Arch Linux Install Notes

These notes assume that you are running the latest Arch install CD, which will provide you with a command line environment running ZSH as root. The focus of this document has turned to ensuring a minimal viable OS for use as a Virtual Box VM for cloning into other VMs for testing.

To get a base install of Arch Linux working, boot a new VBox VM with the latest Arch Linux ISO and follow the below steps:

Check Internet Connection

If you have a wired connection and a dynamic IP is good for you then you should be already good to go. To check run the following:

ping -c 3

If for some reason, you have no Internet connection at this point, you should refer to the Arch Linux wiki and installation notes.

Setup SSH Access

Once you boot Arch Linux from media into the Live Environment for installation purposes, you are dropped into a minimal text console environment. If you have another computer with a graphical interface, internet browser, and copy/paste ability, then you can use SSH to install Arch remotely from that other machine.

First, I need to give root a password:


Second, you need to edit the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config and allow SSH to login as root:

PermitRootLogin yes

Third, turn on the needed services:

systemctl start sshd
systemctl start dhcpcd

Finally, connect to the installation target from the other computer:

ssh root@<ip-address-of-target>

Prepare Hard Disks

You can now take one of two paths for setting up your disks. You can either setup a regular set of partitions or setup LVM partitions on LUKS. The former method sets up plain text or unencrypted partitions. The latter method sets up encrypted partitions that require a key to open every time the system reboots.

  1. Regular partition scheme
  2. Encrypted partition scheme

Install the Base System

You should now be prepared to start the installation of the base Arch system:

pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel mg python2 openssh rsync curl sudo

The above will take several minutes. After the base install finishes, you will need to generate a fstab file.

Generate fstab

I need to generate a fstab file so that the system knows what to mount at boot time:

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

You may use a -L above instead of -U if you prefer to use labels instead of UUIDs. It is also good to check that the fstab file was generated properly:

cat /mnt/etc/fstab

Make sure to double check the UUIDs in fstab with the ones produces by this command:


NOTE: The last time I setup an LVM on LUKS system, I ran into a situation where I had only the main HD of the system connected during install and mapped to /dev/sde. When I added other external drives, the main drive would then map to /dev/sdg or something else. This caused the encrypted container to be missed by the initial ram disk environment. The error message was ERROR: Unable to find root device. The fix was to use the Live Install environment to mount everything manually and then regenerate the Initial RamDisk environment with mkinitcpio and also regenerate the Grub config. More details below.

Change Root

Before doing this step, ensure that all filesystems are mounted. The Prepare Hard Disks step above addressed this, but do make sure all is mounted. Change the root folder into the newly installed system location:

arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash

This is needed before I can configure the system further.

Setup Script

You need to do a bunch of setup stuff on the new system now. These tasks include:

  1. Language and Location Settings
  2. Console font
  3. Setting the Timezone
  4. Setting the Hardware Clock
  5. Setting the hostname
  6. Enabling networking by default
  7. ... and finally, setting the root password

Luckly for you, I created a quick script to accomplish all of the above in one fell swoop. Just do the following:

cd /tmp
curl -O
chmod +x

Generate an Intial RamDisk

This step is only needed if you used disk encryption. Skip it otherwise.

Edit the /etc/mkinitcpio.conf file and make sure that the HOOKS setting looks like this:

HOOKS="base udev autodetect modconf block keyboard encrypt lvm2 resume filesystems shutdown fsck"

Note that the hooks keyboard, encrypt, lvm2, and resume need to come after block and before filesystems. The shutdown hook needs to come after filesystems.

Finally, generate the ramdisk (iginore any errors about missing firmware):

cd /boot
mkinitcpio -p linux

Configure the Boot Loader

Use pacman to install a few packages, including the GRUB2 bootloader.

pacman -S fuse grub lvm2 os-prober

This is now one of the most crucial pieces of a new Arch installation. There are 2 different ways that you can go on this step. It all hinges on how you prepared the hard drives above. If you encrypted the disks then continue from here. Otherwise skip to Install & Setup Grub below.

In the GRUB2 config file, we need to set a kernel parameter. Find the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="" and add the cryptdevice parameter to specify the location of your encrypted LVM. Edit the /etc/default/grub file and make sure the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX looks like this:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="cryptdevice=/dev/sda3:crypto root=/dev/vg00/lv_root resume=/dev/vg00/lv_swap"

Remember that things have to match your actual setup. The above matches the names I gave things when we setup my disks above.

Install & Setup Grub

Now you are ready to install and generate the GRUB config file:

grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck /dev/sda
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

The following warnings can be safely ignored:

/run/lvm/lvmetad.socket: connect failed: No such file or directory
WARNING: Failed to connect to lvmetad. Falling back to internal scanning.

Unmount and Reboot

Exit the chroot environment, dismount, and reboot

umount -R /mnt


We are now done with the installation and configuration of Arch Linux. By following the above steps you should now have a base Arch system. For problems refer to the Arch wiki or the Beginner's Guide.