1 Pre-Installation

1.1 Install a torrent client

Download a torrent client like qBittorrent. On the same page, open the Checksums and Library Versions tab and copy the SHA-256 checksum for the 64-bit installer. Open PowerShell, navigate to the Downloads folder by typing cd C:\Users\user\Downloads and then type (Get-FileHash .\qbittorrent_4.5.2_x64_setup.exe).Hash -eq "f2ec7fa4c5ae273d6d7181c0c9df225eb8ce8e0e85577b236c7b335c093f2e71". If the prompt returns True, the downloaded file can be installed. Alternatively, install qBittorrent using winget by typing winget install qBittorrent.qBittorrent in a PowerShell terminal.

1.2 Install GPG

Install GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) via winget in PowerShell by typing winget install GnuPG.GnuPG. GPG can now be called via the gpg command in the terminal.

1.3 Download the Arch Linux ISO

Visit the Arch Wiki downloads page, click the magnet link for the latest version of Arch Linux, and torrent the file via qBittorrent. After the file has been downloaded, visit the checksums page and download the ISO PGP Signature. Navigate to the Downloads folder by typing cd C:\Users\user\Downloads and type gpg --verify .\archlinux-2023.05.03-x86_64.iso.sig .\archlinux-2023.05.03-x86_64.iso to verify the Arch Linux ISO file using the appropriate signature. GPG should return Good Signature. The User ID might not be certified, but this is fine. To be extra cautious, visit the developers page and match the primary key fingerprint output by GPG to that shown for the matching developer.

1.4 Install Rufus

Download Rufus, a bootable storage device creation tool, by visiting the website. The executable is automatically checked for a SHA-256 signature by Windows. Right-click the executable and navigate to the Digital Signatures tab. The signed name should be ‘Akeo Consulting’. Alternatively, install Rufus using winget by typing winget install Rufus.Rufus in a PowerShell terminal.

1.5 Prepare the installation medium

Plug in portrable drive into a USB port and launch Rufus (it will automatically default to Administrator privileges). Select the device and click SELECT to find the Arch Linux ISO downloaded earlier. Change the partition scheme to GPT and the target system to UEFI (non CSM). Name the volume something obvious and leave the file system as Large FAT32 with a cluster size of 32 kB. This step is important as the live bootable will not install if NTFS is used instead. Click START to write the ISO to the removable drive. If a pop-up is encountered, continue with writing the disk in ISO image mode. Rufus can be closed when the status bar reads READY. Eject the removable drive and physically remove it.

1.6 Prepare the host machine

Boot to the BIOS settings on the target machine (typically by hitting F11 or Enter on some machines during startup). Enter the security tab and ensure that that Secure Boot is disabled. Secure Boot will prevent booting from an external device if this step is not performed. While in the BIOS, hyper-threading and CPU virtualization should also be enabled in the config and security tabs, respectively. Save the changed settings and exit the BIOS.

1.7 Boot to the live environment

Plug the removable drive into the target machine and boot it up. Enter the startup interrupt menu via pressing F11 or Enter and proceed to the boot menu. Select the removable drive as the boot device and press Enter. Arriving at the GNU GRUB menu, select the first option ‘Arch Linux install medium (x86_64, UEFI)’ and wait for the live environment to load the Zsh tty root@archiso ~ #.

1.8 Set the console keyboard layout and font

The default console keymap is US and does not need to be changed. The font will also remain unchanged. Neither requires any commands to be run.

1.9 Verify the boot mode as UEFI

Type ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars into the terminal. If the resulting directory is returned without error, the system is booted properly in UEFI mode.

1.10 Connect to the internet

Ensure that the network interface is listed and enabled by typing ip link. Some number of network devices should appear, the amount and type dependent upon the current machine. To connect to a network via ethernet, just plug the cable directly into the machine. For wireless connectivity, first type iwctl. Next, type device list. Here, something like wlan0 should appear. Ensure that the Powered status of the device reads ‘on’. If not, type device *device* set-property Powered on. Next, still in the iwctl prompt, type adapter list and ensure that the adapter is also Powered on. If not, type adapter *adapter* set-property Powered on. Using the device name identified earlier, type station *device* scan to begin the scan for networks within range. Connect to the appropriate network with the command station *device* connect *SSID* and enter the password for the network. Type exit to exit from the iwd prompt. Test that the network has been properly connected to by running ping [archlinux.org](http://archlinux.org) and waiting for return bytes.

1.11 Update the system clock

Type timedatectl and read the resulting output. For now, the time zone should be UTC, the system clock should be syncronized, and network time protocol (NTP) should be active. If NTP reads inactive, type timedatectl set-ntp true.

1.12 Partition the disks

Removing old partitions

Type fdisk -l to view the attached disks. Find the designation for the HDD or SSD that Arch Linux will be installed on (most likely /dev/sda). Type fdisk /dev/sda to enter the fdisk utility interface. Next, type p to view the partitions on the selected disk. If there are any preexisting partions, they need to be deleted before going forward. Obviously, if any necessary data is remaining from a previous installation of Linux or Windows, exit fdisk immediately by pressing q, reboot the machine, and backup the data. Otherwise, remove the partitions one-by-one by typing the command d into the fdisk prompt until all partitions are removed.

Creating EFI boot partition

Still in fdisk, type n to create a new partition. Type 1 for the partition number, hit Enter for the first sector, type +512M for the last sector, and Y if prompted to remove the previous signature. Next, the partition type needs to be changed to UEFI. Type t to change the partition type and enter uefi as the alias. The partition type GUID for UEFI is C12A7328-F81F-11D2-BA4B-00A0C93EC93B. Type p to view the partition table and ensure /dev/sda1 was created properly as a UEFI partition with type EFI System.

Creating root partition

Type n to create another new partition. Partition number 2, Enter for first sector, +30G for last sector, and Y if prompted. Type t, followed by 2 and 4F68BCE3-E8CD-4DB1-96E7-FBCAF984B709 to change the type to Linux x86-64 root. (This step is not strictly necessary, but this ensures that the filesystem is explicitly in the x86_64 format.)

Creating home partition

Again, type n, followed by 3 and then Enter twice. Type p to view the final partition table. Ensure that partition 1 reads Size 512M EFI Filesystem, 2 reads 30G Linux filesystem, and 3 reads remaining data Linux filesystem. Type w inside fdisk to write the changes to the disk.

1.13 Format the partitions

Enter the following three commands in order: mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/sda1, mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2, mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda3.

1.14 Mount the filesystems

First, the root directory will be mounted by typing mount /dev/sda2 /mnt. Next, create a home directory by typing mkdir /mnt/home. Now mount the home partition into this directory by typing mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/home. Finally, create an EFI directory where the boot partition will be mounted using mkdir /mnt/boot followed by mkdir /mnt/boot/efi. Mount the boot partition using mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot/efi.

2 Installation

2.1 Changing download mirrors

Using the command nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist will open the mirror file where different servers can be selected to download from. These can be changed later on.

2.2 Installing essential packages

Before installing, type nano /etc/pacman.conf to enter the pacman configuration file. Scroll down to the line #ParallelDownloads = 5 and uncomment it to allow pacman to download files in parallel. This will speed up the installation process. Next, type pacstrap -K /mnt base base-devel linux linux-firmware nano. The base-devel package installs sudo, which will be needed later on. The -K flag initializes a new pacman keyring.

3 Configure the system

3.1 Fstab

Generate an fstab file using genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab and check the integrity using nano /mnt/etc/fstab. Partition sda2 should read / and ext4. Partition sda3 should read /home and ext4. Partition sda1 should read /boot/efi and vfat.

3.2 Chroot

Change root into the newly created filesystem by typing arch-chroot /mnt.

3.3 Time zone

Set the time zone using ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/Chicago /etc/localtime. The hardware clock is then set using hwclock --systohc.

3.4 Localization

Type nano /etc/locale.gen and scroll down to #en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8. Uncomment this line. Save the file and run locale-gen. Type nano /etc/locale.conf and add the line LANG=en_US.UTF-8. The keyboard was unchanged during the first few steps of installation so no further changes are needed here.

3.5 Hostname

To set a hostname for the machine, type nano /etc/hostname and write a line like archpad. Then enter nano /etc/hosts and write the following lines (using tabs for alignment only):

3   localhost
::1         localhost   Archlinux.localdomain   Archlinux

3.6 Network management

Type pacman -S networkmanager and then systemctl enable NetworkManager once it has been installed. Three symlink lines should appear if done correctly.

3.7 Setting a root password

Type passwd and enter something that can be remembered.

3.8 Installing the GRUB boot loader

Enter pacman -S grub efibootmgr and let them install. Then, type grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot/**efi** --bootloader-id=grub_uefi --recheck. The installation should return with no errors. To create the necessary configuration file, type grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

3.9 Installing and activating microcode

Type pacman -S intel-ucode and install it. After installing, regenerate the GRUB configuration file to activate loading the microcode update by running grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg. It should find intel-ucode.img in the fallback initrd images.

3.10 Creating swap filesystem

  • fallocate -l 2G /swapfile
  • chmod 600 /swapfile
  • mkswap /swapfile
  • echo '/swapfile none swap sw 0 0' | tee -a /etc/fstab

3.11 Reboot

Type exit followed by umount -R /mnt to unmount all partitions manually and to detect any errors. Reboot with reboot. Remove the live installation media on reboot. A GNU GRUB GUI should appear with Arch Linux as the first option.

4 Post-Installation

4.0 Pacman interlude

Enable colors and parallel downloads in pacman by editing the config file at sudo nvim /etc/pacman.conf and uncommenting the two lines in misc options below:

ParallelDownloads = 5

4.1 Connecting to the internet via NetworkManager

Type nmcli to access the NetworkManager command line interface. To view the local accessible WiFi networks, type

nmcli device wifi list

A list of networks should appear, each with a SSID, rate, signal strength, and security. To connect to a network, type

nmcli device wifi connect SSID password PASSWD

where SSID is the name of the network and PASSWD is the password. After a while, the respective WiFi device should be activated and connected to the network. Test the connectivity using ping archlinux.org.

Alternatively, the NetworkManager GUI can be used to connect to a wireless network instead. Simply type nmtui and activate a network.

4.2 Updating the system and installing Neovim

Check for system updates by running sudo pacman -Syu. Install any necessary updates. Install Neovim by typing sudo pacman -S neovim.

4.3 Enabling sudo and adding a user

First, edit the visudo file to enable the wheel group by typing sudo EDITOR=nvim visudo. Scroll down to the wheel section below and uncomment the line so that it looks like the following. Save the file using :wq.

%wheel ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Add a user by typing the following line. The -G flag adds the user to the following groups and the -d flag assigns the user to the following directory.

sudo useradd -G wheel -d /home/user -m user

Give the user a password by typing

sudo passwd user

and then typing in a password twice. Now type exit to log out of root and log into the user account. Ensure that sudo works by typing something like sudo pacman -Syu.

If any problems are encountered establishing the new user, the user’s account and home directory can be deleted using the following command.

sudo userdel -r user

4.4 Yay and getting git

To install packages easily from the Arch User Respository (AUR), the Yet Another Yogurt (YAY) package manager is commonly used. First, git needs to be installed.

sudo pacman -S git

To install yay by downloading it from git, run the following commands in the home directory.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/yay.git
cd yay
makepkg -si

After the package has been installed, delete the folder that was created on download using rm -rf /yay. Be careful using rm -rf. Yay is used in much the same way as pacman. To install a package:

yay -S <package>

to remove a package and its dependencies:

yay -Rns <package>

and to update all packages:

yay -Syu

4.5 Mirror configuration

Visit the mirrors webpage and select your country with https and IPv4 protocols. Generate the list, copy it, and open up a terminal windows. Type nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist and paste the generated list there. The Reflector Python script can grab the most up-to-date mirrors and overwrite the mirrorlist file automatically.

5 Installing a window manager

5.1 Installing the i3-wm window manager and status

sudo pacman -S i3-wm

Here’s a link to a wiki explaining the differences between i3, i3bar and i3status.

5.2 Installing Xorg

Xorg itself is installed with the xorg-server package. The xinit package allows for Xorg to be started manually for use with window managers.

sudo pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit

Next, identify the graphics card being used by the system. For systems with integrated and discrete graphics cards, there will be two outputs: one labeled the VGA controller and one labeled the 3D controller. The integrated graphics card can be used.

lspci -v | grep -A1 -e VGA -e 3D

Search for open-source video drivers using

pacman -Ss xf86-video

and install the correct driver. For systems with Intel integrated graphics, type the following to install the mesa driver. Don’t use the xf86-video-intel driver, it is made for older CPUs. Also install the vulkan-intel package for Ivy-Bridge and later CPUs.

sudo pacman -S mesa vulkan-intel

5.3 Editing xinitrc configuration

Type the following to copy the xinit configuration file to the home directory of the current user.

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

Open the newly copied file nvim ~/.xinitrc and comment out or delete the following lines at the bottom of the file.

# twm &
# exec xterm ....

Add the following line instead:

exec i3

5.4 Starting i3 and generating a config

Start i3 by typing either startx or xinit in the tty. When launched, press Enter to generate the config file in ~/.config/i3/config and use Win as the modifier key. Some useful keybinds are:

$mod+Return - opens a terminal window
$mod+Return+3 - exits both the i3 and xorg sessions

Since a terminal emulator has not been installed yet, $mod+Return will not work. Exit the i3 session and return to the tty.

6 Audio

6.1 PipeWire

PipeWire is an audio driver and is generally more well-regarded than something like pulseaudio. To install it, type sudo pacman -S pipewire. Next, install the WirePlumber session manager by typing sudo pacman -S wireplumber. Finally, install sudo pacman -S pavucontrol.

6.2 WirePlumber and hardware audio control

Edit the i3 config by typing nvim .config/i3/config. Comment out the block of code talking about PulseAudio volume control. Add the following lines

set $refresh_i3status killall -SIGUSR1 i3status
bindsym XF86AudioRaiseVolume exec --no-startup-id wpctl set-volume -l 1.5 @DEFAULT_AUDIO_SINK@ 5%+ && refresh_i3status
bindsym XF86AudioLowerVolume exec --no-startup-id wpctl set-volume @DEFAULT_AUDIO_SINK@ 5%- && refresh_i3status
bindsym XF86AudioMute exec --no-startup-id wpctl set-mute @DEFAULT_AUDIO_SINK@ toggle && refresh_i3status
bindsym XF86AudioMicMute exec --no-startup-id wpctl set-mute @DEFAULT_AUDIO_SOURCE@ toggle && refresh_i3status

7 Brightness control

Install brightnessctl sudo pacman -S brightnessctl. Go into nvim .config/i3/config and add

bindsym XF86MonBrightnessUp exec --no-startup-id brightnessctl set 5%+
bindsym XF86MonBrightnessDown exec --no-startup-id brightnessctl set 5%-

somewhere with a comment for explanation. This package adds hardware brightness control. Things like xrandr only adjust the gamma value of the screen, which is not true backlight control.

7 Basic programs

7.1 Web browser

Install Firefox using sudo pacman -S firefox. Since we are using PipeWire, select the package pipewire-jack when asked to pick a jack provider. For the session manager, wireplumber should already be installed from the PipeWire installation step earlier.

8 Customization

8.0 Reversing touchpad scroll direction

We’re going to be using libinput for this step. First, identify that libinput is being used as the input driver for the touchpad by typing

grep -e "Using input driver 'libinput'" ~/.local/share/xorg/Xorg.0.log

There should be a multi-line output of devices that libinput controls, including the touchpad (something like Synaptics TM3276-031).

In general, libinput config files are located in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/40-libinput.conf. Custom configuration files should be placed in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ and following a widely used naming schema; 30-touchpad.conf is often chosen as filename. Create this file using nvim 30-touchpad.conf and add the following lines

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "Synaptics TM3276-031"
    Driver "libinput"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    Option "ClickMethod" "clickfinger"
    Option "NaturalScrolling" "true"

Here, the Tapping option enables tap-to-click and ClickMethod disables the trackpad middle and right-click areas. Instead, a two-finger click is used for context menus and a three-finger click is used for MMB. Restart i3 and xorg to see the changes take effect.

8.1 Intalling rofi for searching

Install rofi using sudo pacman -S rofi. Allow rofi to be launched via $mod+d using nvim .config/i3/config and changing

bindsym $mod+d exec --no-startup-id dmenu_run


bindsym $mod+d exec --no-startup-id rofi -show drun

8.2 Polybar

Install polybar using sudo pacman -S polybar. Edit the i3 config file using vim ~/.config/i3/config and add the following line

exec --no-startup-id polybar

somewhere in the file; after nm-applet works well enough.

While we’re in the i3 config, we can also disable title bars and add gaps. After the font line at the beginning of the file, add the following lines.

for_window [class=".*"] border pixel 1
gaps inner 10
gaps outer 5

8.3 Installing a terminal emulator

For this tutorial, we will be installing the Kitty terminal emulator. Type sudo pacman -S kitty and intall it. i3 uses the i3-sensible-terminal as the default terminal emulator. To change this, go into the i3 config using

nvim ~/.config/i3/config

and change the terminal launch line to

bindsym $mod+Return exec kitty

Ensure that kitty is being used in i3 by typing echo $TERM in the terminal window.

8.4 Installing fish

Instead of bash, we can install the Friendly Interactive Shell (fish). Run

sudo pacman -S fish

to install it. Unlike bash, fish is not POSIX compliant and uses a lot of different syntax and such, meaning it will not run scripts meant for bash or zsh. That’s fine since shell scripts will always run with the shell that they declare in their first line (e.g. #!/bin/bash). To ensure fish is installed correctly, simply type fish into the terminal. List the currently installed shells by typing chsh -l. Change to fish by typing

chsh -s /bin/fish

$mod+Shift+e to restart i3. Restart i3 and make sure the shell has been changed by typing

echo $SHELL

If all is well, /bin/fish should be returned.

8.5 Installing tide

Read the installation instructions on the tide GitHub repo.

8.6 Getting a desktop background

Install the feh package by typing sudo pacman -S feh. Create an images folder in the user’s home directory by typing mkdir images/ while in ~. Download an image to the newly created ~/images/ folder. If the file has a cumbersome name, rename it by typing

mv long-image-name.png background.png

Type nvim .config/i3/config and add the following line to make the background image stick. (I added it right after starting polybar).

exec --no-startup-id feh --bg-scale ~/images/background.png

8.7 Installing a compositor

We will be using picom as a compositor. Type sudo pacman -S picom to install it. Copy the config file over to the user’s home directory by first creating the directory (cd .config/ and mkdir picom/) and then typing

cp /etc/xdg/picom.conf ~/.config/picom/picom.conf

Enter the newly copied config file (nvim ~/.config/picom/picom.conf) and change

inactive-opacity = 0.80

Finally, add exec --no-startup-id picom to ~/.config/i3/config. I added it right after feh. Restart i3 and xorg to see the changes.

This should add some visual candy to window transitions and add background opacity to non-selected windows. Also, it should fix any screen tearing artifacts since it uses vsync.