Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A little bit about Arch Linux

I've recently switched from Ubuntu to Arch, which I have always wanted to do but time restrictions have been in the way, since it's summer I've been able to dedicate a good chunk of time to do this. I have a few things I'd like to note about it for myself as a historical record.

The installer did not work for me on the official download page. I downloaded multiple isos from the releng arch site which proved futile, again with installer problems, I finally downloaded 08.15 which worked flawlessly from a local-core install (I didn't want to download the packages from the internet - netinstall as I have a rubbish connection). After this install I had my arch installation up and running, command line only using the nouveau kernel module I do believe (The terminal was full screen, which isn't the case without nouveau, nvidia doesn't run it fullscreen either)

A few bits and pieces on config files:
Added net-profiles and net-cfg to start my wireless connection at boot up (init level 3) that way I wouldn't have to touch it when I launch X. I had to add a config file in /etc/network.d/ for netcfg to work, which was based on wireless-wpa in the examples folder, this was easy, added pricelan, the name of my netcfg profile to rc.conf in the NETWORKS=() section. Installed dbus and ntfs-3g, the latter I edited my fstab to automatically mount on startup. I had to add avahi-daemon to daemons in rc.conf for rhythmbox to start properly otherwise it would take ages to start up.

So now I wanted to setup my system, for the basics I Installed:
- Xorg & nvidia for a graphical interface
- Xmonad for window managing (wonderful!)
- Links to browse the internet from the command line so I could read the wiki as I installed xorg etc, highly recommended.
- Dmenu to launch programs in xmonad

Once I could launch X using the basic twm wm, I changed to xmonad, I did this by changing my ~/.xinitrc to launch xmonad, just placing 'xmonad' at the bottom of the file, nice and easy. When you launch X this time, you'll notice you just have a cross, press 'Alt-P' to launch d-menu and then some applications, 'man xmonad' has a good summary of the window tiling algorithm commands.

Now to install my essential applications:
- Chromium for web browsing
- Rhythmbox for music
- gnome-terminal
- Nautilus for file browsing

After installing these I couldn't get chromium to launch nautilus from the "Show in folder" dialog in downloads, I ammended this by installing 'perl-file-mimeinfo' which has the command 'mimeopen', it handles all the mimetypes so when you open files, it opens the proper program. After installing this chromium launched fine, however I had added the following lines to
~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list and ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list
which may be needed, I don't know, I didn't try it without adding these lines.

Rhythmbox won't open .pls files in the radio section as some gnome services aren't running, I know it isn't gnome-settings-daemon, or obviously the keyring daemon. I'll have to look further into this to try and remedy the issue, I hope to find the right service to run rather than running xmonad ontop of gnome, I prefer xmonad neat, gnome3 is horrid. Anyway, I don't need a DE, WM will do me fine.

I'm still fiddling about with setting the wallpaper in xmonad, I'm using "xloadimage -onroot -fullscreen $path to image" at the moment which isn't stretching my 1980x1200 wallpapers to 1980x1080, A bit more exploration is required on my part to sort this out, once I have I'll be adding it to my ~/.xinitrc so when X starts my wallpaper will be set.

I have dipped my toes into xmonad configuration but the haskell syntax is a bit off-putting and I'm struggling with it at the moment but this holds your hand quite well and I'm currently going through it. The xmonad wiki is pretty handy as well, I think this will take a while to produce decent results though.

I'd finally like to say I only switched to arch based on it's philosophy and beautiful wiki.

P.s. man does jekyll look good...