Arch Linux installation with encrypted root + swap

Last modified on 2015-03-26

My notes for installing Arch Linux that follow a condensed path through the Beginner’s Guide plus extra steps to configure LUKS-encrypted root + swap.

Let’s go!

Target: Acer C720-2848 Chromebook (16GB SSD) with Chrome OS already removed.

0. Install media

Download the combined 32+64bit installer and flash the image to a USB stick …

sudo dd bs=4M if=archlinux*-dual.iso of=/dev/sdX

1. Net connection

Connect the USB stick and boot the installer. Identify the name of the device net interfaces …

ip link

Chromebook wireless interface is wlp1s0. Connect to an access point using netctl and its interactive wifi-menu utility …


2. Wipe storage

Secure wipe storage before installation (16GB SSD took 22-23 minutes) …

cryptsetup open --type plain /dev/sdX container
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/mapper/container

Upon completion close the container …

cryptsetup close /dev/mapper/container

Link: Dm-crypt drive preparation

3. Partition

Detect storage devices …


SSD identified as sda. Use gpt to create a 4 partition layout …

Normally I create a separate partition for $HOME but on smaller storage devices I make a single encrypted root and a (required) unencrypted boot

gdisk /dev/sda
    o (new partition table)

4. Encrypted root

Using above partition layout …

cryptsetup -y -v luksFormat /dev/sda4
cryptsetup open /dev/sda4 cryptroot
mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/cryptroot
mount -t ext4 /dev/mapper/cryptroot /mnt

5. Boot

Setup …

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2
mkdir /mnt/boot
mount -t ext4 /dev/sda2 /mnt/boot

6. Install

Install the Arch base system …

pacstrap -i /mnt base base-devel

7. Fstab

Generate a base /etc/fstab and modify …

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

8. Chroot

Chroot into the freshly-installed Arch base system to configure …

arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash

9. Locale

Configure a locale suitable for the region …

nano /etc/locale.gen
    en_CA.UTF-8 UTF-8
echo LANG=en_CA.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
export LANG=en_CA.UTF-8

10. Time zone

Configure local time …

ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Canada/Eastern /etc/localtime

11. Hardware clock

Set the hardware clock to UTC …

hwclock --systohc --utc

12. Hostname

Make a name for the new Arch installation …

echo myhostname > /etc/hostname

… and modify /etc/hosts

#<ip-address> <> <hostname> localhost.localdomain localhost myhostname
::1   localhost.localdomain localhost myhostname

13. Network

Chromebook wireless interface is an Atheros AR9462 using the ath9k kernel module. It does not require separate firmware.

Install wireless tools …

pacman -S iw wpa_supplicant dialog

Wait until after reboot to configure interface with wifi-menu.

14. Initial ramdisk

Modify /etc/mkinitcpio.conf by adding an encrypt hook before filesystems

HOOKS="... encrypt ... filesystems ..."

Re-generate the initramfs image …

mkinitcpio -p linux

15. Password

Set root password …


16. Bootloader

Download GRUB …

pacman -S grub os-prober

Configure /etc/default/grub to handle encrypted root …


Install GRUB to storage device and auto-generate grub.cfg

grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck /dev/sda
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

17. Prepare non-root encrypted partitions

Add encrypted swap to /etc/crypttab

cryptswap    /dev/sda3   /dev/urandom    swap,cipher=aes-cbc-essiv:sha256,size=256

… and modify /etc/fstab

/dev/mapper/cryptswap    none    swap    sw      0 0

18. Unmount and reboot

umount /mnt/boot
umount /mnt
cryptsetup close /dev/mapper/cryptroot

Welcome to Arch. Happy hacking!