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.

Post-installation

Your new Arch Linux base system is now a functional GNU/Linux environment ready to be built 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.

User management

Add any user accounts you require besides root, as described in User management. It isn't good practice to use the root account for regular use, or expose it via SSH on a server. The root account should only be used for administrative tasks.

Package management

See pacman and FAQ#Package Management for answers regarding installing, updating, and managing packages.

Service management

Arch Linux uses systemd as init, 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.

Sound

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. If it does not work, OSS is a viable alternative. If you have advanced audio requirements, take a look at Sound system 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.

The Linux kernel includes open-source video drivers and support for hardware accelerated framebuffers. However, userland support is required for OpenGL and 2D acceleration in X11.

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

$ lspci | grep VGA

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

$ pacman -Ss xf86-video | less

The vesa driver is a generic mode-setting driver that will work with almost every GPU, but will not provide any 2D or 3D acceleration. If a better driver cannot be found or fails to load, Xorg will fall back to vesa. To install it:

# pacman -S xf86-video-vesa

In order for video acceleration to work, and often to expose all the modes that the GPU can set, a proper video driver is required:

Brand Type Driver Multilib Package
(for 32-bit applications on Arch x86_64)
Documentation
AMD/ATI Open source xf86-video-ati lib32-ati-dri ATI
Proprietary catalyst-dkms lib32-catalyst-utils AMD Catalyst
Intel Open source xf86-video-intel lib32-intel-dri Intel Graphics
Nvidia Open source xf86-video-nouveau lib32-nouveau-dri Nouveau
xf86-video-nv (legacy driver)
Proprietary nvidia lib32-nvidia-utils NVIDIA
nvidia-304xx lib32-nvidia-304xx-utils

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 installation. See NVIDIA or AMD Catalyst for details.

Xorg features auto-detection 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
Note: X must always be run on the same tty where the login occurred, to preserve the logind session. This is handled by the default /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc.

To start the (test) Xorg session, run:

$ startx

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
Troubleshooting

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.

Fonts

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.

Appendix

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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