Arch Linux Linux Tutorials

Arch Linux – Customizing the System

customize arch linux
Continuing from the previous guide, we will finish by fine-tuning the system to enable functionality comparable to other distros. After this tutorial, you will have a lot of the basic features you will find in a distro such as Fedora or Ubuntu.

​Before we begin, update your new system, and then reboot.
$ pacman -Syu

arch linux system upgrade

First off, let’s setup WiFi. If the system is already installed and already has an Internet connection, then this will be straightforward. If it’s the only option available to you, then you may need to boot the installation CD up again to install the dependencies for the ‘wifi-menu’ script. Ideally, this step should have been done during the installation. As mentioned, ‘wifi-menu’ is the script that is used to connect to any Wifi network. It depends on two packages being installed: ‘dialog’ and ‘wpa_supplicant’. Dialog is the UI library that is used to render graphical menus in a terminal. ‘wpa_supplicant’ (WPA = WiFi Protected Access) is the package used to provide support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security protocols.

​Install these packages using ‘pacman’ with root access.

$ pacman -S dialog wpa_supplicant
If you had to boot from the CD to get Internet access, ‘wifi-menu’ should work out-of-the-box. Connection to a WiFi network should be possible. Do this before running ‘arch-chroot’ onto the installation drive after mounting it. Then you will be able to install those two packages.​

Double-Checking Sound

Sound support should already be working. However, we would like to check a few things. If you cannot play sound either through the web browser, or a media player, it may be muted. First, install ‘alsa-utils’, then umute the sound with ‘amixer‘, as shown in the Arch Wiki. The master channel is the most important. If the other two fail, there’s no need to worry.
$ pacman -S alsa-utils 
$ amixer sset Master unmute 
$ amixer sset Speaker unmute 
$ amixer sset Headphone unmute
During installation, the ALSA service is enabled. This means that you will have sound after rebooting. Since we also installed the KDE 5 Plasma desktop, we would also like to install KMixer to easily control the volume.
$ pacman -S kmix
Finally, while we’re at it, let’s complete the KDE installation by installing dolphin (file manager), kwrite, kate (text editors), and konsole (terminal).​
$ pacman -S dolphin kwrite kate konsole

Display Manager

The purpose of a display manager is to provide a login interface under X. With one enabled, you don’t need to log into a terminal then launch X with a desktop interface. Let’s install a display manager called ‘lxdm‘.
$ pacman -S lxdm
There are other display managers to choose from such as GDM and MDM. After installing, start and enable LXDM.
$ systemctl enable lxdm.service 
$ systemctl start lxdm.service

arch linux login screen lxdm

The display manager is now up and running. Login to the desktop (Plasma or whichever environment you choose), open a terminal and use ‘su’ to use the root user.

This next step is optional. Let’s install the MATE desktop. MATE is a continuation of the GNOME 2 codebase.
$ pacman -S mate mate-extra
Now we can reboot. After that, we can log in to either Plasma, MATE, FVWM, or whichever desktop environment or window manager you’ve installed. Feel free to install any more desktop environments you choose.

Package Searching And Fonts

Before we install fonts onto the system, let’s demonstrate searching for a particular package using pacman.
$ pacman -Ss fonts

arch linux package search

We have brought up a list of packages that have that keyword in them. The package we wish to install is the ‘gnu-free-fonts’ one from the ‘extra’ repository. Standard fonts for everyday usage are provided with it.

Device Mounting Privileges

In distributions such as Ubuntu, users are automatically configured to have access to removable storage. Users can have the same thing with Arch Linux, but a few steps must be performed. First, it’s helpful to know what ‘udisks’ (really ‘udisks2’) and ‘polkit’ are. Udisks is used to help manage storage devices. Polkit is used to fine-tune the permission settings for udisks. We are going to implement a configuration where users in the storage group can mount drives without being asked for the root password. Currently, all users have to put in the password every time they wish to mount something. This can get rather annoying if you are the main user. We need to configure polkit to automatically grant mounting privileges to users in the storage group.

​All of these steps need to be performed with root privileges. First, open up ‘/etc/group’ to add yourself to the ‘storage’ group.

$ nano /etc/group

user to storage group

Next, we need to add some polkit rules so that udisks will grant easier access to mounting privileges. In the Arch Wiki, there is a configuration section in the Udisks page. In it, we are presented with 3 options. I picked the third option because I installed KDE and Dolphin. Copy the contents of the file on GitHub into a file located in ‘/etc/polkit-1/rules.d/’. You can call it whatever you wish. I called it ’50-storage-group.rules’.

arch linux polkit

You should be able to then mount the drive and use it properly. The package ‘ntfs-3g’ should be installed as well in order to write to NTFS filesystems.

DVD Playback

We need to install a few packages before we can watch DVDs on Arch Linux. These are the packages:
$ pacman -S libdvdread # To read them 
$ pacman -S libdvdcss # To decrypt them 
$ pacman -S libdvdnav # For navigating DVD menus

arch dvd playback libdvd

The user should also be in the ‘optical’ group. To add yourself, or another user, open ‘/etc/group’ as root, find the ‘optical’ group, and put any usernames beside it. Separate multiple users with a comma.

Now you should be able to use programs like VLC to play DVD movies.

Wine

If you haven’t enabled the multilib repository in the pacman config file, ‘/etc/pacman.conf’, you will need to do so before installing Wine. The multilib repository contains 32-bit programs. By default, only 64-bit packages are accessible. Open the config file, and uncomment this section (remove the ‘#’ from both lines):
[multilib] 
Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
Once the config is saved, update the package list and then install Wine.
$ pacman -Sy 
$ pacman -S wine

arch linux wine

Then download a Windows program and try it out.

SSH

If you plan to connect to other Linux or Unix systems, ssh needs to be installed. We will install OpenSSH for this.
$ pacman -S openssh

arch openssh

Now, what if you want to receive connections. You will need to start the SSH server using ‘systemctl’.
$ systemctl start sshd.service
And if you want to have the SSH daemon startup during booting, you can.

$ systemctl enable sshd.service

Conclusion

After these guides, you should have a system that is functional, and useful. Like any other system, you should be able to play music, games, write documents with LibreOffice once installed, browse the web, and more. You man continue to use your system normally, or you can continue to tinker around with the system.


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