Ultimate arch linux setup



Recently after distro-hopping I came back to Arch Linux. It was perfect for me and I really can't move to another distro without missing the AUR. After installing Arch I went through a few extra steps to add some features like secure boot(I know its not needed) and Plymouth to add m to my setup. I am assuming you have used Linux this does not and will not replace the arch wiki.

The arch install.

This is the most difficult part of arch. I will not be making a guide for it as Arch Linux changes very often and the best source is the Arch wiki. I know its scary but put in the hard work and you will be rewarded with a arch install.


swapfiles are like swap partition but rather then use a partition uses a file. Usually this is /swapfile. To start with you will need to make a file. If you use btrfs you will need to set some permissions.

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1M count=512 status=progress

Change count to the size of ram you have if you want to hibernate. Next up we need to remove the read permissions on the file. Its surprisingly easy to change this. sudo chmod 600 /swapfile will allow remove the read/write permissions. Next we need to format the file to make it a swap device. This step is very simple.

sudo mkswap /swapfile

Next you should activate the swap device like this sudo swapon /swapfile. Finally you should edit the fstab file to ensure its activated on boot. You can edit the /etc/fstab file with you preferred text editor. Add the following line at the end and when you reboot your system should activate the swap device.

/swapfile none swap defaults 0 0

Secure boot

I am using custom keys and have wiped the Microsoft keys of my system for better security. If you want to keep these keys you will need to use preboot/shim. Look into the arch wiki on how to use them. To start off we need to install efitools

sudo pacman -S efitools

I acutuly did everything here in a folder I created. The path is /etc/secure-boot/. I recomand doing the same. First we create a GUID

uuidgen --random > GUID.txt

next up we create a Platform key

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout PK.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Platform Key/" -out PK.crt
openssl x509 -outform DER -in PK.crt -out PK.cer
cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" PK.crt PK.esl
sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k PK.key -c PK.crt PK PK.esl PK.auth
sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -c PK.crt -k PK.key PK /dev/null rm_PK.auth # this is to allow the key to be removed in the future

Next the Key exchange key or KEK

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout KEK.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Key Exchange Key/" -out KEK.crt
openssl x509 -outform DER -in KEK.crt -out KEK.cer
cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" KEK.crt KEK.esl
sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k PK.key -c PK.crt KEK KEK.esl KEK.auth

Finally the Signature Database key.

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -nodes -keyout db.key -new -x509 -sha256 -days 3650 -subj "/CN=my Signature Database key/" -out db.crt
openssl x509 -outform DER -in db.crt -out db.cer
cert-to-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" db.crt db.esl
sign-efi-sig-list -g "$(< GUID.txt)" -k KEK.key -c KEK.crt db db.esl db.auth

Now we need to sign the kernels and efi binaries.

sudo sbsign --key db.key --cert db.crt --output /boot/vmlinuz-linux /boot/vmlinuz-linux
sudo sbsign --key db.key --cert db.crt --output esp/EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.EFI esp/EFI/BOOT/BOOTX64.EFI

You will need to do this every time you update the kernel or boot-loader. I used a pacman hook to do this. I also moved all the keys to /etc/secure-boot

sudo nano /etc/pacman.d/hooks/99-secureboot.hook

My hook is the following

Operation = Install
Operation = Upgrade
Type = Package
Target = linux
Target = systemd

Description = Signing Kernel for SecureBoot
When = PostTransaction
Exec = /usr/bin/sh -c "/usr/bin/find /boot/ -type f \( -name 'vmlinuz-*' -o -name 'systemd*' \) -exec /usr/bin/sh -c 'if ! /usr/bin/sbverify --list {} 2>/dev/null | /usr/bin/grep -q \"signature certificates\"; then /usr/bin/sbsign --key /etc/secure-boot/db.key --cert /etc/secure-boot/db.crt --output {} {}; fi' \;"
Depends = sbsigntools
Depends = findutils
Depends = grep

You should also copy all the keys to the /boot partition. Next you need to put your firmware into setup mode and enroll the keys. You can follow this guide on how to enroll the keys www.rodsbooks.com/efi-bootloaders/controlling-sb.html#setuputil.


Fist we need to install a aur helper. I prefer yay but you can use any helper or manually git clone and makepkg each package on your own.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/yay.git

These packages are a must if you want to install any aur package.

sudo pacman -S base-devel

Next to build and install yay. run these commands

makepkg -si

After this we can install Plymouth.

yay plymouth

You can install the git or stable version. Next you need to edit the /etc/mkinitcpio.conf.

sudo nano /etc/mkinitcpio.conf 

you need to add the plymouth hook to the HOOKS section HOOKS=(base udev plymouth ...). You might also need to add your drivers kernel module.

At this point its time to get a theme for the plymouth screen. I used this theme. However you can use the one you prefer.

You can get a list of choices using the following command

plymouth-set-default-theme -l

Finally to set the theme run

sudo plymouth-set-default-theme -R theme

Add this to the options line in the arch.conf in the /boot partition. quiet splash loglevel=3 rd.udev.log_priority=3 vt.global_cursor_default=0 After this you can reboot the system and you should have your theme shown when you boot up.


Hibernation is a useful requirement on laptops. When a laptop enters hibernation it saves the contents of ram to the hdd/sdd saving power but speeding up boot time. On arch linux you need to add kernel hooks and parameters to tell the system on how to resume. To start off we can add the nitpicking hook. You should open the /etc/mkinitcpio.conf file in a text editor and updated the hooks.

HOOKS=(base udev plymouth autodetect modconf block filesystems resume keyboard fsck)

The hooks should look like this now. Next we need to add a kernel parameter so the kernel knows where to resume from. However before this we need to find the "offset" of the swapfile. To do this we can use filefrag.

Filesystem type is: ef53
File size of /swapfile is 8388608000 (2048000 blocks of 4096 bytes)
ext: logical_offset: physical_offset: length: expected: flags:
0: 0.. 6143: 321536.. 327679: 6144: 
1: 6144.. 12287: 403456.. 409599: 6144: 327680:
2: 12288.. 14335: 466944.. 468991: 2048: 409600:
3: 14336.. 16383: 522240.. 524287: 2048: 468992:
4: 16384.. 47103: 559104.. 589823: 30720: 524288:
5: 47104.. 49151: 673792.. 675839: 2048: 589824:
6: 49152.. 59391: 677888.. 688127: 10240: 675840:
7: 59392.. 83967: 696320.. 720895: 24576: 688128:
8: 83968.. 86015: 735232.. 737279: 2048: 720896:

You should look for the first physical_offset value. In my case it was 321536. Now we are ready to add our kernel parameters. There are 2 parameters we need to add the resume parameter and the resume_offset parameter. For the resume parameter you need to use the UUID of the partion the swapfile is on. your parameter should look like this.resume=UUID=19a7a7b7-04d9-4abc-b1bf-8d53ea7de04e resume_offset=321536

Final thoughts

I know it was a bit long but I spent a long time fixing issues and getting things working. I really enjoy arch and I hope people find this informing and enjoy setting up arch.

— This is nullrquest signing off