One of the amazing things about Arch is that you get to build your system from the ground up (but without waiting for things to compile). Therefore, the system that I run is exactly what I want. It has no defaults; I've carefully chosen everything and I've put together configurations and scripts to work with the exact environment that I prefer. My system is truly mine, and you would only get that on a do-it-yourself distribution like Arch.
It's occured to me that I've never actually bothered to write down what, exactly, my preferred environment is. This would be useful for two reasons:
- Other people may be interested
- There are too many things that I configure, and I can't actually remember them when I go to install a new system. Therefore, there are a bunch of inconsistencies between my systems that really just shouldn't be there (and that annoy me when I run into them).
So, I have decided to publish a list of my standard setup. Here goes:
The standalone programs that I use regularly and always have installed are
git, the Z Shell, Emacs (along with
emacs-pkgbuild-mode), Firefox (along with all the GStreamer 0.10 plugins that it can use, and an English language pack), OpenSSH,
pacmatic(with html2text), and Aura. I also always have Steam, Terminator, Pidgin, LibreOffice (Writer, Draw, Impress, the English language pack and the GNOME integration) and Nuvola Player. For that last one, I turn on the Dock Manager, Last.fm/Libre.fm, Lyrics Fetching, Media Keys, Notifications, Tray Icon, and Remote Player Interface (MPRIS) extensions. I also keep
Utilities that I have installed but only use semi-regularly include
strace, the Lynx web browser,
nmap(with PyGTK for Zenmap), GNOME Tweak Tool, GNUCash,
pkgfile. I also install btrfs-progs (because I prefer btrfs for everything but
/boot- that gets the ext4 treatment), and
parted. I have Deja Dup, Bitcoin Core (aka
bitcoin-qt), Brasero, devhelp (from GNOME), File Roller (from GNOME), Four-in-a-Row (also from GNOME), GNOME Software (GNOME's PackageKit frontend), GNOME Activity Journal (frontend to Zeitgeist), Anjuta (the GNOME development environment), Cheese, GNOME Chess, GNOME Clocks, GNOME Documents, GNOME Disk Utility, GNOME Mines, GNOME Music, GNOME Nettool, GNOME Nibbles, GNOME Robots, Quadrapassel (basically GNOME Tetris), GNOME Weather, and last but not least from the GNOME department, Seahorse. I also have the Android SDK installed from the AUR, and finally, while it's not strictly a utility, I should mention that I have
pkgstatsinstalled, to help out with Arch development.
I also have a small amount of extra documentation and other static files installed - namely,
gnome-devel-docs, an offline copy of the Arch Wiki and the
If given the choice, I install using a GPT partition header. As stated above, I create a
/bootpartition formatted ext4, usually 256MB. I always create a swap partition - this is generally about 2GB, but it varies by installation. I create a
partition, formatted btrfs inside a LUKS container, that's usually around 30GB - although I am looking to change this number, due to needing to store the Bitcoin block chain (and wanting room for some VMs). The rest of the hard drive, I generally fill with
/. (I'm thinking about making
/a fixed amount, and filling the rest of the drive with
/home. But I'm not sure yet.) For the kernel, I use the stock Arch kernel but I keep the
linux-ltspackage installed, just in case an upgrade to the regular kernel breaks. I have an extremely standard
mkinitcpio.conf: the only differences to really note are that I have the
encrypthook added, and the
keyboardhook earlier. For a bootloader, I use GRUB 2. I use the standard configuration except for the fact that I turn on the blue colors in
All right, so we've covered filesystems. We've covered applications. Time to tackle the elephant in the room: desktop environment. I use the GNOME Shell as my desktop environment, so I have all of GNOME core installed (but I hand-pick extra applications, as you've probably guessed by the massive list of GNOME applications above). The extensions I have installed vary a bit, but I always have Dash to Dock (set to have autohide/intellihide on, set to switch workspaces when scrolling over any region of the dock, set to have an opacity of 50 and set to launch a new window when clicking on an icon), Caffeine, Drop Down Terminal (configured to use F1, so that I can use it with my Happy Hacking Keyboard), Messaging Menu, (with microblog statuses turned on), Media Player Indicator (integrated with the volume menu), Advanced Volume Mixer (set to "aggregated menu") and Topicons. I also always have Systemmonitor, Places Status Indicator, Removable Drive Menu, and User Themes - all of these come bundled with GNOME - turned on. Additionally, I have a couple extra backends installed: I have the libpurple backend for Telepathy installed, and I have GVFS backends for SMB, AFP, MTP and most importantly, a backend for GNOME Online Accounts. I also have a couple things installed to make stuff in GNOME Control Center work: Rygel,
vino, and (as I'll mention later)
Because I use GNOME as my desktop environment, I always have the NetworkManager systemd service enabled - however, I make an important addition:
/etc/dhcpcd.confso that I can apply custom DNS settings without the DHCP daemon overwriting them. I then use this ability to set my
/etc/resolv.confto use DNS servers from the OpenNIC project.
/etc/resolv.conf.head- this file will be prepended to the final
/etc/resolv.conf, which has the advantage of automatically falling back on the DHCP-configured DNS if OpenNIC DNS fails for some reason. I also have
ntpd, Avahi, and GDM enabled. I also have the server component of OpenSSH turned on - the only configuration change I make is to disable root access, as the default configuration is actually pretty secure. Finally, in the GNOME Control Center, I've turned on screen sharing (password-protected). I really should configure printing, but honestly, I can't be bothered.
As a final miscellaneous note, I configure DNSSEC validation everywhere I can. There are a couple key differences between some of my machines that I haven't covered here, but those are all due to machine-specific needs (e.g. one of my machines - my iMac - has a Bluetooth mouse, so I have the Bluez utilities installed). But those are boring to write about, so I'm not going to write about them.
I'm also planning to add ZeroTier One to my default configuration. However, I haven't gotten it to work quite right yet, so that'll have to wait until later.
That's all I can think of for now (except my shell, of course, but the configurations for that are already public). I'll be posting new blog posts when I make configuration changes from now on, so you'll hear about this again... sometime.