The previous Arch Linux topic, just covered the basic installation from scratch, with minimal configurations through command line needed to boot the system and access internet for future configurations.
But, just running an Operating System from command line only, especially Arch Linux, is the job of Linux intermediate or guru users, can be very intimidating for newbies or those who came from Linux GUI distributions or even Microsoft Windows.
This tutorial guides you through transforming the main Arch Linux CLI only into a powerful and robust Desktop platform, with an awesome customizable desktop environment in Linux world this days – “Cinnamon” – and all the necessary software for an average desktop user, all of this done with the help of pacman software manager which does all necessary library, dependency and configuration checks on your behalf.
Previous Arch Linux installation on a Desktop, Laptop or Netbook with a working Internet connection.
Step 1: Install Xorg Server and Video Drivers
1. After initial system login we need to do a full system update by issuing the following command.
$ sudo pacman –Syu
2. Before we install all the necessary software’s, we need the help of a package “bash-completion“, that automatically completes commands or shows a list of possible commands by pressing TAB key.
$ sudo pacman –S bash-completion
3. The next step is to install the default X environment that provides the main Xorg server configurations and 3D support.
$ sudo pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit xorg-utils xorg-server-utils mesa
4. For an extra Xorg functionality also install the following packages.
$ sudo pacman -S xorg-twm xterm xorg-xclock
5. For a laptop or netbook, also install drivers for touchpad input support.
$ sudo pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics
6. Now we need to install system VGA (Video Card) specific drivers, but first of all we need to identify our system graphics. Issue the following command to identify your video card.
$ lspci | grep VGA
If your system is a newer Laptop with Optimus support the output should show you two graphics card, usually an Intel and Nvidia or an Intel and ATI. The Linux drivers support for this kind of technology is now so brilliant at this time (you can try Bumblebee or Primus) for a minimal VGA switching.
7. After you detected your Graphics, is now time to install appropriate drivers. By default, Arch offers Vesa default video driver – xf86-video-vesa – that can handle a large number of graphic chipsets but does not provide any 2D or 3D acceleration support.
Also Arch Linux provides two types of Video Drivers.
- Open Source (maintained and developed by distribution – recommended for installation).
- Proprietary (developed and maintained by Video Cards manufacturer).
In order to list all available Open Source video drivers provided by Arch Linux official repositories run the following commands.
$ sudo pacman –Ss | grep xf86-video
To list Proprietary drivers run the following commands.
## Nvidia ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep nvidia
## AMD/ATI ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep ATI $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep AMD
## Intel ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep intel $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep Intel
For Multilib Packages – 32-bit applications on Arch x86_64 – use the following commands.
## Nvidia ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep lib32-nvidia $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep lib32-nouveau
## ATI/AMD ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep lib32-ati
## Intel ## $ sudo pacman –Ss | grep lib32-intel
8. After you verify what drivers are available for your Graphics proceed with appropriate video driver package installation. As mentioned above you should stick to Open Source drivers, due to fact that they are maintained and properly tested by the community. To install Graphics Driver run the following command (after xf86-video – press TAB key to show list and autocomplete).
$ sudo pacman -S xf86-video-[TAB]your_graphic_card
For further information regarding Xorg and Graphics drivers go to Arch Linux Wiki Xorg page at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xorg.
9. After your Video Card appropriate drivers has been installed, is time to test Xorg server and video drivers by issuing the following command.
$ sudo startx
If everything is correctly configured a basic X session should start like in the screenshot below, which you can ditch by typing exit onto the larger console window.
Step 2: Install Desktop Environment – Cinnamon
10. Now is time to provide an awesome innovative customizable Graphical User Interface – Full Desktop Environment for our system by installing Cinnamon package. Run the following command to install Cinnamon and other dependency from official arch repository.
$ sudo pacman -S cinnamon nemo-fileroller
11. Next step is to install GDM display manager package which helps system to start X server and provides a Graphical User Interface for users to login to Cinnamon DE.
$ sudo pacman –S gdm
12. Next step is to enable then start and test GDM by logging to Arch Linux using your credentials.
$ sudo systemctl enable gdm $ sudo systemctl start gdm
13. After GDM loads you will be prompted with a Login window. Select your user -> click on Sign In left icon and choose Cinnamon, then enter your password and hit Sign In button or Enter key.
14. So far our internet connection is managed through command line, but if you want to manage your network connections from GUI you need to disable dhcpd service and install, enable and start Network Manager package. Also install net-tools package for extended network commands. From GUI open an UXterm shell prompt and run the following commands.
Install ifconfig provided by net-tools package and then view interface configuration using following commands.
$ sudo pacman –S net-tools $ ifconfig
Next, install Network Manager.
$ sudo pacman -S network-manager-applet
Disable dhcpcd service.
$ sudo systemctl stop [email protected] $ sudo systemctl disable [email protected] $ sudo systemctl stop dhcpcd.service $ sudo systemctl disable dhcpcd.service
Start end enable Network Manager.
$ sudo systemctl start NetworkManager $ sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager
15. Now test your internet connection again running ifconfig to get network interfaces status, then issue a ping command against a domain.
To do a complete system testing, reboot your system to make sure everything is correctly installed and configured so far.
Step 3: Install Basic Softwares
16. For now our system provides a minimum installed software that can’t be much of help on a day to day desktop or laptop use. Run the following long command to install basic softwares.
$ sudo pacman -S pulseaudio pulseaudio-alsa pavucontrol gnome-terminal firefox flashplugin vlc chromium unzip unrar p7zip pidgin skype deluge smplayer audacious qmmp gimp xfburn thunderbird gedit gnome-system-monitor
17. Also install codecs required for multimedia applications to encode or decode audio or video streams by issuing the following command.
$ sudo pacman -S a52dec faac faad2 flac jasper lame libdca libdv libmad libmpeg2 libtheora libvorbis libxv wavpack x264 xvidcore gstreamer0.10-plugins
18. Install LibreOffice package if you need Office tools like Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base by running the following command and press Enter key on selection (default=all).
$ sudo pacman -S libreoffice
To remove a package use –R switch with pacman command.
$ sudo pacman -R package-to-remove
19. To install community maintained software install Yaourt Package Manager Tool (not recommended to use yaourt for beginner users).
$ sudo pacman -S yaourt
Step 4: Customize Cinnamon Desktop
20. Cinnamon System Settings provides the interface through you can adjust and customize Arch and Cinnamon DE with whatever settings suits your needs. The following settings will show you how to change your system general look and feel (theme and icons). First of all, install Faenza Icon Theme and Numix Theme.
$ sudo pacman -S Faenza-icon-theme numix-themes
21. Then open System settings –> Themes –> Other Settings –> choose Numix on Controls and Window borders and
Faenza on Icons.
22. To change default Cinnamon theme go to System settings –> Themes –> Get more online –> select and install Minty, then go to Installed tab, choose and Apply Minty theme.
That’s all! Now your final system appearance should look like in the screenshot below.
23. As a last customization to display a nice graphical monitoring tool on system toolbar first install the following packages.
$ sudo pacman -S libgtop networkmanager
Then open System Settings –> Applets –> Get more online, search for Multi-Core System Monitor and install it, then switch to Installed tab, right click and Add to panel.
You now have a complete good looking Arch Linux Desktop with basic software needed to browse Internet, watch movies, listen music or write Office docs.
For a complete Application List visit the following page
Build on a Rolling Release model Arch Linux also provides other Linux Desktop Environments, such as KDE, GNOME, Mate, LXDE, XFCE, Enlightenment, from its official repositories , so choosing Cinnamon or other DE is just a pure simple personal choice, but, in my opinion, Cinnamon provides a better flexibility (Themes, Applets, Desklets and Extensions) against complex customizations than its parent Gnome Shell.