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Easy Arch linux Setup Guide [USB included]

Posted 09-23-2009 at 11:13 PM by ~sHyLoCk~
Updated 09-23-2009 at 11:19 PM by ~sHyLoCk~

Originally Posted in my blog.

Ok Let me First tell you that this guide was not copy pasted from anywhere, so I must warn you that this is just my experience but the basic setup should work! I wrote this guide by request from my blog readers and also many people who have asked me for a long time. I guess what I'm trying to say is that don't follow this guide blindly and use your brain! Also I would like to ask you to refer this official guide if you run into any troubles!

The first thing you should know and understand is that to setup Arch you must have a working internet connection since it's a do-it-yourself distro. Now let us begin:

1. Get the latest ISO from here. It is recommended that you download a new image even if you have an older one. That might work but a few things have changed in 2009.08 release. It's upto you.

2. Burn it using whatever app you like but please burn it as CD image and not Data disk!

3. Boot from CD.

4. Now when you arrive at the prompt, type root and then km and select your keyboard layout.

5. Type cfdisk and partition if you want. If you just want to overwrite an existing install then skip this step. However I would recommend you type cfdisk anyway and note down the swap and root partition device names i.e. something like /dev/sda2 .depending on your hard disk.

6. Type /arch/setup

7. Now select source -> CDROM

8 . Set Clock.

9. Prepare hard drive. This step is very important! Please read carefully to avoid messing things up! The first option "Auto-prepare" is for those who want to utilize the entire hard disk space , like say you are trying arch in a Virtualbox. Else do not select it since it will erase all your data! "partition hard drive" will take you back to cfdisk! We have already been there done that. So select "Set filesystem mountpoints" and select the appropriate swap and root [/boot /home etc..if you want to] mount points. Then return to main menu.

10. Select packages. Select both base and base-devel. i would suggest install everything here! Press enter and install packages!

11. Now go on to configure your system and please use nano for god's sake!

12. Go to /etc/rc.conf and scroll down. See if your locale,clock and Tmezone are alright. If necessary make changes. Select a hostname in place of "myhost" if you wish. Now the real deal. Networking! If you are using DHCP then delete the entire string of eth0 and just use eth0="dhcp"

Else make changes accordingly. The first address is your IP address, change it with your own. Next one is netmask and then broadcast. If you are using gateway change the value and remove the " ! " from ROUTES=(!gateway)

CTRL+X + Y + Enter

13. Don't bother with /etc/fstab for now, unless you have some local repo for pacman to fetch packages from. I'm assuming you are a newbie so skipping that discussion here.

14. If you are using a USB Drive then goto /etc/mkinitcpio.conf and scroll below and at the end of HOOKS put "usb". Save and exit.

15. Select /etc/resolv.conf and set your DNS address. I would suggest use openDNS. Put these first:


and then your own DNS address. Save and exit.

16. Now in /etc/hosts change the "localhost" to the hostname you set in /etc/rc.conf and save and exit.

17. Goto /etc/locale.gen and select your locale by uncommenting them and exit.

18. Now set your root password.

19. Return to main menu, and install bootloader. Scroll down when presented with menu.lst and uncomment the Windows partition if you have any and change the drive accordingly. Please select /dev/sda or whichever is your mbr! Exit install and reboot the system. Arch is so simple that unlike other distros it doesn't even eject the CD after installation is complete so you have to do it on your own as soon as the system boots. Else you will be booting from CD again.

20. Now you are done! You have successfully setup Arch linux base system. But alas! You have not done even 10% of the work. :P Anyway, I will guide you to get a basic working Desktop Environment. Rest is upto you. Please read the arch wiki and you will get most of your queries resolved in no time.

21. Once your system boots select arch linux and you will be presented with a login prompt. Enter root as username and the password you set earlier. Add an user:

useradd -m -G users,audio,video,wheel,storage,optical,power -s /bin/bash username-here [same line!]

passwd your-username


Now login with your new user and type su and provide root password and continue.

22. Check if network is up and running by:

ping or any other IP you want.

23. Type:

pacman -Syy

pacman -Su

This will upgrade your system to the latest versions of kernel, base packages,etc. This will take some time depending on your internet speed. Reboot. Done? Continue:

24. You will be wanting these, or atleast I am assuming. Please note that the next steps are not the only way people setup arch linux. It's my way! So if you have something else in mind you can refer to the wiki. I can't show you everything in one guide! So these steps are just the way I setup my Arch box.

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xf86-input-keyboard xf86-input-mouse xf86-input-evdev hal dbus xorg

Let it all install. Now, I am using Nvidia card so i will be telling you about nvidia, for Ati or everything else refer to wiki!

If you are using VMware:

pacman -S xf86-video-vmware

If you have intel graphics:

pacman -S xf86-video-intel

If you have Nvidia:

pacman -S nvidia nvidia-utils

Don't worry let it remove libgail or libgl or whatever it wants to. :P

Now type [for nvidia users]:


nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

At the bottom add these lines for compositing.

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Enable"

Save and exit.

For others just type X -configure and then copy the file from /root directory to your /etc/X11/ and make sure you save it as xorg.conf. You can opt out of this step though, hal can auto-detect your hardware.

25. Sound:

pacman -S alsa-base alsa-utils alsa-oss

alsaconf [It will detect your sound card]

alsamixer [ Set your volumes]

alsactl store

26. DE:


pacman -S gnome gnome-extras

You may select what you want, there is a nice description about Gnome in archwiki page which tells you what each application does, so choose accordingly. Same goes for KDE.


pacman -S kde

27. Fonts:

Is it over yet? Urgh!! Yes a few more steps:

pacman -S ttf-ms-fonts ttf-dejavu ttf-bistream-vera

28. Daemons:

nano /etc/rc.conf

Scroll all the way down and in the daemons array after crond add these:

dbus hal alsa

Save and exit.

29. Default DM:

If you don't want to put startx everytime you boot and want a Login screen instead then:

nano /etc/inittab

Notice the line # Boot to console and put a " # " in front of id:3 and remove the " # " from id:5. Scroll down. Put a " # " in front of x:5 [obviously the first one where the # isn't in there! ] and uncomment i.e. remove " # " from the line which you want. GDM if you are using Gnome or KDM if you are using KDE.

Save and exit.

Hopefully everything went fine. Now type reboot and Happy Arching!

Please refer to this page for more guidance.
Posted in Arch Linux
Views 3183 Comments 2
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Total Comments 2


  1. Old Comment
    A good concise guide. I was thinking of installing Arch during my distrohopping days, and printed the official guide, but never got round to doing it. If distrohoppomania strikes again, I'll refer to your guide as well as the official one.
    Posted 09-24-2009 at 05:33 PM by brianL brianL is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Thanks a lot for the appreciation Brian. It was more of a basic guide to get a working Desktop ready.
    Posted 10-10-2009 at 09:02 AM by ~sHyLoCk~ ~sHyLoCk~ is offline


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