Today I learned

After installing Arch Linux

Just installed Arch? Awesome! Here are some things you can try.

Here are some useful things I suggest to do after an Arch Linux installation. These are items not covered in the official Arch Linux Installation Guide, but I strongly suggest you consider them!

For these next steps, we're going to assume that you're logged in as your main user, who has sudo permissions enabled.

Get online

Network manager

Install some networking tools, so we may be able to go online later. NetworkManager is used by most desktop environments to manage network connections, and can be used in the console as well via nmtui.

sudo pacman -S networkmanager
sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager

Try to go online

Use nmtui to go online right now using your wifi.

# Try it out
sudo systemctl start NetworkManager

# Connect to a wifi

This should be enough to get most laptops online. For some others, you may need to install wireless drivers. For instance, MacBooks require Broadcom wireless drivers.

Next: Let's install some apps.

Install packages

Developer tools

Install some dev tools. base-devel installs a lot of tools you'll need to compile things, and git is required to build a lot of things from the AUR.

sudo pacman -S \
  base-devel \
  git \

Web browser

Install a browser. Choose from any of these options (or all!). Chromium is the open-source version of Google Chrome.

pacman -S \
  chromium \


Install some basic fonts. ttf-croscore are Chrome OS fonts. You can install more fonts later from the AUR, but we'll get to that later.

pacman -S \
  noto-fonts \
  noto-fonts-emoji \
  ttf-croscore \
Next: Let's install some drivers.

Install drivers

Video driver

Depending on your setup, you may also need to install an xf86 driver. See this search for available drivers.

# If you're using ATI:
pacman -S xf86-video-ati

# If you're using Intel:
pacman -S xf86-video-intel

# ...see the list of packages to
#   find one that might be appropriate
#   for your setup!

Optional: Linux LTS

You can install an older version of the Linux kernel if you feel the latest kernel may be too bleeding-edge for you.

pacman -S linux-lts
Next: Let's install a desktop environment.

Desktop environment

We'll need to install a desktop environment and a display manager. You can choose between gnome (default for Ubuntu), cinnamon (default for Mint), deepin, xfce4, plasma and many others. I recommend GNOME.

Install GNOME and GDM

Install a desktop environment and a display manager. GNOME is a good first choice; it's the default of the Ubuntu desktop, and is a great desktop environment overall. GDM is the GNOME Display Manager.

# Install gdm and gnome
pacman -S \
  gdm \

Try it out

Start the GDM service right now. This should get you to a graphical login screen! You can log in with your user here and get to a desktop environment.

# Start the GDM display manager
sudo systemctl start gdm

Enable it on startup

If you were able to log into a desktop environment in the previous step, congratulations! Open a terminal and enable the gdm service to start it up on every boot up.

# Enable GDM on startup
sudo systemctl enable gdm
Next: Let's set up your swap file.

Creating swap

Set up your swap

If you skipped creating a swap partition like I recommended, you can use systemd-swap to manage your swap.

sudo pacman -S systemd-swap

Edit the config

Edit the config. I recommend setting zram_enabled to 1 (compressed RAM) and swapfc_enabled to 1 (auto-managed swap files).

# Enable `zram_enabled=1` and `swapfc_enabled=1`
sudo vi /etc/systemd/swap.conf

Enable it

Start and enable systemd-swap.service.

# Enable it to run on every reboot, and start it now as well
sudo systemctl enable --now systemd-swap

Mount it on startup

Add your swapfile to /etc/fstab so it'll be used on every boot.

# Edit your fstab partitions
sudo vim /etc/fstab
# add this to the end:
/swapfile none swap defaults 0 0
Next: What is the Arch User Repository?

AUR (Arch User Repository)

The AUR, or Arch User Repository, contains a lot of community-maintained packages that you won't find in the official repositories. This ranges from proprietary non-free packages (like NVidia drivers). For most Arch users, the AUR is their reason to use Arch Linux, so I highly recommend installing an AUR helper.

Yay, the AUR helper

You'll need an AUR helper to install packages from the AUR. I recommend yay.

# Go to your home folder

# Make and install `yay`
git clone
cd yay
makepkg -si

After it's installed, you can use it just like how you would use pacman.

yay packagename      # search for a package to install
yay -S packagename   # install a package
yay                  # check system for updates
Next: What can I install from the AUR?

Some AUR packages

Some AUR packages I can recommend to almost any Arch Linux user:

pamac-aurGet notified of package updates
ttf-google-fonts-typewolf40+ Google fonts
ttf-ms-fontsFonts from microsoft (arial, courier, etc)
ttf-mac-fontsFonts from macOS (lucida grande, etc)
otf-san-franciscoFonts from iOS

You have just read After installing Arch Linux, written on December 12, 2018. This is Today I Learned, a collection of random tidbits I've learned through my day-to-day web development work. I'm Rico Sta. Cruz, @rstacruz on GitHub (and Twitter!).

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