Installing Arch Linux

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.

Setting up wireless

Refer to wireless or network wiki for a DHCP setup to get network up and running.

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 NETWORKING:


Network profiles

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 NETWORKING)


to you 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.

Setting up X

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

add hal and dbus to DAEMONS in /etc/rc.conf and you’re good to go.

Setting up WM

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

Setting up sound

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
aplay  /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav

If you can’t hear the pleasant voice, consult the oracle.

Setting up touchpad

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.

File manager

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’ - abs:

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 && \

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.

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