How to Install Archlinux with GNOME Desktop

Last updated on May 9th, 2022 at 07:04 pm


In this guide I will show you how to install Archlinux and get to a working GNOME desktop as quickly as possible.

Installing Archlinux can be a bit overwhelming if you have never done that before. If using a command line to complete the install seems a bit over the top for you, you can use a command line installer which will make the process much much easier. Check out our How to install Arch Linux using installer guide.

If you would rather prefer a graphical installer, check out our Manjaro installation guide. Manjaro is based on Archlinux and offers a very nice graphic UI during the setup.


x86_64-compatible machine with at least 1 GiB of RAM

While 512 MiB of RAM will be enough to run a console, it’s not enough to boot the live installation media, and if you want to install a desktop environment, then it would be better to have at least 2 GiB of RAM.

Working Internet connection

Archlinux relies heavily on a working internet connection to download the packages during the installation. So, make sure that your computer is connected to the Internet before you begin. A cable connection will save you a lot of time, so if you have a spare network cable, just connect it to your router. WiFi is much easier to set up later.

Disabled Secure Boot

Archlinux installation media cannot be booted with secure boot enabled. Make sure it’s disabled before you proceed.

Step 1. Download the installation image

Head to the official download page, choose a mirror close to you and download the installation media. Verify the checksum if you need and create a bootable USB stick by using dd on Linux, Balena Etcher on Linux or Windows, or Rufus on Windows.

Step 2. Boot the installation media

Archlinux Installation Media Boot Screen
Archlinux Installation Media Boot Screen

You’ll see this simple boot screen. The default top choice is good in most cases, so just press Enter.

Archlinux Command Line Installer
Archlinux Installer

Step 3. Connect to the Internet


If you’ve never installed Archlinux before, don’t panic. First thing that you need to do is to connect to the Internet. If you have an internet cable connected to your computer, then you are probably already connected. Just type


And if you have a working Internet connection, you should see something similar to this:

root@archiso  ~ # ping                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=47 time=298 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=47 time=297 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=47 time=297 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=4 ttl=47 time=297 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=5 ttl=47 time=298 ms

Press Ctrl+C to stop the ping.


Check your network interfaces

If your computer is connected to the Internet through WiFi, however, the process becomes a bit more complicated. In this case run

ip link

This is the output from my laptop. As you can see, I have 3 network interfaces, and one loopback interface.

root@archiso ~ # ip link
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN mode DEFAULT group default qlen 1000
link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
2: wwp0s29u1u4: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UNKNOWN mode DEFAULT group default qlen 1000
link/ether 6a:c1:4d:8e:62:c7 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
3: enp0s25: <NO-CARRIER,BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state DOWN mode DEFAULT group default qlen 1000
link/ether 54:ee:75:1e:4a:bf brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
4: wlan0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state DOWN mode DORMANT group default qlen 1000
link/ether e8:b1:fc:d3:b6:20 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

Notice the state for all of them is either UNKNOWN or DOWN, which means that they are not connected to the network.

I am interested in the wlan0 interface, since this is my wireless connection (wlan stands for wireless lan). I need to change its state to UP.

Launch iwctl and list Wi-Fi interfaces

To do this, first run


You’ll see a similar output:

root@archiso ~ # iwctl
NetworkConfigurationEnabled: disabled
StateDirectory: /var/lib/iwd
Version: 1.20

Make sure that the command prompt changed to [iwd]# as in my case.

I already know the name of my wireless interface, but you might not. So, first, let’s list all WiFi interfaces and check their names. Type

[iwd]# device list

You should see at least one WiFi interface (wlan0 in my case). Remember its name.

[iwd]# device list
Name Address Powered Adapter Mode
wlan0 d3:a5:ac:b4:a6:2a on phy0 station

List Wi-Fi networks and connect to yours

Next, as iwctl archlinux wiki says, you need to scan for available networks by typing

[iwd]# station device scan

where device is the name of your WiFi interface (wlan0 in my case). And after that list the networks with

[iwd]# station device get-networks

where, again, device is your WiFi interface.

On my laptop, however, I saw more networks if I just ran station wlan0 get-networks without scanning. My guess is that iwctl scans and sorts networks according to their signal strength, so if your WiFi network signal is weak, you might want to skip the scan command.

[iwd]# station wlan0 get-networks
Available networks *
Network name Security Signal
SomeWifiNetwork psk ****
Yesyesyesyes_5G psk ****
AsusWifiRouter psk ****
AnotherWifiNetwork psk ****
Nonononono_5G psk ****

After you run station device get-networks, you should see a similar output. Find your network in the list and type

[iwd]# station device connect SSID

where device is your Wi-Fi interface and SSID is your network name. After that you can check if you connected to your Wi-Fi by typing

[iwd]# station device show

Don’t forget to replace device with your Wi-Fi interface name.

[iwd]# station wlan0 show
Station: wlan0 *
Settable Property Value
Scanning no
State connected
Connected network SomeWifiNetwork
IPv4 address
IPv6 address f357:8b37:a78f:2345:d795:cb94:a089:4622
ConnectedBss e5:c4:3a:45:b9:de
Frequency 2452
Security WPA2-Personal
RSSI -36 dBm
AverageRSSI -36 dBm
RxMode 802.11n
RxMCS 15
TxMode 802.11n
TxMCS 15
TxBitrate 130000 Kbit/s
RxBitrate 130000 Kbit/s

Here is an output from my laptop. You can see that my interface’s state is connected and that I am connected to SomeWifiNetwork.

Type exit to go back to the shell, the input should change to

root@archiso ~ #

then check if your internet connection is working by typing


You should see a response from archlinux server. If you type ip link, you will see that your wireless interface state has changed to UP.

Step 4. Partition the disks

Check the boot mode

After you’ve connected to the Internet, you can begin the installation process. First you need to prepare your disks. Let’s check if you are booted in BIOS mode or EFI mode. Type

ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars

If you see No such file or directory then you booted in BIOS mode, and if you see an output similar to this, it means that you booted in EFI mode.

AcpiGlobalVariable-af9ffd67-ec10-488a-9dfc-6cbf5ee22c2e    CpuProtocolSetupVar-7d4adce1-930d-40c7-9cd2-6d2148413dc7           LBOP0012-2a4dc6b7-41f5-45dd-b46f-2dd334c1cf65               
CurrentPolicy-77fa9abd-0359-4d32-bd60-28f4e78f784b LBOP0013-2a4dc6b7-41f5-45dd-b46f-2dd334c1cf65

It’s important to know this because your partitioning scheme will be different, depending on which boot mode you will use. Here are suggested partitioning schemes from Archlinux wiki for UEFI and BIOS boot modes.

Mount pointPartitionPartition typeSuggested size
/mnt/boot/dev/efi_system_partitionEFI system partitionAt least 300 MiB
[SWAP]/dev/swap_partitionLinux swapMore than 512 MiB
/mnt/dev/root_partitionLinux x86-64 root (/)Remainder of the device
UEFI with GPT Partitioning Scheme

Mount pointPartitionPartition typeSuggested size
[SWAP]/dev/swap_partitionLinux swapMore than 512 MiB
/mnt/dev/root_partitionLinux x86-64 root (/)Remainder of the device

Partition the disks

I will use the BIOS mode to show you an easy way to partition disks. However, it doesn’t mean that BIOS mode is the best choice. Also, you should be able to boot in BIOS mode to use it.

First of all, list all your drives with

fdisk -l

You will see a list of your disks which looks similar to this

root@archiso ~ # sudo fdisk -l
Disk /dev/sda: 10 GiB, 10737418240 bytes, 20971520 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x1cd2a85a

Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type
/dev/sda1 * 2048 19908607 19906560 9.5G 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 19908608 20957183 1048576 512M 83 Linux

Disk /dev/loop0: 715.43 MiB, 750182400 bytes, 1465200 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

In my case I only have one 10GiB drive which is referred to as /dev/sda by the system. It will most likely be different in your case. Ignore any results ending in rom, loop or airoot.

After you found the right drive (please, make sure it’s the correct drive, since all the data on this drive will be lost after you format it) type

cfdisk /dev/sdX

where /dev/sdX is the name of your drive (/dev/sda in my case).

cfdisk partitioning utility interface
cfdisk interface, old partitioning scheme

If your disk was partitioned before and you can’t use your old partitioning scheme (you probably can’t, unless you had a linux installation before), delete the old partitions first be selecting them and pressing Delete.

cfdisk partitioning utility interface, no partitions
cfdisk interface, drive without partitions

Now create two partitions, one for the file system and another one for SWAP by pressing New and entering their size. Choose Primary when cfdisk asks you if you don’t know what it means.

In my case I have a 10GiB drive, so I will use 1GiB for swap and 9 GiB for the system.

Using cfdisk utility to partition disk for Archlinux Installation
cfdisk interface, new partitioning scheme

Make sure that the system partition’s type is 83 and swap partition’s type is 82. Change their Type if it’s not the case.

Now select the system partition and press Bootable to add the Boot flag. An asterisk will appear under Boot

Using cfdisk utility to partition disk for Archlinux Installation
cfdisk interface, boot flag set

Choose Write and type Yes to write the changes to the disk. Then press Quit to go back to the shell.

Create a filesystem

Now you need to create a file system on your partitions. If your root partition was /dev/sdx1, type

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdx1

where /dev/sdx1 is your root partition. Note that there is a number at the end.

This is my output

root@archiso ~ # mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1
mke2fs 1.46.4 (18-Aug-2021)
/dev/sda1 contains a ext4 file system labelled 'rootMX21'
last mounted on / on Mon Jan 31 06:14:58 2022
Proceed anyway? (y,N) y
Creating filesystem with 2359296 4k blocks and 589824 inodes
Filesystem UUID: 0f92c5f8-c0ab-4acd-99b1-68700fa812ee
Superblock backups stored on blocks:
32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632

Allocating group tables: done
Writing inode tables: done
Creating journal (16384 blocks): done
Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done

Similarly, create a swap file system by typing

mkswap /dev/sdX2

where /dev/sdx2 is your swap partition.

My output looks like this:

root@archiso ~ # mkswap /dev/sda2   
Setting up swapspace version 1, size = 1023 MiB (1072689152 bytes)
no label, UUID=d1a47438-7807-4ddf-9d8a-d5dbeaa869a4

Mount the partitions

After that you can mount your root filesystem to /mnt by typing

mount /dev/sdx1 /mnt

where /dev/sdx1 is your root filesystem. Enable swap by typing

swapon /dev/sdx2

Replace /dev/sdx2 with your swap partition.

Step 5. Select the mirrors and install essential packages

Select the mirrors

To get the packages you need to choose the right mirrors first. Type

reflector --country Germany

to check the available mirrors. Replace Germany with your own country.

If the output is too large, you can always pass it through more or less utility like this

reflector --country Germany | more

If you found any mirrors, you should save them to /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist. Run

reflector --country Germany --save /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Check that the list was saved by typing

cat /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

You should see the same mirrors that reflector showed you earlier.

Install the essential packages

Now install the essential packages by typing

pacstrap /mnt base linux linux-firmware

This is where Archlinux starts to differ from the other distributions in a very good way. Note that here you can choose which packages to install. These are only the essential packages to get you to the command line after boot. Of course, you most likely need more than this.

Which other packages to choose is completely up to you, so you should make your research. Since I usually choose gnome as my desktop environment and I also want an easy-to-set-up network manager, my list usually looks something like this:

pacstrap /mnt base linux linux-firmware alsa-utils cryptsetup dhclient dhcpcd dnsmasq gnome grub hdparm less man-db man-pages nano networkmanager nmap openssh openvpn parted reflector sudo zsh

In no way this is a one-fits-all list. If you want another desktop instead of gnome, then just replace gnome package with a desktop of your choice.

Also note, that if you are installing gnome, you might get some package integrity problems like this one

(543/543) checking package integrity                                                                                                                                                           [########################################################################################################################] 100%
error: libspeechd: signature from "Alexander Epaneshnikov <[email protected]>" is unknown trust

In this case update the keys by typing

pacman-key --refresh-keys

Then install the packages again.

Step 6. Configure the system

Archlinux wiki suggests you also set the timezone and localization from the command line, but in my opinion its much easier to do from a working desktop environment, so we’ll move on to fstab

Generate fstab

Just type

genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

and check if the file was generated correctly with

cat /mnt/etc/fstab

Chroot into the system


arch-chroot /mnt

to chroot into your new system. You will see that the command prompt has changed to [root@archiso /]#.

root@archiso ~ # arch-chroot /mnt
[root@archiso /]#

Create an initial ramdisk environment


[root@archiso /]# mkinitcpio -P

Note, that for LVM, system encryption and RAID the mkinitcpio presets should be different. Refer to Archlinux wiki in this case.

My output

[root@archiso /]# mkinitcpio -P
==> Building image from preset: /etc/mkinitcpio.d/linux.preset: 'default'
-> -k /boot/vmlinuz-linux -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-linux.img
==> Starting build: 5.16.5-arch1-1
==========================CUT HERE=============================
==> Generating module dependencies
==> Creating zstd-compressed initcpio image: /boot/initramfs-linux-fallback.img
==> Image generation successful

Step 7. Install the bootloader

Install GRUB

GRUB is not the only bootloader that you can install. However, in most cases it’s probably the best choice. install GRUB by typing

[root@archiso /]# grub-install /dev/sdX

where /dev/sdX is the disk that you used to install Archlinux to. In my case it’s /dev/sda. Check that there were no errors

[root@archiso /]# grub-install /dev/sda
Installing for i386-pc platform.
Installation finished. No error reported.

If you are using UEFI, then the process will be more difficult. Take a look at GRUB Installation manual if that’s the case.

Generate GRUB configuration file

If you installed GRUB, then the system won’t boot without a configuration file. Run

[root@archiso /]# grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

to create one.

Set root password

Type passwd to set up a new password. Then exit the chroot environment and reboot by typing exit and then reboot.

Step 8. Boot into your new system

If everything went without problems, you should see this screen after you reboot.

Archlinux boot screen
Archlinux boot screen

Choose Arch Linux. It will take you to the command line.

Archlinux Shell
Archlinux Shell

We are almost done. Time to launch the desktop environment. Login as root and type these 2 commands. The first one will make sure GNOME is started automatically after the next boot. And the second one will launch GDM, which stands for GNOME Display Manager.

systemctl enable gdm.service
systemctl start gdm.service

You will now see a GNOME login screen. Congratulations!

Archlinux GNOME login screen
Archlinux GNOME login screen

Login as root now (you should switch to a limited user after that).

Archlinux GNOME desktop
Archlinux GNOME desktop

Enjoy your new system!

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