Care and feeding

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The program that Arch Linux uses to manage installed software is `pacman`. It manages software installed on the system as a whole, rather than in your home directory, therefore it must be run with root privileges (i.e., using sudo).

Performance Issues

Some people have reported extremely laggy behavior inside the graphical environment: hit a key, wait a few seconds, letter shows up. This looks to be a problem with the *compositing* feature of XFCE4, for which there are two potential fixes:

  • Turn off compositing in XFCE4. To do so, click the Applications menu in the
top-left corner of the screen. Select Settings. Select Window Manager
Tweaks. Select the Compositing tab. Deselect the Enable Compositing
option. Performance should improve more or less immediately.

Installing software

Arch Linux makes available a huge number of precompiled packages. The full list is more than a little intimidating; the Arch Linux wiki has a useful list of common applications.

Let us say you have looked through the links in the preceding paragraph and have concluded that you wish to install a package named "foo". The following command will install this package:

$ sudo pacman -S foo

If you get a bunch of 404 errors when you run this, chances are that your list of packages (and package versions) is out of date. To fix this, see the next section on upgrading your system and then try again.

In the event that you want to install software that the Arch Linux folks don't distribute as a precompiled package, check out the ArchLinux User Repository (AUR).

Upgrading your system

New software (and new versions of software) are released all the time. Even ignoring the prospect of shiny new features, regularly updating your system is advisable because you will get security patches faster.

Upgrading your system involves two operations: downloading the new list of available software (pacman -Sy) and (2) upgrading any installed packages for which new versions are available (pacman -Su). Conveniently, you can perform both at once:

$ sudo pacman -Syu

You should get in the habit of doing this relatively regularly (weekly is a good rule of thumb).

Restarting or shutting down the virtual machine

If you're running a virtual machine on your computer and put the whole computer to sleep (eg, by closing the laptop lid), the virtual machine could have problems accessing the Internet after you wake it up.

Rebooting the virtual machine should fix this.

To reboot from the graphical environment, click the button in the top-right corner with your username on it, click "Log out", and select "Reboot" from the resulting window.

To reboot outside the graphical environment, run the command

$ sudo reboot

To completely halt the virtual machine, either select "halt" from the same window in the graphical environment or, outside the graphical environment, run the command

$ sudo halt -p