Arch Install Guide

   
Author Keith Patton
Date 2019-05-24
Revision 1.3

Configuration

These instructions will walk you through the process of installing Arch Linux in the following format:

  • UEFI
  • x86_64
  • (Full partition details below)
  • Single LVM Physical Volume
  • Single LVM Volume Group
  • LVM Logical Volumes for : root, home
  • GRUB2 bootloader
  • SWAP file rather than partition
  • Dual boot Arch and Windows

Disk layout

             ╔═════════════════════╗╔════════════╗
             ║    /root (100GB)    ║║/home (30GB)║ [LVM Logical Volumes]
             ╚═════════════════════╝╚════════════╝

             |---------------vg-00---------------| [LVM Volume Group]

┌───────────┐┌───────────────────────────────────┐┌──────────────────────┐
│EFI (500MB)││          [LVM] PV (130GB)         ││     empty (100GB)    │
└───────────┘└───────────────────────────────────┘└──────────────────────┘

┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐
│                           PHYSICAL DISK (256GB)                        │
└────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Reasoning

The above disk layout provides a dual-boot environment with Arch Linux being the mainstay OS and Windows being a less important / destructable OS.

Using LVM allows for realtime snapshot and resizing of the Arch Linux install that may be useful for backups / upgrades.

The remaining free disk space can be used to install Windows once Linux is installed.

Instructions

  1. Boot up the install media using UEFI.

  2. Set the keyboard layout for the installation steps

    loadkeys uk
    
  3. Verify we are booting using UEFI

    ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars
    

    Confirm the efivars directory exists - if not, you have not booted the machine using UEFI

  4. Connect to internet for install

    Check your network interface is detected and shows as UP

    ip link
    

    Confirm you have an IP on your interface

    ip a
    

    Ping a public IP to confirm network activity

    ping 1.1.1.1
    

    Ping a public FQDN to confirm DNS routing

    ping www.google.co.uk
    
  5. Update system clock

    timedatectl set-ntp true
    
  6. Partition the disks

    Use lsblk to identify your disks

    lsblk
    

    An example layout:
    The following shows a system with 1x 1TB SATA disk, and 1x 240GB SSD (NVMe) - each with a single partition.

     NAME                  MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
     sda                     8:0    0 931.5G  0 disk
     └─sda1                  8:1    0 931.5G  0 part
     nvme0n1               259:0    0 232.9G  0 disk
     └─nvme0n1p1           259:1    0    10G  0 part
    

    The following shows 2x unpartitioned disks.

     NAME                  MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
     sda                     8:0    0 931.5G  0 disk
     nvme0n1               259:0    0 232.9G  0 disk
    

    In the above examples, the disk we will choose to work with would be nvme0n1 as our main OS disk.
    Please note : your disk may be different. If you only have sda (SSD) disks and not NVMe (nvme01) then use /dev/sda as your disk to partition.

    a. Partition the main OS disk

    Connect to the main disk
    Create a new partition table
    Create a new physical partition for EFI (500MB)
    Mark the partition type as EFI
    Label the partition EFI
    Create a new physical partition for LVM physical volume (100GB)
    Mark the partition type as LVM
    Label the partition Linux

     # NOTE : where it asks for confirmation, choose 'y'
    
     gdisk /dev/nvme0n1
     # (or /dev/sda if you only have SSD disks)
    
     o
    
     n
     # (confirm)
     # (accept default partition start point)
     +500M
     ef00
     c
     EFI
    
     n
     # (confirm)
     # (accept default partition start point)
     +130G
     8e00
     c
     # (choose your partition - likely 2)
     Linux
    
     w
    

    Confirm the partitions have been written to disk.
    If successful, you should now have a partition table similar to the example below.

    lsblk
    
       NAME                  MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
       sda                     8:0    0 931.5G  0 disk
       nvme0n1               259:0    0 232.9G  0 disk
       ├─nvme0n1p1           259:1    0   512M  0 part
       └─nvme0n1p2           259:2    0   130G  0 part
    

    b. Create LVM Volumes

    First, load the device mapper.

    modprobe dm_mod
    

    Confirm the system is seeing the newly partitioned disk as containing an LVM capable partition on the NVMe drive.

    lvmdiskscan
    
    /dev/nvme0n1   [    <232.89 GiB]
    /dev/nvme0n1p1 [     512.00 MiB]
    /dev/nvme0n1p2 [     130.00 GiB]
    0 disks
    2 partitions
    0 LVM physical volume whole disks
    0 LVM physical volume
    

    Create the LVM physical volume on the second partition of the main disk.
    Do not create an LVM Physical Volume on the first partition as this will be used by your bootloader which may not recognise LVM partitions (GRUB does, but that is outside the scope of this quick guide).

    pvcreate /dev/nvme0n1p2
    

    Confirm the LVM volume got created

    pvdisplay
    
    --- Physical volume ---
    PV Name               /dev/nvme0n1p2
    VG Name               
    PV Size               130.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
    Allocatable           yes
    PE Size               4.00 MiB
    Total PE              33279
    Free PE               33279
    Allocated PE          0
    PV UUID               <this-will-be-unique>
    

    Create the LVM volume group that will hold all of the LVM logical volumes.
    LVM can manage multiple groups (from m=numerous physical volumes), each containing multiple logical volumes.
    For simplicity we will call this first, main, volume group vg-00 on the LVM physcial volume.

    vgcreate vg-00 /dev/nvme0n1p2
    

    Confirm the LVM volume group got created

    vgdisplay
    
    --- Volume group ---
    VG Name               vg-00
    System ID             
    Format                lvm2
    Metadata Areas        1
    Metadata Sequence No  3
    VG Access             read/write
    VG Status             resizable
    MAX LV                0
    Cur LV                0
    Open LV               0
    Max PV                0
    Cur PV                1
    Act PV                1
    VG Size               <130.00 GiB
    PE Size               4.00 MiB
    Total PE              33279
    Alloc PE / Size       0 / <130.00 GiB
    Free  PE / Size       33279 / 0   
    VG UUID               <this-will-be-unique>
    

    Create the LVM logical volumes that will hold your filesystems.
    As outlined previously we will be creating /root (100GB) and /home (30GB).

    lvcreate -L 100G vg-00 -n arch-lv-root
    lvcreate -l 100%FREE vg-00 -n arch-lv-home
    

    Confirm the LVM logical volumes got created.

    lvdisplay
    
    --- Logical volume ---
    LV Path                /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-home
    LV Name                arch-lv-home
    VG Name                vg-00
    LV UUID                <unique>
    LV Write Access        read/write
    LV Creation host, time archiso, <datetime>
    LV Status              available
    # open                 1
    LV Size                30.00 GiB
    Current LE             7680
    Segments               1
    Allocation             inherit
    Read ahead sectors     auto
    - currently set to     256
    Block device           254:0
    
    --- Logical volume ---
    LV Path                /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-root
    LV Name                arch-lv-root
    VG Name                vg-00
    LV UUID                <unique>
    LV Write Access        read/write
    LV Creation host, time archiso, <dateime>
    LV Status              available
    # open                 1
    LV Size                <100.00 GiB
    Current LE             25599
    Segments               1
    Allocation             inherit
    Read ahead sectors     auto
    - currently set to     256
    Block device           254:1
    

    Online the devices.

    vgscan
    vgchange -ay
    

    You should now have LVM configured in the following way:

    Physical volume /dev/nvme0n1p2 (130GB)
    Volume Group vg-00
    + Logical Volume /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-root (100GB)
    + Logical Volume /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-home (30GB)
    
  7. Format the partitions

    Format the EFI partition using FAT32.

    mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/nvme0n1p1
    

    Format / and /home to ext4 using the new LVM logical volume mappings.

    mkfs.ext4 /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-root
    mkfs.ext4 /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-home
    
  8. Mount the filesystems

    Importantly, mount the root / filesystem first, then mount every other filesystem to the correct mountpoint on top of /.

    Mount Arch root partition to /
    Create the boot directory
    Mount EFI partition to /efi
    Create the home directory
    Mount the Arch home partition to /home

    mount /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-root /mnt
    
    mkdir /mnt/efi
    mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/efi
    
    mkdir /mnt/home
    mount /dev/vg-00/arch-lv-home /mnt/home
    

    Bug fix
    There is a current (2019-05-28) bug in lvm2 / systemd which does not like chroot into LVM volumes.
    Correct the issue by mount the LVM runtime details into a mountpoint in chroot

    mkdir /mnt/hostlvm
    mount --bind /run/lvm /mnt/hostlvm
    
  9. Install the base packages

    Firstly, populate the pacman GPG keyring.

    pacman -Syy
    pacman-key --populate archlinux
    pacman-key --refresh-keys
    

    Now install the base Arch Linux packages along with any additional packages. Here I have added packages for an additional Linux LTS kernel, git and wget for installing yay (AUR), and some packages for connecting to wifi from TTY.

    pacstrap /mnt base base-devel git wget sudo vim linux-lts iw wpa_supplicant dialog
    
  10. Create the permanent Filesystem Table config

    genfstab -U /mnt > /mnt/etc/fstab
    
  11. Change the root environment to the new install

    arch-chroot /mnt
    ln -s /hostlvm /run/lvm

    Install the lvm2 package for you LVM partitions.

    pacman -S lvm2
    modprobe dm_mod
    vgscan
    vgchange -ay
    
  12. Set the timezone for you new install

    ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Dublin /etc/localtime
    

    Create the time offset

    hwclock --systohc
    
  13. Set the localization of the new install

    Tell the system which locales you wish to use in the system.
    Typically English (UK) and English (USA).

    Uncomment en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8, en_GB ISO-8859-1 and en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8, en_US ISO-8859-1 as below:

    vim /etc/locale.gen
    
    ...
    ...
    en_GB.UTF-8 UTF-8
    en_GB ISO-8859-1
    ...
    ...
    en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
    en_US ISO-8859-1
    ...
    ...
    

    Generate the locales

    locale-gen
    

    Create the system-wide LANG variable.
    Add LANG=en_GB.UTF-8 to /etc/locale.conf (For International English)

    vim /etc/locale.conf
    
    LANG=en_GB.UTF-8
    

    Set the terminal keyboard layout.

    vim /etc/vconsole.conf
    
    KEYMAP=uk
    
  14. Configure system hosts

    Create your system’s hostname.

    vim /etc/hostname
    
    <set-your-hostname-to-something>
    

    Add your hostname to the system hosts file

    vim /etc/hosts
    
     127.0.0.1        localhost
     ::1              localhost
     127.0.1.1        <your-system-hostname>.localdomain    <your-system-hostname>
    
  15. Generate an initial boot disk for the bootloader

    Configure the init creator /etc/mkinitcpio.conf to recognise LVM partitions on boot.

    vim /etc/mkinitcpio.conf

    Add systemd and sd-lvm2 hooks to the config as follows :

    HOOKS=(base systemd autodetect modconf block sd-lvm2 filesystems keyboard fsck)
    
    mkinitcpio -p linux
    
  16. Install the CPU microcode

    Install one of the following packages:

    • If using Intel : intel-ucode
    • If using AMD : amd-ucode

    Firstly create the pacman-keyring

    pacman -Syy
    pacman-key --populate archlinux
    pacman-key --refresh-keys
    

    Install the microcode package (Intel)

    pacman -S intel-ucode
    

    OR

    Install the microcode package (AMD)

    pacman -S amd-ucode
    
  17. Install the bootloader

    Install GRUB2

    pacman -S grub efibootmgr os-prober fuse2 dosfstools mtools
    grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/efi --bootloader-id=GRUB
    grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
    
  18. Allow the wheel group to use sudo

    chmod o+w /etc/sudoers
    vim /etc/sudoers
    
    ## Uncomment to allow members of group wheel to execute any command
    %wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL
    
    chmod o-w /etc/sudoers
    
  19. Create a new user for yourself

    useradd -c "<some-comment-here-about-you>" -mUG wheel <your-username-here>
    

    Set a password for the new user

    passwd <your-new-user>
    
  20. Change the root password for security

    passwd
    
  21. Leave CHROOT, umount the disks and reboot to your new install

    exit
    umount -R /mnt
    reboot
    

Final Steps

At this point, if everything went well, your system should boot up to the newly installed Arch distro with only a terminal session.
You should login as your new user and perform any additional installations / configurations.

For example to install the nVidia drivers and Gnome Desktop

sudo pacman -S nvidia gnome gnome-extra gnome-control-center gdm networkmanager

For a full list of final recommendations see : https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/General_recommendations

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