Difference between revisions of "Newcomers Guide"

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* Rox if you want a simple filemanager and desktop icons
* Rox if you want a simple filemanager and desktop icons
More information is available in the [Openbox]] article.
More information is available in the [[Openbox]] article.

Revision as of 16:56, 21 May 2007

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

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

Obtain the latest ISO

You can obtain Arch's latest official snapshot from here.

Install the base system

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

Boot Arch Linux CD

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

Some useful options when booting off the Arch Linux CD:

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

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

Changing the keymap

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


at the prompt and choose the appropriate keymap. Choosing "default8x16.psfu.gz" for console font is a safe choice.

Start the Installation



to start the installation.

Select an installation source

You will be prompted for an installation source. Choose CD if you use a full (current) ISO, choose ftp if you use the ftp ISO.

Prepare Hard Drive

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

Basic Information about partitions: TODO: Add some basic information about partitions (primary, logical...)

Everyone has a different opinion on how best to partition the disk. What you need at the least is one primary partition which contains the root Filesystem. Other candidates for separate partitions are /boot (which mainly contains the kernel) and /home (which contains the user data). In this example guide, we will stick with one partition for / and one partition for /home.

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

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

Lets start creating the primary partition that will contain the root filesystem. Choose New -> Primary and enter the size you want (something between 4 and 8 GB is a good choice for a full featured Linux system). Put the partition at the beginning of the disk. Select the newly created partition and choose "Bootable" to make this partition bootable. Add another partition for your home directory. Choose another primary partition and set the size to a value you like. The size really depends on what your users store in their home directories, therefore I can not make any suggestions. The size may vary between a few hundred MB for some office documents up to hundreds of GB for videos and mp3s. If you want to use the whole space on your hard disc use the remaining space minus 512 MB - 1 GB for the size. At last we create a third partition for swap. Select a size between 512 MB and 1 GB and change the type to 82 (Linux swap / Solaris).

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

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

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

Set Filesystem Mountpoints

Ar first you will be asked for your swap partition, choose the appropriate (sda3 in this example). You will be asked if you want to create a swap filesystem, select yes. The next question regards to your root file system, choose the partition (sda1 in the example). You will be asked what kind of filesystem you want.

Again, ask two people which filesystem to choose and you will get 5 different answers. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. A major difference is journaling (something similar to transaction logs in database environments). All filesystems except Ext2 use journaling. Ext3 is completely compatible with Ext2, therefore you can mount it even with very old rescue CDs. A safe choice for the root partition is Ext3. Reiserfs, XFS and JFS are also ok as grub (the boot manager we will install later) can boot from them too. Create the filesystem by selecting yes. For any additional partition you will be now asked where you want to mount it. In the example only sda2 is left, we choose JFS and mount it under /home. Again create the filesystem and choose Done. Return to main menu.

Select Packages

Now we have to select some packages we want to install. Choose CD as source and select the appropriate cd drive if you have more than one. We want to start with a very basic system, therefore we don't install more than base (keeping all base packages select is a safe choice). It's up to you if you want select more packages, but we will show you later how to install additional software more easily. Step forward to "Install Packages"

Install Packages

This is an easy task because everything happens automatically. Get yourself a cup of coffee and wait until the installation has finished (press continue if needed).

Configure System

You will be asked if you want to choose hwdetect to gather some information for your configuration. This is recommended so you should choose this option. Now you will be asked if you need support for booting from usb devices, firewire devices, pcmcia devices, nfs shares, software raid arrays, lvm2 volumes and encrypted volumes. Choose yes if you need it, in our example nothing is needed. Now you will be asked which text editor you want to use, choose nano if you are not familiar with vi/vim. You will now get a menu with most important config files for your system. We will only do some minor tweaks at this time. If you want to look up the available options as stated in rc.conf just press Alt+F2 to get a shell, look it up and switch back to the installer with Alt+F1. Edit your /etc/rc.conf:

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

You don't have to change the daemons line at this time, but it is useful to explain what daemons are, because we need them later in this guide. 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 a ssh server waiting for someone trying to log in. While these are full featured applications, there are daemons whose work is not that visible. 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 or a daemon which offers you a graphical login (e.g. gdm, kdm). All these programs can be added to the daemons line and will started when the system boots. Useful daemons will be presented during this guide.

Use Ctrl+X to leave the editor.

Now we edit /etc/hosts:

  • Add the desired hostname (the one you set in rc.conf before) after localhost
  • If you use a static ip, add a new line <static-ip> hostname.domainname hostname

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

If you use a static ip set your dns server in /etc/resolv.conf (nameserver <ip-address>)

Now we edit /etc/locale.gen and choose the locales we need (remove the # in front of the line you want). Finally set a Root-Password and make sure that you remember it later. Return to the main menu and continue with installing a kernel.

Install Kernel

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

Install Bootloader

Because we have no secondary operating system in our example, we need a bootmanager. Grub is a good choice and a bit easier to configure and maintain than lilo. The shown grub configuration (menu.lst) should be safe choice. The only thing you may want to alter is the resolution of the console. Add a vga=<number> to the first kernel line. A table of resolutions and the according numbers is printed in the menu.lst. Exit the install and type reboot. If everything goes well, your new ArchLinux 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 disc).

Configuring the base system

We will now show some easy tweaks for the beginning. Login with your root account.

Configuring pacman

Edit /etc/pacman.conf

nano -w /etc/pacman.conf

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

Configuring the network

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

Wired Lan

If everything went fine, you should have a working network. Try to ping www.google.de to verify this. If you get an "unknown host" error, your network is not configured. Check this with


you should see an entry for eth0. You can set a new static ip with

ifconfig eth0 <ip address> netmask <netmask> up 

and the default gateway with

route add default gw <ip address of the gateway>

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

dhcpcd eth0

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

Wireless Lan

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

Analog Modem

To be able to use a Hayes-compatible, external, analog modem, you need to at least have the ppp package installed. Modify the file /etc/ppp/options to suit your needs and according to man pppd. You will need to define a chat script to supply your username and password to the ISP after the initial connection has been established. The manpages for pppd and chat have examples in them that should suffice to get a connection up and running if you're either experienced or stubborn enough. With udev, your serial ports usually are /dev/tts/0 and /dev/tts/1.

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


Setting up ISDN is done in three steps:

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

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

Details on all those settings and how to set them is included in the kernel documentation, more specifically in the isdn subdirectory, or available online. The type parameter depends on your card; A list of all possible types is to 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 confirmed that your card works with certain settings, you can add the module options to your /etc/modprobe.conf (or /etc/modules.conf if you're using kernel 2.4.x):

alias ippp0 hisax
options hisax type=18 protocol=2

Alternatively you can only add the options line here, and add hisax to your MODULES array in the rc.conf. 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 seperated by a colon if you use US NI1.

After you 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 dialup connection with isdnctrl dial ippp0 as root. If you have any problems, remember to check the logfiles!


These instructions are only relevant to you 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 adsl-setup(should be 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 bootup, add adsl to your DAEMONS array.

Update the system

Now we will update the system using pacman, the package manager of Arch Linux (something similar to apt on Debian and Ubuntu or emerge on Gentoo). Enter

pacman -Sy

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

pacman -S pacman


pacman -Su 

to update your system. Or do it all in one roll with

pacman -Syu

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

Add a user

You should not do your every day work using the root account because it is way to powerful for just writing a letter or listening to music. Instead add a user account using


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

Installing and configuring Hardware

Configure the audio card

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

pacman -S alsa-utils

and use alsamixer to adjust the channels. Unmute at least the master and pcm channel (press the M Key) and increase the volume with the cursor up key. Leave the alsamixer with ESC and store the settings with

alsactl store

Add alsa to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf to automatically restore the mixer on bootup.

Configuring CPU frequency scaling

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

pacman -S cpufrequtils

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


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

modprobe <modulname> 

and start cpufreq with

/etc/rc.d/cpufreq start

Additional tweaks for laptops

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

pacman -S acpid

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

/etc/rc.d/acpid start

Additional to this its a good choice to install powersave and add it to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf (powersaved). Powersave contains some fixes for suspend to ram and standby as well some more tweaks for battery saving. Start it with

/etc/rc.d/powersaved start

More specific information about Arch Linux on various Laptops can be found at

Installing and configuring Xorg

Now we will install Xorg using pacman. Type

pacman -Sy xorg 

and enter Y. Now we have the base packages we need for running the X Server. You should add the driver for your graphic card now (e.g. xf86-video-<name>). To get a list of all video drivers type

pacman -Ss xf86-video | less

If you don't know which graphic card you are using type

lspci | grep VGA

By default, you will not have an Xorg config file. To generate a basic config file, you can use Xorg -configure. Move the generated config file as appropriate, e.g.,

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

If you want to test your configuration, install xterm and twm with

pacman -S xterm xorg-twm

and type startx. You can exit the X Server with Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. If you have problems starting X, you can look for errors in the /var/log/Xorg.0.log file.

Advanced instructions for Xorg configuration can be found in Xorg article

Adjusting Keyboard Layout

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

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

Adjusting Mouse

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

       Option      "ZAxisMapping" "4 5 6 7"

Using proprietary Graphics Driver (Nvidia, Ati)

Nvidia Graphic Cards

Install the nvidia drivers with

pacman -S nvidia

Adjust your /etc/X11/xorg.conf Device Section with changing Driver "nv" to Driver "nvidia".

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"

You should add this to your module section:

Load "glx"

Type modprobe nvidia to load the driver and test your configuration with startx.

Advanced instructions for Nvidia configuration can be found in the How to install NVIDIA driver article.

ATI Graphic Cards

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

Install the proprietary ATI Driver with

pacman -S fglrx

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

Install the open source ATI Driver with

pacman -S xf86-video-ati

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

Advanced instructions for ATI configuration can be found in the ATI Radeon & Kernel 2.6.

Installing and configuring a Desktop Environment

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

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

Install Fonts

First you may want to install some good looking fonts. Dejavu and bitstream-vera are nice font sets. For websites, you may want to have the Microsoft fonts too. Install with

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


About Gnome

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 gnome with

pacman -S gnome

If you want a more-than-complete Gnome-Distribution with a lot of extras, do a

pacman -S gnome-extra

Its safe to choose all packages shown. You may want to install a graphical login manager. For gnome gdm is a good choice. Install gdm with

pacman -S gdm

Test it with

/etc/rc.d/gdm start

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

You may want to install a terminal and an editor. I would recommend gnome-terminal and geany:

pacman -S geany gnome-terminal

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


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 find more themes, icons and wallpaper at Gnome Look


About KDE

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


Install kde with

pacman -S kde

Its safe to choose all packages shown. Test it with

/etc/rc.d/kdm start

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

Advanced instructions for installing and configuring KDE can be found in the KDE article. Also, a Version of KDE that is unique to Arch exists. It is called KDEmod and can be found at [1].


About Xfce

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


Install xfce with

pacman -S xfce4 xfce4-goodies 

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


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



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

Install Fluxbox using

pacman -S fluxbox fluxconf menumaker

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

exec startfluxbox 

More information is available in the Fluxbox article.


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

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

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

Install openbox using

pacman -S openbox obconf menumaker

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

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

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

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

exec openbox

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

Useful programs for openbox are:

  • pyPanel or lxpanel if you want a panel
  • feh if you want to set the background
  • Rox if you want a simple filemanager and desktop icons

More information is available in the Openbox article.


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

Install fvwm2 with

pacman -S fvwm 

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

exec fvwm 

to your users .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.

Useful Applications

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


Firefox and Thunderbird are good applications for browsing the Internet and managing your emails. If you are using Gnome you may want to take a look at epiphany and evolution, if you are using KDE konqueror and kmail could be your choice. If you want something completely different you can still use Opera and various text-based browsers. Gaim and Kopete are good instant messengers for Gnome and KDE, respectively. PSI and Gajim are perfect if you are only using Jabber or GoogleTalk.


Openoffice is a complete office suite (similar to Microsoft Office). Abiword is a good small alternative wordprocessor, 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 graphic program (similar to Adobe Photoshop) while inkscape is a vector based graphic program (like Adobe Illustrator). And of course Arch comes with a full set of LaTeX-Programms.


Video Player


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

pacman -Sy vlc

(TODO) Instructions for VLC mozilla plug-in


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

pacman -Sy 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 -Sy 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 -Sy kmplayer

(TODO) GMPlayer instructions


(TODO)totem-xine is still the better choice if you want to watch dvds.


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

pacman -Sy kaffeine

Audio Player


(TODO)Banshee, Quodlibet, Exaile, Rhythmbox, Listen are all good audio players. Check gnomefiles.org to compare them.


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

pacman -Sy amarok-base


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

Another excellent choice is cmus[2]

Other X-based

(TODO)Xmms, audacious, bmpx.

Codecs and other multimedia content types


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


Install the flash plugin using pacman -S flashplugin to enable Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash in your browser.


Quicktime Codecs are contained in the codecs package. Just type

pacman -S codecs

to install them.


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

pacman -S codecs

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

CD and DVD Burning

(Todo)Brasero, k3b, cdrecord, graveman...

Most CD burners are wrappers for cdrecord:

pacman -S cdrkit

A good command line DVD burning tool is growisofs:

pacman -S dvd+rw-tools


There are several things to do if you want to watch TV under (Arch) Linux. The most important task is to find out which Chip your tuner is using. However, quite a bunch is supported. Be sure to check at a Hardware Database to be sure (e.g. [3]). Once you know your Model, there are just a few steps ahead to get you going.

In most cases, you will need to use the bttv-drivers (other drivers exist, see [4]) 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 only need to install an Application to watch TV. We will look on 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[5] to find out the right parameters for your card. A PV951 without radio support would need that line:

modprobe bttv card=42 radio=0

Some cards need the following line to produce sound:

modprobe tvaudio

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

modprobe tuner

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

TODO: clarify the installation-procedure

To actually watch TV, install the xawtv-package with

pacman -S xawtv

and and read the manpage of it.

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 here.

Useful commands

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

pacman -Sy

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

pacman -S packageA packageB

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

pacman -R package

To also remove all of the packages dependencies which aren't used by any other installed package:

pacman -Rs package

To update all the packages on the system:

pacman -Su

To search the package database for a list of packages matching a given keyword:

pacman -Ss keyword

Further information

Further information and support can be found at the homepage, the wiki, the forum, the IRC channel or the mailing lists.