl+X, then the Y key, and then the enter key to save the changes. Once that is complete, do:
3 – Create the configuration file for locales
Nice and simple, type in this command and we’ll be set.
echo "LANG=en_US.UTF-8" > /etc/locale.conf
4 – Setting the hostname
Just like naming a baby, you get to name your computer! Do the following command, replacing HOSTNAME with a name of your choice
echo "HOSTNAME" > /etc/hostname
5 – Enable DHCP
This is important for LAN stuff, do:
systemctl enable dhcpcd
6 – Set the root password
To stop annoying siblings and script kiddies, it’s best to set a password. Use the command:
Anything you type won’t show up – don’t worry, this is normal for Linux.
7 – Install GRUB (The bootloader!)
When we turn a computer on, we expect it to load things (gasp!). In this tutorial (and probably a few others) we’re going to use GRUB.
In the nature of Arch Linux… We need to install that ourselves! (Woo). Use the package manager
pacman to do this.
pacman -S grub os-prober
After that, it’s time to install it into the system.
I used sda, same as earlier in the tutorial.
Now we must configure it (are you noticing a pattern here?):
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
You’re nearly there!
8 – Finishing up
We’ve pretty much finished, exit the arch-chroot environment with
and then you can reboot the system with the command:
You totally wouldn’t have guessed the command, right? You can now pack up the USB stick, throw the tissues you used while waiting for things to load away, and freshen up a bit.
The system will boot and show you the grub menu, hit enter and you ‘ll be in!
That’s it! You’ve installed Arch Linux! You’re not as useless as you think!
Now go and tell every single person you meet that you use Arch Linux.
Once you’ve done that, do these 9 things to make your Arch Linux installation useful.