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Last Update: 1st January 2013.

Outcome: To create a custom, bootable version of the Arch Linux operating system that will allow you to carry your OS,
pre-installed with all your needed programs, on a USB stick.

Update: 1st December 2013:
Arch Linix has recently switched from SysVinit to systemd, resulting in some of the instructions on customising the system to become incompatible.
The ‘archiso’ package (from git) has also been modified so that only dual (64 & 32 bit) ISO are created.
The post has been updated to reflect the changes.

Update: 5th April 2012:
Recent changes with mkarchiso now means that creating a chroot is no longer necessary, thus simplifying the process.
I have updated the Arch Linux wiki reflecting these changes to leave the wiki as simple as possible to follow.


I’ve been tinkering around lately with archiso, which is a set of bash scripts that, to put it briefly, allow you to create a fully customised version of the OS, squash it into an ISO file, and then stick it on a USB stick or CD ready to be booted from pretty much any computer, meaning I can have my beloved OS with me at all times, which is great if I’m at a friend’s house; internet cafe; University; or wherever, and not feeling to pleased with their choice of OS or programs.
I’ve also pre-filled it with many maintenance, and data recovery tools saving me the need to carry around a bunch of CDs if I ever need to do some maintenance.

I will try to explain as simply as possible on how to achieve this so you can have your own release up and booted in no time.
Whilst there is pretty informative wiki page on the Arch Linux website, the recent shift from Aufs2 to dm-snapshot has brought about many changes to the previous version of ArchIso, so the wiki page is was a work in progress, which confused me for some time.


Depending on your experience, the steps below may look daunting, but many of them will only have to be done once to get everything set up, once it is the process of redefining and customising the OS in the future becomes a doddle.

To begin with, we need to install the dependencies for the ‘archiso’ packge.
So open up a terminal and execute:

(root): pacman -S make  squashfs-tools  libisoburn  dosfstools  patch  lynx devtools git

Next we need to obtain archoiso which is a set of scripts that carry out the beef of the work for us. I recommend getting them from git, there is a package in the repositories, however, at this time of writing, it will not work with the instructions below.
So, grab the most recent version from git and install it:

(user): git clone git:// && cd archiso
(root): make install

Now we need to create a directory to work in, essentially a place where the live system will live while we work on it.
Within this tutorial I will be using /home/kroweer/livecd (~/livecd).
Note, that this directory will quickly fill up in space depending on how many packages you install and what files you decide to copy over, so you will need a fair bit of space. I recommend at least 4GB.

At this point, it is best to open a root shell (sudo su), as everything we do within this ‘livecd’ directory must be root owned.

Copy over the newly installed archiso scripts (which now live in /usr/share/archiso/configs/releng/) into this newly created directory:

    (root): cp -r /usr/share/archiso/configs/releng/* ~/livecd

Essentially, that is it.
If you were to execute the build command, after some time you will be presented with a bare minimum ISO file you can boot from. But where is the fun in that? You could’ve just downloaded the Arch Linux install medium and have the same thing.
Now to move on to customising the system.

Customising the Live System


Inside the ~/livecd/ directory there are a number of files, most of which can be ignored; however, what is of importance to us are the packages.x86_64, packages.i686, packages.both files; and the root-image directory.

When you finally build the system, it will create a dual architecture system (32bit & 64bit both inside one ISO), and so inside the respective packages.* file you can list, line by line, the packages you want each system to have installed.
I’ve not had much luck in creating a single architecture system, so I recommend you list all the files you want inside the packages.both file, and leave the other two alone.
You will notice there are a few packages listed in there by default, it’s probably best you keep them in there (unless you know you don’t need them) and add your own to the end.

More than likely you will want to be able to boot into X so you can have a pretty GUI and all, so you will need to list the relevant Xorg packages (xorg-server, xorg-xinit, xorg-server-utils); a desktop environment, or window manager (such as i3, gnome, or openbox), you may also want to include all the xf86-video drivers so you can boot the USB on any computer regardless of what video chipset is in use.
Don’t forgot about sound (alsa-utils, if that’s you preference), networking (wicd), fonts, a file manager,  a terminal emulator, and sudo.

To give you some ideas, you can get a full list of what you currently have installed on your host machine, by executing the following and picking out what you need.

    (root): pacman -Qqe

I wouldn’t recommend copying everything from there into your packages file, as this may result in a huge ISO file that may not fit onto your USB, just select sparingly the main programs you want.

Make sure you do not make a spelling mistake with any of the package names and make that they all exist in the official repositories: failure to do so will make the build process fail without any indication of the error.

-Files & Configs

To customize your system further you place any files/configurations you want your image to contain inside the root-image directory: ~/livecd/root-image.

This directory is the root ‘/’ filesystem of the live system, and it will act as an overlay; anything within here will copied over to the live system during boot up.
Again, I will state that all the files within the whole ~livecd/ directory must be root owned, don’t chown them to a different user (we’ll sort out permissions soon).

If you look in this directory you will see there are already a few files as a starting point.
There’s an etc where you can place system files, and a root folder (which is the root users home folder, do not delete this, it contains an important file).

You can simply copy over files from your host system to here; for e.g., I want my iptables scripts, so I create the directory ‘iptables’ within ~/livecd/root-image/etc/ and copy the file from my host to this directory, ie:

(root): mkdir ~/livecd/root-image/etc/iptables
(root): cp /etc/iptables/iptables.rules ~/livecd/root-image/etc/iptables/

-Adding Users

To add a user to the system, first create “home” within “etc”, and within “home” create a directory with the same name as the new user.
E.g. I want to add the user “kroweer”, so I execute (as root remember):
(root): mkdir -p ~/livecd/root-image/etc/home/kroweer

Populate the user’s home directory using the same process as above.
For example, I want to have my GTK configuration files copied over, so I execute:
(root): cp /home/kroweer/.gtkrc-2.0 ~/livecd/root-image/etc/home/kroweer/

Now to move on to actually adding the user account.

Inside root’s home folder (~/livecd/root-image/root), there is a script called
Whilst your system is being built, this script will be executed. We can use it to add users to the system, auto login to a user on boot and start X, start services, and sort out proper permissions on the files.

Here is my, I’d recommend using this one instead of the one provided.
I’ve added the necessary commands to add the actual user account, password protect the accounts, set the correct permissions on home files, and starting services.
I’ve also disabled the automatic login to the root account on a TTY.
Take a look at it, and modify it to your needs.

Building the ISO

That should be it. Now you move on to actually building the ISO file and copying it to a USB.

Within the ~/livecd directory there is a bash script which will take care of everything for you.
Simply make it executable (chmod +x, and run it:

(root): ./ -v

The build process can be slow depending on how many packages you’ve installed (it takes 40 minutes on my ageing 1.6GHz dual core +3GB RAM laptop).
This will output an ISO file in the ~/livecd/out directory which you can then simply dd onto your USB.

(root): dd if=~/livecd/out/N.iso  of=/dev/sdX

Where N is the name of the ISO, and sdX is your USB.

Be careful with this command if you care for the precious data you hold on your hard disk! sdX must refer to your USB stick.
Also, do not specify a partition number on your USB, for example use sdb not sdb1

If you get any errors during the build process, or want to update it, first delete the “work” folder (~/livecd/work), and re-run the build command.

I hope this helps someone out there, if you notice any mistakes or room for improvement I would appreciate the feedback.

Spare change? 🙂
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  1. Thanks so much. I used poison-livecd-creator in the AUR for a long time but it is out of order for now. Just fired up my VBox a few minutes ago. Will post a link on with my own distro called Parch

  2. Thanks for this writeup! It’s much more clear than the one on the Arch site. The default setup works perfectly. But, I’m having problems when I add to the packages.i686 file. I’m trying to duplicate a working setup, which has about 300 packages. I’m not worried about iso size, since I’m using a very large USB stick.

    When I add my 300+ files to the packages.i686 file, the fails. No error messages. It just returns to the root prompt. Has anyone else seen this before?

    • Hey,
      I’m not to sure why it’s doing that.
      If you could paste everthing your doing, and the results you get to I’ll try my best to work out why.

      One thing, are you executing
      “mknod /dev/loop0 b 7 0” everytime you enter the chroot?

  3. thanks a bunch for the step by step guid. i have not used it yet but i hope to.
    so i have a question for you. when i have made this can i boot into kde or gnome or dose it get rid of all that and just give me a terminal instead. excuse the spelling if somthing was wrong. my e-mail is if you want to reply to me. thanks

    • You can have it boot into what ever desktop environment you want, whether that be gnome, openbox, KDE or what ever.

      Just add which ever one you want to the packages file.

  4. Thanks alot, this was very helpful!

  5. Thank you for the article. I had been using an older version a while ago that worked very differently. This looks like it will be better.

    However, when attempting the instructions, both yours and the ones from the wiki, I came across a problem running The script exits with an error suggesting that mount could not find any loop device. The loop device exists, and is a block special device. I tried the suggestion from mount: modprobe loop, but that didn’t work.

    I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, or if it’s just that archiso is still being developed. Has anybody seen this before? Any help would be appreciated.

    • The only time I’ve had this error was when I forgot to execute:
      mknod /dev/loop0 b 7 0
      from within the chroot; maybe try changing the ‘7’ to another number.

      Other than that, I’m not sure. If you post the question on the Arch Wiki discussion page, you should get a quick response from djgera, who knows more about this than me.

  6. Followed guide to the letter [including loop] when I try to create an iso after a minute it just stops there is no /out folder or iso I can see…

    Am trying to create a base x86_64 iso just to test scripts….

  7. When you run the ./ script enable versbose mode, with “-v”.

    It may be that you have made a spelling mistake in your packages.lst file, so the program is erroring out because if can’t find a package.

  8. Ok … a little more output may help … Thanks

    • Second run worked fine, it did grab an extra package [noticed there is only one mirror in mirrorlist [easy fix]

      Off to test

      Great article and a big help

      Thanks again

  9. How can I rebuild the whole image after I modify something in root-image dir? Now if I change root-image/etc/rc.conf and run ./ build single netinstall it tells that everything is up to date and doesn’t rebuild the image. I could do ./ purge before rebuilding – this works but it is a very long to wait maybe there are another way of rebuilding?

    • Going to hop on this as well. The only changes I need to make are in the root-image overlay, and it seems fairly ridiculous to have to pull down and reinstall all the packages to the image in order to remake the ISO.

  10. Do you know of any way to install packages with the baseline config? I’m trying to set up a very small arch ISO and using the releng config just about doubles the ISO size, so I want to have only the very basics needed to run Arch and then about 3 packages + their dependencies. The only way I can see that happening right now is putting the packages in the root-image directory somewhere and then writing scripts to install those packages after initial installation.

    • The base line profile is meant to be a simple as possible, and it does not have the ability to install packages from a list, that is why the releng config is needed.

      You could try adding this functionality to it, take a look at this function of the releng config:

        • biltong
        • Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:06 am
        • Permalink

        So I could try copying that portion of the script over to the baseline’s config?

        • biltong
        • Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:42 am
        • Permalink

        Okay I went ahead and copied that over to the baseline’s and I also had to include the line to call the function at the bottom of the file (make_packages under make_basefs). Just a note, by default the baseline config only includes sata modules in the initramfs, so you have to add pata and usb to mkinitcpio.conf in the hooks section before filesystems if you want to boot from cd/usb and have a working system.

        After having done that, I built the image and my image is now ~150mb smaller (was 500mb, now ~350 (:D)) and now it boots up to arch just like any arch system would if it were installed on the machine. EXCEPT: You can’t log in, and it doesn’t log in by default. Using root as the username just gives me incorrect login (like it does on the real arch install medium) and trying arch with no password gave me incorrect login too. I’ll post back if I find out anything in that regard.

      • Nice findings.

        Maybe you could a few lines to the rc.local to change the passwords on boot, or create the relavent /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow entries.

        • biltong
        • Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:02 am
        • Permalink

        Actually I just copied over the make_customize_root_image over from the releng to the baseline and commented out the chmod lines in it (otherwise it throws errors if the files aren’t there) and copied inittab, rc.d, and archiso from the root-image/etc folder in releng to the root-image in my baseline config, as well as root-image/usr and arch. The inittab is what logs in as root automatically for you on tty1 and it took me a while to find that :D.

        Thanks for the guide by the way, I certainly would not have got this far without it. The one on the wiki is rather confusing.

      • That’s pretty interesting, cheers for reporting back.

        Can I just ask, what will you using it for? Why do you want such a minimalistic version, when the official install image offers the same functionality?

        • biltong
        • Posted December 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm
        • Permalink

        This: 😀

        I’ll be giving you credit in the thread 🙂

        Now I’m having a bit of an issue getting all the packages I want and their dependencies included in the [core] repo on the live cd so they can be installed along with arch.

  11. Btw, this procedure is still awesome! My earlier problems were user error on my part; I had forgotten to run the mknod step. I’ve been making liveCD’s all weekend with no problems; I’m just customizing which takes time. I like using Archiso since it appears not to be affected by the recent removal of aufs.

  12. Just an update on my progress: it is possible to have your own packages on the ISO to install from. I had to edit to read packages from a file and include them in the core repo .that gets put on the ISO. The easiest way to install the packages you want on your host machine is to run pactree -lu and put those in the file you edited to read. Easy :). For those who don’t want to have to rebuild the whole image for minor changes, you could try deleting one of the squashfs files and see if your changes show up in the iso – if they don’t you deleted the wrong file :P.

  13. this is exactely what I was looking for 😉
    but I have some troubles to generate the iso…
    everything seemd to work fine, but the last output I get is “[mkarchiso] INFO: Installing packages to ‘work/i686/root-image/’…”
    the problem is that the “out” folder isnt created and hence there is no iso..
    what went wrong?
    All in all I want to create an archlive system that has a preinstalled gnome desktop, how can I achive that?

  14. Great instructions. Worked perfectly for me in November but just came back to create an updated one and it stops and I get no “out” folder. I added the -v switch as suggested above and the error is:

    error: failed to commit transaction (unexpected error)
    Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded
    ==> ERROR: Failed to install all packages

    Any idea? Thanks.

    • Found the issue! A package that was in community had been moved to the AUR so it couldn’t find it. It would have been nice if it said it couldn’t find that particular package rather than the useless error above, but that’s not your fault 🙂


  15. i want to instal this on my computer but i dont see how. the way you are discribing is to make a live disc but i want one that has the option to instal it to. any idias

    sorry for grammer ans spelling

    • The live version does not offer an install, but why would you want to install this live version to your hard disk as opposed to installing a regular version of the Arch Linux OS? I can’t think of a valid reason as to why you would need to.

        • ivan
        • Posted March 3, 2012 at 12:58 am
        • Permalink

        I can think of one valid reason. Your system is an embedded device without keyboard, mouse, or display. The users will probably turn it off by pulling the plug. If the boot media is read-only then you don’t have to worry about file system corruption.

  16. Hi – great article

    When I get to

    ./ build single netinstall

    The script runs but it doesn’t output an iso file. It seems to create a work/x86_64 folder with some files in there – but no iso or out folder.

    I have not added any custom packages – just seeing if I can get a basic version running first.

    any ideas what i might be doing wrong?

    My host system is Arch64

    thanks in advance

    • I’ve not used archiso in a few weeks so I’m not sure if any thing has changed; try adding the -v flag when running the build script to get a verbose output.

      Normally, if the out folder, and respective iso file, are not present then a build error has occured; the verbose flag should give you an indication as to what

  17. I’ve followed the Wiki and this page, and I must say that yours is more clear than the Wiki. Good job. However, I still have the same problem when booting from the generated ISO. I keep getting the following error at boot time:

    ::Mounting ‘/dev/disk/by-label/’ to ‘/run/archiso/bootmnt’
    Waiting 30 seconds for device /dev/disk/by-label/ …
    ERROR: ‘/dev/disk/by-label’ device did not show up after 30 seconds…

    I tried Google for any solutions, but I have found none. Any ideas?

    • I believe it is because archiso doesn’t use device nodes (like /dev/sdb1/) when booting, it uses file system labels, so you need to make sure when you format the USB stick, you use ext3/4 and set the appropiate label on it (I can’t recall what it is off by heart).

      Try googling: Archiso usb label

        • Raymond
        • Posted March 11, 2012 at 3:35 am
        • Permalink

        Hey Kroweer,

        I found my problem. The generated ISO ran flawlessly in virtual machine, which suggests the problem must on my end of things. Next, I used DD to my USB key as stated in your documentation and that one worked out too. When reading my USB, the label was changed to ARCH_201203, which is the date (year and month) at which the ISO was generated.

        The part that gave me the error (that I also forgot to mention) was when I want to include this ISO into a multi-boot USB key using SARDU ( ). I had to extract the generated ISO and write the SARDU configuration file and point the LABEL correctly, which will overwrite the LABEL that was generated with the ISO. Anyway, it was my bad, and not yours~

        But again, thanks for this doc, it helped me and my friends.

      • Glad to hear you got it working, and thanks for mentioning about sarducd; I’ve never heard of that before but it looks really interesting.

  18. I have to agree, this is better than what’s in the Wiki. Have you considered doing this to build the ISO from an installed system instead of a chroot? I’ve heard it’s possible to use Archiso to make a bootable media from the currently installed system. Have you done this before? Care to shed some light on it? We are trying to add an Arch alternative (right now all our releases have been Debian-based) but building the bootable media is holding us up. I was hoping there would be something like remastersys to basically clone the installed system and build and ISO, but no such luck.

    • I’ve heard there are ways of doing this, but I haven’t came across any myself, but it is definitely something I am interested in.

      If I come across any information I’ll let you know.

      • Much appreciated. And likewise – if we come across a solution I will let you know.

  19. First, TY for the instructions here.
    I have used this to successfully make a basic Netinstall image, unfortunately
    why does “aif” fail ???
    ie: /arch/setup -> which is just a script “aif -p interactive”, or if trying to use “aif -p automatic -c scripts/mystuff”
    I get these errors:
    “ERROR: ask_checklist makes only sense if you specify at least 1 thing (tag,item and ON/OFF switch)”
    “FATAL: Module aes-586 not found…” ?

    I also tried the the latest “” and “aif” still fails same as above.
    I’m just simply noting this, as checking on the arch forums shows that the devs are hopefully looking into this.
    Otherwise I will have to continue using the official Archlinux-netinstall-2011-08…, for AIF installations, atleast until this is fixed.


  20. Great article. I spend a lot of time playing with other OS’s. I have yet to load one that will recognize any other OS’s on the hardrive for multi-booting. I want use grub2. I added the line ‘grub’ to the core.exclude.x86_64 file. I added ‘grub2-common’ and grub2-bios on successive lines of packages.x86_64. When I build the iso, it exits with:

    :: grub2-common and grub are in conflict. Remove grub? [y/N]
    error: unresolvable package conflicts detected
    error: failed to prepare transaction (conflicting dependencies)
    :: grub2-common and grub are in conflict

    What can I do? On a live system I have to load grub2 interactively.

    • You can’ install grub and grub2 at the same time. Install grub2 on it’s own, and then look on the AUR for a package called os-probe which will detect any other supported OS installed on any drive in the system when you update grub2’s config file.

  21. Hi,
    It’s possible use a live overlay ?

    Let’s say using one pen USB change for example the network configuration and make the
    new configuration persistent.

    • I found this –

      I’ve only ever used persistent storage on Ubuntu, and I’ve had unetbootin create the storage for me. You could try using that.

      Basically, build your ISO as you would normally, then on your host machine install unetbootin and use that to create a USB flash drive with persistent storage, with your ISO installed.

        • jsteel
        • Posted March 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm
        • Permalink

        I’ve had great success using the cow option. Just create another partition on the drive and set a label.

        • JDM
        • Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm
        • Permalink

        Thanks for your help

        I’m sorry, but i’m a newbie,
        were can i define the options “cow_label= cow_persistent=” ???


        • jsteel
        • Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm
        • Permalink

        In your bootloader config. I use SYSLINUX and edit the system’s /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg

        So basically I create an ext4 partition on the rest of the drive and add a label at the same time with “mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdx2 -L myLabel” then just add “cow-label=myLabel” to the APPEND line of the syslinux.cfg file.

        Hope that helps.

        • jsteel
        • Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm
        • Permalink

        Sorry that should read “cow_label=myLabel”.

        • JDM
        • Posted April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm
        • Permalink

        It works fine.


  22. Sorry that should read “cow_label=myLabel”.

  23. hey
    I created live USB like you described.
    But when I load it, I get install screen similar to any ISO install file from official repo (type /arch/setup and installation starts).
    Is it live Arch or maybe I didn’t catch something?

    • It’s supposed to be like that 🙂 unless you configure it to start X at boot time if you include it and things like that.

        • Simon
        • Posted April 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm
        • Permalink

        that’s make sense) thk

  24. m33b0 here again, thanks for posting about the updated archiso. Updated my copy from git and everything is a breeze now (although I still can’t use archiso against my currently installed system – but that’s no worry now). Just wondering if you knew of a way to add things such as Perl modules from CPAN and Ruby Gems to the ISO. I haven’t found any other info online regarding this.

    • I’ve never used Perl, and so have no idea about the module installation process. But from a quick search it seems that to install them to your system you just issue a simple make && make install, which after compilation copies the modules to /usr/lib/perl5/*/*.

      So, you could just recreate this directory structure within the root-image folder, copy the modules over and they will be available in the ISO, well in theory.

      • Thanks, this was the only idea I had – to copy them over from the installed system. But I wasn’t sure if that was the right procedure or if there was an actual right way to do it. Again much thanks.

        P.S.: diggin’ the new theme. =P

  25. I have an issue trying to use the updated archiso scripts on a chroot made by the older version – I keep getting this error:
    [mkarchiso] INFO: Installing packages to ‘work/x86_64/root-image/’…
    mount: mount point work/x86_64/root-image/dev does not exist

    Making that directory keep throwing more missing mount points, once I made all of those I got an error saying the alpm library couldn’t be loaded.

    I’ve now given up on that chroot and started a fresh one with the new archiso scripts, which seems to be going well.

    A quick question: somehow I managed to change the label of my old ISOs from the old chroot, but I can’t remember in the slightest how I did it. Does anyone else know?

    • Not too sure on the first error. Have you tried a full system update, if not something else may have changed with the archiso scripts, I’ll take a look later.

      To change the label edit the script. There is a variable at the time $iso_label. I’ve never tried changing the label myself, but I’ve heard of few people running into issues when trying to boot the system because the label had changed. Give it a try, I’d say it should work.

      • The build script gives an option to change the label. I would recommend this instead of manually editing the build script.
        “./build -N name -V version -L label build single core”

  26. Hey, just to let you know your new theme seems to break the mobile version of your blog. I can’t see any text except for the code boxes and the comments, everything else is white. At least on dolphin hd and opera mini on a galaxy S2 that is.

  27. So I’ve been making more ISOs (now I’m working on one for my friends at college) and I’ve found that if I use the standard ARCH linux kernel, everything builds fine, but if I boot to linux-ck (Con Koliva’s patched kernel with BFS) every build I do simply dies right after installing all the packages. If you use the -v option, a dd prompt prints and then a mkfs.vfat version message prints and the script dies. Only realised because I built an ISO yesterday and there was a linux-ck update today. I’m not sure who to report this to.

  28. I just did “./ build single netinstall” and it ran for less than 3 minutes and i checked the filesystem and there is no OUT directory. I have the following in /tmp/releng:

    releng]# ls
    aitab.core core.exclude.x86_64 packages.i686 syslinux.dual
    aitab.netinstall efiboot packages.x86_64 work isolinux root-image
    core.exclude.i686 mkinitcpio.conf syslinux

    • Try running ./ -v build single netinstall. Odds are it can’t find a package you specified, probably a spelling error or you’re trying to include AUR packages.

        • Brittany
        • Posted May 23, 2012 at 5:00 am
        • Permalink

        Ok thanks 🙂 I found out that i had quite a few packages that weren’t able to be installed. One by one I got through them all. 😛 Thanks!!

      • Ok it built all the files and supposedly created the ISO. No such luck. There is no out folder and there is no iso. Ok I give up.

        • biltong
        • Posted May 23, 2012 at 6:29 am
        • Permalink

        We can’t help you if you dont give us anything… post your output on pastebin or something and post the link so we can figure out what’s wrong.

  29. Will this Live CD be installable as-is? Or do I need to do something else to do that?

    • Not exactly as it is. The packages you put in it won’t be put in the local pacman repo unless you edit, and then you need to find all your packages in a massive list when you do install. You’ll have to copy any configuration you’ve done after the install too. I also have no idea how to make it work with a netinstall, I’ve only ever worked with core images.

  30. You can easily find what you have installed on your host machine but not in chroot:
    $ diff <(pacman -Qq) <(pacman -Qq –root ~/livecd)

  31. Hi again kroweer,
    I was wondering if you’ve ever used AIF in conjunction with archiso (for more than a basic Arch Linux install)? We’ve managed to get our own LiveISO up and functioning – but what about using AIF to then install the ISO? Have you (or anyone else reading here) figured a way to use AIF to install the custom packages from AUR?

    • You have to edit to include your custom packages and all dependencies in [core]. You can use pactree -lu for this. I’ve put all the output of pactree into a file called deps.txt and then added a line in to grep that file and add all the packages to the _pkgs variable. It handles the rest by itself. The only problem with this is that when you install you have to go through loads of packages and check thrm all individually. In my case I had over 500 packages in that list. It’d be much easier if you could add all the packages to base or something like that to select them all automatically.

      • Thanks for the input, I’ll see if I can add the AUR packages in the “” file. I was under the impression you MUST do it with AIF.

        As per the second part of your post, you CAN have all the packages selected for installation automatically – but this requires modifying AIF manually – and I’m not sure that you can do it if you use the “” file for adding custom packages to the installation instead of AIF.

        • biltong
        • Posted June 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm
        • Permalink

        What do you mean by “do it with AIF”?

  32. I mean the only way I’ve heard of doing it before is by using the AIF and modifying it (AIF) to include the custom packages from the AUR. And I know you can modify AIF to automatically install those packages (i.e. instead of [ ] package_1 it would be [x] package_1 by default).

  33. But the posts I was reading which told me to use AIF to include custom packages when installing the LiveISO – well, they were less than descriptive on the process procedure.

    • I had no idea you could edit AIF. That sounds like a better idea to me.

  34. Hi, thanks for the great tutorial! I’m just stuck at the end of the process, without having been able to create an iso image. The scripts returns me with the following:

    locating group tables: done
    Writing inode tables: done
    Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done

    [mkarchiso] INFO: Done!
    [mkarchiso] INFO: Mounting ‘work/i686/root-image.fs’ on ‘work/i686/mnt/root-image’
    mount: you must specify the filesystem type
    [mkarchiso] INFO: Total: 1291305 MiB (100%) | Used: 143328 MiB (12%) | Avail: 1083345 MiB (88%)
    [mkarchiso] INFO: Unmounting ‘work/i686/root-image.fs’
    umount: work/i686/root-image.fs: not mounted

    I was not been able to find any solution, could you please help me?



  35. Restarted my linux box today and everythig worked… (????) thanks anyway!

  36. it;s a loop device, not a loopback device 🙂

  37. Post has been updated to reflect changes with systemd/archiso.

  38. Thank you kroweer for your work.
    I`m dealing now with generating a couple of archimages for different purposes, and looking now for speed up tricks.
    I want to make the script to use my local pacman cache. I think it`s too much to make an (always actual) local mirror, and I usually have 90% of needed packages already in my cache.

    I`ve lost in all those and arch-install-scripts.
    I wonder If you could recommend me how to do that with minimal effort.

  39. Thank your for the update Kroweer. I was wondering how the changes from SysVinit to systemd would affect the build process for live ISOs. Much appreciated.

  40. Just one question:
    I can`t make usb stick to load the default choice automatically
    I`ve put the line “TIMEOUT 60” to any of .conf file I`ve found in livecd, but nothing happens…

    • Add:
      PROMPT 0
      DEFAULT …What ever the LABEL name of the system you want to boot is…

  41. Hey, it’s me again. I’m glad that you’ve updated this page because I was a bit lost. I just want to point out that you forgot to include “git” in the “pacman” command before issuing the “git clone” command to retrieve “archiso.git”. Everything else is perfect.


  42. I have a question about booting into a graphical environment. I’ve followed every set of instructions I can find and am now officially stumped. My distro properly boots up to the console login (after a painstaking week of research into how cowspace works – something that desperately needs better documentation) as the new user I defined. I can run startx and the UI comes up without issue with all the configuration that I set up. So booting and the DE are both working correctly. As far as I can tell, the only thing I should have to do is create the display-manager.service symlink in /etc/systemd/system to /usr/lib/systemd/system/kdm.service and it should boot right into KDE… but it’s just not happening and I can’t figure out why. Can anyone provide me with some insight into this, please?


    • I don’t have access to my system with my ArchIso configurations, so I’m going off the top of my head, but inside the “” script you need to change “” to “”.
      It should read “systemctl enable (…other services to start…)”

      You may need to add the “kdm.service” in there aswell, or replace “” with it. I’m not too sure.
      I have my system boot into SLim login manager with OpenBox and i3wm, and using “” works.

      Other than that, when you’ve created the ISO, you can copy the squashed filesystem out of it, and chroot into the new system and making the changes there.
      Have a look at just don’t follow any thing within the “Creating the new iso” section, when you’ve made your changes just copy the remade squashed filesystem back.

        • Jeff Hodd
        • Posted February 13, 2013 at 1:53 am
        • Permalink

        Thanks much, Kroweer. I’m guessing maybe just adding might do the trick – my doesn’t enable although the symlink does exist in etc/systemd/system (I have “systemctl enable pacmn-init.service autologin@.service dhcpd.service”). I had added kdm.service to that list at one point but it made no difference. Maybe what I also need to do is point to /usr/lib/systemd/system/ (would I be correct in guessing that’s what enabling does?) instead of It could be, too, that all I have to do is remove the symlink and enable kdm.service. Once my image is settled, I’ll see what makes it work.

        I did manage to figure out a way to boot directly into kde without the using kdm, though. For the sake of whatever readers may come this way, I’ll run it down quickly….

        I started by plundering ArchBang’s root-image file system to figure out how it boots directly to openbox without enabling any systemd services, and discovered that it uses .bash_profile to call startx – yes, the piece I needed. In any case, after a couple more image builds without success, I finally figured out that the that comes with archiso was assigning zsh as the default shell instead of bash, thus my failure to run .bash_profile (duh). I fixed that and am now booting directly into kde without the login manager, which is fine since I plan to turn this image into more of an installation platform anyway.

        Also, thanks for the link. there are a couple of useful bits in there – especially how to use genisoimage; that’s useful. Btw, I noticed that your link to your no longer works – just thought you might want to know – maybe you could just list it in a comment if you get a chance.

        I do have one more question for you, and it might be slightly off-topic, so you’re free not to answer if you don’t want to. I don’t want to waste your time. However, I’m wondering how to get the Leave/Logout function to include shutdown and reboot. I did notice that the /etc/systemd/system/ directory includes a symlink to upower – so, I guess the actual question is, if I were to enable (or change the symlink to point to, would the “wants” upower symlink provide this functionality? Or do I need to do something else. I couldn’t find any obvious answer to this in my exploration of archbang’s root-fs image, even though its live openbox implementation does in fact provide reboot and shutdown on exit.

        Thanks again.

        • jghodd
        • Posted February 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm
        • Permalink

        Hi again, Kroweer. Thought I’d leave a final note that I managed to get everything working. Ultimately both and kdm.service needed to be enabled, and autologin disabled.

        Part of the issue I was having came down to using an abridged passwd file in root-image/etc – probably the one that came with archiso to begin with. Once I ensured that I had the correct system and software users defined (including the most important kdm user), the kdm login manager came up and all of the power options were available.

        i now have both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions working perfectly.

        Thanks again.

  43. The link seems to have expired.

  44. What about putting the install media onto an existing hard drive that already has other partitions? In other words, I can’t copy the ISO onto the whole device because I need to keep the other partitions. Any suggestions on how to put the install media onto specific partitions?

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] I love to play around with different Linux distributions; I find certain ones to be better suited at certain tasks, but having to switch between, and carry around, a key chain full of USB stick is not really practical, or something I can afford. Thankfully, syslinux allows me to easily create a single, multi distribution USB stick, which is my little geeky life saver: whenever I’m asked to do a bit of repair work on a friends computer, I can bring along a single stick full of maintenance goodness; and also, if I’m away from home and don’t have my laptop with me, I can boot up my beloved, live version of Arch Linux customised with all my usual programs and files (see my ‘howto’ if you’re interested). […]

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