Difference between revisions of "Newcomers Guide"

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(What is pacman ?)
m (Additional tweaks for laptops: If hal is present acpid is auto-loaded by hal)
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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 <tt>acpid</tt> using
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 <tt>acpid</tt> using
  pacman -S acpid
  pacman -S acpid
and add it to the daemons in /etc/rc.conf. <tt>acpid</tt> should be started before <tt>hal</tt> and <tt>dbus</tt>, so take care to place it before any calls to hal and dbus. Manually, it can be started by
and add it to the daemons in /etc/rc.conf. If you already have '''hal''' specified in your DAEMONS, there is no need to add '''acpid'''.  HAL will automatically detect and load the acpid daemon. Manually, it can be started by
  /etc/rc.d/acpid start
  /etc/rc.d/acpid start

Revision as of 17:26, 8 July 2008

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Everything you ever wanted to know about installing Arch, but were afraid to ask

Welcome. This document will guide you through the process of installing and configuring Arch Linux; a simple, agile and lightweight GNU/Linux distribution, UNIX-like operating system. Arch Linux requires a certain level of intimate knowledge of its configuration and of UNIX-like system methodology and for this reason, extra explanatory information is included. It is aimed at new Arch users, but strives to serve as a strong reference and informative base for all.

Since GNU/Linux Distributions are fundamentally 'modular' by design, the article is logically divided into 3 main components of a desktop UNIX-like operating system:

Part I: Installing the Base system

Part II: Installing X and configuring ALSA

Part III: Installing a Desktop Environment


The Arch Linux system is assembled by the user, from the shell, using basic command line tools. This is The Arch Way. Unlike the more rigid structures of other distributions and installers, there are no default environments nor configurations chosen for you. From the command line, you will add packages from the Arch repositories using the pacman tool via your internet connection and manually configure your installation until your system is customized to your requirements. This method allows for maximum flexibility, choice, and system resource control from the base up.

Arch Linux is aimed at GNU/Linux users who desire minimal 'code separation' from their machine.

The Arch Way

The design principles behind Arch are aimed at keeping it simple.

'Simple', in this context, shall mean 'without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications'. In short; an elegant, minimalist approach.

Some thoughts to keep in mind:

  • " 'Simple' is defined from a technical standpoint, not a usability standpoint. It is better to be technically elegant with a higher learning curve, than to be easy to use and technically [inferior]." -Aaron Griffin
  • Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem or "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily." -Occam's razor. The term razor refers to the act of shaving away unnecessary complications to arrive at the simplest explanation, method or theory.
  • "The extraordinary part of [my method] lies in its simplicity..I always believe that the simple way is the right way." - Bruce Lee

Template:Box Note

  • You may wish to make a print out of this guide which will serve as a useful Arch Linux user reference.
  • If you would like to add to this wiki, please include the "Why" as well as the "How", where appropriate. The best documentation teaches us how, as well as why!
  • The Arch wiki is an excellent resource and should be consulted for issues first; IRC (freenode #archlinux), and the forums are also available if the answer cannot be found.

Welcome to Arch! Now, let's get started.

Part I: Install the Base System

Obtain the latest Installation media

You can obtain Arch's latest installation media from here.

  • Both the Core installer and the FTP/HTTP-downloads provide only the necessary packages to create an Arch Linux base system. Note that the Base System does not include a GUI. It is mainly comprised of the GNU toolchain, (compiler, assembler, linker, libraries, shell, and a few useful utilities) the Linux kernel, and a few extra libraries and modules.
  • Expanding your Arch Linux system beyond the base system, to include extra software, a Graphical User Interface, etc., is achieved from the command line, by the user, via the pacman package manager to grab i686/x86-64 binary packages. The process is covered in detail below.

CD installer

Burn the .iso to a CD with your favorite burner, and continue with Boot Arch Linux Installer Template:Box Note

USB stick

Insert an empty or expendable USB stick, determine its path, and dd the .img to the USB stick like so:

dd if=archlinux-2008.06-[core_or_ftp]-i686.img of=/dev/sdx

where if= is the path to the img file and of= is your USB device. Make sure to use /dev/sdx and not /dev/sdx1.

Note: This will destroy all data on your USB stick.

Continue with Boot Arch Linux Installer

Boot Arch Linux Installer

As you follow these directions, you may find the Official Arch Linux Install Guide helpful as well.

Insert the CD or USB stick and boot from it. You may have to change the boot order in your computer BIOS or press a key (usually DEL, F1, F2, F11 or F12) during the BIOS POST phase.

Memory requirements:

  • CORE : 160 MB RAM x86_64/i686 (all packages selected, with swap partition)
  • FTP : 160 MB RAM x86_64/i686 (all packages selected, with swap partition)

Choose Boot Archlive or Boot Archlive [legacy IDE] if you have trouble with libata/PATA.

To change boot options press e for editing the boot lines. Many users may wish to change the resolution of the framebuffer, for more readable console output. Append:


to the kernel line, followed by <ENTER>, for a 1024x768 framebuffer. Hit b to boot.

The system will now boot and present a login prompt.

Login and Changing the keymap

Login as 'root'. If you have a non-US keyboard layout do:


at the prompt, and choose your keymap/console font.

That's right, the ever-popular km program is back as of 2008-06!


The guide you are now reading is available on the live system. Change to vc/2 with <ALT>-F2 and do:

less /arch/beginnersguide.txt

Less will allow you to page through the document. Change back to vc/1 with <ALT>-F1.

Change back to vc/2 if you need to reference the Beginner's Guide at any time.

Start the Installation

As root, run the installer script from vc/1:


Select an installation source

After a welcome screen, you will be prompted for an installation source. Choose the appropriate source for the installer you are using.

  • If you chose the CORE installer, continue below with Prepare Hard Drive.
  • FTP/HTTP only: You shall be prompted to load ethernet drivers manually, if desired. Udev is quite effective at loading the required modules, so you may assume it has already done so. You may verify this by invoking ifconfig -a from vc/3. (Select OK to continue.)

Configure Network (FTP/HTTP)

Available Interfaces will be presented. If an interface and HWaddr is listed, then your module has already been loaded. If your interface is not listed, you may probe it from the installer, or manually do so from another virtual console.

The following screen will prompt you to Select the interface, Probe, or Cancel. Choose the appropriate interface and continue.

The installer will then ask if you wish to use DHCP. Choosing Yes will run dhcpcd to discover an available gateway and request an IP address; Choosing No will prompt you for your static IP, netmask, broadcast, gateway DNS IP, HTTP proxy, and FTP proxy. Lastly, you will be presented with an overview to ensure your entries are correct.

Wireless Quickstart (If you need wireless connectivity during the installation process)

The wireless drivers and utilities are now available to you in the live environment of the installation media.

If you need wireless functionality from the initial installation (live installer environment) onwards, the basic procedure will be:

  • Switch to a free virtual console, e.g.: <ALT>+F3
  • Identify your wireless card and appropriate module:
hwdetect --show-net
  • Ensure udev has loaded the module:
lsmod | grep <name_of_module>
  • If not, probe it:
modprobe <name_of_module>
  • Ensure the driver has created a usable wireless kernel interface:

(Output should show an available wireless interface)

  • Bring the interface up with ifconfig <interface> up.

An example, using an atheros card and madwifi driver:

ifconfig ath0 up

(Remember, your interface may be named something else, depending on your module (driver) and chipset: wlan0, eth1, etc.)

  • Specify the id of the wireless network with iwconfig <interface> essid <youressid> key <yourwepkey>, e.g.:
iwconfig ath0 essid linksys key 0241baf34c
  • Acquire an IP address with dhcpcd <interface>. e.g.:
dhcpcd ath0
  • Ensure you can route:
ping -c 3 www.google.com


After the initial Arch installation is complete, you may wish to refer to Wireless Setup to ensure a permanent configuration solution for your system.

Return to vc/1 with <ALT>+F1. Continue with Prepare Hard Drive

Prepare Hard Drive

Select the first menu entry "Prepare Hard Drive".

  • Option 1: Auto Prepare

Auto-Prepare divides your disk into the following configuration:

  • ext2 /boot partition, default size 32MB. You will be prompted to modify the size to you requirement.
  • swap partition, default size 256MB. You will be prompted to modify the size to you requirement.
  • A Separate / and /home partition, (sizes can also be specified). You may choose from ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs and jfs, but note that both / and /home must share the same fs type if choosing the Auto Prepare option.

Be warned that Auto-prepare will completely erase the chosen hard drive. Read the warning presented by the installer very carefully, and make sure the correct device is about to be partitioned.

  • Option 2: (Recommended) Partition Hard Drives (with cfdisk)

This option will allow for the most robust and customized partitioning solution for your personal needs.

At this point, more advanced GNU/Linux users who are familiar and comfortable with manually partitioning may wish to skip down to Select Packages below.

Partition Hard Drives

Partition Info

Partitioning a hard disk drive defines specific areas (the partitions) within the disk, that will each appear and behave as a separate disk and upon which a filesystem may be created (formatted). There exist 3 types of disk partitions: Primary, Extended, and Logical.

Primary partitions can be bootable, and are limited to 4. If a partitioning scheme requires more than 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. If required, a hard disk shall contain only one extended partition; which shall then be sub-divided into logical partitions.

When partitioning a disk, one can observe this numbering scheme by creating primary partitions sda1-3 followed by creating an extended partition, sda4, and subsequently creating logical partition(s) within the extended partition; sda5, sda6, and so on.

Swap Partition

A swap partition is a place on your hard drive where virtual ram resides, allowing the kernel to easily use disk storage for data that does not fit into physical RAM.

Historically, the general rule for swap partition size was 2x the amount of physical RAM. Over time, as computers have gained ever larger memory capacities, this rule has become increasingly deprecated. Generally, on machines with up to 512MB RAM, the 2x rule is usually quite sufficient. On machines with 1GB RAM, generally a 1x rule is adequate. If you have gratuitous amounts of RAM (more than 1024 MB) it may be possible to completely forgo a swap partition altogether, though this is not recommended. We will create a 1 GB swap partition in this example. Template:Box Note

Partition Scheme

A disk partitioning scheme is a very personalized preference. Each user's choices will be unique to their own computing habits and requirements. Filesystem candidates for separate partitions include:

/ (root) The root filesystem is the primary filesystem from which all other filesystems stem; the top of the hierarchy. All files and directories appear under the root directory "/", even if they are stored on different physical devices. The contents of the root filesystem must be adequate to boot, restore, recover, and/or repair the system.

/boot This directory contains the kernel and ramdisk images as well as the bootloader configuration file, and bootloader stages. /boot also stores data that is used before the kernel begins executing user-mode programs. This may include saved master boot sectors and sector map files.

/home User data and user specific configuration files for applications are stored in each user's home directory in a file that starts with the '.' character (a "dot file").

/usr While root is the primary filesystem, /usr is the secondary hierarchy, for user data, containing the majority of (multi-)user utilities and applications. /usr is shareable, read-only data. This means that /usr shall be shareable between various hosts and must not be written to, except in the case of system update/upgrade. Any information that is host-specific or varies with time is stored elsewhere.

/tmp directory for programs that require temporary files

/var contains variable data; spool directories and files, administrative and logging data, pacman's cache, the ABS tree, etc.

  • It is generally considered good practice and more versatile to at least have / and /home on separate partitions.
  • Having separate partitions for all of the above listed directories may be the most appropriate choice for those who are vigilant about control, stability, integrity and security.

In this example, we shall use one partition for /, one partition for /home, and a swap partition.

Template:Box Note


Start by creating the primary partition that will contain the root, (/) filesystem.

Choose New -> Primary and enter the size you want (something between 4 and 12 GB is a good choice for a full-featured Linux system). Put the partition at the beginning of the disk.

Also choose the Type by designating it as '83 Linux'. The created / partition should appear as sda1.

Next, create a partition for swap. Select an appropriate size and specify the Type as 82 (Linux swap / Solaris). The created swap partition should appear as sda2.

Lastly, create another partition for your /home directory. Choose another primary partition and set the desired size.

Likewise, select the Type as 83 Linux. The created /home partition should appear as sda3.


Name    Flags     Part Type    FS Type           [Label]         Size (MB)
sda1               Primary     Linux                             10240 #root
sda2               Primary     Linux swap / Solaris              1024  #swap
sda3               Primary     Linux                             26480 #home

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

Template:Box Note

Set Filesystem Mountpoints

First you will be asked for your swap partition. Choose the appropriate partition (sda2 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.

Filesystem Types

Again, a filesystem type is a very subjective matter which comes down to personal preference. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, and differences in performance are often more likely to be attributable to placebo than to human-perceivable measurements. Here is a very brief overview of supported filesystems:

1. ext2 Second Extended Filesystem- Old, reliable GNU/Linux filesystem. Very stable, but without journaling support. May be inconvenient for root (/) and /home, due to very long fsck's. An ext2 filesystem can easily be converted to ext3.

2. ext3 Third Extended Filesystem- Essentially the ext2 system, but with journaling support. ext3 is completely compatible with ext2. Extremely stable, mature, and by far the most widely used, supported and developed GNU/Linux FS.

High Performance Filesystems:

3. ReiserFS - Hans Reiser's high-performance journaling FS uses a very interesting method of data throughput. ReiserFS is touted as very fast, especially when dealing with many small files. ReiserFS is fast at formatting, yet comparatively slow at mounting. Quite mature and stable. ReiserFS is not actively developed at this time (Reiser4 is the new Reiser filesystem).

4. JFS - IBM's Journaled FileSystem- the first filesystem to offer journaling has had many years of use in the IBM AIX® OS before being ported to Linux. JFS currently uses the least CPU resources of any Linux filesystem. Very fast at formatting, mounting and fsck's, and very good all-around performance, especially in conjunction with the deadline I/O scheduler. (See JFS.) Not as widely supported as ext or ReiserFS, but very mature and stable.

5. XFS - Another early journaling filesystem originally developed by Silicon Graphics for the IRIX OS and ported to Linux. XFS is best suited for very fast throughput on large files. Very fast at formatting and mounting. Generally benchmarked as slower with many small files, in comparison to other filesystems. XFS is very mature and is currently the only available stable Linux FS with online defragmentation ability.

A note on Journaling

All above filesystems, except ext2, utilize journaling. Journaling file systems are fault-resilient file systems that use a journal to log changes before they're committed to the file system to avoid metadata corruption in the event of a crash. Note that not all journaling techniques are alike; specifically, only ext3 offers data-mode journaling, (though, not by default), which journals both data and meta-data (but with significant speed penalty). The others only offer ordered-mode journaling, which journals meta-data only. While all will return your filesystem to a valid state after recovering from a crash, data-mode journaling offers the greatest protection against file system corruption and data loss but can suffer from performance degradation, as all data is written twice (first to the journal, then to the disk). Depending on how important your data is, this may be a consideration in choosing your filesystem type.

Choose and create the filesystem (format the partition) for / by selecting yes. You will now be prompted to add any additional partitions. In our example, only sda3 is remaining. Choose a filesystem type and mount it as /home. Again, create the filesystem and choose Done. Return to main menu.

Select Packages

  • Core ISO: Choose CD as source and select the appropriate CD drive if you have more than one.
  • FTP ISO: Select an FTP/HTTP mirror. Note that archlinux.org is throttled to 50KB/s.

Package selection is split into two stages. First, you will select package categories, then you will be presented will the full lists of packages in the selected categories, allowing you to fine-tune your selections. The space bar selects and unselects the categories.

  • BASE: Contains the minimal GNU/Linux package set; just enough for a barebones environment; The linux kernel, GNU, fsprogs, bootloader, editor, bash, etc.
  • SUPPORT: Additional convenience packages for networking and filesystems, etc; gpm, fuse, dnsutils, wireless drivers, ndiswrapper, ntfs-3g, and so forth.
  • DEVEL: Critical software compiling tools such as GCC, autoconf, automake and make.
  • LIB: A thimbleful of various extra libraries such as gmp, lebelf, libevent, etc.

Choose OK to continue and then choose 'yes' for 'Select all packages by default', for now.

The next screen will present you with the selected packages within your selected categories. Leaving all selected is a safe choice for beginners, while more experienced users will wish to trim a few unnecessary packages. (For instance, an unneeded filesystem type utility, unneeded drivers, etc.)

Install Packages

Next, choose 'Install Packages'. You will be asked if you wish to keep the packages in the pacman cache. If you choose 'yes', you will have the flexibility to downgrade to previous package versions in the future, so this is recommended (you can always clear the cache in the future). The installer script will now install the selected packages, as well as the default Arch 2.6 kernel, to your system.

  • FTP ISO: The Pacman package manager will now download and install your selected packages. (See vc/5 for output, vc/1 to return to the installer)
  • CORE ISO: The packages will be installed from the CD.

Note: For Arch 2007.08 FTP installation: after 'Install Packages' you have to upgrade pacman (<ALT>+F3, pacman -Sy pacman) and again 'Install Packages'.

Configure the System

Closely following and understanding these steps is of key importance to ensure a properly configured system.

The installer will ask if you want to choose hwdetect to gather information for your configuration. Beginners should choose 'yes'.

Advanced users who are thoroughly familiar with their hardware, required modules, and who are able to manually configure /etc/rc.conf, /etc/mkinitcpio and /etc/fstab, etc. from scratch may wish to choose 'no'. (Needless to say, this option is very involved, beyond the scope of this guide, and therefore is not covered.)

Next, you will be asked if you need support for booting from USB devices, FireWire devices, PCMCIA devices, NFS shares, software RAID arrays, LVM2 volumes, encrypted volumes, and DSDT support. 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 or vim (recommended). You will be presented with a menu including the main configuration files for your system.

Can the installer handle this more automatically?

Hiding the process of system configuration is in direct opposition to The Arch Way. While it is true that recent versions of the kernel and hardware probing tools offer excellent hardware support and auto-configuration, Arch presents the user all pertinent configuration files during installation for the purpose of transparency. By the time you have finished modifying these files to your specifications, you will have learned the simple method of manual Arch Linux system configuration and become more familiar with the base structure, leaving you better prepared to use your new installation productively.


Arch Linux follows in the *BSD tradition of utilizing /etc/rc.conf as the principal location for system configuration. This one file contains a wide range of configuration information, principally used at system startup. As its name directly implies, it also contains settings for and invokes the /etc/rc* files, and is, of course, sourced by these files. /etc/rc.conf offers a simple, elegant method of streamlining system resource configuration by encompassing a wide range of control, readily accessible for the Arch user.

  • LOCALIZATION section
    • LOCALE=: This sets your system locale, which will be used by all i18n-aware applications and utilities. You can get a list of the available locales by running 'locale -a' from the command line. This setting's default is fine for US English users.
    • HARDWARECLOCK=: Specifies whether the hardware clock, which is synchronized on bootup and on shutdown, stores UTC time, or the localtime. UTC makes sense because it greatly simplifies changing timezones and daylight savings time. localtime is necessary if you dual boot with an operating system such as Windows, that only stores localtime to the hardware clock.
    • TIMEZONE=: Specify your TIMEZONE. (All available zones are under /usr/share/zoneinfo/).
    • KEYMAP=: The available keymaps are in /usr/share/kbd/keymaps. Please note that this setting is only valid for your TTYs, not any graphical window managers or X!
    • CONSOLEFONT=: Available console fonts reside under /usr/share/kbd/consolefonts/ if you must change. The default (blank) is safe.
    • CONSOLEMAP=: Defines the console map to load with the setfont program on bootup. Possible maps are found in /usr/share/kbd/consoletrans, if needed. The default (blank) is safe.
    • USECOLOR=: Select "yes" if you have a color monitor and wish to have colors in your consoles.
  • HARDWARE section
    • MOD_AUTOLOAD=: Setting this to "yes" will utilize udev to automatically probe hardware and load the appropriate modules during boot-up, (convenient with the default modular kernel). Setting this to "no" will rely on the user's ability to specify this information manually, or compile their own custom kernel and modules, etc.
    • MOD_BLACKLIST=: This has become deprecated in favor of adding blacklisted modules directly to the MODULES= line below.
    • MODULES=: Specify additional MODULES if you know that an important module is missing, (hwdetect should have filled in the most important modules). Also specify any blacklisted modules by prefixing them with a bang (!). Udev will be forced NOT to load blacklisted modules. In the example, the IPv6 module as well as the annoying pcspeaker are blacklisted.
# Scan hardware and load required modules at bootup
# Module Blacklist - Deprecated
MODULES=(e100 eepro100 mii slhc snd-ac97-codec snd-intel8x0 soundcore !net-pf-10 !pcspkr)
  • NETWORKING section
    • HOSTNAME=:Set your HOSTNAME to your liking.
    • eth0=: 'Ethernet, card 0'. Adjust the interface IP address, netmask and broadcast address if you are using static IP. Set eth0="dhcp" if you want to use DHCP
    • INTERFACES=: Specify any/all interfaces here. If you do not use DHCP to configure a device, just keep in mind that the value of the variable (whose name must be equal to the name of the device which is supposed to be configured) equals the line which would be appended to the ifconfig command if you were to configure the device manually in the shell.
    • gateway=: If you are using static IP, set the gateway address. Ignore this entry if using DHCP
    • ROUTES=: If you are using static IP, remove the ! in front of 'gateway'. Leave the ! if using DHCP

Example, using DHCP:

#eth0="eth0 netmask broadcast" 
gateway="default gw"

Template:Box Note

  • DAEMONS section

This array simply lists the names of those scripts contained in /etc/rc.d/ which are to be started during the boot process, and the order in which they start.

DAEMONS=(@network syslog-ng netfs crond)
  • If a script name is prefixed with a bang (!), it is not executed.
  • If a script is prefixed with an "at" symbol (@), then it will be executed in the background; the startup sequence will not wait for successful completion of each daemon before continuing to the next. (Useful for speeding up system boot).
  • Edit this array whenever new system services are installed, if starting them automatically during bootup is desired.

This 'BSD-style' init, is the Arch way of handling what others handle with various symlinks to an /etc/init.d directory.


You do not 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 (e.g.:cpufreq), 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.

Historically, the term daemon was coined by the programmers of MIT's Project MAC. They took the name from Maxwell's demon, an imaginary being from a famous thought experiment that constantly works in the background, sorting molecules. UNIX systems inherited this terminology and created the backronym disk and execution monitor.

  • Tip: All Arch daemons reside under /etc/rc.d/

The fstab (for file systems table) is part of the system configuration listing all available disks and disk partitions, and indicating how they are to be initialized or otherwise integrated into the overall system's filesystem. The /etc/fstab file is most commonly used by the mount command. The mount command takes a filesystem on a device, and adds it to the main system heirarchy that you see when you use your system. mount -a is called from /etc/rc.sysinit, about 3/4 of the way through the boot process, and reads /etc/fstab to determine which options should be used when mounting the specified devices therein. If noauto is appended to a filesystem in /etc/fstab, mount -a will not mount it at boot.

An example /etc/fstab:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information
# <file system>        <dir>        <type>        <options>                 <dump>    <pass>
none                   /dev/pts     devpts               defaults                0         0
none                   /dev/shm     tmpfs                defaults                0         0
#/dev/cdrom            /media/cdrom   auto             ro,user,noauto,unhide     0         0
#/dev/dvd              /media/dvd     auto                ro,user,noauto,unhide  0         0
#/dev/fd0              /media/fl     auto                user,noauto             0         0
/dev/disk/by-uuid/0ec-933.. /            jfs       defaults,noatime,nodiratime   0         1
/dev/disk/by-uuid/7ef-223.. /home        jfs       defaults,noatime,nodiratime   0         2
/dev/disk/by-uuid/530-1e-..  swap        swap         defaults                   0         0

Modify your fstab to your requirements. Template:Box Note

ls -lF /dev/disk/by-uuid/

Will list all partitions by uuid.

  • If you plan on using hal to automount media such as DVDs, you may wish to comment out the cdrom and dvd entries in preparation for hal, which will be installed later in this guide.

Template:Box Note

Expanded information available in the Fstab wiki entry.

/etc/mkinitcpio.conf and /etc/modprobe.conf

Editing these configurations is unnecessary at this point.

  • mkinitcpio.conf This file allows you to fine-tune the initial ram filesystem (also commonly referred to as the initial ramdisk or "initrd") for your system. The initrd is a gzipped image that is read by the kernel during bootup. The purpose of the initrd is to bootstrap the system to the point where it can access the root filesystem. This means it has to load any modules that are required for devices like IDE, SCSI, or SATA drives (or USB/FW, if you are booting off a USB/FW drive). Once the initrd loads the proper modules, either manually or through udev, it passes control to the Arch system and your bootup continues. For this reason, the initrd only needs to contain the modules necessary to access the root filesystem. It does not need to contain every module you would ever want to use. The majority of your everyday modules will be loaded later on by udev, during the init process.
  • modprobe.conf can be used to set special configuration options for the kernel modules
/etc/resolv.conf (for Static IP)

The resolver is a set of routines in the C library that provide access to the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). One of the main functions of DNS is to translate domain names into IP addresses, to make the Web a friendlier place. The resolver configuration file, or /etc/resolv.conf, contains information that is read by the resolver routines the first time they are invoked by a process.

  • If you are using DHCP, you may safely ignore this file, as by default, it will be dynamically created and destroyed by the dhcpcd daemon. You may change this default behavior if you wish. (See Network).

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, e.g.:


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 /etc/resolv.conf, using your router's IP (which is also your gateway from /etc/rc.conf), e.g.:


If using DHCP, you may also specify your DNS servers in the router, or allow automatic assignment from your ISP, if your ISP is so equipped.


This file associates IP addresses with hostnames and aliases, one line per IP address. For each host a single line should be present with the following information:

<IP-address> <hostname> [aliases...]

Add your hostname, coinciding with the one specified in /etc/rc.conf, as an alias, so that it looks like this:   localhost.localdomain   localhost yourhostname

Template:Box Note

If you use a static IP, add another line using the syntax: <static-IP> <hostname.domainname.org> <hostname> e.g.: yourhostname.domain.org  yourhostname
  • TIP: For convenience, you may also use /etc/hosts aliases for hosts on your network, and/or on the Web, e.g.:   www.google.com   g   media   data

The above example would allow you to access google simply by typing 'g' into your browser, and access to a media and data server on your network by name and without the need for typing out their respective IP addresses.

/etc/hosts.deny and /etc/hosts.allow

Modify these configurations according to your needs if you plan on using the ssh daemon. The default configuration will reject all incoming connections, not only ssh connections. Edit your /etc/hosts.allow file and add the appropriate parameters:

  • let everyone connect to you
sshd: ALL
  • restrict it to a certain ip
  • OR restrict for an IP range

If you do not plan on using the ssh daemon, leave this file at the default, (empty), for added security.


The locale-gen command reads from /etc/locale.gen to generate specific locales. They can then be used by glibc and any other locale-aware program or library for rendering "peculiar" text, correctly displaying regional monetary values, time and date formats, alphabetic idiosyncrasies, and other locale-specific standards. The ability to setup a default locale is a great built-in privilege of using a UNIX-like operating system.

By default /etc/locale.gen is an empty file with commented documentation. Once edited, the file remains untouched. locale-gen runs on every glibc upgrade, generating all the locales specified in /etc/locale.gen.

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

en_US ISO-8859-1

The installer will now run the locale-gen script, which will generate the locales you specified. You may change your locale in the future by editing /etc/locale.gen and subsequently running 'locale-gen' as root.

Template:Box Note

Root password

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


Choose a mirror repository for pacman.

  • archlinux.org is throttled, limiting downloads to 50KB/s

Return to the main menu.

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 provided GRUB configuration (/boot/grub/menu.lst) should be sufficient, but verify its contents to ensure accuracy. You may want to alter the resolution of the console by adding a vga=<number> kernel argument corresponding to your desired virtual console resolution. (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/disk/by-uuid/0ec1-9339.. ro vga=773
initrd /boot/kernel26.img

Template:Box Note


Line 1: title: A printed menu selection. "Arch Linux (Main)" will be printed on the screen as a menu selection.

Line 2: root: GRUB's root; the drive and partition where the kernel (/boot) resides, according to system BIOS. (More accurately, where GRUB's stage2 file resides). NOT necessarily the root (/) file system, as they can reside on separate partitions. GRUB's numbering scheme starts at 0, and uses an hdx,x format regardless of IDE or SATA, and enclosed within parentheses.

The example indicates that /boot is on the first partition of the first drive, according to BIOS, or, (hd0,0).

Line 3: kernel: This line specifies:

  • The path and filename of the kernel relative to GRUB's root.

In the example, /boot is merely a directory residing on the same partition as / and vmlinuz26 is the kernel filename; /boot/vmlinuz26. If /boot were on a separate partition, the path and filename would be simply /vmlinuz26, being relative to GRUB's root.

  • The root= argument to the kernel statement specifies the partition containing the root (/) directory in the booted system, (more accurately, the partition containing /sbin/init), according to the UUID numbering scheme as of 2008-04rc, which uses the /dev/disk/by-uuid/xxxx-xxxx-xxxx format.
  • An easy way to distinguish the 2 appearances of 'root' in /boot/grub/menu.lst is to remember that the first root statement informs GRUB where the kernel resides, whereas the second root= kernel argument tells the kernel where the root filesystem (/) resides.
  • Kernel options.

In our example, ro mounts the filesystem as read only during startup, and the "vga=773" argument will give a 1024x768 framebuffer with 256 color depth.

Line 4: initrd: (For Initial RAM disk) The path and filename of the initial RAM filesystem relative to GRUB's root. Again, in the example, /boot is merely a directory residing on the same partition as / and kernel26.img is the initrd filename; /boot/kernel26.img. If /boot were on a separate partition, the path and filename would be simply /kernel26.img, being relative to GRUB's root.

Install the GRUB bootloader to the master boot record, (sda in our example).


That's it; You have configured and installed your Arch Linux base system. Exit the install, and type the magic word:


(Be sure to remove the installer CD)

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!

Your new Arch Linux base system is now a functional GNU/Linux environment ready for customization. From here, you may build this elegant set of tools into whatever you wish or require for your purposes.

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

Configuring the network (if necessary)

  • This section will assist you in configuring most types of networks, if your network configuration is not working for you.

If you properly configured your system, 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 properly 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 for typos and errors.

/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

ifconfig -a

All interfaces will be listed. You should see an entry for eth0, or perhaps eth1.

  • Static IP

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>

Verify that /etc/resolv.conf contains your DNS server and add it if it is missing. Check your network again with ping www.google.com. If everything is working now, adjust /etc/rc.conf as described above for static IP.

  • DHCP

If you have a DHCP server/router in your network try:

dhcpcd eth0

If this is working, adjust /etc/rc.conf as described above, for dynamic IP.

Wireless LAN

Detailed setup guide: Wireless Setup

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 will not 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.

What is pacman ?

Pacman is the package manager of Arch Linux. Pacman is written in C and is designed from the ground up to be fast, simple, and extremely versatile. It manages your entire package system and handles installation, removal, package downgrade (through cache), custom compiled package handling, automatic dependency resolution, remote and local searches and much more. Arch uses the .tar.gz package format, which further enhances pacman's speed; Gzipped tarballs, though slightly larger, are decompressed much faster than their Bzipped counterparts, and are therefore generally installed more expediently.

We will use pacman to download software packages from remote repositories and install them onto your system.

Pacman is the most important tool in your Arch Linux toolbox for building the base system into whatsoever you please.

Configuring pacman

Package Repositories and /etc/pacman.conf

Arch currently offers the following repositories readily accessible through pacman:


The simple principle behind [core] is to provide only one of each necessary tool for a base Arch Linux system; The GNU toolchain, the Linux kernel, one editor, one command line browser, etc. (There are a few exceptions to this. For instance, both vi and nano are provided, allowing the user to choose one or both.) It contains all the packages that MUST be in perfect working order to make sure your system continues to run. These are the absolute system-critical packages. Developer maintained.

  • The Core installation media simply contains an installer script, and a snapshot of the core repository.


The [extra] repository contains all Arch packages that are not themselves necessary for a base Arch system, but contribute to a more full-featured environment. X, KDE, and Apache, for instance, can be found here. Developer maintained.


The [unstable] repository contains experimental and unstable software, especially if the development version of a package has become popular for some reason. For example, perhaps the upstream stable version is hopelessly out of date, or the unstable version has some groundbreaking changes that a lot of users seem interested in, like experimental kernel drivers or -svn package versions. Developer maintained.

Template:Box Note

The [unstable] repository is currently not maintained for x86_64.


The [testing] repository contains packages that are candidates for the [core], [extra] or [unstable] repositories. New packages go into [testing] if:

  • they are expected to break something on update and need to be tested first
  • they require other packages to be rebuilt. In this case, all packages that need to be rebuilt are put into [testing] first and when all rebuilds are done, they are moved back to the other repositories. Developer maintained.

[testing] is the only repository that can have name collisions with any of the other official repositories. If enabled, it has to be the first repo listed in your pacman.conf file.

Template:Box Note


The [community] repository is maintained by the Trusted Users (TUs) and is part of the Arch User Repository (AUR). It contains binary packages from the AUR that have enough votes and were adopted by a TU. Like all repos listed above, [community] may be readily accessed by pacman.

The AUR also contains the unsupported branch, which cannot be accessed directly by pacman*. [unsupported] contains more than 8 thousand PKGBUILD scripts for building packages from source, that may be unavailable through the other repos.

* AUR Helpers can help you seamlessly access AUR.


pacman will attempt to read /etc/pacman.conf each time it is invoked. This configuration file is divided into sections, or repositories. Each section defines a package repository that pacman can use when searching for packages. The exception to this is the options section, which defines global options.

nano /etc/pacman.conf


# Add your preferred servers here, they will be used first
 Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
# Add your preferred servers here, they will be used first
 Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
# Add your preferred servers here, they will be used first
 Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
# Add your preferred servers here, they will be used first
 Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Enable all desired repositories (remove the # in front of the 'Include =' and '[repository]' lines).

  • When choosing repos, be sure to uncomment both the repository header lines in [brackets] as well as the 'Include =' lines. Failure to do so will result in the selected repository being omitted! This is a very common error.

Faster mirrors will dramatically improve pacman performance, and your overall Arch Linux experience.

Edit /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist:

nano /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Remove all mirrors which are not on your continent, or are extremely distant. (Using nano, you may use CTRL-K to cut each unneeded line.)

Edit /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist by placing the best mirror at the top of the list. (Recall that archlinux.org is throttled to 50KB/s). If using nano, you can cut a line with CTRL-K and paste with CTRL-U.

After changing mirrors, issue the following command:

pacman -Syy

This will force pacman to resynchronize with the new repo. Issuing pacman -Syy whenever a mirror is changed, is good practice and will avoid possible headaches.

Ignoring packages

When you execute the command "pacman -Syu", your entire system will be updated. It is possible that you want to prevent a package from being upgraded. An example could be the kernel (kernel26) or a package for which an upgrade may prove problematic for your system. In this case, you have two options; indicate the packages you want to skip in the pacman command line using the --ignore switch (do pacman -S --help for details) or permanently indicate the packages you want to skip in your /etc/pacman.conf file:

IgnorePkg = kernel26

The typical way to use Arch is to use pacman to install all packages unless there is no package available, in which case you can build your own package using ABS. Many user-contributed packages are available in the Arch User Repository. You are expected to keep your system up to date with pacman -Syu, rather than selectively upgrading packages. Use of IgnorePkg in /etc/pacman.conf is therefore discouraged, and should be used sparingly, if you know what you are doing.

You may diverge from this typical usage as you wish; just be warned that there is a greater chance that things will not work as intended and that it could break your system. The majority of complaints happen when selective upgrading or unusual compilation is performed.

Ignoring Configuration Files

In the same vein, you can also "protect" your configuration/system files from being overwritten during "pacman -Su" using the following option in your /etc/pacman.conf

NoUpgrade = etc/lilo.conf boot/grub/menu.lst

Update System

Update, sync, and upgrade your entire new system with:

pacman -Syu

pacman will now fetch the latest information about available packages and perform all available upgrades. (You may be prompted to upgrade pacman itself at this point. If so, say yes, and then reissue the pacman -Syu command when finished.) Reboot if a kernel upgrade has occurred. Template:Box Note If the messages go by too fast to read, you can look at them later at /var/log/pacman.log.

The beauty of the Arch rolling release model

Keep in mind that Arch is a rolling release distribution. This means there is never a reason to reinstall or perform elaborate system rebuilds to upgrade to the newest version. Simply issuing pacman -Syu periodically keeps your entire system up-to-date and on the bleeding edge. At the end of this upgrade, your system is completely current. Reboot if a kernel upgrade has occurred.

Get familiar with pacman

Pacman is the Arch user's best friend. It is highly recommended to study and learn how to use the pacman tool. Try:

man pacman

Check out the bottom of this article, 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 audio, optical, storage, video, and wheel when prompted for additional groups (separate them with a comma and no space) - especially if you are planning on having a full-featured desktop environment.

Groups and users thereof are defined in /etc/group.

They include:

  • audio - for tasks involving sound card and related software
  • floppy - for access to a floppy if applicable
  • lp - for managing printing tasks
  • optical - for managing tasks pertaining to the optical drive(s)
  • storage - for managing storage devices
  • video - for video tasks and 3d acceleration
  • wheel - for using sudo

See the Groups article to understand what groups you need to be a member of.

Check the man pages for usermod and gpasswd for more information.

Install and setup Sudo

See Sudo

Part II: Install X and configure ALSA

Configure the audio card with alsamixer

The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (known by the acronym ALSA) is a Linux kernel component intended to replace the original Open Sound System (OSS) for providing device drivers for sound cards. Besides the sound device drivers, ALSA also bundles a user space library for application developers who want to use driver features with a higher level API than direct interaction with the kernel drivers.

Template:Box Note The alsa-utils package contains alsamixer, which will allow us to configure the sound device from the console. (You may also run alsamixer from an X environment later.)

Install the alsa-utils package:

 pacman -S alsa-utils

Did you add your normal user to the audio group? If not, now would be a good time. As root do:

gpasswd -a yourusername audio

Log out the root user, and login as non-root user.

As normal, non-root user, do:

$ alsamixer

Unmute the Master and PCM channels by scrolling to them with cursor left/right and pressing M. Increase the volume levels with the cursor-up key. (70-90 Should be a safe range.) Some machines, (like the Thinkpad T61), have a Speaker channel which must be unmuted and adjusted as well. Leave alsamixer by pressing ESC.

Sound Test

Test your sound configuration as normal user using aplay:

aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav

You should hear a very eloquent woman say, "Front, center."

Note: If you still cannot hear any sound, try checking (by running alsamixer) if Speaker is muted. If so, press M to unmute it and then try playing the test sound again.

Then run alsactl as root:

alsactl store

This will create '/etc/asound.state', saving the alsamixer settings.

Also, add the alsa daemon to your DAEMONS section in /etc/rc.conf to automatically restore the mixer settings on boot-up.

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

Note that the alsa daemon merely restores your volume mixer levels on boot up by reading /etc/asound.state. It is separate from the alsa audio library (and kernel level API).

Expanded information available in the ALSA wiki entry.

Installing and configuring X

The X Window System (commonly X11, or just simply X) is a networking and display protocol which provides windowing on bitmap displays. It provides the standard toolkit and protocol to build graphical user interfaces (GUIs) on UNIX-like operating systems.

X provides the basic framework, or primitives, for building GUI environments: drawing and moving windows on the screen and interacting with a mouse and/or keyboard. X does not mandate the user interface — individual client programs handle this.

X is so named because it was preceded by the W Window System, originally developed at Stanford University.

Template:Box Note

pacman -S libgl

(Proprietary video drivers provide their own gl library implementations.)

Now we will install the base Xorg packages using pacman. This is the first step in building a GUI.

pacman -S xorg

3d utilities such as glxgears are included in the mesa package:

pacman -S mesa

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>). The easiest way to configure X.org is by installing the correct driver packages first, and then generating /etc/X11/xorg.conf using an autoconfiguration script, like Xorg -configure.

You will need knowledge of which video chipset your machine has. If you do not know, use the lspci program:

lspci | grep VGA

If you need a list of all open-source video drivers, do:

pacman -Ss xf86-video | less

Here is a list of open source drivers, and the 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 Technologies 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 (deprecated - use -intel)
  • xf86-video-intel Newer Version of 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.

Use pacman to install the appropriate video driver for your video card/onboard video. e.g.:

pacman -S xf86-video-savage

(for the Savage driver.)

Create /etc/X11/xorg.conf

What is /etc/X11/xorg.conf?

/etc/X11/xorg.conf is the main configuration file for your X Window System, the foundation of your Graphical User Interface. It is a plain text file ordered into sections and subsections. Important sections are Files, InputDevice, Module, Monitor, Modes, Screen, Device, and ServerLayout. Sections can appear in any order and there may be more than one section of each kind, for example, if you have more than one monitor, or if your laptop has a trackpoint as well as a mouse.

By default, you will not have an Xorg config file, as the newest versions of Xorg feature autodetection. If the autodetection works satisfactorily and you do not need to specify special features such as aiglx, compositing and so forth, you may forgo creating an xorg.conf file.

Most people will still find that they need to generate a config file, however.

Advanced users may wish to manually create their own xorg.conf file. You may also use the Xorg -configure script to generate a basic config file. As root, do:

Xorg -configure

This will create a config file at /root/xorg.conf.new

To test the server, run:

X -config /root/xorg.conf.new

X should start with the white hollow vector X in the center of the screen, which should respond to mouse, trackpoint or touchpad movement. Use CTRL-Alt-Backspace to exit X.

Inspect your config file in case of errors:

nano /root/xorg.conf.new

Ensure the Xorg -configure script has correctly specified your video driver. e.g.:

Section "Device"


       Driver  "savage"



Ensure there are horizontal sync and vertical refresh specs under section "Monitor". If not, add them:

Section "Monitor"
       Identifier   "Monitor0"
       VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
       ModelName    "Monitor Model"
       HorizSync     30.0 - 130.0 # Safe for LCD's
       VertRefresh   50.0 - 100.0 # Safe for LCD's and most CRT's.

(If you do not know these specs, consult your monitor's documentation.)

Specify your default color depth under section "Screen":

Section "Screen"
       Identifier "Screen0"
       Device     "Card0"
       Monitor    "Monitor0"
       DefaultDepth 24

(Typically, this will be set to 24 for true color.)

Also add your desired Modes to your "Display" subsection, at least under the Depth 24 header, e.g.:

 SubSection "Display"
               Viewport   0 0
               Depth     24
               Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

Add the following section, if you wish to enable eye candy which requires the composite extension:

Section "Extensions"
 	Option "Composite" "Enable"

Try your config again, after modifying:

X -config /root/xorg.conf.new

Ensure an X session opens, without errors, and move the generated config file to /etc/X11/:

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

Detailed instructions in the Xorg article.

Alternative xorg.conf generation

If Xorg -configure is not generating a usable xorg.conf, you may alternatively use the hwd tool. Install with:

pacman -S hwd

And run with

hwd -xa

You may also try the xorgcfg script:


Lastly, you may choose xorgconfig, which will interactively prompt you for hardware information to create a basic xorg.conf:


Continue with Simple baseline X test

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 good quality, and offer 3D performance, whereas the open source nv driver offers only 2d support at this time.

Before you configure your Graphics Card you will need to know which driver fits. Arch currently has 3 different driver packages that each match a certain subset of Cards:

1. nvidia-71xx for very old Cards like TNT and TNT2

2. nvidia-96xx slightly newer cards up to the GF 4

3. nvidia 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.

Select and install the appropriate NVIDIA driver for your card, e.g.:

pacman -S nvidia-96xx

The NVIDIA package has a utility for updating your existing /etc/X11/xorg.conf for use with the NVIDIA driver:


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).

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"

Make sure all instances of DRI are commented out:

#    Load        "dri"

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

Update kernel module dependencies:

depmod -a

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

Continue with Simple baseline X test

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 catalyst

Use the aticonfig tool to modify the xorg.conf.

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. Template:Box Note Advanced instructions for ATI configuration can be found in the ATI wiki.

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 quickly, to ensure your ability to start X from the command line before installing a complete desktop environment, you can do so by invoking xterm. Xterm is a very simple terminal emulator which runs in the X Server environment; it is installed as part of the base xorg packages. More advanced users who are comfortable with X configuration may choose to skip this optional step.

Prepare for the test by configuring a ~/.xinitrc:


This file dictates what X Window client is invoked with the startx and/or xinit command on a per-user basis. (The startx script is merely a front end to the more versatile xinit command.) It also can contain other startup items for the X environment. Template:Box Note

startx/xinit will start the X server and clients. To determine the client to run, startx/xinit will first look for a .xinitrc file in the user's home directory. In the absence of file ~/.xinitrc, it defaults to the global xinitrc in the xinit library directory; /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc, which defaults to using the TWM window manager. (Hence, if you invoke startx without a ~/.xinitrc file, a TWM session will start.)

Switch to your normal, non-root user:

su yourusername
  • /etc/skel/ contains files and directories to provide sane defaults for newly created user accounts. The name skel is derived from the word skeleton, because the files it contains form the basic structure for users' home directories.

Copy the sample xinitrc file from /etc/skel/ to your home directory:

cp /etc/skel/.xinitrc ~/

Edit the file:

nano ~/.xinitrc

and add:

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 exec line in your ~/.xinitrc at this time. Below, we shall edit this file again to specify the appropriate desktop environment/window manager of your choice.

Finally, test your configurations by starting X as normal, non-root 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.

If you prove a properly configured /etc/X11/xorg.conf by successfully running the test, you can be assured that your DE/WM of choice will work smoothly.

Advanced instructions for Xorg configuration can be found in the Xorg article.

Part III: Installing and configuring a Desktop Environment

While The X Window System provides the basic framework for building a graphical user interface (GUI), a Desktop Environment (DE), works atop and in conjunction with X, to provide a completely functional and dynamic GUI. A DE typically provides icons, applets, windows, toolbars, folders, wallpapers, applications and abilities like drag and drop. The particular functionalities and designs of each DE will uniquely affect your overall environment and experience. Therefore, choosing a DE is a very subjective and personal decision. Choose the best environment for your needs.

  • If you want something full-featured and similar to Windows and Mac OSX, KDE is a good choice
  • If you want something slightly more minimalist, which follows the K.I.S.S. principle more closely, GNOME is a good choice
  • Xfce is generally perceived as similar to GNOME, but lighter and less demanding on system resources, yet still visually pleasing and providing a very complete environment.
  • LXDE is an even lighter choice than Xfce. It provides the most things you need for a modern desktop while keeping relatively low system resource usage. It's not yet as powerful or as complete as GNOME or Xfce, but it can serve your daily needs well.

If you desire a lighter, less demanding GUI, you may choose to simply install a Window Manager, or WM. A WM controls the placement and appearance of application windows in conjunction with the X Window System but does NOT provide such additions as panels, applets, icons, applications, etc.

  • Lightweight floating WM's include: Openbox, Fluxbox, fvwm2, Windowmaker, Pekwm, and TWM.
  • If you need something completely different, try Awesome, ion, wmii, dwm, or xmonad.

Install Fonts

At this point, you may wish to install visually pleasing, true type fonts, before installing a desktop environment/window manager. Dejavu and bitstream-vera are good, general-purpose font sets. You may also want to have the Microsoft font sets, which are especially popular on websites.

Install with:

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

~/.xinitrc (again)

As non-root user, edit your /home/username/.xinitrc to utilize the DE you wish to use. This will allow you to use startx/xinit from the shell, in the future, to open your DE/WM of choice:

nano ~/.xinitrc

Uncomment or add the 'exec ..' line of the appropriate desktop environment/window manager. Some examples are below:

For the Xfce4 desktop environment:

 exec startxfce4 

For the KDE desktop environment:

 exec startkde

A startkde or startxfce4 command starts the KDE or Xfce4 desktop environment. This command does not finish until you logout of the DE. Normally the shell would wait for KDE to finish, then run the next command. The "exec" prefix to this command tells the shell that this is the last command, so the shell does not need to wait to run a subsequent command.

Remember to have only one uncommented exec line in your ~/.xinitrc for now.

Continue below, installing the DE/WM of your choice.



The GNU Network Object Model Environment. The 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 the base GNOME environment with:

pacman -S gnome

Additionally, you can install the extras:

pacman -S gnome-extra

It's safe to choose all packages shown in the extra package.


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, allowing instant access to recently installed programs, or changes in the file system. Both hal and fam make life easier for the GNOME user. The hal and fam packages are installed when you install GNOME, but must be invoked to become useful.

You may want to install a graphical login manager. For GNOME, the gdm daemon is a good choice.

As root:

pacman -S gdm

You will almost certainly want the hal and fam daemons.

Start hal and fam:

/etc/rc.d/hal start
/etc/rc.d/fam start

Add them to your /etc/rc.conf DAEMONS section, so they will be invoked on bootup:

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

(If you prefer to log into the console and manually start X, leave out gdm.)

As normal user, start X:


If ~/.xinitrc is not configured for GNOME, you may always start it with xinit:

xinit /usr/bin/gnome-session

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.

Congratulations! Welcome to your GNOME desktop environment on your new Arch Linux system! You may wish to continue by viewing Tweaks and finishing touches, or the rest of the information below. You may also be interested in the Post Installation Tips wiki 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

The K Desktop Environment. KDE is a powerful Free Software graphical desktop environment for GNU/Linux and UNIX workstations. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of UNIX-like operating systems.


Arch offers several versions of kde: kde, kdebase, and KDEmod. Choose one of the following, and continue below with Useful KDE DAEMONS:

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.


KDE will require the hal (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and fam (File Alteration Monitor) daemons. The kdm daemon is the K Display 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, allowing instant access to recently installed programs, or changes in the file system.. Both hal and fam make life easier for the KDE user. The hal, fam and kdm packages are installed when you install KDE, but must be invoked to become useful.

Start hal and fam:

/etc/rc.d/hal start
/etc/rc.d/fam start

Template:Box Note Edit your DAEMONS section in /etc/rc.conf:

nano /etc/rc.conf

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

DAEMONS=(syslog-ng network crond alsa hal fam kdm)
  • This method will start the system at runlevel 3, (/etc/inittab default, multiuser mode), and then start KDM as a daemon.
  • If you prefer to log into the console at runlevel 3, and manually start X, leave out kdm, or comment it out with an exclamation. ( ! )

Now try starting your X Server as normal user:


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

Congratulations! Welcome to your KDE desktop environment on your new Arch Linux system! You may wish to continue by viewing Tweaks and finishing touches, or the rest of the information below. You may also be interested in the Post Installation Tips wiki article.


About Xfce

The cholesterol-free X environment. Xfce, like GNOME or KDE, is a desktop environment, but aims to be fast and lightweight while remaining visually appealing and easy to use. It contains a suite of apps like a root window app, window manager, file manager, panel, etc. Xfce is written using the GTK2 toolkit (like GNOME) 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, and will fly with especially great speed on newer machines as well.


Install Xfce:

pacman -S xfce4 

You may also wish to install themes and extras:

pacman -S xfce4-goodies gtk2-themes-collection

If you want to admire 'Tips and Tricks' on login, you must install the fortune-mod package:

pacman -S fortune-mod 


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, allowing instant access to recently installed programs, or changes in the file system. The hal and fam packages are installed when you install Xfce, but must be invoked to become useful.

Start hal and fam:

/etc/rc.d/hal start
/etc/rc.d/fam start

Template:Box Note Edit your DAEMONS section in /etc/rc.conf:

nano /etc/rc.conf

Add hal and fam to your DAEMONS section, to invoke them on bootup.

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

If you wish to install one, see Adding a login manager (KDM, GDM, or XDM) to automatically boot on startup

Congratulations! Welcome to your Xfce desktop environment on your new Arch Linux system! You may wish to continue by viewing Tweaks and finishing touches, or the rest of the information below. You may also be interested in the Post Installation Tips wiki article.


About LXDE

LXDE, or Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, is a new project aimed to provide a new modern desktop environment which is lightweight and fast. It's not designed to be powerful and bloated, but to be usable and slim enough, and keep the resource usage low. Quite different from other known desktop environments, every components of LXDE are not tightly integrated. Most of them can work independently without each other and can be easily replaced with other programs. This modular design eliminates all unnecessary dependencies and provides more flexibility. Go to http://lxde.org/ for details and screenshots.


Please refer to the official wiki of LXDE. The packages are readily available in arch repo, and there is an updated installation guide for ArchLinux.



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

Additional configuration tools are also available, if desired:

pacman -S 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/

rc.xml is the main configuration file for OpenBox. It may be manually edited, (or you can use OBconf). menu.xml configures the right-click menu.

You may log into OpenBox via graphical login using KDM/GDM, or from the shell using startx, in which case you will need to edit your ~/.xinitrc (as non-root user) and add the following:

exec openbox-session

You may also start OpenBox from the shell using xinit:

xinit /usr/bin/openbox-session
  • Openbox may also be used as the window manager for GNOME, KDE, and Xfce.

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

Some useful, lightweight 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 (also provides simple icons)
  • PcmanFM a lightweight but versatile file manager (also provides desktop icon functionality)
  • iDesk (available in AUR) for providing 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.


Tweaks/Finishing touches

Install an AUR Helper

AUR Helpers add seamless access to the AUR. They vary in their features, but can ease in searching, fetching, building, and installing from over 9000 PKGBUILDs found in AUR.


Since you have now installed a desktop environment/window manager, and if you did not do so earlier, 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.

KDE, GNOME and XFCE all use HAL.

The installation procedure is described in the HAL article. Some information can also be found at Wikipedia.

Backgrounding DAEMONS on startup

To speed up system start up procedure, background selected DAEMONS in /etc/rc.conf by prefixing them with a '@' e.g.:

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

This will enable daemons to load in the background, without waiting for the preceding daemon to load first.

Prefix any daemons which you do not need with a bang (!) e.g.:

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

Alternatively, you may also simply remove unneeded daemons.

Beautifying Fonts for LCD's

See Fonts

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"

Get All Mouse Buttons Working

See Get All Mouse Buttons Working

Configuring Touchpad for Laptops

See Touchpad Synaptics

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 InputDevice 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"

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 using

pacman -S acpid

and add it to the daemons in /etc/rc.conf. If you already have hal specified in your DAEMONS, there is no need to add acpid. HAL will automatically detect and load the acpid daemon. Manually, it can be started by

/etc/rc.d/acpid start

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

Configuring CPU frequency scaling

Modern processors can decrease their frequency and voltage to reduce heat and power consumption. Less heat leads to a quieter system; Laptop users will definitely want this, but even a desktop system will benefit from it. Install cpufrequtils with

pacman -S cpufrequtils

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. If you do not know the frequencies, run cpufreq-info after loading one of the frequency scaling modules. You can also comment out or delete the min_freq and max_freq lines: things will work automatically. Add the frequency scaling modules to your /etc/rc.conf modules line. Most modern notebooks and desktops can simply use the acpi-cpufreq driver, however other options include the p4-clockmod, powernow-k6, powernow-k7, powernow-k8, and speedstep-centrino drivers. Load the module with

modprobe <modulname> 

and start cpufreq with

/etc/rc.d/cpufreq start

For more details, see Cpufrequtils


The pm-utils package will allow you to suspend-to-RAM and hibernate:

pacman -S pm-utils

Pm-utils wiki page.


The laptop-mode-tools package is sort of a one-stop configuration for all laptop power management utilities. It works in conjunction with other installed tools to fully configure everything from hard disk spin-down to X display DPMS standby times, if desired.

pacman -S laptop-mode-tools

Add laptop-mode to your DAEMONS= line in /etc/rc.conf and configure /etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode.conf.

File and directory explanation


GRUB is the default bootloader for Arch Linux. You should check and modify this file to accommodate your boot setup.

Configuring GRUB is quite easy, the biggest hurdle is that it uses yet another device naming scheme different from /dev; Your hard disks as a whole are referred to as (hd0), (hd1), etc., sequentially numbered in order of appearance on the IDE/SCSI bus, (as dictated by BIOS) just like the sda, sdb, etc. names in /dev. The partitions of a disk are referred to with (hd0,0), (hd0,1) and so on, with 0 corresponding to the first entity. A few conversion examples are included in the default menu.lst to aid your understanding.

Template:Box Note

Once you have grasped the concept of device naming, choose a title for your boot section(s), create a kernel line that includes the partition and path to where the kernel resides, and supply the correct root filesystem device and partition as a parameter to the kernel root option to have it mounted as / on bootup, as well as any boot parameters. If using the stock Arch 2.6.x kernel, you'll also need an initrd line that points to the kernel26.img file in your /boot directory. The path to the initramfs on the initrd line will be the same as the path to vmlinuz26 that you provide on the kernel line, since both reside under /boot. You should be fine with the defaults, just check whether the partition information is correct in the root and kernel lines.

To create a boot option that loads the bootsector of a different OS, the following example might be helpful. You will probably succeed in starting any Microsoft-based operating system with it, just add this block to the file after any other sections, and modify the partition device accordingly to refer to the partition containing the bootsector of the OS you are intending to boot.

 (1) Other OS
 title My Other OS
 rootnoverify (hd0,1)
 chainloader +1

For advanced configuration of other OSes, please refer to the online GRUB manual.

After checking your bootloader configuration for correctness, you'll be prompted for a partition to install the loader to. Unless you're using yet another boot loader, you should install GRUB to the MBR of the installation disk, which is usually represented by the appropriate device name without a number suffix.


Some daemon scripts will have a matching configuration file in this directory that contains some more-or-less useful default values. When a daemon is started, it will first source the settings from it's config file within this directory, and then source /etc/rc.conf. Arch's simple, transparent scripting approach means you can easily centralize all your daemon configuration options in your /etc/rc.conf simply by setting an appropriate variable value, or, split up your configuration over multiple files if you prefer a decentralized approach to this issue.


This script is run on each user login to initialize the system. It also globally defines PS1, $PATH, bash aliases, etc. It is kept quite simple under Arch Linux, as most things are. You may wish to edit or customize it to suit your needs.

Boot Scripts

Arch Linux uses a fairly simple bootup sequence quite similar to *BSDs. The first boot script to run is /etc/rc.sysinit. When it's done, /etc/rc.multi will be called (in a normal bootup). The last script to run will be /etc/rc.local. When started in runlevel 1, the single user mode, the script /etc/rc.single is run instead of /etc/rc.multi. You will not find an endless symlink collection in the /etc/rc?.d/ directories to define the bootup sequence for all possible runlevels. In fact, due to this approach Arch only really has three runlevels, if you take starting up X in runlevel 5 into account. The boot scripts are using the variables and definitions found in the /etc/rc.conf file and also a set of general functions defined in the /etc/rc.d/functions script. If you plan to write your own daemon files, you should consider having a look at this file and existing daemon scripts.

Boot Script Overview

  1. /etc/inittab
  2. /etc/rc.sysinit
  3. /etc/rc.single
  4. /etc/rc.multi
  5. /etc/rc.local
  6. /etc/rc.shutdown
  7. /etc/rc.local.shutdown
  8. /etc/rc.d/*


After the kernel is loaded, it looks for the program init which resides at /sbin/init. init reads the file /etc/inittab, which tells it what to do. Looking over the inittab script, you will find that the first uncommented line defines the default system runlevel, or, 3. The next thing it is told to do is to run an initialization script. The program that executes (or interprets) this script is bash, the same program that gives you a command prompt. In Arch Linux, the main initialization script is /etc/rc.sysinit. /etc/inittab also defines your virtual consoles, which are 'respawned' by /sbin/init if terminated. Lastly, inittab defines a login manager, if starting the system at runlevel 5 is desired. The login manager is also respawned by /sbin/init if terminated.


The main system boot script, which mounts filesystems, runs udev, activates swap, loads modules, sets localization parameters, etc.


Single-user startup. Not used in a normal boot-up. If the system is started in single-user mode, for example with the kernel parameter 1 before booting or during normal multi-user operation with the command init 1, this script makes sure no daemons are running except for the bare minimum; syslog-ng and udev. The single-user mode is useful if you need to make any changes to the system while making sure that no remote user can do anything that might cause data loss or damage. For desktop users, this mode is usually quite useless.


Multi-user startup script. It starts all daemons you configured in the DAEMONS array (set in /etc/rc.conf) after which it calls /etc/rc.local.


Local multi-user startup script. It is a good place to put any last-minute commands you want the system to run at the very end of the bootup process. Most common system configuration tasks, like loading modules, changing the console font or setting up devices, usually have a dedicated place where they belong. To avoid confusion, you should make sure that whatever you intend to add to your rc.local is not already residing in /etc/profile.d/, or any other already existing config location instead.


System shutdown script. It stops daemons, unmounts filesystems, deactivates the swap, etc.

/etc/rc.local.shutdown (Optional)

Analogous to the /etc/rc.local file, this file may contain any commands you want to run right before the common rc.shutdown is executed. Please note that this file does not exist by default, and for it to work properly, it must be set as executable.


This directory contains the daemon scripts referred to from the rc.conf's DAEMONS= array. In addition to being called on bootup, you can use these scripts when the system is running to manage the services of your system. For example the command

 /etc/rc.d/postfix stop

will stop the postfix daemon. This directory is not in the $PATH by default, but may be added for convenience. Obviously a corresponding daemon script only exists when the appropriate package has been installed (in this case postfix). With a base system install, there are few scripts in here, but rest assured that all relevant daemon scripts end up here. If you wish, you can, of course, create your own scripts and place them here, to be called by the DAEMONS= array in /etc/rc.conf on system startup.

This directory is pretty much the equivalent to the /etc/rc3.d/ or /etc/init.d/ directories of other distributions, but without all the symlink hassle. The lack of symlink requirement is a defining difference of a *BSD-style init framework, vs a sysvinit.

Useful Applications

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

KDE users NOTE: Since KDE resides in /opt, you will most likely have to log out and in after initial installation to update your PATH before these programs can be used.



The ever-popular Firefox web browser is available through pacman, although it doesnt have its official branding, so the program appears when opened as Mindfield. Install with:

pacman -S firefox

Be sure and install 'flashplugin', 'mplayer', 'mplayer-plugin', and the 'codecs' packages for a complete web experience:

pacman -S flashplugin mplayer mplayer-plugin codecs

(The codecs package contains codecs for Quicktime and Realplayer content.)

Thunderbird is useful for 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: tetex has been popular for many years and still works, and its successor Texlive is available from the AUR repository.


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


Xine is an excellent player, especially for DVDs.

pacman -S xine-ui

The libdvdcss library provides DVD decoding for encrypted DVDs. Ensure the legality of using libdvdcss in your country before installing!

pacman -S libdvdcss



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 is not.

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. It tries to be close to the popular Amarok, but in GTK. It is in [community], so install with:

pacman -S exaile

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
Quod Libet

Quod Libet is a music manager that uses the GStreamer media framework to play audio files. This allows it to play all the file-types that Rhythmbox (which uses GStreamer too) can play. Quod Libet is more suited to non-Gnome desktops since it has a smaller footprint and fewer dependencies than Rhythmbox (Rhythmbox depends on nautilus, which requires a lot of GNOME to be installed).

In addition to the music player/manager, Quod Libet also includes Ex Falso, a tag editor.

Quod Libet's features include:

  • Easy-to-use music browser
  • Searching
  • Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer
  • Easy Playlist management

To install Quod Libet:

pacman -S quodlibet

Other good audio players are Banshee 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.

Other X-based

(TODO) Xmms, audacious, bmpx.

Codecs and other multimedia content types (i686 only)


You can use xine-ui, 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, if you run KDE you should see this after installing flash. http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Flash_and_Adobe_Acrobat_browser_plugins#Fixing_Flash_in_Konqueror


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 (from KDE Burn Baby Burn) is a free software CD and DVD authoring application for GNU/Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems designed for KDE. As is the case with most KDE applications, K3b is written in the C++ programming language and uses the Qt GUI toolkit. K3b provides a graphical user interface to perform most CD/DVD burning tasks like creating an Audio CD from a set of audio files or copying a CD/DVD, as well as more advanced tasks such as burning eMoviX CD/DVDs. It can also perform direct disc-to-disc copies. The program has many default settings which can be customized by more experienced users. The actual disc recording in K3b is done by the command line utilities cdrecord or wodim, cdrdao, and growisofs. As of version 1.0, K3b features a built-in DVD ripper.- licensed under the GPL.

K3b was voted LinuxQuestions.org's Multimedia Utility of the Year (2006) by the majority (70%) of voters.

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 lot are supported. Be sure to check at a Hardware Database to be sure (see this list, for example). 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, like V4L) 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 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 subject 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 view the options available for a particular operational command, say -Q, just append it with -h:

pacman -Qh

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 are not used by any other installed package:

pacman -Rs package

(-Rs is typically preferred vs R to remove any package as it will clean up all unused dependencies)

To remove all of the package's now unneeded dependencies and also instruct pacman to ignore file backup designations. (Normally, when a file is removed from the system the database is checked to see if the file should be renamed with a ".pacsave" extension.):

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 list all packages on your system without the version strings, we add the -q option:

pacman -Qq

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 list all files installed by a given package:

pacman -Ql package

Conversely, to find the package that owns a given file (in this example, the ls executable):

pacman -Qo /bin/ls

To find all unused packages (orphans):

pacman -Qdt

Missing libraries: Suppose you receive an error message like this:

mplayer: error while loading shared libraries: libgssapi.so.2: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This may be an indication that a package you have previously installed is now corrupt (some or all of its files are missing). You should try to find the package name that provides the missing shared library. In this example, you could type:

pacman -Ql | grep libgssapi.so.2

The first column in the output is the package name:

heimdal /usr/lib/libgssapi.so.2
heimdal /usr/lib/libgssapi.so.2.0.0

Then, you can just re-install it:

pacman -Sy heimdal

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.


There are a number of files left and created by pacman and other programs to facilitate maintenance and to conform to a safe computing practice. When pacman is installing something, the package contains information on whether to back up a particular file. Such files will have the .pacsave extension. When you force a "NoUpgrade" on a file via pacman.conf, it will not be replaced during an upgrade and the new file will come with the .pacnew extension. For example, you have edited a configuration file thoroughly and you do not want an upgrade of the respective package to replace the file with a new one, we must have the following line in /etc/pacman.conf:

 NoUpgrade = /path/to/config/file

To view the differences of the old and new versions of these files, we can either edit them manually or use a diff utility to take note of the differences. There is an automated tool to find and view such files available from the community repository:

pacman -S pacman-contrib
cd ~/
pacdiff # as root

There is a bug in the above tool where if you navigate to /etc and run it from there, the paths will be messed up. We remain on the safer side by being at "home". You may want to run it as user first in case you happen to be a careless person (you may just overwrite or remove files because you think that is the right way).

There are other types of leftovers depending on the programs available on your system. Some will create backups with a .bak extension, while others with something like "~" or "-". Unfortunately, there is currently no way to "automatically" find and review them. Fear not, as we have no need for automated tools to deal with such trivial tasks. Simply use locate to search for them:

locate -e *.~ *.- *.bak

And we can use something useful like vimdiff to look at the differences manually:

pacman -S vim
vimdiff file1 file2

Polishing & Further information

For further information and support you can go to the homepage, search the wiki, the forums, the IRC channel, and the mailing lists.


See Arch FAQs for newbies

There is also an Arch Subforum devoted to beginners.


For more information on the jargon used in Arch, look at this article.

Where to go from here?

You may also be interested in:

Post Installation Tips

ArchLinux User-community Repository (AUR)

Get All Mouse Buttons Working

Improve Pacman Performance

Kernel Compilation



Eye Candy

External links