Arch Linux install guide (2022 updated)

Arch Linux is an excellent lightweight GNU/Linux distribution. It’s very well documented, and it’s fast. Even if you are not a die-hard Linux geek, you can learn quite a bit about GNU/Linux from it, as it’s often used as a reference distro. This is tutorial on how to install Arch Linux on your laptop or PC.

This tutorial is intended for computers with BIOS firmware installed. To check if you are using legacy BIOS or UEFI, see you motherboard tech specs, or press F12/F2/ESC while booting to enter firmware settings. You will see what is installed.

As I assume you have BIOS, I will create MBR partitioning table. This is a standard for BIOS systems. For UEFI you should use GPT, but I will not cover it in this article.

Also, it would be easier to install Arch Linux when you have an Ethernet cable attached to your computer. However, using Wi-Fi is possible too.

How to install Arch Linux – step by step

The first step is preparation. It’s about writing Arch image to USB flash drive. You can follow steps below if you already run a GNU/Linux distribution. If you use Windows, download an image from website below and write it with any disk image writing software.


  1. Backup your important data on external drive or cloud storage.
  2. Download disk image from
  3. Insert USB flash drive with no files on it (otherwise, all data will be lost) into your computer.
  4. Open a terminal, cd to directory where Arch Linux ISO image is downloaded.
  5. Run lsblk to find your USB drive /dev/ path. See the picture for more info:
    Finding USB drive path from lsblk output
  6. Write disk image. Caution: selecting wrong block device (sda/sdb/…) will cause horrible data erase on your system! So, the command (remember to replace sdb with your device if needed):
    dd if=archlinux-*-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M status=progress
    It writes Arch iso to sdb block device with progress report and block size of four megabytes.
  7. After this, run eject /dev/sdb and unplug the USB stick.
  8. Power off your computer.


  1. Insert the USB flash drive and power on the computer. While booting, press F12/F2/ESC or whatever to enter BIOS settings.
  2. Select your USB stick as boot device.
  3. Boot. You should see this (a bootloader):
    Arch Linux bootloader
    Press Enter in bootloader. After, you should see [email protected] shell prompt.

Installation tutorial

Connect to the network

If you use an Ethernet cable, check the network now: curl

You should see some HTML code and “301 Moved Permanently”. The reason for this is redirect to HTTPS version of, but you don’t need it. If you see it, the network is fine, move on.

If not, run iwctl. You should see “[iwd]#” prompt. You can use help command to get help, but usually you should do the following:

device list
station wlan0 connect access_point

…where wlan0 is the device name obtained by device list and access_point is your home WIFI access point name. Press Ctrl+D to exit iwd.

Partition the disk

You can use cfdisk, a terminal user interface to fdisk. However, I will guide how to use fdisk because it is scriptable and more advanced.

fdisk help — m command

Run fdisk /dev/sda, where sda is name of your hard drive, where you want Arch to be installed. If you do this on virtual machine, use vda instead. Run fdisk -l to be sure.

Use the m command to get help. Also, you can use picture on the right for reference. I highlighted useful commands with yellow color.

Press ENTER after every command. The command sequence you should run looks like this:

  1. o — create new MBR partition table.
  2. n, p, ENTER two times, +8G — create a swap partition (you can adjust the size).
  3. n, p, ENTER three times — create root partition.
  4. t, 1, swap — mark first partition as swap.
  5. a, 2 — mark root partition as bootable.
  6. w — write changes and quit.

Done! You can use fdisk -l /dev/sda to verify partition table.

Create filesystems

Create swap and root filesystem, enable swap with swapon and mount filesystem:

mkswap /dev/sda1
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2
swapon /dev/sda1
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

Install base system

Use pacstrap tool to install Arch Linux packages and package groups to the system by mount path. In our case, it is /mnt:

pacstrap /mnt linux linux-firmware base base-devel syslinux nano sudo networkmanager xdg-user-dirs man man-db

You might want to install linux-lts kernel instead of linux if you don’t want to update it too often. If you use Wi-Fi, you should install something like wpa_supplicant.

Configuring the system

At this step, you have your system installed in /mnt directory (on /dev/sda2). It’s time to configure it!

Generate filesystem table — fstab

Arch Linux installation medium has a builtin script for generating /etc/fstab file — genfstab. Here is how to use it:

genfstab -U /mnt /mnt/etc/fstab

Change root to new system

Now, you can change root directory to your newly installed system. To do this, mount and chroot are used. In Arch Linux, you can use arch-chroot utility:

arch-chroot /mnt

Set up users

  1. Change root password — run passwd
  2. Add new non-root user. I will call him John: useradd -m john
  3. Change john password: passwd john
  4. Add “wheel” group for superusers: EDITOR=nano visudo
    Navigate to the line # %wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL and uncomment it — erase # at start.
  5. Add John to sudoers: gpasswd -a john wheel
  6. Press Ctrl+X, than y and ENTER to exit nano.

Configure the clock

  1. Set the timezone: ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
    Remember to replace America/New_York with your location in format Continent/City.
    You’ve just created a symbolic link /etc/localtime which points to your timezone file.
  2. Enable NTP synchronization: timedatectl set-ntp true
  3. Set the Hardware Clock from System Clock: hwclock -w

Set the hostname

Let’s call our computer “archcomp” (you can choose whatever you want). Write /etc/hostname file:

echo archcomp > /etc/hostname

Then alter the contents of /etc/hosts. You can use nano editor for this purpose. But you can also execute this tricky Bash command:

cat << EOF > /etc/hosts    localhost
::1          localhost    archcomp

Remember to replace archcomp with your hostname.

Enable Network manager

Use systemctl to make Network Manager startup automatically every system boot.

systemctl enable NetworkManager

Install the Syslinux bootloader

There is a Syslinux autoinstaller, you can use it now:

syslinux-install_update -iam

By default, Syslinux writes sda3 as your root partition. Replace it to your partition with sed tool:

sed -i "s/sda3/sda2/g" /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg

…where sda2 is your root partition.

Exit & reboot

  1. Exit the chroot: exit.
  2. Unmount the filesystem (recursively): umount -R /mnt
  3. Turn off swap: swapoff -a
  4. Finally, reboot.

I hope you did everything right. In this case you should see “archcomp login” after reboot.


Next thing you should do is to install Graphical User Interface. To do this, install X server, then install a Window Manager (something like i3wm) or a Desktop Manager (KDE/XFCE/Gnome etc.). See those post-installation steps in next articles. Good luck!

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