My Own Personal "Minimal but Does Everything" Arch Linux Install

I have been “refurbishing” my old Dell Inspiron 510m, which has a nice Pentium M 1.5 GHz processor, 256 MB (yes, MB) ram, and about 100 GB hard disk. I can’t believe this machine was sold with Windows, since it is a wonder how that poor thing managed to boot that memory and processor eating monster.

Anyway, here are the notes I’ve taken for myself when setting that machine up with Arch Linux. Note that there are some references to my own personal repository. I am sure you can find similar scripts here and there on the web. If not, ping for it, and I may publish in the future.

Install a base archlinux system. Use “en_US.utf8″ as system locale.

If you’ve forgotten to set the locale, uncomment relevant locale in /etc/locale.gen, then run locale-gen. Set the locale in /etc/rc.conf.

Install these packages:

  • xorg-server: for X server
  • xorg-xinit: for xinit and startx
  • wmii: as window manager
  • git: to be able to use my common stuff repo
  • openssh: for ssh, ssh-keygen
  • gpm: to be able to use mouse copy-paste in console and xterm
  • xf86-input-synaptics: for laptop touchpads
  • netcfg: profile based network connection management
  • wpa_supplicant: required for wireless network support
  • vim: otherwise we are stuck with vi
  • xterm: “the” terminal
  • xorg-xmessage: needed by my wmiirc script
  • xorg-xsetroot: needed by my wmiirc script
  • acpi: needed by my wmiirc script to show battery state at status bar
  • abs base-devel: there is no binary isync package in arch. To compile it from source, we need these packages.
  • sudo: it is generally a good idea to have this. Useful for compiling, too.
  • mutt: “the” mail reader
  • remind: the calendar tool
  • wyrd: the ncurses based remind interface
  • midori firefox chromium: these are necessary to browse the web, and to do web development. If you are not going to do webdev, then one of them is good enough.

Here is the command to use:

pacman -S xorg-server xorg-xinit wmii git openssh gpm \
xf86-input-synaptics netcfg wpa_supplicant vim xterm \
xorg-xmessage xorg-xsetroot acpi abs base-devel sudo mutt remind wyrd \
midori firefox chromium

For dell inspiron 510m, install these additional packages:

  • ipw2200-fw: wireless card firmware 

For wireless card setup, see https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Wireless_Setup

Run ‘lspci | grep VGA’ to find out about the graphics card. Then find the appropriate driver among ‘pacman -Ss xf86-video’. If nothing matches, use xf86-video-vesa. Install the video driver using pacman.

Set up gpm using info here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Console_Mouse_Support
(for Dell Inspiron 510m) Edit /etc/conf.d/gpm and edit this line:

GPM_ARGS="-m /dev/psaux -t ps2"

Create a new user using adduser. Edit /etc/sudoers, copy the line that says “root ALL=(ALL) ALL”, and change root to new user’s login name.

Init ABS for compiling packages in AUR:

  • Run ‘abs’

Get and compile isync:

  • Get isync package from here: http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=56181 Note that this package is available in commons repo, and it simply downloads the latest sources from the sourceforge repo.
  • mkdir -f /tmp/abs
  • cd /tmp/abs
  • tar -xzf [the isync tarball]
  • makepkg -s
  • sudo pacman -U [the created isync package] 

For the user to use X, edit $HOME/.xinitrc and add these lines:

# switch to programmer dvorak
setxkbmap us dvp
exec wmii


To upgrade installed packages: pacman -Syu  To create a new network profile:
  • Copy example config from /etc/network.d/examples to /etc/network.d/[profile name]. For wpa personal, use wireless_wpa, rest should be easy to find. For help, see netcfg wiki page on archlinux wiki.
  • Edit config for the profile.
  • To start a profile: netcfg [profile name]
  • To stop a profile: netcfg down [profile name]

If you receive a 404 not found error from the repo, then run ‘pacman -Sy’ or ‘pacman -Syu’ (the latter updates all outdated packages as well as the repo index), and then retry installing what you were installing. This error happens when there is a newer version of the package in the repo, but your local repo index still has the link to the old version (which no longer exists).

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