This is a list of the commands I’d run to set up a machine with Arch Linux as of today (25th April 2020).

First of all, create a bootable USB (or CD) based on the ISO downloaded from the main Arch Linux website and boot it up.

Initial steps

Set keyboard layout to UK

loadkeys uk

Connect to the Internet (Ethernet is easier, but Wireless is just as easy) before continuing…

Set timezone and enable NTP

Set the time zone to London and enable NTP for keeping the time/date synchronised.

timedatectl set-timezone Europe/London
timedatectl set-ntp true

Disk setup

Create your disk partition layouts at this point using the preferred disk partition tool (fdisk, cfdisk, parted etc.) but remember that if you’re enabling encryption, create the partitions accordingly.

Remember that I always recommend /home being on a separate partition!

Formatting a partition (assuming ext4 which is most common)

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1

or without journaling enabled

mkfs.ext4 -O "^has_journal" /dev/sda1

or with BTRFS instead

mkfs.btrfs /dev/sda1

Formatting the swap partition

mkswap /dev/sda2

Get ready to install (mount drives)

mount /dev/sda3 /mnt
mkdir /mnt/home
mount /dev/sda4 /home

and if you created a separate /boot partition

mkdir /mnt/boot
mount /dev/sda1 /boot

and finally enable the swap partition

swapon /dev/sda2

Install the basics

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel linux linux-firmware

Create the fstab file

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

Chroot into the installed OS

arch-chroot /mnt

Next steps…

Set the root password - make it secure!


Set the locale

Edit /etc/locale.gen to uncomment any en_GB entries before generating the locale file

echo LANG=en_GB.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
echo KEYMAP=uk > /etc/vconsole.conf

Set the hardware clock

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/London /etc/localtime
hwclock --systohc

Name the computer (set up hostname)

echo {name} > /etc/hostname
echo {name}.localdomain {name} >> /etc/hosts

Install zsh (if you prefer it to bash)

pacman -S zsh

Add your everyday user account and set the password

(replace zsh with bash if you skipped the last step)

useradd -m -g users -G wheel -s /bin/zsh {username}
passwd {username}

Add user to sudoers (optional)

Replace {editor} with the editor of choice - nano should already be installed.

EDITOR={editor} visudo

Uncomment the line below to allow all users in wheel group to run root commands

%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL

Create a new initramfs file

Remember to update /etc/mkinitcpio.conf if you’re using an encrypted disk to make sure the correct things are loaded before running the following:

mkinitcpio -P

Set up grub (bootloader)

pacman -S grub
grub-install /dev/sda

If you have any customisations to make to the boot command line, make them in /etc/default/grub now!

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Install any additional utilities, window managers etc.

KDE/Plasma & SDDM

pacman -S plasma sddm

Enable the SDDM service so it’s launched on boot:

systemctl enable sddm


This is my choice on low powered machines, and I don’t include a display manager (but you can add one if you like though). Remember that you’ll need to start X yourself with startx.

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xorg-apps openbox obconf lxappearance

Use the example xinitrc file as your base:

cp /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc ~/.xinitrc

edit the file to comment out the last block (starts with twm and includes references to xterm etc.) and then add the following at the bottom:

exec openbox-session


Take your pick from konsole (my preferred in KDE), xterm (very simple), sakura (basic with some features).

Network connectivity

You’ll probably need to install some packages to help you get a network connection post-reboot. Here are a few options:


Should get installed with KDE, but if you’ve opted for something else, needs installing manually:

pacman -S network-manager network-manager-applet

and then the service needs enabling:

sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager
sudo systemctl start NetworkManager

WPA Supplicant (wifi only)

pacman -S dialog wpa_supplicant

once installed:

sudo wifi-menu

it will save your profile as a network service, view all options:

sudo netctl list

and enable the one you want:

sudo netctl enable {profile_name}


Install the iwd package from the registry and start it with:


At the interactive prompt:

# show the installed wifi adapters
devices list

# scan for networks
station {wlan} scan

# show the networks found in the scan
station {wlan} get-networks

# connect to a network (it will prompt for PSK)
station {wlan} connect {network_name}

I also had to install the dhcp package and then enable the daemon, along with the DNS resolver in systemd:

systemctl enable dhcpd
systemctl enable systemd-resolved

Final steps (and reboot)

Exit from the chroot shell, unmount all partitions and reboot:

umount -R /mnt

Additional packages

There are additional packages that I tend to install after a base install. Some of these are related to software development, some are not.

  • Yay (AUR helper, saves a few keypresses for installing packages via AUR)
  • nvm (Node Version Manager - this is available on AUR and can be installed with Yay)
  • OpenSSH (ssh - because it’s not installed by default)
  • Visual Studio Code - I install the MS one from AUR because some plugins that I’ve become pretty used to aren’t in the open repository: visual-studio-code-bin
  • docker and docker-compose (both available from official Arch Linux repositories)
  • kamoso (camera utility for KDE)
  • pulseaudio-equalizer (audio equaliser for pulseaudio - it sets itself up as an additional audio controller, so it affects all audio output)


These can be installed from the standard Arch Linux package registry.

  • Hack: ttf-hack
  • Noto Fonts: noto-fonts noto-fonts-emoji noto-fonts-extra


Signature is unknown trust

signature from "{name} <{email}>" is unknown trust

As per the Arch docs here, there are a few possible solutions but I’ve had success with installing the archlinux-keyring package and then doing a pacman update:

sudo pacman -Sy archlinux-keyring
sudo pacman -Su