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Minimal instructions for installing arch linux on an UEFI NVMe system with full system encryption using dm-crypt and luks

Install ARCH Linux with encrypted file-system and UEFI

The official installation guide ( contains a more verbose description.

Download the Arch ISO

Copy to a USB drive

dd if=archlinux.img of=/dev/sdX bs=16M && sync # on linux

Boot from USB drive

If the usb fails to boot, make sure that secure boot is disabled in the BIOS configuration.

This assumes a wifi only system...


Create partitions

cgdisk /dev/nvme0n1
1 512MB EFI partition # Hex code ef00
2 100% size partiton # (to be encrypted) Hex code 8300

Create EFI partition

mkfs.vfat -F32 -n EFI /dev/nvme0n1p1

Setup the encryption of the system with 256 bit effective size

Note: Many NVMe drives can exceed 2GB/s, consider your crypto algorithm wisely, review cryptsetup benchmark, the defaults are viewable end of cryptsetup --help, defaults are commonly the fastest with good security from my experience with cryptsetup (AES 256, sha256, 2000ms)

cryptsetup --use-random luksFormat /dev/nvme0n1p2
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/nvme0n1p2 luks

Create encrypted partitions

This creates one partions for root, modify if /home or other partitions should be on separate partitions

pvcreate /dev/mapper/luks
vgcreate vg0 /dev/mapper/luks
lvcreate --size 16G vg0 --name swap
lvcreate -l +100%FREE vg0 --name root

Create filesystems on encrypted partitions

mkfs.ext4 -L root /dev/mapper/vg0-root
mkswap /dev/mapper/vg0-swap

Mount the new system

mount /dev/mapper/vg0-root /mnt # /mnt is the installed system
swapon /dev/mapper/vg0-swap # Not needed but a good thing to test
mkdir /mnt/boot
mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot

Install the system

Also includes stuff needed for starting wifi when first booting into the newly installed system Unless vim and zsh are desired these can be removed from the command. Dialog is needed by wifi-menu

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel zsh neovim git sudo efibootmgr dialog wpa_supplicant tmux intel-ucode linux mkinitcpio dhcpcd

Generate fstab

genfstab -pU /mnt | tee -a /mnt/etc/fstab

Make /tmp a ramdisk (add the following line to /mnt/etc/fstab)

#tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0

Also change relatime on all non-boot partitions to noatime (reduces wear if using an SSD)

Enter the new system

arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash

Setup system clock

ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/Los_Angeles /etc/localtime
hwclock --systohc --utc

Set the hostname

echo MYHOSTNAME > /etc/hostname

Generate locale

Uncomment wanted locales in /etc/locale.gen

vim /etc/locale.gen
localectl set-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8

To avoid problems with gnome-terminal set locale system wide Do NOT set LC_ALL=C. It overrides all the locale vars and messes up special characters Pay attention to the UTF-8. Capital letters !

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

Set password for root


Add user

useradd -m -g MYUSERNAME -G wheel,storage,power,network,uucp -s /bin/zsh MYUSERNAME

Configure mkinitcpio with modules needed for the initrd image

vim /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
  • Add 'ext4' to MODULES
  • Add 'encrypt' and 'lvm2' to HOOKS before filesystems
  • Add 'resume' after 'lvm2' (also has to be after 'udev')

Regenerate initrd image

mkinitcpio -p linux

Setup systembootd (grub will not work on nvme at this moment)

bootctl --path=/boot install

Create loader.conf

echo default arch >> /boot/loader/loader.conf
echo timeout 5 >> /boot/loader/loader.conf

Create arch.conf (or XYZ.conf for default XYZ in loader.conf)

nvim /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

Add the following content to arch.conf

<UUID> is the the one of the raw encrypted device (/dev/nvme0n1p2). It can be found with the blkid command

title Arch Linux
linux /vmlinuz-linux
initrd /intel-ucode.img
initrd /initramfs-linux.img
options cryptdevice=UUID=<UUID>:vg0 root=/dev/mapper/vg0-root resume=/dev/mapper/vg0-swap rw intel_pstate=no_hwp

Exit new system


Unmount all partitions

umount -R /mnt
swapoff -a

Reboot into the new system, don't forget to remove the cd/usb

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