The ArchWiki is one of the best (if not the best) wiki for Linux. But it can be confusing for new users because of how much information it provides. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how I install Arch Linux, without showing you too many choices.

Prerequisites

  • Your desktop/laptop
  • A USB key
  • Some basic knowledge of Linux

The base system

Verify the boot mode

Make sure you’re booting in EFI mode, check if the directory exists:

ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars

Connect to the internet

Ethernet

You don’t need to do anything.

Wifi

Get your device name:

iwctl station list

Scan for networks:

iwctl station wlan0 get-networks

Connect to your network:

iwctl station wlan0 connect MYWIFI

Update the system clock

Ensure the system clock is accurate:

timedatectl set-ntp true

Check the service status:

timedatectl status

Partition the disks

Identify disks:

lsblk

Disks are assigned to a block device such as /dev/nvme0n1.

Clean the entire disk (do not do this if you want to keep your data):

  • # gdisk /dev/nvme0n1
  • x for extra functionality
  • z to zap (destroy) GPT data structures and exit
  • y to proceed
  • y to blank out MBR

Create boot partition and root partition:

  • # cfdisk /dev/nvme0n1
  • Select gpt
  • Hit [ New ] to create a new patition
  • Give the boot partition 1G and let the rest for the root partition
  • Select the boot partition and hit [ Type ] to choose EFI System
  • Hit [ Write ] then type yes to save, then hit [ Quit ]

Format the partitions

Format the boot partition to FAT32:

mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/nvme0n1p1

Format the root partition to ext4:

mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p2

Mount the file systems

Mount root partition first:

mount /dev/nvme0n1p2 /mnt

Then create mount point for boot partition and mount it accordingly:

mkdir /mnt/boot

mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot

Install the base and base-devel packages

Use the pacstrap script:

pacstrap /mnt base linux linux-firmware base-devel

Generate an fstab file

Use -U or -L to define by UUID or labels:

genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

Chroot

Change root to the new system:

arch-chroot /mnt

Install some essential packages

Microcode:

pacman -S intel-ucode (or amd-ucode)

Network manager:

pacman -S networkmanager

Your text editor of choice:

pacman -S neovim (or nano or micro)

And some packages for my personal config:

pacman -S ansible git zsh

Create swap file

As an alternative to creating an entire swap partition, a swap file offers the ability to vary its size on-the-fly, and is more easily removed altogether.

Create a 32GiB (adjust the number depending on your RAM, I recommend a number equal to the amount of RAM) swap file:

fallocate -l 32GiB /swapfile

Set the right permissions:

chmod 600 /swapfile

format it to swap:

mkswap /swapfile

Activate the swap file:

swapon /swapfile

Edit fstab at /etc/fstab to add an entry for the swap file:

nvim /etc/fstab

/swapfile none swap defaults 0 0

Configure time zone

Set your time zone by region:

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh /etc/localtime

Generate /etc/adjtime:

hwclock --systohc

Configure locale

Uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 in /etc/locale.gen (or just overwrite the file like below), then generate locale:

echo 'en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8' > /etc/locale.gen

locale-gen

Set LANG variable in /etc/locale.conf:

echo 'LANG=en_US.UTF-8' > /etc/locale.conf

Change host name

Create hostname file at /etc/hostname contain the host name, for example:

echo 'Precision' > /etc/hostname

Set your root password

passwd

Enter your password then confirm it.

Install boot loader

Install systemd-boot to the /boot partition:

bootctl --path=/boot install

Edit systemd-boot options:

nvim /boot/loader/loader.conf

default arch
timeout 0

Add Arch boot entry:

nvim /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

title   Arch Linux
linux   /vmlinuz-linux
initrd  /intel-ucode.img
initrd  /initramfs-linux.img
options root=/dev/nvme0n1p2 rw

Enable network services

systemctl enable NetworkManager

Add new user

Add a new user named myname:

useradd -m -G wheel -s /bin/zsh -c "My Name" myname

Protect the newly created user myname with a password:

passwd myname

Establish nvim as the visudo editor:

EDITOR=nvim visudo

Then uncomment %wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL to allow members of group wheel sudo access.

Reboot to the new system

Exit the chroot environment by typing:

exit

Restart the machine:

reboot

Login

Login with your user account after the machine has rebooted. Use nmtui to connect to the Internet if you’re using wifi.

Graphical user interface

You’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to Linux user interface, but for the sake of tutorial, I’ll choose GNOME because it’s the simplest one to install and use.

sudo pacman -S gnome

sudo systemctl enable --now gdm

Personally I don’t like GNOME, here’s some of my recommendation:

  • KDE: Fast, looks nice by default, tons of feature
  • Build your own desktop environment with a window manager:
    • bspwm: Minimal and fast
    • dwm: hackable, designed to add your own feature to the code base, written in C

Checkout the r/unixporn subreddit for much more eye candy screenshot of Linux.