Thinkpad T450s: what to do after a raw Arch Linux installation

25 October 2015

I wrote how to do a basic Arch Linux installation on the Thinkpad T450s in this article. I will now describe what to install and configure next to be able to really use it. The desktop environment I'm using is GNOME so some instructions will be specific for it.

In my last article about the installation of Arch Linux, I've left you at the moment when you finish the installation with the Live USB and then you reboot on your hard disk. This allows you to have a functional shell with the root user, but that is not enough for most people.

An Internet Connection

Before installing packages, you will need an internet connection. It worked out-of-the-box with the live USB as it had preloaded some modules, but you must now configure your network on your actual system. It took some time for me to understand how to configure the network, so don't worry if you are having difficulties.

I recommend you to follow the instructions to install NetworkManager as it is the easiest to install and to use: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NetworkManager.

Your user

The first thing to do is to create a new user and install the sudo utility for security purposes. It will avoid you to do some commands as root and make irreversible changes.

Create your user:

useradd your-username

Set a password for it:

passwd your-username

Install the sudo package:

pacman -S sudo

Then add your user as a sudoer. (It will open a text file in Vim by default, so I wrote below the vim commands to edit the file. If you want to change the default editor see here):

visudo

You have to end up with this line below the root user: your-username ALL=(ALL) ALL

The vim commands to edit the file: Type 73G to go to line 73 (normally you should arrive in the User Privilege Specification block), then yypto copy the line,ce to enter your username and thenEscapeto exit the mode and finally:wqto quit and save the file.

Well, you can now reboot your computer and log in with your new username or simply change your user with su your-username.

Your desktop environment

We will now install the graphical environment. Some people prefer to have only a window manager like Awesome or i3 which are more lightweight and are optimized for keyboard controls and some other prefer a desktop environment like GNOME or KDE which offers some well-integrated applications and are more beginner-friendly as they require little knowledge. I will describe here how to install GNOME as it is the desktop environment I'm using.

When doing the following command, you will be able to choose several packages shipped with GNOME. I recommend you to take at least the packages I listed below.

sudo pacman -S gnome

You may need to start the gdm like this:

sudo systemctl start gdm.service

And if it seems to work, enable it (I recommend you to always proceed like this to avoid issues):

sudo systemctl enable gdm.service

You can then reboot

It may be possible you encounter issues with the touchpad. In my case, the trackpad worked out-of-the-box so I could use it until I installed the touchpad correctly. So you have to install a package for the touchpad:

Update: Since Gnome 3.20, synaptics is no longer used and you should install libinput instead:

sudo pacman -S xf86-input-libinput

sudo pacman -S xf86-input-synaptics

After restarting the session, it should be working fine and you should be able to use your computer as you wish.

The AUR

The AUR (Arch User Repository) is a community-driven repository which allows you to install packages that are not available on the official repositories. You should always be careful at what you install as you have no guarantee. To use the AUR, you can install yaourt which is built on top of pacman. There are several possibilities for installing it, one of the easiest way is to follow archlinux.fr instructions and use their repository: https://archlinux.fr/yaourt-en.

Once yaourt installed, I suggest you to switch from the gnome-terminal to gnome-terminal-fedora which is Fedora's version of the GNOME Terminal. This patched version adds some functionalities which were lost when GNOME 2 went to GNOME 3.

yaourt -S gnome-terminal-fedora

Troubleshooting

You may encounter issues for opening the GNOME Terminal. It may be due to an issue with the locales. Try to regenerate it:

locale-gen

If you encounter issues with your keyboard layout, you need to set it (if you are like in my case, in French, you should replace en,en by fr,fr):

localectl set-x11-keymap en,en  

The clock may not display the correct time. For this, I had to manually synchronize it with the network doing the following:

pacman -S ntp  
ntpd -qg  
hwclock --systohc  

If some videos don't work while you're browsing the Web because the H261 plugn is missing, you may need to install the following package:

sudo pacman -S gst-libav

Conclusion

This second part of installing ArchLinux on the computer is not very difficult, but sometimes you may encounter issues that you can't resolve quickly. I hope that this article will help you to resolve at least most of them. As I had to search a lot when trying to fix the problems and did not always wrote what I was doing, I may have forgot some instructions. If it's the case, please let me know so I can edit the article. Have fun!