Arch Linux Install Script

Many new Linux users eventually gravitate toward a more minimal Linux distro where they essentially get to build their own distro, according to their own preferences rather than Canonical’s or another big distro sponsor. Arch Linux is a terrific destination for these intermediate Linux users, because there is a lot of freedom and choice. You get to build your own distro, since you install it by hand. After you’ve installed Arch by hand a few times, you’ll probably want to create your own Arch install script.

Since you’ve already installed the distro by hand several times, you probably already have a list of preferred applications and ways of installing Arch. This script will reflect the simplest possible steps that are automated yet easily comprehended by someone not totally brand new to bash scripting.

This script, named, is mainly a skeleton that you can modify and that can grow with your growing scripting skills. WARNING: I’m using an MBR disk label here. This will probably not work with a UEFI Motherboard or EFI bios. For that you should really use a GPT disk label with an EFI partition formatted with FAT-32. My other install scripts use this format, or they are capable of branching to install with GPT disk label and EFI-friendly partitioning scheme according to whether a fully compliant EFI bios exists. I’ll revisit this later.

When you boot up the archiso disk image from your thumbdrive or ISO file, you’ll need to fetch this script. From a terminal, you can get it by typing curl -O The file will appear in your root directory. You should edit the variables to conform to your preferences. For example, if you have a 20G virtual drive (or hard drive) and 2G of RAM, you’ll perhaps want 10G of root partition and 4G of swap partition. You’ll want your own hostname and so on. You’ll need to edit the script before you run it, obviously. For testing on a VM I usually create a 30G virtual disk with 1G of RAM.

You can grab the Farchi script like this:
curl -O Obviously, my username on Github is deepbsd. The name of the repo is farchi. And you’ll want to snag the master branch of that repo.

Here’s my script, which should just give you a starting place for your own script. This script does not install X. You can have that as a future exercise! Or you can use my script at the same location if you need ideas. But if you just want to install a basic, vanilla Arch system, this script takes about 5-7 minutes on my i5-4690k with 32G of RAM and an NVME SSD, depending on network speed, mostly. Because of the number of dependencies for X, installing X takes about twice that long.

 1	#!/usr/bin/env bash
 2	##  This is the simplest possible Arch Linux install script I think...
 3	HOSTNAME="marbie1"
 4	#VIDEO_DRIVER="xf86-video-vmware"
 5	IN_DEVICE=/dev/sda
13	HOME_SIZE=    # Take whatever is left over after other partitions
14	TIME_ZONE="America/New_York"
15	LOCALE="en_US.UTF-8"
16	#KEYBOARD="us"    # change if you need to
18	use_bcm4360(){ return 1; }  # return 0 for "truthy" and 1 for "falsy"
19	if $(use_bcm4360) ; then
20	    WIRELESSDRIVERS="broadcom-wl-dkms"
21	else
23	fi
24	BASE_SYSTEM=( base base-devel linux linux-headers linux-firmware dkms vim iwd )
25	devel_stuff=( git nodejs npm npm-check-updates ruby )
26	printing_stuff=( system-config-printer foomatic-db foomatic-db-engine gutenprint cups cups-pdf cups-filters cups-pk-helper ghostscript gsfonts )
27	multimedia_stuff=( brasero sox eog shotwell imagemagick sox cmus mpg123 alsa-utils cheese )
29	efi_boot_mode(){
30	    [[ -d /sys/firmware/efi/efivars ]] && return 0
31	    return 1
32	}
33	# All purpose error
34	error(){ echo "Error: $1" && exit 1; }
35	###############################
37	###############################
38	### Check that reflector is done
39	clear
40	echo "Waiting until reflector has finished updating mirrorlist..."
41	while true; do
42	    pgrep -x reflector &>/dev/null || break
43	    echo -n '.'
44	    sleep 2
45	done
46	### Test internet connection
47	clear
48	echo "Testing internet connection..."
49	$(ping -c 3 &>/dev/null) || (error "Not Connected to Network!!!")
50	echo "Good!  We're connected!!!" && sleep 3
51	## Check time and date before installation
52	timedatectl set-ntp true
53	echo && echo "Date/Time service Status is . . . "
54	timedatectl status
55	sleep 4
56	$(efi_boot_mode) && error "You have a UEFI Bios; Please use the Farchi or Darchi script for installation"
57	####  Could just use cfdisk to partition drive
58	#cfdisk "$IN_DEVICE"    # for non-EFI VM: /boot 512M; / 13G; Swap 2G; Home Remainder
59	###  NOTE: Drive partitioning is one of those highly customizable areas where your
60	###        personal preferences and needs will dictate your choices.  Many options
61	###        exist here.  An MBR disklabel is very old, limited, and may well inspire
62	###        you to investigate other options, which is a good exercise.  But, MBR is pretty
63	###        simple and reliable, within its constraints.  Bon voyage!
64	# Using sfdisk because we're talking MBR disktable now...
65	cat > /tmp/sfdisk.cmd << EOF
66	$BOOT_DEVICE : start= 2048, size=+$BOOT_SIZE, type=83, bootable
67	$ROOT_DEVICE : size=+$ROOT_SIZE, type=83
68	$SWAP_DEVICE : size=+$SWAP_SIZE, type=82
69	$HOME_DEVICE : type=83
70	EOF
71	sfdisk "$IN_DEVICE" < /tmp/sfdisk.cmd 
72	#####  Format filesystems
73	mkfs.ext4 "$BOOT_DEVICE"    # /boot
74	mkfs.ext4 "$ROOT_DEVICE"    # /
75	mkswap "$SWAP_DEVICE"       # swap partition
76	mkfs.ext4 "$HOME_DEVICE"    # /home
77	#### Mount filesystems
78	mount "$ROOT_DEVICE" /mnt
79	mkdir /mnt/boot && mount "$BOOT_DEVICE" /mnt/boot
80	swapon "$SWAP_DEVICE"
81	mkdir /mnt/home && mount "$HOME_DEVICE" /mnt/home
82	lsblk && echo "Here're your new block devices. (Type any key to continue...)" ; read empty
83	###  Install base system
84	clear
85	echo && echo "Press any key to continue to install BASE SYSTEM..."; read empty
86	pacstrap /mnt "${BASE_SYSTEM[@]}"
87	echo && echo "Base system installed.  Press any key to continue..."; read empty
89	echo "Generating fstab..."
90	genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
91	cat /mnt/etc/fstab
92	echo && echo "Here's your fstab. Type any key to continue..."; read empty
94	clear
95	echo && echo "setting timezone to $TIME_ZONE..."
96	arch-chroot /mnt ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/"$TIME_ZONE" /etc/localtime
97	arch-chroot /mnt hwclock --systohc --utc
98	arch-chroot /mnt date
99	echo && echo "Here's the date info, hit any key to continue..."; read empty
101	clear
102	echo && echo "setting locale to $LOCALE ..."
103	arch-chroot /mnt sed -i "s/#$LOCALE/$LOCALE/g" /etc/locale.gen
104	arch-chroot /mnt locale-gen
105	echo "LANG=$LOCALE" > /mnt/etc/locale.conf
106	export LANG="$LOCALE"
107	cat /mnt/etc/locale.conf
108	echo && echo "Here's your /mnt/etc/locale.conf. Type any key to continue."; read empty
110	clear
111	echo && echo "Setting hostname..."; sleep 3
112	echo "$HOSTNAME" > /mnt/etc/hostname
113	cat > /mnt/etc/hosts <<HOSTS
114      localhost
115	::1            localhost
116      $HOSTNAME.localdomain     $HOSTNAME
118	echo && echo "/etc/hostname and /etc/hosts files configured..."
119	echo "/etc/hostname . . . "
120	cat /mnt/etc/hostname 
121	echo "/etc/hosts . . ."
122	cat /mnt/etc/hosts
123	echo && echo "Here are /etc/hostname and /etc/hosts. Type any key to continue "; read empty
125	clear
126	echo "Setting ROOT password..."
127	arch-chroot /mnt passwd
129	clear
130	echo && echo "Enabling dhcpcd, pambase, sshd and NetworkManager services..." && echo
131	arch-chroot /mnt pacman -S git openssh networkmanager dhcpcd man-db man-pages pambase
132	arch-chroot /mnt systemctl enable dhcpcd.service
133	arch-chroot /mnt systemctl enable sshd.service
134	arch-chroot /mnt systemctl enable NetworkManager.service
135	arch-chroot /mnt systemctl enable systemd-homed
136	echo && echo "Press any key to continue..."; read empty
138	clear
139	echo && echo "Adding sudo + user acct..."
140	sleep 2
141	arch-chroot /mnt pacman -S sudo bash-completion sshpass
142	arch-chroot /mnt sed -i 's/# %wheel/%wheel/g' /etc/sudoers
143	arch-chroot /mnt sed -i 's/%wheel ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL/# %wheel ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL/g' /etc/sudoers
144	echo && echo "Please provide a username: "; read sudo_user
145	echo && echo "Creating $sudo_user and adding $sudo_user to sudoers..."
146	arch-chroot /mnt useradd -m -G wheel "$sudo_user"
147	echo && echo "Password for $sudo_user?"
148	arch-chroot /mnt passwd "$sudo_user"
150	$(use_bcm4360) && arch-chroot /mnt pacman -S "$WIRELESSDRIVERS"
151	[[ "$?" -eq 0 ]] && echo "Wifi Driver successfully installed!"; sleep 5
152	## Not installing X in this script...
154	clear
155	echo "Installing grub..." && sleep 4
156	arch-chroot /mnt pacman -S grub os-prober
157	## We're not checking for EFI; We're assuming MBR
158	arch-chroot /mnt grub-install "$IN_DEVICE"
159	echo "configuring /boot/grub/grub.cfg..."
160	arch-chroot /mnt grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
161	[[ "$?" -eq 0 ]] && echo "mbr bootloader installed..."
162	echo "Your system is installed.  Type shutdown -h now to shutdown system and remove bootable media, then restart"
163	read empty

Notes About

As I mentioned, I’m using an MBR disk label. You’ll want to change this if you’re installing to a newer motherboard or BIOS.

The first thing to do is set up my variable names as preferences. Things like partition names and sizes, hostname, wifi driver, video chipset driver, swap space size, root partition size (I assume a 30G VM disk to start with), timezone, keyboard layout (US is assumed), and locale and filesystem format (I assume ext4).

I normally include a few extra packages with dependencies, like printing and networking utilities, a few multimedia things and some development goodies. I could easily include X and an appropriate display manager and desktop environment or window manager. I happen to like Cinnamon, but I normally install XFCE and i3wm as well, just to have options (sometimes I like to switch things up!). For this script, I opted out of installing X, but you can check out my Farchi script or my Darchi script. You can see how I branch conditionally from preferences. I figure you’ll want to just see if the script works for you.

If you want to modify the script to create create GPT partitions, you could use sgdisk.
That’s what I use in the Farchi and Darchi scripts. You could create all the partitions with simply using cfdisk, but I think it’s a good exercise to automate it. Plus, sfdisk and sgdisk are really fast. You can create partitions and volume groups in 3 seconds or less! It’s wicked fast!

You could use a phrase something like this to create partitions using sgdisk:

 1   if $(efi_boot_mode); then
 2	     sgdisk -Z "$IN_DEVICE"
 3	     sgdisk -n 1::+"$EFI_SIZE" -t 1:ef00 -c 1:EFI "$IN_DEVICE"
 4	     sgdisk -n 2::+"$ROOT_SIZE" -t 2:8300 -c 2:ROOT "$IN_DEVICE"
 5	     sgdisk -n 3::+"$SWAP_SIZE" -t 3:8200 -c 3:SWAP "$IN_DEVICE"
 6	     sgdisk -n 4 -c 4:HOME "$IN_DEVICE"
 7   fi

Of course, these variables would have to be defined, and so on. You’d have to define the efi_boot_mode function something like I did in the script. And you’d have to complete the rest of the conditional accordingly.

Further, you’d need to install the EFI boot manager instead of a normal non-efi boot loader. I typically use GRUB with the efi-bootmanager package and the --target and --efi-directory flags. Works fine for me so far.

When you’re installing packages and their dependencies, you’ll want to pause at certain times to see if any packages installed with a non-zero exit status. You’ll want to take note of any errors and determine whether they are significant. Normally they are not. For example, sometimes a package gets installed twice, but this is not a problem. Pacman is happy to reinstall packages usually. But I’ve included some read statements to allow seeing the final notes of a process before the screen clears and any errors or information scrolls past, away from your notice.

I like to use ‘here’ documents. You’ll see me using arrays and associative arrays in bash. Also I use && instead of if/then where it saves time and doesn’t obscure readability. I like to pipe unneccesary output to /dev/null when I’m checking exit statuses for functions. Finally, I’m still experimenting with systemd-homed and pambase. I’ve had some problems when installing X: I have trouble using sudo from an X terminal. Not sure why that is, but reinstalling pambase and systemd-homed solved the problem. I’m still not sure how this problem got started in the first place, but I assumed there was a package change by the maintainers. More study for me in the future! You should probably experiement with this situation and see what works best for you.


Hopefully this will get you started with installing Arch linux automatically. When I first started, I simply used cfdisk /dev/sda to create my partitions. This script was much rougher and more ragged. But it evolved. The Farchi and Darchi scripts are more evolved. You can see that in just more than 150 lines of Bash, an entire system get installed. If you wanted to install X, that’s probably another 50-75 lines. So you can see it doesn’t take a whole lot of scripting to get your basic Arch system up and running! I’m hoping you’ll be able to borrow this script to get started on your own journey. Bon voyage!