ArchivedLinuxRaspbery Pi

Installing Arch Linux on a Raspberry Pi 3

This article describes a simple approach to build a basic Arch installation with fixed IP address and a few basic utilities. Typically, once complete, I would create a clone of this SD card (see Cloning an SD Card for Raspberry Pi below) in order to replicate the installation quickly for other machines etc. This is particularly useful when adding nodes to a cluster (bramble).

Basic Installation

Insert the SD card to be used into a Linux machine and determine the device using e.g.


Fo MacOS the following command can be used

   diskutil list

The device /dev/sdX should be replaced with the correct device as displayed using the above command.

Start fdisk to partition the SD card:

   fdisk /dev/sdX

At the fdisk prompt, delete old partitions and create a new one:

  • Type o. This will clear out any partitions on the drive.
  • Type p to list partitions. There should be no partitions left.
  • Type n, then p for primary, 1 for the first partition on the drive, press ENTER to accept the default first sector, then type +100M for the last sector.
  • Type t, then c to set the first partition to type W95 FAT32 (LBA).
  • Type n, then p for primary, 2 for the second partition on the drive, and then press ENTER twice to accept the default first and last sector.
  • Write the partition table and exit by typing w.
  • Create and mount the FAT filesystem:
   mkfs.vfat /dev/sdX1
   mkdir boot
   mount /dev/sdX1 boot

Create and mount the ext4 filesystem:

   mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX2
   mkdir root
   mount /dev/sdX2 root

Download and extract the root filesystem (as root, not via sudo):

   bsdtar -xpf ArchLinuxARM-rpi-2-latest.tar.gz -C root

Move boot files to the first partition:

   mv root/boot/* boot

Unmount the two partitions:

   umount boot root

Insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi, connect ethernet, and apply 5V power. Use the serial console or SSH to the IP address given to the board by your router. Login as the default user alarm with the password alarm, the default root password is root.

Full details of the installation are detailed here:

Update the System

Initialise and populate the keyring

   pacman-key --init
   pacman-key --populate

Update the system

   pacman -Suy

Add a User

Create a new user

  $ useradd -m -G wheel -s /bin/bash john

If not asked to enter a password log in as root (or su) and set the password

  $ passwd john

Once the new user has been tested, any predefined default user can be deleted e.g.

  userdel -r <user>


SSH should be enabled by default. The following command will confirm this.

   # systemctl status sshd.service

If the service needs to be enabled or started, the following commands can be used as required.

   # systemctl enable sshd.service
   # systemctl start sshd.service

If you do not already have a public/private key pair, details of how to do this can be fount at

Copy the public key to /home/<user>/.ssh. This can be sone using SSH from another device e.g. to copy a public key to /home/john on a pi with the IP, from a Linux/Mac on the same network the following command can be used.

   cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh john@ "mkdir -p ~/.ssh && cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys" 

The matching private key should be placed in .ssh directory of the connecting device. Once the keys have been installed, it should be possible connect with SSH using the key rather than a password. All that is required is to change the entries in /etc/ssh/sshd_config to tighten things up a little.

   PermitRootLogin no
   PubkeyAuthentication yes
   PasswordAuthentication no

Reboot the machine and test SSH.


Once SSH is up and running, scp can be used to copy any required files to the new machine using a command similar to the following;

   scp myfile john@


Follow the instructions here to install a SUDO user.


Set the Hostname

Set the hostname

   $ nano /etc/hostname

Fixed IP Address

There are several ways to do this, the method I use most frequently is Systemd. To specify a fixed IP, include an file in /etc/systemd/network something like the following and reboot (assumes interface is eth0).


Start and enable the service.

   # systemctl start systemd-networkd.service
   # systemctl enable systemd-networkd.service

Ensure that /etc/resolv.conf exists and includes the appropriate nameserver entry.


If WiFi is required add s the following profile file to /etc/systemd/network (Ensure the IP is set appropriately)


Install wpa_supplicant e.g.

   pacman -S wpa_supplicant

Add the following to wpa_supplicant-wlan0.conf

   ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

Start wpa_supplicant e.g.

   systemctl enable wpa_supplicant@wlan0.service
   systemctl start wpa_supplicant@wlan0.service

Base Packages

   $ pacman -S base-devel file git wget

Cloning an SD Card for Raspberry Pi

This article describes the steps necessary to clone an SD card using MacOS or Linux for use in a Raspberry Ri. Be aware that restoring the disc image to the SD Card can take some time, anything up to an hour or so.


Identify the disk

   diskutil list

Copy the disk image to the Mac.

   sudo dd if=/dev/diskX of=~/Desktop/raspberrypi.dmg

Insert new SD card and identify the disk (as above) and unmount the disk.

   diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX

Format and copy the disk

   sudo newfs_msdos -F 16 /dev/disk2
   sudo dd if=~/Desktop/raspberrypi.dmg of=/dev/diskX


Identify the disk


Copy the disk image to the machine, where the disk is /dev/sdk

   dd if=/dev/sdX of=~/raspberrypi.img

Insert new SD card and identify the disk (as above) and un-mount the disk.

   umount /dev/sdX1

Copy the disk

   dd if=~/raspberrypi.img of=/dev/sdX