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Easy way to Install Arch Linux (with a GUI frontend – XFCE or Enlightenment) on an old Laptop (uses AUI script)


First things first! Be fore-warned that the steps outlined here will erase everything off of your computers’ hard drive. Proceed at your own risk, and only if you know what you’re doing, and indeed have every intention of achieving this objective.

I will not be held responsible for any loss or damage of data and/or hardware that befalls you as a result of using this guide.

This guide is primarily meant as an online repository (for me) to help me install Arch Linux from where ever or whenever, without having to go searching for all these instructions, each time. If it helps you as well, then great!


  1. Latest version of Arch Linux on a bootable CD (obtaining Arch Linux and creating the CD is not covered here)
  2. Laptop with the hard drive formatted and partitioned as required. I created 2 partitions, one for the system (which used the bulk of the space – named SDA1), and a second for the swap (which used just 1 GB of space, named SDA2)


  1. Boot the laptop with Arch Linux CD
  2. At the prompt type:
  3. systemctl start sshd

  4. Again at the prompt type:
  5. passwd

  6. Change the root password as required
  7. Note down the laptops’ IP address by typing the following at the prompt:
  8. ifconfig

  9. Now you may go to a different computer and SSH-in (using PuTTY, or your tool of choice) to the laptop by using the IP address and root id and password you obtained and set above respectively
  10. In your PuTTY window type the following commands at the prompt:
  11. pacman -Syu (upgrades your system)
    pacman -S git (installs  git)
    git clone git://github.com/helmuthdu/aui (gets the script)

  12. Next type:
    • cd aui
  13. Then type:
    • ./ais
  14. Follow, and respond to the on-screen prompts as appropriate for your situation. If necessary, use this video to help you through the process
  15. After all options have been selected (and check-marked, by the script), select “Done” (d) and answer “y” to have the laptop reboot.

    If you’re away from the computer (on which Arch is being installed), go back to it and remove the installation CD (so that it now boots up from the OS installed on the hard drive).

    While still at the laptop (on which Arch is being installed), perform the following:

    Login as root, and add one or more users:

    Adding a user named “johndoe”, specifying bash as the login shell:

    useradd -m -g users -G wheel,storage,power -s /bin/bash johndoe

    Add a password for the newly created user:

    passwd johndoe

    Install “sudo”, so that regular user(s) belonging to the group named “wheel” will get privileged rights:

    pacman -S sudo

    Now edit the “sudoers” file to enable the “wheel” group to have “sudo” rights:

    EDITOR=nano visudo

    Scroll down till you find the “%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL” line and delete the leading “#”. Save and exit the file by first using the CTRL+X keyboard shortcut, and then pressing “y”.

    Local user information is stored in the /etc/passwd file. To list all user accounts on the system:

    cat /etc/passwd

    Now, configure the network:

    ip addr

    Look for the name of your Ethernet connection, and use it in the following commands:

    systemctl enable dhcpcd@enp2s0.service
    systemctl start dhcpcd@enp2s0.service

    NOTE: Replace “enp2s0” in the above commands with the name of your own interface.

    Now, install OpenSSH using the following command:

    pacman -S openssh

    Next, edit the SSH config file in order to give chosen users access to the machine (via SSH):

    nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

    Add all required usernames, separating each with a space:

    AllowUsers root johndoe

    Finally, start the OpenSSH service, and set it up to start automatically after each reboot:

    systemctl start sshd.service
    systemctl enable sshd.service

    At this point, you already have a lean, mean, CLI-based, smokin’ machine, and you may choose to just reboot the laptop and use it as a non-GUI-based machine – if that is indeed your intention.

    If on the other hand, you do want a full graphical experience, then follow along till the end of this article and you will certainly not be disappointed.

    Going for the full Graphical Experience

    Okay, now that you have the network and OpenSSH setup, you may go back to the other machine and run the following commands from there (remotely):

    First off, find out which video chipset is available on your machine:

    lspci | grep VGA

    For a complete list of open-source video drivers, search the package database and identify/note down your respective driver name:

    pacman -Ss xf86-video | less

    Install your video driver:

    pacman -S xf86-video-ati

    NOTE: replace the “ati” above with the name of your own driver

    The vesa driver is a generic mode-setting driver that will work with almost every GPU, but will not provide any 2D or 3D acceleration. If a better driver cannot be found or fails to load, Xorg will fall back to vesa. Install it using:

    pacman -S xf86-video-vesa

    Install the base Xorg packages:

    pacman -S xorg-server xorg-server-utils xorg-xinit

    Install mesa for 3D support:

    pacman -S mesa

    Now, install input drivers

    Udev should be capable of detecting your hardware without problems. The evdev driver (xf86-input-evdev) is the modern hot-plugging input driver for almost all devices, so in most cases, installing input drivers is not needed. At this point, evdev has already been installed as a dependency of the xorg-server package.

    Laptop users (or users with a tactile screen) will need the xf86-input-synaptics package for the touchpad/touchscreen to work:

    pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics

    Now, it’s time to see if you can get a graphical environment up and running. First, install the default environment:

    pacman -S xorg-twm xorg-xclock xterm

    Then, to test X, just run:


    If it works, you should be able to interact with a very basic windowed environment and run commands in xterm. You can exit by typing “exit” into xterm and hitting [Enter].

    All that’s left now is to install your desktop environment of choice. First, install a few fonts:

    pacman -S ttf-dejavu

    Then, pick your favorite desktop environment and install it. I prefer using XFCE and therefore I’ve listed only the steps to get that working. Depending on what you choose, your commands will differ, but it should be simple.

    Installing XFCE as a Desktop Environment:

    We will be using SLiM as our login manager since it’s nice and lightweight.

    Run the following command to install all the requirements to get XFCE up and running:

    pacman -S xfce4 xfce4-goodies gamin ttf-liberation xorg-server dbus slim

    Now that that is done you simply need to copy “/etc/skel/.xinitrc” and “/etc/skel/.xsession” to your home directory (and for all the other users you wish to be able to login using SLiM) like so:

    Copying for user named “root” (who we’re signed on as):
    cp /etc/skel/.xinitrc ~/.xinitrc
    cp /etc/skel/.xsession ~/.xsession

    Copying for user named “roger” (who we’re not signed on as):
    cp /etc/skel/.xinitrc /home/roger/.xinitrc
    cp /etc/skel/.xsession /home/roger/.xsession

    Open up the file named “.xinitrc” in the home directories of both root (~/) as well as roger (/home/roger/):

    nano ~/.xinitrc
    nano /home/roger/.xinitrc

    Uncomment the line that reads “#exec startxfce4” in each of the two files so that it now reads:

    exec startxfce4

    If the line does not exist in the file then simply add it to the bottom of the file and make sure that all other exec lines are commented out.

    Now all you need to do is enable the SLiM service in systemd. So simply type:

    systemctl enable slim.service

    Installing Enlightenment as a Desktop Environment

    pacman -S enlightenment17 xf86-video-ati xf86-video-vesa xf86-input-synaptics xorg-server xorg-server-utils xorg-xinit mesa xf86-input-keyboard xf86-input-mouse xorg-twm xorg-xclock xterm gamin ttf-liberation dbus slim

    Open up the file named “.xinitrc” in the home directories of both root (~/) as well as johndoe (/home/johndoe/):

    nano ~/.xinitrc
    nano /home/roger/.xinitrc

    Add or uncomment the following line, making sure there is only one exec for an environment uncommented.

    exec enlightenment_start

    Setting up Sound:

    To start, let’s get sound up and running. To do this, you need to install alsa-utils with the following command:

    sudo pacman -S alsa-utils

    Then, start up alsamixer:


    All your channels will start muted, so use the M key to unmute the channels you need. Then, use the up/down arrow keys to turn the sound level for each channel up or down. You’ll definitely want to unmute the Master channel, and the PCM channel if you have one. Depending on your speaker setup, you may also need to unmute others like Front Speaker or Headphone. Raise their volume up until “dB gain” equals “0” for each. This will ensure that you don’t get any sound distortion. Press ESC when you’re done,

    Installation of Yaourt

    1. Addition of a repository

    You will need to add a repository to the pacman configuration file.

    You’ll find the file at “/etc/pacman.conf”. You’ll simply need to add the following few lines of code using your text editor of choice.

    SigLevel = Never
    Server = http://repo.archlinux.fr/$arch

    Save the file with the new additions to pacman.conf. You can back-up the file just for the sake of safety.

    2. Update repository database and install Yaourt

    Open up the terminal. Enter the command given below to update the repository database and install Yaourt on your system.

    sudo pacman -Sy yaourt

    3. Test the install

    Your installation is basically done here. You can test the install by searching for packages on the newly added repository.

    Enter the following command below to search the packages you’d want.

    yaourt the-package-name

    Of course, you’ll have to replace “the-package-name” with the package you are searching for.

    Installing packages via Yaourt

    To install packages enter the command like the following.

    yaourt -S the-package-name

    That’s it!!!

    Finally, restart your computer and you should be prompted to login via SLiM. Once you have logged in you’ll be presented with your new XFCE 4.10 install, with sound and all.

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