Beginners' guide/Post-installation

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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.


Congratulations, and welcome to your new Arch Linux system!

Your new Arch Linux base system is now a functional GNU/Linux environment ready for customization. From here, you may build this elegant set of tools into whatever you wish or require for your purposes. Most people are interested in a desktop system, complete with sound and graphics: this part of the guide provides a brief overview of the procedures to acquire these extras.

Go ahead and login with your user account.


Sudo can noticeably simplify administering your system.


Tip: This step is optional. You can always set up sound later.

ALSA usually works out-of-the-box. It just needs to be unmuted. Install alsa-utils (which contains alsamixer) and follow these instructions.

ALSA is included with the kernel and it is recommended to try it first. However, if it does not work, or if you are not satisfied with the quality, OSS is a viable alternative. If you have advanced audio requirements, take a look at Sound for an overview of various articles.

Graphical User Interface

Install X

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).

To install the base Xorg packages:

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

Install mesa for 3D support:

# pacman -S mesa

Install a video driver

Note: If you installed Arch as a VirtualBox guest, you don't need to install a video driver. See Arch Linux guests for installing and setting up Guest Additions, and jump to the configuration part below.

If you don't know which video chipset is available on your machine, run:

$ lspci | grep VGA

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

$ pacman -Ss xf86-video | less
Note: The vesa driver is the most generic, and should work with almost any modern video chipset. Use it only if you cannot find a suitable driver, because it only offers unaccelerated 2D performance.
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.

Then install the appropriate video driver for your video card/onboard video. Example for the Savage driver:

# pacman -S xf86-video-savage
Intel integrated graphics
# pacman -S xf86-video-intel

If you installed Arch Linux x86_64, for 3D acceleration in 32 bit applications:

# pacman -S lib32-intel-dri

For some Intel video chipsets, configuration may be necessary to get proper 2D or 3D performance. See Intel for more information.

Nvidia cards

Nvidia graphic card owners have three options (in addition to the vesa driver):

  • The open-source nouveau driver, which offers fast 2D acceleration and basic 3D support. While it is good enough for basic compositing, it does not fully support power-saving yet. See the Feature Matrix.
  • The open-source (but obfuscated) nv driver, which is very slow and only has 2D support.
  • The proprietary nvidia driver, which offers good 3D performance and power-saving. Even if you plan on using the proprietary driver, it is recommended to start with Nouveau and then switch 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

For advanced instructions, see Nouveau.

ATI/AMD cards

ATI/AMD graphic card owners have two options (in addition to the vesa driver):

Tip: Alternatively, you can enable an unofficial [catalyst] or [catalyst-hd234k] repository, depending on your model. See ATI Catalyst for more information.

Even if you plan on using the proprietary driver, it is recommended to start with the open-source one and then switch after you have X set up and working:

# pacman -S xf86-video-ati

For advanced instructions, see ATI.

SiS cards

SiS graphic cards are not officially supported on Linux. Despite this fact, three 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 none of them works for you, searching in the AUR and compiling a driver (with a possible downgrading of xorg-server) is the only option. You can learn more about current state of these drivers at

For advanced instructions, see SiS.

Install input drivers

Udev should be capable of detecting your hardware without problems. The evdev driver (xf86-input-evdev) is the modern hot-plugging 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 the xorg-server package.

Laptop users (or users with a tactile screen) will need the xf86-input-synaptics package for the touchpad/touchscreen to work:

# pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics

For instructions on fine tuning or troubleshooting touchpad issues, see the Touchpad Synaptics article.

Configure X

Warning: Proprietary drivers usually require a reboot after configuring. 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.

Here you may set a keyboard layout if you do not use a standard US keyboard.

Note: The XkbLayout key may differ from the keymap code you used with the loadkeys command. A list of many keyboard layouts and variants can be found in /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.lst (after the line beginning with ! layout). For instance, the layout gb corresponds to "English (UK)", whereas for the console it was loadkeys uk.

Test X

Tip: These steps are optional. Test only if you're installing Arch Linux for the first time, or if you're installing on new and unfamiliar hardware.
Note: If your input devices are not working during this test, install the needed driver from the xorg-drivers group, and try again. For a complete list of available input drivers, invoke a pacman search (press Template:Keypress to exit):
$ pacman -Ss xf86-input | less
You only need xf86-input-keyboard or xf86-input-mouse if you plan on disabling hot-plugging, otherwise, evdev will act as the input driver (recommended).

Install the default environment:

# pacman -S xorg-twm xorg-xclock xterm

If Xorg was installed before creating the non-root user, there will be a template .xinitrc file in your home directory that needs to be either deleted or commented out. Simply deleting it will cause X to run with the default environment installed above.

$ rm ~/.xinitrc

To start the (test) Xorg session, run:

$ startx -- vt$(fgconsole)

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.

$ exit

If the screen goes black, you may still attempt to switch to a different virtual console (e.g. Template:Keypress), and blindly log in as root. You can do this by typing "root" (press Template:Keypress after typing it) and entering the root password (again, press Template:Keypress after typing it).

You may also attempt to kill the X server with:

# pkill x

If this does not work, reboot blindly with:

# reboot

If a problem occurs, look for errors in 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

If you are still having trouble after consulting the Xorg article and need assistance via the Arch Linux forums or the IRC channel, be sure to install and use wgetpaste by providing the links from:

# pacman -S wgetpaste
$ wgetpaste ~/.xinitrc
$ wgetpaste /etc/X11/xorg.conf
$ wgetpaste /var/log/Xorg.0.log
Note: Please provide all pertinent information (hardware, driver information, etc) when asking for assistance.


At this point, you may wish to install a set of TrueType fonts, as only unscalable bitmap fonts are included by default. DejaVu is a set of high quality, general-purpose fonts with good Unicode coverage:

# pacman -S ttf-dejavu

Refer to Font Configuration for how to configure font rendering and Fonts for font suggestions and installation instructions.

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. You can also build your own DE with just a WM and the applications of your choice.
  • Window Managers (WM) control the placement and appearance of application windows in conjunction with the X Window System.
  • Desktop Environments (DE) work 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.

Instead of starting X manually with xorg-xinit, see Display Manager for instructions on using a display manager, or see Start X at Login for using an existing virtual terminal as an equivalent to a display manager.


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

See General Recommendations for post-installation tutorials like setting up a touchpad or font rendering.

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