Difference between revisions of "Beginners' guide/Post-installation"

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==See Also==
==See Also==

Revision as of 23:30, 20 May 2012

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Tip: This is part of a multi-page article for The Beginners' Guide. Click here if you would rather read the guide in its entirety.


You should now have a completely functional Arch system which will act as a suitable base for you to build upon based on your needs. However, most people are interested in a desktop system, complete with sound and graphics. This part of the guide will provide a brief overview of the procedure to acquire these extras.


Install Sudo:

# pacman -S sudo

To add a user as a sudo user (a "sudoer"), the visudo command must be run as root.

By default, the visudo command uses the editor vi. If you do not know how to use vi, you may set the EDITOR environment variable to the editor of your choice, such as in this example with the editor "nano":

# EDITOR=nano visudo
Note: Please note that you are setting the variable and starting visudo on the same line at the same time. This will not work properly as two separated commands.

If you are comfortable using vi, issue the visudo command without the EDITOR=nano variable:

# visudo

This will open the file /etc/sudoers in a special session of vi. visudo copies the file to be edited to a temporary file, edits it with an editor, (vi by default), and subsequently runs a sanity check. If it passes, the temporary file overwrites the original with the correct permissions.

Warning: Do not edit /etc/sudoers directly with an editor; errors in syntax can cause annoyances (like rendering the root account unusable). You must use the visudo command to edit /etc/sudoers.

In the previous section we added your user to the "wheel" group. To give users in the wheel group full root privileges when they precede a command with "sudo", uncomment the following line:

%wheel	ALL=(ALL) ALL

Now you can give any user access to the sudo command by simply adding them to the wheel group.

For more information, such as sudoer <TAB> completion, see Sudo#Enabling_tab-completion_in_bash.


If you want sound, proceed to Advanced Linux Sound Architecture for instructions. Alternatively, proceed to the next section first, and set up sound later.

Note: ALSA usually works out-of-the-box, it just needs to be unmuted.

The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) is included with the kernel and it is recommended to try it first. However, if it does not work or you are not satisfied with the quality, the Open Sound System is a viable alternative. OSSv4 has been released under a free license and is generally considered a significant improvement over the older OSSv3 which was replaced by ALSA. Instructions can be found in the OSS article.

If you have advanced audio requirements, take a look at Sound for an overview of various articles.

Graphical User Interface

Install X

Note: If you are installing Arch as a Virtualbox guest, you need a different way to complete X installation. See Arch Linux VirtualBox Guest, then jump to the configuration part below.

The X Window System (commonly X11, or X) is a networking and display protocol which provides windowing on bitmap displays. It provides the standard toolkit and protocol to build graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Now we will install the base Xorg packages using pacman.

Install the base packages:

# pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xorg-server-utils

Install mesa for 3D support:

# pacman -S mesa

The 3D utilities glxgears and glxinfo are included in the mesa-demos package. Install if needed:

# pacman -S mesa-demos

Install video driver

Next, you should install a driver for your graphics card.

You will need knowledge of which video chipset your machine has. If you do not know, use the /usr/sbin/lspci program:

$ lspci | grep VGA
Note: The vesa driver is the most generic, and should work with almost any modern video chipset. If you cannot find a suitable driver for your video chipset, vesa should work with any video card, but it offers only unaccelerated 2D performance.

For a complete list of all open-source video drivers, search the package database:

$ pacman -Ss xf86-video | less
Note: Proprietary drivers for NVIDIA and ATI are covered in the next sections. If you plan on doing heavy 3D processing such as gaming, consider using these.

Use pacman to install the appropriate video driver for your video card/onboard video. Example for the Savage driver:

# pacman -S xf86-video-savage
Tip: For some Intel graphics cards, configuration may be necessary to get proper 2D or 3D performance, see Intel for more information.
NVIDIA Graphics Cards

NVIDIA users have three options for drivers (in addition to the vesa driver):

  • The open-source nouveau driver, which offers fast 2d acceleration and basic 3d support which is good enough for basic compositing (note: does not fully support powersaving yet). Feature Matrix.
  • The open-source (but obfuscated) nv driver, which is very slow and only has 2d support.
  • The proprietary nvidia drivers, which offer good 3d performance and powersaving. Even if you plan on using the proprietary drivers, it is recommended to start with nouveau and then switch to the binary driver after you have X set up and working. Nouveau often works out-of-the-box, while nvidia will require configuration and likely some troubleshooting. See NVIDIA for more information.

The open-source nouveau driver should be good enough for most users and is recommended:

# pacman -S xf86-video-nouveau

For experimental 3D support:

# pacman -S nouveau-dri
Tip: For advanced instructions, see Nouveau.
ATI Graphics Cards

ATI owners have two options for drivers (in addition to the vesa driver):

  • The open source radeon driver provided by the xf86-video-ati package. See the radeon feature matrix for details.
  • The proprietary fglrx driver provided by the catalystAUR package located in the AUR. It supports only newer devices (HD2xxx and newer). It was once a package offered by Arch in the extra repository, but as of March 2009, official support has been dropped because of dissatisfaction with the quality and speed of development of the proprietary driver. See ATI Catalyst for more information.

The open-source driver is the recommended choice. Install the radeon ATI Driver:

# pacman -S xf86-video-ati
Tip: For advanced instructions, see ATI.
SiS Graphics Cards

SiS cards are not officially supported on Linux. Despite this fact 3 more or less outdated drivers can be installed from the official repositories:

# pacman -S xf86-video-sis


# pacman -S xf86-video-sisusb


# pacman -S xf86-video-sisimedia

If neither of them works for you, searching in the AUR and compiling a driver (with possible downgrading of xorg-server) is the only option.


Install input drivers

Udev should be capable of detecting your hardware without problems and evdev (xf86-input-evdev) is the modern, hotplugging input driver for almost all devices so in most cases, installing input drivers is not needed. At this point, evdev has already been installed as a dependency of Xorg.

If evdev does not support your device, install the needed driver from the xorg-input-drivers group.

For a complete list of available input drivers, invoke a pacman search:

# pacman -Ss xf86-input | less
Note: You only need xf86-input-keyboard or xf86-input-mouse if you plan on disabling hotplugging, otherwise, evdev will act as the input driver.

Laptop users (or users with a touchscreen) will also need the synaptics package to allow X to configure the touchpad/touchscreen:

# pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics
Tip: For instructions on fine tuning or troubleshooting touchpad settings, see the Touchpad Synaptics article.

Configure X (Optional)

Warning: Proprietary drivers usually require a reboot after installation along with configuration. See NVIDIA or ATI Catalyst for details.

X Server features auto-configuration and therefore can function without an xorg.conf. If you still wish to manually configure X Server, please see the Xorg wiki page.

Non-US keyboard

If you do not use a standard US keyboard, you need to set the keyboard layout in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-evdev.conf:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "evdev keyboard catchall"
    MatchIsKeyboard "on"
    MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
    Driver "evdev"
    Option "XkbLayout" "be"

If, for example, you wish to use a variant of the US keyboard, add the following into the same section from the previous example:

Option "XkbLayout" "us"
Option "XkbVariant" "dvorak"
Note: The XkbLayout key may differ from the keymap code you used with the km or loadkeys command. A list of many keyboard layouts and variants can be found in /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.lst (see text after line beginning with ! layout). For instance the layout: gb corresponds to "English (UK)".

Testing X

This section will explain how to start a very basic graphical environment in order to test X. This uses the simple default X window manager, twm.

Install the default test environment:

# pacman -S xorg-twm xorg-xclock xterm

The default X environment is rather bare. This section below will deal with installing a desktop environment or window manager of your choice to supplement X.

If you installed Xorg before creating your regular user, there will be an empty .xinitrc file in your $HOME that you need to either delete or edit in order to start a graphical environment. Simply deleting it will cause X to run with the default environment (twm, xclock, xterm).

$ rm ~/.xinitrc
Message bus
Note: dbus is likely required for many of your applications to work properly, if you know you do not need it, skip this section.

Install dbus:

# pacman -S dbus

Start the dbus daemon:

# rc.d start dbus
Note: /usr/sbin/rc.d is an Arch-peculiar command which acts as a shortcut for executing daemon actions in place of using the full /etc/rc.d/daemon path commonly used in other distributions.

Add dbus to the DAEMONS array in /etc/rc.conf so it starts automatically on boot:

DAEMONS=(... dbus ...)
Start X
Note: The Ctrl-Alt-Backspace shortcut traditionally used to kill X has been deprecated and will not work to exit out of this test. You can enable Template:Keypress by editing xorg.conf, as described here.

Both the following commands can be found in the xorg-xinit package if you have troubles running them.

Finally, start Xorg:

$ startx


$ xinit -- /usr/bin/X -nolisten tcp

A few movable windows should show up, and your mouse should work. Once you are satisfied that X installation was a success, you may exit out of X by issuing the exit command into the prompts until you return to the console.

If the screen goes black, you may still attempt to switch to a different virtual console (Template:Keypress, for example), and login blindly as root, followed by Template:Keypress, followed by root's password followed by Template:Keypress.

You can attempt to kill the X server with /usr/bin/pkill (note the capital letter X):

# pkill X

If pkill does not work, reboot blindly with:

# reboot
In case of errors

If a problem occurs, look for errors in /var/log/Xorg.0.log. Be on the lookout for any lines beginning with (EE) which represent errors, and also (WW) which are warnings that could indicate other issues.

$ grep EE /var/log/Xorg.0.log

Errors may also be searched for in the console output of the virtual console from which X was started.

See the Xorg article for detailed instructions and troubleshooting.

Need Help?

If you are still having trouble after consulting the Xorg article and need assistance via the Arch forums, be sure to install and use wgetpaste:

# pacman -S wgetpaste

Use wgetpaste and provide links for the following files when asking for help in your forum post:

  • ~/.xinitrc
  • /etc/X11/xorg.conf
  • /var/log/Xorg.0.log
  • /var/log/Xorg.0.log.old

Use it like so:

$ wgetpaste </path/to/file>

Post the corresponding links given within your forum post. Be sure to provide appropriate hardware and driver information as well.

Note: It is very important to provide detail when troubleshooting X. Please provide all pertinent information as detailed above when asking for assistance on the Arch forums.

Install Fonts

At this point, you may wish to save time by installing visually pleasing, true type fonts, before installing a desktop environment/window manager. DejaVu is a set of high quality, general-purpose fonts.

Install with:

# pacman -S ttf-dejavu
  • Refer to Font Configuration for how to configure font rendering and Fonts for font suggestions and installation instructions.
  • Steps to install Microsoft fonts are detailed in the MS Fonts article.

Choose and install a graphical interface

The X Window System provides the basic framework for building a graphical user interface (GUI).

Note: Choosing your DE or WM is a very subjective and personal decision. Choose the best environment for your needs.
Window Manager (WM) 
Controls the placement and appearance of application windows in conjunction with the X Window System. See Window managers for more information.
Desktop Environment (DE)
Works atop and in conjunction with X, to provide a completely functional and dynamic GUI. A DE typically provides a window manager, icons, applets, windows, toolbars, folders, wallpapers, a suite of applications and abilities like drag and drop. See Desktop environments for more information.
Note: You can build your own DE by using a WM and the applications of your choice.

After installing a graphical interface, you may wish to continue with General Recommendations for post-installation instructions.

Methods for starting your Graphical Environment


You might prefer to start X manually from your terminal rather than booting straight into the desktop. For DE-specific commands, please see the wiki page corrosponding to your DE for more information. For more generic X commands, please see the section on the Xorg page.


You might prefer to have the desktop start automatically during boot instead of starting X manually. See Display Manager for instructions on using a login manager or Start X at Boot for two lightweight methods that do not rely on a display manager.


For a list of applications that may be of interest, see Common Applications.

See General Recommendations for post-installation tutorials like setting up CPU frequency scaling or font rendering. Template:Beginners' Guide navigation

See Also