General recommendations

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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 Beginners' guide or 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.

System administration

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

Users and groups

A new installation leaves you with only the super user account, better known as "root". Logging in as root for prolonged periods of time, possibly even exposing it via SSH on a server, is considered to be insecure. Instead, you should create and use unprivileged user accounts for most tasks, only using the root account for system administration. See Users and groups#Example adding a user for a typical desktop system example.

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.

Privilege escalation

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.

Service management

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.

System maintenance

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

Package management

This section contains helpful information related to package management. For more, please see FAQ#Package Management and Category:Package management.

Note: Because of The Arch Way#Code-correctness over convenience it is imperative to keep up to date with changes in Arch Linux that require manual intervention before upgrading your system. Subscribe to the arch-announce mailing list or check the front page Arch news every time before you update. Alternatively, you may find it useful to subscribe to this RSS feed or follow @archlinux on Twitter.


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.

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 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 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 tens of thousands 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.

Graphical user interface

This section provides orientation for users wishing to run graphical applications on their system. See Category:X Server for additional resources.

Display server

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. There is very little support for it from applications at this early stage of development.

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.

Display manager

Instead of starting X manually, 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.

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 additional resources.

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.


Category:Audio/Video includes additional multimedia 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.

Users may additionally wish to install and configure a sound server. For advanced audio requirements, see Pro Audio.

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.


This section is confined to small networking procedures. Head over to Network configuration 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. See Time#Time synchronization for implementations of such protocol.

DNS performance

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.

DNS security

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. 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.

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.


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 Login for methods that do not involve a display manager.

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.

See Power management for more general overview.

ACPI events

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.

Input devices

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

Keyboard layouts

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.

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 All Mouse Buttons Working.

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 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.

Solid state drives

The Solid State Drives article covers many aspects of solid state drives, including configuring them to maximize their lifetimes.

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 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.


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 ttf-dejavu package provides a set of high quality, general-purpose fonts with good Unicode coverage.

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.

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.

Console improvements

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.

Alternative shells

Bash is the shell that is installed by default in an Arch system. The live installation media, however, uses zsh with the grml-zsh-config addon package. See Command-line shell#List of shells for more alternatives.

Bash additions

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

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 cope-gitAUR from the AUR. acocAUR is a similar application.

Core utilities

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

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.

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 Bash#Functions for other helpful commands.

Console prompt

The console prompt (PS1) can be customized to a great extent. See Color Bash Prompt or Zsh#Prompts if using Bash or Zsh, respectively.

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.

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 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.