Difference between revisions of "Newcomers Guide"

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(Configure The System)
(Configure The System: subsections)
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Now you will be asked if you need support for booting from USB devices, FireWire devices, PCMCIA devices, NFS shares, software RAID arrays, LVM2 volumes, and encrypted volumes. Choose yes if you need it; in our example nothing is needed. Now you will be asked which text editor you want to use; choose [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nano_%28text_editor%29 nano] if you are not familiar with [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vim_%28text_editor%29 vi/vim]. You will now get a menu with most important config files for your system. We will do only some minor tweaks at this time. If you want to look up the available options as stated in rc.conf just press Alt+F2 to get a shell, look it up, and switch back to the installer with Alt+F1.  
Now you will be asked if you need support for booting from USB devices, FireWire devices, PCMCIA devices, NFS shares, software RAID arrays, LVM2 volumes, and encrypted volumes. Choose yes if you need it; in our example nothing is needed. Now you will be asked which text editor you want to use; choose [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nano_%28text_editor%29 nano] if you are not familiar with [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vim_%28text_editor%29 vi/vim]. You will now get a menu with most important config files for your system. We will do only some minor tweaks at this time. If you want to look up the available options as stated in rc.conf just press Alt+F2 to get a shell, look it up, and switch back to the installer with Alt+F1.  
* /etc/rc.conf:
* Change your LOCALE if needed (e.g. "de_DE.utf8") (This locale must coincide with /etc/locale.gen. '''See below'''.)
* Change your LOCALE if needed (e.g. "de_DE.utf8") (This locale must coincide with /etc/locale.gen. '''See below'''.)
Line 165: Line 165:
Use Ctrl+X to leave the editor.
Use Ctrl+X to leave the editor.
* /etc/hosts:
Add the desired ''hostname'' (the one you set in rc.conf before) so that it looks like this:
Add the desired ''hostname'' (the one you set in rc.conf before) so that it looks like this:  yourhostname.domain.org  localhost.localdomain  localhost ''yourhostname''  yourhostname.domain.org  localhost.localdomain  localhost ''yourhostname''
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e.g.: yourhostname.domain.org  yourhostname yourhostname.domain.org  yourhostname
* /etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf and modprobe.conf
===== /etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf and modprobe.conf=====
We shouldn't need to edit /etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf, or modprobe.conf at this point ([[fstab]] manages your filesystems,  
We shouldn't need to edit /etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf, or modprobe.conf at this point ([[fstab]] manages your filesystems,  
mkinitcpio configures the ramdisk (e.g. booting from RAID, encrypted volumes) and modprobe can be used to set some special config options for the modules).
mkinitcpio configures the ramdisk (e.g. booting from RAID, encrypted volumes) and modprobe can be used to set some special config options for the modules).
=====/etc/resolv.conf (for Static IP)=====
* /etc/resolv.conf (for Static IP)
If you use a static IP, set your DNS servers in /etc/[[resolv.conf]]  (nameserver <ip-address>). You may have as many as you wish.
If you use a static IP, set your DNS servers in /etc/[[resolv.conf]]  (nameserver <ip-address>). You may have as many as you wish.
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* /etc/locale.gen  
Choose the locale(s) you need (remove the # in front of the lines you want), e.g.:
Choose the locale(s) you need (remove the # in front of the lines you want), e.g.:
  en_US ISO-8859-1
  en_US ISO-8859-1
('''Your locale must coincide with the one specified in /etc/rc.conf above.''')
('''Your locale must coincide with the one specified in /etc/rc.conf above.''')
* Root password
=====Root password=====
Finally, set a root password and make sure that you remember it later. Return to the main menu and continue with installing a kernel.
Finally, set a root password and make sure that you remember it later. Return to the main menu and continue with installing a kernel.

Revision as of 06:58, 20 September 2007

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This document will guide you through the process of installing and configuring Arch Linux. It is based on the Voodoo ISO. While this guide intends to show you how to gain a fully configured Arch Linux system (graphical desktop environment, watching DVDs, browsing the internet, working with emails, listening to music), it is impossible to show (or even anticipate) all possibilities and options. By design, this guide has to focus on some critically useful steps; you may want to dig deeper using the Arch Linux Wiki or the Arch Linux Forums. You may also be interested in reading The Arch Way, which outlines the underlying principles of the Arch Linux distribution.

Please realize that the Arch Linux installation may be very different from most other distros you have tried, if you are a beginner. The Arch Linux system is built by the user, from the installer, to a base system with nothing more than a bash shell (command line interface) and basic system tools. From the command line, you will add packages from the Arch repositories using the pacman tool via your internet connection, until your system is customized to your requirements. This allows for maximum flexibility, choice, and system resource control. Because you build it, you will invariably know the nuts and bolts of your system, and become familiar with what is under the hood.

If you feel that something important is missing or not working, drop me a note at <freigeist [at] elfenbeinturm.cc>. Feel free to include the fix or whatever it was you originally needed (this is the main idea of a wiki :)). There is also an Arch forum thread devoted to beginners.

Welcome to Arch! Now let's get started.

Obtain the latest ISO

You can obtain Arch's latest official snapshot from www.archlinux.org/download/.

It is strongly recommended to choose the base-CD, for several reasons.

  1. It is less downloading time/bandwidth for you (and the servers),
  2. The full version has conflicting packages, and unless you know what you are doing, the installer will not allow you to install with the conflicts in place,
  3. The base system will be easier and quicker to get up-to-date, and,
  4. This guide is geared toward the base system installation process.

After the base system is in place, update the system (# pacman -Syu) and continue building with pacman from the internet repos.

Install the base system

As you follow these directions, you may find the Official Arch Linux Install Guide helpful as well. In addition, a printable copy is available.

Boot Arch Linux CD

Insert the CD into your CD-ROM drive and boot from it. You may have to change the boot order in your computer BIOS or press a key (usually F11 or F12) during the BIOS phase.

Some useful options when booting off the Arch Linux CD:

  • ide-legacy if you have trouble with IDE drives
  • noapic acpi=off pci=routeirq nosmp if your system hangs during the boot process
  • memtest86+ if you want to check your memory for errors

Choose "Arch Linux Installation / Rescue System". If you need to change the boot options press e for editing the boot lines. The system will now boot and present a welcome text with some explanations when ready.

Changing the keymap

Press enter at the welcome screen. If you have a non-US keyboard layout type


at the prompt and choose the appropriate keymap.

Example(norwegian) for illustrative purposes:

In console keymap screen select


In console font screen select


Choosing "default8x16.psfu.gz" for console font is a safe choice.

Start the Installation



to start the installation.

Select an installation source

You will be prompted for an installation source. Choose CD if you are using a base or full (current) ISO, or choose FTP if you are using the FTP ISO.

Prepare Hard Drive

Select the first menu entry "Prepare Hard Drive". Beware that "Auto-Prepare" may not be a safe choice because it will erase the entire hard drive. Here we will manually partition the hard drive. Choose "2. Partition Hard Drives", select the hard drive you want (/dev/sdx), and create some partitions.

Basic Information about partitions:

A partition is a section of hard disk space that will appear as a separate disk, and can be added to your Arch Linux file system. Partitions are broken up into "Primary", "Extended", and "Logical". Primary partitions can be bootable, and are limited to 4. For example, if you are using a PC with a single SATA drive, the first primary partition will be referred to as sda1. The second primary will be referred to as sda2, then sda3, and sda4. Beyond 4 partitions, we are forced to use an extended partition which will contain logical partitions.

Extended partitions are not usable by themselves; they are merely a "container" for logical partitions. Logical partitions must be contained within this extended partition. When partitioning a disk, one can see this numbering scheme by creating primary partitions sda1-3 followed by creating an extended partition, sda4, and then creating logical partition(s) within the extended partition; sda5, sda6, and so on.)

Everyone has a different opinion on how best to partition the disk. What you need at the least is one primary partition which contains the root Filesystem ( / ). Other candidates for separate partitions are /boot (which mainly contains the kernel) and /home (which contains the user data). It is a very good practice to have / and /home on separate partitions. This makes it possible to reinstall Arch Linux (or even another distro) for any reason, while keeping your data, music, pictures, and desktop environment preferences.

In this example guide, we will stick with one partition for /, one partition for /home, and a swap partition.

Basic Information about swap partition: A swap partition is a place on your hard drive where "virtual ram" resides. If your processes need more RAM than is physically available, Linux can't fulfill the request and an error occurs. A swap partition helps in this situation by supplementing the physical RAM with virtual RAM. Linux uses the space on the hard disk to store the information that won't fit into the physical RAM any more (it's actually a bit more complex because Linux tries to put information into the swap space that isn't frequently used). Because a hard disk is very slow compared to physical RAM, this is only a makeshift.

Ask two people about a swap partition and you will get four different answers. If you have plenty of RAM (more than 1024 MB) it may be possible to not use a swap partition at all. Some people suggest using twice the amount of physical RAM, while others recommend not using more than 1024 MB. I believe keeping the swap size between 512 MB and 1 GB is a good choice. Therefore, we will create a 1 GB swap space in this example.

Let's start creating the primary partition that will contain the root filesystem. Choose New -> Primary and enter the size you want (something between 4 and 8 GB is a good choice for a full-featured Linux system). Put the partition at the beginning of the disk. Select the newly created partition and choose "Bootable" to make this partition bootable. Add another partition for your home directory. Choose another primary partition and set the size to a value you like. The size really depends on what your users store in their home directories, so I cannot make any suggestions. The size may vary between a few hundred megabytes for some office documents up to hundreds of gigabytes for videos and MP3s. If you want to use the whole space on your hard disc, use the remaining space minus 512 MB - 1 GB for the size. At last we create a third partition for swap. Select a size between 512 MB and 1 GB and change the type to 82 (Linux swap / Solaris).

This is what your Layout should look like (size may vary depending on your decisions):

Name    Flags  Part Type   FS Type         [Label]         Size (MB)
sda1    Boot   Primary     Linux                           (4096 - 8192)
sda2           Primary     Linux                           (> 100)
sda3           Primary     Linux swap / Solaris            (512 - 1024)

Choose Write and type yes. Beware that this operation may destroy data on your disk if you deleted partitions. Choose Quit to leave the partitioner. Choose Done to leave this menu and continue with "Set Filesystem Mountpoints".

Set File system Mountpoints

A few brief words about filesystems and "file systems":

Technically, and for accuracy, a filesystem is a data format for information throughput, whereas a "file system" (notice the space) is a term referring to the layout of all files and directories on a given system. (In our case, the hierarchical UNIX file system.) Therefore, when you are asked if you want to create a filesystem, you are being asked if you want to format the particular partition... but when you are asked for mount points, you are providing where the given partition will reside in your Arch Linux "file system". Let's begin.

First you will be asked for your swap partition. Choose the appropriate partition (sda3 in this example). You will be asked if you want to create a swap filesystem; select yes. Next, choose where to mount the / (root) directory (sda1 in the example). You will be asked what kind of filesystem you want.

Again, ask two people which filesystem to choose and you will get five different answers. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Here is a very brief overview of supported filesystems.

1. ext2 - Old, reliable GNU/Linux filesystem. Fast, and very stable, but without journaling.

2. ext3 - Essentially the ext2 system, but with journaling support. Slightly slower than ext2 and other filesystems. Extremely stable and the most widely used, supported, and developed.

3. ReiserFS - Hans Reiser's high-performance journaling FS uses a very interesting method of data throughput. ReiserFS is very fast, especially when dealing with many small files. ReiserFS is quite well established and stable.

4. JFS - IBM's Journaling FS. JFS is quite well established, fast, and stable.

5. XFS - is a fast journaling filesystem which is best suited for large files, greater than 1 GB in size. Slower with small files. Quite stable.

A major difference is journaling (something similar to transaction logs in database environments). All filesystems except ext2 use journaling. ext3 is completely compatible with ext2, so you can mount it even with very-old rescue CDs. A safe choice for the root partition is ext3. ReiserFS, XFS, and JFS are also OK to use because GRUB (the boot manager which we will install later) can boot from them too. Create the filesystem (format the partition) by selecting yes. You will now be prompted to add any additional partitions. In our example, only sda2 is remaining. Choose a filesystem type and mount it as /home. Again, create the filesystem and choose Done. Return to main menu.

Select Packages

Now we shall select packages to install in our system. Choose CD as source and select the appropriate CD drive if you have more than one. Since this guide is geared toward a base installation, choose the base category (keeping all base packages selected is a safe choice). If you chose the current ISO rather than the base ISO, it is up to you if you want to select more packages, but we will show you later how to install additional, up-to-date software more easily, rather than installing and reinstalling. (Since the install CD you are using has been created, there are no doubt numerous updates available for packages contained therein, and installing additional up-to-date software via pacman will be covered below.) If you are sure you will not be needing certain packages (for instance, a filesystem type you don't need, ISDN, or PPPoE support), feel free to remove them from the base package selection.

Step forward to "Install Packages".

Install Packages

This is an easy task because everything happens automatically. Get yourself a cup of coffee (if you're into coffee ;)) and wait until the installation has finished (press continue if needed). Drink quickly, because the Arch Linux base packages install in just a couple of minutes.

Configure The System

You will be asked if you want to choose hwdetect to gather some information for your configuration. This is recommended so you should choose this option. Now you will be asked if you need support for booting from USB devices, FireWire devices, PCMCIA devices, NFS shares, software RAID arrays, LVM2 volumes, and encrypted volumes. Choose yes if you need it; in our example nothing is needed. Now you will be asked which text editor you want to use; choose nano if you are not familiar with vi/vim. You will now get a menu with most important config files for your system. We will do only some minor tweaks at this time. If you want to look up the available options as stated in rc.conf just press Alt+F2 to get a shell, look it up, and switch back to the installer with Alt+F1.

  • Change your LOCALE if needed (e.g. "de_DE.utf8") (This locale must coincide with /etc/locale.gen. See below.)
  • Change your TIMEZONE if needed (e.g. "Europe/Berlin")
  • Change your KEYMAP if needed (e.g. "de-latin1-nodeadkeys")
  • Change MODULES if you know that an important module is missing (hwdetect should have filled in the most important modules)
  • Change your HOSTNAME
  • Change your Network settings:
    • Don't modify the lo line
    • Adjust the IP address, netmask and broadcast address if you are using a static IP
    • Set eth0="dhcp" if you have a router which dynamically assigns an IP address
    • If you have a static IP set the gateway address to the one of your router and remove the ! in front of the ROUTES entry

You don't have to change the daemons line at this time, but it is useful to explain what daemons are, because we need them later in this guide. Analogous to a Windows service, a daemon is a program that runs in the background, waiting for events to occur and offering services. A good example is a webserver that waits for a request to deliver a page or an SSH server waiting for someone trying to log in. While these are full-featured applications, there are daemons whose work is not that visible. Examples are a daemon which writes messages into a log file (e.g. syslog, metalog), a daemon which lowers your CPU's frequency if your system has nothing to do, and a daemon which offers you a graphical login (e.g. gdm, kdm). All these programs can be added to the daemons line and will be started when the system boots. Useful daemons will be presented during this guide.

Use Ctrl+X to leave the editor.


Add the desired hostname (the one you set in rc.conf before) so that it looks like this:   yourhostname.domain.org   localhost.localdomain   localhost yourhostname

This format, including the 'localhost' entries, is required for program compatibility. For most users, simply adding the hostname to the end of the default line will work, as in the following work:   localhost.localdomain   localhost yourhostname

If you use a static IP, add another line using the syntax: <static-ip> hostname.domainname.org hostname, e.g.: yourhostname.domain.org  yourhostname
/etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf and modprobe.conf

We shouldn't need to edit /etc/fstab, mkinitcpio.conf, or modprobe.conf at this point (fstab manages your filesystems, mkinitcpio configures the ramdisk (e.g. booting from RAID, encrypted volumes) and modprobe can be used to set some special config options for the modules).

/etc/resolv.conf (for Static IP)

If you use a static IP, set your DNS servers in /etc/resolv.conf (nameserver <ip-address>). You may have as many as you wish.

If you are using a router, you will probably want to specify your DNS servers in the router itself, and merely point to it from your resolv.conf, using your router's IP (which is also your gateway from /etc/rc.conf), e.g.:


Alternatively, add your preferred servers one by one, e.g.:


Choose the locale(s) you need (remove the # in front of the lines you want), e.g.:

en_US ISO-8859-1

(Your locale must coincide with the one specified in /etc/rc.conf above.)

Root password

Finally, set a root password and make sure that you remember it later. Return to the main menu and continue with installing a kernel.

Install Kernel

Not many choices here; choose v2.6 and continue. You may want to switch your kernel later. A fallback image will be created, keeping mkinitcpio as it is shown as a safe choice. Continue with installing a bootloader.

Install Bootloader

Because we have no secondary operating system in our example, we will need a bootloader. GNU GRUB is the recommended bootloader. Alternatively, you may choose LILO. The shown GRUB configuration (/boot/grub/menu.lst) should be sufficient. The only thing you may want to alter is the resolution of the console. Add a vga=<number> to the first kernel line. (A table of resolutions and the corresponding numbers is printed in the menu.lst.)

title  Arch Linux (Main)
root   (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=773
initrd /boot/kernel26.img

The "vga=773" argument will give a 1024x768 framebuffer with 256 color depth.

Exit the install and type reboot.

If everything goes well, your new Arch Linux system will boot up and finish with a login prompt (you may want to change the boot order in your BIOS back to booting from hard disk).

Congratulations, and welcome to your shiny, new Arch Linux base system!

Configuring the base system

Your new Arch Linux base system is a complete GNU/Linux operating system ready for customization. From here, you may build this elegant set of tools into whatever you wish or require for your purposes! Let's begin.

Login with your root account. We will configure pacman and update the system as root, then add a normal user.

Configuring pacman

Edit /etc/pacman.conf

nano -w /etc/pacman.conf

and remove the # in front of the "Include = /etc/pacman.d/community" and "[community]" lines to enable Arch's community repository, which offers many useful applications. Now edit /etc/pacman.d/community and move the mirrors which are located nearest to you up (if you use nano, Alt+A starts selecting an area, cursor down marks the lines, Ctrl+K cuts the selected area and Ctrl+U uncuts it). Repeat this for all files in /etc/pacman.d/.

Configuring the network (if necessary)

If everything went fine, you should have a working network. Try to ping www.google.com to verify this.

ping -c 3 www.google.com

If you have successfully established a network connection, continue with "Update, Sync and Upgrade the system with pacman".

If, after trying to ping www.google.com, you get an "unknown host" error, you may conclude that your network is not configured. You may choose to double-check the following files for integrity and proper settings:

/etc/rc.conf # Specifically, check your HOSTNAME= and NETWORKING section

/etc/hosts # Double-check your format. (See above.)

/etc/resolv.conf # If you are using a static IP. If you are using DHCP, this file will be dynamically created and destroyed by default, but can be changed to your preference. (See Network.)

Advanced instructions for configuring the network can be found in the Network article.

Wired LAN

Check your Ethernet with


where you should see an entry for eth0. If required, you can set a new static IP with

ifconfig eth0 <ip address> netmask <netmask> up 

and the default gateway with

route add default gw <ip address of the gateway>

Check to see if /etc/resolv.conf contains your DNS server and add it if it is missing. Check your network again with ping www.google.de. If everything is working now, adjust /etc/rc.conf as described in section 2.6 (static IP). If you have a DHCP server/router in your network try

dhcpcd eth0

If this is working, adjust /etc/rc.conf as described in section 2.6 (dynamic IP).

Wireless LAN

Wireless Setup (TODO) Simplify and generalize it, link only for more-advanced stuff

Analog Modem

To be able to use a Hayes-compatible, external, analog modem, you need to at least have the ppp package installed. Modify the file /etc/ppp/options to suit your needs and according to man pppd. You will need to define a chat script to supply your username and password to the ISP after the initial connection has been established. The manpages for pppd and chat have examples in them that should suffice to get a connection up and running if you're either experienced or stubborn enough. With udev, your serial ports usually are /dev/tts/0 and /dev/tts/1. Tip: Read Dialup without a dialer HOWTO.

Instead of fighting a glorious battle with the plain pppd, you may opt to install wvdial or a similar tool to ease the setup process considerably. In case you're using a so-called WinModem, which is basically a PCI plugin card working as an internal analog modem, you should indulge in the vast information found on the LinModem homepage.


Setting up ISDN is done in three steps:

  1. Install and configure hardware
  2. Install and configure the ISDN utilities
  3. Add settings for your ISP

The current Arch stock kernels include the necessary ISDN modules, meaning that you won't need to recompile your kernel unless you're about to use rather odd ISDN hardware. After physically installing your ISDN card in your machine or plugging in your USB ISDN-Box, you can try loading the modules with modprobe. Nearly all passive ISDN PCI cards are handled by the hisax module, which needs two parameters: type and protocol. You must set protocol to '1' if your country uses the 1TR6 standard, '2' if it uses EuroISDN (EDSS1), '3' if you're hooked to a so-called leased-line without D-channel, and '4' for US NI1.

Details on all those settings and how to set them is included in the kernel documentation, more specifically in the isdn subdirectory, and available online. The type parameter depends on your card; a list of all possible types can be found in the README.HiSax kernel documentation. Choose your card and load the module with the appropriate options like this:

modprobe hisax type=18 protocol=2

This will load the hisax module for my ELSA Quickstep 1000PCI, being used in Germany with the EDSS1 protocol. You should find helpful debugging output in your /var/log/everything.log file, in which you should see your card being prepared for action. Please note that you will probably need to load some USB modules before you can work with an external USB ISDN Adapter.

Once you have confirmed that your card works with certain settings, you can add the module options to your /etc/modprobe.conf:

alias ippp0 hisax
options hisax type=18 protocol=2

Alternatively, you can add only the options line here, and add hisax to your MODULES array in the rc.conf. It's your choice, really, but this example has the advantage that the module will not be loaded until it's really needed.

That being done, you should have working, supported hardware. Now you need the basic utilities to actually use it!

Install the isdn4k-utils package, and read the manpage to isdnctrl; it'll get you started. Further down in the manpage you will find explanations on how to create a configuration file that can be parsed by isdnctrl, as well as some helpful setup examples. Please note that you have to add your SPID to your MSN setting separated by a colon if you use US NI1.

After you have configured your ISDN card with the isdnctrl utility, you should be able to dial into the machine you specified with the PHONE_OUT parameter, but fail the username and password authentication. To make this work add your username and password to /etc/ppp/pap-secrets or /etc/ppp/chap-secrets as if you were configuring a normal analogous PPP link, depending on which protocol your ISP uses for authentication. If in doubt, put your data into both files.

If you set up everything correctly, you should now be able to establish a dial-up connection with

isdnctrl dial ippp0

as root. If you have any problems, remember to check the logfiles!


These instructions are relevant to you only if your PC itself is supposed to manage the connection to your ISP. You do not need to do anything but define a correct default gateway if you are using a separate router of some sort to do the grunt work.

Before you can use your DSL online connection, you will have to physically install the network card that is supposed to be connected to the DSL-Modem into your computer. After adding your newly installed network card to the modules.conf/modprobe.conf or the MODULES array, you should install the rp-pppoe package and run the pppoe-setup script to configure your connection. After you have entered all the data, you can connect and disconnect your line with

/etc/rc.d/adsl start


/etc/rc.d/adsl stop

respectively. The setup usually is rather easy and straightforward, but feel free to read the manpages for hints. If you want to automatically dial in on boot-up, add adsl to your DAEMONS array.

Update, Sync and Upgrade the system with pacman

Now we will update the system using pacman, the package manager of Arch Linux. Pacman is fast, simple, and extremely powerful. It manages your entire package system and allows installation, uninstallation, package downgrade (through cache), custom compiled package handling, automatic dependency resolution, and much more.

Update and sync the package database with:

pacman -Sy

pacman will now fetch the latest information about available packages. The next step is to upgrade pacman itself.

Note: This step is only needed when upgrading from pacman 2.x.y to pacman 3, if you happen to have an older installation disk.

pacman -S pacman


pacman -Su 

to upgrade your entire system.

Or do it all in one roll with

pacman -Syu

and get a cup of coffee (pacman will show you updated packages; if it just finishes without a message all your packages are up to date).

It is highly recommended to study and learn how to use the pacman tool. Try:

man pacman

And look up the pacman wiki entries at your leisure.

Add a user and setup groups

You should not do your everyday work using the root account. It is more than poor practice; it is dangerous. Root is for administrative tasks. Instead, add a normal user account using


While most default options are safe to use, you may want to add at least audio and wheel to your additional groups. Audio allows your user to use the audio card, while wheel allows switching to the root account with su. Other groups include

  • disk - for managing disks, including USB flash drives and such
  • storage - for managing storage devices
  • video - for managing video tasks
  • optical - for managing tasks pertaining to the optical drive(s)
  • floppy - for access to a floppy if necessary
  • camera - for managing cameras
  • scanner - for managing scanners
  • lp - for managing printing tasks

You may also consider adding optical to your additional groups to enable CD/DVD recording from your user account.

See the Groups article to understand what groups you need to be a member of, for example (as root):

usermod -aG abs,audio,video,camera,disk,floppy,lp,optical,network,scanner,slocate,storage,users,wheel USERNAME

Installing and configuring Hardware

Configure the audio card

Your audio card should already be working, but you can't hear anything because it is muted by default. Install the alsa-utils

pacman -S alsa-utils

and use alsamixer to adjust the channels:


Unmute the Master and PCM channels (press the M key) and increase the volume with the cursor-up key. Leave alsamixer by pressing ESC and store the settings with

alsactl store

Add alsa to your DAEMONS section in /etc/rc.conf to automatically restore the mixer on boot-up.

nano /etc/rc.conf
DAEMONS=(syslog-ng network crond alsa)

Configuring CPU frequency scaling

Modern processors are able to decrease their frequency and voltage to reduce heat and power consumption. A reduction in heat will lead to a quieter system; therefore, even a desktop system will benefit from it. Install cpufrequtils with

pacman -S cpufrequtils

and add cpufreq to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf. Edit the config file /etc/conf.d/cpufreq and change


which dynamically increases the CPU frequency if needed (which is a safe choice on desktop systems too). Alter min_freq and max_freq to match your system's CPU spec. Add the frequency scaling modules to your /etc/rc.conf modules line (e.g. speedstep_centrino for Pentium M processors or powernow-k8 for Athlon 64). Load the module with

modprobe <modulname> 

and start cpufreq with

/etc/rc.d/cpufreq start

Additional tweaks for laptops

ACPI support is needed if you want to use some special functions on your notebook (e.g. sleep, sleep when lid is closed, special keys...). Install acpid

pacman -S acpid

and add it to the daemons in /etc/rc.conf (acpid). Start it with

/etc/rc.d/acpid start

More-specific information about Arch Linux on various Laptops can be found at Category:Laptops (English)

Installing and configuring Xorg

Now we will install the base Xorg packages using pacman. As root, do:

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xkb-utils xorg-xauth xorg-server-utils xorg-xinit xf86-video-vesa xf86-input-mouse xf86-input-keyboard

(The old xorg group package has been removed. If it reappears, the option to use it will be given here.) Now we have the base packages we need for running the X Server. You should add the driver for your graphics card now (e.g. xf86-video-<name>). To get a list of all open-source video drivers, do:

pacman -Ss xf86-video | less

If you don't know what graphics card you are using, do:

lspci | grep VGA

Here is a list of open source drivers, and corresponding video chipsets.

  • xf86-video-apm Alliance ProMotion video driver
  • xf86-video-ark ark video driver
  • xf86-video-ati ati video driver
  • xf86-video-chips Chips and Tecnologies video driver
  • xf86-video-cirrus Cirrus Logic video driver
  • xf86-video-dummy dummy video driver
  • xf86-video-fbdev framebuffer video driver
  • xf86-video-glint GLINT/Permedia video driver
  • xf86-video-i128 Number 0 i128 video driver
  • xf86-video-i740 Intel i740 video driver
  • xf86-video-i810 Intel i810/i830/i9xx video drivers
  • xf86-video-imstt Integrated Micro Solutions Twin Turbo vidoe driver
  • xf86-video-mga mga video driver (Matrox Graphics Adapter)
  • xf86-video-neomagic neomagic video driver
  • xf86-video-nv nvidia nv video driver
  • xf86-video-rendition Rendition video driver
  • xf86-video-s3 S3 video driver
  • xf86-video-s3virge S3 Virge video driver
  • xf86-video-savage savage video driver
  • xf86-video-siliconmotion siliconmotion video driver
  • xf86-video-sis SiS video driver
  • xf86-video-sisusb SiS USB video driver
  • xf86-video-tdfx tdfx video driver
  • xf86-video-trident Trident video driver
  • xf86-video-tseng tseng video driver
  • xf86-video-unichrome Unichrome video drivers
  • xf86-video-v4l v4l video driver
  • xf86-video-vesa vesa video driver
  • xf86-video-vga VGA 16 color video driver
  • xf86-video-via via video driver
  • xf86-video-vmware vmware video driver
  • xf86-video-voodoo voodoo video driver
  • Note that 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.
  • If you have an nVIDIA or ATI video adapter, you may wish to install the proprietary nVIDIA or ATI drivers. Installing proprietary video drivers is covered below under "Using proprietary Graphics Driver (nVIDIA, ATI)"

Install the appropriate video driver for your video card/onboard video. e.g.:

pacman -S xf86-video-i810

(for the intel 810 chipset driver.)

Create /etc/X11/xorg.conf

By default, you will not have an Xorg config file, and with the newest versions of Xorg, you don't need one if the autodetection works satisfactorily and you don't need to turn on features such as aiglx and so on. Most people will find that they need to generate a config file, however.

The Xorg way to make a basic config file is to run

Xorg -configure

which will create /root/xorg.conf. Move the generated config file as appropriate, e.g.

mv /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Other ways of making an xorg.conf without getting your hands dirty is Arch Linux's own developer tpowa's tool:

hwd -xa
hwd (to see the various options)

The proprietary video drivers also have tools to edit xorg.conf to configure the drivers (see below). These are




However, you should not be a stranger to editing the config file by hand (as this is usually needed to fix various issues from time to time):

nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf to specify your video driver. e.g.:

Section "Device"
Driver  "i810"
  • Simple baseline X test

At this point, you should have xorg installed, with a suitable video driver and an /etc/X11/xorg.conf configuration file. If you want to test your configuration, install xterm. Xterm is a very simple terminal emulator which runs in the X Server environment. Xterm will allow us to effectively test if your video driver and /etc/X11/xorg.conf are properly configured. Alternatively, you may wish to test if the X autodetection works satisfactorily, in the absence of /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

pacman -S xterm

Edit your /home/username/.xinitrc file, as normal user, to dictate which X Server event is called upon with the 'startx' command:

su yourusername
nano ~/.xinitrc

and add (or uncomment)

exec xterm

So that it looks like this:

# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)
exec xterm
# exec wmaker
# exec startkde
# exec icewm
# exec blackbox
# exec fluxbox

(Be sure to have only one uncommented line in your ~/.xinitrc ) If you do not have ~/.xinitrc, simply create one with the above information.

Start X Server as normal user, with:


You should have an xterm session open up. You can exit the X Server with Ctrl+Alt+Backspace, or by typing "exit". If you have problems starting X, you can look for errors in the /var/log/Xorg.0.log file and on the console output of the console you started X from.

Now you might want to install a graphical login manager (to avoid having to type startx everytime you start the computer) like GDM or KDM, but this could wait, and advanced instructions for Xorg configuration can be found in the Xorg article.

Adjusting Keyboard Layout

You may want to change your keyboard layout. To do this edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add these lines in the Input Section (keyboard0) (the example shows a German keyboard layout with no dead keys; alter this to fit your needs).

       Option          "XkbLayout"     "de"
       Option          "XkbVariant"    "nodeadkeys"

Adjusting Mouse for scroll wheel

While your mouse should be working out of the box, you may want to use your scroll wheel. Add this to your Input Section (mouse0):

       Option      "ZAxisMapping" "4 5 6 7"


If you have a modern USB mouse with several thumb buttons and/or functions, you will most likely want to install the evdev mouse driver, which will allow you to exploit the full functionality of your mouse:

pacman -S evdev

Load the driver:

modprobe evdev

Find your mouse name:

cat /proc/bus/input/devices | egrep "Name"

Using the mouse name, configure your /etc/X11/xorg.conf mouse section accordingly, eg:

Section "InputDevice"
 Identifier      "Evdev Mouse"
 Driver          "evdev"
 Option          "Name" "Logitech USB-PS/2 Optical Mouse"
 Option          "CorePointer"

You must have only one "CorePointer" device specified in /etc/X11/xorg.conf, so be sure to comment out any other mouse entries until you feel safe removing the old, unused entries.

Using proprietary Graphics Driver (nVIDIA, ATI)

You may choose to use the proprietary video drivers from nVIDIA or ATI.

nVIDIA Graphic Cards

The nVIDIA proprietary drivers are generally considered to be of excellent quality, and offer superior 3D performance.

Before you configure your Graphics Card you will need to know which driver fits. Arch currently has 3 different drivers that each match a certain subset of Cards. nvidia-71xx, nvidia-96xx and nvidia. The first is for very old Cards like TNT and TNT2, the second supports slightly newer cards up to the GF 4. The last supports only the newest GPUs after the GF 4. Consult the nVIDIA-Homepage to see which one is for you. The difference is only for the installation; Configuration works the same with every driver.

Install the nvidia drivers with

pacman -S nvidia # nvidia-71xx, nvidia-96xx

At this point, you have 3 choices as to how to proceed.

1. If you have no xorg.conf at all, or if you have an existing xorg.conf and want to generate a completely new one with the nVIDIA utility, back up the old one:

mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.old

Then create the new /etc/X11/xorg.conf with


The nvidia-xconfig utility will usually create a very short, streamlined, easy-to-read xorg.conf

It also has several options which will further specify the contents and options of the xorg.conf file. For example,

nvidia-xconfig --composite --add-argb-glx-visuals

For more detailed information, see nvidia-xconfig(1).

2. If you have an existing xorg.conf and want to keep it, edit your xorg manually as needed, and adjust your Device Section by changing Driver "<olddrivername>" to Driver "nvidia".

Section "Device"
Driver  "nvidia" 

3. Alternatively, you may choose to keep your existing /etc/X11/xorg.conf, and run:


which will automatically update your /etc/X11/xorg.conf for use with the nVIDIA proprietary driver.

Some useful tweaking options in the device section are (beware that these may not work on your system):

       Option          "RenderAccel" "true"
       Option          "NoLogo" "true"
       Option          "AGPFastWrite" "true"
       Option          "EnablePageFlip" "true"

The nvidia-xconfig utility will automatically place the glx option in your xorg. If you did not use nvidia-xconfig, then you should add this to your module section:

Load "glx"

Double check your /etc/X11/xorg.conf to make sure your default depth, horizontal refresh, vertical refresh, and resolutions are acceptable.

Logout and login.

Start X server as normal user, to test your configuration:


Advanced instructions for nvidia configuration can be found in the NVIDIA article.

ATI Graphic Cards

ATI owners have two options for drivers. If you are unsure which driver to use, please try the open-source one first. The open-source driver will suit most needs along with being generally less problematic.

Install the proprietary ATI Driver with

pacman -S fglrx

Use the aticonfig tool to modify the xorg.conf. Note: The proprietary driver does not support AIGLX. To use Compiz or Beryl with this driver you would need to use XGL.

Install the open-source ATI Driver with

pacman -S xf86-video-ati

Currently, the performance of the open-source driver is not on par with that of the proprietary one. It also lacks TV-out, dual-link DVI support, and possibly other features. On the other hand, it supports Aiglx and has better dual-head support.

Advanced instructions for ATI configuration can be found in the ATI wiki.

Installing and configuring a Desktop Environment

If you ask two people what the best Desktop Environment or Window Manager is, you will get six different answers.

  • If you want something similar to Windows and Mac OSX, KDE is a good choice
  • If you want something which follows more strictly the KISS principle, GNOME is a good choice
  • If you have a low-end system xfce4 is a good choice, still giving you a complete environment
  • If you need something lighter, openbox, fluxbox or fvwm2 may be right (not to mention all other lightweight window managers like windowmaker and twm).
  • If you need something completely different, try ion, wmii, or dwm.

Install Fonts

At this point, you may want to install some good-looking fonts, before installing a desktop environment/window manager. Dejavu and bitstream-vera are nice font sets. For websites, you may want to have the Microsoft fonts too. Install with:

pacman -S ttf-ms-fonts ttf-dejavu ttf-bitstream-vera



The GNU Network Object Model Environment, or GNOME project provides two things: The GNOME desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for end-users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.


Install GNOME with

pacman -S gnome

If you want a more-than-complete GNOME distribution with a lot of extras, do a

pacman -S gnome-extra

It's safe to choose all packages shown. You may want to install a graphical login manager. For GNOME gdm is a good choice. Install gdm with

pacman -S gdm

Test it with

/etc/rc.d/gdm start

If everything is working, you may want to autostart gdm when booting your system, so add gdm to the daemon section in your /etc/rc.conf.

You may want to install a terminal and an editor. I would recommend gnome-terminal (part of the group gnome-extra) and geany:

pacman -S geany gnome-terminal

Advanced instructions for installing and configuring GNOME can be found in the Gnome article.

Eye Candy

You may find the default GNOME theme and icons not very attractive. A nice gtk theme is murrine. Install it with

pacman -S gtk-engine-murrine

and select it with System->Preferences->Theme. You can find more themes, icons, and wallpaper at Gnome Look.


About KDE

KDE is a powerful Free Software graphical desktop environment for Linux and Unix workstations. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system.


Arch offers several versions of kde: kde, kdebase, and KDEmod. Choose one of the following, and continue below with Install hal, fam and kdm:

1.) Package kde is the complete, vanilla KDE, ~300MB.

pacman -S kde

2.) Package kdebase is a slimmed-down version with less applications, ~80MB.

pacman -S kdebase

3.) Lastly, KDEmod is an Arch Linux exclusive, community-driven system which is modified for extreme performance and modularity. The KDEmod project website can be found at http://kdemod.ath.cx/. KDEmod is extremely fast, lightweight and responsive, with a pleasing, customized theme.

To install KDEmod in 5 easy steps, just follow these installation instructions... Note: Before you start, please remember to read all of the install messages. They are fairly comprehensive and should solve any upcoming questions after the installation. If you cant scroll back to see all messages, just take a look into /var/log/pacman.log

  • 1. Add the kdemod repo to your /etc/pacman.conf:
nano /etc/pacman.conf

Add this entry:

       Server = http://kdemod.ath.cx/repo/current/i686
  • 2. You must also activate the [community] repository in /etc/pacman.conf because KDEmod needs some packages from this repository. Make sure the following lines are uncommented:
Include = /etc/pacman.d/community

  • 3. Update your package database with pacman -Syu. Now you can choose between two installations:
       pacman -S kdemod - installs a light base system
       pacman -S kdemod-complete - installs the full KDE desktop

If you encounter any errors or conflicts at this step, check pacmans output, and if there are some unsolvable problems, tell us about them at the forums.

  • 4. Install your localization. Take a look at the list of packages or simply do a pacman -Ss kdemod-kde-i18n to see which of them are already included.
  • 5. Install all the extra apps you want. You can check out all available KDEmod packages by entering pacman -Sl kdemod

Install hal, fam, and kdm

KDE will require the hal (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and fam (File Alteration Monitor) daemons. The kdm daemon is the K Desktop Manager, which provides a graphical login, if desired.

Recall from above that a daemon is a program that runs in the background, waiting for events to occur and offering services. The hal daemon, among other things, will automate the mounting of disks, optical drives, and USB drives/thumbdrives for use in the GUI. The fam daemon will allow real-time representation of file alterations in the GUI. Both hal and fam make life easier for the KDE user.

Edit your DAEMONS section in /etc/rc.conf:

nano /etc/rc.conf

Add hal and fam to your DAEMONS section. If you prefer a graphical login, add kdm as well:

DAEMONS=(syslog-ng network crond alsa hal fam kdm)

(If you prefer to log into the console and manually start X in the 'Slackware tradition', leave out kdm.)


This file controls what occurs when you type 'startx'.

Edit your /home/username/.xinitrc to utilize KDE:

nano ~/.xinitrc

Uncomment the 'exec startkde' line so that it looks like this:

# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)
#exec xterm
#exec wmaker
exec startkde
# exec icewm
# exec blackbox
# exec fluxbox

If you do not have a ~/.xinitrc file, simply create it with the above information. Remember, you must have only one uncommented line in your ~/.xinitrc.

Switch to your normal user:

su username

Now try starting your X Server:


Congratulations! Welcome to your KDE desktop environment on your new Arch Linux system! You may wish to continue by viewing Post Installation Tips, or the rest of the information below. Advanced instructions for installing and configuring KDE can be found in the KDE article.


About Xfce

Xfce is a Desktop Environment, like GNOME or KDE. It contains a suite of apps like a root window app, window manager, file manager, panel, etc. Xfce is written using the GTK2 toolkit and contains its own development environment (libraries, daemons, etc) similar to other big DEs. Unlike GNOME or KDE, Xfce is lightweight and designed more around CDE than Windows or Mac. It has a much slower development cycle, but is very stable and extremely fast. Xfce is great for older hardware.


Install xfce with

pacman -S xfce4 xfce4-goodies 

If you use kdm or gdm a new xfce session should have appeared. Alternatively, you can use


Advanced instructions for installing and configuring Xfce can be found in the Xfce article.



Fluxbox © is yet another windowmanager for X. It's based on the Blackbox 0.61.1 code. Fluxbox looks like blackbox and handles styles, colors, window placement and similar things exactly like blackbox (100% theme/style compability).

Install Fluxbox using

pacman -S fluxbox fluxconf

If you use gdm/kdm a new fluxbox session will be automatically added. Otherwise, you should modify your user's .xinitrc and add this to it:

exec startfluxbox 

More information is available in the Fluxbox article.


Openbox is a standards compliant, fast, light-weight, extensible window manager.

Openbox works with your applications, and makes your desktop easier to manage. This is because the approach to its development was the opposite of what seems to be the general case for window managers. Openbox was written first to comply with standards and to work properly. Only when that was in place did the team turn to the visual interface.

Openbox is fully functional as a stand-alone working environment, or can be used as a drop-in replacement for the default window manager in the GNOME or KDE desktop environments.

Install openbox using

pacman -S openbox obconf obmenu

Once openbox is installed you will get a message to move menu.xml & rc.xml to ~/.config/openbox/ in your home directory:

mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox/
cp /etc/xdg/openbox/rc.xml ~/.config/openbox/
cp /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml ~/.config/openbox/

In the file "rc.xml" you can change various settings for Openbox (or you can use OBconf). In "menu.xml" you can change your right-click menu.

To be able to log into openbox you can either go via graphical login using KDM/GDM or startx, in which case you will need to edit your ~/.xinitrc (as user) and add the following:

exec openbox

For KDM there is nothing left to do; openbox is listed in the sessions menu in KDM.

Useful programs for openbox are:

  • PyPanel or LXpanel if you want a panel
  • feh if you want to set the background
  • ROX if you want a simple file manager and desktop icons

More information is available in the Openbox article.


FVWM is an extremely powerful ICCCM-compliant multiple virtual desktop window manager for the X Window system. Development is active, and support is excellent.

Install fvwm2 with

pacman -S fvwm 

fvwm will automatically be listed in kdm/gdm in the sessions menu. Otherwise, add

exec fvwm 

to your user's .xinitrc.

Note that this stable version of fvwm is a few years old. If you want a more recent version of fvwm, there is a fvwm-devel package in the unstable repo.


Since you have now installed a desktop environment now would be a good time to also install HAL. HAL allows plug-and-play for your mobile phone, your iPod, your external HD's, etc. It will mount the device and make a nice visual icon on your desktop and/or in 'My Computer', allowing you to access the device after you have plugged it in instead of having to manually configure the /etc/fstab file or udev rules for each and every new device.


Refer to this article to install: HAL wikipedia: 1

Useful Applications

This section will never be complete. It just shows some good applications for the everyday user.


Firefox and Thunderbird are good applications for browsing the Internet and managing your emails. If you are using GNOME you may want to take a look at Epiphany and Evolution; if you are using KDE Konqueror and KMail could be your choice. If you want something completely different you can still use Opera. Finally, if you are working on the system console - or in a terminal session - you could use various text-based browsers like ELinks, Links and Lynx, and manage your emails with Mutt. Pidgin (previously known as Gaim) and Kopete are good instant messengers for GNOME and KDE, respectively. PSI and Gajim are perfect if you are using only Jabber or Google Talk.


OpenOffice is a complete office suite (similar to Microsoft Office). Abiword is a good, small alternative word processor, and Gnumeric an Excel replacement for the GNOME desktop. KOffice is a complete office suite for the KDE Desktop. GIMP (or GIMPShop) is a pixel-based graphics program (similar to Adobe Photoshop), while Inkscape is a vector-based graphics program (like Adobe Illustrator). And, of course, Arch comes with a full set of LaTeX Programs.


Video Player


VLC Player is a multimedia player for Linux. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S vlc

(TODO) Instructions for VLC mozilla plug-in


MPlayer is a multimedia player for Linux. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S mplayer

It also has a Mozilla plug-in for videos and streams embedded in web pages. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S mplayer-plugin

If you use KDE, KMplayer is a better choice. It comes with a plug-in for videos and streams embedded in web pages, which works with Konqueror. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S kmplayer

(TODO) GMPlayer instructions



Totem is the official movie player of the GNOME desktop environment based on xine-lib or GStreamer (gstreamer is the default which installs with the arch totem package). It features a playlist, a full-screen mode, seek and volume controls, as well as keyboard navigation. It comes with added functionality such as:

  • Video thumbnailer for the file manager
  • Nautilus properties tab
  • Epiphany / Mozilla (Firefox) plugin to view movies inside your browser
  • Webcam utility (in development)

Totem-xine is still the better choice if you want to watch DVDs.

Totem is part of the gnome-extra group; the Totem webbrowser plugin isn't.

To install separately:

pacman -S totem

To install the Totem webbrowser plugin:

pacman -S totem-plugin



Kaffeine is a good option for KDE users. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S kaffeine

Audio Player



Exaile is a music player written in Python that makes use of the GTK+ toolkit.


Rhythmbox is an integrated music management application, originally inspired by Apple's iTunes. It is free software, designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, and based on the powerful GStreamer media framework.

Rhythmbox has a number of features, including:

  • Easy-to-use music browser
  • Searching and sorting
  • Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer
  • Internet radio support
  • Playlists

To install rhythmbox:

pacman -S rhythmbox

Other good audio players are: Banshee, Quodlibet, and Listen. See Gnomefiles to compare them.



Amarok is one of the best audio players and music library systems available for KDE. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S amarok-base


Moc is a ncurses-based audio player for the console; another good choice is mpd.

Another excellent choice is cmus[1].

Other X-based

(TODO) Xmms, audacious, bmpx.

Codecs and other multimedia content types


You can use totem-xine, mplayer or kaffeine (just to name three of the big ones) to watch DVDs. The only thing you may miss is libdvdcss. Beware that using it may be illegal in some countries.


Install the flash plugin using

pacman -S flashplugin

to enable Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash in your browser.


Quicktime codecs are contained in the codecs package. Just type

pacman -S codecs

to install them.


The codec for Realplayer 9 is contained in the codecs package. Just type

pacman -S codecs

to install them. Realplayer 10 is available as a binary package for Linux. You can get it from AUR here.

CD and DVD Burning



Brasero is an application that burns CDs/DVDs for the GNOME Desktop. It is designed to be as simple as possible and has some unique features to enable users to create their discs easily and quickly.

To install:

pacman -S brasero



K3B - CD/DVD burning application for Linux - optimized for KDE - licensed under the GPL. To install:

pacman -S k3b

(Todo) cdrecord, graveman...

Most CD burners are wrappers for cdrecord:

pacman -S cdrkit

If you install packages for CD/DVD burning applications like Brasero or K3B it also installs the CD/DVD burning library for it, like libburn or cdrkit.

A good command-line DVD-burning tool is growisofs:

pacman -S dvd+rw-tools


There are several things to do if you want to watch TV under (Arch) Linux. The most important task is to find out which chip your tuner is using. However, quite a bunch is supported. Be sure to check at a Hardware Database to be sure (e.g. [2]). Once you know your Model, there are just a few steps ahead to get you going.

In most cases, you will need to use the bttv-drivers (other drivers exist, see [3]) together with the I2C-modules. Configuring those is the hardest task. If you are lucky, a

modprobe bttv

will autodetect the card (check dmesg for results). In that case, you need only to install an application to watch TV. We will look at that later, though. If the autodetection did not work, you will need to check the file CARDLIST, which is included in the tarball of bttv[4] to find out the right parameters for your card. A PV951 without radio support would need this line:

modprobe bttv card=42 radio=0

Some cards need the following line to produce sound:

modprobe tvaudio

However, that varies. So just try it out. Some other cards demand the following line:

modprobe tuner

This is object to trial-and-error, too.

TODO: clarify the installation-procedure

To actually watch TV, install the xawtv-package with

pacman -S xawtv 

and read its manpage.

TODO: clarify some possible problems and procedures. Introduction to XAWTV on another page?

Digital Cameras

Most newer digital cameras are supported as USB mass storage devices, which means that you can simply plug it in and copy the images. Older cameras may use the PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) which requires a "special driver". gPhoto2 provides this driver and allows a shell-based transfer of the images; digikam (for KDE) and gthumb (for GNOME, gtkam would be another choice) use this driver and offer a nice GUI.

USB Memory Sticks / Hard Disks

USB Memory Sticks and hard disks are supported out of the box with the USB mass storage device driver and will appear as a new SCSI device (/dev/sdX). If you are using KDE or GNOME you should use dbus and hal (add them to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf), and they will be automatically mounted. If you use a different Desktop Environment you may have a look at ivman.

Maintaining the system


Pacman is both a binary and source package manager which is able to download, install, and upgrade packages from both remote and local repositories with full dependency handling, and has easy-to-understand tools for crafting your own packages too.

A more-detailed description of Pacman can be found in its article.

Useful commands

To synchronize and update the local packages database with the remote repositories (it is a good idea to do this before installing and upgrading packages):

pacman -Sy

To upgrade all packages on the system:

pacman -Su

To sync, update, and upgrade all the packages on the system with one command:

pacman -Syu

To install or upgrade a single package or list of packages (including dependencies):

pacman -S packageA packageB

You can also sync, update the package database, and install packages in one command:

pacman -Sy packageA packageB

To remove a single package, leaving all of its dependencies installed:

pacman -R package

To remove a package and all of the package's dependencies which aren't used by any other installed package:

pacman -Rs package

To remove all of the package's dependencies now unneeded and do not make any backup of settings:

pacman -Rsn package

To search the remote (repo) package database for a list of packages matching a given keyword:

pacman -Ss keyword

To list all packages on your system

pacman -Q

To search (query) the local (your machine) package database for a given package:

pacman -Q package 

To search (query) the local (your machine) package database for a given package and list all pertinent information:

pacman -Qi package

To defragment pacman's cache database and optimize for speed:


To count how many packages are currently on your system:

pacman -Q | wc -l

To install a package compiled from source using ABS and makepkg:

pacman -U packagename.pkg.tar.gz

Note: There are countless additional pacman functions and commands. Try man pacman and consult the pacman wiki entries.

Polishing & Further information

If after you have read this you want to do a bit of polishing, head to Post Installation Tips. For further information and support you can go to the homepage, search the wiki, the forums, the IRC channel, and the mailing lists.