Difference between revisions of "General recommendations"

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This document is an annotated index of other popular articles and important information for improving and adding functionalities to the installed Arch system. Various pages listed here will require using [[pacman]] to install additional packages present in the [[official repositories]], and those in the unofficial [[Arch User Repository]] by employing [[makepkg]] with the optional aid of an [[AUR helper]]. As such, the concept of package management should be fully understood before continuing. Readers are assumed to have read and followed the [[Beginners' Guide]] or [[Official Arch Linux Install Guide]] to obtain a basic Arch Linux installation.
This document is an annotated index of other popular articles and important information for improving and adding functionalities to the installed Arch system. Various pages listed here will require using [[pacman]] to install additional packages present in the [[official repositories]], and those in the unofficial [[Arch User Repository]] by employing [[makepkg]] with the optional aid of an [[AUR helper]]. As such, the concept of package management should be fully understood before continuing. Readers are assumed to have read and followed the [[Beginners' Guide]] or [[Installation Guide]] to obtain a basic Arch Linux installation.
== Appearance ==
== Appearance ==

Revision as of 10:01, 5 December 2012

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This document is an annotated index of other popular articles and important information for improving and adding functionalities to the installed Arch system. Various pages listed here will require using pacman to install additional packages present in the official repositories, and those in the unofficial Arch User Repository by employing makepkg with the optional aid of an AUR helper. As such, the concept of package management should be fully understood before continuing. Readers are assumed to have read and followed the Beginners' Guide or Installation Guide to obtain a basic Arch Linux installation.


This section contains frequently-sought "eye candy" tweaks for an aesthetically pleasing Arch experience. For more, please see Category:Eye candy.

Colored output

Even though a number of applications have built-in color capabilities, using a general-purpose colorizing wrapper, such as cope, is another route. Install copeAUR or cope-gitAUR, the more often updated Git version, from the AUR. acocAUR and cwAUR are similar alternatives.

Console prompt

The console prompt (PS1) can be customized to a great extent. See the What's your PS1? forum thread for ideas. Also see Color Bash Prompt or Zsh#Prompts if using Bash or Zsh, respectively.

Core utilities

Colorizing the output of specific core utilities such as grep and ls is covered in the Core Utilities article.

Emacs shell

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.

Man pages

Man pages (or manual pages) are one of the most useful resources available to GNU/Linux users. To aid readability, the pager can be configured to render colored text as explained in Man Page#Colored man pages.


A plethora of information on the subject can be found in the Fonts and Font Configuration articles.

Console fonts

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.

Patched font packages

Font rendering libraries can be patched to provide improved rendering compared to the standard packages; see Font Configuration#Patched packages.


Category:Audio/Video includes additional multimedia resources.

Browser plugins

To enjoy media-rich web content and for a complete browsing experience, 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.


Sound is provided by kernel sound drivers (ALSA and OSS). Users may additionally wish to install and configure a sound server.


This section contains information pertaining to the boot process. An overview of the Arch boot process can be found at Arch Boot Process. For more, please see Category:Boot process.

Hardware auto-recognition

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#Loading. Additionally, Xorg should be able to auto-detect required drivers using udev, but users have the option to configure the X server manually too.

Num Lock activation at boot

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.

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.

Start X at boot

If utilizing an X server to provide a graphical user interface, users may wish to start this server during the boot process rather than starting it manually after login. See Display Manager if desiring a graphical login or Start X at Boot for methods that do not involve a display manager.

Console improvements

This section applies to small modifications that better console programs' practicality. For more, please see Category:Command shells.


Users can define shortcuts for frequently-used commands using a built-in shell command. Common time-saving aliases can be found in Bash#Aliases.

Bash additions

A list of miscellaneous Bash settings, including completion enhancements, history search and readline macros is available in Bash#Tips and tricks.

Compressed files

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 Core Utilities#extract for other helpful commands.

Mouse support

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.

Scrollback buffer

To be able to save and view text which has scrolled off the screen, refer to Scrollback buffer.

Session management

Using terminal multiplexers like tmux or 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.


This section contains popular input device configuration tips. For more, please see Category:Input devices.

Configure all mouse buttons

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 Get All Mouse Buttons Working.

Keyboard layouts

Non-English or otherwise non-standard keyboards may not function as expected by default. To define the keymap in virtual consoles, the KEYMAP variable must be set in /etc/vconsole.conf. For Xorg users, the required changes are described in Xorg#Keyboard layout.

Laptop touchpads

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.


To configure your TrackPoint device refer to ThinkWiki.


This section is confined to small networking procedures. Head over to Network for a full guide. For more, please see Category:Networking.

Clock synchronization

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a protocol for synchronizing the clocks of computer systems over packet-switched, variable-latency data networks.

DNS speed improvement

To improve load time by caching queries, use pdnsd, a very simple DNS server that does not attempt to fill every need. Or install dnsmasq, a broader choice which also supports turning the system into a DHCP server.

DNSSEC validation

For better security while browsing web, paying online, connecting to SSH services and similar tasks you should consider using DNSSEC-enabled client software which can validate signed DNS records...

Setting up a firewall

A firewall can provide an extra layer of protection on top of the Linux networking stack. The Linux kernel includes iptables, a stateful firewall, as part of the Netfilter project. It can be configured directly or through a front end. Arch ships with no ports open and network daemons will not be started automatically without explicit configuration, so a firewall is usually not very useful if you aren't running services that need to be protected.


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.

Maximizing performance

The Maximizing Performance article gathers information and is a basic rundown about gaining performance in Arch Linux.

Package management

This section contains helpful information related to package management. All users should at least be familiar with the pacman package manager. For more, please see Category:Package management.

Aliases for pacman

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. Various time saving pacman aliases are organized in pacman Tips, besides other suggested tools.

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 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 AUR is the equivalent for user submitted packages. It is an unsupported repository of build scripts accessible through the web interface or by an AUR helper.

An AUR helper can add seamless access to the AUR. They may vary in features, but all ease in searching, fetching, building, and installing from over 20,000 PKGBUILDs found in the unofficial repository.


Visit Mirrors for steps on taking full advantage of using the fastest and most up to date pacman mirrors. As explained in the article, a particularly good advice is to routinely check the Mirror Status page and/or Mirror-Status for a list of mirrors that have been recently synced.

Power management

This section may be of use to laptop owners or users otherwise seeking power management controls. For more, please see Category:Power management.


Users can configure how the system reacts to ACPI events such as pressing the power button or closing a laptop's lid using acpid.

CPU frequency scaling

Modern processors can decrease their frequency and voltage to reduce heat and power consumption. Less heat leads to a quieter system and prolongs the life of hardware. cpupower is a set of utilities designed to assist CPU frequency scaling.


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.

Suspending and hibernation

Several options are available to users desiring suspend-to-RAM (sleep/stand-by) and suspend-to-disk (hibernate) functionality. pm-utils describes one popular method, while hibernate-script is an older alternative that does not depend on Xorg packages. Tuxonice is an option growing in popularity and, while it claims to have more features than the other two options, requires kernel patching or the use of linux-iceAUR available in the AUR.

Privilege escalation

A new installation leaves users with only the super user account, better known as root. Logging in as root for prolonged periods of time is widely considered to be foolish and insecure. Instead, users should create and use unprivileged user accounts for most tasks, only using the root account for system administration. The su (substitute user) command allows assuming the identity of another user on the system (usually root) from an existing login, whereas the sudo command grants temporary privilege escalation for a specific command.

Users and groups

Users and groups are used on GNU/Linux for access control; administrators may fine-tune group membership and ownership to grant or deny users and services access to system resources. Access to peripheral devices such as optical (CD/DVD) drives and sound hardware often requires membership in an appropriate group.

Windows networking

To enable communication between Windows and Arch Linux machines across a network, users can use Samba; a re-implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol.

To configure an Arch Linux machine to join and use Active Directory for authentication, read the article on Active Directory Integration.

System administration

This section deals with administrative tasks and system management. For more, please see Category:System administration.

System maintenance

Arch is a rolling release system and has rapid package turnover, so users have to take some time to do system maintenance. And Enhancing Arch Linux Stability page provides tips on how to make an Arch Linux system as stable as possible.

System service

This section relates to daemons. For more, please see Category:Daemons and system services.

File index and search

Most distributions have a locate command available to be able to quickly search for files. To get this functionality mlocate is the recommended install. After the install you should run updatedb to index the filesystems.

Local mail delivery

A default base setup bestows no means for mail syncing. To configure Postfix for simple local mailbox delivery, see Local Mail Delivery with Postfix. Other options are SSMTP, MSMTP and fdm.


CUPS is a standards-based, open source printing system developed by Apple. See Category:Printers for printer-specific articles.

X Window System

Xorg is the public, open-source implementation of the X Window System version 11. If a graphical user interface is desired, the majority of users will use Xorg. See Category:X Server for additional resources.

Desktop environments

Whilst Xorg provides the basic framework for building a graphical environment, there are additional components that 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. See Category:Desktop environments for a complete list and additional resources.

Display drivers

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.

Window managers

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 instead and hand-pick desired extras. An alternative window manager can also be used with most desktop environments. Dynamic, stacking, and tiling window managers differ in their handling of window placement.