How to install Arch Linux with i3?

There are already many generic and useful guides on this topic and chances are, most people will likely just recommend you to take a look at the one on the Arch Linux wiki.

I’m meaning for this to be a no fluff version and covering a number of not so obvious but useful things to me personally. Should not really matter too much but note that this installation was carried out on a ThinkPad X220 on a wireless connection.

  1. Download the latest ISO file from Arch Linux
  2. Burn it into a USB drive (or DVD). I’d recommend Etcher
  3. Insert into your target computer and boot into it.
  4. Enable NTP

    timedatectl set-ntp true

  5. Identify the drive to install on

    fdisk -l

  6. Launch the partition manager on the selected drive

    cfdisk /dev/sdX

    X being the letter of the drive you wish to utilise

  7. Select dos label type
  8. Select New and specify the partition size. Ensure to leave enough space to create another partition for your swap space. Typically 2x your RAM.
  9. Select Primary and make it Bootable
  10. Do the same for the remaining space. Create another primary partition but do not make it bootable
  11. Select Type and change it from “83 Linux” to “82 Linux swap / Solaris”
  12. Select Write and type “yes” to execute the changes
  13. Select Quit to continue with the installation process
  14. Create the filesystem and swap space

    mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX1
    mkswap /dev/sdX2

  15. Mount the filesystem and swap space

    mount /dev/sdX1 /mnt
    swapon /dev/sdX2

  16. Connect to your wireless network


  17. Test your internet connection


  18. Install the base system

    pacstrap /mnt base base-devel

  19. Generate _fstab_

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

  20. _chroot_ into the system

    arch-chroot /mnt

  21. Set the timezone and update the hardware clock

    ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/REGION/CITY /etc/localtime
    hwclock –systohc

  22. Edit the locale file and uncomment _en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8_

    nano /etc/locale.gen

  23. Generate locale file


  24. Create locale configuration file

    echo “LANG=en_US.UTF-8” > /etc/locale.conf

  25. Create hostname file

    echo “HOSTNAME” > /etc/hostname

    HOSTNAME being your desired hostname for your system

  26. Update “/etc/hosts” file localhost
    ::1 localhost HOSTNAME

  27. Enable _dhcpcd_ and install some essential networking packages

    pacman -S dialog wpa_actiond ifplugd wpa_suppicant sudo zsh
    systemctl enable –now dhcpcd

  28. Set the root password


  29. Create a non-root user for daily usage

    useradd -m -G wheel -s /bin/bash USERNAME

  30. Set the USERNAME password

    passwd USERNAME

  31. Edit “/etc/sudoers” to uncomment the following line

    # %wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL

  32. Generate initramfs

    mkinitcpio -p linux

  33. Install bootloader

    pacman -S grub os-prober
    grub-install /dev/sdX
    grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

  34. Exit and reboot. Make sure to remove the USB/DVD installation media

    umount -R /mnt

  35. Login as root
  36. Set up and configure internet connection


    Determine the hardware Wi-Fi and ethernet device IDs

    ip addr

    It should be something like “wlpXXX” and “enpXXX”

    systemctl enable [email protected]
    systemctl enable [email protected]

    The system is now ready to autoconnect to known networks.

  37. Install i3

    pacman -S i3 xorg xorg-xinit

    Edit “~/.xinitrc”

    #! /bin/bash
    exec i3

    Run i3


    Alternatively, you can run it automatically upon login by adding the following snippet to “/etc/profile”

    # autostart systemd default session on tty1
    if [[ “$(tty)” == ‘/dev/tty1’ ]]; then
    exec startx

    It is probably a good idea to take a look at your i3 config file which can be found at _~/.config/i3/config_ or _~/.i3/config_. There are many ways to customise your very own i3 layout but feel free to check out mine as a reference.

  38. Enable audio

    pacman -S alsa-utils

    Select ‘Master’, press ‘M’ and keep pressing the up key to increase the sound level

    Run a speaker test to verify it’s working

    speaker-test -c2

  39. Install yay

    git clone
    cd yay
    makepkg -si

  40. That’s it. You now have a functional and usable Arch Linux installation on your system!

    I’d recommend installing the following packages to make your system slightly more useful:

    • rofi
    • teiler
    • urxvt
    • nitrogen