Arch Linux Installation

Posted at September 09, 2019.

I've now been running Arch Linux on my Desktop for over a year. After exclusively running Mac OS X for many years before, this was my first real step into a Desktop Linux distribution. It has been surprisingly painless and I'm very happy with my machine. Here are all the steps I've ran to install and setup Arch, with some explanations in between.

Of course, take a look at the Arch Wiki installation guide before doing anything.

Rotating the Virtual Console

At the time of installing Arch, the first monitor output of my machine was connected to a rotated display. To be able to work properly, you may want to rotate the Linux virtual console. This can be done by adding the argument fbcon=rotate:1 to the kernel boot options. When the system is booted, you can execute the following command. Also check out the kernel documentation.

echo 1 > /sys/class/graphics/fbcon/rotate_all

Installation

Boot into the Arch Live USB stick environment. After getting the time, format your harddisk (see UEFI & GPT partitioning in Wiki) and mount the new partitions.

timedatectl set-ntp true
fdisk -l
fdisk /dev/nvme0n1
mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p3
mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p4
mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/nvme0n1p1
mkswap /dev/nvme0n1p2
swapon /dev/nvme0n1p2

mount /dev/nvme0n1p3 /mnt
mkdir /mnt/boot
mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/boot
mkdir /mnt/home
mount /dev/nvme0n1p4 /mnt/home

Generate the mirrorlist by speed (see Mirrorlist in Wiki).

cp /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist.backup
rankmirrors -n 6 /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist.backup | tee /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Bootstrap the new installation.

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel
genfstab -L /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
arch-chroot /mnt

Start setting up the machine (see Locale in Wiki).

ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Berlin /etc/localtime
hwclock --systohc
vi /etc/locale.gen
locale-gen
vi /etc/locale.conf
vi /etc/hostname
vi /etc/hosts
passwd

Install some important stuff.

pacman -Syu sudo vim avahi nss-mdns zsh
vim /etc/nsswitch.conf
systemctl enable avahi-daemon.service

Create your new user account.

useradd -m -G wheel /usr/bin/zsh thomas
chfn --full-name “Thomas Buck” thomas
passwd thomas
visudo

Install systemd-boot and add boot entries (see systemd-boot in Wiki).

bootctl --path=/boot install
cat /usr/share/systemd/bootctl/arch.conf > /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf
blkid /dev/nvme0n1p3 >> /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf
vim /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

Configure systemd-boot (also see systemd-boot in Wiki).

vim /boot/loader/loader.conf

Add Intel Microcode to systemd-boot (see Microcode in Wiki).

pacman -Syu intel-ucode
vim /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

Configure automatic systemd-boot update (see systemd-boot in Wiki).

mkdir /etc/pacman.d/hooks
vim /etc/pacman.d/hooks/systemd-boot.hook

Install NetworkManager (see NetworkManager in Wiki).

pacman -Syu networkmanager
systemctl enable NetworkManager
vim /etc/systemd/timedsyncd.conf
timedatectl set-ntp true

I'm using an nVidia graphics card.

pacman -Syu xorg-server
pacman -Syu nvidia opencl-nvidia

vim /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
vim /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf
# https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NVIDIA#DRM_kernel_mode_setting

vim /etc/pacman.d/hooks/nvidia.hook
# https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NVIDIA#Pacman_hook

mkinitcpio -P

Start installing more stuff.

pacman -Syu sddm
systemctl enable sddm

systemctl enable nvidia-persistenced.service
systemctl start nvidia-persistenced.service

pacman -Syu pulseaudio pulseaudio-alsa pulseaudio-bluetooth pulseaudio-zeroconf
pacman -Syu plasma-meta vlc phonon-qt5-gstreamer phonon-qt5-vlc dolphin dolphin-plugins kdialog kfind ark yakuake
pacman -Syu nvidia-settings sddm-kcm

All this has been done in the (chrooted) environment of the Live USB stick until now. Now we reboot into the new installation.

exit
umount -R /mnt
reboot

Installing Synergy so I can comfortably continue writing these commands while in the new installation (see Synergy in Wiki).

pacman -Syu synergy
cp /etc/synergy.conf.example /etc/synergy.conf
vim /etc/synergy.conf
systemctl --user enable --now synergys.service

Of course I need an AVR and Arduino toolchain!

pacman -Syu arduino arduino-avr-core avr-gcc avr-binutils avr-libc avrdude
gpasswd -a $USER uucp
gpasswd -a $USER lock

I'm using the AUR wrapper 'Bauerbill', taken from the creators TU repo.

vim /etc/pacman.conf
# https://xyne.archlinux.ca/repos/

pacman -Syu bauerbill
vim /etc/makepkg.conf # CFLAGS march=native MAKEFLAGS j, no compression

Continue installing even more stuff, like a Webbrowser.

pacman -Syu hunspell hunspell-en hunspell-de firefox
# Install ublock Origin, set DuckDuckGo, etc.

Install and configure NTP.

pacman -Syu ntp
vim /etc/ntp.conf
systemctl --user enable --now ntpd.service

Some more applications.

bb-wrapper -Syu --aur perl-opengl perl-wx-glcanvas slic3r
pacman -Syu cura
pacman -Syu keepassxc
pacman -Syu mpv youtube-dl
pacman -Syu libreoffice okular picocom

OpenSSH server needs to be enabled and started after installation.

pacman -Syu openssh
systemctl enable --now sshd.socket

Fonts may require a call to fc-cache to update the font cache.

pacman -Syu breeze-gtk kde-gtk-config
pacman -Syu ttf-droid ttf-inconsolata ttf-liberation ttf-roboto
pacman -Syu ttf-dejavu ttf-bitstream-vera terminus-font
sudo fc-cache

Some packets need 32bit libs on x64, so enable multilib.

vim /etc/pacman.conf # enable multilib
pacman -Syu lib32-nvidia-utils wine steam openscad

Install Redshift to reduce eyestrain in the evenings (see Redshift in Wiki). To autostart on boot, run redshift-gtk in the GUI and click on autostart there.

pacman -Syu python-gobject redshift
vim ~/.config/redshift.conf

Generate new SSH keys for GitHub etc. and also configure git.

ssh-keygen -t ecdsa -b 521
# generate as many as needed, one for github, one for webserver, one for home use, …
git config --global user.name “Thomas Buck”
git config --global user.email xythobuz@xythobuz.de
pacman -Syu meld
vim ~/.gitconfig # set meld as merge and diff, enable color

Install more stuff.

pacman -Syu nmap wget konversation

sh -c "$(wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh -O -)"
vim ~/.zshrc

pacman -Syu gvim
curl http://j.mp/spf13-vim3 -L -o - | sh
# http://vim.spf13.com/

Install VirtualBox.

pacman -Syu virtualbox virtualbox-host-modules-arch virtualbox-guest-iso
bb-wrapper -Syu --aur virtualbox-ext-oracle
gpasswd -a $USER vboxusers

If you are using an SSD, maybe think about enabling TRIM (see SSD TRIM in Wiki).

sudo systemctl enable fstrim.timer

pacman -Syu thermald cpupower
vim /etc/default/cpupower
sudo systemctl enable cpupower.service

I was also trying out Opera, but have now settled on Firefox.

pacman -Syu opera opera-ffmpeg-codecs
bb-wrapper -Syu --aur opera-adblock-complete
mkdir .opera
ln -s /usr/share/opera-adblock-complete/urlfilter.ini ~/.opera/urlfilter.ini

To get Bluetooth to work you may need some firmware (see StackExchange Question).

bb-wrapper -Syu --aur bcm20702a1-firmware
systemctl enable --now bluetooth.service

For monitoring needs (in conky), install hddtemp (see Hddtemp in Wiki).

pacman -Syu hddtemp
systemctl edit hddtemp.service
systemctl enable --now hddtemp.service

Install conky, a very cool monitoring tool (see Conky in Wiki).

bb-wrapper -Syu --aur conky-lua-nv
conky -C > ~/.conkyrc
vim ~/.conkyrc

This is my conkyrc at the moment:

-- vim: ts=4 sw=4 noet ai cindent syntax=lua
--[[
Conky, a system monitor, based on torsmo

Any original torsmo code is licensed under the BSD license

All code written since the fork of torsmo is licensed under the GPL

Please see COPYING for details

Copyright (c) 2004, Hannu Saransaari and Lauri Hakkarainen
Copyright (c) 2005-2012 Brenden Matthews, Philip Kovacs, et. al. (see AUTHORS)
All rights reserved.

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.
]]

conky.config = {
    alignment = 'bottom_right',
    xinerama_head = 2,
    background = false,
    border_width = 1,
    cpu_avg_samples = 2,
    default_color = 'white',
    default_outline_color = 'black',
    default_shade_color = 'white',
    draw_borders = false,
    draw_graph_borders = true,
    draw_outline = true,
    draw_shades = false,
    use_xft = true,
    font = 'DejaVu Sans Mono:size=12',
    gap_x = 10,
    gap_y = 10,
    minimum_height = 5,
    minimum_width = 5,
    net_avg_samples = 2,
    no_buffers = true,
    out_to_console = false,
    out_to_stderr = false,
    extra_newline = false,
    own_window = true,
    own_window_class = 'Conky',
    own_window_transparent = true,
    own_window_argb_visual = true,
    own_window_type = 'dock',
    own_window_hints = 'below',
    stippled_borders = 0,
    update_interval = 1.0,
    uppercase = false,
    use_spacer = 'none',
    show_graph_scale = false,
    show_graph_range = false,
    double_buffer = true
}

conky.text = [[
${texeci 60 curl --silent esp-e33750.fritz.box/values | tidy | grep -A1 -E 'PM10|PM2.5|Temperatur' | grep td | sed 's/<[^>]*>//g' | sed 's/&nbsp;/ /g' | sed 's/PM2.5/PM2.5\t/g' | sed 's/PM10/PM10\t/g' | sed '$!N;s/\n/\t\t/' }
${texeci 60 curl --silent esp-e33750.fritz.box/values | tidy | grep -A1 -E 'Luftfeuchte|Luftdruck|Signal' | grep td | sed 's/<[^>]*>//g' | sed 's/&nbsp;/ /g' | sed 's/rel. //g' | sed 's/Signal/Signal\t/g' |sed '$!N;s/\n/\t\t/' }
$hr
${texeci 30 nmap -sn 192.168.178.1/24 -R --dns-servers 192.168.178.1 | awk -F "[ ()]+" '/Nmap scan report for/{print $6 "\t" $5}' | sed 's/^[ \t]*//'}
$hr
${time %F %T %A}
$sysname $kernel on $machine
$hr
${color grey}Uptime:$color $uptime
${color grey}CPU Usage:$color ${freq_g}GHz ${cpu}% ${alignr}${cpubar 8,130}
${color grey}RAM Usage:$color $mem $memperc% ${alignr}${membar 8,130}
${color grey}Swap Usage:$color $swap $swapperc% ${alignr}${swapbar 8,130}
$hr
${cpugraph cpu1 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu2 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu3 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu4 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF}
${cpugraph cpu5 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu6 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu7 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${cpugraph cpu8 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF}
$hr
${color grey}CPU:${color} ${hwmon 1 temp 1}°C ${hwmon 1 temp 2}°C ${hwmon 1 temp 3}°C ${hwmon 1 temp 4}°C ${hwmon 1 temp 5}°C
${color grey}HDD:${color} ${exec hddtemp /dev/sda | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C ${exec hddtemp /dev/sdb | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C ${exec hddtemp /dev/sdc | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C ${exec hddtemp /dev/sdd | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C ${exec hddtemp /dev/sde | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C ${exec hddtemp /dev/sdf | awk '{print $(NF-1)}'}°C
${color grey}GPU:${color} ${nvidia temp}°C ${nvidia gpufreq}MHz ${nvidia memfreq}MHz
$hr
${color grey}File systems:
${color grey} /     ${color}${fs_used_perc /}% ${fs_bar 8 /}
${color grey} /home ${color}${fs_used_perc /home}% ${fs_bar 8 /home}
$hr
${color grey}Networking:  Download ${alignr}Upload
${color grey}eno1        $color ${downspeed eno1} ${alignr}${upspeed eno1}
${color grey}enp3s0      $color ${downspeed enp3s0} ${alignr}${upspeed enp3s0}
$hr
${downspeedgraph eno1 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${upspeedgraph eno1 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${downspeedgraph enp3s0 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF} ${upspeedgraph enp3s0 40,82 7F7F7F FFFFFF}
$hr
${color grey}Processes:$color $processes ${alignr}${color grey}Running:$color $running_processes
${color grey}Name               PID   CPU%   MEM%
${color}${top name 1} ${top pid 1} ${top cpu 1} ${top mem 1}
${color}${top name 2} ${top pid 2} ${top cpu 2} ${top mem 2}
${color}${top name 3} ${top pid 3} ${top cpu 3} ${top mem 3}
${color}${top name 4} ${top pid 4} ${top cpu 4} ${top mem 4}
${color}${top name 5} ${top pid 5} ${top cpu 5} ${top mem 5}
$hr
]]

Some nVidia graphics related settings.

sudo nvidia-settings # enable full composition pipeline, store x config
sudo vim /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-nvidia.conf # remove unneeded stuff, add triple buffering
sudo vim /etc/profile.d/kwin.sh # enable triple buffering
# https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NVIDIA/Troubleshooting#Avoid_screen_tearing

# Fix DPI, D0: 96x98, D1: 91x90 --> 96x96
# https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xorg#Proprietary_NVIDIA_driver

I had a BluRay I wanted to rip but couldn't up to this point, because my Desktop is my only device with a BluRay reader. So the point came to install and use the necessary software.

# MakeMKV BluRay support
# http://www.makemkv.com/forum2/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1053
bb-wrapper -Syu --aur lib32-glibc makemkv makemkv-libaacs
sudo sh -c “echo sg > /etc/modules-load.d/sg.conf“
modprobe sg

At this point of the installation, I needed to change the keyboard layout of my Ergodox. So I had to install some more development tools.

pacman -Syu arm-none-eabi-binutils arm-none-eabi-gcc arm-none-eabi-newlib dfu-util
pacman -Syu --needed git cmake ninja python libusb ctags gcc lsb-release
pacman -Syu --needed avr-binutils avr-gcc avr-libc

Still more stuff to be installed.

pacman -Syu bind-tools
pacman -Syu pcsx2
pacman -Syu xorg-xev
pacman -Syu lsof strace htop
pacman -Syu fuse2 fuseiso
pacman -Syu spectacle
bb-wrapper -Syu --aur opentx-companion betaflight-configurator
bb-wrapper -Syu --aur libspnav spacenavd blender

Install CUPS so we can print stuff.

pacman -Syu cups cups-pdf print-manager system-config-printer
systemctl enable --now org.cups.cupsd.service
sudo gpasswd -a $USER sys

Enable Color Emojis (see this Reddit Thread).

sudo pacman -S noto-fonts-emoji
sudo vim /etc/fonts/conf.avail/75-noto-color-emoji.conf
sudo ln -sf /etc/fonts/conf.avail/75-noto-color-emoji.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/

Automatically remove old versions of packages in local cache.

sudo pacman -S pacman-contrib
sudo systemctl enable --now paccache.timer

Some more stuff that could be useful:

# fix for nextcloud aur build error
export LC_ALL=C

# nas mounts in /etc/fstab
192.168.0.5:/mnt/Excelsus/Media   /mnt/nas_media   nfs noauto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=30,_netdev
192.168.0.5:/mnt/Excelsus/Misc    /mnt/nas_misc    nfs noauto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=30,_netdev
192.168.0.5:/mnt/Excelsus/Dashcam /mnt/nas_dashcam nfs noauto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=30,_netdev

# Auto-update pacman mirrorlist
# https://www.reddit.com/r/archlinux/comments/9xmw3a/what_archlinux_tricks_do_you_know_that_you_wish/

This is a nice little tool enabling auto-suggestion of packets when running a command that does not exist.

sudo bb-wrapper -Syu --aur pkgfile
sudo pkgfile -u
sudo systemctl enable --now pkgfile-update.timer
echo "source /usr/share/doc/pkgfile/command-not-found.zsh" > ~/.zsh

If you want to keep the kernel modules of the currently running kernel after updating it with pacman, run these commands. They will add a hook to pacman that copies the modules to a safe location on updates. This way, you will still be able to use for example new USB devices without having rebooted after an update.

sudo bb-wrapper -Syu --aur kernel-modules-hook
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable linux-modules-cleanup

Of course this project is forever ongoing. In the future, I'm planning to properly use the other harddisks in my machine, as I'm currently only utilizing the NVMe SSD in there. For this, I want to combine them all, probably with some kind of RAID, using LVM. I also have a couple more SSDs in there, so I will probably use one SSD for root, one for home and one as swap. And of course, I also want to enable full-disk-encryption, but I'm not yet sure how exactly. This will probably come in another blog post further down the road.