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A detailed overview of how I installed Arch Linux on my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, having never installed Arch before.

DISCLAIMER

I am not responsible for any damages, loss of data, system corruption, or any other mishap you may somehow cause by following this guide.

This is mainly a step-by-step reminder/log for myself of how I installed Arch on my laptop. I am putting this out there in case it is useful for someone else, it is not intended to be an official guide. As a result, you may find that this guide is very tedious or lists a lot of unnecessary/intuitive steps or just straight up does things in a way that is considered bad practice. Apart from the latter, this is intentional, as I did not find these steps intuitive at all when I was doing this, and as such I chose to list everything that I did in case someone else would need/like a similar level of guidance.

I will try, but I cannot promise that I will keep this guide up-to-date with the the Arch Wiki. If you are reading this a couple of months down the line and I have not updated it in a while, you might will want to check with/refer to the Arch Wiki either completely or at least in parallel to this guide as settings/commands/recommendations might have changed.

My Setup (at the time of writing)

  • BIOS: 1.17
  • OS: Windows 10 1809 64-bit
  • RAM: 16GB
  • DISK 1: 1TB NVMe SSD with Windows installed on it
  • DISK 2: 512GB NVMe SSD, empty and unformatted

Credit (and suggested reading if you want to fully understand everything)

rEFInd

The Arch Wiki

Misc

Preparation

BIOS

MAKE SURE YOUR BIOS IS VERSION 1.17 OR GREATER. Failure to do so may result in the BIOS setting changes BRICKING YOUR LAPTOP

  • Set the Security -> Secure Boot -> Secure Boot setting to "Disabled".
  • Set the Configs -> Display -> Graphics Device setting to "Discrete".
  • Set the Configs -> Thunderbolt (TM) 3 -> Thunderbolt BIOS Assist Mode setting to "Enabled". (Not required if you are using kernel 4.20 or newer. [Thanks to u/melentye for pointing this out]).

Hardware

  • You will need a USB stick of at least 1GB in size. NOTE: All data on this drive will be lost, so make sure it doesn't contain anything important or that you have backed up the contents.
  • You will need a wired internet connection to the laptop. (EDIT: not the case: wireless network can be set up from the live image. I will put my guess at how to, further down in the initial steps of the guide. [Thanks to u/rootsvelt for pointing this out]).

Software

  • I have heard from the technicians at my university, that GRUB can get corrupted by Windows updates, so I will not be using GRUB. Instead, I have a friend who has been dual-booting Arch and Windows 10 for some years now and who has never had a problem with using rEFInd. So that is what I will be installing here.
  • Download and install rEFInd (refer to this).
    • This can cause a minor heart attack the first time doing this: after following the instructions and rebooting, it took a while for my laptop to boot back up, to load rEFInd, and to launch Windows. This was quite stressful, but no damage was done. The laptop and Windows started successfully.
  • Download the latest Arch ISO.
  • Download Rufus.

Setup

  1. Plug in your USB drive.
  2. Open Rufus and make sure your drive is selected under "Device".
  3. Under "Boot selection", click "Select" and find and select the Arch ISO.
  4. Leave everything else as default, making sure FAT32 is selected as the "File system", under the "Format Options" section.
  5. Click "Start" to write the ISO to your USB stick.
  6. When it is done, restart your computer and boot from the USB stick.

Installation

Starting the installation image

  • Select "Arch Linux archiso x86_64 UEFI USB" (this might take a while to start, it took 21 seconds when I did it)

Keyboard Layout

  • Keyboard layouts can be listed by running
    ls /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/**/*.map.gz
    
  • If you are looking for a specific layout or layout group, use grep:
    • e.g. for Danish layouts run
      ls /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/**/*.map.gz | grep "da"
      
    • e.g. for Dvorak layouts run
      ls /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/**/*.map.gz | grep "dvorak"
      
  • Modify the keyboard layout if need be, I am used to a Danish Dvorak keyboard, so I typed
    loadkeys no-dvorak
    
    (Technically, this is a Norwegian Dvorak, but they are pretty much identical).

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Checking Things

  • Check that your BIOS is set to UEFI boot mode by running
    ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars
    
    If the file or directory does not exist, your BIOS is not set to UEFI boot mode. Reboot, change your boot settings to UEFI, and start from the beginning of this guide.
  • Check that you are connected to the internet by running
    ping -c 3 archlinux.org
    
    There should be no pacage loss. If there is, check your internet connection (e.g. cable plugged in, router working, etc.) and try again.
  • Synchronise your system clock by running
    timedatectl set-ntp true
    

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Partitioning

  • Run
    fdisk -l
    
    to list the available block devices/drives. Note the size and path of the one you wish to install Arch on, e.g. for me it was /dev/nvme0n1, which will be the path I use for the rest of this section.
  • Start fdisk on the desired drive by running
    fdisk /dev/nvme0n1
    
    Make sure that this corresponds to your empty drive and not your Windows drive. Otherwise your Windows installation will be lost.
  • NOTE: If you at any point mess up or regret a choice made, simply run the q command at the next possible point. This will quit without writing to the disk.

[sources: Arch Installation Guide, the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page ]

Root Partition

  • Run the g command to create a new GPT.
  • Run the n command to start creating a new partition.
  • Accept the default number (press Enter).
  • Accept the default start sector (press Enter).
  • Indicate the size, e.g. I chose to allocate 50GiB for the root partition: +50G. (Probably excessive, I know).

[source: the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page ]

Swap Partition

  • NOTE: This step is optional as far as I understand.
  • Run the n command to start creating a new partition.
  • Accept the default number.
  • Accept the default start section.
  • Indicate the size, e.g. I chose to allocate 24GiB i.e. 1.5 times the amount of RAM I had: +24G

[source: the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page ]

Home Partition

  • Run the n command to start creating a new partition.
  • Accept the default number.
  • Accept the default start section.
  • Accept the default end section, i.e. the remainder of the drive (unless you do not want this, in which case, indicate a size).

[source: the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page ]

Write and check the changes

  • Write the changes to the disk by running the w command. This should take you back to the main command prompt.
  • Check that the changes were written by running fdisk -l. You should see your partitions listed as
    /dev/nvme0n1p1
    /dev/nvme0n1p2
    /dev/nvme0n1p3
    
    with their sizes next to them.

[sources: Arch Installation Guide, the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page ]

Formatting the Partitions

Root Partition

  • I will be using the EXT4 file system for my root partition, so I format the root partition by running
    mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p1
    
    If you want to use a different file system, check this Arch Wiki page for the appropriate mkfs command.

[sources: Arch Installation Guide, the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page, the "Types of file systems" section of this page ]

Swap Partition

  • If you made a swap partition, format it by running
    mkswap /dev/nvme0n1p2
    

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Home Partition

  • Again, I will be using the EXT4 file system for my root partition, so I run
    mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p3
    
    If you want to use a different file system, check this Arch Wiki page for the appropriate mkfs command.

[sources: Arch Installation Guide, the "Partitioning the disks" section of this page, the "Types of file systems" section of this page ]

Mounting the Partitions

  • Mount the root partition by running
    mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt
    
  • Mount the swap partition by running
    swapon /dev/nvme0n1p2
    
  • Create the mount point for the home partition by running
    mkdir /mnt/home
    
  • Create the mount point for the EFI partition (where you installed rEFInd) by running
    mkdir /mnt/efi
    
  • Mount the home partition by running
    mount /dev/nvme0n1p3 /mnt/home
    
  • If you have not noted the path of the EFI partition already, run
    fdisk -l
    
    and do so. For me it was
    /dev/nvme1n1p1
    
    NOTE: This one should be from your Windows drive. That is where you installed rEFInd after all.
  • Mount the EFI partition by running
    mount /dev/nvme1n1p1 /mnt/efi
    
  • Check that everything is mounted by running
    lsblk
    
    The mount points should now be listed next to their partitions.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Pacman Mirrors

  • Use your favourite text editor (nano, vi, ...) to edit the /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist file. The mirrors which are the closest to you should be at the top and the mirrors which you do not need can be deleted. If you are travelling between multiple countries, like I do, I think having multiple countries on the list might be beneficial. I do not know for certain though.
  • Save the file when you are done editing the mirror list, and exit the text editor.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Base Install

  • IF you will not be building/developing/writing packages for Arch and/or will not be installing packages from the Arch User Repository (more on this later), then you will not need base-devel. Simply run:
    pacstrap /mnt base
    
    OTHERWISE, if you will be doing some of those things, then you will need base-devel, so run:
    pacstrap /mnt base base-devel
    
    The install may take a while.
  • NOTE: It is not too serious if you later find out you do need base-devel, as it can be installed later using pacman (more on this later).

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Automatic Mounting (fstab)

  • To create the fstab file which describes where to mount what when booting, run
    genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
    
  • check that the UUIDs of the partitions match the ones in the generated fstab file by first running either fstab -f or blkid (which will give you the partitions, their UUIDs, and their mount points) and comparing the output with the output of running cat /mnt/etc/fstab. Correct any errors there might be (there were none for me) using a text editor.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Accessing

  • To access the newly installed Arch system, run arch-chroot /mnt

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Initial Setup

Time

  • Set your time zone by running
    ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/<Region>/<City> /etc/localtime
    
    where <Region> and <City> are replaced by your region and city.
    • NOTE: When typing this command, hitting the TAB key twice after typing ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/ will give you a list of all the possible values. Look over these, find your relevant one (e.g. Europe/) and type it in. Then hit TAB twice again to get a list of cities. Pick the closest/most relevant one and type it in. Then type out the rest of the command and run it, it should look something like when it is ready to be run:
      ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Brussels /etc/localtime
      
  • Set the system clock using the hardware clock by running
    hwclock --systohc
    

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Localisation (Date/Time/Currency Display)

  • Using a text editor, open /etc/locale.gen.
  • Uncomment any localisations you might need (i.e. remove the # before them).
  • Save the file and exit the text editor.
  • Generate the localisations by running
    locale-gen
    
  • Use a text editor to set LANG variable to the desired locale by editing the /etc/locale.conf file. E.g. for British English, /etc/locale.conf should say LANG=en_GB.UTF8.
  • If you changed the keyboard layout, make the change permanent by using a text editor to edit the /etc/vconsole.conf file. For me, I made it contain the line KEYMAP=no-dvorak to make the Norwegian/Danish Dvorak keyboard layout permanent.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Hostname and Localhost

Hostname

  • Use a text editor to edit/create the /etc/hostname file.
  • Have it contain your hostname, e.g. my-thinkpad.
  • Save and exit the text editor.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Localhost

  • Use a text editor to edit/create the /etc/hosts file.
  • Have it contain the following three lines:
    127.0.0.1     localhost
    ::1           localhost
    127.0.1.1	    <hostname>.localdomain	<hostname>
    
    where <hostname> is replaced by the hostname you wrote in /etc/hostname.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Root/Sudo Password

  • Run
    passwd
    
    to set up the root password.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Finishing Up

  • Run
    exit
    
    to quit the arch-chroot.
  • Run
    reboot
    
    to reboot, and then wait for the system to power off and start rebooting before removing the USB.
  • You sould now see an Arch logo when rEFInd starts. The username is root, and the password is what you set it to using the passwd command.

[source: Arch Installation Guide ]

Post Install

Networks

I couldn't easily find the following information on the "Network configuration" page. Eventually, this superuser answer helped me out:

  • When you reboot, you will have no network connection, wired or wireless. This is apparently because the network service is not running. Start it by running
    systemctl start dhcpcd.service
    
    You should now be connected to the wired connection (test by running
    ping -c 3 archlinux.org
    
    ). It might output some text. Simply press Ctrl+C to get a normal terminal prompt.
  • If you, like me, do not want to manually configure every new network you need to connect to but rather want a "plug-and-play" solution, we will be installing NetworkManager which conflicts with dhcpcd, so you should not enable dhcpcd. Instead, skip to the next bullet point.
    However, if you are fine with systemctl and its network services, then enable the service to start on boot by running
    systemctl enable dhcpcd.service
    
    Then, skip to here.
  • Now that you have the connection established/restored, download NetworkManager by running
    pacman -S networkmanager
    
    Installing does not start the service, so there is no need to worry about conflicts with dhcpcd.
  • Stop dhcpcd by running
    systemctl stop dhcpcd.service
    
    It is most likely excessive, but I then rebooted (by running reboot) just to be 110% sure it was off.
  • Enable NetworkManager on boot by running
    systemctl enable NetworkManager.service
    
  • Start NetworkManager by running
    systemctl start NetworkManager.service
    
    Again, if there is some text, simply press Ctrl+C to get a normal command line.
  • You should now be connected to the wired connection again. Again, you can check this by running
    ping -c 3 archlinux.org
    
  • If you want to connect to a wireless network run
    nmcli device wifi list
    
    to list all detected wifi networks.
  • Then run
    nmcli device wifi connect <SSID> password <password>
    
    to connect to your network (where <SSID> is your network name, and <password> is your network password).
  • N.B. This only works with "regular" networks and not with university networks or similar, which use WPA2 Enterprise or similar. These require manual configuration or a graphical front-end with templates to connect to. If you need to connect to this type of network, you will need to use a wired connection until you have reached the end of the install and then follow the NetworkManager Front-End sub-section in the Optional section at the very end of this guide.
  • Congratulations, you are now connected to the internet, and will be when you reboot.

[sources: SuperUser, Arch Wiki NetworkManager page ]

Update your system

  • Make sure your install is up to date by running
    pacman -Syu
    

Firewall

Follow the instructions here. I might type them out here at a later point, but for now, just follow that wiki page. As far as I can tell, and this is purely speculation, you only need to follow sections:

  • Firewall for a single machine
    • Creating necessary chains
    • The FORWARD chain
    • The OUTPUT chain
    • The INPUT chain
    • Resulting iptables.rules file
    • The TCP and UDP chains
      • Opening ports to incoming connections
    • "Hide" your computer
      • SYN scans
      • UDP scans
      • Restore the Final Rule
    • IPv6
      • NOTE: after the copying of the IPv4 rules, I think you just edit the relevant lines with a text editor, i.e. replacing --reject-with icmp-port-unreachable and --reject-with icmp-proto-unreachable with --reject-with icmp6-adm-prohibited. And then save and exit the text editor. At least, that's what I did...
      • Then, follow the wiki from the point where it says something like "In the next step, make sure the protocol and extension are changed to be IPv6 appropriate [...]".
    • Saving the rules

I haven't followed the crossed-out bit. I thought I needed to, but I am currently less certain, after following the steps above. ~~I will be installing a firewall on top of iptables. I do not think this is required, but I think it is strongly recommended. As far as I can tell, there are two good candidates: ufw (Uncomplicated FireWall) and firewalld. I will be using firewalld as it is recommended for the travelling laptop user. However, as the name suggests, ufw is uncomplicated and you might prefer it.https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Sudo

  • Install firewalld by running pacman -S firewalld.
  • Check the status of firewalld by running firewall-cmd --state. It will likely display not running as you have only just installed it.
  • Start it by running systemctl start firewalld.
  • Enable it on boot by running systemctl enable firewalld.
  • Configure it by running [TODO]

User

Installing Arch only creates the root user. Doing everything as root, i.e. with unlimited control and priveleges is usually not advised, so create a new user:

  • Run
    useradd --create-home <username>
    
    (where <username> is replaced by the username you want, e.g. my-user).
  • Secure the user with a password by running passwd <username>.
  • I am uncertain whether this step is needed, but since I am using NetworkManager for networks, I think I need to add my user to the network group. Do this by running
    usermod -aG network <username>
    

[source: Arch Wiki Users and Groups ]

Sudo

You might want to run certain instructions as root. In this case:

  • If it is not already installed, install sudo by running
    pacman -S sudo
    
    If it is already installed, cancel the re-installation.
  • Open a text editor by EDITOR=<text editor> visudo (e.g. EDITOR=nano visudo for using nano).
  • Find the line where it says
    #%wheel    ALL=(ALL) ALL
    
    and remove the # at the beginning of the line.
    • This will allow users in the wheel group to use sudo.
  • Add your newly created user to the wheel group by running
    usermod -aG wheel <username>
    

[source: Arch Wiki sudo page ]

Graphical User Interface

Drivers

  • In order to run the GUIs properly, we will need some drivers.
  • Install the Intel drivers (for the iGPU) by running
    pacman -S xf86-video-intel
    
  • Install the Nvidia drivers (for the dGPU/graphics card) by running
    pacman -S nvidia
    
  • If they have not already been installed as a dependency of one of the previous drivers, install an OpenGL implementation by running
    pacman -S mesa
    

[source: Arch Wiki Bumblebee page ]

Bumblebee

  • In Windows, the operating system automatically estimates whether the program being run is sufficiently graphically demanding to require use of the dGPU or whether the iGPU is enough, e.g. running a game vs. simply running the Windows GUI. Unfortunately, Linux does not support intelligent switching, but it does support discrete switching, i.e. using the iGPU for everything unless the user explicitly tells it to use the dGPU. This is accomplished through the "Bumblebee" project.
  • Before installing Bumblebee, we need to switch back to hybrid graphics, so reboot and change the BIOS setting (Configs -> Display -> Graphics Device). Since we have installed the Intel drivers, this should be fine.
  • Log back into Arch as your personal user, or as root if you do not want to use sudo for everything. (Or use su after logging in as your personal user. In this case you can also omit sudo at the beginning of all the next commands).
  • Install Bumblebee by running
    sudo pacman -S bumblebee
    
  • Add your user to the "bumblebee" group by running
    sudo usermod -aG network <username>
    
  • Enable Bumblebee by running
    sudo systemctl enable bumblebeed.service
    
  • Reboot and log in (again, as whichever user you want/find most convenient).

[source: Arch Wiki Bumblebee page ]

The X Window System

  • In order to run a GUI, you will need to install the X Window System, provided by X.org.
    • There is a different window system called "Wayland", but it is still in development and not as widely supported as X. If you know what you are doing at this stage though, feel free to install Wayland instead.
  • Install X by running
    sudo pacman -S xorg
    

[source: Arch Wiki Xorg page ]

Desktop Environments

Personally, because I wanted to try it, I will be installing a display manager and a window manager manually. This is by no means the easiest, "Get this laptop working" solution!. I am only doing this out of personal interest for how these things work and fit together. If you want a solution that just works out of the box, you probably want a desktop environment (in which case, keep reading).However, if you, like me, want to do everything by hand, then skip this section.

  • A Desktop Environment is what most of us would associate with a GUI: a graphical login interface (aka. a "display manager"), a graphical user interface (aka. a "window manager"), little menus and icons for everything. If that is what you are looking for, you can install one of the following, or refer to the relevant Arch Wiki Page.
    • Cinnamon - What most users will probably associate with a "traditional" desktop interface. It can be installed by running
      sudo pacman -S cinnamon
      
    • Gnome - A "new" dektop feel, especially if you are coming from Windows and about to use Linux for the first time (in which case I think you have jumped in at the deep end by directly going with Arch). It's used as the default DE for Ubuntu (since LTS 18.04) and Fedora, so users familiar with these distros should feel right at home if they install this. It can be installed by running
      sudo pacman -S gnome
      
      and installing all the packages in the group (this is the default option).
    • Deepin - A more modern, "Windows 10 done right" experience (in my opinion). It looks beautiful and sleek, but I have heard rumours it is complicated to uninstall. It is developed by a Chinese company so there are also rumours that it might be spying on its users. I do not know if any of this is true, you will have to research this yourself. If that does not concern you though and you like the look of Deepin, it can be installed by running
      sudo pacman -S deepin deepin-extras
      
      and installing all the packages in the groups (this is the default option).
  • If you have installed a DE, please follow its Arch Wiki page to learn if and how it needs configuring after install. Apart from that, I think that is you done. Congratulations on your new Linux install! :-)

[sources: Arch Wiki DE page, Arch Wiki Cinnamon page, Arch Wiki Gnome page, Arch Wiki Deepin page ]

Display Managers

NOTE: If you have installed a DE, you are probably done and do not need to read any further.

  • The X server is not automatically started. Usually, this is done by the display manager.
  • I will be using LightDM. If you have a preference for a different one, install that one instead (or see the list of graphical display managers).
  • Install LightDM by running
    sudo pacman -S lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter
    
  • Then, enable it by running
    sudo systemctl enable lightdm.service
    

[sources: Arch Wiki Display Manager page, Arch Wiki LightDM page ]

Window Managers

  • You will usually want something to arrange and open graphical windows. This is what is known as a window manager.
  • I will be using i3-gaps. It is a so-called "tiling" window manager. If you do not like i3 or would like a more "traditional", so-called "stacking" window manager, have a look through this list and follow the install instructions for the one you would like.
  • If you have not picked a different WM, install i3-gaps by running
    sudo pacman -S i3-gaps
    
  • Then, in order to see info about your computer (such as current time, battery charge, which workspace you are on, etc.) and in order to be able to launch applications, install i3status and dmenu by running
    sudo pacman -S i3status dmenu
    

[sources: Arch Wiki WM page, Arch Wiki i3 page ]

Screen Locking

  • In order to be able to lock your screen (e.g. by pressing Windows+l when in Windows), you need a screen locker. LightDM has one called "light-locker" which is what I will be using. If you prefer a different locker, or want to explore the options, here is the list of screen lockers.
  • If you have not picked a different screen locker, install light-locker by running
    sudo pacman -S light-locker
    
  • Now we have most things set to log in. Reboot by running
    reboot
    
  • If you set a different keyboard layout, keep reading. If you did not do that, skip to here.

[source: Arch Wiki list of screen lockers ]

Keyboard Layout [OPTIONAL]

If you have set a different keyboard layout, you will notice that your nice, new graphical login prompt does not use it. This is because the X window system uses its own configuration files. We need to tell it which layout to use.

  • Change to a command prompt by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 and login.
  • Change the layout, e.g. in my case to Norwegian Dvorak by running
    sudo localectl --no-convert set-x11-keymap no thinkpad dvorak
    
  • In general, the format is
    sudo localectl --no-convert set-x11-keymap <layout> [<keyboard_model> [<keyboard_variant>]]
    
    where <keyboard_model> is optional, but has to be provided if <keyboard_variant> is wanted to be provided.
    • I think the keymap model thinkpad is the right one, but I do not know for certain. A list of keyboard models can be gotten by running
      localectl list-x11-keymap-models
      
    • A list of layouts can be gotten by running
      localectl list-x11-keymap-layouts
      
    • A list of variants can be gotten by running
      localectl list-x11-keymap-variants <layout>
      
      where <layout> is the layout you want the variants of.
  • Reboot by running
    reboot
    
  • The layout should now work.

[sources: Arch Wiki keyboard layout using localectl page, man 1 localectl ]

Terminal Emulator

In order to have access to a command prompt from your window manager, you will need to install a terminal emulator. I will be using "Terminator", but here is the list if you want to pick one for yourself.

  • Change to a command prompt by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 and login.
  • Install Terminator by running
    sudo pacman -S terminator
    
  • Logout by running
    logout
    
  • You should now be able to use Terminator at your window manager (which you can usually change back to by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F7).

[source: Arch Wiki terminal emulators section ]

Configuring Screen Locking

  • Light-locker does not run by default, you need to configure i3 (or whichever window manager you chose) to start it.
  • Open the file ~/.config/i3/config in a text editor.
  • Add the following line to the file (I added it to the end of it)
    exec_always --no-startup-id "light-locker --lock-on-suspend --late-locking &"
    
    (see man 1 light-locker for details on what flags are available and what they do).
  • If you want to make Windows+l lock the screen, add the following line to the file
    bindsym $mod+l exec --no-startup-id "light-locker-command -l"
    

[sources: fiddling about with light-locker and light-locker-command to figure out why they were not working as I thought they were, man 1 light-locker, man 1 light-locker-command ]

Browser

  • Install the internet browser you want, I will be installing firefox. A list of browsers can be found in the "web browsers" section of this page.
  • If you are fine with firefox, install it by running
    sudo pacman -S firefox
    

[source: Arch Wiki Firefox page, "web browsers" section of the Arch Wiki application list ]

LibreOffice

  • LibreOffice is an open-source selection of programs similar to Microsoft Office. If you want a package solution with a text-editor, spreadsheet editor, presentation tool, etc., then this is probably the easiest way to do it.
  • If, on the other hand, you do not need all these tools, and only need a/some text editor(s), skip to here.
  • Install LibreOffice by running
    sudo pacman -S libreoffice-fresh
    
  • Skip to here.

[source: Arch Wiki LibreOffice page ]

Text Editors

  • I will be installing two text editors (atom and vim).
  • Install these by running
    pacman -S atom vim
    

[sources: Arch Wiki Atom page, Arch Wiki Vim page ]

Time Synchronisation

Your system time can become out of sync with the actual time. To ensure this does not happen, the systemd-timesyncd service can be started (and enabled if you want it to remain on across reboots).

  • Start the service by running
    sudo systemctl start systemd-timesyncd.service
    
  • Open the /etc/systemd/timesyncd.conf in a text editor, e.g. using nano:
    sudo nano /etc/systemd/timesyncd.conf
    
  • Uncomment, i.e. remove the # at the beginning, the first two lines under the [Time] section (i.e. the NTP= and FallbackNTP= lines).
  • The general recommendation is to use the pool.ntp.org servers. This can be done by editing the NTP= line to look like this:
    NTP=0.pool.ntp.org 1.pool.ntp.org 2.pool.ntp.org 3.pool.ntp.org
    
  • Otherwise, if you know you will almost always be in a specific geographical region, e.g. I will likely always be in Europe, you can have it look like this (as an example):
    NTP=0.europe.pool.ntp.org 1.europe.pool.ntp.org 2.europe.pool.ntp.org 3.europe.pool.ntp.org
    
    See the "Active Servers" banner on this page for a list of server regions.
  • I then chose to use the Arch servers as my fallback. So my FallbackNTP line looks like this:
    FallbackNTP=0.arch.pool.ntp.org 1.arch.pool.ntp.org 2.arch.pool.ntp.org 3.arch.pool.ntp.org
    
  • NOTE: You will still need to manually change your time zone by running
    sudo timedatectl set-timezone <Zone>/<Sub-zone>
    
    or using the interactive tool, i.e. by running
    sudo tzselect
    

[sources: Arch Wiki System Time page, Arch Wiki timesyncd page, NTP pool project ]

Done.

I think this more or less concludes a complete system. I have made a final section with various programs that you may want to install but that I would not necessarily consider essential. Feel free to skim through it or to stop here. If I remember, I will expand the sections as I come across things I missed that I later needed. In any case, I hope this guide was helpful. :-)

Optional Applications and Utilities

This is a list of programs that you may want to install, depending on how pretty you want things to look, or if you want additional functionality.

Arch List of Applications [GENERAL INFO]

The Arch Wiki has a list of applications which contains links to the Arch Wiki page (if there is one) and packages of numerous programs. If you are looking for something, and I have not listed it below, there is a very good chance you will find it there.

[source: Arch Wiki List of Applications ]

Arch User Repository (AUR) [GENERAL INFO]

If you have looked at different packages, you may have noticed that some of them have AUR listed next to them. This means that they are provided by the Arch User Repo. If you wish to install any packages from the AUR, e.g. the google-chrome package, I strongly suggest you read the relevant Arch Wiki page for the instructions and dangers involved in installing AUR packages.

  • To install packages from the AUR, you will first need base-devel. If you did not install it at the beginning, do so now by running
    sudo pacman -S --needed base-devel
    
  • If it is not already installed, install git by running
    sudo pacman -S git
    
    If it is already installed and you are trying to install it, cancel the reinstallation.
  • I made a directory for containing my AUR packages, you may choose to do so or simply have the package directories in your home directory or something. I made a hidden AUR directory by running
    mkdir ~/.aur
    

[sources: Arch Wiki AUR page, Arch Wiki git page ]

Example: Installing Google Chrome [OPTIONAL]

  • If you have not already done so, change into your AUR directory (if you made one, e.g. in my case ~/.aur) by running
    cd ~/.aur
    
  • Find the git clone url on the AUR packages page, e.g. by searching for "google-chrome" and clicking on that package link. The url, at the time of writing, looked like this for me:
    https://aur.archlinux.org/google-chrome.git
    
  • Clone the directory by running
    git clone <URL>
    
    Where <URL> is the git url for the package, e.g.
    https://aur.archlinux.org/google-chrome.git
    
  • Change into the newly created google-chrome directory by running
    cd google-chrome
    
  • Check the PKGBUILD and any .install files carefully for malicious code by viewing them using less <filename>, or cat <filename>, or view <filename> (if you have vim installed).
  • When you are certain the package does not contain malicious code, install it by running
    mkpkg -sic
    
  • NOTE: If the package depends on other AUR packages, you have to manually install these first, and it is your responsibility to keep AUR packages updated.

[sources: AUR packages page, Arch Wiki AUR page, Arch Wiki Chromium page ]

NetworkManager Front-End [OPTIONAL]

  • I will be installing a graphical front-end for NetworkManager. This is because I need to connect to WPA2 Enterprise networks (e.g. eduroam), which can either be done by configuring the connection manually or by having a GUI which contains a template.
  • Install network-manager-applet by running
    pacman -S network-manager-applet
    
  • You can now start the front-end by running
    nm-connection-editor
    
    either in a terminal, or through dmenu (the i3 "application launcher").
  • Make sure you have downloaded or otherwise obtained the relevant certificates for connecting to your enterprise network.
  • You should be able to add connections by clicking the little + icon in the bottom left corner. The section for connecting to WPA2 Enterprise networks is then located under the Wi-Fi Security tab when adding a new Wi-Fi connection.

[source: Arch Wiki NetworkManager page ]

Background Image [OPTIONAL]

  • Download or transfer an image that you wish to use as your desktop background. Make sure you note the path to the image, e.g. ~/Downloads/my_bg_image.png.
  • Install feh by running
    sudo pacman -S feh
    
  • At the time of writing, feh supports the following background modes:
    • --bg-tile - Tile the background image if it is too small.
    • --bg-center - Place the background image at the center of the screen.
    • --bg-scale - Scale the background image to the screen size. No borders are created and parts of the image are not cut, but it may appear "stretched" if it does not fit the screen's aspect ratio.
    • --bg-max - Scale the background image to the maximum sive that fits the screen, with borders on one side.
    • --bg-fill - Scale the background image, but preserve the aspect ratio such that image fits but some parts are cut off if it does not fit the screen's aspect ratio.
  • For this example, to set the background image using the "center" mode, run
    feh --bg-center <path/to/file>
    
    where <path/to/file> is the path to the file you wish to use as a background image.
  • This will create a ~/.fehbg file which is used to keep/set the image after reboots. So to make the background image persistent, in i3, add the following line to your ~/.config/i3/config file:
    exec --no-startup-id ~/.fehbg &
    
  • Your background image will now be displayed, even after reboots.

[sources: Arch Wiki Feh page, man 1 feh ]

Email Client [OPTIONAL]

I will be using Thunderbird as my email client. It is developed by Mozilla, the same people who made Firefox, and I quite like it. You can find a list of email clients in the "Email client" section of the Arch Wiki List of Applications.

  • Install Thunderbird by running
    sudo pacman -S thunderbird
    
  • You can now start Thunderbird from i3.

[sources: Arch Wiki Thunderbird page, Arch Wiki List of Applications ]

Screenshot Utility [OPTIONAL]

  • You can install a screenshot program if you want to. I will be installing "flameshot".
  • Install flameshot by running
    sudo pacman -S flameshot
    
  • You can now start flameshot from i3.

[source: Arch Wiki screen capture page ]

@CodingCellist

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CodingCellist commented Jan 17, 2019

The source links are broken, I know. This is because of me misunderstanding how you could reference links in markdown (you have to use numbers).

@4ndril

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4ndril commented Mar 20, 2019

to install Arch from the live disk using wireless connection "wifi-menu"

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