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June 17, 2011 / Chris Merck

Tips Post-Install for an ArchLinux Desktop

This week I got my new ArchLinux desktop up and running. I basically RTFMed (i.e., followed the Beginner’s Guide (, and then added a few finishing touches.

So, if you’re installing Arch, I highly recommend you do the following after setting up using the Beginner’s Guide (and/or the official install guide). [Note that these are more notes to myself than a well thought-out guide. If I ever get around to cleaning up the tips, they will go on the ArchWiki where they belong.]

Use UUIDs instead of device names (like /dev/sda1) in /etc/fstab and in grub. This will save headaches when your disks decide to start up in a different order! I made the mistake of using the /dev/… names directly, and had to switch to UUIDs manually. More on that in a comming post.

For some reason, I had to set interface=eth0 in /etc/rc.conf to get my wired networking to work.

Before being able to use pacman, I had to run pacman-db-upgrade.

In Gnome3, to get empathy (instant messaging) to work, I had to install telepathy: pacman -S telepathy . I just installed the whole group.

To get my Brother HL-1440 laser printer working I had to:

  1. Install cups.
  2. Add the line blacklist usblp in /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf
  3. Rmmod usblp
  4. Now, and only now, can you see the printer in the cups webiface.

Instead of ifconfig use ip addr. That’s the new way 🙂

When I upgraded recently my startx stopped working. It complained of not being able to find the hostname command. It seems that it should be in the coreutils package, but it isn’t included for some reason. So, you need net-tools (this brings back old friends like ifconfig too!).

I installed both Gnome3 and KDE4. Gnome3 has some nice features, but very little configurability. KDE4 is not crashing like every other KDE I’ve used. But still, those desktop environments frustrate me. I tried installing XFCE, and then my machine starting going really slow. (Opening a new terminal took ~5sec). I tried installing LXDE (Openbox-based) but startx and applications were super slow. I tried the venerable responsiveness tips from ( but it helped little or not at all. The fix was to uninstall xfce and reboot. Ditching xfce wasn’t so straight forward. You have to first uninstall xfce4-goodies, then xfce4, stopping to uninstall other xfce-dependent packages if needed. Then I reinstalled thunar, which is my prefered file manager, but is also an xfce package. Now, my system is super-fast… opening a new terminal or even a firefox window occurs before my finger has released the mouse button. Impressive. (This is even with swappiness and such at the defaults.)




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