• This guide uses entire physical disks.
  • Multiple systems on one disk is not supported.
  • Target disk will be wiped. Back up your data before continuing. The target system, virtual or physical, must have at least 4GB RAM, or the DKMS module might fail to build.
  • This guide uses OpenRC. Replace the commands and package names if you are using other init.


This guide supports optional ZFS native encryption on the root pool.

Boot pool, where /boot is located, is not encrypted.

ZFS native encryption does not encrypt metadata. All datasets properties are available immediately upon importing, without the key.


Prepare the Live Environment

  • Download the latest Artix Linux OpenRC Base Image and write it to a USB drive or an optical disc.
  • Boot the target computer from the prepared live medium.
  • Connect to the internet. If the target computer aquires IP address with DHCP, no further steps need to be taken.

Start SSH server

Become root

sudo -i

Interactively set root password with passwd

Permit root login with password

echo PermitRootLogin yes >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Start SSH server

rc-service sshd start

Find the IP address of the target computer

ip -4 address show scope global

On another computer, connect to the target computer with

ssh [email protected]

Enter a bash shell


Import keys of archzfs repository

curl -O https://archzfs.com/archzfs.gpg
pacman-key -a archzfs.gpg
pacman-key --lsign-key DDF7DB817396A49B2A2723F7403BD972F75D9D76

Add archzfs repository

tee -a /etc/pacman.conf <<-'EOF'
Server = https://archzfs.com/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.sum7.eu/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.biocrafting.net/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.in.themindsmaze.com/archzfs/$repo/$arch

Install ZFS in the live environment

pacman -Sy --noconfirm base-devel gdisk dosfstools archzfs-dkms
modprobe zfs

Installation Variables

In this part, we will set some variables to configure the system.

List the available timezones with

ls /usr/share/zoneinfo/

Store the target timezone in a variable


Store the host name in a variable


Store the kernel variant in a variable. Available variants in official repo are:

  • linux
  • linux-lts
  • linux-zen


List the available disks with

ls -d /dev/disk/by-id/* | grep -v part

If the disk is not in the command output, use /dev/vd* and replace ${DISK}-part with ${DISK}.

Store the target disk in a variable


For multi-disk setups, repeat the formatting and partitioning commands for other disks.

If the disk is connected with VirtIO, use /dev/vd*. And replace ${DISK}-part in this guide with ${DISK}

Create a mountpoint with

INST_MNT=$(mktemp -d)

To avoid name conflict when importing pools on another computer, Give them a unique suffix

INST_UUID=$(dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/stdout bs=1 count=100 2>/dev/null |tr -dc 'a-z0-9' | cut -c-6)

System Installation

Format and Partition the Target Disks

Clear the partition table

sgdisk --zap-all $DISK

Create EFI system partition esp

sgdisk -n1:0:+1G -t1:EF00 $DISK

Create BIOS boot partition

sgdisk -a1 -n5:24K:+1000K -t5:EF02 $DISK

Create boot pool partition

sgdisk -n2:0:+4G -t2:BE00 $DISK

Create root pool partition

If you don't need a separate swap partition

sgdisk -n3:0:0 -t3:BF00 $DISK

If a separate swap partition is needed

sgdisk -n3:0:-8G -t3:BF00 $DISK
sgdisk -n4:0:0 -t4:8308 $DISK

Adjust the swap partition size to your needs.

Repeat the above steps for other target disks, if any.

Create Root and Boot Pools

For multi-disk setup

If you want to create a multi-disk pool, replace ${DISK}-partX with the topology and the disk path.

For example, change

zpool create \
... \


zpool create \
... \
mirror \

replace mirror with raidz, raidz2 or raidz3.

Create boot pool

zpool create \
-o ashift=12 \
-d -o feature@async_destroy=enabled \
-o feature@bookmarks=enabled \
-o feature@embedded_data=enabled \
-o feature@empty_bpobj=enabled \
-o feature@enabled_txg=enabled \
-o feature@extensible_dataset=enabled \
-o feature@filesystem_limits=enabled \
-o feature@hole_birth=enabled \
-o feature@large_blocks=enabled \
-o feature@lz4_compress=enabled \
-o feature@spacemap_histogram=enabled \
-O acltype=posixacl \
-O canmount=off \
-O compression=lz4 \
-O devices=off \
-O normalization=formD \
-O relatime=on \
-O xattr=sa \
-O mountpoint=/boot \
bpool_$INST_UUID \

Create root pool:


zpool create \
-o ashift=12 \
-O acltype=posixacl \
-O canmount=off \
-O compression=zstd \
-O dnodesize=auto \
-O normalization=formD \
-O relatime=on \
-O xattr=sa \
-O mountpoint=/ \
rpool_$INST_UUID \


zpool create \
-o ashift=12 \
-O acltype=posixacl \
-O canmount=off \
-O compression=zstd \
-O dnodesize=auto \
-O normalization=formD \
-O relatime=on \
-O xattr=sa \
-O mountpoint=/ \
-O encryption=aes-256-gcm \
-O keylocation=prompt \
-O keyformat=passphrase \
rpool_$INST_UUID \

Create Datasets

Create container datasets

zfs create -o canmount=off -o mountpoint=none bpool_$INST_UUID/BOOT
zfs create -o canmount=off -o mountpoint=none rpool_$INST_UUID/ROOT
zfs create -o canmount=off -o mountpoint=none rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA

Create root and boot filesystem datasets

zfs create -o mountpoint=legacy -o canmount=noauto bpool_$INST_UUID/BOOT/default
zfs create -o mountpoint=/      -o canmount=noauto rpool_$INST_UUID/ROOT/default

Mount root and boot filesystem datasets

zfs mount rpool_$INST_UUID/ROOT/default
mkdir $INST_MNT/boot
mount -t zfs bpool_$INST_UUID/BOOT/default $INST_MNT/boot

Create datasets to separate user data from root filesystem

zfs create -o mountpoint=/ -o canmount=off rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default

for i in {usr,var,var/lib};
zfs create -o canmount=off rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/$i

for i in {home,root,srv,usr/local,var/log,var/spool,var/tmp};
zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/$i

chmod 750 $INST_MNT/root
chmod 1777 $INST_MNT/var/tmp

Optional user data datasets:

If you use /opt on this system

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/opt

If this system will have games installed

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/games

If you use /var/www on this system

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/www

If this system will use GNOME

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/lib/AccountsService

If this system will use Docker (which manages its own datasets & snapshots)

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/lib/docker

If this system will use NFS (locking)

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/lib/nfs

If this system will use Linux Containers

zfs create -o canmount=on rpool_$INST_UUID/DATA/default/var/lib/lxc

Format and Mount EFI System Partition

mkfs.vfat -n EFI ${DISK}-part1
mkdir $INST_MNT/boot/efi
mount -t vfat ${DISK}-part1 $INST_MNT/boot/efi

If you are using a multi-disk setup, this step will only install bootloader to the first disk. Other disks will be handled later.

Package Installation

Install base packages

basestrap $INST_MNT base base-devel vi grub connman connman-openrc openrc
basestrap $INST_MNT $INST_LINVAR ${INST_LINVAR}-headers
basestrap $INST_MNT archzfs-dkms

If your computer has hardware that requires firmware to run

basestrap $INST_MNT linux-firmware

If you boot your computer with EFI

basestrap $INST_MNT dosfstools efibootmgr

If a separate swap partition exist basestrap $INST_MNT cryptsetup cryptsetup-openrc

System Configuration

Generate fstab

echo bpool_$INST_UUID/BOOT/default /boot zfs rw,xattr,posixacl 0 0 >> $INST_MNT/etc/fstab
echo UUID=$(blkid -s UUID -o value ${DISK}-part1) /boot/efi vfat umask=0022,fmask=0022,dmask=0022 0 1 >> $INST_MNT/etc/fstab

If a swap partition has been created

echo /dev/mapper/crypt-swap none swap defaults 0 0 >> $INST_MNT/etc/fstab
echo swap=crypt-swap >> $INST_MNT/etc/conf.d/dmcrypt
echo source=\'${DISK}-part4\' >> $INST_MNT/etc/conf.d/dmcrypt

Configure mkinitcpio

mv $INST_MNT/etc/mkinitcpio.conf $INST_MNT/etc/mkinitcpio.conf.original

tee $INST_MNT/etc/mkinitcpio.conf <<EOF
HOOKS=(base udev autodetect modconf block keyboard zfs filesystems)

Host name

echo $INST_HOST > $INST_MNT/etc/hostname


ln -sf $INST_TZ $INST_MNT/etc/localtime

archzfs repository

tee -a $INST_MNT/etc/pacman.conf <<-'EOF'
Server = https://archzfs.com/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.sum7.eu/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.biocrafting.net/archlinux/archzfs/$repo/$arch
Server = https://mirror.in.themindsmaze.com/archzfs/$repo/$arch


echo "en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8" >> $INST_MNT/etc/locale.gen
echo "LANG=en_US.UTF-8" >> $INST_MNT/etc/locale.conf

Other locales should be added after reboot, not here.


artix-chroot $INST_MNT /usr/bin/env  DISK=$DISK \
INST_UUID=$INST_UUID bash --login

For a separate swap, enable cryptsetup

rc-update add device-mapper boot
rc-update add dmcrypt boot

Mount datasets at boot

tee /etc/init.d/zfs-mount << 'EOF'

start() {
/usr/bin/zfs mount -a

chmod +x /etc/init.d/zfs-mount

rc-update add zfs-mount boot

Apply locales


Enable networking

rc-update add connmand default

Generate zpool.cache

Pools are imported by initramfs with the information stored in /etc/zfs/zpool.cache. This cache file will be embedded in initramfs.

zpool set cachefile=/etc/zfs/zpool.cache rpool_$INST_UUID
zpool set cachefile=/etc/zfs/zpool.cache bpool_$INST_UUID

Set root password


Generate initramfs

mkinitcpio -P

GRUB Installation

Currently GRUB has multiple compatibility problems with ZFS, especially with regards to newer ZFS features. Workarounds have to be applied.

grub-probe fails to get canonical path of root partition

When persistent device names /dev/disk/by-id/* are used with ZFS, GRUB will fail to resolve the path of the boot pool device. Error

# /usr/bin/grub-probe: error: failed to get canonical path of `/dev/virtio-pci-0000:06:00.0-part3'.


echo 'export ZPOOL_VDEV_NAME_PATH=YES' >> /etc/profile
source /etc/profile

Pool name missing if the pool has unsupported features

In /etc/grub.d/10_linux

# rpool=`${grub_probe} --device ${GRUB_DEVICE} --target=fs_label 2>/dev/null || true`

10_linux will return an empty result if the root pool has features not supported by GRUB.

With this bug, the generated grub.cfg contains such lines

root=ZFS=/ROOT/default # root pool name missing; unbootable

Rendering the system unbootable.

A workaround is to replace the pool name detection with zdb command

sed -i "s|rpool=.*|rpool=\`zdb -l \${GRUB_DEVICE} \| grep -E '[[:blank:]]name' \| cut -d\\\' -f 2\`|" /etc/grub.d/10_linux

This will replace the faulty line in 10_linux with

# rpool=`zdb -l ${GRUB_DEVICE} | grep -E '[[:blank:]]name' | cut -d\' -f 2`

Note: Debian guide chose to hardcode root=ZFS=rpool/ROOT/default in GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX in /etc/default/grub This is incompatible with the boot environment utility. The utility also uses this parameter to boot alternative root filesystem datasets.

A boot environment entry

# root=ZFS=rpool_UUID/ROOT/bootenv_after-sysupdate

root=ZFS=pool/dataset is processed by the ZFS script in initramfs, used to tell the kernel the real root filesystem.

zfs=bootfs kernel command line and zpool set bootfs=pool/dataset pool is not used due to its inflexibility.

GRUB Installation

If you use EFI


This will only install boot loader to $DISK. If you use multi-disk setup, other disks are dealt with later.

Some motherboards does not properly recognize GRUB boot entry, to ensure that your computer will boot, also install GRUB to fallback location with

grub-install --removable

If you use BIOS booting

grub-install $DISK

Generate GRUB Boot Menu

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Finish Installation

Exit chroot


Take a snapshot of the clean installation for future use

zfs snapshot -r rpool_$INST_UUID/ROOT/default@install
zfs snapshot -r bpool_$INST_UUID/BOOT/default@install

Unmount EFI system partition

umount $INST_MNT/boot/efi

Export pools

zpool export bpool_$INST_UUID
zpool export rpool_$INST_UUID

They must be exported, or else they will fail to be imported on reboot.

After Reboot

Mirror EFI system partition

Format redundant EFI partitions

mkfs.vfat -n EFI2 /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk2-part1
mkfs.vfat -n EFI3 /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk3-part1

Create mountpoints

mkdir -p /boot/efis/{2,3}

Mount redundant EFI partitions

mount -o umask=0022,fmask=0022,dmask=0022 /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk2-part1 /boot/efis/2
mount -o umask=0022,fmask=0022,dmask=0022 /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk3-part1 /boot/efis/3

Add fstab entries

pacman -S --needed arch-install-scripts

genfstab / | grep efis >> /etc/fstab

Sync EFI system partition contents

for i in /boot/efis/*; do 
/usr/bin/cp -r /boot/efi//boot/efis/$i

Add EFI boot entries

efibootmgr -cgd /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk2-part1 \
-p 1 -L "archlinux-2" -l "\EFI\arch\grubx64.efi"
efibootmgr -cgd /dev/disk/by-id/target_disk3-part1 \
-p 1 -L "archlinux-3" -l "\EFI\arch\grubx64.efi"


Load grub.cfg in GRUB command line

Boot environment menu is stored in /boot/grub.cfg. But the absolute path of grub.cfg will change when you enter another boot environment, from bpool/BOOT/default/@/boot/grub.cfg to bpool/BOOT/bootenv1/@/boot/grub.cfg.

This absolute path is stored in the bootloader file: grubx64.efi for EFI booting, or inside the first sector of the disk for BIOS booting.

GRUB will load the wrong grub.cfg if the bootloader file has not been updated upon entering another boot environment. Following are the steps to load the correct grub.cfg,

Enter GRUB command line

No additional steps if you are already in GRUB rescue. Otherwise, press c at the GRUB menu.

List available partitions

grub > ls
(hd0) (hd0,gpt4) (hd0,gpt3) (hd0,gpt2) (hd0,gpt1) (hd1) (hd1,gpt5) ...

Boot pool is always (hdx,gpt2)

grub > ls (hd0, # press tab after comma
Possible partitions are:

Partition hd0,gpt1: Filesystem type fatLabel 'EFI', UUID ...
Partition hd0,gpt2: Filesystem type zfsLabel 'bpool'Last modification time ...
Partition hd0,gpt3: No known filesystem detected ...

List available boot environments

grub > ls (hd0,gpt2) # press tab after bracket
Possible files are:

@/ BOOT/

grub > ls (hd0,gpt2)/BOOT # press tab after 'T'
Possible files are:

@/ default/ pac-multm2/

Load grub.cfg

To load from default boot environment, append default/@/grub/grub.cfg to the last ls command.

Then press home on the keyboard to move cursor to the start of the line.

Change ls to configfile and press return

grub > configfile (hd0,gpt2)/BOOT/default/@/grub/grub.cfg

Rescue in Live Environment

Repeat Prepare the Live Environment.

Check the INST_UUID with zpool import.

Set variables

INST_MNT=$(mktemp -d)

Import and unlock root and boot pool

zpool import -N -R $INST_MNT rpool_$INST_UUID
zpool import -N -R $INST_MNT bpool_$INST_UUID
echo $RPOOL_PWD | zfs load-key rpool_$INST_UUID

Find the current boot environment

zfs list

Mount boot and root filesystem

zfs mount rpool_$INST_UUID/ROOT/$BE

chroot into the system

arch-chroot $INST_MNT /bin/bash --login
mount /boot
mount /boot/efi
zfs mount -a

Finish rescue

umount $INST_MNT/boot/efi
zpool export bpool_$INST_UUID
zpool export rpool_$INST_UUID