A really opionionated guide how to setup a Raspberry Pi (1 or 2) with Arch Linux including WiringPi, NTP, Wi-Fi, SSH, Ruby, ZSH and more.
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Raspberry Pi Setup Guide

A really opionionated guide how to setup every version of a Raspberry Pi with Arch Linux including WiringPi, NTP, Wi-Fi, SSH, Ruby, ZSH and more.

Take a look into the wiki for more interesing stuff like finding out your Raspberry Pi version.

Some words regarding the hardware

I recommend you to get a speed class 10 SD Card with more than 4 GB capacity for optimal performance.

Additionally you should buy a small heatsink. Something like that and attach it to the CPU of the Raspberry Pi.

What you'll need

  • A linux machine with a working SD card slot
  • bsdtar or tar, fdisk

1. Setup the SD card

1.1. Format the SD card with fdisk

Replace /dev/sdX with the SD Card device. Make sure that the device is the SD card and not your harddrive, otherwise you'll destroy your linux installation! You can see which device you'll have to use by running sudo fdisk -l after putting the SD card into the slot.

  1. Start fdisk via sudo fdisk /dev/sdX.
  2. At the fdisk prompt, delete existing partitions: Type o. This will clear out any partitions on the drive. Then type p to list partitions. There should be no partitions left.
  3. 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.
  4. Type t, then c to set the first partition to type W95 FAT32 (LBA).
  5. 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.
  6. Write the partition table and exit by typing w.
  7. Now create a FAT filesystem: mkfs.vfat /dev/sdX1 and mount the new boot partition via mkdir boot && sudo mount /dev/sdX1 boot
  8. Also create the ext4 filesystem for the root partition: mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX2 and mount it: mkdir root && sudo mount /dev/sdX2 root

1.2. Download the image from the website

There are 2 major versions of Raspberry Pi now. You may find the downloads on www.archlinuxarm.org for the latest version of Arch Linux for Raspberry Pi both 1 and 2.

For Raspberry Pi 2

wget http://archlinuxarm.org/os/ArchLinuxARM-rpi-2-latest.tar.gz
sudo tar -xpf ArchLinuxARM-rpi-2-latest.tar.gz -C root

For Raspberry Pi 1

wget http://archlinuxarm.org/os/ArchLinuxARM-rpi-latest.tar.gz
sudo tar -xpf ArchLinuxARM-rpi-latest.tar.gz -C root

1.3. Write the files onto the SD Card

sudo mv root/boot/* boot/
sudo umount boot root

1.4. Put the SD Card into your pi, power it on and login with alarm/alarm

You can have connected a keyboard via USB and some kind of screen via HDMI or you can connect to the Pi via SSH after it's booted.

2. Basic system setup

First of all get root:


The password is root.

2.1. German keyboard layout and timezone

Of course just if you want to have a german keyboard layout. You may skip this step or use another layout.

loadkeys de
echo LANG=de_DE.UTF-8 > /etc/locale.conf
echo KEYMAP=de-latin1-nodeadkeys > /etc/vconsole.conf
rm /etc/localtime
ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Berlin /etc/localtime
sed -i "s/en_US.UTF-8/#en_US.UTF-8/" /etc/locale.conf
export LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8
locale-gen en_US.UTF-8

2.2. Setup swapfile

fallocate -l 1024M /swapfile
chmod 600 /swapfile
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile
echo 'vm.swappiness=1' > /etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf
  • Then add the following line to /etc/fstab:
/swapfile none swap defaults 0 0

2.3. Set hardware clock to UTC and set timezone

timedatectl set-local-rtc 0

nano /etc/timezone
  • Set to "Europe/Berlin"

3. Update system and enable NTP

3.1. Tweak pacman

sed -i 's/#Color/Color/' /etc/pacman.conf # Add color to pacman

3.2. System update

pacman -Sy pacman
pacman-key --init
pacman -S archlinux-keyring
pacman-key --populate archlinux
pacman -Syu --ignore filesystem
pacman -S filesystem --force

After the Pi is booted again, connect via SSH (if you don't have attached a keyboard and screen) and login with alarm/alarm and get root again via su.

3.3. NTP

pacman -S ntp fake-hwclock
systemctl enable ntpd.service
systemctl start ntpd.service

4. Advanced setup

4.1. Set a secure root passwd


4.2. Set hostname

hostnamectl set-hostname your-hostname

4.3. sudo & user

pacman -S sudo vim
  • Search for following line and uncomment it:
%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL
  • Add a new user (replace yourUserName with your username!)
useradd -d /home/yourUserName -m -G wheel -s /bin/bash yourUserName
  • Set a password for your new user:
passwd yourUserName
  • Log out and log in with our newly created user

  • After that, delete the old alarm user:

sudo userdel alarm

4.4. Additional software

sudo pacman -S --needed nfs-utils htop openssh autofs alsa-utils alsa-firmware alsa-lib alsa-plugins git zsh wget base-devel diffutils libnewt dialog wpa_supplicant wireless_tools iw crda lshw
  • Install yaourt:
wget https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/snapshot/package-query.tar.gz
tar -xvzf package-query.tar.gz
cd package-query
makepkg -si
cd ..
wget https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/snapshot/yaourt.tar.gz
tar -xvzf yaourt.tar.gz
cd yaourt
makepkg -si

cd ../
rm -rf package-query/ package-query.tar.gz yaourt/ yaourt.tar.gz

4.5 vcgencmd and other vc tools

sudo vim /etc/profile

Change the line saying PATH=:

# Set our default path
export PATH

And reload it:

source /etc/profile

4.6 WiringPi

sudo git clone git://git.drogon.net/wiringPi /opt/wiringpi
cd /opt/wiringpi
sudo ./build

gpio -v
gpio readall
  • The last both command should give an ok or something similar. If not, something may be broken.

5. Sound

This is just for Raspberry Pi 1.

Set the output device

sudo amixer cset numid=3 1

6. Raspberry Pi overclocking

You may want to overclock the Pi. And you won't even lose the guarantee for your pi, if you use the "offical" overclocking presets. The simplest way to overclock the pi is rasp-config tool which ships with the offical allowed overclocking presets.

wget https://raw.github.com/chattama/raspi-config-archlinux/archlinux/raspi-config

Get to the overclocking menu and choose the overclocking preset you want. I recommend the "high" preset. After changing the overclocking preset, reboot your raspberry pi.

7. Wi-Fi

sudo wifi-menu -o
netctl start yourWifiSSID
netctl enable yourWifiSSID

9. Ruby

\curl -sSL https://get.rvm.io | sudo bash -s stable
sudo usermod -aG rvm yourUser
rvm reload
rvm install ruby
rvm list
rvm alias create default ruby-2.3.0 # Or something else depending on what rvm list says
gem install bundler rake

10. ZSH and dotfiles

If you want to use ZSH

sudo usermod -s /usr/bin/zsh

Additionally you may want to clone and setup your personal dotfiles.

  • Logout and login back again or just reboot the pi

11. Tweaks

11.1 Increase SD card lifetime

Change in your fstab:

sudo vim /etc/fstab
/dev/root  /  ext4  defaults,nodiratime,noatime,discard  0  0