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Arch Linux

  1. Installation guide
    1. USB Stick
    2. USB Booting
    3. Time and Network
    4. BIOS GPT scheme
      1. Partitioning
        1. Swap
      2. File system
      3. Mount
    5. UEFI GPT scheme
      1. Disk Preparation
      2. Erase Disk
      3. GPT Table
      4. Partitioning
      5. ESP Filesystem
      6. LUKS
      7. LVM
      8. Filesystem
      9. Mounting
    6. Mirrors
    7. base packages
    8. fstab
    9. Keyfile Copy
    10. Chroot
    11. Time
    12. Localization
    13. Networking
    14. Initramfs by mkinitcpio
    15. root password
    16. Boot loader - Grub
    17. Reboot
  2. Post-installation
  3. GPU Driver
  4. KDE
  5. Time
    1. timezone
  6. pacman
  7. Xterm
    1. Copy/Paste
  8. Resolution
    1. Virtual terminal
    2. Xorg
  9. Fcitx
  10. System upgrading
    1. Error
  11. Refs
  12. to-dos

Installation guide

  1. Arch Linux has dropped support for i686 platforms. Only x86_64 now!
  2. After installation and before reboot, check out all commands by history > cmd.log for later reference.
  3. Download the latest ISO image from download link.
  4. Install necessary packages. At least wpa_supplicant as the base group does not include that.

USB Stick

dd command will be used to create the bootable stick as it is more reliable and also the recommended method on the Wiki page. dd erases the whole USB stick and treats it as a hard drive.

Without explict notice, we assume the USB drive to be /dev/sdb. dd command is effective but dangerous as well. It take effects immediately without confirmation prompt. Therefore, please make sure you select the exact of= argument.

root@archiso / # fdisk -l; blkid; lsblk -f; findmnt
root@archiso / # dd bs=1M if=/path/to/archlinux.iso of=/dev/sdb status=progress oflag=sync

The optimal block size bs argument is determined by various factors (both hardware and software) on the system. Empirically, 1M or 4M is good enough.

To restore the USB stick as normal data storage, we should remove the ISO 9660 filesystem signature before re-partitioning and re-formating the USB drive by wipefs command. It only erase signatures of filesystem, raid or partition-table while leave filesystem itself untouched.

root@archiso / # wipefs --all /dev/sdb

USB Booting

Disable Secure Boot in UEFI BIOS setting to boot Linux distritions as most distributions do not buy digital certifits from Verisign.

If the USB stick refuses to load, then try the dd command once more. If directory /sys/firmware/efi/efivars exists, then it's booted in UEFI mode, otherwise it is legacy BIOS mode.

By default, Arch ISO uses Zsh shell. To log all commands, set in ~/.zshrc the following to empty string:

HISTSIZE= 
HISTFILESIZE=

And then run source .zshrc.

Next, use Alt-arrow or Ctrl-Alt-Fx to switch virtual console and read installation guide there.

Time and Network

Once booting into the live Arch system, check network connection and rectify system clock:

root@archiso ~ # ping www.archlinux.org
root@archiso ~ # timedatectl set-ntp true; timedatectl set-timezone Asia/Shanghai; timedatectl status

For wired/wireless network that require captive login or user agreement, here are a few tips:

  1. Check if dhcpcd or wpa_supplicant service is launched.
  2. Use terminal text-based browsers like elinks, lynx etc.
  3. Use curl arguments to fill in username and password.
root@archiso ~ # systemctl start dhcpcd
root@archiso ~ # wpa_passphrase ssid psk > /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-wlan0.conf
root@archiso ~ # systemctl start wpa_supplicant@wlan0
root@archiso ~ # ip addr; ping www.example.com

Details refer to Using command line to connect to a wireless network with an http login and Connecting to a Wireless network with a captive portal.

BIOS GPT scheme

  1. Grub, BIOS/GPT partitioning.
  2. Single root partition plus extra swap file.

This booting schema is only used in virtual machine.

Partitioning

Firstly, to identify disk devices:

root@archiso ~ # fdisk -l
root@archiso ~ # lsblk

For Grub, BIOS/GPT scheme, we must create the BIOS boot partition to hold Grub core.img. Around 1 MiB (2048 sectors) is enough. Partition number can be in any position order but has to be on the first 2 TiB of the disk. This partition should be flagged as bios_grub for parted, ef02 for gdisk, or select BIOS boot and partition type 4 for fdisk.

On the other hand, Grub, BIOS/MBR scheme uses post-MBR gap (after the 512B MBR and before the first partition) to store core.img. Usually this gap is 31 KiB. For complex modules in core.img, this space is limited. That can be resolved by pushing forward starting sector of the first parititon. For instance, partitioning tool can align at MiB boundaries, thus leaving enough post-MBR gap. So, it eliminates the bother to create BIOS boot partition.

root@archiso ~ # parted -a optimal /dev/sda
(parted) help
(parted) mktable gpt
(parted) unit s
(parted) print free
(parted) mkpart primary 0% 2047s # mkpart primary 1MiB 2047s
(parted) set 1 bios_grub on
(parted) mkpart primary 2048s 100%
(parted) print free
(parted) quit
  1. Tell parted to optimally align at 1MiB boundaries.
  2. By default, GPT's free sector starts at 34s (equally 0%). Make BIOS boot partition be the very first parition which starts at 34s spanning to 2047s. parted reminds:

    Warning: The resulting partition is not properly aligned for best performance. Ignore/Cancel?

    Choose Ignore as this partition will not be regularly accessed. Performance issues can be disregarded though this is out of GPT alignment specifications.

  3. The rest space is assigned to root starting at 2048s.

Swap

There is not any other separate partitions except that a swap file will be created. Swap partition bears NO advantages over swap file but could be shared among different systems. On the other hand, we can easily resize and plug/unplug a swap file on-the-fly.

Leave the swap file part after booting into new system.

File system

There is no need to create file system for the partition bios_grub. Hence, just create an ext4 on the single root parition:

root@archiso ~ # mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2

Mount

root@archiso ~ # mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

As there is only the root parition, we would not create any other mount points under /mnt, neither /home nor /boot.

UEFI GPT scheme

Almost all modern systems take UEFI booting schema. The old BIOS legacy mode discussed above is almost deprecated. To set the PC booting in only UEFI mode in BIOS setting (disable legacy BIOS). Also make sure the ISO is booted in UEFI mode.

Disk Preparation

  1. If LVM, system encrytion (LUKS), or RAID is desired, do it now.
  2. ESP could be any of FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and VFAT.

We will erase partition or the whole drive before partitioning and formating.

Erase Disk

This section only covers normal mechanical disk drives. For SSDs, it is a different story.

We want to securely erase the disk by overwritting the entire drive with random data. There are a host of general methods available. But I choose the dm-crypt specific method here. Optionally, you could either erase just a single partition (i.e. /dev/sdXY) or the complete drive (i.e. /dev/sdX).

We first create a temporary dm-crypt container:

# erase a partition
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup open /dev/sda1 --type plain -d /dev/urandom to_be_wiped
# erase a disk
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup open /dev/sda --type plain -d /dev/urandom to_be_wiped

--key-file /dev/urandom is used as the encryption key. The container device is located at /dev/mapper/to_be_wipded. We can verify its existence by lsblk.

Next, we fill the container with zeros without the need of /dev/urandom:

root@archiso ~ # dd bs=1M if=/dev/zero of=/dev/mapper/to_be_wiped status=progress

For a large (i.e. a multi-terabyte disk) drive or partition, this may take hours or even a day.

Finally, close the temporary container:

root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup close /dev/mapper/to_be_wipded
root@archiso ~ # lsblk

GPT Table

Use parted to create GPT table:

root@archiso ~ # parted -a opt /dev/sda
(parted) mktable/mklabel gpt

Partitioning

For future compatability and scability, create extra BIOS boot partition (for Grub). Additionally, I want the /boot partition also encrypted. This setup really makes the system complicated. Anyway, the practice and security improvement deserve it!

root@archiso ~ # parted -a opt /dev/sda
(parted) unit s/MiB
(parted) p free
(parted) mkpart primary 30s/40s 2047s
(parted) toggle 1 bios_grub
(parted) mkpart primary fat32 2048s/1MiB 551MiB
(parted) toggle 2 esp/boot
(parted) mkpart primary 551MiB 751MiB
(parted) mkpart primary 751MiB 100%
(parted) print free
  1. As the Grub BIOS boot partition is not regularly accessed, there is no need to follow rigid alignment rules. It can just start at 34s (no alignment) or 40s (minimal alignment).

    GRUB embeds its core.img into this partition

  2. It is recommended to create the ESP with 550MiB.
  3. Note that the end of part 2 and the start of part 3 are both 551MiB.

    If using s unit, their relation should be +1.

Up to now, the partitions layout looks like:

/dev/sda1: BIOS boot
/dev/sda2: ESP
/dev/sda3: boot LUKS
/dev/sda4: '/', '/home', and '/swap' LUKS

ESP Filesystem

root@archiso ~ # mkfs.vfat -F32 /dev/sda2
root@archiso ~ # parted /dev/sda p free ; fdisk -l /dev/sda
  1. BIOS boot partition shall not be formated or mounted. Just leave it alone.
  2. Both sda3 and sda4 will be encrypted by LUKS, so there is no need to create filesystem at this stage.

LUKS

As Grub does not support LUKS2, use LUSK1 (--type luks1) on partitions (i.e. /dev/sda3 for /boot) that Grub need access to.

Firstly, we create a passphrase-protected file by gpg (namely arch-luks.gpg) that will be used to to encrypt the LUKS container.

root@archiso ~ # export GPG_TTY=$(tty)
root@archiso ~ # dd if=/dev/urandom bs=8388607 count=1 | gpg -v --symmetric --cipher-algo AES256 --armor --output ~/arch-luks.gpg

Why does bs=8388607 count=1 is used? That's because the maximum key file size is 8192KiB. From the empirics of Gentoo installation, we should decrease the maximum value by 1.

Before anything else, make a backup of the key (i.e. to a USB stick), as otherwise the Live environment would lose it upon reboot.

Next, we create the LUKS encrypted container. luksFormat does not format the device, but sets up the LUKS device header, and specially encrypts the master key in the header with the desired passphrase (--key-file here). Master key is randomly choosen upon container creation and, encrypted and embedded in the header part. It is the master key's job (not that passphrase) to encrypt the data on partition.

Create Luks containers:

root@archiso ~ # gpg --decrypt ~/arch-luks.gpg | cryptsetup -v --type luks1 --cipher aes-xts-plain64 --key-size 512 --hash sha512 --key-file - --use-random luksFormat /dev/sda3
root@archiso ~ # gpg --decrypt ~/arch-luks.gpg | cryptsetup -v --type luks2 --cipher aes-xts-plain64 --key-size 512 --hash sha512 --key-file - --use-random luksFormat /dev/sda4

In this case, both the containers use the same key file but different LUKS type.

For safety, add a fallback passphrase in addition to the key file. It always asks for an existing passphrase or key file before adding a new one.

root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup -v --key-file arch-luks --iter-time 5000 luksAddKey /dev/sda3 --key-slot 0
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup -v --key-file arch-luks --iter-time 5000 luksAddKey /dev/sda4 --key-slot 0

Apart from luksAddKey, we can also luksRemoveKey, luksKillSlot etc.

Now, we can use luksDump command to verify the LUKS header information:

root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup luksDump /dev/sda3
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup luksDump /dev/sda4

Next, we should backup the LUKS header:

root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup luksHeaderBackup /dev/sda3 --header-backup-file ~/sda3-luks-header.img
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup luksHeaderBackup /dev/sda4 --header-backup-file ~/sda4-luks-header.img

Of course, we have a counterpart command luksHeaderRestore to restore header file. Once backuped, the the LUKS header may be deleted from the container. Details, refer to Arch wiki.

Once created, it is time to open the containers. The first open command, uses the fallback passphrase while the second uses key file.

root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup open /dev/sda3 cryptboot
root@archiso ~ # cryptsetup --key-file ~/arch-luks open /dev/sda4 cryptlvm
root@archiso ~ # lsblk
root@archiso ~ # ls -al /dev/mapper/

The decrypted containers are now available at /dev/mapper/.

LVM

LUKS containers are ready for LVM containers on which we then create Arch Linux filesystem.

At this stage, we only care about /dev/mapper/cryptlvm as there is no LVM requirement on /dev/mapper/cryptboot.

root@archiso ~ # pvcreate /dev/mapper/cryptlvm ; pvdisplay -v -m
root@archiso ~ # vgcreate volgrp /dev/mapper/cryptlvm ; vgdisplay -v
root@archiso ~ # lvcreate --size 16G volgrp --name swap
root@archiso ~ # lvcreate --size 60G volgrp --name root
root@archiso ~ # lvcreate --size 250G volgrp --name home ; lvdisplay -v -m
root@archiso ~ # ls -al /dev/{mapper,volgrp}
  1. Create a physical volume /dev/mapper/cryptlvm on top of the LUKS container.
  2. Create a volume group volgrp and add the physical volume into it (can add more, if multiple physical volumes exist).
  3. Create logical volumes within volgrp.

    For futher compatibility, leave some volgrp space unallocated. Size of logical volumes can be ajusted on the fly.

  4. Created logical volmes' symbolic links reside in two equivalent locations, namely /dev/mapper/ and /dev/volgrp/.

Filesystem

Format the logical volumes.

root@archiso ~ # mkswap /dev/volgrp/swap
root@archiso ~ # mkfs.ext4 /dev/volgrp/root
root@archiso ~ # mkfs.ext4 /dev/volgrp/home

Recall that, we have not create filesystem for the decrypted cryptboot yet. Just create filesystem on top LUKS container directly without LVM.

root@archiso ~ # mkfs.ext2 /dev/mapper/cryptboot
root@archiso ~ # lsblk

Mounting

root@archiso ~ # blkid
root@archiso ~ # swapon /dev/volgrp/swap
root@archiso ~ # mount /dev/volgrp/root /mnt
root@archiso ~ # mkdir /mnt/home; mount /dev/volgrp/home /mnt/home
#
root@archiso ~ # mkdir /mnt/boot; mount /dev/mapper/cryptboot /mnt/boot
#
root@archiso ~ # mkdir /mnt/efi; mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/efi
#
root@archiso ~ # lsblk
  1. Before mounting, we should use blkid to check relevant partition and filesystem are correctly prepared.
  2. LUKS boot partition can be mounted directly.
  3. ESP, boot, swap, root, and home are all mounted.

Mirrors

Edit /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist and place geographically closest mirrors on top. Optionally comment out all the other mirrors.

Or get a state-of-the-art copy from mirrorlist generator:

curl -vo mirrorlist https://www.archlinux.org/mirrorlist/?country=all&protocol=http&protocol=https&ip_version=4&ip_version=6

base packages

# base
root@archiso ~ # pacstrap /mnt base base-devel
# optional
root@archiso ~ # pacstrap /mnt nano
  1. This will install all packages from base group to root partition. Around 200 MiB packages will be downloaded and 700 MiB disk space consumed. Ignore the warning on locale failure that will be handled after chroot.
  2. The base group does not even has a text editor. So we install nano first.
  3. Other groups or packages can also be appended to the pacstrap command. However, we'd better install only necessary packages at this stage. We can also install packages within chroot by pacman or when the OS is completely installed.

fstab

root@archiso ~ # genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab
root@archiso ~ # cat /mnt/etc/fstab
  1. -U and -L use UUID and label respectively.

Attention that, the separate cryptboot container is also included in /etc/fstab. To support automount of /boot partition, we should resort to /mnt/etc/crypttab:

# /mnt/etc/crypttab
cryptboot	/dev/sda2	/efi/arch-luks.gpg	cipher=aes-xts-plain64:sha512,size=512

Keyfile Copy

Before chrooting, copy the key file to ESP partition. Within the chroot environment, we cannot access the keyfile in Live ISO.

root@archiso ~ # cp ~/arch-luks.gpg /mnt/efi/

Chroot

root@archiso ~ # arch-chroot /mnt

Much simpler than that of Gentoo (manually). The shell prompt becomes [root@archiso /#] and the default shell is Bash now.

To log all commands, set the following in ~/.bashrc empty string or negative integer:

# ~/.bashrc
HISTSIZE= 
HISTFILESIZE=
# -or-
HISTSIZE=-1
HISTFILESIZE=-1

Time

[root@archiso /#] ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Region/City /etc/localtime
[root@archiso /#] hwclock -w/--systohc

Localization

Mainly, we will modify two files /etc/locale.gen and /etc/locale.conf.

# Uncomment the following lines from /etc/locale.gen
en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8
zh_CN.UTF-8 UTF-8
zh_CN.GB18030 GB18030
zh_TW BIG5
#
[root@archiso / #] grep '^[^#]'/etc/locale.gen
[root@archiso / #] locale-gen
[root@archiso / #] locale -a
[root@archiso / #] echo LANG=en_US.UTF-8 >> /etc/locale.conf

Here we set system locale to en_US.UTF-8 (better for log trace). For per-user locale, leave it to ~/.config/locale.conf.

To set customized keymap permanently, edit (create) /etc/vconsole.conf:

[root@archiso / #] echo 'KEYMAP=emacs' >> /etc/vconsole.conf

Check /usr/share/keymaps/i386/qwerty for predefined keymaps. Switch to a keymap temporarily:

root@archiso ~ # loadkeys emacs

Attention, this only affects keyboard layout in virtual console. X keyboard layout is discuessed below.

Networking

Set hostname:

# Create /etc/hostname
[root@archiso / #] echo "myhostname" >> /etc/hostname

Update /etc/hosts:

127.0.0.1	localhost
::1		localhost
127.0.1.1	myhostname.localdomain	myhostname

The third line in the request uses 127.0.1.1 instead of 127.0.0.1. It does not matter which one is used, actually. But hostname resolution provide some information.

Install NetworkManager:

[root@archiso / #] pacman -S networkmanager

NetworkManager has built-in DHCP client, so we don't need to install dhcpcd. Aslo, it will pull in wpa_supplicant.

Initramfs by mkinitcpio

# /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
MODULES=(vfat)
HOOKS=(base udev autodetect modconf block filesystems keyboard fsck keymap encrypt lvm2)
hook info
keymap needed as custom keymap (emacs) is set in vconsole.conf.
encrypt LUKS
lvm2 LVM
  1. Add vfat module, otherwise initramfs fails load the key file.
  2. This is a busybox based initramfs configuration. It is different from systemd init booting process, which is the next phase.
  3. Use mkinitpico -H <hook-name> to check hooks info. Use mkinitcpio -L to list available hooks.
  4. Remove consolefont hook as it is unnecessary.

Before creating the new initramfs, we should install lvm2, otherwise mkinitcpio cannot find the hook:

[root@archiso / #] pacman -S lvm2

Now we will re-create the initramfs to include the new hooks, though pacstrap above already created it upon installation of linux package (pulled in by the base group).

[root@archiso / #] mkinitcpio -P

mkinitcpio will install generate two images, a default and a fallback that skips the autodetect hook thus including a full range of mostly-unneeded modules. Obviously, the fallback image is much bigger in size than the default one as it attempts to pull in as many modules as possible. Therefore, fallback image generation usually reports missing firmware. If the system does not have such hardware, it can be safely ignored. Otherwise, just install the relevant modules like 'wd719x-firmware'.

root password

[root@archiso / #] passwd

Boot loader - Grub

[root@archiso / #] pacman -S grub efibootmgr intel-ucode
  1. efibootmgr is used by the GRUB installation script to write boot entries to NVRAM.
  2. intel-ucode is used to apply CPU stability and security updates during boot.

Since the boot partition is encrypted by LUKS, so we should enable encryption option for Grub.

# /etc/default/grub
GRUB_ENABLE_CRYPTODISK=y

This option is used by grub-install to generate core.img. Then we set the kernel parameters so that initramfs can unlock (using encrypt hook) the encrypted swap, root, home partitions. For the arguments format, check mkinitcpio -H encrypt before editing /etc/default/grub.

# /etc/default/grub

# or PARTUUID
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="cryptdevice=UUID=of-sda4:cryptlvm cryptkey=UUID=of-sda2:auto:/arch-luks resume=UUID=of-volgrp-swap root=UUID=of-volgrp-root"
# or /dev/mapper/volgrp-root
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="cryptdevice=/dev/sda4:cryptlvm cryptkey=/dev/sda2:vfat:/arch-luks resume=/dev/volgrp/swap root=/dev/mapper/volgrp-root"
  1. It is error-prone to input UUID/PARTUUID without GUI, we can replace UUID with the device pathname.
  2. Please make sure the key file is located under ESP partition.

    If you forget the copy the key file before choorting, just exit the chroot, copy key file, and re-enter.

  3. Kernel parameter

    resume is used to suspend to disk. root is optional as long as grub-mkconfig is used to generate the boot menu.

  4. mkinitpico by default, doe not support gpg hook. Therefore, we cannot use a gpg-procted key file unless mkinitcpio-gnupg is adopted. However, using a gpg-protected key file does not add security level compared to passphrase as the protected key file is also protected by passphrase. Hence, we use file arch-luks directly.

Once the configured, we can install the bootloader to ESP partition:

[root@archiso / #] grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/efi --bootloader-id=GRUB --recheck --modules="part_gpt"

Attention that, there is no /dev/sda argument as that is for legacy BIOS booting.

Then, generate boot menu:

[root@archiso / #] pacman -S os-prober
[root@archiso / #] grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

In order for Grub to find Windows 10 system, please turn off Fast Startup. Also make sure os-prober* is installed. By the way, /boot and /efi must also be mounted.

If the grub-mkconfig hangs there, probably read LVM need access to /run/lvm under new root and use the suggested hack.

root@archiso ~ # mkdir /mnt/hostlvm
root@archiso ~ # mount --bind /run/lvm /mnt/hostlvm
root@archiso ~ # arch-chroot /mnt
root@archiso ~ # ln -s /hostlvm /run/lvm

The following is for BIOS/GPT schema:

[root@archiso / #] pacman -S grub intel-ucode
[root@archiso / #] grub-install --target=i386-pc /dev/sda
[root@archiso / #] grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Although we install x86_64 Arch Linux, the --target should be i386-pc due to BIOS booting scheme.

Reboot

[root@archiso / #] cp .bash_history /path/to/usb-stick/bash.log (optionally as it remains after reboot but maybe overriden)
[root@archiso / #] exit/Ctrl-D
root@archiso ~ # cp .zsh_history /path/to/usb-stick/zsh.log
root@archiso ~ # umount -R /mnt
root@archiso ~ # reboot

We'd better unmount all partitions under /mnt to determine busy partitions and diagnose with fuser.

Post-installation

  1. Enable NetworkManager

    # optional, networkmanager will detect Wi-Fi interface and ask for Wi-Fi configuration on demand
    [root@host ~]# wpa_passphrase ssid psk > /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-wlan0.conf
       
    [root@host ~]# systemctl enable/start NetworkManager
    
  2. New user account

    # check all accounts
    [root@host ~]# passwd -Sa
    # create a new one
    [root@host ~]# useradd -ms /bin/bash username
    [root@host ~]# passwd username
    
  3. Swap file (opt)

    [root@host ~]# dd bs=1M count=1024 if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile
    [root@host ~]# chmod 600 /swapfile
    [root@host ~]# mkswap /swapfile
    [root@host ~]# swapon /swapfile
    [root@host ~]# swapon --show
    [root@host ~]# free -h
    

    Finally, add an entry to /etc/fstab:

    /swapfile none swap defaults 0 0

    1. We must use the exact swap file path instead of UUID or Label.
    2. To cease manual operation bother, try systemd-swap that automates swap management.

GPU Driver

Firstly, identify vedio cards:

[root@host ~]# lspci | grep -e VGA -e 3D

The command returns:

Intel HD Graphics 520
NVIDIA GeForce 920M

So the computer has an integrated Intel video card and a discrete NVIDIA video card respectivelly: it is called NVIDIA Optimus. We have several choices to deal with NVIDIA Optimus: turn off one of the video card, use Bumbelee, use Nvidia-xrun etc. I will set up the system to switch the two cards intelligently:

Nvidia-xrun is a utility to allow Nvidia optimus enabled laptops run X server with discrete nvidia graphics on demand. This solution offers full GPU utilization, compatibility and better performance than Bumblebee.

Install Intel driver:

[root@host ~]# pacman -S xf86-video-intel
  1. Video drivers. If this Arch Linux is VirtualBox guest, then install VirtualBox guest additions.

KDE

~ $ sudo pacman -S xorg xf86-video-amdgpu mesa

~ $ reboot

~ $ sudo pacman -S plasma-meta
~ $ sudo pacman -S kde-applications-meta
~ $ sudo pacman -S sddm
~ $ systemctl enable sddm

~ $ reboot

Time

VirtualBox guest OS relies on VirtualBox guest additions to synchronizes time with host. Hence leave this part after VirtualBox guest additions.

In an operating system, the time (clock) is determined by four parts: time value, time standard, time zone, and Daylight Saving Time (DST) if applicable. Especially, RTC is just a bare value on board without any other information attached. It's the time managment tools that control time standard, time zone and DST.

timedatectl is used to control system date and time while hwclock is for hwardware time (RTC). The use of timedatectl requires an active dbus. Therefore, it may not be possible to use this command under a chroot (i.e. during installation). In such cases, you can revert back to the hwclock command or wait for booting into the new system.

As stated before, dual boot with Windows should set Linux system to treat RTC as localtime. If this installation resides in virtual machine, then leave it default.

Check time:

[root@host ~ #] timedatectl set-ntp true
[root@host ~ #] timedatectl status

Here is an example of timedatectl output:

                      Local time: Thu 2017-09-21 16:08:56 CEST
                  Universal time: Thu 2017-09-21 14:08:56 UTC
                        RTC time: Thu 2017-09-21 14:08:56
                       Time zone: Europe/Warsaw (CEST, +0200)
       System clock synchronized: yes
systemd-timesyncd.service active: yes
                 RTC in local TZ: no

Don't be confused. Both Local time and Universal time are system time but with different time standards. The third one (RTC) is hardware time value. Obviously, RTC in this example is treated as Universal Time, which can be verified by the last line - RTC in local TZ: no

Set time:

[root@host ~ #] hwclock [--systohc | --hctosys] [--utc | --localtime]
[root@host ~ #] timedatectl set-local-rtc 0/1

timezone

[root@host ~ #] ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Asia/Chongqing /etc/localtime (set system time zone manually)
# or
[root@host ~ #] timedatectl set-timezone Asia/Chongqiong
  1. From the past experience (i.e. Gentoo installation), it's better to set time first and then time zone.
  2. If all that fails, then resort to ntpd.

pacman

[root@host ~ #] pacman -Ss pkg               # search for pkg
[root@host ~ #] pacman -Si pkg               # show pkg information
[root@host ~ #] pacman -S pkg1 pkg2          # install pkg1 and pkg2
[root@host ~ #] pacman -Qs pkg               # search for locally installed pkg 
[root@host ~ #] pacman -Qi pkg               # show locally installed pkg information
[root@host ~ #] pacman -Qe                   # list explicitly installed pkgs
[root@host ~ #] pacman -D --asdeps pkg       # mark a package as non-explicitly installed
[root@host ~ #] pacman -D --asexplicit pkg   # mark a package as non-explicitly installed
[root@host ~ #] pacman -R pkg                # remove pkg but leave dependencies alone
[root@host ~ #] pacman -Rs pkg               # remove pkg and orphan dependencies

Xterm

Install xterm package. Add the following into ~/.Xresources:

XTerm.termName: xterm-256color
XTerm.vt100.locale: true
XTerm.vt100.metaSendsEscape: true
XTerm.vt100.reverseVideo: true

XTerm.vt100.backarrowKey: false
XTerm.ttyModes: erase ^?

XTerm.bellIsUrgent: true

XTerm.vt100.faceName: DejaVu Sans Mono:style=Book:antialias=true
XTerm.vt100.faceNameDoublesize: WenQuanYi WenQuanYi Bitmap Song
XTerm.vt100.faceSize: 10

XTerm.vt100.translations: #override \n\
    Ctrl Shift <Key>C: copy-selection(CLIPBOARD) \n\
    Ctrl Shift <Key>V: insert-selection(CLIPBOARD)

To take these settings into effect immediately:

[root@host ~ #] xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources
# -or-
[root@host ~ #] xrdb ~/.Xresources

xrdb* without -merge option, will _reload .Xresources, replacing current settings.

Copy/Paste

X11 has two kinds of buffer (also named as selection): PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD. Usually, to copy/paste to/from the CLIPBOARD , we select (highlight) text & press Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V. Selected text will be copied to PRIMARY automatically. To paste from PRIMARY, press the middle mouse button. Shift-insert also pastes from PRIMARY, but only support by terminal emulator. Implicitly, PRIMARY buffer lives a short period and will be replaced with new text selection.

Literally, we also call paste as insert from buffer.

Buffer/Selection In/Copy Out/Paste/Insert
PRIMARY select MiddleMouse/Shift-Insert
CLIPBOARD select & Ctrl-C Ctrl-V

The actual buffer and key shortcut used are determined by X application. When it comes to Xterm, it select text to PRIMARY by default. Swtich between PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD by Ctrl-MiddbleMouse and tick/untick Select to Clipboard or:

# ~/.Xresources
XTerm.vt100.selectToClipboard: true/false

The first switch method is preferred as it's easier to adjust buffer setting according to associated application. The switch only changes which buffer to use while keeps the default operations (select, middle mouse and/or Shift-Insert).

To enable both PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD buffers, we leave the default while adding copy/paste operations. Thus both buffers are active:

# ~/.Xresources
XTerm.vt100.translations: #override \n\
    Ctrl Shift <Key>C: copy-selection(CLIPBOARD) \n\
    Ctrl Shift <Key>V: insert-selection(CLIPBOARD)

Notice: each key binding line must be separated by escape sequence *\n*.

Resolution

Virtual terminal

VirtualBox might fail to detect correct screen resolution for virtual terminal (console). Similar to Android-x86 post, we should add custom kernel parameter through Grub bootloader.

In Grub menu, press e, and then F2. You are now in command line prompt, type vbeinfo to list possible resolutions. The one prefixed with * is the default. Choose a desired one (i.e. 1366x768) and press ESC. Append video=1366x768 to linux line and press F10. If none of the listed values meet requirement, we can try vboxmanage setextradata:

~ $ VBoxManage setextradata archlinux "CustomVideoMode1" "1300x730x24"

The newly created value will be listed by vbeinfo. To make the desired resolution permanent, we can edit /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet video=1300x730"

We can also set Grub's resolution by:

GRUB_GFXMODE="1366x768x24" (for Grub menu itself)

Do not forget to update the Grub menu:

[root@host ~ #] grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Xorg

Most of the time, Xorg resolution works out of box. Command line tool xrandr and Xorg.conf can be used to set Xorg resolution.

Query resolution:

user@host ~ $ xrandr

The entry with star * means current resolution while with + means default preferred resolution. Set resolution:

user@host ~ $ echo $DISPLAY
user@host ~ $ xrandr --display :0 --output VGA-1 --mode 1366x768

We can put the commands into ~/.xinitrc or ~/.config/awesome/autostart.sh. Alternatively, create Xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-resolution.conf:

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier "VGA-1"
  Modeline "1368x768_60.00"   85.25  1368 1440 1576 1784  768 771 781 798 -hsync +vsync
  Option "PreferredMode" "1368x768_60.00"
EndSection

Section "Screen"
  Identifier "Screen 0"
  Monitor "VGA-1"
  DefaultDepth 24
  SubSection "Display"
    Depth 24
  EndSubSection
EndSection

You can get the Identifier value from xrandr output.

Fcitx

[root@host ~ #] pacman -S fcitx fcitx-configtool [ fcitx-gtk3 | fcitx-qt4 ]

fcitx-gtk and fcitx-qt is optional. You only want it when GTK/QT applications cannot input Chinese.

Append run fcitx-autostart into ~/.config/awesome/autostart.sh and relaunch awesome.

Fcitx has built-in Pinyin that is really fast. Open fcitx-configtool and add Pinyin to input list.

Finally, Ctrl-Space.

System upgrading

[root@host ~ #] pacman -Syu

Error

  1. Key could not be looked up remotely

    downloading required keys...
    error: key "A6234074498E9CEE" could not be looked up remotely
    error: required key missing from keyring
    error: failed to commit transaction (unexpected error)
    Errors occurred, no packages were upgraded.
    

    Follow cannot import keys. For example, update archlinux-kering package before system upgrading.

Refs

  1. System maintenance.

to-dos

  1. gentoo bypass lock screen; xdg_vtnr
  2. gentoo linput instead of synaptics?
  3. no entry in bios: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GRUB#UEFI
  4. no boot decryption ask
  5. no initramfs gpg