This will be a reminder for myself on how to set up a basic Arch Linux and not a guide with a lot of variety on how to set up arch. I will update this post when I learn something new, while installing arch on one of my machines again. In the past I did some experiments with btrfs, but had some problems while rebalancing, and actually used none of the fancy features like snapshots, btrfs send or other cool things. Therefore, I decided to go back to plain old ext4 with lvm. 1 Well, I actually used local snapshots bet never had to recover anything. A lot of this is based on the excellent (german) post from Thomas Leister 2. Everything is (as always) documented in the arch wiki. 3

Overview

Just a quick overview about the features before we get started.

  • ext4 Filesystem with lvm
  • encrypted root partition next to unencrypted /boot
  • EFI-Boot with systemd

Steps

1. Setup partitions

The disk Layout will look like this:

The used disk layout.

The used disk layout.

So let’s get started with the partitioning. At first we will create the boot partition. I will use /dev/sda as a placeholder, this could be anything on your local machine.

    1 = boot partition:
    gdisk /dev/sda
    o
    n
    enter
    enter
    +512M
    ef00

After the boot partition is set up, we will use the rest of the space for our data partition.

    2 = data:
    n
    2
    enter
    enter
    enter

Write the changes to disk with w. Now we are ready for the next step, the encryption.

Setup LUKS encryption

Now to the disk encryption, dev/sda2 is the earlier created data partition.

cryptsetup --cipher aes-xts-plain64 --key-size 512 --hash sha512 --use-random luksFormat /dev/sda2

LVM and format partitions

    # Open the earlier created encrypted disk partition
    cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda2 lvm

    pvcreate /dev/mapper/lvm

    vgcreate main /dev/mapper/lvm

    # Adjust to the actual memory size
    lvcreate -L 16G -n swap main

    lvcreate -l 100%FREE -n root main

    mkswap /dev/mapper/main-swap

    # You can use whatever you want instead of ext4
    mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/main-root

    # The ESP must be formated as vfat
    mkfs.vfat /dev/sda1

Mount disks

    mount /dev/mapper/main-root /mnt
    mkdir /mnt/boot
    mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot
    swapon /dev/mapper/main-swap

Get network access

If you have an ethernet jack on your device this should work out of the box.

Get the fastest local mirror

Get the fastest local mirror to speed up the installation of the base system.

    reflector --latest 10 --country Germany --sort rate --save /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Install base system

Don’t forget to install dhcpcd as it was removed from base.

    pacstrap /mnt base linux linux-firmware lvm2 neovim dhcpcd
    genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

    # Chroot in the installation
    arch-chroot /mnt

    # Set timezone info
    ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Region/City /etc/localtime

    Edit /etc/locale.gen and uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 and other needed locales.
    Generate the locales by running: locale-gen

    /etc/locale.conf
    LANG=en_US.UTF-8

    # Set hostname
    nvim /etc/hostname

    # Change root password
    passwd

Boot

Edit /etc/mkinitcpio.conf

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

Run mkinitcpio -p linux

    bootctl --path=/boot install

    /boot/loader/loader.conf
    default arch

/boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

    title    Arch Linux
    linux    /vmlinuz-linux
    initrd   /initramfs-linux.img
    options  cryptdevice=/dev/sda2:main:allow-discards root=/dev/mapper/main-root resume=/dev/mapper/main-swap

:allow-discards to enable TRIM support.

Run systemctl enable fstrim.timer to enable fstrim.

Reboot

  • Exit chroot with exit
    umount /mnt/boot
    umount /mnt

Next steps

You can now follow the post-installation recommendation. 4

  • Add a user
  • Install software

Conclusion

I used this guide a few time for my personal machines. Overall the installation of Arch is straight forward, but as always with Arch you have a lot of possibilities (or opportunities) to use more or less equivalent software to reach the same goal. In this guide I decided on a lot of tools (e.g. systemd-boot instead of grub), because I simply like them or have no idea about newer and maybe better tools for the same problem. If you have any recommendations or improvements, don’t hesitate to share them with me via mail.


  1. https://btrfs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/btrfs-balance.html ↩︎

  2. https://legacy.thomas-leister.de/arch-linux-luks-verschluesselt-auf-uefi-system-installieren-2/ ↩︎

  3. https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Installation_guide ↩︎

  4. https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Installation_guide#Post-installation ↩︎