Arch Linux

Arch Linux Installation Notes II: Configuring Users and Desktop Environment

So we have installed Arch Linux, but the only user currently is the root user, and there is no desktop environment, i.e. the system is in command line interface (CLI) instead of graphical user interface (GUI). This is dangerous and not user friendly, as doing everything with root user poses a threat that one might accidentally delete important files (from personal experience using sudo, enough said), and not everyone likes CLI. Luckily, none of these tasks are hard, but we will do it step by step.

Creating Users and Groups

To create a new user, we use the useradd command. We will want to add the new user into the group wheel. So we do the following: useradd -m -G wheel -s /bin/bash . Read here for more details on users and user groups. Then to add a password for the user, passwd  and enter the same password twice. Note: The password is case sensitive, and we should see

passwd: password updated successfully

Great! Now we have set up a new user, but sometimes, we still want to have root access to do install/update a package, and this usually requires sudo. However, if we just log in as the user that we have just created, we will see

  <username> is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.

And as mentioned before, it is discouraged to do everything with the root user. To add the newly created user to one of the sudoers, we need to edit the /etc/sudoerFriendly reminder that we should use visudo to edit the file instead of other editors. To do this, enter visudo -f /etc/sudoers. This should be done with the root user. Then go to the line root ALL=(ALL) ALL, copy and paste the line below and changing root to <username>. Now save and quit by typing :wq, including the colon. Now reboot and the new user should be able to use sudo now.

Desktop Environment

There are a lot of choices in terms of desktop environment using GUI. Some supported GUI ones can be found here. In this post however, we will install GNOME; people have different comment on this environment, I personally do not hold any grudges or irrational hate towards GNOME, but some of my friends does. This is up to personal preference, but I find installing GNOME is slightly easier than the other environments. Maybe I will write a post in the future about installing XFCE instead.

To install GNOME, type pacman -S gnome gnome-extra, and if no preference for login screen, we can append gdm (for other display manager see here) after gnome-extra​.

Starting a GNOME session

For different types of GNOME sessions click here. I will setup the environment using Xorg.

To run a Xorg GNOME session, first, install Xorg by pacman -S xorg xorg-xinit, then type startx. However, if we want to start the computer with GUI, we need to modify the ~/.xinitrc file. Append exec gnome-session at the end of the ~/.xinitrc file. Reboot, and we should be good.

Starting GDM on Boot

To start GDM on boot, enable its systemd service, i.e. systemctl enable gdm.service. Note: You have to use sudo for this, or enable this as root.

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