I finally got around installing a linux distro on my new notebook. After carefully choosing the easiest and the lightest one, I chose arch. Of all distributions arch linux has one of the best wikis available, an awesome package manager and an active community.
The installation process is surprisingly smooth. If you still manage to get lost (as I did) - it’s very helpful to have this page open on another screen. Remember what I mentioned about good documentation?
The only caveat which made me install the distribution for the second time was the
wireless_tools package which isn’t selected by default. I didn’t have access to ethernet, so it was either no internet or a reinstall. Anyway, if you only have wireless available, don’t forget to choose
wireless_tools package from
base-devel, as you won’t be able to configure wireless without it.
For the impatient:
ifconfig wlan0 up #activate the kernel interface iwconfig wlan0 essid "MyEssid" key 1234567890 #WEP encrypted dhcpcd wlan0
Add this to
/etc/rc.conf under the
When you get tired of setting up connection manually every time you start up your box (usually happens after the second boot) and think about putting the
ifconfig stuff in a start up script - don’t do that. The standard way to set up a network is through the
netcfg utility/daemon. You need to set up a profile which will reside in
/etc/network.d and add the net-profiles daemon
DAEMONS=(syslog-ng !network hal netfs net-profiles crond pcm)
and the network profile name (under
rc.conf (note that I have disabled the
network daemon for some reason, not really sure why though). To be honest, I could not get
netcfg to successfully connect using my profile for the first week. It fixed itself after a system update some time later.
An excerpt from xorg wiki:
pacman -S xorg pacman -S nvidia #if you have an nvidia card nvidia-xconfig #creates an /etc/X11/xorg.conf pacman -S acpid
/etc/rc.conf and you’re good to go.
acpidin the power management section.
ctrl+alt+F1/2/..which will bring up another TTY screen.
I chose xmonad (arch wiki). The installation process is fairly straightforward, just proceed as described in wiki. The only problem I have encountered was the
freetype lib which wasn’t installed. Easily fixed by
pacman -Ss freetype && pacman -S extras/libxft
If you get a blank screen and your
/var/Xorg.0.log is empty - probably xmonad has started without errors. It’s a minimal window manager, so don’t expect much eye candy. Use
Meta+S+Enter to open a terminal and read a wiki from there.
If you ever run into troubles while upgrading or installing any graphical packages look here.
If you find yourself staring at your keyboard, unable to figure out what to press in order to switch to another window/desktop or open another console - use this vi-style reference.
You also might want to have a status bar. There are two competitors currently: xmobar and dzen, latter being more feature-rich and sophisticated. That’s why I chose the former one. Its setup is straightforward as
pacman -S xmobar and following the xmonad guide on adding a statusbar.
xmonad 0.9.1 has a problem with playing HTML5 video tags in full screen.
Sound is managed by ALSA. I don’t know what it is for sure, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. To get it up and running you need
pacman -S alsa-utils alsaconf aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
If you can’t hear the pleasant voice, consult the oracle.
See Touchpad Synaptics. According to the wiki, you only need to
pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics
However, it didn’t work for me without a restart.
Arch is a lean distro, it even has it’s user selected “Lean and Mean of the Year” list of applications found somewhere in the forums section.
Definitely vifm. However, installing
vifm is not as straightforward as other packages as it isn’t yet in the official arch repo (as of 2010-02-16).
To manually a build a package under arch, first you need to get the ‘arch build system’ -
pacman -S abs
then the base-devel group:
pacman -S base-devel
create a directory for unofficial package builds and get the package:
mkdir ~/builds && cd ~/builds && \ wget http://aur.archlinux.org/packages/vifm-git/vifm-git.tar.gz
build the package:
tar -xvf vifm-git.tar.gz && cd PKGBUILD && makepkg -s
install the resulting tar:
pacman -U [the tar.gz file built by makepkg]
Enjoy vi-like keybindings in a file manager! I never looked back, seriously.
poweroff. In my case
shutdowndidn’t work, no matter what I tried: all of the
shutdownoptions, apci modes, e.t.c. After a search through arch forums (which resulted in zero topics matching the symptoms I’ve been having) and a dozen tries I just gave up and tried the
poweroffwhich worked like a charm.