I’ve been using Arch regularly on my “main machine” for about 12 years now. The first time I installed it, I struggled. I messed things up. I had to start over a few times. I finally got it dialed in. It was tough but worth it.
Since then, every time I’ve upgraded my machine, I’ve had to install it again. It’s not a big deal anymore. However, that first time was challenging, and it’s served as a gate for Linux users to try it out.
Since Arch is challenging to install, configure, and maintain, it’s become a bragging right.
I use Arch, btw
Because of this challenge, it’s the best distro for beginners.
Honestly, it’s a bit overblown. Despite what the Reddit elite would have you believe, Arch isn’t that hard. I’m more impressed by the patience and tech chops of the Gentoo or Linux from Scratch folks. But I digress.
Linux folks have been asking for years for an installer of some type. Products like the Zen Installer are great, but they want an officially supported installer.
Well, now we have one, the Arch Linux Guided Installer. I tried it out, and stumbled on a few things but got it working. So I’ll show you how to install Arch with the guided installer so you can go on Reddit and talk smack to other Linux users.
To start, you must download the Arch ISO. I’m in the US, so I generally go with the one on the Advanced Hosters mirror. I’m installing this as a Virtual Machine using VirtualBox, but it should look the same on a real machine as well.
When you boot up, you’ll see this screen:
It then boots to a prompt.
You can start a manual install process from here or start the guided installer with this command:
The installer will ask you for a target keyboard layout. I chose ‘26: us`
Next, it will ask for the region to download packages from. Choose the place closest to you.
Next, it asks where you want to install Arch. For me, it will be
/dev/sda which is a 50G drive to be used as the root.
Then it will ask you what file system to use on the main partition. I’m choosing ext4.
Next, it will ask you for an encryption password. I’m just using this as a virtual machine to test stuff, so I’ll skip it. If you’re using this as a real machine, use disk encryption. It’s a fast, easy way to secure your files.
Next, it will ask you for a hostname:
Then it will ask for a root password.
You’ll be asked to verify it, and then it asks for additional users. I always add an additional user.
Never run as root when you don’t have to.
I also choose to allow this user to be a superuser (so you can sudo stuff).
You can create additional users if you’d like.
Next, it will ask what kind of installation you would like. I’m going to go for a desktop installation this time. But you can build a minimal, server, or xorg server:
I’ll choose 0 for desktop.
Next, it asks for a desktop environment:
I’m going to choose xfce4. It’s a great, low-resource desktop for Linux.
Next, it’s time to choose a video driver. Choose the one appropriate for your machine. I’m choosing the Intel driver.
You can use pipewire instead of pulseaudio for the audio server. I chose pulseaudio.
Next, you can choose your kernel. I generally go with the default
linux kernel, but there are other options depending on your needs. (Hardened is very secure).
You can select additional packages if you know the name:
Next, you choose a network interface:
And you can choose whether to use DHCP or static IP, depending on your network.
Next, you need to select a time zone.
The tricky part about this is, you need to type it in exactly as it is on this page
You can synchronize with NTP servers to set the time automatically if you like.
Next, you’ll see a screen showing your configuration options before installing:
Press enter to start installing.
Now, it will ask if you want to chroot into the installation. This is helpful if you’re going to make some final changes before rebooting. Most of the time, you can skip this and reboot.
If you see this, you’re done! Time to reboot.
and… partytimeexcellent you’re good to go.
After rebooting, you’ll see a login screen:
And after logging in: here we are. At a desktop!
XFCE is great, but I prefer LXDE. It’s not available in the default lists for the installer. If you want to experience the awesomeness, you can install it by typing:
sudo pacman -S lxde
and install it all.
After logging out, you’ll be able to select the new desktop from the login screen:
And here it is!!
And we’re done. It’s that easy.
As I stated before I don’t think the standard way to install Arch Linux is all that hard once you’ve done it a few times. The installer is nice, but the whole purpose of using Arch is to have * complete control* of your system. So I don’t care either way.
However, if you want to try Arch and don’t want to go through the pain of a manual install, this is a good option. You will still need to know some things. It’s not “point and click and go” like Pop!_OS or Ubuntu. But it’s easier than doing it manually. So hopefully, it will bring more folks into the Arch Linux world.
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