This document is an annotated index of popular articles and important information for improving and adding functionalities to the installed Arch system. Readers are assumed to have read and followed the Installation guide to obtain a basic Arch Linux installation. Having read and understood the concepts explained in #System administration and #Package management is required for following the other sections of this page and the other articles in the wiki.
- 1 System administration
- 2 Package management
- 3 Booting
- 4 Graphical user interface
- 5 Power management
- 6 Multimedia
- 7 Networking
- 8 Input devices
- 9 Optimization
- 10 System service
- 11 Appearance
- 12 Console improvements
Users and groups
A new installation leaves you with only the superuser account, better known as "root". Logging in as root for prolonged periods of time, possibly even exposing it via SSH on a server, is insecure. Instead, you should create and use unprivileged user account(s) for most tasks, only using the root account for system administration. See Users and groups#User management for details.
Users and groups are a mechanism for access control; administrators may fine-tune group membership and ownership to grant or deny users and services access to system resources. Read the Users and groups article for details and potential security risks.
The su (substitute user) command allows you to assume the identity of another user on the system (usually root) from an existing login, whereas the sudo (substitute user do) command grants temporary privilege escalation for a specific command.
Arch Linux uses systemd as the init process, which is a system and service manager for Linux. For maintaining your Arch Linux installation, it is a good idea to learn the basics about it. Interaction with systemd is done through the systemctl command. Read systemd#Basic systemctl usage for more information.
Arch is a rolling release system and has rapid package turnover, so users have to take some time to do system maintenance. Read Security for recommendations and best practices on hardening the system.
pacman is the Arch Linux package manager: all users are required to become familiar with it before reading any other articles.
See pacman tips for suggestions on how to improve your interaction with pacman and package management in general.
See Official repositories for details about the purpose of each officially maintained repository.
If you installed Arch Linux x86_64 and plan on using 32-bit applications, you will want to enable the multilib repository.
Unofficial user repositories lists several other unsupported repositories.
You may consider installing the pkgstats service.
Visit Mirrors for steps on taking full advantage of using the fastest and most up to date mirrors of the official repositories. As explained in the article, a particularly good advice is to routinely check the Mirror Status page for a list of mirrors that have been recently synced.
Arch Build System
Ports is a system initially used by BSD distributions consisting of build scripts that reside in a directory tree on the local system. Simply put, each port contains a script within a directory intuitively named after the installable third-party application.
The Arch Build System (ABS) tree offers the same functionality by providing build scripts called PKGBUILDs, which are populated with information for a given piece of software; integrity hashes, project URL, version, license and build instructions. These PKGBUILDs are later parsed by makepkg, the actual program that generates packages cleanly manageable by pacman.
Every package in the repositories along with those present in the AUR are subject to recompilation with makepkg.
Arch User Repository
While the ABS tree allows the ability of building software available in the official repositories, the Arch User Repository (AUR) is the equivalent for user submitted packages. It is an unsupported repository of build scripts accessible through the web interface or through AurJson.
Hardware should be auto-detected by udev during the boot process by default. A potential improvement in boot time can be achieved by disabling module auto-loading and specifying required modules manually, as described in Kernel modules. Additionally, Xorg should be able to auto-detect required drivers using udev, but users have the option to configure the X server manually too.
Retaining boot messages
Once it concludes, the screen is cleared and the login prompt appears, leaving users unable to gather feedback from the boot process. Disable clearing of boot messages to overcome this limitation.
Num Lock activation
Num Lock is a toggle key found in most keyboards. For activating Num Lock's number key-assignment during startup, see Activating Numlock on Bootup.
Graphical user interface
This section provides orientation for users wishing to run graphical applications on their system. See Category:X server for additional resources.
Xorg is the public, open-source implementation of the X Window System (commonly X11, or X). It is required for running applications with graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and the majority of users will want to install it.
Wayland is a new, alternative display server protocol and the Weston reference implementation is available.
The default vesa display driver will work with most video cards, but performance can be significantly improved and additional features harnessed by installing the appropriate driver for ATI, Intel, or NVIDIA products.
Although Xorg provides the basic framework for building a graphical environment, additional components may be considered necessary for a complete user experience. Desktop environments such as GNOME, KDE, LXDE, and Xfce bundle together a wide range of X clients, such as a window manager, panel, file manager, terminal emulator, text editor, icons, and other utilities. Users with less experience may wish to install a desktop environment for a more familiar environment. See Category:Desktop environments for additional resources.
A full-fledged desktop environment provides a complete and consistent graphical user interface, but tends to consume a considerable amount of system resources. Users seeking to maximize performance or otherwise simplify their environment may opt to install a window manager alone and hand-pick desired extras. Most desktop environments allow use of an alternative window manager as well. Dynamic, stacking, and tiling window managers differ in their handling of window placement.
Most desktop environment include a display manager for automatically starting the graphical environment and managing user logins. Users without a desktop environment can install one separately. Alternatively you may start X at login as a simple alternative to a display manager.
This section may be of use to laptop owners or users otherwise seeking power management controls. For more, please see Category:Power management.
See Power management for more general overview.
Users can configure how the system reacts to ACPI events such as pressing the power button or closing a laptop's lid. For the new (recommended) method using systemd, see Power management with systemd. For the old method, see acpid.
CPU frequency scaling
Modern processors can decrease their frequency and voltage to reduce heat and power consumption. Less heat leads to more quiet system and prolongs the life of hardware. See CPU frequency scaling for details.
For articles related to portable computing along with model-specific installation guides, please see Category:Laptops. For a general overview of laptop-related articles and recommendations, see Laptop.
Suspend and Hibernate
See main article: Suspend and hibernate.
Category:Multimedia includes additional resources.
Sound is provided by kernel sound drivers:
- ALSA is included with the kernel and is recommended because usually it works out of the box (it just needs to be unmuted).
- OSS is a viable alternative in case ALSA does not work.
For access to certain web content, browser plugins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and Java can be installed.
Codecs are utilized by multimedia applications to encode or decode audio or video streams. In order to play encoded streams, users must ensure an appropriate codec is installed.
The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a protocol for synchronizing the clocks of computer systems over packet-switched, variable-latency data networks. See Time#Time synchronization for implementations of such protocol.
For better security while browsing web, paying online, connecting to SSH services and similar tasks consider using DNSSEC-enabled client software which can validate signed DNS records, and DNSCrypt to encrypt DNS traffic.
Setting up a firewall
A firewall can provide an extra layer of protection on top of the Linux networking stack. While the stock Arch kernel is capable of using Netfilter's iptables, it is not enabled by default. It is highly recommended to set up some form of firewall, see Firewalls for the available guides.
See also Category:Network sharing.
This section contains popular input device configuration tips. For more, please see Category:Input devices.
Non-English or otherwise non-standard keyboards may not function as expected by default. The necessary steps to configure the keymap are different for virtual console and Xorg, they are described in Keyboard configuration in console and Keyboard configuration in Xorg respectively.
Owners of advanced or unusual mice may find that not all mouse buttons are recognized by default, or may wish to assign different actions for extra buttons. Instructions can be found in All Mouse Buttons Working.
Many laptops use Synaptics or ALPS "touchpad" pointing devices. These, and several other touchpad models, use the Synaptics input driver; see Touchpad Synaptics for installation and configuration details.
See the TrackPoint article to configure your TrackPoint device.
This section aims to summarize tweaks, tools and available options useful to improve system and application performance.
Benchmarking is the act of measuring performance and comparing the results to another system's results or a widely accepted standard through a unified procedure.
The Improving performance article gathers information and is a basic rundown about gaining performance in Arch Linux.
Solid state drives
The Solid State Drives article covers many aspects of solid state drives, including configuring them to maximize their lifetimes.
File index and search
Most distributions have a
locate command available to be able to quickly search for files. To get this functionality in Arch Linux, is the recommended install. After the install you should run
updatedb to index the filesystems.
Local mail delivery
This section contains frequently-sought "eye candy" tweaks for an aesthetically pleasing Arch experience. For more, please see Category:Eye candy.
You may wish to install a set of TrueType fonts, as only unscalable bitmap fonts are included in a basic Arch system. The Unicode coverage.package provides a set of high quality, general-purpose fonts with good
If spending a significant amount of time working from the virtual console (i.e. outside an X server), users may wish to change the console font to improve readability; see Fonts#Console fonts.
GTK+ and Qt themes
A big part of the applications with a graphical interface for Linux systems are based on the GTK+ or the Qt toolkits. See those articles and Uniform look for Qt and GTK applications for ideas to improve the appearance of your installed programs and adapt it to your liking.
This section applies to small modifications that better console programs' practicality. For more, please see Category:Command shells.
Aliasing a command, or a group thereof, is a way of saving time when using the console. This is specially helpful for repetitive tasks that do not need significant alteration to their parameters between executions. Common time-saving aliases can be found in Bash#Aliases, which are easily portable to zsh as well.
This section is covered in Color output in console.
Compressed files, or archives, are frequently encountered on a GNU/Linux system. Tar is one of the most commonly used archiving tools, and users should be familiar with its syntax (Arch Linux packages, for example, are simply xzipped tarballs). See Bash/Functions for other helpful commands.
Emacs is known for featuring options beyond the duties of regular text editing, one of these being a full shell replacement. Consult Emacs#Colored output issues for a fix regarding garbled characters that may result from enabling colored output.
Using a mouse with the console for copy-paste operations can be preferred over GNU Screen's traditional copy mode. Refer to Console mouse support for comprehensive directions. Note that you can already do this in terminal emulators with the clipboard.
To be able to save and view text which has scrolled off the screen, refer to Scrollback buffer.
Using terminal multiplexers like tmux or GNU Screen, programs may be run under sessions composed of tabs and panes that can be detached at will, so when the user either kills the terminal emulator, terminates X, or logs off, the programs associated with the session will continue to run in the background as long as the terminal multiplexer server is active. Interacting with the programs requires reattaching to the session.