My script for automated Arch Linux installation

In a previous post, I reported the procedure for installing Arch Linux. The procedure is basically the one shown in the official Arch Wiki.

After a few manual steps, this post will show my installation script for automatically installing Arch Linux. I took inspiration from, but, differently from that project, my script is NOT meant to be reusable. The script is heavily tailored to my needs. I describe it in this post in case it might inspire others to follow a similar approach 🙂

The script (which actually consists of several scripts called from the main script) is available here:

I’ll describe the script by demonstrating its use for installing Arch Linux on a virtual machine (VirtualBox). However, I use the script for my computers. Also, for real computers, I perform the installation via SSH from another computer for the same reasons I have already explained.

The virtual machine preparation is the same as in my previous post, so I’ll start from the already configured machine.

I start the virtual machine with the Arch ISO mounted:

Inside the live environment, the SSH server is already up and running. However, since we’ll connect with the root account (the only one present), we must give the root account a password. By default, it’s empty, and SSH will not allow you to log in with a blank password. Choose a password. This password is temporary; if you’re in a trusted local network, you can choose an easy one.

Then, I connect to the virtual machine via SSH.

From now on, I’ll insert all the commands from a local terminal connected to the virtual machine.

Initial manual steps

First, I ensure the system clock is accurate by enabling network synchronization NTP:

Then, I partition the disk according to my needs. My script heavily relies on this partitioning scheme consisting of four partitions:

  • the one for booting in UEFI mode, formatted as FAT32, 300Mb (it should be enough for UEFI, but if unsure, go on with 512Mb)
  • a swap partition, 20Gb (I have 16Gb, and if I want to enable hibernation, i.e., suspend to disk, that should be enough)
  • a partition meant to host common data that I want to share among several Linux installations on the same machine (maybe I’ll blog about that in the future), formatted as EXT4, 30Gb
  • the root partition, formatted as BTRFS, the rest of the disk

To do that, I’m using cfdisk, a textual partition manager, which I find easy to use. In the virtual machine, the disk is “/dev/sda”:

The partitions must be manually formatted:

Sometimes, I have problems with the keyring, so I first run the following commands that ensure the keyring is up-to-date:

I’m going to clone the installation script from GitHub, so I need to install “git”:

And now, I’m ready to use the installation script.

Running the installation script

First, I clone the installation script from GitHub:

The script has no parameter but relies on a few crucial environment variables to set appropriately. The first four variables refer to the partitions I created above. The last one is the name for the machine (in this example, it will be “arch-gnome”):

The script will check that all these variables are set. However, it does not check whether the specified partitions are correct, so I always double-check the environment variables.

And now, let’s run it:

The script will do all the Arch Linux installation steps. These automatic steps correspond to the ones I showed in my previous post, where I ran them manually.

When the script finishes (it takes a few minutes), I have to perform a few additional manual operations before rebooting. I’ll detail these latter manual operations at the end of the post. In the next section, I’ll describe the script’s parts.

The installation script(s)

As I anticipated, the script actually consists of several scripts.

The main one,, is as follows:

Note that the installation logs are saved in the “bettini” user’s home directory (the last run script will create the user). These can be inspected later.

The main script calls the other scripts.

We have the script for checking that all the needed environment variables are set (

The script mounts the partitions and, for the main BTRFS partition, also creates the BTRFS subvolumes:

The script performs the “pacstrap” (it also sets the mirrors) and generates the /etc/fstab:

Then, prepares the script for arch-chroot: it copies all the shell scripts into the /mnt/root:

In fact, by looking at the main script, you see that further shell scripts are executed using arch-chroot.

The script takes care of all the configuration steps:

Note the use of the environment variable INST_HOSTNAME for creating the file /etc/hosts. I’m using en_US.UTF-8 for the language, but other local configurations are for Italy.

The script configures and installs GRUB. It also configures GRUB for the “mem_sleep_default” parameter (for suspend) and for hibernation; in that respect, it also configures mkinitcpio accordingly (note the “resume” hook):

Note that it uses the generated /etc/fstab to retrieve the UUID of the swap partition.

Finally, the script creates my user and configures it so that I can use “sudo”:

It also sets the right permissions for my user in the mount point where I want the shared partition.

That’s all. The script also prints a message to remind me to set the password for my user.

Final manual steps

I execute a few manual steps to finalize the installation when the script finishes.

First of all, I once again use arch-chroot:

And I set the password for my user:

Then, I install KDE or GNOME (not both).

For KDE, I would run the following:

For GNOME, I would run the following:

And that ends the installation.

I exit chroot and unmount /mnt:

As you see, most of the steps are performed by the script! 🙂

I can restart the system (in this example, the virtual machine) and enjoy the installed Arch!

That’s another reason why I love Arch Linux so much: the installation can be easily scripted!

It took me some time to finalize all the scripts, but using a virtual machine, especially with snapshots, wasn’t that hard. I encourage you to bake your installation script. It’ll be fun 🙂

By the way, before existing chroot and rebooting, I usually run my Ansible playbook for installing other programs (either KDE or GNOME) and configure the system and user according to my needs. I’ll blog about such a playbook in the future.

2 thoughts on “My script for automated Arch Linux installation

  1. Jim Abernathy

    I enjoyed your blogs on Archlinux. To me Arch remains a puzzle that I play with but rarely understand why I do somethings. When I compare the Arch installation Wiki to anyone’s blog about their method I see additional packages that are not explained and make me question why they are there and do I need them. It’s the main reason I stick with Endeavous OS for Arch related projects so I can hide my head in the sand and ignore what I don’t see.

    1. Lorenzo Bettini Post author

      I also use EndeavourOS on most of my computers as my daily driver. I have to thank EndeavourOS for getting me in touch with Arch. Once you’re familiar with EndeavourOS, switching to Arch is not that hard 🙂


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